|Shipment at Stonebridge|
|Summary:||A shipment of goods ordered by Ser Rygar arrives at Stonebridge.|
|Stonebridge — Town Square|
|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.|
|Tue Nov 01, 288|
«Missing part between Rafferdy and Bruce prior to this»
Bruce puts his pipe out in the small hearth pot on the table, leaving it laying there. He checks his harnass, tightens his belt and unslings his shield, then follows Rafferdy out of the guard tower.
Rafferdy leads Bruce down to a dark area near the docks. There, in the shadows, is a wagon that looks to simply be filled with hay. A couple of men linger around it, and as Raff approaches, he moves straight to one in particular. "Rutger. This is Longbough. Ryker's Captain."
Bruce didn't come alone - not that he didn't trust Rafferdy or anything. He's got three men at his back, watching carefully. "Well, now I know where to look in the future." The Captain mumbles. He nods a greeting to the man Raff approaches, but says nothing.
The heavy wagon is attended by several workers, who are busy tying a team of draft horses to the main yoke. Rutger stands beside the wagon with two men, and the lot of them turn to Rafferdy's greeting and introduction of Bruce. The knight is given a once over, followed by an inclination of his head. "Ser Longbough." He greets. "Lord Ryker spoke highly of you."
Rafferdy smirks at the formality of his brother. 'Lord' and 'Ser' isn't really his thing. Never has been. He walks around the back of the wagon, and instead, just checks a bit under the hay to make sure the merchandise is still fine.
Bruce offers his own take on a slight grin. "I'd thank him for the compliments, m'lord, but it's been a while since I seen the man I sworn to. Shame I've not met you either, and it's a pleasure. Haven't really felt welcome at the Mire. Neither here nor there, I know." He shrugs. "Well, I don't really need to check the cargo I suspect."
"Hag's Mire has its own charm, that requires some discovering. Perhaps I may be of assistance next you pay a visit." Rutger reaches up to the nearest draft horse and gives it a pat on the neck. "This cargo? I should expect not. It is requested by Lord Ryker himself." Already, his gaze is shifting to Rafferdy. "Why don't you have this wagon moving, Raff? I like a word with Ser Longbough."
Rafferdy pushes the hay back around the crates and looks over at Rutger. "The faster we move, the faster it looks like we have something to hide, brother." He shakes his head, and then moves back over to the men they brought with, giving them some instructions and directions on where they are heading.
"No one is looking at anything at this hour, m'lords. No need to rush, but it's also best if the stuff is stowed and quickly in the guard tower. It's on the west side of town, new stone, three stories about, got the Nayland quartered Tordane banner flying up, if you can see it." Bruce looks up at the night, squinting. "I can't. But I'm open to any words I need to be given, m'lord Rutger."
"Hide, Raff?" Rutger offers sidelong at his younger brother, and waves at the wagon of hay. "I hardly think even this was necessary." And with Rafferdy attending to the cargo, Rutger gazes up at the flying banner, those eerie yellow eyes peering upwards. "Magnificent, is it not?" He opines, and turning his attention to Bruce. "Based on Lord Ryker's recommendation, I would very much like to hear your assessment of Stonebridge's military preparedness."
Rafferdy glances at Rutger, answer for Bruce, "They need an archer to train their men." He mounts one of the horses. "They're desperate. He asked me to do it." He smiles, teasing, and then nods at them both, "I'll see you both at the tower." He looks at the other men they have with, and then leads them and the wagon away.
Bruce mainly ignores Rafferdy's jape, watching him march off alongside the wagon with detached interest. He returns his gaze to Rutger. "We've only eleven retainers, including myself and not Ser Wayland, who's hidden behind Lady Isolde's skirt as her so called bodyguard. I've been training them rigorously for the last two and a half months, and they're as good as a small group of heavy infantry will ever be. Capable of ambush as well as standup fighting. The levies are progressing well, with weekly drill. The smallfolk are not happy about it, though. But too bad." He shrugs. "No one is ready for battle. I'm going to start integrated drills between the professionals and levies shortly, as well as getting us, the professionals, instruction with crossbow so we can act as missle as well as fast heavy troops. And we need to train with the men of the Mire under Ser Bryan."
Rutger looks between Bruce and Rafferdy, and it's the former that his attention settles on. "If that is so, you cannot ask for a better archer than my brother here." He allows Bruce to voice his assessment, nods only a few times as he speaks. "Smallfolk are rarely happy to be called upon to work. I am sure Lord Ryker is glad to hear you have the guards and levies well under control, Ser Longbough. If I may impose on your time, I would like to ride along the western borders in the next few days, to see the lay of the land for myself." He looks past Bruce at the departing wagon. "Is Ser Rygar about tonight?"
Bruce shakes his head. "No, not that I've seen, m'lord, though to be honest, Ser Rygar is the one calling the shots here and has orchestrated the levy training. My experience has always lain with the professional troops; I just don't have upwards of two hundred anymore, like I once did. Ser Rygar handles the levies."
"Perhaps Ser Rygar would be willing to pass the responsibility of the levies to you as well, Ser." Rutger offers, hands holding behind his back as he starts to walk, clearly expecting Bruce, and their assorted men to follow along. "My cousin is greatly admired in my House. I should expect Lord Ryker would like to employ his considerable talents in more efficient manner. There are a great many things in Stonebridge that could benefit from his skills and talents."
"That's between m'lord and Ser Rygar, then." Bruce clearly doesn't have much to say, though he follows along. "I'm capable of the job, but he's better with the levies. At least at this stage. It's early on in their training. They've only got ten or eleven levy call-ups under their belt." He rubs at his eyes. "Want me to go find Ser Rygar, m'lord?"
"If you would be so kind." Rutger nods slowly to the knight, while unfolding his hands and gestures at one of his own men. The guard promptly turns back towards the docks, clearly towards the horses left in the care of workers there.
Bruce offers a short bow from the neck to Rutger, wandering back into town in search of Rygar.
Tower Hall Tordane Tower
The entrance to the tower opens into a larger common room for receiving guests. Effort has been made to bring warmth and light to the interior, as well. Rugs have been hung from the stone walls as well as placed on the floor to bring at a welcoming ambiance. There is a large table with several chairs off to the left of the door, a cooking hearth against the back wall, and a wooden staircase that leads up. An antechamber behind the stairs is where the servants live and bed down.
Rygar is descending the staircase, with the man who had borne the message from Rutger a pair of steps behind. The lean knight walks with a purposeful stride, as though any time taken in between where he is and where he means to go were being wasted. Expression composed in a stern frown, he walks with one hand resting on the pommel of his sword, to steady the belt as Rygar reaches the ground floor.
With Rafferdy guiding the wagon towards the stables, Rutger and his men ride up the Stone Walk and dismount just outside the tower proper. They have not hurried at all, thus allowing Ser Bruce plenty of time to reach the tower to notify Rygar of their arrival. They enter the hall just as Rygar comes down the stairs, the stern knight immediately catching Rutger's gaze.
"Cousin." He greets, striding unhurriedly towards the other Nayland, with a hand outstretched and a thin smile on his lips. "I regret to call on you at such a late hour."
"Cousin," Rygar greets in return, his manner what most would call stiff and cold, but the absence of a frown a clear sign to family that the severe knight is pleased. His own hand reaches past Rutger's to clasp the forearm in a firm grip. "Welcome to the newest of Nayland holdings." As for the late hour, he sniffs shortly, dismissing the apology.
It's just as well the apology is dismissed, because it's questionable how sincere it was. Rutger clasps his cousin's forearm in return, releasing it shortly after. "Rafferdy is with me." He points out. "Seeing to the shipment at the stables." He pauses to glance around the hall once. "Lord Ryker and Lady Isolde also send their gratitude for your hard work."
Rygar nods once curtly at mention of Rafferdy, sniffing sharply as Rutger communicated the gratitude of Ryker and Isolde. "Do they," he notes, tone bone-dry in return. Skepticism is thick in the words. "All has gone properly, I trust. Lord Terrick's ransom could not have been better spent."
Rutger clearly detects the skepticism, but he seems entirely unperturbed by it; perhaps it is merely the polite thing to say. "Some of us do, in any event." He notes. "All has gone as properly as can be expected, but for the matter of this troubling letter." Rutger inclines his head and allows his gaze to scan the stairway. "Walk with me? I wish to learn more about this matter." And with that, he moves towards the stairs, clearly expectig Rygar to acquiesce.
Rygar turns to fix an eye upon the retainer who followed him. "Inventory the bolts," he instructs in dismissal, with a motion of his head toward the tower door, leaving the two Naylands without ears from beyond the family, for the moment. "What have you heard?"
Rutger has reached the stairs, but stops and turns his head back towards Rygar with a quirked brow. The question is not answered until the guards are gone. "Enough to be concerned, not enough to form an opinion." A hand reaches up to idly stroke at his chin. "Something rather about Lord Geoffrey Tordane leaving behind a letter. Care to shed light on the subject?"
"Tordane's bastard has produced a number of letters which- wonder of wonders- would make him the true heir. Base slanders and clear forgeries, they carry no seal, and carry no weight under the King's Law," Rygar summs up. "Were it not for the plain desperation of the Terricks to rob us of Stonebridge, this matter would never have been given voice."
"Never do I doubt your judgement, cousin." Rutger turns those fierce yellow eyes to the stern Nayland knight. "But if these letters carry no weight, why are Ryker and Isolde so concerned?" It is evident where Rutger heard about the letters in the first place; the Lord and Lady Stonebridge have been overheard speaking of the missives.
"Because Ryker is quick to think the worst of his fate, and Isolde is so great a fool as to believe the worst of the Lady Valda," Rygar returns with a scornful sniff. "I tell you plainly, cousin: even were the slanders true, these letters would not prove it. The devout wishes of the Terricks and the dire dreads of a foolish girl will not give these scraps of slander a Tordane seal. Without that, the letters are nothing."
Rutger shakes his head slowly, almost sadly. "If only Jerold Terrick was daring enough to forge a Tordane seal, it would make this more sporting. As it is, this is quite a clumsy attempt to steal Stonebridge from us. To slander a daughter of House Frey so… this Tordane bastard will no doubt pay dearly when this is all over." A pause. "That reminds me, we heard rumors of malcontents in Stonebridge. I assume there are old guard here still sympathizing with the Terricks?"
"Such honesty is deserving of a measure of respect, but there is nothing to fear of Jerold Terrick," Rygar answers with a sharp nod. "Gedeon Rivers knows not the forces with which he trifles," the stern knight voices without clarfying. "As for Stonebridge.. There has been no discipline in the peasantry for generations. They bridle at a strong hand, but like any other creatures, will learn their place and grow strong enough to bear the load of loyalty. I have made example of several of the worst: you may have noted their heads in crossing the bridge."
Rutger purses his lips thoughtfully, but evidently not one of disapproval. "They will doubtless fall in line under Lord Ryker's rule." Thoughtful, yes. But even more thoughtful at the matter of the letter. "I must ask, cousin, who is in possession of these Tordane letters now?"
"I am," Rygar answers plainly. "Be assured they shall offer no further embarrassment to the family." A breath drawn, "Stonebridge is presently administered by the Lady Valda, with my own assistance. Until Isolde and Ryker grow into their responsibilities, Stonebridge shall remain so, by His Lordship Rickart's assent." A slow breath drawn through the nose. "The Lord and Lady of this house lacked the iron to make a worthy holding of Stonebridge."
Rutger's gaze falls steady on Rygar's, appraisingly. "So noted." He finally replies, somewhat noncommittally. "Perhaps tomorrow, after we have rested from our journey, you will share these letters with me. I will also call on Lady Valda in the morning, if you will be so kind to notify her of our arrival, cousin." With that, Rutger starts ascending the stairs, presumably in search of the guest chambers on his own.