Thedor 14, 229: Weakness

Summary: Tyrel fulfils his promise to teach Roslin the ways of war. His first lesson is a doozy.
OOC Date: 15 January 2014
Related: Several, but they're fairly old.
Tyrel Roslin 
Roslin's Room
Roslin's bedroom, early in the morning before anyone else is up.
Thedor 14, 229

It is quite late in the evening, or possibly early in the morning, the hour belongs to Innouv and he enjoys such confusion as the time creates. Tyrel and his guards approach Roslin’s room, in the Crown Prince’s hand is a sizeable bundle wrapped in cloth. His guards rap on the door loud enough to wake Roslin, or at least her maids, then the group waits silently, the guards stepping back from the doorway and averting their gaze lest they see something that will earn them Tyrel’s ire.

The maid comes to the door first. She opens it, clutching her own robe closed around her body. She need only glance at the Crown Prince before she pulls the door open to admit them. She then steps out into the hall. Why? Perhaps Roslin knows.

She can be seen upon entrance to the room, wearing her long nightgown that laces at the top and at the wrists. Her long red hair has been braided over her shoulder, and she is just pulling on her own heavy robe and lacing it before turning to face her brother, spying him through the open curtain that seperates the room.

“There you are,” she says, as though she’d just been waiting for him. The bags under her heavy eyes indicate otherwise. “I do appreciate that you’ve come, though my business was urgent I do not think it should have drawn you from your bed. But then, you have children now. I daresay you sleep little as it is. What’s that?” She looks at the bundle in his arms.

Tyrel tosses the bundle down on the bed, “Your attire for the evening, a portion of it at least. Dress while you say whatever it is that you had to say.” The bundle contains a set of leathers cut for a woman’s figure and sized near enough to Roslin to be worn without discomfort. “What trouble you have donning it is your own doing as you’ve dismissed the girl I had instructed to learn how to assist you with it.” He goes to stand beside the fireplace, “Wear your long dress over it and your cloak and it should not be overly noticeable as more than thick clothing and perhaps a few late night chocolas you’ve yet to work off.”

Tyrel is dressed for duty, his cloak thrown back over his shoulder to free his hands to be held before the fire. “I’ve never slept overly-much, it is time better spent in pursuit of my dreams than wasted dreaming.”

“How noble,” Roslin says, giving her brother a wry look as she picks up the bundle. It’s easy to shoo him out beyond the curtain, and then she closes it tightly. She decides not to talk about the girl again, for now.

“There’s something you need to know,” she says, as he can hear shifting of fabric. She speaks loud enough that she can be heard through the heavy velvet, but there is no one else in the room save for them.

“You had mentioned that you desired I should be a bit more useful as a potential Master of Spies, in the years to come. So I decided to … see how the idea fit me.” More rustling, a grunt of displeasure and struggle.

“Before Elisen Stewart fell ill, he and his sister went to speak privately to the Kundari, before they left. It was before my betrothal was announced - and that makes it all the more alarming, as they were discussing prospects for a marriage alliance, as I understand it. Only briefly, in passing, but much of the rest of the conversations followed renewed friendships. And now that the alliance with Crawford has failed, and the Kundari are gone, there is little that can be done. I have convinced your wife’s younger brother to write the Kundari to discuss a match upon their return. He’s said their response was tepid, but open. He seems to like the idea - I am teaching him Kundari now.” She pulls back the curtain with a jerk. She’s wearing what her brother gave her, though without the dress yet. The sleeves are not fully laced, and she looks most disgruntled, and her hair disheveled.

“Help me with this,” she finally says, walking over to him.

Tyrel considers Roslin for a few moments then walks over to her. “You should have bound yourself about the chest more tightly, this is going to be unpleasant.” He warns then takes hold of Roslin about the waist and jerks downward. Her shoulders rise to meat the leather more snuggly and the arms are suddenly long enough to be laced properly and her chest…well he did say that was going to be unpleasant.

He then laces her arms, “Do not let me find you wearing this save for my instruction or that of your husband when he is your husband, and I should prefer even he not know of it.” The dressing completed, or enough so that she can finish herself Tyrel steps back to the other side of the curtain. “Mother has recently received word from the Kundari that they wish to return, her letter was more enthusiastic regarding the potential marraige so it is possible the Kundari are simply negotiating rather than showing true reluctance. The letter also indicated that they support our views in the war but wish to remain excluded from such battles as ensue. Given the scarcity of their peoples I can understand that viewpoint.”

Roslin yelps. She slaps a hand over her chest once the leather is settled on her and her brother is lacing her shoulders. But she doesn’t complain. Her yelp, it seems, was enough for the guards, who wait a moment - likely discussing what to do - before knocking gently on the door. “It’s fine,” Roslin calls out, turning and walking back around the curtain. “Why would my husband ever wish me to wear this ridiculous thing? No wonder all you men are so cranky - I feel as though I’m being squeezed to death. Isn’t that the way one of those Moniwid snakes hunts? Well nevermind.” She doesn’t bother closing the curtain, instead just pulling a heavy blue wrap dress around her and cinching it where required. She does look a little … heavy.

“It could be a ruse,” Roslin says. “They have been free of us for some time, time enough to conspire with the Laniveer. And now they return. I think perhaps when they return I will ride with Princess Nima, and speak about the Aberdeen Prince awhile. Perhaps this betrothal may go smoother and better than my own.” She wrinkles her nose, pulling a cloak from an armoire.

“And I think it would be encouraging for the Kundari to consider Aberdeen rather than Laniveer or Mobrin. In either direction, they find themselves trapped with a powerful enemy. But with Aberdeen, they will have more autonomy. In our favor, naturally, but for them I think it would be a very interesting prospect.” She comes back out, her braid still draping over her shoulder. “You have not asked me about the False Laniveer Prince. Apparently,” she moves to pull her gloves on. “According to the maid, at any rate, there are some who are saying it was my doing, that I intended to murder Rowena Stewart, but missed.” She looks up at Tyrel to see his reaction to this suggestion.

Tyrel listens as Roslin speaks, “In reverse order. I have great faith in you, Roslin, if you wished him dead he would be dead. I also do not think you are the sort that miss your intended. To fail both to kill and to hit the intended is beyond your level of incompetence.” He walks around her in a circle inspecting her from various angles to be certain her clothing covers the less than proper armor. “I expect you’ll tell me about the false prince in a moment, so I felt no need to ask. I agree that the marriage with Aberdeen would be beneficial and I do expect them to seek the same with Laniveer, they have more than one child. With their size neutrality is the same to me as their support, so long as they are not raiding into Weston I care little where their alliegance lies.” He reaches out to tug the shoulder of Roslin’s dress to erase a tell-tale fold. “I do encourage such a ride as you suggest, the more affiably the smaller kingdoms think of us the better for us in the long run and them looking to us to arrange their marriages and guide their actions will benefit us when the time comes to consolidate them under our rule, but that may be some generations hence.”

“Lastly, your husband has lost sister, brother, mother, and more to raiders and chance encounters. While this is not designed for full combat it will aid in turning an arrow and…” He punches her suddenly, “…it is considerably better than having no armor.” The punch is enough to knock her a step back if she does not see it coming, but the leather takes the force and spreads it from a damaging blow to a hard shove.

The hit comes as a surprise and Roslin does stumble a step or two back. “Tyrel!” She barks, scolding him. But it didn’t hurt, not really. She rubs the spot anyway, though. “That really wasn’t necessary. Anyway, I have no intention of telling my husband about this contraption you have put me in, so I hope I shalln’t have to wear it very often at all. Though … that too is something I must discuss with you. But … well.”

She then smiles, proudly. “My very thoughts,” she says, in regards to Tyrel’s opinion of her potential guilt. Though the question does remain if she would try to kill anyone. “Though we really ought to find out who did this. It makes us look all manner of stupid. I asked a little, but so far I have come up with nothing. I’ll see if I can’t do a little better. Have you any ideas?” Tyrel always has ideas. Many of them crazy.

“If I can convince Rowena Stewart that I did not, in fact, have anything to do with her brother’s poisioning, I think perhaps I can still make some progress with her. She is angry, frightened, and alone. If she has hope for an alliance, a marriage, with the Kundari, the time may come when we convince her to renounce her father that she may be free to wed. She does not hate us like her brother does, and she is far more interested in shortening the war than winning it, from what I gather. It is terribly unlikely, I grant you. But perhaps it can be done.” She smirks a little. “In truth I can’t help but think that her brother poisioned himself, if poision it was - not enough to die, placed in her cup - to call her back to his heel.”

Tyrel nods, “The thought had occurred to me, along with the consideration that it is not poison but just his weakness of character reasserting itself. He arrived in a sickly condition, did he not?” Tyrel moves towards the door, “Come, we can speak more on the battlements, there is something you should observe.” He drops his cloak back over himself to trap the heat before they leave. “Was the apothecary aware of any treatment given to the tea that might have caused such or was any trace of poison actually found?”

“Not that they have as of yet ascertained. But I must admit they are being terribly difficult on the whole matter. I shall push them again,” Roslin promises, turning to follow him after a hat is poised on her head. She speaks more softly once they are out the door. The guards follow, but from a distance to give them some privacy.

“I do know that it was not delivered by any apothocary’s hand. A servant - some faceless boy - did the task. And it is taking some time to determine who among the staff answered the order. If no one is found who admits to it - well, we shall know that it was truly something nefarious. I rather hope he was poisioned - it would make everything easier. Hang the wretch and move on. If he became ill, but there is talk of poisioning? That is much harder to explain away. Few will believe us if we say that he was ill of his own accord.”

She walks in step with her brother, comfortable in his presence.

Tyrel leads the way up to the battlements, the night is cold and the wind brisk. The guards stop at the bottom of the stairs leaving the siblings along to make the trek out. “I’ve had the guards cleared from the top.” He says, “I should like your opinion regarding the weakest point of defense within the castle, you have just shy of fifteen minutes to review from the vantage of the battlements and provide your input.”

The step out onto the tower top with it’s commanding view of the castle and the city below. Torches and braziers can be seen lit on the walls and at the guard stations providing light and heat. The glow of Cri reflects off the ocean in the distance and the lights of the ships dance their bobbing steps in the harbor.

“Send any who are being difficult in the investigation to me, I could use something to take my mind off the difficulties I’m having with the priesthood and someone I can lash out at would be a welcome relief.” He moves to the side giving Roslin the freedom to move about, “Remaining polite to them out of respect for the gods is wearing my patience thin to breaking.”

Roslin lifts her skirts to move up the steps, but she lets it drag a little all the same to cover what she wears beneath. She shivers when the wind hits her, moving to the edge of the battlement so she can stand and peer over in the evening darkness.

“You never did have much patience to begin with,” Roslin notes as she looks out over the sights. She is thinking, but she also knows that she must be clever enough to continue the conversation. “What will you do about all this, Tyrel? Wait for a noble to die, and see if the clergy will give him his rites? You did not ask for my advice but I shall give it anyway - hold the scrolls until the repairs to the temple are completed. Then return them - under guard. Our guard. Decree that the scrolls will always, henceforth, have the protection of the Kilgours wherever it may lie. Then once it’s settled remove all the clergy of the Darfield council and have them replaced. Men are to be marching off to war soon - what they are doing now is borderline treasonous and you cannot leave them in the capital while you are away.”

Tyrel laughs, “I did not ask your advice as I had already decided on a course of action I was certain was near your advice. I have selected a score and four knights who will hold vigil over the scrolls at all hours and see them protected, further they shall act as guardians of the temple so that they are not tempted to delve into the martial nature of the world when they should focus on the spiritual.” Tyrel folds his hands behind his back, “A chest of good construction has been made for each of the scrolls and I offered to return them as early as this morning with escort, should the council be ready.”

“If they fail to come to the sensible solution then I will order them to do so in father’s name and with his blessing. If they choose treason, then I will escort them to the border of Laniveer and deposit them on the other side. Let them treat with those who do not follow the eight and respect their ways and see how far their tolerance will take them. There are any number of priests who will step up to take the vacant positions.” Tyrel lays out the move and countermove with precision and no particular emotion. “Council members are replaced when they fail to respect their position, and it is not in my memory that we have done the same culling to the temple.”

“Once the scrolls have been transcribed and translated then I will not hold them so close. The gifts of the gods move about the kingdom, the mask, the arrow, and so on…these may be meant to travel as well, I do not claim to know such things.”

“But they shall be our men,” Roslin stipulates. “I prefer to have a bit of wordly men so close to the temple. Clearly there is a danger in being too zealous, and then we may wonder at where their loyalties lie. Apparently there are those who do not mind touching close to treason if it is in the name of the Gods - or so they believe.” Roslin draws her lips into a disapproving frown. It remains as she concentrates, her gaze sweeping.

“I believe I am going to relieve Blessed Luna from her duties as my personal confessor, once all of this is over,” Roslin confides. “Though she will likely end up on the Council if vacancies open, I do not trust her. She has spoken ill of you and Father a bit too freely in my hearing. And I cannot help but think that she is in some part guilty for the clergy’s idea to turn their backs on the nobility, even for marriage contracts. She knew my betrothal was close. And she is clever enough to try and use that to pressure you, without directly targeting you. I do not trust her.”

She continues to gaze. “You have designed these defenses, have you not? Will there be any deficiencies, then?”

“This castle existed long before I was born, Roslin, I should have thought you were aware of that.” Tyrel’s tone is lightly mocking. “Though you have touched upon a point. My duties include making do with what is provided for me. In the field and at home, my resources are limited and must be prioritized.” He walks about the battlements looking down over them, “Another point, there are always deficiencies. No castle has ever fallen or battle been lost or for that matter won without a deficiency.”

“The men selected are my men, knights of noble birth loyal to the crown and those not easily swayed. While they are certainly pious men they are also men who understand their worldly duties.” He moves to look down towards another of the walks the guards take across the walls. “I also do not intend for them to remain in the position for more than a year, if things go well I am considering making it a tenant of knighthood to spend a year in the service of the temple, acting as their guard as they seem to believe they require them. Or perhaps two months of each year, I’ve not given the logistics of such much thought beyond the notion.”

Roslin glances over her shoulder and gives her brother a little smirk. “Many deficiences, I daresay,” she comments, looking back over everything. “At any rate, I’m glad it all will be settled soon. His Grace seems ready to abscond with me to have the marriage completed. Time is so very short.” Roslin’s smile faulters a little at the topic. Tyrel can likely hear that, but not see it, as she is busy looking over everything.

“Tyrel. There is … something I don’t understand about being married. My name shall be Crawford, I shall be a Duchess and not a Princess. I shall belong to him - I do not question any of that. But I am also expected to keep no secrets from him. To serve him. I do not argue these things either. But ought I really tell him everything? About the things I learn in the work that I do for you? About impending politics, marriages, and all the rest? I have never been worried in his presence, but now I find that I am. Because I want to tell him what I think, and I am not sure that I should. You yourself told me that these leather tortures were to be our secret. What else ought to be secret from him?”

“That is your duty as a wife to discover, Roslin, not mine to explain. If Ciarrah were to inform me of every page, squire, knight and lord that she caught with their eyes on her bodice we’d have a half-blind kingdom.” Tyrel places his hand over his middle to keep his cloak closed as he leans forward to peer down closer to the battlement wall. “When you are his wife, your duty will be to see to his best interests, it will not always be in his best interest to be given all information if he does not have the understanding to grasp it’s use.”

Tyrel finishes his circuit of the tower-top, “If you run to him with every piece of information you hear from me or in your work then you will no longer be privy to that information. You will find the point of balance that will do him the most benefit, sharing what information you need to raise him up while remaining quiet on that which does not concern him.” Tyrel looks towards the north then, the nearest wall that hangs close to the cliffside and the sea. “Come, your time is nearly up, what deficiencies have you seen?”

“I would not betray your trust, Tyrel,” Roslin promises, turning to look back to him. “I believe in you above all men, and shall so long as you continue to behave with good sense - or as much as you are able.” She nods once, and turns back to look over everything. “I just wished to know where the line of betrayal lies, that I may never step over it.” She seems content with that for now, and squints as she looks over everything.

“The walls are well patroled, though it is dark and little can be seen. But the turrets at the corners of the keep are too shallow. It leaves our enemies the opportunity to strike at a wall, where our rate of fire and range are all fairly stagnant. We have height, it’s true, but in theory they could walk right up to the door. Were it up to me, I would have masons build the corners of the keep protruding out, like a star shape, forcing them to run between the points to get close to the wall. They would be under twice the fire, then, and the narrowing of space would reduce the impact of their numbers. But, I am going to assume we have niether the time nor the means for such a thing.” She smiles at her brother. “I think it is excellently placed, Tyrel. Your men, they are aware and eager and keeping good watch. They are well positioned. But…” she begins to walk the other way, where the battlement overlooks the courtyard of the keep. “The outbuildings here. Several of them have roofs of straw, rather close to the walls. A sign of how little war this keep has seen. But all it would take are a few good longbowmen with flaming arrows, and we would have problems on both sides of the walls. Taht would be my recommendation - all wooden, or even stone roofs for these buildings. AFter I’ve moved them all for my shrine, of course.”

Tyrel nods at the evaluation, “A keen eye, Roslin, but you’ve missed the obvious. Watch the north wall.” The torches of the men moving on the wall continue along and when they cross paths to check in with each other there is a sudden scuffle, the torches fall to the ground guttering before they are picked up again. By the light of the torch it appears that three of the men now have the fourth subdued. “The weakest link will almost invariably be the men, Roslin. That particular guardsmen was found to be asleep at his post some nights past. I informed those men that shared the watch that this was to be their punishment, they must subdue him this evening at this time.”

Another patrol emerges from the wall and the three men with their captive move off. “What you have just seen is that a man derelict in his duty can be turned upon, and given proper incentive those on the wall will turn from their duties as well. I am their commander so have that authority but others can be turned for gold, promises of power, or even the company of a woman, as was demonstrated by those that snuck into our castle not long past by way of the servants.”

Roslin watches the men scuffle, turning and giving her brother a wry look. “Mine would have been equally obvious once your castle was aflame,” she says, unable to cease from being entirely sassy. She turns back to watch the men once more. “I rode out with Count Haravean when his archers first arrived last year, and I saw something similar. I won’t go into the details - I like Aldren Haravean too much to have you break his nose - but I confess to being surprised by it. And this too, in some form. Why do they do it, fail so totally like this, when they know what is at stake?”

“Men fail, Roslin. Despite her own failings I believe Luna does has some wisdom within her. The duty of a commander is not to recognize men’s strengths, it is to study their failings. A battle is more often won by the army that makes the fewest mistakes than it is by the one that executed the more brilliant maneuver.” Tyrel watches for a time, “When we tour for the balance of the morning you will find it quite easy to focus on the man who wields his sword in the deftest manner, the knight whose lance strikes true most often, or the archer with the greatest range. That is not for commanders, that is for ladies and onlookers, a commander must spend his time with those who fail, must subject himself to frustration and disappointment and ever go seeking more of the same.”

“So that too is what I must do, then.” Roslin says, nodding once. “Watch for the weakest ones. It is good advice in many things, not just war I think.” She lifts her head a little, mulling the whole matter over. And then, after some time, she smiles.

“I like that very much, Tyrel. It is a simple thing, but to think that way … I daresay it will change my perpective on a host of things.” She turns to him and smiles. “Shall I be fighting today?” She asks, a bit of teasing creeping into her tone. “Learn how to weild a lance or a sword, that I may better understand what those men are capable of and what their weaknesses are when they are to be deployed?”

Tyrel considers for a few moments, “If you should like, Roslin, I will be happy to give you such instruction as I first received. You were young but I believe you might recall the color of my hide in those early days of lessons. I’m sure you would return to normal before your wedding night.” He rests his hand on his sword looking for all the world as if he is willing to make good on his offer of training. “I should have preferred if you accompanied me to review those who were suffering such a fate so you might learn by observation, but experience is the best educator.”

Roslin smirks at her brother. “We are playing with the rules of propriety by having me here at all, Tyrel. I do not think we need to break them to make our point.” She was teasing, and it seems she’s folded rather quickly. “You know I have positively no desire to be as vulgar as all of that. We shall do it your way - quite more appropriate.” She shivers again, drawing her cloak close and looking around. “What time do they begin? And, as it is now time for me to ask my questions, I shall ask - what is your plan for the new campaign season?”

“They are already begun, Roslin, you think we let the cadets sleep in?” He walks towards the stairwell, “We will proceed north from the border in an orderly fashion, our goals this year are to strengthen the military itself and identify any laxity. The navy is sufficient to keep the Laniveer from our shores or harry them into leaving should they find a gap. I have some hope that the lords of Laniveer will see sense when we bring a host to their doors and accept our sovereignty but it will be slow going as we must lay seige to each keep in turn to prevent them from cutting off our supplies. Laniveer is more densely peopled than we are, so we cannot simply avoid keeps as might be done invading our lands.”

Roslin turns to follow her brother, taking three steps for his two in order to keep up. “The six keeps,” she says, then, moving down the steps after him. “When would you like the letters prepared? I shall, of course, pen my own. Hopefully beside the Lady Rowena. I was thinking perhaps we might write them jointly. It is a symbol I believe her capable of appreciating. But I shall do what I can to have her name to them. I know in Laniveer it will carry more weight than mine or Ciarrah’s or Mother’s.”

“Pen some together should you wish, but be certain to allow her to pen one on her own and give it personally into the care of a servant she trusts. I do not dissemble when I say I wish her own words to reach those people. A letter from my hand will indicate that very fact.” Tyrel passes down and the guards join them in procession. “Within the next three weeks we shall require the correspondence.”

“I shall see it done,” Roslin promises as the pair descend the stairs.

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