|Summary:||Lady Valda and Isolde arrive at the Fortress of the Sevens in Hag's Mire to meet with Lord Rygar and stay for a visit. Wallace and Isolde do not see eye to eye and details are planned out for the upcoming bethrothal.|
|Fortress of the Seven|
|Upon the island and within the fortress itself.|
|Thu Jul 14, 288|
Shortly after Lady Valda entered the fortress, the door opens once more and Ser Wallace steps out with one of his posse, sworn inside closing it behind him. He takes a deep breath and surveys the waters and mud in the fading light of the day. Whatever is on his mind is kept off his face as he sets off down the path towards the dock with his man in tow. A hand lifts, shaking his finger at the air. "Have Bainbridge work her over tonight. That trecherous bint knows something." The man nods, clarifying: "Any means? Or limited?" Wallace slows and walks sideays farther down the path as he glances up to the man. "I don't have any issues with escalation. She's guilty. We all know it. …And so does she."
Having stayed behind to gather their things together from the boats with the sworn, Isolde straightens with the sound of voices. The heat off the swamps is rather sticky and she plucks at her hair from her face. Green eyes take in the approach of Wallace and she tilts her head, recognizing him from their first visit. "Ser Wallace." She intones in greeting, gracious Lady as she is. SHe offers him a faint smile and speaks not of what she heard - but notes it all the same.
She turns back to her sworn. "Have the trunk to the door, I shall be in shortly." She nods to them as they whisper their m'ladies and lug off the trunk that carries the ladies' belongings. "It has been a month. I do trust that nothing has gone horribly a miss here with you in charge." She states, taking a few steps towards him and silently cursing her second layer of cloth.
The Sheriff continues down the path as the sworn behind him nods. "That place wasn't constructed to be a happy place. She should pray for death if she won't tell us." The man then looks up at the greeting and his brow lifts before a slow, almost cruel smile slides onto his face. Even when being polite he just looks as if passing judgment negatively. He is certainly not a diplomat. "Lady Isolde. Pleasure. I was saying hello to your mother. She's as lovely as ever. Hopefully your trip over was alright. If not I can have the boatman drowned in mud." The boatman glances up and then back down to his tending. That was a joke.
"The sentiment is appreciated, but as always the Nayland sworn and vassals are able." Isolde watches him a moment and then looks to the sworn with him. "Sounds like you have some trouble on your hands, dare I ask?" She questions. Her head tilts nd her dark braid sways against her back. There is but a faint twitch at the corner of her smile but otherwise it seems flawless and genuine. "See me in to the keep while we speak?" She asks of him, gracefully lifting her slender hand towards him for him to offer his arm or otherwise.
Wallace grunts in reply to her comment about the ability of the servants. Its a middling sound that commits no direction. At her request for an arm, he offers his after a moment of meeting her eyes. "I'll walk you up." The Sheriff waits until she is out before continuing. "We've had some brigands south of town hitting travelers. Three nights ago half a dozen people hit group of peasants coming north to town to open shop. They grabbed the supplies, silver, and women. Beat the men badly." Women are third to those apparently. "We have a wench we found forraging down there we think is part of their group. One of the wives of the criminals. Maybe an old victim. Who knows? Who cares?"
Joining him, Isolde listens and furrows her brows. "That is very unfortunate." But as his of accusation carry to her with no real truth behind them, she bites at her lower lip to keep from speaking her mind too openly. Measuring her words, she tilts her head and loosk towards the Keep before up at him. Her green gaze, rather exotic in it's own right tries to keep his attention. "Ser Wallace, do you think it odd that someone who was guilty would risk being caught at the site that the affrontation was committed. I find that rather odd." She intones, thoughtfully and in no way questioning his own thoughts. Merely a suggestion for him to consider. "I mean, I know not how a criminal thinks, but I do believe most of those would fear your justice to fall upon their heads should they be caught." She shakes her head, "Mayhaps the woman is merely poor and was scrounging about. She could have information on the true bandits."
The man continues walking with her, his gruff expression pointed up towards the fortress. "They almost always go back. They look for anything they left to try and scrounge, Lady Isolde. I once watched a group of thugs strip a wagon for parts when they realized they could use the frame and wheels. They don't do this shit because they're brilliant." He clears his throat and steps up to the door, gripping the handle. The Sheriff turns his body to face her once more, his whole head pointed at her own. "I believe this filth came from somewhere else. Probably from the south with the rest of the scum around here. But don't worry. They'll know quite well that someone should never consider trifling with this fair town." He leans in a bit before opening the door for her. "If she has information, we will most certainly get it. Of that I have little doubt."
"Though most may not be as intelligent as that, to be alone would be folly." Isolde says. She stands her ground on this issue and looks thoughtfully up at him. She does not turn away or bend to get away from his lean, she remains, those sharp green eyes assessing him. "Though you may be right, Ser Wallace, perhaps a kind hand will garner some information for you." The noble of Tordane offers. "I could speak to her for you if you wish. See if she will confide in me. You have nothing to lose." She promises, not entering as she waits for his decision.
"Again, these people aren't educated." Then again, neither is he. Not that he'd bring that up as mattering. "They send one, they send ten. Nobody else lives in that area." His patience is shorting and the man's voice drops a level with her offer, eyes drilling at her. "Look, Lady, I don't a fuck how you are used to things going up there in Stonebridge, but down here we deal with crime without holding out kind hands. Someone wants to cross my people or me, personally, then they will suffer the consequences. You marry in here thinking that will fly, I've got news for you: Too. Bad." Wallace's voice is a low growl. Nobody to overhear that. "It works for us. Might see about how it works for Stonebridge, too." That horrid smile returns, the scar on his face turning inward with the expression.
Brows furrow a little and Isolde again does not back away, merely stands her ground. "Ser Wallace, I understand your wish to cling to you own ways and it works very well for Stonebridge. I can not say we have as many problems as Hag's Mire." She says, watching him with care. "But you will address me with a little more respect. I offered aid, I did not ask for you to change your way." SHe does not enter yet. "Would you care to explain to your liege Lord why I refused his son's hand?" She asks, her eyes growing to steel. She has balls at least and luckily they are only metaphorical ones. "You had one thing right, I am a Lady and you might be lucky enough to have me as yours one day." She says and then tilts her head, looking inward. "It is amazing what people tell you after harsh treatment. You hand them water and kind words..they break down. They feed you information they don't even know about. As I said, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Prove me wrong." She says, a faint challenge in her gaze.
"Oh really? Don't have the same problems? Ours are small because we deal harshly with even minor screw-ups. It encourages people to resolve their own issues and leave my people the fuck alone." But her challenge to Wallace about his liege gets a deeper smile, meaner. "And why would that be, Lady Isolde? Would you be refusing his hand because of something I said? I find it more likely its because of those mysterious little rumors that you're supposed to marry one of those Terricks. You can be upset with me all you want but I find it more likely that both your mother and my Lord would believe my own conclusions as presented, which would just steel their resolve further. Little girl wants to believe whatever she wants. You'd think an agreement like that would have been noterized someplace." He suddenly looks almost cheerful if not for the color of his voice. "But you're welcome to go up against the man who has been Sheriff of this area longer than you've been out of womb."
Drawing a long breath her gaze darkens. "Rumors are just that, rumors. And if you are choose to be privy to them, then I will assume you are just as bad a gossiper as the rest of the women in town." SHe says. Isolde shifts on her feet and then squares with him. "My mother will be busy with Lord Rygar for a while, I am certain. Let me see your prisoner, Ser Wallace. Perhaps the Stonebridge way and a young girl will do some good. Or are you too worried it might?" Years of work on his part. She asks for a moments time to try to do what he can not. It is a challenge and the two are going toe to toe. Noble and more experienced.
Wallace still holds the same smile and closes the door, leaving his grip there as he leans heavily against the other door. "Lady, you can call me names all day. Believe me when I tell you that I've been called worse by smarter, bigger, and more dangerous women. Not to mention men. But I've also heard a lot of rumors in my day and what they do to those they are about. True or not, sometimes people believe them because they want to. And, well, shit, its just a shame you don't get everything you want. Welcome to real fucking life. Its mean, its cruel, its unforgiving, and its where I thrive. ..And I'm sure that just chaps your ass to no extent." He snorts and turns his head to spit to the grass beside him before looking back. "I ain't worried about anything. I know for a fact she'll talk. You think you got something better, let's hear it? Or is 'More with a glass of water' about it?" His brow quirks. The guy might be a son of a bitch, but at least he's considering it.
"when used correctly, kindness can be the dagger unseen." Isolde says and does her best to not tell him to bend a knee. Sometimes it just wants to show it's head, that beastly nature of a noble. Instead, she smiles sweetly. "Picture someone, who appears to be kind, caring. Offering you solace and haven if you but give them wat hey want. Water and food is brought, they tend your wounds and give you all belief that they will be safe if they just give up what they know." She shifts then, not liking the man before her one bit, but conversing with him all the same. "After a day at your hand and brutal treatment, they realize what a gift small comforts are and crave them to the point they cave."
"Kindness loses thrones. If you're going to want anything approaching respect from me and mine, maybe one day you'll learn that. What did I just say about dream worlds? Grow up, Lady Isolde. Its not going to happen today but one day you'll wake up and realize that sometimes really bad things have to happen to protect good people. And when you try to filter out all those means fucks like me, you're going to be pillaged in a corner because nobody will be left, sworn to this House, that is willing to do anything it takes to protect it. You don't have to like me, but you damned well better understand your need for people like me. Because I guarantee all of them that are like that?" Wallace smiles once more. "They're sworn but they follow me." He smirks and shoves the door open one last time. "Fine. Let's try your sunshine and butterflies. See what it gets. Dungeon is in behind the iron door on the right."
The door to the interior has opened once before, low voices talking outside were muffled before they were closed again. The main door has just been reopened again fully, swinging wide with Wallace's arm extended in towards the fortress. The man has one shoulder leaning against the door with a smile that holds just a bit of contempt. He's leaning just inside the personal bubble of Isolde, watching her reaction to whatever quiet words he just said.
Within the Fortress of the Sevens, another knight of the Nayland household is walking toward the very door that Wallace holds open. Long strides carry him forward at a stiff gait, expression one of stern composure. The nobleman moves purposefully toward the entrants.
"Yes, let's. And when you become an absolute necessity will be the day pigs can fly, Ser Wallace." Mocking as he is, Isolde does her best not to want to play the rank card. She enters the door, flushed a little with her irritation when she sees the rather stern looking Knight baring down on them. She moves aside, "M'lord." She intones quickly. Her head lifts and she looks towards Wallace and then back up at the incoming.
Wallace has the gall to chuckle at her words. "Thank you for proving my point so well." He smirks, following her in and closing the door behind them. The Sheriff seems about to move towards the door to the dungeon when he spots the incoming Rygar and lifts his chin. "My Lord," he greets easily.
Rygar draws his steps to a stop just outside arm's reach of Isolde and Wallace. He acknowledges the Lady first, as is proper: "Lady Stonbridge," the lean knight voices, before nodding once to, "Ser Brennan." His eye goes promptly back to Isolde. "My Lady, I bid you welcome to the Fortress of the Sevens. Your Lady mother requests your presence within." As warm in manner as the broadsword at his belt.
Not being goaded further, Isolde ignores the sworn blade and dips her head to Rygar. "A pleasure, thank you for having us." She speaks for both the ladies as politely as possible. Hag's Mire wreaks of bog and damp air, much different from the airy halls of Four Eagles Tower - yet she tries to wear the same manner here as she does there. "I will be glad to join her." She waits to see if either of the other two are going to be attending as well.
The Sheriff only nods in reply to the greeting, folding his hands behind his back. The man's head is still held high as he looks between the two at their exchange. Seeing that he is not called for, he tilts his head forward. "If I'm not needed, my Lord, I should look in on some progress in the dungeon." He flickers a glance at Isolde then back to Rygar.
Rygar takes a sharp step to one side, and does move to escort Isolde to the lady's 'requested' destination. He nods again to Wallace at the query. "Do so, Sheriff." With that, he will motion one arm in the intended direction. "This way, Lady Stonebridge." His prior purposeful stride is restrained, so as to keep pace with the noblewoman in her silken gown.
Returning that look from Wallace, she offers a sweet smile. Isolde turns back to Rygar and takes his arm to be escorted. "I do hope you have been well, Lord Rygar." She says politely. "It has been a month I believe since we last visited. Nothing appears to have changed, not even the warm greetings I have gotten used to receiving." Her sarcasm is well veiled.
Wallace watches the two depart with his own smug smile. He eventually looks towards the stairs up and then to the dungeon, pausing a second before he opts to head right to work. The iron door can be heard opening and closing in the Foyer behind the two departing souls.
"I should say that much has changed, Lady Isolde," Rygar voices in return. "Land is land. Stone is stone, and steel is steel. None can ever be otherwise. The changes of note in this world are carried in words and minds, my lady. And in words and minds, much has changed with the past moon." Each crisp bootstep is audible as the two move toward the waiting meeting place.
"I should like to hear of these changes, such things will soon concern me and there is not better time to start learning of one's people to be than the present." Isolde says with that collected placidness she adopts when around the Nayland's. Content and reserved. It seems to garner at least what she needs from them. Her steps, match his rather easily, long legs able to keep a pace of her own that may make him attempt to keep up with her. Yet they are not by any means rushing.
"Hear more," Rygar echoes, with an ironic edge of his own coloring the words. "Lady Isolde, how much more would you hear of yourself?" A drawn breath as he eye goes from the Lady beside him to the steps ahead. "Both of our families are about to rise past the bounds others would see imposed upon us. In honor and dignity, as well as more mean measurements," he notes, in lieu of saying 'wealth' directly.
That gains a raised brow and Isolde casts a look upwards, "Surely there is more important things to hear than of me. I must learn of Hag's Mire and the holdings the Nayland's have. What of news there, other than brigands and thieves that Ser Wallace seems to enjoy company of?" She continues with the question before she tilts her head, gaze forward. "Rise from what? Do you think there is something to rise above? Measurements or not the import of a house comes in it's confidence to stand for what it believes in. In truth, Lord Rygar, we are merely combing are strengths in these areas. You, your defense and arms..Stonebridge it's commerce and relations. My mother was a Tully after all."
"The Mire is in truth the most lawful and orderly township in the western Riverlands," Rygar answers first. "Ser Brennan serves his purpose rather well. Do not mistake his manner for our measure," the stern knight offers, with a sidelong regard for the Lady. "Mere combination? Hardly, my Lady," he notes with a sniff. "It is a poor student who fails to exceed the teacher. What a House is, what it represents, for what it stands.. all of these are ideas," the severe knight states. "Ideas have power. Yet it is the manner in which one acts which gives the truth or lie to one's values. Prosperity. Growth. Strength. Leaving a greater name to one's child than one was born to. That is a value well beyond vulgar wealth, and common combination, my Lady."
"These all come in time, but in the true sense of these matters, that is all it is, in the beginning. There is much to change and settle before such prosperity will be seen or gained. And children further on who will take over such an advantageous matching." She says all this as best she can, but Isolde feels herself wanting to call foul, wanting to leave and return to Four Eagles. Instead, she does what she has been taught to do and that is accept and obey. "Just as the tree must grow old to finally bare fruit, so must a pairing age to gain from it's beginnings."
"Time is the one resource which all men mine equally, Lady Isolde," Rygar states. "Yet you shall not long wait to see advantage in this union. Beside the considerable protection of House Nayland- of its pikemen and knights- through us your trade reaches to the Green Fork and the Twins. Stonebridge will command renewed trade downriver to Seagard, rather than being bound to the jealousy of those who hold tight to faded grandeur." Although eloquent, the tall knight's words carry a keen edge. "In time, the final flower of this union will be majestic, Lady. But the first blossoms shall be sweet none the less." The two draw near to the hall wherein Isolde's mother waits.
Sweet. Isolde's face nearly gives at that thought and something bitter inside her threatens to win. The Lady prevails..rather duty does and she offers a tight, but present smile to the Lord. "I am sure it shall. I have yet to meet the Heir apparent in flesh, I have heard tell of his doings. I do so hope that they are all as they claim to be. Perhaps, after business is done, you can speak of your nephew to me, so that I may better understand him and help this..fruitful union." She says.
Valda is within, turning as she hears the voices to watch the two. Her smile is one practiced to fool any. It warms her face for the brief span she wishes it to.
Rygar's countenance does not affect a false smile upon holding the door for Isolde to enter. "Lady Valda," he voices in even greeting. Any frostiness in the elder Tordane's manner has no ill effect on the Nayland. A short bow is offered to the dowager Lady of Stonebridge, without dropping eye contact. Turning then to Isolde, he voices, "My Ladies Tordane. Shall I send for aught before we begin?"
Stepping in before him, Isolde moves to stand to the side of her mother and watch Lord Rygar a moment - assessing. Valda dips her head graciously, "Thank you, Lord Rygar, but I think we shall be fine, lest you think we have need of water this eve? I do believe what we will speak of is just detail as most things were discussed my last visit." Last visit without the intended bride.
Sold to the highest bitter, Isolde asks for nothing, "I am well, thank you Lord Rygar." Is her meager reply.
"Very well," the tall knight returns with a short, sharp nod. He keeps his feet until both ladies are seated, courteous enough to look to Isolde as she defers, before looking back to Valda. Details. When discussing such, he addresses Valda. "Indeed. As is proper in unions of primary inheritance, a Septa shall verify the lady as a maiden prior to marriage. Should her virtue be found broken- no doubt by riding, as often befalls noble ladies- we insist on a period of no less than one year before the birth of the first heir." Eloquence vanishes in the face of cold practicality.
Taking to her seat as her mother does, Isolde watches Lord Rygar for the time as Valda settles into her own seat. His words are no surprise and Valda takes it in stride as Isolde shifts and then lifts a brow, biting her tongue. It is the widowed Lady that speaks, "Yes, of course. Such a thing will need to be done." She looks to Isolde shome remains quiet a time. "I do not see there being a problem with this." Intones the Lady Tordane.
Isolde hesitates a second more and then speaks up as they seem possibly about to move on. Though she seems to have some reserve in speaking of it, she finds her wording well enough. "So then am I not to consummate the marriage with my intended immediately?"
Rygar turns his keen eye aside from Valda to regard Isolde at the younger lady's query. "As of course your Ladyship is a respectable and virtuous woman, there should be no reservation," he notes pointedly. "If however, your maidenhead is lost, the marriage must still be consummated on your wedding night. Should Stonebridge lack the services of a maester, this House will make certain you are able to take moon tea for the first three months of your wedlock. There are jealous slanderers who would cast aspersions on your name and virtue, otherwise." And Naylands are nothing if not defensive of their reputations.
Answer enough for her, both the Tordane women know moon tea, even if they have never taken it. Isolde nods her head in acceptance than. "There will always be those that exist to throw accusations, Lord Rygar. At anything." She adds and Valda lifts a brow, countenance becoming stony. "Either way my lord, I will do what is asked of me." The bride to be assures the Nayland Lord. That said, she sets her hands to her lap, folded neatly as her mother turns back to look at Rygar, "Are there any other requirements that need to be discussed?" As in moving on.
Poor Isolde is getting stony looks from both sides, as the discussion does indeed move on. "There is the question of the betrothal announcement and duration," he notes, eye moving from Isolde back toward Valda. "Whether at the commencement or conclusion of the tournament, and for how many months the betrothal is to be observed prior to the wedding."
Isolde for her part is silent in this and Valda then lifts her hands to rest the arms of the chair. "What observation need to be made of the betrothal?" She asks. "Perhaps I am uncertain as to what you seek in this time period?" She asks of the Lord, keeping her gaze set upon him while young Lady does not seem to complain of such a time being taken. "As for commencement, I think not. Let me announced after the grand melee. At the end"
Rygar nods sharply once to the choice of announcement timing. "As the Lady likes. To the betrothal," he notes drawing a breath with which to answer. "A period of any less than a moon's turn would be unseemly. House Nayland would suggest a betrothal period of one month to satisfy tradition, with the wedding to occur after that period has elapsed. The assurance of your position, and that of the present Tordane retainers will be promised," Rygar states directly to Valda.
"As unseeming as a broken promise?" Valda admits to the Rygar what she has been tight lipped to confess to anyone else. "My lord, the Terrick's will be quick to protest in some fashion they can contrive of without drawing the public eye. The longer this wait, the more likely they will try to speak to my brother, Lord Tully in the matters of one Lord's promise to another." Isolde turns her head to regard her mother and for the first time, something in her eyes shows. Perhaps accusation and pain, but it is fleeting as the younger turns her head forward, eyes dipping.
"As for Tordane, it must remain separate as it is. With no heirs the house will falter but as I still breathe, the name remains. I will also have say in what happens in Stonebridge til my daughter can fully introduce the Lord Heir into the matters of the land."
"To redress these concerns," Rygar answers evenly, "Nayland will consent to forgoing the betrothal period, but further compromises to propriety must be removed." A drawn breath as the knight regards Valda with an intent focus. "Upon marriage, the young Lord Nayland will become Lord of Stonebridge, with Isolde Nayland as Lady of Stonebridge. My Lady Tordane is invited to serve as Castellan of Lord and Lady Stonebridge's court and holdings. This should.. satisfy my Lady Tordane's voice."
The widow, robbed of her position at such an age pauses and then considers his words. Valda regards Rygar a moment longer and gives a nod of her head. Isolde does her best not to stir, but her fate is sealed. Her mother worried for her own voice has squelched her daughter's in the process. "Let it be so." She says. "I will agree to the compromises."
Fingers curl in her lap and the to be Lady of Stonebridge lifts her chin to present a strong front.
"We have an accord, my Lady," Rygar returns, tone steely as he answers Valda. Still stern, the first hint of a satisfied curl touches the corner of his lip as the minor details are agreed upon. "How long are your Ladyships to remain as our guests?" he wonders in the next breath, sitting slightly back in his seat, still straight backed. "Lady Isolde has asked to learn more of the Mire and Sevenstreams-" his eye goes aside to Isolde with the mention of the neglected Lady of Stonebridge. "This can readily be arranged."
At least a topic now she feels safe to respond to, Isolde draws herself out of her mire and gives Rygar her attention. "I would be very grateful to learn more of the lands." She says as enthusiastically as she can. Hmming, Valda gives a nod of her head and hesitates, "Well, two nights should see us well and the young Lady to have time to see to the local region. If that is satisfactory with you, Lord Rygar. I look to you for your knowledge of Hag's Mire." She says with a smile.
Rygar nods once to Isolde's renewed speech. "Of course, Lady Isolde." To Valda's last, he notes, "And you shall have it, my Lady." Rising to his booted feet, the tall knight adds in parting, "For the nonce, our matters are settled. I advise dress for travel on the morrow."
Rising after him, Isolde a bit faster than her mother, the two are given leave of the matters at hand. The elder nods her head graciously, "Thank you, m'lord Rygar. I shall retire to my room and then see to the sworn. I look forward to speaking with you further later." That said, she turns to take her eave and Isolde remains a moment longer. "Lord Rygar, when is that I might meet my intended? I hear about him but have yet to see him."
Rygar gives a sharp short bow to Valda as the elder Lady Tordane speaks and steps to leave. Briefly, the knight's eyes narrow tightly for a moment, before turning his regard to Isolde. "My Lady, the Young Lord is to be your guide on the morrow."
There is a nod, "Good, I had thought it would be you. But it is best we come to know each other. There will be no day we are parted once all is done. I do not wish to be a strange to the Lord." That said, Isolde inclines her head to the Lord. "Lord Rygar, I thank you." That is her departure, turning, she makes her way from the room to see to her own items from the trunk that belongs to both.
"You conceal your relief well, Lady," Rygar voices in even compliment to the departing Isolde. Her respectful dip of the head is returned as the two part ways.