|A Lady Requests|
|Summary:||Isolde meets the uncouth Tam Cooper and requests his services when Einion will not speak.|
|Date:||11 Dec 2011|
|Northern Flood Plains - Stonebridge|
|December 11, 288|
If there is a moment of freedom, it is to the north of Stonebridge that Isolde finds her peace. The hillhocks and knolls that spot the area of the flood fields give grand views of the land but can be treacherous to reach. There is a shrill of laughter as the lady takes to the reins, cresting one of the knolls with her retinue - once again - far behind. Sitting high in the saddle, with her dappled roan shaking it's head and beating it's hooves, she gulps the fresh air.
Dark hair spills down her back and the careful work of whatever handmaid did her hair is sorely put ot the test. Her circlet helps to keep most in place, but there is a moment when the front hoof catches in soft soil. The rains of the season have made the fields even more of a test. She catches her breath, staying upright, but nearly topples for all her worth. "Eh, Leyna…" She calls to her horse, the steed, righting itself with a few slower steps, though she draws up short to stop the startled rush of her heart beat.
Tam Riding in the opposite direction at a hard gallop is a rather large man atop a destrier that is clearly well above his stature. His clothing is second-rate, despite attempts to keep it well-tended, and his armaments lack the decoration often found on the weapons of proper nobles. He is hooting as he rides, guiding his gray warhorse largely with his knees. Both animal and man seem caught up in the excitement of it as they come downhill toward Isolde. Spotting the woman's horse stumble, Tam redirects his own mount toward her, reining in a small distance away. His gray eyes note the distant retinue before turning his attention to the woman before him. "Good morning, Lady." He turns his attention to the woman's mount, inspecting its forelock for injury before looking back up at the woman and clumsily bowing in his saddle.
Soothing the horse with a pass of her hand over the the whithers, Isolde is touching her stomach a moment in concern as if she had actually spilled from the saddle. But it is the man atop his horse that brings her gaze up and she becomes a bit more cautious, keeping her hand on the rein as she watches his gaze follow her and then to the horse, inspecting. The bow is caught and she does her best to act acceptingly. "Morning.." She intones and dips her head in acknowledgement. "Your horse..he is of strong kind…" She begins and then gives him a look, confused by the pairing. "Where did you get him from?" Is that an acusation of stealing?
The hedge knight stiffens in the saddle, his concern evaporating. Surely he's stolen before - food on battlefields, and other loot. Still, his pride rises up. "I won Padraig.. in a melee. In the Vale." A pause. "My Lady." His voice is certainly gutter-born, making her suspicions of thievery that much stronger. Tam smiles stiffly, then tries again at mimicking the gentility he's seen from others. "I am Ser Tam Cooper, my Lady. A knight-errant." He doesn't quite say it, but the question lingers in the air. 'And you are?'
"A knight unsworn…" Isolde observes. There is a look of uncertainty, a wariness most noble blooded women would have of strange men. Most women at all to that point. She shifts in her saddle and gives another look to the hearty steed that is the knight's. "Ser Cooper…I am Lady Isolde Nayland, the heir and lady to these lands." SHe intones brusquely, though the sound of her retinue, still distant gives her some courage. "It seems many knights as of late are…cropping up in the flood fields and amongst the lands of Stonebrige. What has brought you?" She asks him curiously, yet cautiously.
The gruff knight draws himself up as the woman announces herself, wincing a bit unconsciously and trying to smooth down his tunic. He scratches his horse's mount, eyeing Isolde with a wariness that matches her own. He clears his throat, clearly sorting through his options, and then makes a decision. "I'm traveling to Terrick's Roost, My Lady. A man named Ser Hardwicke Blayne is an old friend.. he was there the day I got Knighted. I'd hoped.." the man hesitates again, squinting and visibly swallowing his pride before continuing. "I been hoping he'll convince his Lady to take me on as a knight. Since the war.. well, it ain't been easy finding a Family that needs a Knight who knows more about fighting than heraldry." His words are only slightly bitter, but it seems that this is through considerable effort.
She hesitates, listening to his story and with the mention of Terrick, her gaze clouds a bit. Isolde lifts her chin, "It is like they will hire you, but to help keep a claim they have no right to. There was once a time when the men of the Roost were honorable…but that has since changed. I do not ask what you make of honor, but how well practiced is your blade? What is your place in the field?" She asks of him, her horse side stepping a little as it grows anxious to continue, but she keeps Leyna in hand. The dappled roan throwing her head a moment and shaking it. "You go west, you meet the sea and it can be a bitter thing." Her gaze grows a bit icy with talk of the west, talk of the Roost.
"How am I with my blade?" Tam considers this question, looking down at the hand-and-a-half sword at his hip. "My Lady, I was knighted at the Trident. I dragged a knight out of the shallows and killed every man that came near us until Blayne and some other knights managed to cut through to us." He tells the story without particular pride, continuing after a pause. "I don't joust - I fight the melees. But for a time, I rode with Ser Seryn Yronwood's melee team - and we won every match. That's where I got Padraig." He pats the mount's neck lightly, still watchnig the woman. Pride does start to grow in his voice as he continues. "When Baratheon sent men into the Kingswood after those bandits a few years back? I was there, and I was awarded a pouch of gold for valor. I may neh be a perfect Knight, My Lady, but I'm a damn fine.. a very fine.. killer."
The tale recounted, his given a nod but the word killer seems to make her gaze sharpen. "Many knights never see battle, many never have to kill for their lords and ladies, but it seems you are more than willing.." At least by his measure of tone. Isolde's circlet gleams faintly and she considers him in a moments fitful silence. "You still intend to take your story to the Terricks I take it? To enlist in them?" She murmurs curiously. "Their Captain at arms is a green boy…strong and brave - tested at the trident, but he is not day older than myself." She knows him well. "But you go for a common friend…yet if you are so practiced and at ease with your blade, it shall not be so hard to find work."
"Killing is all I'm good at, My Lady. I did it for Robert and I did it for Mad Aerys, and I can tell you that there's just killing and wicked killing. You mentioned honor.." Tam's rough voice is impassioned now, and he practically leans out of the saddle - not in anger, but in a genuine passion for what he says. "I know all about honor. I know nothing of chivalry or the rules there, My Lady, and I don't pretend to.. but I know what shames a man and what don't. So, aye. I'm willing to kill." He pauses, watching Isolde curiously as he draws breath. "You obviously got reasons for me not to go to the Terricks, but the fact is, a man's got to eat." A crooked, knowing, smile creases his features. "My Lady, you would neh be interested in keeping your very own wolf leashed in Stonebridge, would you?"
"A wolf is a dangerous thing to a harpy…but a harpy has claws all the same and though service is not bondage, it comes with its change as many other services do…" Isolde has no way of saying a sworn night isn't just that, a dog. A kenneled pet waiting to bet set on the enemy or to defend it's keeper. She lifts her chin as the approach of the retinue comes closer. "I do not make such decisions, but I do not deny that I cling to my rights of these lands and thus will deny what I can to the Terricks." That is said in solemn coldness. "If you wish to find out your standings here, in Stonebridge and what you might earn for it…you will speak to my Captain-at-arms, a seasoned man named Ser Bruce Longbough. I think you two may get along. He is my husband's trusted friend and if you can prove yourself to him, than he is the man who will fill your pocket, from my coffers."
"Ser Bruce Longbough." Ser Cooper repeats the name; he continues to watch Isolde closely, as though taking his cues from the woman. When she mentions her husband, he quirks his brow faintly, glancing past her toward her retinue. The man smiles suddenly, relaxing in his saddle and facing Isolde with a remarkable bluntness. "You reckon that the Terricks'll come for Stonebridge. And that other family as well. The Valentins, right?" He reaches up to scratch at the scar on his cheek. "My Lady, how old is your husband?"
"My husband is in his thirtieth year. They can not come outright, but there is a tension between Stonebridge and the Roost now. Whether they come at us or not…Stonebridge is always in need to strong blades. The Naylands do not sit idle, they train. Train daily. I do not like many a house in the Riverlands, all of them snakes in their own way and I trust little anymore. Why do you ask of my lord husband?" She asks, her chin lifting as the first man to round up is Ser Wayland, a young dark haired knight who does not stop til he is near her side.
Tam stares at Ser Wayland as the young man approaches, a smirk creasing his leathery features. "Thirty. And I never did hear his name during the wars." The man shrugs his shoulder in answer to Isolde, dismissing the much-younger man. "I only ask on account of I figure you rule this Family more'n he ever realizes, My Lady. Thought he'd be a younger man for that." He inclines his head, one opponent saluting another. "I'll talk to your Captain-at-Arms, Lady. He offers me something I got interest in.." Notably, the hedge knight does not mention coin, "..And I may stay here in Stonebridge." His gaze flickers up and down Isolde's frame, before he dips a polite nod of his head to her, hiding a twinkle in his gray eyes.
Ser Wayland looks more affronted than the lady by the once over with the man's gaze and he moves his horse in front of her's, to block his direct view. Amongst the Nayland colors, he wears a patch of two towers on blue. A noble knight this one as his hand touches the hilt of his sword. "Sadly, it is my lady mother that yet rules at the behest of my goodfather Lord Rickart. But I have grown restless in my captivity…ser. The people of Stonebridge know the daughter of their once Lord Tordane and I am kept as a novelty to inspire the commoners I do suppose." She lets out a breath and does not seem bothered to speak in front of the noble knight now between them. There is a gentle look to the clean cut man that guards her. Something softly is said and his hand eases. "You are welcome to stay, just prove to keep the peace for their is little the Nayland's like less than unruly messes."
The big hedge knight's grin widens a bit as Wayland squares off with him. The look that Tam gives him is flat-out dismissive, as if to say, 'Down, pup.' He seems to have decided how to play this situation, rolling on instinct and a quick read of Isolde's character. "Well, Lady, they say the best way for a man to keep the peace is to make sure nobody wants to fu…fool with him." At least he struggles to maintain proper language in the Lady's company. Her description of the political dilemma she finds herself in elicits a thoughtful frown. He pauses a moment. "You and me ought to talk, My Lady. Maybe sometime soon." He looks coolly at Wayland, winking at the boy. "Maybe I can help somehow. Common folk like me see angles fine, honorable, nobles often miss."
"Talk you say…" Isolde peers curiously at him and begins to assess this new facet he shows to her. Her lips curl upward and she ways, "Perhaps." She intones lowly and than looks to Wayland who watches the knight carefully. But Isolde moves about him, lifting a hand to rest on his arm in a familiar way. "He may be crude and straight forward, Ser Wayland, but he is not a fool. Not with my retinue here…" She eases Leyna closer to Tam, picing her way across the distance so she can come closer to truly give him consideration. "Why would you care to offer such…angles to a 'lady' and not a lord?
"I like the way you ride. You got nerve." Tam nods down at the horse beneath Isolte, still largely ignoring Wayland. He does not, however, miss the way that Isolte lays her hand on his arm. His second wink to the young knight is much more familiar. "If I wanted to play the villain, Lady, no retinue would stop me. That's why I'm useful." He leans across his saddle, speaking more lowly, his words intended for the woman and no one else. "I sleep in hedges. Ser Hardwicke Blayne never liked me all that much. I'm tired of fighting in melees and I want a chance to stay in one place for a few years. And I'm a hard fool for a lovely woman in a tight bind. That's why I'd -consider- helping you directly."
The leaning has Isolde's head turning slightly and her horse side steps just by the weight change in her saddle. It keeps some distance between them even as his voice lowers for her alone. Ser Wayland nearby grows tense again, cold even as his hand touches his sword and actually tugs it somewhat free to sit ready. Her voice lowers as well as the two sit near to each other, Ser Tam on his destrier, she on her mare with her retinue perched atop the knoll. The lady lets out a considering breath. "You are an opportunist is what you are saying, Ser Cooper, I hear you behind your words.." She tells him, her eyes sharp as they focus on him. Fingers curl around the reins of her mare as she whickers and then settles. "I am sure such 'lovely' women you have helped before remain…grateful.
"We're all opportunists, My Lady - it doesn't mean that my word, when given, ain't a harder bond than iron. I've never broken my word." For the second time in the conversation, Tam's features radiate sincerity and wounded pride. "I figured you'd appreciate honesty, My Lady - these pups following you around ain't seen enough evil to beat it." He shrugs toward Wayland apologetically, addressing him directly for the first time. "You're young, is all, young Lord Frey." So he -does- know who the young man is. His attention diverts back to Isolde. "And while, aye, plenty of women been grateful to me over the years, I meant as I said."
The northern portion of Stonebridge may be difficult to navigate, but only for those who are not of the area. Born and raised here, as his father and his father before him, he takes the mires with ease. Around his neck hangs a half-filled large leather bag designed specifically to carry a good amount of.. whatever it is he chooses to put in. From a distance, there is a limp in his pace, but it doesn't seem to impede him that much. As he closes, there is no weapon to be seen on the young man but for a serviceable dagger. What that 'weapon' is for, however, is quickly evident as he pauses, his gaze set to the ground, and he pauses in his movement, stabs the ground, and comes out with.. a root of some kind. A quick check, and it's put into the bag and he begins the routine over again.. only, of course, until he sees the small group before him. He.. recognizes the colours, the form of a woman he grew up 'watching' in the town. Stopping, he pauses and bows (rather roughly) at a respectful distance, and looks to be on the move once again, limping— or is that partially sinking in the moor?
"As I said before, Ser Cooper, it is my Captain-at-Arms that is pressed with the choosing of our blades. Though as I do, I will speak to him of you. It may be well to find favor with my lord husband as well." But her sharp gaze catches the movement in the lower areas not far away and she lifts her chin, the mare shifting with her weight as she looks to Einion. A dip of her head, and the lady offers a faint smile. "We have some company….who is in more need of a horse than either of us I wager." She intones lowly and nods to Ser Cooper, as if to motion for him to ride wit her. The mare picks up a quick trot and starts down into the softer areas from the knoll. "Good day…" She says warmly, trying to recognize the man but sorely, Hag's Mire has been the cage for the lady as till recently. "What is it you are harvesting?" She is curious.
Tam winks at Wayland knowingly, then spurs his destrier past the other knight, trotting down the hill toward the limping commoner. He keeps himself abreast with Isolde, and though he hasn't got an absolutely -amazing- seat, the man is clearly at least a decent rider. He nods to Isolde's words, and as they trot down the hill, murmurs sotto voce "We'll speak another time." By the sounds of it, the man already has a firm plan in place as to how to manage that, so confident does he sound. The commoner is greeted with a placid dip of his head and a grin. "Morning," he greets the fellow, his accent rough and common-born.
Certainly not on horseback— the beasts are too expensive, and the donkey is back at the farm with his cart for his mother and sister. The horses begin to reach him as he pulls his 'off' foot free from the mud, and the fact that he's spoken to brings his face up quickly, his face still not quite as dirty as it could get.. and he lowers his eyes once again, a bow given though now coupled with a slight 'tug' at his hair. "My lady.." His tones are rough, the generations of peasantry born in the man. "My.. lord." The knight's manner of speech takes him by surprise, as evidenced by his pause, but the proper obeissance is given before he raises his eyes once again to look upon the lady to answer her question. "Tubers, my lady.. for dye for the leathers. It's not much, but there's not much call for the colour right now. Still, good to have it on hand. And on a day like today?" His face goes to the sky, blinking, before he returns his attention to the pair.
Isolde gives no reply to Tam's comment of speaking later, only a glance over at him before she is looking to Einion. "I see, a leatherworker than…you seem familiar, you must forgive me I have not had the time to visit with my father's people." She smiles warmly enough and keeps the horse in hand. "What earned you that.." She looks to his leg. "They day is a fine one, though I daresay recently the rains make the northern fields a treacherous place, leastwise on feet and one with some trouble." Her tone is kindly, not meant to make too much note of his lameness. "What is your name?" She also asks. A lady with many questions. Though her tone is warm and inviting, not denying the commoner his due respect. She muses a look back at Ser Wayland who is staying rather close as he can to make certain that Isolde is not truly too far with the Ser Cooper at her side.
Tam seems about to correct the man who bows to him, then just grins and sits a bit straighter in the saddle. He glances over at the constantly-vigilant Wayland, seeming amused by something, and reaches down to scratch at his horse's ear. His amusement lingers as he looks between Isolde and her new commoner companion, but when he speaks to the man, it's respectfully enough. "Your stand ain't the one that has those purple gauntlets, is it? 'Cos that's real fine work." He smiles encouragingly, tilting his head to the other man. "I am Ser Tam Cooper - this is the Lady Isolde." As if the man hadn't already worked that out.
"Aye, my lady.." A leatherworker. "Begging my lady's pardon, but it's understandable. There's too much afoot to worry about what it is we're doing. We live, and it's all you need mind." Einion shifts his weight before shifting his bag. He favors one arm to the other before slowly and deliberately putting his small digging dagger back into the pouch, in a side pocket. Totally unarmed now. "Your father was a fine man, my lady.. a good lord." As to his opinions otherwise, Einion is silent on the matter. There are things that even ale won't tear from him these days. Twisting around to survey the fields, he shrugs lightly, returning his attention to the noble lady and knights. At the question of identity, the tanner looks a touch uncomfortable, though not for any other reason but to hold the lady's attention? He bows again, but this time, the pack shifts and he has to deal with footing, the shifting of the bag, AND making sure he's proper enough to handle it all. "Einion Wycliffe, m'lady.. Ser.." He rises slowly, not having been given leave, but he takes the risk anyway. "I was wounded in the war, fighting alongside your lord father, my lady. We all felt keenly his loss." As much as peasants can, anyway.r
Nodding to Tam, the young man brightens, his expression lighting under the comings of mud, the mark of his labours. "Aye, Ser.. they are. And it's my leather what's being used for the new saddles coming." Einion inclines his head in thanks, "Thank you, ser. If you'd like, I can make you a pair. Measure your hands, and have them within a week."
Learning more of the man before her, she hesitates a moment to consider his words. "You fought in the war…" It sounds like she doesn't quite believe him, but does not speak it aloud. "We all felt his loss, Einion…" Her voice has softened with mention of her father and her gaze lifts to that of Tam, feeling suddenly abashed that she has not in many months had a chance to visit the square, her people. This causes her to shift in her saddle a little and consider him. There is a low motion, it is to bring Ser Wayland closer and she leans to him when he comes closer, saying something quick and low before he turns and trots back to the retinue. Now her attention is given back to the two. "There might be some work to be had, if it is slow, we still have need for mended saddles and probably to replace more of them. I will check with our records and make certain the funds are available for such." She smiles gently, "A craftsman must always have work." There is shifting in the retinue furhter up the hill but nothing that really seems to have to do with the three now speaking below.
Tam looks down at Einion for a lengthy period, sizing up the man's leg. His grizzled features are blank, then a bit sad, and he nods his head to the man. "I was in the war, as well." He absently scratches at the scar on his cheek, clearing his throat and coming out of whatever small reverie he had sank into. He smiles lopsidedly at the man's offer, looking down at his hands momentarily. "I'd love a new pair of gauntlets, Master Wycliffe, but I'm afraid I.." he seems about to say something, then stops and flushes a bit. Looking over at Isolde for a moment, he clears his throat, then says "I'm afraid I'd not be able to do it justice," he finishes lamely. Isolde's offer of finding the craftsman work makes him smile a bit more genuinely. "That's a generous offer, My Lady." He seems surprised - and pleased - to see the noblewoman taking care to show interest in the smallfolk.
"Aye, my lady. My father fell, and after it was done, I'm taking care of my ma and sister." As if the lady needed to hear that, or even cared? Einion does offer it anyway— nice lady, this. He shifts his weight once again, his brows rising in askance, nodding all the while as she explains her needs. "I'll make sure it's done properly, my lady.. it's hard to find time now, what with the levies, and his lordship is asking of me, but for your work, I'll put other things behind." He shakes his head quicky, though, just in case his words are taken poorly. "Not that I'll shirk the lord's duties." Men like that get put into the stocks, and now that he's a serjeant? He's got a responsibility to the younger men.
Einion's gaze moves to the knight on horseback, his head canting, nodding. He doesn't doubt it for a second, and if he rides with the Lady Isolde, how could he have fought for any other side? Politics and fluid 'sides' just aren't really a concept in the craftsman's head. There is a moment when the tanner looks.. disappointed, but he does steel himself for the inevitable. Of course there are court craftsmen, and there is simply no reason to hire a man, here, out in the mires. The changing of tack, however, brings a nod from the man, "It'd be an honour, ser.. a man who fought should have something. My shop is in town, and I'm there when I'm not on the field."
"The levies…" Isolde does not seem to like the sound of it and she draws a sharp breath. "If you are to be put to work making sure that the sworn swords of Stonebridge are to be well seated while on horseback…well than I see no harm in lifting some of your levie duties." Besides there is a sharp gaze to his leg. "Besides, it would seem unwise to aggravate your leg as it is…would it not? I have had other men excused, I am sorry to say I have been…away…" She hints of her presence being moved elsewhere without her wish, "So I could not see how others have been fairing in the drills. I see no reason that you should not be given the time you need to finish this work and what is given to you…" There is a hesitation and soon the motion from the retinue is a horse being led by Ser Wayland back to them, a simple mount and one that a ladies maid was riding. "I am sorry for you loss as well, fathers are never an easy thing to give up. Perhaps you will ride back with us…the horse is for your use, my maid shall ride with my other." She smiles warmly and then motions Wayland closer, extending her hand for something. "As for a pair of new bracers for Ser Cooper, let us say in good faith that they are paid for as well." The small coin purse is felt and looked at before she moves forward to extend the purse to Einion as her eyes meet his, leaning out over the mare to do so. "I am sorry that I have not been present as of late, as I should have been. My father cared for his people and that is not lost to me." She intones in seriousness. "So please." She insists and waves the pouch a bit.
seems more and more uncomfortable at the other man's respects - particularly at the disappointment that crosses his face when Tam declines his offer. Finally, he can't take it anymore, his weight shifting repeatedly in the saddle of his destrier before he speaks. "Look, lad.. I was a sellsword until the Trident. Lower than you ever was." He clears his throat, flushing. "The truth is, I've seen your work - and it's better than anything I can afford. Even now." He clamps his mouth shut, looking down at his saddle in genuine embarassment before turning to stare at Isolde as the woman speaks. He opens his mouth, shuts it, then opens it again, then shuts it. "I.. well.. I suppose I.. Master Wycliffe, I'd be honored if you'd measure my hands for the bracers someday soon. As for your levy duties - well, frankly, you ain't got a choice. Now I know it's painful to give up your responsibilities, lad, but your Lady just assigned you extra orders." At least -here-, he has an idea of how to react. "You're just going to have to miss a few drills. I'll speak to your Captain-at-Arms and explain matters personally. All this extra work.. I don't envy you a -bit-." He strains to make it sound as though, by accepting Isolde's offer, Einion is really just taking on massive amounts of responsibility.
Einion.. pales at the idea of.. well, not missing his levy duties, but of the lady interceding on his behalf, and not at his request or particularly his desires. He pauses, a look of confusion and indecision playing plainly upon his face; no politician or diplomat he, but common stock. "My lady" he's afraid of the lord Rygar's response; after all, what a lord tells a lady and what happens to one of his folk are rarely reconciled. He shakes his head, his gaze moving towards Tam in search of aid particularly when he admits, no.. confesses to what he was, what he is. And still, the ser sits at the side of his lady? There's a flash of anger, a hint of right being dashed, but he regains his composure. His place.. but.. but..
Einion looks to Tam with new eyes, and he nods slowly, his gaze moving back to the vision upon the charger. "My lady," he begins slowly, "it will take some work, and the levies are important, what for your land. A-a—and I'm a new serjeant, supposed to be training the other lads in pike, what's because I've got some of the most experience. Your swords'll have their seats, this I swear.. but his lordship needs me as well.. and.." Oh, make this good Einion.. or your head'll be in stocks no matter how you slice it.
"I.." Money. A horse to ride to accompany them back? He limps forward, lifting a hand to take the money— to pay for the knight's bracers. His shirtsleeve rolls back to reveal a newly acquired scar, still pink but no longer raw, and certainly no more as life-threatening as it had been. "Bracers, my lady.. my.. Ser Cooper." He still can't reconcile himself to riding the fine beast out.. and he looks to the knight again for aid.
There is understanding there a Einion searches for a way out, or a way around, or something - anything. Isolde is glad of him taking the purse and then looks to Ser Cooper. "The Ser is seeking..employment, but his words are wise. I understand your hesitation as this leave has not been given by your superiors in the drills, but I will say this. I will not force the issue, but I will bring it up. Do as you can in your own time if you are insisted upon, Master Wyfcliffe. But you may be freed of some drills to make certain that Stonebridge is kept at ready for anything."
Her gaze flits to Cooper, his open tongued expression earning him a studying look as she then motions to Wayland. The Ser moves about the horse and holds her stead as he extends his hand to the craftsman. "Here, Master. No shame in needing help." He intones, making a note of his leg. "Tig here rides rather smooth, she will follow wear the others go and no need to direct her otherwise." He offers.
Isolde does not like the air of affect apparently that Rygar has had on her father's people and it shows on her face for a moment when the Master can not see. Deep furrows form a moment and her eyes look out distantly before she draws on the reins to back her mare up and give room. "Ser Cooper, you will join us, yes?" HE asks as Wayland remains the ever helpful, though dark eyes look with uncertainty at the rough knight.
Tam smiles a bit, despite the fact that he has quite literally cut himself down to size in front of the commoner. He hides his smile by reaching up to rub at his beard, the grizzled knight clearly detecting Einion's dilemma as easily as he had spotted the man's earlier fix. He clears his throat, then shakes his head, looking rather rueful. "Well, Master Wycliffe, I thought you were eager to start on those bracers and the saddles. But if you'd rather finish your herb-gathering and start the projects later.." he trails off, shaking his head in mock-disappointment - neatly removing any graceful way for the leathercrafter to say 'no' to a ride back into town. He winks at the other man.
Isolde's words, and Ser Wayland's actions, draw up the low-born knight short. He smiles a bit clumsily at Wayland as the other knight offers assistance, nodding a bit, and looks toward Isolde. "I can, aye, Lady. If you like." He seems surprised, but not entirely displeased, at the woman's invitation.
<FS3> Einion rolls Animal Handling: Success.
There is no small measure of relief in the tanner's eyes and on his face as the lady doesn't press. It gives him a good measure of wiggle room in which to protest without too much danger of reprisal. And, the time off, if any given, is mitigated. Which means the .. disappointment from Rygar and Bruce will be mitigated some. No stocks, but undoubtedly harsher duty when present.. and little let-up on the field— all the name of training. Einion inclines his head in thanks, and begins to steel himself for what he knows will be coming in the not so distant future.
Tam's words, even as Einion has discovered on his own that declining the invitation wouldn't be a prudent thing to do and limps towards the horse waiting for him, gets a look. It's mixed, but decidedly unhappy, but the decision's already made. "Aye, ser.. I have enough in my inventory for a few hides, and it'd do well for me to begin work and seeing to my stocks." He's got some in the barn at his mother's farm, but he's afraid of even mentioning that due to the kindness of the lady. The kind of kindness that bodes ill for the common folk, as much as he appreciates it. A foot has to rise high in the stirrup from the ground, and there are a couple of frail bounces. Weak leg.. but after a couple of tries, he manages to drag the leg over, leaving a trail of mud along the backside of the maid's mount.
Wayland looks about ready to fully help Einion but he is soon astride and the Ser offers the reins to the master. He waits a moment to make sure he has the saddle fully and the understanding of the horse before stepping back. He gives a look up to Isolde and she smiles to her sworn. "Alrght, we should get back. Ser Bruce does not like when I steal his men away for my moments of freedom. See to Iulia and Asha, Ser Wayland and we will then away.
She gives a look to Einion, drawing closer with a shift of her horse. "Tell me how the people are as of late, Master. Your words are taken in full confidence…" She insists, perhaps unknowningly sticking Einion into a sore position again.
Her gaze shifts then over to Ser Cooper, measuring him in all this. Perhaps he is quite shameless, but she is at least amused.
Tam groans softly, before he bites it off, at Isolde's request of Einion. "Don't answer that, boy." The words are a sudden, sharp command to Einion - though voiced lowly, it carries with it the authority of a man practiced at issuing orders. He brings his destrier closer to Isolde, speaking in low tones - much more gentle, but no less urgent, and perhaps able to be overheard. "Lass.. Lady Isolde.. I understand that you're trying to -help- the man, but you're terrifying him out'a his wits!" He winces, glancing over at Einion, and then back at the young Lady.
"Ser Wayland may not horse-whip him, and -I- certainly won't, but do you realize what half the knights who work for your husband *would* do if they heard you ask that?" He doesn't even bother to hide the reprimand in his tone, before finally drawing a breath, softening his words a bit. "…Why don't we ask the young man about his family instead, Lady Isolde."
Einion leans forward to take up the reins, but leaves them loose in the information gained. He'll let the horse carry him, following the others. He's nothing but cargo.. really. Isolde's request of him, while it doesn't stop the horse, catches his breath in his throat. Stuck again, he isn't exactly sure how to answer the question put to him. And his answers are in confidence? How— how could they be?
Tam's barked command, while it may seem harsh to the lady (perhaps), is actually music to his ears. He looks first to the knight, and while he may not share in even half the experience the man has, there's an understanding, before he glances to the lady.. and looks ahead. What could he say, other than We live on the land as we always do, my lady.. and will continue to.? He doesn't, however, and keeps his tongue.
That sharp rebuke, though directly at her is indirectly so. Isolde stiffens and it affects her visibly as her eyes grow colder to look upon Tam. Even Ser Wayland is moving to try to get between them as the man means to speak close to her again. Her hands curl, tightening on the reins as she works her jaw, a twitch entering her shoulders. But there is a moment of her chin lifting higher and a weighted silence that is eerily, possibly scary from the young woman. She is, afterall, partly her mother's daughter even if outwardly she is more her father's.
"Though I take opinions from many and commands from others, I will not be spoken to like that." She says sharply and keeps tall in her saddle. Her breath is drawn slowly and she seems to ease, giving Einion a look. "But I understand." Though there seems to be a need to know the truth, though now it seems /no one/ will give it to her. She doesn't wait then, putting her heels to horse to start the journey back as her mood has soured some.
Tam winks over at Einion after his low-toned rebuke to Isolde, making sure that she doesn't see it. He takes her own rebuke like a man, seriously listening to the woman's words. "You're right, of course, My Lady," acknowledges the low-born knight. He smiles slightly after Isolde is done, far from angry, and turns to bow his head deeply toward her. "I reckon you're absolutely right. I spoke to you far too harshly. My manners ain't the way they ought to be."
The lowborn knight rides in silence for a time, still smiling, before leaning across to Isolde and murmuring - very quietly, with a cheeky grin - "You're the first person to smack my knuckles since I was a boy, My Lady." A wink at Wayland follows the words - the knight appears to have taken on the role as irrepressible offender of sensibilities for the day, perhaps not trusting that Einion is out of the woods yet - or perhaps simply taking a perverse enjoyment out of it.
Einion is stuck, once again.. and for a knight, even one as self-admittedly 'low born' to take his part and suffer the wrath of the lady is.. difficult to bear. Still, with Isolde's ride ahead now, spurred on, there's nothing for it, and the tanner is stuck apologizing for his part. His voice is low as the group moves, and if Isolde overhears, well.. he is in the group on te way from the wetlands. But, his words are for Tam.
"Ser.. my apologies. Beggin' your pardon, I could have given answer to what's right. Not right that a lady shouldn't hear that her land survives and her people still work. No need to hear the mess of it because it all comes out one day. The sun still rises and the plants still grow."
A sharp look is given to Tam then as she stops short a moment. "It seems like you are in need of more than that, ser…" Isolde retorts and her cheeks are flushed, perhaps embarrassed as she wheels her mare about sharply to look at them both. "I have far too long not known what is going on and I am not like to find truth from my castellan.." She says, and there is ire in that statement, looking between them. "NOt that is either of your fault, but there might be truth from him yet…I understand I put you in a position and because of that, you have no need to answer, Master Wycliffe." Tight jaw, a tick at the corner and she is not looking quite so happy and she shifts in her saddle. She looks beyond the two, waiting for the retinue to catch up.
Whether she heard any of what Einion sad to Tam does not appear to have been heard. She exhales and still seems vexxed. Though the anger is not outright directed them, but she has only them for targets right now. Her gaze offers daggers.
"Look, son, you got a good way about you. I like you. Now shut up and let me roll in the pig-shiet for you, just this once. You roll in it often enough for the likes of me." Whatever penance Tam is exacting, he gives Einion a friendly grin and reaches over to clap the younger man's shoulder firmly. "She's a good Lady, mate. But if -you- start getting a reputation as the man she can go to for opinions.." he trails off, looking at the other fellow. "Sometime, I'll tell you a few tales I know about uppity smallfolk."
Isolde's sudden reproof raises a wince from Tam, and abruptly the man is serious again. His legs tighten on the flanks of his mount as he spurs him forward, back to Isolde's side, speaking very quietly - and this time seriously. "Lady, please. I'm an unpleasant pri..brute. I know that. But.. maybe please take my advice. You want to learn about the smallfolk's ways, go through someone you can trust. Say, your chambermaid. Or a Knight like Wayland." He doesn't bother putting himself out at this point. "..It lowers the fear of the folk, and makes it harder for someone else to start tracking them. Aye? I'm -sorry- I was harsh, earlier, Lady.. but I was trying to help." He pauses, then flashes a crooked smile. "In my unpleasant, brute, way."
"Thank you, my lady.."
Einion finds a great deal of truth in Tam's words, and a smile breaks, one of genuine relief and thanks. It even reaches his eyes and inclining his head, offers his thanks. "Thank you ser." He doesn't want to be -that- man in the decidedly unenviable position. All he wants of life is to be sure his mother and sister do well on the farm, that he works his day and serves with ability in his lord's service. Beyond that? Maybe a wife and family, but—?
Einion, obviously, remains behind as the knight spurs forward, his hands pulling back on the reins when the horse naturally wants to go forward as well, as felt by the slight increase of speed. Now, thankfully, he can be left to his thoughts, even if only for some of the way. And they are of the nature of his work— hides, dyes.. curing, and then sewing and tooling..
Brows narrow, but Isolde does not slap Tam again. Her glance shifts to Einion for a moment and she exhales slowly. "The people will not talk to Ser Wayland as they will talk to each other." But there is a moment now as her eyes look pointedly than to Ser Cooper. "You speak of whating to aid me…Ser…than you will do this task for me. Yes?" She asks of him. A brow lifts and the mare shifts on hooves, moving her a moment as the tail swishes behind. "I do hope to like your answer…" This time. She hasn't liked much of what he has had to say. But there is an interest now even as the rest of the retinue is starting to gain on them. "I would remain 'grateful'…" There is no smile, there is just a hard stare at him, measuring the wealth of his words from earlier in this request.
Iulia's arms are wrapped around Asha, their steed kept alongside the lady Isolde and her riding companions while the retinue makes good time in meeting their tail end. The two of them are in whispers with one another over the exchange between Isolde, Tam and Einion. It seems Tam would have a purpose to remain less he desired to displease the lady. Iulia and Asha looked to him, the chambermaid subtly nods her head, urging him to agree.
Tam pats his horse's neck, scratching at the steed's ears before he answers. His teeth bare in a tight smile to Isolde in answer to her offer, and he casts a look back at Einion. There is a lengthy hesitation about the man, as though he is seriously mulling the offer over. Chewing on his lower lip for a moment, the man nods once. "Alright, Lady Isolde. In return for your gratitude, I'll do that for you. But for now? Just that. I still got to decide whether I'll want to be bearing sword for the Naylands, but I see no harm in helping you." He smiles faintly, looking over his shoulder to Iulia and Asha.
The conversation is obviously not for him, nor is it for him to agree or not. The position the knight is placed in isn't enviable either, but if the man is.. seeking employment, as was stated? Einion keeps his mouth quiet, his eyes averted, though he does glance at the maids even as Tam casts a considering glance back to him in a definite bid to avoid that look. They don't look very comfortable riding, even if it is easier to share confidences when two-astride..
It seems the Lady is uncaring as to what position she may have put anyone in currently. "Very well, it is good to know you may be using those bracers…" Isolde intones and than dips her head to the side. "Counsel is always sought, and should be…but I will have it done so without a raised voice, Ser Cooper. I hear enough of those as is." The anger as subsided, satiated by the taken offer. Looking to her maids, she smiles kindly to them and begins to look more at ease, though it's obvious things are taxing for the young Lady and she is starting to look a little too pale, lifting a hand to wipe at her brow and tuck loose hair from her face. "We will continue…" She tells them all when the others are now near.
Far from comfortable, Iulia would much prefer to walk and thankfully, as the Seven may have read her mind, Isolde's demeanor was enough to cause concern. "Perhaps my lady we should have a small respite." Iulia says to Isolde and when eyes are upon her the chambermaid makes an embellished gesture of shifting while at the horses rear.
Tam grins, riding alongside the Lady now; he straightens in his saddle, looking back over his shoulder at Iulia and Einion with a wink to both. The sellsword-turned-knight seems genuinely pleased, though he casts a concerned glance at Isolde when Iulia speaks up. His lips press together briefly, and for a lurching moment, it seems like he might use his 'command' voice again. But he comes to his senses in time to simply rein in his mount, speaking over his shoulder to Iulia.
"Aye, you know, I'm a terrible horseman." This despite evidence to the contrary. "Why don't we take a rest, let everyone stretch a bit, let poor Padraig here recover from carrying my fat.." he pauses, "..self." The word is vindictive, as though being forced to mind his tongue is a constant pressure on the grizzled hedge knight.
Small respite? Is that what he heard? Einion glances up at the maids, to the horse he rides, and nods. Small respite means he may be able to give some argument for continuing on foot. Maybe—? "Aye," in case anyone cared what the tanner thinks, "getting a bit stiff up here. I fear I'm more used to the.." mule cart? "..walking."
At the request of a respite and the others slowing, Isolde looks a little displeased, but the state she is in is something she knows. Looking to Iulia and than Tam. Finally Einion and she gazes across the flood fields. She doesn't seem keen to stop but as the others continue to rein up, the Lady is forced to turn her horse about and join them. "Very well…" She says and then looks Iulia. "If there is any mint left, I will take it." Finally an admittance to weakness. She closes her eyes some and than exhales. She does not ask pardons for slowing the group, but soon she is looking ready to climb down from her horse.
She moves to allow her maids to attend her, finding a dry patch to settle herself in a spray of skirts.
Tam stares at Isolde as the woman practically hits the ground, blinking. He looks over to Iulia, raising both brows, and fishes out a pipe from his belt. Packing tobacco into his pipe, Tam just settles down onto his haunches and watches the others. He looks over to Einion, gesturing for him to come closer, though his gaze drifts on occasion between Isolde and Iulia. "Oi, lad. You've got a good excuse now - get out of here." His words to Einion are low, hopefully discreet. A glance is given over to Wayland, the protective knight. He seems to be largely in watching-mode just now.
"A wise suggestion Ser Cooper." She returns to Tam, more so enthused that others had would also agree so when they had chosen a landing Iulia was all too pleased to slip from the mount and touch the earth. Her legs ached, the back of a horse's ass chafed her rear even though she wore thick enough skirts. Naturally she and Asha would move to assist the lady Isolde and her dismount and accompany her to a soft patch of grass. Iulia examines the woman's features, her own not at as sickly but the nose was a little swollen, every thing else had been muted by powders. "You need not exert yourself so much my lady." She says to Isolde while fanning out her skirts to sit, "The fields will still be here tomorrow, and the next day."
Einion gets off the horse, albeit a little clumsily, but manages to avoid falling on his ass, thanks to the weaker leg. Straightening himself, and his leather pack, he looks to the lady, concern on his face. But, she has her retainers and her maids to tend her. At Tam's bid to come close, he does cross the steps, his head down to listen to the knight. Nodding slowly, his voice is low in response. "Aye, Ser Cooper.. and thank you.." A touch to his forehead is given before he begins to move away from the group. Who'd miss a peasant in the fuss over the lady?
Tam smiles faintly as he watches Iulia tend to Isolde; the grizzled hedge knight lights his pipe, taking a lengthy puff on his pipe before approaching and studying the resting Lady. "Mistress Isolde, why don't you have Asha and Lord Frey take you home. You look as though you need some rest." He glances over at Iulia, quirking a brow slightly. "I can give your other chambermaid a ride back on Padraig." He quirks a brow crookedly to Iulia, as though encouraging the young woman to agree with him. Blowing a smoke-ring toward the sky, Tam sits back on his haunches to wait for the answer.
There was a greater concern to see to Isolde's well being where the only one who would protest would be the Lady herself. If Iulia fussed enough the Isolde would comply and thankfully she didn't while she and Asha would see the lady reseated upon her horse, her retinue informed on their return to the tower. The chambermaid was not too eager to jump on the back of a horse again, not this soon. Walking would be preferred. So as the group made ready to depart, backtracking upon the trail marked by the traffic of their horses, Iulia moved to meet with Tam waiting until some distance had been gained for discretion. "That tongue of yours should learn prudence Battleborn."
((And another scene diverges from this))