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 O Captain My Captain

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Corrine Marsten
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PostSubject: O Captain My Captain   Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:50 pm

A shrill cry of "HYAAAH!" immediately preceded the sting of wood against legs.

Garlan had been minding his own business in the outer bailey, and had not noticed the small, stealthy figure scamper up behind him on his blind side with a practice sword and smack him along the back of his legs.

Whirling round in surprise, he saw it was Bethany Marsten, the six-year-old heir to Hartshorn, already becoming known for being a tearaway, grinning triumphantly up at him, brandishing the practice sword lile she had slain a dragon with it.

"I got you!" She proclaimed proudly.

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Garlan Elridge

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PostSubject: Re: O Captain My Captain   Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:57 pm

"Hah!"  He flashes his sunny smile as he looks around, partially to make sure he's not needed just then, partially to find just...the...right...there!

"So you did!  A solid blow!"

He shoots the young maid Bethany a wink and shuffles just a few steps away, then a quick kick of his toes sends a stray branch neatly up into the air in front of him.  Garlan snatches it handily, fiddles with it for just a few seconds -- plucking off and discarding a few leaves and a protruding twig that was anything but a crossguard -- and then gives the spirited little lady a salute.

"On your guard, m'lady," he dips the tip of his 'sword' to something approximating her height, and gives a playful poke in her general direction.  "The first rule is to always keep your blade up and ready!"

"There you are," click, clack, thump, clack, crack, he grins.  "Just so!  Both hands, now.  You haven't a shield, so there's no reason not to, aye?  One just over the other, that's the way!"

He's sure someone will be along soon enough.  The adults are normally a minute or two behind her.  Everyone in Hartshome is used to it, Garlan figures he might as well make it a fun minute or two.
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PostSubject: Re: O Captain My Captain   Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:14 pm

Bethany laughed joyously, swinging the wooden shortsword with both hands, making up for her lack of finesse with surprising ferocity. She scampered and ducked around him playfully, her black curls bouncing as she moved, trying to copy the knoghts and guardsmen she watched practicing every day. She especially loved a chance to have a go herself. Since she was two years old, she'd been fascinated by swords and warriors, and, thanks to her aunt Ellie's influence, full of mischief.

He prodded her with his makeshift stick-sword, and she squeaked & in a comically dramatic death swoon, clutching her ribs and gurgling, giving way to her infectious laughter. She stood straight again, hugging the sword to her and looking up at Garlan quizzically.

"What's being half blind like? Can you only see half of everything?"

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PostSubject: Re: O Captain My Captain   Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:36 pm

"Exactly that, just half of whatever I'm looking at." he says with an enthusiastic nod. "If you had a practice dagger to match the sword, and fought like a Braavosi, with a blade in each hand? Helpless, me. I could only see one of them coming at a time, since I only see half a Bethany!"

"But there's good news to balance it," he drops into a conspiratorial crouch, knees high, butt low, 'blade' in the dirt for balance. "I only see the bright side of everything. I never see my vegetables at dinners, only desserts. If I don't want to talk to someone stuffy, I can pretend not to see them. I only have to make half my bed! All in all, it's not so bad."

It's also half lies. There are chamber maids to make beds, now that he's a man there's no dodging the stuffiness of it all, and, truth be told, he never much minded a good vegetable or two. The first bit was honest, though. It just wasn't in him to brood, that's why the little girl's frank question earned only mischief in return, and no real hurt showed 'round his one good eye when she'd asked.

"But to make up for my eye, the Mother blessed me with sharp ears, little lady. And I can tell that you," he hauls himself upright and tosses his branch away, swatting his hands on his pants legs to clean them. "Have a grown-up coming this way. So snap to, soldier. Hartshome warriors salute with their blades, we don't hug 'em."

A second before they round the corner, he casts a glance towards the oncoming -- adult-sized -- footsteps he hears. The huffing, puffing, Maester, wanting the little lady back for her lessons, perhaps? Or some kitchen maid, one of a handful, sent to search for the heir to Hartshome?
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PostSubject: Re: O Captain My Captain   Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:53 pm

"Bethany?" came a familiar call, along with approaching footsteps on the flagstones.

Bethany stiffened, wide-eyed, and stood straight as an arrow, sword by her side like a sentry, as her mother rounded the corner and sighed with relief.

"There you are! I might have known."

She walked over and folded her arms, though she was not nearly as stern as the fabled 'Ice Queen', Lady Isobel.

"Maester Ronnel has been looking everywhere for you. No more skipping lessons, young lady, understood?" she scolded gently, lifting the sword from Bethany's reluctant hand.

The girl whimpered and looked to Garlan beseechingly, but a stern look from her mother made her sullenly trudge off.

"I'm sorry she pestered you, Ser Garlan," Corrine apologised, offering him the wooden sword. "She is even more wilful than I was as a child."

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PostSubject: Re: O Captain My Captain   Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:06 am

Ser Garlan gives Bethany a jaunty salute and a spirit-lifting reminder to send her on her way, "Wits are weapons, too, little lady," before giving his attention to the Lady Corrine.  And gladly.  It felt like a lifetime or two ago, and no dishonor was ever meant by it, but it would have been an impossibility for a boy to grow up in Hartshorn without having sighed over her a time or three.

"And it was no pestering at all, m'lady.  Swatting at sticks with her is more pleasant than most tasks we've had to handle lately."  His bright smile lights up his face.  "Not that we were swatting sticks, of course.  It was simply an unscheduled lesson from the Captain of the Guard, making sure the young heir can defend herself in case of Wildling raiders, grumpkins, or Dothraki hordes and the like. Proper swordplay's important in times of crisis."

He doesn't -- quite -- dwell on the very real threats they're all facing just now, and the sincere crises looming. It's just not his way. When it's time to address a problem, he does so, but for now he's young enough, and certain enough the world will work out in the end, that he's in no hurry to be entirely serious every minute of every day. Not, at least, when talking about six year olds.
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PostSubject: Re: O Captain My Captain   Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:15 am

Corrine gives the young Elridge a warm smile. Her esteem for his father carried over to him, for he'd been raised well in his father's image.

"Well, she is going to do it anyway, so I suppose she might as well learn to do it right. It did not harm Lady Alyssane Coldbrook, after all. It's just when she sneaks out of her history lessons that it's a problem. But anyway, how fare you and the men today?"

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PostSubject: Re: O Captain My Captain   Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:22 am

Don't. He wills himself not to blush at her smile, and her talk of business -- of work, of his new station -- helps to keep it from happening.

"Well enough, m'lady," he says, as honest as he can be. "They're hungry, cold, and scared, but winter's here, that'll happen."

He's a summer child, barely eighteen himself, but he doesn't talk like it. He talks about the Watch like he's twice his age or more. Not arrogantly, just matter-of-factly; explaining away cold and hunger as part of winter as though he'd ever seen it before, himself. There's a certainty to him that he's been forced to grow into early, but so far has managed to bear the weight of.

"It's hardest on the ones with their own little ones, I think, or other kin close by. The folk're scared worse than the Watch, and it's contagious. It's hard for the men to guard walls when they know their children are hungry, m'lady. I think doing something will be good for them. The new patrolling schedule, and going after those bandits and such as soon as we can, should help."

"The smallfolk need to see us helping. The lads need to see it, too, I think."
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PostSubject: Re: O Captain My Captain   Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:48 am

"And they will, I promise. I'm keeping track of our stores, and will share out what we can spare. Sadly, we cannot spare much. We may have these walls and our fires, but the cold still creeps into our bones and lungs. Jaime can't stop coughing, and poor Corys is weak as a kitten from the same sickness. I know myself that nobility is no shield from the Stranger. My heart goes out to the parents who serve us most of all."

She shook her head, lowering her eyes for a moment, the fear of losing another child very real and sharp in her heart.

"I'll do what I can. And I pray each day for this Winter to end. We have all suffered enough these past four years."




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PostSubject: Re: O Captain My Captain   Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:02 am

"I...of course, my lady. I didn't mean to..."

And he's five years younger again, just for a few seconds. Stammering like an idiot, because he'd just lectured a grieving mother about others' hungry children.

"I'm sorry. No offense was intended." But that fast, he's over it. A man again, or doing his damnedest. "I'll...draw up plans and a roster. Some of the lads know of old poacher camps and the like, and maybe we can roust these bandits, yet. I can't do anything about the cold, Lady Marsten, but I can enforce the laws."
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PostSubject: Re: O Captain My Captain   Fri Jan 20, 2017 8:59 am

"You caused no offence, Garlan."

She smiled reassuringly, though her eyes were full of sorrow.

"You are good to keep me mindful of such things. Anything you think will help, you have my authority to carry out. The law is one of the few things that stave off chaos. So drive off as many bandits as you can. And... make me a list of the men with children under six and ten. I'll see what I can do for them."

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PostSubject: Re: O Captain My Captain   Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:49 am

He could almost tell her. Right off the top of his head, almost. He's worked at the rosters and learning the men's names and faces, he knows which of them have children, but he's not sure -- not exactly -- the ones with children under six and ten.

Almost.

"I'll get you a list by day's end, m'lady," he has to say, instead, giving her a confident nod. "And I'll send you my reports on the camps and such, as well, the plans I've drawn up. I think we've a good chance of hitting the buggers back."
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PostSubject: Re: O Captain My Captain   Fri Jan 20, 2017 3:37 pm

"Thank you, Ser Garlan. You do your father proud."

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PostSubject: Re: O Captain My Captain   Fri Jan 20, 2017 3:52 pm

"I can only try my best, m'lady," he says, fighting a smile and another blush.  "I serve as well as I can.  If there's nothing else...?"

[/scene?]


Last edited by Garlan Elridge on Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: O Captain My Captain   Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:06 pm

"No, that is all. Thank you."

With an approving nod, Lady Marsten bade Garlan farewell, and returned the way she had come.

[/scene]

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