|Summary:||Aeric returns. Liliana greets. Wine is shared and thoughts of the future.|
|Related Logs:||Ironborn logs generally.|
|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.|
|18 Jan, 289 AL|
Word of Ser Aeric's return has spread like wildfire through the keep. It is a matter of minutes from the time that his banner was noted in the harbor that the buzz begins. His presence within the courtyard confirms his survival and tales of strikes against the ironborn and horrific raiding done by them along the coast are throughout the castle. Still, the knight is weary and, after meeting with Lady Anais, he has set himself aside to be attended by a man-at-arms who aids him in the removal of his armor. He stands, thus, patiently allowing the burden to be lifted from him… if temporarily.
Word has indeed spread, from courtyard to tower and back again. But also to the stables, where the Lord Knight's horse was brought in to be fed and tended to. And within the stables, Liliana, seeing to the needs of the many horses now filling the stables to bursting, as members of the standing army in the Roost come and go on business with the lords and ladies of the hall. And when she finally does depart the stables, it's to the kitchens first, to retrieve some small amount of food and drink, whatever can be found and will be easily eaten, before she makes her way to the courtyard. Still dressed in her leathers, she at least carries herself as a lady, "My Lord Ser Mallister."
Aeric might have been surprised by her presence were he not already warned by Anais. Logic demanded her survival, after all, being a ward of the Terrick. As the last of the straps are undone and his weighty brigandine jacket is removed, he turns to her. He's sweaty, unwashed, and wearing now an arming shirt and breeches. "Lady Camden." He extends a hand and is immediately provided with his sword belt which he girds. He then bows to her. "I am sorry for your loss."
If the lady notices that Aeric looks more like a pirate and less a knight and lord, well, she gives no such indication, looking, indeed, equal parts relieved and joyful to see him hale and whole. A shake of her head as she moves to set down what she's brought, to still the man from the courtly niceties, though, having now skirts, she bows in answer, rather than curtisies, "Please, my Lord, there is no need. You, most of all, deserve rest and our thanks for your efforts. I did not know if you would take your ease in the keep, before returning to your men, and brought what could be found quickly from the kitchens." The darkness comes soon enough, as his words of condolence follow, "I thank you, my Lord. I have not yet…fully come to grasp it." How does one grasp the concept that nearly everyone you knew and loved and called family is dead. "I am glad you have returned to…us."
Aeric sees at once it was the wrong thing to say. There is a dismissive gesture to his arming man and the fellow begs his leave with his burden. The armor, no doubt, needs a good cleaning and repair. "Lady.. it may be that such things are never fully grasped." He still feels the pain of his lost wife. Moving towards her, he gently lifts her chin so that he can regard her eyes. "And I am glad that you have survived. Suffering needs hope to rekindle strength and you shall be that for your people."
Lilian does not fight the hand lifting her chin, nor allowing the knight to see the heartache in her eyes, or that small spark of hope. Her own hand rises, curling lightly around his, light and careful, "If the reports brought to me are correct, my Lord, I have no people in which to kindle hope. I am Lady of a dead House." A moment, "Will you break your fast and take you ease, for a time, with me?"
"Where there is land, there are Lords and Ladies to hold it." Aeric notes softly. "I shall." He allows a smile then removes is hand to find a simple box and horse with which to make a table and chair. "I expect no great meal this day. All have suffered. I'm sure what you have brought is more than sufficient."
Liliana drops her hand, stepping back to allow the knight space and room enough to make himself comfortable. As he turns to setting up a place to eat, she busies herself setting out the meal. Meat and cheese, and a small round of bread. Wine, full and not watered, which might account, somewhat, for the furtive way the lady stole through the kitchens, but…"There are many now seeing what can be found of stores not taken by the ironborn, and hunting and fishing as they can to replenish our stores. There is life, still, in the Roost."
Aeric sits. As he does so, there is a pause as though he is allowing himself a moment to relax for the first time in weeks. He closes his eyes and bows his head and takes a deep breath before looking to the meal and laughing. "You bring me a king's repast, Lady. Salt pork and tack and old limes.. water when it could be spared.. I shall have a care with your wine. I thank you." He dips his chin to her as he reaches to pour them each a glass.
"I do not know well, the ways of the sea, but I imagine that seems a treat, when you first board a ship, and then a punishment, when you can get nothing else. "Thank you, my Lord." The glass of wine is retrieved, though she seems more content to make certain the knight eats his fill. "The long weeks of the siege without news of the outside, and those who might live in it, were a sourt trial. When Young Lord Anders brought news of you, and the safety of your ship, your cousin was much relieved, as was I. It would have been a terrible blow, but the gods have seen you safely home. for a little while."
"I have dared not approach Seagard what for the seige and the veritable swarm of longships berthed upon the beaches not far off." Aeric admits with frustration. "I hope to remedy that soon with a distraction from land. It is either that or a dreaded charge from horseback. Oh how the saddle chafes upon me." He holds a slab of meat at knifepoint as he considers the notion before slicing it into a more edible morsel. "But I worry not for myself. There is naught for me to do but prepare for battle and face that end as a man must if it comes to it."
"It may be that you will not yet be able to approach Seagard, even if they should harrie the ironborn by land. But is your ship seaworthy enough to scout the isles? To see, perhaps, where they are lesser or more defenses? Forgive me, but I do not know much of the way of ships and their sailing." A hand rises, a spot of unbound laughter bubbling out of her throat, covered by the hand not holding her glass. "I cannot imagine but armour on horseback must chafe." Once she has the laughter under control, she shakes her head, "There is need to worry for yourself. And for those who would sorely miss you until your return. It may be that you must continue again to war, but you must also return home again."
Aeric chews. He has a mind to respond unkindly but as he regards her the words die upon his lips. He seems pensive.. almost studious. Then there is a laugh and a smile and he swallows. It seems he means to sate himself and so there is a time where he is silent, eating. As he settles his hunger, he straightens with glass in hand and again settles himself to regard of her. "So. What of the Oaks. Will you give up on it then?"
Liliana allows the knight to take his ease, taking what comfort she can in his presence. But when his thoughts turn to the Oaks, so too, do hers, "I wish to return, as soon as it is safe to do so. We do not know, yet, if the ironborn remain there still. But I will have much to do when I return. The dead must be tended, and given what comfort of the gods I may. Young Lord Flint tells me…they cut down the weirwood." Though Aeric be no follower of the Old Gods, he would know the Camdens to have been devote in their faith. "But if trees remain still, and fertile land, perhaps I might yet be able to arrange for some form of trade. But of people willing to settle there, and to rebuild, I do not know. I have no great store of wealth, only what small allowances I have saved from my time in my Lord Jerold's home, and the small allowances I was sent from home. I could not even pay a man at arms for long with such funds. If the Oaks will be rebuilt, I will have to rebuild them on my own."
"There are ways to pay a man which require no coin." Aeric notes. "With loyalty and valour. Honorably treated with respect and duty. Toil. Sacrifice of sweat and blood. These are the things which make a realm. Gold is but the malice of men." He downs his glass then sets the empty glass upon the saddle with a laugh of irony. "Though it does help." He considers her a moment before setting to refill his glass and hers. "You are settled upon this course then? To face the great unknown upon your own? Suffer the slights of ill comfort to see your people rightly done?"
"And while I might offer a man all of those things, my Lord, loyalty and valour, respect and sacrifice will not keep him fed, nor clothed, nor his armour or horse well-tended. And I would ask no man or woman to starve or to live sourly treated for my sake." Liliana lifts a hand, to stop the lord from refilling her glass, the wine there barely touched as it stands, "There is no one else, my Lord. My Aunt, I am told, though she survives, could not bear the strain. Though I am glad that she has been taken back into the fold of her kin. The Flints were ever good friends to my House. And I am told she is well-treated there. I have no husband, nor children. Those few friends I have acquired in the Roost must seek the care of their own lands. But if I must have only my two hands, then I will make the most of them. And hope that when the time comes, I will be able to exact reparations from the Ironborn for the loss of those good souls they sacrificed on the altar of their rebellion."
"You might be surprised what might be accomplished with valour, loyalty, respect, and sacrifice." Aeric returns, his sour mood seeming to lift and a smile coming to his face. Her glass is noted and so he sets the bottle down. "Allow me to champion the Oaks in this battle then. Give me a token that I shall take to war that your people might know there is a blade yet who remember good folk who died poorly."
"Perhaps, I might be, at that, my Lord. Or perhaps not. I have seen the worst that men can do to each other these days, and also, I have seen men and women give of their best." The smile offered is returned, with a hint of colour on her cheeks at the request. "I would be honoured as would my people and their memory, to have such a champion." Though she may not wear a lady's dress, neither does she wear a man's ranging leathers, and it is not a difficult thing, to pull from her doublet ribbons in the colour of her house, and to tie them into a token. "You must make me a promise, my Lord, if you will." The request offered as she offers the token.
Aeric reaches forth and takes the token though he does cant his head at the request. "And what promise might that be, Lady Camden? Have a care what you ask for I do take my oaths seriously." Still, he tucks the ribbons into his belt for lack of pockets and follows that by taking up his glass again to patiently await her.. request.
Liliana takes a moment, considering, eyes settling on her favour, before they return to the knight captain's face, "If you will sail to this war, or ride, as the tide of the battle takes you, you must return to me at war's ending." A beat, "I know you cannot control the fate the gods have planned for you, but neither do I wish to think of you going to war and thinking only of such end as men make in war."
That thought brings Aeric to sober and he considers his wine. "Liliana…" So informal. "I cannot control the course of battle." He drains half of it. "Nor do I necessarily seek death. In that, I have the coward's respect for life." He laughs then winks. More somberly, he continues. "I can promise you this. I shall only be as reckless as is required to save lives. War is a thing which can scarcely be controlled once unleashed and never foreseen with certainty. Death is not an end I desire. Nor is it a thing I can shirk from. Such is the burden of valour, duty, and sacrifice."
Oddly, or…well, perhaps not, Lilian does not seem put out by the informality, but pleased, "Then if you think on such things, and look to my favour, and know that you have those whose hope and care and prayers you carry with you in battle, then I will hold the promise fulfilled." A sip of the wine in the glass, a rarity, but perhaps for the occasion, "But you will not ride or sail for some days yet. Surely you will give yourself time to rest, before you must take up your burden again."
"In that there is counsel to be had.. but soon enough." Aeric replies after a heavy breath. "I go to war once more and I find I have little taste for it as I did in the first." In this, he finds an irony. "Though in this battle there shall be justice as well. First against a mad king and now against reavers of a debauched false-king." He drains his glass and rises to his feet. "Favor me in this, Lady. Should I ever wish to become a king, see to it I find a death in restful sleep before the crown alights upon my brow. It seems power has a way of maddening a man."
Liliana rises as well, waiting only for Aeric to come to his feet, "That I can promise you, my Lord. If ever I see that you have become something other than the Aeric I have come to know, I shall wield the pillow to smother you myself." There's laughter there, but gentle, "I have not yet skill enough to minister milk of the poppy."
Aeric casts his head back and laughs at the heavens. "You'll forgive me if I find a comfort in that, too." Amused, still, he lowers his gaze and looks to her with a warmth. "Fare thee well, Lady Camden. Find you a banner. Tall Oaks shall be remembered upon the field once at least. I beg my leave for a man must rest ere his candle lose its wick completely." He bows to her deeply.
"And I would not keep you from your rest, my Lord. Fare thee well, my Lord Ser Mallister. May you find what you seek in your going, and in your returning. And the banner of the Oaks shall be given to you before you leave these shores once again." A bow, as deep as respectful as any curtsey could be, before Liliana steps back to allow the knight captain to depart.