|Summary:||Veris misbehaves, and Hardwicke cuffs him like a pup. Justin adds fuel to the fire.|
|Town Square - Stonebridge|
|The surrounding terrain has several small gullies and streams that feed into the waterfront area just adjacent to the town square, the sails of the boats visible over the tops of the buildings. The square is floored in the same heavy stone that the east docks and castle are constructed of while the buildings are a mix of the stone, wood, and mortar. There are quite a few fish vendors with their fragrant catches for sale among groups of tables which tend to be busy most of the time.|
|Sun May 27, 289|
Justin has just arrived in Stonebridge with Lucienne and those traveling with her. As his own horse was lamed and still recovering, he has ridden a bay that was lent to him while leading his grey gelding back from the Twins. The ladies of course have split off to go into the inn or onto Tordane tower depending upon each of their inclinations or needs, the menfolk likewise breaking up after seeing to their horses. Some to the Inn here, most to the common house down the way. As for himself, Justin has lingered make certain that all of their horses get well tended, then double checks his gelding's leg to see how the grey is holding up. Satisefied, the dark haired young Terrick lord sends someone to the inn with his saddlebags, bow, quiver and steel cap while Justin walks out shortly after.
Veris, squire to Ser Hardwicke, stumbles out of the stables sneezing uncontrollably, rubbing at his nose with the back of his hand trying to make it stop. "There's somethin' in there, I swear," he says between sneezes to a boy younger and shorter than him. "If you'll take care of Ser Hardwicke's horses, I'll… I'll take a sharpening and polishing off your hands. Eh? Fair trade?" The boy begrudgingly takes the offer, and as soon as he goes in, Veris straightens up, dusts off his collar, and seems to be perfectly fine. Whistling a carefree tune, his eyes quickly survey the area. "Fish… fish… boring old place, looks like," he chuckles to himself.
Justin pauses to dust himself off, also having exited the stables after seeing to his lent animal as well as his lamed gelding. He glances up when Veris stumbles out sneezing, wheezing and saying something or another to the other boy. Justin caught mention of Hardwicke's name and studies Veris, "What are you about Ser Hardwicke's horse? You best not be messing with his animal without his permission, lest you want to feel his wrath." Obviously, the young Terrick lord has no clue who Veris or the boy might be. Their number coming back from the tourney isn't a tiny group.
Veris turns around to face Justin with an annoyed expression. "I feel his wrath even when I mess with his animal with his permission," he snorts, then notices what the man is wearing. "…S…er," he adds hesitantly for safety, narrowing his eyes and arching a brow at the same time to gauge the man's reaction. The result is a very suspicious-looking visage. "I'm his squire," he explains after a beat. Then after another beat, he feels the need to add, "Ser Hardwicke, that is, not the horse." Then immediately feels stupid after saying it and rolls his eyes at himself.
People are always mistaking him for a knight, and if only it were so, alas. Justin in turn tries not to look annoyed by the lack of spurs upon his boots when so addressed, "I see. Then why did you threaten that other boy with bodily harm if he didn't see to Ser Hardwicke's horses for you? Isn't that /your/ job, squire ….? There's a pause to invite Veris to interject a name for introduction. He then goes on to add quietly, "I am Lord Justin Terrick, not Ser yet."
Damn, off on the Ser-hood. "I didn't threaten nobody with bodily harm, S - m'lord," Veris objects indignantly - probably a bit overplayed with both his hands up at his side. "I made a fair trade, was all, for him to look after the horses in exchange for me doing some sharpenin' and polishin' for him. He's gettin' out easy on that one, he is. I don't much like horses, and they feel 'bout the same way t'ward me, so I steer clear of 'em much as I can." Clearing his throat and still looking a little guilty, he squares off his shoulders a bit to introduce himself. "Veris Kallan, m'lord." He offers the name with a bit of a wince - his late brother Kile's name seems to be more well-known and favored around these parts than he initially estimated.
And there is Hardwicke, having seen the ladies settled for brief refreshments at Crane's Crossing while the horses rest before the final leg of the journey, returning back out to the square. He's in Terrick livery, naturally, sword at his hip, and looks immediately irritable upon seeing his squire. "Have you made a new record in time taken to tend horses, Veris?"
Ah, then. Justin nods, "All right. Sounded like you were threatening to break his fingers or something." It would seem that Justin is content to leave it at that for if the young man is Hardwicke's squire, it's none of his affair and for Hardwicke himself to deal with as he sees fit. So he turns and starts to walk towards the Crane himself, only to see the knight exit and approach them. Justin stops, "Seems he handed off to some other boy to do for him." There might be a touch of amusement in his pale eyes.
Having already straightened up to introduce himself to Justin, it's surprising that Veris can straighten up even further when he hears the sound of Hardwicke's voice. He seems to grow a half-inch at the Captain's irritated tone, his spine sitting straight as a board, as he turns around with a stiff and dutiful expression which he must have carefully practiced in front of a mirror, calculated to annoy his master. "Yes, Ser," he says at exactly the same time that Justin states he passed off his duty, which elicits a dramatic sigh and a hung head. "The stables made me sneeze like a madman," he explains - or more accurately, lies - "so I traded duties with Jessem, is what the Lord overheard as me threatening to break his fingers." Hurriedly, he adds to the both of them, "Which is not what happened."
Hardwicke scowls at Justin's explanation, than at his squire's. He looks distinctly at Veris and says, "Here." Squires are like dogs, right?
It's hard to imagine a man missing his days as a squire, even if he had to be step-and-fetch it to his knight's every whim or need. Yet, Justin faintly smiles. Not maliciously at the scolding Veris may be about to have heaped upon his head, but at the memory of some past interaction with Ser Haffrey. He lets out a slow breath and rather than saying anything, Justin starts for the porch of the Inn. Surely there is a cold, freshly drawn draught of ale that sooth his dry throat.
When Hardwicke's voices takes That Tone with just a single word, Veris starts immediately backpedalling. "Ah - um, the thing, the thing about that, Ser," he stammers with an upraised finger, slowly walking away backward to make his escape while keeping his eyes on the solid knight, "is that I, uh, I'd just promised Jessem that I'd go and do something for him right away, right - immediately, like." Eyes still on Hardwicke, he points past his shoulder in a random direction. Which happens to be a random fish vendor. "He's in there right now, right… this moment, if you want to have some words with him about the horses, just right in through there, that direction. There." He's nodding and chintilting at the stable entrance as though it just spoke the sagest wisdom ever heard. It's overly evident that he's trying to get Hardwicke to glance away so he can bolt.
Hardwicke is not nearly so easily deterred. "Veris," he says in a distinctly warning tone of voice, not taking his eyes from his erstwhile squire.
He isn't gone long. Justin is dressed for the road in partial maile, sweaty from riding, and the inn is crowded. So he steps back out shortly with not just a tankard, but a pitcher of ale as well. He takes a seat on the porch to pour himself a drink, then tastes of it in a long, slow pull to slack his thirst. Hey, look, refreshment and a show!
Veris winces as it becomes clear that Hardwicke isn't going to relent. "I didn't do no wrong, Ser!" he bursts out, clearly unnerved by the Captain's steely gaze. But not unnerved enough to frown after that last exclamation. "Didn't do… no… did no… wait, didn't not do any - WHAO!" Absorbed in his self-corrective muttering and walking backward, he trips and stumbles backward, windmilling his arms, knocking a man down as he falls on his ass. The fallen man, who was carrying the fish he'd just bought from one of the vendors, looks none too pleased to see them lying in the dirt. So the squire immediately picks himself up and scurries over to Hardwicke. "You called, Ser," he says, completely straightfaced. And manages to hold it for a few seconds before glancing out the corner of his eye to see if the man he knocked down is coming after him.
Hardwicke makes a distinctly displeased noise when his squire so soundly runs into a poor, innocent Stonebridge citizen. He doesn't hesitate to smack the boy soundly upside the head as soon as he's close enough. "Maybe you'd just like to hire out all of your training, too," he growls at him. "You can just sleep all day while I train somebody else to be a knight. How does that sound?" The gaze he levels on Veris is distinctly warning. Better think hard before answering this.
"It is a priviliage that Ser Hardwicke can revoke to reserve for another." Justin adds helpfully. But mostly he's staying out of this, drinking his ale and resting in the shade until the ladies are content to continue the last leg of their journey home. Lucienne will surely be eager to see the Roost and her father.
Veris doesn't cry out when he's struck, but he does wince a bit and hunch up his shoulders to guard against a follow-on, but there is none. From the look on his face, Hardwicke's words smack him like an elbow to the gut; his eyes cast downward in shame and his lips thin as they're pursed together. "Ser, it ain't - you know the horses don't like me," he mutters pathetically, eyes still on his boots. "They get skittish 'round me, and the one tried to bite my ear off that time, and yours would've nearly kicked me in the head that time if I hadn't ducked and - and it's not like I was shirking, Jessem's good with horses and shit with the sharpening, he always gets 'em all uneven, so I offered him a trade and he…" The squire's voice trails off into a guilty silence as he realizes he's rambling on with excuses. Justin's addition to the situation earns the Lord a look out of the corner of his eye, which with his head down as it is now, could be misconstrued as a glare.
"Aye, and I'm sure they'll learn to love you any better with you skirting around and refusing to touch them," Hardwicke says with another growl. "You'll never be a knight without horsemanship. Get on with it." He leans in to drop his voice to a more intimate warning when he says, "I'll know if you haven't." And then, seemingly confident in the ability of his words to motivate without his presence, he turns to head back to the inn. "Sorry for that, my lord," he tells Justin as he passes.
The Terrick lord isn't taking any offense at what may or may not be a glare from Veris. Justin is leaning back in his chair, one boot and then the other lifted to prop his feet up on one of the other chairs as he finishes off his first tankard. He pours himself a refill, the sound cool and delicious in the hot summer afternoon heat. Shame there really isn't any ale left much to drink at the Roost, or anything else that isn't mostly water these days.
Justin gives Hardwicke a nod, then pushes the pitcher over by way of invitation, "Does he need to be shown how to handle the horse, Ser? You're welcome to join me for a drink. I believe after your successes at the tourney, I should stand you a few. You've done us proud, Ser."
Veris's shoulders droop. He really hates those horses, at least twice as much as they hate him. "Yes, Ser," he groans - not so much impetuously as resignedly as he drags his feet back toward the stables. At the doorway, he glances back over his shoulder to see if Hardwicke is still about watching him; seeing that he is, he immediately ducks his head with a grimace and heads in through the stables. It doesn't take long for sounds of whinnying and commotion drift out, accentuated by a loud curse from the errant squire.
"He knows how to handle the horses, my lord," Hardwicke replies to Justin, just a bit tetchy. He is known himself for his own way with horses, after all. "He just needs to do it." He jerks his chin in something of a respectful acknowledgment of Justin's offer, though. "I've things to see to, my lord." And he heads off.
Justin gives Hardwicke a nod though he would have liked the knight to have accepted his offer of drink on their brief pause. "I know you can handle a horse well, Ser. I've seen you ride." At the joust, even. But Justin has also seen Hardwicke's teaching methods, or lack there of. Not wise to mention that part, however. So he only stays seated there on the porch with his boots propped up, drinking ale - now by himself.