|Summary:||A sullen, stubborn Arthfael is joined by an even more bull headed and stubborn Ser Harold at the Highfield inn after the boy's long stint on latrine digging duty at the war camp.|
|Ash and Oak Inn, Higfield|
|Room desc goes here! (If it had one!)|
|September 24th, 289|
It's taken some days to break up the camp. The very last of the men are coming up from the south and with them a very tired boy. Arthfael slept himself out and this morning he's seated in the pub eating a bowel of porridge. His hands are wrapped with strips of cloth ripped from his tunic, washed out and reused again. His fingers and his grip are stiff but he picks up the spoon and eats his meal in silence. His lute is no where to be seen, his left boot likewise wrapped with strips of leather because the sole is wearing out.
The summer morning finds the public house a bit busier, now that men are returning to Highfield. There's laughing, men breaking their fast and pleased to be returned. Many of whom will continue on to Holyholt, but some of whom belong here. The door is left standing wide open and a moderately pretty girl is sweeping the floor, pushing the dust and dirt out the door while the place airs out from the evening before.
Harold seemed infected by the somber mood of the keep. Not enough that infant death now clung to its walls, but rumors of kin attacking kin. There was a grim expression on his face, and beneath his grey eyes rolled thunderclouds waiting to strike lightning wrath. Slowly and ponderously he moved into the inn, like a man older than the years he'd lived. His eyes passed across the girl sweeping the floors, a brief and largely indifferent glance that didn't linger. From her to the rest of the interior and the crowd. Naturally then his gaze eventually found young Arthfael.
"Give me a tankard of light beer, and some cheese," he barked out his request, before walking over to join the bastard boy. A guttural grunt of relief passed his lips by when he sank down, taking the strain off his knees. The right one was bothering him, swollen form a miststep while blade practicing.
"Enjoyed your stint in the army?"
Ah crap. If he had only heard or seen Ser Harold first, Arthfael would have made himself scarce. You bet your ass he would have. As it is, he's got his spoon in his mouth, half awake and looking sullen. He pulls the spoon out and watches the other man with a look that suggests he wished Ser Harold hadn't walked into the inn, "No, not at all. Ser." Arthfael remembers belatedly to tack that rank-thing honorific on there. The spoon is put down, no longer wanting his meal but he'd eaten most of it already. To lay there like a stone in his stomach. The lad has set his hands into his lap, beneath the table where Harold won't stare at them though likely he'll be mocked anyway. He meets the older man's eyes and says nothing else.
<FS3> Harold rolls Alertness: Great Success.
"Didn't think you would've," he said with a grunt. The girl had been quick to tap some of the light beers and rush it over, having recognized who Harold was. Though likely she would have made speed regardless, if for no other reason than the knights and nobles who had returned from the failed battle of Stonebridge were in a short mood in general.
He took a slow swallow, watching Arthfael closely with that steady weight of consideration that was his habit. Like he was making a judgement.
"Are you ashamed of your hands, boy? Don't be. It's proof you've got grit, willingness to continue even when you're in pain, even when you're hating every fucking moment of it. Talent.. is a good thing to have. Determination and willpower, they'll get you a lot further, though. You can waste talent, but you'll never waste will."
Arthfael has plenty of stubborn. He doesn't bring his hands back up on the table and he stares at his 'uncle', not flinching from being looked over. "I'm not ashamed. I /would/ like to be able to play my lute." But that's not happening for a while. The lad watches Harold in turn, expecting the man to be pleased at his inability. "I won't miss practice though. /If/ I'm still going to be allowed to train with the axe and spear." He probably shouldn't prod and dare Harold to take that from him. "I aint no slacker, Ser." Arthfael is annoyed enough that he's not even speaking like a commoner born lad, like he usually does. Or well, mostly he's not.
"You still want it, then." It was said with grudging approval, while Harold took some of the cut up cheese from the plate just delivered at the table, and matched it with a swallow of beer.
"Aye. You can continue to train, boy. You'd do well to pick up the bare minimum of the sword, too. I'll leave word to arrange some lessons. The axe and spear is more practical, but no weapon compares to the sword. Any would be warrior needs to at least know how to handle it without cutting himself. It'll teach you a few tricks on how to counter it, too."
"I aint got a sword. Never afford one. I could make a waster though." Hmmm, yes, he could do that. Arthfael is somewhat less sullen at that prospect. He has no money to replace his boots, but maybe his grandpa will let'm have some of his coin from selling things he's made. Grumpy son of a fornicating goat. The lad pushes his bowel away to get it out of his face and lays his hands on the table. "Thanks, unc… Ser." He's still in no mood to talk much, especially to this man. Arthfael waits to be dismissed or something, not getting up nor ordering anything to drink. Watching the Charlton lord likely reminds him that he's got to avoid Harold's snooty wife too, that mean Serica. He's not looking much like the happy lad from Holyholt anymore. "May I be excused? I hav' duties, Ser Harold."
"Not on your own, but if you're ever taken into a House's service, they'll supply you with arms and armor. Do you think you'll impress a Master at Arms looking to increase a Keep's number if you can't even hold a sword properly?" From Harold's tone of voice, *he* certainly wouldn't have taken on any man with such a deficiency in his weapons training. "I said I'd arrange the lessons." Which meant of course that the training swords would be brought out, too. It really didn't sound like it was a question up for debate, so much as Harold informing the boy how it was going to be.
"Aye. Begone, then. Ah. Though you should probably know I'm likely to return with the Hollyholt knight. There'll be a new Master at Arms, though I'll make sure your arrangement continues.. in some fasion or the other. And I'll still come around, likely." Just not be present as a permanent resident, though that had never been the intention in any event. He'd been a temporary fix, until Aleister had knights of his own to take on the job.
There's a nod from Arthfael. Then the last has his full attention. "What about me? I'm supposed tae return tae Holyholt - eventually, right? Or … am I of this House, now?" The lad really isn't sure how these things work. "All right. I'll be learn'n th' sword. I really do prefer th' axe though. I appreciate ye let'm me try, Ser. I really do want tae learn. Then I kin do carpentry when things be peaceful like, and go tae fight when men are needed. Lest I get good enough, like ye say, that I could get tak'n on as a Man-at-arms." Seems maybe he's given up on squiring, but a Man-at-arms is almost as good as a knight, right? Or well, more possibly attainable.
Arthfael moves to stand but he doesn't go yet.
"Eventually, aye. Unless you stay and take an oath to Highfield, you're on loan," Harold said with a shrug. He was going through the cheese pretty slow, taking a nibble here, a nibble there, then washing it down with the beer. His gaze never really left the young boy, though, quietly watchful, picking him apart while eating.
"Axe is a good weapon. Not much finesse, but.." he shrugged. Commoners were hardly the epitomes o finesse in any event. "But you never know if you'll have the bloody weapon in hand you prefer. A warrior who means his business, learns them all to a certain fucking degree."
"Men at arms live well enough. Better living than most. A place in the Hall, food and shelter in winter." Not quite the same as being a knight, true, but the second best thing. "You had duties?"
The lad stands there listening, gives a nod about whatever weapons lay to hand. That makes sense. "Yeah, grandpa wants me work'n on a cabinet today. I hav' tae finish it, 'n also I be work'n on the Sept stuff for Lady Cherise. She had me up tae rework some o' the designs th' Master drew for her. That was afore th' .. baby died." And before he went south to show up at the camp, rascal that he turns out to be. "Th' cabinet is for th' new Septon, when he comes. I get tae work on lots of carv'n on it if I finish it timely. If'n I do /really/ good on it, they maybe won't go back 'n rework it 'n let me put me own mark on it." Maybe.
Arthfael frowns, "Aint got much seasoned wood though. Need tae cut'n load more intae th' kilns tae fire it dry." That part is not fun. He gives a bow and removes himself.
A small frown passed across Harold's features at the mention of Cherise, but otherwise he paid it no mind. Took instead another swallow from his beer. "Then I suggest you run along," he said firmly, an obvious dismissal, while the knight was left behind to think. And drink. And ponder. And think. And drink some more, until the beer was out and he'd roll back up to the keep.