Over the years, Cornelian had developed a reliable skill of selective listening. So as to shut out the things you did not wish to hear. Yes, maybe they were then still working and rummaging around in your unconsciousness. But at least you were saved in the beginning.
But that skill largely failed him now.
He heard the Lord whisper his mother’s name – which felt odd already. But… yes she was possibly a bastard relative of the Proud Lord. Maybe they had grown up alongside… no, that did not make any sense. Better not think about it.
But then he realized the Lord was… well… he had to steady himself by now. That much Cornelian could tell from his kneeling position, his eyes still not raised further than to the Lord’s hips.
The next moment, he did not know how that had now come like that, but the next moment he was forced to stare the Lord in the eye. And things got even weirder when Cornelian’s first instinct was to briskly turn his head away, maybe even bite back. But he did not. Gods thanks, he did not. Just there was that stirred feeling now in his stomach, in his chest. He felt how strength was sent into his arms – his body seeing to it instinctively that he was prepared. Also his feet had naturally assumed a fighting stance, steadying him, supporting him. But of all his instinctive first rejection only a brief but fierce flame showed in his else so weary and dull grey-green eyes. He stared at the Lord with open and determined resistance. But he was released again before he could rein himself in. Or even realize his instinctive resistance to being bossed around. And he felt the aging Lord’s hands go gently now. And shortly afterwards his upper arms started hurting where that brute of a man had hauled him to his feet with… wherever that strength had just come from.
He calmed himself down. And for a moment he was somehow a bit angry. He was so sick of being treated like that by them all the time. By them. Everybody of his class knew whom they referred to. But that did not help now. A few conscious breathes in and out and he was calmer again. And soon the dull and weary state would take him over again that had become his questionable best friend during the last years. At least the Septon said it made a good boy out of him.
And then the harsher tone… But that was nothing that could make Cornelian insecure now. Well, not too much at least. For he somehow knew that… whatever. He straightened his dishevelled appearance. Quite diligently now, always naturally caring about how he looked. Not that much because of vanity. Just because it was a normal thing to him. But of course he would answer at once as well. – Answer to what? To the question the Lord told him not to answer to? Cornelian suppressed a sigh.
”I’n’t know what’s writt’n in ei’er of dese lett’rs, M’lord. And yes, M’lord, me mother is well.”
And, thus, Cornelian had replied. He hesitated for a moment, wondering if he should add something. But then he decided against it. And he decided to watch out better now. Or maybe not, for the Lord would realize this. Or…
And now, that he was eyeing the Lord in front of him for the first time, he realized that he seemed to be a bit dishevelled as well. Mentally. Maybe…
Maybe the Lord had known his mother quite well. Yes. Possibly. That’s it. That’s why she had sent him here.
And the dull feeling started to sink down on him again, like a veil of heaviness.