|Friends Of The Banefort|
|Summary:||Ser Sterling Sharpe has some question for Gedeon Whatever-he's-called.|
|Related Logs:||Answered As A Knight|
|East Bank — Stonebridge|
|A bank with a pavilion on the east side of a bridge.|
|27 April 289|
Sterling has stared at the guards on the bridge and the pavilion beyond several times over the last couple of days. But now he evidently feels the need to cross to the other side and see if the grass really is greener there — or at least if the road is less dusty. Idly massaging the knife-edge of his left hand with the fingers of his right, the Banefort man steps past the Nayland guards with a polite nod, continuing past the edge of the bridge and toward the tent. As he approaches, he cocks his head, listening for sounds of discussion, debate, the class of arms, whatever might be coming from the other side — or the inside — of the tent.
The grass on the other side of the bridge is about the same, except for the fact that it's grown a pavilion. Inside the tent, there are the clanking and fiddling sounds of someone sharpening a weapon and outside, sitting on a stump before a small, crackling fire, is Gedeon Tordane/Rivers busy in the rather unimpressive act of eating from a bowl of stew. He's got a leather jerkin on and a maile coif draped over one knee. His pale gaze travels over to Sterling as the man arrives and, swallowing his bite off food, offers a polite, "Good evening, ser."
Sterling raises his eyes to the fire as he rounds the pavilion toward it, quickly flickering his gaze to the man beyond so as to not blind himself with the little blaze. "Good evening." An outwardly lazy gaze studies the other man, although the grey-green eyes beneath are sharp, "I'm Ser Sterling Sharpe, sworn to The Banefort. I presume you're Ser Gedeon Rivers, or Ser Gedeon Tordane, depending on who is asked."
A corner of Gedeon's mouth curls up into a small, wry smile, and he dips his head into a nod. "I am, indeed, ser. Well-met, Ser Sterling Sharpe of the the Banefort. What brings you to visit this odd little camp?"
Sterling studies the back of his nails for a moment, then gathers his hands in before him at his stomach, a curiously prim gesture despite his raw-boned look, "Curiosity, ser. There's so much…" He makes a searching gesture with one hand, "…shit… going on, all stirred up by you." There's no insult in the tone, even if there might be in the words. In fact, curiosity is definitely strongest emotion in the tone. "Lord and Lady Banefort wouldn't forgive me if I didn't at least meet you before this fight of yours."
Gedeon's brows lift a little as he considers the other knight's words before he's obliged to tip his head in another small nod. "I suppose there is," he allows. "Well, sit, then, ser, and sate your curiosity." He gestures towards a crate that's been pulled near the fire to serve as a second seat. "And the curiosity of the Lord and Lady Banefort."
Sterling settles down with a slight and momentary grin, "I don't know that anything will sate the Lord and Lady Banefort's curiosity, ser. Curiosity's a valuable thing in those of their quality." That said, he leans forward a bit on his seat, resting his forearms on his legs, "I've heard a lot from the other side of the bridge already, so don't take offense if I'm askin' the Nayland line. It's what I've heard so far." That out of the way, he presses his lips together for a moment, as if working out just what to say, "Why fight? The King ruled."
"I expect very little that's favorable is being said of me across the bridge, just now," Gedeon agrees with a soft sigh, turning his head to look in the direction of that ancient, stone relic. "The King did rule, but the King is not here, only a paper signed by him. To refuse would be to shame myself and lose standing with the smallfolk who I would rule. My honor was insulted, ser, publicly and slanderously. I would hardly be worthy of my new name, should I have refused to answer."
Sterling arches an eyebrow, but doesn't respond right away. The fire crackles cheerily and the water gurgles beneath the bridge, and then he speaks again, "And if you win. And you take control of Stonebridge. You'll still answer such insults without an heir?" There's a sense of probing about the words, almost like the first moments of a sparring match where the two opponents — or at least one of them — circles 'round and tests the other's reflexes and reactions.
"If I win, my lord, the question has be answered by the gods and challenged by the family with the greatest reason to undermine me," Gedeon replies, hands still curled loosely around his stew bowl. "Who next would dare accuse me of the same without showing themselves to be petty and impious?"
Sterling shakes his head slowly, "Challenge you over the same question? Not likely. Others?" His shoulders rise and fall with a soft creak of well-worn leather, a broad, expressive sort of gesture. "Just a curiosity, like I said, ser." He rubs his hands together briefly, then frowns down at his right palm, picking idly at something he spots there, "Lord and Lady Banefort are interested in spreading friendship through the Cape of Eagles." Whether that's friendship between the houses there or friendship with the Baneforts is a question quite distinctly unanswered. "They've asked me to run over to the various houses and see that their compliments are passed along." He tilts his head slightly to one side, and he adds, "Lady Tordane saw fit to invite the Lord and Lady to Stonebridge."
There is a soft chuckle as Gedeon stirs his stew. "That does not surprise me," the blond knight replies. "Should it be that the Lady Valda finds herself no longer able to extend such invitations in the name of Stonebridge, please assure your Lord and Lady the new Knight of Stonebridge would be just as honored to receive them."
Sterling nods his head, accepting the words, "I'll tell you what I told Lady Tordane, ser — the Lord and Lady Banefort are busy securing their lands and assisting others after the Rebellion, but would be pleased to be received at Stonebridge if they can make the trip." Picking idly at the nail of his left middle finger with that of his left thumb, the Banefort knight adds, "You'll be wanting a wife if you survive, ser." That's not a question, "To ensure that you don't suffer Lord Ryker's fate." He seems to assume that the Nayland's death was poison as the rumors whisper, "A wife and a son. And no one to make the match — unless you'll ask Lord Terrick or Lord Mallister. Have you given thoughts to seeking outside assistance?"
"It seems you have given thought to offering it, Ser," Gedeon replies, cutting to the chase as he watches the ginger knight improve his nail cleanliness. "Tell me what you… and your Lord and Lady… propose, on this issue."
Sterling pushes a grin onto his lips, although it hangs there like a false beard on a woman, "Lord and Lady Banefort have a daughter and a neice of marriagable age. If you'd rather not share a goodfather with your future liege — they figure you'll cleave to Terrick again — then they could extend their influence to see you wed to another lady of the Westerlands. Not so much contention as if you wed some girl aligned with House Frey. And less chance of unfortunate results." Of course, it conveniently puts someone indebted to the Baneforts in a position of power too.
"That certainly makes good sense, Ser Sharpe," Gedeon agrees with a somber nod, "and is quite worth considering, thank you. I do not feel, as I shall swear myself to the Terricks, taking a Frey vassal as wife should be politic. Yet, at the same time, I do not wish to further anger the Freys, whose noses will already be significantly out of sort. Their houses trade in Stonebridge, as well, and I would see Stonebridge prosper. So, seeking out a Westerlands bride is certainly something to think on seriously."
Sterling snorts softly, "The Crag is poor. The Knight of Stonebridge — if the gods," the tiniest hint of a smirk touches one corner of his lips at that, "deem you to be so — deserves better than that. You should meet the Lady Saffron when she comes to see you fight. She's young yet, but has a good enough sense of humor." He eyes the knuckles and nails of his left hand again, "You'll need a household too, eh? Can't trust the ones in place here now? Master at Arms, Captain of the Guard, Sheriff?"
Gedeon considers that. "Well, should I win, I will most definitely require a new sheriff," he replies with a wry smile. What with his having just managed to kill the former one in the duel. "And I imagine many of the men sworn to House Nayland will depart with them. Those that remain, I expect can be trusted or, at least, can be predicted to be spies. Sometimes, it's better to leave those in place than to wonder where they've been set, and I imagine the Naylands will have at least a few lingering. But, yes. There will be many openings in need of new blood." Speaking of which, "I should be very pleased to make the Lady Saffron's acquaintance."
Sterling nods his head heartily, "Knowing someone is a spy is always good, especially if they don't know you know." Once more a smile touches his lips, and this time it might even be a bit wry, "And if you should lose, this Sunday, Ser Gedeon, where does that leave your supporters?" Perhaps that's forward, even harsh, but no more expression passes over the sworn sword's face or voice than that little smile.
"Well ser," Gedeon replies somberly, "I suppose my failure would leave them much as they are, now. Which is why I do not intend to fail."
Sterling nods his head, "Sorry if I've brought up dark thoughts. Suppose they're not far away anyhow. Measure of a man includes the dark sides too. And if you're interested in a daughter or neice of Lord and Lady Banefort, they'll want the measure of you." Tilting his head slightly to one side, he notes, "You're awful agreeable for someone having big thoughts thrown at him, ser."
"Should large thoughts make one disagreeable?" Gedeon asks quizzically, brows lifting. "If the Lady and Lord Banefort are looking towards me as a potential alliance to their family, they've a right to their questions. I see no reason why I ought to answer them grudgingly."
Sterling shrugs one shoulder, "Big thoughts usually take some thought." Straightening up a bit, "So if — " he stops, flashes that tacked-on smile again, and adds, " — when you win. How do you feed your new people when the Naylands take all the food and money with them?" Again, he seems to consider that a given, just like Ryker's fate. "At least you'll be able to control tariffs." For a courier and a gofer, he certainly has big thoughts himself.
"Mmm," Gedeon agrees, a palm rubbing at his jaw as he considers. "We'll endure. They'll take the food, but they can't take the croplands, and even if the Naylands refuse to do business in Stonebridge, which shall cause them troubles all on its own, I do not think all the vassals of the Frey shall be so hasty to give up access to a trade city so centrally located. Stonebridge controls the bridge and the best land passage from East to West. It's not practical to declare war when making nice with the new lord would be so much more profitable. There shall still be coin in Stonebridge, lean as the times may be, to begin."
Sterling nods his head, "Unless they just stop trading with the Mallister-sworn houses at all." Once more, he picks at a fingernail with his thumbnail, "But you're right there, ser. That'd be war. Just with dragons, not swords." His eyelids lie low over his eyes as he studies the other knight across the table, "You've had other offers from other families, I suspect." He temporizes with a slight circular gesture with his left hand, "Daughters and nieces, I mean."
"Not many yet. I expect most who would consider me are waiting to see if I live past Sunday," Gedeon says with another of his wry little smiles. "But, I suspect, when I do," just as Sterling did, Gedeon opts to be optimistic, "other families will come forward with offers."
Sterling nods his head, "They've heard the stories of Ser Rygar's skill. Your own stories aren't spread so wide — at least not in Stonebridge. Not yet." He leans forward again, "You understand that I don't speak for Lord and Lady Banefort… and if you die, I never even brought the subject up, right?" And there the man shows what may be the core of him, beneath the flat looks, faux smiles, and fine nails — cold, calculating, and quite happy to deny something that took place was even considered. "Lord and Lady Banefort are looking for friends, not enemies."
Gedeon laughs, studying Sterling, this glimpse of him, with a bemused expression. "Ser," he asks, still smiling, "Are you asking me to keep a secret after I am dead? It is an easy promise to make, but it hardly seems necessary."
Sterling frowns slightly, shaking his head, "I'm asking that you not to spread it around -before- the fight." That flat smile returns then, "I'm showing a lot of trust talking to you now. Before the fight. So Lord and Lady Banefort would expect a little discretion out of you. Not that I expect any different."
"Naturally, ser, I'm not about to start flaunting such about at this time. You can rely on no word spreading by me," Gedeon assures. "It would benefit no one."
Sterling nods his head, "Naturally." Spreading his hands then, the Banefort-sworn knight inquires, "Do you have anything you'd like to ask of me about The Banefort, or Lord and Lady Banefort, ser?"
"I think, just now, my head is too filled with other thoughts for me to ask proper questions. But, after the duel, I should hope we might speak again on such things," Gedeon replies.
A tiny, sardonic grin twists his lips, and he nods, "I'm sure you do." A dry chuckle rises from his chest, and then the grin is gone, "And I'm sure we will. And then maybe we'll hoist a drink to the future of Stonebridge and the Banefort."
"Until after," Gedeon says, setting his bowl aside and standing as Ser Sharpe does. "Thank you for your visit, and good day to you, ser."
Sterling rises, steps around the fire, and then offers out his right hand in a slightly awkward gesture. If it's clasped, the grip is light, unassuming. Whether or not it's clasped, the Banefort knight then nods his head and heads off.
If not promises are made, Gedeon certainly seems willing enough to clasp the arm of another knight. He does so, at the offered gesture, adding a courteous nod farewell as each releases the other's arm.