|A Blade of Trust|
|Summary:||Trust, like plants, needs time to grow. Rutger attempts to plant a few seeds with Danae.|
|Related Logs:||An Alternative Solution|
|East Bank — Stonebridge|
|Tents and grass.|
|May 7, 289 A.L.|
The bright afternoon sunlight paints the day in broad, brilliant strokes of colour and a soft wind whistles through the grasses that surround the Tordane encampment. The rumoured guards in the their black leathers cut conspicuous figures in the sunshine; the two men sworn solely to Tordane do even less to make themselves unknown around the camp. Any seeking to enter are hailed, questioned, and asked to remove their weapons before they are allowed to pass. In the thick of the blades and the guards, seated in the sweet grasses rest the Lady Danae, seemingly at ease with all of it. Her mourning blacks are conspicuous in their own way, laying a dull shadow against the pale lines of her skin and bright tendrils of her fair hair.
As the way it is, there is not much in the way of fanfare when Lord Rutger Nayland arrives, but he does come and he is stopped. He does not come in plain clothes, but dressed as he would any normal day-should any see him here, they would mark him well. And he would hand over his sword once he was allowed to come further into the camp.
Once admitted, He is led to where the Lady sits in all black, matching his own attire-though he mourns for none. "My Lady Danae." the somewhat familiar voice should sound. There is a look given to his escort, who will likely see him out of camp gleefully if asked. "I was hoping I could speak with you.."
No doubt that one of the lady's own escorts choose to linger rather closer when Lord Rutger comes with his own. The Lady Tordane looks up from her book, placing a blade of grace in it to mark her space, and over to the Nayland Lord at his greeting. "Lord Nayland," Danae returns softly, without particular inflection beyond the basest of politeness. "You may speak, but I make no promises I have much interest in hearing your words."
"I doubt you would." he states simply before he offers a curt bow. There is a look to her escort and he raises a brow "Could we have some privacy. A modicum, at least. I an unarmed, and unarmored. And I mean you no ill-despite what you may think of me." He will wait to see if the sworn back up a little. "I am sorry to interrupt your reading.." And eyes seem to travel over her, though likely the look is not welcome. "I'm so terribly sorry." No show, no pretenses. Alas, Danae is getting Rutger. Not some politicking Lord.
The escort will do as he will, his lady makes no command, although her lady's maid quickly recedes to a seemly distance for noble conversation and takes Danae's book with her without a word. Without it, there is little for the lady to do with her hands but fold them neatly into her lap. Danae regards him with a sharp and wary gaze for his inspection, pale eyes cold with emotion that does not bleed into her features. "I very much doubt you are, my Lord." She pauses, pursing her lips before continuing, "But thank you for the apology, I have read the book before."
"Then you do not know me." Rutger replies with a bit of a bark to his voice. "For what it is worth. I know how it is to lose someone you loved and bound yourself to, only to have the worst rumors follow behind you. have your reputation pulled out along with your heart. I cannot imagine what it is to be called a whore so soon after giving your life to another, and losing them. But I do know how it feels to be called a plain and simple murderer." his voice kept soft, though the passion is there. "I do not agree with what my younger brother has done to you. And that is why I am sorry." One hand raises briefly. "I am not here to talk to you about rumors though- nor do I want to get into an argument about what I believe or you believe. So for now We will say both are false and true and be done with it."
There is a step, closer, and he looks back towards his escort to see if this is allowed. "I also did not come here to get you to recant and marry my brother- or recant and go into hiding shamed. No- I would rather you fight on. because it is what I would do."
"I do not know you," Danae agrees, quiet voice slipping softer in response to his bark as she watches him with wide, pale eyes. She hears his words in full before she speaks, an iota of measurement in her flat eyed gaze when met with his empathy. Still, she makes no move to rise. "In that you are correct. I do not know you at all, Lord Nayland…but your words seem earnest. I will give you your false truths and true lies and listen."
The mention of attempts to urge to recant her marriage draw a fire back into Danae's gaze. "That is well then, since I would refuse you as I refused him." A tense line falls to her jaw, clenched as words are held back from being voice. "Then what are you here for? I cannot imagine that sympathy alone guided your visit."
"What do I have to gain by being honest with you? Nothing, nor do I gain anything with my family? Nothing. Take what you will and fuck the rest." he states before he moves closer, and slowly lowers himself to be on the same level as the lady. Highly unlikely as that would be. But he does not reach out, he does nothing, but places his hands on his lap. "Good. I am glad you did." Rutger says as a small smile lifts. And then he is silent. "I am here to help, and tell you of a plan-if you have ears for it. None of my family knows I am here, and likely they never will." which goes to say he keeps his secrets. And he is quiet as he watches her. "Seven that I would have met you before you met him." Whether him means Riordan, or Gedeon, or both he will not clarify but the thought is out there.
Sweet grasses brush against Rutger's ankles as the wind blows them clear across the field, the fresh scent of earth and decay and growth carrying with the breeze. Danae watches Rutger impassively, pale eyes steely as she gestures with a delicate motion of her hand to offer that bit of dirt he settles on as a seat. Please. It is a mockery of graces in a way, still functioning as a lady even in disgrace. "So as with anything, I will take your words with salt, my Lord." Her guard shifts, circling around the pair as they speak like an uneasy cat. "If nothing else, you've earned my ear with one of the few shows of decency I've seen in days…even if it comes from a Nayland tongue, it is refreshing to not hear my marriage slandered anew. Speak your and I will listen."
Where once there might have been a blush or a slant of eyes away, little remains of her girlish grace. Danae's eyes do not shift away from his as she says, "And by the seven's graces, I had never met the lot of you. Still, they hear few enough of our prayers."
Rutger snorts, as he relaxes a little, and brings a knee propped up. Hard eyes to hard eyes it seems, but it does little to detour Rutger. "You've got iron for bones, and something stronger for blood. You do not hesitate to speak plain and hatefully honest with me. And I like that." Apparently mourning means naught for the knight, but then he is nodding. "I have proposed in secret to Lord Blackwood, that he should take Stonebridge away from my family." he lets that sit so as she can process it. "And from you. From all of us really, because of the fuck up we all have managed to get mired in. Though- you did not ask for this." he states "And I have proposed that the town be governed by four Mayoral Lords." a lick of his lips. "You are one of those I have named. The true last Tordane." And there he reaches for a blade of grass, so as to play with it between his fingers.
"I think it is the best way to bring peace to this whole fucked town. And to see you live." he simply states before looking back to her. "I will not lie, there are those who have sought your death. Providence. Blackwood, and myself have kept it at bay-though before I knew what my brother had done, and knew of other things, I will say I have counted myself in that same camp. Forgive me. but I was a coward to anger." And there he leans back onto his hands. "Can I trust you Lady Danae?"
There is a desert dry air of amusement that briefly crosses Danae's face at Rutger's response to her distaste, too paled by events to be real humor. "I am glad my company suits your tastes, then" she offers simply, delicately adjusting the fall of her skirts and making no attempt to gentle the flatness of her words. The rest…the rest she hears with silent consideration while Rutger lays out his plans. "That is a daring plan, my Lord. Not…inestimable in its own right nor without logical or legal basis. I too would prefer to see Stonebridge live and thrive than be left a ruin, the whole thing settled peacefully."
Danae frowns slightly, blue eyed gaze watching the blade of grass between his fingers for a long moment. Lifting her fingers, she pinches the bridge of her nose and scoffs out a low laugh. "I am not surprised that a great number of your family would cheerfully see me dead, Lord Nayland. The Lord Regent chief among them. A swarm of harpies sits in a nest, I am not such a fool as to think that their talons would not be sharp — but I made my husband a promise and I shall see this through to the end." Whatever that end may be. Blue eyes flit back towards him, a hint of a curve touching her lips as he requests her trust. "Can I trust you, Lord Rutger?"
"I know you are in mourning, my dear lady. But there is much about you, that I find to my tastes. Please pardon my breaking of ritual and custom." And he falls silent for a moment as he continues to muse with his grass. "We can agree on that. And that my brother is an ass. I am sure." A shake of his head there before he is looking back to the laughing lady. "If we keep this up, Lady, we will surely bleed out more than your House, but mine and all involved."
As to the other he nods and offers a half smile. "I know you are no fool, lady. And I wish your husband had not put you in this position. But, I commend you for seeing it through. If I was in your shoes, I would as well. But that is the fighter in me. I do not give up easily." As for the other he smiles back. "I would hope you could Danae. If Stonebridge is to make it past this turn of the wheel- then we must do something bold and secret. And actually trust one another." A faint chuckle "That is not something I give so easily. But, I want success. And I want you to succeed as well."
Blonde lashes flutter against her cheeks as Danae regards Rutger with a tip of her head, peering at him with her clear sea blue eyes, almost staring. "I am certain it will pass, my good Lord, so I take no offense," she demurs softly, lifting a hand to sweep a lock hair back behind her ear. His regard will slip away with the wind. "My house has little left to it but blood. Blood alone. My preference would be to see little of it spilled as possible, but your brother…" She grits her teeth , letting her gaze drift to the ground.
Rutger's repeated regards earn him another curious look, the curve of her mouth twitching in a half smile. "I rather wish he had lived, myself. I do not begin what I will not see through," she says simply, soft voice solemn. "It is intriguing, as all pure idea are. How do you propose our mutual success with your bold and secret plan?" Her own hand slides through the grass, gently plucking a strand free from the earth. "What does Lord Blackwood say?"
"My boldness, however will not. Lady Tordane." he states before nodding. Eyes watch her hands as he continues to toy with his blade of grass. "I understand. Nor will I fault you with your feelings." And so he falls silent, looking away from the striking widow for a moment. "I thought the same for my wife when she passed, despite what disagreements there were between us." he admits, before he looks back up.
"Our success will come in how we govern Stonebridge, if it is decided to go that way. I hope to supplant Riordan as Lord Mayor- mainly as I cannot see him being here feasibly after all this has played out. You know trade better than I do, as I know of your maiden's House's leanings. I can handle law and politics. I also offered a Mallister be here to even us out-assuming you have sworn to Charlton." And there he raises a hand. "I care not, if you have, or merely are talking with kin. You have to admit Lord Keegan's arrival in all this is fortuitous." a slight grin there. "And someone else of Lord Tully's choosing. Four Lords- three of us as equal parts with more control going to Hoster Tully's man. So I am hoping the Fish will like it." A grin there. "So you and I's success would come by you and I being able to work, lead, and live together."
The other gives him pause for a moment. "He was intrigued by the idea. Indeed, it could be worse, but I threw in the caveat of if it failed then Tully could place whomever he wished there. In a way I am selling to him- for if he remains pissed at this small corner of the map, it will be good for neither you or me." a beat. "He said he would tell the Old Man. That is a positive."
His feelings or boldness gain no further mention. Her hands are slim and delicate, freckles breaking across them in starbursts and scatters as they do with much of her skin. The blade of grass is twisted between the tips of her fingers, rolling it into a slim corkscrew. "How did it feel…when your wife passed? They still speak rumors of you, does that ever pass with your heart?" Danae wonders with the idle frankness of someone so torn down, they have little point in abstaining from candor.
Passing no judgement on his hopes to supplant Riordan, she simple says, "Were that the decision…you need to not handle law alone. Although I am not quite so skilled in that as I am in trade, I know well enough the rights of the Kingdom. It is an interesting concept to apply to a contentious holding. It succeeds only by discussion and negotiation." That blade of grass is given another little spin. "Little as might be made of that." Her brows rise mildly; she looks at him from beneath pale lashes but makes not attempt to either confirm or deny such things in regards to the Charltons. "We are all selling something. Any abated ire could be nothing but good, should he wish to lean so. This seems only the most recent…climax in events over Stonebridge's possession."
Rutger is silent for a moment. "I don't know which I hated more. The rumor that I did not weep when she died. Or the one that said I strangled her in her sleep." he replies a little coolly, before he is looking back to the wounded woman. "What it felt like to me- when she passed, was as if my heart was being torn out of my chest through my throat." A beat "And all I could do was cry, and call out to the seven. But, I have learned sometimes they do not listen. It felt ragged and hard. Like walking with an open wound in my guts." A pause for a moment, as Rutger raises a brow. "Does that answer that, Danae?"
Yes an intimate gesture, but with the risk taken it seems Rutger will not hold to strict protocol. "I've had time in King Robert's court. I know things and can maneuver us well should we have the chance." And with that he begins folding the blade he's been toying with for the past few moments carefully. The thick blade bent in half. "Indeed we are." Rutger agrees before putting the blade to his lips. An almost duckish call comes and he looks down before cupping his hands different, before it rattles into a shrill and shrieking whistle. A grin at that. "I am selling peace and prosperity. For you and For me. For our Houses. " the last added after a pause.
"I am sorry." For the first time in the conversation, a breath of emotion swells in her voice and the words are small and delicate. Danae means it. This small sympathy. "I should not have asked." Rutger answered with more frankness than she had any claim to for an idle question. "The Seven play their own hands…however much we pray," she whispers, dragging her thumb along the blade in her hand.
Of all the things taken from her, the fall to intimacy barely registers enough in her ears to lead her to protest. The protocol is ignored by the pair of them: her for indifference and him for boldness. The play of grass between her fingers garners the majority of her attention — until his shrill cry breaks the air. Danae's brows shoot up on her forehead in surprise, turning to regard the Nayland Lord fully. "You are a man of talents," she offers dryly.
"A trick my father taught me..I find myself doing it now when I am out. I looked for such grass on Pyke, but it is all moss and peat." A smile there before Rutger looks back to her. "Do not be sorry. Though I will take it. Do not be sorry. You have no reason to be sorry to me." A pause there before he looks to her. "Would you like me to teach you?" About the blade of grass, of course.
"If my endeavor works, Will you fight with me?" Rutger asks, finally.
"For all that has been done to me, I don't look to bring that same pain to anyone else, Lord Rutger. Not even as a reminder." Danae watches the grass in his fingers for a moment longer, then lifts her eyes to meet his look.
Her fingers skims through the grass a moment, before plucking a new blade. She simply folds it in half as she rises from her seat amid the earth in a sweep of black skirts. So folded, she places the blade to her lips and blows. A high note breaks the air. "If your endeavor works, I will work with you. For Stonebridge. I want to see her rise." A half smile edges her mouth. "Good day, Lord Nayland."
Rutger rises up as he takes that as his dismissal. One hand reaching out to the lady to pass over his blade of grass. "Keep that for me, till I can claim it off you." he states before bowing slightly to Danae. "I am not telling anyone of this meeting, and I would hope you and your camp do the same, as it could undo the work I put in with Blackwood- and have my family jumping to break my accord." said plainly. "I will see what I can do, concerning the rumors against you." he states before smiling. " Good Day, Da-" a pause 'Good day Lady Tordane." And with that he is nodding to the escort, to be shown back to his sword and horse.
"The words will not come from my lips," Danae assures, kind of wordlessly accepting the odd gift of a blade of grass. She watches the Nalyand Lord leave, tracking his shrinking figure with a her eyes. The blade of grass lingers in her palm, not cast away just…remaining with her.