|Summary:||Prior to a fateful duel, Riordan and Valda stand vigil on the roof of Tordane Tower, and talk. And actually get along.|
|Related Logs:||Right before Eschaton Of Stonebridge|
|The circular rooftop is set with crenellations and two guards watch over this area on shifts. Set in the center is the roockery, created with iron and wood, the cage is ventilated and has openings on either side to allow for Raven releases. The view of the town and surrounding area is large, with the breeze rushing in off the waters.|
|Sun Apr 29, 289|
The time for the Duel for the Bridge, as some are calling it (or perhaps noone at all), is fast approaching. Preparations have been made as much as they can, and now, there is nothing to do but to wait. For Riordan, that means doing so alone, on the parapet. Even the guards are currently on the opposite side of the rookery, far away from their Lord Regent, perhaps catching some of his mood, or simply just imagining that the man whose cousin might well die today would like a moment of peace. He stands in the corner of the tower with the best view of the bridge, looking out over the town, the water, and the stone structure which is the source of so much contention. Dressed in the colors and sigil of House Nayland of Stonebridge, the Nayland knight simply gazes out at his current domain with a brooding expression.
The Castellan of Stonebridge steps onto the parapet sans men-at-arms or handmaidens. She has dressed for the occasion in the colors of House Tordane. A muted green gown is fitted over her arms and torso before fanning out over her hips and falling to cover all but the tips of her boots when she walks. Bound across her waistline is a vibrant red sash, which has been pinned and allowed to drape elegantly over her left leg. A thin gold band, inset with small emeralds and rubies, surrounds the crown of her head. The gems easily visible when they catch the light, in direct contrast to her jet black upswept hair.
Her normally cerulean eyes have darkened, clouded with thought, emotion, or both as the fate of what remains of her family and, indeed, her very life will soon be decided. As those orbs fall upon another on the often abandoned parapet, Valda pauses in her steps. Only after a moment does she offer a curtsey. "Ser."
"Lady," Riordan says, turning and offering the Tordane woman a bow. His expression remains clouded with his own thoughts, for once seeming hardly boyish at her. Certainly no grin to distract or disarm. Instead, he observes the courtesy, and then turns back to his vigil. Rather then dismissing her from his thoughts, however, he speaks, albeit in a distracted tone. "I never thought so intelligent and wise a man could be so singularly stupid." There is hardly anymore anger in his voice on the subject, now, as the time draws close. Instead, he just seems worn. "I suppose if most of us can be, however, he has just as much right to," he ammends, with a small shake of his head and a bitter twist to his lips.
Valda steps out further and rests a pair of kid-gloved hands on the stone ledge. Her gaze goes instantly to the Stone Bridge where at least one man will die this day. Although her voice is mostly calm, there is an edge to it as she retorts, "Ser Rygar has more cunning than the rest of House Nayland combined. Stupidity is not part of him." She makes no apologies for the implied insult to Riordan. "No, he thought this through quite thoroughly. And while his logic is sound, I disapprove of his conclusion, if only because he is certain to die during the duel — by poison on the Pretender's weaponry, if not by standard means."
"If it were merely that intellect that brought him to this, my lady, I might agree with you," Riordan says, not commenting on the intelligence of his House, and focusing on the issue at hand. "But my cousin is also most righteous, and whatever else, I fear it is clouding his otherwise normally impeccable judgement." He sights, his own hands on the stonework as he looks out at the bridge, and the distant camp on the other side. "I doubt my cousin will be felled by poison, my lady. He is many things, but Ryker he is not." Even now, the thought of his brother brings a hint of sadness to his eyes… but only a hint, for he seems to have little energy when it comes to emotions at the moment. A certain rarity where the boyish Nayland is normally concerned. For a moment, it likely seems as if Riordan is about to remain silent, before he asks, the tone one of soft and idle curiousity, "You love him, do you not, my lady?" He does not put much energy into the question, however, nor does he look to her when he asks it, acting almost as if he doesn't actually expect an answer, or perhaps just assuming she will deny it.
"He is attempting to keep Stonebridge for your House, for your unborn nephew, without the Naylands being marked as traitors." There is something hidden in Valda's voice, information clearly being left out, but she does not elaborate further. "More than righteous, this is a brilliant way to handle the matter… if he could be assured of victory. Such is his love of his family that he will do this, rather than see lands lost and dishonor brought upon all of our heads." She pauses only briefly before adding, "As for poison, it can fell even the strongest of men, especially when entering the body through a blade's slash, rather than ingested."
The proud woman falls silent then, and it seems as though she will not answer the question at all. At great length, she quietly replies, "He is married, ser. Do you join in the Pretender's accusations against me?"
"As I said, my lady, I understand why he is doing it. I hold my family first above all else, which is why I never even considered interfering. But that does not mean I enjoy the prospect of losing my cousin. I love him. He is a good man, and he deserves far better then what he has been given." Riordan says the words simply, quietly, continuing to look at the bridge. It is only at her last words when he moves once more, his head turning to regard Valda as his eyes study the woman. Again, he seems much more subdued then is usual for him, and the tone of the words that follow echo this. "You know that is not what I meant, my Lady, But you do not need to trust me if you do not wish it. I merely hope that you told him. He may not overcare for much in the way of sentiment, but no man is utterly immune to feeling." He smiles slightly, bitterly. "You are right though. He is married, and his wife is a fine woman. You are the first woman I have met, aside from our Lady Grandmother, however, that is truly his match." He turns back to the bridge, adding, "As I suspect he is the only man that you might consider to be yours."
Valda bristles at the compliment for the absentee wife. "So fine she feels no need to see her husband for what is very likely the last time, to lend her support at the duel through her simple presence." The estrangement for years between Rygar and Anne is no secret, of course. Despite the eyes upon her, she does not take her gaze off of the bridge. In fact, she subtly turns her face away from Riordan's gaze by a few degrees. "I imagine expressing sentiment would only lower his esteem of me, ser. There are enough who believe little of me and I would not wish to count any of the Naylands among them. As to matches… if your cousin succeeds, I have time yet to broker my own match… with an unmarried man," she finishes wryly.
After a moment, Valda exhales slowly. "If he falls… well, the Pretender will surely slay me. But there are fates worse than death. I know you will protect my daughter and grandchild in my absence."
Making no further comment in regards to the official Missus Rygar, Riordan speaks in response to Valda's others words instead, as they both now regard the bridge. "Perhaps you are right. Still." Absently, Riordan drums his fingers against stone. "Those who underestimate you do so at their own peril, Lady Valda. For what it is worth, I know my cousin holds you in high regard. As do I." On the matter of a match, he glances aside to the Widow Tordane, and says, "Only if you wish to, my Lady. You have earned that right and more." He falls silent, after that.
Or at least, Riordan is silent until she speaks of what might happen should Gedeon win. With an abrupt turn to face her, he says, sharply, "That is sentiment, my lady. And though I do not hold my cousin's or your own penchant for dismissing most as weakness out of hand, in this case it is. If you are truly the type to give up like that, you are not the woman I thought. Rygar will do as Rygar must, as will you and I. Ours is the harder job. One day, and it might be over for him. You and I have a hard struggle awaiting us. And I will be damned if I am going to do it alone. If Gedeon River's ass must warm my seat for a time, so be it. But I will remove it for him, if needs be, and I will have your help in doing it. We will see him pay forwards everything he owes us a hundred times over. Your grandchild will rule one day, at the very least over these lands. And if we are even half as clever as I think we can be, then perhaps he shall rule from the Mire to the Roost, and all the lands in between."
And then, the Lord Regent offers Valda his arm. "Now, if I am any judge, it is time for us to be getting to the bridge. Shall we go and present a united front? Come win or loss, we are together in this now, my Lady Valda. And should the worst occur, I expect your bags to be packed and ready to take residence in the Sevens with your family. Our family." Because he meant what he said, on the day he first came to her as the new Regent.
Valda finally turns her head to look at the man as he gives an impassioned speech, her look a touch haunted. "It is a terrible thing to be alone, ser. You will have my help, if it should come to that. Understand, though, that slaying the Pretender and even all he cares for will not change what has come to pass. My husband, my only son, and…" There is a hitch, as though changing what she is about to say. "Your cousin will all still be dead. Yet at least Stonebridge will remain in the hands of the rightful inheritor."
She easily lays her gloved hand upon his offered arm, noting briefly. "I have already packed." Then she falls silent and lets the Lord Regent lead.
Riordan merely nods silently in response to Valda, offering the lady a smile that, though if not as encouraging as it might normally be, is nevertheless one of shared burdens. And then, the Regent and the Castellan of Stonebridge depart their vaunted view, and make their way to go witness today's most fateful of events.