Umbra, 19, 228: A Belated Arrival

A Belated Arrival
Summary: Logen encounters some refugees from Sutherland.
OOC Date: 23/10/2013
Related: None
Charis Logen 
South Road — Darfield
From the City Center and Crawford Street, this road heads down towards the South Woods. It follows the side of the Great River, mostly, as it heads all the way down to Sutherland. Nearer to Stormvale, the sides of the road are kept clear and open, but as it moves towards the woods, the road becomes tree lined. This is not a large two lane road, but a smaller road, older perhaps, with room enough only for one cart at a time. There are small clearings all along the road, used as rest stops, turnabouts, and for one cart to get off the road, to let another pass. A small cottage might be found alongside the river, within the trees, with only a single cobblestone walking path leading towards it.
19th day of Umbra, 228

At last, the rain seems to have ceased.. for a time, anyway. The forests and grass remain heavy-laden with the scent and memory of it, the ground underfoot slippery and uncaring in places and glimmering droplets occasionally still tumbling from unseen branches high above. For most of the residents of Stormvale, such things are of little consequence. They're asleep, or at least preparing to be. With dusk far behind and the shadows now velvety and deep along the roadside, it's not particularly expected that any meetings of significance would be perhaps about to take place, here on this deserted track south of the city.

Not too far away, the low rumble of creaking wooden wheels accompanies the steady tempo of unhurried hoofbeats. A trader perhaps, or a farmer on his way home. Difficult to say for certain, until it rounds the bend.

Going for rides at night is often an ill-advised venture. However, Logen has been finding that he's fine if he goes out at night. He's cautious, and with Deekes along there's nothin to worry about. The prince is dressed in leathers, the outfit well oiled and cared for such that it doesn't creak as he canters along slowly down the road. When he hears wagon wheels, both he and Deekes draw swords and prepare for the worst to happen if such comes about.
Logen's large solid black war horse senses his rider's tesion and becomes tense himself. Not is an, 'I'll toss my rider' sense, but in an 'I'll help my rider kill his enemy' sense.

<FS3> Charis rolls Perception: Good Success.

The cart eventually rambles into view. It's a simple affair - a basic wooden construction, covered with a world-weary tarp, patched several times. A sturdy little horse pulls the thing along, doing his job well but refusing to be hurried by the rider on his back. Not that they seem particularly anxious either, even from a distance it's evident that the lanky youth is lolling a little, barely awake enough to remain ahorse, let alone encourage it to greater haste.

Less apparent, at a first glance, is the second mount flanking the cart. The lanterns attached either side of the wheels cast deeper shadows even than the night alone to the naked eye, leaving the second rider rather cleverly concealed. But they're not only swift to note the strangers up ahead, they're already moving forward, urging the larger horse to a trot and lowering the non-reining hand to their hip in subtle warning as weapons are drawn up ahead. Their features remain obscured, both by the play of light and the deep-cowled hood they wear drawn up over their head.. but the voice that rings out, in an authoritative tone, despite the fatigue just barely concealed beneath.. is it.. is that a woman?

"Who goes there?" The sudden sound jolts the near-slumbering teenager awake, though for now he merely blinks out at the near-dark.

<FS3> Logen rolls Stealth: Good Success.

The darkened figure on the horse comes to a stop outside of the ring of light. He pauses for a moment and then only the sounds of the horse can be heard.

It's a dark silent several minutes before his voice sounds not far from the horse and rider trailing the cart. "Prince Logen Kilgour, and you are?" he asks. His voice firm and crisp as the cold night air, there's a whisper of metal and the tiniest glint in the light.

The disembodied voice that arises far too close startles the rider, and in turn her mount - the large chestnut shies to one side, almost colliding with the cart as he snorts and huffs his unease. He's steadied fairly well, given that his rider has only one hand on the rains, notably the one closest to the Prince. How irksome. All the same, their instinct is to tighten the grasp of their free hand upon a hilt at their hip, even to draw it a few inches from the sheath before the man's words sink in. Ah.

"Majesty.." The blade glides slowly back into place as the rider realises their mistake, and it's quite apparent they are at a loss for quite what to say. Or is that so? "Forgive me… I did not see." After a beat, a low-throated chuckle escapes them and they slowly cant forward over the pommel of the saddle, and the horse's high withers. An attempt at a mounted bow, mayhaps? Not exactly.

"Charis!" The youth astride the smaller of the two mounts calls out a name unthinkingly as the hooded rider slumps forward, jerking as if with some notion that he could catch them from where he sits. Well, that's just downright pointless. He'd never reach in time. As it happens, the figure he's concerned for grasps a handful of flaxen mane and manages to remain upon the chestnut.. albeit barely. After a longer pause, they draw a hoarse breath and speak again, presumably addressing the Prince. "We've.. we've made it to Stormvale, then..?" Their head bows a touch further, resting a still-concealed brow to the warmth of the shivering horse's neck.

The flash of steel is returned to sheath, "Not to worry, Mistress Charis." Logen says, as polite as one can assume without knowing the person behind the name. "Yes, you're on the south road heading into the city… who are you? I'll be your escort to an inn or tavern perhaps."

Turning her head, resting her temple against the horse's thick mane now, Charis regards the silhouette that's talking to her somewhat blearily. Her free hand rises, fumbling around her throat for a perilous few moments before pulling free a pendant from the shroud of her hooded riding attire, letting it lay heavily in her palm and glint in the flickering lamplight. A sunburst, encased in a triangle. Beautifully wrought, too. A Priestess. Out here in the wilderness, at this hour?

"If you please, your Majesty.." The teenager on the stouter horse speaks up, trying to hide the nervous quaver in his almost adult voice. "..we've come from Trueborn Keep. An'.. " Chewing on his lower lip, he then gestures to the woman draped along the chestnut's neck. "..we was attacked. I think mebbe the Blessed got hurt in the fight.."

"That's enough, Andrus." Charis doggedly heaves herself to something resembling upright once more, settling eyes of a vivid blue upon Logen. "'s only a little further." As she moves, a grumbling wail rises from within the curve of her arm. An old cloak, slung about her shoulder and elbow in a haphazard manner, apparently contains something more precious than just her rein-holding hand.. "Majesty, I would be most indebted to you if you would escort us somewhere safe, that the children may rest."

"You're coming with me to the castle, I'll have no protests from either of you. If you're from Trueborn, then you're under my personal protection from now on." Logen takes hold of the reins, and then gives a short whistle. His destrier, all black, comes trotting up to him and another on a dark chestnut comes behind. "Deekes, ride at full gallop and alert the castle to be ready to receive, the Sutherland suites to be prepared on my word." The hooded man nods and turns, with a 'Hya!' and kick into the flanks of his beast he's rocketed away and gone from sight.

Logen looks up to the Priestess on the horse, "I can take the child, and still lead your horse from my own." he moves now, to leap quickly up into his saddle and sidle up beside her. Offering out his arms in case she offers over the babe.

The youngster, Andrus, blinks wide-eyed at the Prince, before meekly nodding. A worried glance is cast backward over the tarp-covered little wagon. But he doesn't dare to speak again, not in the presence of Royalty. As for the Priestess.. still holding tight to her mount's thick mane, she is likewise speechless for a moment. It almost seems on the tip of her tongue to request that Logen repeat himself. Surely, after all that has befallen them, they can't be this fortunate? A sudden wince and a hiss of pain, though, likely reminds her that yes, she's very much awake. Shame. Lack of consciousness would probably be a welcome relief, judging by the young woman's ashen pallor.

"..thank you, your Majesty.." She manages to reply, at length, as Logen draws his enormous horse up alongside her own. Eyeing him dubiously, she then looks down to the babe she's kept cradled against her side, presumably for the entire journey. He's far from tiny, perhaps just over a year old, and he greets the Prince with waving arms and perfectly pleasant burbles as Charis steadies herself and reaches to carefully disentangle herself from the makeshift sling. "..I can manage the horse, if you can hold the child.." Her quiet tone is relatively even. But as she tries to lift the babe toward the blonde man she falters, gritting her teeth and casting him a wary glance. I can't.

Reaching over to assist as he can, not giving any real thought to propriety at the moment Logen says softly, "My wife is Duchess Caitlyn, the late Duke's sister. Any from Sutherland are under my protection, personally, and the protection of the King." if/when the child is in his custody, Logen will also reach out for the woman's horse's reins. A look to the youngster and the cart, "What or whomever is in that wagon, is also now my charge. My wife wouldn't hear of me not helping any from her home. Follow me now, we'll make for the castle stables and then get you all to the infirmary."

The offered explanation seems to go some way to easing the lingering fear in the woman's blue eyes and she gently nods her understanding to the soft-spoken assurance. She's too exhausted to argue any further and makes no move to prevent Logen taking charge of her reins once the babe is handed over.. though the scarlet gleam across her right side, momentarily visible in the lamplight, might explain that more thoroughly. A slice has cleaved through the leather of her attire.. and no doubt the flesh beneath. Added to her wan complexion and the stress of the past few days, it's a wonder she's still even remotely upright. Looking over her shoulder, Charis summons a reassuring smile for the youth on the other horse, giving a fractional nod of assent in the wake of the Prince's order to follow.

In a hushed aside as the horses begin to move, her own chestnut eyeing the formidable warhorse beside with white-rimmed eyes, the Priestess murmurs only a few further words to Logen. "..Eight of the children made it this far. There were more but.." Gripping tight to the pommel of her saddle, she keeps her gaze studiously ahead and tenses her jaw, stubbornly fighting back tears and merely shaking her head in conclusion.

Courtyard — Darfield Castle

Above you to the north, a silhouette against the sky, is the Castle, set on the side of an immense cliff overlooking the sea. A road leading to the south leads through the gatehouse and to Darfield Village. In between is the courtyard, a fairly large space that is kept neat at all times. Against the walls to the east, there are storage buildings, a stable, the dog kennel, and the mews. To the west, the kitchen, garden, and smithy, as well as their storage area and barracks for those who guard the castle. There is an area of the courtyard often used for training purposes by the knights and men-at-arms. The squires are often at work setting up or taking down practice targets and the like.

"Only Eight?" Logen shakes his head and visible shake of anger courses through his body, "I asked to be sent with my men south, to try and meet any on the road and escort refugees… this damn war, they wouldn't let me go with the war on the verge of starting." He carefully dismounts, attendants rushing out with healers right behind. Three grooms stalk up and take reins, Logen keeps hold of the child as Deekes moves up to help Charis from her saddle. A healer there a moment later to take assessment of her wounds, "The baroness needs to look at you, not I or any of us here."

The commotion in the yard slows for a moment as Logen looks them all over, "Are the children hurt at all? Those that don't need to go to the infirmary can follow these guards to the Sutherland suites where you'll rest and recover. Tomorrow, we can all speak at length about what's happened."

"There were others, there's been talk that Laniveeran military dressed as Carnivals have been roaming Mobrin, and that one such attacked and slew fifty people in Sutherland as they fled north. Had I ridden with the two hundred light cavalry as I'd requested, my personal longstrider and I would have made the trek in fewer days that it took you to get here. We'd have overtaken you easily, and we'd have made it deeply in to Sutherland faster than you made it here. We could have done something, even as delayed as new was… at first rumor I should have been sent." Logen's eyes burn with a passion of pure and honest belief.

Deekes' arms enclose around the wounded woman for a moment as she slips off her horse and into him. He waits until he's sure she's steady then lets go, moving to be her shadow as much as Logen's.

"I'll walk you to the infirmary…" the healer is looked at and she smiles softly, "She can rest the night safely, it's a bad wound but we'll see that it doesn't bleed or fester and she can see the Royal Healer in the morning." the woman reports. Logen nods, "Then, I'll walk you with the children to the suites." Moving to let her lean on him if she needs to. "Second priestess I've met today." he comments under his breath.

"Thank you.." This is murmured quietly to Deekes as he steadies her, then it's to the Prince that the woman returns her attention, silently listening and regarding the play of emotion across his face as he speaks. Her own features tighten as the extent of the slaughter is made plain to her and after a moment, she casts her glacial eyes away from him, up and around the rooftops of the courtyard.. better that than he bear witness to the tearshine glimmering within them as she takes a steadying breath. Or tries, her wounded side causing some discomfort with the simple act of inhaling. "..what's done is done, Majesty. Do not punish yourself over that which cannot be helped now. Our own defences were overwhelmed, and swiftly.. should we not have been able to defend ourselves, if you must argue the matter?" With a wan curve of her lips, Charis looks up and aside to Logen as he approaches, speaking more gently now. "..but I thank you for your fervor, all the same.. it seemed as though the world had all but forgotten us."

The Priestess looks to the children, who stand huddled together, some of the littler ones gazing in awe at the castle, the Prince, the horses. "Do as his Majesty bids," she urges, nodding toward the guards, "follow along." She won't let them see the extent of her woeful condition - indeed she at first takes a step forward as if to stride purposefully toward the doors herself, following a smile of gratitude toward the healer who permits her to leave. But it's not to be. A vaguely sheepish sidelong glance at Logen and she consents to at least leaning her weight lightly on his arm, limping at a more sedate pace. "I am sorry for the toll taken upon your kin.."

"There is no toll on us, you're part of our kingdom and part of our people. It is our responsibility to look after you, something we should have been doing this entire time… not sailing off to random islands or mustering large forces to look pretty at call." Logen takes a deep breath, and gives as much strength to her as he can, leading her slowly enough up the steps into the castle proper.

When they reach the stairs up the the second floor, Logen lets them slow as much as she needs. The children led before them by the guards and a few matronly servants who cluck and fluster over the 'poor dearies'. Food laden trays are following behind in smart order, nothing too fancy or heavy for tonight so the children can sleep with full bellies and under warm blankets.

Sutherland Suite — Darfield Castle

The Apartments that have been assigned to the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland smells faintly of mint and roses, and the windows are kept open, allowing in natural light and fresh air into the apartments. The rooms are decent-sized and there are finely woven tapestries that have been hung from the stone walls. Exotic carpets sit on the stone floor instead of rushes there are carpets which offer warmth and a splash of color.

One room is a finely and ornately decorated sitting room. The room has been decorated with hard wood and heavy furniture that has brocade upholstery and comfortable cushions. There is also a loom that sits in the corner next to a large fireplace; there is a sitting area round a small table where meals can be taken.

Charis really isn't the sort to complain, and she doggedly keeps pace despite her limp and the much-needed support of the Prince's arm. She's quiet though, concentrating on her breathing and the task of simply putting one foot after another. Only a light squeeze of her fingertips, following his impassioned words, betrays her sympathy for Logen's situation.. feeling helpless in the face of such a tragedy. She knows those thoughts all too well.

Reaching the doors, she pauses on the threshold for a moment as the children are ushered inside and settled, their chatter rousing the ghost of a smile to her pale features. As her gaze sweeps over the chamber, she captures her lower lip in her teeth and looks to the man beside her, a little hesitant now that they have arrived. " are certain it will not cause offence, our being here?" The grief, after all, must still be raw for some.. his wife included. Even under the strain of her fatigue, it seems she's prone to considering such things.

The suites look to be half repaired from some sort of typhoon of slashes and stabs to various, well all, things in the rooms. Yes, all rooms including damage to their doors. Logen leads inside, "You can sleep in my wife's old room, she has moved in with me in my suite on the Royal landing upstairs. Now, these suites are empty and unused. Please forgive the state they are in… she did not take the news well." he doesn't elaborate, nor does he really need to. The state of the rooms is really enough to express the duchess' pain.

The meal is set out for the children, consisting of soup made from tomatoes with a little spice to them for taste, some fresh baked crusty bread, and each of them will get a little chocola flavored and sugar sweetened cookie afterwards. Cooled, plain, tea water is poured for them along with some chilled cow's milk. The matronly servants clucking away as they see to tending the 'poor dearies' needs for comfort and eventual sleep.

Charis allows herself to be led inside, again glancing over her charges as they set ravenously about the feast laid on for them. But she's listening, nodding at intervals to convey her attention despite the wandering gaze. "No, I would not have expected her to.." the Priestess replies gently, taking in the lingering remnants of what looks to have been an almighty breakdown. "..the loss of a family member is.. well, it is not ever easy, nor something that demands grace in the handling of it." Did she have family, back in Sutherland? Most likely. Andrus, looking up from his soup, regards her with mingling concern and adoration as she speaks with the Royal.

Straightening from her lean upon the man, Charis keeps her hand pressed to her side, while the other rises and at last pushes back the cowl of her hood, revealing thick hair of mahogany-tinged ebon beneath. It's an odd, striking contrast against the porcelain of her skin and the vibrant blue of her eyes, which now search Logen's features thoughtfully. A further glance would openly reveal the aged longsword slung at her hip - she makes no attempt to hide it. It's not as though she escaped Trueborn Keep on the strength of a smile. " are very kind, Majesty. You have my humble gratitude for taking us in. I will not forget it." As one of the healers appears in the doorway, hovering with a bowl of steaming water and several lengths of gauze, the woman grimaces wearily.

"That you saved the lives of children, and managed to bring some additional news of the south with you… is repayment enough, sister." Logen looks to the healer and motions towards Caitlyn's room, noted by the largest gashings on the doors. "The Duchess' old chambers should be okay for her to use, my wife would hear of nothing else for her. When she can stomach food, make sure she eats and keeps up her strength. I'll hear of nothing else." the prince smiles though, meaning that he's sincere about her getting well but not sincere about getting cross should she protest.

After the little darlings have had their supper and dessert, the mother hens shoo them into the privies for wash and nature before shooing them into night gowns and off to laid out thick soft feather stuffed giant pillows that fit three children a piece. Warm blankets are brought up for them along with other pillows to use, and STORIES! will be told for the little ones to fall asleep to.

It will take more than stories to guarantee a sound sleep for the Blessed tonight, alas. But perhaps the healer will have something for that, too. As the other woman moves forward, ready to lend support now that Charis stands alone once more, the Priestess flashes a last, tired smile toward Logen. "Thank you, Majesty. I.. wish that I could speak further with you now. But I fear the temptation of rest shall win me over, for now." She pauses, lightly taking the offered arm of the healer. "If you think it would be of any comfort.. I would be honored to speak with the Duchess, whenever she pleases. Though I understand if you believe it may be too painful for her.." A pointed glance goes to the slashes in the doors that stand open for her.

With only a little gentle urging, she's guided toward the bedchamber, still limping and even swaying a little on her feet now; the warmth and safety seeping into her chilled bones and reminding her of every ache and pain she has sustained on the journey. Still, could be worse. She could be lain amongst the unburied dead in her homeland.

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