Page 292: Well-Laid Plans
Well-Laid Plans
Summary: Lord Justin checks in with Ser Hardwicke about the bandit plans.
Date: May 7, 2012
Related Logs: Bandits in Terrick lands, Planning a Hunt, Part 1, Planning a Hunt, Part 2, Planning a Hunt, Part 3, Planning a Hunt, Part 4, Concerns Old and New
Hardwicke Justin 
Coastline — Terrick's Roost
The Cape of Eagles looms out over Ironman's Bay, a vast, blue ocean inlet, that spreads its watery depths out beyond the horizon. The path that leads down to this coast winds down behind the towers for several hundred meters before arriving at the rocky water's edge. Rather than sand, the coast is covered with innumerable smooth and rounded stones about palm-sized. They stretch up and down the coast in all directions with the battered remnants of driftwood scattered about. Above the beach, one every mile or two, are towers with a large bell and mallet atop them which are to be beaten to warn of an incoming invasion.
A small dock is being constructed of thick northern timbers, with mooring space for two large ships, or perhaps a half dozen smaller craft.
May 7, 289

A trip down into the village for business concluded, Hardwicke is taking a more scenic route back to the castle, detouring along the coastline to get of that smell of salt in his lungs. He looks as he usually does: straight-backed, solid, his mouth set in the hint of a frown. It is his usual manner, really. His sleek, chestnut destrier steps with careful precision along the rocks.

Hardwicke is not the only rider out here taking the coastline as a scenic detour back to the tower. Justin is dismounted and walking but he leads his horse, pausing frequently to look at the water or out at the land rolling away before his eyes. He is dressed in maile with a bow and quiver secured to his saddle along with his steal cap as though he had been traveling. The grey gelding tries upon occasion to lower his head to graze when Justin pauses and finally after refusing the gelding his head several times, Justin simply stops to loosen the bridle and slip the bit to let the horse graze, still saddled. The end of the reins he holds loosely in hand as he stands alone, thoughts to himself until his gaze picks out the other rider approaching.

Brows arching just slightly, Hardwicke lifts his voice to greet the young Terrick as he approaches. "My lord," he says with his gruff brand of courtesy. "You are returned from Stonebridge, I take it."

Justin awaits the rider, standing at his ease and watching Hardwicke until the man's close enough to return address, "Ser, aye. Ser Kamron, and the Lady Anais should return in the next few days with Ser Kittridge. I had hoped that I might speak with you ere then." He pitches his baritone to carry against the wind rather than use his more usual low volume he prefers. There is a pause and when Hardwicke closes in, Justin takes a few steps in the older man's direction, tugging his horse to follow. The grey lifts his head and does so, mouth full of lush sea salted grass. Yum. "I thought I should also inform you that I brought a man back in my employ - blood of the Summer Isles, dark of skin. A huntsmam named Xhou, should you see him."

Hardwicke's expression remains fairly neutral and impassive as Justin informs him of this. "I see," he says in an event tone. "I thought your lord father said the coffers could not handle the strain of more retainers."

"No, likely not," Justin says evenly, "But I've a use for him in mind if he's half as good a hunter and tracker as he boasts to be. And if not, I'll cut him loose. Meanwhile, I'll pay him myself however I'm able. I don't want anyone here thinking he's to be run off though without discussing it with me, first."

"Of course, my lord," Hardwicke says, a touch dryly. "I will instruct the men not to run off your — Summer Islander." He looks a bit dubious of the whole thing, but he doesn't voice any issues.

"If nothing else, I'll try him out for a week or two." Justin idly fingers his horse's reins, the grey having lowered his head to graze more as the wind lightly buffets them, making ripples spread over the grass much like the water below. "Once Sers Kamron and Kittridge arrive, I'd like to set that bait to see if we can lure the bandits out. I thought … I would ask you if you have any thoughts to share, both on Lord Kittridge himself who's agreed to join us in that hunt, and if you had come up with any ideas as to how we should set our lure?" Justin looks to the older, more experienced man, if Hardwicke will share his thoughts.

"Ser Kittridge?" Hardwicke shifts his shoulders in a gesture that is not quite a shrug. "I met him briefly at the Roost and on the Iron Islands. He is — affable." There is a particular dryness in the Captain's tone that does not sound very impressed by this trait. "I don't know much else of him, to be honest. As for the lure — it should be as close to a normal transport of supplies as possible, but with just enough hint to assure it is known. Too much or too obvious a clue might make the bandits suspicious."

Justin gives a slow nod, "Lady Anais yet remains in Stonebridge for a few days. I thought it would be appropriate for her to arrange a wagon of supplies, as she had previously sought to gain such aid from the Naylands themselves," which they never have sent. "The question is, should the wagon be offloaded of actual supplies somewhere and armed men set into it to pose as the cargo, or bring real goods into the Roost and have armed men to trail it? We could certainly use /actual/ goods but we'd also not want our men to be too easily spotted, or too far when needed."

"I think knights trailing the shipment would be too easily noticed, my lord," Hardwicke says, his words clipped carefully and precisely. "Or, as you said, entirely out of reach should an attack occur. I think it more wise to have men waiting within the wagon."

To that Justin nods, "That's what I was thinking, but I thought you would have more experience to draw upon than I. With a couple of mounted men for guards." He pauses to skim a hand through his dark hair, the wind blowing it about as his horse quietly grazes on, "I need to see if hunter Kain has any new intelligence on folk I set him to watching and then I'll see it's arranged. I assume you'd like to be /in/ that wagon?" Justin smiles a little as he asks Hardwicke.

Hardwicke tips his head, not quite an assent. "I will if you wish me to, my lord. However you and the Lords Mallister feel I might best serve your plan."

The young Terrick thinks about it, "If there's yourself, myself, Sers Kamron and Kittridge, and perhaps Ser Martyn, Mortimer if he's a fighting man… that would be five." Justin frowns, "If we want two horsemen to act as the guards, we'd probably need at least two more? How many is enough without being too many?"

"Master Trevelyan is a capable fighting man," Hardwicke says with a stiff nod. "We should match the outside guard of the last shipment the Naylands sent, I should think. You'll not be able to fit so many inside the wagon. Even those you've named would be difficult."

Justin gives a slow nod, "I had hoped to fit four perhaps." Of course it depends on the wagon, "If it had a high cover, perhaps as many as six, but not so many if it's low sided. Plus two or three armed riders, though I thought two best." He muses, seeing what Hardwicke thinks. Justin thinks upon it, "Then I need to check with hunter Kain if he's in the Roost, and speak with Lord Martyn also. Would tomorrow be too soon to head back to Stonebridge with me to se it done, Ser? Perhaps you can bespeak Mortimer should you see him before I do."

"I could arrange to see my duties handled by tomorrow, my lord," Hardwicke says with a stiff nod.

"Very well then, thank you Ser Hardwicke. Let us see if we can do so that we may ride within the day. It would be ideal if we can get back before Ser Kamron and Ser Kittridge trek out here and have to backtrack as well." Justin gives a light tug to bring his horse's head up. The grey having been hungry from the ride from Stonebridge so recent that Justin hadn't yet gotten to the Tower to change out of his maile and bathe. He readjusts his horse's bride to bit him, then mounts up. "If you think of anyone who is better suited that I did not name, do advise me. I know perfectly well you have more experience than I do and I respect that."

"I appreciate your confidence, my lord," Hardwicke says evenly, but with a certain gruff sincerity. "I believe you've chosen suited men to this task, however. We should certainly take advantage of the generosity that's been offered us by the Mallisters in this regard."

Justin gives a curt nod as he turns his horse, "Indeed, Ser Kamron in particular is earning my respect and thanks for his assistance. However, my father didn't make you Captain of the Guard if you weren't both capable and trusted. So I trust to your advice myself." With that, Justin sets his spurrless heels to the grey to get him going, picking up an easy lope to head for the Tower.