Page 323: The Horses
The Horses
Summary: A meeting in the courtyard of Four Eagles leads to talk of the horses. THE POOR HORSES.
Date: 7/June/289
Related Logs: This one which happens right after, are you proud of me for linking?
Lucienne Oliva Mortimer Justin Keelin Dmitry 
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.
7 June, 289

The summer sun beats down on the paved stone courtyard in Four Eagle's Tower today, though a gentle sea breeze whirls within to temper some of that heat. The Lady Lucienne is by one of the support columns, idly fingering a flower on one of the climbing vines that wraps its tendrils around the large stone pillar. Dressed still for mourning, she has her hair only half-braided today, enough to keep curls from her eyes but leave a tumble of them down her back. She glances up and toward the stables briefly, and frowns. There are plenty of people about the yard, not least of all one of her handmaids, hovering just on the other side of the column.

Oliva Snow steps out of the stable, being followed by a moon-eyed rounsey with war scars on his knees and flowers braided in his mane. He paces after his mistress without need for a lead, and Oliva hardly needs to look behind her to know he is there. She clucks her tongue softly now and then, and the horse's ears perk up wtih each attention-grabbing sound. The woman's dark hair is knotted up gently over her shoulder, and it has similar flowers twisted in its locks. Out of the corner of her eye, she spies Lady Lucienne, and the Mistress of Horses warms with a smile as she starts toward the Lady, clucking her tongue so the rounsey follows.

Mortimer is, in truth, about the tower looking for Lord Justin. Just a quick clarification needed, nothing massively urgent, but still one of of those things best checked. Crossing the courtyard from the gate he alters his course slightly to stear clear of the moving horse and makes his way towards the tower enterance, pausing only when he spots Lucienne. A respectful nod is given in greeting, followed by a simple, "M'Lady."

Luci switches frown for a smile as Oliva greets her, taking a step away from the column to meet the other woman. She holds her hands out, palms upturned and ready to take Oliva's. "Mistress," she says, all warmth and heart, "How lovely to see you again. — And Master Trevelyan." The latter earns himself a quick bob from the lady, only half a curtsy. "Are you looking for my father?"

Oliva quickly accepts Lucienne's hand, and the Northern woman blossoms with an even wider smile. "Lady Lucienne. You are as beautiful as always, but do not think I did not see that cloud hanging over your head." She gives her a knowing look before she smiles over to the Sheriff, nodding her head in a gentle greeting.

Mortimer pauses as conversation is joined, shaking his head slightly. "Your Brother m'Lady, Lord Justin. He had some instructions which may be changing with recent developments. As I heard he had returned I thought it prudent to check before sending men out." A sideways glance to Olivia nets the mistress of horses a polite nod in return, as is proper.

Lucienne ducks her head at Oliva's words, her smile pressing a little thin. "They took Ticker," is all she says - her well-loved, still-spirited gelding. Mortimer's response sees her looking back up, and even sending a glance over her shoulder. "I must confess I've not seen the Lord Justin today, unfortunately. Perhaps he's… well, I've no idea, to be perfectly honest with you." She offers another smile, this time in apology.

"I had heard as much, My Lady," Oliva says in a slightly tight voice, giving the Terrick girl a gentle touch to her shoulder. "I'm very sorry. Certainly we can find you another match, but Lord Terrick has not sent me to look into another batch of fresh geldings and mares." She tries her best not to look too grim, but she was tersely informed that horses cost a lot more than grain.

Well, if Lucienne hasn't seen Justin, then maybe he isn't in the keep after all but out and about somewhere. Taking a moment to follow the lady's glance, Mortimer then turns his attention back to her person and nods polietly again, "Thank you m'Lady, perhaps I will seek him elsewhere then." Although maybe not just immediately. Turning to Oliva he offers, "One of the issues I was wanting to discuss with Lord Justin was the degree to which effort should still be extended into search for the horse, and other items, still missing. From what has been said the guilt party did not look like the best travelled, and a mass sale of such beasts locally is likely to be noticed by someone. There is chance yet that they may be recovered." Although obviously, with the bandits dead, the quicker the better.

Lucienne's shoulder droops under Oliva's palm, and her smile disappears. "No," she says, "I suppose he wouldn't think much on replacing a horse just now, all things considered." Still, she's most upset. Her brows lift some as Mortimer addresses the mistress of horses, and she listens with interest, saying nothing further for the moment.

The grim-looking Mistress of Horses looks even more so, but she is a Northerner. They are excessively good at looking grim. "I earnestly hope that all are found, Master Trevelyan." As Lucienne droops, Oliva looks over toward the Lady and she offers her a small smile. Then her gaze refocuses on Mortimer. "I can give you details on each Horse that left the Roost that day, if you so require. I have cared for some of them for quite a length of time."

Every little helps as they say, "Details would be useful, aye," Mortimer agrees, even if several of the beasts are know to him as well. "I doubt any sale of high quality horses would go unmentioned, but evidence of who the prior owners were may be invaluable if they have already been moved off Terrick lands." A glance to Lucienne and he states, matter of factly, "we'll do what we canm'Lady." THere is of course always the possibility that some have been killed for meat, but he's not going to raise that one just now, not infront of the ladies.

Keelin has Tiny, as he is on his way to put the charger back in the stables. He's walking with the big charger coming along behind him. Clop clop clop. As he spies a little group of folks, the Mallister sworn bows politely, his gaze flicking between those who are there briefly.

"Ticker was very distinctive," Lucienne pipes up quietly. "At least, he was to me." Her handmaiden, sensing the lady's growing distress, plucks a flower from the trellis and sneaks around to fix it in Lucienne's hair. "Thankyou, Master Trevelyan. I do appreciate your help, ever so muchly."

Oliva hears the clops of hooves, and she looks up to spy Tiny. The sight of the charger draws a sudden smile on her lips, immediately softening the grim lines. Her gaze falls on Keelin, and at his formal bow, she offers him a nod of her head. Her earthen eyes linger on him for a moment before she is drawn back around to Mortimer. "Thank you," she says gently to him before she looks back to Lucienne. "Lady Lucienne, I know it won't be the same, but I do have a gentle mare that could use a kind, fair hand. Perhaps she will help ease your pains while we try to find dear Ticker." She gives the woman's shoulder another tender touch.

"Just tidying up the loose ends m'Lady," Mortimer answers, "it's what your Lord Father pays me for after all." The sound of hooves also, unsurprisingly, attracts his attention and he turns towards the noise. The Mallister knight is vaguely familiar and so he gives the man a brief nod in greeting, "Ser." Given Lucienne's apparent distress though he shuts up, waiting for someone to intriduce a different topic of conversation.

A Lady in distress? Aww. Keelin has to stop. Really. Honest it has nothing to do with the look he gives to Oliva, his gaze staying on her just a moment too long. "Is there something I can help with?" he asks simply, since he's not sure what's going on.

"That would…" Lucienne isn't quite sure what that would be, but she does rouse another small smile for Oliva's efforts. "That would be well, Mistress Oliva," she finally settles on. "Nevertheless, your help is appreciated," she insists to Mortimer, before drawing a slow breath. After a quick, light curtsy, she greets Keelin: "Ser. Have you any news when Lady Muirenn will be returning to the Roost?"

Oliva is aware that she cannot replace a Ticker, but she will do what she can to provide as the Mistress of Horses. She will find Lucienne a proper replacement, she is thinking on this even as Keelin approaches. His voice gives her a start, and she finds herself smiling at him. The moon-eyed rounsey standing near by peeks over Oliva's shoulder to the knight. Both Mistress and horse have flowers twisted up in their hair, and it looks as if little fingers have tried to braid the geldings mane in places. As Lucienne inquires on Lady Muirenn, Oliva goes quiet.

And there we have it, a new conversation topic. Mallisters. That'll do. Not that he has anything in particualr to add mind, given he has no knowledge that is pertinant to the question at hand, but he can at least relax a bit and turn to the newly arrived knight to see if he can shed some light on it.

Someone's light, easy bootsteps come through the entrance hall and right out of the tower into the courtyard. Justin's stride is not hasty but as his legs are long he covers ground easily. He is tugging on a pair of leather gloves, dressed in a plain black doublet with black boots and dark grey trousers. His mine is upon one thing or another and he starts to head for the stables with some purpose in mind when he takes note of several others already presant. His stride slows, head turned as he walks, to see if he can determine what is afoot in the courtyard thisevening.

Lucienne, Oliva, a handmaid, Mortimer and now Keelin are all gathered near one of the vine-adorned columns in the courtyard. As she spies a figure dressed in black out the corner of her eye, Luci's attention can't help but wander from Keelin and his answer, and she gestures with a hand toward Justin to direct Mortimer's attention thattaways, too.

"Lady Muirenn should be arriving here today or tomorrow, I'd think. As soon as she is safe to move," Keelin replies to Lady Terrick politely. He glances over at Mortimer, not quite sure what he's interrupted. "I didn't mean to interrupt. I'm just bringing Tiny here to the stables. If you all will excuse me?" He doesn't want poor Tiny to get too cold before he rubs the horse down and all.

Mortimer addresses Keelin first, since the man appears to be in the process of leaving, "Don't fret Ser, you ot so much interupted, as arrived at that moment between conversations." Lucienne's gesture does make him turn though, and he gives the ariving Terrick the customary defferential nod in greeting. "M'Lord. As and when you have the time, there's a small matter I'd like to discuss." He glances back towards Lucienne and Oliva for a moment, attempting to indicate that it's not something for infront of the womenfolk, noble or not.

Well… now Lucienne is making some gesture in his direction? Justin stops, pausing to watch them for a breath before he turns to alter from his original course. Instead of going to the stables, he begins to cross the courtyard to approach the small gathering. He gives a curt nod to Mortimer, "Sheriff," then to Keelin, "Ser Dorsey," and Olivia before his pale grey eyes settle upon Lucienne, "Sister. I had hoped to speak with you Lucienne." Justin makes a subtle nod to Mortimer before he says to her, "I … hope you are all right?" He studies Lucienne's face and if the others were not all standing around right here, he might very possibly have greeted her more warmly than merely inquiring.

There is an earnest look of disappointment in Oliva's eyes as Keelin attempts to excuse himself. It is almost as if she has forgotten her place there beside Lucienne and the Sheriff — oh and Justin too. She steps forward a bit, offering the knight a small smile. "You weren't interrupting, Ser… we were just speaking of the loss of horses." And of course Lady Muirenn and Lord Justin, but she has priorities!

Loping up from points inward, Dmitry pauses on the balls of his feet with a sweep of dark eyes as he notes the general cluster of persons, family and otherwise, lurking in the courtyard. Eyebrows twitched up with a hint of humor blent into his curiosity, he, too, alters direction in an easy course correction of idle convergence.

She doesn't look particularly well, as Lucienne allows Keelin his leave with a nod. "Of course, my lord," she returns politely to Justin's inquiry. "I am well enough. We were —" Well, Oliva brings up the subject of horses and Lulu is frowning again all of a sudden. "If you'd like a moment with Master Trevelyan, I could go fetch some tea or wine, and we could sit out here for awhile?"

Keelin pauses at the look on Oliva's face. "Tiny needs a rub down," he explains. "I can come back after? Or you could come help me, if you're so inclined. It'll go faster with two, and Tiny is a big horse." There's a roguish gleam to his eyes as Keelin speaks to Oliva that perhaps hasn't been seen by the others before, given who they are and all.

If they are going to leave it to him to choose, Justin puts out a hand to lightly touch Lucienne's upper near arm, "That would be a good idea, something to drink. Give me only a moment with the Sheriff and then I would like a few minutes of your time, Lucienne. If it's no imposition." And seeing that is all right with her, and a maid to go and set it up for her, Justin hafl turns and looks to Mortimer. He strips the gloves back off he had put on before, not going to go and tilt against the quiintain just now after all. "All right, Sheriff. Let's have a short walk and you tell me what's on your mind. Then if you need to meet with me further a bit later, we'll do that." Justin starts to walk across the courtyard to receive the report if Mortimer will do so.

The Mistress of Horses opens her mouth a bit at his suggestion, catching his rougish look. It causes her to smile a bit broader, though she coughs abruptly as she realizes their company. With a nod of her head, she steps up toward Tiny and his rider. "Alright then, Ser Dorsey… lets not loiter." Oliva uses the hard-edged Northern tone on him as she starts to gesture them along. This also is a bit of a relief as it seems the noble types are doing their noble business.

Mortimer glances briefly across to Lucienne as the issue of the horses is raised again, but then attempting to give anything more than the professional reassurances he has already offered is beyond propriety. That's Justin's job, or maybe her handmaiden's and lady friend's. Certainly not his though. Following Justin's invitation he takes a few steps with the man before starting, "I had a couple of questions m'Lord, what with the recent discoveries in relation to the bandits. Firstly, are you and still wanting the search for any signs of a blackmarket in the area and secondly," here he pauses just long enough to ensure they're out of casual earshot of Lucienne, "while the Ladies have been returned to us, there are still items missing. Most notibly their horses, but also I believe musical instruments and.. em.. clothing." Yeah that last bit, tad awkward there. "I was reckoning that sale of that number of quality beasts would get talked about around here, assuming they haven't all been butchered for their meat, but I was wanting to see how much manpower you thought appropriate to allocate to the search."

"None at all," Lucienne reassures Justin with a gentle smile. "Celine," she says, turning to the dark-haired handmaiden. "Some wine, please? And my tea. And perhaps… if the kitchens can spare anything." She waves a hand dismissively in the air; the snacking part of the tray is not so important. "Dmitry, cous," greets the Terrick girl, attempting warmth but achieving something a lot closer to — needy. "Would you join me, for a moment?" She indicates a nearby table with bench seats with the sweep of one hand.

Glance flickered sidelong only briefly toward his other cousin, Dmitry looks back to Lucienne with the flash of a smile, all bright attentiveness as he sketches her a little bow. "Of course, cousin," he says, "gladly." Restraining himself from more flowery tongue exercises for the moment, he cants his head slightly to one side, and then turns on a brisk pivot to trot over to the indicated table to perch at it, palm braced beside him as he leans on it; most people do not sprawl sitting up, but he appears to be making a fair go of it, ankle swinging.

Justin pauses once he and Mortimer are a fair distance across the courtyard to listen to the Sheriff. He frowns, "And here I had hoped you had news upon what I had asked you to look into already." Keeping his baritone quite low, he glances back towards where Lucienne goes to take a seat to await her tea, "Not allotting any additional manpower for now. There are others also seeking. You just find out about the blackmarket trade and it that should happen to also include the sale of the ladies' personal items and horses, all the better." A brief pause ere Justin adds, "I will be speaking shortly with our … guest, down in the dungeons. I have a list of questions for him which does include what he knows about those belongings. But also details concerning the man I tracked but whom eluded me. It may be that he can point us in a direction to recover them."

Mortimer shakes his head apologetically. "I'm sorry m'Lord, but it seems that your investigations have turned up more than mine so far." What with finding the ladies and the revelations that brought. "Hopefully now though, with the information you've already provided we can narrow our search slightly, concentrate on locals gone beyond the pail rather than straggling Ironmen or imported ruffians." Thats surely going to help at least. "I'll let the lads know to carry on as before," he adds briefly, "and will keep you and your Lord Father appraised of anything we find of note."

Lucienne takes a more proper approach to sitting, sweeping her silken skirts aside as she drops onto the bench beside the table. "Tell me something funny," she requests, folding her hands neatly in her lap.

That's enough for him for the moment. Justin gives Mortimer a nod, his own hands clasped lightly behind his back in a pose unconsciously reminiscent of his father, "Very good. As soon as I am able to learn more to assist you, I'll pass it on. I have others looking into these things as well. If there is anything to dig up, we'll get at it. Thank you, Sheriff." And with that, Justin turns to start walking back to rejoin his sister - and apparently join his cousin as well.

Keelin's smile at Oliva is warm, perhaps because of that hard edged Northern tone she's using. He continues on his way to the stables, without another word, being as he's usually not the overly talkative type. Once there, he brings Tiny to his stall and sets about removing the saddle, since he was quite sincere about the poor horse. He had a little side trip to make, and only just is returning to the Roost today. But Dania is at least doing far better, he thinks. Hopes. Well, blow him if he knows, but he surely did try to help his sister out.

Dmitry tips his head slightly to one side, dark veil of lashes falling low over the considering look in his brown eyes. He says, "Something funny," with the cock of an eyebrow. It may be that his sense of humor is a little vile. He glances up toward Justin as his cousin approaches, and sits straighter, leaning forward on the prop of his elbows against the surface of the table. "I haven't the wit to fool on command all on my own," he says. "Else I'd've missed my calling. If you are really strapped for entertainment I could try and fall down on command, I understand that's very popular."

Oliva, to everyone's surprise, actually does go about helping Keelin with his horse. As he removes the saddle, she handles the bridle and bit; a sugar lump is snuck in once the horse's mouth is relieved, and she ruffles the bit of mane between the horse's ears as she does. She has not really spoken much to Keelin during the kidnapping and rescue; it was not her duty to abandon the Roost for Stonebridge. She still isn't sure if she should talk about it, so she instead goes about the habitual business of tending to Tiny. "Gods, he looks tired," she comments idly.

Well, that draws at least a smile from Lucienne, who looks up to Dmitry to tell him, "No, no. I'd hate for you to put holes in the knees of your pants on account of me, dear cous. More seriously, can you tell me - has there been word from Kingsgrove, these past days?"

A further nod, followed by a further "M'Lord," as Justin heads back to his family and that's Mortimer's buisness in the keep done. For now at least. Pausing long enough to note that the others all seem to be engrossed enough in their own conversations that taking a more formal leave would be an interuption, he simple turs on his heal and starts for the gatehouse once more. Nothing like being kept busy after all.

"Aye, he does, good horse that he is," Keelin replies. "He was carrying both me and Dani for a while. She was walking to Stonebridge yesterday, and I had to go talk some sense into her. Or at least catch her up, hug her silly and give her a chance to unwind." He's a little more forthright with Oliva than he might be with the nobles out there in the courtyard. "Seven be praised though, she's not been hurt too badly. I understand all the women kidnapped will certainly recover physically. Lady Muirenn might be one of the worst, and she's gotten sick from the damp cold."

Oh, well, maybe /Justin/ is up to doing some mischief upon command if it'll entertain his sister. As he walks up to join Lucienne and Dmitry, he suddenly reaches out a hand to flick Dmitry's ear nice and hard, "Oh! There's a nasty horsefly. Now he won't bite you." It -could- be that there was a fly that landed on his cousin's shoulder or hair, if not precisely his ear, but if there was it really is gone now. Isn't he nice to spare his cousin a painful welt? Or did he? Justin starts to smile - until he hears what his sister asks. The smile dies at once, a cold, bitter death. Something in his eyes, or certainly the sudden coldness of his tone suggests his anger though Lucienne's brother keeps his voice low and quiet, "Actually, yes. Though … I would rather not discuss it out here."
<FS3> Justin rolls Reaction: Good Success.
<FS3> Dmitry rolls Reaction: Failure.

Ah, so he is going to talk about it. Oliva presses a kiss to Tiny's forehead, giving him comforting words in her undertones. She then looks over toward Keelin with a bit of awkwardness in her stance and words. "Why was she walking to Stonebridge?" She asks in an uncertain tone even as she goes about for the brushes, offering one to Keelin. "I am glad to hear they are all alright. Lady Lucienne looks to be recovering, but I have yet to see Lady Anais. I assume both will recover — strong spirits, those two." She starts to brush the large steed down, glancing out the stall window into the courtyard as she does. "They are lucky, all."

Starting to say something in response, Dmitry is probably too distracted by clownish plans to note Justin's approach, or to find any threat in it; his tongue behind his teeth, he splutters into a snort as he ducks his head far too late to miss to the flick of his ear. "Thank you, I do prefer a horse's ass to a horsefly as a general rule," he tells his cousin crisply as he runs dignified fingers through his hair. Like he meant to — not do that. He blinks, next, and looks from Lucienne to Justin and back. He says, "Oh, eh? I didn't hear…"

Luci stifles a giggle at the horsefly charade, lifting a hand politely to cover her smirk. Her expression changes quickly enough, however, at Justin's sudden cold. "Oh?" She echoes Dmitry, glancing quickly toward the main door to the castle. "Should I have Celine bring our refreshments to the throne room, instead?"
Long distance to Justin: Lucienne lols

Keelin chuckles softly. "She wanted to check on Muirenn, and she has no horse of her own any more, since the bandits stole hers." That's the simple unvarnished truth, but Keelin then pauses. "And because she wasn't thinking straight. She was tired and overwrought and just wanting to do something. It didn't make sense to me, but I freely admit I often am baffled." A shrug of those broad shoulders of his, and he then says, "Anyway, I caught up with her, and we camped for the night, in a nice quiet little clearing I know. Not far, but secluded. I think she needed the open air and my ears to listen." He reaches a hand to touch Oliva's, briefly, as he reaches for another brush, starting on the other side of the horse. "And aye, I think they will. They certainly are strong women, from what I've seen."

Justin reclasps his hands lightly behind his back, "There or the reading room would do." Alas, his former hint of playfulness is completely stamped out, his face now unreadable.

Dmitry straightens in his perch with a fluid shift, rising in a smooth unfolding of his limbs, and arches his eyebrows at Justin as he does so.

Lucienne's brother adds quite low, "I have a letter in my chambers you can read for yourselves." Justin leaves it to Lucienne to decide where to view it.

"Shall we, then?" Lucienne moves gracefully to stand, and sweeping a hand before herself to indicate the way, begins to move toward the castle. No doubt she will detour to warn her maid of the location change, and meet the boys ahead - in the reading room.

Dmitry seems content to shadow her footsteps with the bare twitch of a dry smile shared in Justin's direction, his quiet a remarkable change in mien from his ordinary light, quick tongue.