Thedor 12, 229: Two Different Types of Match

Two Different Types of Match
Summary: Duke Aidan Kincaid invites Lord Shepard Kerrigan over to play a chess match and discuss a marriage match.
OOC Date: 19/1/2014 (OOC)
Related: Man To Man, For The Love of Kincaid
Players:
Aidan Shepard Oxley 
Kincaid Manor
Before you is a villa style home that is set in behind hedgerows. It is low to the ground and has smooth orange rust colored walls. The roof is made of terra cotta tiles, stacked atop each other. Directly in front is the large wrought iron gate with sturdy wooden slats spiked onto the gate to make what lies beyond a secret. From the gate, the wall spreads to either side and then turns sharply to form a square, at the back of the square, the only raised structure and just barely visible from the front. The 2 story main section of the villa stands directly opposite the gate. In peeking through the wooden slats of the gate, there is a glimpse of a lush courtyard and the open-air rooms that make up the sidewalls, as well as the face of the house proper. Plain and even drab from the outside, clearly this place saves its beauty for within.
Thedor 12, 229

The day had been relatively warm considering the season, which caused melt and therefore turned the streets into rivers and channels of water, those without cobblestone being more risky to traverse as the slush and mud together would bring ruin to a good pair of boots. Regardless, Kincaid manor is on a cobblestone street, so slush is the only contending force conspiring against travel. As the evening settles in, the warmth generally remains, with a cooling trend that will continue further on as the night goes on. In House Kincaid, it's to be expected. Some of the House are dining, others in the sitting room, some conversing in their rooms. It generally depended on who was where, as the manor house was rather large and could cater to every individual Kincaidian whim.

Aidan has taken to the sitting room, anticipating a guest. He's had the House prepare to leave though at a moment's notice, since receiving a missive from the Queen of her wish to travel to Lakeshire. So while there's definitely some anticipation and tension behind that, amongst the servants at least. He's wearing a dressed down tunic, something simple for the evening, not such an elaborate display of position or what one would expect him to wear the Court. It is for comfort over style. He sits at one of the higher tables, in a high backed chair, with a chess board in front of him, a polished marble board that is already sporting the Duke's set of pieces. On the opposite side seems to be a generic set, not as stylish or custom made, evidently not belonging to a Kincaid. All that Aidan is currently doing is staring at the board, while sipping wine from the other hand.

Of course, the mud and slush is generally less of a concern when one travels by horseback, which is precisely how Shepard Kerrigan arrives, astride his midnight-black Darfield Destrier. After handing the reins off to the manor's stablemaster, Shepard makes his way inside, led by one of the Manor's many servants until he's announced and admitted into Duke Aidan's presence, already having shed his cloak and gloves at the door, placed into the care of yet another servant until it's time for him to depart. Shepard does most often wear the colors of his house, and today is no different, in his doublet of blue trimmed in red. It's nothing ostentatious or too dressy, however. The kind of thing a Nobleman might wear for everyday use.

After being announced, Shepard places a hand to his chest and lowers his eyes, intoning confidently enough, "Your Grace, I was most pleased to receive your invitation. How may I be of service to you this evening?" The invitation didn't precisely specify what might be discussed or what the agenda may be, so may as well get that cleared up straightaway.

Aidan looks up from where his finger was wiggling the queen from his set back and forth, as Shepard finds his way into the manor house, via the servants guiding him in. The queen's piece on his side wobbles as he draws his finger away from it, standing while he puts his wine glass down. It was best to stand at least, to welcome a guest into house and home. "Your promptness is worth of note and I'm glad you could make it Sir Shepard Karrigan," he invites in with a sweeping gesture of his hand, answering the younger man's question as he does so, "I may be tasked to leave here shortly, to return to Lakeshire. I would hope to conclude our business before that happens, otherwise, it is unlikely to happen until after the war and who knows if the same options will be available by then." He points to the chair across from him, while he retakes his seat, "The servants will bring you what you wish, if you are parched or hungry."

Through the servant entry emerges Oxley. He has come in from tending to Shepard's horse in the stable, and is subsequently a bit wet. His hair is slicked to his head and his shoulders are wet, along with his pant leg cuffs, which are also a bit muddy. He offers a serious look to Shepard, bowing, then to Aidan, and bows again. He then moves to quietly pour Shepard and Aidan each a glass of wine.

"Indeed," Shepard replies to Aidan's reasoning, accepting the glass of wine from Oxley with a friendly smile and a nod of his head, "A pleasure to see you again, Young Sir Oxley. My thanks, this will do nicely." He strides across the room, closer to where Aidan waits, "I suspect before long Count Aldren will return me to Greenshire to muster the remainder of his forces to march northward. Though it may still be a month or more away. Or he might send my Lord Father, though my personal preference would be that he remain here. He still has his health, thank the Gods, but I wouldn't care to have him tempt fate with hard traveling." Shepard smiles with his usual hint of good humor, "Though he'd of course box me about the ears for saying so." He tilts his head, "So then…which variety of contract would you care to discuss first, Your Grace?"

Aidan gives a nod to Oxley, "You made sure that Sir Shepard's mount was well tended?" Just a statement, assuming the damp, wet, and a bit mucky looking squire did see to it, "When you are finished you can sit with us if you like Oxley." Might as well get the lad involved in matters of House, after all, the boy had to learn that part of it too - negotiations. To Shepard next the Duke returns his attention, "The march will be a long one for Greenshire men," is all he says, in a way that is not exactly sympathetic, they were all facing the same prospects after all. As for Lord Rinder, "I would have invited your Lord father here today, but I needed to understand your thoughts one last time before presenting the final discussion to Lord Rinder, should we get any where tonight on the most important matter to your House - your marriage."

Oxley nods, "I did, Sir Duke." He hands Aidan his glass of wine, and then takes an unassuming seat nearby. "Thank you." He sits quietly, simply listening, though when the topic of marriage is brought up, he straightens slightly, looking to Shepard for his reaction with some interest.

"Such is the lot of the fighting man." Shepard notes, and though there is humor, there is also a touch of resignation from knowing what the end of that march entails. At the mention of marriage, Shepard nods emphatically, "Yes, the most important for our house, and the foremost in my mind." The younger knigh turns to Duke Aidan, most attentive as he queries, "Is there something in particular you wish to know that you may better understand my thoughts, Your Grace?" He sips from his winecup, nodding a bit in finding the vintage to his liking, but falling silent to let Aidan guide the conversation for the time being.

Aidan nods at Oxley, looking a bit between the both of them, "I never did ask, what happened with the sparring between you two?" That was ages ago, the day of the council as it were, many things had happened since then. For a while he'll let that conversation take hold before he rounds back to the matter of Shepard and marriage. "We have a tradition in our House, Sir Shepard-" he pauses, sipping, as his eyes turn toward the chess board, "-I'm sure as you spoke to my late brother during the conflicts of days gone by, that you know if this tradition." He considers Shepard a while, "I wish to have a game of chess with you tonight. But first, I must know of your decision between which lady of my House you wish to have as your wife."

Oxley smirks just a little when Aidan asks, "Of course, Your Grace, I was humbled by Lord Kerrigan. He's masterful." A quick glance at Shepard is given, along with a little smile, before he turns back to Aidan. "I gave him a good run, though," he then offers, the smile widening a bit.

Shepard looks to Oxley and nods, smiling towards the younger man, "Indeed, Young Sir Oxley did indeed press me hard at several moments. He fought with considerable skill and undeniable determination." He looks to Aidan, "I would judge his skills the equal of any squire, and greater than most. He has clearly been well trained." He looks back to Oxley and lifts his glass in a bit of a salute, before turning his attention back to Aidan. He tilts his head, eyes moving to the chessboard, "He clearly treasured the game, Your Grace. I had never seen a set as finely crafted as his. He did mention that the game held great importance in your family, but no more than that. Though I would be remiss if I did not mention that I have long assumed that his gifting of the white knight piece I hold was more than simply a sign of camaraderie to a junior Knight and protege….largely because he was quite insistent that I take it. I felt guilty to break up his set, but he just assured me he'd win…" Shepard pauses when the slightest of hitches enters his voice, taking a sip of wine before finishing, "He'd win it back in our next game."

Shepard moves towards the table with the chessboard, studying it intently, noting the finely crafted pieces…similar yet different from that which Desmond had used. "It would be my honor to play against you, Your Grace. Though I can only hope my skills will not be judged an embarrassment to Lord Desmond's teachings." He moves to seat himself on the non-custom side of the table, looking to Aidan once more as to his decision, "What I wish, and what is possible do not always walk in tandem, Your Grace. I will not dance around the matter, however. Were the decision mine alone and circumstance irrelevant, my choice would be your daughter, Lady Lynette. But when last we spoke you mentioned that a negotiation was already underway…."

Aidan seems to have his own set of finely crafted pieces, all of them made from Hematite, a valuable iron ore that has likely come from Lakeshire itself. The pieces are dark, taking up the black side of the set. The pieces are carved into unique forms of men on horses for the knights, one with a shield the other with the sword, soldiers with pikes for the pawns, the king and queen apparently fashioned and hightened with the infusion of silver smelted into the ore stone, the bishops both different, one holding a book, the other with an arm held up as if in prayer, while the rook pieces are not traditionally castle like pieces, but ships. The only pieces that don't fit are three pawns in the front row, it's clearly from another set. Someone somewhere, has beaten Aidan with the most unlikely of pieces.

For the conversation of the sparring, he nods, "Oxley has indeed proven his value as a squire. No doubt I'll be glad to have him at my side in the coming months." An approving nod for Oxley's attempt, no matter if he was beaten in the end. Still, as for the game itself, Aidan doesn't explain much, "Since you are to be playing with a borrowed set yourself, as I assume you would not have your own with you, we'll forgoe the traditional piece that will be taken from the board at the end of our game." He shifts a bit, as if feeling something uneasy with that, instead adding, "Should you win, you may still have mine as a token of your win. Not that I'll make it easy for you to do so." He offers a good natured smile.

The matter of dancing around the subject of which lady Shepard was interested in sets Aidan's lips into a frown. "Such negotiations seemed to have fallen by the way side. I had hopes for her to marry up or at least equivalent to her station." He leans back against the chair now, brow raised, "I would anticipate much for her, as you must know."

Oxley lowers his eyes as Aidan compliments him, a light smile on his face as his cheeks flush gently beneath his stubble. He runs his hand through his hair, and then looks back at the two men. He doesn't say anything concerning chess, it's not really something he's good at, and then looks at Shepard, a brow arching a bit, to hear his answer.

"I have no doubt of that, Your Grace." Shepard replies with a nod in regards to Aidan's expectations, "Nor does my father. We have been preparing a few different proposals. We recognize the value of Lady Lynette not only as a woman of surpassing beauty, intelligence, and talent, but as a daughter of the Ducal line, that she would bring great honor and prestige to our House, so we are certainly inclined to make any offer more-than-significantly weighted in your favor." Shepard studies the pieces of the board a few moments, taking a sip of wine, "If you like, I could detail some of the possibilities that we have been considering, or if you prefer, we can focus our full efforts upon the game, and return to the negotiation upon its' completion."

The admission of Shepard and Rinder coming together to prepare proposals on the matter seems to irk and interest Aidan at the same time, for it's clear such a bold statement seems to address the fact that the Kerrigan's had some possibility of knowing there were no serious proposals for Lynette as of yet. Aidan allows the young Kerrigan to speak his mind though, other than the odd facial feature tweaked from the rising ire to the shift of interest, it's unclear what Aidan thinks of the matter. "Good conversations can be had while playing chess," he notes, absently looking over toward Oxley, "Though I understand the challenge to think of strategy and hold a conversation while trying to make a move-" his eyes pointedly on Oxley for this, until his gaze returns to Shepard, "-consider it your one chance to present to me all the options of your house. And as my guest, as well as playing the white side of the board, you have the first move."

When Aidan gives that look to Oxley, the squire visibly shrinks. His posture folds, his shoulders slump and his eyes lower, almost like a dog who knows that he's done wrong is just waiting for his master to beat him. When the moment passes, Oxley quietly rises and moves to get the wine carafe again. He quietly refills both men's glasses as they begin.

"Indeed they can, Your Grace." Shepard notes, studying the board intently for a few moments, and giving Oxley another nod and smile of thanks for the refill before he advances one of his pawns forward. Even though he doesn't actually pick up on Duke Aidan's tiny bit of irksomeness, his next words might help allay just a bit of it, "I told my father he was being presumptuous, but he does try to plan for all eventualities." Shepard notes with a bit of humor once more, waiting to see Aidan's move. "To begin, however, we are quite willing to accept that any dowry would be either a token, held in trust, or some combination of the two." Shepard glances up to Aidan after the Duke makes his opening move, and after a few moments of consideration, advances one of his Knights forward. The Duke shifts another piece, and Shepard another in kind. "In addition to the products you are already well aware of, and while not nearly so extensive as that of Sky Forest, we do have a fairly sizable supply of Oak, Apple, and Cherry wood that could be made available at or near-cost for the duration of any proposed joining."

"As any wise man should," he compliments Shepard's father foresight, "As one should never lose sight of that which it wants most." He makes the opening moves, nothing outwardly obvious to his plan to win the game, a knight comes out as if to counter that of Shepard's, beyond the continue movements of those pawns. "Yet, that we want most, never comes without a high cost." He nods to Oxley, pointing toward the game, "You should watch how we play Oxley. You may be able to pick up a thing or two. They call this the game of Kings, after all." He looks up from the board to regard the offer that is so far put in front of him, nodding approvingly at the first about the dowry, making sure he notes, "The majority being held in trust while some for security would be appropriate for the situation." And in that one sentiment alone, it's apparent he's not going to just say no to their offer. He's listening, Shepard has his attention, a start on the right foot as you would. The mention of the wood earns a half nod, "At cost, for it would be as if trading with your own family and you would not charge them above cost for such things, would you?"

Oxley makes a disappointed face when Aidan notes that the things we want most come with the highest costs. He sighs, and when Aidan calls him over, he rises and walks to where they play. He looks at Aidan, "Your Grace, if you'd be so kind, I think I'd prefer to go get cleaned up for the night?"

Shepard does actually smile a bit at Aidan's comment on "at cost." Whether from anticipation, enjoyment of the multi-layered "game" or perhaps most likely recognizing some similarities between Duke Aidan and his own father. "I would not judge cost at all out of the realm of possibility, and should think my father would agree to it." A flurry of moves transpire over several moments of relative silence. Duke Aidan claims the first piece, but loses another immediately thereafter. Shepard's strategy seems to be…flexibility. Being unafraid to sacrifice a couple of pieces when it's clear his gambit isn't developing as he'd like and readjust. He doesn't take too long on his moves, though a few he does take a few more moments to carefully consider. A couple more pieces on each side are claimed, but for now it appears a mostly-even match. "Perhaps more of interest to you, Your Grace, is that we do bear responsibility for a port on the Western side of the lake…It is not overly large…and could perhaps do with some expansion…but it can accomodate most trading vessels, if not in great numbers."

Aidan gives Oxley a bit of a look, surprised to be asked leave, though even more surprisingly, he nods, "That's fine Oxley. You may leave. Thank you for your work today." And then, it seems that Oxley is dismissed, considering the conversation that is between Aidan and Shepard and the chess board. The way that Aidan plays chess is not necessarily aggressive, seemingly allowing the minor pieces to fall to moves from Shepard while putting the position of his major pieces to work, such as the rooks and the queen. Nothing seemingly done to open the king to attack, shifting from piece to piece, a methodical way to ensnare the enemy but not necessarily clearly seen yet. The other game at play has him nod, the first remark coming on the tails of the port on the Western side of Lake Kincaid, "Now you have my attention Sir Shepard." And as he says that he manages a move to take one of Shepard's knight pieces.

Oxley just ignores the look, and instead, he nods, bowing again to Shepard, "My Lord," then to Aidan, "Your Grace, Sir," and then he quickly heads off towards the rooms.

Shepard gives Oxley a nod and another smile as he departs, "Good evening to you, Young Sir Oxley." His attention turns back to the game, steepling his fingers as one of his knights is taken, and then shifting a bishop forward to seize one of Aidan's rooks, being left vulnerable to Aidan's queen, but with Shepard's remaining knight poised to seize the queen should he choose to make that move. "If you would be willing to work with us on the expansion of the port, we would be willing to consider waiving our half of the docking fees for Kincaid vessels at the port in question. We cannot, however, waive the full price, as the remaining half belongs to our Liege Lords." And you know, they don't want to bankrupt their own family.

Aidan isn't one to take the bait, though he does grimace a bit when his rook is taken by the bishop piece, watching every move as if each would indicate the flow of life. One to the next, predicting the future between Kincaid and Kerrigan. Perhaps. Still, he moves his queen to a position of safety, leaving the bishop standing while this is completed. Shepard's next move can either end Aidan's bishop or take out another pawn, but the queen for now is safe if barely. The match is coming to a climax, there are losses on both side in equal number. The next few moves will determine the fate of the game. "All well in good, though I do have to convince my captains to take their ships to Haravean lands, so I imagine free docking fees for the first hundred ships would give captains the incentive to consider your port, once expanded. Better yet, if these first hundred ships were offered samples of the cargo they could hope to find and trade for in your port." He waits for the outcome of the game, to make his move, thinking he has the knight in hand, "It would hardly cause anyone misfortune, as our fleet is strong and one hundred would not even make a dent. It would however, cause more reluctant captains to be the first to your port and forgoe the traditions with Sky Forest."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Aidan=Games Vs Shepard=Chess
< Aidan: Good Success Shepard: Success
< Net Result: Aidan wins - Marginal Victory

From afar, Aidan (Ai) has a Games skill. :P
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Aidan=Games Vs Shepard=Chess

< Aidan: Great Success Shepard: Good Success
< Net Result: Aidan wins - Solid Victory
<OOC> Aidan says, "dude, sorry. >D"

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Aidan=Games Vs Shepard=Chess
< Aidan: Good Success Shepard: Good Success
< Net Result: DRAW

Shepard seems to be calculating in his head for a few moments, perhaps adding up the costs of docking fees for a hundred ships. "That…may well be agreeable. I'll have to get my father's approval, of course, but I do not anticipate he would decline." It is, ultimately, not a tremendous amount of money, and the Kerrigans tend to make tidy profits for themselves amidst all the goods they export. The game continues for several more minutes, pieces being taken in more rapid succession now. Ultimately, it does end up being a rather close match, with only a couple of pieces remaining on both sides, but eventually, Aidan leaves his queen vulnerable. Unfortunately, it's clear from the rueful smile from Shepard that it's a lure. Unfortunately, with his remaining pieces as they're positioned, it's also clear to Shepard that not taking the bait is simply delaying the inevitable. So he shifts is last knight forward, seizing the Queen, and noting, "That, I believe, all but marks the end of this particular match, your grace, but by all means…" It should be brought to its' true end, after all.

The bait was the Queen, one of the most powerful pieces on the board, besides the rook. It would be Aidan's remaining rook and yet another minor piece that helps secure Shepard's king in a firm checkmate. He nods as he makes the game come to an official end, by moving the piece where it needs to go. At that he sits back, an assessment of the game taking place. "You did well. You play like my brother," he says off handedly, in a manner that seems to express that sense of yearning for a brother lost. As for the true game being played, he lifts his eyes back to Shepard, "-If- you can secure that agreement, it would seem we have made your match. Except, I have one last thing to ask of you before I officially give you the opportunity to court my daughter," he lets that linger, for the importance behind the emphasis is punctuated by his silence, everything hinging on how his next question was answered, "Other than for the prestige of marrying into a Ducal line, is there a reason behind your choice?"

Shepard smiles, if a touch sadly, at the mention of Desmond. "Shepard tilts his head, and a brow curiously, but he doesn't hesitate before answering, "I can think of several, Your Grace, but I believe we discussed more than a few of them at length in our last conversation." Shepard adds, "None of it has changed. I need a partner to help guide my House in days to come. My respect for Lord Desmond was such that I implored my father to enter negotiations with you before any others. I will freely confess that I had not even dreamed that your daughter might be a possibility, Your Grace, but your announcement of seeking suitors came just before our negotiations began…and then…" He smiles a bit wistfully, "I had occasion to meet her, and I hope you will not consider me too bold in saying that she is…breathtaking…and our few conversations and interactions since have only served to reinforce that my initial impression was, if anything, understated."

Shepard smiles, if a touch sadly, at the mention of Desmond. "I am glad I provided some degree of challenge, at least. I do not think Lord Desmond would have judged it an unsatisfactory performance." At the last question, Shepard tilts his head, and a brow curiously, but he doesn't hesitate before answering, "I can think of several, Your Grace, but I believe we discussed more than a few of them at length in our last conversation." Shepard adds, "None of it has changed. I need a partner to help guide my House in days to come. My respect for Lord Desmond was such that I implored my father to enter negotiations with you before any others. I will freely confess that I had not even dreamed that your daughter might be a possibility, Your Grace, but your announcement of seeking suitors came just before our negotiations began…and then…" He smiles a bit wistfully, "I had occasion to meet her, and I hope you will not consider me too bold in saying that she is…breathtaking…and our few conversations and interactions since have only served to reinforce that my initial impression was, if anything, understated."

Aidan nods, "You have, indeed. Desmond was a skillful player-" at this point he touches one of the pawns and draws it forward, one of the pawns that didn't fit in the scheme of Aidan's pieces, "I once had a full matching set. He was the first to remind me that my pawns are just as important as my knights. And… you wouldn't believe how hard it was to win a game with a pawn, to reclaim a piece of the same back. I believe, he still had my pawn from my set, when I last saw him." There's no disrespect for losing, in fact, it seems that Aidan is praising Shepard highly for what he did accomplish. A touch of a smile, "Though you lost your focus of the overall game by chasing what you wanted most." A note to the queen piece, as he regathers his custom pieces, nodding for a servant to come forward with the special case made to hold all the pieces safely with velvet for a lining. As they're being put away, he listens to the answer from Shepard. It all seems well placed and professional, well trained and well thought of. It is the last that makes Aidan chuckle a bit, "Of course, the final word is her own. I will not force my daughter into anything she does not wish, as… she has told me upon several occasions that she does not want to be sold to the highest bidder. However, get word from your father on the details we've outlined tonight and see me when that is in place. I should at least have a day to speak with my daughter to see if she approves of the match. I'm sure it will be quite the surprise for her as I asked her to help Lady Sorcha win your choice."

"Perhaps there is a touch of poetry in that, Your Grace." Shepard notes of his critique of chasing the queen, but nods emphatically at the next bit, "Of course, I would not to place you in such a position as to place your daughter in a match that displeases her. Even less so for her to be unhappy with the arrangement." Shepard listens a few moments more, "I will speak with my father immediately, of course." At the mention of surprises and Lady Sorcha, Shepard smiles, "I should hope that Lady Sorcha…and yourself…will not take this as a sign of any defect on her part, for certainly it is not the case. One cannot compare the dawn and the dusk and truly state which is more wondrous, only judge for themselves which they found so in those moments."

Aidan stands from his seat, wine cup emptied by the time they have finished playing and discussing matters and details of the arrangement to come. "Oh," he does seem to add in hindsight, "Please do not expect to have a Greenshire wedding," this said in a manner that seems to indicate his disapproval with the whole stealing the bride thing, "We have our own wedding rituals and I'm sure my daughter would be rather displeased if she missed out on Kincaid traditions (ooc still to be worked out)." And well, a Ducal wedding outweighs that of a vassal house to a Count. For the rest he seems to agree with, "Quite so, though I do think the Lady Sorcha will be disheartened by your choice. Perhaps you will return with a suggestion for a suitable match for her, to replace the one I intended for her." A moment then, "It is quite late however and I must retire. It was good of you to come and should this be formalized completely, it has been a good night indeed to have gained a new son to the family."

"Ha! No Your Grace, while I will likely partake of some of Greenshire's traditions in the course of this Courtship, should it proceed, by and large I believe it proper that the traditions of the bride's family be followed. I know our Greenshire peculiarities may be overly rustic for some tastes. Still, such matters can be discussed later, after my father has granted his blessing to the details of the contract." He does look thoughtful at Aidan's last, "I will give it all due consideration, Your Grace, though aside from my own brother, the best choice that comes to mind is far afield from here at present…and not a member of my direct family, in either case, that I could say with any certainty at all whether such a match would be agreed to." He smiles, "Though I should think any man should be hard pressed not to pursue it should he but meet the Lady in question." He touches his hand to his chest, inclining his head to Aidan as he announces his retirement for the evening, "Of course, Your Grace. It was a pleasure and an honor." He straightens, and then offers his hand for a brief clasping, should the Duke agree to it, "Rest well, Your Grace. I will have word from my father upon the morrow." And with that, Shepard will let himself be led out.

END

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