Page 525: Disapperances, Sickness and Coincidence
Disapperances, Sickness and Coincidence
Summary: Nathaniel and Mortimer catch each other up on developments. In doing so, the Courier makes several seemingly unconnected points that all seem to connect together in the deputy's head. Coincidence?
Date: 30/Dec/2012
Related Logs: References to Aleister's disappearance, Flint sickness, the Daryl/Aemy's Guard incident and maybe (but maybe not) A Question of Snot
Nathaniel Mortimer 
Rockcliff Inn, Terrick's Roost
The Rockcliff Inn is one of the better inns within the town and it shows with the well-lit interior and the relative cleanliness to the other locations in Terrick's Roost. The tables are polished with oils and the floor regularly swept. A set of booths towards a darker rear of the Inn's bottom floor, just beneath the staircase, are where whores generally socialize and eye prospects from when not waiting tables. Signs over the undersized bar area advertise prices for ales and wines as well as several different choices of food to be served at the small eating area by the bar or in the main open area in its comfortable seating. A door behind the bar leads to the kitchen and cellar while another near the staircase leads to a private room that would appear to be off-limits to the 'wait staff' except for food and drink service.
Sun Dec 30, 289

The inn is particularly busy tonight due to the arrival of a caravan of merchants. Some are eager to sell their wares even while they take their evening meals. Others are eyeing the serving wenches, possibly looking to boost the local economy. Apart from this raucous lot, Nathaniel is standing at the bar, sipping a cup of tea as usual and watching the door that leads into the back, probably waiting for the bartender to return with any messages that have arrived since the courier's last visit. While he leans against the bar, he nods to the man next to him. "No," he answers. "Unless the Ashwoods can make amends to the Erenfords' satisfaction, I think that the betrothal is a lost cause." He sets the cup on the counter and shakes his head.

Having managed to get last night as effectively time off, it seems that tonight it's Mortimer's turn to keep an eye on the Rockcliff. The caravan was hard to miss earlier but on the whole he's not too concerned about illegal happenings, not beyond the odd drunken incident anyway. Ducking his head in the door he pauses just inside to remove his cloak, the extra bodies along with the fire making it unnecessary. That done he takes a moment to scan the room but seeing no cause for concern of yet he threads his way through towards the bar, offering the locals and those known to him brief nods in acknowledgement as he does so. Until he gets to the bar at least, then Nathaniel gets both a nod and a faintly amused "Master Corbitt, I was about to send a search party after you."

Nathaniel is lifting his cup again when the voice from behind catches his attention. He turns to see Mortimer approaching, and he inclines his head. "There's no need to worry now, although a huge storm north of Heronhurst kept me in one place for a while. Then Molly had some kind of breathing problem. She's past that now, fortunately." He glances behind him when the bartender returns with a large, lumpy sack that Nathaniel takes. He nods toward some of the merchants and adds, "I hear that One of the Ashwoods caused some commotion here."

Mortimer turns so his back is leaning against the bar, meaning he can both talk to Nathaniel and keep half an eye on the rest of the room as well. Crossing his arms over his chest, although more to provide support for his right than anything else he nods at the brief catch up, and then once more a the mention of commotion. "Aye. Their Deputy Sheriff I believe, although it was Lord Ozric who dealt with it as I was out searching at the time. Not sure exactly what went on but there was some issue with him and an Erenford Lady's guard, or he said so at least. Don't think the Young Lord was convinced."

"I've heard that it was some violence, or at least a threat of it, to the guard," Nathaniel offers the version that has reached his ears. Then he shakes his head. "I don't know. Things like that often grown and change from ear to mouth." He lifts his mug again for a sip. "I know this much. They're a new house with little name to boast," Nathaniel notes. "As such, they should be careful. I wouldn't want to make my name by casting shame on young ladies, especially if it's the one that I’ve heard, Lady Aemy."

"They're a new house all right, but they carry the pride of their old," Mortimer notes, although he does nod his head in agreement as he does so. "Name sounds about right, his betrothed? As I heard it anyhow, although mighty odd if true." He doesn't entirely understand it, but then he wasn't there and Ozric seemed to have it in hand so he didn't presume to interfere. "Any other news of interest from beyond our borders?

Nathaniel sets his cup on the bar and nods. "A riding party finally found that missing barge from Heronhurst, with the goods bound for Stonebridge and Seaguard. It ran aground on a sand bar in the river. So now the Erenfords are repaying merchants for goods lost to spoilage, and I've heard from the guards at Highfield are preparing to send out parties to search for the Lord of Highfield. He left the keep on a journey, and no one has heard from him since."

Mortimer might have said something regarding the Heronhurst barge, or he might have just nodded and let it pass, but the word from Highfield grabs his attention before he can do either. "Lord Aleister?" he asks, turning to look directly at the Nathaniel instead of absently scanning the room. "I'd somehow managed to miss that one. When did he ride? Do we need to search the borders again?" His tone, while obviously concerned, is steady and business-like as he adds another to the list of questions, "Where was he riding for?"

Nathaniel sips again, and explains, "According to the guards, they were heading for the Twins, to the northeast of Highfield. I count that a search here would yield anything, but they are our neighbors, so I think that Lord Ozric might offer some aid. We'll see what falls when he hears about it. All the same, I'm sure that keeping an eye out wouldn't hurt."

"You're likely right," Mortimer agrees, reaching his good hand up to scratch his chin as he thinks. "They'll only be here by way of deliberate misdirection on some part or other, but I'll put word out for the lads to be on the lookout." If they aren't already of course. "If you'll be on your way up to the keep with any of that," he nods to the sack, "could you make sure Lord Ozric knows? And Lord Justin, if he's there."

"I very much want them to know," Nathaniel assures. "Considering the other disappearances, this news from Highfield could be nothing, or it could be a huge worry. Highfield has enough worries as it is with a camp full of sick people outside that town. They have healers there. Still …" He shakes his head. "A little one died, master, a boy not much older than yours. Others there, mostly children, are quite ill."

"Other disappearances as in those two.. Ironborn who took the Children?" Mortimer checks, just incase there's more news he's not aware of. Even the thought of it is enough to darken his features it seems, or maybe it's that word on this date. The news of the boy's death is greeted with a grimace before he checks another detail, "is that the Flint camp? There was talk of disease there a couple of weeks back. It's out near the ruins of Tall Oaks I believe."

Nathaniel nods grimly. "Those, and the whole business with that weeping woman," he confirms. "As for the sickness, aye, it's at the Flint's camp. Mistress Dorsey traveled there to help. I think that she's still there. If Lord Ozric sends me with any message for the nobles there, I plan to ask him if I might stay a few days and help her. Whenever she needs fetch supplies, that takes from time that she could spend on the healing."

"She was Ironborn," Mortimer answer shortly, not particularly wanting to dwell on the topic of the reavers and missing children, not here and not now. Possibly not ever, but definitely not here and not now. Not that the alternative is great mind, but it'll do. "I'm sure she'll
do all she can for them," he offers, attempting to sound faintly more conversational, "and aye, if it's a camp full then they'll need supplies. Just be careful not to catch whatever it is yourself."

Nathaniel chuckles, and an actual smile venture over his lips. "Have you ever worked with Mistress Dorsey, Master? She'll put me under full inspection if I so much as cough." He shifts the bag of messages under one arm. "She's very careful." He looks at Mortimer's still injured arm, and questions, "And how are you fairing?"

"With her? No," Mortimer replies with a faint shake of his head, "but I've been on the receiving end of her work on a few occasions before now." Occupational hazard in part, but also it's sometimes useful to know a healer who doesn't report to your boss. Spotting the look to his arm he glances down at it himself, making a mental note as he does so that he'll need to remove the band of black cloth around it at some point too. Eyes turning back up towards Nathaniel he folds his arms once more before saying, "it's healing. It'll just take time I'm told, due to have it prodded again in a few days."

Nathaniel nods. "At least it was only your arm, and not your head," he muses. "And the business is done for good," he adds. "I know that trouble never ceases for long, but the quiet is welcome when it comes." He looks around the inn, and then back to the sack under his arm. "And unless all of these are congratulations for some good fortune that the lords are keeping secret, I suppose that I have more bad news to deliver." He frowns and sighs. "Such is life."

Mortimer eyes Nathaniel for just a fraction of a moment before he nods a slow agreement to his first statement. "Just the hand in fact," he clarifies, "one bone they said, but not one that's easy to keep still on it's own." Or thats what he understood of what they said anyway, they'd used more technical terms. "Lets just pray it is though, done for good. We thought it was before," he adds as the less than cheerful thought crosses his mind. Nodding towards the sack he the offers, "Lets just hope they are congratulations eh? I'll not be complaining about the quiet for a while yet, I can assure you."

Nathaniel looks again at Mortimer's hand while the man explains his injury. "I don't know about the bones, but I know that a small thing can cause great pain. I was in Stonebridge, but I heard about the rescue and all who were hurt. It was a rough business, so we need some quiet after it." He frowns again, and wonders, "Have you heard if any of our lords and ladies will be heading for Heronhurst for the wedding?"

With Nathaniel looking at his hand again Mortimer just shrugs lightly, "we could do with a few years of quiet at least I reckon. Might drive some of the lads spare but they'll appreciate it later." As for the wedding he simply shakes his head a couple of times, "I've heard nothing, but then that's not the sort of thing I generally hear about. Ask the Captain of the Guard, he'll likely know as it'll be up to him to sort escorts as needed."

Nathaniel nods and shifts the bag under his arm restlessly. "I'll speak to him. My concerns is more about whether I need to carry any letters of congratulation to them. If so I might be leaving again in the morning, but I would like to check on a few things and buy some supplies here if I've time." He looks around the room. "I should head for the keep, but I'm glad to see you doing well, master."

“In the morning?" Mortimer repeats looking faintly surprised, "I'd thought Heronhurst was closer than that." Oh well, you learn something new everyday as they say. As the man makes to leave he gives a nod of understanding, duty is duty after all. "I'll hopefully see you around tomorrow then but if not, ride safe."

Nathaniel explains, "It's six hours to Stonebridge and then three more to Heronhurst, unless you cut across fields, which isn't a good idea during harvests. When you add the stop in Stonebridge itself to check for messages there, you've another hour." He chuckles. "Most couriers live on horseback and sleep beneath the stars," he remarks, "although I suspect that some do better."

"Aye," Mortimer follows with a nod, "but thats what nine? Ten hours? An' the weddings not for days yet?" He looks in askance for a moment, having figured it must be a multi-day ride or some such for such an early departure. Then concluding that Nathaniel must have other business as well, or that there's some grand noble tradition of doing such things early he doesn't know about he simply shakes his head in faint amusement and waves the younger man off with a fake dismissing gesture. "Go on then, if you're going," he offers is relatively good humour, "shoo."

Nathaniel notice the trace of confusion on Mortimer's face, and again explains, "Let's say that Lady Faline can't attend for some reason. She will want to send the apology well in advance, so that the Erenfords will not think that she has forgotten such an auspicious occasion. Once I have delivered that letter, I will need to wait for any reply, which might not come for a day or two. Then I will need to return here before the wedding so that the reply will not arrive too late, and thus disgrace the Erenfords." He shakes his head and an amused smile crosses his face. "It is an intricate dance."

Mortimer listens carefully, then works it all through in his head after Nathaniel has finished. The faintly confused expression remains, although now it's far more concerned with how it might take two days to write 'sorry to hear you're busy' or what-not. Nobles eh? Shaking his head again he returns the amused look with one of his own before repeating, "go on, shoo. Before I arrest you for making an old man's brain leak out of his ears."

Nathaniel laughs and offers, "If you'd accept pennyroyal, I'd be glad to pay the fine, master. Some people idly wish that they were born nobles. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. They bear a weight that's greater than all of the stones in their keeps." He pushes himself away from the bar, and inclines his head once more, and he hefts the sack. "I'm off to add to that burden. Be well, and give my regards to your wife and son." He sighs and heads for the row of pegs to claim his own cloak before he steps into the relatively cool night.

Mortimer starts to turn away as the courier makes his departure but then something in the other man's words pulls him back. Too late though it seems, since Nathaniel is already well on his way, but he continues to watch where the other man has gone for a good few moments after the door closes. The eyebrow that had been raised questioningly is then lowered slowly and his brow furrows slightly as he considers the nature of coincidences and just how much to trust them.