Page 346: Barter Banter
Barter Banter
Summary: Dmitry and Harlyn meet over a glass of wine and talk business.
Date: 2 July 289
Related Logs: None (particularly)
Harlyn Dmitry 
Rockcliff Inn — Terrick's Roost
Drinking people. Inn stuff. Are there peanut shells? There might be peanut shells.
2 July 289

It's dusk, and there's a bit of a fire in the inn's hearth, more for keeping the common room a little less dim than anything. Harlyn is seated at one of those peripheral tables, his hair still sweaty-lank around his ears after a long ride, perhaps, or perhaps he just had the ken to exercise. He's watching the room, the clots of conversations, the ebbs and flows of movement, with half-lidded eyes. Perhaps he'll have himself a bit of a nap.

Dmitry drifts into the inn's common room dressed understatedly well, the hues dark and the fabric lightweight; the Terrick device is in evidence, though, for the observant eye. His eyes are quite bright and alert, dark and swift in their survey of the room. He might be looking for someone, or not. Little ready money to hand, he still has coin enough to buy himself some wine.

Harlyn marks Dmitry's entrance with a lazy drift of a glance. Another moment and while Dmitry goes wine-buying, there's a more sustained, curious glance. Open watching.

Cup obtained, Dmitry does not drink from it, but cradles it in his hand about at the level of his hip as he turns away. He smiles a greeting to someone or other, although clearly this is not an acquaintance that shall sustain either for the evening; the young knight drifts on, pausing after his next step to glance in Harlyn's direction, having marked his notice. He cocks an eyebrow, a little in his expression as though he is trying to chase some resemblance or other by his eye.

Harlyn cants his head in mute response, then gestures idly to a seat across from him, table otherwise deserted. He is wearing a Haigh device, for recognition-or-no purposes.

Well, that makes this easy. Dmitry accepts the invitation without any further delay, claiming the seat in a ready sprawl and setting cup down atop the table's surface. "Good evening, Ser Haigh," he says lightly. He taps a finger against the side of his cup, eyebrows swept high over bright-dark eyes. "Do you need one? It's not terribly good, but it's not too watered at least."

"And Ser - Terrick." Harlyn marks the device in turn. His eyes are still half-lidded, expression low-affect, but not quite tired. "Your offer is kind, but I've had my pair of drinks for the evening. I would not want to impose too much on the Roost's hospitality so soon."

"No? You'll decline a glass on my coin? Why, I'm very nearly insulted, Ser." Dmitry's smile is no such thing, a little sharper than it is warm, but lacking in neither quality. His voice is light, easy, and unpressing; he is awfully friendly, really. "It's Dmitry, as we've no mannered pages about to teach courtesies. How do you find the Roost's hospitality?"

Harlyn steeples his fingers together, his smile quick and flashed and as quickly tucked away. "As ever. I squired here, not so long ago. I suppose I have no Hardwicke to ride me for my poor form today. My business is less knightly than financial. No glory in finances, I'm afraid." He pauses a beat and the smile reappears. "Dmitry, then. I am Harlyn, fourth son of Lord Haigh. Errands are my livelihood."

"I squired with House Piper, far from here," Dmitry confesses, laying a hand over his heart. Then he drops it to his lap, the fingertips of his other hand hooked over the edge of the table. "Truly? Hardwicke? And yet your smile lives on? Pardon me, Harlyn, but I am astonished to see it."

Harlyn laughs, brisk. but bright enough. "He is as practiced with his scowl as with his sword. But he was no poor teacher for that, and saved my life at the Trident. Living keeps me smiling, I suppose." His hands unsteeple slowly, fold out. "And I am incorrigible, at that. But here you are with a readier smile than myself, truly."

"And I am quick to use it, particularly around Ser Hardwicke; I'm afraid it irks him terribly, poor man." Dmitry does not sound terribly sympathetic to Hardwicke's aggravation, though. His smile lingers, slight and sly as a glimmer in his dark eyes. "I think you will find, though, that the Roost is in no position to look down its collective nose at a man who understands money, in these days. Or if we do, I hope you will tell me which of us, so that whomever it is might earn a good thwack."

"It is rather fun, irking Hardwicke, isn't it?" Harlyn says like an admission as he tucks away his smile again for a more restrained, if vestigially amused expression. "I hope to be of service, looked down on or no. Have to keep the coin flowing, don't we. War tends to impede it."

"Do you?" Dmitry cocks an eyebrow, and draws the pad of his thumb in a light curve around the mouth of his cup, still undrunk. "You make me curious as to what business. What errands." He does not say 'what service' because possibly this is not subtle enough for him.

"I am stationed where my father believes I am needed. Lacking the brain and the birth primacy to be heir, nor the arm to be Haigh defender, I am the voice of Haigh trade. Mostly," Harlyn says with a low chuff of his breath as his hands flatten on the table. "I am here to see what the Roost needs and acquire it for you."

Dark eyes widening, Dmitry stills for a moment — long enough to be noticeable, though not so long as for it to appear that anything in the world might render him quiet. His smile warm, a slight, lingering thing, he says, "I believe the needs of the Roost are about as secret as the color of your eyes, Ser Harlyn." Is this flirting? No. Of course not. "Tell me," he asks, "what does House Haigh need?"

Harlyn snakes a hand away from the table to fiddle with what must be his ear under that slack of hair. His expression has gone thoughtfully neutral post Dmitry's reaction. "House Haigh needs the thoughts of the Roost to drift to us. We wish to maintain good relations - and the Roost, even so ravaged, may yet have goods to offer us in return." His smile lightning flashes again. "Of course, this is just a light discussion in an inn. Real negotiations will be rather more sustained. More ledgers. Numbers."

"Of course. Naturally, any conversation that we have, you and I, it is merely the beginning of a discussion; after all, I am only Jerold's nephew." Dmitry tilts his head in easy acknowledgment of this, and then glances over his shoulder, as though half expecting someone to swoop down on him and hit him with a rolld up newspaper. When this does not happen, probably due to the dearth of newspapers in the Riverlands, he returns his dark eyes to an intent focus on Harlyn. "Of course," he says, "I believe that you have at least one other Haigh relation with you at the Roost. I think I saw Lady Ilaria the other day in the courtyard, is it so?"

"It is so," Harlyn says with a small, sideward nod of his head. He drums fingers on the tabletop whilst still fiddling thoughtlessly with an ear. "Lady Katrin as well. I have no end of cousins at the Roost, it would seem. Do you know Lady Ilaria personally, hmm?"

"Oh, I have met her only in passing." Dmitry flicks his fingers in an easy, dismissive pass. "But it does occur to me that if the Haighs and the Terricks are to become better friends, one of the most traditional ways to memorialize such a friendship is to formalize it with a marriage match. And, you know, I do have an unwed cousin in need of a bride, bold and newly knighted and fresh from an excellent performance at the tilt—" Never mind all the bruises, nothing to see here, move along—. "—and one so young, so mild, patient and lovely as Lady Ilaria might suit him perfectly." 'Patient' is an unusual adjective to affix to the quality one wants in a wife, isn't it? Or is it.

Harlyn finally stops fiddling with his ear to better facilitate propping his chin against the curl-in of his hand. "The Haighs are always open to the advantageous marriage match, of course. And which of your bold cousins would you affix to mine?"

"Ser Justin, of course," Dmitry says blithely. "A second son, true, but a hale and hearty one," read: not a cripple, sorry Jacsen, all business here, "—young, strong, driven, with much promise to his future." He watches Harlyn intently, his mouth composed again, for all that the gleam of something like humor still lingers in his bright-alert dark eyes. "Of course, this is only, as we have said, the beginning of a conversation. It would be far too early to begin to speak seriously on such as what dowry a maid might bring. I am certain that whatever it is, it would be matched to her virtue and the honor of her house."

"Of course," Harlyn half-echoes, watching Dmitry quite closely at this point. "The beginning of a conversation that I cannot finish, being a mere fourth son. But my father may find the possibility of interest. He is always open to possibilities, my good, wise father. Have Justin and my dear cousin met? I was not as swift to reach the Roost, or the tourney, for that matter."

"I believe they have spoken, yes," Dmitry says with some caution, "though I have no idea what the two young people think of each other." (Dmitry, you are 20. Look at your little scruff beard when you are calling other people 'the young people'.) "Perhaps you might ask your cousin; and I might speak to mine, though I do ride on the morrow for Kingsgrove. Naturally, my uncle will have the final word, and I can hardly speak for him, but a future arrangement, a possibility is certainly something to consider, is it not?"

"We all must deal in possibilities to begin with," Harlyn says, drawing his chin off his hand. "I am practiced with speaking with cousins at this point - and I will speak to mine and wish you a good ride and good roads. You have errands of your own, I presume."

"Business," Dmitry answers lightly. "Unknightly though it may be, the Roost is — as you know — in need. I am greatly pleased to hear your thoughts on friendship, but I would be grieved indeed to find House Terrick with only one friend … even one so fine and worthy as House Haigh."

"We are all in need of friends in these ever so troubled times," Harlyn accedes agreeably. "Friends wherever we may find them - no, I will not be so selfish as that for the Roost's attention."

"I am glad to hear it," Dmitry says with a tip of his head. He laces both hands together, loose around the base of his cup (which, of note, he still has not swallowed a sip from). "But for now my attention is all yours, for what good it may do you." (Is /this/ flirting? No. Can't be; he's not even looking through his eyelashes this time. "You know, after all, that what our House needs most of all is grain to feed our people. How fares the Haighs' harvest, Ser Harlyn?" (And can you say that five times fast?)

"We are always proud of our harvest," Harlyn says, lowering his voice to something - a bit below conversational, really. "And that is our main trade asset this year. We will feed your people, Ser Terrick, you need have no fear of that." He reflattens a hand to the table and drags his palm across the wood, testing. "Is that the need you would have us fill?"

"The needs of our people are naturally of paramount importance to us, over and above anything else I might dream at my wildest," Dmitry answers. He matches Harlyn low to low, voice warm as an embers' glow, with sharp, acquisitive interest in his intelligent eyes. "But the price you would ask, Ser Harlyn; how shall we buy your aid? It ill befits either of our Houses' pride to pretend that that a man as wise in finance as you would gift us such value in exchange for something as invisible and inchoate as new friendship, deep and strong though it may become."

Harlyn raises his hand to make a small gesture over the table, his smile more sustained now, but nearly invisible. His eyes are no longer half-lidded, even in watchfulness. "Price, ledgers, unimportant. You will make an offer and we will tell you if it is meet. A house as wise as the Terricks knows how to price survival, I do believe. Perhaps you will pay a mixture of things. Coin and friendship and whatever spare fineries you have in your closets? We will see."

"Perhaps," Dmitry answers lightly. He sits his chin against his fist, watching Harlyn from beneath the high arch of dark eyebrows. He has pretty good eyebrows. Of course. "A mixture of things: but the cost of survival must surely come at least partly in gold. The question I must ask — before I speak, of course, with someone who better knows the ledgers — is if it all must be today's gold, or if you would consider some of tomorrow's as part of a prospective deal?"

"House Haigh can be flexible for the greater gain," Harlyn says, his near-invisible smile widening visible. "For the impatient man is bound to come away with less overall, I would think."

"What a reasonable man you seem, Ser," Dmitry says. He taps two fingertips lightly against the side of his untasted wine, and then asks, "Are you sure you will not share a drink with me?"

"Tonight, I am sure. I must retire. When you return, well." Harlyn stands, then. "I would be amiss to deny you that."

Finally Dmitry lifts his glass; he toastes Harlyn with it, and settles back in his seat with his head tipped back as he tastes the liquid. He smiles a wide slow smile, and says, "I shall hold you to that when I return to the Roost, then."

Harlyn enacts a small, but expert bow. "Until then, Dmitry. The Seven with you." And with that, he departeth.