|Or Will They Break|
|Summary:||Rygar and Valda discuss the state of Stonebridge|
|Tower Hall - Stonebridge|
|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.|
|October 1, 288 A.L.|
This evening at Tordane Tower finds the common hall set for a small dinner, the usual roast (mutton, tonight) with breads and drink. Arriving with his usual punctuality, and purposeful stride, Rygar Nayland enters the hall, in the process of removing his gloves, one tugged finger at a time.
Slow steps are taken down the staircase as Lord Rygar's arrival, Valda takes her time, dressed in an elegant green dress that trails behind her slightly. A smile touches her lips and the older Frey by blood looks to him. "Lord Rygar…I do hope the room is warm enough to drive away the chill outside." She steps off the stairscase and towards him, folding her hands before her as she looks to the kitchen to make certain that things are nearly done and a nod from the servant is given.
Rygar's cold blue eyes turn toward the stair as the lady of the house makes her entrance. "My Lady Valda," the stern knight voices evenly, bending sharply at the waist in a short bow to the noblewoman, before rising again to his full height and tucking the folded gloves into his swordbelt. His own steps close the distance, a hand offered palm up to guide her to the waiting seat. "I do not attend the Tower Hall for its warmth, Lady. Yet, it shall suffice."
Settling her hand upon his, Valda glides with him easily her steps flowing. "As you will it, so then shall we skip formalities and see to beginning the conversation right away?" She smirks a bit up at him but there is a cool gaze towards the kitchen and a servant is scurrying, bringing out a tray with glasses and wine. It is set down at the table and poured with care while the two finally arrive. "How are the drills continuing on?"
"By all means, I have of late come upon more fodder for conversation, Lady," Rygar returns with a sharp sniff at Valda's to-the-point reply. Of the latter query, he notes, "Two men were ordered a day in the stocks for shirking the levy, this week," he reports plainly. "Another three have been fined five stags for their absence. I must marvel, Lady, how it is any trace of order has survived the last several decades in Stonebridge, so soft have it's smallfolk grown." Disdain colors his tone at that last, as he keeps his own feet until Valda is seated, then steps about to face the woman. "As well, discontent continues among the citizenry. My men hear many complaints." Settling in to face the mistress of the Tower, he adds, "Your people will re-learn discipline Lady, of that you may be assured."
Setting herself down into her seat, Valda smooths her dress into place and reaches for her wine. But her cool eyes linger on Rygar as he explains. She hmmphs at something with a placid cold expression. Drinking of her wine, she sets it down and lets her gaze wander a moment, settling on the hearth before she starts to speak. "Or will they break before you reach that point, my Lord? And are these occurences becoming more frequent or infrequent?"
"Both fines and days spent in the stocks have become less frequent, week by week," Rygar responds at first, before addressing her former inquiry. "It is always a concern that smallfolk unaccustomed to hardship will revolt at discipline being imposed. The weapon I have trained them in was deliberately chosen: the pike is an excellent weapon for orderly soldiers, but a poor tool of revolt. Typically, I would suggest making an example of a particular malcontent within the next fortnight, to bleed off dissent. Yet, two things have happened of late that lead me to advise Your Ladyship to allow such an example sooner."
"Bleed the people…" Valda, married to Geoffrey for many years had never even considered doing such a thing. She sighs and turns her head to look at him though, as if committed to anything. "What two things then do you speak of that would bring about such a decision?" She asks, turning her goblet in hand. She expels a long breath, finding the topic tiring but lingering along in it.
"Jaremy Terrick was discovered in Stonebridge three days past, seeking without success to gather a number of capable fighters about him," Rygar states plainly. "Ser Jarod Rivers followed some days after, openly. He lied to me regarding his brother's presence here, though he may himself have been deceived. Should we wish it, there exist grounds for a grievance against the Terricks." Drawing a fresh breath, he goes on. "The second.. is that once punishment has been meted, your Ladyship might wish to address the people, and reduce the fines. Having had some months to grow accustomed to harsh measures from an outsider, kinder measures from one whom they know and respect will seem twice as sweet."
"The Heir of House Terrick was here looking for men?" That shocks her and it shows, her gaze smoldering now. Valda clears her throat. "Any news of what he was seeking them for?" She asks him, a brow rising but then she mere nods to the last. "I will see to addressing the people when the time comes…that will be the easy thing. Twice as sweet.." That does make her smirk some but she seems intent moreso on the Terrick issue. "But as regards to the Terrick boys…this is something we have need to discuss."
Rygar leans forward, setting his closed hands on the tabletop, as his cold eye fixes upon Valda's at the question of the Young Terrick Lord. "He spoke a great deal about justice and spoke very little about coin. In short: his appeal was poorly suited to win the services of any sellsword, Lady. As for what he wished of them?" A shake of the head. "Perhaps to 'rescue' your daughter. Perhaps to take your Tower. In either attempt, my Lady, it would be within the law to take or kill him. Ser Jarod claimed he was on family business in Fairmarket. Any man resembling Ser Jaremy Terrick in Stonebridge can legally be arrested as an instigator to rebellion."
Valda lets her gaze darken. "I have suffered enough of the Lord Jaremy's barbs and stupidity. If he is seen about in our lands, he will be taken into custody by your men. Family business or not, to not even announce his intention to visit Stonebridge is statement enough. I do not sit idly while the progeny of that foolish Lord Jarold parade around the streets of Stonebridge. Give Ser Jarod at least the 'kindness' of being warned that the next time he does not announce himself he will be considered of ill intent and be taken as well."
As Valda's gaze grows darker, Rygar's stern countenance twists into a faint and short-lived smile. "It shall be as my Lady says. The example made of that smuggler whose head adorns a pike over the river has done its work: the river traffic continues to grow from Frey lands, and there has been no lawbreaking along the waterfront apart from two minor brawls in a fortnight. Once these errant eagles are properly scolded, Stonebridge will have become a holding worthy of its rule."
"Good, it is well then." Valda takes a sip of the wine and pushes it aside. "I think the Terricks are wearing out their welcome in most places. The people need to see how errant young men are taken care of." She obviously dislikes the knowledge of Jaremy seeking sellswords in Stonebridge tremendously for she still stews on it a moment longer. Finally she draws a breath and straightens, that placid coolness taking hold again. "I will address the people personally in a week. A week longer will not change anything and possibly help me more when the new position is taken by their Castellan."
"One week," Rygar echoes with a short nod. "In that time, the worst of the malcontents will be punished, and I shall send several men into the countryside, to flush this bird from the brush. With good fortune, I will seek to punctuate your speech with a gift of the Young Lord in chains."
Jaremy in chains makes Valda smile and she looks at Rygar keenly. "You know how to woo a woman. Offer her enemy in chains.." She relaxes slowly, as if the task was as good as done while she reaches for her wine. "Is there any other matter we have need to discuss or are you ready for a meal. I don't think I have ever seen you actually partake of one…" She smiles pleasantly now, but it still looks menacing.
"To the contrary, Lady: I have partaken of many enemies in chains," Rygar answers, deadpan. The stern knight dips his head to Valda's praise of his 'wooing' before noting on his readiness of the meal, "I am."
"I suspect you have.." Valda says and then turns her head, motioning for the servants. They start to move in, bustling with the food at ready only moments later. "And my daughter. She is not balking at staying in the Mire? I know you had some correspondence with her."
"She has learned not to be seen as balking," Rygar notes of Isolde. "Which is some progress, at least. She calls upon my grandmother, the Lady Rebekkah, which can only be to your daughter's benefit. By the time Stonebridge has learned discipline and obedience, I expect the Lady Isolde will have done the same. When she and her Lord husband are brought back to Stonebridge, the difficulties attendant upon change and hardship will have passed, and their rule- ably guided-" his glass is raised to Valda with that, "Will no doubt prove popular."
Lifting her glass as well, Valda hmphs with a wry cut off laugh. "Guided…I am then to wonder what they will do when we are both gone…" She takes a sip of her wine as the food is set out before them on several platters and empty plates offered to each so that they might serve themselves. "I think sometimes my daughter has fleeting moments of wisdom. Fleeting mind you.." She shakes her head and sets her wine aside.
Rygar sniffs sharply, in what some might initially think disdain, but routine conversation with the man might interpret as amusement. "Quite fleeting," he assents, dryly. "I think that unless the Lady becomes inclined to abandon Stonebridge to their tender cares, there is more than enough time to see the good work done. My true concern is not for Isolde, but for Ryker. Lord Rickart cannot live forever, although his mother seems inclined to do so."
"Men are a harder kin to break, Isolde will mold herself and now the time comes where she will have to protect her children and what they lay claim to. I think the Lord Heir will do what he must as well for his children. All else matters not. Let them remain in the Mire while their first child is born. Things will become more clear to them once they must see to the care of their children."
"Wise words," Rygar notes in even assent, as a first measure of the meal is taken to his platter. "Once the line of succession is secure, their own eyes will be opened and hands unbound." The precious 'line of succession'. "Priorities have a habit of coming into clarity when children must be considered."
"I think they will care more for their children then they will for their own power.." Valda says and moves to fill her plate as she sighs. "They are both tiresome.." She laments faintly and begins to dine. Children. That is why they are both here.
"One would think," Rygar states crisply to Valda's first, with a hint of annoyance coloring his cool tone, before he muses on. "I still struggle to understand how two heirs, raised in the shadow of such hardship can so utterly fail to comprehend the nature of the world about them."
"Don't we all…" Valda says with some disgust herself. "Hardship or not..they have existed in their own worlds. The Young Lord in Riverrun with no sense of responsibility. And Isolde longing for the Young Lord Terrick. Spoiled and rotten.." She says.
Rygar exhales tersely at the last trio of words, giving a short snort and nod, before he takes a swallow of his glass (the knight tends to prefer more bitter vintages of wine or beer). "Children of her own will cure the girl of that, if the Young Lord Ser Fool doesn't end up atop the lady's mantlepiece first," he adds, with a look aside to the aforementioned mantle.
"I think both will do her good. She needs to stop fawning over that which she can not have." Valda says and partakes of her food finally. Her gaze sweeps up towards the mantlepiece and smirks some. "I think he would just foul the room…his head on a pike instead."
"There is a certain final elegance to a tarred skull atop a pike," Rygar notes with a dry sniff to Valda's comment of 'fouling the room'. "I wonder," he muses after another moment. "Are there any other enemies who have survived my Lady's ire?"
"If they had, you would have heard of it.." Valda says easily enough. There is a faint smirk upon her lips and she lifts her wine. "If Jaremy Terrick should be found again, he will not be brought in as a guest."