MUsings

A Couple of Difficult Mares
IC Date: Sixday, 13th of Jumara, 1000 NE.
RL Date: May 09, 2000.
Participants: Angharad Maelwydd, Renette and Valtrin Bar'Wanrey.
Locations: Fields: Maelwydd Estate, Mayene, Stables: Maelwydd Estate, Mayene and Bedroom: Maelwydd Estate, Mayene.

Summary: After learning that Angharad has gone riding together with his current ... fling, Renette, Valtrin rides out to catch up with the pair, as he's not entirely certain that something unfortunate won't happen to Renette.
Fields: Maelwydd Estate, Mayene.

As you both start to canter down the hill towards the high hedge, the moderate midday air fresh, the sun shining, the lightly wooded land that had been relatively quiet save for the chirp of birds and the occasional rustle of branches in the breeze gets suddenly louder.

“Bloody fools! What the flaming hells do you think you’re doing?!” A man’s voice—Valtrin’s, in fact. As he bursts out of a grove of trees, horse galloping, he waves a hand as if to try to stop you both ... but unfortunately, things have taken a sudden turn because of his own bloody foolishness. Renette’s horse suddenly gives a loud snort and starts bucking and rearing in its shock and fear, and she gives a shrill cry as she fights desperately to hold on. And you? Well, by the time you can slow and respond, you’re already half way through the hedge, thanks to that deer run cutting through it.

Once the sound of your voice—and of Renette’s cry—reaches her ears, Angharad is already well past the large hedge, and the grey mare is continuing onwards at a brisk canter. Until, that is, her mistress reins her in, a little too firmly for her liking, and turns her full about as tightly as she dares. But the mare is not half as well trained as Sleipnir yet, and objects with a spirited buck or two to the forceful handling. Eventually, however, she gives in, cantering back in a more controlled fashion and even obediently slowing to a trot as they come out on the other side.

There stands a slightly sweaty, still quite uneasy horse, with a rather pale Renette only slowly easing herself back up into the saddle, having been more or less hanging around the chestnut’s neck. Scowling darkly Angharad carefully rides closer, giving both horse and rider a visual examination. And then she turns to face you, the look on her face one of tightly leashed anger.

Slowing his horse, and seeming to be just a little abashed by the reality of the situation (for, coming closer, he saw the deer run clearly), Valtrin manages to keep his back straight and his eyes on Renette. When he finally stops he asks, “Are you all right? You shouldn’t be riding that horse. Blood and ashes, all that get are mad ones.” And before Renette can respond, he says, “Renette sometimes overestimates her ... abilities. You should have put her on a sounder horse.”

Renette, a little colour returning to her face, seems to be only a little less angry than Angharad, but for whatever reason she holds her tongue, only giving Valtrin a sharp glare.

“We,” Angharad begins, the emphasis quite evident, “were doing just fine until a few moments ago.” There’s a distinct chill to her tone of voice, as well as an edge that is close to cutting. “But for a horse not to react when some madman shows up out of nowhere, yelling and going on .... well, perhaps I should have put her on a half-dead old draft horse?” There’s more than a little indignation tinting her tone.

Renette, her seat more or less regained, seems satisfied with this reply for the time being, although her expression betrays that she’s still less than happy with you.

“Pardon me to wonder at two fools seeming ready to leap hedges,” Valtrin says tightly, almost through clenched teeth. “How the flaming ashes was I supposed to realize otherwise? Most normal people walk their horses to get through such a narrow way.” He does look to Angharad then, dark eyes darker with his own anger, with the embarrassment of his error still behind it to goad it in. “You should have mentioned you were going riding, in any case. Tarjei asked me to keep track of .. of the horses.”

“If you think I would risk any of my horses in such a foolish way ...” Its a marvel, really, that Angharad keeps her voice level still. She doesn’t, however, continue immediately. Perhaps she doesn’t trust herself not to lose the tenuous grasp of her temper. “Tarjei knew I was going riding. Renette,” she glances briefly at the other woman, “asked if she could accompany me. I wasn’t aware that she had to consult you before making such a decision.” By the time that she finishes, her voice is positively dripping with acidic sarcasm. More than enough for Renette to notice, a slight frown touching her face as she glances between the two of you.

Glancing to Renette now, Valtrin more or less bites his tongue to keep his initial response from escaping. His horse tosses its mane, snorting, a hoof pawing at the earth—and with that he starts to turn it away as he finally mutters, “She doesn’t. Renette can do as she pleases. Though one would appreciate being kept aware of what others in the vicinity are doing. In case they must be found for some purpose.” Flushing a bit more, as much from anger as the further discomfort of embarrassment, Valtrin suddenly suggests, “Perhaps we had best return.” It’s not a question.

A thin, distinctly cool smile touches her lips in response to your answer, although there’s nothing such to be found in her eyes. “Since you rode out to find us, I assume that one of the servants informed you of our whereabouts. Meaning you were made aware,” Angharad replies, sounding entirely too pleased with herself. She doesn’t, however, object to your ... suggestion, but merely looks over to Renette and her mount to make sure they’re both ready. And then she nudges the grey mare into a brisk walk, taking the lead.

Stiffening somewhat in the saddle at that, Valtrin doesn’t budge his gaze from the straight-ahead when he replies, “You know I didn’t need any damned servant. And I didn’t know until a good time after you were gone.” His mouth clamps shut after that, and he moves to try to take the lead this time, pushing up into a brief canter.

Throwing a sharp glance your way, it is apparent that the meaning isn’t lost on Angharad. “Maybe you should have known to keep out of what isn’t your business,” she snaps back, letting the grey mare pick her pace up while still taking care not to turn this into some kind of a race. Renette, meanwhile, follows just behind the two of you, annoyance slowly giving way to a certain amount of curiosity as she observes the two of you.

Glancing to Renette now, Valtrin more or less bites his tongue to keep his initial response from escaping. His horse tosses its mane, snorting, a hoof pawing at the earth—and with that he starts to turn it away as he finally mutters, “She doesn’t. Renette can do as she pleases. Though one would appreciate being kept aware of what others in the vicinity are doing. In case they must be found for some purpose.” Flushing a bit more, as much from anger as the further discomfort of embarrassment, Valtrin suddenly suggests, “Perhaps we had best return.” It’s not a question.

A thin, distinctly cool smile touches her lips in response to your answer, although there’s nothing such to be found in her eyes. “Since you rode out to find us, I assume that one of the servants informed you of our whereabouts. Meaning you were made aware,” Angharad replies, sounding entirely too pleased with herself. She doesn’t, however, object to your ... suggestion, but merely looks over to Renette and her mount to make sure they’re both ready. And then she nudges the grey mare into a brisk walk, taking the lead.

Stables: Maelwydd Estate, Mayene.
A little later, as they get back to the stables at the estate.

With the stablehands having taken the horses away, Valtrin sends Renette off to their area of suites—suggesting she needs a change of garb after such riding. He lingers as a groom deals with his own horse, watching . . . but once Renette is well out of ear shot he moves towards you hesitantly. When he speaks, his voice is gruff. “Don’t put her on these horses again. She’s not that good a rider. I’m sure you noticed that.”

“Of course, she’s not as good as she thinks,” Angharad replies levelly enough, never taking her eyes off the girth she’s carefully inspecting. “But I’d never risk a horse by putting a too incompetent rider on it. She managed about as well as I had imagined, the mare presenting just enough of a problem that she might think twice before over-estimating her own ability again.” Putting the girth down, she picks up a bit instead, turning it over in her hand a few times. “And it kept her from being too much of a nuisance.”

Lips pressing tightly together, nostrils briefly flaring, Valtrin’s reaction to that is as much as one would expect. He doesn’t speak immediately however, instead clenching his hands before he mutters, “Even so. Be more careful.” He sounds as if he’s about to say more along those lines. You can feel his eyes on you, and a tightly-coiled core of emotion sends a sensation of anxiousness over the bond . . . but in the end he starts to turn and says, “Good day to you.”

Bedroom: Maelwydd Estate, Mayene.
A little later again.

Lounging on the bed, her riding garb discarded in favour of something that is a good deal more robe than dress, Renette seems quite recovered from that little ... ordeal. “Valtrin ...” she greets you as you enter, a lazy smile curving her lips. “What took you so long? Troubles in the stables?” Despite that smile, and the look which accompanies it, there’s something about her that suggests that what is on her mind doesn’t necessarily involve some more riding. Not right off, anyhow.

Glancing at you briefly, a moment’s amused interest subdued in it, and Valtrin moves on to his wardrobe as he removes his coat. “Nothing. I had to talk to ... one of the grooms. About my horse. He seemed to be a little tired.” That rings false, but he makes no apologies for it, moving on towards a washing bowl, pouring water from a porcelain pitcher before raising up his shirt sleeves to wash his hands and forearms, and his face.

“Ah.” Its plain that Renette doesn’t believe you, but that doesn’t do much to diminish that distinctly sly smile of hers. “An ... interesting afternoon,” she continues, much too casually for comfort. “That is, once you arrived.” A faint sniff follows, enough to convey a bit of annoyance. “She’s not very talkative, you know. If you hadn’t decided to join us it would have been a rather wasted effort.”

Taking a length of towelling to dry his face and hands, Valtrin turns somewhat to give you another brief glance, mostly indecipherable. “Perhaps. Though I wonder why you were making the effort? I doubt she’s made any overtures to you, one way or another.” A rebuke is in his voice, a touch of sarcasm .. but, unusually, he doesn’t press on. Instead he finishes with his drying and, after a brief scan, moves to pour himself a glass of brandy.

“That should be obvious enough, even to you.” Entirely too amused is that tone of voice, and entirely too pleased with herself does Renette seem as she languidly stretches out on the bed. “Only someone both blind and deaf could possibly fail to notice the tension whenever the two of you are in a room together. I merely wanted to confirm whether my quite ... natural suspicions were well founded.” A brief pause, her eyes following you closely, and then a too-smug finish. “First Ciene and now this one. Lady Richara must be pleased with your help at increasing the size of her little ... clan.”

Going briefly rigid, Valtrin’s eyes flash ... Not with anger. Or, at least, not with anger alone. Several emotions gather together, and the end result is that his voice is nearly haggard—and more than a little warning—when he replies. “Careful, woman. This is none of your affair, and Light blind me if you’ll meddle in it. It does not matter to you one whit what Ciene and—What Lady Richara thinks or believes.”

A little taken aback by your reaction, that smile of hers transformed into a rather sulky pout, Renette gives no immediate answer. “Well ...” she then begins after a little while, the way that she watches you rather more careful now, “I suppose not, but you can hardly fault me for being curious.” By the sound of her voice, it doesn’t matter whether you fault her or not; she’s more than a little curious even so.

Valtrin gives no reply to that, beyond a sullen glare. He completes pouring his glass of brandy and takes a long swallow of it before he sets it done and asks, “Do you want a glass?” He turns his back to you as if about to do just that, but it also serves to hide his face. He seems to want a pause in this little conversation.

“I suppose so,” Renette replies, no doubt with a shrug even if you can’t see that right now. A few moments later, as you present her with the glass of brandy, she’s smiling in a quite charming fashion again, that displeased little pout nowhere to be found. “I hope you’re not too upset with me, Valtrin dear. I had, after all, intended it to merely be a ... little talk. Between women. And things went quite well until you showed up out of nowhere.” Pausing briefly, she tilts her head slightly to one side, giving you an inquisitive glance. “And why, I wonder?”

A snort and Valtrin replies, “Quite well? You said she wasn’t talkative, Renette. I’m not some senile old greybeard.” He takes another long swallow of his brandy, and seems to consider what to do with that question. When he decides, a smirk follows. “As to why I appeared—it was noted to me that you went out. When I wondered what horse ... well, suffice it to say, the beast she put you on might have decided to throw you just as easily as it might have decided to carry you.” He watches you for a moment, now smug in his turn, before he goes on. “I imagine you noticed it was ... difficult?”

By the slight blush that tints her cheeks, and the return of that pout to her lips, she most certainly did notice. “Well, I suppose it was a bit ... frisky. Nothing I couldn’t handle though. Until you showed up, that is,” Renette rather sullenly responds, giving you a look that approaches a glare. “But what does that have to do with—” she then continues, although soon enough interrupts herself, her eyes narrowing and fixing more firmly upon you. “Are you saying it was on purpose?”

Now amused in an unkind fashion, Valtrin rolls his shoulders extravagantly. His reply is airy and flippant, “I shouldn’t know. If it was, that says something about her, doesn’t it? Perhaps, my dear, you should take care in the future of whom you decide to have little womanly talks with.” He empties his glass in his third swallow, and moves to set it aside, a low, unpleasant chuckle escaping from him. “They might choose more direct methods of showing their displeasure to your curiosity.”

“Perhaps you could have warned me then, before letting me spend a week under the same roof as her,” Renette responds after a few moments sullen glaring at you. “How was I to know that the foolish girl would have cause to be vindictive towards me? You, on the other hand, must know very well what the reason might be.” A brief pause and, more stubbornly than wisely, she adds: “Lets see ... I suppose you got a little too drunk and said something about marriage, and next you know she was in a ... delicate condition?”

That ... was indeed not wise. The next sound that follows is glass shattering against a wall, as Valtrin takes up the just-set-aside glass and hurls it in his anger. It’s the only noise that he directly causes, at least for some moments as he glares at you, rage barely held back from exploding further. “Do _not_ meddle in my affairs. Don’t even bloody think of asking me anymore about this, Renette, or mark me I’ll—I’ll do worse than breaking a glass. Do you understand?”

That ... surprises her. And keeps her quiet for at least a moment or two during which she watches you with apparent caution. In the end, however, the stubborn look returns to her eyes, and the haughty tilt to her chin, as she gets out of the bed and throws a cloak over her thin robe. “Whatever you say, Valtrin,” she replies with a sniff, moving towards the door. She keeps her distance from you, but as she opens the door she pauses, glancing back at you. “If you won’t speak to me, I can always find someone else to talk to.”

Standing still for awhile, face flushing from growing anger at the implication of what you say ... it’s Valtrin who decides that the better part of valor is to leave you be. He turns sharply, without a single word, face briefly a snarling rictus. And he walks away to one of the other rooms in the small suite, to leave you to go when and how you please.

All material associated with Time of Illusions MUSH, Cuendillar MUSH or Tales of Ta'veren MUSH is available with the permission of Robert Jordan for usage only in conjunction with Time of Illusions MUSH, Cuendillar MUSH or Tales of Ta'veren MUSH. The Wheel of Time setting and all references to it are copyright © Robert Jordan.