|To Reach an Accord|
|Summary:||Aleister, Harold and Cherise are visited upon by Ser Kell and afterwards Lady Anais.|
|Related Logs:||Suspecting the Unexpected,Is That Food or Swords? and The Dangers of Pride|
|Guest Chambers, Four Eagles Tower|
|A normal room filled with stuff for guests. Quite cozy.|
|Sun Jul 29, 289|
These were the chambers bestowed upon the Charltons for the duration of their visit. Unfortunately it meant taking part of the rationed meals as all the Eagles endured unless of course they chose to dine at the Inn. Cherise had long since returned from her brief riding session and had dawned courtly attire comprised of red fabrics and golden accents. She was waiting for Aleister's return to the common room area of the guest quarters, hosting decent seating and a table should one choose to dine privately. Magda, her handmaiden, was the only soul in attendance to the Lady and was currently running a brush through the Charlton's lengthy golden mane.
Having chosen to not venture out on a ride with Cherise, Aleister had taken to a walk amongst the Tower and when that had been completed, he had returns to the chambers that they shared. Opening the door and stepping into the common room of it, there's a flash of a smile in the direction of Cherise and a simple nod of his head towards her handmaid, "Did you enjoy your ride, my dear?"
Kell, after the initial meeting with the Charlton contingent at the outskirts of the town, knows that he has to find time to meet with Lord Aleister but his duties have been keeping him busy until now. Having finally shedding his chainmail armor and cleaning himself up a bit to make himself a bit more presentable for the visiting guests, the Terrick Sworn finds his way to the Guest Suite where the Charltons are staying. It's a moment after Lord Aleister made his entrance and before he announces his own arrival, Kell looks down at himself, tugging at the surcoat and readjsut his belt with the appropriate sheathed blade at his side. He finally raises his knuckles to the door and knocks, "It's Ser Kell Drakmoor."
Ser Harold wasn't an uncommon sight around the Four Eagles these days, for all that he'd resided in the Inn until the arrival of the larger Charlton host. With a room of his own in the Terrick seat, one risked the broad shouldered knight showing up just about everywhere. Presently it was from that room he emerged, looking like he'd just had himself a bit of a snooze. Likely in his clothes, since his simple - if well made - tunic showed hints of rumples and wrinkles that hadn't been there in the morning. He was still belting his well used sword onto his hip when he made to join his kin in the suites' common room area. If his jaws stretched a little wide in the beginnings of a yawn, then well, he'd earned himself the right to yawn on occasion.
Magda turned for the door, instantly dropping into curtsey as Cherise simply shifted in that same direction while seated. "I did." As pleased as she may convey while her maideservant stepped aside, holding the brush against her lap. "The damage to these lands appear quite minimal." The woman turns her eyes for the polished shield used as a mirror for hair inspection. "With a full belly I'm sure the lands could be ripened within no time." She's primping the lengthy veil of blonde along her shoulders just as another visitor's voice cuts into the chamber, this causes the Lady to rise. "That name.. so familiar." She muses.
Offering a slight nod of his head in the direction of Cherise, Aleister offers a quick, "Indeed," to her before Herald's arrival catches his attention. There's a flit of his eyes in that direction, followed by a slight incline of his head, "Uncle." Then, the voice at the door is forcing him to turn in it's direction, the smirk dancing upon his lips before he's looking over his shoulder, back to Cherise, "It's the Knight that accompanied Lady Anais when she came to greet us." Looking back to the door, he's simply lifting his voice to offer, "Enter. It's open."
Once the go ahead was given to enter the room, Kell reaches for door handle and opens the portal to the Charlton's room. He steps in and closes the door gently behind him. Seeing those who are present, the Terrick Knight goes through the appropriate greetings that each deserves, a bow of his head first to Aleister, "Lord Charlton." Then the same head bow to Cherise and finally Harold, "M'Lady. Ser." Eyes study each for a moment, perhaps committing face to memory before his gaze focuses back on the Lord of Highfield. "M'Lord, you asked to see me?"
"Nephew," came Harold's good natured grumble in reply, and since they weren't in the middle of a tense welcome between armed hosts, he followed up with an outstretched arm to give his nephew a comradly and light clap on the shoulder. Then he moved on to flash his good-niece a wry smile, and a polite-fond dip of his head in welcome. "Niece." Technically on by marriage, but no reason to point it out. He might've said something more; he had the look about it in the way his lips parted within the brush of his well tended beard, but then fell silent instead. His clear grey eyes found Kell. "Ser," he murmured, followed up by the courtesy a common born knight might expect from a highborn: In other words the nod was small, if perfectly polite. Drawing out a chair by the table, he settled in.
But there was another time, when she couldn't place it so once the Terrick knight entered the chamber Cherise wore a muted smile. "Ser." She acknowledges but a warmer "Goodday Uncle." Was directed to Harold's visit. As it was by request for Kell's arrival the lady endured silence as the men may speak.
As Kell makes his way into the room, Aleister is offering him on the slightest of nods, followed by, "Ser Drakmoor." That said, the Charlton is making his way towards a small table to one side, to claim a pitcher and pour its contents into a glass, which he is promptly claiming once the pitcher has been set aside. Turning back, he settles his attention upon Kell, a smirk beginning to dance upon his lips as he offers, "You and I have some unfinished business, Ser Drakmoor, that has carried over far too long from the Iron Isles."
Kell knows exactly what Lord Aleister is speaking of, apparent by the thinning of the knight's lips followed by a stiff nod of his head as if to be in agreement. The commonborn knight certainly hasn't forgotten though he wasn't going to be one to press the issue, due to their differences in their station and how far apart their respective Houses were, until Aleister became the Lord of Highfield. For now, Kell chooses to remain silent, the nod that was given in response the only reaction so far.
Ser Harold gave the pitcher a glance, but stayed where he was at the eating table, his stocky legs spread out beneath it, and his arms folded over the thick of his chest as he listened attentively. His habit of scratching at his chin scar was yielded into in the silence, a lazy scritch-scratch noise.
Cherise swept her eyes over the table, watching as Aleister procured himself a sampling from the pitcher. She remained standing, close but not within the focus of the topic at hand which had been well over due apparently. Remaining quiet the lady listened for the details.
There's a couple of steps taken towards Kell before Aleister is drawing to a halt, his free hand slipping down to a pocket on his tunic, so that it can dip within and when it withdraws, there's a small pouch contained within his fingers. This is promptly tossed at Kell, the sound of jingling evident within and it's accompanied by, "That will more then cover your …. loss, Ser Drakmoor."
Kell's eyes remain trained on Aleister as the Lord approaches, curious as to what the other man has to say until the pouch is revealed. Catching the pouch in one hand, the weight of it evident, the knight glances down at it before looking back up to Aleister. "Thank you, M'Lord." Is the brief answer though there is a slight hesitation, as if Kell is trying to decide if he should keep the money or not. But the Roost is suffering so it is best to accept the coinage, especially since it is from the Charltons. He does ask a question to start with, "Lord Aleister. If I may ask… Why?" Perhaps it is still something that the common knight does not understand, as to why the Lord did what he did that day.
That smirk remains upon Aleister's lips, broken only by the lift of his mug to his lips so that a sampling of the wine can be taken. When the mug lowers, the Charlton Lord is offering, "Because, taking a prisoner that early in the campaign would have been foolish, Ser Drakmoor, and because it was well within my right as the ranking Noble at the time." There's another step towards the Terrick Knight, followed by, "And had you all had your way, we would have had a thousand prisoners marching behind us, devouring our resources, distracting our men as we're forced to guard them."
Whether Kell agrees with the Lord's assessment or not, it isn't voiced. Nor does he start a debate on the subject as his question was answered, sufficiently enough. "Understood, M'Lord." The commonborn knight looks like he was about to turn to depart but remembers the proper ettiquette as he speaks again, "If my presence is no longer required, M'Lord, then I do not wish to disturb you and your family's stay here. I trust you are all comfortable here and do not require anything else?" Kell isn't one who is practiced in the arts of being a good host, so he doesn't know exactly what is needed, but he is more than capable of passing a message along.
"War is unpleasent business, Ser Drakmoor," Harold's voice had taken a resigned note from his seat, his hand fallen away from his beard. There was a bit of a wooden scrape as he drew the chair away from the table, and lifted himself up. Apparently he'd changed his mind on the drinking. "More often a man is faced between a bad choice or a worse one. Prudent men try to avoid the whole ugly business, but if you're first stuck with the mess, the prime principle is always to do whatever you have to, to win." He spoke as he poured, looking not at either his nephew or the Terrick sworn blade, but rather at the liquid pouring down into the waiting cup. Once he judged he had enough for a mouthful, he fell silent and tipped the whole lot of it back down his throat.
Cherise nods after Harold's contribution, agreeing with his words. "We are Ser Drakmoor. Thank you." She tells the knight. "Though perhaps, if you could pass to the Lady Luciene that I do wish to enjoy her company once more."
Another simple nod comes to be offered to Kell and when Harold speaks his mind on such thing, there's a flit of Aleister's eyes in the direction of his uncle and then back towards Kell. When the other Charlton has finished, a shake of his head comes to pass, followed by, "There is nothing else that I require, Ser Drakmoor, and we are as comfortable as one can expect at a time like this." A pause comes to pass, followed then by, "But if you do see one of the Lord's or Ladies of the House, please express my interest in speaking with them at some time."
Harold's words are listened to intently and Kell nods his head to the older knight, showing that he understands that train of thought easily enough, perhaps having heard of it before as well. But he doesn't say that the other knight is right, nor does he take this time to reveal his own views on war and how one conducts themselves in battle. Perhaps he believes that this isn't the proper time or place for such. "The best option is to not have war at all, Ser, as you've said, so we can avoid the ugly business." When Lady Cherise speaks, Kell turns his attention her and after hearing her request, he inclines his head respectfully, "I will pass that message along to Lady Lucienne, M'Lady." Aleister's final request is also acknowledged by the Terrick Knight, a nod added, "I will let them know, M'Lord." With that, Kell turns to leave the room so the Charltons can return to their own business.
"A pleasent day to you, Ser Darkmoor," the Charlton knight supplied in a slightly brusque, but not unfriendly, tone of voice. He'd finally look up from his cup to give the TErrick Sworn a look of acknowledgement, and a nod, and he'd keep watching the man until the door was closed behind him. Afterwards another cup found itself filled up from the pitcher, with Harold soon after ambling amiably over to the table to sink back down into the same pleasently relaxed sprawl he'd been in earlier. Only this time with a full cup to wet his tongue with.
She waits until the Terrick Knight has departed from the chambers, the door closing behind him and the Charltons are embraced in silence. For a short while. "Was that not a little excessive Aleister?" Coming around to join the two men at the table the Lady refrains from sitting although both hands do rest upon the high back of an empty chair.
Offering little else to the Terrick Knight, Aleister is once more lifting the cup to his lips so that a longer sip can be taken from within as he turns from the door and in the direction of Cherise and Harold. His wife's words catch his attention and as the mug comes to be lowered and his brow lifts upwards, he's offering, "And to what do you think is a little excessive, my dear?"
"I like the proper ones," the uncle of the room said with a small and crooked smile on his lips. "Make good friends in peacetime, and they make pretty darn good enemies as well. All in all, I wish there were more like them." He took a sip, then turned his eyes on Cherise.
The blonde Charlton swept her eyes over to Harold before replying to her husband. "A few simple words may have sufficed. Tossing wealth into their pockets so easily will certainly deepen their suspicions." Although she knew not what had transpired between the two the woman was curious what had warranted that payment. "Had you killed his horse or something along those lines?"
Casting a look over in the direction of Harold, Aleister gives a slight shake of his head, "Nothing proper about that one, Uncle. The Commonborn's that work for the Terricks think they are on par with us." By us, he no doubt means Highborn, "On the Isles, he defied me and was prepared to draw a blade against me, to defend a prisoner that we should not have had." Now, he looks to Cherise, the smirk dancing to his lips as he shakes his head, "Recompense is what that was, Cherise. I took a prisoner from him and he was owed coin in return."
A casual shrug rolled off his shoulder at Aleister's response. "Being willing to risk one's life for that of an unarmed prisoner, nephew, is the mark of a man who is exactly that. Proper, noble, if not necessarily politically savvy or intelligent," Harold said, then added with a slight snort: "Put a Ser infront of a common man, and you always risk that they feel the need to live up to the fairytale expectations." Grunting, he took another swig from the cup, draining half of it in that one pull. He wasn't shy when it came to the booze. "Regardless. I've been wondering at your overwhelming generosity towards the Terricks. If I'd known you planned it, I might've played nicer when bargaining with them for your hunt. Unless you prefered to strike a contrast to your 'mean old uncle'." He lifted his eyes up from his cup to look at Aleister.
Someone is knocking at the door.
Not desiring a drink Cherise had refrained from reaching for that pitcher. But Aleister explained the why and still she was not getting it. "You are a lord and he is a commoner. He has no greater rights over a prisoner than you." Unless she was understanding the rules of warfare incorrectly the woman then raised her arms, both folding beneath her bosom as she turned away, taking a few step closer to the unlit hearth. "It is better this way Uncle. No reason for to summon up fabricated ruse when our intentions are quite open." Maybe.
A smirk dances upon his lips at Harold's reply, though Aleister does give a nod of his head in his uncle's direction, "It's also been known to be the death of a common knight at the hands of a noble, uncle." The cup is lifted to his lips, another sip coming to be taken and when it lowers, there's a flash of a smile now, "No. No, no reason to have been nicer, Uncle. You see, it keeps the Terrick's offguard and makes them wonder just what I am doing. For now, that is a good thing." Casting a look to Cherise, there's a simple nod given, "No, he doesn't. But he had the backing of the whole Terrick contigent and I offered recompense as a result. Simple enough." The knock to the door draws his attention and he lifts his voice to shout out, "Come in."
A raspy chuckle errupted from the back of Harold's throat at Aleister's response, his flinty grey eyes shining with a bit of genuine amusement. "Aye, and not undeserved either, which is why I said he risked his life. Can't have courage if you're not actually in a risk. I'd say you handled it well, though." He fell silent with the sound of the knocking on the door, giving Aleister one last look and a nod to say that he understand, and was content with that explanation, before he turned his head around to watch the door and see who was coming to visit.
Standing beside the unlit hearth, Cherise has both arms crossed beneath her bosom as Aleister speaks. Both men are seated at a table, a pitcher nearby and cups either half filled or drained. Nearly about to offer a retort to Aleister she decides against it upon hearing a knock at the door. The maidservant Magda moves to invite the guest inside."
As the door opens, it reveals Lady Anais with her usual single guard and handmaid. As she did upon their arrival, she wears one of her finest gowns in Terrick colors. "My lords, my lady," she greets the group with a polite dip of her chin and a friendly smile. "I hope you'll forgive us for not meeting with you sooner. I'm afraid we're going to develop a reputation for leaving our guests cooling their heels, and I'm very sorry for that. Perhaps you'll allow me to share a meal with you by way of apology?" she asks, stepping aside to gesture to a quarter of servants bearing covered trays and pitchers.
After he'd shouted out for the guest to enter, Aleister had looked back towards Harold, a soft laugh escaping his lips as he gives a nod of his head, "Very true." Then, when the door begins to open to reveal Anais, he's rising from his seat so as to offer an incline of his head, "Lady Anais." Falling quiet and listening, a soft chuckle then begins to sound as a hand lifts upwards, giving a slight wave, "You have no need to apologize. I understand things to be .. hectic around Four Eagles and The Roost at this time, so I take no offense." Then, there's another slight incline of his head, followed by, "A meal would be most welcome and perhaps it would give us time to talk, as well."
At Anais' arrival, Ser Harold lifted himself up from his sprawl in the chair, until he stood tall and proud like the knight he was. His wide hands spread down the front of his somewhat rumpled tunic - it had been perfectly fine in the morning!- straightening out the material before dipped a respectful bow in the Lady's direction. "My Lady Anais," he murmured, crooked smile hiding inside of his beard when he straightened back up. "A meal in your pleasent company is a gift in itself." He flicked his eyes over to the trays and the pitchers, the latter especially.
Cherise inclined her head to the arriving Terrick as a way of greeting, both arms were unwraveled as hands were placed before her abdomen. "How thoughtful." She remarks, sharing the same level of approval as the others. A few steps would bring the Lady Charlton closer towards that vacant seat beside her husband. Claiming it as her own. There was still room at the table of course for all the noble occupants of this chamber. "Please, sit." An open handed gesture is made to the opposite side of the table. "We were, in truth, inquiring about Lord Jarold."
"I had hoped you would see it that way, Ser Aleister," Anais smiles crookedly as the Charlton, agrees, stepping in and stepping aside to make room for the servants. They're efficient sorts, clearing a space and starting to lay out the trays. The food seems to be some sort of mixed seafood stew, made thicker and heartier thanks to the supplies delivered by the Charltons with some grains, but well-spiced with pieces of crab, shrimp, fish, and even a few clams floating in the savory liquid, along with a few leafy greens and small wild onions. There are plates of flatbread as well, for dipping, and the wine is a rather good one, the sort that must have been in the back of the cellars aging until supplies were low. There is a pitcher of water should anyone wish to water their wine, but it hasn't been pre-watered. "I'm afraid Lord Jerold has been…reclusive since Lady Evangeline's passing," she explains to Cherise with a small, apologetic smile. "And Jacsen was seeing to things, but he's having a bout with his leg at the moment. As I've been seeing to the administration of the keep, though, and particularly the dispensation of supplies, they've agreed that I'm best suited to treat with you on this matter."
As Anais proceeds into the room, Aleister is lowering himself back down into his seat, eyes flitting to the servants as they begin to set the table with the food that has been provided and after a moment, he's offering, "Looks and smells wonderful," to no one in particular. Then, his attention shifts to that of Cherise and then back to Anais, a small smile hinting to his lips as he offers another nod, "Please, pass along my sypathies to Lord Jerold." A pause and then another nod comes to pass from Aleister, "And I am sorry to hear that the Young Lord's leg is causing him issue. I do so hope that he will feel better, soon."
Ser Harold surrendered the seat he'd had by Aleister, pulling out the chair properly before shifting down one spot on the table while it was being decked with the fragrant promises of the ocean, and opening up the choice conversational spot there between the two Charlton knights, and remained standing while he waited for the Terrick Lady to find herself a seat. Done all the while wearing that half smile still, looking as comfortable and relaxed and right welcoming, as if the greying fellow had been welcoming a guest in his own home, rather than as a guest in the Four Eagles. That his eyes had a certain penetrative sharpness to them was mostly covered up by his otherwise open demeanor.
Pity. Misfortune stacked atop of misfortune the Lady Charlton wore the mask of sympathy as Anais relayed the current status of the Four Eagles. All the more reason to offer hope for this sinking keep. She nodded however, agreeing with Aleister's expressed empathy. "I would have love to have met him." Either of them given her last visit the Young Lord was, once again, disposed otherwise. "Though the food smells lovely. It is rare to dine on such dishes the further inland we are."
"As do we all, my lord," Anais dips her chin to Aleister as she joins the group at the table, her own guard drawing out her chair and pushing it in beneath her. "And thank you. It's actually a family recipe from the Banefort, but it's served us well of late." She waits until everyone is settled, with servants spreading napkins over laps and laying out silverware with quiet ease, before she continues. "Thank you," she begins, "For your gifts. I am sorry that we could not be more welcoming when you arrived, but I'm sure Lady Cherise understands how these things may be seen where I come from in the Westerlands. There is a fine line between accepting aid and being seen as too weak to protect oneself."
Watching as Anais settles herself in his chair, Aleister then looks towards Cherise and to Harold before he's looking back to the Young Lady. A smile touches upon his lips as he offers another incline of his head, "I look forward to taste such a dish then." Pausing as a napkin is laid upon his lap, he's then offering a faint chuckle and another nod of his head, "Of course, Lady Anais, think nothing of it. Had I desired the Roost for myself, I would have arrived with far more men that I had and I would not have sent word of my arrival to your gates." A flash of a smile and a hand lifts, to still any immediate reply so that he can continue with, "Rest assured. Contrary to what might be said about me or my intentions, I have no desire to see a Charlton standard flying above the Roost. Nor will you see my men marching upon her gates."
Harold sank down with a muffled sigh of contentment, easing into the chair with a slight crank of his neck. He leaned forward as the dishes were presented, breathing in the scent with a pleased expression on his face. He wasn't shy about indicating to the servants that he'd very much like a proper pour of the rich wine that the Terricks had decided to offer their guests. "Westerling food, eh? Don't get much seafood at Hollyholt. River fish and mountain trout, though, I've always had a taste for. Nice and baked, with herbs. Of course then we came to the Iron Isles, and I found that perhaps not all fish was made equal." He gave a bit of a snort. "I'm certain this will be a true treat, however, my Lady."
After sinking into her seat Cherise plucks a napkin from the table and lays it across her lap. The first to be requested from one of the servants is wine and specifically watered down. "Indeed, I do." She left it at that while reaching for her cup and drawing it closer. "It has been a long time since I have had a proper sea stew." Not since her days of living in the Crag. Cherise sweeps her eyes between those seated at the table, a small chuckle left her lips at Aleister's mention of a Charlton standard.
Bowls are filled and placed in front of each person, with a few triangles of salted flatbread arrayed on the plate beneath them before the servants step back. "I appreciate that, Lord Charlton," Anais says with a small smile. "Which brings us to what brought you here in the first place. I could wish we had more to offer, but if wishes were dragons, I think my main concern would be a sufficient amount of cattle to feed them." Her smile slips crooked at the last, wry humor in her voice. "So. What business would you like to have with the Roost?"
Looking between those gathered at the table, Aleister allows his attention to shift back to Anais and for the moment, the food goes untouched as he flashes a smile in her direction, "I thought you might, Lady Anais." A soft chuckle then sounds past his lips, followed by another nod of his head before he's offering, "Quite simply put, Lady Anais, the Roost is still in dire straits. I have heard rumor that your neighbours and fellow vassals to the Mallisters, House Grooves, chose to not assist with the shortfall of food and instead, chose to profit from such things by selling their excess to the Naylands."
Cherise leans forward a touch, close enough to catch the rising aroma from her bowl. A smile forms her lips as she returns into sitting upright and following the flow of conversation between her husband and the Lady Anais. "It is no secret that the Roost was in need and House Nayland had revealed their true colors. I suspect whatever arrangement may have been broken they may soon try to rebuild a strained friendship at their convience and lesser so for yours."
Anais lifts a hand, wiggling it from side to side at Aleister's words. "It was somewhat more complicated than that, I'm afraid. By the time we'd heard about the harvest, the Naylands had already made what was said to be a very generous offer. We chose not to insult the Groves with an inferior offer, but they chose to take offense because we didn't make an offer, and by the time it was all straightened out, they had accepted the Nayland's offer. Ser Kittridge, of course, is quick to say it's just business," she adds with a flicker of a smile, reaching for her glass to take a sip of her own, well-watered wine. "And we can hardly blame them for seeing to the good of their family. Though the Mallisters seem to feel less forgiving on the matter. Anyhow, there is food to be had in the Riverlands. For a price, as ever." Her gaze is steady on the Charlton lord, leaving the topic open, as she nods to Cherise. "I know well what the Groves seek."
With a flicker of his eyes in the direction of Cherise, Aleister listens for a moment before he's looking back in the direction of Anais, "Things are always more complicated then the simple rumors that surround them." He does listen though and when the Lady has finished, he's offering an almost quiet chuckle and a nod of his head, "An unfortunate turn of events, it would seem." Lifting a hand to his mug, he draws the cup to his lips, to take a sip of the liquid within and when it lowers, he's flashing another smile, "What if we coud come to a solution, here and now, that would solve the issue of your food problem until your harvests once more provide for your people."
Cherise would fill a sample of the stew into her spoon as the two of them would talk. Slurping quietly the action was repeated due to the savory flavor of the dish. A rare thing indeed to have inland.
"I would be interested in hearing about it," Anais replies to Aleister with a low laugh, dipping her spoon into the stew and taking a bite. "This dish, after all, is much better with some grain to thicken the broth. What is it you have in mind, Lord Aleister?"
Ser Harold had been enjoying the stew while he listened to the trade of words between Aleister and Anais, his sharp eyes occasionally flickering in their direction to take in an expression or some bodylanguage. Even while occupied with his meal, he gave a distinct impression of not missing a beat. At Anais' story of the Groves, he'd shook his head a little, too, his mouth curling in something of a resigned smile, as if it was a thing you might not like to hear, but really couldn't be surprised to be bearing anyway.
Settling back a bit in his chair, Aleister allows the tips of his fingers to tap against the side of his cup as he looks to Harold and then back to Anais, "I had been informed that you wish to conduct a hunt upon my land and I had informed my Uncle to tell you that I would be welcome to such a thing, in exchange for stuff." He pauses again, fingertips still tapping against the side of his cup, "I will allow you your hunt, Lady Anais and will allow you to retain all the meat from such a thing, though I would ask for a portion of the hides, though." A quick smile, a nod and he continues with, "And I will see grain and fruit delivered to you on a monthly basis, as well."
"When we planned the hunt, the lands were Lady Liliana's," Anais notes academically, taking another bite of the stew as she listens. "And of course, we had received her permission for it. It is a generous offer you make." She falls silent for a moment, as though considering, and sips at her wine. "And what 'stuff' were you looking for in return for such generosity?"
"Gave them a properly generous deal of it, too," Ser Harold murmured with a quirk to his lips as he met Aleister's look, then traded it for one in Anais' direction, so that both of the Charlton men were eying the lady. "Offload a few extra mouths, in return for food to feed the rest. It's not as if a few of them aren't likely to have left, and continue leaving, while things are spotty. A man could've been rude, and simply propositioned those unbound souls directly." The knight seemed to chew on the idea for a moment, but then shook his head with a chuckle. "But of course that'd been disrespectful, and not at all worthy of a new neighbour who wants nothing but friendship. A poor knight who'd ever stoop to such lows, while enjoying another's hospitality." He said it with a smile, too, looking genuine there in his weathered features.
Cherise playfully chastized her Gooduncle with a look, something she may soon be in the habit of with her young. Still as matters were discussed she remained quiet and trading spoon fulls of the stew from the bowl to her mouth.
Shifting his attention to that of his uncle, Aleister offers a quick grin as the man speaks, "Indeed? That is a generous offer, Uncle." Finally deciding to take a bite of the stew, he offers a quick, "Wonderful," before taking another. His attention then shifts to Anais, "The lands no longer belong to the Lady Camden, so her permission is moot at this particular point in time. And we both know that you could use the meat and the hides." The smirk fades to that of a smile before he's continuing with, "In return, I want a promise of repayment. Not in gold, but in grain, and only when you develop and excess that can be spared." He pauses for another bite, followed by, "And a promise that should conflict come to Charlton and Nayland, that the Terrick's will not raise their levies to fight on the side of the Naylands and that they will forbid their Knights and Armsmen from joining the fight as well." There could be more, but he leaves it there for the moment.
"Ah, and we come to the crux of the matter," Anais smiles faintly at Aleister's last condition. She looks to Harold first, clearly not taken in by the innocent words. "I'm certain something could be arranged, in regards to workers. I'm afraid they don't lack for work here at the moment, but as there has been nothing to plant, more and more of our young men have begun to study the skills our craftsmen can offer. If you've a few masters of your own, I think we could agree to send some of those who could now be considered apprentices or journeymen to lend them a hand in exchange for food for their families left here. So long as they are willing, of course." Aleister's words are considered as she takes another bite of her stew, no doubt running the numbers in her head. "A promise of repayment I can grant. They're terms I've been trying to offer half the Riverlands," she adds, dry. And indeed, that's no secret. "But we are still in peace talks with the Naylands ourselves, and our lands can ill afford to become a battleground again." She looks up, arching a pale brow. "Are you planning to start a conflict, Lord Aleister?"
"King Robert himself acknowledged the bastard," Ser Harold rumbled from his spot between a bit of drink. "Respecting a King's decisions is hardly starting anything. Now taking children captives on spurous accusations, that's starting something. So if anything has been started, don't look to the Charltons as aggressors." After that, he also made a pleased and rumbly noise from deep in his chest, causing the whole width of it to shake. "And this is an excellent stew, my Lady. My humble respect for the cooking skills of the Baneforts. Right leaving me breathless with contentment, here."
Listening to Anais, Aleister is oddly quiet and when Harold speaks, he's casting his eyes over in the direction of his uncle, giving a simply nod of his head before he's looking between the two, "Let us no debate the issue of Lord Tordane at this time. I have found such debates to go on for some time and it would detract from the conversation at hand." Settling his eyes upon Anais, he inclines his head towards her, "A conflict is not what I desire, Lady Anais. I have a holding to see to and a son to raise." A smile touches to his lips at that, though it's broken a moment later as he offers, "But I have no desire to aid an ally of the Naylands, either, unfortunately. They offered my family and I grave offense by seizing us at the inn and then denying us the right of trial by law. And they broke sacred guest rights when offering hospitality and breaking bread with my cousin, only to then seize her and hold her hostage." A shake of his head then comes, "No, I will aid no friend of the Naylands. If you wish to broker peace and friendship with them, Lady Anais, then you may accept their help in rebuilding."
There's a visible display of tension upon Cherise's shoulders as Harold spoke, bringing the lady to set down her spoon in the meantime and trade it for the cup of wine.
"Stonebridge," Anais sighs wearily, "Is by far the most difficult issue in the Riverlands at the moment, I think. I've said often that Lord Tywin would have razed it and simply installed his own toll at the bridge and been done with it by now." She turns a faint smile to Cherise at that, then looks back to the men. "Lord Aleister, I think it's likely no secret that the Terricks as a whole are in no hurry to become allies of the Naylands. That has been my goal, to the purpose of assuring that we continue to have access to goods through Stonebridge and that my own children don't get locked into a feud that wastes everyone's energy. I could be convinced to discontinue those efforts if those goals might be maintained in another manner. Though I will reiterate my concerns that further conflict in this area would be a detriment to everyone."
"The only way the Terricks would get locked into any kind of feud, I think, is if the Terricks made choices that put them in the middle of it," Harold pointed out. "Your lands have been reaved and your people are suffering. If I were you, I'd concentrate on rebuilding. That's all my nephew asks. That you concentrate on rebuilding, and becoming a profitable and welcome neighbour along his holding's borders, rather than waste yourself in the Nayland's web of corruptive influence." He gave a bit of a weary sigh, then scrbbed at his chin and his neck, scratching at the scars he'd picked up over the years.
"If only Lord Tywin were here to do such a thing, Lady Anais," is what Aleister offers immediately before falling quiet, his eyes playing between those gathered before he offers, "My uncle speaks the truth, Lady Anais. I wish to the Roost flourish and grow once more, for she is an icon upon the Cape." With that, there's a slight incline of his head, followed by, "But Stonebridge will continue to allow goods through. They can ill-afford to lose the tariffs that would come by denying goods destined to the Roost and if they chose to take such a venture, m'lady, I would see the goods allowed through Highfield with no tariff assigned to them, though the journey would add a day or two to the arrival of such things." Finishing the last of his stew, followed by his wine, he presses both aside before he lifts his napkin to dab at his lips, "Highfield will do what we can to aid the Roost, Lady Anais, and we are willing to do so with minimal repayment required. But I can not, and will not, do so if House Terrick seeks friendship with the Naylands."
"I care less about friendship with the Naylands and more about peace in the Cape," Anais explains to Aleister. "It's unfortunate, but I'm afraid our attempts at alliance have been…stymied, at best." She sips at her drink, considering Harold and Aleister alike. "There has been talk of a means of trade outside of Stonebridge as well. Before the invasion, we had plans to build docks here at the Roost, and I thought I'd heard rumors that the coast of Tall Oaks or Flint's Finger might be in consideration for the same. Might there be any truth to those rumors?"
Scraping the bottom of the bowl with a bit of bread, Ser Harold removed the very last vestiges of the stew with a look that said he'd very much enjoyed the meal. Pointedly he pushed it a bit aside, then shifted his chair back a touch with the noise of wood drawn against wood until he'd enough space between it and the table to sprawl just a little. No more polite dinner posture for the grizzly knight. The wine remained very much in his mind, though, for he ensured it was filled before he reclined, so he wouldn't have to crank himself up straight to pour anytime soon. Sipping, he listened to what Anais had to say, then looked at this nephew for the response.
A faint cluck of Aleister's tongue comes to pass as he dips a nod of his head in Anais' direction, "Peace is a welcome thing, Lady Anais, but history has shown us that it never seems to last for long." The words are wryly spoken and are followed by a slight shake of his head. But, the mention of trade and of the Flint's draws a chuckle to his lips as he inclines his head a touch, "Indeed, the Flint's had considered a port along the coast, but such thing is a large undertaking, with little reward. The cost of constructing a port and then paying for the delivery of goods is far too great, when they can be received by land at half the cost."
"Mmmm," Anais hums vaguely, her own stew still only half-eaten. "Your uncle mentioned Stonebridge," she continues, looking to the knight. "And that is the crux of the issue of maintaining peace with the Naylands. I've watched the loss of Stonebridge diminish Terrick's Roost since my arrival here on the Cape. I've seen what chaos it can sow. And I do not want to see my sons struggle with it as this generation has. I know that you support Lady Danae's claim. But let us dispense with the necessary polite charades. It's my understanding she may have had a single night with Ser Gedeon. While I have no doubt she'll manage to show up pregnant, I think you will find in the future that the conditions of the conception will leave the door for future usurpers wide open. While the King confirmed Ser Gedeon, he did not strip Lady Isolde either, and she carries a babe conceived in a marriage witnessed by half of the Cape. Do you have a plan for that?"
"Is this a matter you truly wish to be involved in Lady Anais?" Cherise asked after setting down the cup of wine.
Shifting his attention to that of Cherise, Aleister simply gives a shake of his head in her direction before he's looking back towards Anais, "Very well, Lady Anais, we can dispense with such charades." The smirk dances to his lips once again and as he settles back against his seat, his hands come to clasp together in his lap, "Unfortunately, the matter of Lady Isolde and any children that she might have is not for me to decide. You see, Lady Danae Tordane is the rightful ruler of Stonebridge, as well as that of House Tordane. We simply support her claim in such things, Lady Anais."
"That is a non-answer," Anais drawls, unimpressed. "Lady Danae claims the services of two knights at the moment. Without your support, her claim will be moot." She drinks again, then sets her glass aside. "Let us discuss the terms I will bring to Lord Jerold. You offer to provide us with monthly shipments of food and seed, and to allow the previously planned hunt. In return, we will repay the shipments of food and seed in kind once we are once again producing a surplus. At what percent of interest? Fifty percent of the hides from said hunt will be paid to you. Tanned, or raw? In return, you ask that we withdraw from peace talks with the Naylands and - should there be a conflict - lend no aid to the Naylands. Should such a conflict result in a cessation of trade through Stonebridge, you pledge to offer similar goods at a similar price through Highfield with no tariff for the duration of said cessation. I would like to add, in the event of a conflict with the Naylands, no troops will be moved through Terrick lands. We will offer craftsmen of apprentice and journeymen rank an opportunity to provide their services to Highfield for a fixed period of time, with the caveat that they will be free to return at the end of said time, and their families will remain here in the Roost. Should they choose to remain in Highfield beyond that fixed period, we would request some form of compensation for their loss, at a price to be determined." She looks around the table, arching a brow. "Are those acceptable terms with which to begin?"
"Does it honestly matter?" Ser Harold asked at length, the question directed to Anais as he set aside an empty cup of wine. "The why, the what, the how? We support Danae Tordane. That is all that really matters, all you should really need to know to be able to make a decision." He gave a slight shrug, before turning his head to listen to Anais list up the various parts of the deal. A small smile spread across his lips as he coughed, then interceded:
"Pledge to allow the movement of similar goods through Highfield lands, without tarrifs. What merchants decide to charge you cannot expect us to keep to. Their prices are their prices." He said, giving a look in Aleister's direction. "And it seems properly cruel to deny a man his family, if they wish to resettle, not to mention close to slavery. Unless sworn in bonds to the Terricks, they're hardly yours to so claim to. Nor demand that he be paid for, if he choses to make another hold his home out of his own free will."
Listening to what is said by Anais, Aleister is then looking towards his Uncle so as to give a nod before his attention returns to Anais. All mention of Danae and her claim is set aside for the moment, for he offers, "Interest repayment on the food shall be at five percent, Lady Anais, and we will settle for taking the hides raw, rather then set your people to having to tan them." Generous enough, especially from a Charlton. "Your vassal houses must also not participate in any conflict and again, your knights and armsmen must not participate as well." A smile dances to his lips, though it's followed by a quick chuckle, "Yes, goods can flow through our lands, to and fro, without tariff for the duration of said cessation and I will agree to not using Terrick lands for my men, should a conflict arise, so long as House Terrick bans House Nayland from doing the same." A lift of his brow and he's then canting his head to the side, "But what my Uncle says is correct. I can not be held responsible for those that wish to remain in my lands. If the smallfolk are not bound to your House and choose to remain, I can not be held responsible for compensation. But .." The smirk returns to his lips now, "For ever third that remains, we can speak of a fair price, for I know the loss of craftsman would be harmful in the long run. But, you can not withhold their families from them, should they choose to venture up. In return, I will see that your people who do come, are not given any special treatment in an effort to intice them to stay."
"Since we are loaning you their services, I think it not unreasonable to keep the families here in the Roost, in their homeland," Anais points out. "The people of the village are sworn to us and are our responsibility. Thus our great efforts to restore their homes. The issue of family, I will discuss with Lord Jerold, though. Where shall we set the amount of time they will offer their services to Highfield?" she asks, looking between the men. "Does six months sound fair?"
Ser Harold seemed to have finished voicing his thoughts on the original wording Anais had brought, and so had fallen into considering silence afterwards, bobbing his head at what Aleister said. Perhaps making a small sound in the back of his throat when the Terrick suggested just six months, as if it seemed a slight bit paltry. Still, it was just a sound, and he was back to pouring himself another cup of the wine. "Excellent," he said, by way of complimenting their host, then lifted the pitcher in the direction of the other table guests to see if they wished a refill as well.
"I can not agree to seperating families, Lady Anais, unless they choose such a thing. If families wish to remain behind, that is fine, but we should not stop those that wish to venture forth." A smile hints to his lips before Aleister is giving a shake of his head, eyes flitting to Harold and then back again, "One year should the length of time, my Lady. And while you are loaning us these men, we will be seeing them put to work, which will further there skills. There is a good chance that some of them will return as a Master, rather then a Journeymen, when they come back."
"If you expect to take entire families, rather than single craftsmen, then we may have to renegotiate the terms of their worth," Anais replies, arching a pale brow. "It was my understanding that you were looking for the services of craftsmen. We are offering to provide the services of craftsmen that belong in the Roost. How /we/ choose to deal with the issue of their families is not currently within the scope of our agreement. You," she continues with a faint smile, "Would not be stopping those who wish to venture forth. We would. Which only makes sense, as they are our people."
"Lady Anais, a happy craftsmen is a productive craftsmen. If you bar their families from coming forth, they will provide only menial labor and their products will be lackluster at best," is the immediate reply from Aleister, followed by, "I am not saying their families should join them. Only that should some chose to come, they should not be denied. When the time comes, they will be free to return to the Roost without hinderance from Highfield."
"I had assumed they would be, Lord Aleister," Anais replies. "It would hardly be…friendly to take advantage of such a loan to deprive the Roost of its people. The majority of those in consideration for such a program are unwed anyhow, but I would prefer not to set a precedent of allowing Highfield to set terms on how we treat with our smallfolk. Besides, the knowledge that their best work provides for their families here at the Roost should be more than sufficient to insure the quality of their work. As for time, within a year, we should have our own harvests again with such an arrangement. We could agree to a year, or we could agree to six months and you would have the opportunity to woo twice as many craftsmen. And, as you seem concerned about their relationship with their families, they would be deprived of such comfort for less time."
"We shall set the length of time to one year, Lady Anais, with a review at six months, to ensure that both parties are still happy with that particular arrangement." Shifting his hand from the cup to the table, Aleister's fingers drum lightly against it, "And we shall allow the families to visit Highfield and their husbands and fathers and likewise, we shall allow the craftsmen to return to the Roost from time to time, to visit with families and friends here. That should suffice for both our needs, I would think?"
Anais tilts her head slightly, considering, then nods. "That sounds fair, Lord Aleister," she agrees. "Very well, then. I shall bring these terms to Lord Jerold and my husband. Assuming all goes well, I should have an answer for you within two days, if that is all right? In the meantime, please let me know if there's anything I can do to make your stay here more comfortable. There are few enough opportunities for hawking and hunting at the moment, but the shore is lovely for riding and there are some private coves that are excellent for swimming."
"Swimming in salt water," Ser Harold huffed with a gruff frown, which turned into a bit of a grin a moment afterwards as he added: "Bloody uncivilized. Salt everywhere, needing a bath after taking the bath. Hah. Pointless! Don't like knowing there's things beneath me that I can't see, that might want to eat me, too. Can't slay a shark like you can slay a lion or a wolf if -it- tries to stalk you." He chuckled a little as he took another swallow from his wine.
She wore a grin in Harold's direction. "Come now uncle, as a child of the coast the sea isn't all that dangerous. I am sure you'll manage." Cherise prodded shortly after another sip from her cup. The talks were making progress and terms agreed upon though it will take another two days of being away from her son to finalize these accords.
Any reply to Anais is muted by Harold's sudden fray into the conversation and with a turn of his head and a loft of a brow, Aleister is offering, "Well said, Uncle." There's a flit of his gaze to Cherise so that a soft laugh can be offered and then looking back to Anais, a smile dancing to his lips as he offers, "Us Charltons are not overly fond of the water .. at least when it comes to the sea." THe smile fades with another nod of his head, "Very good, Lady Anais. Present this to your Lord and if he agree's, we will arrange a time to have a document signed by both of us." He pauses, his head canting a touch to the side, "But I do have one more point to add. A wardship as a token of trust between both sides. Lady Alys Charlton, the Lord of Hollyholt's daughter, in exchange for Lady Lucienne Terrick."
"I assure you, Ser Harold, I've yet to be eaten by a shark. And I imagine I'm less of a mouthful than you would be," Anais replies to the knight with some amusement. She turns to Aleister's additional condition, then shakes her head. "Lady Lucienne is not available as a ward," she replies. "And I'm sure you've heard that I wouldn't turn that offer down if it was in my power," she adds with a wry twist of her lips. "But not only is the lady a bit old for a wardship, her father is currently engaged in negotiations regarding her betrothal. Perhaps we might come to some other arrangement if you're looking for a place for Lady Alys?"
Ser Harold snorted with a bit of amusement, looking at Cherise as if he was distinctly doubtful about her sanity in general just then. A look he shared with Anais as well, for her humor. He fell silent afterwards, though, his eyes turning expectant as he listened to Anais' response to the wardship. What he thought of the answer he kept to himself, his mouth pursing thoughtfully while he took a slow sip from his wine.
Listening to Anais' reply, Aleister affords his uncle and wife a slight smile before he's looking back to the Young Lady, "Negotiations for a betrothel do not proclude the possibility of such things, Lady Anais. The Lady Alys is currently betrothed to Ser Perrin Haigh, second son of the Lord of Broodmoar." A pause is taken but it's followed by another nod, "Present such a thing to Lord Jerold. Such an exchange is simply a show of trust and if desired, such things can be further spoken upon."
Anais shakes her head slightly. "I will mention it to Lord Jerold, but he has a very strong attachment to his daughter. Is this a condition upon which the rest hinge, or simply another possible consideration?" she asks as she stands, gesturing to the servants to begin cleaning up the dinner remains.
There's a flash of a smirk in Anais' direction, followed by a slight cant of Aleister's head to one side, "And Lord Keegan is quite attached to his daughter, Lady Anais. It would speak highly to the trust placed to one another in regards to such a thing." Lifting a hand, he gives a slight wave before offering, "Our agreement does not hinge upon this particular arrangement, but I feel it in our best interests to arrange some exchange. As a token of that trust by my House and yours."
When Anais made to stand, Ser Harold was soon to follow as a knight aught to, even if he let her own guardsman take care of the chair and such, since that preference had been rather made clear earlier. The courtesy of a small bow followed, his head dipped politely before he lifted back up with a smile. "She'd not be far away," he murmured in refrence of Lucienne. "Highfield is within reach of anyone wanting to come visit. In any event, a pleasure to share a table with you, my Lady." He'd still that cup in his hand, but once he glanced down at it he realized that it was empty. Well, that put a bit of a frown on his face, before he set it right again.
Anais considers Aleister a moment, tilting her head. "I will tell you this: If you wish Lucienne to be involved in an exchange, you have only to convince her that it is something she wants. Should she ask it of her father, he'll not refuse." And with those words of advice, she steps away from the table with a respectful dip of her chin. "Thank you for your time, Lord Aleister, Lady Cherise, Ser Harold," she says to each in turn. "I hope that we can come to an equitable arrangement in short order."
It's now that Aleister rises from his spot at the table, a soft laugh escaping past his lips as he offers a slight incline of his head in Anais' direction, "I will take note of that, Lady Anais, with thanks." Now, he offers a half bow to her and when he rises, he's offering, "Thank you for the meal, my Lady, and the chance to speak of such things. I look forward to hearing further on your Houses thoughts."
Without offering too much of her own opinion over the talks, Cherise does nod to the Terrick Lady upon her ready to depart. "Lady Anais." The cup is reached for again, sipped from a multitude of times before returning it upon the table. "We all do."
"Aye. We're all here looking to be fast friends," Ser Harold murmured, and nothing in his voice or bearing betrayed anything to suggest that it was other than his honest opinion. Then he smiled, just a hint of white there in his beard, and added even quieter: "Or at least not bloody enemies." He'd remain standing until the Lady and her enoutrage was gone, watching her all the while as she departed. Then he snorted, bemused, and poured himself another cup of wine. "Did that go how you wanted, nephew?"
A sideglance was given to Aleister, "She talks as if she may have a leg to stand on. The Roost cannot afford to become involved in a war should the Naylands not mind their civility." Cherise shakes her head while reaching for that cup again.
Watching Anais make her way from the room, Aleister is looking to Cherise with a smirk before his gaze drifts towards Harold, "I am loathe to make friends with the Terrick's, Uncle and I regret the need at providing them with food at such a low cost. But .." Now, the smirk deepens upon his lips, ".. I got preciously what I wanted. Craftsmen. At a cost that is unbeatable. So, I will take such things in stride." Claiming his original cup, it's lifted to his lips so that the contents can be drained and once it's lowered, he's offering, "Which brings me to another point. Uncle, I have a request to ask of you…"