Page 328: Ugly Lessons
Ugly Lessons
Summary: Hardwicke, Kell, Dmitry, and Sterling pay bandit Jensen a visit.
Date: June 12, 2012
Related Logs: Bandit stuff.
Hardwicke Dmitry Sterling Kell 
A Hamlet — Terrick's Roost
Poor, razed farmland.
June 12, 289

Well on Terrick land but a bit of a ways out from the Roost is the small hamlet that tracking led them to, and outside of that is the farm where Jensen, last of the kidnapping bandits, is said to reside. The Ironborn reavers did good, thorough work, and this farm house, like so many others, looks to have suffered fire damage, haphazardly repaired since. The fields lie fallow and untilled.

Doing surveillance of the place isn't precisely easy; there's nowhere to easily hide men and horses in sight of it, not without being seen coming, and the forest guides certainly won't have any advantage in this sort of terrain. But those in the town have informed you they've seen no armed men or strangers or anything at all unusual of late, and there's no reason to believe there's anyone in that house but the aforementioned Jensen and, it's said, his little nieces and nephew. Riding up, the place is quiet, though not in an ominous way. There are crickets and whatever other sort of insect is normal for the area, and inside the house a child cries.

Hardwicke has been given responsibility for leading the small Terrick contingent to hopefully arrest Jensen and drag him back to the castle. One bandit does not need much in the way of manpower to subdue: two fellow knights seem appropriate. He rides in approach to the hamlet, his face set in grim lines at the feeling of blindness without much room for thorough scouting. Hopefully no one shoots them.

Ahorse with the others with an expression of mild reserve in the relatively lightweight leather armor he favors for maneuverability, Dmitry has for the most part made the effort to control his debonair wit, although occasionally on their ride out he has smiled for no immediately evident reason. "Family man, eh?" is his mild remark as the breeze carries the child noise to them on the approach.

Sterling has been moving through the woods and little hamlets afoot, and if he didn't look like a broken man before, he certainly does now. He's dirty, and his battered boots and plain jack are even dirtier, battered, and plainer (with the removal of his Banefort badge). The common knight has skulked around the hamlet a bit, talked to a few folks, and now he's merely walking straight across the farmlands toward the front door of the cottage. No point in sneaking over open ground. The approach of horses, however, apparently changes his mind, and he cuts across the fields, circling around the building to look for a back door or window that might serve as an escape route when the horsemen come a-knocking.

The place has a back door, but like the front door, it opens onto empty fields. Even if someone were to make a run for it, they'd have to make it a couple hundred yards to get out of sight. Nothing really happens, as the men ride up. No one shoots them. No one jumps out of anywhere. The child in the house doesn't even stop crying.

"No one is to touch any of the family unless they make it unavoidable," Hardwicke orders in brisk tones. Probably not the audience that needs telling, but oh well. HE'S SAYING IT ANYWAYS. He slides off of his horse, squints at the front door a moment, then knocks. HELLO HELLO.

"I was so hoping that this would be my afternoon for eating the beating hearts of innocent children," Dmitry murmurs undervoice. Swung down from his horse, he takes up his bow in hand, closing fingers in a tight clasp of the familiar weapon as he moves to flank the captain, his gaze darting here and there in case of suddenly materializing bandits. You never know.

Sterling walks up to the back door, and leans idly against it. No sense in gathering the attention of those within before the knights riding in like Robert's bloody army. Reaching across to his right hip, he eases the sword in his scabbard, then raises his hands up before him to study the nails of first his right hand and then his left. If the other knights haven't noticed him moving around back already, he's not going to draw their attention either.

As the orders are relayed by the one in charge, Kell gives Hardwicke a nod even if he had no intentions of doing so to begin with, being the honorable type. "Understood, Ser." The expression the Terrick Knight wears is one with a mixture understanding but also disapproving of the choice this 'family man' had made on how to make money. A smirk does appear in response to Dmitry's sarcasm, but it is there only for a moment before eyes return to the door, waiting for an answer from the inside. For all Kell knows, this could all end peacefully with the guilty party coming out more or less saying 'You got me, I did it.'

The knock is not immediately answered. After a moment, there's some movement inside, footsteps coming towards the door, and then louder ones following it more quickly. Both stop, retreat back across the room, and then the louder set comes to the door once more and opens it. The man before them is of middling height, probably in his early 30s, though he is looking older presently. Brown hair is unkempt, his skin weathered but somehow still sallow and pale beneath his tan. A dirty, blood stained bandage held to that wound Dmitry gave him. Behind him, a little girl of probably seven or eight peers curiously at the doorway.

Hardwicke shoots Dmitry a sour look, which must be eminently surprising. In the time they are left waiting, he takes a few steps back and to the side, sliding his gaze about the house to land on Sterling. Looking terribly SKULKY there, aren't you? And all DIRTY and UNRECOGNIZABLE. "Grab him," he barks. Probably to Kell. Nobles don't get orders. And from the way he glances at Dmitry when the man opens the door, it is Dmitry's job to identify him.

Dmitry may not typically receive orders in this way, but he turns slightly at Hardwicke's bark, arrow leaping from his quiver into his hand. So he does not present a particularly peaceful picture, with the haft of his grey-fletched arrow halfway to his bow as he pauses, mid-action, to glance over the man in the doorway. His mouth quirks very slightly. He considers for a beat, and then glances at Hardwicke. "I think so," he says.

After the front door finally opens, Sterling reaches out to open the back door with his right hand, his left dropping to the hilt of the poniard at his left hip. The bark from the front, however, causes him to roll his eyes, "I'm here for the same reason as you. Sharpe of the Banefort." His voice even manages to gather up that roll of his eyes without raising above normal speaking tones. And then, apparently assuming that will be enough, he moves to actually open the door.

Focused on the front door of the place, Kell did not notice the sneaky and dirty man who is Sterling until Hardwicke barks out the order. Maneuver himself towards the other man, the Terrick Knight doesn't hesitate on following the order and eyes Sterling, not recognizing the man who is wearing no identifications. Kell does take some care as the man looks to be a fighter type, perhaps fitting the common look of a robber knight. "Halt! Name yourself!" He calls out to Sterling, though when the name with the House of Banefort is given, the Terrick Knight shoots Hardwicke a brief glance. He doesn't stop his advance towards Sterling though, since a name could easily be spoken, but the answer was rather quick and sure.

The man at the door spots Dmitry's arrow, and the swords and armor, and looks resigned. He makes no move to try to escape, let alone fight, shoulders slumping. "If'n ye take me off," he says, "There'll be nobody to look after the little 'uns. And Jeroldine's not well," he says, indicating the cot where another little girl, pale and bony, sleeps fitfully. A toddler boy next to her looks like he was the one crying earlier, though he's just staring, big-eyed at the door now, scared. "Somebody's got to look after 'em," he insists.

Hardwicke does not look /immediately/ convinced, so the glance he gives Kell is probably not super helpful. FIGURE IT OUT, KELL. He looks back to the man in the doorway. "You should have acted more honorably on their behalf than murder and banditry," he says in a dark voice to the man. "Get out."

Dmitry's dark eyes beneath the narrowed slant of his lashes do not look particularly sympathetic either, as he surveys the man. They fall to the frightened child with a faint purse of his lips, and then lift again to the toddler's erstwhile protector. He still does not shoot Sterling, so that's useful. Mild, he says, "I wouldn't force the issue, were I you."

Sterling looks the situation over from the open back door, then looks past the bandit and his family to the man with the arrow, "Point that somewhere else." The directive is calm, even polite. Looking around the cottage, he adds, "I don't think we need it." Looking over the other soldiers, the Banefort man notes, "Terrick men? Too bad. Stonebridge could've fed the family." Again, the notation is mild, simply stating the truth as he sees it, not trying to give offense.

"Somebody has to look after 'em!" Jensen says again, more distressed as his words fall on deaf ears. He glares at Hardwicke and Dmitry, "You can't just leave 'em here without me! They're just kids!" He takes a step backwards, back into the house.

The quip by Sterling draws a frown from Kell though the Terrick man doesn't protest loudly about the words spoken, since there is truth in them. "The arrow will be lowered once you step away, 'Ser'." Giving the Banefort Knight the appropriate title, though it is spoken with skepticism. "There is no need to get involved. Just wait outside, we'll handle this." For now Kell is more focused on the dirty knight than the bandit at the door.

"And who was watching them while you were kidnapping and abusing the wives and daughters of the Riverlands houses?" Hardwicke asks in a cold voice. Or maybe it is a real question. Like who was your babysitter, Jensen. Clearly he trusts Kell to deal with that riff-raff of Sterling.

"If that's a bandit claiming to be a Banefort and talking that much sauce, he's got balls too much to shoot," is Dmitry's diagnosis, lowering his arrow at a canted angle. It is not the politest declaration of ceasefire ever, but again, at least he's not shooting. "You chose their fate, not I," he tells the glaring man without rancor, but without sympathy. "Now come away before your choices bring them next an ugly lesson about the violence of the world."

Sterling rolls his eyes at the demands of the Terricks, but he steps back from the back door, leaning his right shoulder against the wall of the cottage just outside the door. "Someone just deal with the kids, then we can all go home. I've been hunting these fuckers since the ambush, and I want a damned bath." Just what does he mean by 'deal with' anyhow?

Kell also relaxes in his stance as Sterling shows to be more cooperative than combative, which has the Terrick Knight breathing a sigh of relief at not having to do more work than necessary. "Dealing with the kids is probably harder than dealing with the bandit." Which is Kell's way of saying he has no idea what a good solution would be for the children.

Jensen glares warily at Hardwicke as he says, "One of the girls in the village, but she ain't takin' 'em forever, it was only sposed to be a couple a hours." As Sterling talks of 'dealing with the kids' and Dmitry glares, Jensen backs up even further, glares even harder. "You can't just leave them here!" he shouts, though it's too hoarse to be a real yell, and he coughs, a nasty wheezing sound that makes him clutch at his chest wound, though he remains resolute, it seems, saying again, "You can't. You ain't no better than the fucking Ironborn!"

Hardwicke's jaw hardens at Jensen's insistence, and, you know, he is not so heartless that he will abandon children to starve. "Then bring them," he finally growls, glaring at the bandit for putting him the position in the first place.

"Oh, please. Ironborn my ass." This is not the most diplomatic response ever to leave Dmitry's lips. "Imagine if all you have to do to earn your children a place in a lord's house is abduct his daughter." He slants a look of exasperation at Hardwicke, and gesture at Jensen with his arrow. "Drop them at the bloody sept and let's get on with it or I'll be forced to put an arrow through his eye in front of his precious little ones."

Sterling shakes his head at Hardwicke's words from the other side of the cottage. He snorts again, then shrugs, looking over to Kell, "The bandit's calling us reavers. Cute." Once more, he brings his hand up, studying his nails once more, "If your friend kills him, we can't interrogate him." There's a pause, and then he notes, "I expect part of the reward. There's a reward, right?"

Kell isn't exactly pleased that the bandit is insulting the name of House Terrick to the level of the Ironborn, but then again he isn't exactly too pleased with the notion of shooting the father in front of the kids if the bandit is no making threatening moves. "We should probably be a little more understanding, in front of the children." This is spoken in a quiet voice though, perhaps Kell knowing his place and not wanting to contradict the Noble's words.

"Yeah I'm callin' ye reavers!" Jensen growls, though that might just be the bloody phlegm in his throat, who knows, "Leavin' little kids to die! And Lord Ser Jerold calls himself an honorable man." He spits on the ground at his feet, and glowers balefully at Dmitry and Sterling, but nods at Hardwicke. "Ye promise me somebody'll look after 'em an I'll come peaceful and tell ye what ye what want to know," he says.

"They'll be looked after," Hardwicke says impatiently, ignoring questions about rewards and notes about etiquette in front of the children. ISN'T IT ENOUGH THAT HE ISN'T KILLING THEM.

Dmitry opens his mouth to say something else, and then demonstrates passable good sense by closing his mouth again. He gives Jensen a particularly sardonic look, but if he has further snark to offer it is confined to the language of eyebrows for the moment.

Sterling rolls his shoulder to push himself away from the outside wall of the hovel, starting to walk away, "You don't need me for this. Just get 'em a place to eat and sleep, or kill 'em already. I could've been in and out of here already by now." Shaking his head, he keeps ambling away from the cottage, "Halfway back to The Roost…."

Kell doesn't move to follow Sterling as the other man chooses to voluntarily depart the area. He does actually speak though to the departing Banefort Knight, "Thank you for your help." A sincere thanks from the tone of the Terrick Knight, though it is questionable what help was given.

Jensen hesitates for another long, suspicious moment, and then nods at Hardwicke. "Come on, kids," he says, "Lucy, help your sister." He watches them, as the oldest one helps the sick one and they all keep staring at the knights and their swords. Jensen looks at Hardwicke expectantly. What now.

"You'll mind mention of some actions while you're on Terrick land," Hardwicke shoots over at Sterling as the Banefort knight begins to depart. He makes no move to order him restrained, though. "We'll take the children on horseback, or it'll be hours getting back." ONE FOR EACH KNIGHT. To Kell, he says, "Bind his hands and tie a lead to a saddle. He'll follow on foot."

Sterling stops as folks speak to him. He nods to Kell, then looks back to Hardwicke. There's a moment where he looks like he's going to snap back at the man, and then he just bows his head, "As you say, milord." Oh, that's obviously just being said to avoid any further argument, there's absolutely no repentance in his voice.

"Fine," Dmitry says in a bland tone, gaze flicked briefly skyward. He slides his arrow back into its quiver and hooks his bow back into place across his back with a shrugging duck of his head.

A nod is given to Hardwicke and Kell makes his way back to his steed to grab the rope, returning with it as he approaches the bandit. There is a momentary look of expression given to the guilty man, a very brief moment, before the Terrick Knight begins tying the rope securely around the man's hands. Then he leads the other end of the rope to his horse, to tie it off there as well.

Jensen doesn't resist, though naturally he doesn't look pleased at the idea of having to try to keep up with the horses all the way back. He's pretty much a mess already. But he lets Kell tie his wrists without complaint, just watching as the children are seen to, and then jogging and stumbling along after the knights all the way back to the Roost, though probably he collapses a couple times before they get there. Hard to breath when you've got a sucking chest wound, after all.