|Weeds For A Dowry|
|Summary:||Tenysa returns from her embassy and speaks with Rygar.|
|Stone Walk - Tordane Tower|
|Set at a slight incline, the stone pathway leads up a slight rise northeast out of the town square towards the single tower of House Tordane. Grass grows thick and plush along the side though it is well maintained. Private shops and stables are located up closer to the manor with the family's private stables attached directly to the exterior wall of the small castle.|
|~17 August, 288|
At some point long ago, a much younger Tenysa was scolded for bringing her retinue into the house. It may have been more a scolding for turning her father's esteemed guard into a leashed chariot team and driving them around the main room…but anyway. Lesson taken to heart.
The majestic rows of men she took to Oldstones are off and away, resettling and breaking down their riverside camps and the Lady herself is headed back towards Tordane Tower on horseback, her two favorite escorts trailing her at a polite distance.
Apart from a freshly severed and tarred head upon a pike at the town's namesake bridge, Stonebridge is much the same as it was when Tenysa left it. With word that a trio of horsemen are approaching, Rygar has stepped out of Tordane Tower to meet them. Recognizing his, "Cousin," with a short bow of the head and shoulders, to the lady on horseback, the lean knight wonders aloud, "How fare you?"
Tenysa's attention is up on the piked head as she draws her steed up closer to the entrance to grand Tordane. "A far sight better than some, I expect." The side of her mouth curls into a faint smirk and she looks down at her cousin, tilting her dark head. "Who's your guest?"
"A guilty man," Rygar returns simply, with a short sniff to Tenysa's 'better than some' comment. "When the guilty are punished, a society will thrive. I marvel at times that Stonebridge survived long enough to come under our banner, so soft had been its rule." That said, his words turn to Tenysa herself: "What word, my Lady cousin?"
Tenysa dismounts with an effortless show of gracefulness. She holds out her hand for Rygar's assistance at the last little hop, a gesture she obviously doesn't really need to make. "The visit went as expected. The castellan is a most polite woman, quite cordial." Her tone comes as close to approval of a commoner as it ever really gets. "She has a good sense of what their lands needs to survive. And that they will need to make an…intelligent…choice as to whom to follow."
Rygar offers the unneeded (but expected) hand in assiting Tenysa's dismount, looking aside only long enough for one of the house retainers to step forward to lead his cousin's horse to the stables, before his keen, cold eye is fixed again on Tenysa at her report. "Good. Good. Did you chance to see our trail cutters at work in your return? A number of men have been sent overland to the south, to prepare a path to Oldstones," he notes, perhaps unnecessarily. Turning toward the Tower, he invites, "Will you step inside," before inviting Tenysa to continue with the query, "What of the settlement itself?"
"Thank you. I did see them," Tenysa replies as she gives her sleeves a light pat. "Industrious they were, I was pleasantly surprised at how far they've got." She begins to walk alongside Rygar, one hand keeping her heavy dove-gray riding skirts swept out of the way. "Built with good sense for the land, cousin," she begins this part of the tale. "When one approaches from the Blue Fork it's looking up at the ruins…and I could sense eyes already down on us before we got close."
"That the old River Kings chose their locations well I do not doubt," Rygar returns with a short nod. "That the present Knight of Oldstones follows their example is good. It shows he looks at the land like a warrior, and a wise warrior will be all too swift to bend the knee to Lord Rickart," he opines evenly. "What of those eyes, you had mentioned, Tenysa? Their number, and what the manner of man who looks through them?"
"He may look at the land like a warrior," Tenysa agrees with that, her feline eyes tilting up towards her cousin. "But he does not populate his keep like one, not yet. I saw almost no men of armor there and indeed I wonder how much access they really have to metalworking. I smelled a tannery from yards away and they make good use of it, but no metals." She sniffs lightly. "I could not tell you exactly how many there were…they look so much alike. Several dozen, to guess. Perhaps more in the uplands. None armored. Nor the watchmen — they were posted with good strategy in mind as to their positions on the walls but again, nothing to protect them from a single good slash of a blade or a well-handled arrow. If what I saw is indeed all there is, I should say that if I had commanded my men to take up the sword when we entered…" She raises an eyebrow at Rygar. "Oldstones would be ours right now."
Rygar Nayland has never been called a merry man. However, Tenysa's last words bring a small, short-lived smile to his face, which does nothing to add warmth to his countenance. "I am glad for this word, cousin," he notes, voice still mired in his habitual cold manner of speech. "Yet I know we would both prefer for another to build the place from a ruin, into something worth counting as an ally. And if the Knight of Oldstones chooses to defy us, be assured it is no mere pair of knights and their twenty men I would send with you to reduce the place." A fresh breath drawn in slowly through the nose as Rygar considers. "What further, cousin?"
"They have what appears to be one well to carry all away," Tenysa notes for her cousin. A small detail, perhaps, though not to someone who's spent a little time reading of siege. "The peasantry gather in a camp sprawled most heavily on the western side, and their homes are made of wood." Again, these little details. "The inside is rather defensible, if one had more than riffraff inside. Not as strong as our towers, but with a few hundred men it might certainly cause lesser men to weep."
"Hmm," Rygar muses, deep in his throat at the details Tenysa provides as the two draw near to Tordane Tower in thier unhurried walk. After several moments of silent musing, he prompts, "How did Valentin's steward welcome your appearance and gift, my Lady cousin?"
"She was most proper and accomodated us with her best," Tenysa replies. "I could tell she was aware she was in no position to even pretend she could call the shots for Lord Anton — smart girl. She has pride in the Valentins and their work, though she is no fool."
Rygar nods once again to the answer. "As it ought be. You have done well, cousin. Were there any in your retinue whom you feel deserve particular mention?" The age old privelidge of command: the ability to make or break the careers of your underlings.
Tenysa sniffs gently, a slight smile twitching the corner of her lips. She slows her steps just enough to glance back the way they'd come, as if needing the motion to bring up any memory of what a commoner might have done to please her. "The knight who stayed my left flank on the ride up. Banner, I believe his name is — how fitting. He took it upon himself to report to me of comings and goings overnight in the courtyard." She looks back at Rygar, smiling more prettily now. "I'd rather like to keep him."
"It is only fit that a Nayland have proper escort in such uncertain times," Rygar allows, with a curt nod. "It shall be seen to." Drawing in another breath through the nose, the knight adds, "While you were upon this embassy, Lord Ryker's Captain of the Guard has arrived and since been dispatched to the west to invesitgate the murder of a retainer of ours. Until he returns, I should like it if you make time to lend your eye to the drilling of the Stonebridge levy. It will not be fit for you to instruct, but your eye for quality would be of use."
"Of course, cousin." Tenysa's sharp chin lowers slightly and comes back up, and with it comes one thin eyebrow. "Murder, you say?"
"I do," Rygar confirms crisply. "Stabbed in the throat while abed, I am told. It was enough to chase Lord Ryker back to Stonebridge in some haste." Another moment's pause while he draws a new breath, to continue brining Tenysa up to Stonebridge speed. "Lady Isolde has been summoned to Hag's Mire, and our Grandmother has returned with her. The Camdens are said to have descended upon Terrick's Roost, as well. No doubt we shall recieve their entreaties soon, as well."
"Lord Ryker fled because some commoner got his throat cut?" Tenysa sounds more annoyed than surprised at this news. "Mm." Her heels make slightly crisper sounds as the floor changes beneath them. "Camdens. I am afraid their name hasn't reached me before this…where do they make their way from?"
"From no place of note," Rygar opines with brows drawing together in a frown. "Tall Oaks, to the north. They are a family marked by a long dread of conflict. Were their lands more rich, they should have lost their sovereignty long ago. For as long as I can recall, they have sought to remain apart from politics. What draws them out now, I know not."
"They have no liege, then?" Tenysa looks up at Rygar's profile as she asks the question. "Is it possible they have decided to court the Terricks for such?"
"They are sworn to the Crown through Riverrun," Rygar corrects mildly. "But the Tullys have neither the wish nor the proximity to have aught to do with them. It is possible that they come as supplicants to the Terricks, though unlikely. I can see nothing as of now that the Camdens would gain by such a move. The path to their halls comes close to Stonebridge, before they could turn toward the west."
Tenysa makes a dismissive sound in her throat. "If he must stoop so low to multiply, his house can follow suit. Perhaps they'll wed his bastard off, with weeds for a dowry." She chuckles low in her throat, stopping now as they reach the entrance hall of Tordane. "Well, my cousin. I should take the time and send our Lady Grandmother a raven, I do miss her so. Will you join me for dinner later?"
"Send our Grandmother a letter by rider. Spare the raven," Rygar replies, after sparing a sharp sniff at Tenysa's quip about 'weeds for a dowry'. He nods curtly once at the mention of dinner. "Lady Valda shall be joining as well. Until the seventh hour, Tenysa," is given in parting.
"I shall wear extra pearls," Tenysa replies blithely, already heading away. "Until then, my cousin."