|I Offer My Sword|
|Summary:||Ser Erik Jast arrives to Highfield seeking the ruling Lord but is greeted by the Lady of Highfield instead.|
|Grand Hall, Highfield Keep|
|Grand Hall it truly is, in the back right-hand corner a stairway leads to the second floor Promenade; the area only serves to make the space seem larger with its rail lined balcony taking half the room. This design leaves most of the second floor open; adding height to the space and its oak rafter ceilings. The high dais and its high-backed chairs are set under an alcove caused by the second floor. Made of heavy oak and wrought with ornate carvings of this new house's sigil, crowned wolves seem to dance and chase each other through fields of wheat along its legs and sides. Sigils of the great Riverland houses line the wall behind the dais, House's Charlton of Highfield, Tully, Frey and Charlton, in the center of these banners and slightly larger, the crowned Stag of Robert Baratheon, King of the Seven Kingdoms.|
|8 September 289|
It was unfortunate that the young lord Aerick had fallen ill as young babes do, though concern over his welfare was rooted deep enough for Cherise to remain in Highfield and not attend the Mallister wedding. Her condolences were sent and a gift was underway. For now the babe had finally succumbed to rest, sleeping harshly from weakened lungs and heated flesh. It allowed her to play the role as the Lady of the Ashen Oaks, of Highfield and tend to her land's needs. Though a visitor was the least to be expected as the Mallister wedding was all the talk near the Cape of Eagles. In he Grand Hall, where all guests were received, the Lord's throne beside her sat empty as she waited for the visitor's arrival. Upon being informed of the name it plucked at a string in her memory, the House rang familiar. "Do see that the Lord is welcomed." She told the young servant who had bowed his head and hurried in his steps to retrieve the lord. Until the man's entry Cherise sat in waiting, hands laying upon her lap coated with a thin layer of blue silk and golden embroidery. She wore pearls in her hair today upon a ring of pins that was similarly fashioned as a circlet rather than a crown for that could be too ostentatious.
Having used his squire to send message ahead of his arrival, seeking the Lord of Highfield, Erik is escorted to the throne room where he is being received. He himself is not attending the wedding because he had just returned to the Riverlands, having returned to his House during the invasion of the Iron Isles and also working with the Lannisters. Entering the throne room, the Jast Knight's eyes immediately moves to the empty throne, realizing that he has perhaps arrived too late to catch Lord Aleister, already clued in when most of the men at arms guarding Highfield were old men or young boys. However, eyes quickly move to who is present, recognizing Lady Cherise and it is to her that Eric graces with a deep bow, his squire that trails behind him by a step doing the same thing, "My Lady of Highfield, thank you for granting me audience at my request."
Again the Lady of Highfield wore a smile for the next visitor and instantlly recalled just how so the name had sparked her memory. "M'lord Erik be welcome to Highfield." So much time had passed since their brief encounter, she no longer babe filled and swollen and he nearly the exact same. The sexes were unfair in that regard. "Please, tell me, how do you fare? Was your journey a lengthy one?"
Erik is certainly still the same hale self he had been, faring well during the Ironborn attack, both at Seagard and at the Iron Isle. The only slight change may be that the young man is now battle hardened, a bit of edginess to what had been more arrogant though soft, now his arrogance is backed by experience on the fields of battle. "I am well, Lady Cherise, I have learned much when we repelled the barbarians. After leaving my House again with the Ironborn threat was dealt with, I once again travelled up the Kingsroad only to hear rumors of hostilities once more plaguing this land. I had come to speak with the Lord of Highfield, to see if he would like to have another sword within his ranks, as he endeavors to put right the wrong that has occurred at Stonebridge."
Within the hall those sworn already to Highfield stood on guard while their betters conversed and the noble Ser's intentions are declared. Cherise listens, seated upright and proud upon her plush seating as the male shared a shortened version of his journies thus far. "Then I am glad for you. The whole of Westeros had something of value to learn since the battles of the Isles." She agreed. It had varied with levels depending on the person. As the trials of Stonebridge was a heated topic, the reason for this knight's arrival, Cherise raised her chin a touch as she drew a breath inward. "I do apologize for my lord husband's is elsewhere however he is due to return in a few days so your desire to swear your sword to Highfield will not go unheard Ser Jast." She could neither give hope or offer a promise of service. Not yet. "What rumors have reached your ears if I may ask?"
"No apologies are needed, My Lady." Erik says with a quick shake of his head, as if to wave off the apologies, eyes still focused on the beautiful Lady of Highfield. "I was afraid of arriving too late to speak with Lord Aleister before he and his force departed south towards Stonebridge. I am glad he is possibly returning though I may ride south, just in case." As for the question about rumors that he has heard, Erik shrugs his shoulders slightly, "The Naylands are holding onto Stonebridge despite the fact that their liege lord has decreed that it belongs to Lady Danae Tordane. Lord Aleister has gathered a host and is marching south, supporting Lady Tordane, to return to her what is rightfully hers."
"The men have yet to march so your arrival is timely Ser." Cherise informs while meeting the man's eyes. "Then you've heard true. Ser Gedeon was proclaimed the rightful ruler and my cousin, his widow as regent until their child comes of age. They have been given an opportunity of departure cease their unlawful occupation of Stonebridge. We await the turn of their hand, to see how they wish to proceed." Either by will or force the tower will change into proper hands. "It pleases me to know there are those among the distant houses that have also seen the light of reason and how the will of justice must be turned." Cherise moves both hands to press at the arms of her seat, aiding her rise. "Until my husband returns Ser Erik, I welcome you as a guest here. To rest. I am sure you must be weary from your travels."
Inclining his head in agreement, Erik appears to see the situation the same way. Either that or the young knight had taken the time to assess who is most likely to be the victor in this engagement and is merely choosing the side that will most likely win. However, he would certainly not speak of that out loud, "Giving them a chance to depart is certainly most kind on your House's part, though it may only give them forewarning of your intent, and allow them to prepare for the attack. The Liege Lord's word is what their respective Houses should follow, whether or not they like the decision is moot. Only the His Grace, the King, can overrule. The Naylands have certainly over reached, including in the killing of the rightful Lord." There is a slight shake of his head as the Jast Knight looks on with disappointment at the decisions made. As for the invitation to stay as a guest, Erik can only bow his head again and flashes the Lady an appreciative smile, "You are most kind, My Lady."
The veil was set and pleasantries had been spoken for in the world of ruling lords and lofty ambitions it was imperative to play the part. Eyes were everywhere, the men standing near the doors maintained their loyalty due to Highfield's coffers. "Murdered." The lorded bastard, she at least attempted to appear mournful of the fact. Not angered. Cherise lowered her eyes for a moment as she gathered both hands against the abdomen as she stood before her seat. Upon raising her large blue eyes to the noble knight she continued, "As we are sworn to our King we honor his word. I pray the House of Naylands take up my husband's offer to vacate and preserve what little honor they clutch onto." She lands her gaze to a nearby servant, one of her own,
The veil was set and pleasantries had been spoken for in the world of ruling lords and lofty ambitions it was imperative to play the part. Eyes were everywhere, the men standing near the doors maintained their loyalty due to Highfield's coffers. "Murdered." The lorded bastard, she at least attempted to appear mournful of the fact. Not angered. Cherise lowered her eyes for a moment as she gathered both hands against the abdomen as she stood before her seat. Upon raising her large blue eyes to the noble knight she continued, "As we are sworn to our King we honor his word. I pray the House of Naylands take up my husband's offer to vacate and preserve what little honor they clutch onto." She lands her gaze to a nearby servant, one of her own, "See that Ser Erik's needs are met for he and his squire." Anyone else was not important enough for their presence was lacking. The male servant nodded his head and gave a pointed look to the squire, suggesting the lad follow him. Cherise otherwise returned her attentions to the male before her and offered a small smile, "You are most welcome. I was not expecting such a visit for the Mallister wedding has drawn much deserved attention."
As accomodations are being seen to with the Lady's orders, Erik turns his glance back to his Squire, Joseph, and gives the youth a knowing nod, perhaps saying more than to just follow the Highfield servant, but to make sure all of his things are in order when he returns. The Jast Squire is use to such treatment and nods his head to the knight before bowing his head appropriately to Lady Cherise before turning to depart with the servant in the lead. Erik then turns his full focus back to the Lady and offers her a warm smile again, "I was on the road when the notice of the wedding was sent out, apparently the event was pushed ahead a week due to… the troubles at Stonebridge. Plus, I do not know the Mallister or the Baneforts, so I am sure the lack of my presence will go unnoticed. Your beautiful attendance, however, My Lady, will obviously be missed by many."
Not a further thought was spared to the squire Joseph and the servant that lead him for she had faith the tasks of setting up the recent arrival in his own quarters would be followed through. Rather than blushing brightly at his flattering words Cherise smiled a little deeper, holding it in stride. "They'll be too enthralled by the lovely new bride to notice whether I am present or not." She deflected a touch before stepping down from the dias carefully. "I knew of the Baneforts ever since I was a young child, so close we resided and yet so far on the scales our world permits. The Lady Saffron is a kind woman and her new husband Ser Kamron equally so." Though she may not be as close to them as she would like she still shared what she could kindly enough. "I suspect they fear for the friends they hold upon both sides."
A shrug of his shoulders shows that Erik will neither confirm or deny what Cherise says in turn, about the bride being the focus of the evening. "Perhaps, My Lady, the bride may capture attendance but it doesn't diminish others." He then grows silent as the Lady describes her past and the relationships between that of her original House and the Baneforts. "From what I hear of the couple, their union is not only one of duty, but of love as well. That is most rare." As for having friends on both sides, Erik can only nod understandingly, "When conflicts like this rise, that will be certain. It was the same during King Robert's Rebellion."
"Perhaps." She repeated softly to him once she was on the floors, standing at the same level as their new guest. "I have heard that as well. They spin tales of such unions." As all little girls did about their future husbands. "I once believed the Naylands were friends. Their colors have been shown." But she once again raises her chin, renewed by the prospect of another who was not ill or low born. "You must be weary Ser. I suspect you desire a much needed reprieve. If you wish we may reconviene over the evening meal? Unless you prefer otherwise?"
Erik can only incline his head about the Naylands as he doesn't know them very well, "Everyone will try to appear as friends until times of desperation reveals their true colors. That is when you realize who your real allies are." The invitation for dinner though has the Jast Knight nodding his head, accepting, "I would be glad to, My Lady, a meal sounds excellent. You are a most gracious host."
"I could not agree more." She relayed just as another servant arrived to whisper softly for the lady's ears alone. A single nod. "Then, I encourage you to feel as you would at home. I must tend to my son. It is a pleasure seeing you again Ser Erik and we shall once again over the evening meal."
As the Lady excuses herself, Erik gives Cherise a respectful bow before straightening, "Thank you, Lady Cherise, I feel most welcomed and comfortable already, with your kind greeting. Please, do not let me keep you from your most important duty, I look forward to the evening meal." With a final smile given to the Lady of Highfield, the Jast Knight turns around smartly before departing from the throne room, ready to berate or clout his squire if things were not set our correctly.