|Summary:||Tyroan brings up a couple of matters of moment with Taleryth.|
|Related Logs:||Trial By Combat alluded to|
|Map Room, Tordane Tower|
|Tyroan's musty cubby hole|
|30th November, 289|
Tyroan has requested the presence of the Maester in his map room before the family departs for Heronhurst. For once, the aging Steward is not pouring over some ledger, but rather perched up on one of the high chairs, his feet kicked up against one leg of the table. He rolls a pair of walnuts between his palms, staring through them, through the tabletop beyond, and theoretically right through the Tower around him, apparently lost in thought.
The Tower's young Maester looks lost neither in thought, nor space, nor even time, that perilous realm of doubt, and memory, and regret. He is sharply balanced on top of the proverbial ball, as he wafts into the newly established and none too spacious war room of Nayland operations, his rather fine, arched nose only wrinkled to the most discreet degree imaginable.
"My lord? Would you like me to set an agenda of concerning matters as I see them before you, or would you rather the questions were your own?", he begins, assiduous as a hound and wary as a hare.
Tyroan looks up at the immediately-verbose Maester, gathering up both walnuts in one hand and rolling them together for a moment to find the right balance between them. He then squeezes his gnarled fingers, and one of them cracks, popping open to expose the meat within. "Looking for your fucking opinion on a couple points, Maester. Then if you've got anything else to fucking add, you're welcome to it." He sets the whole nut and the shell of the shattered into a bowl at his elbow, picking through the remnants for the biggest chunks of meat. "First, what do you know about the fucking barges?"
No more does Maester Taleryth flinch, as though sidestepping a blow and at that not quite fast enough, whenever his current superior deploys his favourite piece of fruity vocabulary, but instead, and probably not consciously, he nods gravely at each of Tyroan's vile oaths. So in this instance, thrice he nods, and in sober mien…
"The Citadel advises a harsh, but crucial course for those of my order in this situation," he murmurs, "…so I confess I know nothing, my liege, nor yet have I enquired, as no one told me the boat's loss touched upon the safety or prosperity of the House I serve…directly. Indirectly, such a mysterious disappearance so close by is naturally cause for worry, but worry, I had assumed, …more in Ser Karel's sphere than mine."
"Ser Rygar, actually." That would be the Sheriff, although he's been busy with family business lately. Tyroan makes the correction off-hand, however, and continues without pause, "Anything that disrupts trade up and down the fucking Green Rill," and here he does pause, dumping the last of the shell fragments into the bowl with the other walnets and offering out one of the chunks of nut meat, "Or fucking across it, matters to Stonebridge. I sent a barge up-river. It's a fucking sandbar. A godsdamned new fucking sandbar." That's a bit more than usual even for him, and a grimace twists his features, "It's gonna fucking cost us. Us and the Birds." That would be the Erenfords, of course. "We just have to figure out how much. I want you to look into it."
"Ah, yes, him," the maester agrees abstractedly, as if appending his assent to a formality, "of course, my lord steward…" Then he settles down to hear out his employer's pithy summary of what seems to be the problem. That seems to reassure him rather than otherwise; no sinister outlawry, but the merest and most literal (or littoral?) of natural obstacles. Brightening at his own internal pun, he nods,
"It will be done directly, Ser Tyroan. The calculation, that is. As for an improvement of the river passage's state, that may require more time, and I would hardly call myself much of an engineer…but…I shall take counsel, perhaps with Maester Althalos…and it is a wholly rational, soluble hindrance. Soon you will have forgotten it ever bothered you. What next, then, my lord?" Taleryth seems to slip between addressing his master with all manner of ranks, as if minutely attuned to the Steward's fluid prospects and potential.
Tyroan nods his head slowly, popping a half of the walnut into his mouth and chewing on it as the Maester speaks. "Talk to whoever the fuck you need to. The Tower, the docks, Heronhurst… send a raven to the fucking Citadel if you have to. Just find me a way to fix things on the fucking cheap." There's a pause, and he grunts softly, "If it brings the Erenfords closer to us, all the fucking better." Shifting on his semi-comfortable chair, the Steward leans forward, bracing his hands on the edge of the table, "What do you think we should do about the fucking Ashwoods? Their shitstain of a Lord has shown he means to keep fucking with us, so I've a mind to fuck right back."
Music to this Maester's ears, that last suggestion…he has a number of southern correspondents he'd love this excuse to check upon. So, positively beaming, he has enough self assurance to ease himself from his hovering position into a chair opposite the Bootleather Harpy's. The next question is thornier, but seems to give him, if more trouble, then more relish, too…
"Fiscal sanctions, my lord, have, no doubt, already been included in your plans. More fundamental…mischief may be required to leave Ser Aleister with a sting he remembers. The new House displays a fine show of unity, and some among your…our foes might fault us for lagging behind it, when Naylands seem to betray, to try, to wrangle with each other so unfortunately frequently. If there was some way of introducing equal dissension among your lordship's adversaries…"
Tyroan nods his bald head sharply, "I've been looking into just how fucking high I can raise tariffs on them before it gets cheaper to just fucking ship it over the ferry at Heronhurst." A bit of a sneer touches the aged features at the mention of wrangling with one another, "We're almost done putting Rickart's idiot sons back into line. But you're damned right. Maybe I'll send Jocelyn to talk to the shitstain's youngest brother. He's plenty fucking nice, if a bit soft in the head. If he's playing nice with us, and we're hitting the shitstain with high tariffs… what do you think?"
"Just so," the youthful maester seconds in his soothing southern voice. "And for this gentle young Ashwood lord, of course, there could, would, be reasonable concessions. Concessions enough to emphasise how deep is your displeasure with the rest of the line. That is of a piece, my lord, with what we might call the warcraft of the coin…"
The maester's long, olive-tanned fingers dance on board and vellum map alike. "But neither should we ignore the warcraft of the tongue, and of the cloak. The new House is rich in the unwed, and where bachelors and maids tread, there can always be trouble. Or at least talk. It may even be that some of the younger, more unproven of your nephews could earn their spurs yet, if you encouraged them to ride off and make hay with Ashwood hearts…and then…"
Taleryth frowns, pausing, as if mildly suspicious of his own words, then plunges, "This marriage with the Groveses. It should not be permitted. Somehow, cheat that Young Lord of his second betrothed's reputation. By truth or by…half-truth." Which any son of the Citadel knows is no truth at all.
Tyroan barks a laugh, "Too bad the fuckwit's on the out and outs and isn't likely to fucking do anything I tell him to. He'd be perfect for spreading the legs of some wolf bitches." A reference, of course, to the heraldry of the new house. The mention of Young Lord Groves, on the other hand, draws a grunt of consideration from the older man, "Maybe suggest to Lord Frey that if the Groves are going to make such close ties to our side of the river, it should be to a Frey who becomes Young Lady." He waves a hand slightly, "Taking the wolf bitch's maidenhead — or saying it's been done — that would suit too. I'll think on it. Do you have anything you want to fucking bring up?"
"Or a combination of counterbids and slander, the both," the maester cuts in jovially. For such a clean-living, well, just plain clean, young fellow, he's remarkably blithe about scheming to ruin a chaste damsel's name; perhaps there's something in the rumour he himself comes of less than pure and virtuous extraction. "The Groveses would never resist a rich Frey against an Ash-bough with her honour blasted! And if a Frey compact came with a change of overlords for House Groves…I fancy House Frey would be pleased enough for Lord Walder to speak little enough of Ladies Isolde or Valda. I can see you as my lord indeed yet, Ser Tyroan. If that will be all…? My ravens will be in need…"
They probably won't, actually, as he spoils them regularly enough, but it's as good an excuse as any.
Tyroan nods his head at the first, evidently not particularly worried about scheming to ruin the honor of a maiden himself. Chortling softly, he notes, "I think the Mallisters might squawk pretty fucking loud if the Groves deserted them, but the Groves might jump at the chance." The latter words, however, draw a shake of the man's head, although the words he speaks are so carefully phrased as to almost defy his usual growl, "I serve as Steward to the Lady Isolde, Maester. That's it." There is, of course, an unstated 'for now,' but it's very, very unstated. The request to withdraw is greeted with a wave of one hand, "Go on. Think on the fucking sandbar and the shitstain's sisters and nieces."
With a smile that leaves just a little doubt as to how convinced he is by Tyroan Nayland's touching profession of fidelity to his notional Lady, young Maester Taleryth accordingly withdraws, his tread as soft as ever. He does yet not know it, but his next task will be an errand far less tranquil.