|The Banefort Invasion|
|Summary:||More Baneforts arrive at the Roost!|
|Town Square - Terrick's Roost|
|The town square of Terrick's Roost was once considered well-kept. The stone streets run right up to the building fronts around the edge and the locals have kept the spaces between free of grass and weeds that might otherwise sprung up between them, although dark streaks of stubborn soot have crawled in between the stones. There are several homes and shops located here which show the scars and cinders of the sacking of the town at Ironborn hands. The ruin of the town's Sept can also be seen from here with its ornate stone front rising above the surrounding structures just down the cobblestone road.|
|April 9, 289|
The village of Terrick's Roost is still slowly recovering from its occupation by Ironborn. Many of the shops and houses are burned, though by now at least most of the demolition has been completed. The sept is rubble, but the Rockcliff has been returned to a habitable state, and there are a few other larger buildings in various states of construction. The people are looking lean and hungry, guarded, but there's a sense of purpose to them, and determination.
Helping that along is the young Lady of the Roost, who is showing some of the village women and children newly-constructed rabbit hutches. They aren't exactly brimming at the moment, but there's a reason it's rabbits and not cows. A handmaid and a red-haired guard - both formerly of the Banefort - are nearby, speaking with each other as they watch the continuing construction.
The young Saffron Banefort had several miles back decided she was tired of her horse, tired of the road, tired of the scenery that has now gone primarily unchanged. She ignored the grunts and gripes of the ancient woman who had been given responsibility of the Banefort daughter as she took to walking the last portion along side her chestnut palfrey; said mare was equally happy to have her back free of the antsy lady. As the ground turned to cobbles, Saffron easily brightened. Even in its state, the Roost is a welcomed sight. She looks over her shoulder to the trio of men who have also joined their party and she is all smiles.
Sterling is part of a retinue. That's what he does. He sits a little slumped astride a graying horse that was once unremarkably drab and brown. To a keen eye, however, it has a deep chest, built for stamina. Looking about the town in its first stages of being rebuilt, he smirks a little and shakes his head. His next words are meant only for the two armsmen traveling with them, but there's spoken loud enough that at least the lady at the head of the little column could hear, "What a shithole. The reavers really fucked them in the ass." He blinks once as he notices Saffron looking at him, and spreads a smile onto his lips, raising his voice, "Glad that we've arrived, Lady Saffron?"
The people of the Roost are wary, and when strangers arrive, many of them look up from the rebuilding to try to get a take on who they are. Banefort colors bring a few arched brows from the townsfolk, whispers passing along, but it's Anais' guard who takes action as well as notice. "Annie," he calls over to the Lady. It probably says something that none of the Roost folk seem surprised to hear the guard use her nickname. When she looks over, he nods toward the new arrivals, and Anais carefully closes the hutch with a small smile for the people around her.
"Who is-" she starts to ask, then breaks into a swift smile when she sees Saffron, raising a hand to wave across the square. "Saffron! Over here!" Lady of the Roost or no, she gathers her skirts up in one hand and jogs toward the new arrivals, laughing.
"Thrilled," she almost trills to the common knight with a teasing smirk. "Welcome to your new… I'm sorry, what did you call it, Ser?" There is even more teasing in her tone, but Sterling is saved from further ridicule from the young Banefort as her name is heard over the din. Regression is a common symptom of reuniting with childhood friends, and Saffron releases a sudden, girlish squeal as she lifts her own skirts and bounds forward to meet her approaching cousin. Maybe she would have been ashamed to let Sterling and the other men see her in such a terribly /feminine/ fashion, but she's too busy embracing her cousin to care.
Sterling blinks again as Saffron responds to the words that he thought were just for the two armsmen accompanying him (who had the good sense not to laugh). The squealing and running draws him up from his half-slump. His attention shoots directly over to the pair (one of whom is) squealing, settling on the guardsmen as soon as he's assured himself that Anais is not a threat to Saffron. "Kincaid. You still getting your charge into trouble?" He heels his horse forward, bowing in his saddle to Anais—not that she'll notice, given that she's currently squealing and bouncing and hugging.
Anais laughs (but does not squeal) as she catches Saffron for a tight hug, holding it perhaps a little longer than might be her norm. The comfort of a familiar face is all too welcome right now. She's certainly come a long way from the girl who left the Banefort just eight months before. Dirt and mended gowns have given way to silks and brocades in the Terrick colors, her hair tamed into a tarnished gold curtain. But the glint in her eye is the same, and her smile just as bright. "Saffron, it's so good to see you here," she says when she draws back, looking the other woman over closely. "Safe and well." Cheeks flushing slightly, she looks around herself. "We are, too. Even if it doesn't look like it. Be nice, Sterling," she calls without looking, grin flashing. Kincaid puffs his chest out with a wicked grin of his own. "Oh, you know. Can't stop her from shooting Reavers, but at least I can keep them from shooting her."
Saffron doesn't seem entirely willing at first to let her cousin go-even if Anais was the first to leave the Banefort coast, she is the closest Saffron has to home-oh, and we can assume she has Sterling too, but who counts him? She releases her cousin, beaming to Kincaid before she shamelessly touches her cousin's beautiful golden hair. "You look lovely, Annie… or should I be calling you Lady Terrick now?" She dimples with a broad smile that lights up her pale eyes. She finally gives the Roost's square a careful look over before she looks back to her cousin. "At least you still stand, Lady Terrick… proud and strong."
Now she turns a bit to regard Kincaid and Sterling with an even stare. "Those Banefort women… do nothing but annoy and stress out our guards…"
Sterling looks over to Anais as she addresses him, "I'm always nice, Lady Terrick." His gravelly voice holds a twist of amusement, and a big fat lie. "Your Lord Father and Lady Mother send their best." There's a long pause, and then a sardonic, "And us." Kincaid's statement draws a wry shake of his head, "So what you're saying is that you're a sworn -shield-, not a sworn sword," and then he looks over to Saffron, "Lady Banefort would take strips off my hide if you even try to stab a reaver or bandit."
"I shot one," Anais informs Saffron with a broad grin right after Sterling talks about stabbing reavers. "Right off the wall." Only then does she seem to realize she's not exactly in private at the moment, smoothing her hands over her skirts. "Oh, please don't call me Lady Terrick," she asks in a softer voice, smile slipping sheepishly crooked. "I hear it so much since Lady Evangeline passed that I think I hear it in my sleep. Oh, Saffron. I can't tell you how glad I am that you're here. Everyone here is so…" She trails off, rolling her eyes. "Well, you know. But you must be exhausted. Do you want to get settled in at the Roost? Let Sterling see if he can take Ser Hardwicke's place as grump of the walk for a bit?" Kincaid taps his nose to Sterling's words, rueful agreement.
"Father would be so proud," Saffron says earnestly—Lord Bernard probably would be proud too, once he went through the proper motions of apologizing for encouraging such behavior and that his daughter is a bad influence on his niece. Really. Her smile also begins to relax into something comfortable and customary between the pair before she twines her arm with her cousin's, giving her a gentle squeeze. "That's why I'm here, Annie… to bring Westerlands to you." Then she glances toward Sterling, giving him a scowl that barely mars that young, pretty face. "Yes, but she would never know… would she?" Then she looks back toward Anais. "Settling in would be good." And she glances over her shoulder just long enough to see her ancient maid and guardian has managed to fall asleep in her saddle.
Sterling glances over to the maid and gestures briefly to one of the armsmen, who nudges his horse close enough to make sure that the elderly woman won't slide from her saddle while she sleeps. Looking back to the two women, Sterling deadpans, "Lady Banefort always finds out." If the rumors around The Banefort are true, half of the reason she always finds out is Sterling. The other half, of course, is his mother. Looking between the women, he adds deferentially, "Lady Terrick," proprieties must be followed, after all, "Lady Saffron, we must remember that Lord Banefort asked us to look in on various of the holdings in the area, not just the Roost."
"Torsten arrived just a few days ago, too," Anais informs Saffron, starting back toward the Roost as her guard and handmaid fall in. The quiet, dark girl - Nina - wiggles her fingers at Saffron with a small smile. Nina has always had the ability to look innocent and come up with the best cover stories for rambunctious young ladies. "And I'm told the war is going well. We may have our people back sooner than later." Her smiles falters as she presses her lips together, looking over her shoulder at the village. "I'm not entirely sure how we're going to feed everyone, but I'd rather worry about feeding the living than mourn the dead." She arches a brow at Sterling's words. "There are bandits on the roads right now, Sterling. And Stonebridge is crawling with eligible young ladies and short on men. Tall Oaks is ashes. And the Mire is much too much of a hike. Rest with us for a bit."
Saffron chortles slightly. "Bandits, you say." A glance is cast toward Sterling with a slight smirk before she turns back to her cousin. "And here I thought they were just very enthusiastic beggars." Her gaze falls toward Nina now, and she grins brightly to the woman as she inclines her narrow chin. She keeps in-stride with Anais, though she takes an opportunity to look off toward the Roost. In her excitement of seeing her cousin once more, she had let the thought of her betrothed slip from her mind; now, she is reminded that he too should be returning. "I'll help in any way I can, Cousin… that's why father sent me off to you anyhow… that and finally meeting Lord Ethin." It is hard to hide the slight tension in her throat at his name.
Sterling straightens up in his saddle again at the mention of Torsten—odd, he never seemed to slouch again, but there he was slouched enough to straighten up once more. "That is truly good news, Lady Terrick. I'm certain that Lord and Lady Banefort will be very pleased to hear it." Her words about Stonebridge draw his eyes ever eastward, "More truly good news. Although undoubtedly not for all." Saffron's mention of bandits causes him to smirk again, just a little, "I told you those were scythes, not begging bowls, Lady Saffron." He probably could have dismounted and taken the reins of the Lady's horse, but he can see better from up here, and despite what it used to be, The Roost is now not exactly what one might call 'settled.' "A small group of them decided we were easy enough pickings. They were dissuaded with no serious hurts on our side. The ran off."
"Ah, yes, Lord Ethin," Anais smiles faintly. "I can't even remember if he passed through here. The whole Riverlands army passed through here on the way to Seagard, but I don't remember if there were any units from the Vale. I can check the records, though," she promises. Her smile fades, though, and her eyes darken at Sterling's news. "I'll have to speak with Jacsen about sending some men out to deal with them," she murmurs, catching the inside of her cheek between her teeth. "Tor promised he'd help with training some of the villagers. Maybe we can move that along a little more quickly."
Saffron looks a touch anxious as Anais' words on Ethin, but it is not at all out of the fondness of her heart. She tightens her hand briefly on her cousin's arm before she releases her tension out in a gust if air. "Under your guidance, Cousin, I'm sure everything will fall into place." She then slowly releases Anais so she can step back to make sure her guardian doesn't take a tumble. "You go on ahead… I'm going to wake Mistress Morla and make sure she feels useful." Which means allowing the old woman to get a good, stern look around before assuming everything is proper for her charge. As if she has much of a choice, but the old hag is dedicated to her responsibilities.
Sterling shakes his head slightly at Anais' words about how to deal with the bandits, "This batch is just scared peasants. Levies and most knights would be useless against them. Some food and coin would do best, but otherwise, some hunters who don't mind getting their hands dirty." His words are direct, unflinching, but after he so directly corrects the lady of the house, he at least has the decency to dip his head, "At least that's my read of the situation, Lady Terrick." He gestures to where Saffron is doubling back to help Morla, "We'll be along shortly, Lady Terrick. I'm sure the others will enjoy sleeping under a solid roof." Given how much time Sterling has spent as a gopher, that's probably optional for him.
"Coin we don't have," Anais sighs, though she manages a small smile. "But I've been working on hunters. There are supposed to be some coming from Seagard, actually." She leans in to give Saffron one more hug, forcing a little more bravery into her smile. "I'll make sure rooms and baths are ready for you when you reach the Roost," she promises both of the Banefort visitors. "I'll be waiting." And with that, she and her own entourage head back to the keep.