|Groves in Stonebridge|
|Summary:||Stafford Groves visits Tyroan, Anathema, and Renholdt.|
|Tower Hall, Tordane Tower|
|The entrance to the tower opens into a larger common room for receiving guests. Effort has been made to bring warmth and light to the interior, as well. Rugs have been hung from the stone walls as well as placed on the floor to bring at a welcoming ambiance. There is a large table with several chairs off to the left of the door, a cooking hearth against the back wall, and a wooden staircase that leads up. An antechamber behind the stairs is where the servants live and bed down.|
|24 October, 289|
Tyroan has set aside the throne-like chair that once sat at the center of the high table, replacing it with a simpler chair with a bit more padding. He sits in the replacement, an empty tray just being whisked away from him by a servant. He's given orders for the newcomers to be shown in immediately upon their arrival at the tower, and now he waits — mostly patiently. The aging Steward has a walnut in one gnarled hand, and he rolls it around idly within that creased palm.
Seated beside his father in an equally unremarkable chair, Renholdt is just finishing up his morning meal. He lifts a hand to signal away his plate, and turns his attention to Tyroan. "So who is coming?" he inquires around a mouthful of food, stopping mid-chew to use a fingernail to pry something out from between his teeth. He sucks air between his teeth to help niggle the offending particle free and grunts in relief.
Ser Stafford Groves, the Young Lord of Kingsgrove, was a punctual man. He arrived as had been communicated, in the early parts of the day, breakfast already out of the way along with a morning training session and bath. With him was a single retainer, an unarmed valet, who drifted a little to the side and behind. The guardsmen that had escorted him from Groves held lands remained behind outside of the Tower, their presence within deemed unnecessary.
He entered the Hall with calm confidence, his bearing and mannerism that of a knight used to more polished courts than this rustic little corner of the Riverlands. Moving smoothly, and within a bubble of self contained dignity. His dark eyes - near black - passing across the people present, before settling on the Steward in his chair.
As for his current attire; it was fine, bearing signs of Reach fashion. Dark purples, greens and gold. His sword looked a bit too pretty to have ever seen battle.
"The Groves Young Lord," Anathema says to her son before she returns to crooning at her raven. He caws softly, angling his neck into her scritching fingers with a flutter of his tail; his dark eyes roll shut. "And here he comes," she says without even looking up, casting her eldest son a quirk of a smile. "How is Lyna feeling this morning? She looked quite ill at dinner last night." Of course, there is a touch of concern in her dark eyes for her gooddaughter — right? She finally turns toward the approaching Groves Lord, sitting straighter in her seat.
Tyroan rises as that worthy is announced, setting down the walnut and moving around the table. "Young Lord Groves. Welcome to Tordane Tower." Because welcoming him to Stonebridge is a little redundant. He offers out his right hand to the man, "Come in. Would you like something to eat or drink?" Because that would make him officially a guest, protected by guestright — if that means anything to a Nayland. In contrast to the Groves heir, Tyroan is a bit rough around the edges, wearing a leather jack as opposed to some noble finery. Half-turning back to the high table, he gestures, "My wife, Lady Anathema. My eldest son, Ser Renholdt."
"Oh, right," Renholdt murmurs before looking up to Anathema. His movements still and he stares at his mother with as penetrating a gaze as a young man can muster. After a moment of silence he shakes his head, disloding a lock of hair. "Worse this morning, I think. She is far too thin these days." That is all he will volunteer about his wife, however, and with Tyroan's greeting he too rises from his seat.
Dusting away breakfast crumbs surreptitiously from his tunic, Renholdt waits until he is announced before dipping his head to Stafford.
"Ser Tyroan," Stafford said, returning the greeting somberly and accepting the hand. He was a lean man, with an elegant and long fingered hand whose callouses were exclusivly those earned through martial training. No hard peasent work for him. He'd a strong grip, betraying a wiery sort of strength beneath his fineries. "Thank you for the friendly welcome. And certainly, very kind of you." To the offer to the bit of food and drink. After all it was rude to deny, whether or not the protection of guestright had any sort of merit within Nayland lands.
"My Lady, good Ser." To Anathem and Renholt. The first got a courtely bow, fine as if they were in the presence of royalty, the second a more measured nod. He smiled, too, once the formalities were gone. A flash of teeth and unguarded warmth. He'd find his seat where ever Tyroan directed him.
If there was not a guest upon them, there is a good chance that Anathema would have continued on the topic of her son's wife. If the household thinks the Steward's wife is a dangerous creature to deal with, wait until they see how she deals with her goodfamily. Lyna is lucky her goodmother remembers her name. As her husband rises, as does his wife. Anathema dips into a graceful curtsey before the Young Lord. "My Lord," she greets simply, gesturing toward one of the maids. "Girl, fetch the Young Lord a proper plate of food should he so desire, and please make sure the teapot's water has been refreshed." Now she looks back to Stafford, returning to her seat as she does.
Tyroan has a hand that's seen three wars and more than fifty years. It's not elegant, it's not finely manicured, but it's leathery, calloused, and strong. He turns back to the table, gesturing the Groves lord to join them at the high table. "Please, have a seat." When he's only using short sentences, apparently he doesn't have to curse. "Tea," because his wife would never excuse him if he didn't offer that first, "small beer, Mire beer, wine, probably some fucking juice somewhere." Okay, that sentence was apparently too long. Moving back around to settle down in his seat, he waits for his guest to be settled as well, "Glad you came to Stonebridge. How's my niece doing at Braeburn Hall?"
"Small and simple will suffice," in regards to food. He had already eaten breakfast, and was in no great need of filling out his belly quite yet. "And tea." That he passed on the Mire brew really shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone. The stuff was absolutely loathesome. Once he was seated, he arranged his sword so it wouldn't prod him in the ribs if he made any sudden movements. One of the downsides of having the right to bear blades, was that it wasnt always comfortable to do so.
"Which of them?" He asked with a small glimmer of amusement in his eyes. "Though to be fair, neither of them are presently at Braeburn House. Rebecca having 'escaped' to Four Eagles, and Roslyn having left with Kittridge when father put him in charge of some small lands to manage. But I understand Roslyn at least is happy, to have finally been married."
At the Young Lord's request for tea, the woods-witch flashes quite a satisfied smile toward her husband — as if she won something. She bobs her head a bit, taking command of the tea as it is her specialty. She scoops a couple spoonsful of loose herbs into a simple cup, and then pours hot water directly over the leaves. She glances up toward Stafford as she speaks. "So good of you to bring up Rebecca yourself, My Lord, as I was wondering if we would have the opportunity to… well… discuss our wayward… niece." She delivers the cup of tea herself to the Young Lord. "Let it sit for a couple minutes, Lord Stafford."
Tyroan gestures to the servant at the Young Lord's food request, offering Anathema an indulgent smile at the flashed grin. The question from the Groves knight draws a wry chuckle, and he nods, allowing Anathema to respond first before he adds, "I meant Roslyn, Young Lord Groves." He glances over to Anathema, that dry smirk returning to his lips, "I sometimes forget I've got a fucking niece almost as old as I am." A bit of exaggeration, but not all that much. "But I've heard rather… amusing… rumors coming out of The Roost about Rebecca."
In accordance with Anathema's recommendation, he let the tea sit mostly untouched bar a few lazy strokes with his fingertips to lick up the heat of the cup. A gesture that seemed mostly subconcious. "If you wish, my Lady," he told Anathema in regards to his Nayland born cousin.
"I expected you did. I was merely making light." He shook his head with a quiet chuckle of his own. "As for rumors.. I can't say I've paid much attention to them. But she is a.. 'colourful' individual, so I expect that they've been colourful to match."
"Despite the letters from your Lady Aunt, I had no idea that Rebecca was so… afflicted. She has been clawing at Frey messengers, trying to match herself with one of the Terrick lords, and even swoons about listening to the Stranger's song." Anathema sighs. "Perhaps now all of the Cape will understand why the woman never wed." Even if there is a touch of pity in her voice, it is also quite obvious that Anathema does not think highly of the would-be Nayland. She shakes her head. "But, certainly you did not come here to talk about Rebecca and her lust for marriage."
Tyroan nods at Anathema's description of Rebecca's antics, "Just a little something fucking annoying to keep both our houses busy." The Steward smirks tightly, as if to show that he's not blaming the Groves for the spinster's actions. "I'm curious too. Not that we don't mind you and yours coming for a visit, now that we're joined by marriage." That dry smirk returns again, "And just at the same fucking time as the Ashwoods."
Hum-de-dum. Renholdt's parents seem to have the meeting quite under control, so the younger Nayland employs himself with emptying cups of his mother's delightful tea. Maybe if it's poisoned, she'll regret it a little bit. As the conversation turns to talk of Rebecca, the man cannot help chuckling quietly to himself; the low, rumbling sound seems to emanate from deep within his belly. There is more to be said about the woman, of course, but a man knows when to hold his tongue.
Briefly the easy smile on Stafford's scruffy-handsome features turned into something more a kin of a grimace while Anathema listed up the details of what his cousin had been up to. "I expect that the Terricks will throw her out eventually, and that will be the end of her adventure. I can't say I feel inclined to have *my* face scratched up from dragging her home myself."
He finally touched the tea, forgoing any additional suppliments to drink it exactly as was. A few slow and polite sips, before he sat it back down.
"I can't say I know the reason for the Ashwoods showing up, Ser Tyroan." He shrugged with casual dismisssal. "But as for myself, I thought it was about time I meet the new Steward of Stonebridge, and on behalf of my Father and House congratulate you on your appointment in the wake of your victory."
Anathema almost grimaces. If Rebecca is kicked out of the Roost, that may suggest she could be paying her… family… a visit. She does bow her head a bit in agreement. "The Terricks are in no position to host a madwoman," she says, perhaps a bit too casually. After all, Stafford was destined to be intwined with that very House. Perhaps the Groves attract the insane. She does take a sip of her own tea as the men begin to talk.
Tyroan looks over to Renholdt, offering that smirk up again. He looks back to Stafford again, waving off the other man's grimace as a light platter of somewhat wrinkly sliced fruit, bread, and cheese arrives. "I've been scratched up by Ninepenny Kings and reavers and fuck-all everyone else. I think I'll avoid scratches from a kinswoman." He nods his agreement there, and then shrugs slightly, "I know why the Ashwoods showed up. They're delivering lumber and craftsmen to help repair the damage they did to the town." He grunts, "I wish I could fucking say it was my victory. It was the men of Stonebridge and The Mire that kick the Ashwoods' ass. But thank you. Stonebridge was begging for an experienced hand."
"When she is politely escorted from the Roost, I am sure she will be sent to the Mire," Renholdt observes quietly, dipping an index finger into his tea to check the temperature. "Have they managed to take care of the bandit problem around the Roost? Hmm…" As the talk turns subjects once more, the knight straightens in his seat and downs the last of his tea. "And a saner hand."
"Would you would prefer that she came here, perhaps?" Stafford asked Anathema with a guileless expression, since she did not think that the Roost was the place for her. "She does hold my opinions in some regard, so I could always sent a letter to suggest it, my Lady."
He nodded to Tyroan's assessment that it was not his victory in particular, taking it in stride. Of the food he took a small piece of everything; one sliver of fruit, a tear of bread, and a small crumble of cheese. All of it was eaten slowly, and methodically, the kind that said he hadn't been particularly hungry, so much as acting out of the rites of hospitality and guesthood.
"A steady hand in Stonebridge will be welcome. Stability is key to seeing the trade flow again, which is good for everybody."
"Gods be good, if she will not return to Kingsgrove, then perhaps she should go visit her father." Let Rickart deal with her. Anathema takes another sip of her tea, relaxing into her seat once more. She shrugs her shoulders a bit. "I would just rather the Terricks not be further taxed with her unstable presence. They are too honorable to send her off, but perhaps with their own mourning, they will no longer be able to support so many guests. When I was there, they were doubling up the guest rooms." She then nods her head in agreement to Stafford's compliments, casting her husband a proud smile.
Tyroan shrugs slightly at Renhardt's observation and question, "Somewhat, from what I've heard." The last comment from his eldest son, however, draws a snort of amusement. Stafford's query draws a shake of his bald head, and he gestures to Anathema at her answer, "I think she's likely to get the warmest reception at Kingsgrove." By his smirk, he knows that the reception with the Groves she ran away from is not likely to be very warm — which may say a lot about the reception he would expect for the spinster at Stonebridge or The Mire. "Trade's the key to Stonebridge and the whole fucking Cape. We welcome Kingsgrove's trade."
Renholdt glances sidelong to Tyroan, and his lips spread into an amused grin. Of course, he does don a little bit of cockiness in the way he inclines his chin just a few fractions of an inch. Being the son of a stable Steward is definitely a point of pride, in any case. "Someone could fetch her," he suggests to Anathema, folding his arms together and resting them on the table while leaning forward in his seat. "Fetch her and escort her to her father directly - no detours. Or to Kingsgrove." One dark eyebrow arches upward as Renholdt turns an inquisitive gaze upon his mother. "But maybe not." His grin widens perceptibly.
"My father has always been indulgant of Rebecca, feeling bad for how things turned out for her," with the tone of his voice saying that Stafford wasn't oblivious of it either. Just perhaps a bit less willing to let sympathies rule his actions. "There'll always be a small place for her at Kingsgrove due to that, if she returns. I expect she will, when what meagre fund she's saved up over the years runs out finally. Or she outruns the," his mouth thinned a bit, "honorable hospitality of the Terricks." His lack of sympathy for the Terricks wasn't.. too veiled, no. He looked Renholdt. "But I wont force her to leave. Or return. She is still close to her grandmother, though. So perhaps the Mire."
Then his gaze returned to Tyroan. "Aye. Is the trade picking up again? Two wars to disrupt, second just as the bloody first's effects were finally starting to fade a touch."
Anathema hardly missing that thin veiling, though she is not so oblivious to not understand why. "Forgive me, Young Lord Groves, it slipped my mind that you yourself was meant to be connected to that very House. My earnest condolences for such a poor attempt at an alliance." That said, she does not let them linger on such a topic. She nods her head gently at his question. "Slowly. We are planning on holding a merchant's fair to officially announce that Stonebridge will resume it's previous role. We have already quite a few merchants themselves returning, but there is still quite a bit of… repairs to make." Particularly between certain Houses.
Tyroan smirks dryly at Renholdt, "I don't know, Ren. Why the fuck should we deprive the Terricks from the entertainment of her company? They're mourning, after all." He picks up that walnut he was fondling earlier, crushing it and starting to pick through the shards for the meat, "Is anyone really close to my mother, Young Lord Groves?" Shaking his head slightly, he adds, "Unless it's because they enjoy being picked at and barbed constantly." There's a pause, and he admits, "It's not always so bad." He gestures to Anathema as she responds to the Young Lord's question, "It's picking back up. Not as quickly as I'd fucking like, but it's picking up."
Stafford's dark eyes touched against Anathema's face for a moment, considering. Then he offered a smile, noddding with congenial acceptance of her apology. His demeanor after simply brushed the matter aside, as if it had not been raised at all. Certainly he seemed not to have taken any affront, not even when she mentioned what a poor attempt it had been.
"You would know better than me, Ser Tyroan," Stafford murmured in response to the man's mother. He had not met her on too many occasions.
"A fair? Perhaps Kingsgrove should send a delegation, then? To assist in its success. To confirm normality."
"Now, that, Lord Stafford, sounds like a wonderful idea," Anathema says with a slow spreading smile that gracefully curves her full lips. "Perhaps even if Kingsgrove is in need of certain goods, some of the smallfolk can come along to engage in trade. Certainly we hope the same for other Houses in the Cape, but a vassal of the Mallisters will certainly help support that we do not intend to maintain our nephews feuds."
Tyroan nods his agreement with Anathema's response, "Both smallfolk and merchants from Kingsgrove would be more than welcome." His brows rise slightly in his weathered features, and he looks down at his palm to gather up the last remnants of the walnut's meat, "If you wanted, House Groves could even sponsor a competition. A chance to show off your jousting or just riding." Those steel-grey eyes look up from beneath his greyed brows, watching for the Young Lord's reaction to the oh-so-casual suggestion.
"Of course. Kingsgrove isn't much of a trade center. We have few tradesmen, so our delegation is not likely to be very big." The town itself was small, and most of the population farmers. "But I'll have something organized. Though you are a Frey vassal, House Nayland and House Groves have always had a few things in common." Such as the reason the Groves weren't held in too high regard in Seagard. "Now lately marriage and other cooperation. I should hope it would continue in that line."
He made a show of considering Tyroan's suggestion. "I wouldn't want to take the shine away from what should be a focus on Stonebridge and your own stewardship."
Anathema is looking quite comfortable now, sprawled back against her seat with her quiet raven sleeping on one of his black-scaled feet. But, it is never to be, is it? About moments after the men begin discussing the fair, the most doe-looking girl comes peeking out from behind the kitchen door. Ana narrows her eyes at her, and the girl almost flees under the look. Swallowing her pride, she nervously approaches Anathema to whisper something in her ear. Her eyes shoot wide before they narrow into a glare. "She what?" The Steward's wife hisses. Then she glances toward the men. "Excuse me, Husband, My Lord… I'm required in the kitchen." And she flashes a dangerous glare toward the doors as she sweeps to her feet.
Tyroan nods his agreement at the Young Lord's words about the fair. Even if he did fight for the rebels himself, he knows that several of his kinsmen fought for the Royalists, and meh… bygones are bygones as far as he's concerned. "Working together can only fucking help both of us, Young Lord Groves." The hesitation draws a chuckle, but before he can respond, the maid comes in with her horrible, no good, very bad news, eying his wife perhaps a little warily, "Leave me at least one fucking cook, will you, Ana?" The request is relayed with a dry smirk, and then he's looking back to Stafford, "Whatever you choose. I'm more concerned about getting people back into the fucking town than I am trumpeting myself as Steward." No, that comes later, after the success.
Stafford lifted to his feet when Anathema made her excuses, making another courtly bow, the perfect mirror image of the one he had given her at the beginning. Very polished and graceful. "Of course my Lady Anathema. A pleasure."
He remained standing up as he turned back in Tyroan's direction. "I'll consider it, then, Ser Tyroan. Something appropriate that would not detract from the greater festivities." He scratched at his scruffy beard, the counter point to his otherwise extremely meticilously thought through appearence. "Perhaps we should end it there, and let you get back to your duties, which I am certain are considerable? I would enjoy to continue with some more converastion soon, though."
Tyroan rises to his feet as Stafford suggests an end to the discussion for now, popping a chunk of walnut meat into his mouth and crushing it up. He shifts the remainder to his left hand, the comes around the table to extend his hand to the younger man again, "You have no fucking idea, Young Lord Groves." And then he snorts good-naturedly, opining, "Well, maybe you fucking do know how much of a pain in the ass it is to run a holding, come to that." He moves to escort his guest from the Hall, since he's expressed an interest in departing, "And it'll give you time to take a look at Stonebridge. I'm sure you'd like to see what all the fucking fuss was about."
Stafford took Tyroan hand, giving a friendly squeeze. "I have a few ideas, aye," he mused with a crooked smile. "Though the ultimate responsibility rests on my Lord Father's shoulders, the older I've gotten the more it becomes mine as well." He inclined his head to his host when the man made to escort him, pacing his strides to match the other man's measure.
"I've visited on occasion in the past, but aye, I was of mind to look around a little." STafford agreed. "A couple of days before I return home."