Wine Princes and Knights

Wine, Princes, and Knights
Summary: Prince Samwell and Lady Claire finally speak at something of a brief moment. Later, she has a few moments conversation with Sir Jaren.
Date: 11/10/1329
Samwell Claire Jaren 

Camp near Estermarch, Summit Halls
Fri Oct 11, 1329

A few hours have passed and the small party has returned from their meeting with Lord Losthren, who first received Sam alone and later the lot of them together for lunch. Naturally he also offered rooms to Samwell and Lady Claire as befit her station. So later on, as they return to the camp, orders are given to pack things and take them to the castle. Leaving the prince and the lady with little to do for a while, so Sam invites Claire over to sit in the sunshine in front of his tent and share some fine wine with him.

To say that even in the aftermath of the meeting with Lord Losthren, Claire still looks about the grounds with the eyes of a visitor and an untimely one would be exactly right. Though, no hesitation remains in her features as she returns to the Prince's tent with the cloak still settled securely about her shoulders for warmth. "Your Highness." Spoken in greeting with a polite curtsey, she remains poised enough to keep the formality in place.

"Relax, Mylady, I'm only a prince and not even a heir.", Samwell smiles and waits for her to sit down before handing her a glass. "My name is Samwell. What did you think of the meeting with Lord Losthren? I hope you are pleased that a room has been readied for you? I do think it's much better if you are to stay with us for a while. Camps get rather dreary fast…"

"The last time I recalled, a prince is still a prince," Claire replies with the hints of a smile tugging at her lips, rising and moving to take a seat at the table. Accepting the glass, she ruefully adds, "Claire. Then again, I daresay that the entire camp knows my name by now. And I hardly mind residing in the castle. The Sollingers are on good terms with the Southern houses quite easily, that I know of. Or." With consideration tinging her voice, she considers, "Do you think the additional presence would be a distraction? Not that I believe anything but that your men and women are quite capable and not prone to such."

Samwell chuckles. "There might be a queue for your services, Mylady. What man would not like to receive treatment from a beautiful young lady? Although I already warned them, if I found them seeking you out with fantasy complaints, I'd give them something to complain about. You are really welcome, Mylady.", he assures her, offering her a warm smile.

Claire bemusedly notes, "They might find me a harsh minder, when injured. I have taken the moments to ask after your other guard. The one with the snake bite, but he seems to doing well now. I would almost consider a full recovery is not far from my declaration. I am quite familiar with a range of injuries from the war. Though, I hope you do forgive the fact that it still surprises me to know that you traveled without a healer or someone well versed in the first aid measures. But," she notes with a sip of wine punctuating her words. "Since I am a part of your group for the time being.. just how far do you intend to travel?"

"Well, as you see, I thought we'd be close enough to the towns to summon a healer if necessary. We're not a large group and it was not to be a dangerous mission. However, I had probably underestimated to potential for poisonous animals and crazy villagers.", he admits and gives her a long look while sipping some wine. "May I ask how you came to be so well-versed in healing, Mylady?", he finally asks.

Claire considers that question, letting the glass rest against her lips while her gaze lingers across the field. "During the war, actually. I served as head healer on two ships during the course of the fighting. But there was little need for me to marry, so I was allowed to continue," she explains after a few moments of silence. "I had thought to travel to Laketown to speak with the Guild. Perhaps."

"Healer, on a ship? That sounds like quite a challenge.", Samwell acknowledges, "You feel a call for this kind of occupation then? And you never thought of getting married? Your own manor, children…?", he probes carefully.

"A challenge if one was not a Sollinger," Claire notes with half-pride and the remaining bemusement at such a statement. "But, I do feel useful to be talented at such a skill. Besides, I never had the same appreciation for the sea like my siblings, when it was me patching their injuries," she notes with a sidelong glance at Samwell. A moment. Perhaps longer, the probing question not missed. "As for getting married? Once? Perhaps. Now? I think there are far better candidates for such matches. You know as well as I, that there is little choice in the matter."

"Well, the offer stands, Mylady, if you come to Laketown with me, I will be sure to find a good man for you. There are quite a few of them.", Samwell says lightly, before deciding it's time to change the subject. "Tell me, how are you related to Sir Gustav?"

"Presuming that my focus is on finding a husband," is the response from one Claire Sollinger, amusement not in her words even as the topic is shifted just like that. "Which it is not. I dare say, that if I were to find my affections swayed I would rather that it happen. Not," she says with a slight inflection on the single word. "Like those women who find themselves in a position out of necessity. As for Sir Gustav? We are cousins. Not necessarily close, for all that we did serve in the war - in different measure." Settling the glass to rest within one palm, her attention turns squarely onto Samwell to query, "Why do you ask?"

Samwell listens to her lengthy response that leaves him slightly confused. He realizes that women always leave him confused and grumps a little, swigging back some wine. "Ah cousins.", he notes, looking satisfied, then shrugs. "I'm looking for some dirt on him."

Smile? Pleasantries? It's all but gone as Claire regards him, long and lengthy response likely summed up into two words: her choice. Neither here nor there, closing her eyes to consider the question in full while sitting as still as a statue. "You don't like him, do you? Or, rather I have heard the rumors. Perhaps to be expected, given the circumstances."

"Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm fond of Gustav. He used to be one of my Blue Guards and served me well.", Samwell replies, "He was also a good tutor to my sister. But marrying her? I think he's overreaching slightly there.", he admits. Apparently he's not troubled by his own directness and her reaction. Sam's a man of action, not of thought.

"Do you not think he can work to achieve being worthy of the marriage?" A genuine question that, opening her eyes so that Claire refocuses on the camp's movements. Though her mind may be set onto the questions set out between them. "I would think that the fact he has served in such capability would have proven his loyalty to House Taniford. In that consideration, exactly -who- would you rather see her marry?"

"Oh perhaps he could be worthy.", Samwell admits a little lazily, "I'm not saying that he is not a potential candidate, but he's rather sure of himself. Mother won't have it of course. She's seeking other candidates out. She knows all worthy lords across the realm." And Mommy knows best anyway. He gives Claire an amused look. "You're fond of him, are you not, Mylady?"

Claire considers thoughtfully, "Would you not want someone who is sure of himself rather than constantly wondering if he is good enough for your sister? Considering everything, of course." The mention of the Queen wisely finds her not saying anything against such an observation. Yet, it is noted with a nod of her head. "He is family, even as a cousin." Nothing said about fondness. "He has done nothing wrong to gain my dislike, so I should think that he should be at least not be rejected outright. Then again, it is not quite so simple a matter."

"Indeed, it is not as simple as just waltzing in to claim the future Queen's hand.", Samwell agrees lightly, "He will definitely have to prove himself worthy. And I'm curious to see what other candidates my mother will rustle up. It should all be highly amusing." The prince seems to be in a rather good mood, smiling into his winecup.

The soft sound of a throat clearing interjects between snippets of conversation between the Prince and the Lady of House Sollinger. Sir Jaren stands a respectful distance away, and offers a bow from the waist towards Samwell, then Claire in turn, "Your Highness, Milady. Please forgive my interruption. Sir Gauvain suggested that you may wish to speak with me regarding the unpleasantness in the village, but I've no desire to intrude." When he straightens, he stands tall and still, with no sign of awkwardness or discomfort. The smile that paints his face is a reserved one, but does not seem any less genuine for it.

"Not an intrusion at all," Claire replies, even though for all of Samwell's good mood.. she's more neutral but pleasant. "I think Prince Samwell and I were just exchanging our views on politics, of a sort. I could depart and look to see the progress of my things being moved to the castle, if necessary."

"Sir Jaren, yes, I do indeed mean to speak with you.", Samwell smiles at the man, "But for now I must see about our things being transported to the castle. Lord Losthren offered quarters within the castle walls for the Lady Claire and myself.", he explains and rises to his feet. "Please do not trouble yourself, dear lady. I'll see to things. And I come and speak with you as soon as everything's under way.", he promises Jaren.

"As you will, Your Highness. I await your convenience." Jaren bows once more as Samwell rises to his feet, falling silent as he seems to be taking his leave. There's absolutely zero hint of disappointment, though neither is there any hint of relief.

Watching the interaction between prince and knight, Claire moves to rise as Samwell offers to see to the movement of her, their things to the castle. With a polite curtsey, she replies, "Thank you, Your Highness." It's only after the prince's departure that she glances briefly to Jaren. Seeing neither disapointment or relief, but biding her time until they're entirely out of earshot to ask her next question. Even if it turns into a greeting first. "Good day, Sir Jaren."

Jaren watches the Prince depart for a few moments, then looks back to Claire when addressed, inclining his head to return the greeting and replying, "Lady Claire. A pleasure, as always. I feel I owe you an apology for the events in the village. While I am certain your chosen path has exposed you to such things before, it is never pleasant to witness death firsthand."

"You might be surprised how much I have seen," Claire replies, relaxing slightly while giving the retreating back a final look before turning her attention to Jaren with a polite smile and dip of her head. "I am capable and it does not surprise me as it would other women. But, I doubt that the entire incident has left Prince Samwell in a sour mood. Otherwise, I think our conversation would be quite different."

"I care less over his Highness' mood and more over whether or not justice was properly meted out." Jaren frowns slightly, "Forgive my bluntness, Milady. I am not best pleased with the outcome of the investigation. I would vastly have preferred to take the murderer alive to face proper judgment for his actions." He sighs, not mournfully, and not with any sense of exaggeration, simply a slightly deeper intake and exhalation of breath, "Then again, I suppose this is why I am a knight and not a constable." He flashes another brief, reserved smile towards Claire, displaying a glimmer of self-effacing humor.

"My guardsman thanks you for the timely intervention, of course," Claire replies with the slightest of turns to place the glass onto the table with the other glass and bottle. Once settled, she turns back with a hand gesturing to the grounds and an invitation to walk if inclined. "I think that it is wished that the man would have lived as you also agree. His actions are confusing at best and we will not know the truth."

Jaren moves alongside Claire, taking the opportunity to walk alongside as so invited, though not being so familiar as to offer an arm. After all, they're not courting! "Yes, it is indeed troubling. We can speculate a great deal, but ultimately we will never know. Still, he was a touch more clever than most…attempting to pass himself as helpful to our cause in the midst of investigating a murder he himself committed." Jaren ever-so-slightly shakes his head, "I could have handled it better, but it will do no good to wallow in recriminations. Better to simply resolve to try to do better the next time and move on." He adds, "And I am glad your man is unharmed. Sir Gauvain and I would be poor knights indeed had you or yours come to harm."

"You both make a good team. Or at least, familiar enough in working together," Claire remarks, similarly keeping both hands and arms within the confines of her cloak as they walk. Nothing improper at all to be seen. "If necessary, perhaps Mistress Evelyn might be able to shed any light on the matter. If it helps. Since I will be staying with your group for a time, it would be simple enough to check in on her."

"I would be grateful for any insight into the events you could provide, Milady." Jaren notes, briefly glancing in Claire's direction and offering a brief smile. "Sir Gauvain and I fought in the Corsair War together. He is a good man, and a skilled warrior. I can think of few others that I would trust to watch my back in a tight spot."

"I had thought so," Claire answers, pausing for a moment before elaborating on what she presumed. "That the two of you have known each other for awhile. But during the War? I presume that you both were on the land battles then." It's not a question in this matter, catching a glimpse of the horses and her maid standing not too far away with a longer look at her lady. Eye caught, it's the noblewoman who dismisses what she might have said later with a shake of her head. "That is not important, but I will try and visit the woman and her friend later."

"I cannot speak for Gauvain. But I did see combat aboard ship on one occasion. We were travelling down the Rothim River from Laketown to reinforce some forces just outside of Tharnham. We ran across a pair of smaller Corsair vessels on Patrol. You sailors and Captain managed to neutralize one vessel before they could board. The second closed ranks. Once the fighting started, it wasn't terribly different from any other melee. I suppose I acquitted myself well enough…I'm still here, after all." Jaren replies on the subject of fighting on land. "Thankfully the seasickness that gripped some was not something that afflicted me." He continues along a couple of paces away from Claire, glancing over towards her with a glimmer of curiousity, "If I may inquire, what are your plans? Will you be continuing with us or heading on alone after this impromptu visit?"

Clasping both hands behind her back as they walk, Claire maintains the formality and distance out of necessity. Still acquaintances, as they are. "It seems that I will remain with the group during the Prince's tour until the return to Laketown. You do need someone capable of healing, after all. I had thought to suggest that he obtain another while here, if he was not pleased with my skills."

"I would see no reason that he should be displeased. Your skills have proven more than adequate to the tasks you have been presented with." Jaren replies simply, walking in a relaxed posture, arms at his side, but even in the home of his liege lord, his eyes don't seem to stop searching. Just in case. He doesn't seem skittish mind, just…aware. Or trying to be.

"I wonder about that," she says, voice slightly distracted as she spots the form of her maid and guards not too far ahead with their horses - packed with the smaller items which intend to travel with them to the castle. "Not in a negative sense. But he seems taken aback by the fact that I am not like a number of other noblewomen in search of a husband. Or rather," she corrects with a slowing of her steps. "I have an unsettled feeling about returning to the town at the end of this tour. What can you tell me about His Highness?"

"I fear I've only known him a scant few moments more than yourself, Milady, and spent even less time in his presence in the interim. Everything else is solely reputation, which amounts to him being a skilled knight and a dutiful son to the Queen. Obviously he commands the Blue Guard, and they seem not to chafe under his leadership, so I can only judge their deference fairly earned." Jaren replies, glancing towards Claire with a faint smile, "People are often either baffled or intrigued when faced with anything that does not seem to neatly fit into this society we've built." He sounds as though there's a bit of voice of experience there.

Indeed. That tinge of experience is what has Claire adopting a sidelong glance at the knight, considering either him or the observation presented about their society. "And they try to place it into something that fits? Whether or not it is in their best interests or not," she asks, steps coming to a halt before turning to face him directly with a smile, not necessarily out of politeness. "Perhaps you are right. I should go and see to my own things and horses, Sir Jaren. It seems as if some of us might be ready to head up to the castle now."

"Of course Milady. Until later." Jaren returns the smile, perhaps a touch less reserved than his usual polite expression. "If you've need of anything that cannot be provided in the castle, simply send word and I will see it done." He adds, "But Count Eldrick will undoubtedly be a gracious host. He is a good man, and an understanding Liege Lord."

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