Page 415: He Returneth
'He Returneth'
Summary: The appearance of Ser Rygar Nayland in Stonebridge brings its defenders new plans and new hopes.
Date: 09 September 2012
Related Logs: Beneath Sightless Stare
Bruce Hoekenn Jarod Karel Rygar Wayland 
Tordane Tower Hall
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.
9th September, 289

There is a reality of the Tower Hall and that is that room for fifty horses and their riders is simply not available. However, that doesn't mean that it cannot be, in a very short order. By improvisation, pavilions are already being set up outside by a levied men, some of Stonebridge and some of the force of one hundred that was already sent from the Mire. Hay is being gathered, as well as other materials necessary for the proper care of the animals. Directing this is Serjeant Roger Farrier, his trade in name as well as deed and the Serjeant in charge of Stonebridge's Orange Quarter.

Within the Tower, things are proceeding towards a different purpose. As in the last weeks, the main table in Tordane Tower's hall has been set with several intricate maps. One is of the Cape of Eagles and surrounding area, a second of the fief of Stonebridge and its immediate neighbours, and the final map of Stonebridge's fief only. There are wooden blocks laid out, representing troops of different side - painted with a blue stripe for the Highfield men and their allies, and left naturally brown for the native men. Bruce's helmet and shield are at a side table, the armoured knight grasping a cup of water in one hand and motioning at the map, vaguely, to explain things to his squire.

Rygar guides his horse up to Tordane Tower and into the stables before dismounting with the assistance of his squire, and leaving the helm, gauntlets and mace for his squire to attend while he makes his way into the tower proper. His typically purposeful stride is slowed for the moment, although he manages the strength to keep his posture straight-backed and head held high.

Hoekenn listens and tries to grasp the things that is explained to him as best to his ability. Gesturing to some parts of the map, "So they can't come in from here?" He asks about one spot on the map. Focused on the map and missing anyone arriving.

Bruce shakes his head at his squire. "Well, it's possible, and we'll watch it anyways, but they'd have a very difficult time trudging through the swamp with their mule train, their knights et cetera. As I said, we'll watch it, but it's not very likely. But nothing is impossible, either. During the sack of King's Landing, Ser Amory Lorch and Ser Gregor Clegane scaled Maegor's Holdfast to get inside the Red Keep, and past the Guards. So nothing is impossible." The Master at Arms dips his head at the gaunt Nayland knight, smiling broadly this time as he makes his appearance. Now that this is no longer in the public forum, Ser Bruce feels able to speak a bit more freely. "Ser Rygar, it stirs good feelings in my heart and, I can guarantee, in the mens' hearts to see you taking command here. I'd been doing my best, but I am no Nayland. They have confidence in your leadership, though I know how hard it is to rise up after the flux. I hope it hasn't affected you too much, Ser." He pauses, motioning at the map. "I would like to run through a full report, if it please."

Having taken a few moments of pause to get his horse properly seen to, Karel makes his way into the hall a bit thoughtfully. Stepping in not long after Rygar, he makes sure to let the Nayland lead the way now.

Rygar nods curtly to Bruce's warm greeting, settling his gaunt frame into a chair at the table, and exhaling slowly through the nose as he does so. "I shall not be standing in the center of the pikes this time, Ser Longbough," he comments with a sniff at the inquiry as to his health. "It is a dire travesty that Ser Riordan were permitted to let the state of Stonebridge slip as it has. The change in command was required to be visible, or else I would not tolerate the shaming of a kinsman in public. Lax discipline shall not again be tolerated." That said, he nods to Bruce. "Begin with the state of supply, Ser. Proceed then to the count of levies, armsmen, knights, and sellswords."

Hoekenn nods to Bruce's words, "The swamp is decent to navigate through. I have. Once or so at least." Though he likes those challenges after all. Hard places to go through and so on. Then he falls silent as Bruce addresses Rygar. Looking between them but just being silent. Not sure what he should say or do. Just bowing and then being silent.

The door to the hall opens and Ser Wayland Frey steps inside, this time, fully dressed like was normally seen in the past. His right hand rests on the pommel of his sword as he marches towards the group of men "Sers…" offers the Knight once again, just like he did outside. His full brigandine armor shows a dark blue color, with some hints of black here and there; these colors could be taken as Frey colors, but not completely, it seems that this armor was designed to stand apart from the Frey House…and even stand apart from everything else. The tall Knight places his helmet on the nearby table and then crosses his arms over his chest, taking a deep breath, and making sure that he looks at everyone in this room.

"In supply we are good. Much of the grain bought up from the Groves harvest, though at an exorbant rate, was stored here and therefore can supply us with food for a prolonged siege. The river is our primary form of water, which the enemy may try to poison. As I suspect they will. We've numerous wells, some new and some older, all easily enough to accomodate the population of Stonebridge's water supplies. Therefore, it more than adequate to slake the thirst of the troops and animals here as so many have fled. This they cannot poison." Bruce turns to Hoekenn and smiles. "What you can do, Squire Hoekenn, an army may not. But light troops on the other hand may, which is why we watch it." He pats the young man on the shoulder.

Continuing his brief, Bruce says, "In other foodstuff we are also well equipped to last. I had Mistress Delacourt check the medical supplies, where she informed me that they were strong from the war stores. She added more to our stock. I also took the step of equipping our Serjeants and Signallers for all of the six Quarters present with padded armour. I judged it important that they not fall, as they're the centre of the formation. Unfortunately, stock did not permit equiping men beyond that. We've got six Quarters of militia pike, approximately fifty each, four from Stonebridge and two from the Mire. In Armsmen we've the twelve men of Stonebridge and ten more from Hag's Mire. In Knights, we've five of Stonebridge and five from the Mire, plus their squires and retainers, should they have. Our showing of sellswords was… poor. We were only able to get a dozen or so when Ser Jarod was in Seagard." He motions at Karel. "Ser Karel, please brief Ser Rygar on what your outriders have found."

"Of course, Ser Bruce," Karel replies with a bit of a nod. Offering a bit of a smile to Hoekenn at the mention of navigating through the swamp, before he offers a bit of a nod to Wayland as well. Then he turns to Rygar. "The Outriders hasn't seen much close to town, but when some of them went north, they saw a Charlton force of about four hundred men camped at the edge of their lands. Where the rest of their forces have hidden themselves, we don't know yet, Ser."

Rygar draws a slow breath through flared nostrils at the report. "No doubt Ser Aleister intends to attempt bypassing our primary earthworks with the second body of his host. However, so long as the main body of our pikes remains centrally located before Tordane Tower, we may respond swiftly to any assault. Presuming of course that the earthworks are suitably placed to limit the deployment of enemy horse to the roads." He looks aside then to Bruce for confirmation. "To what extent do the earthworks screen our holding's perimeter, Ser?"

Hoekenn nods to Bruce's words before turning to bow to his father as well. But he will stay silent and look between all the knights and lords. Studying each person just a bit. Though as usual he still has to control himself from focusing too much on something. To still be able to keep enough attention to what is said.

Wayland Frey listens in silence, drawing a mental image of how the defences are looking and perhaps, trying to come up with other things that could aid. The man takes a couple steps closer to the others and places a hand over the table, a hand that soon turns into a fist. Still, he remains in silence, waiting to hear all the information at hand.

Bruce nods at Ser Rygar. "Aye, they are. I didn't want to completely cut off road access, but moving cross country for them would be problematic at best, if not near impossible, around the other areas. As to where the second and likely larger part of the force has flanked, we don't know, Ser Rygar. If they decide to try and assault the town from the river, the earthworks have been extended so as to only permit landing at one point, defensable by a force of pike. As with the two entrances of the town. Essentially, the ditches crisscross from the west along the north to the east. The south is anchored by the river, and the southeast by the swamps which make up the Mire's primary defense. We've got pickets out in all direction, but lighter to the south and southeast. We simply did not have the numbers to spread evenly, and though we maintain active scouting, I suspect that like at the Grey Garden, small forces can be infiltrating along the light side."

Karel nods a little bit as he listens now, keeping silent as he studies the others present for the moment.

Rygar nods slowly along with Bruce's summaries. "Set aside a number of pitch pots for deployment to the waterfront should they attempt to land by boat. Pikes at the shore, and burning shot as they seek to land will quickly deter any such riverborne assault. Place our sellswords among the skirmishers and half the outriders to observe the secondary fronts. Squire Hoekann's familiarity with the marshes may be valuable in that regard. Should the Charltons elect a massed frontal assault, the knighthood shall dismount and reinforce the pikes on foot." He pauses a moment to draw fresh breath. "In the meantime, I wish to see security within the township redoubled. Expel from the town any foreigners, as I do not intend to consume our stores during siege for those who are not our vassals. I require a heavy guard on all arsenals and storehouses. The enemy are treacherous, and we must be ready for ignominious tactics."

It takes Jarod some time to return to the tower after his drafting of the Mysterious Mercenary, and get his (Rowenna's) horse stabled. But he comes enters the tower hall directly after seeing to that, idly rubbing at his eyes as he goes. It's been a long night/day.

Hoekenn nods as Rygar mentions his name, though other than so he just stands silently. Watching and listening. As usual not fully following on everything but enough to have an idea of what is happening and discussed. Eyes mostly focusing on Rygar and Bruce though. Easier to follow with all that is discussed with less people talking after all.

Wayland listens to Rygar now, moving his gaze to him. He takes a deep breath and then looks at the Squire for a brief moment before his attention goes back to Rygar. He has been in Highfield and has seen the forces that the Charltons have managed to bring…needless to say, the Haighs are some little shits.

Bruce has a small piece of soft leather which he writes on with a small, black nub. He takes notes in whatever passes for his shorthand, nodding at Rygar. "Aye, Ser, I'll get on that as soon as we've dispersed. And if the enemy attacks on two, or three fronts at once, we'll be able to deploy the pike from their central location to where they're needed."

"Sers," Jarod says to announce his presence. "One other matter. Lord Raffery told me…among other things…" That make him twitch. "…anyhow. He told me his initial reports on the size of the enemy force may've been…inflated. And that the camp of four or five hundred men was their entire number committed to the field." Shrug. "How reliable this is, fuck me if I know. That'll be for Lord Rickart to determine, I suspect."

Rygar nods curtly to Bruce's summary. "Organized by quarter and well drilled as they are, the levies can respond in pieces without losing cohesion." Jarod's contribution is met with a frown. "That makes little sense, Ser. With four hundred men, the Charltons are outnumbered and cannot hope to overwhelm a fortified defense. A thousand men would be needed to reliably storm a defended Tordane Tower, I will not believe that the Charltons and Haighs will risk breaching the peace with a force so wholly insufficient to the task at hand."

Karel listens thoughtfully, pausing a bit as he hear Jarod's words. "We've only been able to see that force of about four or five hundred so far," he offers, after a few moments of pause. Nodding again at Ser Rygar's words. "They have a plan up their sleeve, I'm certain of it."

"I see. Until we know otherwise, we must assume that the enemy host is significantly larger than ours. Our preparations make allowances for being outnumbered by a factor of two or three, and if this is wrong then it is to our benefit, not the enemy's. The men of Stonebridge are ready to fight a larger enemy. If their intent was to crush our morale by force of numbers, then it hasn't worked." Bruce doesn't really aim this at Ser Jarod alone, but rather at the room in general. "In any case, I don't know what Lord Rafferdy's sources were since he refused to disclose them." He shrugs. "Ser Rygar, may I ask where these extra two hundred men and fifty horse were coming from? This is a significant addition to our force."

"I can…" starts Wayland as he finally opens his mouth to say something "…request my Lord Father for two hundred more men, the Twins do have the forces. However, given that my Father has already denied help to Lady Valda, I doubt his reply will be different if the request comes from me. Still, at this point, I would not trust the Frey forces either"

Rygar regards Bruce to answer, "They are the anticipated host of House Erenford, Ser. It is possible that they shall not arrive in time to be of assistance to our cause, yet I see worth for both spirit and sense in expecting that they shall." He turns an eye to Wayland at that last. "It is regrettable, Ser, but I share your apprehension. Lord Walder shall not deliver us from this. The Lords Charlton would never dare provoke such an action without assurance that our Overlord would not act against them. Still, I would ask that you send the request, Ser. In the asking alone, you benefit our cause."

Karel keeps quiet at the moment, just looking between the others rather quietly at the moment. Listening carefully, with a thoughtful expression now.

"Strikes me as strange too, Ser, but I was told it, so I figured I'd best tell it in kind," Jarod says. News of the Erenfords, whether their force will arrive in time or not, plainly cheers him. "So the Charltons haven't managed to turn all the Riverlands to them. That's something. Do you think if we can defeat them decisively, in their initial push, that is might change the way Lord Frey looks on this? I still can't understand how it serves him to have his vassals tear apart a holding he's profiting by."

Hoekenn just does as his father and stays silent. Looking back and forth between the mne and the talk of more men. Trying to place the family names as well as he can.

Wayland looks at Jarod and snorts "How it serves him? Ser Jarod, my father, has Frey connections everywhere, by now you know this. What difference makes to him who controls Stonebridge when he still gets his cut? Of course, my father lacks vision. I would dare to say…that the ultimate target for the Charltons? The Twins. Of course, the Twins has a force of four thousand men, but the Riverlands? That's a whole lot more. My father's idiocy will be his undoing, but not for the time being…and while he doesn't see that, he won't move a finger." Now, he looks at Rygar and clicks his tongue "I shall, see if we can at least get two hundred men, no Frey colors. I doubt it"

"I agree with that assertation, unfortunately. Given that Lord Walder offered succor to the enemy by letting them pass through and gather troops on his fief, I don't see him sending troops to aid us at the eleventh hour. As for the men of House Erenford, I do pray that the diplomatic entreaties work out. I know Ser Rutger had been working on that and pressing for it, but I do not know more details." Bruce offers a bit lamely. Clearly not much of a diplomat. "His treatment of at the parlay with Lord Aleister was… ill advised." He watches in silence the interplay between Wayland and Jarod.

Rygar draws breath to answer Jarod, "I will not predict Lord Walder's future actions. I will say simply that, if defeated in the field- the Charlton host will lack the military strength to take the town, to say nothing of the Tower. Rich though they are, even Hollyholt lacks the gold to keep levies much longer in the field, without any hope of victory." He draws a fresh breath, the conversation beginning to visibly tire him. "That said, House Nayland can no better afford to keep so many of our smallfolk under arms. Sers, I will require plans to be made for the evacuation of our knights, squires, armsmen, and as many of the smallfolk as we safely can, in the event that the field battle turns against us, and a siege of this tower follow. Tordane Tower can be held indefinitely by no more than fifty men."

"I would stay, Ser, if comes to a siege of the town," Jarod says, for his part. He speaks no more of the Freys. He seems to hold out little hope there.

Karel nods a little bit as he listens now. Frowning a bit as he sees the effect the conversation seems to have on the Nayland. He nods a little bit at Wayland's words. "They probably have their goals set on taking your father's place at some point, Ser," he offers to the man.

"Let's not be ridiculous. If they do, it's far off in the future. Let's also not concern ourselves with something that's got no relevance with the matter at hand, Sers, please." Bruce decides to try to steer the topic back onto the one at hand. "I'd prefer the Yellow Quarter under Serjeant Burroughs stay behind in that case, Ser Rygar, if only due to their proven performance taking the Bloody Keep. They're most veterans at fighting close quarters. I'd also prefer the Stonebridge Guardsmen stay with, to provide missile shot and a heavier backbone. The rest, to be evacuated. Most smallfolk have left already."

Rygar nods curtly to Bruce's summary and recommendations. "That will require holding the Yellow Quarter back from the initial action, Ser Longbough. However, I agree. The two Mire quarters will hold the roads, with the remaining Stonebridge Quarters standing ready to march in answer to any incursion. I expect that the tower arsenal has already been filled with stones and quarrels, Ser." A look aside to Jarod and a short nod. "As you are sworn to Stonebridge that request is yours to make, Ser. Should you emerge from the action hale, it shall be granted."

Jarod nods short. But it's not something he'll dwell any further on. "We'll see how it plays, I suppose. I don't know if you discussed this previous, but is Lord Rutger being called to Stonebridge? In Lord Riordan's….absence." He sounds unsure of the correct term. So that is the one he uses.

"Aye, I would agree on the 'ill advised' part" says Wayland, talking about Rutger's words towards the Charlton Lord. He just shakes his head at this and as for the rest of Bruce's comments, he doesn't make comments.

Bruce doesn't bother to request staying behind. He knows that as the tower's Master at Arms, he will be doing so regardless of personal preference. "Orange Quarter under Serjeant Wycliffe will be located near the docks. Green under Serjeant Farrier will be prepared to move to the north gate, while Red under Serjeant Baker will hold near the bridge gate." Now that he can focus on the troops and only the troops, he shuts up on other topics.

"As for evacuation, if we can get the boats, we can ship the men down to the edge of the Stonebridge fief and them march them overland to the Mire. The route is much shorter and makes transporting large amounts of men and material considerably easier. I'm not certain on the status of roads marching east from the river to the Mire, however." Suggests Bruce.

Karel nods a little as he listens, pausing to look over in Jarod's direction, studying the man rather carefully for a few moments, before he looks back to the others now.

"Lord Rutger shall indeed be returning to oversee the administration of Stonebridge," Rygar confirms to Jarod's inquiry, before adding to Bruce, "Evacuation by river would be wise, given the Charlton superiority in number of horse. Should evacuation become necessary, and insufficient formations of pike remain to screen an overland withdrawal, the boats ought be in place." Rygar exhales and breaths in once again, before stating, "Sers, I intend to inspect the levies at sunrise on the morrow, and to view the earthworks after midday. for the moment, I shall withdraw." the gaunt knight rises to his feet, with mere traces of instability visible in the shaking of his hand. Squaring his shoulders he adds in parting, "Our peers across the Riverlands will be studying our conduct in the coming days, Sers. Make certain they behold us with envy."

"They will, Ser. Rest well." Answers the Master at Arms. He knows how much an illness like the flux can drain one's energy. Bruce looks around to the others, waiting to see if anyone approaches.