|Banefort to Tordane|
|Summary:||Sterling delivers the greetings of the Baneforts to Valda.|
|Related Logs:||None especially|
|Northern Flood Fields|
|Through small foot paths north lead to flood fields, some rolling hills but treachours areas where the rivers filter in to create small marshes. The area is hard to navigate if one has not traveled it before. A few scrub trees mark the landscape but on the higher hills stands of majestic beeches and oak offer shade and canopies for weary travelers.|
|23 April, 289 A.L.|
The sky is grey, befitting the mood of Lady Tordane this day. Some less kind tongues may wag that her dark mood has caused the foul weather, for she is willful enough to stand up to the Seven and demand such. Currently, she wears an emerald gown with golden vine filigree.
On her arm, held out before her, sits a hawk of exceptional breeding atop a thick leather glove the lady wears. The creature's eyes are sharp and cold, as dark as its lady's are light. One might say they make quite the pairing. One might also not be heard from again.
Sterling has talked to men-at-arms, he's talked to a few common knights, and he's even talked to common-folk at work and at rest. Now he finds himself riding around Stonebridge astride a greying horse that looks as unremarkable as him at first glance. Second glance, or a keen eye for horseflesh, might note that the horse has a deep chest suggesting a great deal of endurance. What the horse does not have, however, is nimble feet, and the marshy land between the hillocks has evidently given him trouble. Mud has splashed up his legs and even onto his stomach, and Sterling has not escaped the stain of mud either, with one boot nearly covered and the other slimed up to the ankle. The knight has dismounted to lead his steed up one of the hills, only to find a pair of hawk-like gazes at the top of it — one of them is even a hawk. There's a twist of a grimace across his lips, and then he ducks into a bow, silent in case the lady does not wish to address him.
The pair of men-at-arms and maid who seemed to all blend in with the trees, so rigidly do they stand, look over toward the newcomer in silence. Once the quick assessment is made that he is no risk, they return to their statuesque states.
Valda lifts her arm, sending the bird up to the heavens as it searches for prey. Fortunately, Sterling is not currently on that list. Only then does the last Tordane flick her gaze toward the man. "Rise, man. Have you a message for me?"
Sterling rises as he is bid, his face carefully composed. He doesn't bother trying to scrape off mud from his boots, apparently knowing that attempting it now will just make him look foolish. His eyes flicker over to the guards and the maid, then return immediately to the hunting lady. When he speaks, his voice is carefully modulated to be respectful, even obsequious, despite its natural roughness, "I had not come riding to deliver a message, Lady." There's a pause as keen grey-green eyes study the woman, "But I do have words for the Lady Valda Tordane or Lord Regent Riordan Nayland from my own Lord, Lord Banefort." Something about his tone suggests that he's figured out she's the former of those two worthies, or at least probably is.
Valda's brow and chin lift slightly as she looks up to the tall man. "You have found her." Overhead, a keen, loud cry emits from her hawk, cutting through the air. The creature suddenly dives down, hidden beneath the trees as it goes after its prey. Several heartbeats later, the bird rises again with a sizeable rabbit limp in its talons as it calmly flies back toward its lady.
Sterling looks up at the keening cry, a smile spreading across his lips for just a moment, "A fine hunter you have, Lady Tordane." The smile is gone again as he turns his attention back to her, dipping his head once more, "Lord Banefort bid me visit the houses of the Cape, Lady Tordane, and offer his greetings and his hope that House Banefort might find common cause with houses throughout the Cape. The Lord and Lady know that while the ironborn have been defeated for now, they will return, and wish to keep close relations with all houses of the Cape, to ensure that such a reaving does not happen again."
Hearing the wings flapping nearby, Valda lifts her arm without looking. The hawk drops the animal near the Tordane's feet, then lands upon the thick glove. The young maid dashes out and stuffs the carcass into a bag without a word. Looks like rabbit's on the menu tonight.
"I cannot speak for House Nayland," Valda begins evenly. Words which more than one would whisper to be false. "However, I am quite confident the strength of Stonebridge will be behind the Banefort, should the need ever arise again. As a show of this friendship, I wish to extend an invitation to Lord and Lady Banefort to visit. Certainly the walls must be watched, but there is often a sweet period of quiet just after a storm. Pray bid your Lord come here with his household. I believe we would have much to discuss."
Sterling offers up another smile at the demurring of the formidable woman who — rumor says — rules Stonebridge despite her daughter and the Naylands about her. "That's a kind offer, Lady Tordane, and I'll be sure to pass it to Lord and Lady Banefort." For all his rough voice and rougher appearance, there's a suggestion that the man has served as a go-between like this many times before. "May be that they're able to accept it, after the Banefort's set aright after the siege." Which is as good an excuse as any, despite the relatively minor damage the Banefort took at the hands of the raiders. "There's a lot of tension in these parts, if you don't mind my saying so, Lady Tordane, and the Lord and Lady Banefort'd like to ensure there's friendship on all sides." Which could be taken to say that they'd like to avoid conflict on the Cape, or that they want friends on both sides of any conflict.
Valda's smile tightens, but never falters. "Of course. One should always choose one's friends wisely. Perhaps even moreso than one's enemies." The hawk stares at the messenger, remaining still as a statue with eyes colder than ice. Yet there must be some sort of communication between creature and mistress, for Valda quirks an eyebrow at the bird before again lifting her arm to give it a boost up. As it soars once more, she returns her gaze to the Banefort man. "What is your name?"
Sterling places another of those smiles on his lips, hanging there like the facade on a building still under construction, "If you'll excuse the imposition, Lady Tordane, I've found you rarely choose your enemies. But the Lord and Lady Banefort are most interested in getting and keeping friends on the Cape. They feel that greater cooperation between the Banefort and the powers of the Cape can only help both sides of the friendship." At the query from her, the tall knight bows his head again, "I'm Ser Sterling Sharpe, Lady Tordane. Sworn to House Banefort, as was my father before me."
"Ah, a knight? Well, ser, I must inform you that enemies are always chosen. One's actions make the choice, whether or not one consciously wishes it. At times, the choice is made for a person, such as when his liege lord declares war on another. Of course, he made the choice to go into or stay in that lord's service, depending upon whether he or his father was the first to do so." Valda suddenly stops waxing philosophical. "My apologies. Do not mind a widow's rambling."
Sterling bows his head as he is corrected, his features not showing any complaint, annoyance, or really much of anything besides polite interest. "Your wisdom's beyond mine, Lady Tordane." One hand gestures from himself to the courtly woman he is speaking with, "People would be smart to listen to even what you call rambling. I'm sure Lady Banefort will enjoy your company whenever it is that she and Lord Banefort can accept your generous invitation."
"You flatter, ser, but I thank you all the same." Valda inclines her head at the last. "And I hers." She looks up to find her hawk darting again, much further off this time. After a moment, she asks, "Is there aught else?"
Sterling nods his head, accepting the statement about his intentions, "I do, Lady Tordane. But that does not make my words untrue." There's a moment's thought in response to the question, and then he shakes his head, bowing formally again, "No, Lady Tordane. If you think of anything else you would have Lord and Lady Banefort know, I'm certain that a messenger could find me easy enough. Or Lord Ser Torsten if you'd rather. Thank you for your time, Lady Tordane."
At his first reply, a ghost of a smirk plays across Valda's lips, so light and quick one might have imagined it. "You have wisdom as well, it seems, ser. I shall seek you if I have need of your services. Good day."