Page 276: Much Ado About Harpies
Much Ado About Harpies
Summary: Members of the Nayland family gather for a private dinner to discuss plans for the future.
Date: 20/04/2012
Related Logs: Nayland Logs. A Bunch.
Riordan Bruce Rickart Rygar Roland Rafferdy Rutger 
Tower Hall
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.
Fri Apr 20, 289

As there is a large majority of House Nayland currently in Stonebridge, largely due to the recent return from the war and the feast that was held here in Tordane Tower just last night, it was deemed a fine time for the family to gather and share a private moment together. Ser Riordan ordered the guards to seal off the hall for just this purpose, and servants have already come and gone, leaving a generous spread for those who will be attending this family gathering.

Ser Riordan Nayland, Regent of Stonebridge, is already seated here, at the right hand side of the head of the table, leaving that most prestigious of seats open for his Lord Father. Dressed in a light green surcoat trimmed in gold thread, the Nayland Knight drinks lightly of the wine provided, waiting as his family begins to arrive.

Bruce has been coordinating the Guards, a relatively simple job given the layout of the halls. Once he'd finished that, the Captain of the Guard entered the room itself and went for the table. There he stands now, drinking out of a cup of water - and clearly not on duty himself, in his simple tunic and trousers. "M'lord." He greets Rickart and Riordan in turn.

At the head of the table, the Nayland patriarch, Lord Rickart sits, merrily debating the virtues of destriers in the joust, compared against the lighter but swifter breeds of courser. "In the end it of course all comes down to horsemanship, but presuming two riders of matched skill-" he stipulates, before glancing aside at Bruce's entry.

Rygar is already present, sitting further down the long table, an untouched goblet of sour Arbor red on the table before him. The severe knight sits silently, clearly awaiting the business of the day.

Rafferdy enters the hall. Now that he's back in Stonebridge, he's wearing commoner's clothing once again. His light brown leather pants match his sleeveless, leather doublet. He enters quietly, and trying to draw as little attention to himself as possible, he sits as far from his father as he can.

Wearing his accustomed garb of surcoat and trousers over a fairly somber tunic, Roland clears his throat to announce his arrival from one of the more subtle entrypoints normally reserved for servants. A smile flits across his otherwise somber face as his eyes pick out his not-easy-to-miss brother, already seated.
A formal nod of the head to Lord Rickart, his first words slide down the table a bit. "My brother, I must remark again how glad I am that you returned healthy. I am afraid our timing lately has been, unfortunate." He turns and finds a seat, pouring water into a decorated wine goblet, as is his custom.

"The size of the horse does not matter so much as the spirit, Lord Father. There were those who called me crazy when I began my practice of taking recently broken horses to the lists, but none can doubt the fire of such steeds. The longer a horse is broken, the less fire they have, until they are doing nothing but going through the motions," Riordan says, quick to point out when his father's conversation falters. This is, after all, a topic he is rather passionate about. Then, following Rickart's gaze, he says, "I hope you do not my inviting Ser Bruce, my lord. I thought the extra security might not go amiss, and besides, the Captain has proven an invaluable ally and staunch supporter of our House. He can be trusted with our words here tonight." He greets Bruce with his trademark boyish grin, before turning it on his brother. "Rafferdy, I was not sure you would come. Good to see you, brother." And, whatever their previous history and personal arguements in the past, those words are said genuinely, and with good cheer. A nod is given as well, to Roland, as he enters.

Rygar turns his stern eye to his brother as the other Nayland nephew enters. "Roland," he greets his sibling evenly. "There has been much unfortunate in regards to timing of late. It is good to have Nayland ground beneath my boots, once again."

Lord Rickart turns a broad smile upon, "Ser Longbough! Well met, well met." However it is only after he hears out Riordan's answer on the question of horseflesh that he again addresses the men in the chamber at large, "No doubt Rutger shall be along soon. Let us begin, my boys," he invites of those assembled.

To say that Bruce looks abashed and rather embarassed would be an understatement. The normally jolly, confident Captain of the Guard doesn't do well with gatherings of his betters, unless they're in the field under arms. Lord Rickarts own jovial nature causes the soldier to smile, though. "Thank you, m'lord." He takes a quiet sip of water and keeps his mouth shut otherwise.

Roland, with a laugh in his voice, calls out "My dear Cousin, the far simpler answer is to just pay the riders ahead of time. Control the reins, control the race." He turns somewhat serious hearing Lord Rickart's call to meeting and sits forward in his seat.

Rafferdy nods quietly at Riordan, and the looks at his father. Then back at the table in front of him, before he picks up a goblet and busies himself with taking a drink.

Though he generally dissaproves of little, Riordan's smile sours a bit at Roland's comment. However, rather then responding to it, he nods to his father's words. Only then does he address Roland, on another matter entirely. "Of course. With your permission, Lord Father, I would like for us to address the issue of last night's feast. Specifically, Cousin Roland's words to me on the possability of foul play with the Lord Desmond's cups. Roland, have you spoken to Ser Rygar regarding my instructions? What has the investigation turned up thus far?"

Roland takes a sip of water, choosing his words carefully. "I apologize ahead of time Cousin, but there may have been a bit of deception in my words to you; not without fair intent however. The young Westerling was embarassing not only his House, but ours, as an invited guest. The instinct to protect our House and my dealings with Westerling inspired the ruse…the target seemed the simplest to name. I spent a good bit of time with other of Haigh that same evening, and her dealings lately, especially the whispers of her hand behind these issues with Westerling and Charlton. Well, let us simply say that she is not in favor in any House in the land, and is an unproven but known poisoner."
"It would be no real trouble to disavow a servant, claim that he was simply trying to earn favor, should we need to do so. And I made sure that you were protected from my ruse by making sure others knew you were hearing it from someone else. But truly, I think we are best served letting the whispers blow in the wind a bit." After all those words, a sip of water is his immediate movement.

Rygar's chill stare frowns as Riordan broaches a subject he has no knowledge of. Some men look curious or childlike when confused; Rygar simply looks annoyed, as though others in the room had no right to be better informed than he. It is a familiar reaction to many of those present.

"The drunkard?" Rickart prompts at talk of a Westerling in his cups. "No, no. I think having talk of poison fly about the Tower is more to our harm than any good. Especially in light of poor, foolish Ryker."

Bruce can't help but frown as Roland floats the idea of disavowing a servant. For Rickart's sake, he says, "Desmond Westerling, squire to Ser Garett Westerling, m'lord. His knight wasn't at the feast, but his cousin took him out." Other than that possibly useful nugget of information, Bruce is more than happy to remain on the sidelines.

Rafferdy's eyes move from each of his family members as they speak, but he continues to just listen.

Riordan, for his part, frowns as Roland's words explains the deception. He remains silent, however, considering his cousins words, until after Rickart and Bruce have both spoken. "I agree with my father in this, Cousin," he states. Though there is little enough that he does disagree on, when it comes to Lord Rickart, at least openly. "The rumor could indeed do more harm then good. It makes us seem weak at a time we need to present strength more then ever. More then that, it could provoke someone who is connected to a House that would do us good to ally with." Taking a sip, he gives Roland an encouraging smile, "Though I appreciate that you took care not to implicate me, and that you did it for love of our family. I think our efforts should be to create more ties, however, rather then possible rifts with those who might support us with the King, on the Stonebridge matter."

Mild annoyance clear on his face as others speak, though it is unclear if the annoyance is with himself or those speaking. "Very well, I will deal with the servant myself. He is not a servant, truly, but the clothing made it easier for him to reach me, and he was seen speaking to me. He will disappear from sight, as I have other duties he can perform. More privately. But if you believe there is any favor to be gotten through Aleister Charlton along any path but Cherise, it is my belief you are mistaken. You saw them at the party, Cousin. Even as rumors swirl, he was her pet in all things."

"How are the so damned many Westerlings, of a sudden?" Rickart prompts aloud with a short laugh. "Forty years without a one, and now they are everywhere," the Lord of the Mire shakes his head, speaking of the Westermen as one would so many wild hares. To Roland, he muses aloud, "Aleister Charlton will go as the Freys bid him go. It is a quality they breed deep in Hollyholt. What of the Terricks? The cripple's wife joined us but last night, did she not?"

Bruce glances over to the jug of wine for a moment, but evidently decides it's best to stick to water for the duration of the meeting. The simply dressed Captain refills his cup.

Riordan goes quiet as his father makes mention of the Westerlings. He licks his lips absently, though hides the tick with another long draught of wine. After a brief moment, however, he speaks up once more. "She was, Lord father," the Regent says as talk turns to that of Anais. "It was a surprise, but having listened to much advise on the subject of late, I thought it best to make a show of public reconciliation and good will. I invited the Lady Anais to sit at my side, saw her well fed and entertained, and even convinced her to say words of good cheer to Ser Bruce and our color guard. All in all, I think the evening went quite well, even despite any other… unpleasantness."

Roland refills his goblet and listens as Riordan answers Lord Rickart. "You both gave quite moving speeches, Cousin. The two Haigh ladies on either side of me were very moved indeed." Turning to face Bruce, he continues, "and I might have imagined it, but one of them kept admiring our Ser Bruce after his dazzling display. The younger one, I do forget her name."

Rygar sniffs sharply at Roland's latter comment, before offering a word to riordan, "The Lady Anais considers herself quite canny. I should expect that the visit were to bear witness of our state of supply. This does us no injury," he notes simply. "I proffer the questions, my lords, Ser," the whole of the table apart from Bruce is included in the first honorific, Bruce with the second, "How ought we pursue the question of Terrick's Roost, and the famine looming, given the support of Terrick for the Bastard Pretender?"

Bruce can't help but smile at that pronouncement, though his head dips down a bit as he stifles a snicker. "Ach, well. I'm too old and too base for the likes. Besides, my wife would find me and put a pillow over my face and a dagger in my throat, m'lord." He seems to be losing a bit of his reservations about speaking in these gatherings. As the topic returns to more serious matters, Bruce settles down in a seat at the table. He was included, afterall. "We make the show of being good neighbours, and above disputes, for the good of the Cape. Our men already saved the Cape once, and showed well on the Isles themselves. By showing we are good neighbours and helping those poor Terricks out, m'lords, the King is more likely to look favourable on continued Nayland hold of Stonebridge, if it's even him making the decision and not just signing off a sheet from Lord Arryn. The less logical reason that anyone has to grant Stonebridge to Gedeon Rivers, the better. He is unproven, and we are proven good citizens."

"Well cousin." The voice of one Rutger Nayland pipes up from the doorway. How long he has been here is any one's guess. " I hold the solution to that." a beat. "We show we simply wont be fucked with. And punish them through their bellies." A sniff and he walks further in, a letter pulled from his sleeve. "I am entering talks with Lord Kittridge Groves to talk about buying their surplus before th Terricks do. I have Lord Rickart's blessing as I hope to get backing from Lord Frey who will wish for the Mallisters to come begging too, I warrant." A smile there. "Good start?"

"Well said, Ser Bruce, well said," Riordan says, granting the only non-Nayland present with a broad smile. Turning to Rygar, the Regent observes, "Ser Bruce's words match much of your previous counsel, Ser Rygar." Any further words are held back as his lord brother enters. Considering their Father's Heir and his words, Riordan then speaks once more. "Perhaps a comprimise between the two viewpoints? We do as my Lord Brother suggests, and grasp a strangehold on the resources of this area. In the meanwhile, we allow a great show of charity in giving whatever we deem worthy to the Terricks. It makes them dependant on our good will, shows our neighborly attributes, and ensures our stronger position, all in one fell swoop."

Roland nods with Riordan's words, "I agree both offer their strongpoints and a compromise between them is a good effort. I would stipulate that we focus our distribution efforts on the outskirts first, feeding the manors and landed folk before putting a spot in the bellies of the Terricks themselves."

Lord Rickart looks up from the discussion as Rutger enters, and speaks. "You're serious," he prompts, at first disbelieveing, before a great smile splits his face. "Old Lord Groves would sell his grain to us, rather than Jerold?" Forget that Rickart is older than Lord Groves by decades. "Ha! Do it! My boys, we can be good neighbors as long as we please, but so long as Jerold fucking Terrick rules the Roost, there will be no goodwill. Why should we be charitable to the same folk who curse our names and seek to rob us, hmm?" The old ire runs strong.

Given that Bruce's suggestion is essentially shut down by the head of the family, his head dips lower. It's apparent that he has something else on his mind. His mouth opens, and then closes a moment later. For now, he has nothing more to add. To the discerning eye, one might notice an ever so slight shake of the head, but it is very subtle.

Rutger flexes his fingers invokuntarily as eyes slide to Riordan. "Give them meagre, then Lord Riordan. For ill be no kind man to one who constantly tries to bait us and runs to his Liege when we show teeth. We will be subtle in it, but we will crow them fine." A grim grin sets hard, before he nods to Rickart. "I believe we have allies in them that are tsked at. I go to meet Lord Kittridge soon to parley the terms and price." There all done

Rafferdy looks at his father, and finally speaks, "If we showed them goodwill, we might make them an ally to us."

"They will expect the obvious, but if we give them no choice but to thank us for our kindness the bile will run richer in their throats than should we continue a struggle. A struggle, which will no doubt earn us both allies and enemies." Roland sighs, perhaps at the blunt methodology of some of his family.

"I am ever your servant, Father, and will do your will as you see fit," Riordan assures Rickart, before speaking further. "You gave me this position of trust, however, because you knew I would do right by our family, and see to our interests. I feel that it might be more to our interest to sap their will with grain gifted from an enemy, rather then to stiffen their resolves with the chance to make a last stand when they've nothing else to lose." He takes a deep breath, and continues on with the thought, "If we starve the Terricks utterly, they will be as cornered beasts, and there is nothing so dangerous. Conversely, give them enough to survive, show them that they depend on us to live, on our goodwill, and there will have been no greater wound to Terrick pride. Can you imagine, father? Lord Jerold reduced to a small orphan boy, with hands outstretched, to the great man who he once sought to bring low? Can you think of anything more poetic?" Riordan practically leans forward now, caught up in the enthusiasm of the idea.

"We have freed them of their Ironborn occupiers, given their displaced smallfolk succor, and already given charity to their smallfolk in te days following the liberation of the Roost," Rygar states crisply. "Can any man here believe there shall ever be aught but resentment and suspicion from Four Eagles?" A short shake of his head, as he seeks to interject on the heels of Riordan's oratory art. "Spite and food will keep hatred alive, Ser. spite alone cannot sustain. Let them come to us, and if pride is too great to bear begging, let them give over estates in payment."

Bruce does pipe up, this time. "They can pawn off the other two things as the work of others with House Nayland. There were Charltons, Freys, and so on there. A public show of goodwill like giving them some food, or supplies, would be impossible to deny. From House Nayland to House Terrick. If Lord Jerold denies it, he will seem spiteful and his people will hate him for it. If he accepts it he looks to be a lackey. Either way, House Nayland comes out the better, as long as it's made very public and obvious who is doing the giving." He gulps down a full cup of water and reaches for the pitcher.

Roland gives Bruce a grin and a subtle nod of support. Leaning over a bit, he whispers something to the man quietly behind a goblet held in hand.

Falling silent to give others the floor to debate the issue, Riordan looks to his father. Wordlessly, he waits for his Leige Lord's decision on the matter.

Rickart considers the viewpoints being argued in silence, leaning upon one arm of his chair, a finger befofe his lips and a cup forgotten on the table before him.

Meanwhile, Rygar speaks on, "I shall remind those who were not present for said events, just Jaremy Terrick led an armed insurrection against our rule, here. An act of war. His family's answer was to beg for clemency, to spare his life by taking the black. In good faith, we did so, though he were an avowed traitor. Where is their gratitude? The Terricks have betrayed our peace and subverted against our lawful rights for the past year. Yet now, as skill at arms and sacrifice of blood has won us an advantage against these two-faced eagles, would we throw away our fortunes in return for empty platitudes?"

Bruce simply shifts his sleepy blue eyes to regard Roland for a moment after the noble whispers to him. He doesn't nod, smile or make any other motion, and his attention is quickly shifted elsewhere. "You speak truth, Ser Rygar. But so do I. A choice must be made, and it is not my choice to ever make."

Roland turns from the Knight back to his brother and lets his voice drop in tone just a bit. "That is exactly what I would suggest, Brother. Because we cannot go in halves. Either we support them in at least some manner, as blackhearted and weakly as we can granted, or we choose to march on them in force. The latter is truly not an option, so sitting around sharpening our swords until then and sending angry looks will earn us nothing in the long run except enemies and attention. We do not rule Westeros, yet, and until one of our House makes that move, we must get along as suits our future, not simply bleeding the wounds of the past because they ache."

"Ser Rygar," Riordan says, glancing back to his cousin at the Sheriff's continued words. "I was with you on that day that the levies and guards of Stonebridge undid Jaremy Terrick's works, and brought him low. At the time, I would have been just as happy to see him beheaded, drawn, and quartered. But because of the trust my father has given me, I must alter my thinking." He pauses, finding the words, and there can be no doubt to the passion in them. "I would not hesitate to rip Jerold Terrick's guts from his chest, given the oppurtunity. The possibility that they, or those connected to them, did away with my brother Ryker alone is reason enough, as my father's own command would be reason enough. We've more then enough reason to see them brought low." He takes another deep breath, leaning forward, gesturing emphatically, "But Roland is right. Until it is time to make that final and irrevocable move, we must hide our hand. Keep them guessing. I admit, I am no hand at the game you and our Lady Grandmother play… but if this were a Cyvasse board, what would you recommend? Would you truly throw all caution to the wind and gambit with everything we have now? Or would you wait, bide your time, and grow your forces?"

Rafferdy smiles a bit, looking at Rygar. "No need to remind us. We remember. That was the time I asked you to do me the favor of sending him to the black and you told me no. Then you did the favor for them instead." He shrugs, "Believe me. It's not a thing I'll forget soon." He looks at his father, "We could use Rowan. If we gave them goodwill through him, it would show the King our support of our neighbors while allowing you to save face, Father."

"Hunger is a sharper sword than any we could wield against them, Roland. And it is at work amongst them even now. Your path would see us sheathe that weapon." Rafferdy recieves a pointed look at his words, but it is Riordan whom the stern knight answers, "In cyvasse to forgo the initiative is to forgo the advantage, cousin. You cannot win the game by ceasing to treat your opponent as your foeman, and the Terricks are a clutch of birds that shall not change their feathers-"

"Enough," is the single word that Rickart Nayland speaks to cut off his nephew's vitriol. Reaching forward to pick up his cup and draw a sip, making the young men of his service wait a moment longer for his words, he gradually voices, "Our advantage won't disappear overnight. We will pursue Riordan's course for now, and see if we can't kick old Jerold's legs out from under him with honey, rather than vinegar. Pursue this Groves gambit, though-" he bids Rutger pointedly. "As for Rowan, he should be returning to us any day now. We'll see what insight to the old buzzard my youngest can give us."

Bruce sits back in his seat and watches the members of the family Nayland carefully.

Rafferdy takes one more drink from the cup, before sitting it down on the table. He exhales slowly, and then stands. He gives a bow to his father, and then makes his way quietly to exit.

Roland makes no move to leave just yet, not wanting to part company with his brother under such terms. He refills his water and waits to see what develops.

Riordan listens to his fathers man with fixed attention. At the end of his words, he inclines his head. "It will be seen to, father. The declaration shall be publically made, and Nayland colors and men shall go with the shipments, to leave no doubt as to where the aid comes from," he assures Rickart. He seems about to say more, but then Rafferdy leaves. He watches his younger brother depart in silence, and lets out a soft sigh. He then turns back to the Nayland patriarch, and says, "There is another matter, Lord Father, which touches on these subjects as well. We've a great boon that Terrick has less of, one that we can use to our advantage well. Especially now, given recent events, and the name that Nayland has made for itself, especially at Harlaw." He takes a deep breath, as a man would about to face a cloud of arrows, all aimed at him. "The boon I speak of is unmarried kin, men especially, sons and newphews. Now would be the time to consider alliances through the unbreakable bond of marraige. I had wondered if you had thoughts on the matter, Father."

Lord Rickart leans back in his chair, taking another gulp of his cup. "Not so many thoughts as some of you already have," he notes, with a glance aside and guffaw to Rafferdy. "Am I right, boy?" he prompts with a broad smile. "Come then, all of you. Advise me: how best can I shop about my sons?"

Bruce certainly has absolutely nothing on this topic. He conveniently decides to explore the intricasies of the ceramic carvings on his cup of water.

Rafferdy pauses when his father outs him on the matter of love. He stares at Rickart a long moment, perhaps weighing his response, before simply choosing nothing, and walking out the door.

"About the only woman that sparks interest from me lately is the widow Darant. She is not unappealing, and her resources would add to our coffers as much as her location would buffer Stonebridge. I am in no hurry, however. As to the rest, I think Rebekkah might make a good match for my brother." A grin cracks into Roland's face, white teeth shining against the crackling light.

Lord Rickart chuckles at Rafferdy's stare and withdrawal, "Oh, don't be so sour, my boy! We have enough of that from your cousin-" he notes lightly, gesturing an empty hand at Rygar. chuckling deep in his throat as the willful Rafferdy leaves the hall, he looks back to the remainder of his kin. roland's words raise his brows. "Oh ho! That would be a fine knife to twist, eh?"

Clearing his throat, Riordan speaks up, and though for some reason he seems a tad hesitant, he nevertheless charges on in the face of duty, as ever. "Well, there are many options, Lord Father. Charlton's heir, Ser Andrey, was squired with me at Harranhal, as you know. He once mentioned a cousin, on of the few females in the family, and as yet unmarried I believe. There might also be suitable candidates among the Haighs and the Erenfords, as well. Why, though it would be… unorthodox, we might also try and establish a connection to Four Eagles, marry one of us to Jerold's daughter. Should our battles with that family turn into real ones, and as we would no doubt dominate them and wipe the males from the face of Westeros, it would give her husband claim to those lands." He takes a deep breath now, before getting to the last suggestion, and possibly the most important one. "And there is the Lady Isolde."

Rygar pays close attention to the names discussed, but continues to hold his peace.

Rickart is less calculating, and snorts openly at talk of Lucienne Terrick. "You will have charity from a Braavosi before Jerold will part from his daughter." A firm shake of the head. "Say no more on the subject of that one." The remainder of the options are weighed, and he nods. "There is Lady Isolde," he echoes, musing. "Are any of the Groves daughters of age?" he wonders aloud. "that could also be a fit course for one of my boys, hmm?"

Riordan seems not at all inclined to disobey his father on the matter of Lucienne, and so instead follows the way Rickart steers the conversation. "Lady Rosanna Groves. I am not as familiar with her or her family as Rutger, but I believe she has yet to be trothed to anyone," he says, by way of answer in regards to the Groves House. Then another breath, and, "As for Lady Isolde… her mother has already hinted that she wishes for our houses to be wholly alligned, once more. "

Rickart nods once. "Another few months for the child to be birthed, and a respectable period of mourning to follow, and aye. That is a tie we ought to re-fasten. Presuming of course that I havn't been misled on the question of law," he notes with a pointed stare at Rygar.

Rygar, who takes the stare unflinching and voices, "I have said before and still maintain that all matters of law are with us in regards-"

Rickart cuts him off again, "Just as they were with us before Hoster fucking Tully? You had better be right, boy," he bids his nephew, ominously.

It turns out that the carving on his cup is indeed interesting, but talk of Hoster Tully is more so. Ser Bruce Longbough looks up and straight at Rickart. "M'lord." He says, respectfully dipping his head. "Ser Rygar was correct on the matter of Hoster Tully. The law was on our side. But I served Lord Hoster for five years, and I know him well enough. He is well enough served by law when it serves his interest. But anybody Frey or Frey sworn lies outside rational thought for him, and law therefore had no real affect."

"Would that you had been able to counsel my nephew on the question at the time, Ser," Rickart scoffs to Bruce. Probably best to leave out that Bruce was, as Rickart seems to have forgotten. "If we can't rely on law, all the more reason to rely on the things we can control. See to the Groves stores, and look into how fit their daughter might be as a match. Also to the Darant widow, I like that notion. As for my good-daughter, we'll wait until after the childbed to measure her prospects."

Riordan seems about to open his mouth, perhaps to diffuse the continued arguement between his Cousin and Father, then closes his mouth as his father continues on course. Nodding slowly, he says, "As we will need to lay the groundwork now, Lord Father, could you perhaps give us a hint as to which son or nephew you intend for which possible match?" Though not normally impatient when it comes to doing his father's bidding, he seems to want to get this part over with.

"Well that will depend on the prospects, won't it?" Rickart returns to Riordan. "Rafferdy did rather well in the war, if he can rein in that uppity nature of his, he deserves a good match. Roland, you have a mind more of silver than steel, what think you? Are you better spent upon Darant or Groves?

Bruce dips his head again as he's scolded, and has nothing further to add on this topic. There is a glimmer in his eye, though. He does not appear finished entirely on tonight's discussion.

Roland considers the question for a moment, before responding. "I believe that, considering the nature of both houses, and the nature of my current retinue of contacts and associates, I can do us more benefit with Darant. Assuming, of course, you don't mind me exercising my own brand of business, so long as things are handled carefully."

"The revenue certainly not harm the family coffers. Not to mention taking further from Terrick's," Riordan opines on the matter of House Darrant. Elsewise, he falls silent for now, considering the words of the others.

Rickart muses a moment further on the question before nodding, "See if the offer of some food can force old Jerold's hand in approving the match, assuming the Darants are amenable." He nods again to Roland. "Keep the stags prancing and the dragons flying, my boy. And I don't care a whit how you do it."

"Of course, Father," Riordan says, with a dip of his head, every amiable to his Lord's will. "I can broach the subject to the Lady Anais. As well, either myself, or perhaps Rutger can accompany the first shipment, and speak to Lord Jerold personally. Tempt him with a taste, and hold the rest of the honey hostage to his agreement, as it were." Rutger likely being the best choice for such, but Riordan is learning his own way around the diplomatic battlefield.

"There is one more thing, m'lord Rickart." Bruce pipes up from his corner of the table.


"Last I heard those were another Lord's problem, eh?" Rickart chuckles at Bruce's comment, but nods, holding his cup out to the side for topping off as he bids Bruce, "Speak on, Ser. None of these swordhawks are troubling my lands, I trust?"

"The Cape is a very small place, relatively speaking, m'lord." Bruce answers, his face not bearing any reaction to Rickart's good humour this time around. "Anything troubling trade is troubling Nayland lands and Stonebridge in particular, and these bandits are troubling trade in the area. They know that while the menfolk are blooded, they are weak and poor. Most of them. But not us." He smiles ferally, finally. "For now, Ser Riordan has had me double the Guard on the tower. It is a necessary move, m'lord, but it means that the Guardsmen are not on hand to deal with concerns outside of their routine duties."

"Could you spare enough men to handle these bandits if you knew where they were going to be, and could get them mostly together? Or are they working independantly?" Roland appears to be considering a plan.

"There are some uncomfortably close to Stonebridge, by some reports, on the western side of our borders," Riordan says, nodding to Ser Bruce's words. "Ser Bruce is right. Trade is the lifeblood of Stonebridge, and the trade must be protected. I have every intention to seeing to the continued security of these lands, father. I will be looking at the possability of expanding the guard, as well as better arming those men assigned to the watch. We will not just protect the borders of Stonebridge itself, but the avenues along which trade flows, for as far as possible. I will need to speak to Ser Rygar, my Sheriff, and Ser Bruce, as Captain of the Guard, in more detail however, before I can impliment these plans. For the short term, I will will be attempting to gain information as to any nearby camps, and much as we put Jaremy's band to the sword, take a sortie of men and put the fear of House Nayland into these brigands."

Rutger has renained silent through the marriage talk. obviously he would need to speak to Rickart seperately on the matter, but as talk moves into Bandits, Rutger is content to shift his weight as needed to be comfortable.

Rickart shifts his weight in the chair and nods. "Aye, very well. I'll send a few knights from the Mire to serve as Roland's company into Darant territory. If we can flush any swordhawks out of their lands, that will only be met with more gratitude, eh?" he chuckles, winking at Roland. Bruce's words are eventually met with another nod. "AYe, very well. I can post a few more men from the Sevens out here for a bit longer."

Roland smiles at his Uncle's humor, remarking, "You know, they will hear of our movements of foodstuffs, per our earlier discussions. They will likely try to seize that opportunity. It would be a shame should the transport be full of armed soldiers instead of grain when they come upon it."

"Much knowledge I don't have. We just got back from war, Lord Roland, and I have no scouts or information on them. Other than that they are there and dangerous." Bruce sips from his cup and asks Riordan, "Do you know more about where they are, Ser Riordan?" He again dips his head at Rickart. "Thank you, m'lord. Good, well trained, disciplined men are a huge boon against bandits. The sooner we are able to catch them and execute them, the better. But they must be made an example of. Banditry in peace is bad enough, but picking apart our homes while the realm is at war? Despicable, and a message should be sent." He smiles gregariously at Roland. "Not a half bad idea, m'lord."

"A few of our knights, from Stonebridge and the Mire both, served under me with the Outriders at Alderbrook," Riordan says, nodding. "If needs be, I could use them to flush them out. Though Cousin Roland has a point," he says, inclining his head to his cousin's brilliant strategy. "Making the announcement loud and public, and well ahead of time, could serve our purpose both with the Terricks and the bandits." The Regent then nods, speaking to Bruce once more. "You've no need to fear on that account, Ser Bruce. In my Lord Father's name, by whatever means necessary, these men will know the full meaning of Nayland justice, just as those who please us surely know of our generosity and reward."

"Something of note, with the dancing dragons and prancing stags, Uncle, I did want to inform you that I should have some monies come back into the coffers soon, as well as a favor or two owed from House Westerling." Roland pauses a moment, assuring himself the room holds no surprises. "I am using some funds that would have caused too much interest in me, and our House, should that have been known to other Houses, and some of the more powerful merchants, to let Roric Westerling buy back some of his mines from other Houses, in return we get a very nice discount on the product of those mines while they pay a mark-up on our lumber until my loan is paid back."

Rutger glances to Lord Rickart before he bows his head. Silently, Rutger will be slipping out.

"Grain and ore. Attractive targets in lean time." Notes Ser Bruce. "It's a plan I'd be willing to see through, m'lords. I'd like to see if we can get some more information before we move, but not too long."

"Very good, very good," Rickart nods approvingly. "See it done, my boys. And be sure to leave Rowan a place in your planning, it will be a sight to behold to have all my boys back together, eh?" A deep breath drawn and let out. "See to all the minor details," he allows with a wave of his hand, 'minor details' including almost everything. "And keep me informed."

Roland's words get Riordan's attention. He studies his cousin for a moment, before offering, "I am familiar with the Westerling family's trade envoy, the Lady Danae, if you wish for me to help facilitate these deals, Cousin." Glancing to Rickart, he nods, and says with a smile, "Of course, Father. I would have it no other way," in regards to Rowan.

Roland nods, to Riordan as much as Rickart. "We'll come out of this ahead, as we should, I have no doubt."

Bruce grunts agreement.