|Summary:||Levies muster, borders are restless, and Lord Riordan acquires new nicknames.|
|Related Logs:||The Charlton Imprisonment Logs|
|Parapet — Stonebridge|
|Wed Jun 27, 289|
Waiting. That's about the feel in the Tower at the moment. Valda has gone off, Rutger already was. Those that are left are looking to the defense of Stonebridge. And all those people, in one way or another, look to Riordan. The Lord Regent, right now, is standing atop the parapets of Tordane Tower, looking off in the distance. Sometimes to the north, to Erenford lends, sometimes to the east, towards the Mire. He won't linger for long. He's been doing what he can to keep spirits up, be involved as possible without getting in the way of people's jobs. But right now, he seems to have desired a moment to himself. As ever though, Stanley will be able to point anyone looking for him (any who the manservant judges important enough anyways) to Riordan. Cause that's how it goes.
Ser Jarod isn't gone long, for his part. The better part of half the day, but it's a shorter ride in the direction of Erenford than it is to the Twins, so he's returned by sunset. And, when he does, promptly invades Riordan's attempt at privacy. He at least asks a servant to tell the Regent he's back and wishes to report in. Whether that happens below in the Tower Hall or on the parapet is up to the lord himself. Jarod will wait, to be joined or summoned.
The summons comes quickly enough. Whether it is bad or good news, he'd rather have it out here where he can glare at the surroundings and breath the fresh air. "What news, Ser Jarod?" he asks, glancing over at his goodbrother when the bastard knight finally joins him.
"My lord." Jarod offers Riordan a quick bow. On official occasions he prefers formality, which may sometimes seem jarring, given how informal he is on so many other occasions. "I'm returned from the borders with Erenford. I rode a ways in, though I did not come upon any sign of the Charltons themselves, so if they advance from that direction I saw no sign of them. I do recommend we keep a couple scouts on our borders in the meantime. I did meet up with some Erenford men who were doing some of their own border work. Spoke to them some." The way he says it suggests it was not a warm meeting, though he doesn't seem overly tense about it either. He's travel stained and dusty but not bloodied or bruised.
"The Charltons sent word. They hold my brother and several Erenford lords, in surety against the release of the prisoners we hold," Riordan tells Jarod, after a moment, giving his own news without preamble. "Did you find out anything else?" he then asks, after a moment. Riordan, too, can often times slip into such a manner, although his tend to be a little less predictable, as the mood takes him. Sometimes very polite, othertimes short and to the point, and still others, he'll just act his informal and irreverant self.
Jarod isn't given to unpredictable moods in knightly matters, though he does eye Riordan on occasions like this curiously. To see which direction he's taking. Though at the word about the hostages, Rafferdy in particular, he nods shortly. He doesn't look surprised, though grim concern is evident. "I shall pray for Rafferdy's safe return. He's family, after all. Little else, my lord, save that the Erenford smallfolk I met seem to hold the Naylands at fault for the taking of their lords. They umm…" He clears his throat. "They hold little love for the Charltons, aggressors as they are. But they cursed…" Ahem. He braces himself. "…Lord Feathered Dick for bringing them the ire of the mistletoe lords."
Riordan blinks in surprise, glancing at Jarod owlishly for a moment. "Lord… Feathered Dick?" he asks, before belting out a sharp laugh. His grin is small compared to usual, and any humor dancing in his eyes is heavily modified by the strain and worry of everything happening right now. But nevertheless, he does seem to find amusement in the notion. "Is that what they're calling me?" He shakes his head ruefully. "There is like to be worse, before the end. It… is just as well. They'll hail Rutger as a hero when he finally replaces me." This last is murmured, half to himself, though still loud enough for Jarod to hear.
Jarod gets off a chuckle himself, though it's quick and barked. "Could be worse. I've been called worse, though never with lord of a holding attached, I'll grant." He shrugs. "The men in the field are, doubt the lords'll say it to your face. They said Lord Erenford hadn't decided how to respond, though the Charltons've made no friends with them in this. Their lands raided, their men taken. I'd wager you can still find friends among them, common cause and all. But they've suffered for something they had no part in, and their smallfolk know it." The latter part of that makes him blink. "My lord?"
"That's why I like the men in the field better some time. There's one thing that the smaller folk have in spades that us nobles often lack for, and that is blunt honesty. Mind you, I'd not wish for it in the form Ser Rygar oft delivers it. But still." Riordan smiles lightly, though he does grimace a bit about the bit about raided lands and men taken. He obviously does feel something about that, and it certainly isn't pleased. He never wished it upon them. "Hmm?" he then asks, glancing back over at Jarod after another brief period of studying the scenary. "I've told Rutger I'm done with Stonebridge, after this is done with. Whatever happens, after this is done, I intend to convince my father to give him the Regency, and in time, Isolde's hand." He pauses, considering Jarod for a moment before adding, "I am sure my brother will keep you on if you desire it. Hells, but he seems to think more of Rowenna's dubious status as a knight then I, so perhaps she will find herself sworn to the Tower too." This last is added wryly, a mixed bag of feelings behind it, to be certain.
Jarod looks carefully neutral-faced during Riordan's assertions on his preference for the virtues of the smallfolk, though he does add low, "I'm no lord, my lord." The news about Riordan's regency-ship, or perhaps future lack-thereof, is met with a, "Huh." As if he doesn't quite know how to respond to that. Finally, all he says is, "You suppose it's that easy?"
Riordan and Jarod are up on the tippy top of the tower, looking out at the scenary, and chatting quietly. It wont be hard for anyone to find out where Riordan is. If they have important business, Stanley, Riordan's manservant, will point the way. "No, you aren't," he agrees with Jarod's professed lack of nobility. "For all you're more noble in spirit then most of us. It's probably why I like you so much, Ser Goodbrother," he tells the man, honestly and genuinely. At the last question, though, he simply shrugs. "Maybe? I don't know. But I intend to find out. I've never asked my father for much, nothing of true important. I intend to make up for that for a few things, however, that being one of them. Assuming it doesn't all fall to shit and I actually get the oppurtunity, of course."
Jarod gets a wry chuckle out of being called noble of spirit. "I try, my lord, usually not so well. That's all a man can do." Though he listens to all that without amusement. "You may not have asked him for much, my lord, but he's given you a great deal, and all with only the expectation of good and honest service in return." There's a touch of guilt there. Jarod is, perhaps, not just talking about Riordan there. But he just clears his throat and goes on. "Your brother Rutger I know of little. Though perhaps he is better suited for lordship of a holding like this. If I may say it, meaning no insult? It puts me in mind of my brother Jaremy. He had all the gifts in the world and did little but spend his time trying to figure out how to throw them away. And eventually he managed it, to his own ruin."
Ser Bruce Longbough has been sick with something for the last month or so, and it shows when he comes upstairs. Still, he appears to be on the upslope now and looks remarkably better than even a few days ago. His eyes droop and shoulders sag as he gets to the top, breathing a bit heavily. "M'lord. Ser Jarod." He greets, with a wave and a wan smile.
"Ser Jarod," Riordan says, rather flatly, his mood changing abruptly to quietly calm. "I know you mean well. And I honor your advice in the spirit it is given. But I am not your brother, nor am I you. My mistakes and choices are mine. I have spent the whole of my life living for my father and my family. And I will continue to do that. Or do you think my father favors me because I am truly a selfish brat?" He raises an eyebrow at that, and then shakes his head. "My father has ever given me gifts he thinks I want. And I have ever honored him by accepting them. This is one gift, however, that effects more then me. So I intend to see it given to the right brother, before it burns in my hand. I'll not abandon it or my family, though, and I plan on doing what I can, all I can, to see it prosper." And then, Bruce is arriving, and he gives the knight a nod, a smile being drawn out of him once more. "Ser Bruce. On your feet still I see." He seems to be studying the signs of the man's health, but aside from his earlier words, comments on it no further. "How stand the men?"
Jarod listens to all that with a resigned expression that suggests he was expecting it. It's met with a muttered, "Aye, my lord, forget I said anything." But the Jaremy comparison isn't retracted, or apologized for. Bruce serves as a fine distraction. "Ser Bruce!" The greeting is loud and with an edge of happiness to it, grim times aside. "You're not dead, then?" He cracks a quick grin, though his green eyes remain serious. "I just returned from scouting, on the borders of Erenford. Was reporting to the Lord Regent." He does look dusty and travel-stained, but not bloody and bruised or anything terribly dramatic.
Bruce coughs into the crook of his arm after a little bow is offered towards the full nobleman. "Good. There are few new bloods in the levies, and those that are there are awed by the veterans. They're well in line, m'lord." The common born knight falls quiet, scooting back a step to lean against the parapet. It looks like it eases him. "I've felt like dying would ease things, Ser Jarod, in the last month. But the Gods didn't take me, so here I stand. What did you find?"
Riordan remains silent, for now, apparently content to let Jarod fill in Bruce on what he just reported.
"No sign of the Charltons advancing from that direction. Perhaps they've done their work on the Erenford lands just to send a message, and are waiting for the Lord Regent's response. I'd still advise keeping a man out on the border to scout for the mistletoe men incoming, though. I figure if they don't come from the north, they'll try and come by way of the Mire, and Lord Rickart's men will see them before we do." Jarod looks to Bruce. "I saw little of note tactically, though I did meet up with some Erenford-sworn out on the border, and we talked a bit. The Charltons raided into their lands and captured some of their lords returning from the tourney, so they're on edge. Though the men I spoke with had little love for the Naylands, either. Felt their folks' troubles were our doing and called…" He clears his throat. "…well, they've some creative names for Lord Riordan. All the same, that was just soldier talk. Their lords may still wish to make allies with us. Common cause and all."
Bruce snorts and rolls his eyes. "They're playing into the Charltons' hands if they believe that." He mutters. "I'm not a well man, Ser Jarod, that much you can see. I can try to do as much as I can, but I tire very quickly. So it's best if you, Ser Daerd and Ser Rygar take the reigns on this as much as possible. But yes, keep the scouts out. We've nothing to lose by keeping our ears perked high and to the ground at the same time. I'd like to suggest, m'lord," he turns to Riordan, "that the prisoners be moved to the Mire as soon as possible. They'll be much more secure there, and I can't see any way that they'd take the Mire."
"Lord Feathered Dick," Riordan supplies brightly at Jarod's hesitation about bandying about his new byname. Then he falls silent, as he listens to the suggestions. He simply nods in approval as to the mention of the scouts, but it is the talk of the prisoners that causes him to pause and look thoughtful. "It's a thought, but one I think is too risky now. Not only would I prefer the blame of this little mess, if blame need be placed at all, to remain firmly on my shoulders… but they've hostages of their own now, and are very close to the route the prisoners would have to take. Which means that it is very possible they could attack any convoy we send, take the prisoners, and they will still have hostages to use against us. One of which is my brother Rafferdy." He speaks all this evenly, his smile long since faded, and reaching up to rub at his forehead. "I expect to hear from my father soon. More then likely he'll want to work out a prisoner exchange, and then we'll see if the Charltons really came here just for their men or not." Obviously, he doesn't seem convinced that is the only reason they are here.
"I'd agree with Ser Bruce, for my part. The Mire's more secure, my lord, and better-defended. We've only…what, fifteen men at arms counting our knights here? The Charlton prisoners outnumber us, in total, even locked up as they are. If they expect rescue and get bold from inside here…" Jarod shrugs. "…not that I'm afraid of a good little fight, but it may break peace we don't want to break. Which may get messy, as they've hostages of their own now. Perhaps we shouldn't move all of them, but splitting them and delivering some to your lord father's house may be desirable."
"I see. And Lord Walder just let them past the Twins. It would make sense, I suppose, from his perspective. He likely doesn't know or believe what House Nayland does." Bruce appears to be resigned, shrugging. "Perhaps it is a risk, m'lord, but if we send them under a strong enough guard I find it unlikely that any harm will come to them. Besides, until we get onto the swampy ground, we can march overland off of the roads. Our men know the land. Theirs do not. If they are indeed in Mire territory, we must do our best to shutter their supplies. I don't know how many men they have, but either they've got a large, tenuous supply line, or a very slow, ponderous baggage train. Seventeen, including yourself and myself, Ser Jarod. Plus the squires." He pauses to catch his breath. "They might outnumber us in professionals, but we outnumber them vastly. Our militia is well trained, blooded and experienced. They outfoght the Charlton men at arms consistently at war."
Riordan falls silent, considering the advice of the two men. "It's risky," he says, after a moment. Whether he views that as a good thing or bad is unclear. For now, he goes quiet again, waiting to see if either men have any other suggestions to offer up. Whether it be an entirely different plan, or one related to this one.
"We could keep their knights in Tordane Tower, my lord," Jarod suggests. "They're fewer in number, but the better warriors and noble many of them. So they'll be of more value when Lord Charlton comes to call for hostages. And their regular stock guardsmen may be easier to transport, so long as we've our own men armed well in the doing of it." He nods to Bruce, when the levies are counted. "Enough to maintain a town defense while a few guards are tasked for the journey to the Mire. It's not a long one. I do wonder if they've the backing of any of the other Houses. The Charltons, that is." He doesn't know, he just wonders it aloud.
"That wouldn't be a bad idea. It'd seperate the men from their commanders, make them less likely to try and get out. Ultimately, we've more important things to worry about. The Charlton force would be my primary concern. We need to find out where they are, how many they are and such. They obviously aren't a small force. They wouldn't be stupid enough to try and enter our lands with a small force." Bruce answers thoughtfully.
"The Haighs, almost certainly," Riordan says to Jarod, responding to his wondering before anything else. "They betrothed Lady Alys to one of Lord Haigh's sons recently. And as Rafferdy's last known location was Broadmoor keep…" He gives the two men a pointed look, and lets the rest explain itself. "Obviously not the Erenfords. And I would be surprised if Lord Frey has done more then let them cross." He then falls silent, listening to the advice, before nodding. "Very well. Ser Bruce, send someone you can trust, and who knows the lands, to lead the prisoner escort. Just the lesser men, we'll keep the higher ups safely here." Obviously including Ser Aleister. "Ser Jarod, will you continue to organize and lead the scouts? Ser Bruce is right. Whether they attack now, or after any possible exchange of prisoners, we need to know more about them so we aren't risking a blind fight."
Jarod nods to Bruce in simple agreement, and offers another nod to Riordan. "I can manage that, my lord. Aye, I'll see it done." He looks between the pair of them, though his eyes land on Bruce. "Rowenna's returned with me rather than sheltering in Kingsgrove. She'd be a decent extra sword for prisoner transport, if you don't want to task more guards than necessary away from the tower proper."
"I think that when we send the lesser men, we should send a full quarter to escort them, along with Guardsmen. They won't attack or try to escape from over half a hundred armed men. I'd choose Ser Daerd to lead it, or if not, then perhaps Serjeant Tanner. They're both local men." Bruce is beginning to droop with fatigue now, but he manages in a lower voice, "The Haighs have sided with the Charltons, too? Gods… What of the Terricks and the alliance that was being worked on?" A simple nod is directed at Jarod, with a motion of his hand to Riordan as if to seek the Lord Regent's approval.
"That sounds fine," Riordan says, nodding to both Jarod and Bruce's suggestions regarding the prisoner transport. Even the bit about Rowenna. "Nowhere near ready," Riordan then says, in regards to the Terrick alliance. There is obvious frustration in his voice, but he clears it out pretty fast as he continues. "Rutger is off trying to see what other allies we might find. I… think." He grunts to himself, the last said with a bit of uncertainty, but he waves it away, making it clear that the other two shouldn't ask. "Very well. See it done, both of you. And Bruce, see the Maester, then your wife. I need you in good shape, and rested. You tell the Missus she's to take good care of you." He smiles with his last words, never doubting it for a second. Or the fact that Bruce's wife will have a few choice things to say in response.
"As I said in Seagard, my lord, if the Naylands weren't…" Jarod purses his lips, and amends. "…if you'd made better friends with your neighbors, perhaps you'd not be in this position." He keeps any other thoughts on that to himself, though. A short nod about the rest of it, including the disposition of his non-ladylike wife. "Aye, my lord. Shall be done." A quick bow, and then he's ready to depart.
"I uh… Yes, m'lord." Bruce pushes himself off the wall he's been leaning to, dipping his body in a bow to the nobleman. "Gods keep. And you too, Ser Jarod."
"You do have a talent for stating the obvious, Ser Jarod," Riordan says, dryly. "Repeatedly and often." Still, it's said a bit fondly, and he simply nods, bidding both men good day. And, for a moment at least, he'll turn back to his quiet thoughts, before he goes and raises the morale of the men as best he can, with warm words, jokes, and whatever else he can do.