|Storms On The Horizon|
|Summary:||Anais approaches Rutger for information about free riders, and the pair has a discussion.|
|Gardens — Tordane Tower|
|The rose garden of House Tordane is about three hundred square feet and hemmed in by walls about eye level to keep out the attention of wildlife. Bees hum about the area and around the stone archway which has seen the flowers grow up over and nearly encase in solid vine. The scent is sweet, mixing with the air coming off the water to produce an atmosphere some might find extremely calming. Stone benches have been chiseled out and placed along the path for visitors to relax on.|
|May 9, 289|
Clouds threaten on the horizon, dark and towering, and promising a good deal of rain when they arrive. Despite that, Anais is once again in the gardens. She's traded dark and sober mourning garb for a simple dress of pale gold and sea-blue silk, high-waisted and short-sleeved, with her hair twisted up off of her neck. Her guard and handmaid are ever-present, of course, though a short distance away as Anais stands before a tree, considering it. It's the sort of look one gives a good challenge, before taking it up. It would probably be best if she were interrupted.
And as promised, the Lord Nayland is soon to arrive, though with his Squire in tow, he simply holds back once the knight starts on the small and well cordoned path of rocks and flora to flank. A smile ever present on the Nayland Knight's face as a hand comes up to shield off sun, as eyes clearly roam over the Terrick Lady. "Lady Terrick." No Anais, or Banefort-simple and to the point. But, Rutger doesn't stop, no- he comes in for a good distance to close, and offers a bow. "I received your letter. How are you?"
Anais turns away from the tree at the greeting, a flicker of guilt quickly hidden behind a polite smile. "Lord Rutger," she greets in turn, dipping a graceful curtsey. "Thank you for meeting me. I imagine you're quite busy with your own business. And Lady Groves," she adds, smile deepening at one corner in what might be a tease. "I hope the day finds you well?" A low roll of thunder draws her eye to the skies, nostrils flaring as she takes a breath. She looks downright hopeful at the prospect of rain.
"It does, Lady. Thank you." Rutger says with a brief chuckle before he looks up. A brow raising as he hears the thunder, and he turns to look, as if he could see the change of breeze, that he feels. "Hmm, I have been quite busy with many things, Lady." he starts, not looking to Anais right now. "But, not so busy with anything-that I would be unable or unwilling to meet with you."
"You're too kind, my lord." As the wind shifts, bringing the scents of rain with it and lifting a few curls from Anais' nape, she moves toward a bench beneath the tree, though she does cast a wistful look at some of the lower branches. "I shouldn't take too much of your time, though," she continues, folding her hands in her lap and looking back to him with a small smile. "As I said in my letter, there were a pair of knights seeking employment in town who claim to have served with King Robert's forces during the recent conflict. I remembered hearing you had travelled with the King's forces as well, and thought you might have heard of them, or at least would know who I should speak to."
"Take as much time as you would like, Lady. I give it to you freely." Rutger says with a faint smile. A glance is given to a branch, before he reaches up and plucks a pronged leaf. Without much invitation he moves to sit close, and next to the Terrick Lady, the leaf passed over. "I did indeed embark with the Royal Forces. We hit Old Wyck and then took Pyke shortly after. I was lucky to be chosen to go along with the King's Courtiers. An honor needless to say." A pause there before he is looking back to Anais a smile slowly creeping before he nods. "Indeed, I did note that. If you could remind me their names. Perhaps I would know someone that you could indeed talk with, if I know not of them."
Anais takes the leaf with a small smile, spinning it on its stem between her fingers. "Of course. Ser Farrell and Ser Lorcan were the knights, and they travelled - perhaps more notably - with a girl who goes by Tamsyn. She's small, short hair. Could easily be mistaken for a boy if someone was just looking in passing. Ser Farrell claims to have worked for the Flints about a decade ago, but was dismissed for something he claims was a misunderstanding. Ser Lorcan is a large man, with a beard, wears furs. Both are hedge knight sorts, I believe. Knighted, but more martial than spiritual." Not that there's any judgement in that description.
Rutger grins as he watches the leaf, his hand brushing her arm briefly, before he nods. "Ser Farell and Ser Lorcan. Those names and descriptions do not jump out at me, unfortunately, Lady Lioness." he says with a slight chuckle. "They sound like Northmen, and there were a number of Northmen in our Camp. If you say that Ser Farrell served with the Flints, then Lord Anders of the Fingers would be your man. Though if you wanted confirmation as to their service- Lord Stark of Winterfell was attended by a man known as the Greatjon Umber. Either one of them would know their knights I assume- as would perhaps Bronze Yohn Royce." And there he grows contemplative. "Did they say who they served with in the King's Forces? Or was it left like that? What position they held?"
Anais shakes her head, tapping her lips with the leaf as she thinks. "They said they served in the forces. I rather got the impression that they hadn't so much taken service with a particular lord as with the army as a whole. The only person they thought they might be able to contact was a quartermaster in charge of pay." She wrinkles her nose, then lowers the leaf. "Even if I was able to reach that quartermaster, I doubt he'd know much about them except that they collected pay."
"Which says nothing to their character." Rutger replies. "King Robert's Lord de Camp was Yohn Royce. He would know if someone's valour stuck out, or perhaps one of the Lannisters. Ser Tagget lead many of the combined attacks of the Westermen and Crownlands' men." Rutger states before he is looking over to Anais. Trying to meet her eyes. "I wish I could be more help."
"Ah well," Anais sighs, looking up to meet his eye with a small smile. "I suppose it was a bit much to hope it would be that easy. But at least I've a name to send a message to. Lord Yohn Royce." Her smile twists, and she laughs, shaking her head. "Not exactly a convenient man to contact. I imagine they'll have found other work by the time I get word back. But better that than bringing on knights who may or may not be knights, or might have other motives behind seeking employment with us."
"In war, Lady. Nothing is that easy-save killing other men. That is easy as both sides accomplish it." Rutger intones as his hand reaches over to pluck at the leaf in Anais' hands. "Indeed much better. I would not take a risk on a sellsword at the moment, unless it could be proven to me, that they are fine stout hearted fellows." A nod there before a leans his head in barely. "Anything else, I can be of service?"
"I confess, I find it hard to conceive of the size of such a force as must have gathered on the isles," Anais admits, releasing the leave to his touch, though she watches him curiously as he takes it. "Father rode to meet Lord Tywin's forces during the King's war, and the Banefort escaped largely unscathed. It's hard to imagine a force in which every man doesn't know the man beside him." At his last question, she shakes her head once more. "No, I wouldn't want to keep you from your duties. Thank you," she adds with a swift smile. "I do hope you'll let me know if there's anything I can do for you?"
There's a faint grin from Rutger before he shakes his head. "You are no bother." The knight announces before he is looking back to Anais. "Indeed, there are things I could think of, Anais. But I think I shall not request them of you." a smile there as fingers reach out to brush her knuckles, before the Nayland knight rises. "Pray you find shelter soon. I think it will rain for a spell."
Anais' cheeks flare briefly at his words, and she ducks her chin to hide it. When she looks back up, it's to the sky, judging the approaching clouds and the taste of the wind. "And lightning," she agrees, holding a hand out as though running her fingers through currents of air. "I suppose it would be inappropriate to be caught out in the rain here, though," she sighs with a rueful smile, pushing up from the bench. For just a moment, she pauses, studying him in silence. "Your brother may be the better diplomat," she finally murmurs. "But I think they are right to name you the courtier." A tilt of her chin, a ghost of a smile. "And I think you know well the difference."
"That may be debated, Anais." Rutger says before looking back towards the Terrick Lady. "I'd no mind of being caught in it with you. Though tongues would wag. You are worth more than gossip and rumor mongering, lady. I see it." A grin there as he looks down to her. His own smile widening. "I do." a chuckle there. "Thank you."
"Silk doesn't deal well with rain, I fear," Anais admits, brushing the fabric of her skirts between her fingers. "Else I'd be more sorely tempted. I miss the rains of home." At some unseen signal, her guard approaches, folding a cloak over her shoulders with a brief, respectful nod for Rutger. Respectful, and perhaps a little warning. "Do you think you might walk me back to the tower without threat of rumors, my lord?" she suggests, taking a few steps in that direction.
"Then I would have to get you more silk." Ruger says with a grin. Though as the guard steps in he merely smirks in the man's direction. One arm crooked out. "Of course, my lady. It would be an honor to escort you back." He knows his own man will follow when the processional begins. But for now he lingers back, Allowing Rutger to move with ease, and with the Terrick noblewoman.
"Bribery," Anais accuses good-naturedly, smile crooked as she takes the offered arm. "It starts with roses, escalates to leaves, and suddenly it's silk." As she walks, she casts sidelong glances his way from beneath her lashes, speculative. Aware of potential dangers, but still drawn by the flame. "Lady Rosanna hasn't half a chance, I think. Especially not if you're half the dancer you're rumored to be. I assume you've brought in musicians for her celebration, of course?"
"Fine bribery." Rutger corrects. " All part of my plan, Lady. Small things, to bigger things." he announces before he is grinning. "Ah, she may not, but it is her family, I must seek to charm, and somehow let them see past vicious rumors that one Frey feels is needed and justified." A sniff there. " I shall not give away all my secrets, Anais."
"Vicious rumors?" Anais echoes, tilting her head curiously as she looks up to the man. "Now you're just teasing me. I confess, I haven't the slightest idea what the Freys would consider a vicious rumor." She arches a brow, a smile tugging at one corner of her lips. "They don't say you're…" She lowers her voice, feigning caution. "/Punctual/, do they?"
A laugh leaves Rutger before he looks back to her, his arm subtly drawing her closer. "No. They don't say I am punctual, Lady Terrick. They say I have murdered my way through many women. Perhaps as many as Lord Walder has sons." a grin there. "Including my wife." A pause there as he clicks his tongue against his teeth. "I would call those vicious, would you not? And quite the obstacle."
"Vicious indeed," Anais agrees, offering no resistance to his draw. She watches him still, ever curious. "Though I think if there's no basis for them, it should be easy enough to dismiss such rumors." There's a beat of silence, the rising winds flaring her skirts ahead of her. "Did you?"
"Did I?" a grin there as he looks back to her, stopping there walk as he turns full on in that close space. "What do you think, Anais?" Rutger asks, as his tone softens. "Do you find me a man, so cold that would stoop to such cruelty?" A pause 'What would be my motivation?"
"I don't know you well enough to say," Anais admits, one shoulder rising in a slight shrug. "But I know some men have different appetites. I know that people do things in anger that they would never do in their right minds. I know that sometimes, one must do something terrible in the service of the greater good."
"And to that I will agree, and have done something in service of the greater good. Something terrible." he admits there as eyes hold in the westerwoman. And his draws his head in a little closer, his voice soft. "But." Rutger starts. "That was not murdering my wife." And there he draws slowly back. "No. She died of a sickness that we both caught. I from not leaving her side, she from a night in poor weather."
Anais' breath catches when he leans in, held for that brief moment and released only slowly when he draws back once more. "I am sorry," she says softly after, though her voice cracks in saying it. "I imagine it would be hard to lose someone you've been close with for years." She falls silent for a span, then looks back to him, arching a brow slightly. "So what had you done to the man or woman who started the rumor?"
"What have I done?" a chuckle there. "Nothing, for they belong to my overlord, and I will not fight the rumors by challenging a man to a duel. Let them speak on me, though they seek to harm my reputation I have bettered it by my acts in he Crownlands." Rutger states, but he is not tugging the lady on, instead he seems fine to remain in the closeness there. "Eventually, I will seek to right the wrong done to me. But, I have the stamina to wait."
"Patience?" Anais asks. "Or stubbornness?" A smile flickers at one corner of her lips, and she continues down the path. "My mother assures me they're not the same thing. My father assures me I've more of the latter than the former." Her smile eases at the mention of her parents, and she falls silent at the thought of them, wistful. She is, all told, still young and only recently left home.
Rutger smiles, as one hand moves out to catch Anais, as she continues on down, his steps quick to rejoin her. "I would say I have an equal measure of both. As I am loathe to give up without a fight." A chuckle there, before one hand, they one not trying to catch at her sleeve, moves to brush a bit of hair over his ear. "Do you miss them?"
"I do," Anais admits, waiting for him to catch up before taking his arm and continuing. "Though I think sometimes that it's less that I miss /them/ and more that I miss…Having someone to take care of things for me. I was in such a hurry to venture out on my own, such a hurry to have things of my own, to be an adult. And then suddenly it was all here all at once. And…I do sometimes wish they could swoop in and make everything right."
"You should have that someone now." Rutger states as he walks with Anais, though it seems he is not leading her so much towards the tower, as much as to another part of the garden. "Your husband should be the man doing that- and the man that you feel you can run to for safety." he states before there is a look back. "If it is not him, then I pray you find a man who you can run to."
"Jacsen has so many things to worry about," Anais shakes her head slightly, following without any apparent concern for where the path leads. "He's been thrust into this unexpected, lost his mother. The shortage of supplies means his leg pains him more than usual, and in truth, I think he's unhappy with the fact that he couldn't go to the isles with the rest of the men, even if he /was/ needed more at the Roost. I can't be another burden to him. I don't /want/ to be a burden to him."
"He may." Rutger agrees. "but he is your Lord and husband." for now, is left out. "And it is part of his duty to his family. And where as I am sorry that he has lost his mother." his hand raising to touch at his heart. "But he needs to find his heart and gird his loins. He is still alive." As to the rest he makes a turn, if only to stop and place his arms at Anais' own arms for the moment. "You are not a burden. Do not ever say that, lady. At least in my presence."
"Aren't I?" Anais' smile flickers, brave despite whatever she feels. "You might be surprised, my lord. I can be demanding, and prickly, and sometimes I even pout. Or sulk. Or rage. Or…" She trails off, reaching up to tuck a piece of hair behind her ear. "Or be distrustful. As much as I sometimes wish my parents could save me, I can't help but resist the idea of needing to be saved."
"No." Rutger states back "I indeed may be surprised, as women are strong and surprising creatures. But you are no man's burden. And your husband should not see you as such." And there he watches, his thumb smoothing down her fabric "I believe every girl has that fantasy, but a woman, a noblewoman fights against it."
"There is nothing worse than being helpless," Anais agrees quietly, drawing back just a bit. "And I will not allow myself to be that." She looks away, up to the clouds racing in over the horizon, before meeting his eye once more. "Are you toying with me?" she asks. A bold question. Or at least it would be, if it wasn't softened by a faint smile at one corner of her lips, a speculative glint in her eyes.
"Toying with you?" A grin there, as the knight continues to keep his eyes on the lady. The clouds be damned. "I haven't decided." he states with a faint smile of his own. "Do you think me the sort of man, to toy with a woman, my lady?" Rutger asks.
"Not just /a/ woman," Anais drawls in reply, sighing softly despite her small smile. "But probably many of them. I may be young, my lord, but I am not a fool." She allows herself the faintest brush of fingertips at the cuff of his sleeve, then shakes her head. "I am a woman wed, and you are courting the Lady Rosanna."
Rutger smiles. "I know this, but you would be wrong if you thought you were many in a sea. You are not." and there's a glance to his sleeve, before he is nodding. "You are a woman wed. And I am informally courting Lady Groves, yes."
"Then let us be…friends," Anais says slowly after a moment, drawing back to a less intimate distance. Her smile quirks once more, rueful. "My own sister never forgave me for Jaremy. I can't imagine Lady Rosanna would thank me for being too friendly with you."
A small sad smile shows on Rutger's face before he nods. His hands coming down to rest at his belt, and tug at his doublet. "Of course. Friends." Said with his own rueful laugh. " I understand- truly I do, lady." And there the knight looks back. "If we were betrothed, or set formally upon that path. I would agree with you." But…
Anais arches a brow at that, starting to walk once more, though she waits for him to join her before movie at anything resembling a normal pace. "Why court the lady if that isn't your intention?" she asks. "You hardly /need/ the surplus supplies the Groves have to offer. And I'd be terribly disappointed in them if they agreed to sell to you based only on the /possibility/ of a betrothal. Granted," she laughs, "I suppose there's something to be said for actually taking one's bearing before setting a betrothal in motion."
Rutger laughs a little before he is looking towards the Lady. "We do need the surplus supplies, as we will be short, having to feed both Stonebridge and the mire." the Nayland knight points out. "As for they. No, the betrothal and our deal is something else entirely. I would press for such a betrothal, but their family knows me not." A frown there. "And I believe I need to win over Lord Kittridge, if I am to see it go further."
"Do you often have trouble pursuing the things you desire, my lord?" Anais asks, a teasing challenge as they circle back toward the entrance to the gardens. There's a low rumble of thunder in the distance, and each breeze is cool and sharp, a stark contrast to the heavy, damp heat that had ruled the day earlier.
"Do I?" A grin there from Rutger and he simply chuckles. "Aye, I would say so." And there he glances up as the thunder comes pealing. "It seems a storm is brewing. Aye a good one." he trails off. "I would say I do..Because I am a Nayland." A nod as he goes to direct her further. "Reach Beyond Thy Grasp."
"Wet enough to protect from lightning, though, I think." Anais shakes her head to his answer, though, ducking her chin to hide a smile. "Personally, I prefer to take a firm grasp of things. Either they come to my grip, or I go to them. But when I want something…" She trails off, lifting one shoulder. "I take it, and I hold it." Lashes lowered, she casts a sidelong glance his way. "Because failure is not an option."
"And Wet enough to chill if you are utterly soaked." Rutger comments before grinning back towards Anais. As to her words he grins, his hand coming up to catch her arm. His grip strong enough. "Failure is never an option with me either, Anais." he intones "That is why I have trouble. I didn't say I do not find success."
Anais' lips curve in a slow smile for his words, and though she stills at his grip, it doesn't seem to be out of fear. "Then this should be an interesting friendship," she murmurs. And with those words, she backs a few steps away, a slow tension at his grip that is just enough to make him choose between releasing her or creating a scene, holding his gaze as she moves.
Well aware of the eyes upon him, he keeps the grip held there, and the tension to build before slowly releasing her arm. After all he'd come close to causing a scene. But as the knight stated. Rutger is patient. Or perhaps. Stubborn
That smile flashes when he releases her, a dimple showing as Anais turns away, still watching him over her shoulder. And then, a curtsey that would be at home in the King's court, and a stately 'my lord', and the Terrick lady is gone. Her handmaid grins back at Rutger as well…but the guard glares on his way out.