|Before the Wolf|
|Summary:||Kamron and Saffron get an audience with Aleister at Highfield.|
|Related Logs:||The latest Stonebridge trouble, Matters of Consequence|
|Grand Hall, Highfield|
|Grand Hall it truly is, in the back right-hand corner a stairway leads to the second floor Promenade; the area only serves to make the space seem larger with its rail lined balcony taking half the room. This design leaves most of the second floor open; adding height to the space and its oak rafter ceilings. The high dais and its high-backed chairs are set under an alcove caused by the second floor. Made of heavy oak and wrought with ornate carvings of this new house's sigil, crowned wolves seem to dance and chase each other through fields of wheat along its legs and sides. Sigils of the great Riverland houses line the wall behind the dais, House's Charlton of Highfield, Tully, Frey and Charlton, in the center of these banners and slightly larger, the crowned Stag of Robert Baratheon, King of the Seven Kingdoms. Long feasting tables and benches line the planks of this fine Hall. On the wall to the right of the entrance is a door that leads to a modest reading room, to the left a door leading to the Keep's Kitchens. Iron torches line these newly placed walls, and candle laden iron chandeliers drape from its ceiling, casting off a warm orange glow in the evenings, where the leaded glass windows and their heavy curtains send sunshine through its length during the day. A hearth along the left wall is more oft than not alight and crackling with every fresh log that is tossed into its embers.|
|22 August, 289|
It's another day in Highfield and even with the mass of troops in the fields outside of the Keep, business still goes on as normal, within. Without the aid of a Castellan, Aleister has found the need to try and split his time equally between the Keep and Fields and today happens to be one of those days that he's within, seated upon his chair on the dais, with a flurry of servants standing before him. He'd been informed that the Mallisters were coming and as such, instructions were left with the Guards at the entrance to the Hall to admit them when they arrive.
Kamron pauses outside the grander sections of the hall to let his squire batter some of the road dust off his attire, get the approval for his current state from his betrothed, and ensure that the guards and squire are comfortable in the outer entrance hall, and then he offers out his arm to Saffron, leading her inside. The axe at his hip may be straining the bounds of propriety in a hall that doesn't belong to his own house or that of a vassal, but at least it's not a polearm or something truly gauche like that. Offering a smile and a low-voiced, "After we've finished here, I'm sure that we can find Martyn and Lady Katrin. It's about time Martyn got ready to come home." His words trail off as they approach that covey of servants, and he inclines his head politely to the man on the… throne… upon the dais, but doesn't interrupt, waiting to be acknowledged and addressed.
Saffron certain gives approval for her betrothed's attire, even as she brushes a bit of dust off his shoulder. Her own riding gown is given a look over, though there is some mastery involved in riding about in a dress that also results in less-dirty attire. She sweeps along beside him with a small smile on her lips, even as she admires the grandness of the hall. "He won't like that," Saffron tells him in a hush, "Katrin has mezmerized him so." She quiets as they approach the Charlton Lord, and she offers a small curtsey while keeping her arm with her knight.
Guest come and guests go, but it's not everyday that the Mallisters come by. Twice. As such, when the pair begin to approach his spot upon that dais, Aleister is lifting a hand to the servants who speak before giving a little dismissal motion, which has them scurrying off to one side. Arrogant? Oh yes. He does rise from his chair though, so that a half-bow can come to be offered towards the pair and when he rises, he's following it with a crisp, "Ser Kamron. Lady Saffron. Welcome to my home."
Kamron doesn't give the dismissed servants a second glance, chuckling softly at Saffron's quiet words. As the Knight of Highfield greets them, Kamron centers his attention fully there, "Thank you, Ser Aleister. Highfield is a beautiful young town. I look forward to seeing what it can become with the assistance of the tradesmen from The Roost." He gestures one hand idly in the vague direction of the nearest levy camp, despite the thick walls between here and there, "Thank you as well for taking some time to speak with us despite the several hundred weighty issues no doubt clamoring for your attention outside your walls." Evidently, that's mean to be a joke, given the slight, crooked grin that slips across his lips.
Saffron brightens a bit at the greeting, and she nods her head gentle to the welcome. "Lady Katrin has been admiring the beauty through our letters and I am pleased to finally get to see it up close. My visit last time was so terribly short." Then she quiets a bit as she looks toward Kamron as he jokes. She offers him a small smile, but little other comment at this point.
Once the initial pleasantries are over, Aleister is lowering himself back down into his seat, arms coming to rest upon the armrests of the chair and now, his eyes simply play between the two, though it's Kamron that they come to rest upon first. With a slight incline of his head and the hint of a smirk, he's offering, "Thank you," and it's followed by, "I will always make time for such honored guests, Ser Kamron." That smirk shifts to a smile for a breadth of a moment before he's looking towards Saffron, "Then please, Lady Saffron, see that this visit gives you the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of these lands." A nod and he's looking back to Kamron, "But I know that you must have come for a reason, Ser. What is it that I can do for you?"
Kamron nods as Aleister gets right to the point, "I'll be blunt, Ser Aleister, for I'm a man of action, not words. While we are rebuilding, House Mallister has an interest in maintaining the peace of the Cape. We are not, however, so proud that we think we can stop all conflicts before they come to bloodshed." Once more that quirk of a smile touches one corner of his lips, "No matter what some might say. I left a letter for you with Ser Harold when last I visited, ser. How likely do you think it is that there can be a diplomatic solution between House Charlton and House Nayland?"
There is a quiet moment from the Banefort Lady as she listens to the beginning of this exchange. There is little the woman has to say yet as she listens to the two men. She does nod her head gently to Kamron's words on peaceful resolution.
Aleister's hand curl upon the armrests of his chair at the mention of the conflict and of the Naylands and even as that happens, the smirk begins to deepen upon his lips, "The Naylands offered my House grave offense, Ser Kamron. They broke the most sacred Guest Rights and then the law by refusing a trial to one of Noble Blood." Now, he begins to lean forward slightly, his eyes still upon the Mallister Lord, "But, I am not .. unsympathetic to those that might find issue with such thing. The Naylands can turn over Stonebridge to the rightful rules, the Lady Danae. If they do this, there will be peace."
Kamron nods his head in agreement with the Charlton's lord's claims, "Trusting to the word or honor of a Nayland — particularly those responsible for their abhorent breaking of such sacred traditions — is not something I would recommend to anyone." There's a bite to the words, the knight's disgust in the acts not particularly hidden behind the words. "But the men and women of Stonebridge were once vassals of the Mallisters, eventually." Through several levels of feudal vassalage, but still, "And we do have some concern for them, even if they are not directly our concern. It could, however, be argued that unless Lady Tordane," he gives Danae her proper title by marriage, "bears Ser Gedeon's healthy child, Lady Nayland has as much claim to Stonebridge as Lady Tordane." He waves the statement away, "But I didn't come to argue succession law… a subject I find rather boring, truth be told. My Lady and I were hoping to speak with Lady Tordan, and I wanted to see if you held hope for peace."
Another incline is offered to Kamron at his agreement of the Naylands and as that smirk remains firm upon Aleister's lips, "Then we will not debate such things, Ser Kamron." Now, he's settling back into his chair so that a slight shake of his head can be offered, "The Lady Tordane is not available at this time, I am afraid. Nor do I know when she will be free to entertain an audience." A single fingertip taps against the edge of his chair, "Peace will come if the Naylands withdraw from Stonebridge, Ser. Until then, there is nothing they can do to make up for the transgressions against my family."
The soon-to-be Mallister lady inclines her head in agreement to Kamron's words. She turns her gaze to speak with Aleister in the wake of the invitation for her to speak, even if it was a vauge one. "Perhaps, my Lord, a letter can be delivered to Lady Tordane if she is unable to speak with us directly. It is not a secret that the Naylands are trying to find alliances with the other Cape houses. The Terricks have upheld their accord with your house, ser, and we have been sent here in hopes of speaking to Lady Tordane so should it be required, we may support her claim. Communication with her is vital for this support, even if that communication is through a pen."
Kamron nods once at Aleister's words, and he glances over to Saffron as she speaks up, nodding again, "Lord Mallister asked me," he smiles over to the Banefort again before he looks back to the Charlton, "and by extension, us, to speak with Lady Tordane about what might be gained on both sides by an agreement between House Mallister and her branch of House Tordane. You have offered our bannerhouse a very fair agreement, and we would be foolish not to see what might be gained — again, for both sides — by a closer agreement. I do wonder, of course, if more of the value of Stonebridge might be retained if the Naylands paid reparrations for their transgressions and some form of mutual governance could be arranged between Lady Tordane and Lady Nayland at least until the health and safety of Ser Gedeon's child was determined."
Aleister turns his attention over towards Saffron, regarding her for a moment before he's giving a nod of his head, "Then pen such a letter, my Lady, and we shall see it delivered unto the Lady Tordane's hand. But .." Now, he's looking to Kamron and then his eyes play between the two, "You may also speak to me of such thing. You see, when the Lady Tordane takes her place as the ruler of Stonebridge, it will be by the hand of House Charlton. We will become her leige lord and she our vassal." A pause is taken, his gaze now settling on Kamron, "So you see. There can be no join effort. We will not rule along side the Naylands, Ser Kamron. And let us be honest, Stonebridge will be for more profitable in the hands of my Uncle, then that of those fools."
Saffron inclines her head at the news that her letter would be delivered, though there is a touch of grimness to her expression. She glances toward Kamron before she inclines her head once more to the words from Aleister. There is nothing now for the woman to say as this is something for Kamron to answer.
Kamron arches up his eyebrows at the statement of already-sworn fealty, but he nods, "Such was to be assumed, I suppose, but thank you for confirming it, Ser Aleister. Then I address myself to you directly." As he speaks, his right hand shifts over to rest momentarily atop the hand Saffron has looped through the crook of his left arm. "As My Lady suggested earlier, House Nayland has approached House Mallister, requesting our assistance in keeping Stonebridge in their hands. As I said earlier, I do not trust the words and offers of House Nayland, but in good conscience, Lord Mallister must entertain all offers which might be of benefit to his people, so I ask you, what can House Tordane of Stonebridge, and House Charlton in turn, offer to House Mallister to ensure that they remain outside the fray? Or, if you would prefer, what might you offer to House Mallister to involve ourselves directly?" He holds up one hand to forestall immediate rejoinder, "Besides the generous agreement with House Terrick?"
There's a slight narrowing of Aleister's eyes at something Kamron says, but he has the curtosey to wait until the other man had finished before he begins to speak, "First, let it be known, not as a threat, but a simple fact. If House Mallister supports House Nayland, in any degree, House Charlton will suspend all aid to House Terrick and bar them from our lands." A hand lifts, to still anything that might come, "We made this known during the accord. We will not support those that support the Naylands." His hand lowers and there's a slight incline, "Now, to address that in which you have said. I would see House Mallister remain neutral in this endevour. You see, if House Mallister joins in on the side of the Naylands or on the side of the Charltons, House Frey will have no choice but to join the opposing side." Pause, "So I suppose the question becomes .. what do you require to remain neutral in such affairs?"
Kamron arches his eyebrows at the not-threat from the Knight of Highfield, "I've read the accord, Ser Aleister. There is no statement that the agreement was predicated on any action of the Mallisters save calling House Terrick to support House Nayland. However, I assumed that you would not be particularly interested in continuing to send supplies to House Terrick should House Mallister support the Naylands, thank you for the confirmation." He takes a breath, letting it slowly out, "Mallister support can come in many forms, ser. I agree that military support would be likely to draw in House Frey, but supporting the claim of Lady Tordane with Lord Tully would be useful, I bet." He tilts his head slightly to one side, "But I don't know how useful House Charlton would consider it. Lord Mallister has not requested that I inquire about any specific agreements, but a lowering of tariffs on Mallister goods might be of interest."
The young Lady looks between the two knights, and she frowns a bit as a touch of worry starts to furrow up her brow. She breathes a steadying breath before her gaze settles on Aleister once more. She holds her hands behind her back, her shoulders loose and relaxed. "There may even be an opportunity of marriage between the two houses that the Naylands have yet to claim."
A flash of a smile dances across Aleister's lips as he gives a slight shake of his head, "If House Mallister provides any form of aid to House Nayland, Ser Kamron, House Terrick will need to follow suit. The Naylands will not allow such games to be played. Nor, incidently, will the Charltons." A cluck of his tongue comes, followed by another quick smile, "If House Mallister wishes to support the Lady Tordane's claim to Lord Tully, we would see tariffs reduced by half of what is paid now. But, much more might risk the ire of my leige lord and of that, I am not prepared to do." A look to Saffron and there's a nod of his head, an indication that perhaps a marriage might do.
Kamron nods his head at the response to his suggestion, "I will take your offer to Lord Mallister, Ser Aleister. I'm sure he'll consider it well. Perhaps you might add the offer of a quarter's reduction in tariffs for strict and utter neutrality? With a time limit to the latter point, if you feel the necessity to further constrain it." Letting that suggestion linger a moment, he then changes subjects, "I must confess some curiosity, ser, as to the Erenfords. Did they ever take you up on your offer to come and speak with them? I do know that they never took me up on my offer to serve as a neutral third party."
It appears that once more there is very little that Saffron has more to say. She listens to the exchange of possible terms — terms that are quite simple compared to those between the Terricks and Charltons. At the news of the Erenfords, her ears perk a bit curiously as she tilts her head. She glances over toward Aleister once the question is spoken, and she brings her hands to her front to clasp. "Perhaps the Erenfords wish to remain neutral in this," she offers.
"A quarter's reduction will be acceptable, Ser Kamron. For one years time. But in that time, we shall evaluate and meet again, if this are accepted, to perhaps see that such reductions remain in place." A quirk of his lips and he's canting his head in the direction of Saffron before looking back towards Kamron, "They have finally accepted my offer and arrived but two days ago. They have not, as of yet, made their way here to speak with me. When they have rested from their journey, we will meet and speak of such things."
Kamron nods to Saffron's statement of possibility, then chuckles softly as Aleister fills in what he knows, "And perhaps they just don't feel the need to be quite so direct as us. I don't know that I would want to barge in on someone there's a good chance I'll be at war with inside of a month. It's a good way to get remembered, and not in a good way." He glances over to his betrothed, "I think there's really just one last point, Ser Aleister, and that's to ask if you think that you and your lady wife will be able to make our nuptials at Seagard on the 8th, or if you'll be unavoidably detained by war."
At this, Saffron does soften her expression a bit as she looks from Kamron to Aleister. "I do hope that both of you can attend. I am quite fond of Lady Cherise, and perhaps it will be a nice respite from these tensions." She does not mention that her guest list alone might cause more tensions, but she has been ignoring everyone on this topic thus far.
A simple incline of Aleister's head comes to be offered in the direction of Kamron and Saffron and it would seem that he has nothing further to be offered on the subject of the Erenfords. So when the mention of nuptials comes to bare, there's another slight incline and a hint of a smile, followed by, "We intend to be there, Ser Kamron, Lady Saffron. But should the Naylands seek to strike against us, we will no doubt be unable to attend."
Kamron nods his agreement with Saffron's words, although he chuckles softly at her mention of lowering tensions, "I bet you have worked rather hard on the seating chart, My Lady." Which is to say, that she and Mistress Morla and his sister and all the other women around him had worked very hard on it. He nods in response to Aleister's words, "Oddly enough, that's similiar to what they said as well, Ser Aleister. That their own levies were only for defense, and that they had no intention of attacking anyone."
It is about at this moment that Saffron inclines her head to the man. "Of course, my Lord," the woman agrees, nodding with her betrothed. Though she frowns a bit at mention of the levies. "And yet their commander has fallen ill," she comments about the rumors of a sickness leaving both Captain and Sheriff bedridden. It is all she is willing to add about those rumormongering.
"Then, if nothing else changes, Ser Kamron, you shall see us at your wedding in Seagard." There's a flash of a smile and an incline of Aleister's head once more, though Saffron's words bring an arch of his brow and a slight cant of his head at the mention of their Commander being sick. But, he doesn't expand on that subject, though that tidbit of information is perhaps filled away.
Kamron watches the interplay between his betrothed and the Knight of Highfield, shaking his head slightly, "If we're to remain neutral, I would consider it a… personal favor, Ser Aleister, to know if we should have dancing at the wedding or just a host of maesters and hedge healers." There's an amused chuckle accompanying the words, but it's a dry, wry sort of sound.
She glances over toward Kamron at his words, but she gently places her hand on his arm with a gentle squeeze. "Dancing, please," she implores with a good-naturedness to her tone. Now she looks up to Ser Aleister, and she offers him a gentle curtsy. "Thank you for seeing us, Ser Aleister. I can only imagine the limitations to your schedule with both a new township and this conflict brewing."
An almost wry chuckle escapes Aleister's lips as he gives a quick nod in the direction of Kamron, followed by, "I will do my best, Ser Kamron, to see that dancing is what you receive. And should something arise, we will see that word can be sent." Then, he's looking towards Saffron, so that his head can dip into a respectful bow as he offers, "You are most welcome, Lady Saffron. Please, enjoy the hospitality of my township, if it so pleases you."
Kamron nods his hearty agreement with Saffron's preference, "For all that my training is far more toward hitting things and being hit than dancing, I would much rather that myself." He bows his head to the Charlton knight at his words, "Once more, you have my thanks, Ser Aleister. We'll probably depart some time tomorrow, but we'll be sure to add a little bit of coin to the town's economy before then." And then he's offering out his arm to Saffron again and turning to depart.