|Summary:||The Huntington's Chrix and Maggie have a meeting with Lady Anais for aid.|
|Reading Room, Four Eagles Tower|
|The room has a large glass window and seat that looks out partially over the cove, in daylight hours the sun provides illumination to the room. Other stools and chairs linger in small groups as shelves along the walls are littered with scrolls, books, letters and documents. The contents are a modest collection of local records, histories, and literature offered to both the family and guests of Four Eagles Tower.|
|Thu Sep 13, 289|
With both Lords Jacsen and Jerold generally indisposed these days, the work of making contact with people of the village has fallen largely to Justin and Anais. While Justin takes care of defense, Anais takes care of economics and supplies, and so when a request arrives for a meeting, it's with Anais that the meeting is set. Rather than an office or the throne room, though, Anais holds court in the reading room, where the window looks out over the Terrick lands and the answers to most questions are in easy reach. She sits at a desk near the window, enjoying the late afternoon sun and utterly forgetting about the paperwork in front of her as the petitioners are shown in.
The lanky youth who was shown in, was dressed in his finest. A woolen tunica over a pair of leather pants, belted on with a proper leather belt, with an iron buckle that had been polished until it shone. The tunic showed signs of getting a bit tight over his shoulders, proof of having grown recently, without enough coin in the pocket to buy replacements. He was clean shaven, and his tan skin had the soft glow that came from a recent and properly enthusiastic scrub. With the old brewer dead in Seagard, fighting for the Terricks, it was on his shoulders the business now ran. Though he wasn't alone; with him came his step mother.
He made his very best bow.
Upon the heels of the not-so-young anymore man, came Maggie. The woman was in her early twenties, her garb while tidied was black as pitch; from the dress that she wore down to the half apron tied about her middle. A widow's weeds, Maggie was still in mourning for her husband. Her curtsy however, is a fluid thing, a graceful sweep that drops her head low, while against her chest where her arms are tucked there are a slightly charred collection of binders, the leather still carrying the faint hint of its smoldering, despite her attempts to see it cleaned and polished. She stays in that low curtsy too, one that she won't rise from until they've been granted leave and acknowledged.
The arrival of villagers is enough to draw Anais' attention from the window, a swift smile flashing for the pair. "Ah, you must be the Huntingtons, yes?" Absently she reaches up to flick her bangs away from her eyes, looking much too young to be the person in charge of this meeting. "Please, have a seat," she invites, waving toward a pair of mismatched reading chairs set up across from her desk as she shifts through papers to find the appropriate letter. "Brewers, wasn't it?"
"M'Lady," Chrix said with deference to the noblewoman once he was acknowledged. "Aye. If it pleases m'Lady, I am Chrixton Huntington, and this is my step-mother, Maggie Mae Huntington, second wife of my late father." He moved with a young man's lithe springy steps, and a certain inherent confidence that was rare in most peasentry. Then again the Huntingtons had used to be a wealthy and influential family, as far as commoners counted these things. Pillars of the community and such. He offered the lady a small smile, a handsome curl of his lips, and accepted her offer of seats, sinking down.
"Thank you, m'Lady. We're brewers, aye. Our brewery was one of the finest in the Riverlands, if I may say so myself. We employed dozens of workers in our brewery and for our orchard, and the neary barely fields." His smile withered into a pained grimace, then, a sigh emptying his lungs. "Well. The reavers took just about everything, of course."
Maggie's head dips in response to the question, though as Chrix makes their introductions she bides her silence; offering only a, "Thank you, m'Lady," in response to the invitation to sit with a little bow of her head in appreciation. Where he moves with confience, Maggie moves with a decided…lack. Though she is trying, at least, there is a smile on her lips that doesn't quite touch on her eyes as if she's still struggling to let go of her grief. And so she was.
It only grew as she settled down, crossing her ankles off to the side, to hear the boy speak once more of what was. The reavers really had taken nearly everything. A husband, four children, an uncle. They'd left..one. And her. There were days she wished they'd left nothing instead, her included. Perhaps that's why she lets her step son steer the conversation and do most of the talking.
"So I've heard," Anais says quietly, dipping her chin in a somber nod to the pair. "I'm sorry for your losses. More than I can say. If there was anything we could have done…" But the past is gone, and there is nothing to be done about it now. "I believe there may still be a few barrels of Master Huntington's ale in the cellar, actually. It was too much of a travesty to water them down to make them last," she smiles faintly. "How can we help you now?" For all her smiles and sympathy, she goes straight to business, intent on doing what she can for the Roost and its people.
Though his pale green eyes rested on Anais the whole time, Chrix' hand reached out towards Maggie's, closing his fingers into a light squeeze of silent support and comfort, as if he knew what mood the talk was like to bring her into. His voice showed none of it, though. A charming mix of friendly and business like, even a bit of optimistic enthusiasm as he told the Lady: "It's taken us time, m'Lady, but we've finally finished setting the Brewery to rights. It's depleted what fortunes we had, however, and we're now running on promises. I don't know how long we can keep that up, m'Lady. We need barleys to make malts from, to make ales and beers. I know that it's needed to feed the people, but m'Lady, the people need beers and ales, too."
"Thank you, m'Lady," Maggie murmurs, her smile softening about the corners for the kindness given in the words, in the memory and the mention. Though her hands don't move for all that one of Chrix's settle; instead she forces a breath and waits; half holding it for the Lady's reply to Chrix's honestly imploring statement. Lining up her own thoughts to speak if er they should happen to be needed.
Anais reaches up to brush her bangs back once more, drawing a deep breath at the request. "That's…a tender subject," she admits, looking between the pair equally, though she maintains a small smile. "There is a limited amount of grain, and as you say, it's needed to feed people. Not only that, but to plant for the next year. The food from the Charltons is a loan," she notes, grimacing faintly as she explains. "So we'll eventually need to repay what we get, which means replanting is paramount. How much do you think you'll need?" she asks, drawing out a few notes from her piles.
"Think of it as an investment," Chrix said. "We have a fine Brewery right now that produces nothing, contributing nothing to the Terrick coffers. People still need ale and beer, they just pay more than they should to get it from afar, when we have a proper brewery sitting idle." He looked towards Maggie, making a motion. "Would you show her Ladyship the numbers we'd need to produce at half capacity and full capacity?"
&tHe looked back at Anais. "We'd pay you back for the grain, m'Lady, either in coin with time once our business once more gets going, or say, a share of our production? We're low on funds now, but our brewery operation is sound. It just needs to get going."
At Chrix's direction, Maggie's hands unfold from the ledgers, scared though they are and offered up directly to the lady on the other side of the desk. "He speaks true, m'Lady," she murmurs, "And four generations now, we've served. With your aid, and the brewery once more under operation then those things which are now recieved in aid such as we can create, could be producing for you instead and help to cut back on the debt to be paid. We by no means mean to imply that we're begging for a handout that will not be returned in full and more."
"Oh, I believe you," Anais says quickly to Chrix. "I've seen the records of what the Huntington brewery used to bring into the Roost, and I'm of the mind that it was underutilized at the time, actually. It's just that I don't have much of anything to give. And believe me," she adds with a sympathetic twist of a smile, "I know what it is to go begging for these sorts of things." She reaches out to take the ledgers, skimming through it and chewing thoughtfully on her lower lip. "I did some research when I received your letter. It's my understanding that the…dregs, for lack of a better word. The mash that's left over? That it can be used as fodder afterwards. But how long does that take? From when you start brewing to when you need to get rid of that?"
"Aye, we usually sell the dregs to farmers to manure their lands, or as fodder for their animals. It doesn't last too long, and isn't fit for humans. While we brew, we usually have farmers collect weekly. I did hear that you've brought herds in from Erenford lands. We'd be happy to supply you with the dregs we don't need." Chrix leaned a bit forward in his seat to take a look at the numbers, a subconcious gesture since the young man knew them all by heart anyway.
Maggie's head bobbed in agreement to her step son's words, though those grey eyes kept at a dance between he and the lady, the faintest of worrying against her bottom lip with her teeth. The simple truth was, at the moment she really didn't have anything to add.
"If we can get the dregs back as fodder, then it's less of an issue in terms of finding the grain to spare," Anais muses, still chewing at her lip as she thinks. Where Chrix leans in to read the numbers, she holds them at arm's length and still squints a bit. No wonder rumor has it she suffers from headaches of late. "Though I still don't think we can supply everything. On the other hand, I know Ser Otto was adamant about getting sufficient amounts of beer here," she adds with dry humor. "And that the Erenfords did have some grain to spare. I'm not sure what their situation will be at the moment, given the Stonebridge situation, but I could certainly speak with them on your behalf."
"What you can supply is better than nothing at all, m'Lady," Chrix told her as he leaned back a touch in his chair, his pale green eyes studying the noblewoman with interest as she squinted. And perhaps hope? "Honestly, barley and oats is all we need, not the fine wheat grains. Though of course we'll take what we can get." A glance passed in Maggie's direction, thoughtful, before he looked back at Anais. "Well, m'Lady, I have to say that it would be a poor thing if we were all drinking nothing but Erenford ale." Some Roost pride, there! Or perhaps just not too happy about cheap competition. "We don't much care where the grains come from, m'Lady. Only that we need them, if we're to keep employing our people, and the families that depend on them."
"What little are left," Maggie muses when he mentions the families that are dependant upon work. "Though truly, m'lady, tis as my son says. Anything of aid would be better than none at all and with fields to plant, it'd take but only one bit of help so long as everything came to see from it, before we could tend our own without needing to beg aid of another. A single turn of decent crops…," she trailed off with a quiet sigh, before forcing her smile back up from where it had threatened to slip.
"I can get you two-thirds of the fodder allotment so long as the mash comes back as fodder," Anais says after a moment, frowning at the numbers. "Grazing is still good now, since there hasn't anything to graze in the last few months. I don't think it's going to be enough to full run the brewery, though," she murmurs, rubbing a finger at her brow as she tries to think of a way around it. "I'll also speak with Ser Otto about an arrangement with the Erenfords. Since his betrothal to Lady Muirenn, we may have a few closer connections there. I imagine he'll want some of the proceeds in return," she adds, looking up with a flicker of a smile. "But I'm equally sure he'll buy more and brag about it wherever he goes, so it's likely a worthy trade."
"Thank you, m'Lady," Chrix said. Stormclouds of worry were broken, dissipating to let the shine of a bright and winsome smile spread across his face. "That's as much as we hoped for, honestly. We'll soon have the light ale in production," light ale being the easily perishable kind that only lasted a few days, but was the mainstay of most peasents' tables. "It'll take longer before the proper cask strength ales will be ready, but the sooner we start making them the sooner we'll be able to sell."
He rubbed the back of his neck, then cleared his voice and asked: "What would the Terricks be expecting in return?"
Maggie's eyes went wide at the lady's words and much like her son, a hopeful smile stretched across her lips. It took years away, when Maggie smiled. When the Lady gave her a reason to hope again, to dream. For a moment that smile was even shared with Chrix, before her focus became the lady once more. Yet, before it bloomed -too- bright, she waited to hear the reply to just what would be owed.
"Success," Anais answers Chrix, the frustration and disappointment fading away behind a warm smile. "We failed to protect you and yours when you needed us. I can't change that. But if the grain we give you is being returned to us in a different form, then it isn't really costing us anything, is it? And the more successful and profitable you are, the better it is for us." She looks to Maggie, taking some comfort in the other woman's smile. "And if others come to trade for your ale, I'd take it kindly if you'd let the refugees from Stonebridge and elsewhere know that the Terricks take care of their own."
"We've always been loyal to the Terricks, m'Lady," Chrix said. "I went to war for you, and proudly. Never hear a bad word spoken about the Terricks under Huntington roof, that's the honest truth." All of it said with a tone of deep sincerity as he rose to his feet and offered the woman a deep bow of respect. "And we'll keep saying goods things about you." Some of the smile vanished when he said in a different tone, thoughtful and slightly rougher at once. A hint of bitterness to it. "Thogh I'll admit I still don't understand how come we spared the Ironborns in the end. Ain't nothing but thieves, and thieves hang or go to the wall. Though I suppose it ain't my place to say so, it burns me to think that for all the damage done, all they took from us, Balon Greyjoy still eats mighty fine."
Then remembering himself, he cleared his voice and looked away, perhaps aware that his stare had grown dark and far too direct for a commoner to ever healthily give a noblewoman. "Ah. My apologies, m'Lady. Like as I said, it ain't my place to say. I'm glad the brewery is working again, and glad we've got grains now. There'll be Huntington brewers in the Roost for four more generations."
Between the Lady Anais' words and Chrix's proud rise to stand, Maggie looked pleased enough to cry naught but tears of joy…until the boy had to go and open his mouth and that look. There's quietly horrified apology on the woman's face when she looks to the Lady then, a sort of worrying fret that he'll suddenly undermind the consideration they've been given. It leaves her quickly rising to her feet and dropping into a low curtsy, "Thank you, again, m'lady, for your consideration and hearing us. It's been most kind, what you've done and there'll be no ill spoke of the Terricks ever, 'pon our account." Even if she does look like she wants to cuff Chrix.
"I'm inclined to agree with you on that matter, Master Huntington," Anais says with a shake of her head, making a note on the papers in front of her. "But I'm afraid the King didn't stop by to ask me," she adds, looking up with a quirk of a smile. "Or my father, for that matter. You'd think he'd know better, wouldn't you?" She winks, flashing a reassuring smile to Maggie. "The next shipment from the Charltons should arrive in two weeks. I'll make certain you get your share from it then."
"We'll plan for it, and it'll be a great burden off our people's minds, m'Lady. Two weeks." Another bow bent him over, and for a commoner he seemed to at least have been given a minimal of instruction of how to do it. Then again, the Huntingtons -had- thought themselves so very fine. Until everything was torn down around them. "You and your husband, and Lord Terrick will all be in our prayers."
"We'll not keep you any longer, then, m'Lady?" He asked, though he didn't actually withdraw, as he knew better than to leave a noble's presence without being explicitly dismissed. His hands folded infront of him, his head bowed in deferal, even if might've been caught on occasion giving Anais glances. It wasn't his fault, really.
Tired shoulders fall again in relief when the Lady speaks, and there is nothing but gratitude there in her eyes when she looks to Anais, once more that low bow of her head. But no further look towards Chrix, none at all. "Thank you, m'Lady," she murmurs; still awash in a swirl of nerves that likely won't end until she's managed to find a quiet spot to let reality sink in. But like Chrix, waited on that dismissal.
"Thank you both," Anais says warmly, dipping her chin to the pair. "It means a great deal to see people picking up and trying to move forward. If there's anything else you need, please don't hesitate to send word. I'll do whatever I can." It takes her a minute to realize that they're actually waiting to be dismissed, and when she does, it takes her another minute to figure out how to do it. "A good evening to both of you," she adds.