|Summary:||Jacsen invites Kittridge up for a chat about the surplus sale and a match for Lucienne. Inigo and Justin drop by and add their input.|
|Courtyard - Four Eagles Tower|
|The Courtyard of Four Eagles Tower is floored with a fine grey stone that match the color and tone of the interior structure of the castle's yard. Plants have been potted and placed around the entrances to add some color, the greenery accompanied by several trellises of flowers that climb the support columns. The most prominent structure in the area is the set of large slab steps that lead up to the great oak doors of the Great Hall. Several hallways and accesses lead off into different sections of Four Eagles which makes this the hub of noble activity when court is not being held.|
|Mon Jun 11, 289|
Kittridge hasn't made a secret that he's staying at the Rockcliff (along with half the other nobility of the Riverlands, give or take), so Jacsen's note finds him easily. He makes his way up to the castle, leaving his horse in the stables and heading into the courtyard in search of his host.
Luckily for Kittridge, he doesn't have to look particularly hard - Jacsen is in the courtyard that very minute, hobbling about on his cane now that the weather has cleared up. Rumors have swirled for days that the Young Lord had been laid up in his bed almost as sick as he was before he fell into his feverish sleep for months, but you wouldn't know it by looking at him now - aside from the occasional sneeze, he's looking rather healthy and happy. "Ser Kittridge!" he calls out, shielding his eyes from the sun as he looks toward the man.
"Lord Jacsen," Kittridge greets him, lifting a hand in a wave, and heading that way. Uninjured legs close the distance quickly enough, and he offers a polite nod, "Thank you for the invitation," he says, "I'm glad to see you're well. It's been some time."
"Thank you for coming," Jacsen returns, mirroring the nod. "It has been a while, hasn't it?" he asks, a wry grin breaking out on his face. "I'm afraid I've been sleeping in and not getting out as much as I'd like." A little jab at himself for having been out of commission so long. "But, I'm feeling better now. And you look to be keeping well yourself."
"Just lazing about, I'm sure," Kittridge jokes, "Enjoying the privileges of rank and all that." He rakes a hand through his hair, and nods, "Aye, I'm well enough, thank you. A bit of a harrowing week with the bandits and all, but things seem to be settling again. At least here," he corrects, "I can't say how glad I am not to have been in Stonebridge, confronted with that business."
"When you're the Young Lord, they let you stay in your bed for months," Jacsen responds in kind. "Ah, yes, the bandits," he says, slowly beginning to walk in no particular direction at all. "A bit of shocking news to awaken to. But I'm glad it's all sorted. The ladies are doing well, I hope, recovering their health and nerves." He nods absently. "Stonebridge. Now that's a hornet's nest right there, isn't it?" He glances over to Kittridge. "Charltons arrested, is the news I heard. Have there been more developments?"
"I'll have to inform my brother he hasn't been taking proper advantage of his position," Kittridge replies, "You know he gets out of bed every day? Shameful, really. No respect for the position." As for the bandits, he nods along, a bit more soberly, "I'm sure," he agrees, and then adds, "Yes, they do all seem to be, at least those I've spoken with. Thank the Seven for that. They seem very resilient. Stonebridge…" he shakes his head, "No, just the arrests, is all I've heard. But there are Naylands about, now, so perhaps we'll get some more information there," he says, "Ser Rutger is generally willing to give answers that seem straight enough, at least."
"Every day?" Jacsen asks, voice incredulous. "Simply unacceptable, that." He nods his agreement when Kittridge speaks of the recovering women. "Indeed, though Lady Muirenn still looks to be in a fragile state. Lady Anais and Lady Lucienne are doing as well as they can, from what I can tell, and Lady Saffron too. It'll all be behind us soon." The subject of Naylands has him quirking his lips, though whether it's in annoyance or bemusement is hard to tell. "I'll have to speak with him, then," he says, making a mental note. "Hard enough getting straight answers these days."
"I know, it's absurd, isn't it?" Kittridge shakes his head with a heavy sigh, "He's disgusting, really. No sense of propriety, no self-control. We don't know what to do with him." He nods as Jacsen lists ladies, and adds, "My sister Lady Rosanna is recovering as well as can be expected also, as is Lady Roslyn, and Lady Tiaryn, I believe, and I'm told Lady Ilaria is also. There, now we have listed every lady in the Riverlands between us." He grins a bit, and nods, "Hard to tell whether you've gotten one or not, too, which is the bit that annoys me. I don't really mind people keeping things to themselves, I just like to be able to tell when they are. But alas, politics." He shrugs. It is what it is. "So," he says, "Had you wanted to speak about the possibility of a match for the Lady Lucienne, or something else?"
"Politics is a bit of a pain, isn't it?" Jacsen muses, giving Kittridge an ironic grin. "But alas. I hope you'll find me a straightforward man, as I've tried to be in the past, Ser Kittridge," he says, continuing to use the most formal title possible for the man. "I have too much catching up and current management on my plate to also maintain lies and subterfuge, I'd never keep it all straight. So out of necessity, I default to direct honesty." He shrugs with a 'what can I do?' look. "I did, yes. That's forefront on my mind, as ever. And the matter of the surplus sale as well, just a touch."
"It is," Kittridge agrees, "But a necessity, it seems, unfortunately. Trying not to play just guarantees you'll lose, it seems to me. But I hope so as well, Lord Jacsen," he replies, "And that you'll find me still the same. I can only imagine, trying to catch up on all that's gone on. Things move so fast, lately." He nods along as Jacsen states the point of the meeting, finally reaching a table and taking a seat across from his host. "So," he says, "Where would you like to begin, then? I admit the meeting I had with your wife and sister and cousin Dmitry left me… somewhat confused as to your house's aim, and whether there was interest in the possibility of a match or not."
"Communication and delegation has been something of a problem for us, as I understand," Jacsen says frankly. "So I understand, Ser Kittridge, if we are sending some mixed messages between us." He takes a bit longer to get himself seated, the cane laying beside him pointed diagonally away from his guest. "I'm hoping to put an end to all that. But it will take time. In the interim, I hope you'll be patient - and should confusion ever arise, my door is always open to you." Resting his elbows on the table with his hands together, he leans forward. "The sale of the surplus to the Naylands, that's just business." The way he says it, though, seems to suggest he's asking if there's politics involved. "It leaves us in a precarious position, as you well know, but it is what it is. As for the match…" He tilts his head. "I like to think our families are well suited, Ser Kittridge. We both serve the Mallisters, and as such, our interests often align."
"I hope we may put an end to it also," Kittridge agrees with a nod, "Perhaps with you able to take up the seal once more, things will be a bit clearer, going forward." He settles comfortably in the chair, one arm on the arm, and listens. "The sale was business," he confirms with a nod, "I admit that I don't feel my house had any particular obligation to offer the surplus to your house as charity, nor do I think your father would have accepted such an embarrassing gesture even if we had. He is a proud man, and would I am sure have wished to pay for it properly. By the same token, we didn't sell it to the Naylands to try to injure the Terricks. We have no interest in that particular brand of politics. The Naylands made an extremely generous offer, one that could do my house a great deal of good. We tried to find a way that your house might make a comparable offer, but were more or less rebuffed. At the last second, your brother Lord Justin requested more time, and we agreed on three days. We waited four, and then sold to the Naylands, who have waited patiently for months to hear from us." He shrugs, and shakes his head, "It is unfortunate that it went that way, but I do feel we did all we could to be fair. I don't expect you or your family to like it, but I do hope that you see it was not done in bad faith. As you say, our interests often align."
"More than fair, Ser Kittridge," Jacsen responds with a slow nod. "Would I that other Houses were so fair. No, there is no bad blood between us - neither between you and I, nor our Houses - and if anything, I'm grateful to you for the fair consideration." And he sounds earnest. "And as for the seal," he holds up his hand with a thin smile, "I plan to wield it like a battleaxe. The possibility of knighthood having been taken from me years back, this is the weapon I am left with." The two of them are sitting across from one another having what looks to be a friendly and open conversation.
"That has not always seemed the case, Lord Jacsen," Kittridge says, "The lack of bad blood between our houses, though that's a somewhat more extreme term for it than I would use, at least. As we're being honest, I'll say I have always felt that your family was too quick to question the honor of mine when we disagree. But I do hope that we can put it behind us and move forward as better friends. I would like that, and my father has never wanted anything else. As for the seal, I'm pleased to hear it," he nods, "It is always well to be clear on who is the designated point of contact or negotiation or what have you. I never felt quite sure whether I should be talking to Lady Anais, Lady Lucienne, or Lord Justin, and none of them ever seemed to've talked to each other before they spoke to me."
Justin comes walking out of the tower, something or another upon his mind. Dressed mostly in black as is usual while in mourning, he starts to head across the courtyard towards the stables. He then notices the two men, one of them being his brother. His step slows and a muscle in his jaw tenses as he studies Kittridge here, bold as can be.
"No, I suppose you're right in that," Jacsen says with a slight frown. "A tension, then. One that we can relieve to the benefit of both our Houses, yes?" He lays his hands on the table palm-up. "I will serve at my father's will so long as I hold the seal, Ser Kittridge, and I hope that will clarify things greatly. And you're right, we are a proud family, and often stubborn, and I confess to both - they can be just as soon virtues as vices, and vice-versa, though I like to imagine my… condition… has tempered both in me somewhat." Meaning his gimp leg, of course. "Ah, Justin," he says, catching sight of his approaching brother. "Please, if you wish to join us." He gestures to a seat.
"I believe that we can," Kittridge agrees with Jacsen with a nod, "And I would certainly like to try. For close neighbors we've had remarkably little communication between us, and I think we might find that speaking more often will help a great deal in relieving that tension and strengthening relations." He smiles crookedly as Jacsen goes on, and nods, "Not uncommon traits, Lord Jacsen, certainly. We have our pride as well, of course, it would be foolish to pretend otherwise. I think if we both truly wish to be better friends it is far from an insurmountable obstacle. As for the possibility of a match—" he breaks off as Jacsen greets his brother, and nods politely, "Lord Justin."
Take a nice, slow breath. Having stopped, Justin does then walk a bit closer but doesn't look too much like he really wants to join them. He gives a nod, "Lord brother, Ser Kittridge. I had heard that you had arrived though I had been given the impression you had already departed again. Here for some business?" Justin's gaze slips to Jacsen with a faint brow raise, then back to the Groves knight.
"Then we're of like minds," Jacsen says with a pleasant smile. "And we shall talk more, and often, and without pretense. Whatever the state of our Houses, Ser Kittridge, I would that we remain friends, you and I." Friends seem to lean more toward friendly than OMFG BFFs, since they haven't truly spoken in earnest before. "I invited Ser Kittridge up to discuss some matters. Mostly, I wanted to ensure we were both on the same page regarding the harvest surplus - which we are - " Accompanied with a look to Justin just in case he's not, " - and were about to contemplate the possibility of a match between our Houses." He looks back to Kittridge with a grin. "The good Ser Kittridge himself being an eligible bachelor, of course."
"Agreed, Lord Jacsen," Kittridge says with an answering smile, "I think we will find that more pleasant and more productive." He remains silent as the Young Lord fills his brother in on their conversation thus far, politely pretending not to notice that Look, and then laughs at the last. "I am," he admits, "Though as my elder brother the Young Lord Stafford is as well, I would think most will prefer to look at him first. Despite that nasty habit of getting out of bed every day that we discussed earlier, which I understand might be a bit of a turn off." His lips quirk into a brief, joking grin.
"Yes, of course." Justin quips back without quite drawling. "Have you yet met our other guests, Jacsen? Lord Rutger and Lady Roslyn? I rather expect we have a lot to catch you up on while you were ill." Clasping his hands lightly behind his back, Justin looks to Ser Kittridge, "Ser Kamron hopes for us to have a cliff diving and picnic tomorrow, weather permitting. Do you dive, Ser? Your lady sister might enjoy the event. The women will gather on the beach to watch." And likely have some good laughs at those who fail to dive impressively.
"Yes, I think we'll have to seriously consider whether he's the kind of man to husband my sister if he's not taken to staying useless in his bed for months on end," Jacsen replies with a grin. "Those are values we uphold in the Lordly here, and I excel more than most." The question of Lord Stafford shelved for a moment, he shakes his head to Justin. "No, I've not met with them yet. And yes, I imagine there's still much I don't know. All in good time." As Justin continues about the diving, he slides his right hand under the table to rub at his leg. He won't be jumping off of cliffs anytime soon.
"It is a serious consideration," Kittridge agrees, jokingly solemn, "I am glad that it came out so early in the negotiation process, I would hate for you to feel we had been hiding it and deceiving you about his true nature." He lifts a hand to rake through his hair, and lifts his brows at Justin at the question. "I can dive," he says, "I haven't made a habit of it. It does sound like an interesting outing. I'll mention it to my sister, thank you."
Justin won't actually be diving either, because his player lamely has to go to work at that time. "I hadn't dived off those cliffs since I was a boy. Haven't even seen the sea in … almost a decade. But I've missed it." Well, then he lapses into an awkward silence. Justin doesn't take any outward notice of Jacsen rubbing his aching leg. Instead he looks to the stables, then back to them, "I should probably let you two continue your discussion ere I interrupted it." He gives them a nod and turns to start walking back towards the stables.
"Then we could not be friends," Jacsen continues the joke, even though it's probably long since stopped being actually humorous. "You're welcome to join us if you wish, Justin," he says, inviting his brother to sit once more should he wish to. "After all, we'll end up discussing all of this at our next family meeting. I believe we were on the topic of the unconscionably un-lazy Lord Stafford Groves and our bright and beautiful sister Lucienne."
Well, he /was/ going to go into town to check on the status of various efforts but Jacsen bids him stay yet again. So he stops, faintly frowning, then comes back. Not to take a seat but to lean against the courtyard wall and cross his arms over his chest as he watches and listens to the others. His baritone speaks up after a moment, "Our Lady sister is certainly interested. Our House's position rather depends on more pressing currrent events, Ser." Which he need not detail since Kittridge is well aware of what Justin means. "I think my father was more counciling her to be patient and not rush into anything than disfavouring the possibility for he would have her matched well and dowered suitable to her station."
"Wouldn't it just," Jacsen agrees fake-mournfully. But he purses his lips momentarily as he puts more pressure on his leg as he rubs, the pain starting to return. "For then we could not discuss the possibility of a match between Lord Stafford and Lady Lucienne." Taking a breath and repositioning himself, he continues, nodding in agreement to what his brother says. "My lady wife is correct that we are in a difficult position, as is my brother," he says diplomatically, "and yet I believe the time could be more right now than ever. For Lord Stafford to find a wife, for my sister to join your House, for our families to - " A wince, followed by a sneeze. " - come closer together."
Kittridge listens to Justin and Jacsen both, and nods. "Of course, I understand the situation is perhaps not ideal when it comes to dowries, but I believe that my house may be able to be somewhat flexible in that regard. Naturally your Lord father would wish Lady Lucienne to bring with her the dowry she deserves, but what precisely that constitutes… well, we would be willing to discuss the matter, at least? We will never know if we agree until we try." He smiles crookedly and then goes on, "But I think the timing is perhaps the most likely stumbling block. If you do indeed feel it impossible for her to be betrothed and wed in less than several years, then I don't believe a match with my brother will be possible, and I have always been given to understand that Lord Jerold would not let her go to less than a Young Lord."
Justin passes a look to his brother before his gaze returns to Kittridge, "Several years might be a bit extreme. She's only a year younger than myself so I hardly forsee father making her wait years to marry. He may however wish to see us back on our feet so to speak, that we can give proper honor to the occation. I don't think he's too keen on my marrying very soon to be honest, unless it can bring our House suitable gain we can't otherwise achieve. I'm sure you have noticed, he's not a hasty man." Justin's tone is carefully neutral though he might have a faint inflection of sarcasm at the last.
Jacsen nods as Kittridge speaks, confirming his understandings. "No, my father will not allow for my lady sister to be wedded without proper dowries - nor would I countenance it," he agrees. He's not letting her go without a proper send-off. "And I am sure we can find a solution between us - one that suits both our Houses. For dowries and timing both." He looks about him, then nods to Kittridge. "But the details of that discussion, perhaps, are not best suited for this venue. Perhaps inside, in a more comfortable setting, and us playing proper hospitable hosts."
Kittridge sits across from Jacsen at one of the small tables around the edge of the courtyard, Justin standing nearby, the three in conversation. Or at least until a retainer comes up to draw Jacsen away temporarily just as the Young Lord finishes speaking. "I agree," he says, "Another time," giving a polite farewell before turning back to Justin. "Your father is always very careful not to be hasty," he agrees with the younger lord Terrick, "But I had thought there was a plan in the works to match you with the Lady Roslyn Nayland? I would think that marriage, should it happen, would be soon."
Leaning against the courtyard wall with his arms still folded over his black doublet, Justin's gaze follows his brother. Most notiably to watch how well Jacsen's able to walk. His gaze returns to Kittridge, "Possibly … but there is much between this House and the Naylands, and specifically between Lord Rickart and my father. We will see if anything comes of it other than more anger." Justin is tired. He tried and pushed to get the Groves harvest and now his enthusiasm has lost something. He shifts his jaw, looking out over the courtyard as he has fallen silent. Out of the blue he idly asks, "So, what is House Groves going to do with all that Nayland money you're swimming in?" He glances back to the knight, not really expecting a real answer. "Start building a new castle? A fleet of your own ships?"
"Nice to see to see the Lord Jacsen out and about," Inigo comments even as Jacsen is drawn away temporarily, butting into the conversation when the Vance man gets close enough to the small table where people are. "Good day, Lords," he then greets with a smile and a tip of his head at everyone. "Hm. Plan might be a bit concrete a term, yes, in regards to the match with Lady Roslyn, given the people and Houses in question. Though there has been some…talk." And some wayward lips. He glances Justin's way briefly, before looking at Kittridge with brows raised in curiosity for the man's answer to Justin's question.
"Yes, it will be interesting to see what comes of it," Kittridge agrees. "I've heard you're rather taken with her," he says, lips curving faintly. "Is it true you kissed her, in the middle of Tordane Tower? Hello, Ser Inigo," he greets the Vance with a friendly smile, "I was just speaking with your handmaiden the other day," he says, "And remembering that you and I are related. Did you know that?" Justin's question draws a lift of dark brows, and he shrugs, considering the question for a moment. "You know, I'm not really sure," he says, "My father and brother have been more involved in that side of things, I'm just out here with this half. I doubt anything so extravagant. Possibly some repairs to Braeburn House, some rebuilding of what the Ironborn burned. Perhaps some investment? There was some suggestion of perhaps loaning a portion of it, should there be a house in need of coin for some immediate purpose."
Justin doesn't really want to talk about that, "Welcome, cousin. You've met Ser Kittridge Groves? Ser, this is Ser Inigo Vance, cousin through one of my Aunts." Yes, he probably should practice proper introductions more often instead of being so lax. Oh, well, apparently they do know one another. Kit's answer draws Justin's gaze about the loan possibility but no, he doesn't say anything about that. He frowns a little ere he answers the question they have both put to him, "I suppose I like her somewhat, but I shouldn't have been so foolish. I was very tired, and she … was only upset, clinging unexpectedly for comfort." Justin shakes his head faintly, not really sure what the hell happened. He just looks out at the courtyard.
"Yes, it was not a time full of proper introductions, but Ser Kittridge and I met during the efforts to recover the ladies," Inigo says, with a nod to Justin. Really, all three of them happened to be present when both of the caves were searched. "I am surrounded by cousins, of one variety or another, yes. I seem to recall our relations are a bit more distant than myself and Lord Justin here, but cousins none the less," he replies to Kittridge with a friendly grin. "It was a very trying affair, those bandits. More than a few people were acting out of sorts, were they not? Your own sister kissed Lord Rutger, did she not?" He questions of the Groves man.
"Yes, I think… second cousins, maybe?" Kittridge guesses, "Or first cousins once removed? I can never remember which is which," he says, waving a hand dismissively, "Cousins, though. And yes, a very trying affair. I almost slept a full day myself, when we finally got my sister home. And yes," he says, eyes rolling as Inigo brings that up, "She did. Please don't remind me."
And here comes Jacsen hobbling back to the table and the conversation. "Cousin!" he greets Inigo. "The whole family's turning out for this little talk. At this rate, I half-expect my father will be out here before the sun touches the horizon." He offers an apologetic smile to Kittridge. "You'll forgive the interruption, Ser Kittridge - important business, as it were. But it'll bother us no more for the time being." Looking bemused at the talk of extended families and sisters kissing, he takes his seat again.
"I've questioned our prisoner and sending out a group to go after the wounded man who escaped us. I hope we'll have him join his friend in our dungeon shortly. Then we can trial and sentence them, to be done with it." Justin says, "I doubt that'll be the last of our bandit troubles around here. They are only symptoms of the real problem. Our folk go hungry." Aye, Justin looks pointedly at Kittridge briefly until he hears his brother return.
"Probably second," Inigo muses tapping his bottom lip with a long finger. "Though I will admit that I have trouble remembering which is which, myself. Cousins is nicely vague and yet accurate as a description. Ah, hello!" The last is directed at Jacsen. "Anything is possible." Thus said, he finds himself a seat to join those at the table. "I am sure we will find the missing bandit. Though you are right — it surely will not be the last of that sort of trouble. The more desperate the people get, the more likely they'll turn to other ways of trying to survive," he comments from experience.
"Of course, Lord Jacsen," Kittridge nods, "Think nothing of it." He glances at Justin at that look, and turns away again, saying nothing. "Probably second," he agrees with Inigo, "But yes, let's just stick with 'cousins'." He smiles, and rakes a hand through his hair, saying, "That is good, that he's been found. And unfortunately probably true, that there will be others, though the speed with which these were dispatched will probably give them pause for a time, at least."
Justin drops out of the conversation for the moment, motioning for the retainer who had been speaking with his brother. Quietly he asks the man to send someone from the kitchen out with cups and wine while they converse with one of their guests. The House retainer bows and turns to do so. Justin finally gives in to drawing out one of the chairs and taking a seat in the dappled shade of the few fruit trees planted around the edges of the courtyard.
The look Justin gives to Kittridge is not lost on Jacsen, noted with a slight crease of his brows. But he, too, does not comment directly. "I remember being told once that when bread is in short supply, people will either turn to disorder and crime or band together tighter than before," he says idly. "We'll not suffer those who choose the first route. But it is on us to ensure they do not end up so deep in desperation." Another sneeze into his elbow. "But we've some small designs there. I'm told the Sept rebuilding is almost complete, and my sister had brought up the idea of a celebration. To bolster spirits."
"I am certain it has given some considering taking up a…less honest trade pause, yes. And the punishment of the few who survived will further serve to warn," Inigo says with little mercy, though he lacks anger or bloodlust as well. It just is what it is. "That has been my experience, yes," he says with a flick of his fingers in gesture as Jacsen. "Often the majority carry on as best they can, but the longer things go, more take to criminal activities." He nods, pursing his lips in a thoughtful way. "Bolstering spirits is not a bad idea."
"That does sound like a good idea," Kittridge agrees, "Both the celebration and having the sept available again will no doubt raise their spirits. You should come up with a string of such events," he suggests, "Every few months, some small ceremony to rededicate whatever building has been completed most recently, to remind people of the progress that is being made."
Jacsen's words lifts Justin's brow at it being Lucienne's suggestion, "I believe it is finished. I sent word to father last week to ask him if we might host a formal reopening to welcome the people of town and tower back to the Sept. I've had no reply from him upon it as yet. I thought he might show up for it himself and say a few words." Justin pauses to frown a little, looking at his brother, "Are you coming down with cold?" By his look, that's the last thing Jacsen needs is to get sick again.
A page comes from the kitchen carrying a tray. The boy places it upon the table with a bottle of wine from the cellar, a pitcher of water to dilute it, and several cups. The boy is respectful and waits until Justin dismisses him to return to his duties. "I agree, marking our progress and the individual efforts of those who work hardest is needed. I have been made aware that our smallfolk are predominately unaware of what we are doing to repair things. This is not good."
"Quite right, cousin," Jacsen says, nodding to Inigo. "And I like that idea very much," he adds to Kittridge with quiet enthusiasm, pointing a finger his way. "Tangible, visible progress. Something solid to ground themselves upon. In the end, though, you can only bolster hungry spirits so much. Seven be gracious, we'll be back on our feet before we get to that point." Justin's words get a surprised raise of the brows from him. "I didn't know it was already done," he admits. "If our father cannot, I will try my hand at it. And no," he says, sneezing again and rubbing at his nose. "No, I don't think so. Just got caught outside in the storm yesterday and… took my time getting in." Ahem.
"A string of small events as things progress would be even better," Inigo agrees. "Nothing extravagant, obviously, but it is a good idea to continually remind people of the progress being made and reward those people who have done much to see it happen…as opposed to one event that is forgotten about faster than you might think. Although the sept will be continuously there for people, thankfully." He bites back an amused smile an clears his throat. "I thought it would have been fairly obvious many smallfolk are unaware of what happens here, since many would not have the benefit of being right here to see things being rebuilt or of being where the rebuilding is happening first." Considering Jacsen's sneezing he says, "Have to be careful of those storms."
Kittridge lifts a brow at Justin. "Made aware?" he asks, and then chuckles, "I forget how recently you have returned from squiring, Lord Justin. Of course the smallfolk don't know what we do unless we show them and tell them. They care about what you put in their hands, not what you say about them to other lords. But yes," he nods to the others, "Highlight what you accomplish and celebrate it, so at least they are less likely to forget that things are being accomplished. Anyway," he says, rising, "I'm afraid I should get back to town, I promised my sister we'd lunch together today. Young Lord Jacsen, Lord Justin, Ser Inigo. A pleasure seeing you all. Lord Jacsen, I hope we will speak again soon."
Justin picks out one of the cups and pours himself some wine. Reluctantly he cuts it by half with water so that it will last longer, though with due respect to their guest each can dilute their wine or not as they prefer. "It was scheduled to be completed a month after I returned from Seagard and I have been back more than six weeks, now. There may be final details yet to be seen to but the roof is one, seating installed and at least temporary sculptures - things of wood or clay until such time as they can be properly replaced with carved stone at a later time." Taking a sip of his cup, Justin adds, "I planned to host the event myself, but all the better if we do it together." He gives Kittridge a nod as that man rises, "Ser," Justin makes no comment upon the reminder that aye, his boots still lack spurs. Maybe they always will.
"Indeed - smallfolk care about what is right before their eyes and what they can touch with their hands. And they must. It is the duty of nobility to look forward and beyond." Jacsen nods gravely at those words. "Well, I wasn't quite looking to be out in the storm," he says to Inigo, changing track with a small chuckle. But it's tempered by another flare-up of pain, evident by his hand moving under the table again to put pressure on the old wound. "I'm not crazy, to go seeking storms, unlike - my lady wife." He finishes that sentence a bit sheepishly, but he's not disparaging his wife. In fact, it's said almost adoringly. "Ser Kittridge. Please, whenever you're able, stop by and we'll talk some more." He gives the man a solid nod. It's clear he's being honest in his friendliness; he likes the man. "I should be moving along as well - I have Nayland guests to greet yet," he says ruefully, taking hold of his cane. "Cutting wine with water, Justin? I hope we haven't hit that low a point in our stores, brother," he says jokingly.
Inigo takes up a slight, casual lean and nods his head slowly in agreement with both Kittridge's and Jacsen's assessments of what the smallfolk do and don't know, and what they care about generally. He listens to Justin's description of the progress on the sept without comment. "Never let it be said that storms are all bad, of course. Sometimes they need to be chased," he replies with a curve of a smile. "It is nice to see you under less dire circumstances, Ser Kittridge," he farewells the Groves man, then turns back to Jacsen with a brief laugh. "You have my sympathies. No doubt they'll be in fine form with all the leverage they have."
Justin glances up from his cup, "Aye, afraid it's been going on since before I returned home. I can hardly abide it but the cellar's nearly bare of spirits. We'll soon have nothing left to drink but tea." Probably his father is holding back some of it incase there /should/ be a wedding, or something else suitable to warrant the need of a celebration. Or in hope of it. Because Jacsen prepares to stand, Justin moves to do so as well. "It is a relief to see you up and about, brother. You have no idea how much." His glass he faintly raises to Jacsen before he looks to his cousin, "You got my message? Has Ser Kamron or Ser Hardwicke taken charge to set up the party and set a time to head out? I will take the group myself if they don't go soon."
"To be honest, cousin, I've steeled myself to hear some underhanded gloating," Jacsen says to Inigo with an ironic twist to his lips. "But Ser Kittridge assures me that Ser Rutger is a straightforward man, and I like straightforward men. But not all straightforward men are honest or honorable men." He sighs in resignation as he pushes himself up with his cane. "Good thing I'm keeping off the wine for now, then," he grunts to Justin, steadying himself. "All the more for you, until we run dry." He claps his brother on the shoulder as he limps past. "And good hunting out there. Brother, cousin. We'll be talking a lot more in days to come."
"I have nothing against tea, but only having tea…we'll all start feeling too much like Ladies," Inigo jokes, wrinkling a crooked nose with distaste at the thought. More seriously, he nods and says, "I did get your message, though I have not heard of any more concrete plans by either Ser to ride out, I'm afraid." Now news on that score, sorry. "At least you are smart enough to have steeled yourself for it, cousin, perhaps you'll find yourself pleasantly surprised. Much like honesty and honor…do not expect it from men and you may be pleasantly surprised if they have such qualities, but you are less likely to be fooled if they do not." He nods firmly. "We will. Take care."
Justin manages something of a smile for his brother, even if it's faint. He's not been a happy man since he got home, things being very stressful and difficult. But his gaze follows Jacsen as his brother departs, "Aye, be cautious of that Nayland." You can be sure that Justin will be as well. He looks back to Inigo and nods, "Do let me know if either of them pass on anything. I hoped to delegate it. As much as I wish to go myself, it would be rude of me to not be here while Lady Roslyn has come. But also, it can't be put off, either."