Rivkah's clear eyes descend upon Takkan d'Raibesselt like frost revealed by the rise of morning. Completely inexpressive, her face could at best be assumed one of appraisal. But it is naturally her mouth which ends up contrasting from the rest, the corner of her lip slightly curling at the man's pause after the greeting. Amusement on his discomfort? Approval on his good-manners? Pleasure on his sudden shyness? It is hard to tell for sure.
It is the only reply she offers, that smile, and a sustained look for a few heartbeats, her face very subtly softening until the entrance is made in full pomp and the deafening thunderous welcome of a thousand soldiers wildly echo around the open space. Then it is again her mouth which replies, this time with an unrestrained and evidently delighted laugh, for a moment reminding him less of a warrior figure and more of a white-clad northern bird, in carelessness and melody, whispering almost to herself a breathy "And impressed you have..."
But it doesn't fully last, she quickly recomposes and only a half-smile is left involuntarily lingering on an otherwise renewedly serene and formal face, which nods again, mostly to herself, and this time more impassively listens to the new clash of spears-on-shields, to the deafening silence after, to the welcoming words, and on the renewed silence she extends her left hand to the side, palm upwards, and a retainer aids her in swiftly dismounting, the lavish cloak only slightly complicating the process. On the ground and in front of her guest, her half-smile never fading and even infusing the tone of her words, she speaks loud and clear for the place to listen the simple phrase: "I am thus in your care ...my Lord." A small pause as she speaks, but none for her eyes, which stay affixed to the welcoming ruler.
Her entourage catches up quickly, and soon they are walking side by side, Rivkah's hands joined and out of sight under snow-colored furs, Second Ones tailing both - though their attention caught for the most part by the city's splendor and its military might, until they reach the temporary residence and observe the honor guard's introduction and ceremony.
For the first time since arriving, as the moment the captain of the guards sheds blood, the northern chieftess looks on unsure footing and it takes her a moment to finally nod in his direction without further words and instead direct her attention to Takkan.
"You treat me lavishly, my lord, and I would be joyous to attend. But beforehand I must prepare, as I am dressed for the road. Would you excuse and forgive my rudeness?" Humble in words and formal in tone of voice, this is not entirely matched by her face, her expressive smile and a certain shinning to her eyes finding either joy or amusement, if not both, in the whole rite, and particularly in the reactions from the man besides her.
Come evening the clanhall of Lubbrowa is lit brightly - several open hearths hold large fires and oil-lights dot the walls. The flickering light brings the intricate carvings covering every surface to life - a riot of forms and colours. Though they pale next to the near-riot of the feasting warriors - shouts and laughter, clothing in all vivid colours, leather, cloth and seemingly carelessly carried furs....though there is keen scrutiny of the elegant figure of the visitor at the place of honour by the attending womenfolk.
Amid the boisterous atmosphere - in the back something that might be either a cheerfull wrestling contest or a deadly fight is taking place - skalds are offering their verses, some better, some worse. Suddenly one of them is rather ungently prodded towards the high table by a grinning huscarl....and considering the skalds obvious reluctance Rivkah notes the expression of Takkan with interest. He seems to glare at the huscarl - who is not fazed at all. A thick finger prods the skald into action...good play on his lute, but the none-too-wellcrafted verses tell the comic tale of a young man in over his head, trying to tame a beautiful falcon but being hopelessly outmatched. It seems evident that that song was not intended to be sung before the high table but farther back, the skald likely hoping to gain silver there.
Carefully watching Takkans mien Rivkah could clearly see his puzzlement change to annoyance, then starting towards anger, followed by a sudden change of expressionless calm. Not a trained diplomat at all....with the end of the song, Takkan carefully takes a large gold coin from his purse....and hands it to the nervous skald, making sure the coin was seen.
The reaction of the audience was...interesting. During the song many of those close enough started to frown - it was obvious that Takkan was well liked. When the golden coin was handed over there was a short moment of stunned silence - followed by hooting laughter and much thumping on the tables, be it with tankard or axe. The skald was grabbed, half hoisted on the shoulders, half carried by a group of warriors who cheerfully took their exit with him to the cheers and laughter of half the hall. It was all quite perplexing....
To Rivkahs right sat a large huscarl, a deep scar cleaving his face, torcs of gold banding his upper arms. Still, his eyes were gentle and he had a good grin despite his disfigurement: 'Lady, if you would allow me...I think I need to explain. We hold...the art of insulting someone....in high esteem. A good insult has to be well crafted with a lot of thought put into it....but it is the reaction to that that is most important. Every thug can wield a blade....but how you react to a good insult shows more of what you are made of, yes? And Takkan...now, the only real use for a coin of gold is to show appreciation for a warrior who did a good deed of arms. Now....paying a skald in gold for a mediocre song....well, the skald has to get rid of the coin, otherwise he'd be a living insult to every warrior...and those carrying him outside will cheerfully aid him in that...they'll be in drink for days. So...the skald gained nothing, yet Takkan did pay - and he quite elegantly did show what he thought of the quality of the song by giving far too much.'