Page 025: Allegiance
Summary: Rygar wants Anton's. Anton wants….
Date: 06 August 2011
Related Logs: Everything, more or less.
Anton Rygar 
Roof Terrace - Four Eagles Tower
This is open to the air except for the rookery at the opposite end of the open walkway. Parapets and crenellations are about.
06 August 288

Rygar Nayland has been about Four Eagles Tower since the prior evening with a retainer following him at a discreet distance, as the lean knight wanders the unrestricted areas of the castle. His steps have brought him gradually to the castle's parapets, regarding the surrounded territory as far as the nobleman's cold blue eye can see.

Anton makes his way up the stairs sometime later, dark hair ruffled by the swirling winds at the castle's top. "Ser Rygar," he greets the knight by name even before his face can be seen, "I had heard you were about. And that you desired to speak with me?"

Rygar turns to regard the man who greets him. "Ser Anton," he returns, a short incline of his head to the higher ranking nobleman. "I am and I do. The Knight of Oldstones, veteran of the Rebellion as well as half-rumored wars across the Narrow Sea," the litany is recited plain and even, with the same cool composure that tends to mark the stern warrior's words. "Your Lordship is an intriguing man."

Anton's lips shift into something that faintly resembles a smile, and he tilts his head slightly as if in acknowledgement. "As are you, Ser Rygar," he replies, "A veteran of that war yourself, as I have heard it, you were unlucky only in that your fellows failed to match your strength of conviction."

"Ill luck and fortune are the redoubts of the weak, Ser," Rygar returns, before voicing further, "It is upon events since the Rebellion that I would hold words with you, Lord Valentin. I wonder: in what manner are wars fought in the Disputed Lands of the east?" Turning fully away from the view between Terrick crennelations, he faces Anton fully.

Anton lifts a brow at that question, leaning back against a section of wall. Broad shoulders lift as he crosses arms against his chest and replies, "They are very different, in some ways," he says, "Standing armies are common, most often made up in large part by mercenaries, and companies of slave soldiers. They use cavalry far less often, except, naturally, in the case of the Dothraki. Occasionally you will see an elephant, instead. In general, though," he says, "It is much like war anywhere, really. A bloody, messy business that rarely does much good for anyone who cannot line his pockets by it and then go elsewhere."

Rygar sniffs sharply at the last line, after listening with keen attention to Anton's recount. "An elephant," he echoes dryly. "You have fought in many battles in the east, Ser?" he wonders evenly, head going to a slight angle in regard of the Knight of Oldstones.

Anton nods, "A fair few, I would say, though naturally not as many as those who spend their lives in service to one of the companies. Not that such lives are often very lengthy, of course." He lifts a hand, scratching idly at the black stubble that darkens his jaw, going on, "Their wars are near endless, there," he explains, "There is rarely if ever a battle large enough to be called decisive, where the great combined hosts of nations face each other on a field and only one lives to call themselves victor. There is no Trident, in the East. Every day a battle decides who holds this bridge or that fortress or these few miles of road and then the next day you do it again."

"What drove you to leave, Ser?" Rygar wonders aloud, a moment after Anton finishes his description. "Or should I ask what held you there so long, my Lord." Letting the back of his shoulder rest against the shaped stone of Four Eagles Tower, the Nayland knight crosses his arms as he regards Anton.

Anton drags nails along his jaw, and shifts one heavy shoulder in a graceful shrug. "I am good at it," he replies, "Why spend my life riding circles around Westeros for a few days each month of playing at knighthood when I might every day test my talents to their limit?"

"And yet here you are, Ser," Rygar muses aloud, remaining still while Anton itches at his jawline. "With naught but the shallow glories of sport to keep your talents from losing their edge. Are you still a warrior first and foremost, my good Lord?"

"I am what I have need to be, Ser," Anton replies evenly. His head tilts, and this time it is he who poses the question: "Why, Ser Rygar? Have you need of a warrior?"

"No," Rygar replies simply to the last. "As my Lord has no doubt witnessed, the Naylands are quite adept at winning the peace. I ask this of you because, if your wish is the prosperity of Oldstones and you yet approach the question of allegiance with the keen eye of a warrior, then the political issues are a foregone conclusion," he opines with a small shrug. His manner remains calculated and cool.

"Are they indeed?" Anton asks Rygar, the question an idle one, the lift of his brow casual, "I am so new to these political games, Ser, perhaps you might take pity on a novice and spell out my conclusion for me, just this once."

Rygar sniffs sharply again at Anton's idle reply. "Allegiance, my Lord. The Terricks will seek your allegiance to Seagard, and they shall seek it with purpose. But a warrior would see that neither the Terricks nor the Mallisters have the men nor wealth to spare in supporting Oldstones. A warrior would see that committing to Seagard will bring the ire of the Mire, and place my Lord in an indefensible position. The Sevenstreams flow direct from the Mire to your Holding, as my Lord Valentin well knows." A drawn breath. "Friendship of the Terricks is a fine thing, I invite Your Lordship to cultivate it as best you may. But no warrior ought fear the Terricks, whose ire is toothless." Rygar regards the Knight of Oldstones with an even, cold eye. "I am a soldier as well, Ser. Not so accomplished at arms as yourself, but with a keen enough eye to see a Mallister vassal on our southern border as a potential threat. And for all their honor and dignity, the Terricks could not defend you, my Lord. They have neither the men, nor the means."

Anton listens, gaze keen on Rygar for all that his posture and mien are casual. "And do you, Ser?" he asks at the last, "Have you the men and means to take an interest in Oldstones for good or ill, when you must devote such resources as you have to your opposite border? The Freys, as you know as well as any, are never so quick as the Mallisters to commit troops, no matter who does the asking."

"Levies begin drill in Stonebridge within days, Ser," Rygar states plainly. "We have not shortened the reach of our troops in taking that Tower, but extended it. And even if that bridge were a liabaility, as you suggest, tell me:" the Nayland sniffs again before inquiring, "Do you suspect the Terricks would ever provoke a war? Would Lord Jason Mallister blacken his precious honor with striking the first blow? No, Ser. Theirs is a cult of the defensive." The words are punctuated with a shake of his head. "Our hosts are a fading House, forced by lost influence and precious dignity only to react. An army suffers when conceding the initiative, as my Lord well knows. And I promise you, Ser, I am patient. The Terricks and Mallisters may send troops and swallow the expense of their billets, diminishing treasuries already stretched thin, while every day my family grows stronger. Every week passed erodes their power, while the same week sees our levies better trained."

"And as you yourself said, Ser, you are winning the peace," Anton replies, "What need have you to strike the first blow, either? Beginning hostilities would be the ruin of all you have so recently accomplished, and a foolish one at that, if what you say is true and the Terricks and their overlords will never dare give you cause. What need have either of you of me?"

"The Terricks would make you a point of prestige to salve wounded pride," Rygar answers promtly. "They would lose Stonebridge, but gain Oldstone and proclaim that they are the better for it. They would gain a warrior they dared not use." His head is held high from the prior scrutinizing angle. "What House Nayland sees in your allegiance, Ser, is an ally to our southern border. Defense against any effort of our rivals to expand upon us, a strong martial Lord of good reputation, and a burgeoning town with whom our merchants might trade. The Sevenstrems can be a vibrant vein to your holding, my Lord."

"Defense against an effort you assure me your rivals will never rise to make," Anton points out, words accompanied by a lazy gesture, "You say you have no use for a warrior either, Ser, I cannot see what sets you apart on that score unless there is some other goal on the horizon to which you aspire." He lets his arm fall back against his chest, asking, "Trade is truly the bulk of what you offer, then, is it not? Tell me more of that."

"I had said we did not need a warrior, Ser," Rygar corrects crisply. "Not that we have no use for one." That minor point made, he nods. "Unlike our present hosts, the aims of my family reach beyond petty noble rivalry. Yet for the immediate future, efficient trade and prompt support seems what your Oldstones have greatest need of. This is something the Naylands can offer that the Terricks cannot, my Lord. Carpenters, potters, and grain. Masons from the Crossing, timber from Haigh land. The friendship of my family is as valuable as our ire is terrible, my good Lord."

"You make a good case, Ser Rygar," Anton says, shifting against the stone behind him, "But is it yours to make, in truth? It is your cousin the Lord Ser Ryker who will sit the throne after Ser Rickart, and he is bound up with the Tordanes, now, who seem a problematic lot, by all accounts. For the immediate future, we might suit well, it is true, but Oldstones has stood for six thousand years, Ser. I hope to set my sights on a slightly longer term than the immediate future."

Rygar regards Anton without a flicker to mar his cold composure. "Had you not, heard, Ser? There is but one Tordane in Westeros, and she is most agreeable where my family is concerned." A drawn breath, "Lord Ryker shall take his father's seat in due time, and when Your Lordship chooses to swear vassalage if will be the Lord Rickart's hand and seal upon the bargain. Stonebridge is ours and shall remain so." The words carry no doubt, as he draws breath to answer Anton's last. "Oldstones has sat vacant for long years it is true. I have no doubt that my good Lord Valentin's decisions shall be wise, and Oldstones shall not sit empty again so soon."

"Agreeable to your family, perhaps, but it seems she bears one of my household serious ill-will indeed," Anton replies, lifting a hand to pick idly at at fleck of dirt beneath a nail, "I am happy enough for Ser Rivers to rise no higher than he has in my employ, but I cannot say I appreciate attempts against the lives of my people. It does not set a very good tone, you understand."

"What cause have either the Lady or the Naylands to bear ill will against Ser Gedeon? Whatever his talents within your household, the Ser is of no greater significance," Rygar replies with a hard edge to the words. "As for your Ser Rivers," he goes on briskly, "He would be wise to announce that he has no designs upon Stonebridge. There is no legal precedent, nor are there grounds. And I am sure Your Lordship has no intention of appearing party to the latest doomed ploy of the Terricks to scrabble after their fading fortunes."

"Ser Gedeon has made no claim to Stonebridge," Anton points out to Rygar, his tone no more or less interested than it was for previous subjects, "It is the actions of the Ladies Isolde and Valda which have lent some scrap of ground he might perhaps stand upon, though I know not whether he will have the stomach for it, now. As for myself, like you, Ser Rygar, and all knights of the realm, I have sworn to serve honor, truth, and justice, in accordance with the king's laws. A fellow lord and knight wished with his dying breaths that this truth to be made known. I will not stand in its way. What comes of it from there…" he shrugs, "That is a matter for greater lords than I."

"Then Ser Gedeon has permitted others to project this ambition upon him, and would be wise to seperate himself from such folly," Rygar answers crisply. "Again you make mention of the Lady Valda. I would ask which actions of hers Your Lordship sees in any of this." A fresh breath drawn as the Nayland eyes Anton pointedly with a blue regard. "To the last, if what a lord and knight wishes upon death is illegal, I say it is the duty of a good and honest knight to prevent violations of the King's Law. And there is no greater Lord in the land than a knight's liege. Advise Ser Gedeon that allowing the ambitions of others in pursuing this is to his own disadvantage. As well as to your own potential loss, Ser."

"I would hesitate to accuse a noble lady of anything I could not prove for certain, Ser Rygar, as I'm sure would you," Anton replies, "But that at least one of the ladies of Stonebridge is an enemy to Ser Gedeon seems clear enough, at this point. To the last," he echoes Rygar's preface, "There is nothing illegal about wishing to make known that one's daughter is not, in fact, one's daughter. The bringing to light the lady Isolde's illegitimacy is the matter of which I speak. What happens after this has been done is, as I say, not my concern unless, as you point out, it violates the King's Law. Should it come to such an end as that, then I expect us to end up on the same side, Ser Rygar. In the meantime, I support the coming to light of the truths in those letters, and that is all. It is not for any ill-will against your family that I support it, not any desire to see the Terricks rise in their place. I am concerned merely with that slim portion of this business which touches upon my duty as a knight."

To Anton's hesitation, Rygar voices, "Then the Ser is wise, as such slanders are the root of grievances which can bring down even honest men of good intention." As the Knight of Oldstones speaks that last on his duties as a knight, he is answered, "As to the portion of this business which touches upon your duties as a Lord, think on this: one's choice of friends by necessity also chooses one's foes. I advise the lord to consider carefully which of the players in this contest would make the more dangerous enemies."

At that, Anton straightens up, pushing himself with indolent ease off the wall. Feet under him once more, he stretches, and replies, "Come now, Ser Rygar, so dire. Can't we all just get along?" He cracks a sudden grin, and laughs, nodding, "I will think on it, you may believe that, Ser. I am sure we will speak on the matter again. Now, if you will excuse me," he gestures, another vague, wrist-flicking flourish accompanying his polite nod, "I have other business to be about today. Good day to you, Ser."

"We can. Whether we shall rests on you, Ser," the severe Nayland answers Anton's jovial 'get along' line. A sharp, short bow offered in parting to the Knight of Oldstones. "Good day to you, my Lord." Rygar then turns back to his prior occupation: admiring the view from the Terrick parapet.