|As Any Man|
|Summary:||A vassalage is set in ink and Danae negotiates her terms.|
|Related Logs:||Familial Allegiances|
|East Bank — Stonebridge|
|Tents. They are not terribly exciting, but there is wine.|
|May 4, 289 A.L.|
Since word was set ahead, the meager settings of the pavilion have been prepared for Lord Aleister Charlton's visit with a small table boasting a pair of cups and a bottle of a deep red. Danae is folded into one of the seats, elbows resting upon the table and fingers twined to offer a pillow for her chin. Beneath the lacy veil of lashes, blue eyes are sharp with thought as she stares at the neck of the bottle. The lady is well into her days of mourning with her hair neatly pinned and black as onyx gown, a bruise, lingering in its purples, on her face.
Not bothering to conceal his presence as he makes his way towards the pavilion that serves as Danae's home, he pauses at the entrance to it, long enough to announce himself and then he's stepping past the flap and into the pavilion proper. A quick flit of his eyes allows them to settle upon her and there's a slight incline of his head before he's moving forward, towards the table to which she is seated, "Cousin. I trust you are well enough?"
That sharp gaze slips from her consideration of the bottle's slim, fine neck to that of her goodcousin's fair features with nary a bat of her lash. A courteous smile curves over Danae's mouth as she inclines her chin in greeting. "Fair as morning the morning, cousin. If somewhat more purple. And yourself?"
There's a curve of Aleister's lips to a smirk and a slight lift of his shoulders as he moves to claim a seat at the table, "As well as can be expected, I should suppose. Certainly not as .. sore as you, cousin." Lookie … cups and that's promptly what he's reaching for, so that he can fill it with wine. "I am having six men assigned to you for protection, Danae. All will be wearing non discript colors and will not be traceable back to my House." Nothing like going straight to matters of business.
Exhaling a soft breath that doesn't alter the pitch of her smile, Danae awkwardly shifts her shoulders in mild discomfort, watching Aleister's lift easy lift of his own with a touch of jealously. "I would say it looks far worse than it feels, but that would be untrue," the Tordane lady demurs, arching her brows slightly at his announcement. "A wise precaution with uncertain elements still on the table. I take it that your attempt to meet with the High Lord Charlton went well then, cousin?"
The hint of a chuckle escapes past Aleister's lips as he offers an incline of his head in the direction of Danae, "Pain will pass and bruises will fade and soon, it will be nothing but a memory." Settling back into the chair, his fingers begin to tap idly against the side of his cup, "Quite well, actually. With his arrival in Stonebridge, much was discussed and decided, amongst the fact that he will want to meet with you." Now, a slight pause is taken, long enough for him to lift his cup to his lips to claim a sip of wine. "Tell me, Danae, how badly do you wish the Naylands gone from Stonebridge?"
Once Aleister has filled his own cup, Danae moves too fill her own with a subtle quirk of her mouth. "As it is known to be," she murmurs, watching as the deep red colour fills the cup. Drop by drop. "Excellent. I am sure it will be a pleasure and an honor." The bottle is returned to the table with a graceful motion. "Eagerly, but not unlawfully," she offers after minute, pursing her mouth in consideration of the question. "It will be too hard to hold a city in discontent, should we not have the backing of great Lords. I would have this business done for one and all when we finish it."
To the first of what she says, Aleister is giving a simple nod of his head before claiming another sip of the wine from his cup. Then, when she draws to a close, there's a quiet chuckle that escapes past his lips, "Oh, you needn't worry about unlawfully, dear cousin." There's a moment of quiet, one that comes with the smirk that returns to his lips before it's broken as he begins to continue, "I have spoken with my uncle and he has agreed with me in that the Naylands should be removed from Stonebridge. By force, if necessary. As such, we will be moving men from Hollyholt, northward and then westward to where my lands will be, under the guise of protection from banditry. Then, when the time is right, they will make the short march south, to see that you can claim and hold that which is yours."
"Dear cousin," Danae murmurs with a slight, sharp smile as she regards the man who sits across the table from her with approval. "Remind me to never to play cryvasse with you…or play it with you often, I haven't quite decided which." She lifts her cup in a delicate toast, then takes a sip of her wine. "I presume he'll wish for me to swear before then? I know that the Lord Blackwood is recently arrived, I understand that he wishes to speak with me on the current matters."
A quick laugh escapes past Aleister's lips as he gives a slight incline towards her once again, "Probably never, dear cousin." His own glass comes to lift into that toast and as it's lowered, he's offering, "I would imagine that he would. To see that his own interests are protected. After all, this is quite a move for our House and once that does not come lightly. But, you have our support, so much so that my Lord Uncle will be sending word to the Lord of the Crag, to urge his support of your marriage." Another quick sip comes to be claimed before he's setting the cup down, "And yes, Lord Blackwood has arrived and I can imagine that he will wish to speak with you. I do believe my Uncle plans to speak with him, as well, on this matter."
"We shall see." An almost smile flits across her mouth that never touchs her eyes, amused at the prospect. There is a touch of surprise that shades Danae's features at that particular nugget of information, the mild angle of her brows revealing more of her disbelieve. "Well," she begins, pausing to take a sip of wine, wetting her words. "I had already written the Lord of the Crag to explain myself and offer to rescind my position as Envoy, in the face of my relation's displeasure…but. That would change things." There is a sparkle of mirth in her eyes at that, lightening her pale eyes. They both know what the Westerling foundations are like. "I will move my pleasure to relish at meeting your fine Lord Uncle, cousin, then," she offers gently, angling her head in a gesture of gracious thanks. "It is no slight more for anyone. I hope your Uncle's meeting goes well…so much as I hope my own does."
At this particular moment, Danae and Aleister are seated within the Tordane Pavilion, each with a cup of wine in their hand an conversing amongst themselves. Something that she says draws a faint chuckle from the Charlton Knight and a quick nod of his head, "An ever changing game is now being played, cousin, but one that would see you the victor in all things that matter." Once more the cup comes to his lips, this time the wine being drained from within before he's setting it aside, "I imagine his meetings will go well enough. He knows well how to speak to others and to point out the value of certain thing and situations. A valuable Lord to have as an ally and one that I would not wish as an enemy."
"Nor should you," says Lord Ser Keegan Charlton as he lets himself into the pavilion, the drape of the door held aside by a servant that he might pass without actually touching it. He swings his great, fur-trimmed cape behind him, and spares not a moment looking about before a chair is brought in by another attendant. "Nephew," he greets Aleister, though he looks at Danae. For all his ostentatious dress and somewhat flamboyant entrance, the eyes that appraise her are sharp and quick, taking her in as he sits. "Lady Tordane," he greets her, after that inventory is completed.
"My Lord Ser Charlton," the Lady Tordane greets with a gracious smile, rising smoothly from her seat to execute an elegant curtsey. Her black skirts sweep low and utterly appropriate in her angle of deference; she looks up at him from under blonde lashes for a moment with an appraising look for her own. In her mourning blacks, Danae is the picture of a proper widow, but for the ugly bruise across her cheek. "You grace us with your presence, my Lord. My good cousin was just bringing me news from within the town." Another cup is quickly found for the Lord, wine poured and delicate offered.
At the sound of that voice, Aleister is rising from his seat, long enough to turn and offer a bow in the direction of his Uncle, along with a quick, "Uncle." Then, he's reclaiming his seat, hands now coming to clasp together in his lap as he watches his uncle settle himself and be treated to a glass of wine, "I was just letting the Lady Tordane know of the additional men that she will receive, amongst other things. With most of the Naylands occupied amongst themselves, I had thought this be a prudent time to speak with her."
"And what have you to say to that, Lady Tordane?" asks Lord Keegan, with a lift of one steely-grey brow as he settles in the chair he brought with him, and accepts the wine offered, sipping, "To the news my nephew has brought and the men we intend to provide to see to your safety?"
"That you are a wise and reputable man; I would be happy to swear my vassallage when it best suits you, my Lord," replies Lady Danae, blue eyed gaze calm, clear and unflinching. A gentle smile curves her mouth, sweet and ladylike as can be. "And that with it, you have my thanks and loyalty," she swears, an anchor of steel within her soft words.
As Keegan addresses Danae directly, Aleister simply falls quiet, choosing this instance to simply look between Lady and Lord, listening to what's said and regarding each of the individuals as they speak.
"Ha!" Keegan Charlton laughs abruptly, "You would call me wise, were I to take your part, wouldn't you?" He chuckles to himself, and then nods, "Very well, then, Lady Tordane. If we are to take this any farther, I will have your loyalty and your vassalage today. Why waste any time, hmm? I am here and so are you." He gestures in a vague, 'Well then, get to it' sort of way at Danae.
Danae's only reply to that is a smooth, gracious smile as she inclines her head in agreement to the Lord Charlton's words. "I would call you wise for else, my Lord. Certainly in this as well," she demures lightly. "As you say." The words of vassalage learned in the West may not match those of the Riverlands precisely, but the meaning is rote as they fall from Danae's lips. She has learned those of law and writ as well as any man of her class and she does not falter to pronounce them now.
There's but a hint of a smirk that casts itself upon Aleister's lips at the banter of being called wise, but it's quickly hidden behind the rise of the cup to his lips so that he might claim a sip of wine from within. When it lowers and the words of vassalage are spoken, he's dipping an incline of his head in the direction of Danae, followed by that of a smile.
Lord Keegan listens, and request a brief addition not normally found in the Westerlands version of fealty, and then nods. "Very well," he says, "Minor regional differences aside, that will do, Lady. My secretary has had a written version prepared for your signature," he gestures and an attendant steps forward to unroll a document, offering pen and ink, "And then we shall be settled on this. Provided, of course, that you are with child," he adds, gaze narrowing on her slightly, "I understand it may be some time before you have confirmation. I do expect to be kept informed."
The addition is added without complaint and she accepts the pen and ink, settling the former into a calligrapher's hold. "Would my Lord prefer to wait on the writ until my child is formally known?" Danae inquires lightly, stilling her hand before the pen might touch the paper. Her voice is gentle, soft and resonable. "It is an understandable consideration in the light of the law. Regardless of your choice, you will be kept so, my Lord."
"Your lord would not prefer that," replies Keegan, gesturing in invitation towards her pen-bearing hand, "If you have no child, Lady, then you have no claim, and our agreement will be null and void and neither of us need trouble ourselves over it any further. Please do sign now.
"As you wish, my Lord," Danae replies with a solemn nod. She does not, however, lay the pen to the paper immediately. A merchant's keen eyes scan the written document, lingering over an article or so to read it twice before moving on. The slight Tordane Lady does not speak as she works through the legal terms with ease. "The revenues articles are all well turned, in regards to repaying incurrent expensives in both the allocation of your men and collection of the hold. However…Do I share your veto power in the terms of any future matches on my behalf?" She inquires, gaze appraising as it shifts from the document to the Lord Ser across from her. "And to whom would such a castellan report?"
Keegan watches as Danae reads, keen gaze settled wholely upon the would-be Lady of Stonebridge. He chuckles as she praises the craftsmanship of the contract, and replies, "The castellan would ultimately report to me or my successors, though I imagine it would be difficult for him to execute his job without any communication with you or yours. And as for veto power, no. You would marry who I choose." The words hold a challenge, and he faint amusement mingled with curiosity enters his watchful gaze as he awaits a response.
Pale eyes sparkle with a glint of something that might be challenge as Danae regards him directly, gesturing towards the contract with a delicate motion. "Oversight is of course well within your perogative, my Lord. However, it must be seen to that your castellan — whomever is your gracious selection — understand that their actions are to be dully reported and accounted for on both ends. It would be difficult to suggest the best actions of a household when it is operated independently from within," she notes gently, arching her brows. "A succesful hold is a unified one." The end of the pen taps lightly on the table, in a thoughtful staccato. "You will not suggest a match until my period of mourning is at an end. So long as Stonebridge functions as successfully as any Lord would be capable, I do not see why a power to veto my own matches, and those of my child, should be disallowed, my lord? I am not hostile to proper matches, but…discord can unsettle even the most immaculate holding."
As Danae and Keegan enter into negotations over the terms of the vassalage, Aleister is claiming his cup and rising from his seat. There, he paces over in the direction of the tents entrance, long enough so that he can look outside for a moment before turning back to the pair, listening and remaining ever quiet, though still seemingly interested in the conversation at hand.
Lord Charlton hears Danae's responses, and sips his wine. "And how would you propose I measure your success thusly?" he asks, "Understanding of course," he smiles, "That the chances of you having any holding about which to quibble are slim to none without my backing. But come then, lady, tell me how you would have it written instead," he invites, waiting.
"You are too gracious," Danae allows with a smile, lifting her own glass in a short toast and only taking the slightest of sips to make it thus. She knows her position. "You have your own terms laid before you, my Lord. Excellent as they are, I should think that they are no less than you would hold before any man in my position? Give me the opportunity to meet them, should I fail at that…I have no rights to object to any marriage that you would level upon me."
The lord of Hollyholt sips his wine, casting a glance toward his nephew before he looks back to Danae. "And if I refuse?" he inquires.
Looking over towards his Uncle, Aleister allows the hint of a smirk to slip upon his lips before he's looking over in the direction of Danae and then back again, "It is a fair counter, Uncle, and one that guarentees coin to your coffers." A quick sip is then claimed, "Plus, it is not as if I will be so far from Stonebridge that I can not scare away any .. unsavory suitors." A flit of his eyes to Danae and he's offering the hint of a smile.
"I am not unaware of my position, my Lord, nor my gender. I just think to better serve you plainly with my few talents… the Crag thought enough of me to put me in a man's place as Envoy, I could envision much more for Stonebridge," Danae replies softly, frank in her gaze as in her intonation. There is a glint in her pale eyes as she catches Aleister's flit, expression courtly and becoming as she regards the Chalton Lord.
Lord Keegan casts a glance toward his nephew, "And is coin all I care about?" He awaits a response before barking a laugh, and turning his gaze back towards Danae. "Very tactfully replied, Lady," he says, and after another over-long pause he nods sharply, "Very well. You shall not be wed within your period of mourning, which is not to extend past the traditional length of time, which will also ensure there be no question—" he pauses, to chuckle again, and amend, "No additional question, as to the parentage of your child. You will have a grace period of some six months, after which should your revenues fall below," he names a reasonable, realistic sum, "You will lose your right to contest any husband I may choose for you. Aldrich, add it," he directs, snapping a finger towards the document. A secretary appears, pen at the ready, and with a polite little bow steps around Danae to edit the document. Lord Ser Keegan lifts a brow, "Anything else, lady?"
Looking back towards his Uncle, Aleister flashes the hint of a grin and a slight lift of his shoulders before offering, "For the most part." Then, he's silent again, listening to the addition to the terms and giving a slight nod of his head before promptly finishing off his wine.
"No, my Lord," Danae replies with a touch more brightness to her eyes that she had upon beginning the conversation. A challenge made and well met. "I think these terms are apt, fair, suitable and entirely gracious." Once the ink has dried on the ink of the document, she takes up the pen to add the elegant curve of her new name — pausing on her recently gained surname only for a moment.
"Good," replies Lord Charlton, with an assessing glance and a chuckle to follow. He watches her sign, in triplicate, and then has his scribes see the ink dried and the documents rolled up and stowed to travel. "Well, Lady Tordane," he says as he rises, cup plucked from his outstretched hand, chair lifted and removed from the room behind it, "It has been a productive afternoon. We will be in touch through my nephew." He offers her his hand.
When the Lord Charlton rises, the Lady Tordane rises with him, inclining her features towards her liege lord with smile. "That it has, my Lord. Well met. You have brightened my day," she replies, taking his extended hand in her own and sweeping into a deeper curtsey than even before. The picture of the elegant vassal with her bowed head and deference, outwardly at least.
Lord Charlton smiles, at this show of respect, and raises Danae with a slight upward pressure on her hand. "May we be well met when next we meet as well, Lady," he says, with a narrow little smile. He tips his head in polite farewell, and releases her hand before sweeping out of the tent, one retainer and guard preceeding him, several more along with his cloak and his chair following in his wake.