Cranky and Calm

Cranky and Calm
Summary: A family dinner is not always the best place for conversation.
Date: 29/May/2013
Related: Current events
Paule Katarina Coriaria Castor 

Common Room ~ Golden Crown Inn, Wolveshire
A lowered ceiling and rafters combined with a clutter of tables and chairs create a far cozier atmosphere than the foyer. To the right of the room is a long wooden bar behind which mirrors and shelves are arranged to display the carafes and bottles of liquor available to patrons. Cushioned stools line the outside of the bar to provide seating for customers. The room is bisected by a long half-wall topped by panels of glass etched with an artistic rendering of famous moments in Taniford history. The partial wall reaches nearly to the ceiling and creates a unique acoustical environment while also serving to divide portions of the room. On the side closer to the door, the tables and chairs are larger and more crammed together. he other side has smaller, more intimate settings: low booths aginst a wall with curtains that can be drawn closed, small tables with plush, low-slung chairs. There is a kitchen beyond the bar and servers often bustle in and out.

The door to the kitchen is behind the bar, set in a hinge that makes it easy to go in and out for someone with full hands. A low archway leads back into the main room of the inn.

29 May 1329

Settled at a table in the common room, Paule is enjoying a small meal. His hood and cape are pulled back off of his head and shoulders. And resting on the ground next to him is the huge fenhound he calls his own, the large creature sprawled out and his head is resting on his paws as he watches the area lazily. Picking up a length of venison sausage, he offers it down to the large hound who gobbles it immediately, and Paule continues his own meal.

Dinner time, in point of fact.
The Golden Crown Inn is alive with activity. Most of the patrons staying at the Inn are either eating their meal, or waiting for it. Serving girls wend their way in between patrons to bring customers their food and drinks, accompanied by the occasional yelp from a pinched behind.
The usual games of cards and dice continue on tables tucked into the corners of the room, and for a change - Castor is nowhere near them. No, the youthful lord is only just entering the Inn, his own hound - lovingly called Cerberus - padding along at his side, tongue lolling out. Castor himself is looking cleaner, fresher and more like a nobleman's son - less like a travelling vagrant.
He stops just inside the room, a hand idly stroking his faithful pet behind the ear.

"You know you're teaching him bad manners," Katarina remarks as she slides through the room to a few feet behind Castor, one hand resting lightly on his arm as she smiles at her son - and Cerebus as well, of course. "Feeding him from the table is the first step to him sneaking food off the platter when you're not looking. He's going to steal the entire steak sometime and you'll only have yourself to blame," she warns, amusement coloring her voice as she shrugs out of her cloak and drapes it over the back of one chair before seating herself.

"You make it sound like he doesn't already do that, Kat." Paule says as he rises to his feet at the approach of his wife and presses an affectionate kiss to her cheek, the wrinkles on the corners of his eyes crinkling with his smile. "Or did you forget about that huge brute of a beast that I had that always tried to join us in the bed shortly after we were married?" he says with a grin as he notices his son finally, and studies him for a moment. "Well, apparently you had a talk with him?" he inquires of his wife as he moves to sit back down.

Castor chuckles at his mother's word, offering a faint, half-smirk for his father. "Especially when the dog is large enough to to make some horses feel inadequate." He glances to the side at his own hound, pats him once and then commands:
"Cerberus, sit."
The hound obediently pads to the side of Castor's chair and plonks its rear on the ground… only to curl up at the youth's feet. Castor lifts a hand to get a serving girl's attention.
"A cup of your best wine," he declares with a grin. "And a meal. Thank you." He smiles boyishly at the girl, deliberately not looking at his father.
Then he turns to his mother. "You're looking well. Have you done something different with your hair, Mother?"

"Ahh yes, I remember," Katarina replies with a smile shared between herself and Paule, "and the sheer number of furniture damaged and claw marks on everything," she reminisces with a slow shake of her head. "The first generation of the hounds were a bit rough around the edges," she adds as she leans up and kisses Paule in return. Making a small sound of to confirm that perhaps she has, a glance sent toward Castor as he takes a seat, seeing identical half-smirks from father & son. "A cup of wine after your meal, you mean," she corrects, nodding to the serving girl, "I'll take what ever the kitchen is serving today," she adds.

"Bring out the Blood Wine that we had brought from the vineyards, please." Paule comments to one of his guards who goes to retrieve it. "I refuse to drink the sewage and filth these southerners call wine." he says flatly as he notices his son ignoring him but says nothing on it at the moment as he chuckles to Katarina. "I am still amused that you got me one as a gift for our first anniversry, my love." he says with a smile as he glances back to Castor. "I believe they are serving a fine meal of venison sausage, fresh bread and slaw."

Castor does not quite roll his eyes, but he had been meaning to. "Yes, Mother," he says with a mildly apologetic tone of voice. "Of course, Mother. Wine after the meal… " He glances back toward the serving girl and flashes her a lopsided grin.
"Ale then, for now."
He gives his mother a boyish grin followed by a shrug of his shoulders as he leans to the side just a fraction so he can pat Cerberus. "Where is Cricket?" he suddenly asks, with a glance around the room.

"But no stew," Katarina remarks, "food shouldn't float," she adds with a minor shudder at the thought. She'd rather bread and water than floating food, any day. A glance is sent from husband to son and back, not needing mother's intuition to observe this one, but it's mother's intuition - or maybe just mother's amusement - that keeps her from remarking on it. at the moment, at least.

"No, no stew, please." Paule agrees as he folds some bread around another sausage to enjoy. "So, the question was presented today, love, so I figured I would ask you - how long are we planning on being in town for. It seems our children are in a rush to go explore for themselves."

"Oh really?" Katarina wonders, taking a piece of bread from Paule's plate and glancing toward Castor, curiosity evident in her gaze. "Well, it is a city they haven't visited a great deal. And it isn't, quite, a mud and stick village coated with straw thatching everywhere.."

"In point of fact," Castor chimes in. "I was keen on relaxing a while - but 'twould seem I tend to differ with others as to 'how'. Perhaps I should take up embroidery…"
He snorts derisively and goes back to scratching his hound behind the ear. A few moments later, he casts his gaze upward and to the side, to look at his mother.
"Orion is getting restless," he remarks coolly. "Heard him kicking up a storm - and half the stable - earlier this morning. I had to spend most of the day looking after him. What IS it with sable hands these days?"

"Embroidery?" Castor's twin swishes her way over to the table, materializing from seemingly nowhere in that unnerving manner of hers. In fact she'd just been outside, but from the lack of dirt on her boots and the hem of her dress, one would never guess as much. "Cas, I fear the result would be a disaster of the worst sort. It would end with me having to cut you loose from a rather large knot you managed to get your fingers tangled up in." A corner of Cricket's mouth curls into a teasing smile, her assessment of her brother's skill at needlework not far off the mark. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but the last time you tried it … "
so what if they were barely able to walk back then? It's still a valid observation, yes?
" … you ended up ruining most of Mother's silks and cried a great deal when she scolded you." She laughs, settling herself beside Katarina and giving her mother a kiss on the cheek.

Rising to his feet, Paule greets his daughter with an affectionate smile and a chuckle as she relates the story. "Is that why when I made it back to the safehouse I confused Castor for Cori and thought he was a she and you had made her a new dress, Kat?" he asks finally. "I think that incident of being called Cricket may have scarred him for life, you realize." he says as he takes a seat and bites down on another sausage.

"Or we could find you someone to apprentice too," Katarina offers to her son with a sidelong smile. "There's blacksmiths, for one, or leather workers, for another, armorers, as well, just to name a few. Ferriers, merchants, you would do well - I think - to learn how to correctly manage and tally coin," she suggests as well, drawing up a list as she goes. "Tailors are never out of work, nor are farmers, for that matter, butchers," she continues with that list as she turns to give Cricket a hug, why settle for a kiss when a hug is within reach as well. "Though, perhaps not a tailor, you don't do well with fine silk thread," she muses, eyes gleaming with amusement, sharing a grin with Paule.

Castor rises from his chair to greet his sister, then sits back down - looking injured. "I thought you swore never to mention that particular fabrication again, Polly?" He asks in a dejected tone of voice - to match the expression on his face.
"Besides, I did not cry - I merely suffered an allergic reaction to…" he flounders. "…to…something to which I am horribly allergic in the room. Embroidery, probably. It made my eyes water."
He smirks at his sister.
"It was your idea, anyway," he says with a 'hmph' and folding his arms across his chest - just in time for the serving girl to arrive with his meal. "I do not need embroidery to be able to stitch up a soldier in the field - imagine that! 'You're all fixed up now, Sir Knight! Never mind the scarring - when the stitches come out you'll have a lovely little bunny-rabbit on your belly!'"
He snorts.

Her slender fingers flex for a moment as they find purchase around a drinking cup, only to release the item when her mother embraces her. "My idea?" Cricket scoffs good-naturedly, returning Kat's hug and sparing a grin for Paule, "I somehow doubt it. Even so, brother: were it true, and the idea was mine, I now devote a great deal of my time to the study of more elevated materials. I believe I may safely boast to have rather few such misguided notions left in my head." She looks pointedly at her twin, as if to suggest he could do with some more studying, himself, to lose some of his own surplus of misguided notions. In a flash of 'pity,' she doesn't press the issue of whether or not he had actually cried on that day long ago. Paule's mention of mistaking the twins for one another is enough of a prod to Cas' pride, after all. "I did have a question for our esteemed parents, though."

With Kat handling the greetings for both of them and the blood wine delivered, Paule makes himself a goblet annd pours one for Castor as well, sliding it over to him as he takes a drink from his. "A query, you say?" he asks curiously as he looks between the two siblings and then reaches to claim his wife's hand.

With his left hand, Castor stops petting Cerberus and reaches for the cup of wine passed to him by his father. His other hand, however, is drumming away softly on the table top. To most, it should appear as idle tapping, but to Coriaria it is something far more significant:
Stuck here. the youth signs with his fingers, for his twin to see. Going mad. Horses. Ride. Now. Soon? The next few little twitches of his fingers translate into a string of curses.
Castor raises his wine cup to his lips, and drinks, still completing the signed sentence for his sister.

Kat slides her hand into Paule's as she casts a fond look at her children. It's not just the fondness of a parent for her children, it's genuine affection and pleasure at seeing her children interact - not squabble or argue or make her want to smother them in their sleep so that SHE gets a few minutes of peace and quiet. But fondness that makes her observe her children with a fond smile playing along her lips. "And what question might that be?" she wonders, sliding another piece of bread off of Paule's plate and folding it neatly before she bites into it, curiosity evident again in her tone of voice.

"A straight forward one, or so I like to think," she replies without missing a beat, her awareness registering both Castor's message of misery (expletives included) and her parents' curiosity, "I was hoping it would be acceptable to you both if I were allowed to… travel, for a time. On my own."
Always rescuing you. Yes, ride soon.
"I wish to see some of the country here and it's hardly fair that Cas is always going wherever he pleases while I am made to keep close by." Cricket can do 'petulant' with the best of them, and her lower lip moves fractionally, as if her mouth were on the verge of forming an unladylike pout. Then, remembering that her parents rarely respond well to such wheedling, she tries to appear more adult about the whole matter. "I know you'll say yes. Right?" Oh, she can do 'cute' too — her blue eyes look just a little bigger and brighter now.

"Absolutely not." Paule says, his voice suddenly firm, as is his posture as he sits up and gives his oldest daughter a critical look. "Your duties as Baronet are to the land first and foremost. If you are not busy enough meeting with the lordships and those that protect our kingdom, then there is plenty of training you can be doing in the combat arts and stealth and practicing leading our cavalry." he says, an undertone that does not invite much reproach. After all, he spent his entire life defending the land that he plans to pass on to Coriaria. "If you want to visit where your mother comes from, that I can see about arranging as a visit, but to tour in this…" he says, a grand gesture with his hand at all of Taniford. "No."

In contrast to Paule's instinctive rapid-fire response, Katarina is weighing Cricket's request with all the due logic and consideration that this request merits. She even lets Paule have his instinctive caveman protective answer, even lets the list of 'options' be recited, reasonably sure that Paule had all of this stuff in some file inside his head just waiting for the moment to lay down the law. "On your own, absolutely not. With your brother to safeguard your protection, that would be acceptable. You'll need a letter of introduction to the various families in the area, of course, and it wouldn't hurt to have both of you presented at court before you begin any real traveling. before you can start making connections that will serve you in the future it's important to see who is swimming and weaving in which circles and which spiders are truly dangerous, not just ugly fat hair and possessing of hinged legs that let them spring like .. gross hinged legged spiders that dont' just dangle and scuttle but also spring. Now," and this is when she shares a sidelong look with Paule, "it will take a bit of time to arrange. First we need to see about a formal court introduction, I'm sure that we can arrange that."

Castor listens to the exchange, still drinking his wine. He has a smirk on his face - for his family's benefit - at his twin's expense. 'Look who gets to go out on his own?' his smirk says. However, his fingers suggest the opposite:
Sneak out. Done it before. Father has his breeches in a twist again. Cranky.
Resisting the urge to chuckle (more or less), Castor turns his attention to his father, about the time he also starts eating his meal. "I can teach Pol' as easily as one of your commanders, Father. Besides, the cavalry isn't going to take orders from a girl".
He winks, teasing his sister. In truth, most of Cas' abilities are instinctive - as his family well knows. He is not a tutor - except at getting into trouble.
At his mother's vouching for him - or at least his protection over his sister - he beams brightly and looks at his father. "See?"

Were she any less self-possessed, the Westmark heiress would glare at her parents and then grumble something rather uncouth… and then whine. Loudly. Her good breeding wins out, however, and she receives the news with the dignity that has been trained into her since birth. "Sir," she nods in deference to Paule before moving on to Katarina, "Madam. I beg you would not trouble yourself with such preparations. The Baron is right; I cannot imagine what I was thinking." A tiny twitch of her jaw muscle — something Castor could easily recognize as one of his twin's 'tells' for feelings of anger — is the only thing to disrupt her otherwise placid features. Any hint of pleading has been erased. It's as if she'd never asked anything at all. Just may try. Under lock and key… no more.

"With her brother??" Katarina gets a look from her husband like she just told him that she was pregnant again as Paule listens to his family try valiantly to convince him that this is a good idea in some way shape or form. "Absolutely not." he says, that command inflection that Paule Westmark was so famous for in the war suddenly at the forefront as even his massive dog lifts his head and gives a snort towards Castor, before padding over to Katarina as Goliath looks for affection.
"If she wants to hear about other lands, we can have her tutored on the subject or we can have those nobles from other lands visit us." he says, as the Baron is actually rising to his feet, reminding his family that this is not a democracy, it's a Paultatorship. "And they'll have to take orders from the Baroness because her deadbeat brother refuses to show an ounce of any responsiblity to his lands and if left up to him we would slide back to our prewar standing of our Keep being known for serving wine off of a wench's amble bosom instead of being some of the deadliest fighters in the Kingdoms." he snaps towards Castor, his fist slamming onto the table to interupt the twins' 'conversation'. "Perhaps a summer at home and in training will help you realize that you do have duties and responsiblities other than gambling, booze, and whores." he says evenly towards his son.
"So far, all I have seen from our travels is a Duke that deals in falsehoods and can't keep it in his pants, a Princess that doesn't seem to really want to return to her duties and only makes subtle arguments instead of outright demands to return home, and my son trying to mount anything with two legs and a rack." he says simply, frustrated as he looks towards his wife. "And we do not need to be encouraging our daughter to travel with anyone other than a procession of guards at the moment, considering that it seems any female around here is either beheaded or besieged by men that can't keep it in their pants!"
Finally, when his daughter shows the good common sense that he and the Guardians granted her, he slowly eases back into his seat to drink from his wine again as the Baron of Westmark is placated for the moment and he looks towards his son, just DARING him to be untoward. He hasn't taken a strap to someone's backside in a while.

Katarina tilts her head calmly back as she observes what is undoubtedly Paule at his Finest role of Paultatorship, making a list as he speaks of the quite reasonable guidelines that he is setting forth. "If.. you're quite done?" she asks, her tone of voice mild in the face of Ferocious Paule, waiting - one slender brow arched upward subtly - even giving Paule a few more moments to get the rest of it out of his system before she fixes a long look at both of their offspring. "Now then. Cricket, he's right," always concede defeat first, it tends to startle Paule. "You can't go gallivanting around the land, this one or any other, without a proper escort. You'll need a guard detail, a maid and if not a priestess as your guide but a matron of the appropriate age, experience and credentials. You will need to be escorted from one land, meaning the lands of one House, to another, with all proper protocol observed at all times. You are not, after all, a toothsome wench who will be sleeping her way from one village bar to the next. Draft a reasonable proposal and present us with a outline of which lands you're most interested in visiting, name the houses that you intend to seek the hospitality of, and we'll sort through that list and outline which houses are appropriate and which are not."
She fixes her attention, next, on Castor. "Your father is right. We are not keen on the idea of having grandchildren dotting the countryside, with mothers who have dubious hygiene and no bloodlines to speak of. If you can't keep it in your pants, then it's time that we find you a wife so that your exuberance is not wasted on women that you pay to spend a few minutes with." A bit harsh but… "Your father and I have our eye on a number of well bred young ladies who have lovely personalities that we would be happy to finalize arrangements with and present you, the trussed up lamb if need be, at the nearest temple to make your vows accordingly. Your choices are simple, my son, either snap out of this self indulgent lifestyle and realize that your father and I have fought, bled, sweat, spent months of sleepless nights, years of hard work, sacrificed everything to safe guard time and time again. Or you may wish to consider a life of service and devotion at the temple of your choosing."

Father needs to get out more…
Castor signs to his twin very quickly, but he does not respond to the Baron - at least, not straight away. The youthful Westmark lord stares flatly, straight ahead. If he had been a horse, his ears would have been flat back against his hair. The twitching and drumming of his fingers shifts from the 'twinspeak' language he shares with Coriaria, into just… Plain… old… twitching. And drumming. His countenance, for the most part, looks as if it were carved from stone - and is just as warm. Moments pass and his control over his features lapses; his right eye starts to twitch with suppressed ire, and the muscles in his jaw can just be seen clenching and unclenching, practically in time with his heart-beat. The young man clearly does not have quite the same control as his twin. He glances at his mother. "Must you spell it out, Mother?" He blushes bright red!
Then his face turns a slightly different shade of red, for a not-so-slightly different emotion. Anger. But the colour quickly drains from his face as he manages to calm himself down - at least enough to put up a facade of neutrality. He takes a breath in through his nostrils and then out through his mouth. His head droops forward a little - a gestural emblem of apparent shame.
"You're right - of course you're right. You did pick Uncle Kristopher to be my guardian for most of my childhood, but I am sure that is not to be held against you. You could always send me back. Barmaids like to talk - especially to a man who appears sympathetic. Just because I enter with them, does not mean I also leave with them. Many of them, at least." He glances at Cori as his fingers twitch.
The blasted girls turned me down, Sister. Still… Father can stew all he likes. It puts colour in his cheeks. The man is a stone.
"I feel in need of some breathable air," he says aloud - rising to his feet slowly. "If Your Lordship and Ladies-ship will excuse me…"

Castor isn't the only one whose cheeks color at the frank — and saucy — talk from the Baron and Baroness. As the conversation skews into 'not suitable for mixed company' territory, Cricket's normally fair complexion turns rather pink, her head sinking into her right hand, eyes covered as if she's trying to convince herself that if she can't see any of them, they can't see her either — and therefore she isn't here at the Inn, smack dab in the middle of this humiliating tirade — oh, to be alone in her rooms at home! What wouldn't she give now for a luxury that seemed so odious and confining to her not moments ago?
"Father please," she murmurs at first, before her mother takes a turn at out-blistering the Baron by way of reading her son the riot act, "Mother, no…"
Then her twin pipes up, and she can't keep quiet any longer. "Really?!" she cries, feeling ill from the disharmony now sending its ugly vibrations through the family, "Must we really discuss this here? Oh, I beg your leave!" But she's not really asking, for she's sprung out of her seat and bolts for the door with haste.

"And if you can't make up your mind, we'll truss you up like a dinner goose and leave you for Mother Tylon to take in." That's right, Coriaria, Paule just invoked in your favorite 'Aunt' into the conversation. As Castor makes his comments, the Baron frowns. "We sent you to Uncle Kristofer because we were under siege, in case you have forgotten. He provided you with safe refuge and a home to be raised in properly, and you should be blessed that we allowed you to go there." Instead of having to slog in the bogs, learning how to build traps, to hide in the shadows, to learn to be the Shadow baroness that Coriaria is destined to become.
"You will sit, Castor." he says firmly, suddenly, as he rises to his own feet and looks to his wife. "SIT!" he barks to his daughter, wondering when she suddenly became a blushing little shrinking violet. Apparently he needs to get a little more mud under her nails, "I am retiring for the evening with Katarina. When we have left, the two of you can be on your way." he blows a breath out of his lips and whistles sharply. "Goliath!" he says, and the massive Fen Hound rises to his feet to trot up next to his master. At least someone in this family is obedient to him. Katarina just gets a look. They will have words later on the whole idea of where and who will be visiting Coriaria. The list of who isn't allowed is already pretty long, good luck finding those who would be allowed.
Setting down several coins to pay for the meals of his family, Paule fills his goblet with wine and takes a long draw from it as he mutters under his breath about the various people he's met so far and things that he's probably going to want to do later, which may include waterboarding his dear son as he moves towards the exit of the common room as the Baron makes a face and doesn't wait for his wife as he seems intent on leaving.
That is until he pauses long enough for Katarina to make her goodnights to her children, affectionate as she is as she makes her way over to her husband and digs her fingernails into her husband's arm in a gentle reminder. He pauses for a moment and then looks to his kids. "The two of you. Tomorrow. Woods outside of town. Bring only your daggers. I believe it is time I refresh your stealth training." he says flatly to his two kids. Again, that invitation is more an order than a request.

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