Arya rides fast along the uneven terrain, her horse beating its hooves hard against the dusty and mud-ridden trail. Rain plinking off the rigid, forged steel that made up her armor. Weeks worth of dried blood flowing cleanly off the metal as the pair keeps pace. It's not too much longer before they reach the cozy stable, sitting just under the ever-looming shadow of the castle. Lord Edwin's court.
Arya frowns as they trot up beside a structure that looks to be untented. An annoyance for the knight, but not much of a surprise considering the brewing storm. "Let's get you settled, huh, girl?” Patting the head of her steed, the two start for the inside. Wind whistling through the cracks of stone in the fortress just above.
The knight grins under the heavy metal of her helmet as black equine lumbers onto the creaking wood of the stable floor. Finally, out of the rain, even only if just for a few minutes, it was a welcome break. She gives her horse’s mane a few strokes. "Maybe Auntie Gretta has a few apples we can snag.”
The horse lets out a short little whinny. If Arya didn't know any better, she'd swear it was directed at her.
Rain pelts the outside of the fortress. In the shadow of a massive wooden door sits a boy: Nineteen years of age, soon to be a man worthy of taking over his father's land just as his son had done before him. He thought he was ready for anything, but he wasn't prepared for anything of this sort. Here he stood, the size of a flea in front of a door that typically took two servants to pry open. Doing his best to keep confident, his visage wavers for a moment as he drifts deep in contemplation.
He continues towards the door, deep in thought, when he hears the pattering of footsteps echo out across the stone, "Seymour!" A familiar voice calls to him, forcing an end to his staring contest with the entrance. A portly yet distinguished man jogs over from across the hollow entry hall, embracing Seymour with a warmth one might give a son. He’s shocked but ecstatic, the touch of another instantly calming his nerves. He lets go, finally ending the emotionally charged hug. "Glad to see you're still kicking, old man." He flashes a charismatic smile, delighted to see another friendly face.
The older man rolls his eyes, not in any mood for Seymour’s sarcasm. "Joke if you must. However, I've been looking hide over ha-"
The bulky wooden frame of the door scrapes across the entry hall floor, obliterating the older man in an instant. His body caught under the corner of the gate and dragged under ruthlessly and cleanly. Vanishing from Seymours sight before he can so much as choke out a sob in response. Stunned, the young man scrambles backward, directly into the path of an armor-clad boot. It descends from the sky, ruthless, uncaring, and unaware.
The boot moves forward, impacting the stone and sliding ever so slightly against the ground as it does. Seymours body scrapes against the imperfect rocky floor. Like an eraser to a piece of parchment—the tiny body ground down to nothing in one horrifying abrupt instant.
Arya throws open the doors with a heavy shove. Feeling only the slightest bit of resistance against her muscular arms; The way forward clearing for her with ease. She grunts, annoyed that the usual servants weren't here to greet her and tend to her needs.
"Truly pitiful,” Arya scowls, removing her helmet and taking a step inside. Dark black shoulder-length hair falls messily, matted and dirtied from weeks at war. She brushes it back tidily with a glove, keeping it out of her eyes.
"I risk life and limb, yet they can't even spare me the courtesy of a proper greeting!” Disdain practically oozes from her voice, the mechanical gears within already turning for her. Likely, the nobles were once again to blame. In the past, they'd tied up Lord Edwin with their stupid political games when there were much more important matters at hand.
Arya walks forward through the empty hall, momentarily confused at the sheer emptiness of it all. Where were the bustling servants preparing for the army's return? Dusting the floors, cleaning the portraits? The whole situation leaves a knot at the very bottom of her stomach. The loud clinking of her armor plates fills the silence as she walks onward, closing the door behind her. She wasn’t too worried about her horse. Naturally, either Gretta would tend to her soon, or the servants would take care of the animals once they were done honoring whatever new silly request the court asked of them.
"Tch. Bluebloods are most definitely a scourge to his lordship.” The knight mutters under her breath as she walks deeper into the castle. The armor weighed heavily on her now; despite her athletic physic, she's simply fair too exhausted to keep up appearances. Arya moves through the impressive entryway at a snail's pace, passing by dozens of paintings depicting various events. She pays them no mind. They were once enchanting, but she’d long since grown numb to their charm.
Boots continue to clink of the chilly rock as she eventually comes upon the familiar foyer, breathing a sigh of relief before wearily calling out to whoever may hear, "Knight Arya of house Tworage has returned from the front lines!” She pauses, only continuing after realizing she’d gotten no response. “I require attendants for maintenance of my equipment!”
Her voice seemingly reaches none, bouncing off the empty walls of the manor. A low growl resonates within Arya's throat, spitting on the ground next to her in a gesture of absolute reprehension.
"Vile inbreds are dinning without me!” No matter, she'd tend to her wounds and gear the old-fashioned way. The way she'd been taught once upon a time, as a young girl living deep in the heart of Vilhelm.
Cherle and Sethe sprint across the floor towards the distinguished knight, standing proud and tall directly in the middle of the foyer, between adjoining stairs. However, the area is seemingly boundless for the two. Forced onto such a relentless pace, Cherle soon finds herself tripping over her garment, causing Sethe to catch her and scoop her up upon his broad shoulders.
"Hold tight, love. We're almost there.”
They'd been invited to cater yet another royal party. Sure the nobles were rude and often outright disgusting to deal with, but who were they to say no? The couple had become fabulously wealthy since they began catering the royal banquettes. Assuredly, a little bit of abuse was warranted, right? The name-calling was simply expected at this point. However, the flash wasn't. With dinner served and well underway, the couple had snuck out for a short break from all the commotion—Thats when it hit. The vertigo was unlike anything they'd felt before. All in a single humiliating instant, the couple was no more significant than the dust lining the castle's dirty stone floors.
Nevertheless, their troubles were soon to be over! Now underneath the shadow of a famed hero, they holler and scream, waving desperately for rescue that would never come. Although, what does come to the couple is a tragic coincidence, as Arya's fluids impact the ground next to them, causing Sethe to lose his balance and Cherle her grip as the couple is splashed with pounds of wet force.
The saliva assaults them with its thick viscosity and gross sludge-like texture. Sethe manages to keep his head above, but Cherle almost immediately takes some into her lungs, head dipping down under the slop. They wriggle messily like bugs caught in honey. Their bodies tiring rapidly simply trying to move through the thickness. It doesn’t take Sethe long to panic, trying desperately to free his arms and reach over to his betrothed. He extends a slime-covered hand outward, tears forming in his eyes from the utter frustration of it all. He tries to push himself closer, but he’s far too entrenched in Arya’s vile fluids.
Taking a deep breath, he lets out a yelp just before his head dips under the goo. It fills his lungs, and he sputters for air, only succeeding in bringing more and more into his chest. It forces itself down his throat, the offensive liquid invading his body. Sethe starts thrashing around; panic further settling in as he loses feeling in his extremities. He can't see Cherle anymore. He can't see anything. His vision fades with his last thoughts spent hoping for a miracle that never comes. Light fades from his eyes, and he has one closing reflection before the life is snuffed out of him altogether.
Arya steps over her freshly created speck of spittle and heads off to the side under the stairway. Trudging along slowly, shoulders heavy from the weight of the last few days. So many good people lost over the previous month. Not only was she physically drained, but mentally she'd reached her limit long ago.
The knight pushes open a seemingly innocuous door on the far side of the room, clumsily fumbling with the knob with her leather gloves. The door swings open, and Arya is greeted by a well-tended and decently lit den. Candles recently changed, the room dusted as she'd hoped. Everything considered It's not all too bad, she thinks to herself.
At least they had time to prepare the living quarters.
With a sort of tired mirth, she starts stripping her armor, feeling immediate relief now that her shoulders no longer have to bear the constant strain.