(120-10-01) The Hunt for Bristles
Details for The Hunt for Bristles
Summary: After a wager of triumph is made by the Hightower Lords, the hunt for a monster boar is hastily planned. Victory is not always sweet.
Date: Turn of Vakarnis (10-01-120)
Location:
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Characters
ormund-hightowereiris-hunt

It is the tail end of a 15 year Winter. Even the bountiful fields of The Reach far from the North were getting thin from overuse to provide food to the rest of the regions that were suffering badly from the long Winter. So even in the Reach hunting became more than a sport, it became a necessity.

A boar that grew in legend over the decade called Bristles had been a monster in destroying the local farms, Killing some of the smaller livestock and just being an all together Beast! To the point of being a boasting point for the nobles of Oldtown. Inspiring hunting parties on and off over the years, just for Bristles. Ormund is not above the desire to have Bristles' head in the trophy room of the Hightower. It's also been a bit of a stressful time in court, so he is eager to just escape for a little while and at the very least just track the boar down and so he and his cousins have decided to have a bit of a competition.

Otho is really the biggest of the hunting enthusiasts among the Hightower men and so it's he who has the best relationship with the family Master-of-the-Hunt, Asten Hunt and thusly stole the man for himself. So it is a home lacking the man he seeks when Ormund comes knocking on the door looking for companionship for his part of the Hunt for Bristles. Unfortunately, some important matters of the court have him starting last out the gate. But he's in good spirits none the less and has a thin smile on his face as he waits for the Huntsman to come to the door.

The home is modest, if not on the poorer side but mended with care and love. Skilled hands likely tend the fire inside for how the smoke is low and the warmth that radiates great when the door creaks open. But the person who greets him is not the Huntsman but his daughter, Eiris. A lass of one and seven years and standing as tall as she ever will the rest of her life.

"My lord," she catches herself, knowing him well though he may not know her. Eiris dips quickly into a bow, the young woman wearing heavy woolen dresses, on atop the other to keep out the chill. Beneath them, a pair of breeches as well though they can not be seen with the hem of her dress brushing the floor. She rises after a long moment and steps aside to offer their home to him.

It is cluttered, with drying herbs and more with several long tables and a large hearth to one side that has been stoked with large coals glowing beneath whatever is cooking. "What can I do for you? I fear my father is out with Lord Otho Hightower." She remains standing aside for him and should he wish to enter she will close the door behind him. "There is stew nearly done if you are in want of food."

Ormund ducks a little to step into the home. Ironically her father took a residence outside of the Hightower to keep his bastard-born daughter out of the line of sight of the courtiers and noblemen there. Not to mention his oldest daughter Kina, who's married to Ormund's cousin, Brydon, hence Asten gaining the position. Only to anger his daughter by having a love affair with a smallfolk woman, Eiris' mother. There is a moment of surprise that it's not the Lord of the house or servant answering the door. But he gives a genteel smile to cover it up. "M'lady. Pardon." He greets and then when he's told that he's too late to recruit her father to his team he makes a little tsk and frown, clapping on hand over a fist in thought.

He does take the invitation in and peers around the modest home. "I really should insist he take up residence at the tower next I see him." It's more said to himself. That may seem like a judgment on their home but, "There's so much more room for all this." He gestures to the decor of dried herbs and such with a smile. It was less a judgment of the modesty and more a desire to bring such modesty and homeliness into the tower. "I am not hungry. Well, I hunger for the hunt but thank you. It smells wonderful."

Looking about with his motion, Eiris smiles thoughtfully though it never quite reaches her eyes. "We do well enough. We find it cozy and it is the home I grew up in," she remarks softly and if his eyes might note, there is a wood pole helping to support the roof with the markings of her ages and heights. She hesitates when he declines the food and comes to stand next to the fire, looking at a loss or maybe flustered by the presence of the Highlord.

"I am sorry, my lord that he is not available. I am sure he did not expect you to call," she tries to be helpful and then pauses, reaching out to take a pair of more feminine cut leather gloves. "My lord, if I may. If you are insistent upon going this moment I could accompany you. We have another gelding, he is not as sure-footed but I ride him enough that we know each other." She waits for his decision, the leather gloves held tightly in hand.

Ormund chuckles a bit, "There's no offense taken. I'm sure Otho lured him away unawares." Gloved hands lift to stroke his goatee as he ponders her offering. "Are you sure sweet lady? I am seeking out the beast Bristles. My cousins and I have a wager, so it will be a great deal of excitement and danger." He looks out a window towards the east. "I know that you are capable, I have seen you at a few of the hunts. I am left with little option, so if you are truly willing… Should we ask for your Mother's Permission?" His gaze wanders around the home again as if searching for the woman of the house.

Eiris hesitates, "My lord," she breathes and then glances towards the curtained room off to the side. "She is unwell. Resting. I think it best I check on her and get her what she needs then we can go. I am certain all will be well and I can track better than my father," she tells him. She is quick then, hurrying to the part that curtain and disappear into its dark depths. There are some whispered words, she returns, getting some of the stew and bringing it back, disappearing again.

Finally, the young woman steps out. "She is well enough now." And tended to by the looks of the young woman's face. "She insists I go with you. The warming rocks have been changed and she seems settled." That done, she tugs on her gloves and moves for the heavy winter cloak on the nail. It's been patched a few times over but the stitches were done in the bright contrasting thread to give it a cheery look. Tugging it on, she lets that ginger braid go, pulling it out and flinging it down her back. "My lord. I will quickly saddle Petyr and be with you straight away." A satchel is grabbed from the side and she is grabbing a bow and quiver before she hurries out, leaving him to linger in the warmth should he wish to. She is hurrying through the snow, packed down as it leads to their tiny lean-to stable.

There was a genuine frown when he learns that her mother is unwell. While she goes to tend to her mother he goes to the front door where his men are waiting for him patiently outside on their horses. "Fetch a Maester, the woman of the house is not feeling well." The sixth of his men do immediately as ordered and he rides for the Citadel.

He is waiting by the fire when she returns. "I hope that you'll feel more at ease that I've sent for a Maester to tend to her while we are away. I am gladdened to hear that she's doing well enough that she can be parted from you." His mouth is opened to try to insist that one of his men do that for her. But she's off and determined so he looks a mix of shocked and awed as he steps out of the home after her, making sure that it's sealed but not locked so that his man and Maester can let themselves in. "Did your father leave the eagle? Are you able to handle it well enough?" The eagle is after all the size of her almost. "If not, we'll make do if he took it with Otho." An affectionate cursing tone is given to Otho's name.

"You do us an honor, my lord. We have weathered illness before," Eiris says, though by the looks the gives the room she is rather relieved, tension leaving her shoulders. "My father will be glad of it. We are indebted to you." That is all she says before she is off, tending to the horse and saddling the mild-mannered gelding with alacrity. As he tightens the girth to let the horse adjust as most bloat their stomach and need a second winching before riding she finally looks up at him, her braid swinging with her movements.

"I…I am sorry but I believe he took Sanguine with him. I am sorry, my lord. But we need no eagle, we have my eyes and truth be told…we saw tracks not far away. My father argued with me about which way it went and I believe he took Lord Otho his choice direction. I however…believe the board crossed a small stream and continued to the West." There is a faintly triumphant smile before she is back to her work. Bridle on her horse and clipped into place she pulls on the girth belt again when the gelding is not expecting it to be sure the saddle is good and tight. "There we are, and we are away at your leisure, my lord." Petyr is led out of the ramshackle lean-to that keeps the snow off the horses and leaches warmth from the house stones.

She brings him up to the path and with her bow and quiver slung on her back, satchel attached to the side of her mount, she hooks her foot and rises up, slinging her foot to the other side. Breeches show and she grabs the reins. The horse has been meticulously neck reined so she need only one hand to direct her horse. "If you will, my lord. I will lead us."

The intrigue of competition not only between the Hightower Cousins but now the family of their Master-of-the-Hunt's family has truly gotten Ormund excited about this. "Eiris, I hope very much that you are as expert as you claim. We away at once!" His beautiful white mare with flowing mane and braided tail gives a little huff of frosty breath out when she is mounted exuberantly. She is barded, ready for a boar hunt, since she is so very precious to Ormund. She was his late wife's horse.

Once he's settled one of his men pass him his spear and he slides it into the holster to keep it on hand should any surprises arise. There is a brief moment of surprise again when it's revealed that she is wearing breeches. "Uhh, yes. Let's move out." Since it's not just Otho that they are competing against so he is eager to make up for lost time. It's not like she's in armor wielding a sword or anything, so he is doing his best to graciously adjust to her tom-boyishness.

Noting his surprise, Eiris colors a little but lifts her chin, "Forgive me, my lord. I do not wish to freeze," she points out. That said she digs her heels into the gelding, not as beautiful as the mare, but tough and sturdy, he's seen better days but his winter coat is formidable as is his spirit. As gentle and patient as he may be when to let free he takes his head and moves.

They follow the trail that others have taken before them - likely Otho and her father but a mile or so into the woodland there is a low embankment next to the stream, a deer crossing if ever there was one. She glances back at him, "Your cousin went that way, my lord," she remarks. He will see their fresh trail even as the snow is starting to fall again, "We go this way," she remarks and then heels Petyr down the embankment through the shallow stream and then ducking low to get beneath the low hanging branches. The way will not be easy, the trail is dense and narrow for a time but she is taking it slow, watching, listening and when they break free of the dense underbrush, she leads her gelding aside and dismounts.

Skirts fall back into place and the lady moves slowly, bending down over the tracks that interweave. Deer having nosed for food and found nothing, but they are older. There is a tear up of their tracks by something else and there is a slow smile before she rises. "It was here, your boar.." she then moves aside. "Fresh scat…" she turns her head about and looks. "It is nearby.."

Ormund looks around the area. "There is a cliff face over there, we should try to get it cornered there. Set up some forward-facing spikes so it can rush in, but not out." He makes sweeping gestures as he explains his plan and his men immediately dismount and begin to execute said plan, young trees, bare of leaves and large branches are hacked down quickly to be turned into points and to be planted in the dirt and snow facing the cliff face. "It's growing dark." The ride to find the boar has taken them quite far from Oldtown and has put them actually more in Hunt lands, close to the Dornish Marches. "We will make camp. Set traps, rest, plan and tomorrow we will fell Bristles once and for all." The signs of the boar are clear enough that it's the beast they are after and that Eiris was not just falsely boasting about her skill so there is a great amount of respect and gratitude in his manner and words towards her.

Eiris follows his explanation, looking about as she starts to ring that clearing slowly where most of the tracks are before the men muck it up. She finds a few choice directions the boar could have gone. "It will come back here, I am certain. I think it's been using these deer paths to its advantage," she says and will help to work up the camp though she has nothing with her to offer anything more than her cloak for comfort.

The fire has been banked up, placed further away from the direction she has said the boar is likely to come from and she herself has seen to the collection of more wood to set to its light. It is when the dark has fallen and the men are enjoying the conversation that she returns, her arms full of smaller branches. Carefully sets them around the fire to help dry them out while they will await being fed into the glowing flames. She's kept her distance from the men, for the most part, having dragged over a fallen log to sit on and keep herself dry as the snow begins to melt.

She hunkers down, wrapping herself in her cloak as her bow now rests beside her with her quiver. Her dark eyes watch the flames, quietly withdrawn.

Ormund upon realizing that she does not have a tent approaches her once his own tent - a small pavilion of red and white stripes with a canopy over the entrance area for seating - is set up. "Eiris, I insist that you accept the hospitality of the pavilion tonight. I will share in Jerome's tent. We do really insist. I am sorry to have kept you out for more than a day trip. I should have made sure that you were prepared for such an event. I do not make excuses, only explain that I got swept up in the competition. I am sorry."

It's a grand thing, this pavilion. Watching it go up is of great interest to her, tending the group fire as it does so and when he approaches she hesitates. "I could not, my lord. I could not accept such a gesture. You must understand, my father and I have often been kept out into the evening and I have done much the same. I will watch the fire and when I can no longer do so, I will ask one of your men so I may rest. I will remain near it and keep my warmth," she promises him. "I am only glad to serve you, my lord. I am excited to prove myself true in my choice. We will be successful," she promises him. She does not move but has stood upon his arrival and remains so. She does not ignore him, turn from him, she faces him directly because he has not dismissed her yet.

"And you must understand that not only am I your Lord, I am also a Knight gladly beholden to chivalry. So as you can gather, the pavilion is yours for the night. What has happened out of my view is in the past, but I will not let a Lady in my service spend a winter's night, in dangerous boar infested woods, on a log, in a cloak." He flips his cloak open so that he can offer his elbow and forearm for her to take to escort her over to the sitting area under the canopy where dinner is being arranged on the table there.

Eiris looks completely and utterly torn, turning to the fire and her bow. "My lord," she begins and then there is that elbow. She suddenly looks like a doe caught unawares and broadsided by a predator. "I do not deserve this" she manages. Her lips form a thin line and she continues to look shaken. "Would it not be better for me to take the smaller tent?" She asks of him and reaches finally for her bow, slinging it upon her shoulder. Stepping up beside him, the Flowers looks to his arm and slowly, awkwardly lifts her hand and it takes her a moment to remember how she has seen such things done.

Her hand comes to rest upon his arm, quickly casting a look around to the men in the camp as she walks beside Ormund, her back utterly tense as she is moved from her known native habitat to something that suddenly makes her feel wrong in her own skin. She does not deny the sound of her stomach in response to the smell of food.

Ormund helps her to be seated and then takes his seat at the grandest of the folding chairs. "Nonsense. A tent in the wild is something everyone deserves." He could go on about how it would be a slight to his honor to not give a lady his personal and instead have her stay in a lesser tent' But he lets the argument go and moves them along to dinner. While many a lord in his position of power would have his men out of sight when they aren't servicing him, the other men are set up at another table under the canopy so that they all may speak with each other and enjoy their dinner and watch as one by one the stars begin to pip in the darkening sky.

"Eiris, what do you think Bristles will look like. I'm sure with your proven skill you can outdo your father in guessing the beast's weight and all manner of details." Ormund entreats her, trying to include her in the conversation as they eat.

Seated, Eiris looks all the more unsteady as the others join them for a moment. Her gaze often is downcast though she does eat. Even she recognizes she needs the sustenance to continue their hunt. But when Ormund addresses her so, she is once more left flustered and uncertain for a second. But the topic is something she is familiar with so she nods her head, "His patterns suggest he is older..probably pushing over a hundred kilograms. He's thinning likely due to the season but he won't lose most of his prized meat for a while yet. I suggested that his left tusk is broken, due to the patterns of his rooting we have found and he likely favors his left foot for it too, perhaps both caused by some previous encounter with hunters," she suggests and then clears her throat, "He may be wild but he's intelligent. He will not be an easy catch, my lord. But you have a good start of it," she says and affords him a faint smile that causes her eyes to pull up and make her look less of a Flowers and more like her poor mother at their home. Perhaps that is why Asten remains with his chosen love.

"He moves in the early hours so we should be up before the dawn when he is most likely to make his return."

Ormund listens very attentively as he chews. The meal is definitely still a field meal. Just put on finer plates of silver instead of steel. But it does make hardtack soaked in rabbit gravy and some fried potatoes in sunflower oil and a couple of cheeses. With fine Arbor wine in silver goblets, this is definitely what some would call Glamping! "That is amazing. I wager you men 1 gold dragon for every detail Eiris has to rights." He toasts the goblet and takes a drink. "Early hours it is. We shall finish our supper and then away to bed."
There is enough room inside of the pavilion for partitions, yes, the tent has rooms! But it would not be honorable to share the tent. So she gets the whole thing to herself and enjoys the personal fire pit inside and the raised folding cot that is a bit like sleeping on air with how it suspends and snuggles like a hammock on a frame. And this is his small tent, something simple for such an outdoorsy affair.

"It is nice to be taken at my word, my lord. But do wait before you wager such," though its obvious that of everything he's offered between food and accommodations his trust in her abilities is the most cherished. Eiris actually smiles now, it reaches her eyes as her head dips and she quietly eats what is left on her plate. It is definitely more than she has had including the fine Arbor. That is something else entirely, she sips at it gingerly through her meal as cheeks slowly become rosy. One glass even with food has the Flowers looking a bit undone. But she is left alone, in that tent that is very near the size of her home.

She takes her time exploring for she can not help herself. There may not be much but it is something and that warm fire. She sits before it on the ground, still quite in the wonder of it all.

Eventually, she finds her way to the cot, unable to deny the call of the siren of sleep and she slumbers…and greatly so.

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