|In the Shadows.|
|Summary:||Folks converge on Highflield.|
|Related Logs:||Prequel to: Shh...You'll wake the Baby|
|Reading Room, Highfield Keep|
|Standing in the modes Reading Room of Highfield Keep, one feels the warmth of the fires crackling in the small hearth set on the wall to the left. A few low bookshelves sit along the right. Each of the four shelves has a shelf or two filled with tomes of many different likes, and old scrolls dedicated to a hold a shelf or two as well. Though room to grow it has, the room's two large windows with their heavy curtains sport an equally large cushioned bench with many pillows for comfort laid about it, give off a cozy feel to the space. A large, rectangular, table and a number of chairs sit in front of a pair of bookshelves, and a couch with two small tables to each of its sides and two large overstuffed chairs sit in front of, and facing the hearth.|
|Sep 19, 289|
Evening has descended upon the lands of Highfield and with it, an almost somber atmosphere has settled into place. Servants and retainers move about the keep as they normally would, but there's an almost eery calm and quiet to the way that they go about their tasks. For his part, Aleister has been absent from tasks at hands and with Cherise having taken to the Young Lords Room, he's placed himself in that of the Reading Room, with two guards standing outside the entryway, perhaps to keep the common servant from disturbing him.
Within the room itself, the fire has been lit, crackling and snapping and providing the only illumination within the room. And, at times, it appears to be the only sign of life within the room, for even though he's found within, seated at the table, the Lord doesn't seem inclined to stir from his spot in the chair, eyes fixed upon the dancing orange flames before him.
There's the sound of voices, muted, in the hall outside and the approach of boot steps. Whatever was being said and by whom, it quiets as they come to the door. There might be the rustle of cloth, a woman's skirts, then a man's firm knock upon the door.
When it's answered, presuming it is answered, the door is opened - not by a servant of the House, nor Man-at-arms, but a stranger clad in mail and breastplate. Justin's muted greyish-purple surcoat is likely washed out in the flickering light cast by the fire as he opens the door, then steps out of the way for Aeliana that she may enter first, and he last among those who have arrived.
The dark haired Terrick himself says nothing for as before when he briefly came into Lord Aleister's presance, he is acting the part of escort. This time right to the very halls of Highfield instead of within Four Eagles Tower, where now he himself is guest.
The Songbird Knight is not far behind the Terrick Lord and Charlton Lady. He is still in his riding leathers, though he has at least done right and risened himself clean. He steps in after Justin has stepped in, nodding to the two guards at the doors. Their faces are all grim, as grim as Jac's. He bows to the Lord once he is in and the door is quietly shut. Like the Terrick, he remains quiet and dutiful. Dark hair has been swept back into a loose thong, and there is a tiredness about his features. It has been a hard few days.
Aeliana's wearing her frowny face. The one that puts little furrows into her delicate forehead. She's imaging the keep done up in black, for mourning and it's just terrible. Terrible. All those lovely glorious colors all just…gone. She's not, incidently, dressed for mourning either. She's eeking by just this side of an extremely rich green. Her riding cloak has been discarded, her gloves, the thin scarf that kept her hair in place. All gone. Once again the picture of perfection and she isn't -trying- to be quiet either. She's not gone out of her way to be loud, but she's…not quiet.
So there's a little nod to Justin in appreciation for his holding the door and then, Ae sweeps across the room towards the chair that holds her brother. "Ale!" And he of all, perhaps can read the sweep of emotions across her face, "My poor poor brother." Ae drawled, as she dipped in to wrap her arms around his neck and offer a hug with a few quiet words against his ear.
Although the knock at the door is heard by Aleister, he doesn't move from his spot to answer it. Nor does even call out. It's one of the guards who responds with a murmered sound that permits entry and when the door is opened and people begin to sweep in, his attention is shifting from that fire and over in their direction. For once, his features seem void of emotion and when Aeliana moves towards him, to wrap her arms around his neck in that hug, he's returning it as best he can with naught but a murmered, "I know." When the hug ends, he seeks to rise from his spot on the chair, hands moving to the edge of his tunic to adjust it slightly, even as he offers, "Lord Justin. Thank you for seeing to my sister's safety for her journey here." To Jac, he's offering, "Captain." Then, he's making a half motion to the seats within and promptly reclaiming his own.
Watchful, studying what he may of this man he has not really met before, Aeliana's brother, Justin then offers a slight bow to the Lord of this keep, "You are most welcome, Lord Aleister." Under other circumstances he would likely add more, but as this House grieves for it's loss and there is much Aeliana will wish to discuss, the Terrick glances between them.
Uncertain of his welcome here, Justin's baritone offers low, "I will go and find a servant to show me to a guest room, or to an inn. You have family matters to discuss. My condolences to this House."
The Captain of the Guard does not hesitate to claim a seat. His wounds from the Stonebridge skirmish still ache — a sign of age, though he would not admit it. His chest still feels like a damn horse is sitting on it as the arrow that punctured his pectoralis still twinges. He clears his throat after a moment. "Milord, I intend to do all in my power to uncover each and every detail behind the last few days here at Highfield." There is confidence in his tone, as well as something sharp and unyielding. Jac Caddock's duties once included singing lullabys to a fussy Young Lord. He is invested. He casts a glance to the Terrick Lord, though his expression is unreadable.
A ruffle of his hair, a stroke of his cheek, Aeliana appears the concerned sister. But there's just not a lot of grief in her. It's -sad- but she'd never even held the child and so it's hit her with about as much force as the sort of missives that come saying some second cousin thrice removed died while choking on a chicken bone does. Only…with a little less laughing.
"We need something to drink," Aeliana muses, giving a little sigh when Ale falls back into his chair, "And so do you." But at least the topics are drifting. "Ser's Justin and Jac have been the most remarkable of escorts, brother-mine." The chit replied, before offering a smile to both men. "If you'll excuse me I'll just…," Aleister will finish it, she knows. And while he does? The lady collects four glasses and a bottle of wine from the sidebar.
The ruffle of his hair and that stroke of his cheek draw just the hint of a forced smile to his lips and a murmered, "Thanks", comes to be offered to her. A nod, then, for the mention of drink and when she lets that sentence trail off, he's turning his attention back in the direction of Justin, "I apologize, Lord Justin. You must be weary after your journey and will of course be afforded a room here, as befits your station. The guard outside the door will see to it." And, by the sounds of movement, one of the guards is already moving to tend to it, "For now .. please, join us for a drink. I owe you that much for seeing to my sister's safety." His attention then shifts over in the direction of Jac, eyes coming to rest upon the man before offering an incline of his head, "Thank you, Captain, but I fear there is little uncover. I have been told that my sons death was an accident, of all things."
There was the step back towards the door to remove himself and leave them to their personal discussion … until Justin catches a look from Aeliana. He watches her for a breath or two before his attention shifts to Aleister himself. "Very well, thank you." Simple as that, the proprieties offered and observed and then Jerold Terrick's son takes a seat. Justin takes the opportunity to briefly study Jac before his attention returns to the other two.
Dark eyes follow the movements of Aeliana with the slightest nod of his head. Jac rolls his hand back through his hair, loosening locks from the thong. He turns his gaze back to Aleister, and he nods his head. "Please, Milord, I merely want to make sure that is the case. The camp was inflated with whispers about how this was a Nayland plot, that one of theirs infiltrated our House. Even if I turn up nothing…" His broad shoulders shrug a bit before he leans back into his chair.
"Oh Aleister, let him," Aeliana replies, artfully jugging the glasses in one hand and the bottle in the other. There's even one set before the squire, because Gods know the poor thing must spend his general days serving. Though there is a measure of awareness in how she pours. Her brother first, then Justin as lord and guest. Jac and then Darek. "What harm can come in being certain, if it helps restore the faith of the men and helps ease the hearts of those who loved your son?"
There's a slight nod of his head in the direction of Justin, a silent thanks, perhaps, for his willingness to stay and then his attention is shifting to Aeliana, "I do not intend to disallow it, sister. I would welcome someone looking into things." His attention does then flit to Jac, "Please, Captain, see what you can uncover. I merely wished you to know what I have already found during my day here." The glass that's set before him is promptly taken and lifted to his lips, a healthy sip of the wine taken before it's lowered back down, "I believe Ysadora has information that you will need, Captain."
The glass of wine is quietly accepted. Justin murmurs his thanks to Aeliana though as he listens, he /could/ be trying to pick out the titles of books upon the shelves. The fire's light is not sufficient to make that easy on him. It holds his attention but briefly, his gaze to settle upon studying Aleister himself. Justin takes a light sip of the wine and says nothing aloud as the others discuss what has happened and what is to be done.
"Thank you, Milord," Jac says before he nods to Aeliana. "And you, Milady." He starts to drain away his cup, allowing it to sooth him for a moment. He casts a glance to the silent, observant Darek, nodding his head to him. "Darek, go see if Mistress Ysadora has time to see me… tonight." He does let the boy drain his cup before he scampers off to see to the task. The Songbird looks back to Aleister. "If this was something sinister, Milord, I will see that it is uncovered."
Aeliana sighs, worrying over her bottom lip between her teeth for a moment before she looks between the three of them; offering a little half smile and a bow of her head to Darek before he slips away. "You're most welcome, Ser," she offers to Jac in response and with an easy glance to make sure no one's emptied their cups before she takes a seat…the lady finally claims one for herself. "Though I can not help but wonder over the timing, just when we have other more important matters to be turning our heads too. In your investigation, Ser Jac, will you keep me appraised? Anyone who wanted to see Aleister fail or to attempt to hurt him on some personal level…," the girl trailed off and gave a little shake of her head.
With a look to Jac and then to Aeliana, Aleister is offering a slight nod of his head, though his attention does shift back to that of Jac, "And at a time when the guards were stretched more thinly throughout the keep. I must admit that it concerns me that someone might have slipped in, but there is little in the way of entrance with the exception of the main gate and the guard reports no unknown travellers coming or going." His wine is once more raised to his lips, the contents now just drained and when it lowers, a sigh and a shake of his head come to be offered, "Find out what you can, Captain." Now, he's looking towards Justin, "Ser, do not take offense to the fact that I will see a guard stationed outside your room, simply until we are sure of what has transpired. I would feel .. better knowing that my guests are safe within my halls."
Justin lifts his chin slightly, his wine lightly touched, "I take no offense, Lord Aleister. Precautions are wise on your part under these circumstances. I can assure you in turn that my House has had no part in this - not to my knowledge." He looks to Aeliana herself, "I do not know how long the lady Aeliana will wish to stay. I should depart in the morning to attend to my own duties. Otherwise, I am happy for myself and my men to provide her escort back to the Roost in a day or two if she likes. Our roads are no safer to travel than your own in these days."
Aeliana's words turns Jac's face grim — if it wasn't grim enough. He shifts in his seat, trying to find some comfort on the cushions of a chair that is often quite welcoming. Now though it feels like pins and needles against his legs. He leans forward a bit, elbows resting on his knees. "Of course, Milady… I will see that you are kept appraised." He grimaces a bit at Aleister's words, though he does not yet speak up about the state of the guard. He brought another six back with him to see to helping where things have frayed. He does nod in agreement to placing a guard outside the Terrick's room.
"Oh, I intend to leave on the morrow, Ser Justin. There are folks aplenty to tend to matters here and honestly, I do not handle grief very well." And she didn't really want to have anything to do with Cherise, either. And the constant shifting and way Jac seems to favor the potiental for a wound, draws a wash of concern across her delicate face. "Ser Jac, are you alright?" Perhaps she mistook the grimace; because those dark eyes sweep in search of possible wounds.
A simple nod comes to be offered to Justin and as Aleister's eyes shift to that of Aeliana, he's giving another nod before looking back to Justin, "I would not see her stay, Ser Justin. With all that is going on, I would ask she be allowed to travel back to the Roost, in your company, where I can be sure of her safety." Now, at Aeliana's question to Jac, he's casting a look over in that direction, awaiting the answer with a slight cant of his head.
"Then it will be so." Justin confirms to both, accepting it. He tastes the wine, having had a fair sample of Charlton wines of late with the Accord shipments. "We have had our share of grief this past year, lady Aeliana. I can sympathize." At least he's finally free of wearing the black of mourning. Best if he can keep it that way.
"It has been a restless few days, Milady, and the septas will still complain that I do not give my wounds rest," Jac apologizes with a bow of his head. With that, he grasps the arms of the seat, pulling himself back onto his feet. "If Lords and Lady all will excuse me, I will find Mistress Ysadora about a roster of the household staff and then see to my own bed." He bows once he is standing, and starts to step for the door.
"Thank you, Ser Justin," a kind smile as afforeded him, the very same offered to her brother with a low bow of her head. Ever the gentlemen he and his concern never failed to warm her, "Brother." And while her head dipped in acknowledgement to notions of grief, Jac's words brought a faint furrow to her brows. "So you have been warned my septa's and still think to travel onward." Ae sighs, "I was honored by your escort this evening, Ser Jac and while I may have declined, ere I knew you shouldn't yet be traveling, I pray that you will at least allow me to return the favor by giving you something for your aches. I shall have Rayleen bring it to your room when your questioning is done." What else were maids for but running errands?
"Thank you, Ser Justin. I will owe you a debt." Aleister is then looking back to Jac, so as to give the man another nod of his head, "Of course, Captain. Please, seek me out in the morrow, for there will be things that I wish to discuss with you." He doesn't rise as he normally might and instead, he's looking to Aeliana and then back to Jac, "And thank you for seeing her safely here, as well, Captain." Now, he looks back to Aeliana, "Dear sister .. thank you for coming to see me. I know well the difficulty in travel between the lands at this moment."
"Of course, Milord," he says to Aleister before Jac bows his head to Aeliana. "I will accept such a favor without hesitation, Milady. Thank you." He offers her the fleetest of smiles before he steps out, murmuring something to the guard still there before he disappears out into the hall.
My, there is a lot of thanks going around, and a heap of it offered to himself for doing what any decent self respecting knight would do where a lady upon the road is concerned. Justin finishes his glass of wine and lays it aside. There is a faint nod to Jac's departure, not really knowing the man. "Your sister, Lord Aleister, has been warmly welcomed to the Roost. The Lady Anais has taken an instant liking to her. Lady Aeliana has been a bright and cheerful guest so I assure you it is our pleasure to have her visiting with us."
He probably should go and retire to whatever quarters they make ready for him. Justin might be about to suggest that very thought and bid them excuse him, when a guard opens the door to inform Aleister of something amiss on the third floor. The Terrick looks between them, about to stand.
"How could I not, Aliester? You are my brother and my favorite at that, how could I do anything but come to see you in your time of need?" Aeliana inquires, concern still touching her features. She'd risen as Jac had left; flittering about to collect the empty glasses so that they're left available for the maid to collect when the next one comes round. It helps hide the color that touches upon her cheeks with Justin's praise.
A fleeting bit of pleasure that's short-lived, too, with the appearance of that guard and his concern. A steeling of her jaw and a sharp narrow of dark eyes, the innocent coquette is gone, a hint of the woman seen again that had lectured the Terrick on the beach. "Gods bless, but it's as if there's not enough to deal with already," comes the mutter, "Shall we go and see?"
"Let me rephrase, would -you- gentlemen like to go and see?" Aeliana was quick to add, because that Charlton girl, she's fond of her head. "And if it is a matter befitting a woman -then- I shall join you."
There's just a faint smile in the direction of Justin and a nod of Aleister's head as he offers such praise of his sister. Then, his gaze is shifting over towards Aeliana, "I know, my sister, but all the same, I am deeply touched." The arrival of a guard into the room, announcing something of a commotion upon the third level of the keep, has a sigh escaping past his lips and as the man begins to rise from his seat, he's dipping a nod of his head in the direction of Aeliana, "Yes, this does bare looking into it. Come sister, I fear I might need your aid." After all, that level houses the family and guest chambers. As he turns towards the door, he is looking back in the direction of Justin, so as to offer, "Please, Ser Justin, come as well, for I know not what we are walking into."
Justin has arisen from his seat, not yet changed from the road. His armour is mostly covered by his surcoat, plenty well armed should there be trouble, if a little dusty. Yet this is not his House to invite himself up into the private floors of the keep without invitation. He gives a nod and moves to follow, sharing a look to Aeliana without saying a word.