08.09.3013: A Sanctuary in the Woods
Summary: Declan invites Ariana for a horse ride through the dreary Arborenin woods.
Date: 08 August 2013
Related: None
Ariana Declan 

A trail in the Arborenin Woods, the Spine, Imperius
Descriptions of locations in the log.
09 August 3013

Some days after the event on Niveus, Declan has extended and invitation for Ariana to visit him in the Spine; she's shown such -great- interest in his native land, after all. Meeting at the Ways, the usual greetings and pleasantries are exchanged, before suggesting that they descend. This process itself is quite an excursion! The trees are many hundreds of feet tall, and descending them involves (if a Way Gate or elevator isn't used) traversing long, winding pathways that spiral down their trunks or criss-cross between trees at mild inclines. So just the trip down is long enough to be undertaken on horseback, and the process of descending provides a view of the many layers of the forest, from the thick branches where the Arboren buildings are constructed, down through various levels of foliage. Early on, its impossible to even see the ground, although after passing enough layers of the greenery, holes begin to peek through. Of course there is wildlife as well, although mostly birds at this height, flitting between branches.

Not being particularly interested in all of the twisty vines and such that creep their way down towards the forest floor, Ariana doesn't look entirely enthused by this venture today. Seated tall upon her personal majestic steed, she is dressed in a simple riding gown, made of a thicker material than usual as a way to protect its wearer against the elements, or at the very least, keep her warm. The dress itself is in an azure hue and while the skirt is not as full as a normal gown, it does split open in the front to the expose a white underskirt beneath. White trim embroidery decorates her modest square collar as well as following the length of her split skirt, leaving a trail of tiny white flowers on both sides. A thick, but lush white cloak rests upon her shoulders and her long hair is twisted into a gentle braid which falls over her chest before her. The mane and tail of her grey steed is entwined with white flower petals and ribbons. She's a decent enough rider, but being cautious, she guides her horse slowly along the trail. There is no smile on her lips and she looks to be in full concentration as she works to keep her horse steady for now.

"We really could have taken the Ways down instead," Declan remarks as they travel. "But I thought you might want the full view of things. Its easy to forget just how high you are, when you're in the city itself, since the branches are quite thick and its difficult to see far down. But in fact, we live quite high above the ground. Likely not quite so high as your cities on Nubilus, but still." His own mount is less festively adorned, a surefooted chestnut mare of only moderate size. The big Valen destriers really have no purpose here, considering how few of the Arboren wear the heavier armors, and how agility benefits more in the sometimes treacherous terrain. Eventually, they make their way down and the ground comes into sight, although it covered in a great deal of foliage as well. "It can be difficult to ride of the trails here, with all manner of uneven terrain hidden among the ground cover."

When the Ways is mentioned, Ariana slowly turns in Declan's direction, almost as if to ask why they did not take the Ways. His answer comes soon enough and she is once again facing forward and watching the patches of ground and root and leaves that lay before her mount's hoofs. "I do not mind a good horse ride, My Lord. In fact, sometimes I long to do so…. though I'm more used to the terrain in the Valen plains and meadows." She then tugs gently upon her reigns, making her graceful horse slow down even further as she can sense the unevenness of the ground. "But yes, I am surprised by how deep the forest floor is from your home. I, myself, never really considered what the areas below the mountain peaks of the cities of Nubilus is like. I always felt that it would be something quite unpleasant and best left forgotten." Sometimes, she will turn to look at a group of wild flowers that grow on the side of the path with some curiosity. Probably naming each flora which they come across silently in her mind. "Do any of you really come down here very often?"

"Oh, I think you have mentioned how you enjoy riding. So, I thought that at least once, we would take this longer route so you could enjoy the ride. You will have many opportunities to take the shortcut in the future, after all." A grim reminder of her dismal future as a forest-bride! "It is very different. If I'd realized you were going to bring your own steed, I might have suggested against it. The horses in our stables know these paths even better than me and my siblings do, so they tend to be good at avoiding any pitfalls. Though… I suppose it is good that yours gets used to it, since you will surely be riding here frequently." Fortunately the main path, once they're on it, is relatively clear. It might be a little challenging on foot, but for the horses it's clear enough, as the trails were likely blazed by deer and other animals in the first place. "I try to come down regularly," Declan explains. "Just to have an eye on things and keep familiar with the ever-changing face of the forest. However, practically speaking, aside from hunting there isn't a lot of reason. Our outlying settlements and work areas are all accessible via the ways, although those at ground level do usually warrant regular patrols. And since the hostiles have started landing, we've made them mandatory throughout the Spine. You never know where they might be hiding, after all."

A quiet frown forms on Ariana's lips at the idea of using a different horse. Her own steed is a graceful beauty, its grey fur is brushed to a pleasant sheen. Even the saddle which she is seated upon looks well polished. No other saddle would do! "Oh no…. I don't know if I could ride any other horse than Midnight Symphony." She leans forward lightly to touch carefully upon the side of Symphony's neck. "It takes a while to get used to a new horse, I think and I'm most comfortable with this one." Slowly and steady the grey mare trots on, looking a little uneasy in his step after accidentally stepping onto one large vine, but he regains his footing soon enough. Nodding slowly to her betroths's words, she seems relieved that she will rarely have a need to come down this way. "I think I would only be down this far if I needed to do research on the soil or native plant life, though I do have many native Arborenin flora in my labs as it is."

"That's true. Though in that case, you will want to ride her out here at least somewhat frequently, to get used to the trails." Oh good, lots of rides through the foliage! "Well, I would think you'd be interested in research trips. But there are all sorts of places to explore for that kind of thing. Mostly, I like to come down here just to get away from things. It's rare to see other people, after all. And there is some rather spectacular scenery all throughout." Declan takes a slight turn ahead, and their path seems to ascend slightly, onto the ridge line of some hill. "Closer to the Spine itself, there are some lovely waterfalls, for instance."

Ariana's brow lifts oh so suddenly, yet oh so gently when told of how frequently she should come down here. However, she says nothing of this as she faces forward once more, her chin lifted slightly in a near haughty manner. One could very well rest a book upon her head at this very moment and it would not fall! "Of course. Research. I usually have others bring me my samples, but if I need to fetch them myself, so be it." For a botanist, it is obvious that she has not step foot into such a woods before… or at least not very often. She was pulled here during the bonfire festivities and everything. "And is that not what one's private chambers are for, My Lord?" Now, she looks back towards Declan once again. "To get away from it all. To shut the world out." Thinking on this now, however, once she does move here there will be that lack of privacy. She will no longer have the sanctuary of her own beautiful bedroom to let out some steam. Urging Midnight Symphony to follow Declan and his own steed, she looks somewhat curious by the mention of lovely waterfalls. "There tends to be beauty everywhere, I suppose. Why, even the Crescent has Obsidia… oddly enough. Like a jewel in the rough there."

Declan chuckles a little at that. "I suppose that it would not be absolutely necessary for you to fetch them in person, no, but I thought you might desire to do so - to be precise finding samples up to your requirements, or to observe the plant life in its native environment?" As much as such natural sciences are part of the Arboren tradition, he clearly has little experience or direct knowledge of such procedures himself. "It's easy for servants to come to my quarters with messages, for my siblings to visit, my mother, many people. Out here? Well, they would have to go to a concerted effort to track me down. And, at least in terms of my siblings, I taught most of them how to track, so I can give them the slip if I so choose!" He grins a little, seemingly proud of this. "You're right, of course. The natural world is full of such beauty. But that is a very basic part of our House philosophy. That the natural world gives us so much, and that we must understand very carefully how to use those gifts, rather than abuse them or take them for granted."

Ariana still does not smile, even when servants are brought up, but she slowly nods all the same. It's her usual response to many things that she does not wish to think on at the moment. No actual interest is shown to any mention of the plant life as well, perhaps the young woman is simply being difficult. Or she feels uneasy here in these dreary woods which she may have read so much about or seen in documentaries and movies. And then, she falls quiet for a time, her head partially turned to look off at the side to absently gaze upon the foliage there, while her mind is on other more important things. If Declan cannot find his own chambers to be his private domain, how would she be able to seek solace there. Her brow gently furrows for that briefest of moments and for a few steps, anyway, her horse just meanders aimlessly on.

Her reverie is likely to be interrupted as the horse again has to adjust to an unexpected change in footing, not quite stumbling, but still giving an unexpected 'bump' to her rider. Declan glances back, "Are you both alright back there?" He draws his own mount up short, to wait until it is clear that everything is alright behind him. And once things are under control, he wonders, "So tell me, my lady, what sort of natural features and environments do you favor? Other than those of your home, I should say. Perhaps I can show you some secret places you might enjoy, or some of my own favorite places in the forest."

Her mind a million miles away, back home safe in her bedroom at Sky Palace, Ariana is jolted from her thoughts once Midnight Symphony hits a rough patch in the road. Her dainty hands clutch tightly upon her reign to keep herself from slipping off of her saddle. The only sound which she makes that could indicate her shock is the sharp gasp of breath at the initial bump. Rather than bring attention to her own carelessness, she remains quiet of the whole ordeal and soon pushes her steed forward with a slightly quicker gait so that she may catch up with the Heir of Arboren. "We're just fine. Thank you for your concern." She responds quickly, attempting to look as unruffled as an ice princess possibly can. In response to the question and to take her mind off of her near tumble off her horse, her answer comes out in an all too calm tone, "Gardens, of course. I found the gardens of your family to be quite lovely. Even the gardens in Obsidia are beautiful with all the marble and decor. Then there is Mare Maris and the visions of fish swimming all around you."

Again, there is a bit of a light laugh from Declan at this. "Well, I doubt we'll find any neatly-kept gardens out in the wilds, so a proper one might have to wait until we return home. But I do know a few nice clearings, where one can stand surrounded by all manner of flowers and other such plants. Perhaps we might head to one of the nearer ones, and take our lunches?" Oh, yes, he did bother to have a bit of a picnic packed for them, considering the likely length of their outing. "I hope that would suit you, my lady?"

"Oh, I've had all manners of picnics." Though Ariana hadn't actually considered one here with all the thick trees and branches and vines looming about, "Usually, by a lovely lake or pond, barring that, if it is indeed a long trek, some lush meadows tends to be a decent spot for a picnic" Still, her tone lacks any sort of enthusiasm and everything said is rather matter-of-factly. There's no skepticism, however, on her features that the Lord knows of some light in this dark and heavy forest and so she allows him to lead the way as she remains seated all prim and tall upon her beautiful steed. Eventually, she does ask, "You had brought us lunch. I never really thought to do so. How lovely."

"A pond? Well, maybe I can find you one with a pond if I -really- try," suggests Declan, making it sound as if some great and arduous effort, although the reality is probably that he knows the various rivers and streams as well as everything else, and many scenic areas do tend to grow up around water sources. Their gentle ride continues, with a turn here onto some small side path, and then another a few minutes later that has them walking along the banks of a gently-running stream, following its course. Presumably this will lead them toward some body of water, and after riding a little further, a break can be seen in the treeline ahead. Soon the pair comes upon a clearing with a small pond at it's center, surrounded by soft grass carpeted with little blue and yellow flowers, while a few larger such plants bloom in clusters at the water's edge. Declan pauses to dismount near the water, giving his horse a pat on the neck before it predictably leans down to drink, and then goes back to offer Ariana a hand down from her own steed.

Since she has to be here, Ariana does take the time to get a better view of her surroundings. She just knows there's probably some flying insect or various other forms of creepy crawlies that have made this place home. So of course, she is just fine to remain seated high atop her horse and let Declan guide her, hopefully, out of the darkness and drudgery. In her silence, she once again makes lists and mental notes of the many plant life that can be found here. She notices the ones that thrive in the shadows of these large, thick trees, while others that could use more sunlight and still some which, while she does recognize them, thinks that they pale in comparison to their counterparts in the gardens of Nubilus, where many of the flora are genetically altered. The sound of stream does catch her attention and she makes note of that as well. She soon speaks up, "These forests are vast and I have yet to see many a marker to help guide one from one point to the next. I would expect that many have gotten lost here upon their first visit anyway." She uses a friendly enough tone, rather than the stoic one she had used moments before. Upon finally catching sight of the clearing, she is relieved to be out from beneath the canopy of trees and finally bask in the sunlight which pours into this section of forest. For a time, she remains seated in her saddle until Declan comes to help her down from her tall horse and she does so with all the grace and elegance that a noblewoman could muster. "This is like the oasis within the forest. A place where flowers can fully thrive in the embrace of the sunlight." Pulling Midnight Symphony's reigns, she leads the proud horse to the water, so that he may drink as well.

"The rangers do sometimes leave marks for one another, but they're hard to notice if you're not familiar with our methods. But remember, for the most part, few people travel out this far from civilization. Even among our native citizens, most still use the Ways to travel between smaller settlements." After helping Ariana from her horse, Declan moves back to his own steed and opens the saddle bag to retrieve some of the items for their picnic, including a little folded cloth spread for them to sit upon and of course the lunch he's packed for them both. And despite whatever servants might trail behind, the Young Lord seems to have little objection to laying down the cloth and setting out their meal himself. As he goes about this, he converses somewhat idly on the topic of the surrounding forest. "A fine observation. We tend to see very different growth around bodies of water, given the extra sunlight that can get in. In most of the Arborenin woods, the canopy is so thick that it drastically affects the ground level growth. I'm glad you like it here."

While the tidbit about rangers leaving markers about may pique the interest of other noblewomen, especially those who do not abhor the idea of being surrounded by darkness and trees, Ariana doesn't seem overly interested on the topic and so she simply nods. Lingering besides her horse, one of her servants, a chaperone, finally steps forward to secure the mount as it gets some water and begins to lightly give the horse a light brushing. The trek through the woods must have snagged a twig or some leaves into its ribbon and blossom adorned mane. Her cool blue eyes have turned their attention to the pond to take in its serenity as several water fowl drift on by. It's only later that she notices that Declan is working on their picnic set up and she saunters over to help him. "Have there been no thoughts to trim some of the canopy's leaves and let in more sunlight? I mean… the forest does look rather dark." And dreary.

"Trim them where? Throughout the entirety of the Arborenin woods?" Declan gives a slight shake of his head. "I think it would be difficult to try and change the fundamental nature of the woods, like that. And the height of the trees creates some interesting sorts of ecosystems as well; the trees are large enough and tall enough that in the higher branches, smaller plants can grow atop the branches. Just think of our own gardens, for instance. I am not sure I would want to disrupt that variety and balance." A gesture sweeps out toward the pond. "But there are larger bodies of water than this, if you prefer more open areas. And you might also find some interest in other higher-up areas like our city? There will be much for you to explore, especially if you take up some botanical projects." The young lord seats himself and begins opening containers, revealing a nice selection of native Arborenin dishes, featuring local plants and animals alike. "I'm afraid I don't know your favorite foods just yet, my lady, so I had a bit of everything prepared."

Once the blanket is spread out and the dishes are displayed, Ariana takes her seat on one of the blanket; a graceful hand drifts over the lengths of her skirts to smooth them out once she is seated. Listening to the Young Lord talk, she spies the food which have been set up for them both. None of the fancy dishes which she is used to. Nor the sweet iced milk tea drinks or the lemon sherbet. She continues on rather curiously now, "But do you not wish to have more spaces like… this one? So beautiful and light instead of how dark the passage leading here is. The road is twisted, the trees like monsters towering over everything. Why, this little opening can be further opened up…. and as for gardens, usually, gardens are well organized and planned out. Everything perfectly planted to compliment the other flowers nearby." At the mention of taking up a… botanical project is made, the young lady's brow arches just a touch, before she states, "I think I'd be a little wary to venture out for some project. I assume you have a laboratory here?"

The food does have a sort of hearty, homey nature to it, practical and filling fare. But, still, there are some items that might appeal to Ariana; a great variety of fruits and berries, for instance, served fresh in salads, made into juices, or baked into desserts. "But we have this space, why do we need many more? I rather like that some of these places are… secluded and hard to find. Secret. After all, we could make a place like this our own little personal getaway. Would you not enjoy that, having your own private oasis of natural beauty?" Then Declan reassures her with a nod. "Of course, we have laboratories, research facilities, and even some outposts further from civilization for such things - accessible via the Ways, naturally. But, even if you wanted to do some field work, we would make sure you had the appropriate security for it. Do you think that I would let harm come to you, as among many things, the future Lady of our whole House?"

It is these fruit dishes that Ariana picks out first, taking a plate and filling it up with a neatly arranged variety of fruits and vegetables before the plate is thus set within her lap. She is usually a light eater anyway. Nibbling at a fresh berry, she pointedly states, "This may be your oasis, My Lord, but I would never find this place on my own. This tiny fraction of beauty among the thick and twisted trees. If there were more space like this, especially closer to your fortification, it would be much easier to venture to without needing to pass beneath the dark canopy of shadows. It's almost like a stifling tunnel, I think. And it makes me uneasy that I see movement here and there from out of the corner of my eyes." When he questions whether she would think he'd allow any harm to come to her, she has no answer to this.

Despite the negativity she seems to display toward the darker portions of the forest, Declan does not seem too bothered, and perhaps even a bit understanding. "Well, I can see why you would be uncomfortable traveling such paths, especially unescorted. For outsiders, they are often very ominous. But I expect that you will come to be a little more comfortable with things. For instance, we are really not very far from home here. Much of the time of the trip was spent descending, and we took the 'slow' way down. Without that, the ride is not terribly long, and I'm sure you could learn the way, or even, that we could mark it out better if you decided it was one you preferred. There are also some places accessible via the Ways you might like, but it will take time for you to come to be familiar with the whole of our realm." And it sounds as if he does expect she will one day possess such familiarity, as the Lady Arboren. The man also takes some opportunity to eat, biting off a bit of herb-roasted fowl.

Not particularly an emotional woman, Ariana refrains from passionately whining about her cause to her betrothed. Though while she may not be emotional to a degree, there is a tensing of her jaw that happens very subtly whenever she is displeased. Still, she is able to maintain a light tone when she speaks, carefully hiding away the growing tension that begins to grow within her, "You can see where I'm coming from, My Lord. Nubilus is like… a vast wide open space. You can see the heavens all around you and everything feels so open and light. It is so much different here. The paths look unfriendly and dangerous and who knows what lurks about in these shadows." She does try to listen as he speaks once again, but it can be clearly seen within her eyes that her mind is set for the moment and nothing said would change this fact. Even the idea of her needing to be familiar with the entirety of this foreboding place makes her brow twitch and she quickly slips a berry between her lips and begins to chew to ease the tension of her jaw.

"Yes, I do understand that Nubilus is very different. At least you should be able to travel to the topmost part of the canopy and enjoy the open air, as we did during the bonfire festival?" Declan suggests, trying to sound at least a little comforting. The man is no fool, and as subtle as Ariana's reactions may be, some of her displeasure surely reaches his attention. "And we will be able to visit your home when you long for it. There are also still yet sights for you to discover, here. The next time we travel, we can take the Ways first and ride from one of the further-out settlements instead, and visit the great waterfalls on the side of the Spine. Perhaps you'll find them a little more enjoyable."

Lifting her chin, Ariana stares up into the vision of the open sky in the middle of these tall, dark trees. The sounds of birds chirping and singing their forest songs can be heard if she could only stop her mind from pointing out all of the faults of these woods. Her chin lowering, she turns her attention to Declan now and for the time being, all of that built up tension slowly begins to ease away when she asks, "You love these forests because it is your bit of sanctuary, My Lord? A place for you to go away and hide to when things become too much? A place where you feel safe? I hope one day that I am able to find such a place myself, My Lord, when it is time for me to move here with you and your family." She doesn't look overly optimistic about the locations which he tosses out, but she does note, "I'm sure the falls here must be more beautiful than Obsidia. At least you do not have the volcanoes and ash to mar your view. Just trees… all around."

Having had the chance to eat a little, Declan sits back in a more relaxed way, leaning to one side and propped lightly on his elbow. "Yes, precisely," he answers Ariana, looking off over the pond and into the expanse of nature beyond. "I've always felt very at home within the woods, and they truly are quite removed from the usual way of life all citizens of Haven experience. You might find that fact challenging, but I find it… a great relief. And I do hope for that as well. You do not have the link to this place as I do, but it will become your home and it would make me happy to know hat you could find your own little place of sanctuary as well. In time, of course." He does smile at the comparison she makes to the other 'falls.' "More animated, certainly, than their cascades of solid glass. The trees do thin as you begin to move up the mountains, as well, as there is less soil for them to sink deep roots into."

"I can see why many of your people dress the way they do." Ah, Ariana does let that part slip, something which she has kept on her mind, but if she is 'opening up', she speaks openly of her findings, "There is little inspiration to go by here. Why, with all the trees and leaves to block or hide away the rest of the beauty of the forest." And she is here with what would be considered a normal gown, by any other Houses's standards, perhaps. The colors, while soft, are vibrant compared to what she considers the forest which they had just ventured through. Here, in this opening, she looks at home amidst the flowers and the tranquil pond and the sunlight. In the forest, she may as well stick out in her attire, very much as the Arborens tend to stick out in Nubilus or…. anywhere else that they travel to. "Where do you think I will find my sanctuary?" She asks directly, setting her plate of fruits and vegetables aside having had her fill. Idly, she dabs her hands against on a handkerchief to wipe the sticky sweet juices of the fruits from her long slender fingers.

Declan doesn't seem to take offense at that observation. He surely knows how they dress, and why. In fact, the young Lord smiles a bit at this apparent revelation on her part. "Well, yes. Our garb is adapted to these woods, meant to blend into the same shadows you find so ominous. Though I would not say there is a lack of other inspiration, of color or more vibrant life. Nowhere in haven is there quite as much living variety as can be found in our woods, but it does require a certain expertise is knowing where different things can be found. For colorful flowers, you are right that places like this are better than the deeper parts of the forest. I'm sure this is something you'll not have much problem with, given your botanical skills. A little bit of knowledge of the local areas and you'll know where to go to pick any sample you like." There is a definite confidence when he says this. "Well, if you prefer somewhere high, reminiscent of your home, perhaps somewhere atop a particularly large tree would serve you best? There are other great ones, apart from the Elder seat."

There is so much that Ariana could say regarding the Arborenin sense of fashion, though strangely, her findings are not ones she has found while being in these woods, but from what she's seen outside of these woods, so some of what Declan says does bring up more questions in her mind than has been answered. "I hope, My Lord, that this does not mean that I cannot wear my own beautiful gowns of brilliant colors while I am living here? Because, I would be sorely disappointed if my own sense of style needed to adapt to…" Again, there is so much she can say here and all of them are not flattering, "these woods." She ends it simply. Her brows then furrow at the idea of /climbing/ a tree. "And how does one get up to the top of these trees, My Lord? Do you simply have lifts for all of them or do you have a particularly tall tree with a lovely view in mind?" There is a touch of sarcasm in her voice here, but her words come out playful or as playfully as she can muster.

Declan answers her concern with a bit of a laugh. "Unless you plan on training to become a ranger, no, I daresay you can wear whatever you like. Others may dress in forest colors by some sort of cultural tradition, but unless one is actually out hunting and tracking there is little practical purpose to it. And I rather like you in your gowns." There is a flash of a smile at that, hinting that the young man's interests are not entirely wrapped up in hunting and stalking through the woods, and that he might admire Ariana for assets other than her botany! "We have other settlements or outposts in other trees, yes. But obviously not in all of them. I suppose, if you did find a new one with a view you admired, that we could have a walkway carved into it for you." After all, as he likes to point out, she will be the Lady of a Paramount house. So why couldn't he build her a personal tree-retreat if she really wanted one?"

Ariana blinks at Declan's answer, nodding slowly as if she were not expecting that in particular to have been said — the compliment to her many different gown. Or at least, of her wearing them. "I am pleased to hear that. I would hate to think that I would have to give up my style and fashion sense because I were marrying into your House, My Lord. It was a silly thought, that I would have to. Only because, I've seen many an Arboren wearing their hunting gear when out of the woods." There, it had to be said. The other news about building her own tree sanctuary seems to please her and she asks just to ensure that he had heard him properly, "I can simply have one built?" A shimmer of hope is finally seen within her ice blue eyes even if a smile does not yet touch her lips.

"It wouldn't hurt if you had a few gowns made in green, of course," Declan adds to the talk of gowns, "But they could still be as elaborate and elegant as you pleased. Things that might pair well with the sorts of outfits you had me purchase the other day, I suppose. It would be unfashionable for us to look like a totally mismatched couple, wouldn't it?" Or at least, this is his simple idea of how fashion works. Things are supposed to match! "In the end, it isn't like we have a dress code. If anything, it's the opposite, and most people dress as they please. I know, for you, that means many are often under dressed, but perhaps you can influence them to make formal wear more popular for special events, at least? Surely, you will have influence on Arboren women, set trends as their Lady." Speaking of the tree house, he glances upward to the edge of the canopy, where it breaks around the pond. "I don't see why not. If anything, our means of construction are actually a lot simpler than those of other houses, since there is little actual building to be done."

Ariana cants her head to the side gently when Declan mentions matching attire, finding his interest in her own fashion a little curious. "Of course, My Lord… I think I could find a lovely gown in brilliant emerald green with the same sheen technology as your silver jacket. I am glad to see that you enjoyed yourself on our little shopping excursion and have an interest in such technology for fashion. Not that I thought you did not have an open mind. Otherwise, you wouldn't be marrying me, a lady from a world so different from your own." Though the very idea of changing the minds of drably dressed Arboren does get her thinking, "Do you really think that /I/ would be able to make your people dress in far more refined attire? An outsider? I'm as fashion forward as it is when it comes to Pro-Reversion city wear. I just assumed that those of the Arborenin forest were a different people."

"I do like to think of myself as adaptable," Declan lightly boasts, although there is some truth to the comment. "Our house has many traditions, but the best solutions do tend to come from an evolution of thinking, and external ideas promote such growth. I do think you personally will have important contributions to make to the Arboren way." Even if she finds it so distasteful? "I do not think people will suddenly start dressing differently just because you do, but… well, you have to acknowledge the celebrity that comes with nobility. You will be a very high profile figure here, a woman who generations of Arboren will look up to as a leading figure, and many of the ladies, no doubt, as a role model of sorts. So I find it hard to imagine you will not influence them, directly or indirectly."

"I do hope so, My Lord. I do think of myself as an odd choice to be living in these woods, but I suppose there are things that I could contribute on. Though I would still be doing my work on the Ring all the same." Ariana says, her brow furrowing again. "We shall see. Has your family ever had anyone like me in their ranks?" She is curious to the Arboren family line, though the way she poses this question does make it seem like they are from two completely different worlds. "And I was wondering… this match. It truly was up to your High Lady Mother's engineering that we are betrothed this day? I'm merely curious about that."

"You are unlike the people of Arboren, true, but I would not go so far as to call you 'odd.' You just come from a different sort of background, and bring a different perspective to life here. If anything, I see that as an asset." Declan does seem committed to this notion, of the benefit of this outside viewpoint, of ideas and expertise from beyond the usual scope of the family. "In our recent background, no," he says of the Arboren lineage. "I could not say of more distant parts of the family tree, though I would be surprised if there was not someone going back through all the history of our House that had a background sharing at least some of the qualities of your own. But in the recent history of the House, you will be a unique addition." The last question has the young Lord thinking for a moment, as to how he might answer. "I did express to my mother an interest in you, for the same reasons I later expressed to your father. But I wouldn't doubt that she already had you on a short-list of prospects, nor that she also has her thoughts and reasons for forwarding the match. She's a shrewd woman."

Ariana nods slowly to this, looking thoughtful on her own family tree. "For a time, we made connections with other Lashes Houses, like House Iah, but with my Lord Father's marriage to my Lady Mother, we enriched our bloodline with House Cindravale. Not that our views on the Reversion and many things are much different. So that was practically the perfect match, I would say." Though, perhaps, her parents may say otherwise! Who knows! "I just hope that I am able to do your House proud and continue to bloom like a beautiful flower and not wither away." Taking a long view of the tranquil pond, she then turns to help pack away the rest of the food. "Thank you for bringing me out here this lovely day, My Lord. I expected to be able to find some forms of natural beauty in the forest and this does match my expectations. Perhaps, you will be able to show me more, away from the dreariness of the forest shadows."

Likewise helping pack away the various containers and other articles from their little picnic, Declan sweeps into something of a bow in response to Ariana's thanks. "It has been my own most distinct pleasure, my Lady. I am glad to be able to show you a bit of my homeland, and I do hope I will be able to show you more…" He grins a bit as she predictably still speaks ill of the darkness of the deep forest floor. "… interesting and colorful places, that will please you. Truly, there is a great deal of variety and diversity to our land, and I do not doubt that you will be able to find things here that please you." And then he moves to her mount's side, ready to help her back into the saddle, just as he once helped her down, before returning to his own mount and swinging up into the saddle. "And now, let us be on our way - back to the heights that suit you so well."

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