|Met in Stonebridge|
|Summary:||Ser Bruce hears Ser Justin Terrick is passing through town and seeks the man out for a chat over drinks.|
|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.|
|August 31st, 289|
It's evening and a number of riders have arrived from Terrick's Roost on their way to Seagard. Some are riding on directly earlier in the day, while some have come later in the day to overnight here. They will continue on in the morning for the Mallister wedding as if nothing were amiss here. Among them, Justin Terrick has taken a room at the inn and stabled his horse for the night.
The Sheriff of the Roost sits alone, his company he was sharing supper with just departed to seek their beds. Justin pours himself another ale from the pitcher on the table, the remains of a decent meal being cleanred from the table. He has changed out of his breastplate but otherwise still wears his clothes from the road, dust upon his boots and a touch of pale horse hairs upon his greyish-purple surcoat. These days his dark hair is a bit more trimmed, barely reaching his eyes but scraped back from his brow by his fingers. He breaks off a bit of bread to sop up the last of the hearty gravey at the bottom of his stew bowl and leans back to eat it.
The inn is busy with travelers, those coming or going in the last week before Lord Aleister's deadline. Other places perhaps are thinner of folk, some taking to the road to flee the coming fight. Whatever the case, an elderly man plays a harp in the corner, hoping for a few coins. It seems a pleasant enough evening if one ignores the subtle tension in the air.
Fresh from a meeting or something of sorts, Ser Bruce instead looks dressed for war. He's fully armoured, his shield on his back and sword at his side as if he expects the Charlton host to roll in at any moment. He's evidently aware of Ser Justin's presence - the older knight makes his way for that man's table, stopping a proper distance, removing his helmet and dipping his head. "M'lord."
Grey eyes take note of the other man and study him, "Ser Bruce … Longbough, isn't it?" A boot nudges a chair, "Please do be welcome to join me, unless this be something urgent, or requires private conversation?" Justin waves away the last dishes to be cleared so he may sip the ale slowly. "I rather didn't expect to see you coming in here, busy as you must be, Ser."
"Busy indeed, Ser Justin. I just came out of a meeting, and a day of training, and digging. Et cetera. When you leave tomorrow I imagine you'll see the ditches we're digging. Thank you." Bruce puts his helmet down next to him for a moment, before reconsidering and instead tying the chinstrap to his belt. He pulls his gloves off as he talks. "I wished to great the scion of House Terrick when he came through, since none of the nobles are around. I guess it falls to the Master at Arms." He grins.
Justin makes a motion for the serving girl to bring Bruce something to drink, whatever the man wants. "Yes, well, Ser Riordan yet owes me dinner he invited me to. I expect he's had more pressing matters to deal with. I'm certainly not offended. You strike me as a sensible man, Ser Bruce. Your greeting is welcome though I suspect you have more upon your mind than polite nothings." Hmm, Justin's been getting addressed as 'Scion of House Terrick' an awful lot lately. Might make a man wonder if there's some rumor going around he's missed. The Terrick leans back in his chair to reguard the Nayland man, waiting to hear him out.
"Well, you'd be right. While I did indeed want to greet you, Ser, as politeness requires, I was also curious about where exactly House Terrick is placing itself in these hostilities. I know House Charlton of Highfield signed a treaty providing you hunting rights in exchange for… non interference? Was that correct?" Asks Bruce, tilting his head a bit. He smiles at the serving girl. "Just a bit of wine with water, please." The knight taps his head. "Gotta keep clear. At least I can sleep at night. No more crying baby, sent the wife and children away." He chuckles.
"That's wise of you, Ser." About the wife and children. Justin's mouth thins a little as he idly fingers his tankard, "I'd do the same, if I were in your position, had I wife and child." He gives a slight nod, "Yes, that is correct. Not mind you, that we had any intention of getting involved even before Highfield made us such an offer. I rather think though, Lord Aleister wanted some certainy that we would not march up the road behind him and attack his flank. Wise of him." Justin shrugs, "You know there is no love loss between my House and the House you serve, Ser."
"I do. And that's a shame, because both are Houses of the Cape. I would have liked if bygones were bygones and the recent war had solved the toxic environment that generations had produced. Apparently not. What happened to the grain that this house was supposed to give yours? And the marriages? I'd thought it so promising…" Ser Bruce trails off.
"I would have liked that as well, Ser. However, members of house Nayland could not resist playing us for fools, if they could. I myself was to marry the Lady Roslyn, while all along she apparently was parting her legs for Ser Kittridge Groves. If rumor running rampant in Kingsgrove herself has any truth to it. Sadly, certain … other things taken into account suggests it likely. Even Ser Rutger was eager press for a most unusual clause in the marriage contract that we could not set her aside if she were found unsuitable, for any reason. Whyever would a man even suggest such a thing, if he didn't think there was real cause for concern? I certainly would have treated her with due honor and respect, provided she treated us in kind."
Justin makes a dismissive flick of his fingers, "Also, Ser Rutger wasn't particularly interested in giving us much of anything for her dowery. Certainly not the food purchased from the Groves. He offered but a token pittance, as if he never intended to go through with what Ser Riordan had seemed intent to arrange."
The Terrick Sheriff adds low, "What happened to all that grain indeed? Perhaps you should ask Ser Rutger."
"Well, you know how rumours tend to fly when smallfolk such as me get ahold of them. Then they filter back up in not necessarily true form…" Bruce trails off, shrugging. "I did not know that. I was sick for several months, with the illness that now seems to afflict Ser Rygar and Lady Valda. Apparently, the Gods are not smiling down on my lieges. As far as the grain goes, if I were to find out exactly where it went, would House Terrick be willing to at least convince its lieges to condemn and protest this violation of the King's Peace? Lord Hoster himself ruled that until and if Lady Danae gave birth to a healthy child, the question of Stonebridge was status quo. Essentially, House Charlton and, in their silent approval, House Frey, is saying that the Lord Paramount's ruling is not important to them. Mere paper. I have always, always, always been in favour of making amends with House Terrick. As much as history might suggest otherwise, Houses Terrick and Nayland could and should be strong allies, for a strong Cape of Eagles. I'm from an area riven with feud - a Blackwood man, and you know all about us and the Brackens."
Justin has kept his voice down, for Bruce's ears alone. No need to slander a lady's honor out loud in a pub. So he nods to what Bruce says, "If it's true, it explains more than a few things." and then he leaves it at that. Justin falls quiet to drink his ale and hear the Nayland man out.
"Indeed, we /would/ be wiser to … work together to balance out the shifting power and growth of Charlton and Frey, rather than feed them more. However, I do not forsee much if any hope now of a Terrick and Nayland alliance. They have no daughers left to offer in marriage and my father has betrothed my sister to Ser Stafferd Groves. They have proven time and again that they can not be trusted, Ser. I believe House Nayland is going to get what it deserves. Everyone must reap what they sow." Justin draws a slow breath, his baritone continuing low, "The Gods have punished my House enough. You will forgive me if I'm grateful to see their ire directed elsewhere."
There is a pause to consider Bruce's request. Justin shrugs, "That you would have to take up with my father. Though he respects the law, if Mallister and Tully wish to remain silent upon the matter… Tully, Frey, or the King himself could settle this matter at once. But they do not. Who is going to listen if we object, Ser?"
"Yes, I would. On the other hand, without the Nayland centre at Alderbrook your town and your keep would have burnt to the ground. We provided near half of the force, and the best men of it at that, Ser Justin. Something to remember when we're not speaking of petty political games, as we are now. When the cards were down and we had to come together, House Nayland put their troops in the field." Bruce says, taking a sip. He's got a frustrated look on his face; not at Justin, but at the situation in general. "Someone. Anyone. It would be remembered, perhaps, once House Nayland of Stonebridge were no more, that at least House Terrick as always spoke on the side of right."
Jerold's third son thins his mouth but he does give a nod to that, "True. They were not like the Freys, holding back to the very last. Yet we also lost Stonebridge ourselves due to the Naylands snaking it out from under us. Even if House Nayland of Stonebridge should cease to exist, I expect House Nayland of Hag's Mire will persevere to plot ambitiously again." Justin muses over his ale.
"My father may well have already sent a raven to Lords Mallister and Tully. I am not always privy to my father's actions Ser, nor my brother's. I am also not going to return to the Roost until nearly the eve of your deadline. I can pass on a message to inquire it of my father Ser, but I can do little else at this late date."
"That is all I ask, Ser. Ultimately, this is a betrayal of the highest order by this house's lieges. I don't see their future within the same light as I once saw it. Perhaps their future will be elsewhere, but then again, I'm just a common born knight." What future Bruce is talking about he doesn't elaborate on. He simply drinks.
Justin will drink to that. He is quiet a moment, thoughtful, before he says more quietly still, "Should things go poorly for the Naylands, and you live through it Ser, and should you seek a new service … I hope you might come to speak to us at the Roost. My bastard brother has spoken well of you, and others too. We could certainly use an honorable man, a seasoned veteran like yourself."
That does cause Bruce to smile, and even redden his lined, stubbly cheeks a bit. "I'm honoured by the offer, Ser Justin. I guess we'll just have to see how things go here… So many variables. I pray to the Gods that by some luck, we're able to hold out long enough for someone much higher to make a judgement."
The Terrick doesn't look like he has much faith of that happening. Justin let's out a slow breath, "And I hope not to loose my half brother in this fight either, Ser. I'm fond of Jarod." Justin "I won't ask you to desert your service when things look bad, Ser. Any man worth his spurs won't forsake his oaths lightly, if at all. So I shall hope that you yourself hold out. And, for all our sakes, the Seven be merciful to the Cape."
"Even if you did ask me, Ser Justin, if you know my reputation you'd know I wouldn't. I won't yield, until the town is taken and I'm knocked down, blind." Says Bruce. "Thank you for the words. I hope you've a good night."
"Yes, I know you wouldn't. Good luck, Ser." Justin lifts his ale tankard to the other knight and after making the small salute, finishes off his drink to depart as well.