An Incident At Clearwater: Aerin
(Split from An Incident At Clearwater)
"Where are they going?" Ranulf demanded, fixing Aerin with those dark eyes that seemed too large for his thin face. "Why can't I go too?"
"Maybe someone's dead," Aerin mused as she watched the menfolk leave the dinning hall. "Or maybe someone's very sick," she answered the boy. "Maybe we'll go find out in a few moments if they're not back soon," she decided.
Ranulf flinched. "Dead?" he demanded in a high quavering voice. "Why do you say that? Who's dead? Do you know?"
"Why else would the Septa need the Maester and your father?" Aerin pointed out. Then she frowned as she realized the boy was disturbed by the thought. "I don't know though," she said more slowly. "Maybe it's nothing. Maybe..."
Aerin's mind drew a blank. Her father wasn't one to sugar coat things. Neither was she, though she did have some sense of diplomacy.
"I think..." She took a sausage onto her plate, and then poured sweet syrup on it. "I think we should take advantage of them not being at the table and enjoy ourselves," she decided out loud.
He looked at her, his dark eyes suspicious that he was being fobbed off.
"Septa says syrup is bad for me," he declared, and he reached for the jug.
"Then don't take too much," Aerin advised Ranulf. "Eat light, and maybe Niko will show you a new move to try today." She smiled at boy, then cut into her own sausage with her knife.
He looked at her unblinkingly for a moment - then took the syrup jug and poured a careful, measured portion next to his sausgae. So much - and no more.
"Would he teach me to fight, do you think? Would my Lord Father permit it?"
"Maybe," she answered. "I think you're ready. But it's hard work," she told Ranulf. "Is it something you want?" she asked.
"I need to know how to kill," said Ranulf, attacking the sausage. "Even if I'm not strong enough to fight. And I probably shouldn't always trust other people to kill for me, should I?"
He looked up at Aerin to see if she agreed with this sentiment.
"It's more important to know enough to live," Aerin said around a mouthful of sausage. She chewed, swallowed. "That's what Niko told me before I started to train with him."
Ranulf nodded thoughtfully. "And he knows all sorts of tricks to overcome an opponent when they're much bigger and stronger than you, I suppose. Is that why your father lets you train with him?"
"I think that's one reason," Aerin answered. She reached for a boiled egg. "There's also the fact it'd be hard for father to teach me in front of the others."
She knocked the shell off the egg and salted it. "Hasn't Niko shown you anything yet? Like how to hold a blade?"
"No," said Ranulf, his heavy lidded eyes closing a fraction. "No-one thinks I'm stronger enough. But you could show me, couldn't you? Hpw to handle a dagger, anyway." His eyes closed further and he tilted his head on one side, considering. "Actually ... I could =order= you to show me, couldn'r I?"
Aerin shook her head. "No," she said in a pleased tone.
"You see... you're not the lord, and I haven't sworn an oath or anything to your house," she said sagely. She bit into the boiled egg, chewed and swallowed before continuing.
"Plus I have a responsibility to you to protect you through my father," she continued. "And I can use my judgment there. You can't order me to endanger you," she explained to Ranulf.
"But I will start to show you how to use a dagger today if you behave yourself," she announced. Then picked another link of sausage off the tray and dropped it under the table for Shade.
"Good," said Ranulf, scrambling off his chair, his sausage left half-finished. "We shall start now."
He looked at her and added coaxingly, "Please?"
"Finish your meal. Slowly," Aerin said. "And then we'll go to the yard and I'll show you a throwing knife," she told him.
Aerin forced herself to finish her meal in a leisurely fashion. Then wiped the syrup off her hands with a cloth. "All right. Now we can go," she told the lordling, fighting to keep a grin off her face.
(Continued in An Incident at Clearwater: Aerin and Derron)