|A Delayed Meeting|
|Summary:||Walder Frey finally deigns to hear his kin.|
|Date:||July 16, 2012|
|Related Logs:||Stonebridge schtuff.|
|Throne Room — The Crossings|
|July 16, 289|
Walder Frey is a very busy man. Either he has been out and holding no council, or has been seeing those claimants who came before, or he has just not felt particularly pressed to see his granddaughter. Whatever the reason, it takes a good while for Valda to be summoned to the throne room to make her case. The Lord of the Crossings sits, wizened and scowling and generally disagreeable, upon his chair at the head of the room. "Lady Valda Tordane," his attendant announces her, which has the old man squinting thoughtfully at her. "Which are you again?" he says more than asks her in a short tone.
Valda is dressed in Tordane colors, head to toe. Starting with the green gems set into the gold hairclips that keep raven tresses out of her eyes, down to the slippers that boast the House sigil. After curtseying deeply, she formally intones, "I am the daughter if Stevron Frey and Corenna Swann, Lord Grandfather. You wed me to Lord Goffrey Tordane. I am currently Lady Tordane and Castellan of Stonebridge."
"One of Stevron's get," Walder says, a bit raspily irritable, though odds are that any of her potential Frey parents would have been the source of equal disdain. "What is it, then?"
"I have come to ask for your aid, Lord Grandfather," Valda says plainly. "The Charltons have sided with the Westerling girl regarding claim to Stonebridge. They would take it from your granddaughter, great-granddaughter, and nearly born Great-great grandchild. I've little doubt the Westerling girl who fancies herself a Tordane would dispose of us all if given half the chance."
Valda waves a dismissive hand. "I would not drag you into the mess for that alone. The danger, however, extends to you. The Charltons have been amassing lands and plan to take Stonebridge next. They will cut House Frey out if the line of tributary payment, offering funds directly to the Tullys. Look at all they have taken and now they move for one of the most lucrative parts of the Riverlands. You know they have ever been ambitious and now they are finally doing what they always wished: to compete with House Frey and supersede it in funds and influence.
"And they shared this with you, did they?" Walder asks, his voice a dry, bland rasp as he addresses his daughter. "Their secret plans to turncoat and betray their liege lord?"
"It is hardly a secret, Lord Grandfather," Valda replies dryly. "Can you name even a single instance when Lord Charlton has put opportunity and ambition second to loyalty. Your memory is longer than mine, so mayhaps my nigh four decades of observational skills learned at your knee are completely incorrect." After a pause while she studies him, she notes sincerely, "It would be the first time."
"If you'd learned anything at my knee, girl, you would have learned a more respectful tone for your liege lord," Walder Frey snaps at her irritably. "The Charltons are favored precisely because they put nothing before their loyalty." He scoffs loudly at her, and says, "This is not the first time."
"And shall you favor them even as they step upon your head to obtain a higher position, my lord?" Valda leaves the other matter be. "As it is, they are putting themselves between you and the revenue from Stonebridge, which means your share will already be lessened due to Danae giving them tribute, per their agreement - and that much I imagine you already know. With the extra land and funds, they place themselves in a position to challenge you for Lord Tully's direct favor."
Valda pauses, then adds, "The Regent received permission from Lord Nayland to negotiate on the House's behalf." Let's talk turkey.
"The Charltons and the Naylands both look to me," Walder says flatly. "It makes no difference to my coffers who holds Stonebridge." With a wheezy snort, he adds, "Keegan certainly knows better how to earn tribute for his liege lord than Rickart and his pups."
Valda lifts a eyebrow gently. "Does he? Then why did and does Lord Nayland hold Stonebridge? Why was he the only one with the foresight to ally through marriage? And what, Lord Grandfather, are you gaining from refusing to help? Lord Charlton is offering you nothing. Lord Nayland would gladly give you what you ask. If it truly makes no difference to you otherwise, why not side with the one who will add icing to the cake?"
"I am not getting any younger," Walder tells her with particular dryness.
"My apologies, Lord Grandfather," Valda says with a dip of her head. "I have seen many young unwed cousins and aunts during my stay here. The Naylands have men aplenty and the heir in particular is in need of a wife."
"So that I might offer them a dowry to wed one of my spawn to the heir of a poor vassal with two heirs of his own?" Walder says, sounding deeply unimpressed. "This is your icing, girl?"
"Not a dowry of coin, Lord Grandfather, but of fighting men in Frey uniform to keep Stonebridge within the family. Your son is there as well, you may recall. And protection of Stonebridge would cost less than any coin or land dowry, my lord." Valda spreads her hands. "We have always been many, we Freys, but that means many betrothals and weddings as well. This would surely be the least expensive and easiest dowry of the lot."
"I could piss better icing," Walder tells her. "If Rickart and Keegan want to piss around fighting each other, it makes little difference to me. If you've nothing better to offer, I've actual business to attend to."
Valda takes a slow breath, seeming unsurprised. "Then name your price."
"I'm not here to have two sides of a conversation," Walder says, scowling at her. "The Naylands can't even keep control of their lands. What can they offer me?"
"Can't they, Lord Grandfather?" Valda cants her head. "The High Septon has already been petitioned by Houses Tordane and Westerling to annul the supposed union of Gedeon and Danae. The girl bedded two men in as many nights, so even if she claims to have a child, there is sufficient reason to doubt it is of any Tordane blood. The law is stacked against her in the matter, particularly since even if the wedding is recognized, she only married -a- Tordane, not -Lord- Tordane.
Flourishing her right hand, she continues, "I believe we can hold fast, my lord, but it has been and will be a long and likely bloody bout. Believe it or not, there is a sense of loyalty toward me and my daughter by the people. they know the improvements I made during my time there and I have ever been kind to them. Production will slow due to that as well as fewer people due to the bloodshed if Charltons should take over. And -that-, my lord, -will- mean less in your coffers.
Walder wheezes a slow laugh. "The High Septon?" he echoes her. "You foolish girl." He leans forward just slightly. "If you've nothing better to entice me with than the assumption I give one whit about Danae Tordane, then leave me."
"I know you care not about Danae -Westerling-, Grandfather. I had hoped you might care about your own blood kin, though." Hoped, not believed. Valda curtsies to the man. "My grandchild, daughter, and I shall await you in the seven hells should that girl have her way. For you know well she will not leave those with legitimate claims to Stonebridge alive, and we all three have it. Good day."
"I've blood kin everywhere I look," Walder scoffs at her. "In House Charlton same as Tordane. Perhaps I should throw all of you lot together and let you scratch each other's eyes out." He waves a slow, wizened hand at her in a dismissal that might have been brisker in his younger years.
Valda smirks. "Scratch their eyes out? Lord Grandfather, you do not know me at all." She turns and, as she walks out, she adds a bit louder, "I would never leave my enemies breathing."