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An Informal Greeting

Posted on Fri Jul 2nd, 2021 @ 2:33pm by Ser Alixander Hightower & Lady Joanna Hightower & Lady Celyse Blackwater

Mission: The Great Council
Location: Beacon Hall
Timeline: Before the Second Council

A green carriage inlaid with golden flowers, stems, and thorn designs pulled up outside Beacon Hall drawn by two beautiful brown horses. The doors were opened by two Highgarden soldiers and out stepped Celyse Blackwater in a long dark-red dress. She quietly thanked the guards with a gentle smile, clasped her hands in front of her, and proceeded toward the entrance to the hall. She greeted the men of Oldtown standing guard at the door and was led toward one of the manse's sitting rooms by one of them. When she entered, she looked around the room and took in the style.

The style was understated. The furnishings were finely made but nothing was ostentatious or gaudy. There was no need of such. There were bookshelves built into the wall to either side of the fireplace. They did not seem merely for display. They looked well worn. Joanna was sitting there with her cousin, Ser Alixander. She rose politely as Celyse entered and walked over to greet her. "Lady Celyse, how good of you to come. I know these are trying times but I have missed the company of the other ladies of the Reach. I was hoping to renew our acquaintance." She turned to Alix and then looked back to Celyse. "This is my cousin, Ser Alixander. I don't believe you two have met?" she said, almost as if it were an afterthought and not to the entire purpose of the meeting.

Alix Hightower had risen like any gentleman would when a lady entered the room. He had been trying to read but the tome's verbiage was thick, overly verbose, and obviously written by a Maester who had thought himself a trueborn teller of tales. He was most definitely wrong. he lay the book down where he'd been sitting with less than a military poise- a leg draped over the arm of the chair, half-curled like a cat as he craned toward the lore. Now he stretched arms above his head like that cat and popped his back with an arch as his cousin introduced him.

Well, she was pretty. Alix admitted that much. He nodded toward the Blackwater lady, "Lady," he said in the semi-polished charm of a late teenage boy, still working on his craft- that is, working on it when he wasn't playing war with other boys and men of the Reach. He bowed well to her, though the open strings of his shirt sagged overmuch to hint at lean muscle beneath.

"I'd be very happy to renew our acquaintance again, my Lady." Celyse said, curtsying gracefully. Her silver eyes moved between the Lady of the Hightower to her cousin. She observed his somewhat casual manner as he stretched and greeted her. She could sense his confidence, as much as one could expect from a young man, and she smiled a particularly stunning smile. Hers was a charm beyond her years and her aura was one of kindness, goodness, and honesty. Celyse had the gift of seeming almost totally enraptured in what someone else was saying; it made her very popular, especially among the lowly and the proud. The people in the middle didn't much care for her.

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Ser." Celyse said, looking at the handsome man with a white-toothed smile. "Will you be joining us today?"

"If it pleases you, my Lady Blackwater," Alix replied. She was quite lovely. Cousin Joanna was right there. Though Alix still had the flutter of nerves to disguise, the feeling that he was one of two people in this room with a lot weighing on their shoulders. It was hard to be suave and casual in the face of that. "My cousin speaks highly of you. In the glowing words you'd find at the Citadel."

"Does she, now?" Celyse asked, turning her gaze to Joanna and fluttering her lashes quickly. "Well, I'm flattered your cousin thinks so highly of me, though I'm not sure what I've done to earn such praise."

"You are quite an accomplished young lady," Joanna said, although she was not all that much older. "Your grandfather speaks highly of you."

“My grandfather has wished for some time now that I was born a boy. He may not have trained me in swords, but he gave me everything he could in character and the mind. My father, though jealous, gave me over to him long ago.” Celyse gave answer. “Yet still, I am glad to be a girl. It has it’s... certain charms.”

"That it does," Joanna agreed. "The Citadel, unfortunately, was stricter than my father about what was proper for a girl."

She looked at Alix again with an unreserved smile. She looked at him approvingly, seeming to see past his uncertain demeanor to the man underneath.

"Ser Alixander, it would please me to have you stay." she said with a subtle hint of shyness. "And please, no more 'ladies' for me. You may simply call me Celyse as all my friends do."

Alixander nodded with respect, "I shall try, Celyse. Please call me Alix, no matter how often I may slip to your title." Alix really was on his best behavior despite his casual dress and the fact that he wasn't that gifted in the world of charm. He was a soldier, or at least fashioned himself as one considering he was a young man of less than twenty, and had never killed a man in battle. But he fancied the polearms in the Dornish style and had finally been allowed to enter tourneys a year ago. "How is Highgarden?" He asked.

“Highgarden is beautiful and flowering, as it always this time of year.” Celyse responded, her eyes flashing to the side as she recalled the memory of her home. When she was young, she loved to run through the fields of roses, much to the dismay of the gardeners. She remembered how the stark White Castle ascended into the sky in concentric circles, each decorated with abounding greenery and flowering plants so that the whole thing looked like a giant beautiful flower pot. “Have you ever been, Alix? Or have your knightly travels taken you elsewhere?”

"Just with Grandather's retinue when he visited our Lord," he admitted. "But I was young. I don't remember much." He admitted. "I often stayed behind with Mother and the Maesters." Alix fixated on the strings of his sleeve, briefly. "I've been as far as Lannisport and the Arbor, and I've seen the Dornish coast. And I feel like I've glimpsed the Iron Islands but I've never wanted to visit. They were foggy and grey."

“Well-traveled men always tell such interesting tales.” She remarked with a look of unrestrained fascination in her eyes. “I’m sure you’ve got some great ones to tell. Tell me, Alix, of all the places you’ve been in your life, which had been your favorite?”

Alix considered that. "There's a lake house off the river from the Citadel, about an hour's ride on a good horse. And it brews a strange, dark drink from Astapor. Its very bitter and it keeps you awake. It's run by Maesters-in-Cloister dedicated to further studying." Alix blinked, "It's an interesting place. It's quiet and has these marvels of our knowledge. Houses of glass where it is always summer within. Imagine long solarium with many plants. I have good memories of that place."

He gestured at Celyse, "And you. Where have you traveled?"

Joanna watched them, smiling as they spoke. She was content to remain mostly silent for now. It seemed to be going well.

"Oh, me?" Celyse asked, looking at him over one of her shoulders, which was cradled with short sleeves bare in the dark red dress of the Highgarden style. She was a thin girl with a charmingly feminine waist, but she didn't have the décolletage that some girls boasted. Still, she wore the garment confidently and it made her look more regal than most of those other girls. Her gaze held interest, but was humble and far from suggestive. "my Lord Grandfather has carted me around the whole of the Six Kingdoms like I myself was his heir. It annoys my father to no end, but that's beside the point. I would have to say I rather liked The Rock and Storms End, though I've never been to Dorne, I would like to go, and the Eyrie was high enough to make me faint. I must say my lease favorite place was Harrenhall, though...a great melted and haggard castle with far too many ghosts for my taste. It might be a bit silly, but I frighten easily."

She demurred and turned her silver gaze from Alix to his cousin. She gave a wide-eyed expression at a remembrance.

"Though, when I was a girl, I rather liked scaring others. I remember giving your Lady Cousin quite a start during one of her visits to Highgarden when I was a child."

"Yes, well, I wasn't too much older myself and I wanted to see the ravens. Your grandfather's maester was not obliging," Joanna replied. "I wasn't expecting anyone to leap out from hiding."

Celyse smiled at the memory. She'd grown graceful, but she used to be quite the troublemaker. She wondered if all of Joanna's remembrances of her were fond. Her silver eyes danced over the woman sitting across from her and she crossed one of her legs neatly over the other.

"So, it looks like you have quite the promotion coming to you, Lady Joanna." she said smoothly. "You must feel completely overwhelmed."

"We shall see what the Council decides," she said cautiously, "but it is...It is not something I ever expected."

“Well how could you, really?” Celyse asked with a considerate expression. “It’s not like we’ve have the sort of system that would make it easy to plan or predict.”

"That is a fair point," Joanna admitted. "In truth, I never really expected to be Lady of the Hightower." She frowned, her mind on that melancholy topic, but then she shook her head. "There are certainly great changes ahead."

Alix looked on. he didn't envy Joanna's position. "What did you think of the vote, ladies? Disbanding the power of the nobility to choose their sovereign?" He asked, his eyes intent on both.

“Oh, it’s all a matter of thought, isn’t it?” Celyse asked rhetorically, offering him a feminine turn of her head with much sweetness. She presented her opinion as if it were extremely well thought out but unimportant. “I find that man can justify any little thing which we desire with a little bit of thought. I hope you don’t think me a cynic, because I but I expect most Lords and Ladies of the realm saw the right choice in whichever might favor them. Do you agree, Ser Alix?”

Alix's brow rose. It was all a matter of discourse now. It was done. But was it right or wrong? He wasn't entirely, "The danger wasn't the nobles of the Realm exercising their power. The threat is in weak candidates." He glanced at the Blackwater lady, his feet planted and elbows upon his knees, "I think it shows most Lords know where their bread is buttered. And that was more important than choosing someone so far away as a sovereign lord. No matter who wins tomorrow, Dondarrion still answers to Baratheon. Westerling still answers to Lannister."

"I think the important thing is that, even if some might not have truly wanted the change, few strongly opposed it," Joanna said. "If a majority of the lords had been strongly opposed, even the combined wishes of their Lords Paramount could not have forced the issue where they stood united and where their lawful right to cast an independent vote was protected from formal sanction, if not disfavor. I think most of the lords were truly tired of the old system. It had not worked well."

Celyse smiled sweetly, folding her hands on her lap.

"Enough politics, yes? I'm sure you two have been very busy with all that; I know I have between my grandfather's constant talking and my friends gossip. Shall we try to relax and catch up instead?"

"You're right, Celyse," Joanna agreed. "Politics has been...preoccupying lately. Are you enjoying King's Landing?"

"Not at all, my friend. But, as you know, I smile always makes things brighter." Celyse responded, issuing a winning smile of her own as a demonstration.

Alix smiled in to one cheek, perhaps less practiced than the two women present. Still, it bothered him- but it was also now rhetoric. It was past tense. The Kingdoms would go forward as they would, Gods willing, with a decent Monarch on the throne. He looked on, watching cousin and potential fiancee banter.


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