|Summary:||Bruce and Rygar discuss the past and future.|
|Tower Hall - Tordane Tower|
|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.|
|25 November, 288 A.L.|
Bruce has just returned from his rounds and entered the Tordane tower hall, his helmet pulled from his head. He's got a short beard he's been growing for the past few weeks, for reasons only known to himself. The man hooks his helmet on his belt loop, removing his gauntlets and tucking them there as well. Then, he narrows his focus on the cooking hearth and heads there.
Rygar enters the common hall from above, descending the stairs which follow the curve of the hall wall. "Ser Longbough," the stern Nayland greets the Captain of the Guard before his boot sets first on the floor.
"Ser Rygar." Bruce turns a tired gaze to the Nayland knight as he enters, dipping his head in respect for the noble. "How goes the night?"
"Afoot, Ser," Rygar returns deadpan. "The night marches ahead as expected." The Nayland's own steps bear him toward the hearth and long table where Bruce settles wearily. "I would have words on the subject of the Tully decision, Captain."
Bruce arches an eyebrow, his hands held out near the hearthfire. He adopts a curious look on his face. "Aye? I heard of it."
Rygar nods once at the acknowledgment, and speaks on. "As a result of Lord Tully's decree, Lord Ryker has elected to remain for a time in Riverrun. Perhaps until His Majesty's decision is given." A breath is drawn and let out. "Lady Isolde has announced her intention to return to Tordane Tower ahead of her husband, however. We expect her within another day."
Bruce lets his hands drop to his armoured thighs and rest there. His eyes, on the other hand, remain on the Nayland knight. "I see. And what, pray tell Ser Rygar, would happen were Ser Gedeon Rivers to become Lord Gedeon Tordane at the hand of His Grace?"
Rygar's habitual from is kept in place as the Nayland answers, "Should His Majesty elect to disregard the letter of law in favor of Hoster Tully's advice, then Ser Gedeon would assume dominion of Stonebridge, its lands, peoples, waters and revenues. The most likely outcome would be a return of Stonebridge to Terrick vassalage. Lord Ryker would again be heir to the Mire, rather than a Lord in his own right."
"That's not what I mean, Ser Rygar. I know that. Uncouth I may be, but I'm no fool." Bruce's countenance hardens, and he continues. "I mean what would /happen/, here?" He motions to the stone walled keep, then to his sword.
Rygar inclines his head shortly at the clarification. "Then you and your men would have the choice of swearing your oaths anew to Gedeon Rivers, or maintain your service to House Nayland, and travel with Ser Ryker and Lady Isolde to the Fortress of the Sevens. I am undecided as to the state Stonebridge will be left in, in such an event," he adds as an afterthought.
"I have never, once in my life, heard of feudal men at arms sworn to a lord being given a choice, Ser." Bruce replies, frowning finally. "For they are not my men, really. I am an outsider. I came from Riverrun at the insistence of my friend, the former Ser Ryker, now Lord Ryker. And maybe, soon to be Ser Ryker again. But the men, they were here before I was."
"Plainly put, Ser, until their oaths of fealty are taken to the Rivers, in the strictest view of law, they are not Ser Gedeon's men," Rygar states plainly. "I am aware that electing to depart is not a choice often available to common born men, with families," he concedes. "They and you are the sworn men of Lord Ryker and Lady Isolde. How you choose to honor your oaths- to the Tower, or to the lord- is indeed your choice."
"I will talk to the men, then, about such a possibility. And I assume you simply intend to move out of Stonebridge quietly then, Ser Rygar, from your words?" Asks Bruce, reaching across the table for a pair of cups and a pitcher of something. He sniffs at the contents and satisfied pours two cups of it. It's some kind of pear wine, should Rygar try it.
Rygar takes a sniff of the offered goblet, recoiling from it briefly with a sour look twisting his already cold expression. "I dislike such sweet drinks, Ser," he chooses to answer, rather than give direct reply. "Pear wines, summer wines, ales thickened by fruit, or honey…" he shakes his head, with a short sneer briefly twisting his lip. "The smell turns the stomach. The sickly sweetness sticks in the throat. I have as little taste for it as I have for defeat." Still, he keeps the cup in hand. "But here is where I have the advantage over you, Ser Longbough: I have suffered defeat many times before, I know it by sound and smell before I ever see it. This decision, should the King err so greatly as to make it, would be a defeat, good Captain. Yet, it is not the end." A slow breath drawn through the nose, "Travesty of justice though it would be, I have swallowed worse than this and risen again." The cup is brandished to Bruce for a wooden toast. "To fortitude, Ser," he offers, before taking a deep swallow of the pear wine.
"I like dry, sour wines too. But this is what was on the table, and we deal with what we have to, aye?" Bruce comments rhetorically, rubbing his beard and answering Rygar's raised cup with his own so lifted. He takes a drink. "That's where you have one up on me, Ser Rygar. A stupider man would revel in the fact that he'd never been defeated. In reality, it's neither of our faults, but you've been able to learn from defeat whereas I have not. You have the advantage." His eyebrow quirks again. "I don't know this Ser Gedeon Rivers other than by reputation. And I'm told he and his master are eastern barbarians, transformed by the perfume and dyes of the Free Cities and by their scheming eunuchs. I'm quite willing to make my own judgement, but I'm not quite sure those are the type of men one should pledge to."
"Indeed we do, Ser," Rygar returns evenly to Bruce's 'we deal with what we have to' comment. He takes a second swallow of the pear wine, without a grimace. "Gedeon Rivers is either a coward or a traitor, to my eyes. It is a fortunate thing, no doubt that my view of treason and courage are not definitive, I think," he notes with a sharp sniff of self-awareness.
Bruce doesn't appear to have much of a comment about Gedeon's treachery or courage in battle. What he does say is not definitive. "I wasn't near the Mallisters in battle."
"I speak not of the battlefield, Ser," Rygar notes pointedly. "He seeks to take what is not his. That alone is bad enough, but the manner in which he seeks to do it?" A shake of his head and the weighty pronouncement, "It is not knightly. Even seen in the best light- if he perpetrated this in the misguided belief that he is correct- he is still a young man who fled his home as a coward, rather than endure any measure of hardship."
"I'm an outsider here, as I said. Perhaps I was too forward in commenting, but sometimes I'm prone to such sentiment. As you saw with that brigand Ser Jaremy." Bruce shrugs, evidently not embarassed by the trait.
Rygar sniffs sharply at Bruce's mention of his behavior toward Ser Jaremy. "Spirits run high on a battlefield, Ser," he comments in return. "I will not hold a man's words against him when in such warlike spirit, rather I would weigh his actions. Your actions befit a gentleman and a warrior, Ser. Gedeon Rivers' actions are those of a weakling, who cowers behind others rather than standing or falling on his own quality." A shake of his head. "I have spent as many words on that one as i intend to. How have you found the spirits of the Guard in light of Lord Tully's decision?"
"Thank you, Ser Rygar. I know that praise from you isn't casually given." Bruce dips his head briefly at Rygar, draining the rest of his pear wine with a bit of a frown. The frown remains. "It's not something that they weren't prepared for, from what we'd talked of for weeks, but still they're confused. Unsure of what to do if Ser Gedeon becomes Lord here. They're almost all local lads, families and roots here. They know him, the Tordane's bastard, but that doesn't mean they owe any real allegiance to him. They've been treated as serious soldiers for the first time in a long while since House Nayland took over, something they're not likely to forget. So… conflicted, Ser. That's how they are."
Rygar nods shortly once at Bruce's former answer. "It is an uncommon man who will take acknowledgement of acceptable conduct as praise, Ser," he notes to the former, before addressing the latter commentary. "Share with them what you have learned, and each man of quality will obey his conscience." A breath drawn and released, before again the topic shifts. "The Ser will recall that among the prisoners taken with Ser Jaremy were several women, and a youth. It has been judged that- as they did not take up arms in the engagement- their menfolk, and not themselves are accountable. They are to be released on the morrow."
"And those who yielded before fighting, Ser Rygar?" Asks Bruce, skipping the rest.
"Those who yielded before taking up arms will not be executed, but the men shall be flogged," Rygar answers. "Lady Valda wishes to make an example of those who struck blows against their liege lord and lady, they will be beheaded within days."
(more to follow)