|An Ungodly Hour|
|Summary:||Riordan wakes Valda at an unseemly hour. After seeing and hearing way more then he wanted to, he fills her in. Not like that.|
|Related Logs:||Nayland/Charlton tensions, and the aftermath of the Dance at Seagard.|
|A modest room but with a double bed that is crown in an oval headboard of maple, giving the room it's lighter look. A cream rectangular rug is angled in the center of the room. A chest for storing the visitor's goods is at the foot of the bed and a rich burgundy and cream cover settles over the bed. A hearth to the right of the windows which rests between it and the bed is done over with a iron screen meant to be removed when in use. A pair of chairs rest near the window and about a small circular table set with a candle. On the same wall as the door rests a low chest of drawers, a basin for water and a few wooden mugs rest there for use.|
|Tue Jun 26, 289|
It is the dead of night and Stonebridge sleeps. The only sounds are those of the nocturnal creatures in the nearby wood and a skeleton crew to keep Tordane Tower running smoothly. A sudden knock upon the door startles Valda awake…. sort of. She slips out from beneath her sheets and moves to her armoire. After choosing a diaphanous robe, a slow smile curves the widow's lips. Standing behind the door so her guards won't see her barely clothed, she opens it and warmly, "I told you I was out of moon tea. I was not being coy." She does not yet see the visitor, simply making a logical assumption.
Whatever time of night, or more likely morning at this point, Riordan assumed Valda would be in bed. So he was prepared to wait, and deal with being yelled at for the ungodly hour. This… was not what he expected. In fact, if Valda were to see his expression right now, she would see his mouth open slightly, frozen for a moment. Trying to wrap his brain around it. Finally, he just shakes his head, clears his throat, and murmurs, "Lady Valda, forgive me for the late hour." Or early one, as it were. "However, I must speak with you."
Even the slight delay has Valda growing suspicious, so she peeks her head around the door and lets out a small yelp upon seeing someone else entirely. And so it is, she does catch his expression, if briefly. Flushing with embarrassment, the Dowager immediately closes the door behind him. For a moment, she pulls the robe tightly around her; however, its translucent nature combines with the moonlight to produce a silhouette that does nothing to make the figure more modest.
Brow furrowing, she angrily stalks back to the wardrobe on long legs and throws the doors open to find something more appropriate. "I presume this is of the utmost urgency, Ser," she growls while searching.
The glance that Riordan gets is enough to cause him to turn, giving her a modicum of privacy while Valda busies herself becoming more appropriate. What little can be gained by such a situation, the two of them alone in her chambers at night, like this. "The Charltons are moving through Erenford lands. It seems they've crossed the Twins. We're still waiting to find out if they mean to make for here, or the Mire." So yes, to answer her question, it's urgent. Not only are the Charltons bestirring themselves at last, but they could only do so with at least the tacit blessing of the Lord of the Crossing, to be near Heronhurst.
"So my Lord Grandfather is simply allowing this." Valda yanks an opaque silk robe out and lets fall the one she is wearing. "Does he not see what the Charltons are doing?" While the immodest garment crumples in a heap by her feet, the widow skips into the dark green of the other. Turning around as she ties it, she continues. "They recently acquired Tall Oaks, now they want Stonebridge. They are placing themselves between the Freys and this land, taking direct revenue and giving their liege lord a percentage. Which means he will receive less than he does new, as the direct Lord above us. Furthermore…" She twists her flowing hair and pulls it over one shoulder, three best she can do at the moment. "They are seeing themselves up to usurp my Maiden House. Lord Grandfather must be made to see this." After a moment, she adds with annoyance, "For Seven's sake, turn around and face me."
Riordan turns as she bids, very pointedly meeting Valda's eyes. Nowhere else. Just to be safe. His own look tired. He hasn't slept yet, obviously just having returned to Stonebridge after a hard ride from Seagard. "You put it rather succicinctly, my lady," the Regent murmurs. "Which is why I would have you ride for the Twins, and speak to your Grandfather. Rutger will be joining you. Between the two of you, it is my hope you can get him to see sense."
Valda immediately nods. "And Ser Wayland. He is a son of Lord Frey, after all. Are we to leave this night?" Quite alert now, she seems ready to go. "I will do my best, butdo not deceive yourself in thinking he has any particular love for me. I am but one of many granddaughters."
"Whatever else I may think of you, Lady Valda, this I know - you will do what needs to be done. We both know what the Charltons gaining Stonebridge will do. The Bastard might have had a care for his sister. Lord Keegan will only see a pretender, an obstacle in his path." Riordan's words are spoken quietly, flatly, and utterly honestly. There is not a doubt in his mind that he is speaking the truth. "And even if the Charltons do not gain Stonebridge today, if they win the prisoners by posturing alone, it will weaken our position here. Which would mean that soon enough, Danae may well be residing in this very room before the new month is out." He lets that sink in, before he nods. "Take Ser Wayland with you, then, and leave when you are ready. Time is of the essence. I will buy you all that I can."
"I know well the price of failure," Valda replies icily. Her gaze drifts in the direction of her daughter's room. "Protect her and the babe with your life above all else, Ser, lest your cause be lost as well. Inform Ser Wayland and a servant. I will be at the stables within the hour, after I tell Ser Rutger."
"Ser Rutger is still at Seagard," Riordan informs her. He simply nods in response to the charge she lays before him, before he continues to speak. "He had to tend to some things, and then will ride for the Twins directly. He will meet you there."
"Oh, and Ser Riordan, what has House Nayland to offer Lord Frey for his… coming around to our way of thinking? Coin and opportunity are thicker than water at the Twins," Valda notes wryly.
"That is where you and Rutger come in. He'll know whatever can be spared, and you will know how to feed it to your Lord Grandfather, I trust." Riordan says this in a quiet voice, apparently too tired to come up with a more clever solution. Or maybe it is clever enough - Valda and Rutger are good at this sort of thing, after all.
"Then -you- shall have the joy of explaining to your Lord Father why he must part with whatever is negotiated. It will be good practice for you and he is a wise enough man to understand the importance of not withholding from one's liege lord, especially to keep one's lands." Valda dips her head to Riordan, then pauses. "I can hardly go to my grandfather as the Dowager Tordane and ask for anything aside from pity. Is my station as Castellan restored?"
"Defer to my Lord Brother in the matters of what House Nayland will spend, and for all that he might grumble, my father will be content," Riordan says quietly. At her request, he considers her, and instead of answering right away, says, "You should know that I intend to put my very life on the line for my family, Lady Valda. I have told Rutger to do whatever it takes to get your Grandfather's support. If we can get it, however, Lord Walder may well need to give Lord Charlton something to appease him." He pauses, seeming to end with that for a moment, but then he speaks again, just to make his point clear. "It may be that the life of the Mad Regent of Stonebridge is what is needed to end this. But on the chance that we all get out of this alive, I have made it clear to Rutger that I am done, after this. When the dust has settled and Stonebridge is fully ours once more, I will get my father to name him Regent, and betroth him to your daughter." He takes a breath, moving towards the door, but then turns back to her. "While I am still Regent, however, yes. You are returned to the position as my Castellan."
Valda is silent throughout the speech, waiting until she is certain he is finished. "Thank you, Lord Regent. That is very mature of you. And Lord Grandfather may yet appease him with a marriage of your sister instead. I shall confer with Ser Rutger and, as you day, defer to him."
"My sister is an old maid, and I am a mad knight. Do not let him forget it, if he would look for marriages within our House. My family has plenty coin to spend in that department, but my sister and I are spent. Do not let it come to the table, Lady Valda. We would not want to see negotiations crumble when he finds either of us unwilling to say the words." Riordan does not go into details, seeming content to leave it at that. And then he'll turn, and open the door to leave the room. "Travel safe, Lady Valda," he bids her, as he does.
"Wait, Ser, if you would." Valda peers suspiciously. "I am a widow and may or may not still have child-bearing years, and I would large to be paired with yet another fool. Yet, if that would help negotiations along, how could I even think to day no? Why are you and your sister unwilling to give similarly if yourselvesfor the sake of your House's best interests. Not that it us likely, but it is possible."
"Because we both have the chance for matches that would both benefit our house, and please us," Riordan says quite simply, glancing over his shoulder to her. He closes the door, turning to face her fully before speaking again. "My sister has given the first part of her womanhood to nothing but empty halls, and no cloak on her shoulders but the Harpy. And I… I have always given everything to my father, everything I am, and never asked for anything in return. I gave up my first love, and sullied the memory of it, without a thought. For my duty. I have bled and risked death, and do so again, and gladly. For my duty, for my house, for your very offspring. And now, both my sister and I have a chance to both do our duty with good marriages and find a bit of happiness." He pauses, before adding in a firmer tone, "And if that bit of sentiment does not move you, then know that we are not good matches anyhow for your Grandfather's house, and be content with that. The truth is, with the exception of Rutger, who is not much loved by the Freys as it is, and who is destined for Isoldes marriage bed, the only child of Rickart that would make a good marriage with your maidenhouse is my brother Raymond. He is a bit young yet, still a year away from being a knight, but that also means he has not yet had a chance to sully his reputation. So if you must use Nayland coin, use him. And barring that, I've plenty of cousins as well."
Valda slowly exhales, a silent sigh. She indeed seems unmoved by the sentiment involved. "I hope the matches you reach for shall secure lands and prosperity for House Nayland, then. For Freys are high above us and often require blood from the main line for marriage. Perhaps Raymond shall do. Good… morn, Ser."
"We all must do our duty, but there are times when we get the chance to enjoy doing it too. I would think you, of all people, could appreciate that, my Lady Castellan, and not begrudge others the same chance." Riordan says this very quietly and steadily, holding Valda's gaze for a moment longer. He waits a beat, before adding, "I will tell Ser Rygar that you will be leaving, so he knows to bid you a safe journey. Good morn, Lady Valda." And with that, he'll exit the room.
You paged Roslyn with 'ANd I just finished up the scene with: "We all must do our duty, but there are times when we get the chance to enjoy doing it too. I would think you, of all people, could appreciate that, my Lady Castellan, and not begrudge others the same chance." Riordan says this very quietly and steadily, holding Valda's gaze for a moment longer. He waits a beat, before adding, "I will tell Ser Rygar that you will be leaving, so he knows to bid you a safe journey. Good morn, Lady Valda." And with that, he'll exit the room.'
Valda sniffs at the comment about enjoying duty. After all, enjoying Rygar is not only not part of her duty, but expressly against his as a husband. Still, when that comment reaches her wars, she instinctively tugs her tone tighter again, as though Riordan might otherwise see what he should not… never mind the fact he already has. Quickly, she moves to pack for the journey.