|An Unexpected Arrival|
|Summary:||Torsten Banefort arrives at the Roost and is welcomed by his sister.|
|From the village to the courtyard to the entrance hall. Take it all in!|
|April 5, 289|
Given recent events - from siege to death of the lady of the keep - one might expect Anais to be in residence at the Roost. The siege, however, has left the stores of the Roost in sad state, and so she had left for Stonebridge, in hopes of finding something to buy with the dwindling stash of coin that remains. She's only just returning to the village, trailing three guards and a handmaid. Two of the guards came from the Banefort, as did the handmaid, though the third is a native of the Roost. They have a few small packs of seeds, and one larger sack of grain, but there's precious little to show for the trip. Anais herself looks more tired than usual, though she has a warm smile for the people of the village when she rides in, stopping at each new construction site as she goes. And there are many new construction sites. The reavers burned what they couldn't keep, and the village - unlike the Banefort and the Roost - wasn't built in stone.
Sitting tall on his mount is Torsten, overlooking one of the construction sites. An inn in the making, perhaps. Though sitting tall would be a stretch, as the animal that the man rides appears to be a bit stunted and certainly not the pick of the pack. It would be generous to call the thing a pony, but the small horse does look hardy and certainly seems to be bearing the weight of the man atop it well enough. Torsten looks a bit less patient than his mount as he observes the construction going on in front of him. He seems to be in discussion with the foreman of the project. "Honestly man, I would think the village whorehouse would be the first place to re-open and you tell me you don't even have a single room completed yet? I can't say I am impressed with your efforts." Tor gives a shake of his head as he speaks, not having yet noticed Anais and her entourage.
Strangers are certainly the first thing to be pointed out to Anais, though Torsten is no stranger to her, at least. Before any of the villagers can really take offense, she spurs her horse forward, clearing her throat as she approaches. "I'm afraid the whores are a bit worse for the wear, Tor," she calls over, a faint, wry smile curving her lips. "There were more people than you'd think who didn't make it to the castle when the reavers came. We're still recovering from the siege. The Riverlands aren't quite as accustomed to this sort of thing as we are at home."
"Worse for the wear and they've yet to encounter me. That doesn't bode well," Tor replies, his tone try. The quip comes quickly as he recognizes the woman's voice and he is turning his mount toward her as he speaks. His cold eyes flick over her, a small smirk playing across his features. "No little brats yet, eh?" He snorts softly to himself, shifting a little in his seat. He doesn't look entirely comfortable on the back of the horse. "I'm sure they've learned quickly. Those that lived, anyway," he answers her last comment, tone a bit more serious now.
"In the last five months?" Anais arches a brow in return, dry. "No. As your sister, I waited until /after/ I was married. Just as well, given the way things worked out." She lowers her voice, guiding her horse closer to her brother's until they're nearly knee to knee. "They hadn't manned the watchtowers in ages, Tor. I'd told them they should just a week before the attack came, and when it did, the bells had even been sabotaged. I was lucky to get back to the keep myself." She reaches a hand out to him, looking up with a small, brave smile that doesn't quite hide the worry in her eyes. "Is everything all right at home?"
Tor snorts. "The name watch tower carries a touch of an indication to it's use, hmm?" He doesn't bother lowering his tone, the smirk coming back to his face briefly with the reply. His horse shifts a little as the woman closes with him, and he lays a gloved hand on its neck in an attempt to calm it. "I couldn't say," he answers, letting her hand come to rest on his on the horse's neck. "I've been at sea for the last several months. We had a bit of an incident that happily placed me near enough to here. I've come to offer my services to captain the ship these Terricks got along with your joyous presence."
Anais sobers somewhat at Torsten's explanation, looking away and tucking a wisp of fair hair behind her ear. "Oh," she says quietly, then draws a breath, pulling herself a little straighter in her saddle. "Well. Why don't you come back to the Keep?" she invites, summoning up another smile and turning her horse toward the Roost. "I've been riding half the day coming back from Stonebridge, and I think we've still got a bit of wine somewhere." As she looks over the repairs to the village, some of the strain shows in her features, despite her best efforts. These last few months have certainly been a crash course in being lady of the keep.
"I've only just arrived, I'm afraid," Tor comments, turning his attention in the direction of the Roost. "I'll let you lead the way, m'lady," he adds, the dry tone coming back to his voice. The man is certainly less sober than his sister, though the hint of a smirk still tugs at the corners of his mouth. Looking past his sister he gives a nod to her entourage, enough greeting for him apparently. "Wine or ale. Something to warm me up." He starts in the direction of the Roost, assuming that she'll take the lead apparently.
Anais leads the way to the Roost, while the Banefort guards greet the young lord with respectful nods before falling back to let the siblings talk. Once they reach the courtyard, there are servants to take their horses, and Anais slips down without waiting for someone to go through the motions of helping her. There are, in fact, more people at the keep than is normal for such a place. It seems that while the village is being rebuilt, many of the people of the village are spending their time in or near the keep when they aren't working. "We held the keep, at least," Anais explains, chin tipping up in stubborn pride. "Not that they didn't do their best to take it."
"The goal of a keep's existance is certainly not to give it away," Tor replies with a snort as he swings off his horse. He doesn't seem to have any belongings, besides what is on his person. "Another name which mysteriously suggests the purpose of the place, eh?" He flashes a grin at his sister, though it is not entirely warmly expressed. He gives a look around before finally returning his gaze to her. "I assume they've been looking after you well enough?" He seems to at least be interested in her response.
"Quit being an ass," Anais smirks as she hands off her horse, reaching out to try to punch his shoulder. "I know it's what you do best, but really." And then as soon as the horses are out of the way, she moves forward to catch him in a tight hug, ever the more demonstrative of the siblings and heedless of the people still bustling about the courtyard. "Jacsen tries," she murmurs into his shoulder, ducking her chin to hide her features. "It's just- This is their home, and it's been so soon after the wedding. It's not…I was still trying to figure out where I fit when all this happened, and then Lady Evangeline died and…"
Tor smells, you'd note, like it has been a while since his last bath. He returns the hug, though a bit half-heartedly. A pat to her back. "You mentioned wine?" He shifts slightly where he stands. "We can drink and talk. I can't say ravens have much luck finding a ship at sea and I've only heard stories from the smallfolks."
Anais sighs, giving his shoulder a light shove when she steps back. "All right, fine. Drinks first." And with that, she leads the way into the keep itself, pausing to take the elbow of a servant, who dutifully goes in search of wine. In the meantime, she moves toward one of the seating groups, wincing just a little when she settles down into a chair and stretches her feet out in front of herself. "So, then," she sighs. "Tell me where you've been? I've been so worried about everyone, when I've even time to think about anything away from here."
The man follows after her, his boots falling lightly with each step on the stones of the courtyard. He settles carefully into the chair opposite her's, his legs stretching out in front of him as he relaxes. Tor gives a grunt. "Anywhere between here and the Crag, recently. We were up a bit north when things all went to shit, it would seem. Though like I said I can only guess at what has been going on on land while I was having my fun on the sea. We were driven aground short of the Flint Cliffs past a month ago and I've been picking my way southward since. I was lucky enough to secure that horse of mine only recently and it sped my travels."
"You and Quen both, it seems," Anais grimaces, pressing her lips together in a tight line. "Well." She draws a deep breath, then pauses to nod her thanks as a servant brings out the wine. It's a finer vintage than would usually suffice for normal drinking, though it's been heavily watered down as well. "As I said, it was a surprise attack. The bells had been sabotaged, and the Harlaws had sent envoys, which they assured us were peaceful, even. The woman…" She trails off, a faint line forming between her brows. "I truly don't think she knew her purpose here. But. Maron Greyjoy led the host that came here. They besieged the castle for the better part of three weeks, and terrorized the village in the meantime. We did lead a successful attack on their catapults, at least. And held them at bay until we were relieved by the riverland forces out of Stonebridge." Pausing, she takes a glass of wine for herself, though she chews on her lower lip instead of drinking. "Tall Oaks didn't fare as well."
"The Camdens, am I correct?" Tor arches a brow at this news and then goes for the wine. He lifts it to his lips and takes a long drink, as if it had been quite some time since he enjoyed the beverage of any vintage, watered down or not. Then he sets the goblet back on the small table near at hand. "I thought I smelled a faint odor of forest fire," he comments with a shake of his head. "What happened?"
"I've only heard bits of the story," Anais says slowly. "But it seems another group of Ironborn came through to take Tall Oaks. I don't know how it all happened, but…But they took it, and they razed it. Tor…" She draws a deep breath, closing her eyes for a moment. "Elinor was there. She'd- She'd taken a fancy to Lord Sarojyn, there was talk of a betrothal, Quen was on the way to work out the details, and then this all happened. She wouldn't run. She took poison, so they couldn't have her." There's no small measure of guilt in her eyes, though over just what is hard to tell, and a weariness at once more delivering the news to the rest of the family. Free-spirited Anais has done a good deal of growing up in the past few months.
Tor's face falls for a moment, a slight hint of disquiet settling across it for a moment before his mask of unflinching calm comes back. A slight shake of his head and he is reaching again for the wine. He takes a long drink from it. Then he leans back in the chair. "Well, that is less than ideal news," he answers after a few more heartbeats of silence. He reaches out for Anais, patting her knee. "It is good we Banefort are built of a strong stock," he speaks, apparently thinking he is being comforting.
"Mmmm," Anais hums, taking his hand for just a moment, her grip strong. "We've had to be, haven't we?" Quiet, she brushes the back of her hand across her eyes, then takes a long drink from her glass as well. "The last I heard, the Banefort was under siege. Quen was safe. He'd been on his way here when the reavers came, saw their sails, and went aground near the Golden Horn. I'm not sure where he's at now, but he wasn't there. I don't know if the siege has broken yet, but I think I heard we'd driven the squids back to their isles. We should send word, let Papa know you're here and you're all right."
"I'll sail back myself, in our ship," Tor replies with a grin, this prospect apparently truely an enjoyable one for him. He withdraws his hand and takes another sip of his wine before setting it aside for now. "I'll be happy to get a strike in against those scum. They outnumbered me, otherwise I'd have taken them." He smirks. "So, where does she lie at anchor?"
Anais draws a deep breath, scrubbing a hand over her face. "Tor…You have to understand, things here are…not easy right now. There haven't been reavers here in generations. They've forgotten how to- to put away stores, and watch the shore, and all the rest of it. And the loss of Stonebridge, and then the wedding haven't helped things either. Add in the predations of the Ironborn, and I don't know how we're going to make it through the next few months. We're in very real danger of starving. And I'm afraid the ship is the only thing of value we have that's…moveable." She draws a breath and looks away, thoroughly miserable, cheeks flaming to red. "Jacsen's looking into selling it."
Tor blinks a few times at this, slow actions that seem to indicate his surprise at this news. He cocks his head to the side. "His solution to a lack of ships to defend yourselves is to get rid of the ship you do have in order to fatten things up around here and make them a more tempting target for reavers?" He snickers, shaking his head at this. "That hardly seems a sound strategy. I hope you pointed that out to your lordling."
"It would be a better protest if the Roost had knowledgeable men to crew it to begin with," Anais points out darkly, leaning into the corner of her chair and propping her chin up on one fist. Definitely pouting. "It's of limited use as protection as a single ship. It was meant to be a starting point for a proper fleet, but that isn't going to happen for quite some time now." She shifts, crossing her arms over her chest as she flicks a glance toward her brother. "This wasn't supposed to go like this, you know."
"Well, generally things don't go as they are supposed to, my dear," Tor replies, the smirk still lingering on his lips. He reaches for his glass and drains the rest of the wine from it. "What you do after things go to shit is what makes life interesting, wouldn't you say. I suppose if there are no men it would be a waste of a ship, even with me at the helm." He shakes his head. "Unfortunate, that. I guess I'm marooned here, if you'll have me."
"Well, here I am," Anais sighs, sitting forward to refill both glasses. "Lady of the Roost, for most intents and purposes. Jacsen's mother," she explains, "Lady Evangeline, managed to get with child, and then lost the child, and died in the process." The words carry an odd jumble of emotions, from dry humor to regret, as though she hasn't quite decided how she feels about that yet. "And I'm doing my best to pick up all the pieces. It's hard, and- And I would dearly love to have you here. Gods know, there've been rumors of bandits at the outskirts, and with most of the fighting men gone, we could use someone to help train the smallfolk and defend the keep."
"I'd be far better at training them to defend the decks of a longship, but I suppose desperate times call for similar measure, or whatever they say," Tor answers with a nod of his head. "I'll help you as I may. If there is some fighting to be had I'm all the more likely to stay around. I'd hate to get bored, afterall." He snorts and then goes for the wine again. "Where'd all the men go, anyway?"
"Seagard first," Anais answers quietly, tucking a wisp of hair behind her ear as she looks back up to him. "It was under siege as well, and didn't fare much better than we did, from what I hear. Lord Jason Mallister died fighting them. And once they took Seagard back, it was on to the Iron Isles to take the fight back to them. The Golden Fleet was destroyed in the harbor at Lannisport," she adds, still stunned by that. "But I've heard the King himself has come to fight the squids now."
"I'd imagine that things will tie up rather nicely, then," the man states, giving a little shrug with his words as he speaks them. Then Tor's at the wine again, taking a long drink. "We would hope, anyway. The sooner things can get back to normal, the better. Land, feh." He shakes his head. "I hope I'm not hoping false that I would have a room here in your keep, m'lady?"
"Of course there's a room for you." Finally, Anais' smile softens into something more like it used to be, the corners of her eyes crinkling. "There's always room for family. Gods, Tor, but I'm glad you're here. I'm glad you're safe, I'm-" She stops, reaching for his hand once more. "I'm glad you're here. I know it isn't home, but I could use your help. And," she continues, smile quirking again, "While the whores might be in poor shape, the countryside is crawling with young, single noblewomen. Just in case you might be interested."
"Noblewomen or not, I might as well sieze my chance while the land is so deprived of men," Tor replies to his sister, giving a snicker at the thought. He finishes his wine and pushes to his feet. "It is good to see a familiar face. I'd grown sick of these downtrodden smallfolk all moaning and whining about life as it is." He cocks his head to the side slightly, cracking his neck as he does so. "Ah. Anyway, I'll be retiring now I think."
"Nina can show you where it's at," Anais offers, nodding to the small, dark, quiet girl who's been her handmaid since both were girls. "And perhaps tomorrow you can meet Lord Jerold, and we can start getting you out with the smallfolk." She pauses as she stands, smile deepening into a teasing grin. "Maybe the day after tomorrow. You might need to soak for a bit to get rid of that stench."
"I'm sure one of your maids can help soak me for a bit," Tor answers with a grin and a wink to his sister. "I'll try my very hardest." He snickers. "I'll help you as I am able, sister." He bows his head slightly toward her, though if it is mocking or not one couldn't say, then turns to follow after Nina.