|Summary:||Hearing that Anais is back in town, Riordan invites her to the Tower, and to dinner. She brings with her a very interesting proposal.|
|Related Logs:||The Stonebridge Affair logs, and so much more|
|Riordan's Suite - Tordane Tower|
|The Tower residence of the Regent of Stonebridge. Looking fancy again, courtesy of Lady Valda and the servants!|
|Sat May 05, 289|
As evening begins to loom, rumor, as rumor does, spreads throughout the tower. As most of it does, it comes into the tower from the market, to the kitchens. And from the kitchens, to the serving staff. And from their, it spiderwebs out to permeat all the halls and rooms. Normally, Rhe Regent of Stonebridge has to unobtrusively listen to hear the latest gossip - a pasttime he has taken to doing at least once a day. But sometimes, servants know to seek him out with certain things. Such as a certain noble lady who is married to a certain cripple, a noble lady who has returned to town and is lingering about the market. So, a servant is sent to give the lady, one Anais Terrick, an invitation - on behalf of the Lord Regent, she is invited to Tordane Tower. A room has been made available for her. She has also been invited to dine with the Regent, privately.
In the Westerlands, where pride is as important as whatever rests behind it, that is how such things are done. Anais feigns the appropriate surprise when the servant arrives from the tower, and her things are brought out of the inn, as though she had intended to stay there. As though the Terricks had the coin to stay there. As though she was in the square speaking with merchants and craftsmen out of the goodness of her heart, and not a desire to see word carried through servants, or was testing how long it took for word to reach him. And when she reaches the tower, she is all smiles and kind words to said servants, pausing only long enough to wash her hands and face and change into a clean gown before joining the Lord Regent, her guard and handmaid in tow.
"My lady Anais," the Lord Regent greets the Lady Terrick as she is shown to his quarters, giving her a bow that is just a slight bit stiff, as if from soreness. Once more, a more suitable table for dining has been installed, upon which candles, wine, and bread now sits. Riordan himself is dressed in a pale green doublet, trimmed in darker green and embroidered in gold. The room itself is rather like it was when Anais last left it, with one exception - for those that pay attention to these sort of things, every last piece of furtniture is different then the last time the Lady visited his quarters.
"Lord Regent," Anais greets in turn, skirts swirling in an elegant curtsey. "I confess, after recent events, I was uncertain of what sort of welcome I might receive here. It is good to see that courtesy still resides in Tordane Tower." Her eyes flick over the furniture, though she makes no comment on any of it, instead turning a polite smile on the young lord. "I imagine you grow weary of some sorts of challenges, my lord," she adds more gently. "I know I certainly do."
"So that's why you didn't just show up unannounced like last time?" Riordan asks, the official politeness giving way to the companianable candor that he observed the last time they dined together. He glances past the Lady, then, to her escort. He makes a motion, and a guard of his own house, as well a servant, move to take up residence along the far wall. "Like last time,, if you please. You may watch all you'd like, but no listening unless directed otherwise." Whether he's just directing his own servants or all of them may remain largely unclear - after all, it's somewhat rude to directly order another's retainers. The Regent turns then, and will pull out a chair for Anais, gesturing for her to be seated, and then will pour wine for them as well. Only once the pair of them have been seated does Riordan reply to her latter comment. "I've grown weary, despondant, angry… and pretty much everything else I've ever been in my own thrice-damned life, this last week," Riordan says with a lopsided and wry grin. "Now, I just want to enjoy a meal with someone whose company I enjoy." He pauses, before waving an admonishing finger at her. "Same rules as last time, though."
"Westerlings," Anais sighs as she settles into the seat, taking her glass once the wine has been poured. "Grasping, deceitful little people. Frankly, I'm of the mind that the lady was already expecting, and Ser Gedeon was soft-hearted enough to offer her some chance at respectability should he die in the duel. It would be bold and foolish beyond belief to claim to have conceived the morning after a single night otherwise, don't you think?" She sips her wine, watching him over the rim of her glass.
"Either you haven't heard the rumors, or you have and you're testing me," Riordan says, holding up a hand to forstall any comment while he raises his other hand and rubs at his eyes. A chuckle of genuine amusement issues from him, and he shakes his head. "It doesn't matter. I'm sick unto death of talking about Danae. Thinking about Danae. I fucked up, she fucked up, and now the people of Stonebridge get to watch two Noble sides bicker like tiny children yet again. Only this time, Lord Peers-Down-His-Nose-at-You-Blackwood is here to, well, peer down his nose at all of us. For which we should all be grateful, I've no doubt." He pauses, lowering both his hands as he moves to pick up his wine glass and take a hearty sip from it. "Do you know, I'm rather tempted to write a song about this whole bloody mess. It's rather damned amusing, when you think about it. Or perhaps a play. I think a mummer's troop would make stags and coppers hand-over-fist performing this little number." And the truth is, whatever emotions he's been going through prior to this, he actually does seem amused by it all, more then anything.
"No doubt they would, my lord," Anais agrees easily with Riordan's assessment of the situation. "The pity of it all is that it continues to stem from women who can't just do what they ought to have done in the first place, doesn't it?" She sips her wine, then laughs softly as she sets the glass down. "Do you know, I was never a very well-behaved child. I followed Torsten to the docks. Played kissing games with sailor's apprentices. Took lunch in dockside taverns, with whores in the corners advertising for later in the evening. When my father left for King's Landing during the Rebellion, I convinced Saffron's father that I ought to know how to shoot a bow, and hold a spear. Elinor always looked down on me for it. But my parents never…" She pauses, considering her words. "My parents instead taught me that what is appropriate always depends on how people /see/ it. They didn't tell me I couldn't. They simply explained the consequences to me. As a result, I suddenly find myself in the very unusual position of being…Unimpressed with the behavior of many of the ladies in the area."
As they continue to sip wine and talk, Riordan motions mutely, and absently, to the servant dressed in the Stonebridge Nayland's colors. The man bows, and discreetly exits. Meanwhile, the Regent maintains his attention on his lady guest, a smile playing on his lips as he listens to her words. The smile grows as she continues, until, by the time she is done, he is practically grinning from ear to ear. "I knew I liked you, my lady," he announces to her, with a short laugh. "I just didn't know how much until this moment."
"That's part of the charm, isn't it?" Anais asks, lashes flickering in a wink so swift it might be imagined. "Nobody is fond of someone who's perfect, either. Perfect people make your teeth ache. Or they do mine, at least." She takes a few bites of the food, glancing after the departing servant without saying anything on the matter. "I don't really listen to certain sorts of rumors, my lord," she says after a moment. "But it seems to me that Danae Westerling is neither a Terrick piece nor a Nayland piece on this board. And the issue of Stonebridge has been divisive enough as a two-sided affair."
"Well, I've yet to meet a perfect person, so I would not know," Riordan says with another light laugh. As the top turns back to the other subject, his smile lessens, though still remains a touch as he notes, "That is very true." Letting out a sigh, he shakes his head, "The way I see it, it'll either end with her gaining not enough support to make her claim, or someone powerful, like the Charltons who have supposedly been speaking with her, will come to prop her up. I am not sure which will be worse for her. On the one hand, she'll fade into obscurity, after being laughed out and being shamed to the point where noone will have her. On the other, she'll be set up as a puppet. And should she birth a child, her usefulness will end. And anyone ambitious enough to see her to that point will likely see her killed, and install themselves as the new Regent." His smile has faded completely by the time he arrives at this pronouncement, and he closes his eyes for a moment. When he opens them again, he asks, "And how have things been on your side of the river, Lady Anais?"
"Much the same," Anais answers with a flick of her fingers, dismissive. "Though now that more of the men are back, actions are underway to see to these supposed bandits, which eases my mind considerably. I have help again," she laughs softly, smile crooked. "And while it almost feels strange now, it's a relief." She watches the lord as he speaks, pensive. "It seems to me, my lord, that whatever support Lady Danae might garner would be less than the combined strength of Terrick and Nayland."
"Which reminds me. I sent a message with your goodbrother… well, our goodbrother now…" Riordan pauses to let a laugh at that, before continuing. "Anyways, he was going to be headed to the Roost soon, but now I can just tell you myself. I've not forgotten the aid I promised. Just… everything," and here he waves with his hand, because he means everthing, "Has rather distracted myself and my House. I still plan on delivering the food that was promised. And I still intend to help with the bandits. I've a plan for that. Or rather, we did. I'll have to speak to my Captain of the Guard to see it put into place. Once it is, we'll attempt to hit the bandits hard, and while they are reeling, we'll bring you the food." He pauses, then, to consider her other words. "Do you actually believe your Goodfather would allow Terrick men to support House Nayland's claim to Stonebridge?" he asks, curiously. Intrigued.
"Over the claims of a woman of questionable honor seeking to use the name of his old friend in order to improve her own standing at the cost of the young woman Geoffrey Tordane loved as a daughter, whether she was one in truth or not?" Anais asks, arching a brow with the faintest smile. "Over seeing Stonebridge in the hands of someone with no claim to it at all, however questionably gained? I think he could be convinced, with the right incentives." She doesn't speak of the offered food, save for a grateful dip of her chin that says more clearly in words that she will appreciate it when she gets it, but won't be counting any eggs before they're hatched. "My lord, I think that, deep down, we all know that Stonebridge is not going to return to the Terrick fold. I assumed that would be the case going into this marriage. It's why I set in motion plans to construct our own docks at the Roost. There's no sense in fighting over something when you can just make your own, after all. But I think it might benefit all of us to work together, rather than against each other."
Riordan considers Anais' words in silence. And it is into that silence that the door opens, and the servant returns. Two plates are carried, bearing tonight's meal. The bread that was sitting in front of each is moved away, and replaced by a plate, one in front of Anais, and one in front of Riordan. Both contain butter and herb dressed whole chicken, along with some other delicious delicacies that have been prepared especially by the Tower's kitchen. It is only once the servant has returned to his place with the other retainers, out of earshot, that Riordan speaks. "Even though it would in the end benefit us, my own Lord Father would need convincing. I think I could see to it, but we would need assurances - especially if I will be expected to offer incentives." He pauses, taking his knife and begining to slice apart his chicken, going after the tender white meat. "At the very least, the betrothal between your Goodsister and Oldstones will need to be ended. And we may want to see to a marriage alliance between our two houses." He pauses there, falling silent to consider Anais and how she reacts to his words.
"I think I'd like a chance to visit the Mire, and Lord Rickart," Anais smiles comfortably back to Riordan, watching the slicing of the meat with a good deal of self-control. "He reminds me of my own father, who I've been missing dreadfully. Besides, I've heard such interesting things about the Fortress of the Sevens. I've a soft spot in my heart for well-constructed castles. I'd love to see if what I've heard is true." She takes a bite, closing her eyes to express her delight in the taste, before she speaks again. "Oldstones?" she asks, tone light. "Really? Surely Lord Rickart isn't afraid of a few tired mercenaries in a half-built timber hall?"
"It has nothing to do with fear, and you know it, Lady Anais," Riordan says with a snort. "But if we somehow are able to pull this off, and that is by no means a guarantee, both our houses would need to commit totally. Neither of us could be seen to be hedging our bets. And an alliance with Oldstones is a very palpable connection to the Lady Danae. One of the Lady's trusted protectors is also sworn to Valentin, did you know?" He does, however, nod at her talk of visiting the Mire. "I can arrange that. It would be better if I went with you, so we might want to hold off on that for the moment. I am not sure if I can leave Stonebridge again just yet, but I will look into the possibility."
"Ah, well. If it's outside alliances we're cutting off, I suppose that would mean Lord Rutger should cease courting the Lady Rosanna Groves, wouldn't it?" Anais asks sweetly, though she tsks softly, shaking her head. "The dear lady would be terribly disappointed, I imagine. And here I was rather fond of her. She does deserve a good match, and your lord brother is a genuinely charming gentleman." She takes another dainty bite of chicken, watching Riordan. "You're quite right, though. /Both/ of out houses would need to commit to such a thing." A pause, and her lips twitch in a glimmer of amusement. "Not just the junior members who are capable of playing nicely."
"House Groves has nothing to do with Lady Danae, and we both know it," Riordan says with a smirk. "By all means, marry Lady Lucienne off to Ser Kittridge, or whoever else. I truly care not. But I am not going to my father with this if House Terrick is going to have ties to Lady Danae," the Regent says, still polite and light-heartidly, but utterly sincere as well. At her last comment though, he nods in agreement. "It's an unlikely beast, this proposal. And it will take time. Time we may not have. But we can try. Because House Terrick is no longer a threat to my House, and I see little reason for my house to be one to yours. Especially if it would help prevent us all from bleeding at the hands of another."
"With Lady Danae, no," Anais agrees. "With surplus foodstuffs that House Nayland obviously has no need for, given your charity? That is another matter. We might be willing to back a Nayland claim over Lady Danae's. In return, I think it would be reasonable for your family to rest on your accomplishments for just a bit, rather than continue pressing your boots to our throats. Especially if it would involve Lord Jerold saying no to his precious baby girl," she adds, a dry note to her voice.
"Well that can be dealt in a formal agreement. I had assumed that was what you meant by incentives on my part, or was I wrong? We could ensure that House Terrick has the food they need, either by Groves surplus or Naylands own, and we could take the boot of Stonebridge of your Goodfather's neck." Riordan says all this easily, before pausing to take a few bites of tasty chicken. He does this while still studying Anais, and then once finished, speaks further. "Contrary to popular belief, however, not everything House Nayland does is all about House Terrick. We may not need surplus foodstuffs now, but what has befallen your house is proof that misfortune happens quick, and in unexpected ways. With Stonebridge challenged yet again, are you truly surprised we seek outside alliances and resources?" He raises a hand, forstalling any objection so that he may add, "Though yes, while the Groves alliance was originally largely meant as a squeeze on your House, a contract between us, sealed in marriage, can make sure that it matters not. My point is, however, we still have need of pursuing House Groves, even if we no longer need to use it as a stick with which to beat your family."
"With all due respect, Lord Riordan, and with appreciation for the promised delivery, I don't think relying on another family for foodstuffs, whoever they are, is a viable long-term option for the Roost." Anais pauses then, lips curving toward a small smile as she takes a sip of her wine. "Just because I'm curious," she muses, leaning back slightly and giving her glass a lazy swirl, "Who are you proposing we match up?"
"Then the Groves issue should not be an issue," Riordan points out. "Regardless, the specific incentives can be worked out later. I have a feeling those negotiations will take up most of our time, if it even gets to that point. Still, I think I might be able to sway my father, so long as I am satisfied that this will benefit my family, and that yours is committed, we will be able to proceed. That is why I am adamanant about the Oldstones matter." He then pauses to wash down the taste of chicken with a few more sips of his own wine, before saying, with a shrug, "That is also up for negotiation. More then one match would be ideal. A first branch male from each family married to a first branch female from the other. For my own part, I know my father wishes to see my brother Rafferdy married well. He needs… taming." There is a light smirk as the Regent says this last, before saying, "There is also my sister Roslyn, the sibling closest to my heart. She has had her hopes shattered time and again, with the shifting possabilities of alliances, so I will not bring this up with her until we are closer to being certain… but she would make any man a lucky one."
"I think it more likely that Lord Jerold will marry one of his sons than his daughter," Anais admits with a soft sigh, the slightest suggestion of a roll of her eyes in her expression. "Though a marriage alliance will be a tricky one, either way. What if we linked our families through another line?" she asks, returning to the chicken for a few more bites, still careful not to gorge herself. "I've two sisters still, and my cousin Saffron is here from the Banefort. No one would need to feel threatened by a spouse gaining more power in a marriage, and the children of the unions, the heirs, would yet still be cousins. Cousins," she continues, "With more of a vested interested in maintaining peace and unity here than in gaining over another side of the family."
"Both our families, especially the patriarchs of each, are going to need to give in this of things they would rather not," Riordan points out. "Do you know, I've already broached the subject of Lady Lucienne with my father? He actually forbid me from mentioning it again - which we can get around, if needs be, but that's besides the point. The point is, he utterly expects Lord Jerold to not let go of Lady Lucienne. Which means that the Lady being betrothed to one of my Father's sons is the one thing that will make it clear to my father that his up-until-now-enemy is serious. And we can find a way to assure your Lord Goodfather of the same." Riordan shakes his head adamently, adding, "But no, there must be marriages of the first branch, if we're to seal the breech. I've no objection to other alliances as well, and I doubt my Lord Father would either. Especially if House Banefort is so similiar to mine own. But there must be an marriage of the highest order if this is to work. And Lucienne would be the best piece for it. There would be no doubting that all would be serious, if that were to happen."
Anais shakes her head, regretful. "How can we make peace if the condition of making peace is to be as hurtful as possible to the people with whom you're making peace?" she asks. "Lord Jerold holds on to old wounds. He has lost so much in the last few months. His eldest son. The woman he thought would be his gooddaughter. His wife. The safety of his people. Even his bastard son. We'd be asking him to give up something that he /ought/ to give up - this grudge - but to ask him to surrender his daughter as well is either spiteful, or an attempt to cut short any real negotiations."
Riordan considers Anais for a moment, before he speaks again. When he does, it is gently, and genuinely. "You are right. Lord Jerold has suffered much. More then most. But Lady Anais, if there is one thing I have learned in my short time as Regent… most especially with recent events, it is that if you act for personal reasons, whatever the intent, good or bad, behind them, then you are not doing your duty to the people you have sworn to uphold. I understand your position, and Lord Jerold's. And if Rafferdy is not a fit match for his daughter, then he can name the person he would accept as husband for her, among the first branch." He shakes his head slowly. "I am not trying to be spiteful -or- cut short negotiations. Rather, I am trying to ensure them. This is the one thing I know that might convince my father, through all of his hatred, that it stands a real chance of ending, once and for all." He pauses, his words softly spoken, and thoughtful, as he says, "But it is not a condition of my help. If you say you will not bring it up, then so be it. We can try and go forward. My only real condition is a severing of any ties to Danae. Aside from that, the rest can be negotiated. But I truly do not expect we will get far without looking at these other possabilities."
"I didn't say whose spite or whose attempt," Anais points out with a faint, small smile. "But it's how Lord Jerold will see it. Still, I'd like a chance to speak with Lord Rickart myself, if possible. If only because I would like to hear his thoughts on the origin of this feud. As for Lady Danae." She sniffs, flicking her fingers dismissively. "Whatever influence I can bring to bear, I would prefer to use it to back your house, than her. If only because it's such a poor, gauche bid for power," she wrinkles her nose. "At least take the time to do something /skillful/ or /clever/. Instead you're going to ask everyone to pretend to be stupid enough to believe you conceived in a single night and know it the next morning in order to back you? Please. Nobody likes to be stupid."
Riordan simply nods his head to Anais' words, all of them. He continues to eat for a moment, before choosing which of Anais' words to respond to. "As I said, that can be arranged. Let me see what time is afforded me. I would prefer to go with you, if at all possible. I will want to be there if and when the subject is broached with my father."
"I'll need to phrase it carefully to Lord Jerold as well," Anais admits, sighing softly. "I doubt he'll be thrilled with the idea, but I don't think he'd be thrilled to hear I'd gone off to the Mire without even warning him, either." Her smile quirks again, and she takes a sip of her wine. "He'd probably think someone had kidnapped me. And then I'd get back, and Jacsen would be wroth as well. And that would hardly be conducive to peace, either."
Riordan meets Anais' smile with a larger, lopsided one of his own. "Especially if you were to run off with me. I'd be like to start developing a reputation." His eyes twinkle in amusement, before he turns thoughtful, seeming to think about something. "I will warn you though, I am not sure what mood you'll find Lord Terrick in when you speak to him as such. I've offered the Half-Eagle a position in my service, and he's gone to speak with his father about it. Mind you, it has little enough to do with Ser Jarod's fraternal house, and everything to do with the fact that he is now bound by marriage, if an unsanctioned one, to mine own family. As well, I owe him a debt that I'd like to see repayed."
"I should hope that Lord Jerold would be sensible enough to see it as a gift," Anais smiles crookedly, settling back in her chair a bit. "He's unable to offer Jarod the place that he had without seeming to condone behavior that he can't condone. But being a knight in Stonebridge would keep him close, and allow him to be what he's trained to be. It's an admirable compromise, and one that I think would see Ser Jarod happy. The question will be if Lord Jerold can look past the feud and his assumptions to see it."
"I've little doubt that if anyone can give a man clarity, it is you, Lady Anais," Riordan says with a smile, and a raise of his glass in salute. "But yes, I think that is about the reasoning that our Ser Goodbrother was using when he was warming to the idea. That, and he also wishes to work towards ending this feud." He takes another sip of wine, before noting wryly, "It's just a shame his marriage to my sister hurt the situation more then it helped." The thought makes him laugh. "Do you know, when we were talking last, regarding this very subject, unbeknownst to us, a rider was already on his way to the Mire bearing Lord Jerold's words to my Lord Father regarding Jarod and Rowenna?"
"Men make plans, and the gods laugh," Anais shakes her head with a rueful smile. "At least they're happy. I care about both of them, so it brings me some comfort to know that that some good has come out of this, however small." She looks down to the table, brushing a finger along the edge. "Someone should be happy, don't you think, Lord Riordan?" she asks, looking back up from beneath her lashes.
"They do at that," Riordan agrees with Anais' assessment of the gods with a chuckle. He also nods his agreement with her words regarding their mutual relations, but it is her last words that seem to catch his attention. He studies Anais' lashcovered eyes, his smile a mixture of wistfullness, and wry humor. "Yes, I do," he confirms, simply. "If only the rest of us could be so lucky. But as Ser Jarod was telling me earlier today, happiness of that order tends to be reserved for those held to be unimportant. For us, those like you and me, my Lady… well. I suppose we shall just have to make do. Though I think you are much better at it then me. Or I simply need to learn this lesson that you were taught by your parents. How to not get caught, was it?" His eyes sparkle some more in gentle tease, as he addresses Anais such.
"Oh no," Anais assures with a low laugh. "It's not how not to get caught. It's how to get caught and leave people thinking they haven't caught you at anything." She looks around the room then, turning a faint smile on her guard and handmaid in reassurance before turning back to Riordan. "Anyhow. Enough of business, don't you think? Surely there's something more interesting to discuss."
"You'll have to teach me that," Riordan insists, grinning wryly. He sets down his wineglass, idly running his finger along the condensation produced on the outside of the vessel. Nodding to Anais' request, he says, "I think I can agree to that. In fact, I did have a thought that perhaps you could help me with." He considers his winecup thoughtfully, before looking back over to Anais. "In all of this, Jarod and Rowenna have been caught in the middle of everything that has happened of late, and in a most unpleasant way. Now knowing what that feels like, and knowing that my father isnt now likely to put the Half-Eagle's head on a spike," pause for an eye-glint of amusement," I think those of us who love them best should see that their illicit, secret, and utterly inappropriate union is properly celebrated. What think you?"
"A party?" Anais arches a brow, laughter bubbling up despite herself. "Why Lord Riordan, how did you know that parties at inappropriate times are a particular skill of mine?" Her glass empty, she pushes it forward in a tacit request for another, taking the time to nibble at what remains of her meal. "I think it's a grand plan, so long as we can pull it off without upsetting our respective lord fathers."
Riordan grins happily as his comment produces laughter from his lady guest, obviously pleased with both himself, and the idea. "I shall leave you with the task of finding a way to unruffle your Goodfather's feathers," Riordan says, neatly rising to take hold of Anais' glass, and refill it for her. "As to mine own, he loves my sister. He'll not disagree too much. And I can always point out that as inappropriate parties go, it's more like to wound Terrick pride then his own. Though given our previous plans, I'll reserve that tactict as a last resort." So saying, and having refilled Anais' glass, he offers the cup with his own hand to her, giving her a warm and infectious smile.
"I would appreciate that, yes," Anais chuckles, smile crooked as she shakes her head. "It's a pity Jarod isn't true-born. The two of them could be such a bridge between the two families. And both of them happy in it." Taking the glass, she cradles it between her fingers, admiring the liquid within. "Although I suppose that would have made things awkward for me," she muses. "Not knowing about the two of them, I suppose I would have just made Jarod and I miserable."
Moving to fill his own glass, and retake his seat, Riordan offers a smile. "Well, if we are going to be daydreaming of a perfect world, it would be better still if you had found your way to House Nayland," he says, with a lightly teasing gaze. "The fact is, though, we shall just have to make do with what is. Which is why it is all the more important to have this party of ours. The sooner the better, I think. For a night at least, all can forget the troubles of the time, and simply enjoy themselves."
"So I've been told," Anais smiles faintly back to Riordan. "But there was a limited availability of desirable Naylands when I arrived here, I'm afraid. And Jaremy…" She trails off, taking a sip. "I was in a hurry to get married because I was convinced I was already too old and would never get married. And Jaremy was reeling from losing Isolde. It seemed like the perfect solution." She sets the glass down with a shake of her head, sheepish. "I suppose I might have stopped and rethought things when Jaremy ran off, but I've never been one to step aside from the path I've set myself to."
"I am sorry to hear that I was not deemed desireable at the time. But as ever, I do appreciate the honesty." Riordan's eyes twinkle as he teases Anais, before a thoughtful look enters his eyes. "You know, I think we might have had this very conversation the last time we dined," Riordan says, after a moment, with a chuckle. "In fact, I'm sure we did. Ah well." His chuckle turns into a short laugh, before he nods. "Well, regardless, when do you think we should throw this party? And how public or private shall we make it, do you think?"
Anais chuckles softly at Riordan's response, smile flashing. "I don't believe you were around, actually. Probably off at some tournament. Had I known /that/…" There's another flicker of a wink as she draws her glass to her chest. "I've a terrible weak spot for a man on a horse, I'll confess." But as he moves on, so does she, glancing around the room once more. "I think such a celebration should coincide with Jarod's placement here," she muses after a moment. "Then, should there be objections to the marriage, it can easily be attributed to celebrating his new position. It will make both of them feel more comfortable in their new home, as well."
Anais' response to the first line of conversation brings Riordan back to it, if briefly, with a large grin on his face, and utterly genuine. "Perhaps I should have suggested a tournament to honor Jarod and Rowenna then." He holds Anais gaze for a moment, then, as he listens to her words. "Seems a sound idea. But," and here he holds up a finger in solemn warning, "It must be done in utter secrecy, if we can get away with it. I want to see the expressions on their faces." The idea has him grinning all over again. And then, out of nowhere, he asks, curiously and quietly, but still in good humor, "Is there a piece of furniture that offends you, my lady?"
"I think a tournament would certainly be /interesting/," Anais laughs. "Given that they would both want to participate in it, I imagine. I'm not sure if that's the best idea ever or the worst." Humor lingers in her smile, though her brows rise at his question, surprised. "The furniture?" she echoes, taking another look around the room. "No, not in the least. Actually, I was trying to decide if this was the same room as the last time, or a different one. The skies from the window are the same," she explains, pointing to said sky. "But little else here seems to be. I'm usually very good with directions, so it's a bit unsettling."
"Possibly both," Riordan notes, joining in with Anais' laughter. After that, and after her answer, Riordan's expression takes on one of sudden understanding. "Ah, yes. Well, then let me assure you, your sense of direction and memory is not at fault. My temper is. I confess that I took out my emotion on my room, after the duel. My Lady Castellan was utterly disappointed, you can be sure, and the servants had to replace most everything. I fear I'll have to participate in a tourney soon, after all, and make a rather good showing, so I can use my purse from such to offset the cost to the Tower's coffers." Despite the line of conversation, Riordan seems to remain in rather good cheer, all things considered.
"That is a /prodigious/ amount of destruction," Anais observes, sounding more impressed than concerned. "What did you use for it, a mace?" She arches a brow, not quite able to hide the humor in her eyes.
Letting out a hearty laugh, Riordan shakes his head. "I confess, it had been awhile since I'd ever been that angry. I'm not even sure I ever have been. I don't think even I knew I had it in me," he admits, still chuckling. "Thankfully my sister, Roslyn, came by when she did. I might have moved on to the rest of the Tower, and we'd now be dining amidst rubble."
"Well, that would be one way to keep people from fighting over Stonebridge," Anais smirks, raising her glass in a salute. "I'm told that my father tried that sort of thing exactly once after he married my mother. She walked in, found him in the process of throwing things off of the dresser…And no one knows exactly what happened after that, but it's generally accepted that the level of destruction throughout the keep was vastly decreased from that day forward."
"Well, then you will need to stay nearby, and if it should ever come to that again, you can protect Stonebridge from my wrath," Riordan says, mirroring the salute with his own glass, before taking a sip. "You know, I think I would like to meet your family some day. They sound much akin to mine own, from everything you have told me."
"I hardly think you need me for that," Anais laughs. "It seems your sister did much the same for you. Perhaps you'd best keep her close." The mention of her family brings a gentler smile, and a soft sigh. "I think that very likely, my lord," she murmurs. "As I said, it's one of the reasons I'd like to visit /your/ family. My own family is going to be very busy for a bit, recovering from the attacks. I doubt they'll have time to visit here. And I doubt I'll have much time to visit them."
"Well, my sister has always been able to calm me down, but has yet to figure out how to prevent my outbursts," Riordan says, though he does nod in agreement with the rest. "But yes, I do indeed plan on that. My father has agreed for me to install her here at Stonebridge for the imediate future. I'll be giving her a position here, as well as one to Jarod and Rowenna, should they accept." He considers something, before saying, "Perhaps I can introduce you to her, my sister. I think you will like her. I hope you will, anyways. She is my dear friend, not just my sibling. And she could use good friends of her own." He smiles, before nodding at Anais' words regarding the Mire, and her own family. "Well, I will endeavour to see you will seen to, when you visit the Sevens, then."
"I'd be pleased to meet her," Anais agrees with a dip of her chin. "Since it seems possible I may share the Roost with her eventually. Assuming all of our grand plans work out," she sighs, finishing her wine and setting the glass aside on the table. "You have been very kind to me, Lord Riordan. I appreciate that. It's…very nice to sit and talk, even if we must spend some of the time talking about unpleasant politics."
"Would you like some more?" Riordan asks, first, gesturing to the Lady's wineglass, before shaking his head at her further words and smiling. "I can't see why I wouldn't be, Lady Anais. And even when we must talk about unpleasant things… I find it nice that you are willing to speak frankly, or at least more frankly then you might be used to, in regards to it. It makes it all just… more bearable." He smiles larger, then, as he adds, "Besides, I am coming to enjoy our evening conversations. Perhaps we can make them a habbit, at least time to time. Whether our grand schemes come to aught or not, whether we are doomed to be enemies or blessed to be allies… I think I would still like to count you a friend, regardless." With a brief flicker of a wink of his own, he adds, "If you'll have me as such, of course."
"I'm not yet convinced your intentions are pure," Anais teases in return…or does she? She does shake her head to the offer of more wine, passing a hand over the top of her glass. "I've had as much as I should, I think," she demurs. "I was never used to drinking overmuch in general, and the way we've been watering the wine of late…I'd prefer to remain in full control of my faculties while I'm here."
"I could say the same about you," Riordan returns with ease, and a light laugh. "And as far as your faculties go, I don't know… I rather think I would like to see you loosen up just a touch more, Lady Anais. It is not good to hold yourself tight and together all the time." Though he still seems to be speaking light-heartedly, he also seems a touch serious as well. "Trust me, I've rediscovered this little fact just recently. In the end, the only way to survive in this world is to be able to laugh at it. Otherwise, I think we'd all end up crying." Despite his words, though, he doesn't seem about to push drink on an unwilling woman, so instead he just refills his own glass.
"I'm sure any number of people would like to see me loosen up just a touch more," Anais smiles ruefully. "It would, after all, be quite embarrassing to the Terricks. But if I learned anything from my parents, it was not to be an embarrassment." She brushes a hand over the table, then draws a breath. "I should likely retire, my lord," she says, though there is some regret in the words. "The hour grows late, and there is enough scandal here to begin with."
"Perhaps," Riordan says, gently, but truthfully. "But for once, I wasn't thinking about the effects to Terrick pride. More to the effect on the Lady Anais. Strain is not a pleasant thing." Regardless, he rises, and moves to offer a hand to Anais so that he may assist her up, so that he might bow over her hand. "Of course. I would that at least one lady not have to suffer her reputation due to my attentions, however honest they are. Good evening, my lady. I hope I can look forward to dining with you again."
"I find my chances to relax, my lord," Anais assures him with a low laugh. "You needn't fear for me. I should be in town for a few more days at least. I'm sure we'll have another chance to talk." As he bows over her hand, she sweeps another curtsey. "It has been a pleasure, my lord."