|Laying it on the Table|
|Summary:||Plans are made to find and rescue the ladies captured by bandits.|
|Related Logs:||A Wonderful Day for a Picnic and To Wing|
|Town Squire, Stonebridge|
|The surrounding terrain has several small gullies and streams that feed into the waterfront area just adjacent to the town square, the sails of the boats visible over the tops of the buildings. The square is floored in the same heavy stone that the east docks and castle are constructed of while the buildings are a mix of the stone, wood, and mortar. There are quite a few fish vendors with their fragrant catches for sale among groups of tables which tend to be busy most of the time.|
|2 June, 289|
Kittridge has, by all accounts and appearances, been awake since the early hours when Iulia stumbled back into Stonebridge and spread her story. He and others from Kingsgrove, along with some of Stonebridge and any number of other interested parties, have already ridden back and forth to the picnic site a few times, and it is from there that he rides into Stonebridge center now, just ahead of the contingent from the Roost.
The first reaction from The Roost is a group of armored men coming up the western road, including Kamron Mallister despite the sling thrown onto his left arm over his armor. They ride up at a gait meant to eat up distance without wearing out the horses. At least ten or twelve times during the ride, Kamron's squire Percival had to clear his throat, causing the Mallister to slow again as he tries to drive the horses up to a faster pace. In addition to the usual Lords, knights, and squires, a single rotund Banefort guard has joined the group. As they approach the Groves group, he calls ahead, "Ser Kittridge." The Mallister's voice is tight, reined in hard. "Is there any news?"
Desmond is waiting at the square, but only just. A few Westerling guards trail after him as he paces, and they try and block his path a few times as he threatens to just go out there and retrieve them women himself. "I swear to the Gods, Ruddy-!" His attention is drawn by the smallfolk as they start to murmur and whisper and gather around the arriving group from the Roost. A brief look of relief flickers over his features.
Behind Kamron is the Young Lord Alric. Riding and being quite silent at the moment, letting Kamron call out first. His own eyes taking the time to scan the area, glancing over to his guard, Jac, as well. Hoping there would be at least some good news regarding this issue.
Still not fully healed either, Martyn is also armored and in the incoming group. He hasn't spoken much more than a few muttered conversations with Xander Paege, his squire. Blinking a few times as he sees they have already reached Stonebridge. Looking around for a few moments now, nodding a bit in the directions of both Kittridge and Desmond.
Jac Caddock has been traveling with the Roost guards, knights, and others, but the Hollyholt knight has kept close to Lord Alric. The ride has ensured that the Songbird is properly dirt-ridden now, and his expression is quite sombrous. He has kept quiet, but alert. There have been no songs today, for nothing could lift this situation. He nods his head to Ser Kittridge as they slow to greet the Groves group.
"Ser Kamron," Kittridge turns to greet the Mallisters and associates with a sober nod, "I heard you were on the road here. No true news. We've been back and forth to the site of the picnic a few times already, and scoured the area immediately around. There are a large number of trails, it will take men and hours to search them all. I'm glad you've brought more bodies to help with that."
Kamron nods his head sharply as he slows his horse just a bit, looking over what is surely a beehive of activity now. "The rest of the men coming from the Roost will be here soon after." He glances back over his right shoulder at the group along with him, "Some of us couldn't wait. Terrick hunters are already on the trail. They'll be careful not to be seen though." The Mallister knight's features, usually twisted into grins and smirks, now keep twitching from his carefully controlled facade to a snarl that hasn't been seen since the Iron Isles.
Wherever they happen to stop, Desmond approaches with his swornswords, looking up at Kamron. "So men are already on the trail. What are you lot waiting for then, more planning?" His tone isn't so much sarcastic as it is pressing.
There is a glance to Desmond as the man answers Kamron, "It would be wise to plan our attack, yes. Without going in blind." He answers bluntly, having been able to calm down at least. He then looks around to the others, falling silent once more.
"A blind man needs to be told where the hot pot is," Jac says to Desmond as he relaxes his arm across the horn of his saddle. He looks over toward the other lords, this common knight feeling quite old compared to the youths surrounding him. "We could tear apart the forests about the picnic spot, but we may just cause their captors to act hastily if they realize we are coming to take back what they took instead of offering their ransom." The dirty Songbird looks over his charge, and nods his head in agreement to Alric.
Jarod is striding down from the east walk, in the company of a pair of guards in the livery from Tordane Tower. The three of them chatting animated amongst themselves. They don't immediately spot the other men in the vicinity, though they're headed in that general direction. He has an unshaven and little-slept look about him, but that's probably common fashion among the men in this corner of the Riverlands today.
For those that remember how Martyn looked while on the Isles, they can see something quite different about him at the moment. At the moment it's a mixture of anger and worry that wasn't even there when he was beaten soundly by Rogr Harlaw. "As much as I hate to admit it," he offers as he looks over towards Alric and Jac. "They speak the truth. If we end up making too much noise, too close to where they're being held…" He trails off there, looking around again carefully now.
"Men are already on a dozen trails, Lord Desmond," Kittridge replies, still mounted upon his horse, looking dusty and grim as he speaks with Kamron, Desmond, and the others of their parties, "I've ours out there as well, and there are men of House Nayland too, I think." He nods to Jac's words, "We can't just go charging in, they might hear us coming and be more likely to…do something drastic. And with so many houses involved, we need to make sure we coordinate and work together to cover as much ground as possible instead of working at cross-purposes."
Kamron looks over to Desmond as the Westerling snarks at him, "Shut the fuck up, Lord Desmond." There's no heat in the curse, but rather a cold blaze, "If we rush in, we get them killed." He nods as the others make the point more eloquently than him. Coming to a halt, he swings free of his horse, squeezing his eyes shut in pain as he does. Letting out a breath, he adds, "So we plan first. At least it's doing something while the scouts work."
Jarod catches Kittridge's words as he nears the other men. Mounted as he is, they likely carry. "Ser Groves!" he calls, jogging in that direction. "You speak of coordination? Someone's coordinating things?" He is all enthusiastic about this idea. "I advised Ser Riordan before he rode out with the scouts…" Because he can't possibly be back yet, these things take time, "That he'd best see what other efforts were underway, or we'd end up destroying more trails than we found."
Desmond folds his arms impatiently, but that's about all he can do for now. Save for pissing folk off, which is exactly what he's done, it seems. Kamron puts him in his place, so he shuts the hell up, though his guards appear vaguely amused.
The rest of the Terrick contingent is a bit behind the Mallisters who have rushed ahead. Hardwicke is naturally among them, being a necessary force for any organizing of whatever men-at-arms Jerold chose to spare. (Or not, idk.) Whoever is in the contingent, Hardwicke is arriving now on horseback. He looks haggard already. "Sers," he says quickly, coming upon the group of familiar faces. (And Desmond.) "Has there been any further news?"
"I agree with you, Ser Kittridge," Jac says to the man as he remains astride his bland, dark brown courser. He glances over toward Kamron with an arched brow. As another common knight arrives — thank The Seven — Caddock nods his head to Hardwicke and the Terrick forces. "As they say, Ser, there is nothing new. Many are tracking the various trails about the picnic sight." Jac finally breathes in through his nose. "I need numbers. How many ladies attended the picnic, how many guards, how many minders, and how many were found dead after the fact?" Finally, he dismounts.
"Ser Hardwicke…" Martyn greets the man a bit quietly, before he looks back to the others, staying otherwise quiet at the moment. Looking over to each and every person that says something when they do, though.
Kamron will have to apologize after this is done, but for now he's focused. Nodding up to Jac, he points out, "That information should be at the command tent." There's a pause, and he adds, "Or command room here, I assume." Jarod speaking up draws a nod, "Where have the Naylands set it up?" He holds up a finger a moment as he looks back to the Terrick forces marching in, "Ser Hardwicke. You made good time. Let's get the men settle — " he stops, shakes his head, "Sorry. You know what to do." And then he looks back to Jarod, apparently ready for that answer now.
Riding behind Hardwicke is his trusty sidekick and squire, Veris. Unlike the Captain, he looks energetic and ready for some action - any action - although his riding is uneasy. Staying silent, he tries to keep up with the conversation and put names to the faces he doesn't know yet.
Kittridge looks at Kamron, as he too finally swings down from his horse with a creak of leather. "Command tent?" he says, "This isn't a battle, Ser Kamron, we haven't set up encampments or command stations, we've been riding all day. I can list the ladies we know were there, it's eleven in total, I believe, and about half a dozen maids and attendants, we think."
Kittridge looks back to Jarod after a second, having briefly forgotten him, it seems and says, "Sorry, what did you ask me?"
Hardwicke mutters a sharp curse under his breath to hear about the lack of news, but he hardly looks surprised. His jaw begins to tighten at Kamron's words, but he just jerks his chin as the Mallister corrects himself. "Aye, they are," he says. He looks between the men. "There may be no command tent, but there needs to be a command."
"I'm not sure there's a proper command room yet, though Stonebridge's efforts have been naturally directed from Tordane Tower," Jarod replies to Kamron. "If you Sers would make use of it to link up our efforts, I'm sure the regent would be amenable." He sounds sure, at least. He does not seem to notice Kittridge's momentary forgetting of him when he replies, "I asked if you were coordinating efforts, Ser Kittridge. As…well. Aye, someone should, or else we'll all run over each other and be of little help to anyone."
Jac frowns. "So, lets call it eighteen just in case a little shadow of a handmaiden was in the mix. Have the Silent Sisters already started to see to the dead? I would like to know how they were dispatched." He glances over toward Hardwicke, nodding. Something stalls him however, and he quickly raises his hands as if to stop the vying for leadership before it begins. "And we must remember we are here to work together. This is no time to pull them all out to measure." He crosses his arms at his chest, one hand rubbing at the dark stubble at his chin.
"Right, the dead," Kittridge is reminded at Jac's words. He takes a breath and scrubs a hand over his face and nods, "All shot with arrows, no particular identifying marks or anything of use on them that any of the hunters could spot. Some good shots, a couple clean kills, a couple that took a few before they went down. They've been carted back for the Silent Sisters, yes." He swipes at his hair and then looks at Jarod, blinking once at the question, and then looks around again, at the men assembled, and then glances over his shoulder as if expecting to find someone that he… doesn't. "Aye," he says then, turning back to Ser Rivers-Nayland, "I suppose I am. Let's to the tower, then. I asked to have some maps pulled of the area if they could find any, they should have them up by now if they exist."
Martyn keeps silent at the moment as he listens, nodding a bit at Jac's words, but doesn't say anything yet. Listening rather carefully at the moment, trying to think of anything in particular as he listens now.
There's the clatter of one more horse as another figure joins the gathering of men trying to determine what the heck to do. Nicodemus Benedict Lawson Groves rides up on his black courser, looking as bedraggled and scruffy as one might imagine after a day of traveling hither and yon and moving through wilderness with the many others who went to see the site of abduction for themselves. He glances over at Kittridge and offers a silent shake of his head. Nothing else has been found. Dismounting, he offers a distracted nod to the others gathered and a quick, "My lords. Sers."
Kamron blinks at Kittridge, "The hells it isn't, Ser Kittridge." Looking back to Jarod, he nods, "We need a some place to coordinate the efforts. We need maps and numbers. That's a command tent. I'm sure Ser Rygar has that settled." He gestures toward the Tower, "I appreciate the offer." Jac gets a bit of a sidelong look as Percival takes the pair of horses off to the stables of the Crane, "I don't give a flying fuck at a rolling wagonwheel who's in charge, as long as he knows what he's doing. I intend to make sure those women are rescued safely, not… slap our cocks on a table and measure."
Veris's eyes light up at seeing Ser Jarod, though he has enough self restraint not to shout to the man or something equally embarrassing. Nudging his horse ahead to rest just beside Hardwicke's, he leans in to ask quietly while the others are going back and forth, "Want I should ride ahead and see that things are in place for when you arrive, Ser? Or stay here with you until all this gets sorted?"
Jac nods sombrously. "They must have not expected to be ambushed, but if they were able, I'm sure they fought hard to guard the Ladies." Something worries his brow, something that has gone unspoken since the news came to him. He may have been there to guard Alric Charlton, but now he finds himself despairing that he had not been there to protect Lady Cherise. He glances over to Kamron. "Your cousin is blessed to have you as her rescuer, Ser," Jac says without mirth. He then exhales as he looks to Kittridge. "Let's," he says finally.
Jarod nods to Kittridge, his command seeming just fine with Ser Rivers-Nayland. "I'm sure the Tordanes have managed to make some maps of the woodlands between here and the Roost, Ser," he says. "I suspect the Regent's already had them pulled from the archives, but I'll ask after it myself when we're back at the tower if he hasn't." He spots Veris, offering the boy a quick grin. Though it fades as soon as he's summoned it, and isn't reflected in his green eyes.
Blinking at the daylight and emerging from his hidey hole, Garett limps outiside from the inn. Leaning heavily on a cane, as his left leg is set in a splinter and a brace, he couldn't help but notice the gathering armed men outside in the square. His movements are a bit more slow than most, considering he can't really bend that leg all that much right now. Being the recently not-so-dead Knight that he is, he picks out Desmond from the crowd, heading on over, a hand rubbing at the massive new scar that runs down the left side of his face.
Alric finally seems to be waking up from his thoughts. Looking to the others around. Taking in the words, but for his own part he is only thinking about how they should do things. Looking over to Jac as well before the others get some more looks from him. Just continuing to think about a plan.
Desmond is simply watching with no comment, his fervor having melted away, at least for now. As Garett heads over, he regards the man with a slight nod. "They're going to sort things out at the tower I believe." Then he pauses. "Surely you've heard the rumors - ?"
"Nobody's looking for a measuring contest, Ser Kamron," Kittridge replies wearily, "We just haven't had time to do much on this end yet, having been up at the site since the early hours. Let's to the tower, then, and see what we can hash out so we can get back out there." He passes his horse off to his squire, and heads that way.
|Tower Hall, Tordane Tower|
|The entrance to the tower opens into a larger common room for receiving guests. Effort has been made to bring warmth and light to the interior, as well. Rugs have been hung from the stone walls as well as placed on the floor to bring at a welcoming ambiance. There is a large table with several chairs off to the left of the door, a cooking hearth against the back wall, and a wooden staircase that leads up. An antechamber behind the stairs is where the servants live and bed down.|
"Considering the amount of ruckus the town has been making since this morning, I'm going go ahead and say yeah, I have." Garett replies. "My memories might be shotm Desmond, but last I checked, my eyes and ears still worked. Unless they're not, and you're nothing but a hallucination." he says wry reply, walking along with the squire up the tower, trying to move as quickly as he can to not take too much time. "A lot of names of people I don't know, but I'm just going to assume they're important." A small frown then. "Not going to be of much use, unless breaking my other knee at bandits would somehow be effective." Beat. "Which…I don't think it's going to be."
Kamron shakes his head slightly at Kittridge's words, "Could have fooled me." The words are grumbled under his breath, however, not snapped or snarled at anyone. Turing to walk toward Tordane Tower, he looks over his shoulder to Jac, "It's not just my cousin. My duty as a knight is to see that women and innocents are not hurt. These fuckers have been troubling people for a long while. Now they've fucked up by the numbers. We should be able to track them easily, it's just a question of planning an assault that doesn't get any of the women hurt."
Jarod is a bit behind the other knights in arriving back at the tower. What with not having a horse to ride there. Once he's back he busies himself locating maps. It won't take too long, but some map-wrangling is necessary. One of the tower attendants prepares a table, while he's doing that.
"Of course, Milord," Jac says at the hot-tempered Mallister's words. "I was merely pointing out that the Mallisters are lucky to have a knight such as yourself here to ensure that Lady Muirenn is well represented." Whatever the Songbird is actually getting at is probably nothing. He does cast the pudgy Banefort guard whom has been with the Mallister knight a less certain look, however. He brushes some dirt off his jerkin and tunic as they come to the Tower, as if he can already hear Lady Cherise chiding him for dragging dirt indoors. Its not his fault, he has sweared it! "We should look on the maps for somewhere just shy of a score of Ladies can be kept."
After getting his horse handed off, Nicodemus joins the others in the tower. Seeing as how maps are being wrangled, he walks over to Jarod to help with their being spread out and weighted down.
Desmond exhales through his words, "They're important all right. No, I don't imagine we'll be trailing your busted ass along for this one." He smiles briefly, then goes back to looking grim, sure to stay out of the way with the pair of swornswords by keeping to the wall. "Someone's going to take /some/ sort of lead and I'll bet it's Kamron."
Kittridge heads into the hall, commandeered for command, where maps are indeed already spread out, such as they are. "It's wooded ground, obviously," he says, "And there seem to be a lot of hunting tracks and trails through it in addition to whatever paths our kidnappers made. Some of the folks up there already have at least a little familiarity with the area, so they're helping try to narrow down. We're assuming they're being held in the woods somewhere, since anywhere outside'd be too conspicuous. We also are assuming their horses and things were probably stolen, so I want to send some men to the villages in the area to see if they turn up for sale there," he says, pointing at the spots on the map he's talking about.
Pausing a bit as he listens to Kamron and Jac now, Martyn nods a little bit. "How they've been before this was bad, but now it's gotten personal as well," he notes a bit quietly. Following after the others into the hall now, he looks around for a few moments, before he moves over to listen more closely to Kittridge's words. Trying to get his mind fully back under his own control now, it seems.
Kamron nods slightly at Jac's words, then steps up to the map table, his left arm still clasped to his stomach. Shifting his attention to Kittridge and the maps, he looks down across the lay of the land. He nods sharply, "They'll have to be somewhere out of sight of any roads or paths. Anyone sent to the villages doesn't need to be a woodsman. They should stay tracking any trails from the ambush site." He rubs at his temple with the fingers of his right hand, "And they have to be men who can move quietly. We don't want those fuckers knowing they've been found."
"Yes, I can say all sorts of discouraging things about their mothers. That's about the most I can do at this point." Garett comments idly. The maps that Kittridge lays out does interest him, and he limps forward, the *clak* of cane sounds everytime the metal capped bottom strikes the stone floor. "Just assaulting them isn't going to go well. These men were either well prepared or just possibly really lucky in getting so many women in one shot. Probably a good amount of them to kill the guards then rounding up all the women, so it's likely that wherever they are holed up, they're going to have their own scouts on a perimeter, to alert whenever you all show up. And they'd be dumb not to expect you. Either desperation or confidence makes them think that they'd actually have anyone pay their ransom." He nods at Kamron. "Right, you go start stomping through woods and they'll probably start executing. Either you surprise them through faking that you have the money or you go in silently."
Jarod nods to Kittridge as he finishes setting up the table, when he mentions sending someone into the village to ask around for stolen goods. "I figure our sheriff, Ser Rygar, is already watching pretty close for unusual trades in horses are fine goods like jewels in town. Stonebridge would be the place to try to unload such as that. Nearest town where there's enough coin changing hands to make it worth the risk. I'll ask after it with the sheriff's men once we're done here, my lord." He offers Nicodemus a quick grin and "Thanks, Ser Lawson" for his assistance with settling the maps. A puzzled look is directed in Garett's direction but, not recognizing the man, he shrugs and lets the others present address him.
Veris returns Jarod's grin, though his smile in in his excited eyes as he gives the man an otherwise grim-looking nod. He follows Hardwicke along inside, quietly eyeing the maps and listening in on the discussion, evaluating everything mentally and looking fairly skeptical about the whole affair.
Jac nods to Kittridge, though he has to cast a glance to Ser Martyn at his words. As they all step up to the map, as does the Hollyholt knight. He braces his hands on the table, unfortunately leaving a bit of dirt in their wake. He looks over toward Garett. "That we are aware." Then he rubs at his chin once more, looking over the map. "At some point, I will want to know how public the Lady Rosanna made her picnic arrangements known. Something about this doesn't feel like happenstance, but that is investigation that can be done once the women are safe." He nods to Jarod's words. "I'll do some investigation." Because no one suspects the dirty, old common knight…
Nicodemus blinks at 'Ser Lawson', opens his mouth, closes it again, and peers down at the maps. He runs a finger idly down one of the roads near where the women were taken as each man speaks their thoughts in turn. "Would it not be simplest to pay and then follow whoever comes to collect the coins back to the other bandits?"
Alric has been quiet for quite awhile but now walks along as well, taking a look at the map as well. "Have they been able to narrow it down to a rather small area?" He asks, not completely sure how much of the place that has been searched. But he has a rough idea of it. His eyes, for now, staying on the map.
Kamron looks over to Garett as the man clomps up to the tables, frowning just a little before he shakes his head, "I heard they were demanding the ransom left elsewhere, so that won't work. Hunters can kill men as well as food, and if the guards are dead and then we make the assault, they can't give warning." His jaw clenches tightly, "We don't have the time to gather ten fucking gold dragons for each of the women, even if all the houses could pay it, so that leaves killing all the fuckers who were stupid enough to try this."
"You pay once, you'll pay forever," Jac says simply to Nicodemus. "You're also looking at Houses raising an upwards of 30 to 40 dragons to secure the safe return of one House's ladies, nobles and their minders. Have you got that kind of change, Milord?" He says to the unknown man with a tilt of his head.
"Aye," Kittridge nods, "The men in the woods are present are mostly woodsmen and hunters, but to cover as much ground as there seems to be, we're going to have to send others in, as well. Woodsmen and trackers ahead and in the areas where we're pushing deeper, but we need more eyes on the trails than we've got woodsmen, if we're going to make much headway by nightfall. As for Stonebridge, I'm sure Ser Rygar's got that," he nods at Jarod, "But I don't think they'd come here, not after they sent Iulia here with the message. They'll know folks here'll be looking. I think it's worth sending some men to the surrounding hamlets, no matter how small, to seee what they can find. And no, Lord Alric," he shakes his head, "It hasn't yet been narrowed down to a small area." He looks over at Nicodemus at his suggestion and scratches at his cheek and says, "We could, but I don't really want to wait til Monday if we don't have to."
Jarod offers a grim grin to Jac. "There are some taverns on the docks where you can still find men trying to do some below-decks trading, though the Naylands've stomped down on river smuggling pretty hard. My face is a bit too known there, as are the other Stonebridge-sworn, but you might be able to find something." As for the surrounding hamlets, he frowns. "Perhaps the Darant lands, or Middlemarch, little places like that. Not sure they could make the Mire or Seagard in only the time that's passed, though they might try to run them those ways. Seagard especially. It's a port, after all. Always buyers there, even rebuilding as it is."
"For my sister's life I have," Nicodemus answers to Jac's query before frowning down at the map. He nods after Kittridge speaks. "True enough, though it might behoove us to begin pooling what funds can be achieved, in case Monday comes and we are no closer. I would feel more at ease, myself, if we had more than a single plan, at least while we still know so little."
"If they're smart, it'll be somewhere with kind of natural defense besides the forest. Some kind of body of water or a cliff face." Garett raps his cane lightly against the floor a few times, in thought. "That many, eh?" he remarks at the number of Dragons. "Well. Good luck with that." He shrugs at Kamron. "Why do I think I said, do it silently? Once you can find just where the hell they're being held, you plan more accordingly. As it stands right now, until you hear something back from a hunter with a localized area, we're just fucking around with our dicks in our hands. A whole lot of effort with nothing to show for it." Jac's suggestion gets a look. "Now there's a thought. The idea that someone might be feeding these men information. Who was going to be there, how many were going to attend, and where it was going to be located. Granted, it might be a moot point if it were made so public, so it might not matter. Or, it might. Maybe that should be looked into."
Martyn nods a little bit as he listens now. "A backup plan would be good," he offers to Nicodemus, a bit quietly, before he looks back to the others. Pausing a bit as he thinks of something. "Didn't Lord Justin speak of a suspicious livestock pen in the woods?" he asks to Kamron, a bit quietly. Also looking to Jarod at the mention of Seagard, nodding a little bit.
Kamron shakes his head at Jarod, "That assumes that they try to sell anything before they try to sell — " his right hand slaps down on the table, hard, " — the women they've kidnapped." A few sharp breaths do something to calm the man again, but perhaps not so much as they should, as he looks over at Nicodemus, "What of the women from further away, Ser?" He'll assume the title, here, even if he doesn't know the man, "I know that Lady Anais' cousin was at the picnic. What if there were others from outside the Riverlands as well? Will you leave them to the wolves? We need to focus our attention on finding and rescuing the women, not a vain attempt to raise money for each one of them." He looks over to Martyn, "He did. I'm sure that Master Audron will check it."
"We've begun a list of the horses and other things of worth the ladies had with them at the time," Kittridge says, "If each of you can see to add to it what you know, we can circulate it and see if any of it has come up for sale, or the horses've been spotted on the roads." He looks between them assembled, and then frowns at Kamron. "If the ladies need to be ransomed, Ser Kamron, they will all be ransomed. No one is suggesting we pick and choose. Between the houses here it can be done and will be done if it must. You have my word on that. In the meantime, we need more men in the woods, as I've said. If everyone can produce your quietest and most observant five to get out on the trails now and assist the woodsmen, we may have some hope of being able to narrow the area before dark."
Nicodemus frowns over at Kamron, but leaves Kittridge to reply to the Mallister's distress. He huffs a faint laugh for 'quietest and most observant'. "Quietest," the Groves man murmurs. "Suppose that rules out Tommas."
"There will be no abandoning one woman because her House cannot pay the ransom," Jac says — far calmer than Kamron, but at least in the same vein of resolve. "I would be a poor choice for sneaking about the woods, but I have some companions along the road I can speak with and see what they know. We should also look into the smallfolks of the Roost and Stonebridge. They sometimes know the goings-on better than the Nobles. Smallfolk hunters, for instance, might be aware of places in the forests that provide certain protection."
Justin arrives, somewhat behind the others from Terrick's Roost area, he having gone at once to change into his partial mail when he had heard and then sent out a few men to start combing the land. He comes into the tower now looking around for the other men he knows. Justin overhears the others and comes to stand next to Kamron, not yet saying anything.
"I take your point, Ser," Jarod says to Kamron, perhaps a little abashed. "Was just thinking, it's easier to sell a horse, and if they tried we might be able to follow whoever they've got trying to unload those back to their camp. It's something to look at while we wait to see what the trackers find, at least." He looks to Kit. "Ser Riordan's bringing in more trackers from the Mire, though I figure those he's got in Stonebridge know these lands better already. Most of the smallfolk in Stonebridge have to give some service to the levies, those with the necessary skills can be enlisted for this as well."
"Desmond." Garett suddenly, something crossing the amnesiac's eyes. "Desmond, I want you to go." the Westerling Knight says to his squire. "You'll be able to see better than anyone when it turns dark. Where everyone else will slow down, you won't. I want you to go in search. You're quiet, you don't wear heavier armor and you know how you take down men with as little as sound as possible." That has his brows knitting together, as if a sudden pain has him touching the large scar on his face. "That…just came to me. Not sure how I know it." he grunts, leaning on his cane a bit more so than usual.
Alric nods to Kittridge's words, leaving it at that for now as he looks over to the others. Though a frown is present on him. Listening on the other suggestions as well. Nodding to Jac's suggestion before he looks over to Kamron as the man slaps his hand down. Turning to listen to Kittridge as he goes on. "For now we just got to be ready with any plan that can help. Be it ransom or raiding. The important thing being getting the women back for now." He adds to what others have said, as he hear Kamron's outburst. "I'm sure our trackers can narrow it down quickly enough. When they do we need to be ready."
Martyn pauses for a few moments as he listens to the mention of the quietest, then turns to offer a nod to Justin as the man enters. Looking over to Jarod again for a few moments now, he nods a little bit, before he turns back to look at Justin again, "Aren't you good at sneaking through the woods, Lord Justin?" he offers a bit quietly now.
Kamron has the good grace to look at least a little embarrassed at his outburst. A little. Justin's arrival near him draws a nod from the Mallister, as does Kittridge's request. Looking over to the Terrick, he nods to Martyn and then notes to Justin, "I've already put Master Audron to the task, as well as the two huntsmen we brought from Seagard. Can you talk to Ser Hardwicke and get the best of the Roost men?" Punbah, the lone Banefort guardsman, raises a fist to his mouth and coughs, coming up on the other side of Kamron and noting to him, "Um… Ser… y'might see if Ser Sterling Sharpe is in Stonebridge. The Captain always said he was a sneaky little git. And I've 'eard it said he did this sort of thing during the Siege." Kamron blinks at the rotund man, but nods, "See if you can find him then, Punbah." And then he's looking back to the planning. Whenever he's not talking, the muscles of his jaw work silently beneath his skin as he tenses and releases them, just short of grinding his teeth.
Lifting a hand, Justin scrapes it through his hair and rubs the back of his neck, then rubs his face to remove wind blown grit from his eyes and brows. He nods to Ser Martyn, his baritone kept low in volume, "You know where we should look first." The young Terrick Lord looks to the Mallister knight, "I'm a pretty fair tracker. Master hunter Kain and I found those woodcutters, remember? Building strong fences to … contain something, but they had no livestock at the time, aside from a ox. Those strange pens could have been for the women and the horses." And glancing to the others, Justin adds low, "And … I know that area fairly well, now. I can find it without Kain." He then grows quiet to see what anyone thinks of his suggestion. To Kamron's question, Justin nods, "Master Kain's already out. He's the best I've been using."
"A fence for women?" Nicodemus queries, his expression caught between a laugh and a scowl at the thought. Still, "Anything that might be a lead seems worth inspecting, I'd think." Glancing over at Jarod, he adds, with a small frown, "Too many trackers all loosed on the same place, and they'll end up tracking each other's trails after long."
Desmond blinks as Garett recalls something, lifting an unseen brow. "Seems you're getting a bit better. I'll be going, you can be sure of that… They've got my /sister/. Probably with Ser Bruce and his men." But this does press him to speak up and offer, "I know we've trackers and huntsmen, but should we ever need to approach in darkness without torches, I can help. The night is day to me."
Jarod blinks over at Garett. "Err…which one of you is he with?" He tries to ask it as subtly as possible, but he has little grasp of subtlety. He looks up from the table, to Justin, offering his half-brother an inclination of his head. "We figured it'd be simplest to organize search and rescue efforts from here. Ser Kittridge is leading up the effort." He half-grins. "So we don't step all over each other." He nods to Nicodemus, who just voiced the problems that go with that.
"Lord Justin, why don't you take a few men and go scout this pen, then," Ser Kittridge says with a nod, "That sounds like a possibility. Your Master Kain is already out with the other woodsmen in the forest proper. Lord Desmond," he says, looking his way after a brief, vaguely-concerned glance at Garett, "If you think you could be of help in the search in the woods that would be appreciated, of course. I'd suggest everyone pick out their five best suited for tracking, besides those Lord Justin is taking, and those reconvene at the site of the picnic in… three hours. That should give time to round them up and get there, if we all work quickly. We can divy up the trails from there once we see if the woodsmen have found anything new."
"I have the skills to go out there at least…" Martyn offers after a few quiet moments of pause. Sounding like there's some other part of it he's doubting at the moment, though. Pausing a little bit at Desmond's words now, especially the last part, as he turns to study the man carefully.
Justin gives a slow nod to Kittridge, not looking like he's really had much sleep the night before. And possibly, a bit too much to drink. But he's sober and clear headed enough now, glancing down at his partial maile, "I brought my leathers to change into if needed." He thinks about who he would take and frowns, "Kain's already out, Xou I haven't seen about lately. I don't really know who else is a decent tracker besides myself, to bring." He glances aside to Hardwicke.
Desmond tenses a bit as eyes settle on him. First he addresses Jarod, "Sorry, this is Ser Garett Westerling. Recovering from some… ship-related injuries. And I'll do just that, Ser Kittridge." Martyn gets a blank look.
Kamron shakes his head at Nicodemus' words, "Too many trackers, and we'll tip them off. I damned well hope that anyone who gets sent off to try to find them can tell the difference between a trail made by a hunter and one made by kidnapped women." Looking over at Martyn, Kam shakes his head slightly, "You're a fucking distracted as I am, coz. Besides, we'll still need a force of knights and men-at-arms here for when we find them. I doubt there'll be time to call back all the searchers." His lips press together in thought a moment, but he merely nods, "We'll be waiting for word here, Ser Kittridge. I'd suggest having any searchers who find dead trails come back here. We can track the areas that have been searched and haven't yet."
"I won't be much help tracking. Though I will try and help think of something for when we do find them." Alric says, fully confident that they will be able to find them. "Those who do have more experience tracking and such, and has knowledge of the place, should deal with that. At least some should be starting up for when we do find them. It would be wiser to be able to go as soon as we find something." He goes on. Not really able to pitch in with too much about the search itself. "I would though believe that they would try to either hide in a cave or having taken someones farm or the like."
Kittridge nods to Kamron and says, "I'm thinking a relay. Keep a handful men in the field where the picnic was for the trackers to come report back to. They can send the trackers back out and send a rider here with the update, so we can keep track on the maps and plan."
"Desmond is…" Garett's face scrunches up, holding a hand to the side of his face. "…is…was, my squire." he states. "I suppose spouting like I have been and no one knowing me isn't helping that much is it? For anyone know, I'm just some old cocker with dellusions of granduer." He nods at Desmond. "Apparently, I was dead for awhile. I've gotten better since." he manages to grin, even through the apparent pain he's having. "Yes, Desmond, it's your turn now. Your eyes will be invaluable right now, now more than ever."
Jarod makes a "Huh" sort of sound at Garett. But, as Desmond is offering assistance, he just leaves it at that. A nod to Kittridge and Kamron. "I'll see to the checking around town for any odd trades in horses, or other valuable goods the ladies might've had on them, in the meantime. Might be little to find, but it's worth trying. Once Lord Riordan's spare trackers arrive from the Mire they'll have to convene here, and their efforts can be directed toward the larger search, rather than just having them sent out piece-meal."
Justin almost laughs at Kamron's statement about tracks, "I can tell the difference between a woman's track and a man's. Hips are shaped differently, so the stride isn't the same, even if the foot was the same size." He pauses, thoughtful before he adds, "If you want a scout to slip in close and look, and slip back out again to pass on information, it's best only two men. Safer than one who might be caught, but more are likely to be noticed." Damn, if only he knew where huntsman Kain was to hook up with him. Justin frowns, then half turns to head back out.
Martyn opens his mouth to say something at Kamron's words, before he closes it, after a few deep breaths. Nodding a little at the moment, as he turns around to look for something he could kick, or punch or anything like that to get some of the frustration out of his system or something like that.
Kamron nods at Kittridge, "I would say just move the gathering point to the picnic area, but we have no guarantee that that's any closer to their hiding place than Stonebridge, additional reinforcements will be coming here, and our preparations will be more likely to be noticed there if they've got lookouts." Not that they're going to be able to keep this search -quiet- by any definition of 'quiet' short of full-out war. He nods at Justin, "Whereas I have no fucking clue how to tell the difference. So I'll be staying here." Even though he isn't happy about that fact. "Are you going out there yourself, Ser Kittridge?"
Kittridge nods to Kamron, "My thoughts exactly. And… I don't know," he says of heading out himself, "I'm going to ride out and see what we hear and make sure all the trails are being covered, and if they need more, I may. But if they've got enough men better suited than me… then I will probably be joining you back here," he says, with a tight-lipped smile.
Kamron nods to Kittridge, "I'm going to be about as much use out in the woods as tits on a bull. I'll stay back and keep pushing any incoming trackers to the picnic site, and gathering up any knights and men-at-arms for the final push." He draws in a breath, then lets it out in a hiss, "Maiden watch over them out there…"
Martyn sighs a bit as he listens now, looking around the room carefully for a few moments. Slowly starting to pace around a bit. Seem like that's something to do, at least.
Alric is just watching the others, feeling a bit useless at the moment. Eyes catching Martyn as the man paces. Moving a bit closer to the man, giving a nod. Though other than that he is silent, going it all over in his mind. "Is there anything that the ladies had with them that they could have used to try and make a track? In such case the trackers could focus on the tracks that has those particular trace." He suggest, not really fully certain that will help at all. Just throwing out ideas for now.
Kittridge nods at Kamron, saying, "But you'll be good help here with the coordinating, and sending folks out. I'm going to see to the Groves folks and get out there myself. I may be back, or it may not be til after nightfall, but I trust you'll have things on this end well in hand, Ser Kamron, in the meantime." At the prayer, his expression grows briefly even more grim, and he murmurs, "From your lips to their ears, Ser," and sets a hand on Kam's shoulder. Just for a second, and then he's out the door.
Martyn never stops his pacing as he hears Alric's words. "I don't know…" he says after a few moments. Looking around the room carefully, while still pacing. "I should have…" he begins, going silent again as he widens his circle of pacing. Growling a bit at himself now.
Kamron glances around the hall that is quickly becoming a map-room, then nods to Kittridge, "I'll have them ready when you find those fuckers." He reaches up with his good hand to clap the Groves' shoulder as well, then turns back to those still remaining in the room. "Maybe, Lord Alric, but I don't intend to tell the trackers how to do their jobs. We'll need to come up with a general, adaptable plan that can work wherever they're found, and gets us in to the women before the bandits can hurt them. It's going to be damned near impossible, but at least it'll keep us busy." A glance is cut over to Martyn, "So we don't break anything and get charged for it."
Jac has been looming over the maps, taking stock of where he will be visiting today. He looks over to the others as he ha gathered his list, nodding his head. "I'm off to do my own version of scouting. I will reconnect if I have found anything important." And he starts to make his own exit.
Alric looks to Martyn. "I think we all wish we had known. And I do regret not sending Ser Caddock away with them." His anger showing a bit before he shakes his head. To Kamron he nods, "Of course not. Just that if there is one trail of food and another trail of ink, which would be wisest considering the situation, was all." He just says before shaking that off. "But yes, a strategy…" He looks back and forth between the Mallisters, and anyone else that might still be present.
"Strategy, yes," Martyn replies, very quietly. Looking a bit thoughtful for a little while, sighing a bit. Looking about to say something else, but going quiet again as he stops his pacing now, taking a few deep breaths.
Kamron shakes his head at Alric, "From the sounds of it, unless there were another dozen or so guards, anyone you sent with them would be dead now." He steps up to the map table, tapping a finger onto it with a dull thumping, "Wherever they are, our own outriders will be the key, even if they aren't riding. We'll need them to sneak up and kill any sentries the bandits have, so we can get close enough to overwhelm the rest in a rush. We'll have to move hard and fast, and keep as many of the bandits busy as possible, so none of them can hurt the women, and none of them can flee." The Mallister bares his teeth in an expression somewhere between a snarl and a smile, "I mean to see all of those fuckers dead."
Alric nods at Kamron's words, "Still…" He shakes his head without finishing the sentence. "Archers should be able to take out those sentries. I'm sure those hunters we have should be skilled enough. As long as we have enough archers, which I have no doubt about. Then they can secure the area to make sure that none of the bandits flee while the rest of us go to help the women. It probably wouldn't be too wise to send arrows in there after all." He suggests, looking between the other men. "Though if we ride in without knowing the situation we might put the women in even more danger."
Martyn pauses for a few moments as he listens now, grimacing a little bit as he moves over to the map table, nodding a bit grimly as he hears Kamron's words. "I know, cousin. A huge part of me, bigger part than I ever thought existed, wants at least one of them to die by my own bare hands…" Grimacing a bit as he admits that now, his expression turning into disgust for a few very brief moments, before it's back to the torn between fury and worry that it's been like for the last number of hours.
Kamron shakes his head at Alric, "I don't trust archers for this, Lord Alric. They're good for security around the site, but I want throats slit. They can't make a noise if we're going to rescue the ladies." He shakes his head a bit more abruptly, "But maybe an archer per sentry-killer, to shoot the sentry if the other man is spotted before he can close? I think we're going to have to get in close, Lord Alric." Once more, his lips skin back from his teeth as he looks back to Martyn, "I'm sure we can all manage to shed a bit of blood, coz, although I'm happy to give that up if it means getting the ladies back safely." He runs his fingers over the top-most map and studying the terrain, "Maybe a basic idea for a forest clearing, a farmhouse, and a cave… then we have the basics down and can put the specifics in place once we know where they are." And so begins the planning session, which is likely to last almost as long as the search.