Page 438: Cousins Conjecture
Cousins Conjecture
Summary: Sers Justin and Ozric discuss various theories as to their current situation, with input from Mortimer. They conjecture a lot upon Jacsen and Lucienne, among other things.
Date: 03/10/2012
Related Logs: None posted yet.
Justin Ozric Mortimer 
Woodland Camp, MiddleMarch
It's a made up place where the Terricks have made camp near the MiddleMarch manor on Terrick lands.
October 3rd, 289

As the tracks, such as was left after the rains, seemed to lead towards MiddleMarch and the manor house there, Justin decided it was wiser for them to draw back and make a camp to rest their travel weary horses. He's ordered Jacsen's horse to be walked and watered, then lightly fed and watched for the beast had clearly been left for some days tied to the tree without proper care. Now Justin stands aside of his own horse he has untacked and groomed, his brow thoughtfully knitted. It's a cold camp, his orders not to dare a fire as they tucked themselves back further into the thick woods.
After seeing to his own horse, the lord Sheriff settles himself upon the damp ground and draws out the note once more, which Justin has now shown to Ozric and anyone else in the group who wishes to see it. He frowns, rereads it, then looks off in the direction of the manor. "Once our horses are rested, we need to determine who, if anyone, is staying at the manor. Lucienne may be there, or … these 'people' may have taken advantage of the minimal fortification. We need to know."

For his part, Ozric has his squire see to their horses. A tried and true tradition passed down from knight to squire- a ritualistic hazing which usually involves seeing to two beasts, while the knight had other things to do. Though in this case, it was setting up where they were to sleep, and seeing that armor does not rust or such. Weapon care and other trivalities. As it is, Ozric is currently seeing to his long broad blade, making sure the weapon is oiled and sharp without overdoing it and ruining the metal.

Seated on his stump the eldest of Bolland's brood finishes wiping down his blade, before he is looking now to the newly seated Sheriff. "I do not think we should leave anyone here. If we do, it should be a couple of scouts or guardsmen. Someone who can easily report back to the roost if it looks that they will be overwhelmed." Ozric says. "Ideally, we should just look through the manor and then move on."

Justin has no squire, only recently knighted himself, though Ozric's younger brother Lothar has been hanging around with Justin a great deal lately. Jerold's son seems to get along with Bolland's sons well enough so far. The note is folded and tucked back away into his belt pouch. "Aye, we'll not remain here if they aren't here. But I need word of my sister as well. If they /are/ using the manor I've a mind to storm it and confront them right off. Before my father gets some hair brained notion of beggering the House to pay the foolish ransom. Especially if they have my sister as well - because he'd do it even if he had to sign a contract in blood with Lannisters for a loan. He's not too … sensible, where she's concerned."
Poor Jacsen isn't even mentioned. Justin has no idea how close his brother and his father are anyway. His father has always pretty much ignored himself. He twists his mouth, idly watching the older Terrick. "What happened to your eye?"

"If your father beggars the House any further, then I would personally strangle him with his purse strings." Ozric adds-though there is no hint of coldness in the knight's voice. "The note said nothing of Lucienne, did it?" he asks with a faint raise of his brow. And there he turns passing off his sword to his squire who lingers close. "Sheathe it." commanded before he is looking back to his cousin curiously for a moment. "Well, before we decide to burn down Middlemarch and free the captives, let's make sure they are there. I am sure they would know we are here by now if such men were held up in there." scratching his jaw there is a motion back to his squire to fetch a drink.

"So I've heard." Ozric adds with a chuckle, before he is letting his brow pique higher. "My eye?" and with that his hand slides to his face and there is almost a comical moment of fear which washes over the older Terrick before he slides back into deadpan. "War happened to my eye, Coz." he says softly. "I took the wound, on the first Island we assaulted. It has had it's difficulties, but nothing that could not hamper my worth as a knight." Bravado or confidence, it's hard to say.

Mortimer had been settled a short way away from the main camp, keeping watch on the manor while the rest saw to their horses and equipment. Having just been relieved by one of the actual scouts though he then makes his way back to the main group and heads directly for Justin, once the man is spotted. Crouching down besides the two Terricks he nods recpectfully to the pair of them before giving his report. "Apologies m'Lords, but just so you are aware, there has been no sign of movement from the manor yet."

"Iron Isles, then?" Justin had no idea Ozric's injury might be … that recent. He grimaces and touches his lower left side with a hand, "They put me out of it with wounds early. I was laid up in Seagard and never saw the Isles. They killed my knight, Ser Haffrey Tully." Yes, not pleasant memories on either side of that. He lets it go.
To Ozric he gives a faint nod, "I remember my father as a strong, wise man. He /has/ been careful about money, not wasted it. It is only since the death of my mother that he has … faltered so much. It is his lack of sense where my sister is concerned, that worries me, Cousin." Justin gives a negative movement of his head concerning the note mentioning her, for it does not. "It would not be my intent to burn the manor anyway. Surely there are ways we might force entry more stealthfully, and take them by surprise. It is no castle keep." The young Sheriff tugs off his boots to inspect them one at a time. They are much worn and in need of replacement. "I doubt they have holed up there. It would be too easy to find and deal with them."
Mortimer's arrival quiets Justin briefly to listen, "Very good. Have you been introduced? This is my deputy sheriff, Master Mortimer Trevelyan and this is my eldest cousin among Ser Bolland's sons, Ser Ozric Terrick."

There is a brief laugh there. "No." he replies. "Dragonstone." And there Ozric shakes his head. "I earned my name on the Isles. I lost my eye in the Rebellion." he adds before he is looking back towards Justin. "You did not miss much. Just the usual plagues of war, and men watching their bowels leave them as they die." A pause as he does not press about the late Tully, or Justin losing his knight. Still Ozric straightens as a wineskin is brought over, and he uncorks it with his teeth.

"Loss can either strengthen or wrack a man." the other knight notes. "Still, losing his wife has placed the House into such dire straights that we are forced to beg from neighbors." At the cost of their small folk, and the possibility of being choked off. Still he does not press on a sensitive subject. "I was being facetious about burning the manor down." Ozric says with a faint grin. "I find it interesting that it does not, and that the horse would be brought here, your brother's…And yet, no one would know why he went out in the first place. Then suddenly this note." Ozric says, before he is looking to the newly arrived Master.

"Master Trevelyan.." as much as a greeting the other man will get from Ozric.

There is a flicker of Justin's grey eyes to his cousin and a nod about which isle. Ozrix is nearly a decade older than he, but not quite. He tugs on his boot and adjusts his spur. "It has worn on him, made him old before his time." he comments about his father, "But let us not confuse the state of the Roost through misshandling. The Ironborn laid siege, cousin, and burned most of the town to the ground. We were never a wealthy house to bounce back so easily as Seagard from such devastation and Seagard herself had all of her funds tied up in her own rebuilding - so they sent us a few men and women, but no coin, no supplies whatsoever." A small, quiet sticking point. "So we have had to make our own way with the Accord, and at very reasonable repayment rates."
A pause then to consider the issue of Jacsen and his horse. Justin twists his mouth a bit, "I believe Jacsen came here to meet Lucienne. They are very close siblings." Unlike say, himself. "Tying the horse out here with a note however … that does baffle. We might not have come out here for days yet and the horse break free or die. Seems to me it would have been safer on their part to have sent the note, to make certain of it's delivery."
A negative movement of his dark head, "Makes no sense though. Who in the Cape does not know how strapping fucking poor our House is already? Why us, when we have so clearly put almost every bandit we've come across to the sword than pay such ransoms. It's completely absurd."

Mortimer didn't even manage to get as far as Seagard having been taken out of the reckoning at the Battle of Alderbrook, before the Roost was liberated infact. However, he's not about to get into a 'my scar is bigger than yours' contest with the nobles so he keeps his peace. As the introductions are made he turns to Ozric and nods once more, what with proper bows being awkward and ungainly in such a hunkered down position. "Ser," he replies respectfully beofre he adds his own thought on the horse issue. "Begging your pardon m'Lord," he says, this time to Justin, "but with the last bandit kidnapping, the Ladies, they also left the horses tied up to trees, or some of them at least." Maybe they didn't get them all?

"A lord's duty is to his people, even in the face of adversary, Coz. Whether that adversary comes in the form of the loss of one's wife or an all out assault by reavers." Still, Ozric is not speaking in malice, or so the tone would suggest. "I do not know much about the present situation, other than what I have been told, and as I see it from my limited knowledge, you and your good sister were the only to try and keep things from sinking. All else sat firmly on their raisesd thumb." A shrug there for a moment. "All the same, we are here now." A glance back towards Justin and there is a snort. "I'd not trust a wolf, more than any other neighbor, but that is beyond the point."

A glance to Mortimer. "Has no one been here in Middlemarch since the invasion?" a glance back towards Justin. "Was this place left undefended for the most part?"

"The Lady Lucienne was here for a while m'Lord," Mortimer replies after a moment's thought. "I was not yet back in the Roost at the time, but I believe she come here for a while to recover after the death of her Lady Mother." That's what he's heard at least, and has had no indictation of a need to doubt it.

"It's inland .. Lucienne was often to live here with men enough sent by my father to keep her safe. She's managed the land for the most part." Justin says nothing more about his father and his brother sitting on their thumbs, a turn of phrase he himself has said to Anais in anger. There's no denying that truth Ozric states. His attention is briefly arrested by Mortimer. "Aye, but I do not think these men are related. I put good effort into making certain none slipped us of the original group."
Justin turns to reach around for his saddle bags to open them up and bring out his own kit for maintaining his gear. An oiled cloth, a stone, a vile of oil. As Ozric had his squire do, Jerold's son does for himself. He draws his sword to check it's edge and start rubbing it down against the damp. Unlike Ozric's blade, Justin's is in poor condition. Much rust pitted at one point but since honed and oiled many a time to try and salvage it for further use. The brass eagle pommel does not match the rest of the blade's style, obviously a replacement for a broken and lost piece.
"I assure you that I do not trust the wolf, even if he heards the flock of sheep to us. Lord Ser Aleister may well be the most dangerous man upon the Cape, cousin. Even to his 'allies' and I shall not forget it." He gives Mortimer a nod about his sister.

Justin adds very low, "The Erenfords, Ser Kell said, don't blieve it was bandits who slew their Young Lord."

" A sad affair." and there he motions towards Justin's blade before shaking his head. "You may use my squire on such. He won't be able to repair what damage has been done to that blade, but he will be able to make sure it is servicable." And with that he is turning and calling. "Peytyr!" it seems that, even if Justin may protest, the elder is already hailing his squire over to see to the work. And with that the lone eyed knight is back and focused on his cousin and the other man. "It could easily be a copy of such an attack. Surely the details were known by others, even by others in our own House.." and there he looks back towards Justin, a curt nod. "I would not be surprised if that was the truth, Ser." a rub of his jaw. "He may well be, but he's also just recieved a sound drubbing by the hands of those he sought to devour." a pause. "Despite what we owe him, we should keep them at arms length. Which by the way, know you a Fenster knight named Trajan?" an odd place to go from trying to figure out this current mystery. Ozric of course waits, for an answer.

Mortimer glances between the two Terrick's for a moment, wondering if this is a conversation they'd rather be having amongst themselves. Having had no direct indication of such form Justin yet though, he decides to comment where he can for a little longer yet. He'll leave the topic of the CHarlton, as that is definately politics beyond his station, but the previous kidnaps are another matter. "The details were known widely m'Lord, there were representives of many RIverlands houses invovled in the searching, along with others from the North and the West as well. It was the talk of the Roost and Stonebridge for a while so there is little chance that curious ears would have missed any particular details."

Jerold's son is a little loath to let go his blade to the care of another. Justin finally does, "It's … badly in need of replacement. As soon as I have coin enough, I mean to have it reforged anew. It was once good steel, long ago." His own hands once more idle, he hands over the cleaning and honing things as well. "I have no squire. I've been considering taking on your younger brother, Lothar. If his father agreed."
Justin wipes the oil from his hands, "Aye, and there's precident. Earlier the lady Alys Charlton's handmaiden and guard were sent away by Lord Aleister after they had displeased him. They were his Uncle's people and they were murdered upon the road, supposedly by bandits. I have my doubts but no proof." Justin pauses to look to Ozric, "Trajan? Aye, he came by the Roost once, briefly. I have him watched closely and warned the Young Lord Alric I'd run off his cousin in a heart beat, if he caused any trouble. What of him?" He gives Mortimer a nod once more but doesn't seem inclined to ask his deputy Sheriff to leave them.

"Peytyr is a good lad. Sometimes he seems dim, but do not let that fool you. He is smart where it comes to his duties and he has a caring hand." Ozric tries to reassure the other Terrick, before falling silent. Though it does not last for long. interest piqued, Ozric nods. "It would be good for him, he has long since been without one." A knight that is. "I would approve of it." said simply before he is rising slowly.

"Then I would consider this your proof." he says, of course meaning to the notion of the Charltons using bandits to murder folks. Of course, all conjector. "I'd keep him watched. Lothar and I found him practicing on practice dummies on the green with live blade. Not our own, but still I do not like the thought of a knight, not of our own pracitcing with sharpened steel on our green. When we questioned him about it, he seemed defensive. And said if we wished to be good at what we do, we should use the dead." a grim smile there. "Needless to say, Ser. I do not trust, nor like him close to our walls-not with the Naylands currently visiting." And with that he is turning to head off a few paces. "I need to talk my horse and take a piss. Excuse me." Well, one thing can be said of Ozric. He is blunt.

Justin lifts both of his dark brows very faintly at Ozric's comment concerning taking of his brother on for squiring. It's a compliment, really. Yet he says nothing, listening to hear Ozric out about this Trajan fellow. Hah! That bluntness coaxes Justin to smile, "Certainly." he and Ozric will get along just fine, most likely. No courtly bullshit to muddy up the water.
He looks over to Mortimer, "You familiar with that Trajan Fenster fellow? Seen him yet? I think my cousin and I agree - he's not to be trusted. Sort of man who … looks for fame, attention, fear to make him feel stronger. He's likely to be trouble if he's not all talk."

"If you can provide me with a description of ser Trajan, I'll make sure the lads keep their eyes peeled," Mortimer states with a faint frown, not entirely sure he knows the man being discussed. As Ozric takes his leave he replies with another respectful nod-come-bow and a quiet "m'Lord." Then though he turns back to Justin and notions with his head back towards the manner. "I think we'll know more once it gets dark m'Lord, if there is anyone there then there's a chance they'll make light once it gets dark, and then we can be sure. I must admit though that I'm not sure what level of household was left to run the place when your Lady SIster last departed." He doesn't go breaking down any doors just to find an aged old steward or such pottering around the place.

A slow nod to Mortimer's wisdom, "Aye, though Lucienne herself may be there now. I believe the manor is closed up when she's not been there and the rest of the folk here tend the land, not the house. Lucienne has always been very particular about having her own people about her." Justin eases to lay himself back to lean against his saddle and rest for now. He puts his hands up behind his head but has left his armour on.
"You'll know Trajan if you see him." Justin doesn't seem inclined to give the man the honor of knightly title, "Very pale, dark hair, strange eyes. Half his face ruined. Tends to seep … a vile, black ichor. Rather than sweat like a normal man. Something very unnatural about him. You won't mistake anyone else for him, Mortimer. Seems to fancy himself a torturer for his House. I'm not so certain he's a Charlton puppet as much as a loose bird, hoping to sup on the bodies of others for his own delight."

Mortimer will take Justin's word on Lucienne, he is the one who has lived in the same building as her, however briefly. All he can do is work from observations from his time amongst the garrison. "If we do see light, do we send the scouts in for a closer look? Or are you intending to do that if there is light or not?" Not that he's trying to tell Justin how to do his job, he's just trying to work out in his head how this is likely to play out.
As for the description of Trajan, that certainly gets his attention. "I think I can safely say m'Lord that I do not know the gentleman, although I believe you are correct that we should be able to keep track of him easily enough." Outside of the tower at least, inside then the guards will have to deal with him. "Sounds like an unsavoury type for sure though, anyone who counts themselves in that profession generally is."

Nobody is going to be letting that fellow /into/ the tower if Justin can help it. Noble knight or not. "Aye, we'll go and have a look either way, once we've rested some and evening comes on. Before it gets too dark, I want a good look at those tracks again to see if we can determine how many we may be dealing with, and how good their horses. Then after dark, we can check the manor itself. Come the morning we'll head out early. If we think they are here we'll want to get more men, Ser Bolland himself as well. If they aren't, we'll see if we can track them to learn what area they might hold to if we can."
Turning his head, Justin looks to his deputy, "I have no intention of paying the ransom. If they held me and my own life forfiet, I still would not pay it. It would break our House. I have cousins enough to take my place if it came to it."

Mortimer nods his understanding of the plan, it seems reasonable enough after all, and also one unlikely to turn into a chaotic comabt situation. "Understood m'Lord, I'll make sure the scouts are aware so they can be fully rested before hand." As for the ransom, he nods again at that. "Is the price a significant one?" he asks, before then clariffying, "I mean, is a price that the House could just pay and then be left with nothing? That might indicate that whomever is behind this has inside knowledge of the state of finances. Or is it simply a figure designed to ensure ruin with it's sheer size?"

Justin gives a negative movement of his head, "To my knowledge, no. 400 gold dragons is what they want for Jacsen's return, else they'll kill him. And they want it by October 13th. My House would be hard pressed to scrape up even a /single/ gold dragon at this point in that short a time. Even if we took every piece of my mother's and sister's jewelry (to which there isn't much) and sold it elsewhere. A few jewels, freely given to free a son. But it would take time and gather far too little."
His mouth a hard line for a breath, the lord Sheriff adds, "We could maybe get it from another House but the loan rate would be … abismal. And I do not forsee a means to pay it back within the next several years. It is too much. We'd have to give up land and not a little of it. These people are foolish if they think any heir's life is worth so much when we don't have such coin. A wealthy house could do it, but not us."

Mortimer is in someways at least, relieved by that news, it rules out a very unpleasant option that had been bugging him quietly since the note was found. "I hope it shall not come to any of that m'Lord," he offers simply, before another thought obviously occurs to him. "Land? How much?" Mostly he's wondering if it's the same amount as would have been given to House Groves in Lucienne's dowery, but he's not entirely sure what it would indicate if there should be a correlation.

Jerold's son shrugs, "I haven't the faintest idea what land goes for. Highly variable." He turns his head to look at Mortimer, "No offense, but I'd be damned to the Stanger's hell to be forced to work eternally the Smith's fires before I'd be giving up valuable lands for my brother. He's been as bad as Lucienne, worthless." Justin sits up and scowls, then whatever he was about to add, he instead offers, "If I don't think my own life would be worth 400 dragons to ransom to filthy beggers, I won't see my House give up so much for my brother and sister combined. Such men do not deserve rewards, but death. I will hunt them, Mortimer, and I will put them to the sword, not pay them in gold."

And back come the sounds of boots marching along, and soon enough the dour Knight has returned, with one hand moving to adjust his patch for a moment. A shake of his head upon reclaiming his stump. "Have we come any further to understanding what lies before us, or with this Ser Trajan?" Ozric asks with a faint grunt as he situates himself and tries to find comfort on the damp wood. And then he is looking mack towrds Mortimer. "Master Trevelyan, if I may inquire. What do you do with us?" by that he means the Terricks. "I understand you to be a loyal man, and I do pardon if I have forgetten so readily. But, really.." And so Ozric trails off briefly, waiting to be caught up.

"Well m'Lord, such decisions are for youself and your Lord Father, although I must ask, has it been assertained if your Lord Brother had the family seal with him when he disappeared? There could be great damage done to the House if that is taken and abused." Probably still not 400 gold dragons worth of harm, but there's a reason they're only given to those how are trusted utterly. As Ozric returns he greets the man as before before answering the query directed at him. "I assist your Lord Cousin here in his duties as Sheriff," he explains simply, "and before that I served as part of the garrison at the tower."

There's a nod to Ozric's return. Justin was laying himself down to rest, talking quietly. Until he sat back up and his tone had become somewhat more heated. He shifts his jaw, "Aye, Mortimer here has served my family for many a year, faithfully. He and his family suffered at the hands of the Ironborn, yet he's a good man." So Justin vouches for him.
His steely gaze slips to Mortimer at mention of his father's Seal. No, he's not answering that question out loud. He licks his lips and Justin moves to stand, dusting himself off. "A Seal can be replaced, and anything so marked by the old one questioned closely if a duplicate record isn't maintained also within our library. Such things have been known to be lost before, especially in wars." Nonetheless that would be a mess.
Not answering Ozric's question of Trajan, Justin starts to walk idly around their small area, restless.

"Ah, so you would be our undersheriff then?" Or deputy, depending upon which title one wished. Others to be conferred could be sextant or reeve. Still Ozric eyes the bailif for a moment before nodding. "I am sure you are a good man at your job, though I will state it is unsettling how many bandits seem to be in our wood and land." A faint grin there. "Desparate times." Fate ever rolls on. He props his boot up, and reaches back for his wineskin, left there and so he is going to drink before inspecting the tread. A small frown, before he is looking back towards Justin. "Are you going to answer, Ser?" Apparently the quietly walking motion is not something that Ozric will sit with. "I assure you no one here will ride off to the Fensters and tattle-nor the Charltons. We are all Terrick men here." a faint amused look amassed on his face, before he is setting the skin down and he reaches for his knife. "Something must have you worried.."

Mortimer makes a mental note to not mention the seal again, not given the reacon that it just generated. He glances down to the floor for a moment as Justin stands then turns back to Osric and confirms Justin's run down of his own service with a faint nod before saying of Trajan, "We'll be sure to keep a close eye on him m'Lord. Ensure he doesn't manage to get himself into any trouble." THe comment about the bandits gets a weary sigh before he confirms "Aye, I don't think ther's any that are happy with it Ser. The problem being that we lack the man to tackle it. There is no coin to hire extra guards and the way the Ironobrn ravanged the land means that many who were once honest workers now see bandity as an easy option compared to the rebuilding efforts. We've been able to keep the main routes relatively clear, but the more remote areas are still very much at risk, easpecially with the loss of House Charton on our northern border. Large areas of their land are now idea hiding places for those living outside of the law. I assure you though, that we are doing waht we can." Although the knight is correct, it is not really enough.

"Aye, many a thing weighs upon my mind, Cousin. Some of which are not for the entire camp to concern itself with. I will walk with you a little if you would hear them, or it can wait." Justin will leave it at that. He gives Mortimer an apologetic glance, then clasps his hands loosely behind his back in a pose much like his father. "As for Trajan, we'll keep an eye upon him. For myself I'd like to know what he's up to. Storm crow, most likely - he'll blow away to whatever satisefies his lust most from one moment to the next."
Justin listens to Mortimer and nods, "Also, these men are … if they are bandits, are likely mercenary sell swords recently let loose from the Stonebridge affair without much pay and less booty. Seasoned men, armed, not disgruntled smallfolk." Which he has said before, but not to Ozric. "They'd be daring enough, and stupid enough to try to ransom for so much from a House that can't pay it."

"They should be House Charlton of Highfield's problem now, though if given thoughts on the matter prove anything-it is a disheartening notion. Ozric shakes his head, before he is digging his knife carefully into the hardened leather of boot. Obviously set on taking out some rock that has lodged it's way in. "That will hall hopefully be taken care of though as we pick up our bootstraps and work our land. it will require being frugal, but I do think we can survive this and get ourselves out from Charlton debt." A pause as he looks towards Mortimer "The Seal is missing along with Jacsen?" he doesn't need to watch Justin to know the answer to that lone query. Rock plucked, the knife is sheathed before fingers smooth over the caked bottom of his boot. "Such men are dangerous. And I would not stand them being idle in my holdings. If we are to be neutral in this, I do not see any harm in us asking him to leave while we have Nayland retainers here." Plain and simple. As to his cousin's request there is a pause and he nods.

Rising up Ozric stretches, but once, before he is moving to walk alongside his cousin. Hands clasping behind his back, a nod is given to let the sheriff lead at his discretion. "You would think they would at least come and see if they cannot earn a place first."

While the question about the seal seems to be aimed at him, Mortimer isn;t entirely sure if he can answer it. He has a strong idea, but it certainly seems that Justin knows more. Only to be expected really. "I am afraid that I am not sure m'Lord," he admits. That whole topic he'll leave to the Lord Sheriff. At the words relating to the two nobles talking together he pushes himself back to his feet and turns to the younger of the two. "I'll go make sure the scouts are aware of the plan m'Lord," he states, giving the pair of them space for their discussions.

"Trajan isn't in the Roost, as far as I know. He left with Young Lord Alric who's welcome was no longer warm. Ser Kamron Mallister bid him go away and leave the lady Nedra be, and so he went." Justin curls one side of his mouth, "I would have run him out gladly if I had known what had been transpiring - yet much of it was going on at Seagard and elsewhere."
Ah, there's that question of the Seal again. Jerold's son doesn't say a word on that, but continues, "The Naylands will likely depart ere Trajan returns but we'll see." Alas, all this and Justin still hasn't had a chance to speak with the Lady Anathema since her arrival. Damnit. Hopefully Lady Anais has been. He is drawn from such thoughts as Ozric moves to stand and join him for that stroll.
The Sheriff gives Mortimer a nod, "Thank you, and Ser Kell also. I'll speak with Ser Kamron myself soon enough." Justin turns to look at Ozric, then nods and turns to walk to the edge of their camp and converse in low voices.
You whisper, "I searched Jacsen's chambers … the Seal was not there. I then confronted the Lady Anais and she was so shaken by not having found it, that I believe she told me the truth when she said she did not take it. It is possible that my sister, Lucienne has it for she has sought it before from Jacsen. Or .. he has it still, now in the hands of others. We do not know." to Ozric.

Ozric is quiet as he walks with Justin. Pausing slightly as he looks back to regard Mortimer and his request. The sheriff answers and the other knight, merely nods before turning to walk still with Justin. His brow raises, but still his voice does not pass beyond the small radius that the two men share.

Ozric whispers: Was it there before? I know I can understand Lord Jacsen keeping that thing on him. I would do so, if it were my own father's seal. Still-why would Lucienne want it? She is not the lady of this house, nor should she have access to something of such a nature of she is to be a Groves.

Justin walks quietly with his elder cousin and draws a slow breath, hands still lightly behind his back. He keeps his baritone quite low so not to carry, "She has tried to gain it before - tried even to blackmail my brother against his will to give it to her. Now with her marriage prospect ruined by her own temper, might she not desire to wrest power for her own right? Claim MiddleMarch for herself, perhaps. She does not seem to have love for her own House, cousin."
Musing, Justin shrugs, "Unless she's gotten ahold of it, I assume Jacsen has it. And if others now have him, they would have taken it. It does give them more leverage to ransom against us than holding my brother alone. Still, the note says nothing of Lucienne and that is odd. So I must wonder if she somehow escaped them." Or Gods only know this could be some ruse of her own to get money as well as the Seal. "Or there /could/ be another House behind it. Bandits, as we discussed, are an all too easy scapegoat. Therefor it is imparative that we search the manor at MiddleMarch and gain more information, if we are able."

Ozric nods quietly. "And your father's inability to do anything lately has only emboldend this behavior." Kissing his teeth, the elder Terrick stops for a moment and he looks back towards Justin. "Do we know exactly what happened with the Groves and Lady Lucienne? Why the apple of your father's eye chose to disgrace herself to her new goodmother-or soon to be good mother?" A raise of his brow in all of that before he is shrugging slightly. "Making for Middlemarch would make sense-though…Even if she and Jacsen were close it makes no sense to me that he would make for here without his own escort, or without notifying someone." A grimace forming, before he's looking back towards Justin. "I do find it odd. She's not made it back and there has been no reference to her in the note, let alone any reference to her anyway. I am sure the Groves know their own land, and we've been through ours here…" And the Vale knight brings a nail to his teeth, and chews once. "If she had escaped them, I am sure she would make for the Tower of the Four Eagles, or for the Kingsgrove.."

"Ah, but it does make sense if he was hopped up on poppy." Justin offers quite low as to why Jacsen might do something soo very foolish. "Or if he did not wish for anyone to know that he'd gone to meet with her." To all the rest, Justin gives a nod, "Agreed, Lucienne might unless … she is at MiddleMarch even now awaiting Jacsen's arrival - to which he has not and she doesn't know he's been taken."
Justin walks a few more steps with his cousin he yet does not know well, though Ozric seems to have a brain about him. "We know that she slapped the Young Lord Stafford's mother, but not what the dispute was over. Once we check out the manor, mayhap you should go onto Kingsgrove to speak with Stafford to see what more you might ascertain about those details. I fear, I am not likely so welcome there, not with the lady Roselyn and Ser Kittridge newly wed."

"Milk of Poppy, while having it's good qualities is more prone for fools to become addicted to it, and to abuse it. "A shake of his head as he shifts his weight. "It does explain a lot, and to how we could have lost out on the Groves harvest. Your father lost in his grief, and your brother milked out on poppy.." The sneer does not leave, but remains. Still he nods. "Only way for us to find out if she is here is to go in. So far they've not shot at us, I would even imagine those here, if not hostile have no clue as to what is going on.." assuming there is some staff here.

A glance back and he shrugs. "Or we can simply ask Lord Stafford what has been going on, I am sure he would be glad to tell us, as it would be our faults for such an ill behaving woman to come into his home.." turning his head, Ozric spits, before muttering several curses. "Thrice damned in this. Tell me, Lord Justin..You are a smart man. I like to believe my uncle had some smart children aside his unlucky wandring in his family." And the lone cool blue eye settles for a moment. "Let us walk through this together. If Jacsen left, because he recieved a letter from Lucienne to meet him here, but not tell anyone-Why would he go? He is married, he likely has other women to fill his bed." a pause. "I am close with some of my siblings, but I would not disappear from my holding to meet secretly with one of them in the Vale if they insulted their intended."

"Aye," agrees Justin, not denying the state of his family. His own mouth is bitter, "It has been very difficult to … do anything. We got the Accord through at least and stayed out of the Stonebridge bloodshed." Alas, he must also nod about Lucienne's spoiled brat behavior though he's been gone to Riverrun most of the past decade.
Jerold Terrick's youngest son stops to hear Ozric out. "I don't claim to be particularly smart, cousin." Justin says, faintly amused. "But I hope I can pay attention and learn." He twists his mouth though that humor quickly dies at Ozric's questions about motives. "I … I really do not know why. I've …. never been close with my family, Ser. Not with my father, not with my mother or siblings. So I couldn't possibly say. Unless, she had the Seal already."

Ozric snorts, and brings a hand up to rub along his nose, befor sliding back in his hair. "The Accord, is a weak piece that places us to be used in the advent that Lord Charlton wants his debt called in. I do not like it." kissing his tooth again, his eye drops down as he inspects his nail. "Still we did escape the bloodshed, though we could have profitted from it, had we acted." A shrug there, that does not matter.

"Even if she had the seal, and it had been stolen-I would not leave. A traitor and a thief can be dealt with easily by placing a bounty on the offender. Such things can be easily handled…" he mutters again before he is rubbing his jaw. "Why would they both come here?" assuming Lucienne agreed to it and did come. And there's a look over towards Justin. "This theory has no basis, but could the two of them want the money together? Or perhaps Jacsen be willing to create a hoax in order to see his sister taken care of?"

"I think we did not much have choice but to accept it when all other negotiations had fallen through. Would it had been better we starve, cousin? Our own people were falling to banditry out of desperation. The Charlton terms are far more reasonable for repayment than any other House would offer - by far." Justin doesn't entirely agree it seems. "How might we have profitted by Stonebridge? Do tell me."
He shakes his head no, "Not Lucienne. Not when she holds such sway over my brother and father - no one may touch her. I have tried, Ozric. I could not even so much as confine her to her chambers for a few days without my orders overruled, even if I had very good reason any sane man would have agreed with me for doing." He gives a nod, "Possibly. Lucienne has always loved MiddleMarch, her mother's family's former lands. Jacsen might do anything. I can't say that I know him well enough to judge. He and I haven't seen eye to eye. But he and she would also know there's no such quantity of coin within our House that we could possibly raise."

"Unless he is assuming the ammount that would be paid in her dowry upon being married. Lucienne, not needing the money now to buy her a groom, would be free to have it." A shrug there. "It is but fluff and conspiracy, but something I would think on-only knowing what I have heard of your sister." A frown there as he turns and looks back towards the camp and further on the manor house in it's simply sprawl." Still there is a shake of his head. "Just chasing thoughts. It is the exclusion of your sister in that note-though small and trivial that causes me to think something is up. Maybe they clearly do not have her, and Lucienne is off on her way to King's Landing or some other port."

"I would have found a way before turning to a House looking to cut us off from Seagard. But, that is my own inclination. The repayment might be fine, but I would have tried else." as to how one would profit there is a nod. "Which side shall I argue from, against or for?" A raised brow there as he awaits to hear from his cousin.

"Yes, that's possible." Justin grimly agrees, then smirks, "Kings Landing would suite her well if she had pockets full to bursting with gold dragons of her own." He doesn't apparently think too well of his sister. Poor Luci never cultivated Justin well. There is a soft huff of breath from the younger Terrick, "Trust me, we tried to deal with other Houses. I was leaning towards the Erenfords, myself. Except they couldn't give us nearly enough food or seed to last long enough for us to bring in harvests of our own, and they required our military support against the Charltons over Stonebridge, if they were drawn into violence. Support we could ill afford to give under the weight of our own losses. We tried for six long months to make other arrangements - even to bartering myeslf off in marriage to any house that would bring enough dowery. Hense the long betrothal negotiations with House Nayland for me to marry the lady Roslyn." The spinster who bedded Ser Kittridge Groves, instead.
Justin grimaces, "It's been one mess after another. And you don't answer my question about how we could have profitted by Stonebridge."

"I asked Ser, to that whom we should argue for. Since you have provided the Erenfords?" a brief pause before he is nodding and motioning with his hand, that they will move on. "We could simply have gone with the accord and allowed the Charltons the safety of thinking we would not move on them- or simply not made our intentions known. When war came we slide into the Camden border to the North-now Highfield and attack the township there, which cannot be much. Not by now- take what they have and ride back. It'd be a raid, but something that would set them back and insure victory to our allies in Stonebridge. If we sided with the Charltons, we could have harrassed along the rear and allowed Charlton troops to do so as well. Mind you my geography of here is not as good as it was, but those are non fleshed out ideas. It merely depends on what we wished to do." And there he folds his arms over his chest and Ozric offers a slight smile. "But, I do understand losses. Our own choice is just as fine. I am no fan of debt though."

Justin stops and gives his cousin an odd look, "You are aware of our own losses, are you not? We have lost far more than only a quarter of our population, cousin. But also money to equip our men, to keep more than a handful of knights. You have seen my own gear, shabby as it is." Justin shakes his head faintly, "To have attacked Highfield would break the Accord and loose us the food we require, and the seed to plant. And no other House would align themselves with us if we became a dishonorable House, now would they? To fight with them for Stonebridge also gains us nothing. Not Stonebridge, which would be worth fighting for if we had a real chance for it. But throw the lives of our men away to support the Charlton claim and Lady Danae? Are /you/ aware of how flimsy her claim is, one night spent with Ser Gedeon?"
Justin frowns, "No, we do better to rebuild our strength and let the others quarrel over it for now. We will be in a better position within a year, or two at most. We must be smarter than that, Ozric." The Sheriff makes a dismissive gesture, "At any rate, it's past and now we must focus on this problem of my siblings, and this ransom."

"Ser, you asked me how we would profit from such chaos, and I have told you. It would not be dishonorable in war. It is simply war." Ozric states from where he stands. "We are not inviting them into our home and murdering them-nor are we coming into theirs and waiting for them to slumber. We are doing what man has done since the Seven walked." A huff of a laugh, but it means naught. "And of course, I would not tell our men to support the Charlton claim, that is why we would have sided with the Erenfords and made due, or seen what grain a rather ally less neighbor could provide for what spears we have. I do understand our prosition and I do udnerstand the life we've lost." And there he looks back towards the manner. "We'd not take Stonebridge cousin, but we would see the opportunities therein and move on them. If you want your people to survive-sometimes you must make calls in which Honor is not always the better virtue." A glance over his shoulder.

"Simply, Coz." Ozric states. "We do not pay a ransom. We find them and bring them back." apparently there is no problem there. "If the bandits slaughter them, then we make such an example that no one feels because we are starving that we will tolerate such acts."

"I still see us gaining little or nothing from such actions and loosing more, war being the excuse or otherwise." Justin drawls. But he nods to the rest of it, "I would certainly not turn a blind eye to listening to how we might make gains, when opportunities present themselves." He has moved his hands to hook his thumbs into his sword belt, "Aye, no paying the ransom. Whether we get my siblings back or not, these greedy men will pay with their lives."
Jerold's son eyes Ozric, "And if I'm killed doing it, and Jacsen lost, I suppose you get to become an heir yourself, don't you? How fortunate, cousin."

"You humor me, with thinking that I would suggest we kill thieves and traitors in order to see you killed, Coz." Ozric replies with a faint smirk on his lips,though his back remains towards Justin. "I'll keep that in mind next time I wish to hurt my family." And there he looks back towards the other Lord. "That you might, but that is why you raid. And in our state, raiding an enemy would not hurt." But at the present the only enemies they hold are the bandits in question. "Sword is too easy couin." And there Ozric is turning to look back and pat Justin on his shoulder. "Hang them. I'll speak no more on it." Likely he means Stonebridge, the Seal or everything. All the same he is tromping back from where they came.

Justin watches his cousin closely, not really having any idea what sort of man Ozric might be, yet. Feeling him out. He stands his ground and makes no agressive move nor flinches at the pat to his shoulder, making solid eye contact. Again, that faint huff of breath that isn't quite a laugh, "I tried to hang the two we caught before. Gallows built in the Green. At the last, it was my father who ordered to allow the taking of the Black. I have no such intention, this time."
It's about time to see what the scouts have found. So he nods and the two cousins quietly part to see about breaking the camp.