Page 435: Icy Reception
Icy Reception
Summary: An impromptu gathering in the courtyard at Highfield.
Date: 30-September-2012
Related Logs: Know Your Enemy
Aleister Alric Bastien Ceinlys Harold Robben 
Courtyard - Highfield Keep
Across the drawbridge and under the latticed grill of the portcullis, the courtyard opens up into a sprawling expanse of barren dirt. Several simple structures with thatched roofs are strategically erected across the large courtyard, some enclosed by rustic rail fencing. New cobbles has been laid to create pathways leading to the barracks, the hawking mews, and the stables. The only bit of natural green springs up within the fencing of the paddock attached to the stables. In the daylight hours, horses are often seen grazing on these patches of grass. Straight up from the portcullis, along a path leading to the rear of the courtyard, is a squat little tower that funnel traffic through the tower and then up a steady inclining ramp to the interior palisade and thus the keep itself. In this tower is also the subterrean access to the dungeons.
September 30th 289 A.L.

'It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.' ~ Henry Louis Mencken

In the wake of the war, and with the levies gradually filtering back to both Highfield and her family's seat at Broadmoor, the days have been oddly tranquil for the Keep's Steward. It's a strange calm, though. Like the stillness before a heavy rain. Pleasant while it lasts, but always subconsciously understood to be temporary. At this early hour of the evening, as the sun descends toward the horizon in hues of violet and fuschia, much of the household is tasked with the preparation of dinner for the guests and inhabitants. But, with the Lady Aeliana's absence, the chatter in the grand hall has been somewhat less light-of-heart. And now Ceinlys appears to be in a mood even more sombre than her usual professional facade.

Not bothering to call for an attendant, seeing as she ventures only as far as the courtyard, and the small paddock where her palfrey grazes, the raven-haired young lady leans now, arms folded, against the fence; those vivid eyes, often so entrancing in contemplation or wicked amusement, are settled serenely upon the golden mare nearby. Sweetling, for her part, swiftly lost interest in the visit when no apples were forthcoming, and contents herself now with grass and swishing of tail. The occasional flitting of large ears. Ceinlys doesn't seem to mind. If she were in the mood for socialising, after all, wouldn't she be inside?

An evening like this is a blessing, something to be enjoyed during a time when the forgetting of worries can be afforded. Bastien stands a small ways away, close enough to keep an eye on his charge, but far enough to not intrude upon her solitude. The large man seems well-suited for the task, his tendency to only speak when necessary turning him into somewhat of a ghost. Always there, but rarely noticed if he needn't be. A rare thing shows behind the man's eyes as he watches Ceinlys. Taking a few steps forward to close the distance between himself and Aleister's mistress, he places his hand upon her shoulder. No words are spoken, instead he simply gives her a concerned frown.

More than likely, the young woman was perfectly aware of that watchful presence. Bastien's not easy to shake, regardless of his ghostlike tendencies. But she doesn't mind.. he does leave her be, when it's obvious she wants peace. Usually, though, that's to mull things over, or draft writs in his brother's name. Not for moping. Never for moping. It's an unseemly thing for a graceful lady to do. Presumably that's why Ceinlys has waited for the courtyard to be all but deserted before seeking some semblance of comfort from the presence of her mount. The palfrey which is, like almost everything else, a gift from Aleister. And still very much alive, despite the Lady Highfield's former notion to have the creature slain.

That silent touch upon her far smaller shoulder doesn't immediately rouse the Steward. Slowly, gradually, she straightens her posture, and eventually she looks up and aside to meet the wordless concern in Bastien's eyes, mustering that typical half-smile of hers. Knights wear armor in the form of plate and chain. Women? Their armor is slightly different, by necessity. And Ceinlys' rarely reveals any chinks. "He slept with the Castellan." Well, she doesn't bother to flit about the heart of the matter, at least. Though her tone is kept soft as ever, audible between the two of them alone. Her blue eyes regard his darker ones, contemplative. "..did you know about it?" Nearby, Sweetling raises her head, absently pondering the man's approach for a moment before returning to her chomping.

Bastien sucks on his tooth, a shake of his head given before words finally leave the man's mouth. "It is not my business to know the dealings which occur within my brother's bedchamber. Those matter concern him and him alone." Removing his hand from her shoulder, the large man takes his place beside her and looks away towards the idle palfrey and its grazing. "Does it surprise you?" The question is genuinely asked, and despite the ease with which one might actually appropriate sarcasm or mockery to somebody cheating on their mistress, Bastien is not that kind of man.

Sighing, turning in order to better face the knight and propping one elbow lightly atop the fence, Ceinlys loosely clasps her hands, giving the question at least a fair amount of thought. " It doesn't surprise me." she replies, gently, lowering her striking glacial eyes to the ground between herself and the Lord's brother. "..but it hardly bodes well, either. The irony of my even caring is not lost on me, Bastien." The Steward foregoes the formality of title, seeing as they're alone.

One hand rises, fingertips raking back through her loose ebon tresses as Ceinlys glances absently back toward the palfrey, who has deigned to wander unhurriedly over. Maybe her new guest thought to bring treats, after all. "Gods be good, the woman will be too simple to consider following the path of my own ambition. But wise enough not to birth a bastard."

Bastien nods slowly once given an answer to his question. Her answer attracts his gaze back towards her, that cold yet caring demeanor stitched into the fabric of the man's face. "You're allowed to care, there is no wrong in it." Placing an idle hand on the railing of the fence, he wraps his fingers around it as his mind searches for the right words to say. "I am no expert on these kinds of matters. I simply know this: You must fight for that which you hold dear to you, and if you are not willing to fight for it, you do not deserve to have it. I will never speak against my brother, nor will I ever advise against his interests. If you need some base comfort, know that he cares enough to assign me to watching over you. A man of my talents could be put to far more useful tasks." Cold as ever, it seems. Alas, beneath that cold hardness does lie a softer truth.

It's certainly been an interesting week within the lands of Highfield and the events of it have kept Aleister somewhat secluded for the most part. Now, though, with things begin to ease and issues slowly resolving themselves, the Lord of the Lands has decided it's time to venture forth from the keep. Emerging from the entrance that leads into the Keep, he makes his way through the small drawbridged area and then out into the courtyard. He's clad in his plate armor, newly fixed up and with the crest of Highfield upon the chestpiece, rather then that of Hollyholt. Two Men at Arms follow behind him, but they are stilled with a lift of his hand and an idle wave, to which he follows with, "Remain at the Keep. I will have little need of your services within the Courtyard." It's only now that his eyes begin to play about the area, even as he begins to move forward with no real direction in mind.

In spite of herself, Ceinlys permits a faint smirk to tug at her lips. "I know you would never oppose him. It's one of the reasons I agreed to be placed under your protection, when he suggested such. No one other than my own brother ever held that position before." She quirks a brow, in a vague hint of self-deprecating humor. "I suppose I may have difficulty trusting people." The young lady is quiet for a long moment, simply watching the knight beside her, almost unnervingly still. "..would you prefer to be assigned elsewhere, Bastien? I could.. likely arrange such, if so."

She's careful to keep any trace of her own feelings on that matter from her tone and expression. The pragmatic mask is firmly back in place. And it's true - she could easily reassign him, assuming the Lord was in agreement. Speaking of which..

Ceinlys eyes drift beyond Bastien's shoulder as she catches sight of his elder brother wandering across the courtyard. Clearing her throat gently, she corrects her posture and tilts her jaw upward a little, adopting her usual demeanour before his gaze falls upon her. "We can speak of it later." she murmurs.

"I have few cares for where I am assigned, Ceinlys. Where my siblings need or desire me to be, I shall go." Following the Stewards gaze towards his older brother, Bastien's head nods briefly towards her words. "If you wish it." That cold and hard demeanor softens almost magically in the presence of Aleister, a rare smile turning the corners of Bastien's mouth upwards.

It takes a moment or two before Aleister's gaze plays along the courtyard and comes to rest upon Ceinlys and Bastien. For a moment, it seems as if he might continue to amble along the path that he's choosen, but at the last moment, he begins to make his way over towards the pair. Once close enough, there's a curve of his lips to a smirk and a slight dip of his head comes; once more Ceinlys and once for Bastien and with each, he's offering, "Lady Ceinlys. Brother." A couple more steps, "How goes the day, today?"

"M'lord." Ceinlys' greeting toward Aleister is perfectly pleasant, accompanied by a demure downward flit of her blue eyes rather than an exaggerated curtsey. "Well enough, thank you. And even had it not, it will be over soon enough." The young lady glances upward to the dusk sky, dark rapidly beginning to draw in. Around the periphery of the courtyard, servants quietly begin to make their way, lighting lanterns around the flanking outbuildings. Canting her head a little askance, though, the Steward offers the Lord of Highfield a serene smile. "I hear a courier arrived. Anything that may require my attention, m'lord?" With Cherise somewhat.. busy.. some duties have already begun to fall to the Lady Ceinlys instead. No surprises there, and she seems to be coping relatively well.

Whatever she and Bastien had been discussing, it is apparently dismissed in the presence of his brother. Idle chit-chat, no doubt. Sweetling, the young lady's palfrey, having reached the paddock's fence, nudges at the knight's shoulder a little impatiently, though not hard. Treats, damnit!

Bastien lifts a hand and places it gently against Sweetling's mane. A momentary pat is given to the horse before he takes a step away towards his brother. "As it always is and should be in Highfield, pleasant and peaceful." Whatever the Knight and his charge were talking about seems unimportant now, the presence of a sibling drawing all of Bastien's attention dotingly towards his brother. "Are things well?"

There was no hurry in Harold's movements, walking slow and with all the time in the world, making his way up from the rustic township that was still in its screaming infancy. Even at leisure, though, there was still the sense of the slumbering old bear that might break out into brutal violence. There was a fighter's efficiency about him, stripped clean of any flamboyance. As usual his clothes were likewise simple, abeit finely cut. Blacks and yellows, bearing his personal knightly heraldry of Raven and Hollyholt Mistletoes.
Though he'd caught sight of his kin from afar, it wasn't until he was within talking - as opposed to shouting or waving - distance that he barked out a good natured greeting: "Evenin', Nephew..s" the plural added for Bastien's benefit, a crinkled narrowed eyed stare of slow consideration following as he looked Aleister's brother up and down. "My Lady." To Ceinlys, his head dipping with a knightly bow in her direction, where his kind had got more familial nods.

Lifting a hand upwards, Aleister smoothes his fingers through his hair, pushing the locks off his forehead, though they quickly return the moment his hand falls back to his side. It's to Bastien that he's looking to first, that smirk deepening upon his lips as he gives a slight nod of his head, "As well as can be expected, brother. My wife yet lingers on the verge of death and the Maester does not know if she will survive another week." It's then that he's looking to Ceinlys, so as to offer, "Nothing at this moment, m'lady. The Lords of Erenford simply wished to express their sympathies for the loss of my son. I have sent their courier away, with mention that the Erenfords would find themselves welcome in our lands and that we would like to speak with them." Now, he's turning a touch, his eyes coming to settle upon Harold so that he can offer a slight incline of his head towards him, "Uncle."

Ceinlys' blue eyes move to Harold as he approaches, a shy cast to the smile that plays across her lips in the presence of the Charlton elder. "Ser." Equally proper, she brings one slender shoulder forward, the other back, and dips in a graceful, well-practised curtsey that requires little real movement. But she doesn't intrude further upon what is swiftly becoming a male-dominated conversation, content to clasp her hands loosely behind her and observe. Aleister's explanation of the courier's arrival is met with a gentle, unperturbed nod. After all, being here, she has naught to fear from the Erenford children. Right? "Kind of them.." she observes, sotto voce.

Bastien bows his head when he recieves Aleister's response, a brief frown playing its way across the Knight's face. Before he has a chance to speak, Harold has made his presence known. Thank goodness for a distraction. "Uncle." The word is spoken with respect, but surprisingly little affection. It seems Bastion's warmth spreads towards his sibilngs and very little ways further than that. As his Uncle looks him up and down, the young man stands up straight. What little pride he has is shown.

"Erenfords. Surprised 'bandits' managed to take on a bloody entourage of knights," Harold said with cynical doubt seeping through his rough and gravely voice. "But good of them to offer their sympathies, current relations and their own dark tidings non withstanding." He let his broad shoulders roll with a dismissive shrug. His eyes had lingered on Bastien for a while longer, a touch of bemusement glimmering alive in his calm grey eyes for the pride the younger son of Jon let show in his straight backed stance. Nothing said of it, though, and his attentions slid away.

Now, Aleister's eyes begin to shift between the trio of people and when it comes to rest back upon Harold, there's a simple nod of his head, though it's followed by a faint chuckle, "Indeed, Uncle. I had thought the very same thing. But it's possible that these bandits contain former Knights who have been released from the service of others. Sell swords who have determined they can make more from raiding caravans and travellers, then through swearing their blade to a House." A shake of his head comes, then, "Either way, we must be on our guard. Our lands are not so far removed from that of the Erenfords. I have no desire to see these bandits make their way to our lands." Now, he's looking over towards Bastien and then over towards Ceinlys, "I will let you know, Lady Ceinlys, if they decide to send a delegation down here. If they do, we will have much to prepare for." Now, it's back to Bastien, "And, brother, there is much that you will tending to in the future, as well."

Ceinlys, of all people, to organise a welcome for Erenfords. Never let it be said that Aleister lacks a sense of humor. But she accepts the idea willingly enough, with a simple nod and an absent rise of her hand to rub at Sweetling's velvety muzzle as the mare moves on to nudge at her mistress in hope of apple pieces. Spoilt creature. "Of course." she offers, by way of response to the Lord, keeping her attention largely upon him now, as Bastien does. "And.. you say your dear wife's health deteriorates, m'lord. Ought I send for further aid, perhaps from Broadmoor..?" Now that her family are more amenable in their relations with the Charltons, surely it wouldn't be unheard of to seek assistance from them in this matter. "..if I may say, we would not want another 'incident', should you have Erenfords en masse under your roof." No, stabbings rarely go down well at dinner parties. At least, not here. A glance flits toward the others, as she speaks boldly. But surely they are of a like mind, especially given the very real threat that was posed to the Lady Aeliana?

"If their desires lie in making coin, they were never truly Knights in the first place." Bastien's upper lip curls slightly with distaste at the thought of honorable Knights turning sellsword. A dismissive shake of the head is given to the thought before his attention is drawn once more to the words spoken by this brother. "You need merely speak the word, and I will set to whatever task you wish of me." Rolling the offer made by Ceinlys over in his head, Bastien smirks and nods. "It would not be a bad idea, though I'd prefer we take care of our own problems."

"Robber knights." Harold spat the words out with scornful contempt, his gruff features twisted with a grimace of dislike. "I guess it's possible. Too many damn commoners given the spurs, who are then able to pass on the spurs themselves to all kinds of dubious fu-" he caught himself just in time, chewing his swearing in half and amending his language for the sake of the Lady present, "flea infested beggars." A sideways glance flew in Bastien's direction for sharing the same sentiments.
"Well, I heard the new Stonebridge Steward is sending his witch-lady around to make friends, too. For a Nayland he didn't seem too much of a bastard, but then it doesn't take too much to improve on that lot."
The older knight didn't voice his opinions on Cherise, though he did make a grimly guttural noise whhen it came to not having a repeat in the Hall. He shook his head, frowning.

"There will be no need for us to request support from Broadmoor, Lady Ceinlys. Lord Ser Keegan has done us the honor of allowing a portion of his men to remain in our service, to ensure that Highfield remains secure and safe." A pause comes as Aleister's eyes flit amongst those that stand near the fence of the paddock, "And my Lady wife is in no condition to rise from her bed, this time." When he looks towards Bastien, it's so that another slight nod can be given and it's followed by, "We must talk soon enough about things, brother." Harold's half-rant draws a faint chuckle from his lips and a slight incline of his head, "Indeed, Uncle. In time, they shall meet the King's Justice for what they've done, though." A faint cluck of his tongue sounds before he's offering, "And the new Steward of Stonebridge does not seem to share in the folly of his family. They have delivered grain to the Roost and took care to notify me before hand, so that we would not have cause for alarm at seeing their men marching from the township and onto the road."

A subtle quirk of Ceinlys' lips in amusement, as she studies Harold a moment, suggests that she's likely not the sort to usually caution her speech, either. But she does so in situations such as this, more to avoid embarassing her Lord. Anyone who spends enough time with her, away from prying eyes, would learn that fu-.. very quickly. The elder's unspoken agreement - assuming that's what it was - regarding the Lady Cherise, warms the Steward's demeanour a touch further, too. It's nice to be right.

The matter of the Nayland.. witch, did he say?.. elicits a quizzical arching of brows from the ebon-maned young woman. "..In.. light of recent events, m'lords.." she begins, tentatively and soft-spoken as ever, "..ought we readily accept the presence of such a woman, even if it were a display of good faith? Unless, of course, she might offer some insight as to the Lady Highfield's illness." Her gaze wanders back to Aleister, more certainly. "A healer, was my implication, m'lord. For no doubt.." She smiles between the three Charltons. " have skilled swordhands galore to safeguard your reputation."

"So that we didn't have cause for alarm?" Harold murmured with a quiet chortle-snort of sardonic bemusement. "More likely so they didn't have to worry about us nicking the whole thing. Still, like I said, he ain't a complete numb fu-" and there he went again. Having been training soldiers for the last couple of months had thrown his language straight back into the gutter, and he'd worked so damn hard to repair it after the Ironborn invasion.
"Such a woman?" He asked Ceinlys with an arched brow, his expression warring between amusement and disbelief. "Peasent nonsense, my Lady. I only used the term witch because it bloody amuses me." But he did make a brusque shake of his head even so, when it was suggested some northern heathen look in on the bed ridden Lady. "Improper," he muttered. Like asking a woodland herb lady rater than a proper Maester to do the job. Just wasn't done, in a proper noble House.

Among all the Charlton lords comes one that does not share their name. Alric wanders into the courtyard with eyes quickly moving ot the group of Charltons. Spotting the man he seeks. Moving towards the group with swift steps. "My lords and lady." He offers along with a bow as he reaches the group. "I hope that I am not disturbing." He says and let his gaze sweep across all the people present, having a smile for all of them. Finally landing on Aleister's. "I just had some words to offer to you, my lord. After the visit to the Erenfords. IT does not have to be now, but I thought I would inform you so that you knew that I wished to speak of such when you have time for it." He offers before bowing again, "Though, again. I apologize if I am intruding." Falling silent and stepping a bit to the side. Though he will stay and listen if he is allowed.

ith a wry chuckle, Aleister offers Ceinlys a slight incline of his head, "We have my Uncle's Maester for the time being, Lady Ceinlys. It would not due to ask Lord Ser Leslyn to send his, as well." He pauses a touch and then continues with, "Should these Stewards of Stonebridge wish to speak with us, then they will be welcomed into our Lands for the purpose of a peaceful discussion." When his eyes shift over towards Harold, that smirk has returned to his lips, though he offers nothing in return, for Alric's sudden appearance draws his attention. There's a lift of his brow, now, and when the Young Lord finishes speaking, a chuckle begins to escape his lips, one void of any real humor associated with it, "And yet, Young Lord, intrude is preciously what you have done." His gaze flits to that of Ceinlys, resting there a moment before he looks back to Alric, "As such, if you have something to say, then say it."

An unaccustomed frown darkens Ceinlys' features as the mention of welcoming Naylands is made, the steward plainly thinking otherwise but knowing to bite her tongue. Besides, the expression's banished, along with her thoughts, as Alric approaches; a faint smile waiting to greet him. "Lord Alric." The murmur of his name follows Aleister's rather curt reception, perhaps softening it a touch.

Stepping out from the keep itself, Robben looks around for a brief moment, before stepping further into the courtyard now. He sees the people present, heading in their general direction at a slow, relaxed pace for the moment.

Flinty hard were Harold's grey eyes as the Young Lord Fenster approached, bluntly tracking his movements until he was within greeting range. As far as acknowledgements went, he offered the bare minimum that Alric deserved as a noble born, briskly delivered and with his gruff features gone into a neutral expression. An unmistakable chill reserve was what oozed from the burly knight. He said nothing at all, simply settled into the background to listen and watch.
Robben earned a glance, too, and slight mildening of his general demeanor into something approaching familial warmth.

Alric nods, "I apologize, lord Aleister. I just thought it wise to catch you. You did say that you might be going away soon. Wanted to see you before that." He explains. A small smile given to Ceinlys' greeting as well before looking back to Aleister.
"It seems that the Erenfords have been a bit more pushy in the issue concerning myself and lady Aemy. Though I thought to ask of advice from you about what might be smart at this moment. Young lord Brennart didn't offer anything right out, but he did ask about if I wished to court his cousin. I would take it for reason to continue such talks if you wish for an agreement at some point. If perhaps not right this moment. Another thought is also about what you think we should do about the Naylands. Keep them at bay or rather get to an agreement there. As I have said before I will do as you please." He lays out the events and thoughts that has passed through during his visit to Heronhurst. Studying the lord and focusing mostly on him.

Everyone is forgotten for the moment, for Aleister's attention rests soley on Alric and as the Young Lord speaks further, there's a slight narrowing of his eyes before he's offering, "I told you once already, Young Lord, that you are to put this notion of marriage behind you. And yet, you continue to wish to bring it up in conversation with me." A shift of his arms has him settling behind his back, once more, "You will do /nothing/ in terms of the Lady Aemy. You will not speak of her. You will not speak of courting her. You will not suggest such a thing to the Lords of Erenford or it's Ladies. You will do nothing, Young Lord, except what you are directed to do." He offers just the hint of a pause before he continues with, "The Naylands are not your concern, at this time. I will do with them, as I see fit."

Though she casts a discreet glance in Harold's direction, then follows his gaze to the youngest of the Charlton brothers with a soft smile of greeting for his appearance, the Lady Ceinlys remains quite silent as the discussion continues between her Lord and young Alric; half-turning away in order to smooth her palfrey's mane, but plainly still listening.

Robben pausing a bit in his approach as he hears hears what's being said for the moment, coming to a stop as he looks between the others. Looking about to offer a greeting, he seems to decide to be quiet for the moment as he hears Aleister speak. He offers a nod and a momentary smile to those looking in his direction, but remains quiet for the moment.

Alric nods to the man's words. "I am sorry. Ser Brennart brought it up and I didn't know much of what to do. Besides, I would need to look to the needs of my family as well. I just wish to offer you the chance to give it to someone that would make it beneficial for you as well. I could always go ahead and do as I please and just ask your uncle of advice if it is a wise choice or not. I have given such to you, but if you wish not to use it, I understand." He says in a calm tone. Studying the man. "If you wish me to wait, then I will do so." He adds. Keeping his eyes on the lord of Highfield.

That smirk dances oh so dangerously to Aleister's lips as he takes a single step closer towards Alric, "Do as you please, Young Lord Alric, and watch what comes as a result. /Do not/ forget the insult that you offered to my family and more specifically, Lord Alric, to my Lord Uncle. You will find him less inclined to listen to your words, then I." Turning away, he offers a glance to Harold and a slight incline of his head, "Excuse me, Uncle. I fear I have matters to attend to." Then, to Ceinlys, he's bowing his head. As he begins to move away from the group, he catches sight of Robben and he's offering his younger brother a nod and a quick, "Brother," before he begins to make his way back toward the Keep.

To her credit, Ceinlys doesn't outwardly react, either to Alric's brazen words or her Lord's biting retort. As the latter takes his leave, though, she inclines her head gently in return and allows her blue eyes to follow after his departing back for a short time. " ought to tread more lightly, Young Lord." she offers, in an aside toward the Fenster, her tone musing rather than accusatory. Slowly, her gaze falls back upon him and it's without a hint of malice. If anything, it's polite, mild interest, as if these affairs were not truly her concern. They are, of course. She's Aleister's second-in-command, in some ways. If it involves his interest, you can be damned certain that the young Lady is scrutinising everything with great care. "The ice underfoot remains treacherously thin." With a last pat to her golden mare's thick neck, the Steward shifts as if to likewise take her leave of the gathering, though not before she looks to Harold and, in turn, Robben. "M'lords."

"Brother," Robben offers in return to Aleister as he heads off, looking between the others for a few moments. "Lady Ceinlys, Uncle," he offers to Ceinlys and Harold, before he looks to Alric now, "Young Lord Alric." Aside from the greetings, he keeps silent for the moment, looking between the others now.

Harold responded to Aleister's gesture with a similar one of his own. Amiably understanding were his words of farewell: "Of course, Aleister." Pale grey eyes watched his nephew depart, until he was gone from sight and only then did his attentions return to the impromptu gathering in the courtyard. A sigh of chagrin blew past his nostrils, flaring them wide.
"Still haven't mastered the art of knowing when to keep your bloody mouth shut, eh, Lord Alric?" he asked with a subtle shake of his greying mane. "Pride's all well and good, boy, but like the good Lady is saying, you're risking putting your damn foot straight through. For a fucking diplomat you aren't too great at listening to the sound of ice cracking." There was a slight frown at the end of it, mostly because he only belatedly caught himself swearing. It meant he felt obliged to offer Ceinlys a properly apologetic bow. "Forgive me, my Lady," murmured.
Deeper, for a farewell gesture, and while he wasn't exactly a royal courtier, at least the knight could hold his own with regards to etiquette here in the rustic hinterlands of the Riverlands. "Until next time, my Lady Ceinlys."

Alric smirks at the threat. Ah, there is the wise man he knows. "Of course, my lord. Just call for me if there is anything you wish. For now I will keep my head out from any marriages. At least as well as I can." He offers in a calm tone. Inclining his head as Aleister takes leave, glancing to Ceinlys and nods. "That I know. Which makes it fun. I know he's a wise man." He replies. Then he looks to Robben and smiles, "Lord Robben, I did not know that you were already wandering the halls of Highfield." He offers in a light tone. Then he chuckles at Harold's words. "I know when to, when I know it necessary. Though I prefer being honest to gain favor when I know that the other person dislikes me. Though of course, I perhaps need to keep it a bit more quiet. If eyes start to crack I don't turn back, I lie down." He offers and smiles. Seemingly undisturbed. Or at least outwards undisturbed.

Harold is afforded a further smile from the Steward, accompanying a slow inclination of her head toward him as, sweeping a hand absently across the front of her skirts, the young lady begins to drift unhurriedly away from the trio. No protest is made at his asking forgiveness, though his occasionally less than savory tongue quite obviously doesn't trouble her. No need to make undue fuss over such trivial things; not when greater ones are always afoot, at Highfield.

That the elder catches her phrasing and goes with it seems to please her, judging by the flicker of a look askance it elicits. But it's to Alric that her waning attention shifts. Left in the paddock, her silver-maned palfrey merely observes the goings-on with little interest; her lower lip drooping slightly as the creature threatens to just nod off. "I would not see one conflict resolve itself, only for another to unfurl and muddy the waters, Young Lord." Whether she refers to the Naylands, or something else, is left to the imagination. "..after all. You will need to see things clearly, in future, if you are to benefit your own, shall you not? And my Lord is not a man at whose expense you ought to find your 'fun'. Good girl." This last, in contrast to the Steward's oddly laconic words prior, is a soft endearment toward the heavy-boned horse over the fence. And that, it seems, is that. The young lady takes her leave entirely this time, accompanied by the ever-stoic and formidable Bastien as she starts the journey toward the Keep proper.

Robben shrugs a little bit at Alric's words. "Well, if you've been running around in other places, it's hard to know where I am, after all," he offers a bit lightly, before he listens to the others again. Glancing at the ones taking their leave, nodding to them before he looks back to Harold and Alric now. "Another lovely day, isn't it?" he asks, before he adds, "How are the two of you today?"

"Honesty, is it?" Harold asked with a droll tone of darkly cynical humor. That he was skeptical about Alric's claim to honesty didn't require a mind reader to discern. "You're a fool, Lord Alric, too eager to dig your own grave. It's not your 'honesty' that gets you in trouble, its your lack of forethought. Well." He made a disgruntled sound, waving the matter away brusquely. "It's not my business. Your life. Do as you fucking please with it."
His eyes slid towards Robben again, a crack of a smile breaking through his greying beard. "Fucking brilliant, nephew. Just fucking brilliant. So has Aleister set you to a position yet, or are you just slouching around?"

Alric nods to Ceinlys' words, saying, "It seems you misinterpret my meaning of fun. I meant someone that I could chellenge to try and push us both to better, when I will in the end do as he pleases. I respect him and I am also loyal. You were around when I said it." Even though he has done some that might be quite bad, though he did stop when told to. Then he nods to Harold before chuckling to the words from Robben. "True enough, I suppose." Then a shrug, "It is a lovely day, and I have been good enough. I hope the same goes for you?" Then turning to Harold again, with another nod. "Thank you for your concern anyhow. But to reach up some must take risks at times. A tiny house that does nothing will never go anywhere. But to reach just a bit is better. At least enough to get noticed." He shrugs then. Letting the talk between uncle and nephew commence.