|Loyalty and comely Wenches|
|Summary:||Aleister and Ceinlys return from Hollyholt, and discuss loyalty with Lord Fenster.|
|Date:||16 February 2012|
|Crane's Crossing Inn - Stonebridge|
|While Crane's Crossing is technically an Inn, it caters to the traveling nobility almost exclusively. The floors around the hearth are finely crafted stonework, as are the slate blocks that the firepit is constructed of. The rest of the floor is done in stained oak that matches the few long tables and the chairs. The rest of the main room is furnished with plush couches and seating to entice visitors to delay their leave. A full service kitchen provides food of all kinds as well as high quality ales and wines. Also available are several women to provide hospitality to the lonely or those in need, the quality of them to be beaten by but a few in the Riverlands. A hallway near the kitchen leads off to the rear of the building and several up-scale rooms.|
|16th February 289 A.L.|
"The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other." — Mario Puzo
Once he was well enough to depart from the camps at Seagard, Aleister had made preperations for a trip to Hollyholt, one that lasted several days. Days that seemed far to short. This seems rather evident, now, for upon his return to Stonebridge, the Lord had made his way to the Crane's Crossing Inn once the horses had been stabled and dealt with. There's a scowl on his features and a slight narrowing his eyes as he moves through the door and further into the main room. "Back to this, it would seem," is muttered almost entirely to himself. But, it's better then staying with the Naylands and as such, he's forced to content himself with it. Spotting an empty table, he makes his way across the floor and to the table, claiming a seat near to the wall, but one that allows him to keep an eye on the door.
Alric had been on a short trip to Stonebridge on duties, as a diplomat. After having finished his duties he had decided to make his way towards the inn for some rest. He comes in not too long after Aleister, he takes a deep breath as he scans the area. It doesn't take him a long amount of time to spot Aleister and he soon starts on his way over to the Charlton. Once reaching he inclines his head. "lord Charlton, it's nice to see you around here. Mind if I join you?"
A few steps behind the ill-tempered looking Master-at-Arms, though with a contrasting lack of concern to her features, the Lady Ceinlys follows without complaint into the welcoming warmth and cheer of the inn. Of all the places to stay a few nights in Stonebridge, this establishment is really the best option. Perhaps that's why she looks utterly unperturbed by her Lord's displeasure? "..make the most of it, Ser. After all, a few days hence you shall be on a ship bound for the isles. Somehow, this doesn't seem so bad to me, put that way. At least the floor remains still underfoot." She's not a great advocate of seafaring vessels, being rather delicate of constitution.
Plucking some soft leather riding gloves from her hands as she walks, the long skirts of her habit sweeping about her ankles with each elegant stride, Ceinlys barely bothers to look where she's going, merely following in the wake of Aleister's movement toward his chosen table. "Sweetwine." This is cast curtly toward the buxom serving girl who approaches, smoothly intercepted by the dark-haired noblewoman before she can assault the Charlton with her batting eyelashes. "Bread, cheese and fresh meat." A dismissive wave sends the girl, rather sour of expression now, off on her way as Ceinlys herself eases into a chair. Alric's approach, a moment or two later, doesn't seem to give her any undue concern either. She just offers the young man a vague smile of greeting before regarding Aleister sidelong.
There's a slight deepening of the scowl upon Aleister's face at the mention of being on a ship and there can be little surprise at such a thing, for after all, the seat of his House is far inland and away from the ocean's in which others are familiar with. That 'feeling' is vocalized by a quick, "Bloody ships," before he's settled himself within his chair, cloak swept to one side and unaware that Ceinlys has prevented the serving girl from .. accosting him.
Bringing his hands to settle upon the table before him, his eyes lift upwards at the approach of Alric and there's a simple nod of his head that comes to be offered, "Lord Fenster." A silence is then left to hang for a moment before those hands of his unclasp and one lifts to motion towards one of the empty chairs at the table, "If you so wish, you may join. I trust that business has brought you to Stonebridge and away from the camps of Seagard?"
A small smile and nod to Ceinlys before returning his eyes and attention to the man. When offered the seat he moves gently to sit down. "I don't see why not, it is a pleasure to be able to meet a familiar face here. And yes, business it is. Politics and whatnot. Though I will probably be heading back to Seagard soon enough. You have been gone on business as well, yes?" He says before glancing to the woman, perhaps recognizing her but it seems he has not been able to place her face anywhere. He has been a bit busy with running around lately. So for now he stays on Aleister.
"I hope things have been going smoothly." He offers with a polite smile as he let his hand run through his hair. His attention does seem to wander a bit as he looks around the area from time to time.
Fenster. The mention of the youngster's familial name has the raven-haired young lady already seated tilting her head askance in subtle betrayal of contemplation. Does she know of them? It's possible. If she does, though, she doesn't bother to press the matter. After all, Aleister seems content to have the new arrival join his table and that ought to be good enough for her. Inclining her head gently as Alric seats himself, Ceinlys briefly fixes her vivid blue eyes upon his features, as if memorising them for some later purpose, before murmuring a gentle, "Lord Fenster.." in echoed greeting. Setting her gloves down on the table and propping her elbows, the young woman steeples her fingers as a comfortable rest for her jaw, observing the pair as pleasantries are exchanged. She doesn't move when the serving girl returns, setting down a pitcher of sweetwine and three goblets. Well, at least she was paying attention.
Once Alric has claimed a seat at the table, Aleister's hands had once more clasped together as he offered the other Lord another simple nod of his head, "Indeed. Politics. I suppose you were acting to better the face of House Charlton, hmm?" That draws the hint of a smirk to the knight's lips before it's broken as he continues on, "But yes, I had business to attend to back in Hollyholt that had to be concluded before our departure to the Isles." A shift of his eyes brings Ceinlys into view and then that of the serving girl as the order is delivered. A simple nod comes to be offered before he's looking back to Alric, "Have you been introduced to the Lady Erenford, Lord Fenster?"
Hearing Ceinlys makes him turn his head to look at her, studying her for a moment, but is caught by Aleister before he can speak. "I was indeed." He says with a grin and continues to listen as the knight goes on. "I see." Is all he says before following Aleister's eyes and stopping on Ceinlys. The family name does make his smile widen though. "No I'm afraid I have not. It's a pleasure, and honor, to meet you m'lady." He says in a calm voice looking at what had been ordered and now delivered, ordering something to drink for himself while he has the opportunity.
It's more than likely that it was the wine Ceinlys was actually reaching for, now that the girl has poured her a weighty goblet. But, seeing as Aleister offers introductions on her behalf, she offers her hand instead toward Alric, reflecting his smile, if somewhat less blatantly. "A pleasure, indeed, m'lord. Any friend of the Charltons and all that." Withdrawing her fingers after a moment, she belatedly claims her drink and settles more comfortably back in her chair, dangling the goblet between a thumb and forefinger as she studies the young Lord with more interest. "And how is the world of politics, of late? I feel dreadfully out of things, following the trip away." The young lady doesn't bother to hide it. It's perfectly well-known that she accompanied the Lord Charlton to the seat of his family. It's the reasons why that seem to interest gossips more. Taking a slow sip of her wine, she keeps her gaze on Alric for now.
As Alric and Ceinlys tend to the politeness of introductions, Aleister is claiming one of the goblets for himself, drawing it towards him and then lifting it towards his lips so that a sip can be claimed from within. Then, once it's lowered and rests back upon the table, he's casting a look in the direction of Ceinlys before looking back towards Alric, his brow lofting a touch as he offers, "Yes, indeed. Please share as to how things are going. I am afraid that with the battle of Seagard and my subsequent trip, I have not kept up with what has been transpiring amongst the lands." He makes no effort to counter her statement of accompaning the trip, it would seem. "Though, I will surely need to rectify such things upon my return from the Isles."
A gently grip of her hand as he greets her and then leaning back a bit. He shrugs at Ceinlys question before answering, "It is as it is. Politics are always going to involve conflict and sooner or later some kind of agreement. Though I try to secure the Charlton's standing within it, with success I would believe. Though there are some changes with the recent deaths and whatnot." He explains and then smirks as Aleister goes on. "Perhaps you will, but for now focus should probably be on the Isles. A lot might change after that." He shrugs and continues to look at the both of them. He doesn't seem to care much about Ceinlys and Aleister accompanying one another.
"By the time you return, no doubt I'll be perfectly able to fill in those gaps, my Lord." replies the young woman, passing Aleister a glance in kind and a faint smile. After all, she won't be going off to war. "Observation is key in many things." For some reason, the words draw a further curve across her lips, before she returns her cerulean gaze to Alric. "The standing of the Charltons, I expect, is secure enough. How does your own House fare, Lord Fenster? I confess.. I do not think I have had the opportunity to encounter your kin, as yet." Setting down her goblet, the Lady Erenford nods approvingly, if only fractionally, at the serving wench who sets down a platter of warm bread, thick slabs of cheese and generous slices of roasted meat. She reaches for a smaller piece of the latter, tearing it idly with her fingertips. "No doubt something I should remedy. Do, please, help yourself.." She gestures idly toward the pitcher, set now near the center of the table, as well as the spread of food. Apparently a day's ride works up a healthy appetite.
The hint of a chuckle escapes past Aleister's lips as he offers Alric a slight nod of his head, "Oh, I'm well aware of my focus should be, Lord Fenster. That, I'm afraid, is never in question." A flit of his eyes towards Ceinlys is then given as a light chuckle begins to escape past his lips, "Truer words, Lady Erenford, have never been spoken." It's at that point that he falls silent, his gaze shifting back to Alric as the Charlton Knight settles back into his seat, hand clasped around his mug and simply using this opportunity to listen to the other Lord's mention of his House.
Aleister's words get a grin from Alric "Good to hear." Is all that he offers in reply to that. He shrugs before turning to reply to Ceinlys. "It is secure, but it can still expand. As for my own house, it grows if Charlton does." He explains, and shrugs a bit. "It is unfortunate to hear that you have not, but I am not surprised. We haven't spread much and most of us has been in service to house Charlton, and some staying mostly in Hollyholt." He explains. When food and drink comes he looks at all of those around, offering polite smiles. He inclines his head in gratitude to Ceinlys offer and pour some into a cup and then drinks a bit from it. He seems to be studying the other two at the moment, without saying much though.
"The curse of being a vassal, I suppose." remarks Ceinlys, though plainly in jest as she shares a smirk between the two men. Odd that someone of a House of relatively good standing in its own right should freely choose to align herself with another. But women are strange creatures, at times. Popping a small morsel past her lips, the young lady chews contentedly, swallowing before speaking further. "Perhaps then I have met some, during the stay at Hollyholt..?" Her blue eyes wander to Aleister, a slender brow arching in silent enquiry. He would know better than she, of course.
That curvaceous wench is back. It seems she has a knack for picking the rather heavier-pocketed of patrons in the little tavern.. and in that, the Charlton does rather stand out. Drifting around the table, surely without purpose, she eventually enquires sweetly of Aleister, "..will there be anything else, m'lord..?" But a glance goes also toward Alric, lingering in thoughtful appraisal. He certainly has a kinder face.
There is another soft chuckle that escapes Aleister's lips as he offers Alric another slight nod of his head, "Soon, Lord Fenster, House Charlton shall once again grow and House Fenster will benefit from such things. This is how it has always been and my House will not see their vassal go unrewarded for their loyalty to us." His eyes then play over in the direction of Ceinlys, regarding her for the barest hint of a moment before he's giving a shake of his head, "We encountered none of his kin during our stay at the Keep, Lady Erenford."
The return of the wench has Aleister looking to her, but only long enough so that a shake of his head can be given and a lift of his hand in a dismissive wave, "You will be summoned if we have need of anything further." His hand lowers and his attention then shifts back to the two nobles that share the table with him.
Alric shrugs, "Perhaps, but it doesn't bother me much." He tells her before drinking some more as he looks over from the woman to the man. A wry grin as he listens. "That is indeed true, and we will keep loyal as long as we are not misstreated." He tells the man and falls silent then. Letting Aleister answer Ceinlys.
When the wench returns Alric stays silent, looking at her and Aleister. As well as giving a glance to Ceinlys. Alric does not seem very interested in what is talked about, and instead takes a bit of food and places it inside his mouth. Letting the others talk while he tries to enjoy the food.
Watching the serving girl, who doesn't look too distraught at being turned away, walking off back toward the bar with a sashay of plentiful hips, Ceinlys smiles faintly behind the rim of her goblet, answering the Lord Charlton only absent-mindedly. "Pity." At Alric's rather cut and dried response to the matter of loyalty, though, her attention returns to her companions at the table, a fleeting glance flicked toward Aleister before she settles on the younger of the pair. For a long moment, it seems that she is merely going to ponder the words. But, as is typical, to anyone who knows her well, Ceinlys can't help but offer her eventual opinion. "Loyalty and good treatment. Good treatment and loyalty. Which comes first and which is more deserving of the other? I have known very poor treatment, you see, Lord Fenster. But that does not lower the 'price' of my loyalty.. I like to think it simply.. makes me choose more carefully where to place it." Taking up her goblet again, the young lady takes a small sip of the rich ruby wine, watching each of the men in turn.
The serving girl isn't afforded another glance from Aleister, for his eyes flit between Ceinlys and Alric, though they finally settle upon the latter after Ceinlys had spoken her piece about such things, which drew an approving nod from the Charlton Knight. That hint of a smirk returns, tugging upon the corners of his lips as he leans forward, one arm coming to drape along the edge of the table, "Mis-treatment, Lord Fenster, is simply a matter of perspective and opinion. While one might view an action and draw offense and claim mis-treatment, another might view the same action as a perfectly acceptable thing." The words are followed by a touch of a chuckle and a lift of his shoulders into a shrug, "But, my Lord, such things are for your good father and my good uncle to debate upon."
The part with the wench is ignored by Alric it would seem, not talking until spoken to. "Loyalty can be fleeting. I have no reason to -not- be loyal to the Charltons, but I do not hold loyalty to other houses." He says and shrugs, "For now none other have given me reason to be loyal to them." He adds before listening to the words of the Charlton knight. "True enough. I would say that it would be breaking agreements, even though the lines are most likely rather hard to see. They always are." He doesn't seem bothered or anything, but he still falls silent. Perhaps just enjoying the drink. "For now." He does add though, about it not being up to these two in particular.
Ceinlys absorbs this in silence, swiping a droplet of wine from her lower lip with a swift flick of her tongue. After an almost uncomfortably long silence, she offers Alric a sudden, charismatic smile, setting down her half-empty goblet. "Well, I sincerely hope that none other finds themself in possession of a better offer, Lord Fenster. For your own sake." Turning her gaze toward Aleister, a hand rising to tuck her ebon tresses back behind her ear, the young lady falls quiet thereafter; an odd cast of amusement to her delicate features. It seems she might have more to say.. but it is not her place to voice it, for the time being. Smoothing her skirts with both palms, she then clasps her fingers together loosely and settles her hands in her lap, apparently content to merely observe what unfolds before her.
That statement from Alric draws a rather wicked smirk to Aleister's lips and as he comes to settle back against his chair, his mug of wine is pulled to the arm rest, fingers now idly tapping upon it for a moment. He allows Ceinlys to speak, though his attention doesn't shift in her direction, for it's remained entirely upon the other Lord for this moment. Finally, there's a slight shake of his head and a murmered, "A piece of advice, Lord Fenster, and something I will offer only once." Now, the touch of his fingertips against the side of his mug cease and it's then that he continues to speak, "Loyalty must never be fleeting, especially to the House in which your own swears vassalage to. Furthermore, speaking as you have just done might lead some to believe that House Fenster is loyal not to their leiges but to the coin that is provided." A slight cant of Aleister's head is now offered, followed by the return of a smile and a simple, "But I do not believe such things, for they are most surely false. Right, Lord Fenster?"
Alric smirks as Ceinlys speaks up, "An offer shouldn't sway if I already have a good standing. It takes time to build respect between the parts, most times at least. So there is not much to worry about, not for me nor anyone else involved." He tries to assure her. Then it is Aleister who get his attention again. "I did not speak for myself. But loyalty is something to not be taken for granted. Some are greedy and will take the better offer. As I said, I'll rather keep a good standing than risk it with an unsafe one, even if it might be a better offer." He clear his before continuing. "I can assure you, we stand by House Charlton. We have had a good relationship through the years, which is not easily broken by something such as coin. I merely mean that one should not treat vassals as slaves. Some should perhaps look to Charlton when dealing with their vassals." He goes on, still seeming unphased by the words that have been spoken.
"My Lord Fenster, the topic of vassalage is far from being that simple in design. I do not question your loyalty and it is for that reason that I offer this piece of advice." Moving his hand, Aleister is settling the mug upon the table so that his hands can then clasp together in his lap, "One does not simply switch the vassalage of their House for the purpose of better treatment. Lands are given and taken away by leige lords, my lord, and were a vassaled House to swear to another, it would be a grave offense against their leige. In that, the vassaled House would need to hope that their new leige could protect them, if their former Lords sought to reclaim the land that they have claim to." Now, the smirk returns to his lips, followed by another slight cant of his head. "Of course, that is only the surface of such issues. There are, of course, other matters to be taken into consideration for such things. Perhaps, upon my return, you and I can sit and discuss such thing sin more detail if you would like."
Perhaps taking the turn of the discussion as her cue, the Lady Erenford sets down her now empty goblet with a soft sigh. "Well. If you goodmen will excuse me.." She begins to rise smoothly from her chair, glancing between the pair with a polite smile. "..I ought to check upon the state of my chambers for the evening. Lord Fenster." Nodding toward the young man as she straightens, Ceinlys smoothes her riding skirts absently and without fuss. "No doubt we shall meet again." To Aleister, she offers only a smiling look aside as she turns. Well, of course she'll see him. She works for him. Moving from the table without further ado, the dark-haired noblewoman sweeps across the tavern floor toward the hallways beyond where the most expensive of the suites are housed. She doesn't even break stride to acknowledge that serving wench, who inadvertently crosses her path, only to dip a respectful curtsey. Why bother?
Alric listens with interest to the advice, taking it in. "Of course and I appreciated the advice. Though swearing loyalty to different lieges are most likely to happen more amough smaller houses. Houses that might not even be cared for. Though in those cases it is probably likely that things are discussed a bit as well." He offers in return and nods, "And we should speak more about this at some point in time, always good to get others opinions and such." He looks over to Ceinlys when she speaks up, inclining his head. "I'm sure we will." He offers to her and looks between the two for a moment before finishing his own cup and continues to relax in his seat.
As Ceinlys makes her rise and announces her departure, Aleister is looking towards her to offer a smile and a slight nod of his head. Then, he's looking back towards the other Lord, the smile remaining upon his lips, "Perhaps, Lord Fenster, but you would be surprised at what the cost of swearing loyalty to multiple lieges would cause." Palms come to rest upon the table as he presses himself to his feet as he offers, "If you will excuse me, I must take my leave as well. My time is short and I must tell my good wife that I have returned, before I find the hour to depart drawing nearer then it already has."
Alric nods, "I should perhaps trust my seniors on this. I might still have a lot to learn." For once being rather humble it would seem. At least it should show that he indeed does have respect for the Charlton. He nods as he rises to his feet. "Of course Lord Charlton, I will see you in Seagard unless we meet before that." He offers before the two lords part ways.