Welcome Home Laurel

Welcome Home Laurel
Summary: The Fox of Westmark returns home and catches her father in a foul mood.
Date: 7 June 2013
Related: None
Paule Katarina Laurel 

Sitting Room - Elkmound Keep
A sitting room for the Westmark Family.
7 June 1329

It's a quiet night at Elkmound Keep, and sitting on one of the couches in the main sitting room of the Keep, Paule is sitting and penning a letter. A pile of papers that are crumpled up are laying in various spots on the floor, discarded attempts at the letter earlier. The baron reaches up and rubs at his eyes with his fingers. And then he lowers his hand and leans back on the chair and lets out a long breath of frustration. "When did we just roll over and present our asses to the Tanifords so willingly?"

Katarina is calmly affixing arrow heads to the tips of arrow shafts and patterning the fletching accordingly as she replies, "Terribly good question," in a mild tone of voice. It's not, after all, that she isn't frustrated, but it takes a steady hand to do what she's doing withing messing up the fletching or not getting the arrow head seated properly, so it keeps her calm to keep her hands busy.

There is a soft, polite knock on the sitting room door.

Not a servant, for after a couple of seconds, the knob is tried and the door swings open in a manner too impulsive for any of the unobtrusive servants. Indeed, there is framed a rare figure in these halls of recent years. The smallest Westmark is still that - and still in her white Temple robes like a shroud, she looks for all the world to be a childlike ghost. One with spots of sun upon her sallow cheeks, and a sudden, shy smile. "Mama? Papa?"

"I'm not even sure an address would do anything to aleve anything." Paule admits with a frustrated noise, balling up his latest attempt. "We have the Tanifords wandering everyone else's lands - our Princess and Prince held captive, perhaps willingly by now, if the rumors about Amira are true, and our strongest military ally is with a Lohstren brat. Not to mention the traitorous Taniford that started this all in the first place." he comments as he moves to take out another sheet of paper.

Thank goodness for small favors at least for Katarina as the youngest Westmark makes her entrance and Paule stops his writings for the moment to set aside his scibe kit and rises to his feet. "Fox?" he says, a smile pulling onto his features as the Shadow Baron shows that side of him that is human - at least around his family.

Katarina sets aside the arrow that she's working on, a warm smile of welcome upon her face as she rises to her feet, immediately crossing the room to enfold her youngest in a rather fierce hug. "Sweetheart," is Katarina's own endearment for their youngest, getting to Laurel first before making room for Paule to join the hug. "How were the roads? Did you have any trouble along the way?"

Finding her mother first, Laurel plunges into the hug with abandon. Up close, the arresting of time is an illusion shattered. The girl stands now almost as tall as her mother, though under the robes she still seems to be all wiry muscle and bone. Little streaks of mud are on her front hem, she smells of river baths and cut weeds, and she is … barefoot. Of course. At least her feet are clean.

The same ferocious hug is given to her father before she settles down to her feet and steps back half an arm's length to look over her parents. "We had no trouble, Mama, none at all. Sister Redene came with us half the way, and Alek was very cunning in keeping me under cover after. We heard rumours about the Southerners, but never saw them." She pauses, biting the corner of her lip. "Did I interrupt?"

Returning the hug for a moment, Paule gives his youngest treasure a small kiss on the crown of her head before he steps back as well. "Good, if there were southerners in Westmark.. we would be a hunt this evening." the Baron says honestly, as he considers his daughter's question. For a moment, the Baron looks pensive and then shakes his head. "No, Fox, you did not interupt." he says simply as he returns to his seat. "Though you may not find yourself approving of the conversation. We are discussing current events in a way."

"Besides the obvious invasion of the Tanifords on our lands and our Royal children seeking matches in the south instead of amongst their own, it seems we are being betrayed on many fronts by our own Royal family." Paule comments as he takes a seat and pours himself a glass of wine, and makes a second one for Laurel, half-full. No watering it down, that's for Southern girls. Hopefully she remembers to sip. "It seems you will have company at the Temple, my dear Fox. Castor has petitioned us to enter the Temple to become a Chosen. While we have agreed to it - with the entrance of the Tanifords in our neighboring lands and the Sollingers, damn their hides and drown their souls, off of our coast, I think it best that all of our children remain within the Barony at the moment except for diplomatic missions."

Katarina is silent for a moment as Paule relays current events and the state of the kingdom, feeling a touch of a grim expression form on her face as she sets one arm gently around Laurel's shoulders. "If I thought speaking to my cousin would do us any good, you know that I would," Katarina reminds Paule in a quiet voice. Quiet because it helps leash the instinct to leap on a horse, ride to the palace, barge in and bash her cousin and all of his advisers over the head with the nearest handy heavy object. Like a wine cask or a brick or maybe the flat of her sword.

So too does the little one's smile vanish, leaving in it's place sharp-eyed thoughtfulness that encompasses both of her parents' words. Finally: "It sounds like it is even worse than Sister Redene said… and she is no optimist."

The wine is taken with both hands and a deep nod of thankfulness, though the surprise soon after prevents her from actually sipping from it. Measured surprise; an upward flicker of her blonde-tipped brows, and a merry sparkle of almost evil amusement in her eyes. "I do not know my brother, Papa, but from what Cricket has written to me, this sounds most unusual. I think the Chosen must be in delight to have such a student."

Finally, the wine is savoured, complete with the contented flutter of eyelashes once reserved for almond cookies and grapes fresh off the vine. "I will remain, of course. I promised that I would help with the rebuilding of the Temple here." The sentence ends heavily, hesitantly, like the girl has left something unspoken, or perhaps not ready to speak.

"If it were on me, I would go to speak to your cousin personally, beloved, but all visitors have to go through yet another Southerner, the sister of that bastard drunk of a Duke Wolveshire." Paule says with a frown and a shake of his head. "I am hoping you get a better chance to know of your brother, my darling Fox." he says to his child, and then picks up on something in the child's voice.

"It has been three years, Laurel." Paule says calmly as he sips from his wine and fills a goblet for his wife as well to pass to her. "At this point, the choice is yours. If you wish to remain with the Temple, you may, but you will have to renounce your rights and claim to title as a member of the House Westmark and as a noble, and become a citizen of the Temple." he says as he drinks from his wine, and looks towards his daughter. "I know this may be a decision you do not wish to make at this moment."

It is when deep in thought that Laurel most resembles her father - dark and brooding and and stormy. The years in the Temple may have leashed the storm, and smoothed the once precipitous descents into melancholy, but the elfin little Fox is still a Westmark. The storm roils for a minute, directed into her goblet of wine, before she ventures up blue eyes first to her mother, then to her father and his unspoken question.

"I promised I would help the rebuilding." Good. Her voice didn't warble, though it felt like a sparrow is trapped in her ribcage. Her lashes lower again. "But after that…"

"You are correct, Papa. I require further thought. I'm sorry."

"I see." Paule offers as he takes another draw from his wine. There's a glance towards his wife for a moment, and that look he has is withering, before he turns his back to go summon a servant to come in and clean up his mess. This also gives him a chance to calm his infamous anger as he swallows the rest of his wine in a few swift gulps.

It does not go unnoticed. Behind Paule's turned back, Laurel shares a wide-eyed glance at her mother. But as the elder woman seems unwilling to comment, the girl goes silent for a long moment, staring down at the half-empty goblet of wine in her hands. Various topics of small-talk are rifled through and discarded before she blurts them out at her father's angry back. Another sip of wine, the deep breath of Stilltha, and she sets the goblet aside. She stands in a whisper of white wool.

"I wish to see the gardens, and the pups, and the moors. May I have your leave?"

Well, that was an improvement. Before, she would have just ran out. Nevermind that it is full-dark, and the night's fog has already wrapped the manor in swaths of spectral chill.

"It is late in the evening, Laurel." Paule uses his daughter's proper name, as he sets down his goblet and he turns to her. A small smile tries to pull at his features. "I am glad you are home, daughter." he says as he goes and gives her a quick hug and then moves towards Katarina as she seems ill for a moment. "Your mother and I are going to retire for the evening. Perhaps in the morrow we can sit and have time as a family. Since it seems such time is becoming more fleeting." he comments as he moves to lead his wife away.

When Paule hugs her, he would feel that his youngest is trembling, inperceptively, like a small animal cradled in both hands. After a moment, though, she returns the hug tightly. That doesn't make the trembling subside.

"I missed you, papa." She whispers, almost harshly, into the buttons of his shirt. Then she pulls away, her lips pursed in that way that would be petulant on any other noblewoman in Eikeran. "I wish you both sweet dreams. On the morrow."

Of course, as soon as her parents retire, she would run, and woe to the servant that would think to stop the bare-footed girl from escaping into the fog-coated gardens. What ones that would see her at all.

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