|Little to Offer|
|Summary:||Anais and Kittridge discuss the possibility of House Terrick purchasing House Groves's food surplus. Also tournaments.|
|Date:||15 May 2012|
|Four Eagles Tower - Reading Room|
|Books and parchments.|
|15 May 289|
It's a fine day outside, with the sun shining and a nice breeze off the water cooling the summer heat. But not everyone can be outside at the moment. Anais has a small desk in the reading room, situated by a window that faces toward the shore. She's flung the windows wide open, bringing in as much of the sunlight as she can. A handmaid and a guard are quietly playing at cards in the corner. Not too long ago, a maid would have brought an invitation to Kittridge, to join the lady for tea. And there is tea. Somewhere under a pile of parchment Anais is currently rummaging through, the fine gold hairs escaping from her braid making a halo in the sunlight.
Kittridge arrives after not too long, straightening his dark green doublet as he steps into the reading room, and making no effort to do anything similar with the messy tumble of his hair. "Lady Anais," he greets her with a bow, "It is a pleasure to see you again, I regretted we didn't have a chance to speak much at dinner last night. I suppose as they left already the Naylands had decent reason to so monopolize your time and attention, but I am pleased we get another chance now."
Anais looks up from the parchments, a flustered expression fading to a small, warm smile. "Lord Kittridge," she greets in turn, reaching up to make a half-hearted effort at smoothing down her hair. "I do apologize. Lord Jerold decided to meet with Lord Riordan, but I didn't get the message until they were finished, and then I was just trying to catch up with everything. I have some tea and scones somewhere in here to make it up to you," she adds, smile quirking once more. "I just have to excavate them."
"So I heard," Kittridge nods, "Ser Riordan has been monopolizing everyone, it seems, on his whirlwind little visit." His smile is without rancor, though, even slightly teasing, and he nods, "If you can find any without ink, I'll be happy to join you." He helps himself to a seat and bends to peek carefully under a stack of papers, remarking, "It must be some undertaking, having the management of the Roost thrust upon you like this, so suddenly at in such dire circumstances."
"It is an object lesson in being careful what you wish for," Anais admits, smile slipping crooked as she carefully gathers up the parchments, stacking them neatly into particular piles. Gods only know what the organizing principle is, though. "I left the Banefort certain I was ready to be the lady of my own castle, determined to marry myself the heir to a house of some worth, and only realized just how much was involved in that when reavers showed up at my gates. Ah, here we are. And ink free," she chuckles as she finds tea and scones alike, brushing the back of one hand against the pot to test the temperature. "Still warm, even. I've heard Kingsgrove finds itself in calmer waters, though."
Kittridge chuckles a little at Anais and suggests, "You should speak to Rosanna about that. She has similar ambitions, and I wouldn't mind her hearing a bit more about the reality of achieving them. Maybe she wouldn't be in such a rush." His smile is crooked for a moment, and then evens back out as she finds their tea, and he says, "Perfect, I'd almost given up hope." He waits as she preps and (presumably) pours, and then nods, "Yes, Kingsgrove was spared the worst of it. There were some attacks on outlying villages, farms raided and the like, but the seat itself wasn't enough of a prize to draw their attention from the Roost."
"Mmmm. And they were having so much fun here, too," Anais drawls, dry. She does indeed pour, and place strawberry scones on plates. "We don't have milk, I don't think, but there's some honey here, if you take it?" she offers, starting to pass the cup to him. "Well. I don't want to monopolize your time too much," she says, smile quirking. "But as you're one of few houses who were but lightly hit, I imagine you're well aware that your harvest is in great demand."
"No, thank you," Kittridge replies, "I'll just take it as it is." He smiles, and takes his cup when she offers it, cradling it in his hand for a moment before taking a sip. Her remark draws a nod. "Yes, I won't pretend we're not. I'm frankly somewhat surprised your house hasn't made an offer for it sooner, but I understand you've had quite a lot to deal with."
"It's not so much that we aren't interested," Anais smiles apologetically, adding honey to her own tea and giving it a gentle stir before she takes a sip. "It's that…We understand both that you must have a lot of interest, and that we're not currently in a position to match some of the immediate offers you must be receiving. And," she continues, rueful, "Lord Jerold is a proud man. I know he doesn't wish to seem…" She trails off, waving a hand rather than finishing her sentence. "I understand the Naylands have made their offers. I'm…a little surprised you're still taking the time to speak with us, actually."
Kittridge listens, shifting to get comfortable in the chair as he takes another sip of his tea. He swirls it absently in the cup as he nods slowly, inclining his head. "The Naylands have made a…substantial offer," he confirms, "But it seems wrong not to give your house a chance to at least attempt to find a means by which to exceed it. I know House Terrick simply doesn't have the sort of coin to offer that House Nayland can, and that Lord Ser Jerold is not one to ask for charity, but another arrangement might be possible." He shrugs, "Or it might not. But it seemed like we find out," he says, smiling faintly.
"That is kind of you," Anais says quietly, lowering her chin in a grateful nod. "You're right, though, I'm afraid. We have very little coin right now, and very little to offer in trade. I've been…considering some other options, but for the moment, our resources are thin. The land itself is fine, and in a few harvests, we will be as well. It's just /getting/ those harvests that is going to be difficult. I don't suppose you'd be interested if we were able to pay in installments?"
"Installments can be…somewhat unreliable," Kittridge says, hesitating briefly over the phrasing, "They get delayed, or a new lord chooses not to honor the agreements of the old… which is not a statement on your husband, Young Lord Jacsen," he assures with a warding gesture, "Just a general concern. And they take so much longer. Why wait ten years for what we might have all at once?" His shoulders rise and fall, and he lifts the tea cup to his lips again, drinking for a moment before going on, "It would take, I think… something more substantial."
Anais traces a finger along the rim of her cup, considering the lord. "You sound as though you have an idea, my lord," she notes, smile faint. "What was it you were thinking?"
"I'm open to suggestions," Kittridge replies, with another little shrug, "But… well. Land," he says, "Might be one way to offer us more than the Naylands can."
Anais shakes her head, taking a sip of her tea before setting it gently aside. "I'm afraid Lord Jerold isn't going to part with any land on a permanent basis. Lady Haigh made a similar offer. But I'm sure you understand, if we start selling land to buy things now, we're going to find ourselves without the means to support ourselves later. Sell more. And eventually, we find ourselves holding nothing." Folding her hands in her lap, she considers the lord. "What if we offered the lease of land and the proceeds of it for a fixed period of time?"
"I'd like to think our offer might be given a bit more consideration than one from a Haigh," Kittridge says, with a brief curve of a smile, "And while I understand the idea, I think you have to consider your options on a relative basis, lady, rather than an absolute one. I certainly understand Lord Jerold having no wish to part with any land, but does he really have a choice, at this point? And if he must part with some, which I confess I rather think may be the case… would he not rather return to us the border fiefs that were originally ours anyway, than have to give up Darant and those on the Stonebridge side to the Naylands?"
Anais arches a brow. "I wasn't aware we were considering handing land to the Naylands, my lord," she replies. "That's an interesting rumor." She smiles tightly. "I don't suppose you'd be interested in sharing where you heard it?" Absently, she straightens the stacks of papers, making sure all the edges line up.
Kittridge lifts both brows, and then chuckles. "If there is such a rumor, lady, I have not heard it either," he tells her, "I'm just thinking ahead. Do you honestly think that Lord Rickart, having bought this surplus from us, will deal generously with Lord Jerold? He will demand a great deal more than the price we suggest, I would expect."
"I expect you're right, Lord Kittridge," Anais agrees. "Assuming our current negotiations fail, that is. Assuming that if we do not purchase them from you, we will not find somewhere else to do so." She tilts her head slightly, considering. "The Riverlands are full of small houses subsisting on the proceeds of their lands. Many of them well enough inland to have excess supplies to sell. I imagine we will find many of them at the tournament. Forgive me, my lord," she smiles slightly, shaking her head. "I don't wish to insult you, or imply that I've taken any offense. You are acting in your best interest, as you must. And I'm grateful that you took the time to speak with us. But we can't act only in the interest of the short term. We must look to the future as well."
Kittridge shrugs, and spreads his hands. "No offense taken, Lady Anais. We all do what we think best for our own houses, as we must. I'd ask only that you speak with Lord Jerold about our suggestion and confirm that he has no interest in it. I don't think it is an unreasonable one, and we would not like him to feel we had not offered House Terrick a fair chance before selling to the Naylands."
"Oh, certainly," Anais agrees without hesitation. "Did you have a map of the proposed lands in which you were interested, that I might bring him the complete proposal?" she asks, turning to rummage through the parchments. "If not, I'm sure I've one here you could use."
"I don't," Kittridge says, though he pats his pockets anyway just in case, "But if you can rustle one up, I'm sure I could mark them out for you. I'm sure Lord Jerold will know which we mean," he adds, smiling crookedly, "It's not every day you're gifted with your neighbor's lands, after all. Ah, there we are," he says as she produces a map, and he leans over to borrow a pen and quickly sketch out the parcels of land in question.
Anais watches the sketching, though something he said brings the faintest quirk of a smile to her lips. "It's a pity one can't sell grudges," she suggests with light humor. "The Riverlands would be richer than the Westerlands were that the case, just from what I've seen here on the Cape."
"House Terrick would be in a considerably different position, were that a saleable commodity," Kittridge agrees, offering Anais a brief smile in return. The sketching is quick, and then he returns the pen and straightens up. "Well. I suppose that is our business completed, unless you come up with anything else you think might tempt us. You'll be at the tourney at the Twins, then?"
"I will," Anais nods, carefully rolling up the map. "And I'll speak with Lord Jerold before that, and have an answer for you there, if that's all right? Will you be competing?" she asks, suddenly much more cheerful. Poverty is not fun to talk about. Tournaments are lots of fun!
"Yes, that'll be fine," Kittridge nods, and then chuckles, and scratches his jaw, saying, "I'm not sure yet. I haven't done much tourney-ing, and it's likely to be a pretty talented field, I'd imagine. I probably will," he says, with another of those crooked smiles, "But I don't expect to make too much of a showing, to be honest."
"You'll compete, and be seen, and do your best," Anais says with confidence. "You survived a war, Lord Kittridge. I think at that point tournaments are just a good excuse to have people actually take the time to celebrate you, for you to get very drunk, and for the ladies to get out of their chambers," she laughs softly. "Or at least that's what my father's always said. Personally, I don't particularly care what you /call/ it. They're exciting. All the interesting parts of war without the ugly parts. I for one have had my fill of the ugly parts."
"Oh aye," Kittridge laughs, "It's not like I'm dreading it. I like most parts of tourneys. I just wish my house had a slightly more talented champion, is all. I'm a good jouster, but not an excellent one." He shrugs, not that concerned, and grins, "I am excellent at getting drunk and laying bets, though. And being good company for ladies let out of their chambers," he grins. He ignores the reference to war, and says, "It will be interesting to see who all attends. I hope there will be some from further afield."
"As a daughter of the Westerlands, I think I can honestly say that a joust is more interesting when all of the participants are /decent/ jousters, rather than having too many excellent ones," Anais muses. "Not that everyone shouldn't see Jamie Lannister joust at least once, but it's a more interesting contest otherwise." She starts to tidy up some of the tea service, making sure all of the parchments are safe. "I'm not sure who'll be riding for the Terricks, actually," she says after a moment, catching her lower lip between her teeth at the realization.
"If I had a silver for every time Jamie Lannister and his ilk had been mentioned lately," Kittridge says, dryly amused. He sets his tea cup down, and says, "I'll take the tilts over the melee for being easier to watch, but you get much more interesting odds for the melee. So many more unusual wagers, instead of just how many passes and how many lances." He doesn't seem much concerned about House Terrick's prospects, saying, "Surely you'll find someone. Is Lord Justin really that far from knighthood himself? He seems old enough for it."
"I'm not sure what his situation is," Anais admits, shaking her head. "But it seems we're a bit short on champions." She smiles, shrugging with a low laugh. "We're really not much for producing jousters at the Banefort either, though. Doesn't mean I can't enjoy watching. And maybe Torsten will show for the melee. That should be interesting."
"It does seem a bit unusual, whatever it is," Kittridge agrees of Justin. "Is that one of your brothers? Torsten? I hadn't realized there were other Baneforts in residence."
"Mmm, two of them at the moment," Anais smiles swiftly, clearly close with her family. "Torsten came aground in the midst of the invasion, and has been sticking around to keep an eye on me, I think. And my cousin Saffron arrived just after the end of the war. I suppose my parents have decided since sending me to the Riverlands worked out so well, they might continue to seek alliances here. Or else they've taken some pity on me and sent a little bit of help," she adds, amused.
Kittridge smiles at the last, and nods. "Well, that must be a comfort to you, to have kin around, whyever they came," he says, "Perhaps my sister and I will have a chance to meet them, before we depart for Kingsgrove. Or at the tourney, I suppose," he remembers. He offers another friendly smile, and says, "Well, I should probably leave you to your papers for now, lady, I've taken up enough of your time. But do be careful, it would be a shame if you drowned in parchment before making it to the Crossing."
"I'll be dried and pressed in here," Anais chuckles softly in agreement. "They'll find me a hundred years from now, looking just as I do today, like a flower hidden between the pages of a book." There's a glimmer of humor in her eyes as she starts to set out the parchment once again, reestablishing whatever strange order there was to it before. "Thank you for your time, Lord Kittridge. Whatever comes of it, I do appreciate that you came to us."
"I think were that a likely outcome, a great many more ladies would take to accounting," Kittridge jokes, before rising to give her a crisply graceful bow. "Thank you, Lady Anais. Good luck with all of this." He gestures vaguely at her parchments, and then exits.