03.11.3014: Meeting in Shadow
Summary: Brienne meets Kieran in secret by his request to discuss the response to his father's letter.
Date: 06/12/13
Related: Blast These Woods, Betrothal Request
Kieran Brienne 

Gardens of Erkwi
While the Arborenin may like their greenery wild and lush, the Gardens of Erkwin are carefully and precisely manicured, even if they are no less green for all the attention they have received at the clippers of gardening drones. Broad expanses of grass are trimmed to exactly the same height, grown to exactly the same verdant shade. Hedges are neatly clipped back into exacting shapes. Some form mythical creatures, others living statues of famous historical figures, and one section even rises in geometric patterns to create a hedge maze. Between the hedges and lining paths of crushed gravel are beds full of flowers from all over Imperius — and before that, from all over Old Earth.

As beautiful as the gardens are, however, all of the paths lead through them toward the stadium on the water's edge. A final parade of flags draws the attention of most onlookers up toward the bulbous blue shape of the stadium's half-roof, which is lit from within by the glow of the lights when a tournament is taking place or a soccer game being played.


Brienne, we should meet. I will be in Landing tonight, around 8, by the gardens. See you there.

It is nighttime, soft lights illuminate the gardens as the last breaths of winter begin to give way to warmer weather. Sitting next to a dragon is Kieran, reading something on a tablet. He's wearing a thick cloak with a hood over his head, covering part of his face. He seems to be on the look out for something, or some one as he sips on something warm in a heat-controlled cup.

Under no such compunctions as to needing a disguise herself, Brienne arrives as who she is. An Arboren wearing her forest green colored cloak with her house sigil on the front left. She's not entirely certain what to look for. Koth, Kieran… what was the difference? She would now meet the man who wore the mask?

As he reads, there is a figure in a green cloak with the Arboren house sigil. "Brie, I'm over here." Kieran says, in a hushed tone. He motions for her to take a seat next to him on the bench as he removes the hood from his cloak. "Sorry for the odd message, I didn't want my name on any documents, but I wanted to see you." He smiles at her, but there's a hint of sadness in it.

Hearing the voice, Brienne walks over. Her arms are hanging loosely to her side and as she approaches, she regards him in silence for a long moment. Finally, she breaks it. "Are you ashamed to meet me now too, with your real identity?"

Kieran looks slightly puzzled. "No, I am not ashamed to see you. I just figured that having my name on a document requesting your presence would be bad, for both of us." He sighs, looking up at the knight, his blue eyes searching for her green ones. "I still care about you a great deal."

Brienne sighs, deflated, offering him an apologetic look. "I'm sorry.. Just so many rumors lately, I don't know where they are coming from but I'm feeling as if I am being punished." She meets his eyes, hers hold nothing but confusion and uncertainty. "A great deal, Kieran? Have you heard back yet?"

Kieran sighs, motioning for her to sit next to him. If she does, Kieran will place an arm around her, pressing her body close to his in a side-hug. "I… have. It's not good." He says, pulling up the email that his father sent to him just recently.

To: Kieran.Valta@HouseValta
From: Magnim.Valta@HouseValta
Betrothal Request

Young Kieran,

I've just had a most interesting discussion with High Lady Arboren. Valiant and skilled she may be, but Sir Brienne has apparently also been spending time with several other men in addition to you, my son. Several other noblemen, in point of fact. Someone liable to dally with multiple noblemen is not likely to cease doing so after betrothal or marriage, and I will not have this House shamed, even as price for a marriage with a Paramount.

The High Lady has given us her profuse apologies for the behavior of her daughter, which I must say was quite entertaining, and asked that I pass those apologies on to you.

Your father,


Brienne moves to have a seat beside him, already sensing the answer by his reactions. Coming in disguise? I care for you a great deal, Brienne. Was it only a few days ago he was professing to love her? When his arm goes around her, she feels an unfamiliar burning behind her eyelids and she leans into him as he shows her the letter. By the time she gets to the end of it, her cheeks are red and her vision is blurred from the tears threatening to spill over. "My character is in question now…" She crosses her arms around herself. "My mother sends her apologies to you, apparently. I've been with no one other than you and you know that very well! Canis asked to request my hand and I declined! And then I met you.. With you, everything was different." Or so she thought. "Forgive me for embarrassing you and your house. It was never my intent."

Kieran places the tablet down and to the side of him, it was no longer required now that the terrible news had been given. When Brie begins to cry, Kieran frowns unhappily. "Brie… I /love/ you. What my father wrote is not how I feel." He sighs, stroking the stubble on his chin idly, his other hand placed lightly on her shoulders still. "You have not embarrassed me, I know you've not lied to me. I… don't know what to do, but I don't want to give up just yet." He looks into her eyes, a gleam of defiance in his eyes. "I'm not going to give you up just yet."

"What if there is nothing we can do, Kieran? Whatever our parents say we have to do, and my mother.. she rarely changes her mind for any reason at all. I know her too well. I have disappointed her, embarrassed her and now I'll have to pay for it." Brienne doesn't allow the tears to actually fall, but her eyes glimmer.

Kieran isn't about to just give up, oh no. "Brie, out of everyone I've ever been with I've never felt the way I do about you." He says, his free hand reaching out for hers, holding it between the two of them. "I'll… we'll find a way. Or, damn it, I don't know." He sighs, sounding upset. "We've got to do /something/. I'm not going to let someone else's slanderous words stop us from being together."

Encouraged by his words, Brienne lifts her chin and looks at him, offering a tentative smile. "I'm not sure how much say you have with your father, but hopefully it's more than I have with my mother." She meets his eyes again, then lowers her head, resting it against his shoulder. "Maybe I should meet you at the brothel, in a guise like you do."

Kieran places a hand gently on the back of her head, holding her to him. "We'll figure out something. Whatever happens, we need to fix your reputation. Perhaps if I help prove you're not who the rumors say you are, our parents would be more inclined to revisit the proposal?" It's a bad situation either way and Kieran doesn't really have a lot of ideas at the moment. "For the time being, meeting at the brothel using a code name might be best."

"How about for now we send messages back and forth? I don't think about now is the time I should be being seen going into the brothel. Even the Senator and your cousin most of all, know about your ties there.. I mean.." Yeah, back to awkwardness. She sits up and smiles tentatively. "Or we could meet only in public places such as the Bistro or the taphouse?"

Kieran hadn't thought about that. "Right. Yes. My cousin told me just how bad of an idea he thought the two of us married were. He claimed you would manipulate the Valta house to be more like Arboren, and that you would become upset when you found out about the oil rigs." He rolls his eyes, his cousin can be… odd at times. "I'm down for meeting in public places, we probably would need a few others along with, just to be on the safe side."

"I have a question I never asked you before, but wanted to." Brienne studies him a moment. "You said you were with.. Lincoln. Does that mean you like both men and women?" She doesn't address what Adelstein said yet, well then she changes her mind and does exactly that very thing. "Your cousin told me that you only wanted to use me to try and get rigs in the forest here and.." and then she really gets into it, telling him everything Adelstein had told her, everything he had said about Kieran and his father, the slaves and their ill intent and how Adel had said he was the one trying to save everyone. When she is finished, she smiles almost sadly. "Perhaps he is the one behind the rumors."

Kieran nods. "Yes, that is the case. I tend to prefer women over men, however." He smiles, then listens as she tells him all that Adelstein had spoken of. As she speaks, his posture and facial features change from a more soft and caring, to angry and frustrated. "Did he /really/ say those things to you?" He asks, an eye twitching. "Doctor Lord Loud mouth is… partially right. They're not /slaves/, however. The lower class are given an opportunity to work in the oil rigs. Starting pay isn't the greatest, but you /can/ make a life for yourself in there. Those who work hard are rewarded and can leave the rig with a good sum of money to rebuild their life." He sighs again, knowing this isn't really what an Arboren lady wants to hear. "It's… not ideal. But not everywhere can be as well kept as the Arboren paramount."

His preferences are noted, and Brienne carefully keeps her face impassive. Probably more old school than most, and therefore more of a traditionalist, it does bother her, but she says nothing more on the matter. Instead, she listens to the explanation he gives, lifting her shoulders in a semi-shrug. "I suppose everyone does what they have to do. Have you considered following the example of Lady Reena and starting a not for profit organization to assist the needy workers in your area? Those that make so little, they have to choose which in the family has to go hungry for the night? Is that fair? People are people, citizens or nobles. You knew of the conditions and yet turned a blind eye?"

"As I said… it's complicated." Kieran sighs, the next few words will have to be chosen rather carefully. "I don't have access to the treasury, my father cares about one thing: Money. It's what got us to be nobility in the first place." He closes his eyes and takes in a deep breath. "On the rig your meals are paid for." Ok, maybe that wasn't the best thing thing to say. Round two? "I… haven't really cared about much of anything besides myself, until recently." His eyes meet hers once more, giving her a half smile. A few seconds later he speaks again. "You make me care. I'll see if maybe there isn't some way for me to set up something that won't cost the Family Treasury anything or very little."

No matter what was said it seemed incriminating, but it was Kieran and Brienne gives him the benefit of the doubt. "I think your cousin has the right of it, he is trying to help. Otherwise, I can think if no other reason I would spend time with him. I am considering backing out of his project after all."

Kieran raises an eyebrow. "Is he? Seems like he was trying to give you a reason to dislike me and my family to me…" He trails off, still /completely/ baffled that his cousin would so casually speak about house secrets like that. "Considering how Adelstein has been acting and with all the drama and rumors out right now, that's probably the safest option." He nods, then frowns. After a few seconds he speaks again. "I have a question for you, it's something that I've wondered for a while. Why me? Canis is nice, I'm sure you've had other interested in you. But… you chose me, even after knowing the… spotty past of mine."

"Canis is my best friend. I like him, I even like spending time with him, but there is not fire, there is no.. passion between us. You leave me wanting to see you again, counting the time until I can spend more time with you. I feel I don't want to let you go, not ever. Canis surely is nice and a strong, respectful and I… I don't know. He would be a good husband, I'm sure of that. I don't like that you like both male and females. I don't like what your House stands for, you're totally unsuitable and I told you, I like contradictions and we are that. We are blue and green.. and I have had three men tell me they love me in the same number of days, but only one has heard it back," Brienne says softly. "You."

Kieran smiles, "Blue and green… I like that. We do rather contradict ourselves… or rather our families do." He gives her a half smile, becoming full, large smile when she mentions that he was the only man to hear that she loved him back was him. "You're amazing." He whispers, leaning down to give her a quick kiss. "We'll think of something. I'll write my father, see what we can do about these rumors about your character."

Brienne smiles, seeking those blue eyes. "Yours are blue like your waters, mine green like the forest. As different as we are though, we have found a common bond and our families wish to steal it away. I will do all I can, and I hope you will also, but for now… I probably should go. I don't have the luxury of a disguise." Her hands lift to draw on her hood on her cloak. "I want you to know, if my mother arranges something for me before there is a chance to talk as I suspect, then please, please know it won't be a miserable life and I would wish only the best for you." She rises then, green eyes resting on him as she smiles. "You're gorgeous, you know."

This is why Kieran hated being a Young Lord, or a noble at all. When Brie complements his looks his gaze draws upward, a mischievous smirk on his face. "You aren't too bad looking yourself, my dear." He stands up to meet her, wrapping his arms around her in a hug. "I wish the best for you as well. I'd just prefer it's with me." He squeezes her gently one last time. "Goodbye, Brie." He says, staring into her green eyes a few seconds longer before putting his hood up.

"I want to be with you, Kieran. Don't give up yet… please." Brienne smiles, wrapping her arms around him in return. "I love you," she whispers before turning towards the ways, to head to her home.

"I love you too…" He whispers as she walks away, walking in the opposite direction into the darkness of the night.

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