|Here Comes the North|
|Summary:||Nerys arrives in Stonebridge and is greeted by Anathema, Aeron and Hoekenn.|
|Date:||10 October 2012|
|Room name goes here!|
|Set at a slight incline, the stone pathway leads up a slight rise northeast out of the town square towards the single tower of House Tordane. Grass grows thick and plush along the side though it is well maintained. Private shops and stables are located up closer to the manor with the family's private stables attached directly to the exterior wall of the small castle.|
|October 10, 289|
It's an invasion from the North! No. The party making their slow and steady way through Stonebridge is hardly large enough to overwhelm the Nayland forces arraigned through the port. Perhaps it's an invasion by the North? That might be slightly more of a possibility. At least if the guards have rightly reported that a quartet of sworn swords bearing the arms and colours of House Flint have entered the borders of Stonebridge, accompanying a Lady in similar dress and two of her handmaidens is any indication. But if so, then the invasion comes a bit late, as the Flints have already come to Stonebridge, if not in name, then certainly in the person of the Lady Steward, Anathema Nayland. But whatever the whispered word might be the fact is plain enough. The small party has indeed entered the lands and seem bet on making their way to Tordane Tower.
With all the running back and forth between his knight, drills and Firth it seems that it all makes him cross the path of the arriving Flints. Spotting them and to be respectful he moves towards them instead of hurrying into the tower. "Greetings." He offers and studying them all until he sees that one is a noblewoman, offering a bit of a deeper bow then. "My lady." Not sure what to do, so for now he just tries not to lose focus and just keeps them company.
Even if she hadn't received a letter that the Young Lord Flint's sister was coming to visit, Anathema Nayland would still be excited to see the raised hand of the Flint crest coming up the Stone Walk. With her twelve-month-old granddaughter on her hip, the Lady Steward is sweeping out the Tower with the dance of dark violet skirts. Sweet little Gwenah has her thumb in her mouth, her crown of dark curls and steady dark eyes perfect matches to her grandmother. The woods-witch of Stonebridge is all smiles when her gaze falls on Nerys, and she starts toward the Flint retinue. "Nerys," Anathema calls as she approaches, the corners of her eyes crinkling with her warm smile.
Aeron, for his part, tends to go off and do his own thing once he knows that his mother is in safe hands. Even if he deems his hands are the safest, beyond his father and brother. But, once arriving back in Stonebridge, the Flint-infused Nayland was off into the woods and had been gone for the better part of the day. The cloaked man arrives up the Stone Walk, making his way toward the tower. Wearing a set of black leather hunting leathers and his bow slung over him, a free hand carries a pair of rabbits, freshly harvested from the wood. Anathema is easy to pick out from the group gathered and that's where he changes his direction. "Mother." he says quietly upon arriving. "I have the rabbits that you were wanting."
Nerys reins in, as the party receives an escort of sorts. But the look and the smile the Lady offers is warm and friendly. "We are well met, young master." Not that she can say precisely how old the young man might be, but certainly he's not so grown that she could drop the young. "I have come to pay my respects to the Lady Steward. Perhaps you might direct me to her?" It seems only polite to ask, in a place where she's a perfect stranger. But whether or not the young man might have actually been able to assist her is moot, as Nerys hears her name called, she shifts her attention to the approaching woman. She has no face to put to the Lady Steward, only a vague description from her father, of a girl who has likely changed in the decades since she left to wed her Nayland Lord, but that seems not to matter. Not for the moment. Courtesy is the same regardless of whether or not you know who you're being courteous to. Nerys slides from her horse, moving to meet the approaching noblewoman, and falling to a respectful curtsy. "My Lady. I am Nerys Flint. I have come to pay my respects to the Lady Anathema Nayland." And then, she pauses, stepping back and turning that she might seen the man approaching and the Lady with babe in arm.
Hoekenn smiles and nods to the lady and about to turn to find the lady. Though then he looks over as he hears the voice of Anathema, offering a bow to her and her grandchild. "My ladies." Smiling brightly as usual. Moving a bit to the side to allow her to approach the group while he tries to figure which house it is. Though he might be getting an idea about that seeing the rather casual greeting towards the lady. Seeing as they seemed to be looking for one another anyhow, he let them talk without interfering. Then there is Aeron. Perhaps seen him in the tower once or such. Though not enough to really know who it is. Though that Aeron greets his mother explains it, so he bows. "My lord." Now he only needs to figure out the name that matches the man's face.
"Aerrow," Gwenah blurbbers behind her thumb as Aeron nears before she cracks one of those full, innocent smiles, and Anathema turns that warm smile on her son. "Good, good, though, Aeron, I'm afraid that my good news trumps yours," the Witch says with an amused quirk to the corner of her lips. "Have you met your cousin, Lady Nerys?" She half-inquires, half-introduces as she continues toward the Flint retinue. She bounces the young baby on her hip gently, holding out a hand toward Nerys to greet her as family. "Look at how you have grown, my girl," Ana says to Nerys, and it is truth as perhaps last the nee Flint saw her younger cousin, she was only a bit bigger than Gwenah. The said babe is twisting a bit in Anathema's arms to look at Hoekenn and she nurses curiously at her thumb as she looks at the boy.
Aeron smiles brightly for Gwenah. "Hello, my little niece." he offers, bending down to place a soft kiss on the baby's forehead. Once Anathema has approved of the rabbits, he waves a retainer to take them off his hands. "Take this to my mother's study." he states before turning back to address the group as a whole. Listening at the explanation, he glances from his mother, then to Nerys. "No, I can't say that I've had the honor." he answers, bowing to the Flint lady. "My Lady, welcome to Stonebridge."
Aeron also gives a nod of greeting to Hoekenn in return. "Evening."
The party arrays itself comfortably. Though the men are armed, they clearly have no hostile intent. The handmaids dismount to follow their Lady's example, the men a moment later. The standard remains, though it is hooked into the place for it on the carrier's saddle. "Lady Anathema, you are kind to say so. I have learned how to take more than a handful of steps before tumbling forward on my face, you will be happy to hear. And Beggar did eventually grow all of his coat back." A chubby, stumble-y clumsy baby was Nerys, who learned to walk, partly while pulling hanks of her dog's hair out as she let him lead her around. There's warmth in her voice, and in the laughter that follows, "My father will be glad to know that you still look just as he remembered." The hand she takes, fingers warm and firm, before she turns back to study this new cousin. The warmth does not fade, nor the good humour, Nerys' eyes finding Aeron's only for a moment, before they fall, the girl offering as polite a curtsey as she did for his Lady Mother. "My Lord, my thanks for your welcome." The sight of the rabbits brings back a thought, and she offers to Anathema, "My Lord Father bid me deliver a few tokens to you. Such things as he recalled that you might like. At your pleasure, my Lady."
Hoekenn just stands and smiles silently, being the servant that he should. When the babe looks towards him he looks back and just has his bright smile for her. Both studying each other most likely. Though he is trying to pull his eyes back to the talking people. Trying to study each of them. Putting Aeron's name to his face as well. At least so that he now knows the noble people's names. Well, with the exception perhaps being the babe. But he doesn't intrude or anything, but he will stand around for the time being.
"She is your grandfather's brother's son's daughter," Anathema explains to Aeron in a quick whisper as if to help him put her in to perspective, though she does offer Aeron an amused quirk of a grin before she softens her smile for Nerys. "Splendid to hear, my dear," Ana says with a warm, flowing laugh at news of Nerys's footwork progress. She then squeezes Nerys's fingers. "I've already seen that rooms have been put together for you and your retinue. You will have to forgive the mess, we are still cleaning up." Then she grins toward Nerys, bowing her head a bit. "And what has dear Asmund sent along with you that will make us all homesick?" She looks toward Hoekenn, offering the boy a bow of her head so he knows she has seen him.
Aeron follows along with Anathema's description with a bobbed head each time she state's a family member. While it does make his eyes cross just for an instant in his attempt to follow along, he's pretty familiar with the Flint lines that it finally clicks in his head. "Ah." he utters in recognition. "Well, any family of my mother's is family of mine. The Flints are more than welcome here." Looking over Nerys, he considers. "But, may I ask what brings the occasion of your arrival? Had I known we'd be receiving guests I'd come of home sooner."
A simple family relationship, not at all convoluted, right? Nerys remains quiet, respectfully so, allowing the Nayland Lady time and freedom to speak to her son. "Again, I thank you for your kindness." For good or ill, Nerys is among family, and she turns to her small party, "Josef, please stay. Caleb, see to the horses, if you would." The first guard, Josef, who looks nearly of an age with Anathema, stays with the handmaids, the other three men heading off to find the stables. Before they go, a small chest is removed from a saddlebag, and brought to Nerys, who in turns offers it to Anathema, "There is nothing to forgive, my Lady. I did not survive my time at Mormont without learning how to live in a state of constant upheaval." On a more serious note, "I am not certain what all my Lord Father included, but he did bid me cull the seeds of the winter rose and bring them to you, that you might have something of your home that was, in the home that is." And still serious, and honestly so, Nerys answers Aeron's question, "I have only just arrived in the Riverlands, but I wished to meet such of our family as make their home here and to extend the hand of family and friendship. I would have come with my Lord brother, but the Lady Cordelya is nearly at her time, and the baby weighs hard on her."
Hoekenn is trying to follow any conversation that is going on, though he does miss a part or two as usual. Just smiling and looking happy as usual. Nodding in return to Anathema as she offers a bow of her head to him. Drifting off a bit. Though still hearing something about brothers and babies. Blinking a bit and looking to the nobles.
"If family cannot come to us, we will come to them," Anathema announces in regard to her other cousin Einar. They are all so young in her eyes, they might as well be her own children. She draws Nerys up against her side, gesturing to the Tower. "Now, I want you to consider this an extension of home. My Lord husband should be returning from Highfield soon enough. Frankly, I should have had him escort you here, but… well…" And she shrugs her shoulders a bit, adjusting the babe on her hip. Obviously the reason is in case Tyroan and Aleister's meeting went poorly. She does not let that change the warmth of her smile. "Perhaps you will help me plant these winter roses and put some Northern sternness into making them grow."
"A good enough reason." Aeron decides, nodding. Not a whole lot he can say on the matter, but he does seem relatively pleased that there's now more than one Flint about. "It'll be a welcome thing to have you here, cousin." A small adjustment on the bow slung about him, but he seems rather content to let his mother do the talking. "Mother," he suddenly says. "Given that, would you want me to ride out meet father in Highfield? I didn't know Ren went with him or not."
Nerys settles comfortable enough under Anathema's arm, that humour that serves to make her seem so much the opposite of her older brother coming out, "I will do as I am able, my Lady, but I have little skill at plants, or planting. I think…Anders would be glad of your company. And his Lady Wife as well. I know her only a little, but…they say the gods speak too loudly to her, and louder still as her time approaches." A thoughtful expression stills her features, before she nods, "I look forward to meeting your Lord Husband. And I think he has much more important work than escorting a child to see her Auntie." Cousin in truth, but given their difference in age, cousin seems nearly disrespectful. A return of her smile for Aeron, "You say that now, but when the Flint host descends on your doors, you might think otherwise. There are…" she takes a moment, counting in her head, "Five of us now of the name, plus our household. Though soon to be four. My goodcousin is soon to wed."
Hoekenn just seems lost for the moment and seems to be staring right at nothing. Though he does pick up bits and pieces still. Doing much what a guard should do, seen but not heard. Also look like you actually are paying attention. He does try to pay attention though.
With the mention of riding out to Tyroan in Highfield, a hint of Northern chill touches those graceful, wild features. "No," Anathema says with only a faint touch of bristle. "He took Morgan." Ser Tyroan's valet is older than the Nayland himself, as common as dirt, and perhaps one of the few men that Tyroan would trust with his very life. If Tyroan took solely his valet, he was prepared for trouble. "He has promised to return in a couple days." This worries her brow briefly before she relaxes into a gentler smile for her young cousin. "I will visit Anders and Cordelya both, and ensure that their child is properly blessed in Northern fashion." As more and more of the North descends on Stonebridge, the more Anathema is resembling that young girl who came to the Mire only to be wed. "I hope you will spend some time with Lady Jocelyn. Her and my daughter Merida are both about your age, and they will be thrilled beyond the Gods' belief."
"I would be glad to meet all of your family, my Lady, and certainly to learn the ways of women in the Riverlands. I spent too many years close enough to the wall to spit a seed at it. I imagine things are very much different here than what I am used to. I hardly remembered what life was like at Flint's Finger, before I set off again. I do not know if I would be good company for them, but I will do my best not to sully your good name." The byplay between mother and son, Nerys seems to know well enough to keep her nose out of it. It's a skill, learned early among nobles, to let things seemingly wash over them. "They would be thankful of the blessing, I know."
"Just one?" Aeron just sighs at hearing that news. "The least he could've done was to take one of us. Not to say that I don't trust his valet to look after him, but…" He just snorts, unable to really come up with anything better to say on the matter, letting his non-verbal cues say more. In a attempt to make better of the situation, he smiles at Nerys. "I for one, welcome as many Flints in the area as possible, growing up with the Flints of the Mountains in the far North. Feels almost like home. Could use more snow though."
Something that Anathema says seem to make Hoekenn snap out of his spaced out state. Studying her for a moment before interested eyes scan all three of them. He doesn't speak up of course, at least not yet. Not until the lord speaks. "Perhaps worry." He offers to Aeron. Before bowing and falling silent. "Apologies." Being the usual one that accidentally let words slip ever so often.
Anathema laughs. "Heed the words of a woman who also tried to learn the ways of Riverland women," she offers her cousin with a quirk of her lips. "Be a Northern woman amongst Riverlanders." The corner of her easy smile quirks a bit with the hints of an amused smirk. She considers Nerys for a moment before she turns her attention back to her son. "If I remember correctly, Lady Nerys was fostered on Bear Island with the Mormonts." And there is another note of pride there. After all the Mormonts have a reputation that even the First Flints can appreciate. When Hoekenn speaks up, though, the woods-witch casts a glance toward him. She offers him a small smile, bowing her head. "Yes, Master Hoekenn. It is worry."
"I do not think I could ever be anything but a Northern woman, nor want to be, lest I be a disappointment to my House, but…sometimes it goes easier when your learn the customs of other lands." A nod, of agreement, at Anathema's words. "I was. Lady Maege saw to most of my upbringing, but Lord Jeor was good to me and kind. He…" Nerys pauses, "I do not know how much you hear of the North here. He took the black." This brings the frowny face, "I think, perhaps that was part of the reason my father recalled me to Flint's Finger." The frown she wipes away, setting it aside as if it were some trouble to deal with another day, "If you truly wish to feel at home again, my Lord, perhaps I shall take you home with me when I return to my brother. Then you should have more Flints about you than you would know what to do with."
Hoekenn smiles and nods in return to Anathema. Then just studies and listen. PErhaps he will actually learn a thing or two. And hopefully Anathema wasn't upset with him talking. At least her husband had taken kind to it in the past. His eyes easily going from one person to the other.
"Do not tempt him, sweet girl," Anathema says to Nerys with a sly smile, though she speaks now to Gwenah who has been observant and quiet up to this point. "But, we would miss Uncle Aeron if he weren't here, wouldn't we, little dove?" She nudges her nose against Gwen's soft curls, causing the little girl to gasp with laughter. Then she smiles toward Nerys with that light, graceful curve of her full lips. "Though, I'm sure that Aeron would love visiting some of his kin. Perhaps we can make an arrangement." Her dark eyes shine with unheard laughter. "Now, come, I will have you shown to your rooms and you can relax a bit after your ride. Then we will have a bit of lunch, and you will tell me what my dear family is up to." She glances toward Hoekenn. "Young Master, will you please let my other son know that we have family that has arrived."
"I would not dare, Auntie. I only offered to return the hospitality you have extended to me. I am certain Anders would be glad to receive family into his home, even if we have only such a home as Lord Aleister has shared with us." Merry eyes glance from Anathema to the babe, "And it is not as if you will not be coming yourself. With the wedding coming son, and the Lady Cordelya's laying in…you will surely end up spending as much time with us as with your family in Stonebridge…if only for a little while." A soft inhale, a nod, and exhale, "I would be glad for a few moments of rest, and I brought only a very few things. I will hardly take any room at all."
"I've only just returned from the Flints of the Mountains." Aeron nods, though he does look a bit whistful. "Yes, my Lady, do not tempt me. Adjusting back to the home of my birth has been…trying." he admits with a strained smile. "But, Mother here has been more than accommodating to her wayward son. And she's not beyond instilling guilt with her own words and making me look at my lovely niece to double the effect." he grins over at Ana and Gwenah. The news does surprise him. "Gods, he did?" he blinks, then closes his eyes. "I had always heard good things of him. I pray that the Old Ones watch over him."
Gwenah releases another appropriate giggle toward Aeron as if she knows he's talking about her; she still has not released her thumb. "If Ser Tyroan brings us good word from Highfield, I'm sure that we will be able to move freely between here and there to visit with the Flints. And certainly Anders can certainly come calling once his babe is born and settled." The Witch now reaches out to provide Nerys's shoulder a gentle squeeze. "Off you go, dear. I will have…" And she pauses, eyes closing as she tries to strain her memory. "Gods be damned, Aeron… what is the name of that awful girl that your aunt sent me to replace Mara?" Because Rickart's wife is getting revenge for Tyroan gaining Stonebridge by keeping Ana's good maidservants and replacing them with tiring gels. "Whatever her name is… she will show you to your rooms."
Hoekenn nods to Anathema yet again. Now he just have to find the other son, wherever he might be. "I will be right on it." He offers. Looking between them all and then preparing to go into the tower to try and find the other son. Hopefully he can't be far gone. Bowing before taking his leave.
"Lord Jeor was and is a good man. But he wished to give the rule of his House over to his son, Jorah. As he could abdicate no other way, he chose the Watch. I had wanted to see him, before I returned home, but…" women don't usually go to the Wall, even for visits, "But I am allowed to write to him, and I try to do so, that he might know how his fosterling is doing." Nerys steps away, following the squeeze on her shoulder, dipping a curtsy, "As you with, Auntie. You will find I am no trouble at all." That said, she goes of as instructed, her maids and Josef trailing behind her. A glance back to Aeron, "Highfield is not so far, my Lord." Her maids gather in around her, one of them, the one who handed her Anathema's gift, taking it back off her hands, as the gaggle of girl with guard in tow head up to the tower.
"Her? Uh.." Aeron blanks. "Shades if I know. I -liked- your maids until we arrived here, then mysteriously we got replacements." Even he understands the lovely things his outside family does for them. It doesn't go unnoticed to the Flint-infused ranger. "Lovely meeting you, Lady Nerys. I hope you enjoy your stay here."
"Your Aunt has decided that since old Gret and May were born and raised in the Mire then they would not join me in Stonebridge, even if they traveled all over with me until Lord Frey awarded Stonebridge to your father," Anathema explains dryly. "So, instead I get the skill-less gels. I'm patient. Soon, she will send them back to me." She smirks toward her son as she glances after where Nerys has gone. "It is time to reconnect with the kin of your grandfather, dear boy. They will not be like Grandmother Shada, they will not be like the Mountains. But… they are close enough."
"Petty actions fueled by wounded pride, Mother. That's all it is." Aeron notes with a sniff. "Let my aunt stew that Lord Frey saw wisdom in making Father Steward." Walking with her, and nearing the gate, he unslings his bow and quiver, handing it off to a nearby retainer. He's not fond of not being able to carry his own weapons inside for the sake manners, but, these are the small sacrifices one must make for family. A wry chuckle follows. "The Gods broke the mold when they made Grandmother Shada, Mother. But, I look forward getting to know my the Flints of my blood. No, it won't be the same, but I'll take what I can get." Then he stands, looking back for a moment. "For a moment, I almost felt a chill in the air." he says, almost absently, longingly.
"As did I, my son," Anathema says as she reaches to loop her arm with her son's, squeezing him close to her side as she holds young Gwenah on her hip. "As did I."