|Thunder on the Horizon|
|Summary:||Saffron inquires after Sterling's real purpose as part of her escort.|
|Related Logs:||The Banefort Invasion|
|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.|
|Apr 13, 289|
It has taken several days for Saffron to adjust to what will be her new home, even if for a little while. She had wandered the Tower, wandered what little stood of the surrounding structures, and finally settled to sticking to the Green and coastline-places that were quiet and isolated while simultaneously being sprawled and alive. With a westerly wind coming in and a distant bundling of stormclouds on the horizon, the young Banefort daughter had taken to sitting on a rock to the side of the Green to watch the roll of gray move in. She knew her guard was not far off-after all, she had tried to shake him and Mistress Morla several times only to find one of them, particular Sterling, always right behind her. Didn't he have something better to do? Regardless, she sighs. "We should make a game out of this," she starts off-handedly, "I hide, you find me… then we can reverse it and you can hide."
Since his partial-charge (really, the two armsmen are there to keep an eye on the Banefort daughter) is afoot, Sterling has left his own mount in the keep's stables, and followed on foot. He brings his hands up to be held cupped before his stomach as he approaches and stops a pace or two away from the girl, "Haven't you already made it a game, Lady Saffron? You damned sure like the first part, and I think if I hid, you'd spend a long time finding me. Long enough for you to get in trouble wherever I wasn't."
Saffron blossoms with a winning smile that dimples her cheeks, but there is a sardonic light that brightens her pale eyes. "Oh, Ser Sterling, you wound me with your words… I certainly would only take just /enough/ time to find you." Then she draws up a knee to her chest, folding her fingers together with her palms pressed into her joint. She stares at him for a moment before she looks back out across the rolling waves of emerald that ruffle up in the warm, thunderhead wind. "I'm really not that bad of a charge, am I?" She inquires with a slight smirk. "I mean, you did meet my younger sisters didn't you? Young Claira would have been following you around with an incessants that would test your patience. I'm merely trying to give you space." Yes, that's it!
Sterling glances around the Green, watching people bustle hither and yon a moment before he responds, his voice pitched low without being an ear-catching whisper, "I wouldn't know what sort of charge you are, Lady Saffron. You're not my charge. That's what Timmen and Punbah are here for. I'm just helping out while I'm in town." A smile stretches across his lips for a moment, and then is gone again, "No sense letting you wear them out while I'm around to pitch in." He shakes his head a moment, as his voice returns to its normal timbre, "But no. Minding you is not a toil, Lady Saffron."
Saffron glances off toward where Timmen and Punbah-the latter had such an unfortunate naming experience it would seem. She frowns a bit before she looks back up toward Sterling with a slight incline of her head. "Perhaps I've just become use to you minding after me… but you're right… my Uncle certainly didn't send you here to mind after one of his many nieces." The joke was and will always be that the reason Bernard Banefort had nothing but girls was to only increase the pressure of his other siblings to balance out the family tree with boys; the youngest brother of the Banefort heirs had to do something to make his siblings annoyed with him, after all. She did finally grant him a warmer, less smirking smile. "I would even say you minding me is not a complete toil… I more seek to hide from Mistress Morla than you, but I would rather not put you in the position to lie to the old… woman." There is a weight in that word that suggests it was not exactly her first choice, but she hasn't decided if Sterling is safe enough to say 'hag' around.
Sterling shakes his head slightly, but he cracks a smile at the 'compliment' paid to him, one that might even be honest, "You know you'll have to let her catch you up inside the castle, Lady Saffron." There isn't chastisement there, merely statement of fact which the young woman already knows. "No matter how much of a dried up stick of a woman she is." It's not quite 'hag,' but it's close. Letting the smile fall from his lips, the sworn sword glances around the green again, and when he speaks, his voice is quiet again, intended to fall short of any passing ears, "What do you think, Lady Saffron? How buggered would you say the Roost is? Even if summer lasts another six or eight years?" Evidently, he has his own scale of buggered-ness in mind, but he's looking for the input of his not-quite-charge.
There is a sudden, shortlived laugh that bursts from her lips at his forthright assessment of old Mistress Morla. She tilts her head up to him again with a smirk forming on her lips. "Well said, Ser Sterling." And then she draws up the other leg, leaving her feet on the flat rock and her arms wrapping around the limbs. As his voice drops, she turns her gaze back up at him as a small wind carries through with the scent of rain. The thunder has no sounded yet, they have time before the storm falls upon them, but it does seem to excite the air. "I'm not sure," she says honestly in her own soft tones. "Everyone is disheartened, you can see it in their eyes… the siege was not kind to them, and I hear they have lost a lot, and not just structure and population. Annie-Lady Terrick-seems very… strained." She looks out at the distant thunderheads again. "Unless they can find some footholds… they won't even need to prepare for Winter."
Sterling nods his head slowly, gesturing slightly up toward the keep of Four Eagles itself, "It doesn't seem to have gone too badly there." His eyes flicker around to the rebuilding now, "But without smallfolk, they're finished, and they're the ones who've buggered off." He nods and smiles genially to a carpenter of some sort-or at least someone who has begun to learn the trade of carpentry-as the man passes by. Green eyes watch the departing figure, and when he's out of earshot, the knight speaks up again, "If the Terricks fail, the Baneforts will lose their tie to the Cape." 'and their influence to the workings of the houses there' is unspoken, but lingering behind the words, "Unless they also have ties to one of the Frey-aligned houses." Because if one of the Mallister-aligned houses falls, it only stands to reason that a Frey-aligned will take up the slack. "Do you think it would cost less and gain more to support Terrick, or find another tie, Lady Saffron?"
Saffron watches the apprentice carpenter make his way across the green, her lips done up tight as she waits for his passing. Her gaze shifts between the smallfolk and the knight beside her with a slight tilt of her head. There is a deep frown on her lips, the kind that does nothing but sadden her otherwise youthful expression. There is something almost uncomfortable passing through her body at his question, and she plucks at her sleeve idly. "You're suggesting we should open talks with Frey… but Anais is my cousin, and we are connected by blood… she would feel abandoned if we just turned our backs… wouldn't she?" This is an honest inquiry, as she worries over her reunited cousin. "Is there no way to support the Terricks while seeking support of the Freys?"
Sterling shakes his head slightly, his features serene and untouched by whatever emotions might be running underneath them, "I'm not suggesting anything, Lady Saffron. That's not my place." His green eyes shift over to the Banefort for a moment, "I'm merely stating facts." He opens his clasped hands, studying the fingers of his left hand for a moment, "If pressed," he doesn't seem very pressed, but does seem willing to give the opinion after another casual glance around, "I'd say having friends on both sides is better than just one if you don't know who's going to win. Lord Tywin seemed to think so in the last war." From some men, that would have been an indictment of the Lord of Casterly Rock. From Sterling, it's a compliment.
The young Banefort daughter continues to clasp her knees up to her chest, and she is quiet with consideration—there is one thing that being the middle sister of five daughters have taught her is to patiently consider your thoughts before you speak on them in case you accidentally compare your older sister to a cow when all you were saying was the roan of her gown was similar… Saffron tilts her head up to him after a moment. "I would say… that's a wise option, Ser Sterling…" There is a moment of pause. "Is that why Uncle Erik sent you along with me? To look into opening communications with Lord Frey?" It was an honest, abrupt question. After all, Sterling's intentions here have been masked from her, and he would be coming in too late to the war against the Ironborns to be part of the reinforcements.
Sterling shakes his head, "No, Lady Saffron." His eyes once more pass over the reconstructed ruins of the Roost, and then drop down to his hands once more, picking idly at something on the inside of his right index finger, "I was sent along with you to ensure your safety on the travel here, and to talk to all the houses in the area." In other words, to play messenger-boy from the Banefort to other holds—his usual task. The less-well-known portion of that usual task is, of course, assessing the situation in those other holds and sending word back to Lord and Lady Banefort so that they may make informed policy decisions. "I'm sure that someone much more important than me," perhaps there's a little bitterness there, but if it is, it is well-masked and quickly gone, "would've been chosen to start really dickering, especially with someone as…" there's a pause, and he settles on, "…powerful, as Lord Frey."
Saffron considers the knight through slightly squinted eyes, though she does not seem at all ready to question exactly what he is messengering. She instead simply nods her head and releases an uneasy sigh. "Well, I appreciate you joining me… I suppose in some ways, I've been able to take a bit of the Westerlands with me in the form of you… and them." She glances over toward her guards who have decided that chatting with one another is more entertaining than looming at the knight and the young Banefort daughter. She returns her attention to the knight. "Though… I have heard anything from my… husband-to-be." She only hints at the slightest worry there—after all, she'd be happy if he just happened to forget that she was suppose to be arriving.
Sterling dips his head at Saffron's thanks, "I am at your service, Lady Saffron." Which is to say, he is at Lord and Lady Banefort's service, and that service is to be at Saffron's service. The shift of topic to her husband-to-be draws a faint frown from the man, but it fades quickly enough, "I am sure he's fine, Lady Saffron. It's hard to get word from the Islands. No roads for couriers, and few ravens. But they're just reavers. Not used to either side of a siege, however they fucked this place up. They're ashore, we know that much, so it's just a matter of time." Either he's mistaken that worry as worry for the safety of her betrothed, or he's seen exactly what it is and is playing along.
Finally, the softest sound of thunder begins to shake from the heavens. Saffron tilts her head up to the dark grey clouds, staring up into them as they begin their final approach to the Roost. She looks over toward him after a moment, her mouth set. "Yes, I'm sure he's fine…" Though there is something uncertain in her voice—concern is not quite the right word, but perhaps just facing the unknown. She then looks up toward Sterling, sliding off her rock with a gentle footing. "Do you wish you had made it in time to go ashore with them?" She inquires, almost idly.
Sterling looks up at the thunder, "You'll be wanting to return to the keep before the rains hit, Lady Saffron." The question that follows her rise from the rock draws a moment's consideration, and then a simple, "No." He glances to the chatting guards, catching Timmen's eye and the two start to drift back toward the daughter of the Dreadfort and the common knight, "That isn't my sort of battle, Lady Saffron. They'll be charging up ladders and rushing shieldwalls in hallways." The redheaded knight shakes his head, "I'd rather find a way around the defenses and take 'em from behind. No sense attacking where it's expected. But you can't much do that as the besieger."
"Is that what I should be wanting, Ser Sterling?" Saffron poses with a slight grin forming on her lips. She gathers up her strawberry locks over her shoulder, letting them gather against her cheek in a soft bushel. She steps out into the grass, hands coming behind her back to clasp her fingers together. There is a soft laugh coming forth from her now, her chin tilting slightly though without her sitting on the rock, they are near matched in height. "So, you'd rather wait to put the blade between the ribs rather than enduring the countless back and forth?"
Sterling clasps his own hands before him, and he nods once, "It's what you'll want if you don't want to get wet and have Mistress Morla fussing over you, Lady Saffron." He's certainly got deadpan down. "And I'd rather they not even know they should have their guard up. Safer and more sure." And not very knightly, that. Then again, given his lack of reputation, it might be said that the Banefort knight isn't very knightly either. "Information's deadlier than any blade around. Have enough, and your enemies' blades are yours."
"Do you always know how to convince people to do what you think they want, Ser Sterling?" She cannot hide the grin that counters his deadpan. She steps past him a moment with a slight tilt of her head, looking back over toward him. "Well, when and if your information fails you, I will be sure to be standing by with a blade, Ser." Then she starts off back toward the Roost with an amused smile on her lips. Within moments, thunder sounds and then lightning strikes. They might just make it back before the rains come in…
Sterling shakes his head, "No, Lady Saffron, I don't. But I can usually find out." Was that a joke? Or was that Sterling's true belief in his own worth? Moving to follow the Banefort daughter back toward the Keep of the Four Eagles, he shakes his head, "I am rather attached to my skin, Lady Saffron. I would take it as a great favor if you would complete this trip without drawing steel on anyone."
Her guards fall in line with her strides, and she smiles over toward Sterling again with that winning quality that will be most dangerous when her husband-to-be does eventually arrive. "Well, I hear to be awarded with a favor from Ser Sterling is quite the bounty… I suppose I will try to do my best to keep my steel drawn." She then continues in toward the castle in amused silence even as the rains come in and down upon the healing Roost.