|A Tordane Rose|
|Summary:||Brushed off for now by Lady Valda, Ser Maldred endeavours to charm her recovering daughter, and meets a young knight of Erenford.|
|Related Logs:||Untrusted and Untrusting|
|Tordane Tower - gardens|
|The rose garden of House Tordane is about three hundred square feet and hemmed in by walls about eye level to keep out the attention of wildlife. Bees hum about the area and around the stone archway which has seen the flowers grow up over and nearly encase in solid vine. The scent is sweet, mixing with the air coming off the water to produce an atmosphere some might find extremely calming. Stone benches have been chiseled out and placed along the path for visitors to relax on.|
|9th August, 289|
With a langourous step quite different from his past few days of frantic haste, hard riding and loping both, one of Tordane Tower's newer guests strolls into its Rose Garden. Of middle height and in the middle too of youth, Ser Maldred Rivers is dressed today with unusual care and cleanliness, in a blue doublet newly slashed with bolts of black satin - very likely a tactful hint of mourning, and quite possibly commissioned from a tailor in the town in the day or two since Lady Valda's grudging invitation, and her daughter's…mishap.
Pacing, then, with fleet but elegant tread through the greenery, one hand idly in his still-mussed up yellowish hair while the left trails at liberty, Maldred approaches a yellow rose bush - and dissevers one of its blooms with a mercurial swish of his dirk, whose head shows a silver weasel. Tossing the bloom from hand to hand and sheathing the blade, the Frey bastard turns, and approaches the titular Lady of Stonebridge with slow but unfaltering step.
"A rose in the colours of your birth-House, my Lady," he ventures to begin. "A relative's love can only begin to dislodge a heavy sorrow…but mine is nonetheless yours. Ser Maldred I am, my lady, son of the Lord of the Crossing, and after a fashion, an uncle of your own. I have your lady mother to thank for kind harbourage."
For a moment the knight from the Twins glances aside from the Lady, though he still holds out the rose, and he takes in the squire in particular with a quiet smile.
"Not a problem at all," Nevan replies to the request, smiling helpfully as he offers his own arm to Isolde as he moves in to join Hoekenn as convenient supports. "Yes, I saw you while I was talking to your mother a few days ago, though I believe you were sleeping. It's good to see you doing /better/, at the very least. Your mother is quite devoted to you, staying by your bedside." Nevan's brows raise as Maldred approach, stifling a chuckle. "Greetings, Ser Maldred, that is /quite/ the entrance. Ser Nevan Erenford, 4th son of Lord Miraz Erenford, Lord of Heronhurst. I am here representing my house while in Stonebridge. A Frey wards with us - Lady Bryliesa? I'm not sure if you know of her, but she is like a sister to me - and apparently an actual sister to you?"
Hoekenn smiles and nods, moving to help the lady. Still young, but his body is quite well made with muscles. Not fully developed but clearly he is an early grower. Then he is silent and just helping the lady. The arrival of the bastard knight makes him look over and blink once. But then offers a smile to the man. Standing strong and tall to help the lady as best he can. The help given from Nevan making it even easier.
As Maldred comes strolling through, easily plucking one of the roses from her father's bushes, Isolde pauses, having reached out to rest her first hand on Hoekenn and then smiling to Nevan as he offers his aid as well. The maid looks thankful and is turning, moving ahead of them to prep things with Milicent and allowing the Lady alone with the three and her guards. "Thank you both.." She says to the two near her already before that rose is offered to her. She reaches out, taking it up and lifting it to her nose. "I thank you…it has not been easy, weathering these past days but I am glad to know I have allies and family, and that Stonebridge has its share of defenders as well." She looks to the Erenford for that and than offers then lifts the rose, tuckng it into one of the creases of her braid so she won't lose it. "I shall have the garden in my room than, I will keep the flower with to remind me of your thoughtfulness."
"Ser Maldred, join us, won't you? We are about proceed into the Tower for food. I fear I have not had the chance to greet all the guests of the Tower. I have been a prisoner of my room and sweet mother." Sher wavers a moment but her hand locks back down onto the squire's arm to keep steady.
"You're more gracious to me, my lady," Maldred answers rapidly, inclining his disarrayed head, "than reasonable to yourself. In your position, I should not have borne facing any stranger for weeks, I suspect, and I am most grateful that your courage and heart, in this as no doubt in much else, is higher than my own…"
That little piece once delivered, the sort-of Frey's quick, murky green-grey glance plays over upon the squire again, to whom he gives a sharp, conclusive little grin before he falls into step behind the Lady and her youthful mainstay, and alongside, instead, the scion of Heronhurst Court.
"Ser Nevan…I heard news of you and yours further west than here," he ventures, "and indeed, only mischance can have thwarted our earlier meeting. There was word, also, that herons are to mate with eagles soon. Is that quite wise, I wondered, for so gentle a fowl to fly beside so fell and lordly a bird of prey and carrion…?" His smile is still small and his eyes still shine with a chilly glinting. Whether his words are quite serious or not is left to his audience's ear and judgment.
"That's certainly the most interesting way I've heard that put, Ser Maldred. You've a gift with words and - if you don't mind me saying - that I wouldn't expect from one with your lot, but impressive even if you didn't have it. I have a cousin, Ser Holden Rivers, and you two are as far apart as I can imagine two men being," Nevan muses to Maldred's words, keeping his place dutifully enough as Lady Isolde's crutch with little trouble. "…but yes, my /other/ cousin, Ser Elrick…Otto, as he call him by his middle name, is courting Lady Muirenn of House Mallister, a ward of the Terricks I believe? A flight of fancy on his part, one my Father has recently decided to allow. If it leads him to happiness, so be it. My marriage will likely be one borne entirely of political convenience, and I suppose I pity the poor Lady I am afflicted upon," jests Nevan, chuckling at his own expense but nodding slightly at the bastard knight's last words. "Do not underestimate us, Ser Maldred! The heron has its spear, as do we. My brother, Ser Marvish, was noted in the war for it - and I'd say I could probably take him in a spar these days."
Hoekenn does lose some of his attention and just moves along thinking about other things as the nobles speak. A butterfly flying past or a crack in a wall some distance away. Small things that should not interest people. For now making his imagination go wild. But only for a few seconds before he realizes what he is doing and then instead focuses on escorting the lady again.
The grin from the Frey makes him a bit curious as to what the man might be thinking. But he does not speak. Bruce has only had him along for one day but it is still a tough day at that. And he tries to do as Bruce would want him, or how he thinks the man would want him to act. He has already passed through one knight, it would probably not be wise to do the same mistakes again. Not wanting to disappoint his father.
Isolde, despite her trial of walking back to the tower tilts her head at mention of an Eagle. Her face sours a little and she says nothing, quickly schooling to implacidness. The Lady smiles pleasantly, dips her head to Maldred at his compliment and lets the men continue their talk. She rests her hand lightly on Nevan's arm, an easy link to his conversation should she have need to enter it.
She looks than to Hoekenn and smiles. "I hope all these nobles and knights are not putting you off. They can be quite…dreadful." She grins for him but it is half as lively as it should be considering her usual vivaciousness. "I will have to seat you next to Ser Maldred it seems, he has drawn out some amusement from you." She intones to the squire before glancing to the two on the other side of her.
The bastard's laughter at Erenford's comparison is as swift and liberal as a fountain's gurgle…but there is something a little brittle in his pinched, hard-faced expression. In the most courteous way imaginable, he has been put in his place, by a vassal knight of his putative father…and he knows it. So, leaving aside the subject of the good Ser Holden, he veers over to the next one.
"A courtship of true romance, it would seem? Well, I did, briefly, encounter the lady in question…and your cousin must be…a knight of very bold tastes. Especially," he remarks with a minor return to that mischievous asperity, "for a heron. No doubt he, too, is a fine wielder of your family's spear." That's probably enough hints of bawdy, for now, with, after all, a (theoretically) ruling Lady present.
To reassure Isolde as to the meaning of his secretive grins, he now adds, "The squire and I are well acquainted, my lady. He has ever proved apt to obey and I have witnessed his…acuteness in the field…but perhaps he was most notable in his care with your House's secrets, for he never even revealed the name of his master!"
Nevan is absolutely oblivious to any insult he may have given Maldred, one of his favorite hobbies being that of being oblivious when he insults just about anyone. "Hm, I'd say he's a large fellow…but he relies on it too much, and ultimately just stabs wildly until he hits something," Nevan offers as a /seemingly/ genuine critique of his cousin's abilities with a spear, maybe? He keeps a straight face through the entire thing, however, helping Isolde along as they make their way out and sparing a chuckle at her remarks. "Yes, we're all quite obsessed with our own doings, gossip and slights and fighting of the like. I often find it just as difficult to tolerate as the Master here, sometimes."
Nevan then turns his attention on Isolde as he helps her along, quietly venturing, "Lady Isolde, feel completely free to not answer if you'd rather not speak of the matters, but what is your opinion on the situation in Highfield, if I may ask? I'm awaiting word from your mother on possible terms with the Naylands, to spur my Father into action by offering something in return for our aide, but I haven't yet heard back from her. Our house takes a great risk opposing the richest of the Frey vassals."
Hoekenn shakes his head, "It is fine, m'lady. I'm used to it. A bit." He replies and just smiles. As for ser Maldred there is a grin. Followed by a chuckle when Maldred speaks to him and the lady. "It was ser Ea-… Ay-…?" He shakes his head, at least he knew the name of the new one. "Ser Longbough now." He explains to Maldred before going silent. The words between Nevan and Isolde is only halfly listened to. Other than that he just continues to support the lady. Trying hard not to let his thoughts wander too much.
"Ser Maldred.." The Lady smirks a bit, that exhaustion eating away at the expressions she is trying to employ as they crest the exit of the garden. "I shall be interested to hear your exploits.." She glances to Hoekenn and than back to her distant relative. "But we have a lot of time for that. Since you are staying with us." She intones and than smiles to Nevan. It is a polite look she gives him if a bit cold.
"It is best I not say, Ser Nevan…please. I would like to feign ignorance for being locked away so long. I would rather be caught up to speed before I say anything I might regret." Her smile blossoms anew but it does not reach her eyes and her breathing is laboring now as that yellow rose looks abour ready to fall free of her braid.
Ser Nevan's deadpan salacity gets a warmer expression from Rivers's tight mouth and aqueous eyes - as in, a hint above freezing; maybe tadpoles could survive in it. Hoekenn's cheerfulness and acknowledgment of their past encounters elicits no response from Maldred this time, though. The Frey-sworn and -birthed, if not named, knight looks as sharp as ever but also sober, almost grim, as he gives the Erenford close attention; and nor, surprisingly after such an elaborate and flamboyant introduction, will he relax this dour mien as the evening proceeds, speaking but little, and trivially, quiet and in thought; increasingly not, in fact, the thought of a careful listener, but of a man who has quite enough to brood upon already.
But that lies ahead. For now, he manages a slightly forced, if ostensibly polite, rebuke, "Crone's whiskers, give the Lady a moment ere you talk tenantry, Erenford!" And makes a slight but discernible lean across Ser Nevan to adjust the drooping flower he had contributed to Isolde's costume…