Page 131: The Prize
The Prize
Summary: Two of the three Camden Brothers meet in Stonebridge and discuss trade, alliances and a prize.
Date: 23 November 288
Related Logs: None
Sarojyn Dafydd 
Crane's Crossing Inn
While Crane's Crossing is technically an Inn, it caters to the traveling nobility almost exclusively. The floors around the hearth are finely crafted stonework, as are the slate blocks that the firepit is constructed of. The rest of the floor is done in stained oak that matches the few long tables and the chairs. The rest of the main room is furnished with plush couches and seating to entice visitors to delay their leave. A full service kitchen provides food of all kinds as well as high quality ales and wines. Also available are several women to provide hospitality to the lonely or those in need, the quality of them to be beaten by but a few in the Riverlands. A hallway near the kitchen leads off to the rear of the building and several up-scale rooms.
23 November 288

Late afternoon, coming into dinner time for the folks in Stonebridge. There are the first drops of rain beginning to fall, causing a good number of people to seek shelter; dinner hour simply makes it a better excuse to come inside.
Within the Crane's Crossing, food is plentiful. There's a fire burning brightly in the firepit, and there are a few tables that are taken by one or another minor lord and lady. Servers walk the floor, their hands filled with food, sweetmeats and cups of house ale, making sure that their customers are well fed and happy in their repast.
At one table sits the youngest Lord Camden, a plate of food only partially consumed before him and a cup of ale that sits to the side. There is a large basket of bread that sits in the center of the table, and a mixture of honey butter to its side. Dafydd's expression is thoughtful, his head nodding to the thoughts that pass through— not in agreement with anything, but an acknowledgment of the thought's existance. Trying to puzzle out puzzles and it's not working quite well.

While Dafydd and the others had departed for Stonebridge, Sarojyn had chosen to remain within the confines of the Roost for another day, though his reasonings on the matter remained a mystery to all but himself. Now, with some time having passed and whatever dealings the Lord of the Oaks wishes to see too, he'd set out from the Roost and made his way along the well travelled road that leads eastward to Stonebridge.
With the town finally reached, Sarojyn had made his way to the Town Square in the company of his guard and once there, his horse was passed off to a hand and his cloak drawn around him. Then, he'd simply made his way to the door of the inn so as to slip inside and once within, eyes simply begin to scan amongst those that have already gathered within. Dafydd isn't immediately noticed and with no others known to him, the man simply begins to make his way over in the direction of one of the other tables that rests near to the hearth.

It's movement, always movement that catches the eye. Motion that isn't part of the routine in the room that brings Dafydd's attention up from his middle distant musings. Blue eyes focus on the form, and his brother is quickly and easily recognized; the walk, the manner..
"My lord brother," is called out in both a greeting and an attempt at gaining attention. How many would raise their heads at 'My lord'? Pretty much everyone, but the ladies. "I have a table," he continues as he rises to his feet. "Please join me."

There might be another in the room who could answer to Lord Brother, but it's the voice that catches Sarojyn's attention and it brings his movements to a halt. A turn of his head to the side brings Dafydd into view and with that, there's a slight smile and a nod of his head. "Excellent. Saves me the trouble," is the offered reply, even as he's turning and making his way over to where his brother is seated.
Reaching the table takes but a moment and with a press of his cloak to one side, Sarojyn is lowering himself into a chair that sits opposite his sibling. Nothing further is offered quite yet, for his attention shifts to a passing server so as to flag her down and request a drink and when she departs, he's looking back to Dafydd, "I trust that you had a good ride from the Roost?"

Seating himself once his brother joins him and takes his rest, Dafydd takes a piece of bread from the larger trencher and slathers it with the honey butter before dipping it into his stew. He takes a long moment to stare at his brother and puts his bread down beside his bowl, his brows rise, and there's a tinge of, well, annoyance that hangs in his words. "Where to start? Oh, let's see.. the Lady Kathryna wished me to remain behind and stay another night at the Roost, but after I departed, she caught up with me on the road. Alone. Unescorted." Simply not done. "Then, your daughter came riding with her sworn as if the gates of the underworld had opened and all inhabitants were chasing them. In truth, five highwaymen. We dispatched them quickly and with no real injury." This is just the accounting, mind… "Then we all managed to make it the rest of the way unhindered."
Dafydd reaches for the bread that he laid to the side and takes a bite, continuing his recount. "Lady Kathryna offered an alliance with us, with you, me.. friendship. And your daughter claimed that you were aware that she was taking to the road. In the dead of night. To catch up with me."

Leaning forward a touch, Sarojyn brings his forearms to rest upon the edge of the table so that his hands can clasp together. Then, he's simply listening to the account of events as it's given, with nothing more then a single loft of his right brow to indicate his thoughts upon things. Finally, when Dafydd finishes, the Lord of the Oaks gives a slight shake of his head, one that's followed by the hint of a chuckle, though it lasts for only a second, "Those from the Isles do not follow the same things that we do, Brother, so I am not surprised to hear that Lady Kathryna departed alone. But .." He trails off, pausing for a moment as his head cants a touch to the side, "… I am surprised to hear talk of an alliance or friendship."
With that said, his hands unclasp and he's leaning back in his seat once, hands now falling to his lap as he gives a simply shake of his head, "Alyse is welcome to travel, so long as she has her sworn with her. He's capable enough and they present less of a target then if she travelled with those maids that serve her. But, I did not know she was leaving in the dead of night to catch you. That -will not- happen again."

"Believe me brother," Dafydd washes down the bread with a swallow of ale before he continues, "she seems.. rather impressed by us, for some reason. Intrigued." His words slow as he considers before leaning forward. "I think she would grow to accept an offer of marriage for the cementing of an alliance in the coming months. What her family would say, however, I know not. But, she is more headstrong and willed than even your daughter in most things, so I do not see that as troubling of a stumbling block as it could be." Dafydd just doesn't want to travel to the Ironlands if he can help it, but that can go without saying!
Leaning back, the younger nods his head, relief showing around the edges of his eyes. "She didn't even have the courtesy to greet the Lady Kathryna properly. That girl…" frustrates the hell out of him, "…forgets her manners and her upbringing regularly."

"Impressed? Intrigued?" Those two questions are offered without any pretense of a reply, for Sarojyn is giving a shake of his head and simply continuing on. "I find myself intrigued by that. One would think that a Lady fromt he Iron Isles would find the Terricks or Naylands more impressive then those that come from the Oaks." The mention of marriage draws a quick smirk to his lips and his brow once more lofts upwards, "And would you take her as a wife, brother? Though, I am not sure that her family would find such an arrangement to be beneficial to them, unless they wished to secure lumber from our lands in order to build their ships."
Anything further is set aside as the server returns with Sarojyn's drink and he's forced to shift his attention to her so that a few coin can be offered and his cup accept. A sip is then claimed and when it finally lowers and he looks back to Dafydd, the smirk has faded from his lips as he gives a nod of his head, "It isn't that she forgets, Dafydd, it's that she has not had much interaction with those outside of our lands. A trait that is common amongst the Camdens and their children. I will remind her of proper etiquette and the need for such things, especially now that we are venturing from our homes."

"Aye, impressed and intrigued." Dafydd shakes his head before he shrugs lightly. "She doesn't care for the role of ladies, and believes that it makes them soft." Which it does. "She has not yet had the chance to meet the Terricks themselves before deciding to rush headlong after me. She is impressed with the fact," here, he pauses, waiting for his ale to be refilled now that the server has noticed his cup running dry, and resumes after she's gone, "we do not lie in the manse, waiting for our coin and trade to fall into our laps. Instead, we work as others do. She also seems to have learned a new concept. 'Might doesn't always make right'." The Captain shakes his head, a wry smile coming to his face. "It was in that discussion that I realized that I was truly a son of our parents. Something has managed to rub off onto me.. those nights of tutoring."
Content that the other issue will be adressed at a later date, Dafydd presses on with his thoughts regarding the Ironborn lady. "It doesn't sound as if their lumber supply is as plentiful as others make it seem. She describes her land as cold, wet, harsh.. and that she hadn't seen as many trees, even in the Terricks' land, all in one place. And, on the road, I believe she learned the value of well-trained archers."

"The Camdens and the Ironborn share a particular sentiment when it comes to ladies, Dafydd. Most of the women in ours lands, both nobles and not, are capable of standing toe to toe with our hunters when it comes to using a bow. And many of them are also capable hunters." Sarojyn's free hand lifts to idly scratch at his chin as a soft chuckle escapes his lips, "We'll make a Camden out of you yet, brother." A hint of wink comes with the statement and then he's letting the humor fade away as he offers another quick nod of his head, "If she is impressed by tree's, then she'll surely enjoy the sights of the Oaks. I must admit .. an Alliance with those of the Iron Isles, while unusual, could be quite beneficial. To both Houses involved."

Dafydd allows a chuckle to escape as he shakes his head, "It was a concept that was strange to her, but when we finished our discussion about it, she seemed to understand." His tones turn theatrically serious, "If any word is breathed that I actually took to heart some of those words, I will deny it to my dying breath." The humour, however, can't be hidden from his eyes.
"I have invited her to the Oaks. She has expressed the interest in speaking with you formally, with everything that goes along with that. I don't know how much time she will have, once she actually meets and speaks to the Terricks." That, he's not really happy with. "I take heart that she left the Roost to accompany me here. And yes.." Reaching for his bread, he sops the juices and takes another couple of bites, chewing.. and continuing his thoughts. ".. an alliance with the Iron Isles would put us in a position where we could not only defend our land, but be of some use without. And that's not to mention trade. They have iron, they have warriors. Perhaps there could be some added and unique training for our men-at-arms?"

Sarojyn can't help the smile that slips to his lips as he gives a quick nod of his head, "Your secret is safe with me, Brother. I will reveal no part of this conversation to an outside party." Then, the smile drifts away, for he's taking a moment to contemplate the mention of the invitation and the Terricks and after a quick, 'Hmm', he's offering, "Perhaps, then, we should ensure that she visits the Oaks before she proceeds to the Terricks. It would be a shame to have them tie up her time for the forseeable future and risk the loss of a possible alliance due to their own offer."
A short break is taken, for the mug is lifted back to his lips and a healthy sip from within is taken. When the mug finally comes to lower and rest upon the table, Sarojyn is giving another nod of his head. "Indeed. And while I'm loathe to admit such things, brother, I fear that the coming months will be far from peaceful. To have an Iron Isle House as our ally and some of their men and women to augment our ranks, possibably? Even I would not be so foolish as to consider such things."

A single, definitive nod comes from the younger Camden, putting a point on the words so sagely spoken by his brother. He gestures with his bread, mostly eaten, "Exactly. That is my thought as well. And as she doesn't seem averse to the idea, putting it into play once we wrap up our business here will be easy." He doesn't like the idea of the Terricks getting this sort of potential upperhand any more than his brother.
Dafydd takes the final bite of that bread and licks his fingers before going for the stew itself. "Not to augment our ranks, no. But our men suffer from sparring with the same style. There is no challenge.. nothing to make them better than they are. A handful of warriors, or fewer even, could provide the training necessary to rehone our edge. Everyone else has that advantage, and we do not. I would that we at least consider it. If they become our allies." In the coming storm. "We could learn much, and a good deal of it moves that our opponents may never have seen before.. or fought against before."

With another nod of Sarojyn's head, he's offering, "Then we will see to our business in Stonebridge as quickly as we can, while maintaining the necessary respect that is needed. And with that done, we will be free to speak with Lady Kathryna in a more formal setting." With the mug set aside, his hands return to his lap where he clasps them together and when that is done, the smirk returns to his lips once more. "Oh, I do not dispute your logic in terms of training, Dafydd. It would indeed be beneficial for our men and women to receive that training. But to even have a few of their people to augment our ranks would be beneficial as well. We have no standing army and our men at arms is small compared to the other houses. We've been left alone, because we keep to ourselves and because our smallfolk will fight for the Oaks." There's a moments pause as he takes a look around before returning his attention to Dafydd, "We must consider the security and protection of our lands. Even a few more men and women would be a welcome addition."

"And I would not reject the idea should there be a requirement of marriage to cement the deal." Dafydd takes a couple of bites of his stew, now growing cold as he talks. He washes it down with ale, and continues, his voice canted low. "She is comely, in a.. strange sort of way. And capable of aiding in the defense of our home. And perhaps serving as a rally point for our women, should their bows be required." He chuckles, the sound low in his throat, "She knows nothing of the finer arts, however, so our clothing will still need to be mended by the seamstresses until such time."
Dafydd completely agrees with his brother on all counts, and the summation is met with his acknowledgment and agreement. "Then we are in accord, brother. We will finish our business quickly as is proper and return home with our prize." He takes a deep breath, and in the exhale moves on to something a little more 'conversational' than the previous topics. "Shall we open the north woods for the timber the Roost may require? The fire was years ago and the new growth is doing well now. We can afford, I believe, to take some of the greatwood from there, as long as we are careful in our choices."

"Part of this ordeal, brother, will be based on what her family has to say on the matter. They may wish to try and find her a betrothel to a heir to one of the Houses. This is something we'll need to consider and speak of, later, when there is not so many around." A flash of a smile and Sarojyn is then giving a nod of his head. "She would do well with our people, I think. Free spirit and not restrained like that of the noble ladies of other houses."
Hands unclasp and his right reaches to claim his mug so that it can be lifted to his lips. The contents are drained and the mug is then set aside for when the server happens to pass back by. "Yes. Let us look at opening the north woods. Do the Terrick's require the timber immediately, or do we have some time before they wish more? I am .. curious, to say the least, as to what the Iron Isles may require for such an alliance. Such things may impact or change the flow of current trade as a result."

"I would say that it would depend upon how serious Lord Rygar is regarding trade with the Roost. I realize that it doesn't necessarily affect us, but they could make our transporting difficult. From the looks of it, they will require a good number of trees to finish their port." Which makes the appearance of an Ironborn diplomat interesting. "If we make the alliance, we may have need of that port until one can be fashioned of our own. So, it would be in our best interest at the moment to see it through?" Dafydd shakes his head, "As to the plans for it, I honestly don't know. How quickly or slowly they wish to build hasn't yet been discovered by me."
As for the price of friendship with the Iron lands? "We could discuss that with the Lady soon enough. We can offer them the timber for a ship's mast as a gesture." It's not easy to find the perfect tree to withstand the rigours demanded from such a part of the ship. "Or a barrel of shafting."

The words spoken bare consideration from Sarojyn and for a moment after Dafydd finishes, the Lord of the Oaks is silent, lost to thought before he shakes himself free with a nod of his head, "Then let us focus on our dealings with Lord Rygar and see to it that our trade to the Roost goes uninterrupted. As for a port of our own?" A shake of his head is given, "This is not something that we can support at this time. It would need to be built on the western most part of the forest, at the water's edge, and I'm not sure we could adequately maintain such a thing. Not without assistance."
"As to a gift to the Iron Isles, this is something that we will do. A token of friendship and good will. Our gift must be feesible, though. Something in which Lady Kathryna can arrange to have transported back to the Iron Isles. While a mast would most certainly show that the Oaks are viable and of great quality, it might not be so easy to have done."

"I look at years, brother. But I am in agreement that we don't have the resources available to support the defense of a port. Better we remain as we are. But don't dismiss the idea. Sharing a port isn't a good thing in the long run." Dafydd really can't find any item in disagreement, truth be told. All in all, it's good to know the brothers are on the same page, working towards the same goal.
"I am certain we'll find something they need. They seem a .. rough people, and even our leather might be welcome. The animals are plentiful and it's almost time to thin the herds once again." Dafydd tears another piece of bread and wipes up the remains of his stew before he exhales, his hand resting over his stomach. "I think I am ready to return to the room. I am upstairs, and there is more than enough room. The ladies have another room." Just in case.