|News and Plans|
|Summary:||Kittridge brings the Groves back by the Roost and has a talk with Hardwicke.|
|Date:||February 16, 289|
|Related Logs:||Of Ships, Refugees, and Oaths|
|Courtyard — Four Eagles Tower|
|The Courtyard of Four Eagles Tower is floored with a fine grey stone that match the color and tone of the interior structure of the castle's yard. Plants have been potted and placed around the entrances to add some color, the greenery accompanied by several trellises of flowers that climb the support columns. The most prominent structure in the area is the set of large slab steps that lead up to the great oak doors of the Great Hall. Several hallways and accesses lead off into different sections of Four Eagles which makes this the hub of noble activity when court is not being held.|
|February 16, 289|
This morning is a dark one for many of the Roost: news of Lady Evangeline's demise has spread quickly throughout the castle and the village beyond, passed from mouth to mouth with varying levels of upset. The Captain has been a quiet presence, out in the courtyard currently as he briefs some of his men coming off a late guard shift.
Kittridge Groves leads the small party of Groves men and retainers that ride up now to the Roost, dismounting at the portcullis. The young lord (not to be confused with the Young Lord) passes his mount off to his squire and heads into the courtyard, hailing Hardwicke with a lift of his hand. "Afternoon," he greets him, "Ser Blayne, the captain of the guard, am I right?"
Hardwicke turns at the greeting, his exhaustion not dulling his reactions entirely. "Aye, Lord Groves," he greets him in even return. His gaze flicks past him to mark the group.
"We heard in passing on the road that you have had a loss, Ser," Kittridge says, "I am sorry to hear it, and to have come at such a inopportune moment."
Hardwicke's jaw is hard as he turns his gaze back upon Kittridge. He jerks a stiff nod in reply to the condolences. "It may not be so inopportune," he says. "We have been working to secure the coast before the army sails. We could use more men to cover the land."
Kittridge nods. "As have we, I'm sure," he replies, "My father has always been diligent about such things. I am not sure how many men we have to spare, to be honest, Ser Blayne, the Roost has more men at armies and levies than we do. But I'm sure some arrangement can be worked out to make sure the coastline is well protected."
"That is all we can reasonably expect, I imagine," Hardwicke says, his gaze sliding to that same coast beyond the castle walls. "Do you ride from Seagard, my lord?"
"I do," Kittridge confirms with a nod, "I had not intended to linger so long, but decided it was best to wait and help escort some of the more seriously injured back to Kingsgrove altogether. Is my sister the Lady Rosanna still here?"
"She rode some time ago for Stonebridge, my lord," Hardwicke tells him. "With Lady Lucienne's retinue, although she returned some time later. But I have hard nothing of your sister leaving Stonebridge. How did you leave Seagard and Lord Patrek?"
"Ah, news must have passed us by on the road," says Kittridge, "Or she just did not write me to say," he adds, lips twisting in a fondly exasperated smile, "I will have to head to Stonebridge, then, before we depart again. Lord Patrek I left very busy, Ser," he says, "There is much to become acquainted with before the army sails, and much to do to make it ready, as well."
Hardwicke nods silent understanding, his gaze drawing back to consider Kittridge. "Does he intend to sail with us, do you think?"
Kittridge shakes his head, "I do not know, Ser Blayne," he says, "I am not sure whether that has been decided as yet. It may be that the king has some say in the matter."
"Perhaps," Hardwicke murmurs, considering. "He is — very young, and with no brothers to follow him if he were to fall." Although plenty of extended family, surely.
"And I am sure the king will have a care for the management of Seagard," Kittridge agrees, "So I do not know. I do hear we are to sail for Harlaw," he offers, "I do not know whether that news has traveled this far yet or not."
Hardwicke exhales a slow breath. "It had," he says a bit quieter. "We've had news that the King will be arriving soon now. I believe I'll ride tomorrow in preparation."
Kittridge nods. "The Arbor's fleet has arrived at Seagard," he says, "We will likely ride back late tomorrow ourselves, I expect, assuming my sister does not tie me up in a closet or something like that." His demeanor switches abruptly from half-joking to more somber as he asks, "How go things in the Roost, ser, aside from this most recent tragedy?"
"We do the best we can, my lord." Hardwicke's thumb hooks into his best, fingers curling with tension. "The family is doing all it can to figure out the best way to move forward. We have much to rebuild."
Another nod from Kittridge, and an understanding noise made in the back of his throat. "Of course," he says, "The whole cape does, when time and manpower can be spared for it. I hope this war will be a quick one, so we can return to rebuilding in earnest."
"We all do," Hardwicke agrees quietly, huffing out a breath. "Gods. War brought to the Iron Isles."
Kittridge shakes his head briefly. "It never sounds anything but ominous, when I hear it spoken of," he says, "But we have faced the Volmarks and their neighbors before and beat them. Perhaps they won't relish facing us again."
"Perhaps," Hardwicke allows. "Must different to bring a war to your enemy's shores, though."
"True enough," Kittridge agrees. "It may prove to be a great deal more difficult than the battles we've fought already. Do you think it likely to be worth the cost?"
Hardwicke is quiet for quite a while after that question. Eventually, though, he says, "I hope very much that it will be."
Kittridge watches Hardwicke during that silence, and then nods, a small gesture, as much in the brows as actual movement of his head. "Don't we all," he replies.
He's quiet another moment before turning to look back on Kittridge. "I wish you and your men every blessing in battle, my lord."
"And I yours, Ser Blayne," Kittridge replies. He rakes a hand through messy hair, and says, "I should see to my people. I understand it is not a good day for such things, but if you would inform the family of my presence, I would be obliged, so that this matter of coastal patrols and things can be dealt with before we depart again."
A muscle in Hardwicke's jaw twitches, but he jerks his head in a nod. "I will, my lord," he tells him.
Kittridge nods. "Thank you, ser. I've no wish to intrude on such personal matters, but there is little enough time before we must all depart again and, it seems, some things which must be decided. But if it must wait, then I understand. In any event, I'll take my leave. Good afternoon, Ser."
"War cannot wait for one death," Hardwicke says in a low voice. He jerks his head in another stiff nod. "My lord."