(1866-08-27) Wise Choices
Wise Choices
Summary: Aidric attends a private dinner at the Gerrell Manse hosted by Eduard and Lasair, and the three discuss plans to improve the lot of the Black Hills province in Normont. Family and friends are also discussed.
Date: 1866-08-27
Related: Stranger Cousins, Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop, and Bitter Tea
Aidric  Lasair  Eduard  

Gerrell Manse
The Gerrell Manse in Sunsreach.
Aout 27,1866

As evening falls on the city, a room in the Gerrell manse has been prepared for tonight's dinner. In is one of the smaller ones, certainly not the main dining room, and is better suited to a more intimate atmosphere. Three places have been set at the rectangular table, one on each side, and one at the head. The fireplace is empty and the windows have been cracked, as suits a dinner between northerners in a southern city.

As they wait for their guest to arrive and be shown in, Eduard takes a last look around the table. Finding nothing out of place, he turns to the only other person in the room, and smiles at her. "Do you know, I actually think I might be nervous?" He has a bemused, almost perplexed look on his face, and shakes his head as he breaths out what is half sigh, half laugh. "I was not expecting that."

Lasair herself is outwardly perfectly calm.. though that means very little. She is, more often than not, quite accustomed to keeping her emotions under wraps, particularly in formal company, as they are expecting this evening. Only a few details of the preparations were directly at her hand, the servants of the Gerrell manse being quite capable of organizing a meal for three. The choice of wine was hers, for example; a Northern brew well suited to the fare on offer, and the centerpiece of fruit and bright flowers around a quaint candelabra. Typical feminine touches, the sort Eduard would likely have overlooked. And for now, she's idly adjusting one of the blossoms therein, until it sits just so.

"Don't be." she advises, in that soft-spoken way she has, casting a glance toward the fidgeting young Lord. "A casual dinner between kin is a fine place to begin.. better this than a banquet in the palace, hm?" Where they likely would have a multitude of cutlery, finger bowls, discreet servants and many gilded words. With a reassuring smile for the far taller man, she gives nothing away of her own unease. It has been a long time since she's been in the company of Aidric Carling and, while she hopes he has tempered some with age, one can never tell.

At the appointed hour, one of the Gerrell servants enters the chamber to announce "Sir Aidric Carling," and Aidric strides into the room on long legs. His green eyes scan the table and the room before coming to rest on Lord Eduard and Lasair and his lips break into a grin, "I hope I haven't kept you waiting," he says in desultory apology. "Court you understand. If it's not demand on your time it's another, still, glad to be free of all that and her among friends both old and new," he says as he crosses the distance between them. A gesture is made towards the table, "It seems there is quite an evening planned as well."

Quirking his mouth and brows in an amused look, Eduard nods towards Lasair. Yes, this is definitely the better option, and that realization is all he needs to center himself. Not a moment too soon, it turns out, as Aidric is introduced and enters. Directing a warm smile at Aidric, completely genuine as always, he responds to the lord, "Sir Aidric, welcome." Waving away the apology, he instead responds to Aidric's last words. "Certainly nothing as fancy as a formal court event." Turning slightly to include Lasair, he gives her a covert wink, and then gestures to her. "I believe you know my adviser, Mother Lasair Gerrell."

Straightening from her slight stoop over the table, Lasair turns to better face the new arrival, folding her hands primly before herself. Though her dark-honey tresses are left loose about her shoulders she's still attired in her more formal robes of pristine white; draping swathes of muslin kept snug about the waist with a cummerband of thicker cloth, elegant belled sleeves pushed up to the elbow to reveal lightly tanned forearms and light skirts trailing about her legs. The same short legs Aidric used to tease her about, years ago, in Falconhome. In fairness, she's still petite; she barely reaches Eduard's jaw, at her full height. But the Priestess nevertheless has a subtle presence about her that implies and evokes calm.

Leaving Lord Farrant to be the first to greet the guest, she smiles faintly, taking a moment to regard the tall Knight who has arrived to dine. Former Thorn. She can't help the flutter of disquiet beneath the tranquil facade. Still, he rode into battle alongside her father and as such deserves a little faith. No pun intended. Following the introductions, she inclines her head in respectful greeting, murmuring a dutiful "Sir Aidric."

"A good table is a good table," Aidric says equally dismissive of Eduard's apology as Eduard was of his own. He seems at his ease and when Lasair is introduced he smiles as memories of their past encounters comes back to him. "Kieran said you'd grown up some, Goblyn," a name he used to tease her with for both being short and often underfoot. "But he failed to remark upon your beauty," he bows gracefully a smile playing on his lips, oh yes, he is still very much the Aidric of old in some respects, "It is good to see you again."

"Goblyn," Eduard repeats, his tone and face far too passive, his eyes sparkling just a little too brightly as he glances between Lasair and Aidric. Oh, he says nothing else, after all they have company. But he certainly is not about to forget that new bit of information, no sir. Clearing his throat in a way that seems suspiciously like a chuckle, he gestures to the table and says, "Well then, shall we?" He makes to sit on one side of the table, opposite from where Lasair stands, clearly indicating that Aidric, as the guest, should sit at the head. As he sits down across from Lasair, he smiles as he notices how like two opposing chess pieces they appear, her in her white priestess robes, him in black tunic and surcoat. Black for the Paladin Order and for the Farrant house.

In spite of herself, the little blonde finds herself smirking a touch in response to the old nickname. It used to aggravate her something awful. Now that she's grown into both her looks and station? Not so much. "Not something he'd see fit to remark upon, I expect." she replies, pleasantly enough, unperturbed by the blatant flattery. He's a courtier and she knows better than to be taken in by those silver-tongued creatures. So no, there's no blushing, flustering or feigned denial. "Not when there are matters such as swordplay and destriers to better hold his interest, anyway. Enjoy it while you can." The unspoken insinuation is that all squires eventually find their attention drawn rather woefully aside, heads turned by some pretty little ingenue or another. "It is nice to see you, too, Aidric. The years have been kind."

At Eduard's prompting, she nods and takes the half-step or so necessary to bring her to the chair opposite, offering an explanation as she moves. The glance she sweeps upward to Ned's stormy eyes is fleeting.. but there's warning enough in it for him to understand. Do not bother committing that name to memory. "Sir Aidric took on my younger brother as his squire. A match which appears to be proceeding smoothly enough."

Aidric grins, seeming to note the way Lasair shrugs off the idle flattery. "Truth," he says as he makes his way towards the head of the table with a grateful nod towards Eduard. "And yes, he's very much about all of that, indeed he and his friends are out hunting or I would have asked if he could join us tonight," he moves and takes his seat settling comfortably. "Though, perhaps it is good that he is occupied and further reunions can wait, as I believe we have some business to discuss tonight?" he asks looking between the lord in black and the priestess in white.

"He would have been welcome regardless, but you are likely right. He may well have become bored," Eduard says, his smile including both dinner companions with he grin that precludes any possibility of boredom actually occurring tonight. Not if he has any say in the matter, anyhow. "So, business then. You say that you can arrange meetings with the necessary people to facilitate fair and beneficial trade deals?" This last is of course directed at Aidric. Even as he waits for the answer, the servants arrive to fill the glasses with the wine that Lasair has chosen and serve the fare prepared, nothing glamorous, but certainly all well prepared and mouthwatering as the scents wash over the diners.

Settling in her chair, nudging it inward a little and smoothing her skirts across her lap absently with her palms, Lasair returns a smile toward Eduard. There will be time enough for a reunion with her sibling - tonight is for him and for the holdings they seek to benefit. Nodding gently in assent to the servant who pauses silently, she accepts a small measure of wine in her cup, content to remain quiet and allow the respective Lords to discuss their matters. A platter of warm, soft rolls is set down, along with one laden with honey-glazed meats and potatoes. A variety of roasted vegetables comes, too, the table rapidly filling with a pleasant selection from which they may help themselves at their leisure. For now, she waits politely for the others to begin, looking between the two men with those big brown eyes.

Aidric sits back as food is served and the wine is poured. When the food is set before him, he samples the wine but does not touch the food until his host does, manners and all of that. He does speak though, "I can do more than that, I have a plan to increase the value of your horses here in Sunsreach. Which will let you either earn or borrow the coin to help start other enterprises like the wool trade you mentioned. How this plan takes shape depends on how many horses can be spared and how long you have to make these deals, if you can wait until after the Queen's wedding, you may be able to sell them at a significantly higher price than you would be able to demand before hand."

Placing a little bit of everything and placing it in from of him while he listens to Aidric speak, Eduard nods slowly to the man, some surprise in his features and a great deal of thought. However, when he speaks, it is with humor and over a different matter entirely, addressing both his dinner companions. "Oh come now. Enough formality. We are family and friends. Let us eat and enjoy eachother's company even as we talk business." His smile warm as he says this, it remains so even as he uses a roll to sop up some gravy, and take a bite from it. Only once he is satisfied that there is no further hindrance in the others eating does he address Aidric's proposal. "Well, Aidric, you have my attention. What exactly does this plan entail?" Even as he asks, he glances aside to Lasair, gauging her reaction.

Aidric samples the food when prompted, a roll, some roasted vegetables and a little meat to fill out his plate. He takes his time, drawing out the anticipation of him giving word to his plan. "I believe if we make a gift of a few horses we can see their value increase. Court is, sadly, often times a pack of shameless followers of fashion but if used correctly that can be useful. What I propose is we speak to the right people and see our future king and queen ride on your horses in the wedding procession, and if you have enough beasts to spare, see a pair gifted to Prince Tristan and his betrothed as well. If the court sees the Queen, Jaren and Tristan riding your horses, and they are the splendid creatures you proclaim them to be, then I am fair certain the whole court will be mad for one of their own."

Making a sound that is somewhere between amusement and approval, Eduard waits to speak until after he has finished chewing a bite of meat and taken a sip of wine. "As it happens," he says, sharing a glance with Lasair before focusing back on Aidric, "We brought along a few extra mounts, with the intent of not only showing off our stock to prospective buyers, but also as a gift for the Queen. However, if you can use such a thing to enrich our province, that would be a fine feat indeed." He studies Aidric for a moment and then barks a laugh. "And now I think I understand why you asked for a horse for yourself in payment. If this works out, you will be among the first, along with royalty, to be at the top of the trend. And even if it does not, you will still have a fine horse." Once more his gaze flicks back to Lasair, this time eyebrows raised in question. "Well, Lasair? What do you think of my clever cousin's idea?"

Busying her hands with idly tearing a bread roll into smaller pieces as the men converse, Lasair's own expression is thoughtful and.. actually approving. Still, she waits until asked to offer her opinion. "In theory, I like it." she concedes, flashing a brief smile sidelong toward Aidric before looking across at her Lord once more, nodding slowly as she warms further to the idea. "We had intended to gift them anyway.. and Aidric is correct; people always want new ways to 'display' their importance. Even if the venture does not entirely succeed, you are still seen as generous.. and if it does, you may be free to simply set your price. The trick to having something be considered desirable is to keep it just beyond reach. Almost unattainable.. but still a possibility. Her lips curve in a serene smile. Vanity is a terrible sin.. unless it brings profit, in turn, to the needy.

"A good plan, but the Queen could swim in all the gifts she gets, most of them she passes on to others a token of her goodwill. The key is making sure the gifts count, fortunately I know people close to the Queen who can see that yours do," Aidric explains after a bite of dinner. Lasair's remarks earn her a smile from the lord, "Quite right, that's the other side of it, we need to be careful who gets your horses before we have a chance to properly show them of, if there is only a few to be had in the city, it will make them all the more valuable." There is no comment as to why he wanted one of those horses, but Aidric's quiet smile is confirmation that Eduard's guess had hit the mark.

With Lasair's approval, and her and Aidric's continued conversation on the matter, Eduard's smile fades to a slight one, now seeming to be deep in thought. For now, his food seems to be forgotten, and after a single sip of wine to clear his throat and pallet he forgets about that too. "Very well," he says. "I will need to consult our ledgers in more detail, however we have been careful not to overextend our resources. So long as we are able to arrange for decent trade with our livestock surpluses in the meantime, then we should be able to comfortably wait until after the wedding." Looking between the pair of them, he adds, "What about future orders? If this is merely a trend, will not it risk burning bright but fast? Is there some way to ensure that in subsequent years they will still be in demand, in fashion?"

Popping a small morsel of the still-warm bread into her mouth, the Priestess chews contentedly for a time, then washes it down with a dainty mouthful of wine. "Are you and Prince Tristan still as close, nowadays..?" she enquires of Aidric, after a moment. The wary expression in her doe-dark eyes suggests she might think not. But his mention of people 'close to the Queen' has perhaps piqued her curiosity. Besides… what she remembers of Tristan colors him as a likeable figure in her mind. Less obnoxious than their present company was as a youngster, anyway.. though that's not saying much. The flea-ridden donkey in the smith's forge had more grace. Fortunately, it would seem things have changed.

"I do not claim to have any knowledge of husbandry.." she begins, in response to Eduard, whom she offers a fond look across the platters, "..but I do know that well-bred horses will always be in demand, so long as knights and tourneys and cavalry exist. To a lesser extent, the palfreys might be well-suited as a ladies ride, and therefore ideal for expensive gifts." Not for her.. she doesn't particularly enjoy riding. But surely some do. "The 'fashion' may dwindle, as it is wont to do. But by then, you already hold a formidable reputation for fine stock. And that does not fade so swiftly, so long as you can continue to back it. Much like the wine." She taps a forefinger to her cup, still in her grasp. "..is it still 'fashionable'? I have no idea. I just know I enjoy the taste."

There is a smile from Aidric as he gives a nod to Lasair and then turns to Eduard. "You chose wisely where your advisors are concerned, coz," he offers. "She's the right of it, if your horses are of fine quality then there will always be a market for them, this however allows you to sell your current stock at an inflated price and use that extra coin to invest in other projects. So it might be worth the wait, and if you need coin in the meantime, I do know some families of means who could lend it to you."

"Fair points all, as usual, Lasair," Eduard says, smiling a bit more broadly as he picks up his glass and saluting her with it as in response. As always, she washes aways any lingering worries and gives him much to think about. Taking a sip, he smiles over at Aidric at the man's words. "Rather you should say that she chose unwisely, the one and only time, and I am benefiting from it. Either way, I hope you see why I trust her judgement so implicitly." He then waves away Aidric's last comment, saying, "We will cross that bridge when we come to it, though I hope to avoid any debt-taking if at all possible. So long as there is no war and our neighbors stay silent, we can afford to wait."

There's a soft smile from the blonde for the praise, though having voiced her opinion she then merely lowers her gaze to her plate; adding a small sprig of grapes to rest beside the torn bread. Not much of an appetite this evening, has she? Ah well. The 'dinner' is merely a pretty excuse to converse and plan. Nodding gently, she silently conveys her agreement with Eduard, in regard to borrowing. They've enough to cope with already, back home. Let's not add debt to the pile if at all possible.

Aidric watches the interplay between lord and advisor while sipping his wine. "Of course, but the option is there should you need it," the courtier says of borrowing money. "We'll start with the horses and go from there," he says before setting down his cup and returning to his food. "Now that we're clear on the path I can make the proper introductions and see if we can't get things moving forward," he says before taking a bite of some of the vegetables. "They do have a good cook here," he remarks with a smile. "Oh, and I was meaning to mention it my lord, but Lasair isn't the only one with a brother in Sunsreach, your brother Gawain is here, squiring for Lord Thaddeus."

The growing smile of relief at a fully worked out plan freezes abruptly on Eduard's face at Aidric's last bit of news. After a moment he allows his lips to fade into a smaller thoughtful smile, but his eyes are not quite into it, and he takes a moment of intense wine-sipping before he responds. "Ah," he says into the brief silence, "I had not heard that. Thank you for the news, Sir Aidric." He glances over at Lasair, before turning back to Aidric as he says, "Once we have finished our trade negotiations here we were planning on returning to Blackstone to see that all affairs are in order, and then go on to Paccitta for the Tourney there. Before we leave here, however, perhaps we can arrange to have a larger meal, or small party, and invite our respective families and friends. I could certainly use a bit more introduction to society, I dare say."

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