|Summary:||A deeply troubled Nayland guardsman tells his captain about his worries until they are disturbed by a little girl's merry giggle. Then Karel's conversation with the little girl and her worried mother.|
|Related Logs:||Trial By Combat is referenced|
|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.|
|November 18th, 289|
It is a late morning in the Tower Hall of Tordane Tower - and already a few nobles have found their way here for a belated breakfast, sitting at the table to the left of the door while quite a few servants rush to meet their wishes. The topic currently being discussed at the table is the trial by combat which took place a little over a week ago at the Fortress of the Sevens and has a guardsman standing beside the entrance raise his brow in curiosity as some fragments of the conversation happen to reach his ears. Hareth stays silent though for now - guardsmen are better not noticed until when called upon - as he tries to grasp as much as possible from what is being discussed.
Still not back to full strength, although he has been recovering nicely all things considered, Karel comes down the stairs now, moving a bit slowly. Looking around for a few moments as he pauses on the bottom of the stairs.
As the Captain of the Guard descends the stairs the nobles at the table interrupt their discussion. There is a short moment of awkward silence until one of them raises his cup in salute. "To Ser Karel, who fought valiantly as House Nayland's Champion!" He is shortly joined by the others.
Hareth's attention shifts to the stairs as soon as he notices the sound of the steps echoing through the hall, long before the nobles become aware of Karel's presence. He waits until the Captain casts his glance about the room and tips his helmet in greeting, his blue eyes gleaming with something… respect perhaps?
Karel pauses for a few moments as he hears the ones raising their cups to him. Looking a bit thoughtful for a few moments, before he nods a little to them, rather politely. Seeming a bit unsure of how to react to this, before he makes his way over in Hareth's direction as he notices that greeting. Moving a bit slowly and carefully for now. Offering a bit of a nod in return.
The nobles at the table seem to be content with Karel's polite greeting and shift their attention back to their belated breakfast and the latest gossip. Hareth eyes are on Karel as he approaches, studying him intently for a moment. The respect in his face takes on a shade of concern as he notices his Captain's movements, and finally the guard raises his voice to a muffled volume, not wanting to attract the attention of the nobles at the table, as he inquires: "Are you alright, Ser?"
"I'm fine," Karel replies, offering a bit of a smile. "Still a bit rusty from the time spent recovering, though." Speaking just as quietly for now as he looks around. "Everything okay here, I hope?"
Hareth nods to Karel's explanation. "That…" he hesitates biting his lip as he tries to find the right words. "That Charlton Lord had the Seven on his side - he surely did not expect you would be this hard an opponent." His gaze is on the table to the left for a moment before he replies to the Captain's question: "And aye, Ser. Everything is in perfect order /here/." His expression is a bit thoughtful though as his eyes turn to Karel again - as if something is on his mind. Also the way he emphasizes the last word might appear rather odd and out of place.
Karel nods a little bit, as he offers a bit of a smile. "Would have been a better fight if he didn't have that solid armor," he offers before he adds, "But I believe I gave as well as I took, I suppose." Nodding a bit to what's being said now. "Here?" he asks, raising an eyebrow at the emphasizing on the last word. "Something on your mind?"
Hareth nods as Karel mentions the armour. "Aye, 'twas plate. I noticed that, Ser. And I am sure he must have felt some pain as well this last week…" The guardsman falls silent, his demeanour becoming a bit reserved perhaps, when Karel asks him whether there is anything on his mind. There is a short silence before he gives his answer. "Oh, it's nothing, Ser. Just personal… stuff, Ser. Nothing I should bother someone like you with."
"I'm counting on that," Karel replies with a momentary grin at the mention of Aleister having felt some pain as well. He then smiles for a few moments. "Part of my job is making sure you all can work as efficiently as possible, you know. So it's not a case of if you should bother 'someone like me' or not. Try, and we'll see?"
Hareth glances over to the table with the nobles, but none of them seems to take notice of them - a nobleman is making a particularly amusing jest at the moment as all at the table burst into laughter. His gaze is on his captain then, and he nods biting his lip. "Very well, then. I dunno if you are aware that I hail from the Mire, Ser. My father, he used to be a guard at the Fortress of the Seven. He's been doing duty all his life for House Nayland, as far as I remember. He served the Naylands well, and with great loyalty, Ser." There is a faint smile at the corners of Hareth's mouth at the memory.
Karel nods a bit as he hears that, offering a bit of a smile. "I see. I'm guessing it was him serving House Nayland that inspired you to do the same?" he asks, studying Hareth a bit carefully now. Waiting for more to be said.
Hareth's smile broadens at Karel's reaction. "It has, Ser. I was born into service to the Naylands, so to speak. My father trained me whenever he could spare the time. I think he took great pride in me becoming a guard as well." There is a short pause. "After my first year of service, my father became a cripple, though. An accident while he was doing duty…"
"Sounds like something a father would take pride in," Karel offers with a bit of a smile, nodding a bit now. Pausing at the mention of the accident. "What kind of an accident?" he asks, after a few moments of pause now.
Hareth glances over to the table and continues as he sees that the nobles still are busy laughing at their own jests. "His leg was smashed when he tried to stop a bolting horse. The horse could be stopped with the help of others. The damage was done though." The guardsman lets out a sigh. "My father wasn't able to do duty as a guard anymore because of his bad leg. He was dismissed from service. It was a good thing my granddad needed some help in his business though. He's very old but doesn't want to give up his business. He's carpenter at the Mire, y'know. And he's been for a very long time. He's my granddad from my mother's side. And she thought it to be a good idea that she'd do the household, while my father… He is to oversee the apprentice's work when my granddad is taking a nap, Ser."
Karel nods a little as he hears that, grimacing a bit at the mention of the leg being smashed. "I'm sorry to hear that." Nodding a little bit at the part about the carpentry business, but he doesn't say anything about it at the moment, though.
Hareth coughs. It is quite unusual for him to give long speeches like that, and especially on matters regarding his family. "Ser, on the morning after the trial I paid my parents a visit at my granddad's house. It seems things turned out rather bad there…" The guardsman's attention shifts to the table. The nobles seem to be about to leave, as they rise, while merry laughter still lingers in the air. He falls silent as they start to ascend the stairs. His blue eyes are filled with sorrow as Hareth turns to look at his captain, once the sound of footsteps has faded. Yet he hesitates to continue.
Karel nods a little bit as he hears Hareth's words. "How bad?" he asks, a bit quietly now.
Giggle. It echoes through the Hall in the wake of the other nobles leaving. A happy sound, full of youth and innocence. Something only a child could embody. Pause. Another giggle. One of the tapestries on the wall moves, swaying as if by a heavy wind though none stirs through the enclosed room. And then a bulge can be seen forming right at its center. The next giggle is a muffled sound by the origin seems to come from behind the tapestry.
Hareth sighs again, as Karel seems interested in hearing the whole truth. "My father is not happy about the situation, apparently. He has turned into a… a drunkard. He was lying on the floor of the carpenter's place, passed out. And my mother-" Hareth falls silent and shakes his head. "I'm afraid he has beaten her. She lay somewhere beside him, unconscious. Bruises on her face… She is alive though, and quickly came to when I fetched some water. And she wasn't badly injured, at least that was what she tried to tell me…"
Making sure to keep his voice down while the nobles were around, Hareth has taken less care in that respect, his baritone rising in agitation. As the happy giggle cuts through the hall and the tapestry starts to move, the guardsman stands startled for a moment. "I wonder how /that/ could escape my notice, Ser." he adds in Karel's direction with genuine regret, as he obviously has failed to do his duty. Which will bother him for next couple of hours.
Karel winces a bit as he hears that, nodding a little bit now. "I'm sorry to hear that." A brief pause, before he nods a little bit. "I'm truly sorry." He blinks a bit at the sound of the giggle, and looks towards the source of it, shaking his head a little bit as he watches the tapestry moves. "Don't worry about it," Karel offers to Hareth, offering another smile now as he looks over at the tapestry again. Unable to hold back a smile at the happy sound of giggling.
A bright pair of blue eyes peek around the edge of the tapestry, framed with long dark lashes. An enchantingly beautiful child, she is no more than three or four with dark curls tumbling down her back. "Shhh!" little Analyse Goodbrook says, lifting a finger to her lips. "You don't see me!" And then ducks back behind the tapestry as the girl's nursemaid comes huffing in, looking about to try and find the missing child.
Falling back into his usual silence, Hareth accepts Karel's sympathetic words with a nod. His gaze is on the tapestry then, as he sees the little girl peeking from behind it. The shadow of a smile on his face indicates he will obey her. At least he remains silent and gazes to Karel when the nursemaid arrives. He is a guardsman after all and will not speak if he is not being addressed - although he did break out of that pattern a few moments ago, didn't he?
Raising his eyebrows lightly as he hears Analyse's words, Karel nods, but doesn't say anything now. Looking back to Hareth now, unable to hold back a bit of a smile. "Just let me know if there's something more happening with your… situation," he offers a bit quietly, before he turns to look at the nursemaid hunting for the little lady now. Keeping silent.
The nursemaid finally sighs and goes tramping up the stairs to keep on searching for her charge, muttering "Girl's supposed to be at her lessons… Must be the Nayland in her… father was never this bad…" As the nurse finally disappears, Analyse steps out from behind the tapestry and brushes any stray threads from her little dress of black. "HMPH!" she grumps and sticks her tongue out at the disappeared woman.
Karel is unable to hold back a chuckle after the nursemaid left again, shaking his head a little bit as he looks to the little lady once more. "Hiding from your nursemaid, m'lady?" he asks, still looking rather amused now.
Analyse skips her way across the hall toward Karel, skidding to a halt in front of him and looking the man up and down. "Are you a Knight?" she queries, her little hands clasping together beneath her chin with a hopeful delight. "Unk Ren is a Knight. And Grandpa. My Daddy was a Knight. Mommy says he was brave and strong." Her shoulders droop a little. "But she doesn't talk 'bout him anymore."
Karel smiles a little as he hears the question, nodding a bit now. "I am a knight, yes. And your father and uncle are brave knights, and I'm sure your daddy was as well. And the reason your mother doesn't talk about him is that she misses him very very much, I think. One day I'm sure she will talk about him again."
"I want to be brave like my Daddy one day," Analyse says sagely, her blue eyes serious. "But Mommy says I get to be a lady instead. Is it just as good to be a Lady as a Knight?" She fiddles with a fold in her dress. "I want to go home but Mommy says we can't. That this is home now. Why is it home now but it wasn't before?"
"You can be brave like your daddy without having to be a knight," Karel offers with a bit of a smile. "And yes, being a Lady is just as good in many ways." At the last question, he offers her a bit of a smile. "Because your mother wanted you to be where your grandpa and grandma lives. And your mother needs to be near the two of them now."
Analyse frowns as she considers these possibilities and then dips her head down in acknowledgment. She may be young but it is obvious the girl is thinking deep and heavy thoughts. "Mommy is sad all the time," she finally decides. "She doesn't smile as much anymore." And then a light goes off in her head. Clearly chagrined, the small girl dips down into a wobbling curtsey that she has obviously been drilled in several times. It's not perfect, but Lyse bows down into it with as much grace as she can. "I am Lady Analyse Goodbrook."
Karel nods a little bit now, offering the little girl another smile. "She may not smile much now, but one day she will smile again." A brief pause and a smile as he looks around, then moves down to his knee in front of Analyse as she does that curtsey. "A pleasure to meet you, Lady Analyse. I'm Ser Karel Stenhammar. As long as this is home for you, I will make sure nothing will harm you."
Analyse beams happily up at Karel, clapping her hands together. "Thank you, Ser Stenhammar," she says. "Will you make Mommy smile again?" It's a serious task she's laying before the knight but the girl is adamant. Knights can fix anything, right? At least that's the fairy tale that little girls are told. She looks to the Knight before her now, hopeful and expectant.
"I will help as best I can, but I'm not sure if only one person can do it," Karel offers after a few moments of pause, offering a bit of a smile to the girl now. "I will help, your aunt and uncles will help, your grandpa and grandma will help. Everyone here will help." A brief pause as he offers another bit of a smile to the little girl. "And you will help, Lady Analyse. And that's what will help her the most."
Analyse frowns as she considers how she might be able to help her Mommy not be sad anymore. But alas, it looks like she's busted and caught. Visenya comes rushing into the hall from outside, a messenger and the Goodbrook's personal maid right behind her. There is panic in the grieving widow's eyes, something that only could come from being told that her child is missing. But some of that panic leaves on seeing Analyse happily conversing with Karel. She's able to catch her breath a little - perhaps having just run all of the way back from the town on receiving word?
Karel remains where he is, offering a smile to Analyse, before he looks up again to see Visenya's entrance. Bowing down as much as he can while already down on his knees. "Lady Visenya," he greets her. "There's no need to worry, m'lady." Looking from the mother to the daughter for a few moments now.
"Analyse," Visenya says, her voice remarkably calm. "You are to be at lessons, not disrupting Ser Karel." She gives a sigh, crossing the room with steady strides. "It seems to slipped your keepers again. I fear that you may have a bit of a wild streak in you, child." But the young woman bends to kiss the top of her daughter's dark head. Next to each other, it's very easy to see the family resemblance with daughter having received her mother's beauty and coloring in full force. Analyse just peeks upwards innocently. "I sorry, Mother," she whispers. "I wanted to explore, not learn lessons."
"I assure you she wasn't disrupting anything, m'lady," Karel offers a bit softly, as he he gets back to standing up now. "But of course, learning lessons is a good thing, Lady Analyse." Offering a smile to the child again now, and one for Visenya as well.
Visenya gathers the girl up into her arms, propping her against one hip as she looks back at Karel, offering a grateful look. "I thank you for your kindness, Ser Karel. She… does not always do as she is told and I sometimes fear for her safety, especially since we are so new to Stonebridge. Not that I doubt my Lord Father would not bring his wrath down upon any who would dare touch a single hair on her head. But after…" She does not speak of the incident. "Well, after… I fear for her safety more, and prefer she stay close to her keepers for her own protection."
Karel nods a bit as he hears Visenya's words, offering her another smile now. "Quite understandable, m'lady." A brief pause before he offers a smile to the little girl now. "You wouldn't want your mother to worry so much, would you?" he asks her, a bit softly, before he lowers his voice to a whisper that hopefully only the girl will hear. "That would not make her smile, you know." Looking back to Visenya, he offers her a bit of a nod. "I'm not sure if there would be much left of those that would do anything to hurt you or your daughter for your Lord Father to bring his wrath down upon when I have dealt with them, m'lady." It's spoken a bit quietly, as he keeps his gaze on the lady for now.
With a small smile, Visenya nods. "Thank you, Ser Karel. It eases my mind knowing that there are others that are watching out for her." She presses a kiss to Analyse's forehead before she shakes her head. "Now come along, you. You do need to finish your lessons." She dips down into a small curtsey. "Thank you again, Ser Karel."
Karel smiles a little as he hears that. "Anytime, Lady Visenya," he offers, before he offers the mother and daughter a very polite bow now. "Anytime at all," he adds, with a bit of a smile.