|Summary:||News of the North, Bastien is given news of the Ashwood party|
|Related Logs:||Relating to the disappearance of Lord Aleister and Lady Miranda|
|Great Hall - Tanglewood Manor|
|A true testament to the nobility and grandeur of the ruling family, this enormous hall serves as the main gathering and feasting area of Highfield Keep, with a high, vaulted ceiling and tall, narrow windows lining the outer walls, allowing sunlight to stream through. Two long feasting tables, accompanied by benches, serve as a comfortable place to enjoy a meal or quiet discussion and flank the path to the raised dais at the upper end of the chamber. It sets apart those who oversee this Keep and the surrounding lands - a pair of high-backed, elegantly carved chairs none-too-subtly emulating the thrones one might picture in the houses of royalty. A vibrant display of banners decorates the wall behind these; namely the crowned wolf of Highfield, on its field of gold. Cautiously concealed behind these, hidden behind heavily draping curtains unless tied back to allow fresh air to circulate, a set of smaller double doors lead to the gardens beyond. Above, at the peak of the hall's roof and wall, a vast window allows light to pour in through leaded glass stained with vibrant hues, depicting the Seven in carefully inlaid detail. A huge fireplace along the length of the right wall is more oft than not alight and crackling with every fresh log that is tossed into its embers.|
|Tuesday, January 01, 2013|
The Great Hall, normally a place of celebration and feasting has taken on a somber appearance with the absence of the Lord Aleister. Sitting at the head of the table, Bastien is dressed down in a brown tunic and leather pants. In front of him resides his mid-day lunch, a bowl of stew and a piece of bread. He looks less a nobleman and more a soldier at rest with the way that he holds himself, and that stoicism he always guards himself with seems marked with tired cracks.
With grim news, the usual cheer the Erenford lady presents to the outside world is sorely lacking. Her stay in Highfield had been brief, now she has come back a lot longer than she had planned. After asking after Lord Bastien, she had been directed to the Great Hall, though the news is important enough to warrant the interruption of ones lunch, it is not her desire to do so. With her usual entourage of three guards, a brother and a handmaid, there is another face. The courier of House Erenford, tracker extraordinare. A small army it must sound like as they walk across the floor. Wasting no time by being hesitant, the lady boldly walks in, an apologetic look on her face even as she interrupts his meal. "Lord Bastien," a curtsy given not only by her, also by her maid while the men bow.
Clad in the mourning clothes of the Erenford Household, Courier Valen offers a deep bow of respect to Lord Bastien as well, holding the posture for a long moment until the rest of the men accompanying Lady Aemy straighten.
Looking up from his meal, Bastien eyes the newcomers for a brief moment before he realizes who's standing before him. The look on Aemy's face and the clothes they wear tells far too much, and the stoicism starts to crack open as the man drops his fork onto his plate. Sucking air through his nostrils, Bastien places his palms against the table and pushes himself up onto his feet. "You come with news?"
After straightening, hearing his words and seeing his expression, there is a quick, telling look to Courier Valen before Aemy nods, a softening of her expression perhaps. "We do, though if you would.." The Erenford lady steps back a pace, allowing for Kalira to step in and give the news to the Lord. "Courier Valen?" A look of admiration for the very competent woman.
"Lord Bastien, let me start - first - by saying that we have not found Lord aleister or Lady Miranda as of yet. We have, however," Kalira says, putting the vital information in order of what will be heard first, "along the boarder between our land and yours, found the bodies of the guards that were accompanying them." She pauses, a small glance sent toward Lady Aemy before back to Bastien, "The bodies of the guards were stripped of all valuables, down to their weapons and boots, and tossed a short distance from the road. Their mounts were wandering about, which is how we tracked back to the site in the first place."
Lowering himself back into his chair, Bastien slips his fingers around the fork and taps at the empty spot on his plate for a moment. "Yet, you did not find their bodies, correct?" Even in this moment, he's looking for some hope to grasp on to with this ill turn of events. "Did it look to be the work of bandits or soldiers? Was there any evidence of the origin of their attackers? Surely they must have slain at least one of their assailants?" The questions practically flood out of his mouth as the large man leans forward, bending the wooden spoon against the plate as his eyes stare holes into the two women.
The scene had been a grisly one and as Aemy listens to the relaying of information she shudders, her oft times too expressive features giving way the worry she still feels. As with Lord Bastien, the absence of either of the nobles is a good sign, or so she assumes. There was always hope. Until there wasn't. Lifting her chin, she looks to the taller woman. Not having been an experienced tracker, the lady knows not what to look for. Yet she felt she had to do.. something. Suddenly the information seems so very little in the large scheme of things. Again, lacking the knowledge to answer, Aemy bows to the superior wisdom of the courier.
"We did not find the bodies of Lady Miranda or Lord Aleister, no," Kalira confirms with a slow shake of her head. "But, the clothing of their guards, my lord, taken - armor, weapons, tabards, boots - all gone. All markings that would make the men clearly of your house, of Highfield, Ashwood, those markings were all taken." She clasps her hands behind her back as she reports, one hand curled over it's opposite wrist, shoulders squared, her voice quiet but clear spoken, carrying - conveying - the words. "We have no way of knowing, my lord, whether it be the work of bandits or soldiers. We would speculate that the soldiers guarding your kin would not have been easily over taken by mere bandits. But, as our lord Marvish was killed by bandits, we cannot rule out this potential. We are unwilling to rule out either option, however, but there are no surviving members of the guard to speak to. The foot prints, the scuffle, all of it is a mess," and for a tracker to admit that conveys just what a mess it was, "half of my men are still scouring the terrain surrounding the site, spreading outward in concentric circles, searing for tracks that are useful. There were boot prints around the bodies, but nothing clear. The men behind this did not make mistakes so easily writ in mud for us to track and follow."
With a loud crack, the spoon snaps in half as Kalira finishes relaying what she knows to the Lord. "Then this information is nearly worthless." The words are harshly spoken, and his eyes move down to stare at the broken utensile in his hands as he speaks them. Sliding his plate aside, he places his elbows in its place and pinches the bridge of his nose. A deep breath is taken to calm his nerves, before he finally speaks once more, "You have aided us, and for that I am more than appreciative. Yet, I am filled with a rage unbefitting of the presence of Ladies. If you will excuse me." With that, he's pushing himself out of his chair and turning to walk towards the gardens, his hands clenched into fists at his side.
The technical talk of the scene is listened to more closely. The conveyance of the information about the guards creates a fissure of alarm within the noble lady. "Worthless? You have to realize someone out there now has the uniforms of the guards of this house and could do what they wish while pretending to represent House Ashwood?" Aemy's voice echoes in the room to the departing nobleman. "Perhaps you should get the word out." Refusing to back down.
"No information, my lord, is worthless," Kalira speaks again into the silence after Lord Bastien turns to walk toward the gardens, "what is required is to discern how this information may be used in light of the mystery that you are presented with. Now," and she draws in a breath, her not inconsiderable height making her stand taller than some of the shorter men in Aemy's retinue, "their bodies were not found, which suggests that they may be held for ransom. The guards bodies were stripped, which suggests a use for their tabbards and attire, dress other men in their guise and a great deal may be done to cast a light upon your house that would be unwelcome. If you have other tabards that your men can wear, something distinctive, perhaps that would be a measure to take in the interim."
Bastien stops in his tracks. That possibility was overlooked, and it seems that the man's mind had rested solely on the recovery of his older sibling. Turning around towards them, his hands unclench and his brow furrows as he moves forward. "You are correct. A change of uniform is in order, if this is the case." Bastien stands in place for a long moment, a hand raising to smooth across the stubble that has formed on his face in the past few days. "At least an official notice warning of these doppelgangers." That hand slides through his hair, smoothing it back as he eyes the drapes that guard the entrance to the Gardens. "Once more, I must thank you both."
Having no wish to humble a nobleman, Aemy does back down now and offers the barest hint of a smile. "They will be found, they have to be.." Those are the only words of encouragement she can give at the moment. He looked like he had been through so much in so little time, she was loathe to add to it by making him feel worse on top of it all. Once she has said all she has to say, she offers another curtsy. "Thank you for your time."
Kalira bows again, echoing the gesture that Aemy had given, "The mounts that your men were riding were brought with us along with this news," she explains as she straightens. "Has word been shared with Lord Walder, Lord Bastien, that he may search his lands as well?" is wondered, voicing the question that had oft been voiced while she and the woodsmen with her - and the soldiers doing their recon as well - had wondered.
"Lord Walder will be informed. I'd kept up the hope that this venture would have brought an end to this crisis. It looks as if this will not come to an end any time soon." With that, the large man waves a hand towards them. "Please, go. You're welcome to a meal and a bed if you wish of it, but I must spend some time alone." And with that, Bastien disappears behind those curtains and into the gardens.