(1867-08-06) Back to the Castle
Back to the Castle
Summary: The group that went out hunting bandits returns and gives Alina an update on what transpired.
Date: 1867-08-06
Related: To Chase Down Bandits
Corvin  Esyld  Vorian  Alina  Gabriel  

Highwater Castle - Lonnaire -Couviere
Highwater Castle sits overlooking Lonnaire City from the northeast. A few ballista and cannon are all the large weaponry that the castle boasts upon the tops of its walls. However, it does have quite a few arrow slits that face in all directions. The towers, one at each corner and a large tower in the central keep that over-looks the entire area all with the same large amount of arrow slits. Those that manage to breach the gates, would have to then face the archers and hand cannoners that dwell within in large numbers.
Like the walls, the stone is grey at the bottom and lightens until white at the top. Long tendrils of ivy crawl up these walls, adding an almost seaweed lazily drifting in the ocean look to the castle itself. Flags of l'Saigner are draped on every corner, their purple and black fabric fluttering in the breeze off the ocean.
The courtyard is small, but no less lovely for its size. Trailing vines of roses and jasmine climb the walls, and when in bloom fill the small space with their beautiful scent. A pair of stone benches flank on either side of the courtyard, the far end with stairs leading directly up into the keep proper, the opening into the courtyard just large enough for a coach, but capable of being barred with heavy wooden doors. To the observant, the courtyard can easily go from being a lovely place of respite to a killing ground, as many arrow-loops and gaps in the barbacan above provide easy shots down into the courtyard.
IC date of RP

Well… to some extent, the venture to rid the local forest of the bandit encampment - far too brazen, to be so close to Highwater - was a success. That is to say, the enemy was defeated. This time. But there's a sting in the tail. The 'bandits' were far too organised and well equipped, not to mention skilled, to have been mere thugs. Even with some of the l'Saigner's best fighters amongst the company, it was a hard-won fight. Lord Gabriel took a beating, as did the newly-acquired t'Maren contingent… Esyld and Corvin fared well enough, at least in comparison to the previous encounter.

It's a weary, battered and bruised party that returns to the castle, though, once night has already fallen; hauling a few prisoners in tow, no doubt destined for the Hawk's very potent methods of 'questioning'. With all that seen to, and the healers busying themselves with the less highly-placed folks now that the nobles are well handled, there's an air of relative calm in the well-lit courtyard; clusters of soldiers here and there discussing the outcome of the day in the field. As for the former Black Fox Captain? She's emerging from an arching doorway, refastening the laces of her cropped riding jacket rather gingerly. She took a cracking blow to the chest earlier, and has apparently only just had it tended to. So ouch. Fortunately, perhaps, one of her associates hands her a bottle of something strong in passing, and she flits him a faint smile as she strolls out into the courtyard proper.

Out in the courtyard, Vorian is speaking with his men. They stand in a loose circle with the knight in the middle. The tail end of his speech can be overheard. "Listen, lads, we've been over this. If someone else deals a mortal wound, you share the credit. That's the end of it." There is some discontented grumbling, particularly from a man whose left ear is wrapped in a bunny-ear bandage, but this seems to be the last word on the matter.

"Now. Listen, boys. We did well today. But we ain't accepted here yet." Out here among the soldiers, Vorian speaks like a common spearman, and the men seem to expect it. "So we're on our best, right? No brawls. No women. I know it's hard — we bled today." Indeed, his own right arm is bandaged tightly. "..And I'll make it up to you. But for now? Get back to the inn, get settled, and stay quiet." The men, to their credit, do not grumble. They nod equably, salute, and move off as a mass. Vorian is alone, now, glancing around the courtyard a little warily.

Having had his own wound tended to earlier, Corvin is off in one corner of the courtyard, with a cluster of Wraiths around him, all clearly in some fairly serious conversation. Corvin hasn't bothered to put a shirt back on, but hey, it's the dead of summer, and the healer said to let the bandages that now cover much of his chest breathe a bit. The strips of clean white cloth are in large part more for securing the padding over the arrow wound than anything else…it looks worse than it is, even if Corvin is moving a bit stiffly. The arrow didn't hit anything vital, but it did strike deep. He's sipping from a mug of something, though some may be disappointed to find it's just water at this point.

Corvin does occasionally glance towards Vorian and his troops. Weighing and measuring, mostly, but there's nothing truly hostile in it. Esyld seems to know the man, which appears to be enough to earn him a relative pass for now.

"No, someone go get Ivan. We're going to need more patrols." Corvin notes to the Wraiths around him, "A group this organized doesn't put all their people in one place if they can avoid it. There may be more to come." Already looking for the next fight. Rather typical of Corvin.

A woman in a beautifully tailored purple gown comes out into the courtyard, carrying an infant in her arms and trailed by two identical toddlers (and a pair of nursemaids). Lady Alina l'Saigner, heir to Lonnaire, and her three sons. She moves to the bandaged knight in shining armor that is her husband. Gabriel swings down from his horse, allowing one of the grooms to take the reins of his destrier, wincing as he hits the ground.

Alina hands Arthur over to one of the nurses and places a hand gently on his chest beside the bandage, murmuring something displeased, from the look on her face, to him. Gabriel gives her a wry look and shakes his head.

Strongwine is not widely known for its medicinal qualities. But try telling Esyld that. Knocking back another mouthful, the raven-haired mercenary idly notes the t'Maren soldiers traipsing off, leaving their commander behind. Seeing as he's still in such unfamiliar waters, she casts him a line; her voice carrying across to the tall Knight even as she herself heads for one of the stone benches that's no longer occupied. "You did well today, Sir Vorian." Typically, she chooses the knightly title rather than addressing him as 'm'Lord'. That, actually, tends to be used more as mockery, when she sees fit. For the moment, though, her praise seems genuine. And everyone knows praise isn't easy to come by around her.

Tipping her bottle mildly in his direction, Esyld then allows her gaze to drift to Gabriel and the beautiful woman who looks to be scolding him; observing the exchange with the ghost of wry amusement tugging at her lips. "We'll have to be more careful with the l'Corren.." she murmurs as she passes by Corvin, slowing her pace and briefly meeting his eyes with her vivid ones. "..or your sister shan't let him out to play with us anymore." The smirk fades, of course, as she looks back to the couple, still addressing the Wraith as she halts a moment. "All patched up again, I see. Another for the collection." The fingertips of one hand rise to tentatively press at her sternum.. but the healer has done a good job. It aches, yes. But the wound is cleanly knit shut, beneath the awkward wrap of bandaging beneath her leathers.

"Thank you, Mistress Draven." Vorian's own formality seems to be a bit forced, but the respect is genuine — particularly considering the lifeline he's just been cast. He paces after Esyld, following her in the general direction of the bench. At least it gives him a purpose, so that he's no longer standing about looking like a country oaf. "We made a good team, I thought." His men are gone, and so is his informal manner — he speaks like a knight again.

Pausing near Corvin as well, the t'Maren knight looks him up and down and says, quietly, "Not to interrupt, Master Fremont, but I wanted to thank you." There is a somewhat awkward pause — after all, the two men do not know each other at all. "..You and your men saved at least some of mine today. Well done. Thank you." His nod is a little stiff, more from embarassment than standoffishness, it seems.

Corvin gives Esyld a slight smirk, "I'm fairly sure if the Red Knight of Valetta wants to fight, it's not our place to stop him." He gulps down the remainder of his water, waving off the other Wraiths with a gesture. Time enough for more planning later. When Vorian approaches, Corvin gives him an appraising look, and seems to consider the tone he's going to respond in, but ultimately decides on the less sardonic. "All part of the job. It wasn't our best work, though." A bit of a frown there. He's really not keen on actually competitive bandits operating in Lonnaire. That's simply unacceptable on every level. "Your men handled themselves well."

The shrug that Gabriel gives Alina is small as anything more than that would force him to wince and wincing in front of her was something he didn't exactly want to do right now. That stubborn l'Corren blood and all that. Murmuring back to her all while smiling, trying to assure her that he'll be fine and that it really looked worse than it was, though this is done a bit unconvincingly. Grunting, he turns and glances at Vorian, Esyld and Corvin and begins heading in their direction, nodding for Alina to follow him. Nearing the trio, he adds to Corvin's comment. "I think it's fair to say everyone handled themselves well, Corvin." His voice a little softer than normal.

"True enough." Esyld would shrug, most likely, if it weren't going to hurt so much. She settles for a momentary quirk of a brow at the Wraith, entirely unphased. There's a brief smile for those departing of his company, a few she recognises - and she hasn't actually given Small Pie a swearing in quite some time. Is she getting soft in her old age?

"Corvin, this is Sir Vorian t'Maren. Jon's cousin." There might be deeper meaning underlying the words, but if so she doesn't emphasise it to any obvious degree; she flits an equal glance to both men, before the approach of Gabriel and Alina demands her attention.

A downward glance and a careful bowing of her head denote a respectful greeting and perhaps unvoiced agreement with the man's assessment. Everyone played their parts, and admirably. Don't get her started on which fighting style is superior.. you'll be here for days. But she bites her tongue, leaving the 'growns ups' to speak, as it were. Which allows the chance for another sip of wine and a stealthy wink toward the toddlers tottering along in Alina's wake.

"They've had six years to learn one another, Master Fremont. And I daresay that being under the eyes of the Wraiths had something to do with it. Please take no offense, but there's not a man among them who'd shame himself before your lot." Vorian smiles as he speaks — apparently, the compliment to his men takes some of the nervousness out of his conversation. "Tell me, was that the usual caliber of bandits? They fought like men-at-arms."

Ah. And here comes Lord Gabriel himself. Vorian draws himself a bit more upright, bowing slightly to the famed Red Knight. It is as though he has not, very recently, shed blood alongside the man. But then, he's hoping for a job. Best behavior is the least that can be expected. "I am glad to see you well, m'lord." Seeing Alina, he offers another bow in her direction — deeper this time.

And then, in his first break of character, the knight starts to reach over for Esyld's bottle before he stops himself.

Alina turns to the nurses and shoos them inside with the children before following Gabriel over to the group. "Do you have a report for me, then?" She eyes the prisoners being marched to their dungeon.

"Oh? I wouldn't have imagined him for a relation. Seems to be missing the usual iron rod." Corvin replies to Esyld's introduction of Vorian with a wicked grin, but it fades to something more amiable when he nods to Vorian, answering his question "No. Not normal bandits. Too skilled and too well-equipped. The prisoners will tell us more." He seems quite confident of that, before his attention turns to Alina. "We broke this group of bandits. A handful of prisoners, but it was a harder fight than it ought to have been. These are not ordinary highwaymen." He glances over towards the prisoners as they disappear into the building that houses the dungeons, "Don't strike me as Cardinal's Guardsmen, either. A little too good for them. Unless Ramius had elites in reserve." Which is…not impossible, all told. Cardinal Lucien Ramius was nothing if not a planner.

Esyld takes the jest about her absentee elder brother with good grace and a soft snort of amusement, shaking her head at the Wraith but not seeming genuinely offended. The mercenary still holds her peace, however, as the Duke's daughter makes her interest known; leaving it to Corvin to summarise. Her gaze follows his, unthinkingly, toward the captured 'bandits' trudging off to their accommodations for the night. Will all of them see morning? She may take a wager on that later. The mention of the late Cardinal elicits a shadow to darken her expression, however, and her attention returns to the group around her. The wine bottle remains in hand, down by her thigh, but she refrains from even trying to stealthily enjoy in the direct presence of her Lord and Lady. Good manners, isn't it.

Gabriel offers both Esyld and Vorian a nod of his head and then glances at Corvin, as if expecting him to fill Alina in with a report… which the man seemingly obliges to before any more thought can be given. "Be assured, dear Alina, that all fought well and yes, as your brother says they were a bit hardier than what you would expect bandits to be, we will find out who they are soon enough." He nods then and answers Vorian's question. "Well enough, Sir Vorian. It isn't the first time I've gotten injured in a fight and it won't be the last time either. Such are the risks of drawing one's sword and all that." He glances at Alina a moment before adding, "Still, it will be another scar I can show the ladies and tell stories about later."

"I see you know Cousin Jon," replies Vorian with a wicked grin in answer, nodding to Corvin. "He's a good man. Very respectable. Quite proper in all his dealings." Somehow, every word seems to be a slight on Esyld's brother, rather than a compliment. He eyes that bottle of wine wistfully, glancing then at the toddlers with a mischievous smile, trying to draw a smile out of them in response.

He looks back to Gabriel, nodding his head. "Aye, m'lord. I know the risk well — but the good news is that every new scar is, as you say, a new reason to raise a mug and tell a tale." The knight's formal diction breaks down for a moment, reverting to the more earthy expressions of his common soldiers, but he rallies. "In regards to the bandits — my men are eager to assist in any way they may. There is a matter of a wager to be resolved, it appears."

Alina cuts Gabriel a look, a slight pout touching her lips, but she doesn't say anything about it. She seems more annoyed with the need for a bandage than with Gabriel's teasing. "If they are a group so equipped and well-organized," she frowns, "I am concerned that this group is not the last of them, that like the Cardinal's guards there's more of them gone to ground elsewhere in the kingdom."

"Yes. All those things." Corvin notes of Jon, seeming to mirror the "tone" Vorian provides, but he's back to all-business readily enough when Alina opines, "I thought the same. Ivan and I will be drawing up more patrol routes to see what we can uncover, at least within our own lands. And I'll keep ears open for word from the other duchies." He adds, "And we'll see what the prisoners have to say for themselves. They'll be harder to break than most…they have good discipline. But they'll break." It's said quite matter-of-factly, menacing only in the casualness of it.

Admittedly, the teasing words Gabriel casts in his wife's direction rouses a slow smile from Draven, those bright blue eyes stealing a glance aside at Corvin as she murmurs, softly, "Girls do enjoy a good story." And then Vorian's joining in with the speculation over the t'Maren heir. He earns a withering look for his trouble.. though there's an undeniable twist lingering about her lips that implies amusement.. maybe even agreement. Clearing her throat, the brunette listens in contemplative silence as concerns and suggestions are batted back and forth, perhaps mulling over her own thoughts on the matter. Her free hand rises, sweeping her dark locks back out of her face in a habitual motion. "..I wonder. A closer inspection of their equipment might offer some clues? To be grouped in such numbers, I'd imagine they have been supplied with their weapons and such, rather than simply stealing or happening across them?" It's not often the mercenary will interject in this manner of discussion, and there's undeniably a flit of her gaze around the others, as if she's wary of overstepping her bounds.

Gabriel smiles one of those little smiles at Alina that he hopes comes across as something of an apology for his little joke. Turning his attention on Corvin, he nods, "I suspect they will, and then we can find out if there are any more of them and root them out as well. And then hopefully get to enjoy a nice long time of peace." And make preparations for otherwise. Nodding to Vorian and Esyld he first responds to Vorian before addressing them both. "It is indeed, and I am glad for your offer of assistance. We will need every skilled fighter we can get our hands on to guarantee success. Now that we have crossed blades with them once, we will be better prepared against any other groups of bandits, I think."

"They were well-armored," Vorian murmurs in a quiet agreement with Esyld and Alina. If she seems wary, the t'Maren knight seems downright nervous — he is the only outsider here, in truth. Her withering look — and the amusement beneath it — seem to ease his discomfort. And his successful social foray with Corvin helps, common ground built on teasing his cousin the Heir. But the young t'Maren knight never loses sight of the fact that, at this moment, his position remains exceedingly precarious. The continued references to torture either do not faze him, or completely fly over his head.

Gabriel's words bring a quick, genuinely friendly, smile to the young man's bearded features. "I am glad that you think us of some use, m'lord." His eyes crinkle slightly with the smile. "These men have come with me for the sole purpose to assist you." It's the boldest approach he can bring himself to make to asking for employment, it seems. "For what it is worth," he says after a few moments, "I noticed that these men were unprepared for trouble. They fought well when they were put to it, but they seemed surprised. No fortifications, not even a ditch. Nothing you'd expect from such a disciplined band."

"Fortifications take time," Alina opines. "And leave a more distinct trace when an encampment must be abandoned." Pretty face, yes, but not entirely useless when it came to tactics and the like. "Its possible they were trying to maintain a low profile, especially in Lonnaire. They are bold indeed to test our Wraiths on their own training grounds."

"I don't think testing us was the intent. I think they doubled-back into Lonnaire after we encountered them in l'Valdan lands. Trying to hide under our noses while we looked elsewhere. Moderately cunning, all told." Corvin opines, "Another point towards them not being typical robbers." Corvin adds, "And it didn't look like they'd been in the camp long. I think they were highly mobile. The question is what they were intending to do…we haven't had attacks within our lands from them. At least not that we've received word of."

Well, maybe she was suggesting something that already seemed ridiculously obvious. Regardless, Esyld subtly withdraws herself from the group and the discussion after a moment longer in silence, offering a discreet bow of her head to those she leaves behind and heading toward the barracks. The wine is handed off to another young soldier, more in need by the looks of things, as she passes him by.

Gabriel takes a moment to lean against a nearby object, considering the opinions of those around him while giving Esyld a nod as she withdraws. "So maybe some mercenaries that were employed by the Cardinal then? In any case, we will know more soon enough. In the mean time, we should bolster patrols to ensure that our patrols stand a better chance should they be ambushed, and if they are, one or two can get away to bring back a message."

"Do what you need to do," Alina waves slightly. "As for myself, I will take this information to Father and see what he makes of it. I suspect he will want to question all of you tomorrow while its still fresh." She glances towards where the prisoners have been taken. "Then we will see what we can get out of our new guests."

"I agree with that, m'lord." Vorian looks after Esyld for a moment, then back to the group. "Everything that has been said thus far is spot-on. These are no mere bandits." The knight looks a bit sheepish, suddenly. "Though, of course, I've little enough right to stake an opinion. I've never actually fought a bandit before today."

"Well, consider yourself well-versed in the art, then. Normally they tend to soil themselves once they realize we're about." Corvin notes, with only the slightest touch of a wry twist to his lips, "I'll look into their equipment. May amount to nothing, but no stone unturned and all that." He nods to Alina, "I'll talk to father tonight if he's of a mind. But for now…" He rises to his feet and nods, "I need a fresh set of clothes. I'll see you all later, no doubt." He adds an additional nod to Vorian, "'Til later, Sir Vorian."

"It was a pleasure being able to see you in action today, Sir Vorian." Gabriel says, grunting slightly as he straightens. "Even if things didn't go exactly as I thought they would." He smiles faintly and glances at Alina. "I would like to speak with you more, but I think it is time I rest up a while. We should speak again soon though. It will be nice to converse and train with another knight in the future." He quickly adds, "Train after I have recovered I mean." ANother glance at Alina, as if assuring her that he wasn't going to try to do something so stupid with his current injuries. "If you will all excuse me, I think laying down right now would be quite nice."

Alina slips an arm around her husband and nods. "I will see you both tomorrow, I suspect," she says to Corvin and Vorian. "Bed sounds wonderful, Gabriel. The boys need to go down to sleep too."

"Til later, Master Fremont. Please thank your men for me. Id've grieved horribly to lose a soldier today." Vorian offers the Commander of the Wraiths a faint bow — perhaps not quite etiquette, but he seems to believe it is deserved. "And I should enjoy standing you an ale, personally."

He turns and bows toward Gabriel, straightening with a smile. "I shall stay available to you, m'lord. My men and I are quite comfortable here, and I doubt we shall be leaving anytime soon. Once you've recovered, I could certainly use a sparring partner — and I hope I measure up to your standards." He bows to both Alina and Gabriel, smiling. "Thank you for your hospitality."

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