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 the morning hunt, ESFYR & TALA
ESFYR STARK
 Posted: Oct 10 2017, 02:33 AM
QUOTE.  


esfyr

491 words ★ for @Tala Stark ★ ((hope this is okay!!;;))

Two years had passed since her marriage, and Esfyr had long accepted that she was still very much only a Stark in name. It was not that she was purposefully distant, or that her family were so with her; no, far from it - she adored them all, and she was glad to be there in Winterfell with them. But she was still very much a Lady of the Westerlands, not of the North. She could not hunt - she had never learnt how to handle a crossbow. A sword or a javelin, perhaps, she would have a chance with, but even those weapons she had rarely gotten to touch, let alone handle. Such was her upbringing. Maceo had been raised as a Knight, for battle, to fight the King’s wars (as the wretched, wretched madman that once called himself King had so pleased), and she had been raised for strategy, for marriages that would benefit the Houses involved, and thus - as she had always hoped - the realms.

And then, the life of her first husband, the father of her children, had been claimed by the conflict. ‘What did I do wrong?’, she had asked herself, over and over until she’d found herself unable to sleep at night. Questions stacked upon more questions, like, what could have been done to prevent the conflict - what might have happened if the Targaryens had not sullied their reputation with such a foolish marriage, invoking the ire of the Faith Militants. Time passed and all of that seemed to have fluttered away like loosened pages of a book, disappearing from her mind and her worries to be replaced by the matters of the present.

But when dear Tala had returned to Winterfell, everything came flooding back, and all Esfyr could do was keep a hardened face and be an example of strength for her stepdaughter, because if she’d done anything else, the hounding memories might well have broken them both. Yet ever since, she wondered if she had been too distant. Yes, she was not the girl’s mother. But she was not supposed to brush away what anguish she must have been feeling, simply for her own peace of mind.

So she made her way to the stables early that morning, knowing Tala was to head out on a hunt that day, in hopes she might be able to converse with the girl away from the eyes and ears of the castle… If she’d let her, that was.

Though she wasn’t a hunter, Esfyr did love riding, and was fond of horses almost as much as she was of people. When she stepped into the stables (ignoring the offensive stench that she’d never managed to get used to, mind), she called to her stepdaughter before making her way to the enclosure of her favoured horse. “Tala, dear! Good morning! Are you setting off soon? I was hoping to ride with you - if you wouldn’t mind, of course.”

★ VERA
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Tala Stark
 Posted: Oct 15 2017, 11:46 AM
QUOTE.  


How long had it been since Tala returned home? A few weeks, a month? It was difficult to tell, when she'd been spending the days as if in a daze, unable to truly find comfort in the only home she'd known for most of her life. It had been strange, coming back to Winterfell. Not that Tala ever thought that she'd never return; of course it had been part of her future -- visiting to present her children to her father's court, arriving with her sons and leaving them here to be fostered, and so on. But the decision had been sudden, born out of a need to keep her out of harm's way as the war waged on, separating Tala from her husband.

The news of Rygen's fate reached Winterfell before Tala did, and the silver linings she might have thought of on the long journey shriveled up and died upon being informed. Since then, the coldness that permeated the North had seemed so hostile. She'd acknowledged both the outpouring of sympathy and even light jabs at being married under the Faith of the Seven instead of the Old Gods, but never heard them. Replied with soft words of gratitude, yet her eyes lacked her usual alertness, as if a puppeteer moved her.

She knew time would make it better, if not easier. It had to. Tala disliked her absent condition more than anyone else, but tears were not an option for the Lord Paramount's daughter. Even if she were to weep her sorrows out in the confines of her chambers she feared that she would not be able to stop once she started, and she'd end up having a similar sobriquet to House Arryn's eldest.

At one of her concerned guards' suggestion, Tala had roused herself and arranged a hunt. She was beginning to loathe herself for her own wallowing in inaction, being a burden to her family instead of helping. Hunting would certainly help, and inattention could get her killed in the wolfswood. It was a good idea, an attempt to return to herself. Thus the past few days have been dedicated to preparations, filling her days with activity so that her mind wouldn't wander.

The morning of the hunt, Tala and four of her personal guard were in the stables, ensuring that they were well-equipped before setting out. She was dressed in her black and gray leathers, hair gathered and bound behind her head so that the dark waves cascaded down her back. Her goldenheart bow was noticeably missing, but it wasn't anything that the people in Winterfell would have been familiar with. Standing beside a saddled garron, the younger widow had been in conversation with the kennelmaster when her stepmother arrived.

"Oh... Good morning." Tala didn't quite know what to say. She'd never been close to the woman her father married, although one would say that they got along relatively well. There hadn't been a lot of time between Esfyr's arrival and Tala's departure two years ago, and since her return they have not spoken beyond the customary greetings. The lord's daughter finished her conversation with the kennelmaster, then turned towards Esfyr. "Certainly, my lady. We have quite a few more things to prepare, so we should take a while longer." Regardless of Tala's feelings, this was Lady Stark she was talking to, after all.

"Prepare Lady Stark's horse. She will be joining us today. Then retrieve my sword from the armorer." She turned to briefly instruct one the stable helpers, before returning her attention to her stepmother.

"Lady Stark, have you hunted before?" The Hearth Wolf felt like she already knew the answer, but maybe she was wrong. Hopefully she was wrong. Didn't lions hunt?


Tag: @ESFYR STARK | Notes: It's awesome ♥
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ESFYR STARK
 Posted: Nov 6 2017, 06:56 AM
QUOTE.  


esfyr

250 words ★ for @Tala Stark ★ ((--))

Before the stablehand could move to prepare her horse, Esfyr had stepped towards the creature with a smile, her arms wrapping gently, loosely, around his neck and smoothing down his mane. Small words of greeting left her lips and she patted him reassuringly; though she had a few horses now present at Winterfell, he was her favourite. Greywind was his name, telling of the colour of his coat and hair.

“Yes, dear. Well…” As Esfyr responded to her stepdaughter’s question, her brow furrowed a little, her smile noticeably growing timid. She bobbed her head thoughtfully. “Mm. Once or twice. I rode. I did not participate.” She had to be honest, of course. It was no good dragging Tala down with her if the girl expected her to be better than she was. “I shaln’t try to cause you trouble with my inexperience. You have my word. Do not be afraid to ride ahead and leave me in your wake if you must.” Chuckling, she gave her horse another rub before stepping away to allow the stablehand to do his work.

And inexperienced with the hunt she was. Weapons in the Westerlands and the Crownlands were rarely made for a woman’s hands. But, riding… Yes, if there was one thing Esfyr was good at, it was that.

“Unless you would be willing to teach me?” She asked, though likely Tala would not want such a burden on her when trying to enjoy herself; trying to clear her mind of her troubles.

★ VERA
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Tala Stark
 Posted: Nov 22 2017, 12:06 PM
QUOTE.  


Tala wasn't wrong. It didn't happen often, but the moments when she hoped for the opposite of what she'd already surmised were far rarer. But this wasn't as grave as say, being proven right about the worst aspects of someone's personality. It was just that there'd been a sliver of hope that with the two years of her absence, another huntress could have taken the place Tala had vacated among Winterfell's ranks.

That was the thing, wasn't it? Hoping required some practically-baseless assumptions and leaps of faith. It was dangerous, when applied to more significant things.

Realising that she'd withdrawn into her own mind space while her stepmother was still talking, Tala grasped at the remnants of their conversation, barely catching the last of it. "I can't do that to you, Lady Stark. Father wouldn't like it. The wolfswood isn't as safe like the godswood, by far, and I'm not even allowed to go there without guards." She forced herself to swallow down a wince lest the woman would think that it was a reaction to the admission of inexperience. That part wasn't a problem; if Esfyr was confident with her riding then the rest of them could make do with the rest. So despite the suggestion to be leave the Lannister -- well, she hadn't seemed to have even attempted to be a Stark -- behind, Tala had no plans of doing so. The North needed the gold and other advantages Esfyr had brought with the alliance, and it was in bad form to mistreat her father's wife, even in jest.

But instructing her how to hunt? "I'm not much of a teacher..." She began slowly, gaze wandering to rest on Esfyr's horse as she considered the idea. She hesitated to take up such a responsibility. Her father was the first to teach her how to hunt, which indicated to the rest of the Stark household that the lord did not disapprove of his daughter's chosen diversions and it was fine for them to have a hand in her education. Yet Tala had never taught anyone; never had to, since there were others who could. "But since you've joined a hunt before we can have you try your aim. Nothing too... dangerous." No, she was not supposed to foist off her stepmother to her guards, or let even the tiniest golden hair harmed.

The hunt preparations continued around them; stableboys saddling the horses, house guards picking up the tasks Tala would have done were she not required to attend to her stepmother. Perhaps her house guards might have expected some negligence from Tala given her state in the previous days. One of them took her hand and gently wrapped her fingers around the scabbard of a sword -- the one she'd asked the stableboy to get. Another stood behind her, counting the arrows in Tala's quiver, more in his hand to supplement should he find them lacking. Still another moved to stand a few paces away and tried to catch the Northern daughter's attention. He raised a hand, three fingers raised and an exaggerated expression of inquiry on his face. Three additional guards? Tala nodded, and the guard went off.

So much activity around them. Shutting her eyes briefly with a soft sigh, Tala made herself listen to the din surrounding them, for a moment not caring what her stepmother would think. Come on, Tala. Stay here. Be here, now. She couldn't be distracted, especially now that someone else was going to join them. One can't really command the animals of the wolfswood which of them were to stay away certain areas. When she'd had enough, the widow returned her attention to the woman before her, eyes a bit clearer and alert. Ahem. "We'll have to find you some weapons, Lady Stark." A faint smile curved the young lady's lips; she couldn't for the life of her imagine Esfyr brandishing a weapon. "What are you comfortable using? I can accompany you to the armorer's for something, if you'd like, or if there's anything else you'd like to take with you."

Of course, the question of why today, of all days, Esfyr wanted to join the hunt when she'd never done so in the past two years was still up in the air, but no voice was lent to it for now. If Tala guessed at it, she might not be wrong again.


Tag: @ESFYR STARK
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ESFYR STARK
 Posted: Dec 1 2017, 09:29 PM
QUOTE.  


esfyr

267 words ★ for @Tala Stark ★ ((--))

Ah, yes. There was always a danger present with a hunt, and the wolfswood no doubt was more vast and wild than any of the grounds of the Westerlands. Esfyr had always feared the worst, as she found herself prone to doing, every time she’d known a Stark would venture out of Winterfell into the untamed parts of the North. Even then, standing in front of Tala having asked to join her, she worried for the girl’s safety. Which was not the reason she had wanted to accompany her; rather, it was a small, nagging voice at the back of her mind. A weight lingering upon her shoulders she could not shake. Only conceal.

Feigned amusement crossed her features and she tapped a finger to her smiling lips, “Then I shan't let your Father know.”

It seemed Tala was cautious on the matter, understandably. They did not know one another well, and that fact was what Esfyr hoped to mend that day. But she would not be able to do that if she only got in the girl’s way. “My Lord Father did not particularly approve of my learning to use weaponry.” She told her with a hint of wryness in her voice, after briefly glancing towards the stablehand equipping Greywind. Lord Loren had approved of very little when she thought about it, actually. “When tutored in riding I learnt first and foremost to flee danger. And after that, I was taught polearm use. For the purpose of self defense.” Her smile quirked as she admitted, “I cannot draw a bow, if that is what you’re asking.”

★ VERA
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