Page 271: Running into Harpies
Page 271: Running Into Harpies
Summary: Tiaryn finds Desmond and the two have a small race that ends with a trip into a hole. But - they are then totally sidetracked by the arrival home of the Nayland levies and a parade. Also, Desmond might have fleas.
Date: 14-15/April/2012
Related Logs: The Iron Isles logs.
Tiaryn Desmond Bruce Rutger Jaksyn Ilaria Briallyn Senna 
Town Square and Environs
The surrounding terrain has several small gullies and streams that feed into the waterfront area just adjacent to the town square, the sails of the boats visible over the tops of the buildings. The square is floored in the same heavy stone that the east docks and castle are constructed of while the buildings are a mix of the stone, wood, and mortar. There are quite a few fish vendors with their fragrant catches for sale among groups of tables which tend to be busy most of the time.
April 15, 289

Desmond is, well, slacking. The good thing about having an occupied knight is the lack of training, though that's also a bad thing. The squire is perched on a set of low steps near the Crane's Crossing inn, surrounded by… cats. Tabbies, fluffy orange ones, sleek black cats, all trying to climb into his lap as he tears apart some raw fish he'd purchased from a nearby vendor.

Raw fish will definitely do it, especially given the current times. Tia comes out of the inn, a different maid than her usual one with her, but there is one! And of course Jacob the stalwart, the sworn still going everywhere she goes. She pauses to wait for the somewhat slower maid, but not for long. "Hurry up, do," she calls back to the slow moving maid. "I told you we were going running - you can do it, I'm sure you can."

Desmond tosses a small piece of fish, smirking as the cats swarm for it. When he hears the familiar voice, he looks up and promptly rises to greet Tiaryn. The group of cats follow and rub against his trousers. "Evening, Lady Tiaryn. Running? From who? To where?" Jacob gets a quick nod.

Tia blinks as she hears her name, turning to look. "Oh, to the - " her words come to an abrupt halt as she spies Desmond and… all the cats. "Goodness, that is quite a collection," she says, eyes widening with some surprise. It takes the question about where she is running to completely out of her head, it does, leaving her staring. "Where did you find all those cats?"

Desmond tips his hat politely. "Hrm…? Oh they're not mine!" He pauses. "I don't know, they just came up to me. I can't resist them." Reaching, he scratches one atop the head. "That's probably a bad thing. But… Where are you going? May I accompany you?"

Tia just blinks at the cats. They likely have fleas, at the least. Poor Desmond. She tilts her head a bit, watching as he scratches the kitty atop the head, and then she smiles. "If you like. We're not going to go far. I have to get Bethy to learn how to keep up with me," she says earnestly. "I sometimes move a little quickly, you see. You are welcome to come if you like. I just was going to the fields just outside, or by the river or something." She pauses a moment, before she says, "but no complaining if you can't keep up." That last is said with an impish grin.

Desmond apparently doesn't know the dangers of petting cats. He leaves the fish for them to gnaw away at and steps beside Tiaryn. "It's not too hard, Bethy, if Lady Tiaryn has you running each day." Adjusting his cloak, he rubs his hands together. "So long as Jacob here doesn't mind it. I shan't complain, I never complain."

Jacob actually grins at Desmond, not seeming to mind at all. "There's worse things," he suggests, leaving it at that. Tia turns to glare at him, and he raises his hands. "Just answering the lord, m'Lady," he says, almost glibly. Though he does blush just a touch. Tia wrinkles her nose and then she turns to Bethy. "See? It'll be just fine. And we now have an extra escort, so it'll definitely be good." What could go wrong, after all? "I don't always get a chance to be outside, as much as I would like, but I try," she admits. She glances around, eyeing those cats briefly. "Did you count them? How many cats are there?" Awe. Mostly. And then she flashes that impish grin at Des, before she reaches for her skirts, lifting them just enough that she won't trip, and takes off running. Out of the town more or less.

Desmond can't help but grin at the exchange, quirking a brow at Tiaryn when she grows flustered. But he doesn't inquire. "It's nice to get outside. Er, how many?" He's caught up counting them when Tiaryn dashes off. "Hey!" he shouts, running after her. The gentleman in him yearns to wait for poor Bethy, but he suppose Jacob will handle that. He gets delayed several times by crossing carriages before he reaches the edge of the town with the Flint.

Tia is fairly quick, though she has only so much stamina before she tires. Still, she is used to dodging trees as she twists and turns on the trails. She doesn't pay attention to the carriages and such, other than as obstacles to avoid. She does stop when she gets to the field, turning to look back to see where poor Bethy is. And Jacob is with her, of course. Tia turns to Desmond, as he catches up. "You are good at this," she says. She's not out of breath or tired yet - eyes dancing with amusement.

"Is that sarcasm?" Desmond pants, then waves his hand. "I'd do better in a field. I'd do even better if I was being /chased/. I blame not going through the drills lately." He sighs, smiling, hands on his hips. "You've apparently had practice. Though it seems you're a bit older than me… Where to then, the river?"

Tia blinks at Desmond, and then she chuckles. "I am six and twenty, though I'm sure it's not polite to ask a woman her age," she teases. "And how old are you?" She waits, for the other two, not being the type to lose her chaperone - at least not when ther's someone here to see her. "Yes, we can go to the river, that's a nice big target." She is even nice enough to let poor Bethy catch her breath. Jacob, noticeably, does not need to. He's the type who is in excellent shape and it shows.

Desmond's grin quickly fades, and he bites his tongue. "I… Er. Sorry. Ahem…" He lets her question linger, unanswered as Bethy and Jacob join them. "Is it polite to ask a man his age?" he finally smirks. "Far too young. Twenty. Ready-set-go!" he blurts, and darts for the river, sprinting across the stretch of grass.

Tia looks over Bethy and Jacob, to make sure they are ready to go. Bethy isn't quite, but when Desmond blurts out that ready set go, and takes off running, Tia can't help but chase after him. "Hey!" Jacob laughs outright. "You catch him, M'lady." Now here's the thing, without a headstart - she'll be hard pressed to keep up with him, never mind pass him. Especially since she's laughing now, as she's caught by the same trick she so often uses. Still, she races off towards the river, concentrating on her own footing, and on dodging any holes, wet spots and so on that are in her way, her booted feet steady as she does move as fast as she can.

Lucky for Tiaryn, Desmond is not quite looking at his path, instead looking back at her. Just as they near the river, his foot collapses a gopher hole and he faceplants right into a patch of wildflowers. By the time he gets upright, he's covered in sand burrs. "Ah, ah!" he winces as he tries to continue the race.

Tia concentrates hard when she does so, but she does note when Desmond goes down and it slows her steps as she checks if he is hurt. That would normally allow Jacob to catch up, but he's keeping an eye on poor Bethy. Who is not used to this running business at all. So, they're still a bit behind, but they are coming up at a reasonable speed. "Are you hurt, Lord Westerling?" Tia calls, now sounding a little out of breath.

Desmond slows to a stop before he gets very far, laughing, arms held away from his body. Strips of the prickly seeds cling to his skin and clothing, and he dips his head. "I don't think I can continue on, but I'll meet you at the bank," he chuckles, then flinches as he yanks out a strip on his palm. "Damn stickers."

Tia actually does not continue to the river bank, returning to see exactly what it is that ails the fellow. A hand comes up to cover her mouth as her eyes widen and her mouth forms a little oh of startlement. "Goodness, that looks very painful," she says, sounding concerned. "Bethy - do you have those herbs with you still?" She has to stop half way through, but she is catching her breath back. "I think she may have them, and if so, we can perhaps give you some assistance?"
Jacob actually makes haste, leaving Bethy behind, when he realizes there's something amiss, but he has to chuckle when he spies poor Desmond. "It's always good," he says after a good friendly laugh, "to watch where you put your feet."

Desmond stares up at Jacob, torn between a grin and a scoff. "Wise words of course. Oh, er, if you wish, Lady Tiaryn. I don't want to keep you from your destination but…" Finally, he slumps back to the ground, and just sits there, still as stone, chewing his lip. "I don't know that herbs would help, they just need to be yanked."

"Oh," Tia says and then she says, "Well, yes, no doubt so, but after they're yanked?" she suggests delicately. "Can you get them yourself or should we - I - do you want me to pull them? Though if I'm not strong enough - maybe better if Jacob does?" she offers. It's perhaps frightening the way her mind works.

By now, Bethy has caught up, huffing and puffing, and gasping for air. "M'Lady, you ought not - not go run - running off like that." she manages reproachfully.

Tia gives her a glare. "You ought keep up," she says, stubbornly. "Do you have the pouch of herbs with you?" The maid hands it over, and Jacob, who's been eyeing the situation, moves over to Desmond. "Buck up, Lad. You can pull them yourself, or if ye like I can do it." He's willing to offer at any rate.

Desmond is sheepishly trying to laugh this off, though he's somewhat paralyzed. Jacob's offer makes him glower. "I've got it. I'm bucked up plenty!" A softer look is given to Tiaryn. "You needn't strength, they're only burrs… see?" He pulls another strip of the barbed things from his middle, hissing through clenched teeth. "If you're going to sit here and watch, you may as well get comfortable. Ah!"

Tia moves to help, since she's not happy to watch anyone in pain. "Oh," she says, as it occurs to her that strength might not be exactly what is needed. "I see," she says. She reaches out a hand to find a bur that's stuck but pauses before she tugs it, looking to meet Desmond's face. "Unless you would rather I don't help?" she asks softly.

Desmond fidgets and leans away. That is until Tiaryn looks on him with those blue eyes of hers. He melts a bit, unable to deny her, and gives a quick nod. "If you want. Mind your fingers, or they'll stick to you too. Looks like you've got a bit of beggarweed on your dress there. Far less harmless." He manages to pull most of the burrs out with minimal wincing, but naturally his pride has withered. "Perhaps one day Bethy will be able to keep up with you."

All for a foot in a hole. Tia does pull the one burr off, but then she takes a couple steps back. It takes her a moment to get the one off her fingers, but then she's looking down at her dress. Beggarweed? What?" Her brow furrows as she tries to identify it from what she's been learning, but really it's not on her list of approved herbs. She reaches to brush it off, glancing up to make sure that Desmond is still doing well. "She will, I am sure she can," Tia says. "If she wants to. Bethy - " she pauses, as she holds out her hand to the maid to get the pouch of herbs. "I've got a salve in here for cuts. And you needn't worry - I didn't make it, Corrie did." Like that'll make everything better and sensible. "It's supposed to keep them clean, stop them from hurting a bit, and stop scarring." She without thinking reaches out to start putting some of the salve on where she can see burr induced scratches.

Desmond smiles beneath the brim of his hat. "Just fuzzy seeds. There, you got it. Salve?" His eyes drift to the pouch, and now that it's dark enough, he pushes the cloth around his eyes up and tucks it away. "Corrie? Who is Corrie then?" There's no complaint from him when she rubs the mixture on his hand. "Pardon my poor memory, you're training to become a healer?"

That gets a shake of her head, as Tia freely admits, "Oh well, not really. Corrie is my goodcousin, or at least his wife. Lady Cordelya Flint. She's been spending time at the Roost with Lady Anais, but she has also been teaching me a bit about herbs. I don't think I will ever know as much as she does though - I get bored of it. But I have learned a little bit at least." Like how to apply a salve that someone else created at least.

"Lady Cordelya," Desmond repeats. "I feel like I've heard that name before." Tiaryn can't apply that salve in /every/ spot - or rather, Desmond won't let her, climbing back to his feet. "I'll be all right from here," he assures, "Thank you kindly. Herbs bore you eh? Seems many things bore you!" He beckons as he turns for the river.

And probably a good thing if Tia doesn't - that might make her blush, never mind him. She carefully puts the salve away, glancing at how dark it's becoming. But she passes the pouch back to Bethy who tucks it away. Jacob just keeps watch and then he follows along, as Tia flashes a grin and continues on her way to the river. It's not so far now, so she's not too worried. She does chuckle, pausing once she gets closer to the water. She actually stops a fair bit away from the water, to say, "I suppose there's parts about the herbs that don't bore me, but to sit and do the same thing for hours on end leaves me numb." Except of course playing music. Somehow that's different.

"What's not to like about herbs?" Desmond jokes. "The leaves are… so fascinating. All manner of… green." He continues towards the water, and moves to perch on a boulder, tugging off his boots. "So, Lady Tiaryn, is music your only passion? Tell me a bit more about yourself, if you would - ? And you needn't touch on topics that may sadden you," he quickly adds.

"Wait now, why am I telling all and you're just sitting there listening?" tia protests, laughing. "If I'm going to tell a secret, you have to as well." Though she doesn't tell anything yet, instead she stays standing for a moment, watching as Desmond tugs his boots off. She glances around and finds a boulder she can sit on, that's still a bit away from the water. Bethy and Jacob find themselves a good spot to watch, still within the bounds of propriety but not so near as to be obnoxious.

Desmond can certainly appreciate servants that keep their distance. He drops his bare feet into the river and glances back to Tiaryn. "Well forgive me if I've asked too much! I'm just… interested. A secret, hm? Well…" He rubs the back of his neck, peering up at the stars through the bit of canopy. "I am worried about my sister and her relationship with… with Ser Aleister."

Tia takes a moment to process that comment, it really does take her that long, even though she knows. "Oh. Cherise!" She pauses a moment, before she says, "I think it's perhaps natural for a brother to worry about his sister. I know mine always did." She pauses for a moment, not sure if she wants to talk about Cherise too much. "And I don't think you've asked too much, but it seems to me to be good to share? Or else you might get bored." A breath, and then she says, "Is music my only passion, right? I guess - no, but it's a major one. I love to play harp and to sing and dance. And all of that involves music. I also like to draw and to run, as you've sort of seen. I like to be outside and hear the wind through the trees." Her voice is a bit wistful there, but she keeps it out of sadness, barely.

"I won't get bored," Desmond promises. "Don't worry about that." As Tiaryn elaborates, his smile broadens. "I wouldn't mind seeing you dance at some point. Or seeing your drawings. Music is indeed a wonderful thing. Long ago, when I… well, when I had to sit in darkness for weeks on end, I entertained myself with a lute. Admittedly I wasn't very good at it. But when sight abandoned me, sound was all I had. Glad to see you're fond of the outdoors. Not many noblewomen are."

"Not many noblewomen grew up at Tall Oaks," Tia replies, and though there is pain there, it's also good memories. She suddenly realizes just why Desmond appreciates music so much and her cheeks go a bit pink. "I'm sorry - that was thoughtless of me," she says, glancing down at the ground by her feet. "I can't imagine how difficult it must be to not be able to see during the day. The lute is a lovely instrument - it's fun to dance to. And I don't usually draw anything too extravagant, but I like to draw anyway." She never said she was good at it, though. "I can do decent embroidery but I'm better at designing it than stitching it. Adara is far better at stitching than I am." That would be her other maid who seems to be otherwise occupied.

"No? Then you're a rarity indeed." Desmond shrugs at her apology, "Thoughtless? I think not. Relax, m'Lady!" He turns to face her, cross-legged atop the stone. "It's not that I can't /see/. Well, during that time I couldn't. But these days, it's just difficult for me to keep my eyes open without shielding them somehow. But right now… I see you as if a gentle light is all around you. And you are a sight to behold. Perhaps you could embroider something for me. I'll pay… And who is Adara?"

That brings a smile to Tia's face, as such a compliment is meant to, no doubt. "You are too kind," she says, with a little duck of her head. She then takes a breath, before she says, "It's strange to think that it seems bright enough to see, though I guess I can still see, sort of." She tilts her head a bit, as she considers the idea of embroidering something. "is there something in particular you want embroidered? I could perhaps do something, if you would like. Maybe with Adara's help though - she's my handmaiden, most of the time. Bethy is new, and she's not so familiar with my ways yet."

"I'm not sure…" Desmond suddenly chuckles. "My hat, perhaps?" He removes it and gently tosses it her way. "Unless you'd like to have a go at my cloak. Perhaps something with scallops. Westerling, you know. I feel like I ought to know the coat of arms of Flint by now. Shame on me!" He finally pulls his boots back on, then slides from the boulder to approach her.

With the hat thrown at her, Tia blinks and has to reach for it. Not that it was a bad throw, but she's not necessarily a good catcher. She does hold the hat, examining it as she considers what could be embroidered on it. Scallops, hrm. "Maybe," she says. "Flint is - like Jacob's got, but without the Camden Motto." She gestures towards the man - he and Adara both wear a bit of embroidery that has the flint heraldry with the blue and gold camden motto. Tia glances up briefly and then looks back at the hat, still thinking about how and what would look good by way of decoration.

Desmond peers over to Jacob, arching a brow. "Well, you could embroider anything you'd like, really. Just something to make it stand out. I love that thing," he chuckles. "I'd better head back, Lady Tiaryn. Are you going to linger out here? I'd advise against it, it's getting late…" He extends his hand, to take the flatcap.

Tia passes the cap back, easily enough. "Let me think about the cap," she says. "I'll come up with something - I usually do." And then she glances over to Bethy, taking in the state of her handmaiden. "I think you are probably right," she says after a moment. It's more that Bethy is in no shape to continue and Tia really is not trying to kill the poor woman.

Poor Bethy. "Chin up," Desmond offers to the handmaiden, "You'll learn to catch up with her soon enough. If Lady Tiaryn takes you jogging every day, you may end up like Jacob. But yes, m'Lady," he turns to Tiaryn, "Take your time. Like I said, I'll pay. Shall we then?"

Desmond, Tiaryn and her servants Bethy and Jacob are near the bank of the river, heading back in the direction of the Stonebridge square.

Tia flashes a smile at Desmond. "No need to talk of payment," she says, simply. "If I can come up with something, it will be a gift." She gets off the rock where she has been seated. "I think we should perhaps walk back, so nobody trips in any holes or ends up so out of breath that they collapse, yes?" She very carefully doesn't look at Bethy, as Jacob helps the poor out-of-shape maid to her feet. And then Tia nods to Desmond. "Ready," she says. "Let's head back in, since the sun is setting so very quickly." Dark enough that even Desmond can see means a little trickier footing for those in the fields. But - Tia starts off towards the town proper.

The first sign of a significant group of people incoming is dust in the distance, rising up on this warm summer afternoon into the air, low and wide. In a few minutes time, rumbling on the ground, especially near the road leading from Terrick's Roost would be felt. It'll only be after that when the sound of marching is discernable, and the battle standard of House Nayland becomes visible at the head of a column. Four abreast they march. The first group of around twenty men are armoured in mail shirts and carry large shields slung on their sides. It's among this group that the main Nayland standard is visible. The next four groups are pikemen, their weapons resting on their shoulders as they march. A white banner, then an orange banner, then a green and a yellow - four Quarters of House Nayland's eight, returning from the war. In the front group, Ser Bruce hefts the standard from his nephew, once squire and now knight, Ser Amos Longbough, who pulls out his bugle and begins to play a marching tune. It is a cheerful thing, cheerful as any homecoming should be.

Senna does not march. She does, however, follow behind the crowd of men and soldiers, a faint smile curving at the cheerful tune played by the bugle. It's a homecoming for the men of Stonebridge, and there are more than a few of them who are coming home thanks to her care.

Desmond can't help but grumble a bit at the mention of tripping. He pulls another errant strip of grass burrs from his shoulder and walks beside Tiaryn, but it's not long before he notices the rumbling. "We've got some excellent timing," he asides with a grin, beholding the march from the grassy field of wildflowers. "What a sight indeed." Townsfolk begin to gather around the outskirts, near the road.

Marching near the front of the column is Jaksyn, keeping step with a portly lad of around the same age, the butcher's son of Hag's mire, Jaksyn smiles to himself as he sees home in the near distance. after a moment, he chuckles to his marching companion. "the whole campaign and I suffered only a broken finger from setting up a tent." the butcher's son nods quietly, flushing a bit at the cheeks as he mutters. "I said I was sorry about that."

At the head of the column, a lone knight can be seen on horse back. And off to his side and slightly behind would be his squire, Lucamore. Both sit atop the destriers that a re commonly bred in the Mire. They too are kitted in Nayland liveries. There's a turn in his saddle as the knight looks back to the two knights on foot, and there's a slight smile as he slows the horse a little. No need to arrive that much ahead of the column. His grin, breaking forth there's a look over to Lucamore. "Welcome home, my boy." A dip of his head as eyes catch the gathering townspeople. Good to be home.

Tia smiles at Desmond's little grumble, unable to avoid it. She walks with him, as the small group makes their way. And as he points out the sight to be seen, her eyes widen and then she does take a few quicker steps to get to the edge where folks are starting to gather. "Oh, that /is/ quite a sight," she admits, admiring the marching men in such formations. "Wait, they're back. They're back. Oh, Corrie will be beside herself," she says. "I wonder where my goodcousin is. And my goodbrother - and everyone." Her gaze goes to the horses as well, automatically looking to see if she recognizes anyone, and who it is. All Nayland colours, but that really does make sense being here, after all. It's not her family, not her place to go out and greet them special, but she does stop where she can easily see them all, watching contentedly. The war is over and everyone is coming home! Hurrah! "How exciting!"

The standard isn't light, as Bruce finds out once they get a bit closer to the town and he hefts it off of his shoulder and fully into the air. He looks over to his former squire and offers him a knowing grin, but the young man is too busy playing the bugle tune to gesture back to him. "Remember boys - we've got freedom of the town. This is our town, and our lands. Men of House Nayland - ADVANCE, arms!" Yells Bruce back to the men. The message is passed from each Quarter's serjeant back to the next, and disseminated by the men. The Guards begin to unsheath swords, or axes in rare cases and hold them out in front of their chests, while the levies lift their pikes off of shoulders and hold them up. Ser Amos's tune gets louder and louder as the men approach, both cheerful and proud in nature.

at Bruce's orders, Jaksyn unships his axe, presenting it as he marches, the quiet smile remaining on his face as he moves in step. The smile gets wider as he sees his family standing together near the blacksmith's shop watching.

The sound of the approaching soldiers is enough to bring many people out of their houses. Word spreads rapidfire through the town that the men are returned, drawing forth crowds of onlookers to cheer and celebrate. Ilaria is among them accompanied by a handmaid and a robed septa, and the trio politely edge their way to the front of the growing crowd to watch. She cannot hide her eagerness, clasping her hands together beneath her chin and grinning wide. "They look stalwart and courageous, do they not, Septa Shiella?" she says quietly to her chaperone. "They look tired," the septa observes dryly.

The grin remains on Rutger's face as they come closer, and the call to Advance arms is shouted out. There's a look over to Lucamore. 'Sword out, for when we salute the tower, and the town good boy-than you can sheathe it right back." The squire offers a nod, as soon the two mounted draw their swords, and bring the blades up to their face in solemn poise for a minute, before being extended out and down in unison. The hold the blades out diagonally as they ride- before swinging up and in to rest at the shoulder-before finally being sheathed back. Parade, but welcomed.

The townsfolk errupt in cheers and cries and all manner of praise when the men draw nearer. Desmond brightens, "Ought we try and find her? Lady Cordelya, that is." His own cheer lifts above the crowd's briefly as weapons are lifted. Not his family either, but it's certainly exhilerating. "I wish I could've been among them." Wives and children rush forth to greet, all smiles and tears.

Tia certainly never got to witness this sort of thing at Tall Oaks, though perhaps at Flint's Finger. After the war. Still, it's a happy day for these fine men, and she cheers along with the rest of the crowd, standing out front by the edge, by virtue of having been there among the first. "Welcome home," she calls out. And as she's looking, she does recognize some faces, even if she's not been introduced as yet. "Oh. Uhm, no - I think she'll hear the sounds," Tia says, after a moment. "I'll go find her if it's Anders, but I think she's probably resting." She turns briefly to look at Desmond at his comment, and just nods. "Maybe next time," she says, before she turns back in time to watch the knight and squire salute. "Welcome home," she calls again, her voice pitched as well as she can to be heard over the crowd.

"Men of House Nayland - return, arms!" Bruce yells a couple of minutes later, after the men have entered the town and passed the tower. Weapons are shouldered or sheathed, but Bruce doesn't lower the standard. Someone has to keep things visible. "Men of House Nayland - you will form on the town square in quarters. By your banners, march!" It's then that the Nayland Guardsmen begin to split off from the levies, to take their place at the front of the parade square.

"Should we have brought flowers to throw?" Ilaria inquires of her septa, following sedately as the crowd rushes along the streets to follow the parade. "Or perhaps some coins to pass among the men? Oh, but they would be bringing home spoils, so no. Still, I would have enjoyed flowers." The young lady pauses as children rush past her, jumping back to keep her toes from being trampled. When she does, she spots two familiar faces a few feet ahead of her.

"Lord Desmond, Lady Tiaryn!" Ilaria calls out to them, lifting a hand to wave a little handkerchief to catch their attention, much to the chagrin of her septa who taps her arm. "Oh, sorry," the girl murmurs before picking up her skirts and hurrying forward to meet the pair.

"Ideally there shouldn't /be/ next times, but… Yes. Maybe. Hopefully," Desmond shrugs, moving to follow the crowd into the square. He tries not to look /too/ wistful. Soon it becomes hard to even speak from all of the raucous cheering, but he does manage to hear Ilaria's voice, and spots her handkerchief. "Lady Ilaria," he smiles, bowing. "Isn't this something?"

Continuing out at the head of the column, Rutger continues to lead on the men of House Nayland towards the Town Square. There are a few waves from the Nayland knight, but other than that he does manage to keep himself in composed. A nod is given over to Lucamore once they have reached the point- And there is a turn on his horse as he comes to halt a little ahead of the commons.

It has been some time since he has seen this done, or even participated. The last time being after the Rebellion, but that was the Mire-this is something else.

"True that," Tia says, nodding in case Desmond can't hear her. She does look sympathetic, at least a little. It must be something to be part of this group, after all. Heroes, every one of them. As Desmond catches sight and sound of Ilaria, Tia's attention is caught as well and she turns as well to offer her a smile. "Lady Ilaria. I think we shall all remember this day, yes? Come join us, do." And then she is looking back to see what happens next, what with the men being sent to corners or something equally puzzling.

As the crowd of soldiers reaches the village, Senna peels off from the main body of troops. Stonebridge isn't her home, and there's no family here for her. And the women of the town don't exactly need to see her hanging around, either.

The levy serjeants know their drill well. Each quarter wheels into the square efficiently and in step, making four seperate groups of militia. Their serjeants call them to halt, and the Guardsmen move in front, stopping there as well. It's there that Ser Bruce waits for the signaller, Ser Amos, to finish playing the 'Halt' on the bugle before handing him back the standard. Ser Bruce steps forward towards Lord Rutger Nayland, ahorse. His face is determined, jaw set.

Coming to a halt with his section, Jaksyn Stares straight ahead, Axe still in hand, the young man tries his best to suppress a grin as he mtters oh so softly to ht ebutcher's son beside him "your chest is supposed to stick out at attention Jory, how did you manage to not lose weight on field rations?" the Butcher's son grins as well and both fall silent.

Rutger looks back down towards Bruce, and there's a bit of a half cocked grin thrown the Captain, before he lets a more serious look settle upon his visage. And like that he has gone from being glad that he is indeed at home, to serious knight business. And with that, he settles in the Saddle, eyes flicking up to the men assembled, before he is acknowledging Bruce. "Captain." A nod of his head, for Bruce to continue. Perhaps he is not as formal, as his cousin, but it'll do.

"This is quite the welcome home, I agree," Ilaria answers Desmond, smiling warmly and dipping her head to him in greeting. She is breathless from her little jaunt, and her cheeks are flushed a pretty pink with exertion. "I admit that I have never seen the likes, Lady Tiaryn. I suspect there shall be parties and revelry in the streets for the next /fortnight/ at this rate." She glances sidelong to her quiet septa, but the woman is busy scolding the rambunctious children darting among the crowd.

Desmond watches as this drill plays out. Flowers, or at least petals are being thrown to the cobblestone, and some of them settle on his hat. "Well it seems they're up to some ceremony." The septa gets a smirk, but those same children jostle him as well as they gather up more and more followers that weave through the townsfolk, screaming and hollering.

"Gods, I hope so," Briallyn chimes from behind Ilaria, having found her younger cousin by weaving through the crowd without any sense of concern or worry. Her lady's maid, the ever harried and always anxious Adelia, is trailing her heels with a rather dour guardsman that has no doubt been gleaned from Ilaria's own brother's household for just this occasion. "I don't mind reading, mind you, but I have an itch that only gambling can cure." Her dark green eyes rake over the unit of men with open curiosity, but little else, as she falls still at Ilaria's shoulder with a hand resting casually against her hip.

The youth purposefully pitches her voice low, but not low enough that the Lady Tiaryn and the Lord Desmond are likely to miss it. "Desmond," she says cheerfully, but there's something almost mocking in the way that she frames the man's name. "Lady Tiaryn." At least Tiaryn is given some vestige of respect in the incline of her nodding head, even if it almost seems Briallyn is using it merely as an excuse to sweep a few locks of dark hair behind an ear.

Bethy is almost beside herself, though Jacob has perhaps the same wistful look on his face as Desmond wears. He'd have liked to go too, but alas, that wasn't the task assigned him by Young Lord Flint. He pauses to try to calm Bethy down. Tia glances back to keep track of them, and her nose wrinkles but she leaves Jacob to it. "At least a fortnight," she agrees with Ilaria, a soft chuckle following her words. She turns her attention to the front, where the Nayland knight on the horse seems to be greeting the fellow on the ground. She blinks though as she hears her name again, and then she inclines her own head. "Lady Briallyn," is all she says before she goes quiet, edging forward as she tries to both see and hear what is happening. In a ladylike fashion of course.

Bruce takes a quick one, one, two step in front of Rutger before snapping to a halt in a well practiced motion. He removes his sword from its scabbard and salutes the noble by bringing it in front of his face. "M'lord! Nayland Guards and militia on parade square, ready to stand down. Waiting for your command, m'lord."

There is a smile given the stone faced knight before he bows his head "Thank you, Captain Longbough." And with that he looks up towards the men arrayed with their arms and pikes. And of course all the small folk gathered round. There's a curt nod given them men before he looks back down towards Bruce. "Make it so, Captain Longbough- Welcome our lads home properly." And so the honor to ending the state of hostilities in House Nayland is passed back to the Captain many of these men have fought and bled with. Only fitting.

Desmond instinctively takes a step /away/ from Briallyn, frowning at the lack of title. "Nothing wrong with parties," he adds quietly. "I see they let you out of your cage," he finally responds to Briallyn, smiling serenely. "Mind the quick movement and colors, don't be startled," he has to add with a laugh. Then shuts the hell up when Bruce is addressed.

Ilaria is at a loss for which to blush about first - Briallyn's lack of respect for Desmond or her public admission as to her love of gambling. Either way, the girl's cheeks turn a darker pink, and not from running. She coughs politely into her handkerchief, perhaps a signal to her cousin, before looking sideways to catch the expression on her septa's face. The woman does not look pleased at all to see the other Haigh girl. "You'll be amused to know, cousin, that the Lady Valda has sent your new septa to my brother's house. Later you can meet her."

"Don't fear, Desmond. Should I become startled and flail wildly, I'll make sure it's only at your face," Briallyn replies breezily, even if her eyes slide away from the amassed soldiers to fix upon Desmond with a narrow-eyed stare. That level of animosity cannot exist forever with Ilaria's sudden revelation, and Desmond will no doubt be amused by the sudden pallor that overtakes Briallyn's fair complexion. "Amused is a very inappropriate word for how I feel about that, Ilaria. On the other hand, I needn't meet her if I never go home, hm? Do you think they're still recruiting?" The young woman directs a pointed look towards the assembled men, lingering here and there with a carefully schooled look of determined calm.

Bruce rests his sword on his shoulder for only a moment, as Rutger speaks to him. "M'lord!" Answers the Stonebridge Captain of the Guard in the affirmative, once again saluting Rutger. There's a shiiick, and a click as the sword goes away in its scabbard. The man turns about and marches back to the formation, halting in much the same way as he had in front of Rut, though this time he's facing the men. "Soldiers of House Nayland - you have fought long, and fought hard for your towns, your House, the Riverlands and Westeros. You have defeated every enemy to come across you, and thrashed them better than any others. You, most of whom are levies, deserve to be proud. You fought like true harpies, with no remorse, better than any of the professional armsmen of any other house. Remember your service, remember the men sacrificed for the greater good, and be proud that you are the best Westeros had to offer." There is a pause. Bruce eyes the four Quarters of levies and then his own, smaller unit of Guardsmen.

"Serjeants!" There is a uniform cry from the four men in back of, "Ser!" Bruce counters, "Carry on with the standdown. Collect the mens pikes and return them to the armoury. The men are free to go home. Their luggage is at the docks." He takes a step back. "It has been a pleasure to fight with you. Guardsmen - to the militia, salute!" The Guards uniformly do the same motion as Bruce had done moments ago - their weapons are presented in front of their faces. As soon as that is done, the levies begin to march off the parade square to return their weapons and join their families. The professional soldiers of the Nayland Guards remain on the square, saluting until the last levied pikeman is gone.

The one thing about praying to the old gods - no septas. Which of course explains why Tia never has one with her, if nothing else. Listening is a good thing, as it lets her catch Captain Longbough's name, and she gets to hear Desmond's riposte to Briallyn who seems to be doing her best to cause whatever scandals she may. "I would ask that you please not hit the man, it's hardly proper," she says to Briallyn almost automatically. And then her attention snaps back to the front where there is a speech to be made.

Standing at attention with the guardsmen, Jaksyn Watches the last of the militia go before being dismissed himself. Axe resheathed the young man looks around quietly, somewhat unsure of what to do with himself now.

Once the men have been dismissed there is a sigh from Rutger, as he reaches for his reigns and comes off his horse, rather easily. The reigns in turn as passed up to Lucamore, who seems to be in the middle of hopping off his own horse "No Squire, you are to ride and take my things to the stables at the tower. I would like to walk where I have been so long gone. Once the horses and are things are seen you, you are free to relax as you wish, For tomorrow or so, we'll head on to the Mire." A grin there from the knight as he pats at the Squire's leg. And there he is crossing to join Bruce and the others.

"Even if you did not return home, I would find you and bring her to you wherever you might be," Ilaria replies to Briallyn, smiling widely in obvious pleasure at her cousin's discomfort. "Just think, though—it is only two months more of it and then you will be free of a chaperone." The youngest Haigh girl heaves a heavy sigh, waving her handkerchief at Briallyn before tucking it into her sleeve. She turns her attention toward the men as they are dismissed, eyebrows raised in curiosity. "But no matter what, that is the sight of true freedom, cousin," she murmurs quietly to Briallyn

Desmond just eyes Briallyn. Tiaryn stands up for him, and he's not sure whether to be extremely pleased or emasculated. So he just stares vacantly as the men begin to separate, before his gaze drifts to Rutger and Bruce. If autographs were appropriate here, he'd certainly want one.

"Free of a chaperone? Unlikely. On the contrary, I'd only be free of the company of haggard, nagging women when I'm in the company of my husband," Briallyn observes dryly beneath her breath, even though her gaze remains on the slowly dispersing group of newly returned men. Some of the shining, irreverent facade shows a crack, and the young Lady Haigh almost frowns. "I wouldn't be so quick to claim that, Ilaria. I think that comes with its own shackles and its own dangers." Shaking it off, her sudden somber countenance is rapidly replaced with the much more commonplace shit-eating grin, which she flashes towards the Lady Tiaryn with a grossly unconcealed wink. "I'll never strike the Lord Desmond, Lady Tiaryn. Not within sight of others, at least."

As soon as the last pikeman is off of the square, Bruce waves his sword around to the professional soldiers of the House Guard. "Guardsmen, on me. C'mon now, just make a circle or something." He turns to Rutger with a big, silly grin on his face. The Captain's very, very pleased to be home. "That went pretty well, eh, Ser Rutger? The pike looked sharp. Gods I'm impressed with 'em. On and off the field, y'know?"

"I'm certain he'd be able to respond appropriately," Tia says, once the men are dismissed and she turns her attention to the group she is with. The look on Briallyn is slightly amused, as she's not as much a stick in the mud as many. And besides, she's a widow, she can say all kinds of interesting things. "As for chaperones, I suppose the best way is to become a widow. I still have the chaperones, but they get to listen to me now, instead." Or at least that does seem to be the way of it more than not. A glance up as there seems to be still something going on. "Are they finished, do you think?"

Moving to join the circle, Jaksyn stands quietly, that same quiet smile on his face as he watches the assembled men.

"As is our good King, Ser Bruce. The Baratheon thinks highly of our Pike. Needless to say the men here have a reputation one, that is lacking in any other parts of Riverlands." A big grin, and he offers his hand out to Bruce. "And You Ser are one of the best Captains of Foot, I've seen in my time of war. It was an honor to fight alongside you." A true compliment given from Rutger, before he will add the bro-embrace of one arm, if the other knight allows. "You service will be remembered and rewarded, Ser." Once that is done-Rutger will allow for Bruce to see to the guardsmen as he needs to.

Desmond has more or less tuned out of the strange, possibly poisonous sniping going on between the women behind him. He's now at the edge of the crowd, just watching on as the men are met with all the praise in the world, all glory and good spirits. Desmond's fingers curl. "I believe they're finished, yes," he belatedly responds. "I must wonder what the spoils were."

Bruce dips his head at the praise. Were it that he had no beard, one would likely see his cheeks reddening, and under his eyes on the small bare patch of skin he does flush a bit. He accepts the 'bro-embrace' gladly, dipping his head respectfully. "Thank you, m'lord. It's been an honour fighting with you." Then he turns to the Guards. "All of you lads. Well, now there's no just thinking you're the best. You know it. How many times've we plugged the gap, on Harlaw and on Pyke?" A chuckle. "Well, you lads are free for tonight and tomorrow. Men from the Mire Guard; I only ask that you stay in Stonebridge for the night before going back home. I tried to arrange for your wives and children, if you have 'em, to be in Stonebridge. We're free, like I said, for the next couple of days. The men of the Cape campaign who you lads relieved in Seagard are taking the duties for that time. Then, after that, it's back to normal routine. For now, go relax, fill your bellies, drink your wine and fuck whoever it is you need to fuck." He glances at Amos. "Even you, lad. You're a fucking knight now. You got your spurs, now time to /earn/ 'em." He pokes his nephew in the ribs, though it's unlikely he'll feel much under his mail shirt. "Just make sure that standard goes away, first." A laugh.

Bruce turns to Jaksyn belatedly and adds, "Guardsman Trehearn. I had to you transferred to my command from the Mire's Guards. You're a Stonebridge lad, now."

Listening to the instructions, Jaksyn chuckles quietly, looking around the town, he frowns, hes only been to stonebridge maybe twice in his life. Hearing Bruce, Jaksyn nods to Bruce giving a slight bow as he replies. "Thenk you Ser, I won't dissappoint you."

There's a faint smile on Rutger's face there as he watches Bruce with the men, before he's chuckling as he turns away. "Yes, No fucking anyone with the standard. I don't think it'd be comfortable for either party." the knight muses before he is turning his gaze to the crowd, and on over to the Ladies that are about Desmond. A slight brow is raised, as he continues to walk in that direction.

Ilaria's nose wrinkles as Tiaryn mentions becoming a widow, and she shakes her head quickly while glancing sidelong toward Briallyn. "Sage advice, perhaps, but I doubt my cousin would appreciate the position so early into a marriage," she murmurs quietly before clasping her hands together behind her back. As the men break formation, she nods once more to Tia. "I think they /are/ done now. Watch your toes, eh?"

The girl scans the area as the men move about, catching sight of one or two headed in their direction. "Lord Desmond, do you happen to know any of these men?" If she can overhear the crude language of the men, she ignores it entirely.

"Or ever," Briallyn quips rather sharply in her agreement with Ilaria's words. A certain tension has stiffened her frame beneath the layers of silk and linen at Tiaryn's remark, but she clears her throat and offers the Lady Tiaryn a half-smile that has long replaced the pleasant grin. "My apologies, Lady, but I'm in no rush to be a widow. And you've my condolences for that." As she says that, Briallyn leans backward and lifts her arms to interlock fingers nimbly at the back of her neck. Strangely, she has little more to say, and at Ilaria's inquiry aimed at the squire, she turned to look at him with a curious expression. "Why, yes, Desmond. Do you?"

Desmond blinks as Rutger heads in their direction, tensing up. "Look alive, ladies," he murmurs over his shoulder as the armored man moves towards them. "I can't say I do, not personally anyway," he distractedly replies to Ilaria and Briallyn, "They're not of my House. Though I'm sure they're damn famous by now."

Bruce chuckles at Jaksyn. "Well, you didn't when it counted, so I don't imagine you're going to start now, lad. Alright then, go on and do what you will." He nods at Rutger, moving to follow him. "Well, Ser, I think I'm going to get out of this well used second skin and bring my wife and boy out for some food at Crane's. Are you heading up to the Tower, or are you going to stay in town?" His helmet comes off and is tucked under his arm as he walks.

"Indeed, the point is that sometimes the constraints are far better than the alternatives," Tia says, with a nod to both Ilaria and Briallyn. "However much they may chafe." But at least they listened. Maybe. Briallyn gets a bit of a more natural smile at her reaction and Tia's tone softens. "I'd prefer that myself, I agree. Thank you for the condolences. There are just some things that are not meant to be." She then smiles to Desmond and has to shake her head. "I'm afraid when I was in Stonebridge before they left, I was not in any shape to see or recognize any of them. So I do not really know them either." Sad, that, but well, it happens. A breath is taken and then she looks over to see who is coming towards them as Desmond gives them a heads up.

Rutger pauses as he comes closer to the gaggle of ladies, and their septa..and Desmond. A slight bow is given from the knight as a grin comes along with it. "If you ladies will humor me, it has been some way since I was in town, could one of you point me in the direction of Tordane tower?" Apparently the Knight is not going to help with the confusion as to which one he is, hopefully the Nayland colours he is sporting at least shows what house he does in fact belong to.

Ilaria listens quietly to both Desmond and Tiaryn, so much so that she nearly misses the fact that a pair of knights have approached. She looks back to them in time to hear the question directed at their group by Rutger. She blushes faintly and dips a curtsey to them in respect, flaring out her skirts a bit to keep the hems from dragging along the dirty cobbles.

"Lord Ser Nayland," she greets cheerfully, eyeing his colors quickly as she straightens, lifting one delicate hand to point up toward the tower. "In that direction lies Tordane Tower, a fairly straight walk from here. Welcome home!"

"Guess that answers my questions." Bruce says to himself, snorting and rolling his eyes at Rutger's demeanour. "Well, if you decide otherwise, like I said, Ser Rutger - I'll be at Crane's." He politely dips his head, complete with sweaty helmet hair, at the noble ladies and their retinue, eyeing Desmond for a moment longer.

Nodding once more to Bruce, Jaksyn loks around somewhat lost as he mutters to himself. "I should find somewhere to put my things I suppose…"

Desmond parts his lips to respond, but realizes Rutger is addressing the /ladies/. So he shuts his mouth and lets Ilaria respond. It's actually rather difficult to avoid fanboying here, especially when Bruce /graces/ him with a look. "Right. Well. Lady Tiaryn, I'm going to take my leave. I should hope to see you soon."

"I am inclined to agree. Some things are worth the-" As she begins to address Tiaryn's comment, the appearance of the two Knights cuts off anything further she has on the subject. Briallyn regards the men curiously, her moss green eyes intense and scouring, and without any sense to glance away. It certainly isn't a leer, but a Lady ought not be so curious about strangers, likely. At Ilaria's suggestion, and example, Briallyn makes a quiet sound, and half-heartedly curtsies, but not with the same depth of spread from her skirt. Even so, it's graceful enough. "Aye, welcome home, welcome home. I wouldn't recommend the Tower, Ser. It's full of women. Bored women." Sage advice, indeed, before her attention shifts. "Desmond, you wouldn't dare leave," she says under her breath.

Rutger looks back towards Bruce, and snorts to the other knight. "I'll come find you. If you are with your wife, then I shall hope you allow me to join you for dinner, Ser." A nod of his head, before he looks back to Ilaria. "Thank you kindly m'lady. Your help is much appreciated." And like that his hand comes out and is offered. "Ser Rutger Nayland, at your service." He might as well know who is staying in his land. There is a look and a nod to Desmond, as if to say a mute hello/goodbye.

There's a brief glance given to Briallyn and he chuckles. "Well then, bored women you say? I will have to do my best to play host to them, once I am there. We cannot have our guests, being bored."

Tia watches the approaching knights, now getting a good enough look at the Captain to be able to recognize him next time she sees him. Ser Longbough that one. The other - Lord Ser Nayland - is identified eventually as Rutger, as Bruce speaks. There, and Tia does her best to commit names and faces to memory. Her curtsey is immediate, graceful and without a blush. As she rises, her gaze goes to the tower as well. Her voice is silent for the moment, as Ilaria gets the chance to answer. And then she adds, "Welcome home, Lord Ser Nayland and Ser Longbough." Her lips curve in a smile that reaches her blue eyes naturally. "I think that they will be far less bored with your return, Sers, and that of everyone else." Then Desmond is abruptly taking his leave, and Tia glances over to him immediately. "Of course, Lord Desmond. Thank you for your escort. It was most appreciated. May the Gods be kind to you."

"Most certainly," Desmond nods to Tiaryn, but can't quite depart when he's met with Briallyn's tone. "What," is his curt response, turning to face her with stiff shoulders. "You'll be fine here by yourself, just tell your animal handlers to lure you back to your cage with some cheese."

Thankfully for Ilaria she is too busy to note what passes between Briallyn and Desmond. Instead, she offers Rutger a polite smile, reaching out to just touch his hand with her fingertips as she rises fully from her curtsey. Her septa is present, right? "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Ser. Lady Ilaria Haigh." After the brief introduction, she pulls her hand back and clasps it with the other behind her back.

Briallyn's words, and Rutger's reply, cause Ilaria to blush faintly, and she glances away while quickly composing her features. "Of course, Ser Nayland, have you decided to stay for the festivities in town in the meantime?"

Rutger does have the grace to bless the offered hand with his lips against her knuckles, before releasing them. A nod given towards Ilaria, as a smile is given wide, and passed to the other ladies. "Thank you all for welcoming us home. It is good to be home. Gods be kind to all of you." And he will likely find everyone out to hear of things at home soon enough. But for now he has a walk to attend and a Bruce to meet at the Crane.

"M'ladies. M'lord." Bruce doesn't have much else to say, apparently. As Rutger splits off on his own, so does Bruce. He's heading down the road to the residential district, and a rather cozy little house in the middle of the block. Probably to shed his armour and rassle his wife and child to the Inn.

Briallyn has the good sense to wait until the two Knights are out of earshot, and sight, before she turns her attention towards Desmond. "Is that the way you refer to your Knight, now, Desmond? For shame. You'd think a squire would properly respect the man responsible for his well-being," she says softly in a most accusatory tone. The true intentions behind that remark are evident in the mirth roiling within the depths of the eyes that fixate upon him, pinning him with a deliberate stare. Her hands, both, rest on her hips as she regards Desmond.