|Summary:||A Haigh family meeting|
|Lord's Hall — Broadmoor|
|Practical rather than lavish, this large hall serves as the main meeting place for those who seek the Lord's ear. A dais raises a pair of matching, tall backed chairs aloft from the polished wood of the main floor, with colorful banners draping the wall at their backs - the vibrant hues of House Haigh incorporated into painstakingly embroidered scenes of glory and triumph. The remaining walls are wood-panelled, lending a certain grandeur in keeping with the tall, vaulted beams of the ceiling overhead, from which several chandeliers hang. Additional light is provided by the high windows within the northern wall. The large chamber doubles as a feasting hall, when such occasion arises and long trestle tables are currently set back close to the walls. When 'court' is in session, they serve as an impromptu gallery for those interested in the politics of the Riverlands, as well as for scribes and ambassadors of other Houses. The largest doorway leads to a porch overlooking the Stone Court outside, while a less imposing archway leads to a long gallery to the south.|
|November 25th, 289 A.L.|
A relatively peaceful day - such as it is in a place like Broadmoor - finds Lord Leslyn's daughter striding in a purposeful manner for the hall where his meetings are held. Normally she'd be sequestered away, surrounded by parchments and gibbering nuisances in the form of emissaries, couriers and merchants, so it's not a terrible request that she attend this rather less formal affair. And being only recently returned from the, let's face it, far smaller and less affluent lands of House Ashwood, it's an opportunity to ensure her finger remains very firmly on the pulse of happenings at her family's long held seat.
With her ever-present chaperone trundling along in her wake, the young lady sweeps through the long gallery and toward the doors of the hall, returning gentle nods to those who offer them in passing but not dallying for small-talk. Her father is not one to tolerate ill-mannered tardiness.
With far fewer important tasks to tend to, young Ilaria is already settled in for the family meeting at a table set close to the dais. Seated to her left is Septa Shiella, and the older woman appears to be holding a quiet conversation with the Haigh. Hazel eyes are bent upon a dirtied scrap of parchment covered in a hasty, masculine scrawl, and she appears not to be paying one whit of attention to her Septa. The girl's handmaiden, Heolla, flips her long blonde braid over her shoulder before squeezing in on Ilaria's right-hand side to pour a cup of tea.
Only when her septa touchs her arm does the girl look up, startled to find herself in an entirely different room. "Good afternoon, cousin," she greets Ceinlys in as pleasant a tone she can muster, rolling up her letter hastily and passing it off to her maid.
Obviously the last to arrive, well almost, Perrin walks in with bits of straw stuck to him here and there, the apple he holds is being polished on his tunic and seems to have his undivided attention. He looks up and sees Ceinlys and Ilaria with a bit of a startled expression "Oh! Am I late?" he asks as he crosses the hall heading to his sister. A big bite of the apple taken with a crunch. "It's so good to see you back home, where you belong, Cein." he tells her before turns to his cousin "And when did you get back Cousin Ilaria? I had told them," he motions with the apple over his shoulder "to let me know when you did."
Review a cadre of varying scrolls and documents, the elder Lord of Broadmoor sits regally upon his throne as leans to sign yet another parchment upon the back of one of the silent servants. Handing quill and signed document to one of his attendants, he dismisses them with a wave of the hand before rising slowly. Though definitely well into his third score years, there is a grand measure of vitality about the older man - his physique rivaling many men at least a score younger. The once jet black hair has since gone stark white, but is no less prevalent upon his head as he keeps it clipped short more out of preference than any pressing need.
Taking note of the gathering of the younger generation, he clears his throat slightly before dismissing most of the other servants save for those two tasked with waiting upon the family throughout the meeting, "There is time aplenty for small talk later. For now, we have matters to discuss. Marva?" he glances towards one of the servants, "See to it the girls are granted a nice cup of moon tea, and for my son, a nice stout." Leslyn takes the liberal task of placing the order for each - not quite seeming to care whether they desire refreshment or not as he lets his dark gaze move back in study of each one of them.
Offering a calm smile toward her cousin in kind, though no doubt taking in her manner and that hastily swept aside parchment all the same, Ceinlys strolls at a more sedate pace now to find herself a seat. "Ilaria." The greeting is pleasant, and doesn't lack much in genuine affection. "It is good to see you again. I apologise for not having had the chance to seek you out prior to this." A vague gesture, a mere flit of fingertips, encompasses the hall; deserted save for the handful of family and servants.. and of course the guards at the doors.
Perrin's arrival draws the young ladys striking blue gaze in that direction, that curve across her lips warming a touch at the sight of her older brother. "Almost without fail." she replies, in subtle teasing, in regard to his timekeeping. Or lack thereof. "But thank you. It's good to be back." Whether she truly means it or not is impossible to discern - that courtier's mask is a well polished one, by now.
Ahh, and then of course comes that authoritative timbre as their father speaks up. Time to shush, paint it up as pretty as you like. Still, unperturbed as ever, Ceinlys flashes the patriarch an amused look before easing into a high-backed chair. The 'suggestion' of moon tea doesn't seem to surprise her much.. little ever does. But then again, one of her first matters of business upon her return was a decidedly undignified appointment with her mother's maester. Tea is a far lesser evil, in her opinion.
"Cousin Perrin," Ilaria greets, and despite herself the man's cheerful demeanor eases her nerves until she, too, is offering a genuine smile - albeit the slightest quirk of her lips. "I have only just returned two days ago, and requested to not be bothered. This means I can tell you firsthand that I am home again." Wrinkling her small nose in amusement, Ilaria casts her gaze sideways to the seemingly stoic uncle seated 'upon high' and tending to his own business. Only when he looks their way does her faint smile dissipate, and she half-turns in her chair so that she is facing toward the dais.
A sombre and observant gaze flickers in Ceinlys' direction as her cousin takes a seat, but the extremely casual announcement of 'moon tea for the girls' causes her to jerk in her seat. "Good gods," Septa Shiella mutters, reaching up to cover her mouth with a hand as if entirely offended on Ilaria's behalf. The other hand touches her young ward's arm, but the Haigh brushes it away with the barest flick of her fingers. "Sounds absolutely delicious," the young girl deadpans, pushing her own cup of tea aside to make room for a cup of the 'special' brew.
Perrin is about to say something to Ceinlys, his half smile present, but when father speaks of dispensing with the small talk he only nods and gives one of those quizzical looks to her as he takes a seat in one of the chairs. When Stout is ordered for him he looks for somewhere to put his apple before deciding that on the table in front of him is probably the best place for it. He is smiling at Ilaria which doesn't last long as he starts laughing, which he quickly stifles, at the drinks ordered for both the women.
Turning back to his father he studies him, perhaps trying to judge the mood that he may be in today. "Thank you, father," is his reply to the drink.
As the women are served first, Leslyn actually steps out from throne and descends the dais to cross until he is standing before them at the table, "Every woman in this house will continue to have moon tea at least once a day until all may learn to keep their skirts down and legs crossed, as is expected. Since I cannot be bothered with keeping eyes upon what you and your various cousins, or sisters, do day after day, I will entrust you ladies to bring the others into proper line. From this day onward, the behavior of one will reflect the behavior of the rest of you." The older Lord Broadmoor pauses as his eyes narrow slightly, "We are becoming known as a House of Whores and that is entirely unacceptable. I cannot find matches for 'whores' nor will I shell out an additional dowry for any of you simply because you cannot keep your skirts down: widows or otherwise. For those of you conducting yourself properly, continue to do so. For those of you who are not? I urge you to quickly readjust yourselves to my way of thinking lest you wish exile to the Motherhouse or a life of commonality and marriage to a stablehand."
Despite the sternness of his tone and tension within his jaw, his words never manage to escalate as Leslyn continues, "Are there any questions?"
For her part, Ceinlys merely watches her father as he crosses toward the table, her hands clasped loosely upon its polished surface. Brigid, her handmaid, has wisely elected a seat off to one side and attends determinedly to a small book she has brought with her. These matters are not for her to appear attentive to, though there's little doubt she is taking note. She's been in the family long enough to merely absorb. Her charge, as usual, remains impassive, even smiling faintly up at Leslyn as he comes to a halt and quite plainly not assuming this quietly-voiced demand to be directed at either she or Ilaria personally. "None, my Lord." she replies, pleasantly. The bloody tea tastes horrific but.. whatever will pacify him on the matter.
Ilaria's brow darkens by degrees as the voice of a disciplinary echoes in her ears, ensuring that not only will she be enjoying thisspicy teatoday, but every day henceforth. Taking a very careful sip of the brew, she chokes it down with only one cough smothered by a handkerchief and assisted by a slap on the back from her septa. When Leslyn dares to ask for questions - surely rhetorical? - the girl is wise enough to merely look askance at Ceinlys and Perrin. She may have to drink it, but at least she is aware of her innocence.
Uh oh, it's one of /those/ moods. Perrin lowers his head slightly, but does glance to the right and left of him at Ceinlys then Ilaria when Leslyn asks if there are any questions and receives none. He looks up as his father stands there at the table before the three of them, he's seen that look before. Perhaps to many times. "Father," he begins "maybe I don't know everything that you do," which is more than likely the case "I do not think that there is any troubles with Ceinlys nor Ilaria being improper. Quiet the contrary from what I have seen." Yes, he comes to their defenses. His gaze remains steady on his Lord father.
"I do not recall asking for your thoughts upon the matter, Perrin, nor do you have a need to know the intimacies of your sister or cousins. There is enough reason to impart this decision. If either your sister or cousin have issue with it, then they know well enough how to make sure things are rectified. I have given them the tools needed to dispense with the daily cups of tea - trust in them as much as I do to see that they take those tools and apply them wisely," Leslyn replies with a deep baritone. His attentions do leave the ladies at this point to land upon his son, shaking his head slowly, "One of these days, my boy, you will learn that chivalry does not have a place in all measures of business. The sooner you do, the further you will go in proving you are worthy of sitting as your brother's successor. Do not mistake your sister, nor cousin, they are not the wilting flowers in need of your protection. Haigh women are far from weak and if your mother felt you believed otherwise, she would box your ears. Now…" He pauses for a moment, looking back to the women and his son, "I believe we came here to discuss business. Anyone wish to start?"
Well, Leslyn might not have appreciated it much but Ceinlys passes a sidelong glance and subtle smile toward her brother. For certain, Aron might stick the pointy end of whatever's handy in anyone that would question his little sister's quality.. but that's more down to just having an excuse. Perrin? He actually means it, when he says kind things. Of course, her father's compliments don't go unnoticed either. Haigh women are tenacious creatures. Even when they present themselves as paragons of sweetness and virtue. Isn't that right, Ilaria.
As the topic moves - thankfully - onward, the ebon-haired noblewoman brightens a little and settles more comfortably in her chair. It's probably inevitable that she be the one to bring up a matter for discussion.. the question is, where to begin? "If I may, father.." The words are polite, but her soft-spoken tone is as confident as ever. "..it occurs to me that we ought to solidify existing trade and perhaps forge new opportunities for the same in Stonebridge. Our crops are doing well, and many of the lesser Houses.." That'd be every House but Haigh and Frey, in her opinion. "..are greatly in need of supplies. And, in the case of those in the lands to the south of our borders.. new livelihoods." A glimpse of that infamous, wolfish smile tugs at her lips. "But I am putting the cart before the horse, forgive me. First and foremost, I put it to you that we assign my darling brother.." Her gaze flits fondly toward Perrin and lingers there a moment as she speaks. "..as trade emissary to the Naylands. Seeing as he appears to have considerable 'affinity' with them. Put bluntly, he's the only one of us who can stomach them." She leaves this for discussion, for now. The other matter can wait.
Ilaria remains silent, looking once wide-eyed to Perrin before turning her gaze back down to her tea. The talk of trade and politics—she should be paying attention, but it all seems so dreadfully boring. As her gaze wanders away and she threatens to sink into daydreams, Septa Shiella gives her a forceful nudge. Her elbow slides from the arm of her chair, causing her to jerk, and her attention returns just in time to hear Ceinlys mentioning livelihoods. She is listening now. Honestly.
A wide and unblinking gaze is turned upon her cousin as Ilaria attempts to absorb the information. 'Emissary to the Naylands'? Mouthing the words shortly after they are spoken, the young Haigh offers Perrin a somewhat sympathetic expression. Her mouth opens as if to speak, but at the last second she opts for silence and instead turns a questioning gaze toward Leslyn. Let it be decided first, and then she shall make her offer.
Perrin's gaze never leaves his father through out the full discourse. He never flinches from the words spoken. Only the boxing of his ears from his mother causes the slightest hint of emotion apparent to anyone watching. His voice comes softly yet with conviction "I never implied they were weak, father. Actually the opposite is true. I shall, as always, serve Harys as I have served you, father. Gladly. It's just," he waves off the rest of his words, the attention has been diverted from Ceinlys and Ilaria. He cuts his eyes to Ceinlys for just a split second then returns to his father.
"Yes, there is something I need to ask." But then he fumbles as he hears his sister's words. Wait, she said Stonebridge. Emissary to the Naylands. With out missing a beat he smiles warmly to Ceinlys before looking to father. "Um, yes. I have had some conversations with some of them. I have also instructed Mistress Caul to begin securing the roads from here to Stonebridge from bandits and the like. I have put in a plan that will make any of our wagons, our sigil something to be feared out of the reaches of our lands. And it would cut us a direct path eastwards. It puts us in a great positing, actually.
Mulling over the idea, Leslyn folds his arms behind him and teeters back and forth a bit upon the balls of his feet, "Ah, Naylands." The name seems to bring a visible sneer to his lips as he looks from one of the younger generation to the next, "They are rather like unkillable rodents always under foot. Still, the fact they hold dominion over Stonebridge requires us to play nice… for now." Ceinlys is granted a faint nod of recognition for her words, "With the departure of Lord Keegan, the Naylands will try and gouge us for every stag they can in trade as penalty for the recent Stonebridge affair. Ashwoods do not have the purse to pay the price, so they will all seek to stick it to us. We will not pay anymore than House Groves or House Terrick is expected to pay. This is not something that is remotely negotiable. If they wish to hike the tariffs for our house in lieu of the Stonebridge affair, then we shall need to ensure they are crippled and starved without our grains. Which means we will need to formulate solid alliances with House Groves to ensure this."
Leslyn looks back to Perrin, "You will keep a close eye upon trade within Stonebridge, not for just our house, but the others as well. Find out from the Terricks and Groves what they are paying and ensure we are given the same fair trade. I do not put it past the Bootlicker or the Swamp Lord to do what they can to bring us down low."
"Best of luck to them, then. A family of cowards and cretins, lacking in loyalty or the sense they were both with." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the summary of Ceinlys' opinion when it comes to Naylands. Nothing more needs said, in regard to them. Let Perrin handle that mess. As for the Groves.. well, the curve of her upper lip plainly reveals her distaste, but at least there's less to be said of their character. Merely nodding her agreement with Leslyn's outloud musing, she drums her well-kept fingernails lightly, just once, on the tabletop, before laying her palm flat.
"That may meander into my second point of interest.." she continues, gently, though she does leave time enough for anything further that her kin may wish to add before carrying on. "..the Charlton lands to the south may provide us with further numbers, either for produce, or security. They can't all agree with Keegan's decision, after all.. and a move to Broadmoor moves them closer to the Twins, simultaneously."
"It would be a veritable miracle and the first time House Groves chose an alliance wisely," Ilaria mutters quietly, an offhand comment meant mostly for Septa Shiella. If she is amused, the old woman does not let on; instead, she stares for a moment at her ward before smacking the girl's shoulder in a 'straighten up' gesture. Ilaria stifles her responding giggle by pressing her fingers to her lips and then taking a quick swallow of her tea. Ugh, ghastly stuff. Returning her attention to the business at hand, she is unsurprised as Ceinlys forges ahead onto another matter.
A proper nod of his head "Aye father, I shall ensure that they do not. I do know they, the Naylands at Stonebridge, are short of coin. Very much so. I also know they are looking to the Erenfords for help. I think this might be a good time for the picking if we get there first. I would rather see our goods loaded up before anyone else's." Perrin says calmly.
"I have another item to ask but I shall wait to hear what your and Ceinlys thoughts on the lands to our south be." Perrin lays his hands out before him as he listens. But with all the talk, demeaning talk at that, of the Naylands Perrin shows no emotion at all. He just nods his head at all the right times and places.
"They have chosen poorly at every turn. They are also weakened by their choices." He says about the Groves to Ilaria.
"Campbell chooses chivalry over wisdom, everytime. There is a time and place for chivalry, but it has no place at all within politics. A lesson, sadly, Lord Kingsgrove knows all too well," Leslyn remarks with a clear dismissal of the topic before looking over to the gathered three, "Unfortunately every bannerman of Lord Keegan has already made his choice. As much as his decision has taken the rest of us by surprise, it was undoubtedly something he planned even before the ink upon the parchment for the war plans was signed. Bastard that he is - Keegan never makes any decision lightly. Why do you think Lord Fret was so angry? When Keegan left he took every last one of his bannermen with him save for the Ashwoods and Fensters." The elder lord considers, "Now we can make things excessively uncomfortable for those to the South, but we need to be cautious about applying too much pressure lest we earn the ire of House Tully. The last place we can afford to be is in their sights. Apply pressure discretely, yes, make trade and transport upon the roads to and from Hollyholt? Yes. But little more, for now."
His son's words draw a raise of his brow, "What other manner of concern have you, boy?"
Offering a single nod, accepting her father's answer, Ceinlys withdraws a little for now as attention focuses on her brother, leaning back in her chair with the softest of sighs. An absent look aside lands her gaze upon Ilaria, who she casts a slight smile. Yep, politics are boring. But she may as well learn in the safety of Broadmoor, and from the likes of Leslyn, rather than from.. well, Naylands or Groves. Because what do they know?
Ilaria traces a fingertip around the rim of her teacup, dipping it into the liquid every now and then and letting it drip down the sides and onto the tabletop. Septa Shiella clears her throat not once but twice to signal for the girl to stop fidgeting before Ilaria concedes. Her hands disappear beneath the table where her thumbs proceed to twiddle together as her gaze moves from Perrin to Leslyn and back again.
Perrin listens intently to the words of his father as he speaks of the Charltons. When the question is posed to him that half smile of his comes easily. "I wish to hold a feast and a tourney. Here, at Broadmoor. I have spoken with Ilaria's sister, Katrin of this. She has agreed to take care of any decorations and such for the insides, Though I am sure she could use the help from Ilaria and Ceinlys as well. I shall take care of the outsides. Meaning we shall have sword combat, melee, lists for jousting, and everything else." He hardly pauses, save to look to Ceinlys first then Ilaria before returning to Leslyn. "It has been far to long since we held one while other great houses have. All I have heard of late how great the other houses were in holding such. Lets show them just how great we are."
Leslyn hmms audibly over the idea, eyeing his son, "And how, my boy, would you propose we finance this tourney and feast? These things cost coin which are better reserved for other things. Tourneys are a grand waste of funds unless they have an ulterior purpose." He glances over towards Ceinlys and then Ilaria before again letting his gaze fall to his son, "If you and your sister can find a means by which to make the tourney and feast worthy of the investment of time and funding, you may have it."
Leslyn turns his focus on over towards Ilaria as he questions again, "And what of you and your betrothal to Lord Alric. How are those affairs progressing?"
Only a fractional tightening of Ceinlys' jaw betrays the groan she suppresses. Tourneying. Bleh. She followed the lists for several seasons, when Aron was ensuring their name was well-known and feared by all who set foot on the field. But.. well, it could be worse. Flitting a slightly less-enthused look this time toward her sibling, arching a brow, the young lady then just resumes her contented recline; laying her palms on the carved arms of her chair now.
Oh great, her turn - and her turn to talk of Alric, of all things. Sighing quietly to herself, Ilaria reaches up to bite her nails but manages to refrain in light of present company. "All is well with the Young Lord Fenster, my lord. I have befriended his sister, and we have spent much time in each other's company. I see nothing that will stand in the way of the wedding." Need there be any more detail than that?
Perrin looks rather pleased at the moment. A present handed to him by Ceinlys and father didn't say no to the feast and tourney. Yep, a right good meeting. He sits back and pulls his mug with him and a rather large gulp is taken before it is cradled in both hands. He of course grins at his sister, clearly noting the look that she has taken at the idea of a Tourney. He does listen to Ilaria but maybe Cein can see that his eyes are westward at the moment.