|The Possible Future|
|Summary:||A quiet discussion between Justin and Muirenn upon several topics including betrothals, the Groves surplus, birds in hand or a future possible bird in the bush.|
|Related Logs:||Nothing specific|
|Roof Terrace, Four Eagles Tower|
|This is open to the air except for the rookery at the opposite end of the open walkway. Parapets and crenellations are about.|
|May 29th, 289|
The late afternoon has blown through with a storm that pelted the land with rain and wind from the sea. Recently past, the warm humid air of the summer day is now cooler with a brisk breeze. Dark, shapely clouds sculpted by the whim of the gods rear up with spears of light from the hidden sun trying to breach forth to brighten the landscape below in spots of illumination. Overall, it makes for a magnificent view from the top of Four Eagles Tower even if the shades are mostly subdued blues and greys over the land's darker green landscape.
Having spent most of his day in the town with rebuilding concerns, Justin finally took shelter within the walls while the storm blew over. He has come now to ascend the steps and look out over the panarama, the wind at once catching his dark hair up in unseen, playful fingers. His expression is quiet and for the moment peaceful. Justin sips from a glass of well watered wine and thinking upon the meeting to come with his father.
"Yes! Remind me no more!" Is the exasperated fuming that is an abnormal tone for the youngest Mallister to reside at Terrick's Roost. "I know that I have many letters to write…and unfortunately all of them require much thought. It isn't like I can merely pen something quickly and send a courier with a brief note when such things are at stake." Muirenn's dark auburn head appears, turned to look behind her as she reaches the top of the stairs and steps out onto the roof. Rather than an inticate style, her mane has been allowed to drift loose about her. The wind teases and whips strands of red about her face that she paws away, "I do need your help though Septa, I need someone to talk these things through with…please?" Her voice more concilliatory, the elderly woman as she too makes an appearance seems appeased. Close on the heels of the pair is the handmaiden Miniella carefully balancing a tray of tea.
Something below has caught his eagle's eye. Justin watches a stoat, slim and deadly pounce upon a rabbit far larger than itself down below the tower. The cliffs are near and the small animals thrash about, one fighting for it's very life, the other intent upon a fat meal. It is a brief struggle, shortly ended with the red stoat victorious.
Justin's attention is drawn from the tableau at the sound of Lady Muirenn's voice. He partly turns where he stands yet otherwise keeps his place as he waits to see if his presance will interfer with whatever is upon the Lady's mind to do.
"It is a disgrace. I have remained silent, watched…waited…but I can do so no longer." Muirenn takes a few more steps out onto the roof and nods as the elderly Septa tsks, "It is shameful my lady. I know you found him pleasant to talk to, but it is obvious that his intent is to try to destroy this family. His actions are reprehensible." Taking her Septa's arm, she cannot disguise a grin and bends slightly to press a kiss to the lady's cheek, "Quite right Septa Waldsteinia. I most heartily…" her words die off as she begins to settle the elderly lady and her embroidery into a seat. "Oh…cousin Justin." A smile brightens her eyes as she gives a slight dip of the knee in greeting, "I hope we are not disturbing you. Would you care for some tea?" The girl invites him to join them as Miniella begins to set the tray down and set everything up.
There is a glance to see if the weasel will devour the coney where it killed it, but it is already dragging it's prize into the rocks to hide from the view of hawks and eagles alike. Justin sips his watered wine before he gives up his watch of the landscape to greet the women, "Septa Waldsteinia, Mistress Miniella," and with a polite inclination of his head, "Lady Muirenn." Ah, someone has bothered to ask and remember names. "You are of course not disturbing me. I am more than happy to share the view." Justin lifts his glass of wine and indicates the pitcher he brought up with him, at offer of tea, "No, thank you." He does however ask, "I admit, you have me curious upon the topic you were discussing. Who would destroy your family?" Apparently Muirenn calling him 'cousin' sits well enough with him, when Justin has taken to addressing her as 'almost-goodsister'.
"Oh, not exactly my family." Muirenn's ivory cheeks flush rose that she was overheard. Delicately she picks her words, "I am concerned about certain rumors that I have heard in the village and that Minnie has heard below stairs and I have determined that for the moment, as it would be unseemly for me to ride there myself, I will be writing a letter to this person to inform them of my displeasure and provide a bit of advice between friends as to an immediate course of action." Seating herself she accepts a cup of tea but then sets it back down again. Her shapely arms reach back and deftly twines her hair into a simple knot at the nape of her slender neck, then she picks up her cup of tea once more.
The hair tying is probably wise, given the wind briskly blowing from time to time at this height. Justin seems to relish it, but Muirenn's hair certainly would not. He listens, leaning causually against the low stone wall with cup in hand, "Chastizing one and then offering them advice, rarely goes over as well intended. Lest they be subordinate unto you, dear Lady. I shall wish you luck with that." After a pause with that faint amusement, Justin asks, "Anyone I know, perchance?"
"A dear friend of mine actually. Your good sister." Muirenn replies as she lifts the dainty cup and takes a sip. "I have bit my tongue and let her plow ahead with the Nayland truce talks, but after the rumors from the Twins and then her having gone off to Hags Mire immediately following and with your brother still *here* rather than being the one to oversee diplomatic relations, well. It is time that I offered a gentle word." There is another slow sip of the tea and the teen finally continues, "I love your Father very much. He is a good advisor to my cousin, he is respected by *my* father, and he has been very kind to me. This Nayland farce must end. I can only imagine that it is causing him frustration at the least and pain at the worst. Either way, I do not approve."
Who, Lucienne? Oh, clearly not. Justin lifts a dark brow and listens but no, he's not interrupting Muirenn. So he tastes his watered wine instead and waits for her to pause ere he asks low, "Nayland farce?" As if she might elaborate, "As to what my father thinks of all of this, I intend to find out. And to press him upon other matters I think we have let go far too long." Which Justin isn't as yet detailing. "Tell me in some detail, what it is that you don't approve of, Lady Muirenn?" Though he may well have some idea, Justin phrases it as though he were genuinely curious to make certain. He takes a few slow steps around the low wall until he comes to the edge of the rookery. The ravens are subdued and mostly quiet, sheltered within from the wind and wet of the recently past storm.
"I do not approve of how this has gone down with the Naylands. Lord Riordan has apparently no concern for Lady Anais' reputation and this back and forth is rediculous. If a deal was to be brokered than your father and Lord Nayland would need to sit together and hammer out a deal rather than the waste of effort and time running between estates back and forth with not much accomplished." Muirenn takes another sip of her teas, "Besides, they are Nayland's…Frey vassals. That alone puts a bad taste in my mouth. Lord Riordan's behavior with Anais has been inappropriate at best. I do not believe the rumors, but there are always those who will. Surely some sort of arrangement can be made with Lord Groves as an alternative to the opportunistic harpies." Lifting her cup, she pauses until the gust of wind passes before taking another sip.
Through it all, Septa Waldsteinia embroiders…occasionally giving a nod of agreement while Miniella peers over the edge of the parapet and gazes across the fields.
There is consideration of what she says. Justin glances down at his own glass before he muses to give comment, "I think … Lord Riordan's conduct technically hasn't been amiss too much aside from that Lady Danae thing. However, I do agree that my goodsister would be far wiser to have kept more obvious proper distance. I have noticed that in the past five weeks I have been returned home, that Lady Anais has infact only been at the Roost about a week of it. While I admire her efforts, I agree that she hasn't actually achieved anything concretely positive. On the other hand she certainly is damaging her reputation and by it, I fear, she may well damage our House as well. Sh can not perform her duties here, let alone be wife or become mother, if she is constantly absent." Justin pauses and sighs, "I almost forbade her to go to the Mire. Or to at least put it off a while, but she said she had both my father's and my brother's permission. Who am I then to forbide her?"
"Indeed. I like to think that she is unaware of what is being said and has not thoroughly considered the consequences. If she feels that she must be the one to spearhead the negotiations then it is entirely proper to have Lord Riordan come here. A woman, married or no, traveling constantly in the company of a single man and his family…the Nayland's no less…is unseemly." Muirenn bends to pour some more tea from the pot. The steam drifts off towards the east on a breeze as she lifts the cup for a sip of the hot beverage. "I liked him when he was here, he seemed quite sincere..but even so, I think it would be preferrable to work out some terms with the Groves for their surplus."
"I'm trying, Lady Muirenn. Apparently Lady Anais already told Lord Kittridge that we'd almost certainly not make a trade, nor had the funds to purchase. And then promised him a final answer at Tournament from our father. She apparently left Ser Kittridge hanging without answer and as you might expect at such inconsiderate treatement, he is cross. I came into this all rather late and have been playing catchup to find out what is going on and who is doing what." Justin keeps his own voice quite calm. "So, I bespoke him and gained a few days extension. I do believe we should make some offer of the lands he has requested and draw him back. Else we will surely loose the needed supplies to the Naylands and by them, unto the Freys also. I do believe there is some value in getting two birds with one stone. To gain the food and seed we so badly require to see us through and strong again, but also to mend some ground with his house. I would rather we rebind ourselves more closely with House Groves than see them courting the Naylands. Ser Kittridge full well knows the game he plays."
Justin adds quietly, "Lady Anais has tried other courses but she hasn't succeeded and I fear we haven't much time left to squander with politics. It's been /six/ months and our people hunger still."
There is silence as Muirenn absorbs this information. Quietly she sips her tea, finally saying "So what you are saying is that Lady Anais has insulted a supposed ally and that should the Nayland deal actually go through, the Terricks will be essentially marrying off you or your sister to get the surplus that the Naylands obtained from the Groves." A brow arches as she adds drily, "That is brilliant." Shaking her head, the girl finally says "Politics aside, Anais needs to come home before the rumor and innuendo have a chance to get worse."
Justin frowns, "I don't think Lady Anais intended any insult. I certainly do not demean her efforts, which have been considerable. But yes, if I can't salvage it with my father when we meet, then we have to try to aid another way. Betrothals are all good and well but unless a marriage and dowery are arranged and seen through /quickly/, they wont help with this pressing problem soon enough. If we deal with the Groves, we loose land, aye. But we save some face and regain our strength in some measure. If we let this slip through our fingers by inaction, then we only further weaken our position and will become more desperate, in time." Justin paces the tower terrace slowly, "Unless I am mistaken, and Seven help me, I'd like to be wrong in that."
Trying not to sound bitter, Justin says, "We lost Stonebridge through lack of action. I can't abide us repeating the sin again while our people starve."
"You are correct in that Annie has worked herself very hard and cares very much for the people here and the family, but I do not think that a treaty or arrangement with the Nayland's. I will still write my letter to her among my other missives." The girl glances out towards the sea, her brow furrowing.
Pausing and making no reply right off, Justin looks out over the landscape with the sea to the west and north, the storm clouds rolling slowly away towards the east to bring rain to furtile fields, whether they have any seed planted or lay fallow. "She has done good. Now she is needed at home, before it is undone."
Nodding, Muirenn glances at her teacup and sets it down. Glancing at her Septa she beckons Justin over with a subtle motion of her hand.
Catching that motion and curious what she thinks she should say without the hearing of her maid and Septa, Justin steps over and simply takes a seat next to Muirenn. He looks at her with silent question.
"Can I talk to you Justin? I don't really have many people I can talk to. The one person I feel comfortable talking to, I don't get many opportunities to sit and talk with." Muirenn flushes and fiddles with some of the embroidery on her skirt, looking a bit embarrassed.
Justin raises a brow at her, keeping his voice low, "We /are/ talking." Then he smiles a rather brotherly smile, "Are you … all right? You seemed upset before in the courtyard over Lord Alric's words. You said something about his having given insult." Of course what she has on her mind to speak of now may be completely unrelated.
"Yes..I mean no. Well, when we first met in Seagard he was atrociously rude to my knights and insinuated that I would be safer on Fenster land than I was at Seagard. He did apologize. I was sort of upset though. He wanted to know what I thought about him asking my brother and my cousin Patrek for permission to court me." Muirenn's brow furrows. "He had hinted at something like that before, but I didn't think he was serious. I…I don't know what to think." The silk of her skirt begins to wrinkle as she continues to fiddle with the embroidery.
He was using that conspiratrial whisper, as if they were already caught speaking to one another! Seven forbid! Justin looks like he half expected Muirenn to give him a ladylike pinch for being silly. Instead she goes right into the heart of her concerns and he gives a slow nod, "Well, then let your family handle it. It is perhaps best you merely be polite with him, as much as you are able. Surely they will ask your opinion upon such union though, being Lord Alric is from a very minor house with little to offer, they aren't likely to consider the match. Not unless he can bring something of real value to the table. You /are/ a Mallister, after all."
There is a pause. Justin is relaxed, having settled on some course of action that might set things to rights, he's less tense and worried. For the moment. He softly says, "I have tried to show some interest in the Lady Roslyn. I think that I like her, though I hardly know her. Until things are settled one way or the other between our families I must leave it at that, and remain detatched."
"Yes, but Justin…in all my years Lord Alric is the only noble in all of Westros who has even contemplated a match. I do not want to be like Lady Roslyn. She is lovely, but it even bothered you that she was so old and hadn't been married." Muirenn whispers and then perks up, "I did think though that I might enjoy being a Septa…not one assigned to a noble girl but one associated with a Sept somewhere." Her smile brightens, "Then I could work to make a lot of people happy and I wouldn't be an embarrassment to my house." Pondering this line of thought she hmmms and nods, "Perhaps I should write to Patrek of this."
"You certainly may, but you are far too young to be an embarassment to your house, Lady Muirenn. And it is /your/ house that should be seeking a match for you. Perhaps you should nudge your family in that matter and see if they will consider finding a more suitable one for you than Lord Alric. Why sit around waiting when you could be hunting? Predators are always better than being the prey." Justin smiles a bit rougishly.
Justin adds, "Lady Roslyn says that she has been betrothed several times. These things fall through and may be no fault of her own. They are Naylands."
Frowning, the teenage girl says sourly "Justin, the head of my house is a fourteen year old boy… a full four years younger than I am. Not to mention he is overwhelmed with rebuilding. My marriage is not a high priority all things considered. And to be honest, my brother is too protective, my cousin Kamron is avoiding the word marriage like a mouse avoids cats, and I don't have much opportunity to meet many acceptable people."
Justin smiles, "And you are how many years younger than myself? I think you need not be in a hurry just yet, Lady Muirenn." And upon that thought, he adds quietly, "My own NameDay is … day after tomorrow. I haven't decided what I am going to do with it. No party." Perhaps he'll go to town and treat himself to the ladies of the night - though it's hardly appropriate to say that to Muirenn!
"I know your birthday is then Justin." Muirenn grins, "I have not forgotten. And I am eighteen. It is different for a man than it is a girl. There were girls at Seagard of sixteen that were married and many betrothed younger than that. I perhaps only have two more years before I am deemed unsuitable because of my age." Her face falls a bit and she leans back, "Men do not understand. They have their whole lives to do their jobs, a woman only has so many years." Glancing over she gives a wry smile, "I am sorry to complain like this. It is unbecoming." Straightening, she smooths her hands down her thighs and flashes a brighter smile, "What do you wish in rememberance of your name day? I mean I already started something, but if there is something else you wish I can change it."
He has leaned back against the low stone wall and drinks off the last of his watered wine. He gets up to walk the few steps to pour himself some more from the pitcher, "Eighteen? I thought you two years younger, more like Lady Rosanna's age. Forgive me." So he shrugs, "You are right, I am not yet a father to be concerned for such things. A lot can happen in two years, Lady Muirenn. Do not give up hope. And while you might not like to be in Lady Roslyn's place, should she and I marry, I should hope she has no shame in it with me." Oh wait. That sounds like Muirenn's been plotting. Justin gives her a 'look'. "What I wish to remember my NameDay by, you can not give me, dear 'cousin'. However, perhaps you will do some small thing and play for me? I am very fond of music and we do not have enough of it here."
Long lashes lower and Muirenn just gives an impish grin "It is not much, I swear." There is a pause as he makes his request and she gives a single nod, "Yes, I would very much like to play for you cousin."
Justin stands still as he looks out over the land. The sun is setting and the impressive clouds have drifted furthher afield to the east, now starting to be painted by the lowering sun in the west. It could not easily be a move lovely evening, and they have had several he has seen from the tower height. "If my father will agree with me and let us put an end to our people's suffering and settle upon the Groves surplus with a counter offer, and should he also agree to the betrothal, then it will be time for me to set aside the black of mourning." How long has it been since his Lady mother passed away? Justin can't even recall when he had letter of it, but it's been a while. Febuary, and now it's nearly June.
"Do you want this betrothal even if you are able to reach a settlement with the Groves for their surplus?" Muirenn tilts her head, looking a bit incredulous.
What? Justin turns to look back to Muirenn, "Yes, I think so. Unless my father thinks there may be a better one for me. I would like to see something of the feud eased between our families, even if I do not trust them. We have lost Stonebridge, Lady Muirenn. And with the Naylands now holding control of it, they can strangle us with tarrifs and taxes upon everything that comes west. Aye, we'll soon again have sea trade but that can't be depended upon. Pirates, ill weather, the icy grasp of winter to come… we have no children in this house, Lady Muirenn. If my brother's health wanes, and his wife bears him no heir, then it falls upon me. Not to mention that a dowery added to our house's meager resources just now certainly would be a boon." Justin lifts his glass to sip of his watered wine before he adds low, "I yet have a younger brother as well as a sister my father can also use for alliances."
"Yes, to all of the above. But for right now, I would think the focus needs to be on rebuilding and strengthening this penninsula not mending fences with the Naylands." Muirenn glances over as Miniella discreetly begins to pack away the tea things. Looking back at Justin she comments, "With the long ships received as reparations from the war…with Captain Wake and my Cousin Aeric, pirates are not all that worrisome." Smiling she flings a hand towards the sea, "It is a beautiful coastline. I can see lots of trade coming in, and if Stonebridges taxes are too high when it gets to that point then we deal with that problem. I would think that there could be other ties to be made."
"Ah, but they are interrelated, Lady Muirenn. We /might/ gain more to wait, but it's birds in hand now or possibly a bird in the bush later." Justin muses and glances at his glass of wine, "Perhaps. I do not wish to be hasty. I am aware that I am young and feel … impatience, frustration, and a very strong desire to be productive and accomplish things. I think it would please me to have a wife. And Lady Roslyn seems more sensible than most." He shrugs, "It is for father and Lord Rikkart to decide. I want what is best for my house, even if I must wait."
With a snort, the teenager rises "I am told that young men often feel the way you do. However, just remember she is a harpy and the cannot be trusted." Muirenn gives a half-shrug, "They are like the Frey's that way. There are many many lovely ladies out there Justin and as you told me, you are young yet." Eyes twinkling she walks over and gives the young man an impulsive hug, "Be well cousin Justin." The embrace is brief yet fierce, though over almost before it began as the maiden turns in a swirl of silk and heads towards the stairs.
Well, she coaxes a smile from him at least. He has no time to lift an arm to return it and is perhaps a little surprised by her warmth, certainly not used to anyone being warm towards himself. Justin watches her go and then drains his cup before he lets out a slow breath, "Aye, young, but plenty old enough to have earned spurs I haven't." No, he will not spoil the rest of the evening with bitter, annoyed thoughts. Justin gathers up the pitcher and heads on down to the reading room. He has studies to attend to for the next several hours.