Umbra 40, 228: Courtyard Encounter

Courtyard Encounter
Summary: Duke Crawford returns to the Darfield courtyard after a ride into the city to check on his men and horses. There Ronan encounters Princess Roslin Kilgour.
OOC Date: 13/11/2013 (OOC)
Related: Not really.
Roslin Ronan Kierne 
Coutyard, 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.
40th of Umbra, 228.

The fall is becoming cold. Fewer people are seen moving about the courtyard these days as the chilly wind whips across it. But some cannot avoid their toils - grooms seeing to the horses, carpenters doing woodworking, blacksmiths pounding on metal, servants carrying laundry, on and on it goes. But it might be something of a surprise to see the Princess Roslin Kilgour, out in the far northeast corner of the courtyard, trailed by a maid, two guards and a scribe.

What she might be wearing today is impossible to see, as over the ensemble she has a brown coat embroidered with golden leaves and trimmed in a longer, fine fur around the hem, high neck and dagged sleeves. Deerskin gloves cover her hands, and her fine red hair has been pulled up into a crown of braids, upon which sits a golden tiarra.

She speaks to the scribe at her side who has a slat of wood held out before him and kept upright by a strap around his neck. He keeps paper, ink and quill there, and he is writing as the Princess speaks.

"We shall have to relocate these buildings to provide for the entrance - at our expense, naturally." The royal explains to the man. "These two here. We shall find a place for them closer the entrance to the keep. I daresay no one shall be pleased at first but it must be done, and we must be ready is construction is to begin in the spring."


The chilly afternoon's sunlight doesn't give much warmth to the day as yet. A sound rises of horses approaching, iron shod hooves to clatter through the gate house and into the courtyard. The man in the lead is Lord Sir Ronan Crawford accompanied by his squire, an archer and another Knight, all bearing his house colors in some fashion. Ronan himself is dressed for warmth, wearing a dark blue cloak over a lighter blue leather doublet with a long sleeved white shirt beneath. Dark grey pants, tall black riding boots with long blade hanging off his arming belt on the left side.

The four of them stop to dismount near to the stables. The Rioga's squire comes forth to take the Duke's dapple grey, a very fine Sutherland horse that appears to be a stallion. The animals are unlathered but are lightly soiled with mud for having traveled off of the roads. The Duke speaks low to his men and after stroking his horse's neck, allows the stallion to be taken into the stables. Ronan himself turns and looks over the courtyard at his leisure, allowing his dark eyes to travel over the various details of this place he only just arrived at yesterday, but had not yet explored properly. It has been some years since he resided here as guest.

His gaze falls upon Roslin and the fellow with whom she speaks. With no haste, Ronan lightly clasps his hands behind his back and begins to walk through the courtyard to see what the layout is and what the castle grounds compose.


For anyone in the courtyard, it is hard to ignore the trampling sound of a Knight and Lord's horse's hooves, as well as the hooves of his entorage. Roslin, like her guards and maid and scribe, all turn to see the commotion. She waits, quietly and patiently, until it has subsided and the man has dismounted and moved about his business. Only then does she interrupt that business.

"Thank you, Master Scribe. That will be all for now," The Princess says, and with a bow the scribe backs away. The guards and the maid, however, stay close at hand as Roslin moves to stand before and address Ronan.

"Lord Crawford," the Redhead says, pleasantly but with a cool professionalism. "Forgive the intrusion. I saw you at the Council Meeting yesterday but did not have the opportunity to speak with you. I wished to express my most deep and heartfelt condolences for the losses you have so recently known. Your brother was a close friend to mine and his wife was known among my family as daughter and sister. I should like to echo the Council's sentiments that you have all of Mobrin at your side and your back to assist in bringing the most necessary justice for these evils."


The Duke stops when Roslin has turned and approached him close enough for conversation, the soft chime of his spurs evident when he does so. Ronan lays his right fist over his heart /and/ bows himself at the waist to greet her, "Princess." He lowers his hand to hook his thumbs into his arming belt as he listens to what she has to say.

"Thank you, your Highness." Ronan's baritone only has a hint of Sutherland accent, "Indeed, it is your loss as well for the lady Terrwyn." His mouth thins into a hard line briefly, dark eyes stony as his voice becomes cold. "Somehow I will find out who was responsible and they /will/ be made to pay dearly." A slow breath to quiet his temper, refocusing upon Roslin. The knight tries to smile faintly to ease that moment of subdued anger. "I should have been there but I had duties to my men in the north along the border. As I do again, shortly."

Enough of grim things! Ronan changes the subject, "It is a pleasure to meet you, Princess Roslin. When last I had been to Darfield for more than a brief passing you were but a child and now you are a young woman grown. I hope the day finds you and yours well?"


"Do not trouble yourself too greatly with thoughts of their demise. With the prayers of all our country, your renowned prowess as a Knight and a leader, and the strength of justice and virtue you shall be sure to send these enemies to a bloody end that Inouv shall rejoice to behold." Bold and vicious words from a fair young mouth, and yet Roslin speaks them without the least bit hesitation or concern. Her head nods a bit in his direction as the topic shifts. As it does, she gestures forward for him to walk with her, and not waiting for a response she turns to begin walking that direction herself, around the courtyard as the wind gusts just a little, her steps so slow they may almost be awkward.

"The day finds me very well, My Lord. I thank you for your kindness in asking after me. May I ask how long it has been since you have been in the capital? I confess, as a young girl I did not much pay attention to those older and larger than I was. I was far too keen on my studies, and the trouble of surviving so many brothers as I had." She gives him a little smile, but still it is but cordial. "I daresay I would have known you better if I had known then that by law we should have been relatives of some sort." Very cordially-said, that.


Ronan twists one corner of his mouth with amusement at her mentioning his 'renown' to include leadership. However, he does not comment upon it. Instead he walks with her easily enough, lifting his eyes to look over the castle, the courtyard, and eventually to the herb beds they approach.

"I have passed through Darfield many a time as I ride back and forth from Sutherland to the northern borders, your Highness. I have spent a good deal of time in Greenshire, among other places. However, in passing I oft do not linger in Darfield if my duties required me elsewhere.'

A pause to consider the time, "Three years I think, since I stayed as guest within these walls."


"Three years? Why I was but thireteen then - not so terribly young. My brother now, Mikhail, is that age and he is off to be made a squire in the Aberdeen court." She continues to walk, her gloved hands falling neatly in front of her. She is poised and graceful - likely easy for one who has been taught to be graceful since she was able to lift her head.

"Do you intend to stay long this time?" She asks, tilting her head to look up at the man - he is beyond head and shoulders above her. "The fighting season is closing - there shall likely be few battles to be fought before the spring against our country's enemies to the North. And with my brother Tyrel returned from King Isaac's court I daresay there will be much scheming of the men behind closed doors for what is to come. It would be quite natural for the Lord of Sutherland to take part in such matters. Not that I know anything of them, myself."


The Rioga knight muses, "It was but for a night. A brief visit, your Highness." As is appropriate, Ronan strictly stays formal in his address of the young woman, daughter of his King. He has shifted his hands to clasp them behind his back once more as they walk together. His archer and knight come from the stables after seeing to the horses, but not Ronan's squire who is likely to remain to clean tack or suchlike. His sharp eyes take note of these details.

"I do not yet know how long I shall remain, Princess." The Duke's attention comes back to her and indeed, she is so tiny compared to him, and young. Though Roslin hardly acts the part of a more typical, giddy 16 year old girl. "I have much that must occupy my time at home in Sutherland in these days. I have a keep to rebuild, investigations to pursue, mines to be closely watched, and far more. None of which shall await the spring."

A flicker of his dark eyes over her before he's looking at the start of the gardens. "I do not expect to remain long. A few days, a week perhaps. I am not a man who abides being idle nor enclosed within walls, your Highness."


"I am sorry that you must leave us so soon after arriving," Roslin says, her voice easy and level as she converses - likely overheard by her maid and maybe her guards but not much further. "But neither I nor my father would intrude on a Lord's business to his home and his people, and the business you have before you is so very great and so very urgent." She pauses to look up to him for just a moment.

"My Lord, your family has been good friends to mine with only a few blemishes upon that relationship for many years." Whatever those blemishes might be, she does not say. "I feel confident that I may speak for my family when I say that we are here to support you in your trials at this time as you need. Though I do not mean to diminish your abilities, you are a young man who finds himself suddenly without the support of his family. I cannot imagine the pain that must bring, nor the difficulties as you take up the reigns of the South. As Terrwyn and Cedric were to us - brother and sister and family - so too shall you be. And you need only seek us for assistance or guidance or comfort and it shall be granted." She nods once, after considering her words and finding them appropriate.


Both the archer and the knight go into the barracks. When Ronan's squire emerges shortly after, the Rioga stops and lifts his hands to his mouth to make his baritone carry over the courtyard, "Fetch our gambesons, mail and wasters, Kierne! I would spar with you!" The squire stops and bows his head, then turns to pick up his pace and head for the castle to do as he is bid.

Ronan looks to Roslin, "Forgive me, your Highness. I am much too used to war camps and fighting men, not courts and the company of ladies." The apology is offered for having raised his voice and shouted. The almost bellow certainly did get the attention of everyone out in the courtyard.

Roslin elicits a raised brow at her kindly offered words. The Duke might be particularly amused at /her/ calling him a young man. The barest shift of his mouth to try not to show his amusement, "I am not one to be coddled. I do well enough for myself and so will Sutherland. The only thing I intend to request aid in concerns the investigation into the sacking of my home and the murder of my kin."

As she did mention 'blemishes' it directs his attention to inquire, "And what of my sister, Caitlyn? How does she fare? Last I had heard, she was with child?"


The shout causes Roslin to jump a little, startled. Even she can't pretend that shouting across the courtyard is something she is used to. It seems to startle yet amuse her, and she says nothing more on the matter, merely nods her head in Ronan's direction in acceptance of his apology.

"Coddled? I am sure, My Lord, I would not dare," she says, smiling once more to him as her feet begin to carry her around at that painfully slow pace. Her hands remain folded in front of her, her skirts whispering as they move with each little step. When his sister is brought up, Roslin returns to her cordial contenence.

"I do not know, My Lord. I am sure she is well - she is well cared for here, as well cared for as any could be. I am afraid, despite her relation to my brother, I have met your sister but once in passing." She glances up at Ronan again, then forward once more to enjoy the view of the courtyard. "Their nuptuals were quiet, even the family was not all in attendance."


A soft huff of breath to the last part, "Indeed. I was not informed until well after the fact. So of course I could not attend." Ronan does not look pleased yet he adds, "At least she aimed high and didn't go running off with some petty Hedge knight. Women can be fic -" A quick catch of what he was about to say and quickly amends, "difficult." Which really isn't that much better than having said 'fickle'. The Duke clears his throat and tries not to laugh at himself for his slip. Yes, let us do move on.

"I hope she is happy, and he. It does rob my House of sisters to forge alliances through marriages but it can not be helped now." So … a lull in the conversation and resumed walking. Aye, Roslin's tiny steps are dreadfully slow when he's accustomed to long, ground eating strides to get places. Ronan shifts his jaw as he thinks. "How fares your father, our good King? I am given to understand he has traveled to Jadda. Yet I am told there is a Jadda Prince here serving as Ambassador?"


Roslin is watching Ronan very carefully as he speaks of his sister's marriage. Her features do not yet portray anything. "Fickle, My Lord. The word you were seeking was 'fickle'." So much for catching oneself. "Is your sister a fickle sort of woman? As I have said, I do not know her but by her reputation." Which, granted, is not very good.

"Indeed, as much as we all may wish it otherwise or not, it cannot be helped now. You have lost a sister through which to forge an alliance, and our realm has lost a Prince by which to do the same. But, then, I suppose that if they are happy, /that/ is what matters." Her tone does not indicate that such happiness seems to be what matters at all.

She is quiet then, a moment, at that painful lull in the conversation on so unhappy a topic. But it only lasts a few moments. "Yes, my father has gone to Jadda. Some things Kings must discuss amongst themselves, I am sure. I trust that he shan't be gone terribly much longer. I am sure he would like very much to speak with you upon his return if you are still within the city walls."


Ah yes, he tries not to laugh outright at Roslin's choice of words. It would not due to besmirch his sister's reputation or that of his own House. So, Ronan says as diplomatically as he might, "Are not .. most women, fickle at least at times, your Highness?" He smiles, daring her to deny any hint of such trait in herself /ever/. "House Crawford raises willful sons and daughters. Whatever our faults, indecision is rarely one of them. We tend to be bullheaded rather than meak, even in our women." He coughs into his fist and composes a more serious face, "Nonetheless it does not excuse either of them for their impropriety." Of course not.

"One's individual happiness is of little account." Ronan boldly does not agree with Roslin. "One's duty to one's House and Kingdom must come first, however painful that may be." A pause to stop and pick the tiniest tip off of one of the plants he does know in her garden - rosemarry, which he smells, then rubs between his large, calloused hands. "Nonetheless I have gained another tie to your House and I will not belittle that. I shall be pleased to have nieces and nephews."

The sprig is offered to Roslin, though Ronan has already lightly crushed it. "Your father would have been wiser to remain and send another to Jadda." It is said bluntly. The Duke adds, "I will come again when he is returned. Until then, your brother, the Crown Prince, seems capable enough in the King's absence. He and the Voice, both."


"Fickle? Perhaps," Roslin says, appearing quite regal - particularly with her small stature and young age - as she gazes about. She doesn't but glance at him a few times during their conversation, otherwise her eyes are everywhere but him. "Though it is a slender few who have been so fickle and yet so stubborn to such great and destructive result."

As the man speaks, she pauses to look at him following his full words, stopping when he speaks of individual happiness specifically. Now her eyes search his face, openly scrutinizing. Openly considering. What will her verdict be?

It is at last determined when she reaches a gloved hand forward to take the sprig of Rosemary from his hand, her own gloved fingers very gentle with the half-crushed plant. And then he'll catch sight of it - a mischievious Kilgour smirk on her lips, tainted with pleasure and pride as she brings the spring to her nose to inhale. He has pleased her - something he has said or done has pleased her, and he has been rewarded with that smile and that glimpse of honesty through a courtly mask.

Turning, the Princess continues her slow walk. "I suppose he might have been. But some kings will only speak to other kings. Some matters are too sensitive and too vital to be trusted to others. Somtimes even kings want to stretch their legs - and why not? His health has returned fully as everyone can see. Otherwise he could not undertake such a trip. And as you say, the Kingdom is well-cared for in his absence by our future King and our dear cousin Lord Caedmon. Between those two, what has my father to fear for being absent a few weeks?"


If he is aware of having pleased Roslin, or if he cares whether he has or not, Ronan gives no sign. His gaze has gone from her in any event after offering her the sprig of herb, for his squire has come back from his errand and carries practice gear. There is a wave to draw the Duke's attention and Ronan gives him nod in return but makes no immediate move to go and join his fellow. The squire turns and heads for the practice yard to go and see to setting up.

The Rioga appears to be more accustomed to stern looks and daring glares than to laughter or smiles. That is more the look he has about himself as he watches his squire ere he returns his attention to Roslin, listening.

"The King of Jadda is no such King, if he has sent a son to speak for him as Ambassador, your Highness. What would be the point if so? To spy, yet not speak with the voice of his sire? Not even to give lip service unto it to support his role? No." Ronan does not accept Roslin's supposition. "I am pleased to hear his health is strengthened. It is not my place to question his decision to travel but it does put him to unnecessary risk. He has gone north and if nothing else, the weather will soon be hard against him for his return."

Perhaps he speaks too boldly, but the Duke does speak his mind.


Roslin holds the sprig of rosemary to her nose again, tasting and considering with the scent. "Mm," she says softly, either out of enjoyment or of thought. "It is not your place, but you do it anyway."

"It is indeed a shame that you do not intend to stay in the capital very long, My Lord," Roslin says, still smirking just a bit. He may or may not notice. "You do have an apt mind for politics and war - it is shown even to a woman like me. You ask all the right questions. There are answers for your questions, answers you might like or dislike. But it is not my place to share them with you. Not here, not like this. I am, after all, but an observer on the council. But they perhaps could provide the answers you seek and benefit from your guidance too. My brother's war council surely could if nothing else."

"We are all at risk at all times, My Lord. Assasains, storms, sicknesses, pirates, ill-fortune. There is no step we take in life that is void of risk. The most we can do is make each step as vital as possible to the course of our lives. Just as you might step further and on more trecherous paths than you might otherwise to achieve a goal that was dear to you, so too it is with me. Or our King."


The smile he gives unto Roslin is decidedly wolfish, "Yes, I do." A daring look to his eyes, mayhap testing to see if she will turn out to be a gossipy young woman or something else. Her own reply surprises him faintly, suggesting she is another kind of woman entirely. Lest she seek to flatter. The Duke gives her a close look as they idly walk together. Then his attention is for the stables for others are coming and going from the courtyard, or preparing to do so.

The Sutherland listens and refrains from comment when she assesses himself, and then describes herself and her father. Ronan purses his lips faintly, "It is so, one must occasionally take risks to achieve one's ends. We shall see." The last could be uttered to any part of her discourse for Ronan does not elaborate.

He stops then, "It has been my pleasure to speak with you, your Highness. If you will excuse me, I would go and batter my squire and put him on his ear. There is nothing like pushing a man to his limits for hours until he is nigh dropping with exhaustion. One might get the most interesting conversation when the other is forced to distraction." Ah, that wolfish smile once more.


Roslin pauses as the man does, turning to face him once he has finished speaking. "The pleasure has been mine, Lord Crawford." She bobs herself in his direction, respectfuly. "I am very happy to have had the opportunity before you left us - seeing as you intend to leave so soon. Still," she glances toward the man's squire, then back to him and smiles at his words. "I hope to yet again have the opportunity to press you when you are not otherwise occupied." She nods once more again, before turning to go. Her maid and her guards tighten around her and turn too, keeping close as the woman makes her way indoors.

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