|Beneath Sightless Stare|
|Summary:||The defenders of Stonebridge receive important news.|
|Related Logs:||Many to follow.|
|The Stone Bridge - Stonebridge|
|An ancient bridge crafted of shaped stone, built in the long lost days of the River Kings. Narrow- only wide enough for a single large wagon at a time- it is of double arched construction, leaving a lane to either side of the Green Rill River's center for boats and barges to pass beneath. This bridge marks the furthest point upriver which a masted vessel can reach. The best crossing between Seagard and the Twins, the bridge is well worn, with the newest addition being a row of six pikes mounted into the arch of the bridge, each displaying the tarred skulls of Ironborn raiders.|
|09 September, 289 A.L.|
Messengers had hurriedly sought out the Captain of the Guard with word that a party of ten horsemen, armed and armored, were approaching the stone bridge from the east with urgent word from the Fortress of the Sevens. With the rider out front in the harness of a knight, and the rider to his right holding aloft the Nayland banner, it has created something of a stir among the peasantry of the waterfront as a cart is wheeled to the side of the bridge and the carter bows and uncovers his head for the passing nobility.
The Captain of the Guard is double hatted with the Master at Arms position these days, looking both tired and worn. And this is before the battle actually starts! But, bags under his eyes or not, Ser Bruce Longbough is up early every day and late to sleep, supervising the drilling of the men, the sorting of provisions, the ditching of the area around Stonebridge and other such facts and tasks. Right now he is walking at a quick march pace towards the bridge, shins burning from effort. His helmet is clasped in the crook of a mailed arm and torso, face set with determination. "Hail!" He calls, raising his arm up.
Having just gotten in from checking with some of the outriders and scouts, Karel was heading back towards the tower when he spotted Bruce. So he's left the horse behind, and made his way towards the bridge again, following a bit behind the Master Captain at of the Arms Guard, or however one could smash that title together. Keeping quiet for now.
Jarod is riding with the party of Mire men coming from the east, atop the reddish-colored charger that those in the know about Stonebridge would recognize as actually belong to his wife. He left Stonebridge just the previous night, so it's unlikely he got any sleep at all.
Ena arrives from the East Walk.
Wayland arrives from the East Walk.
As usual these days Hoekenn is hanging on along with Bruce when he had noticed his knight heading away. Following along and having one hand upon his knife as usual. Following along silently. The big youngster seems to have been an early grower, being quite large for his age perhaps.
Rygar rides with his helm on the saddle horn, and the maile coif pushed back to rest upon his shoulders, that his face is clearly visible to the approaching, "Ser Longbough." Though the stern knight's voice lacks his familiar volume, but retains all the old chill. Karel, a familiar face, is met with a curt dip of the mounted Nayland's chin, and the single word, "Ser," before his eye returns to Bruce. "In the name of Lord Rickart, I come to bid Ser Riordan relinquish his post in Stonebridge and appear immediately before his father for judgement." the gaunt nobleman produces a seales letter and hands it to Bruce.
After the events at the Town Square, Ser Wayland Frey has been keeping to himself for the most part, and whenever he is out, he can feel the eyes of the people from Stonebridge on the back of his neck. Truth be told, the words of the Master at Arms had the force of a Hulk Smash type of event, and this left him shaken. Now? Now he is just wandering, gathering a few things before his departure. And there's something that calls his attention of course, the bridge, and all the people gathered there. Wise? Maybe not…but he does make his way to where everyone is. He is still, not wearing armor, just normal clothes that are not often seen worn by a Nobleman.
One can't say that Ser Bruce in any way looks suprised at the proclamation, though his sleepy blue eyes do widen at the gauntness of Rygar's face. Always a thin man, the sight of the Nayland knight so diminished by the flux is surprising even for the Master at Arms. He composes himself quickly, bowing his head respectfully in greeting. "Ser Rygar." The letter is taken, the seal is glanced at and he bows his head again. "As you command, Ser." He does a crisp about face, two solid movements. "Squire Hoekenn. By order of Lord Rickrt Nayland, go and hand Ser Riordan Nayland this letter. Go now, like the wind." He holds the letter out to his rather tall squire.
It has been a rather sleepless night for the Castellan of the Mire. Ena has been seeing to the Nayland Ladies — and all their stuff — to ensure a prompt extraction from Stonebridge. Not all the women accepted the tall and eerie woman treating them like ducklings, especially those with the spirit to stay in a city soon-to-be sieged. The first of the carts are on their way, however, with the Castellan riding beside them on her graceful mare. The sight of Ser Rygar ahead causes her to blink, and she turns to gesture the cart drivers to slow their progress. Heeling the mare gently, Ena sends her into a trot to meet up with the men. Concern laces her narrow features, those glass-colored eyes reflecting wary storms.
Hoekenn looks between Rygar and Bruce before nodding and taking the letter. Starting to run towards where Riordan should be. No other words given to anyone as he disappears for the time being. To deliver the message.
"Ser Rygar," comes the quiet reply from Karel, along with a nod in return. Nodding a little bit as he hears Rygar's words, then glancing back towards Hoekenn as Bruce sends the kid out on that mission, before he looks back to the others again now.
The embattled but determined defenders of Stonebridge come in varied shapes and sizes, and, between a good deal of lightly armed but relatively disciplined pikemen, pockets of sellswords, some already sworn in, some fresh from Ser Jarod's mission in Seagard, or from elsewhere, are couched about the town, loitering, on edge, surly, and fearsome. One such - among the men who have not yet agreed to a contract and accepted obeisance - happens to linger not far off when the troop of horse led by the long-ailing Ser Rygar arrives. He is a stringy, lean fellow, with both the habitual arms, and the vague aspect, of an Ironman - though those who hear him speak would guess of a far northern origin.
In normal times, in other words, such a man would risk being overcome and hanged for a wolf's-head. The times are out of joint, though, and each blade and bow is welcomed at the muster of the scant Harpy soldiery. So this stranger looks on, his hard mouth grinning through a russet beard, most of the rest of his face obscured by a helm and, 'neath it, a hangman's mask.
Rygar speaks on once Bruce has dispatched the letter. "As well, I am charged with the defense of this holding by our overlord. Within the hour I shall expect a full account of the men, arms, supplies and defenses already in place, as well as those of the enemy." No longer are they 'Charltons' or 'Haighs'. "As well, immediate provision is to be set aside, and grounds within the limits of Stonebridge prepared for a further two hundred men and fifty horses. Is this clear?"
The Frey Knight hears what's happening and this make him narrow his eyes. Could it be? Definitely drawn by those words, he fully approaches the group now, offering a polite, serious nod to everyone. "Sers, My Lady…" And then, the other man calls for his attention, the IronMan. Wayland turns his head to look at him in silence, he offers a nod in greeting and then, he just examins him for a little while. He clicks his tongue and then looks back at the others, remaining there until…well….whatever happens, happens. When Rygar speaks again, his attention is drawn to him and the Frey Knight listens.
Bruce looks rather heartened when Rygar declares intention to take command of the defenses of Stonebridge. For Bruce, this means a welcome shedding of some of his responsabilities he's taken on in the last month, a burden off of his shoulders. He even perks a smile at the second bit of news - an extra two hundred men and fifty horses? "Thank Gods. Ser, it will be so. I've kept a detailed ledger of all our doings, reports and returns inside Tordane tower. As for the extra provisions, we've room in the residential quarter for extra billiting, and at Crane's Crossing to serve the horse. Will that do, Ser Rygar?"
"Ser Rygar," Ena greets, though it is hard for her to keep concern from her voice. The longtime Mireling looks between the various Nayland men before she settles her gaze back on the man. As she overhears his words, she is at least now reassured that he does not ride here for poor news of the Mire. She is quiet for the moment, merely listening at the exchange.
Karel nods a little as he listens, although he leaves the answering to Bruce, aside from a bit of a nod and a "Ser," in Wayland's direction, and a polite nod to Ena now. Looking between the various people rather carefully for the moment.
Jarod offers Karel and Bruce an inclination of his head, though he says nothing for the moment. He, perhaps, doesn't expect the Master at Arms to be terribly pleased with him. He might look askance at the pseudo-Ironman, but honestly, it's not like he was rejecting any willing swords. It's Wayland's appearance that draws a blink. And rub of his eyes.
Rygar's sharp, but sunken blue eyes narrow in curt consideration. "No, Ser Longbough. The horses must needs be stabled nearer to Tordane Tower. Expansion of the Tower stables through pavilions may be undertaken if needed, but I expect all men to stand ready to do their duty as leal vassals at moment's notice, Ser. See it done." Ena's greeting is returned with the word, "Mistress," before he adds, "I shall also expect an accounting of those who yet remain in Tordane Tower, and thier effects. Again, within the hour." Wayland's greeting draws the knight's eye, but it is only after a second glance that he recognizes the Frey knight.
"As you say, Ser Rygar." Bruce dips his head at Rygar, sleepy blue eyes darting to Jarod for a moment. His lips press firmly down and he gives only the slightest of a nod to the man, looking away. "I'll go see to that then. When you've a moment - Ser Wayland Frey, over there," He jerks a thumb to the aformentioned Frey knight, "wished to speak to someone in authority about his oaths." There is a barely concealed venom in his voice, though he checks it for the next phrase. "By your leave, Ser."
The sellsword of ill-omened, somewhat Iron Islander aspect flicks towards the Frey knight for an instant, then looks quickly away. Such a brisk glance from so rag-tag a warrior to a sworn knight can hardly be construed as other than an insult; presumably the tales of Frey cowardice have percolated even through the mercenary camps. Instead, the Unknown Soldier now regards the half-Eagle, Jarod. It's hard to detect any attitude betwixt iron and leather, but it wouldn't be unreasonable for a common fighter to look with curiosity on a man who is fodder for songs today, even if he may be such for crows tomorrow.
"I have been taking an inventory all night, Milord," Ena replies without hesitation. "I will see to the full roster of those still within the tower." She nods her head curtly, deciding she has no need to tarry here. She does not seem to join in the doubletake to Wayland Frey, perhaps not knowing the specifics surrounding the bane. She does cast the would-be Iron Islander a cool, ghostly glance before it is then dismissed. She turns her mare around to speak once more to the cart drivers, instructing them to continue to the Mire.
Wayland looks at Rygar for a moment, but his attention moves to Bruce as he speaks about him. The Frey Knight looks at the Master at Arms and clicks his tongue again "Fuck that." finally says Wayland. He offers a firm nod and says "Stonebridge /is/ my home, and the people of Stonebridge /are/ my people." He takes a deep breath and then nods his head again "I will fight for Stonebridge…if you'll have me" This is more addressed towards Bruce than to Rygar. "And thank you" Cryptic shit is cryptic. Still, he looks back at the sellsword, and again, he holds his gaze for a moment before looking back at the others.
"I should have no more business in the Mire that I can see, Sers," Jarod says, for his own part. "Lord Rafferdy remains there. I've no idea when he might return, depending on what his lord father does…err. Depending on what happens." He is very bumbly at being cryptic. But he tries. He notes the curious look given him by the Unknown Soldier and returns it with a tiredly quizzical one of his own. Then Wayland starts talking. And he just stares and mutters, "Huh."
Rygar nods once to Bruce, "You have it," he states, granting the knight his leave to go, and nodding a second sharp time to Ena at her collected inventory. "Once prepared, I shall hear you within Tordane Tower, mistress." Then his eye turns once more aside to Wayland. "I should expect no less, Ser. Although I had anticipated you would do your sworn duty armed as a knight." Rygar gives a short, sharp look aside to Jarod as the Terrick bastard stumbles through talk of Rafferdy.
Karel doesn't say anything as he hears Bruce mention Wayland, turning to look over at the Frey for a few moments, pausing as he hears Wayland's words now. Studying the Frey rather carefylly for the moment now. Jarod's words makes him pause a little, and he studies the man a bit carefully for now.
There is a slight pause as Bruce eyes Wayland skeptically, before he offers the man a nod. Again doing an about face, the Master at Arms stalks off towards the tower, once more at a quick march pace.
Jarod doesn't flinch under Rygar's sharp look, but he does shut up about Rafferdy.
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Maldred=Stealth Vs Wayland=Alertness
< Maldred: Good Success Wayland: Good Success
< Net Result: DRAW
Ena has left.
The sellsword remains true to his base type, and does not even try to hold the attention of Wayland or Jarod, his glance moving about, like the skittish, thievish bird of carrion he may well be. He paces further from the Frey, and a little closer to Jarod, but not so as you'd notice, and anyway, now the mercenary seems, if anything, to be looking over Ser Bruce, watching him react to the Frey's last minute…change of change of heart.
Wayland looks at himself and what he is wearing, he nods his head and offers "Aye, I'll suit up" The nod is returned to Bruce but no other word is offered to the Master at Arms. And then, again, he looks at the sellsword…there's something about this man. Wayland presses his lips together and takes a deep breath, but finally, he looks away, not being able to place a name on this man.
After quite some time has passed it seems that Hoekenn will be returning. "I delivered the message." He offers, looking between all before falling silent and taking his place next to Bruce again. Not at all sure what has been going on.
"By your leave, Ser," Jarod says with a short nod to Rygar, before dismounting. He doesn't really wait for a dismissal, but it occurs to him he'd best find something else to occupy him other than gawking at Wayland. Instead of leading his mount direct back to Tordane Tower, he approaches the Bearded Mercenary of Low Import.
"Once you are properly attired, Ser, I shall await you within Tordane Tower," Rygar bids Wayland with a dip of his chin in parting, before drawing a deep breath to intone aloud, "Let it be known here, beneath the sightless stare of those who last sought to break Stonebridge by the sword-" he turns in the saddle to point at the half dozen tarred skulls of Ironborn raiders upon pikes, "Upon this bridge, where the claims of the usurper Gedeon Rivers were proven false by trial-" he points sharply at the stones beneath his horse's iron shod hooves. "Let it be known that House Nayland shall not abandon Stonebridge or its people, against any threat or any invader. Justice is with us."
Since Bruce is already heading towards the tower, Hoekenn moves along as well.
Wayland looks at Rygar and he nods in silence, he looks around for a brief moment and then looks back at Rygar "I shall meet you there, Ser" And with that said, the man waits until Rygar's speech is over. Afterwards, he turns and makes his way to the Tordane Tower where his things are waiting for him. No last look is given to the sworn sword, but that sense of familiarity is still there, and will probably poke at him for days to come.
Karel nods a little bit as he listens for the moment. Letting out a bit of a breath, before he starts making his way back in the direction of where he left his horse, moving a bit slowly in case there's something more to happen here now.
At this point, that taciturn and nigglingly enigmatic figure of lowly bloodthirstiness takes action by getting the Half-Eagle knight's attention in a traditional way - reaching out his gloved hand to detain the bridle of Jarod's led horse, before falling on one knee.
"Capt'n bast'rd," the stranger growls out quietly, "'M not yet sworn among thee. They do say there be little time like the pres'nt, if ye will."
His voice is rough, husked, low…as if it comes from somewhere far to the north…or, just possibly, is only meant to come from said direction.
Jarod blinks. And arches his brows. Captain bastard? He can't help but bark off a short laugh. "Good to see my reputation's still known. Hail, Master. I am Ser Jarod the Half-Eagle. Half's where the bastard part comes in. I have put out the call that there is coin in Stonebridge for men who shall defend it, I take it you are one such?"
Apparently this…outlander wasn't joking; certainly neither smile nor answering report of harsh mirth is returned. His answer, still low in all senses, quiet and straggling, is neutral, firm, and earnest.
"Aye, I know of thee, Half-Eagle knight. Dramdel am I; when I had a file of Bolton crossbow, they call't me Dreadhame, for," he adds with no obvious irony or clarity, "this hood that'n I wear. Now Dreadfort needs Dreadhame not, nor pays him neither, he comes to thee, Half-Eagle. I seen fine play on Pyke. S'got this mail there. 'Ll fight for thee, if ransom n' spoil I take be reserved to mine hand."
Karel has gotten to his horse, and mounts it, before he moves with that last short ride back to the tower.
"Bolton? You're Northborn, then?" The name is vaguely known to Jarod, in the way such things are to a man who's had a highborn lad's education. If that's the line man man is selling, he seems willing enough to buy it. "Was it Dreadforts banner you fought beneath on the Pyke, then? I fought little with the Northmen there. Was with the Terrick armies then. Though all spoke well of the conduct of those commanded by Lord Stark. That strikes me a fair enough bargain, for those who'd take up arms for Stonebridge now. A noble knight's ransom would be worth a tithe to the lords of Stonebridge, but if you're fortunate enough to bag one I imagine we can work something out."
"AN' ye'll feed my keep," the 'Bolton' warrior adds with quiet emphasis. "Aye. Board and spoil and ransoms due to me, I'm yours. If you'd have the best of me, I'd lead archers s' fair as I did in Pyke fight, but that's up to ye and yer betters."
The last word may be insulting…but it's also, somehow, conspiratorial. As if the sellsword came to Jarod for a reason, something they have in common, something that unites them to sneer at their supposed superiors. "Swear ter that, n' I'll vow to ye and yours, howsoe'er long I be wanted."
Jarod snorts wry. If he's slighted, he doesn't show it. Perhaps it's easier to take the talk of his betters from the low-born than the high. "Your oath is accepted, Master Dramdel, for so long as its required. Food and board you shall have, and I shall see you're paid at the end of this mess, if the pair of us survive it. Swear to the Seven upon it. As for how you shall fight, we'll determine. I've business at Tordane Tower but I shall see you there later this day. I would see for myself how you handle a weapon and bow."
"I, Dramdel called Dreadhame, do so swear," the sellsword raps out smartly…before hesitating. "Not on y'seven jesters though, forgive me, but sticks i' the craw for such as I. I swear it on the old gods of the North. 'Twill suffice?"
"Whichever gods you figure hold your oath are fine by me," Jarod says. "Ser Bruce was raised in the Blackwood, where some men still keep the Old Gods. I've seen men who worship both kill well enough."
The new Nayland sword, (or dirk, or arrow/quarrel launcher), bows with a smoothness just a little remarkable in one of such an otherwise gruff bearing. "They said thou wert a good man, capt'n bast'rd," he says, repeating that by-name with no trace, once more, of humour or insult. "They didna lie. I relish our bloody dawn, ser Half-Eagle. Till the practice yard, where 'll show you what Dreadfort men do."
As if ritually, the self-proclaimed Northman now rises and releases the bridle, leaving his new commander to go his own way with a nod that looks suspiciously near to ungrudging respect.