Page 376: 'Foraging'
Summary: A knight and a squire - not each other's - fail to requisition a roast rabbit for breakfast.
Date: 01/08/2012
Related Logs: Enter a Bastard
Maldred Hugh Catryn Hoekenn 
Forest east of Stonebridge
Near a river bank
1st August, 289

Harsh morning in a harsh landscape, where a singled mounted figure is clearly marked out. Ser Maldred Rivers has, since the afternoon, been in near constant ricochet in the saddle, hurtling 'txixt Stonebridge and the Roost, and back; and the effects are beginning to tell. Not a knight who cares for exterior presentation very much in any case, Ser Maldred has not bothered to change a surcoat darkened, layered, shot through with sweat, so the azure of his field is almost black, and the red diagonal bar of bastardy has run and paled practically to pink. His mail has not been removed all night, and he has known of no breakfast, for he has not yet been able to pause at any very solid harbourage. His hair is mainly penned in by mail rings, and his face is almost as white-grey as his armour and his horse.

Now this hour finds him on the further, eastern side of the town, having called at the Crane to alert his aunt and charge that she should ready herself for movement, but paused no further. He has no formal business here, save his desire to brood. He stares off into the woods and the distance, thinking about the Twins, and the Hollyholt, about trees, holly trees, felled trees, and family trees all. It is a reflection sullen enough to quash even his normally persistent spike of a smile.

Smoke wafts up from a little fire near the river; 'pon it riding the flavored scent of fresh rabbit crackling over the flames. The girl is stretched out near the fire; occasionally turning the spit. No brood for her, just a sense of relaxation and one who's more than content in the knowledge that…business isn't just only good, but it's about to be better. Troop movement means war and war….means work.

Hugh is riding at less of a breakneck speed back to Stonebridge. The young man is dusty, and from the look on his face, a little frustrated. He is riding well enough on the horse, and although there are no struggles, it does seem clear that there is a battle of wills going on here. The steed clearly wants to get back to the stables, where as Hugh wants to stop every so often and practice some different gaits and forms. No wonder Riordan told him to practice with this horse. His head lifts ups quickly as he hears the rider approaching. He hasn't seen Catryn yet, but he has smelled the smoke and the food, and his stomach growls.

Rivers left the Roost with a chunk of bread and a lump of hard cheese, which did not last him much past midnight; this was his most recent repast. So, like the squire, he finds his nose working faster than his eyes. Even the destrier, though, presumably, no carnivore, seems to be infected with its rider's frantic and famished sense of interest, and both hurtle aside to follow the smoke. But then the knight discerns a familiar and welcome face, Squire Hugh of Asterholm, and it seems that he decides this kind of foraging is a task more suited to the boy than a knight anointed.

"Good morn to thee, lad," he hails. "Take a canter down to the riverbank and…persuade…its denizen to share their breakfast, and you shall be rewarded - and not just with a fair portion of coney."

Hugh nods with recognition to the Knight and gives a little smile, though tinged with curiosity. "Yes, Ser." Yeah…Hugh will serve this Knight. In this situation, loyalty to his stomach is strong. He brings the reluctant horse around and goes to see the source of the smoke and smell. Another growl of his stomach. Hugh has no excuse, except that he is 15. He ate only an hour ago and quite well.

Hugh is surprised that he recognizes the gilr, and he quickly looks to see if she is alone as he dismounts. "Morning! That a fine smelling rabbit, you have. Nice and fat!"

The sound of both horses and men, doesn't pass her ears unacknowledged and a little frown threatens to dance across her lips when she recognizes Hugh. "Pa's up the stream fishing a little ways," comes the reply, as a hand rises to scratch at her nose. "And yer the what'll ye give me if I do, boy," Cat continues. Wanting something, just for a joke. Hmmmph. "So aye, tis a nice rabbit an nay, ye canna have any. Or to quote ye, 'What's in it fer me?'"

Maldred's slowly reviving grin could have a number of causes. Perhaps he muses fondly on the tarred Ironborn heads he rode past, emblems of his briefly glorious campaign. Or more probably he is now anticipating diversion, as well as sustenance. Either way, he dismounts and ties up his warhorse to the nearest tree with a thoughtful look, then threads through the wood as discreetly as he can, wanting to watch the scene unfold without revealing himself. And when through the green-dark leaves he recognises that light hair, that darker complexion, that defiant lilt…then he has reason to congratulate himself on such forethought. For now, he keeps quiet, ideally unseen and unheard, unless his mail betrays his woodcraft and discretion.

Hugh tilts his head, "All I wanted was a joke in exchange. It was a fair request." He hesitates, "And my name is Lord Hugh Asterholm. Not the 'what will you give me if I do, boy'" Hugh seems uncomfortable asserting his status. "There could well be something in it for you…" His ears are turning red, and he is well aware that his ineptitude with those of the opposite sex is on display. He looks the girl up and down, "You couldn't eat it all anyway."

Well…apparently implying a want for food and then throwing around status to the lowly houseless commoner, is not the best of ways to get on the girls pleasant side. "Oh, beggin' ye pardon milord Asterholm, forgive this poor inept fool the lack of courtsey. I didna keen ye fer whatche are," the girl drawls, though she doesn't rise to give him a cursty, either. Instead she shifts forward onto her knees, closer to the flame, too distracted with the Squire's presence to realize that there was another slipping in upon her space. "Here, leme juss work it free fer ye, milord, one such as I could never deny food fer me betters." Said with a straight face and malice filled eyes for the noble, come begging food from a commoner, when its obvious which've them has the most coin. So Cat aims to draw the split free and then reaches towards the rabbit that's been run through the middle; apparently with every means to see it shared. Until her hand touches on it and she lets out a shrill little cry and promptly drops it directly into the flames and coals and ash. "Oi. Blimey fer a fool twice. So sorry, milord." Now no one will eat. Hmph.

The rabbit smells first more, then a good deal less excellent as the woodfire consumes it. By the time Maldred decides to intervene, it is hardly distinguishable from the aftermath of a battlefield, much to his dudgeon, so, irate, he chooses to make himself felt in a rather unusual and indirect manner. Not budging from his hidden covert, he does, however, take up the light bow he had carried from his saddle back, fit a shaft to it, and fire a warning shot into a tree between songstress and squire, aiming for a certain amusingly shaped bough (it might remind Cat of what she last called him).

And the usually patient boy blows up! "Stupid girl! Get it out! You think being pretty will just buy you an excuse out of everything, dont you!" Hugh spitss. "You don't know me! I was trying to be nice to you. I know some who would be much worse! " He looks up sharply as the arrow strikes, making his point. He gives a nod to where Maldred is. "You deal with /him/ then if you wont deal with me." Hugh mounts his horse and nods in the direction of Maldred before he says, "I'll get some real food back home." And he leaves.

It seems that when Hugh left Hoekenn took his place. Though he isn't approaching the group right away. Matter of fact he doesn't even notice them at first. Only doing so when he notices Hugh passing him by. The sound of hooves kind of does that. Then he looks around a bit. Spotting Catryn first, since Hugh was riding from that direction. Then it goes towards Maldred. Wondering in case he should keep to himself perhaps. Seeming that is what he will decide on doing. Sneaking to the side to keep out of sight.

There's a look of quiet hatred on the girl's face, as one hand reaches up to clear away the disgrunted Lordlings spit; before the hand wipes itself clean, on her leathers. The flying arrow hadn't eased her mind either, it'd only worsened her mood. So it's with a thick brooding silence that she starts kicking dirt over the fire, scattering the hot coals until there's nothing left that could damage the forest. No greeting, no acknowledgement; she's preparing to leave.

The bastard stands clear of the branches now, wearily sloped under the glare of the rising morning. He is still hungry, and so very tired, and all in all, it seems he hasn't sucked full savour out of his little joke - he'd rather have had the rabbit. As he looks down at the furious, disappointed, girl in the grip of a black mood so similar to the one he just stepped out of, a casual melancholy gains supremacy over his features. He crawls between branch and root with a conspicuous jangle of armour, bow lowered, as he calls out after some consideration, "Were I to catch another, Cat, would you honour me by sharing it…? I assure you I'd even do the roasting."

Seeing the state Catryn is in does make Hoekenn curious. Looking angry, wiping something from his face. An arrow close to her. Worry on his face. So he breaks his sneakiness. Moving out to move towards Catryn "Are you alright?" He asks, it seems his focus is only able to stay on one at a time. Catryn seeming to be in need of some comfort perhaps. Even the fact that is seems that Maldred is reaching out to her seems to be missed. Not able to stand idly by when someone seem hurt, even if she perhaps is more pissed than hurt. Hard for him to undestand which is which though.

If it were possible for her mood to turn any darker, that's the voice that managed it. But at least her back's to him for the moment so there's no one to see the way face twists into a grimace. Fingers pinching against the bridge of her nose, the girl draws in a long steadying breath as she squares off her shoulders and straightens her spine. "Fires out," and truly dead, with the last kick that she gives it. "But I thankie fer tha offer, Ser." Though it sounds as grudging from her lips as anything. One, because Hugh'd known that he was there which means he could have been in on it and two, because it's just someone else who got to watch her humiliation. And not just one…apparently, but two. A distinct groan can be heard in the wake of Hoekenn's question. "D'I look bloody hurt, boy? Ah'm feckin' fine." God, what a charmer.

"Fires can flare up again, wild cat; quite as easily as wars," Rivers comments, before he, too, takes in the second Squires's entry. Those two Nayland squirelings, different in every regard, seem bound together by coincidence. "Ah, what a jape, it's Master Stenhammar, the fatal witness, it would seem, girl, to our every encounter…well, I have yet to breakfast, and I intend to find it, or even luncheon, in this tedious excuse for a wood. They who wish to share it, linger." And he shrugs lankily, beginning to retrace the way back to his horse.

Hoekenn doesn't seem to understand the rethorical question, deciding to answer. "Yeah, a bit. What happened?" He says, and then just stands still. His eyes going to the ground. Though hearing his name makes him look over and offer a small bow to Maldred. Then it is to Catryn before falling to the ground once again.

The use of the endearment, so very similar to those that her Pa favors, brings cats attention towards the Bastard for the first time. So looking she takes in the state of his tiredness and the slight lack of color to his cheeks and one might think a pang of sympathy turned through her. "The Gods sense o'humor, perhaps, in fear fer what might happen if er we were alone, ye old bastard." But there was a faint crook of her lips then, a suggestion of a grin, if never one in full. At hint, at least. It was gone with Hoekenn's question. "Nothin' ye need t'fuckin' worry about, boy. Juss cause Ger prompted ye fer a bit o'help, it aint mean we're any kind o'friends." Surly girl, for shame.

Unflinching and factual when she names him bastard - who he's a bastard of, now that, on the other hand, is the real issue, capable of flattering or infuriating him, depending - Maldred, turning already away, quite misses the kitten of the Common House's fledgling thawing towards him, and it is with indifference that he mounts up, to take to the green wood in search, now, of grander, more cloven footed prey than mere rabbit.