Foot of Kolvir -- Amber
The road continues amongst the foothills of Kolvir, sometimes following the crest of a ridge where the road lies exposed, other times meandering through the cool woods along the stream-beds, all the time headed downwards into one of the valleys. The road out of Amber continues to the southwest, and on to Kolvir to the east.
At the bottom of the road, at the very foot of Kolvir itself, the nearby field is muddy and torn up by a recent battle. Close by, the troops of Amber have been building fortifications.
Spring showers leave the air feeling clean and refreshed, scented with blossoms and new growth. Beneath the stars the countryside is blanketed by a gentle silence.
Tessa, feeling herself about to be driven mad by the tension in Amber castle decides to take a ride. Coming down a trail she catches sight of a muddied and trodden field at the base of Kolvir upon which tents have been set up. Recognizing the colors, she rides closer to see if she can catch sight of her brother. Upon arrival she finds Martin reclining upon a makeshift couch, Hal and Antonio talking and Gavin on site as well.
Antonio comments dryly to Martin, "I was so hoping you'd bequeath me that excellent horse of yours. Hard to find one with such talents as yours." Antonio smirks.
Tessa arrives astride a silver horse, just within sight, wind wreaking havoc upon her hair, whipping it about her.
Antonio says to Hal, "Our opponents look much worse."
Hal nods gravely, "How many of them are left do you estimate?"
Gavin nods in return to Martin, and starts toward him.
"You wish, couisn," Martin chuckles, wincing a little. Turning at Hal's approach, he waves. "Glad to see you made it, Hal."
Antonio's gaze adjusts to take in the approaching rider.
Martin glances to Antonio. "Still too many," he answers Hal.
Hal says, "Well. It looks like my timing's about right. How's the leg?"
A nudge of Tessa's heels and her horse rides again, this time down and towards the field, her posture held gently as her horse winds his way down towards the field and the tent that has been erected there.
Antonio says still watching the rider, "If they bring no more through I'd guess ten thousand legionairres and another three thousand mercenaries."
Martin manages another careful chuckle, as he waves aside the surgeon's fussing. "Holding together. Where the hell have you been?"
Hal says, "Well then we have a numerical advantage perhaps."
"Except we're not gaining any more fresh troops," Martin observes to Hal.
Gavin frowns, a bit, at the numbers. "Its actually almost even. With the slight advantage of choice of ground, and fortifications..."
Antonio says, "And they still can. There's nothing stopping them from waiting a day or two and bringing a few more thousand through."
Hal sighs. He gives Martin a peculiar look.
Antonio says, "Plus then there's the fleet that Gerard told me about. If some of them get through..."
Coming closer, Tessa is now visible and recognizable to those familiar with her face. A slight movement of her right hand slows the horse for her entrance into the outskirts of the camp. Her chin rises slightly and her eyes brush over many seeking out one.
Antonio frowns as he recognises Tessa.
Antonio mutters to himself, " How'd she... here?"
Martin shrugs, looks pointedly at the surgeon, who packs up and goes see to others more in need of his help. Martin glances up at Antonio, shifts his attention to where he's looking.
Gavin turns to peer at the approaching rider. He frowns. "Hardly the place for that girl..wonder why she's here."
Hal rubs his chin, and then rather complacently looks in the now interesting direction.
A quick movement of her leg and Tessa dismounts with some flair of rushing fabric. A smile passes fleetingly over lips as she hands her reins over to a nearby boy. Then eyes held high, she approaches the throng.
Antonio orders, "Gavin, go find out what she wants."
Martin's eyes widen slightly when he recognises the figure on horseback, and he sinks back with a groan. "...on't belive this," he mutters to himself.
Hal says, "What do we know about where their troops source is? Is it definitely the location of the trump of Amber?"
Gavin nods at Antonio. He starts off towards Tessa, still frowning.
Antonio nods to Hal, "It is, or as near as it doesn't matter."
That's what it looks like," Martin mutters to Hal, his gaze narrowed at Tessa.
Tessa seems not to notice Martin's gaze. Though the effort it takes to effect such shows in her shoulders.
Gavin stops as he nears Tessa; he nods, curtly, "Tessa. What're you doing here?"
Antonio asks Hal, "Have you ever worked with the Rangers before?"
Hal smiles faintly. "Yes."
Tessa returns the curt nod to Gavin. "I am seeking out Lord Martin. May I have a moment of his time?" Each word crisp, she seems, for the moment, almost prim.
Gavin tosses a questioning glance over his shoulder to Martin.
Martin sighs in resignation, beckons her over.
Antonio mutters to Hal, "... to... setting up... making... for... for that?"
Gavin nods at Tessa, "Appears you may," he murmurs, and starts back toward Martin.
Tessa catches folds of her skirt, lifting them so the tops of her shoes are visible as she steps over the trodden grass and mud, to Martin's makeshift sickbed.
Hal smiles faintly again, and leans slightly towards Antonio.
Hal mutters to Antonio, "... thanks.... me... be..."
To Antonio and Hal, Martin mutters, "Gentlemen, the Lady Thessaly." Louder, he says, facing Tessa. "I'm sure she's got a damned fine reason for traipsing around out here."
Antonio frowns at Hal.
Antonio says, "It was not a request."
Hal smiles brightly and sidles his horse slightly away form Antonio, bowing in the saddle. "Pleasure, Lady Thessaly."
Antonio turns to Tessa, brow faintly arched.
Antonio nods, "Tessa."
Hal turns his head and eyes Antonio. "Too bad. Favors turned down are less embaressing."
Martin quirks a brow at Antonio's familiarity.
Antonio says to Tessa, "You seem to have found some understanding of your
location this time."
Tessa turns a bright smile to Hal, returning his bow with a curtsy, the movement of Antonio's brow she copies as the smile turns to him, and then brushes by her eyes coming to rest upon Martin. "She does." she replies to Martin. "And so I have Antonio."
Hal smiles at Tessa pleasantly.
"Let's hear it," Martin says curtly to Tessa. "This is no place for you."
Gavin stands quietly, regarding Tessa with a neutral stare.
Antonio watches Tessa calmly. his gaze flicking down her body.
Tessa's smile almost slips a moment before it is reaffirmed, a glance around takes in the area. "So I had noticed." her position shifts slightly as she centers herself. "In short days of sequestering tend to weigh badly upon me and I left the castle for a much needed excursion both by myself and my horse languishing away. I sought out a glimpse of my new surroundings and caught sight of the colors upon this field. My curiosity brought me to a point where it was recognizable and then my efficiency a bit further as there were questions plaguing that could find no answer save here." As her arms cross her shoulders sit back slightly. "I shall endeavor not to occupy too much of your time, or if you insist I shall depart."
Hal covers his mouth with one hand. Mirth is not completely hidden.
Martin just looks at the woman. "Tessa,
Antonio smirks and looks away to Gavin.
Gavin chuckles. "She means she was tired of being locked in, so she went out, and saw us here, so came down to visit. And she won't bother us." He hmms. "I think."
Martin's tone is pained, and he says very slowly to her "There just happens to be a war going on."
Antonio says, "Gavin, I think that fortification needs a little looking into. Here, let me show you." Antonio points towards a hole that is in the opposite direction to Martin and Tessa.
Gavin suppresses another chuckle, with at least marginal success. He nods at Antonio, "Good idea."
Hal says gravely, "I for one would be glad for the polite company of a lady while in such painful straits as you Martin." "Are you stuck here, despite being in the wounded category?"
Antonio glances to Hal before he heads off in the direction of the hole.
Tessa's eyes attempt to empty of all amusement. "I had noticed. Does this mean you are about to insist upon my departure or may I spend a moment to ease the mind of Princess Vialle?"
Gavin follows after Antonio, a reasonably well hidden smirk on his face.
Martin flicks a glance at Gavinwards, grins. To Hal, he says, "Well, until I figure out how to walk again, or we wipe out the Virgans, I'm not leaving this place."
Hal half bows again in the saddle, eyeing Martin's leg sadly, and tsking. "I should leave you two to your privacy."
Martin shrugs to Hal, "If you will, cousin. Gavin probably could do with some help over at his hole."
Antonio mutters to Gavin, "How many... have... in... command?"
Tessa turns a soft smile towards Hal. "I thank you. I shan't occupy him long."
Hal sighs, "Into the hole I go. Dirt comes into the life of all.." and he turns his horse and lets it walk off towards Gavin and Antonio.
Martin chuckles at Hal's parting words. He watches him ride off, a hint of envy perhaps, before turning his attention back to Tessa.
Gavin shrugs at Antonio's muttered question, and answers in a hushed voice Gavin mutters to Antonio, "... twenty..."
And then the conversation turns to hushed whispers between Martin and Tessa.
Martin waits til Hal and the rest are out of earshot, before asking tersely, "Vialle sent you?"
Gavin mutters to Antonio, "That puts... and Martin's..."
Tessa claims a chair moving it to Martin's bedside and seats herself.
Hal's horse snorts noisily as Hal gets close to the muttering two. "Need me fellows?" he inquires.
Gavin nods up at Hal. "How many men did you bring with you again, Hal?"
Tessa shakes her head faintly. "No. Vialle and others are incessant with
worries over you and I claimed the opportunity myself."
"It was more fortuitous than planned."
Antonio eyes Hal.
Hal says, "I brought ten thousand footsoldiers."
Hal smiles brightly.
Gavin nods, again. "That'd make my estimates about accurate then," he murmurs to Antonio.
Antonio nods, considering.
Martin looks about to query her on the "others" but asks instead, "How're things back in the palace, and in Amber?"
Tessa swallows once. "I've been spending each day helping with preparations under Mira." she says softly, teeth almost clenched. "But besides that things are tense."
Hal rummages around in one of his saddle bags.
In the shade outside of his tent, Martin talks quietly with Tessa, his expression flicking between annoyed and somber.
Antonio says, "Very well. Take ten of your best men and head back along the route towards the mountain pass. I want to know how far away they are from us and if they're already on the move."
Martin enquires, "Mira holding up well, then?"
Gavin nods. "I'll be about it now," He returns, and quickens his step towards the fortifications.
Hal says, "Unicorn be with you Gavin."
Antonio mutters to himself, "... won't..."
Tessa's faint smile gives way to a frown. "Were she truly as cold as she acts I would say yes. She dissembles well but inside..." she sighs softly. "Her barbs are for show but they cut so that not many are willing to go around them."
Hal pulls out a small canteen and takes a sip.
Gavin nods at Hal, "And you," he murmurs in response, and heads off to collect riders and horses.
Antonio says, "Good luck, Gavin. Get back to me as soon as you can and don't take any unnecessary risks."
Martin nods. Reaching for Tessa's hand, he says, "Mira's in for a big fall, and we can't afford to have that happen. Keep an eye on her. Later," he flashes a tired grin. "You can think about pulling out her hair."
Hal mutters to Antonio, "... until... Take..."
Tessa squeezes your hand gently, her smile returning, softer. "I am trying. But these days are hard on everyone and I find that my patience may have stayed in New Orleans when we left." her mouth quirks slightly. "I'll help her Martin. But she needed a new hairstyle anyways."
Martin senses Tessa is hiding it reasonably well but she's scared. Really scared.
Martin reaches for Tessa's hand, and she takes it. They continue to speak quietly.
Antonio turns to Hal, He mutters to Hal.
Hal mutters in return.
Martin's grin widens some. "Hey, you wanted to come here," he reminds her with a chuckle, and winces. Muttering imprecations about that stupid horse, he returns the squeeze, his grasp somewhat shaky, his face paled. Softly, he says, "You'll do fine, Tessa. I know you will."
Antonio eyes Hal darkly, He mutters to Hal, "... you... the... Virgans. Set... and... whatever."
Tessa nods returning the grin. "I will. And you better as well." she says, looking down at his leg. "I fully intend to ask you to dance on my next birthday." she says firmly swallowing once.
Martin whispers "And when's that?"
Tessa laughs softly. "A ways from now. So no worries yet." Her glance lowers to your leg again. "What happened?"
Antonio says lowly, "I'm sure you'll manage."
Hal shakes his head.
Martin chuckles again, carefully, and after a moment. "Then I'll dance with you on your next birthday, whenever it is," he promises her. "As for how," his smile twists into a vaguely sheepish grin. "Uh... Farrand fell on it."
Antonio arches his brow at Hal, "You're perhaps waiting for trumpets to announce your departure?"
Hal says, "Oh well, I thought the drums were enough. The trumpets well.. a bit ostenatious."
Tessa's brow arches slightly, and she quickly closes her mouth so a giggle doesn't escape and run wild. "See if I ever give him a carrot again." She releases a long pent up sigh and smiles then, her second hand gently touches your arm. "I'm glad you're ok Martin." she flushes slightly. "I know I shouldn't have come but I had too."
Antonio says, "No doubt."
Hal smiles merrily and wheels his horse about and clip clops off.
Antonio glances across towards Martin and Tessa.
Martin's smile fades back into seriousness. "We can't spare the men to escort you on your little excursions, and right now, the countryside is not a safe place. And this," he fingers the folds of her skirt. "You're a little overdressed for a war, know what I mean?"
Tessa lifts her chin and affects a voice like Mira's. "Just because some boys choose to play at war doesn't mean I shall compose myself as anything but a Lady." she smirks then. "Honestly, it was an impromptu visit. Otherwise I would asked for jeans."
Martin arches a brow at her. "No jeans," he says firmly. "But definitely
something more low-key, but preferably safe behind Amber's walls." Then,
"Any more news from the home front?"
Martin glances up from his conversation with Tessa, notes the departure of Hal.
Antonio makes his way back into the command tent.
Tessa's eyes register a twitch and then it passes. "No. People talk all the time, but no one is saying anything." she smiles softly then. "Can I take a message back for you? To Vialle? Anyone?"
Martin shakes his head, after a pause to consider. "No, Gerard knows the situation. Tell the girls what you want. Do *not* take this as an encouragement for any more impromptu visits."
"Tessa nods quickly. "I won't. I just..." her teeth graze her lower lip. "I needed to know."
Martin says, "Reckless." But there's a hint of affection as he says it. "Tell you what, take Farrand back with you to Amber when you go, alright? As a favor to me."
Tessa looks surprised. "You don't need him here?"
Martin eyes Tessa long and hard, and refrains from pointing out the obvious. "He got himself pretty badly cut up," he says instead. "He won't be any good to anyone for a while. Might as well let him rest easy in Amber til this is over."
Tessa nods quickly. "I'll take good care of him." she smiles then. "Did you see me ride? I've been practicing."
Martin chuckles softly.
Tessa blushes faintly.
Martin whispers "Looking better all the time."
Tessa beams. "I should be." she sighs again. "I should go. I'll take care. Come home soon?"
Martin nods, "Soon. Safe journeys."
Tessa nods, swallowing hard again. "I'd hug you but you'd probably get embarrassed." she says with a smile. "So I'll just tell you. I miss you."
Martin sits up a little further, beckoning Tessa forward.
Tessa leans forward.
Martin grins a lopsided grin. "You're getting sentimental again," he smiles. "Tell me that when I come home, alright?"
Martin puts a hand up to her face, guiding it down so he can kiss her on her forehead as he murmurs something to her.
Tessa nods quickly. "I will. But best make it soon. So I don't forget." Tessa smiles faintly as Martin's lips brush across her brow.
Martin smiles, tiredness and pain creasing his features. "I'll remind you," he says softly. "Now, get lost."
Tessa chuckles softly and nods, rising.
Tessa grins. "Last time I got lost Antonio had to lead me back. Maybe I'll let Farrand find my way home."
Tessa winks. "I'd hate to have to hear more of your exploits and the notorious amounts of women you bring home."
Martin gestures towards the horse pens further back, and waves her farewell. Martin whispers "Tell them I said you can have Farrand, and just follow the road up. It's hard to get lost going up..." he blinks. "Pardon?"
Tessa begins to step away from the couch then smiles faintly, eyes
Tessa mutters to Martin, "... believe... was trying... heartbreak... me."
what she muttered was: "I believe Lord Antonio was trying to prepare me for the heartbreak of you dumping me." to Martin.
Martin nods, comprehension dawning, and slowly. "How considerate of our dear cousin," he glances towards the command tent. "I'll see you when this is all over." He gives her a wave, turning away, faintly distracted.
Tessa nods and strides across the campground towards the horse pen, calling for her horse and Lord Martin's to be brought forward.
Martin slumps back, waving over one of the boys to help him into his tent.
Tessa smiles faintly at the boy who brings out the two animals, then mounts and with a last look back, sets off towards the castle.
Martin doesn't look towards Tessa as she leaves, his attention rather absorbed by the act of working out basics like how to stand again.
Tessa rides out of sight, back towards Amber.