Umbra 39, 228: Duke of Sutherland Arrives

Duke of Sutherland Arrives
Summary: The Rioga Duke of Sutherland arrives at Darfield Castle. Ronan is greeted by Aldren and then joined by Caedman and Wenna. There follows an invitation to attend the King's Council after lunch.
OOC Date: 12/11/2013 (OOC)
Related: None.
Players:
Aldren Ronan Caedmon Wenna 
Courtyard, Darfield Castle (then move to Aldren's Suite)
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.

It is a fall morning. The weather is warm and fair. The planet Cri is not visible.

39th of Umbra, 228

Late morning finds the air faintly chilly but clear. The autumnal sun is slow to rise over the walls of Darfield castle, the courtyard yet filled with an ambiguous light. Those who are posted at watch have notified those who need to know within that a group passes through the city and comes up to the castle cliffs, a group of riders number around a dozen. In their lead rides Lord Sir Ronan Crawford armed and armoured for travel up from Sutherland. A few knights accompany him, others a couple of archers, servants with pack horses. Their iron shod hooves ring out on the cobbles as they come into the courtyard to halt. The order is given to dismount, horses jingling bits and blowing softly from their travel this morning.

The courtyard is also graced with the presence of Aldren. The Count is dressed as usual, green and white and his dark reddish boots. A small golden clasp in the form of wheat secures a hunter green cloak about his shoulders. As he makes his way through he sees the procession and notices the colors they fly at trueborn. He stops dead in his tracks and observes as the small party enters past the gatehouse.

Ronan dismounts, indeed wearing the colors of his house in surcoat as well as cloak against the cooler weather. The Rioga hands the reins of his horse over to another man who is somewhat younger and may be his squire. He takes a moment to draw off his gauntlets, dusty with the travel and gives orders to his men to see to their horses - those who are remaining. Some of the others wait but appear they will depart again back to the city to rejoin the rest of their party. Ronan himself turns and begins to head towards the steps and seeing the Count, offers the other man a faint smile, "Count Aldren Haravean, a good morning, I trust." It's not really a question.

Caedmon arrives from the Gatehouse.

Wenna arrives from the Gatehouse.

A nod is given to the Duke and Aldren says, "Yes, so far." He smiles. "I do send my condolences." He is sincere sounding, that much is plain. "Do you bare any new details." The matter on which he speaks specifically is not spoken of directly but the Count does maintain eye contact with the man as he stands there, straightening up a bit.

Ronan leaves the horses being tended to by his squire and the others and comes up the steps towards Aldren. The Duke is dressed for distance travel this morning and against the chilly air in armour with thick blue cloak, wearing a surcoat of his House's colors. His gauntlets he has drawn off and tucks into his arming belt, giving Aldren a slight bow of his head even as his mouth tightens into a thin line, "Thank you." A drawn breath as he takes a position to stand with the Count as some of the horses are taken to the stables and the others turn to depart back to the city to rejoin their fellows - but only after Ronan makes a gesture for them to go. "Not much, no. I /will/ find out who is responsible and hunt them down more ruthlessly then ever my brother pursued the Kundari." A pause, "Meanwhile, there is rebuilding to do."

The Count nods along to the man as he speaks of his vengence and says, "I have no doubt of that." He places his arms behind his back and takes a more leisurely stance. "How do your lands fare besides the obvious? " He looks now to the grey sky and says, "Have they readied a suite for you? Regardless, Take some wine with me. I have just returned myself and it is indeed time for a drink. A light lunch as well." He does not sound concerned about the second part but he does add, "Unless you have urgent matters of importance? You will not find the king though. HE has traveled west to meet with those barbarians in Jadda."

Across the courtyard, the guards at the gatehouse stiffen to attention. The gate swings open to admit a rider on horseback. First, wearing dull, practical riding habit, is a lean, clean-shaven redhead. He is holding the reins firmly. He is astride a dark gray mare. His penetrating gray eyes sweep across the grounds and he nods to the guards. He looks behind himself to a second rider behind him. "Company," he advises, and then guides his horse toward the steps where he nods to Aldren.

The other rider is a tall woman riding sidesaddle, she is dressed in a travel stained mauve velvet riding habit or gown for riding. Her hair has been braided and pinned up beneath a white veil that is equally travel stained as the rest of her. Her own mount stands at seventeen hands. She has a decent seat and her hands are soft as butter as she holds the reins. With a silent command she brings her horse to a halt.

Indeed those five or so who are departing are wearing the colors of House Crawford as Caedmon and his arrive. Ronan takes in the information Aldren offers and purses his lips but for a breath, "Too bad he is away, but nothing is urgent upon my part. I am not expected. Additional men and horses were requested and though they are not many, I have brought them. As I have not been to Darfield in some while, I thought it prudent to visit. Refresh my sense of things for myself." The Duke's gaze slips to the new arrivals to take them in.

Ronan adds low, "I would be pleased to take wine and lunch with you, Count."

A warm smile touches Aldren's lips when he catches sight of Caedmon and Wenna. "Baron, sister." He says in turn. A throws in a little half bow half nod for good measure as well. A curious look does lingerr for his twin when he raises himself and he holds her gaze for a moment. Abruptly he turns his attention back to the Duke and says, "Yes, I do not know if you were aware but I was part of that proposal. I have many men outside the city as well. They will be distributed soon. Sutherland's mounted archers are known throughout the land and I felt a great benefit could be had from some cross training. Not to mention the horses would not hurt. Even his majesty has acquired some from your house." He grins at his subtle quip about the dowry that secured Caitlyn and adds, "But we can talk of such things later." He turns back to the healer and the voice. "The duke has accepted my invitation, allow me to extend it to you." He smiles to them now and awaits there answers. He does take in their appearance a bit curiously as he stands there.

Caedmon stops his mare with a nudge of his knees and then swings out of the saddle to drop lightly to the ground. Be bows to the Count and Duke while he still holds the reins of his mount. He releases the reins when Wenna halts, and he steps to the side of her gelding to place a hand on her saddle and offer the other hand to her to help her with dismounting. Once her feet are on firm ground, he offers his arm to her so that he can escort her toward her brother and the duke. "From the colors and title, I greet you as Duke Ronan, whom I have not see here in many years. The death of your brother and good sister has saddened us greatly. Still, we look forward to your continuing to bring honor to your house." He bows to the stranger. "I am Baron Caedmon Kilgour, Voice of the King and Chancellor. This is my wife, Baroness Wenna Kilgour, sister of Count Aldren, whom you seem already to have met. Welcome to Darfield."

The Rioga Duke smiles a little like a bold bastard, "Of course he has. His Majesty has the finest taste." In horses at least. Ronan offers a polite inclination of his head to Caedmon's greeting. "I am, and thank you." He bows his head politely to Wenna even more so, "A great pleasure, Baron, Baroness. Aye, it has been too long ere I were at Darfield. There is much to occupy me in the south, yet it is due that I reaquaint myself with all of you, and to come abreast of news of the north."

"My dear brother." Wenna says warmly in response to Aldren when he locks his gaze with her smile becomes loving but loving as one would have towards a favorite sibling. "Duke?" The woman asks then she grows silent as Caedmon comes beside her to help her dismount. A servant comes to take her horse's reins from her. Before she walks away she is led away from her horse she strokes her mounts neck and murmurs softly to him. His ears flicker towards her and he turns his large head and offers her a soft eye. She offers him a soft smile before she is led away. When she is introduced by her husband when they approach she offers a curtsy a very stiff an awkward curtsy. "It is pleasure to meet you Duke, and offer my sincerest apologies for what has happened."

Aldren listens as the duke and the baron exchange pleasantries and small talk and looks to his sister. He watches her interact with her horse and raises an eyebrow as she shows love for the beast. He remains standing, his arms locked behind his back and begins with an impatient back and forth swaying.

After he has completed the introductions and received acknowledgements from the duke, he turns to his horse as well and pats the mare while giving her a bit of carrot from a pouch at his belt. Another groom comes to lead her away, and Caedmon bows to the boy before turning to look to the duke and count. "We should go inside before the rain begins in earnest," he urges, again offering his arm to Wenna. "Duke, you are in time for our weekly meeting of the king's council. Although you do not hold the position that your brother did, you are welcome to attend, as is the count." He nods to Aldren. "We will begin after dinner has concluded. Pages will come to your chambers to remind you, if you need them."

"Brother we will accept the invitation after I have bathed and found a change of clothing, I also need some tea me." She says to her brother the Count in a gentle but sweet manner. When she is done saying this she walks with heavy limp slowly towards him and she gives him a hug. Then a kiss on the cheek, "I would too." She then steps back away from him and goes to take Caedmon's side again. "Forgive me Duke but I have been riding since first light this morning, if you have need of anything, please let us know." She then leans against Caedmon's arm as she offers him a warm smile.

"I would be pleased to attend, Baron. It is appreciated." Despite having something of a reputation of being a hard ass, the Sutherland Duke so far is being polite enough. Ronan inclines his head to Wenna, "But of course, Baroness." And to the others he indicates his own armour, "I should like to change as well ere we sit down to refreshment. My attire is suitable to the road but less so to table." Now their horses have been seen to, some of the Sutherlanders are coming out of the stables to rejoin the Rioga, including his squire. "And settle my people. Then I shall join you?" That to Aldren.

Aldren looks the pair over and says, "By all means, go and wash." He looks to Caedmon now and says, "Join us after, if you wish." He looks back to the Duke and says, "That sounds splendid." He smiles and adds, "Then excuse me, I will attempt to secure the whereabouts of the rest of my kin."


Greenshire Suite Darfield Castle

It is day 39 of the month of Umbra, 228 2E - 12:53 PM

The main room for the apartments for the Greenshire family is very large but cozy and smells of herbs and flowers. The stone walls have been washed with paint; they are a soft sun-kissed yellow. On the stone floor woven rugs have been placed instead of rushes for the comfort of those staying there. In this room there is a long walnut bench; its back has been carved to show a farming scene. The bench also has comfortable cushions covered in a woven fabric with four ground colors: white, light blue, yellow-green, and pink, each print including red roses and blue flowers. It makes a lovely focal point for the room as it is sitting in front of the fire place at a comfortable distance, allowing room for more chairs near the fire. The large stone fireplace is flanked by two comfortable wooden chairs. The cushions of the chairs have been covered in a heavy light blue fabric. Before one of the chairs there is a small foot stool. Above the fireplace hang two bearded axes. They have an elaborate silver inlay, thus showing the status of the owner. The fireplace itself has an oak mantel that is heavily carved with a likeness in favor to each of the gods and goddesses of light. Sitting on the mantel are two silver candelabras holding bees wax candles. Near the fireplace in the corner there is a spinning wheel and small loom.

On the opposite side of the room near the two large windows overlooking the courtyard is a long oak table. Set around the table are matching heavy wood chairs. On the table there are two more silver candelabras. At each of the windows there are window boxes filled with herbs and flowers. On the wall near the table there is a large shield with the coat of arms of the Count's family and two ornate yew longbows inlaid with silver and gold rest beside it.

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The Greenshire suite is set as usual for this time of day. A lavish spread of meats, boar, pheasant, pork and beef. And of course, immense amounts of vegetables. Honeyed carrots, peppered peas, onion stew, and a plethora of other things. Though, when the Count enters, and after he has made sure his servants have taken the man's cloak, he points to a seat and pours wine. "We usually eat more casually here." He offers the man a cup. "If you have need of me to taste anything as is custom I will be happy to do so. For now, I am content with drink." He raises the cup and a healthy drink after shows that is the case. By way of easier conversation he adds, "How long was your trip?" He now crosses the room to retrieve his pipe from the mantle.

Ronan has arrived, washed and changed into a blue doublet ornamented discreetly with silver cording and embroidery, some of which are subtly shaped as running or leaping horses but might easily go unnoticed. With his dark hair tossled and yet damp, he comes with a man servant of his own. Gone is his armour for travel, as well as his sword, though a dagger is discreetly tucked into his belt. His servant carries his cloak against chilly halls but the Duke has no want of it for the preasant and so it need not be taken. "A lavish spread for luncheon." Ronan watches Aldren and adds, "My servant may taste my cup and plate, thank you. Since my brother's murder, you will forgive me if I take precautions." The servant will accept the offered cup to do so, if Aldren allows.

"But of course." Aldren says easily. "The city is a dangerous place. You are right to do so." He nods as he pulls a lighting rod from the dying fire and lights his pipe. He puffs away slowly before he drains his cup and refills it. He points to the flagon so that Ronan's servant knows he may refill it when proper. "IT has been a long time." He raises his cup in proper toast to the man and says, "To the Duke of Sutherland. May your reign be long and prosperous."

His man servant tastes the cup and hands it over to the Duke who waits without drinking of it as yet. He may now go to collect his Duke a plate and begin filling it with things he knows Ronan would like, and discreetly tasting portions. It's not a bad job to have, really. So long as no one tries to poison the Sutherland.

Ronan takes a seat to await his plate, his attention upon Aldren, "No one was expecting my arrival so I think that might be in my favour." He will acknowledge the toast with a slight lifting of his cup but will not drink to it - one should never drink to toasts to oneself. "We shall see what the Gods intend for my House. It concerns me greatly that some /unknown/ force can sweep into a well armed keep, filled with some of the finest knights and archers in all of Mobrin, and cause such slaughter in the night, then slip away easy as you please. Did this not rile the King to send anyone to try pursuit or investigation?" The new Duke of Sutherland thins his mouth, "By the time I heard the news and returned home, far too many weeks had passed." Yes, he is not pleased.

Aldren watches as the servant hands the wine over and prepares a plate. He continues to sip along as he listens to Ronan. His words on the force that attacked his castle get a raised eyebrow and he says, "Yes, as it does me. I have mine own unattended lands at the moment. And I confess I do not know of the kings attentions on the matter." He shrugs a bit and takes a seat at the head of the table. "I understand." His words convey sincerity and pity, but he quickly remedies that feeling by moving on. "Then tell me, IF I may be so bold to ask. Aside from obviously dealing out do justice, what other plans do you have to further your house?" He is not prying and his tone has a bit more relaxation than most nobles will likely have when questioning the man on his intentions.

Ronan is not a man interested in pity but revenge for the wrongs done to his family. He finally takes a light sip of his glass after a glance to his servant who carries on as though nothing were amiss. The Rioga considers the question, "My efforts have been focused on investigation of that matter and rebuilding. There is also the need to make certain the mines and our horses remain secure, and that we provide all the men and horses we can spare upon the King's need. Yet not without enough to guard our own." The plate is bought over and set next to the Duke and the servant looks to see if Aldren wishes for anything. Ronan adds, "Further, I suppose I need to seek a wife and think of heirs. Such a matter my brother should have arranged and now I will have to ask the King's blessing."

Aldren listens to the man and when he is finished he says, "It is good to see you are taking your duties seriously. And on the matter of a wife. While I loathe such conversations, I too, am charged with the duty of securing husbands for my sisters. You are the head of your house now. You need not the king's word. And, before my sister, Wenna, can press you on the topic I will say I have two very beautiful and deserving sisters who are not married but of an age. Wenna, is, sometimes confused of her station in our house now." He laughs, "But she does what she does out of love. There is no wrong in that." He shrugs and adds, "But we can speak of such things after you have met them. Do remember I warned you of my twin though. I would easily wager she brings it up to you sooner than I have." He smiels and nods to the man before he drains another cup.

Ronan draws a slow breath and sets his cup aside to start with the soup. He has ridden a long way since his last meal and it's polite to accept his host's hospitality. "I know nothing of courting. There is much I need to learn that my training as a knight did not prepare me for. I never covetted my brother's position and counted /myself/ the lucky one not to be burdened with it." He shakes his head faintly and pauses to work on the soup before continuing. "Finding a wife is both important and of least interest to me. There is much to be done and I've no keep now for a wife to make her home. It will take time to rebuild."

Aldren watches the man prepare to attack his soup and finds it a good idea to make his own plate. He starts with soup as well, after the customary ridiculous amount of pepper he begins to taste it. When Ronan is done he says, "I understand, fully. Though the longer you wait the more difficult it will become. Trust me." A little spoonful, and another sip. "In due time, My Lord. Look first to the healing of your lands. Though no doubt, a marriage can help to mend the lands as well." It is obvious he does not enjoy this talk and it abruptly ceases. "Eat now, and drink if it please you. No doubt you are tired from your ride. Make an attempt to relax." he nods to the man before pushing the bowl away and opting now for some of the boar.

His duties finished for now, the Duke's man servant takes a seat by the door to wait, watchful should Ronan desire his cup refilled. Some bread and cheese to go with the soup and when that's finished and set aside, there is meat and fruit left to be seen to. Ronan is pleased enough to change the topic, "Enough of myself indeed. What do you do with yourself here that keeps you from your own lands, Count Haravean? Greenshire is every bit as lovely as Sutherland but for the lack of our horses." Ronan grins wolfishly. "And I admit a fondness for Greenshire wines over others."

"Yes, as do I." He smiles on the comment of wines and sips his. "But, well a bit of this, and that. When I heard of Wenna's, misfortunes. For lack of a better word, I came at once. I thought it might be a good idea to bring my younger siblings. There is little courtship in the County and I desire better matches for them. Truth be told I simply wish to be done with the business. I also needed word with the king on matters of war and troops. I felt it better to request in person. I had hoped to be gone by now. But, with war on the horizon and close to a thousand of my own troops here honor dictates I play this till the end. I may have need to ride with them and it is easier done from here. Well, gods know what they plan to do now. That council of the kings is in shambles and it seems very little gets done." He shakes his head and adds, "No doubt they will be looking for you soon. I do not doubt that they will hastily throw some posistion at you." He sips again after his warning.

A dark brow is lifted at the news the King's Council is a shambles, as Aldren puts it. "People do not know where I stand on matters, yet." Ronan muses, "I am not a man to have patience with committees. Things are best done decisively or else, get out of the way." The Duke finishes his plate and sips of the wine, appreciating it all the more if it is from Greenshire. "I will attend Council as invited and see for myself. I had hoped to speak with the King. Is it known when he's due to return?"

"Yes, well, I could not agree more. It is good to hear sensible words." He adds, "What do you think of the Brushberry? From my own personal casks." He smiles and refills his cup, yet again. "I have no idea. I'd warned him about traveling to meet with those savages. Why not have them come here if they require our swords or alliances." His words are poison and it is no mystery how he feels about the foreigners.

The Duke's man servant gets up to remove Ronan's plate and bowl, and to pour his liege more of the wine. Ronan gives him a nod in thanks and redirects his attention to Aldren after a sip, "It is excellant. Perhaps a touch sweet of ideal but then, women like sweeter wines." He smiles, Wenna perhaps having a hand in that influence. "I do like the tartness." A pause then to consider the rest, "I would agree with you there. The King would do better to have sent others, though I hear the Crown Prince is a capable man, is he not?"

Aldren makes no word on womans' taste but does grin at the man's little quip. "I must confess not to know. The prince and I are not acquainted that well. Surely a clever and resourceful one though. Being a betting man I would wage he will do quite well, as he has so far." He sips some more, sips becoming healthy gulp actually, and adds, "Have you met him? He has recently returned."

"I have seen him in passing only, but we have not had opportunity to discourse, no." Ronan admits. His gaze wanders over Aldren's suite before he asks, "So tell me, what is it that Greenshire doesn't breed her own fine horses?" The Duke looks back to the Count, "You have fertile prairies, have you not? I would have thought it excellent ground for horses. Especially the heavier Destiers that require better feed. Have you considered it?"

"We breed horses. Though the stock in Sutherland is renown. As the archers in Greenshire. Though," His mouth straightens a bit and some lines form on his brow. "the mounted archers and riders from your lands outdo them easily upon horseback. It was my hope to gain what I could from their stock and from your men. Men trained in different arts of war can greatly assist in the training of others. I hope to boast of my own foot soldiers one day and skirmish party can help protect my coasts as much as my cousin used to." His last sentence reeks of more distaste on the topic of losing his captain and kin to the dreaded King's council.

Aldren and Ronan continue to sit at the table, finished with their small meals and enjoying some wine. It seems to be to the Dukes liking and surely the Counts. The fire is dying and the servants are slowly cleaning the table.

Ronan listens to what Aldren says of their horses and bowman and nods, "Exactly, you need cavalry and mounted archers. And what makes Greenshire stronger, makes Mobrin stronger. By default, that makes Sutherland stronger as well. I will do what I reasonably can, Count Haravean. It is important that we keep your borders most secure, for all our interests." The Duke gets up from the table, not caring to sit for long after all the riding he has done the past days. He takes his cup of wine with him and wanders over nearer to the warmth of the fire, "You are not married yourself?"

"I appreciate that. I am sure we are in a posistion to help each other. And as you said, what is good for your neighbour is good as well for you." He smiles and drinks. "Me? No." He says in answer to his question. "Never had much a want for it, more an obligation I saw fit to put off. A wife is nothing I coveted too much." He grins now and stands himself. Continuing he says, "Though those are wishes of a man more your age, and I was in such a posistion to do as I pleased." He laughs a little, no regret in his voice. More a triumphant tone.

He moves his eyes to the door and it opens seconds later. A nod is given to each and he says, "Caedmon, Wenna. A pleasure to see you. Though your timing leaves something to be desired." He smirks at both now as they hang their cloaks.

The Royal healer has changed into a gown of charcoal grey wool and she smells of soap and roses. Her long hair has been bound up with black and grey ribbon. The guards allow her to enter and they do not even utter a challenge. "Oh my brother is right, but we do have cows and very good draft horses." She says before she pauses and offers a very stiff and awkward curtsy the Duke and Count. "What my brother will not tell you is that we truly do have the best archers, every man woman and child know how to use a bow in our lands. It is source of pride."

Caedmon bows as well to the men. "Good evening," he greets. "I regret this interruiption, but the council will be meeting soon. We are on our way there now. Again, Duke Ronan, you are welcome to attend. The king himsefl will not be in attendance. He is elsewhere and has left me to manage things while he is away."

The Duke of Sutherland turns as the others arrive. Ronan has a glass of wine in hand and stands near to the fire to enjoy it's warmth. He listens to Wenna and offers her a smile, "The archers of Greenshire are at least, if not more, well known even than the archers of Skyforest, Baroness. You need have no fear that I am unaware." To Aldren he adds in his baritone, "Shame I have no sister to tempt you myself, but mine seems to have had a will of her own without my concsent." Caitlyn, of course. Ronan finishes off his cup of wine and brings it over to set upon the table. His servant provides his cloak, "Very well then, we shall attend." The latter to Caedmon.

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