|My First Son|
|Summary:||Anathema and Renholdt speak without sparks.|
|Date:||23 September 2012|
|Town Square, 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.|
|September 23, 289|
Anathema Nayland and her dutiful maidservant Mara have been exploring Stonebridge for much of the day. The woods-witch has set it upon herself to get to know her new home, as she never really explored the township while she was forced to stay in the Mire. Long ago, she ceased riding her coal-colored geldling, deciding to lead the horse while she feels the cobbles beneath her feet. With the threat of a late afternoon shower on the outskirts of the city, Mara has been trying to encourage Ana to return to the tower. But the woman is stubborn.
Rain or no rain, Renholdt is on duty. He too is picking his way through the city, although he has opted to remain mounted upon his sturdy, wide-set horse. His squire is beside him, also mounted, and the two are careful to remain off to the side to avoid trampling the foot traffic wandering through the streets. "No, Lord Tyroan ordered the numbers doubled per shift. That is why you have less time to gamble with your friends, Sten." The knight flashes a grin to his squire before gently nudging his horse to round a corner. There he is greeted with the sight of his mother wandering about the city with only a maidservant at hand.
"Mother," Renholdt calls out, swinging quickly to dismount. He tosses his reins at Sten without a backward glance and strides toward Anathema and Mara. He stops within arm's reach of the older woman and reaches up to remove his helmet and tuck it beneath his left elbow. "Touring Stonebridge, my lady?" he inquires, sparing a purse-lipped glance for Mara. "Father let you leave without a guard?"
Mara appears to be the first to spy Renholdt, providing Anathema with a quick, warning whisper. The older woman sighs, casting a glance toward Mara with a touch of impatience. "I am aware my son is near, Mara." And the girl flushes a soft pink of embarrassment; there is little that Ana misses in the way of details; the maid immediately looks at her feet, hands nervously clasped together. How Ana misses her older maids, the ones who knew her best. Her impatient look smooths out into a warm smile — the kind she gives to all her children. "I was rest-assured by Ser Bruce Longbough that I was safe to wander within the township proper without a guard." Though, her son's perceived concern does cause her to smile a bit. "Though, if my son wished to finish accompanying me, I'm sure that would put us all at ease."
"Safe enough, perhaps, but every city has its criminal element, mother," Renholdt replies quietly, although his tone is plainly that of a man stating fact only. He turns as Sten draws near with his mount in tow, and tosses up his helmet to the squire without warning. It appears he will be taking his mother up on her less-than-subtle invitation. He signals to Sten silently before turning to draw up on his mother's right side. "I would be delighted, naturally. How long have you been out and about, my lady?" he inquires conversationally.
In the meantime, Sten has dismounted and secured Ren's helmet to his saddle. He takes up the reins of both animals and follows behind the small group. His gaze wanders periodically to Mara's backside, but most of the time he can be found paying attention to his surroundings.
It is impossible to hide the contentment that warms Anathema's features at her son's words. Like any good lady, she places her hand gently on her son's arm as she continues her journey back toward the Tower. "For a few hours now," she answers conversationally. "I wanted to see the damages for myself. The rumors of the fires were a touch exaggerated once they got to the Mire. I half-expected to see most of the township smoldering and ash-stained." She shakes her head a bit. "Though, there will be more than Stonebridge that we will be having to repair. Ser Bruce was kind enough to give me his view of the state of Nayland relations. Honestly, we are lucky that the Erenfords favor us."
"Stonebridge was not razed, no, although the rumors were a bit exaggerated. That is the way with rumors, though," Renholdt replies conversationally, reaching over to place his warm, dry fingers over Anathema's hand on his arm briefly. "I am curious for Ser Bruce's opinion on the matter myself, mother. He has been in the thick of everything, and perhaps privy to more than he should have been. That can only serve us better, however, especially if father respects the man's position enough to let him alone there. What did he have to say to you about our darling cousins' terrible work?"
"Ser Ryker was the only one he truly spoke highly enough, Gods keep his bones," the woods-witch replies. "Ser Riordan has proven to be a fumbling fool, denouncing the code of honor that both you and your father hold dear. News had not gotten as far as the Mire that when Lady Alys Charlton had been taken hostage, she was under guestright. As I've told your father, even the wild men of the North respect the spirit of that right. And then there were all those words about him and Young Lord Jacsen's wife." She sighs a bit. "And do not even get me started on breaking the marriage accord with the Terricks. That House is the first one my list to make amends with."
Renholdt listens quietly while Anathema speaks, thinking over each new fact. His expression grows more grim, his lips pressed into a thin line of disapproval, until at the end he is shaking his head quickly and heaving a quiet sigh. "There is much to do to fix everything. I suppose you and father have someone in mind suitable for marriage among the Terricks? I can only think that fixing a broke marriage accord would mean replacing it with an equally worthwhile one. Or perhaps that would be salt on the wound? I do not quite know my role in this yet, although father insists I will be present to make amends."
A thoughtful furrow upsets the usual smoothness of her brow, and Ana releases a weary sigh. "It is an option to consider. Sweet Jocelyn is of marriagable age, and perhaps there is a suitable husband to be found. I'm certain that Ser Justin will have nothing to do with a Nayland bride after Roslyn let herself get swept up by the Groves." She begins to turn their strides up the stone walk, closer to the looming Tower this particular branch of Naylands now call home. She bows her head a bit, thoughtful; then she looks up to smile at her son. "Both you and Aeron are eager and willing to see to our success — something that you both have in common now." She arches up a brow. "You will be kind to your brother, won't you?" And there it is, a mother worrying over her youngest son.
Renholdt pauses for a moment, patting his mother's hand as he extricates his arm. He falls back to speak quietly with his squire as they draw closer to the tower, sending the man off with the mounts toward - one would assume - the stables. He returns to Anathema's side momentarily and resumes the conversation, taking her elbow to guide her toward their new home gently. "Merida is a lovely girl, and I am sure she could win the Lord Justin's favor despite himself, but I will bow to your superior womanly knowledge of the matters of the heart, mother." He falls into silence for a moment, but glances down to the woman from the corner of his eye when she mentions Aeron. He cannot help but smirk at the thought, shaking his head. "I am not a particularly kind person, my lady, you know it, but I am also not unaccountably cruel. I will not seek to antagonize my brother. I have duties, and he has some grieving to do."
Anathema stalls a moment as her son goes to speak with his squire, her hands falling together before her. She watches him with a motherly eye, as if taking note of each little change in his demeanor and poise. When he returns, she offers him a small nod of his head. Onward they go toward the Tower, her fingers resting once more on his arm. "Then that is all I will expect of you, Renholdt. If we feud, then we will feud in private. Let us all agree to that," she says softly to her son before they head up the Stone Walk.