To the Kestrel, an unexpected letter.

To the Kestrel, an unexpected letter.

Postby BDAdmin » Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:41 am

First the roads were blocked by ice and snow; with the thaw and rains of Spring they became, for a time, morasses of thick, clinging mud. Eventually, however, the weather warmed and the rains abated, the well-trodden earth firm enough to allow traffic once more.

With the opening of the roads into Myrken Wood comes the long-anticipated shipments of food, heavy wagons pulled by plodding teams of oxen and draught-horses, laden with sacks of grain and hogsheads of wine and beer, tall earthenware jars of oil from the South, wheels of cheese and barrels of salted meat. Enough to relieve the winter's famine, a procession of hooves and wheels grinding steadily north towards Myrkentown.

The first caravan to cross the Sagpa river sends a messenger out ahead, a young man on a fleet horse which, before long, is tied to the porch rail of the Broken Dagger as its rider hurries into the tavern and up the stairs, as his orders instruct. There he stands to attention before a certain door, a click of heels and brisk bow of his head to the stout dwarf who serves as doorkeeper and more.

"I bear an urgent message for the Lady Egris."

A letter, sealed with a crest, addressed to the lady by name. His message delivered, the courier soon departs.

My Lady Egris Verreaux,

With my kindest regards I hope that the Myrken winter has not been too unkind and knowing from all accounts that the land is not a pleasant nor a civilised one, I trust that its people have shown you all appropriate hospitality.

Though we have not met, I have had your name recommended to me as a citizen loyal to the Crown with whom I would be most well-advised to speak. I am by the King's grace Baron Almeric Surdemer, and I have the honour of serving as Colonel to His Majesty's 28th Regiment of Foot. I appreciate that this missive may come as a surprise to you, but assure you that though unexpected I bring news entirely to your benefit.

Given recent events elsewhere in the Peninsula - of which you may or may not already be aware - my Regiment's orders are to march North to support the recapture of the Principality of Derry from the renegade Duke Burel. Given that Myrken Wood lies on our route it seemed prudent to accompany the first convoy and ensure its safe arrival - hunger leads to desperation, and it would be unfortunate to lose such necessary goods to bandits or the like.

As agreed with your previous correspondent, your shipments of food and supplies have been placed at the head of the traffic seeking to travel into Myrken Wood. This arrangement remains unchanged, and will undoubtedly earn you considerable favour from the locals. As I write the first wagons have crossed the border and will likely be with you by the middle of the day. I will be riding ahead of them, and - roads permitting - expect to arrive at the Broken Dagger tavern within two hours of your receipt of this message. If it please you I would request a meeting to arrange the safe and efficient delivery of the convoy into your care for distribution to the local populace. At the same time there are also other incidental matters which I understand would be of some interest to you and your ambitions.

Your servant,

Almeric, Baron Surdemer
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Re: To the Kestrel, an unexpected letter.

Postby Kestrel » Sun Apr 27, 2014 2:11 am

The gruff dwarf grunted at the courier and claimed the missive until the courier left before delivering it to his Lady. He stood with arms crossed as her eyes skimmed the paper.

He eyed her warily as she grinned. Her eyes fairly glittered and she slapped the message on her thigh. "Soon, we'll have visitors soon from the Crown. They send help, but we must be wary of gift horses."

His answering grunt made her laugh, sounding much younger than she typically did.

The tavern was swept and the tables scrubbed in preparation for the Baron. Soft notes of music came from one of her men strumming a stringed instrument idly. Tuning it until it sang sweetly. A flickering candle with a sweet scent had been placed upon a table in the corner where the Lady Egris sat waiting. She was clad in full dress uniform.

Before her sat a moderately-laden platter of early-spring fruit - small and unfinished with scattered scraps of salted meat. She ate with her bare fingers, the utensils left unused as something of a statement, however small.
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Re: To the Kestrel, an unexpected letter.

Postby BDAdmin » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:27 am

The thump of hooves and jingle of harness is the first herald of the Baron's arrival, a little over an hour after the courier's visit; three horses, three riders, and there follows an interlude of gruff instructions before boots sound on the porch boards.

The trio of figures that step into the common room are streaked and splashed with the mud of the road, but recognisable as soldiers for all that; two of them wear uniform coats of quilted blue and gold, iron helms carried at their hip beside sheathed swords. The third strikes a more imposing figure in cuirass and pauldrons of burnished steel etched with motifs of rampant harts, well-tended though bearing marks of heavy use; a man of middle years, iron-grey hair and beard close cropped, his features stern and - in this moment - slightly impatient.

A glance takes in the room - a bemused narrowing of eyes for the musician, a lift of brows at the candle and fruit platter, but at the sight of the lady in martial dress he grins, loose strides carrying him to the table where he bows his head in greeting as he tugs off his cavalry gloves of stout leather. His attendants follow behind, stiff-backed and alert.

"Lady Egris, I presume. Baron Surdemer, at your service. You received my letter." A statement of fact, having met the returning courier on the road. "I will be glad to answer your questions." His manner is curt, lacking the elaborate flourishes and niceties of court, but still careful to acknowledge propriety of a sort. He nods to indicate a chair at her table.

"May I?"
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Re: To the Kestrel, an unexpected letter.

Postby Kestrel » Fri May 02, 2014 4:20 am

The woman looked positively casual, despite her pressed and starched uniform. It was pristine, but it seemed more a disciplined drive of a military mind than a need stand on propriety. Honoring the uniform, her King and her country. There was a thin line of tension that ran like wrought iron through her practiced informality.

Crimson locks tumbled down over the eye tilted from him as she cast glance over her dwarven companion. The other side of her crown had shorter locks smoothed back with grease. When his bootfalls sounded, her face tilted towards him and a hand rose to brush her locks behind an ear. Shrewd eyes lifted as he and his men took sanctuary from the spring storms. The relief, the warmth in her vision was not easily missed. But, there was wariness too.

As soon as he and his men ventured closer, she was on her feet. Hands clasped behind her back as she awaited his reproach. Keen eyes took in his own cursory glances and she gave a nod towards the kitchen staff to bring out food for the weary men. In greeting, there was a smile and a brief nod of respect.

His question made her gesture towards said chair in welcoming fashion and she reclaimed her own. "Yes, please do, Baron. It is a pleasure to meet you. I pray the journey has not been too taxing?," she questioned as she nudged the tray of sustenance towards the middle of the table so that he could partake as well. No longer did she select any for herself, however.

Instead, her hands became a steeple and she peered across the table at him. The glow of the candle threw shadows upon her visage and glinted on the metal of her decorative pauldron. "How is my uncle, then?," she asked, of the King. The proper familial tie was one lost to a thinning of blood, but they were kin by anyone's definition. Closer than many. Titles mattered little in that.
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Re: To the Kestrel, an unexpected letter.

Postby BDAdmin » Fri May 02, 2014 5:40 am

An informal meeting - or at least an unofficial one. A small gesture has his guards retreating to a table at a discreet distance, there to take a rest for as long as this visit lasted. In the meantime the Baron sets his helm on the table and tucks his gloves into his belt, a quiet order for watered wine left with the tavern staff as they bring out more food - and a lift of brows for the lady, in case she requires a drink also. Eventually he settles into his seat with some degree of relief.

"It's a journey I could do without taking, but at least the roads are now firm enough to march on. There's a chance they'll see a lot of it before the summer's out."

That mention of her kinsman - an oblique but deliberate reminder of her connections - earns a wry quirk of his lips and a nod as he reaches for the platter, picking at the slices of cured meat.

"Your uncle is well enough - troubled by events in this province, but I believe that will be soon resolved. If I and my men have much to say about it, anyway." His drink arrives and he takes a welcome draught before continuing, his voice pitched low for the lady's ear.

"I shall speak plainly: your uncle requests and requires the loyalty of the Amasynian Peninsula. Derry will be liberated. Thessilane will be scourged. How the rest of the province fares will depend on how promptly and vocally they declare their allegiance to the Crown. Suffice to say that my regiment has spent the last three summers putting down uprisings inspired by Burel's treachery. We are here to burn out the heart of the rebellion."

A pause to allow this news to sink in, to consider what might befall those who prove too hesitant in such declarations. Another sliver of salt beef, chewed thoughtfully as he examines the woman across the table.

"Myrken Wood has drawn particular attention. The local Governor has proven unhelpful to the point of insolence in his dealings with the previous envoy, and it throws doubt upon his loyalty. Unlike Kostroma I have twelve hundred men here, now, though I'm reluctant to waste them in Mykren Wood when there are more important battlefields over the mountains." Gone is the avuncular manner, the informal smile. Reluctant, yes, but by no means unwilling.

"Your uncle insists on certain concessions if he is to be assured of Myrken's loyalty. Either from Governor Burnie or from his successor.

"Are you in a position to arrange that, Lady Egris?"
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Re: To the Kestrel, an unexpected letter.

Postby Kestrel » Fri May 02, 2014 11:36 am

When his men retreated, she motioned for hers to join them. The heavy grunt the dwarf made in response made that observation clear, but his stocky frame soon lumbered towards the others. His beady eyes searched the men with a hostile, protective air that made him seem coiled and ready to strike. The musician abandoned his instrument and joined them as well, drawn by the promise of food, and clapped the dwarf on the back in good-natured way. He earned a dirty look in response, but did not seem overtly phased.

His offer of a drink made her smile and she put two fingers up towards the young woman sent to retrieve the order. The watered-down wine was brought, but it remained untouched at her elbow. A nod of thanks was issued to the girl, who then retreated to watch, wide-eyed behind the counter.

The woman nodded absently as she lifted her gaze, considering the news he'd brought here. She considered the minimal people scattered in the tavern and thought of those absent. "Myrken Wood has turned its fickle attention inward. They think nothing of their distant King and only of their own problems. There is famine here and those supplies will grant the King favor. Along with anyone who manages to bring them in the distribute."

Her eyes returned to him, the fire's reflection held within their expanse. Her smile was positively coy. "Take your men where they are needed most. I will secure these holdings for my dearest Uncle. He will never have to question my loyalty. My thoughts always return to the Crown, as they should."

Finally, finally she reached for her wine and offered goblet towards his. "To success for His Majesty and the might of his fist."
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Re: To the Kestrel, an unexpected letter.

Postby BDAdmin » Fri May 02, 2014 1:42 pm

Surdemer's guards greet the Lady's attendants with nods, curt but not unfriendly; the better part of their attention is on the food and drink before them, digging into their meals with the resolve of professional soldiers.

At their masters' table the Baron nods in quiet acknowledgement, though there's a moment of dry amusement as the Kestrel speaks of furthering the King's cause.

"Speaking plainly again: your uncle isn't here. The supplies will grant you favour, as the one who is seen delivering them. As was your intent before you received my letter." He shakes his head to forestall any protest, a brief sweep of his fingers brushing the matter aside. "If your loyalty was in question, Lady Egris, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

Or at least not such an amiable one.

"This is an opportunity for you to win favour with your uncle - the more you can achieve on your own the better it will look for you. Between you and me, I'd advise moving as quickly as you can. There may be other agents of the Crown arriving soon, and while I'm content to stay out of your way I can't guarantee that they'll be as considerate."

He picks absently at the platter, rolling a dark berry - foraged from the forest or hoarded over the winter - between his fingertips for a time before popping it into his mouth; a moment to mull on the taste has him nodding in apparent approval and reaching for another.

"Anyway. As you say, the people can likely be won over without too much trouble as long as the caravans keep coming. I'd not expect too much by way of gratitude, but it might keep them from complaining too loudly as you do what you must. I've been broadly appraised of your uncle's wishes - you'll have a more detailed explanation before long, I believe - and they seem entirely agreeable. There shouldn't be any reasonable grounds for protest from the locals." From his grin it's clear that he expects protests regardless.

"That being the case, I'll have my men make camp here for a while - a few weeks - to gather their strength before we cross the mountains into Derry. We've made good time up through Heath, but it's been a hard march. They'll appreciate the chance to rest, it'll give the high passes time to clear, and their presence here might help focus the Governor's attention."

The lady lifts her drink, and the Baron inclines his head as he echoes her gesture.

"And to civilisation. Even here."
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