|Spies Among Us|
|Summary:||Lord Rickart Nayland summons his brother - Steward of Stonebridge, Lord Tyroan, and the Master at Arms, Ser Bruce Longbough to address the distressing news of spies within the Nayland ranks: some of which are sadly closer to home than they should be|
|Related Logs:||Arrested Development|
|Grand Hall — Fortress of the Sevens|
|The Grand Hall is furnished as one may expect for a family that has funneled their treasury towards more practical uses, though the room is certainly deserving of the name. This massive hall is large enough to host a feast for more than one hundred people and still seats the Lord's throne at the head of the room upon a dais. Black iron hangers hold a pair of silver, candle-lit chandeliers in a line from the main doors to the throne. Two doors lead off near the throne, one on each side of the head of the room while a spiral staircase has been built into the wall on one side by an armored door.|
|September 27, 289|
Not even quite 24 hours since his ordered incarceration of his youngest son, the Lord of the Mire has been deep in his cups ever since. "More!" comes the booming voice as he slams his goblet upon the table, still not quite slurred, and surprisingly far more sober than it should be. The serving boy scrambles to refill his master's cup before stepping back to become another figure in the background.
Twin guards stand at the entry to the hall, providing protection to the elder Nayland as he continues his near restless state. For all his gregarious nature, the man just looks tired and decades older in the passing of the past few months, "Bring me my brother and Ser Longbough," he instructs before taking another liberal chug of his bitter ale. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he glances back towards his forgotten ledgers before grumbling, "I should have stuck with daughters. Fuck a duck."
Tyroan is used to cooling his heels when waiting for his Lord Brother to see him, even when his presence was requested. He even brought reading material, although he leaves the sheaves of parchment with his squire outside when he is asked in, hauling himself to his feet and stumping after the messenger. Stepping through the doors, he presses his right fist into his left palm, popping each knuckle in turn with a loud, slow snap. "Brother." His eyes search out the serving boy, and he gestures for a mug of the beer himself, then speaks up once more in his gravelly voice, "What's gone fucking wrong now?" Because that's how life goes. It's a good reason the Boothleather Harpy has only a passing acquaintance with the Seven.
Travelling on the road this sticky warm summer day, Ser Bruce had worn his normal attire. No need to get anything else dusty and dirty with the travails of moving about. However, onto Maddock, his Blackwood Fell pony whose usual job is to pack gear and not people, the man had packed something a little nicer than mail shirt, greaves and vambrace. Now the Stonebridge Master at arms enters into the Fortress's Grand Hall, a place he's only been a few times in his year of service to House Nayland. He's dressed in his ceremonial armour, a formal mix of an elaborately painted boiled leather cuirass and shiny metal periphery. His black boots, greaves, belt buckle and brass helmet shine mightily with obvious care and preparation. Meanwhile, his cuirass is truly a sight to be hold in slightly darkened hues of House Nayland's arms.
Bruce moves in the somewhat stiff armour with a practiced grace, short legs taking long strides to keep up with the less burdened and older Nayland knight whom he follows. As he enters, both Guards get a slight smile and wink; the first motion is plainly seen under the near verticle brim of his helmet, but the wink is a bit harder to discern. Still, he knows both of the soldiers well and personally and appears happy to see them. The sight of Lord Rickart on the other hand is one to sober up even a motley fool. The Master at Arms acts accordingly, wiping any pretense of happiness from his lips. Once Tyroan has come to a stop in front of THE Harpy Lord, Bruce bows as formally as his clothing. Which is to say, very. Other than a quick, "Good eve, m'lord.", he stays quiet.
Waving both men in to join him at the table, with a grandiose sweep of the hand, he shouts, "Boy, get them some ale and don't be stingy." The Lord of the Mire acknowledges his younger brother with a nod followed by an equal one to the Stonebridge Master, "Drink." Not really waiting for their own goblets to be served, he takes another swig before wiping the back of his hand across his mouth and letting out a certifiable belch, "Doesn't come up as good as it goes down."
The serving boy quickly brings over two more goblets and sets them on the table in equal distance from Rickart - each filled with the bitter brew of Mire Ale.
Anyone with any passing familiarity with the elder Nayland can tell something is immediately off about the man, his normal gregarious nature little more than a facade at this point as he appears more than a little tired and considerably aged beyond his years, "By the hag's tits, how does a man endure insufferable sons?"
Tyroan pulls out a chair and settles down into it with a grunt, collecting his tankard in both hands. He drains off a measure, then sets the bitter brew down again, "I sent mine off to his mother's family." The younger Nayland snorts loudly, "He came back fucking worse." He doesn't look anywhere near as glorious as Bruce, contenting himself with a simple leather jack, very nearly armor in its own right, but worn and well-used where Bruce's attire is ceremonial to the extreme.
Bruce smirks slightly at Rickart's remarks and quips, "Aye, m'lord, when does it ever?" Still, given the way the Lord of the Mire looks and the obvious seriousness of being invited up here with the Steward of Stonebridge, he chooses to keep whatever he's got to himself. He unbuckles the shined, high plumed helmet and gently puts it down on the table next to him before reaching for his mug of ale. A long sip follows and the short knight smacks his lips. He nods. Afterall, he doesn't know much about what his sons will be like. They're young yet.
"You'd think the boys would have had more sense. Should have just married the boys off when I had the chance," Rickart grumbles and takes another hefty swig of his beer, "Ryker, Riordan - where does it end? Now Rafferdy… never thought Rutger would turn out to be the best of the lot. Fuck," he grumbles as he tries to kick himself out of the growing rant. Looking back between the pair of them, he demands with a surprisingly sober tone, "Report to me the status of Stonebridge and our losses. How bad? What have we left?"
Tyroan lets his brother grumble, taking another swig of beer and rolling it around his mouth a moment before he swallows. The mention of Rafferdy draws his eyebrows up sharply, but he doesn't query directly for now, "We've got fuck-all for coin, until trade starts up through Stonebridge again. Still have most of the grain Rutger bought from the Groves for a fucking king's ransom." Just in case his older brother didn't remember that there were fuck-ups galore. "But most of that's going to have to be traded or given away if we're going to get anything out of anyone, or get anyone to even talk to us about anything serious." Gesturing over to Bruce, he lets the Master at Arms handle the military matters.
Bruce's expression is stern when it comes to his turn at speaking. He slides his mug out of the way to have a direct line of sight with Rickart before speaking, this time without nearly as much mirth. "All is not bad on my side, m'lord. We beat the enemy handily and did on them near double what they did on us. The Green Quarter was hit hard by their armsmen and knights and the line was cracked, but didn't break. They lost twenty three wounded, ten dead. The White and Orange Quarters of the Mire, m'lord, fought side actions delaying any kind of flanking manoever around our ditches. They took twelve wounded together, no killed. Three Guard, including myself, were wounded but only lightly. I'm happy we looted mail armour from those reavers at Grey Garden and Pyke. As for the sellswords, two killed during battle and two after by the one they called Dreadhame, but I barely concern myself with that. They were all released from service after that; a drain on the coffers we didn't need and couldn't afford." His last bit echoes Tyroan's statement. Still, he continues, "Stonebridge was badly damaged before the battle, by fire. It was arson, not an accident, that I'm sure of. Which means we had spies working in our midst. I wasn't able to find out who."
Taking the time to digest first the state of the coffers, Rickart nods, "See if you can trade it for other things lacking. Talk to the Groves. They have livestock we might be able to get in exchange for the grain. I gave them Roslyn, by the Seven they shouldn't hate us too much."
Yet it is the mention of 'spies' which brings a visible weight down upon the Lord of the Mire's shoulders - the elder Nayland letting out a deep sigh as he speaks but one word, "Rafferdy." Pausing to take another swig of his ale, this time holding the goblet to his chest, he informs both men, "There have been allegations levied against my son by more than one party to indicate he was feeding us false information from Lord Haystacks. In light of the losses to Stonebridge, I can't overlook the accusations, Ser Longbough, I want you to see what you can find from the men. See if you can find any to corroborate the accusations or dismiss them." Looking back towards his brother, he instructs further, "Tryoan, it is you that will conduct the interrogation at the trial and see if you cannot find other spies within the midst."
Tyroan snorts at Rickart's suggestion, "I'll try, but if they needed fucking grain, they wouldn't have sold it to us in the first place." He nods at Bruce's description of the situation, "The levies are feeling pretty good. They know how outnumbered they were." He leans forward as Rickart describes the situation with Rafferdy, his eyes widening slightly, and then his brow lowering sharply, "Well fuck." He drains off the rest of his tankard, pauses as he focuses inward, and then belches himself. "Why the fuck would he do anything like that?" It seems a rhetorical question, however, as Tyroan waves it off with one hand, "I'll want to hear what you come up with too, Ser Bruce. If I'm going to get this shitstorm tossed into my lap, I'm going to want to know everything."
"Aye, m'lord, I'll do my best at it. There was… one time especially I can think when he acted suspect." Ser Bruce says, a freshly ungloved hand reaching up to rub at the back of his neck. His sleepy blue eyes are evasive for a moment, but only a moment. Then they refocus on Lord Rickart. "Before the enemy struck, m'lord, I interrupted him and Ser Jarod talking in the Tordane Tower armoury. Lord Rafferdy told me he had urgent information for you and had to ride to Hag's Mire at once. When I told him that he would have to tell me what this was before I let him and my number two go, he became rather irate and told me it was of highest priority and that I would be castigated if I had not let him go. In light of him being a noble of House Nayland and my being a simple knight in service to, I had no choice but I did find it rather odd… He never told me where he was getting his information from, that whole time, but he did suggest some fairly odd things. Such as the enemy host only being four hundred strong. I knew that in my bones to be wrong, and I was right. Were his own spies incorrect? I don't know." He snatches the mug filled with bitter Mire brew from the table, taking a deep drink. A nod is tossed Tyroan's way.
Waving a bold hand around with his goblet, some of the ale sloshing out of the top a bit, "Why do any of my sons fuck things up? Why for love of course," Rickart responds with a hearty chuckle, "Damn if the boys can't follow any other lesson I taught, but they seem to always cling to the 'never give up' philosophy. No, the Seven couldn't give me obedient sons." His expression sobers a bit as the laugh dies out a bit, "But this time he has crossed too far over the line. Old Lord Haystacks is probably rolling in glee to know he got my son to betray all for his daughter. Much as I'd love to lay this at Keegan's feet, that bastard's just not smart enough to pull it off."
Drawing his goblet to chug the last of his ale before slamming it back on the table again and shouting, "More," as his eyes stray from one man to the other, "It takes balls, real fucking iron ones, to stab your family in the back and then demand permission to marry a woman that's already been done plucked of her bloom. Boy's under House Arrest in the guest chambers - feel free to have at him any way you want. Just don't be killing the boy until we have a proper trial - it'll upset his mother."
Tyroan eyes Bruce, grunting once, "While I'm Steward of Stonebridge and you're Master at Arms, feel free to stop any fucking person you want that won't cause a fucking war, so long as it's not me, my wife, or my son." There's a moment's pause, and then he clarifies, "Renholdt." He thinks over Bruce's description of Rafferdy's behavior, waving off the immediate offer of another beer and rubbing one hand over his bald head, "So he's either a traitor or he's fucking incompetent. Wonderful." Turning his attention back to his elder brother, he scoffs, "The boy did it for some trim? Holy shit. Someone should've just bought him a damned whore." Leaning back in his chair a moment, he adds, "Balls or shit for brains, Rickart. I'll talk to him before I go back to Stonebridge."
Bruce's bushy eyebrows shoot upward in some alarm at the finality with how Rickart seems to have decided on Rafferdy's fate. "I will say for Lord Rafferdy's sake that he has fought valiantly during the Greyjoy War as well as in the battle at Stonebridge. But I will go back and look at unearthing as much information as I can about his possible treachery." He is toeing the line of caution over here, it seems. Maybe he's got some enduring fondness for the young, errant, crossbow wielding Nayland. He eyes Tyroan back, again just nodding and not commenting on the specifics. It's better this way.
"Find me something, Ser Longbough, anything… and may the Seven prove those who have come to me wrong," the elder Lord of the Mire adds with a weighted sigh. Shifting a smirk in the direction of his brother, he echoes his son's earlier words, "The boy's in love. Ain't that a bitch?"
The serving boy skitters on over to fill the goblet for the upteenth time before retreating yet again.
"It may be time to call the other boys home," Rickart adds as he clings to his goblet, the poor elder Nayland needing the bitter brew more and more. Looking from Master to Steward, he waves them off, "Leave me. It's time I dealt with Lord Haystacks in a way he would understand best." His eyes flicker with an inner fire that cannot lead to anything good, especially not after nearly a day of solid drinking.
Tyroan nods idly at Bruce's words in favor of the Nayland scion, snorting at Rickart's words to him, "I thought I was in love once. Turns out she was just a damned good lay." He rises to his feet, "I'll want to know who's accusing him. I'll talk to them too." Pushing his chair in, he nods to Bruce, then looks back to his brother, "I'll be back at Stonebridge after I talk to Rafferdy, digging from there." And unless something else comes up, he'll head out and leave Rickart to his drinking and plotting.
Bruce isn't the type of person to leave an offered drink half full. He drains his mug before rising up, his hand reaching out to grab the highly shined brass helmet and tuck it under his arm, followed by his gloves. The short, stocky Master at Arms bows formally again. "Gods keep you, m'lord. I will do my best." When Tyroan turns around, Bruce gives Rickart a short, sympathetic nod before following the Steward.
A mere belch is the only response from the Lord of the Mire as Rickart empties his goblet with a swift swig, dimissing the pair before waving the serving boy again, "More… and bring me my quill and parchment - I've a letter to write!"