|Aerial Hunters Gather|
|Related Logs:||All the Bandit Hullabaloo.|
|East Walk — Stonebridge|
|This crossroads at the edge of town is where the docks intersect with the road heading towards Hag's Mire in one direction and a few blocks to the town square in the other. The activity in the area is usually cart traffic with moving goods from port to retail and most of it passes by the Common House. This one story structure on the corner is known as the town's nicer inn as well as a brothel for the lonely visitor.|
|7 May, 289|
Since the Stonebridge levies returned to their town about an hour or so ago and were dismissed, there's been much beer drinking around the common house. It's well known that each week after the levy drills, the Naylands provide barrels of beer to those men serving with the pike. Ser Bruce hasn't been imbibing, not yet, but he walks down a grassy hill on a direct path from the town square, eschewing the curvy road. He's still in his armour, though his helmet is at his belt and shield slung over top of his shoulder.
Jarod is no levy man, but the promise of flowing beer drew him out toward the common house. Perhaps he can even get a mug cheap. He walks slow, whistling tunelessly, his eyes inevitably going toward the Stone Bridge, and the encampment called the Tordane Pavilion nearby it.
Kamron has settled in to watch the levies return and study how they break down after a tough march and drill. He's pulled up a barrel across the way, and sits atop it, one leg drawn up with his arms wrapped around his knee. As he spots Jarod, he gives a piercing whistle that — if he had any tune at all — might sound like the man's four-note 'battle-cry.' A crooked grin twists his lips as he finishes massacring the call, further murdering the last note.
The four note battle cry is well known by Ser Bruce, and Jarod's even called the older knight a few times with it. His ears perk up and he stops in his place at the bottom of the little hill, sleepy blue eyes regarding the area with interest. He searches the area, eyes finding the Rivers. A grin comes to Bruce's features as he walks to him. "Oi, Jarod!" He obviously must think that that was who called.
Jarod grins broad at Kamron's attempt - massacred though it may be - answering with four sharp, high-pitched notes. "We'll make a half-eagle out of you yet, M'Lord Mallister!" he calls, raising an arm to wave at the other knight. He's here in any case, so he does answer Bruce's greeting. "Ser Longbough! And I thought levy marches were all miserable drudge. If I'd known there was beer involved I'd have pushed my lord father much harder in getting our smallfolk trained to it proper."
Kamron points over at Bruce as the man calls out for the Rivers-ish knight, "Hah!" His grin is directed at the bastard, "Now I know how I can get service in all the whorehouses in the Cape." He nods over to the Nayland knight, gesturing for him to join in, "How was the march, Ser Bruce?" He pauses, then adds to Jarod, "Oh… and you have to be able to afford barrels and barrels of beer for that, Jarod." There's a wry sort of humor to the words.
"Carrot and stick, Ser Jarod. Sides, their feet are harder an' iron and they've not had time to drink themselves into citizens again. No bellies on these lads, yet." Bruce answers to the first man, looking up as he calls to the second. His grin remains affixed. "Ser Kamron! Well, it was a march. I'll never really /like/ 'em, but I find when I'm leading the pace it becomes a lot more tolerable. I prefer marching to running distance, in any case." He approaches.
"Give the girls my love and apologies for my absence while you're there," Jarod quips to Kamron with a wink. "Wedded bliss and all. I'm sure they're crying into their pillows missing my…coin." The comment about the price of beer earns a wry snort. "True enough that. March, Ser Bruce? Don't tell me I missed a proper parade."
Kamron lets his leg drop down to hang off the side of the barrel alongside the first, groaning at Bruce's mention of distance running, "Fuck that… that's what a horse is for. Anything more than half a mile is just foolhardy." Waving off Jarod's request, he shakes his head, "It's an occasional necessity, but not something I tend to make a habit of." At the mention of 'bliss,' he cranes his neck, ostentatiously looking for more bites at the bastard's neck.
Bruce laughs, shaking his head. "Naw, not really. Levy day. No real parade, other than the normal dismissal parade. I just call that a parade, anyways." He nods in Kamron's direction. "Me either. Sprint, aye, though. Ser Desmond in Riverrun, he's the Master At Arms, he was real fond of it. Running long distance. I never understood."
Jarod is still sporting a few bruises and teeth-marks on his neck. But he wears them blissfully. He shows little regret at the talk of whores, though he winces some when Kamron mentions horses. "Hope Lord Jerold's putting my charger to good use. Symeon's not built to just circle a paddock. Never tried to run afoot in armor. Closest I came was a time on Harlaw me and Ser Kell jogged out from the lines to retrieve a downed raven. Felt like I was going slow as if I was up to my neck in sand."
Kamron nods his head at Bruce, "Have to be able to catch the fucker before you can kill him." Gesturing to Jarod, he adds for the Nayland-sworn's benefit, "If it weren't for the bite-marks, I'd think he was doing it himself just to prove a point." The mention of Jarod's horse draws a sigh, "Probably hauling lumber, actually, Jarod. And it's no fun. Rattles around something fierce even if it's tied down right. But I bet you felt like you were going to slow because you thought people were going to be shooting you in the head — not that that would hurt you in the slightest."
"Wot? I've seen you do a fucking foot charge, Jarod. Same thing! Well, sort of. It's similar. Just, aye, worse when you run longer. It's why you've probably got knees and are all bouncy, and my knees and back are feeling like a crone's." Ser Bruce reaches behind to rub at the small of his back. Even though it's covered in a padded jack, mail and a tabard. He smirks. "Say, I did want to talk about this bandit business. Ser Jarod, you're good to go on that end, if you're still willing. As a hedge knight of course." He chuckles at Kamron. "I wouldn't be surprised, you know."
Jarod cranes his neck this way and that and snaps his teeth a few times, though he indeed can't bite himself. "Nope. Must be a girl after all." But he turns serious when Bruce mentions the bandits, nodding. "Aye. For cert. Anything I can do to help the clearing of the roads between here and the Roost. You go a good idea of where those buggers are?"
Kamron nods at Bruce's words, although he chuckles at Jarod's antics, noting sidelong to Bruce, "He could just pay someone to bite his neck…" Sobering up, however, he notes, "If we're going to discuss anything about the bandits, we probably shouldn't do it in the streets. Undoubtedly they have informers in Stonebridge, since that's where the missing carter was coming from. I haven't looked to see where he was staying, but that location is right out, as is any place with a common room he ate or drank in…"
"We've been a bit preoccupied, and I imagine you'll all have more information than I, but aye, I do know a little bit." Bruce rubs his hands together, then extends one to Jarod. He smiles. "Welcome aboard, then. I've got something for you. I'll have it sent to your room, later." He keeps shifting attention back and forth as the conversation demands it, his hands looping through his thick belt. "Ser Kamron's right. We should go talk. I can bring you two to the Tower if you like? I know that's secure. Or we can go here. Or Crane's. Either way."
"Have before, but I get it done for free now," Jarod says, as to his neck. About the bandits, he nods. "Aye. Understood. No need to talk on it much. We'll be where we need to be, when we need to be there. Rowenna and I've still our room at the Crane, Ser Bruce. Naylands haven't seen fit to remember to stop paying for it yet, so anything for me can be left there easy enough." As for security. "Wherever the pair of you prefer. Beggars can't be choosers and all that."
Kamron tilts his head slightly to one side, then chuckles, "I've never seen the inside of Tordane Tower. But I bet there are servants there and you know how much they gossip." There's a long silence from the man as he looks around, and then he pushes himself off the top of the barrel and down to the cobbles, "Why don't we take a walk by the river. Get a ways from town, and we'll be able to see if anyone's following us. Plus the water itself will make it hard to hear what we're saying from far away. A lake would be bad, but a river… almost as good as the seashore."
A trip to the riverbank ensues.
"There's only servants in the room if I keep them in the room. But, point taken, aye. Let's." Bruce will wait a little while for the others to get ready, and then set off at a walk. After a ways of walking, travelling over the bridge towards the Mire, passing the Tordane camp, the group is well and definitely alone. Ser Bruce comes to a stop aside the river near a small group of trees, reaching into a belt pouch to remove a small pipe and a leather wrapped package. "So. From what I've heard, they're anywhere west and northwest of Stonebridge. In the direction of Terrick's Roost and the Fallen Oaks. I've heard on good report they might be hiding out in those woods, but I'm sure it's nothing you all haven't heard before, too. In fact, I was wondering what you did know. And if you'd any plans. I'd be more than happy to jump on."
"Don't know about that. Never been in a castle where there wasn't someone who had an interest in hearing whatever everybody else was saying," Jarod says to Bruce, falling into easy step with the Nayland and Mallister knights. "You want my bet, Sers, outlaws could make a fine home for themselves these days in the Fallen Oaks. Gods knows Four Eagles hasn't the men to patrol up there far, and it's not Terrick land besides. Lady Liliana's touchy about other Houses trespassing, though she hasn't men left herself to do for it. Of what's become of those woods I know little. Between the siege of Seagard and the Isles, never had a chance to go up that way. But no civilized folk left there but ghosts. Can't say more than that."
Kamron nods his head to Jarod's response to Bruce, then again at the recitation of the facts and suggestions about the bandits, "They don't bother armed patrols, even small ones, but they were willing to attack a cart with a hired guard — unless the guard was hired. Some rumors suggest reavers. Others suggest Nayland forces." He's blunt about that, at least, "I think broken men, unless the second rumor is true." Gesturing to Jarod, he nods, "Camden lands seem likely. But Fallen Oaks isn't small. If we can find their encampment, we can crush them with numbers. If not, we'll have to trick them. And we don't need numbers for that. So we'll need something for the numbers to do."
Bruce is listening attentively to the two men as he packs his pipe full of something that is difficult to see in the light. He reaches to grab some kind of flint stone, and strikes it several times near the mouth of the pipe. Not the most effective method. It takes him at least ten tries before he's got a flame on, and it's then that he snorts and rolls his eyes. "I hope we're all men who don't believe everything we hear in the gutter. We can add more numbers to this endeavour. The particulars are a bit up in the air, now, but the Regent approved this. And should it come to, I can reccomend to him that we call up a Quarter or two of the levies. But that'd be far in the future. First, we need good men to track. And, even before that, to send them a message." Bruce smiles with half of his mouth, the other half too busy clamping down on his pipe. Smoke curls out of the openings. "You sound like you do have a plan."
"You robbing my lord father's roads, Ser Bruce?" Jarod asks, though the grin he offers to the Nayland knight makes it a joke. "Eh. Might be more suspicious of that if not for the war. Or it just ending. Word is the bandits were harrowing the roads before the men came home, and Lord Rickart and his sons were on the Isles with us killing squids. Few around who might've ordered it. But not all the Ironborn we drove from the Roost and Seagard fled to the seas. I'd put smart money on that, or just outlaws who were always in these lands taking advantage. Men don't need allegiance to be assholes in this world." As for plans, he quiets and listens to Kamron.
Kamron arches an eyebrow at Bruce, "A quarter or two of levies? Unless you think we should use them as beaters, it's not numbers we need. Unless there are more than a score of them, the knights and men we already have can deal with them. It's finding them, or forcing them to find us." He nods to Jarod, accepting his suggestions on the identity of the bandits but not commenting further. "There are actually two plans. I think we should find them and kill them, other think we should trap them. They aren't causing trouble for now, so we can wait, theoretically."
"Aye, Jarod. I paint my face with my pony's shite, don furs and grab a spiked club. Then I run down from the hills and rob everyone blind." Boasts the Stonebridge Captain, with his chest puffed out just a little too much. He snickers. "That's right. Outlaws and Ironborn both, maybe. Don't see why not. But the best time to steal was when we were all gone. I suspect a bunch of those folks are now back in the towns, pretending like nothing happened. It's not them we'll find." He observes Kamron for a moment before replying. "No, Ser Kamron. I mean when and if we find their camp. At that point, it'll pay dividends to have a main anvil. For now, armsmen and such will do. I'm not fond of waiting until they become more bold. Better to nip this in the bud. They've already preyed on our homes while we were away fighting. We need to make them pay."
"I'm of your thinking, Ser Kamron. Better to kill them clean. Take a prisoner or two if we can, that will do us just as well as the whole lot of them trapped, to my mind. And easier to take a few men when their fellows are dead," Jarod puts in, for his part. "If they're outlaws they'll mostly hang anyhow." He looks between the two men. "Do you figure they're that organized? To have a main camp, held down in one place? Guess they might up in the Fallen Oaks, with none to stop them."
Kamron shakes his head at Bruce, "I want them dead as soon as possible. I meant simply wait until we find them, rather than planning an ambush when we don't know who to tip off." He shrugs a little helplessly, looking down at the riverbank, "I am a little worried about hitting them quickly enough with a dozen knights and men at arms before they can scatter — let alone a hundred members of a levy." He shrugs to Jarod, "If it's just three or four of them, then they did it with the help of the carter's guard, and I'm not horribly worried. The sheriff's men and regular patrols by knights can handle that. It's only if it's a dozen or more of them that they're a real threat." He chuckles softly, "However, I think the ambush plan is gaining a lead. Lord Justin is terribly interested in it. So it may be a moot point."
"Until we capture any of them or find more by scouting, we can't know if they've got a camp. I don't have any good scouts on the payroll at the moment. I can look for some." Bruce ponders aloud, puffing on his pipe. "Hmm. As much as I'd like to find a camp, it doesn't mean there is one. There's no sense in arguing on the path. Honestly? I don't think they're well organized. They're probably a bunch of small groups taking advantage of what they perceive as weakness, as well as a good haven. Fallen Oaks is that. How do you suggest to kill them, Ser Kamron? Keep in mind that when I suggested using levy, I didn't mean using them any time soon. But if the opportunity presents itself."
"Never fought with my brother Lord Justin before." That easy grin flicks across Jarod's face at the thought. Like he's rather looking forward to it. "Barely know him, really. Jaremy and Jace and I were raised thick as thieves at Four Eagles, but he was sent away to Riverrun as a page. Did his squiring there, too, and served with the Tully force during the war. Hadn't seen him in…fuck. Ten years gone nearly when he came home. Barely said hello before…well. The disgracing." That.
Kamron nods to Bruce, "Or until the scouts we have out — including some Groves men as well soon — can find any camp they have. And for killing them? I suggest encircling them with knights and men at arms and then just killing them. Shock them as best as possible. We'll definitely need scouts out in case they manage to break out. I was honestly figuring on a council of war once we knew more." He nods to Jarod, "Lord Justin has been a valuable asset. He's been helping with the scouting, and has proven himself quite adept at it. He's a good man. Surprisingly, there seem to be few enough knights about willing to take on a squire of his age. I would have taken him on — with his father's permission of course — if I didn't have Percy to look after." A chuckle lifts from his lips, "If he acquits himself well against the bandits," a gesture to Bruce reinforces, "If we find them at all, I've half a mind to knight him myself."
"Riverrun, eh? I'd probably seen him around then, when I was sworn to Lord Hoster. Who'd he do his squiring to?" Asks Bruce off handedly, pulling the pipe from his mouth for only a moment. He spews out a truly great cloud of smoke, and replaces the smoking implement where he'd found it. Then he continues puffing. "Cutoffs are important in that kind of thing. These tend to be slippery, slippery folk. But aye. As for a council, well, we might do well to discuss, but then just put someone in charge for the actual course of it. I've no problem putting me and my lads under someone else. It simplifies everything."
"Doubt it's his age, so much as it's awkward with him having to act so much as a lord at the Roost. Squire's supposed to get kicked around and beaten into shape and the like. I'm surprised he didn't get knighted after the Pyke, truth be told, even if his knight did fall." As for a leader, Jarod nods to Bruce. "Seems like you've got a solid plan, Ser Kamron. The men'd trust you, and Ser Hardwicke likely, to lead. That'll keep things tight. Though that you've an ear for all's encouraging."
Kamron frowns in thought at Bruce's question, "Ser Hoff-something." He shakes his head slightly at Jarod's suggestion of him being in charge, "It should be a Terrick man in charge, Jarod." The Mallister nods slightly at Bruce, "Given you're willingness to play second fiddle, which is much appreciated, Ser Bruce. Ser Hardwicke would be a good man for the job… but I was actually thinking Lord Justin." He gestures around the little circle, "With veterans to back him up, it might be a good way to test the man, see if he's actually ready to swear his life into service of the Seven." He makes a dismissive little gesture with one hand, "But those are all details. They can be worked out closer to the event." There's a long pause, and then he nods, "Thank you, Ser Bruce, for volunteering. Would have hurt my pride a bit to ask." At least he can admit it.
Bruce smiles genially, dipping his head. "Of course. You know me, Ser Kamron. When it comes to this thing, as long as it gets done… I'm not an especially proud man. Blood doesn't run very blue, and all. As for Lord Justin, that might work well. With a solid group of veterans advising him, he'll do fine. Besides, it's not as if the lad isn't blooded yet."
If Jarod has any misgivings about a squire in command, he keeps them to himself. "He's Lord Jerold's son. Fair by me. Anyhow, all in this together and for the Cape and all of that. Now, if there's nothing further. Whatever you need to get to me can be left at my room at Crane, Ser Bruce. I think I might go back and see if there's any beer left."