Katarina and Paule: Bonds of Westmark

Bonds of Westmark
Summary: Baron Westmark is introduced to his Rhadean assistance, including his new betrothed, Katarina Rhaedan.
Date: 28 May 2013
Related: None
Paule Katarina 

Spring 1308 — Abandoned Temple Ruins - Wilds of Westmark

It's the spring of 1308. And as it usually is in the spring boglands, it's raining constantly in Westmark. Off of the coast of Westmark, a Corsair Tallsail ship burns, the latest victim in the change of tactics of the Westmark defenders, defiant now in the defense of the land. They've set up shop underneath their Baron in an abandoned temple, making camp and resting where they can. A large fire burns in the center of the temple, a deer and several rabbits being cooked for their meat.

Paule is up at the main altar of the temple, looking over maps of the land, marked in red where Corsairs have made camps. The young man, only having recently turned eighteen has found himself in charge of the Barony now for six months. After suffering the devastating deaths of his mother and father, and the sudden announced betrothal of the now Baron to some Corsair bitch, they fled the Keep and in his vengance, the young man has rained holy hell on the supplies of the Corsairs. Unable to handle a standup fight with the Corsair queen, he's wrecked water supplies, had whores do his dirty work, burned ships and farms and basically adopted a strategy of 'if we can't take it, then we burn it down'.

It would be easy for anyone coming to the aid of the young Baron to find him, most of the people that are holding on in the barony can point the way to where he has made his encampment, a small opening in the lines to Rhaedan that was recently formed though Paule's efforts to get supplies to his men. And hopefully battlefield help as well, as his missive to the King begged for.

Easy, yes. But Kat doesn't do easy. In fact, if 'easy' were the assignment, one of her father's armsmen would've been tasked with this particular assignment. Hell, if this were easy, neither she NOR her brother NOR one of her father's armsmen would have been tasked with this assignment. Some puffed up pompous arrogant asshat of a royal commander would've pulled their cakewalk duty and she would be somewhere else. NOT, pointedly, NOT, getting rained on. If there's one thing that Kat hates, it's getting her armor, gear, kit and riding lathers wet. The smell of wet armor, leather, woolen undercoat and gear just makes her more inclined to snarl than not. However, she is here. And, since she IS here, she's seeded her men carefully around the temple that the young Baron has set up camp in, seeded and then slowly skulked their way through the surrounding terrain, moving silently, her men are notoriously adept at skulking, sneaking, stealthy underhanded fight their way in the dark tactics. Why? Because her lord father found her ideas to be intriguing, and since they seem to work, her men were trained… special.

With her men in position, Kat herself slides from shadow to shadow until she is just outside the temple and the sentry that stands guard over the entrance to the temple. Between one moment and the next she simply steps out of the shadows, crouching low at the first moment and with swift movements she slams the guard to the left against the nearest stone wall and jabs one elbow into the throat of the next one. NOT to kill, mind, but to make her point. She is damned good at what she does and it's very very important to make that clear from the first moment or else risk everything starting off on the wrong foot. After all, she's privy to the message in the missive that she's carrying, even if she has almost burned the bloody thing about half a dozen times or more, en route.

She eases first one, then the other, of the Baron's guards to the ground, minimize the sound of metal on metal before she wipes her hands clean and strolls inside. "The courtesy of your hall, Baron, is a bit .. less than I was expecting," comes her voice, echoing a bit in the abandoned antechamber of the temple as she strolls forward. She holds the missive in one hand and the other is held losely at her side, fingers curled and hovering a few inches away from the sword at her side.

When the guards are attacked by the Knight in Rhaedan colors that comes charging in to make her point, Paule reacts automatically. While young, he is fast and very efficent. The first guard goes down easily enough, and as the second one moves to respond, Katarina is able to catch him in the throat and he goes down easily enough. However, the Baron himself is another story as his dagger comes out quickly enough and is touched to the underside of Katarina's throat, just under her chin, the young Baron giving the knight an appraising look.

Around the camp, there are several archers with their arrows aimed inwards, towards the newly arriving forces, as both sides seem to be drawing weapons for what they expect to be a fight in the very hall between Baron and interloper. "I don't draw this without planning on using it, Sir." he says quietly to the Knight. "And while your skill is impressive, I've not just come in from the sugar ship." he says with grim determination.

"If you are looking for Elkmound Keep, travel five miles west and southwest, I'm sure the ruins there will intrigue you, and if they don't, perhaps the hospitality of the main body of the Corsair forces will be entertaining." he offers with a thin smile. "I would not recommend pleasuring yourself with any of the local entertainment, however. It would be quite the painful experience." His blade lifts a little, pressed to the soft flesh underneath Katarina's chin, drawing a single fleck of blood. "I know the colors, Knight of Rhaedan. And you have my attention. State your business."

A quiet chuckle is given by the young Rhaedan knight, keeping her hands quite calmly at her sides, after all, one good turn deserved another, and the one she'd given him is matched by the archers taking aim at her men. "You asked for assistance," she says quietly, her words calm, simple, easily spoke despite the blade that's pressed to her skin. she feels the fine trickle of blood where he makes his point, literally, and if it doesn't seem to phase her.. well, all it takes is a good glance at the irregular line of her nose to see she's broken that a time or two. Or.. the scars on her knuckles, both, various scars on her forearms, and well hell, a lot of other places in fact. She's a knight, not some fluffy vapid flower gathering lady in waiting to some equally fluffy vapid lady whose only thought is to hem lines, hats, colors of the season and which perfume to waste money on next.

"You asked for aid, and my cousin, my king, your king, has answered. The men with me, my men, are to augment your won fighting force and break the siege upon your lands. My men are the vanguard of the force ready to deploy, if need be." Though from her tone of voice, calm, not arrogant bravado, she's clearly confident that her men - added to the Barons - are more than sufficient to the task at hand. "So tell your men to get their arrows aimed back at the ground and we'll all play nice while we kick these rat bastards out of your home."

"And you thought the best way to make a showing of this was to try to put down my men and march in here like you already are in charge?" Paule asks quietly, a dangerous undertone to his voice as he studies her. Those scars, marks, the differences and blemishes to her skin. Apparently she has seen action of one type or another, "And I am supposed to believe these are all from battle and not just a rough and active life between the sheets?" he asks her rather bluntly, and then shakes his head. "Ask for a Knight, and I get a sassy teenaged girl." he says with a small sigh.

Drawing his blade away, he sheaths it, and lifts his hand to order his men to lower their bows for the moment, the sound of arrows being set aside for the moment as he studies the eyes of the Knight, noticing her confidence in her voice and her stance, and he's trying hard to back down, but it's been months since he's seen even a sniff of Rhadean assistance, and now, suddenly, it's here, and it's in the form of a comely young woman.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Katarina=melee Vs Paule=melee
< Katarina: Failure Paule: Failure
< Net Result: Both Fail.

In his defense; he's asked for help again and again only to receive not only SILENCE from their liege, but has had his requests his please denied or ignored. Why? Well, that would require the mind of the king or his advisers to answer. She isn't the king OR privy to his thoughts, cousin or no.

To be fair, it's not his fault she's spent several days riding in the rain, in the skulk of the night, and has blisters in places that leather shouldn't be making blisters and she's pissed about THAT too. Why? because her father had INSISTED that she be kitted out with new gear before departing. WHY? Because he wanted her to make a good impression. Why? Well, there's the damned missive that she's carrying. So. He has reason to be angry. SHE has reason to be angry. And he's just given her a fine pointed outlet to vent some of that anger on.

"You're supposed to be grateful that you're getting aid at all, you arrogant child," she says - not quite snarls - the words in his face before she launches at him. She doesn't draw blade, she doesn't want to kill him. But she wants to pound something into the stone, and he'll do nicely. For the time being.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Paule=melee Vs Katarina=melee
< Paule: Great Success Katarina: Good Success
< Net Result: Paule wins - Solid Victory

In her defense, it is a hellacious march from her home to Westmark. The weather is terrible. It's been raining non-stop for days, which makes it perfect weather to work from the shadows in. He had gotten tired of sending missives. Just one more time, his advisors had told him. Tell them of our successes, surely the King will finally send help. Don't be afraid to send a request, to actually ask for help, they said.

To be fair, it's not her fault that he's had a long streak of having to suffer for himself and his people. To continue to be the public face and the shadow assasin. That he's water-logged, hungry, tired, impatient. In truth, he's grateful for the arrival of the assistance of Katarina in her men. They're arrival has caught him off guard. Her words, her demands, they border on over-confidence and arrogance. And despite how mad she is, one fact remains.

He is the Baron of Westmark. Exile or not. In hiding or not. Under siege, or not. And now.. he reacts to her. As she lurches over the altar at him, Katarina's hands grab air as Paule tries to lean away and forgetting there's no back on this chair, he falls to the ground, tumbling to it.

"I don't need some spoiled noble bitch telling me to be grateful! I bet you had warm meals on the way here! Actual food. Try eating a rat. Or molded and hard bread. Rotted fruit! You spoiled rotten bitch, who do you think you are to march in here like I'm just going to just hand you full control and stand aside?!" And with that, he drives a hard boot towards her midsection, looking to catch the Knight in her stomach and toss her off of him roughly.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Katarina=melee Vs Paule=melee
< Katarina: Good Success Paule: Success
< Net Result: Katarina wins - Marginal Victory

The kicks that the Baron aims at her is enough to shove her back, yes, but not enough to take the edge off of the Mad that's boiling inside her and HAS been boiling inside her since she and her men mounted up and rode out. IN the dark. That's right. bloody goddamned right, in the dark in the middle of the night? Why? Because there are eyes everywhere. And the scum sucking bottom feeder Corsair's have managed to romance their way into cloying positions of power, in some key circles. Thus.. kitted out, near gear, bells and whistles, sealed missive, and sent on her way with the best of her men riding in tandem. And if there was some snickering to be had about why their commander is so bloody pissed… well, they didn't snicker right in front of her.

She grapples with both hands, grasping ahold of the boot that he'd kicked her with, throwing her body to the side, her grip on hs boot unrelenting as she twists to the side and drags his body to the side as well, slamming the side of his body against the floor - she'd fallen just has hard but a serious angry can cushion the impact, or at least the adrenaline rush can make the impact negligible for the moment. 'for the moment' being the operative phrase.

"What prancing nancy schooled you in long marches in the dark?" she snarls in return. "You think we paused every few candle marks, set out a tent, sent for food and dined in luxury?" comes her incredulous, growled, demand in return. "Trail rations, jerky, travel bread and mud. Oh and mud flavored water, and rain, and the smell of metal starting to rust in the rain. And the chafe of maile against skin," there's that snarl in her voice before kicking her way free, a pointed kick aimed at a delicate region but pulling it at the last second, snarling another slew of words as she lets the kick slide off to the side instead of trying to beat him bloody.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Paule=melee Vs Katarina=melee
< Paule: Failure Katarina: Good Success
< Net Result: Katarina wins - Solid Victory

"I didnt get to go a prancing nancy school like you." Paule spits angrilly as she manages to angle a kick into his side and he rolls to the side. "I had to learn in the field, since I was only seven summers old. Since the first time I saw the accursed sails of the Corsairs arriving in my land, damning me to a lifetime of war. I saw my father murdered, my mother raped and murdered as the Queen of the Corsairs declared me to be her daughter's trophy!" he yells in the woman's face as he gets tossed to the side.

He lands hard and has to catch his breath for a moment, a hiss of air from him as he hits the floor, kicking up dirt and straw and he rolls, smacking into the shattered statue of Bornas. His arm swings out towards the side, slamming into ground uselessly towards where he thought Katarina was, and feels that sting of pain rush through his arm.

"While you were sitting in your cushy castle on your plush ass, I was having to learn how mix my own posions, and how to hide from a Corsair patrol to stab the rear elements in the back. There's no lack of rust and armor and weapons here, just find the dead and take it from them! My men are dwindled to a few, but they have seen more than any of your men ever have. Go back to playing your piano and pretending to be a warrior, Sir Noble Pants. We don't need you here!"

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Katarina=melee Vs Paule=melee
< Katarina: Success Paule: Success
< Net Result: DRAW

Kat is about half an inch to the side of where the Baron's arm slams uselessly to the ground, feeling the air, bits of straw and dust kicking up into the air as she rolls to her feet, drawing one blade as she does so. The act of drawing the blade had set off a small but vicious war within the young Rhaedan knight. The urge to slit the Baron from naval to chin and go home was.. quite tempting. However. she is her fathers daughter, cousin to the king, and such things - such decisions - are not hers to make. While the Baron is speaking, she actually isn't listening, so angry is she that his words come to her only dimly through the roar of her pulse in her ears, the surge of blood laced with adrenaline making her hands curl - one around the blade she's holding and the other fighting it's way off of the sword at her side. Must not kill the Baron.

She drops her weight abruptly on the arm that he'd slammed into the ground and places the edge of the blade against the side of his neck, precisely where he'd nicked her skin. "You may not need me here, princess," comes the snarled reply, "but you need the help of the crown. The help of the crown comes with conditions," she nearly spits the words in his face and shoves the sealed missive in his face as she fights back the urge to do more than just nick his skin - fair is fair after all - and rolls off of his arm at that point and shoves to her feet again. She slams the tip of the dagger she's holding into the altar, watching the blade vibrate for a moment in place from the force of the impact and calmly, very calmly, smooths both hands over her rain damp hair before turning to face the Baron again. "I presume that you can read? Or do you need me to paraphrase? Which is to say, princess, sum up so that someone like you can understand the words of the King."

"I do not need you here, pup. You can leave, and your men can stay. Go back to your King and your tail between your legs and lying on your back for scars in your…" And that's when the young knight shoves the missive in his face. He stares at it for a moment and pushes away from the woman, not caring about the blood she drew. That cray-cray bitch drew a sword on her. Assaulted her men. As he cracks open that wax seal and unrolls the sheet. "I can read like you can sleep with a man." he snaps at her angrilly as unrolls the parchment and starts to read. He looks up at her.

"So you're Katarina Rhaedan," he says, "King's cousin, deliver of messages and…" and the color plainly drains from the young Baron's face as he looks from the missive to the comely knight and back to the paper again. "By the four Holy Hells, what is this? A joke? This condition as you call it - to marry you?" he asks. "Guardians above, I didn't realize Rhaedan nobles were so desperate to have a man to go to this length!" he says with a small laugh, surely this was some kind of grand joke. Right? And then he looks to her, seeing the seriousness in her expression, the firm set of her jaw, hands on her hips.

"Well, that's just great." he mutters as he moves to sit up and brushes a hand through his curls as he looks back to her again, and then back to the letter. "So it's you or that Corsair bitch that the Queen mother wants to force upon me to secure her claim on my Barony." he says, spitting on the floor near Katarina's boots as he moves to grab the edge of the statue to pull himself to his feet.

Kat yanks the knife out of the altar and calmly walks around, circling the altar in fact, keeping it between herself and the Baron. IT being better, in her opinion, to keep something between her and him so that she doesn't try to leap over the bloody thing and snap his pretty neck. If he's looking he'll get a glimpse of the cold calculation that measure the probability of being able to leap the altar, snap his neck, have her men take his then push this fight forward, finish the job here and go the fuck home. She draws a slow breath, inhaling through her nose, holding it for a silent count, then exhales it again.

"Our King was biding his time, waiting," comes her quiet worded reply. "He intended to send my father's forces not one but two turns ago. But my father refused," her words are careful, carefully neutral, carefully empty, carefully controlled, each word given grudgingly but.. given all the same. "He would not risk my brother or I becoming wards of the throne, our lands absorbed again, and either of us being bartered off at the whim of crown to secure this allegiance or that border dispute. He refused, and as cousin of the king - and well within his right to do so," there is heat, just a touch of it, in her tone of voice now, "and he counseled sending another force. The king refused. He waited, princess, for me to be old enough to lead my men here. He waited for me to prove myself in other battles before sending me here. To you. So you, princess, can fold that tongue behind your teeth where it belongs and accept the help that you've been given. House Rhaedan owes you a debt of honor and you will, by the GODS, accept this gesture as reparation of that debt."

It would be a hell of a fight, that's for sure. The two of them seem rather evenly matched, and as Paule brushes his hands over his chest, he feels those small darts of poison he carries. How easy it would be to fling one into her supple skin and watch her become a writhing, mouth-frothing mess her bowels and bladder released themselves and she died a very painful death. The same type he's brought to several dozen Corsairs so far. His eyes watch hers for a moment. "Fucking pup." he rumbles again.

"Great, so instead of you being the pawn, I get to be the pawn. Or rather, we both get to be pawns. Fucking brilliant. Bloody fucking great." he says as he lets out a breath and looks towards her. "If this is how they repay a debt of honor, I'd hate to see what they do to people they hate." he mutters and considers her. "You knew this. All this time." he says, his eyes looking her over again. She is rather attractive when she's angry, but that still doesn't stop him from wanting to watch her writhe and deathgasm. "Tell you what. You can help. And forget about this missive. We'll just assume it got lost along the way." he says as he rises to his feet and starts towards the fire to toss it in. He's giving her an out. Now what?

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Katarina=marksmanship Vs Paule=marksmanship
< Katarina: Success Paule: Success
< Net Result: DRAW

Her answer is a snarl of fury, the blade at her side sliding into her hand with the ease of her next breath. the blade siding through the air DELIBERATELY close to the side of his face - close enough that if she'd REALLY wanted to sink that blade into one of his eyes she would have done so. IF she'd wanted to. This little display of 'temper' and 'skill' being enough to get her point across.

"You are the village idiot or just lacking in any understanding of the concept of HONOR?" comes the hissed words. "I found out as my men were being assembled," her words are so sharply edged that they'd draw blood, given the chance. "I found out as the missive was handed to me along with my orders. I found OUT about this arrangement as I was being fitted for new gear and sent here to rescue your ass, princess." She levels a look at the Baron, a look that promises that if she didn't have orders from the crown to do what she is doing, to fulfill the promise of the crown, that she'd much rather be shoving a blade into him instead. "The crown has issued a direct order, Princess, the kind of order that I will obey. So take the help and all that it entails, or decline it. My men and I will go home. You can lurk here in the mold and the.." she flicks one hand at the tattered edge of the cloth on the altar, "charming surroundings until you all rot. When you're dead, I'll come back and kick the corsairs out and go home. Without having to marry your nancy ass, Princess."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Paule=marksmanship Vs Katarina=marksmanship
< Paule: Great Success Katarina: Good Success
< Net Result: Paule wins - Marginal Victory

"Honor?" Paule spits the word, as bad as any curse as he catches that blade in his hand that she threw, feeling it bite into his flesh, blood marking over the steel easily as he turns his head to her. "Look around you, pup." he says quietly, his voice barely containing his rage - but something more. "This is what honor gets you, Katarina." he says simply, as he flips the blade around, catching the grip in his bloodied hand, and throws it back at her with force, aiming it at the ground between her legs, and not quite at her feet. It's a deliberate miss, but one that speaks volumes that the next one will not be.

"My father tried the honorable route. A stand-up fight. You know what the King of Rhaedan did for us? Nothing. My father challenged the Corsair Queen to a duel of honor. Her surrender or her taking me to be her daughter's husband to secure her claim. What did your honor bring me then? She cheated my father, stole his life. And when my mother would not honor her ill-gotten victory, a Queen that smiled in glee as her men raped her until she died. Do not speak to me of honor, pup. Do not tell me to listen to a crown that has turned its back on me until now, when I have forgotten honor for results and now, and only now, do they bother to respond to my needs? Tell me, Katarina, my betrothed," he spits out the word, as if it's the foulest thing ever, "what honor is there in that? When are we to marry?" he finally says, firmly, looking at her, studying her again, his own look a very fierce anger that speaks volumes of what he would do if he didn't know his people needed the help that she is offering. "You marry me, you learn to play by my rules. Understand?"

Kat holds very still as she watches him move, taking the words that are spit in her face across the altar. She takes the words, the intel that they provide, and is unmoved - visibly at least - by the wealth of information that his words reveal. She is unmoved by the fury she hears in his voice, the anguish, the loss that, the sorry, all of it feeding back around to the anger that he has every right to feel, every right to need to - want to - channel at her. At their King. For the crown DID fail this young Baron, his family, the memory thereof.

"You marry me and we kill this corsair bitch, her daughter, and anyone else who threatens your lands ever again," she says in a voice that is quiet, a breath of sound, letting his anger wash over her, wash through her, instead of feeding her own anger off of him again. "As to when, I believe the King has said Immediately. So, unless you know another translation of the word 'immediately', I believe that means you scrounge up what ever passes for a priest and we get this over with."

"Our lands." It's a correction, but a very needed correction, as he allows the blood to freely drip from his palm for now, as the young Baron glares at the equally young Knight/Lady. It is unfair for her to have to absorb all of the vitriol that the young man feels towards the Crown and it's failings at the moment, and it is completely a case of the messenger getting drawn and quartered for the message.

"We destory the Bitch, her daughter, and anyone else that tries to get in our way. We take back Westmark, together." he says, as he looks towards the camp. "Fetch me Tiege." he says finally as he looks back towards Katarina. "He's the only damn Temple priest that remained when the siege of the Bitch began. Welcome to Hell, Baroness Consort Katarina Rhaedan." he says simply. "And welcome to the fight to take it back and make it a land again." The determination in the young Baron's blue eyes is unmistakable. He will fight or he will die trying.

"Our lands," Kat agrees, grudgingly, in return. She reaches down and tugs her blade out from where it's stuck in the floor at her feet, examining the blade with a critical eye before she lifts her gaze back toward the Baron again. "Hell, you say," she says with another slow glance flicked around the temple, "love what you've done with the place," dry tone of voice. "How many of your men can you fit in this temple?" she wonders, "Match that number with mine so that we have plenty of witnesses so that there's no question as to the validity of this marriage."

"Twenty of each will be fine. We can use the for chambers of the Superior to handle consummation." Great, that part. Paule looks thrilled with that idea, except not really. The Baron makes a face for a moment, and then looks towards the woman and spits a little. "Yeah, well, it just needs a woman's touch." he responds to her, before he shakes his head. "Speaking of, probably something you should know…" he starts to say.

Kat gives the Baron a long look while using the blade to scrape one of the mud out from under the edge of her finger nails. "Oh really, shall we?" she says, her tone of voice dry, vaguely sarcastic and a few notes away from snotty. "Yeah, we'll have a talk about that when this is over," she remarks as she looks toward the entrance to the temple where her 2nd is standing, a not-quite smirk of amusement on his scarred and weather worn visage. "You're going to hurt yourself," she mutters, "just snicker and get it over with. Line up the most presentable of our men and get them in here with the baron's men," she means 'presentable' in context of 'not actively taking or holding wagers'. "Save the details for after the ceremony, princess, if I know more about you than I already do," which is absolutely nothing, "I might change my mind," she won't, but the words just have to be said.

Unfortunately, news of this little turn of events has hit the camp of the resistance, also known as the remains of the Westmark army, there's amusement and calls out, "Make sure you kiss her proper!" "Is she going to be a blushing bride?" "Think she's going to end up pregnant on the first night?" Paule frowns. "That's enough!" he calls out in anger. "Form up and get your asses in here and try to show our new allies some hospitality, they're here to help after all!" he snaps angrily as the old priest is rounded up and comes to the altar where the group has started to assemble.

Paule looks towards Katarina and just gives a nod of his head, and then turns his attention to the priest, Tiege. "Repeat after me." the priest offers, knowing this is the way abridged version of the usual marriage ceremonies he holds.

"Our union is blessed by Bornas. Together, we will be strong and steady, enduring the harshest trials as one."

"Our union is blessed by Altheara. Together, we will learn from one another and find joy in simple pleasures."

"Our union is blessed by Ravas. Together, we will be courageous, and our loyalty will be as constant as the rising sun."

"Our union is blessed by Stilltha. Together, we will be calm and wise, and our marriage will be fruitful."

Finally, after several moments, Paule repeats the words, and when prompted to present the ring, he looks to Katarina. And he has no ring to offer to her. Instead, he grabs her left wrist, turning her hand over, palm up and pulls the blade of his dagger across it quickly to cut her flesh. Just to mark her the same as she did to him earlier, and then clasps his bloody palm to hers, sealing them in blood.

"Now you speak the vows, Lady Rhadean."

Kat's own men would normally have been right up there with the remarks, the cat calls and all manner of bawdy innuendo; except that it's their commander being wed and there's a good bit of hard-eyed looks being aimed at the Baron's men. Looks that are quelled by a subtle gesture given by Kat, that small gesture enough to bring her men in line and the stand to - silently - while the Baron's men call out until the Baron barks his words and his men settle down to match the silence offered by Kat's. When the priest comes to the altar she gives the priest a long look before wiping both hands on a scrap of cloth pulled from a pouch at her belt, not offering it to the baron, he's pretty enough, after all, for a damsel in distress. When the Baron turns to look in her direction she feels her chin tilting subtly, instinct making her square her shoulders, draw herself to her full height and shift her attention to the priest as he begins the abridged version of the usual mumbo jumbo.

She makes a low sound that is almost a growl, almost a hiss, something that's strangled between the two when he grabs her left wrist, her sword hand, and draws the blade of his dagger quickly across her flesh, cutting her hand the same way she'd cut his. The slap of bloody palm to bloody palm is down in silence, calloused hand to calloused hand, anger sparking between the two before she turns back to glance at the priest and speaks the words in return. Her voice rings out, clear, cool, perfectly enunciated, angry as she is she is - damn it all - cousin to the King, she's not going to mumble or mince her way through the bloody vows.

"The vows and… tokens.. have been exchanged. By the power of the Four and the King of Rhadean, I pronounce you Baron and Baroness Westmark. You can kiss the bride. Or share a handshake." Tiege offers as he is out of the way of the glaring nobles as fast as he can.

Now that it's done, Paule looks towards the woman that has just became his wife, and now, he drops that other shoe she told him to wait upon. "The Princess of the Corsairs has also tried to claim my hand in marriage and stated that any that dare to claim me will have to duel to the death for my hand." he says simply and firmly, his eyes on the newly minted Baroness.

"Let me test my understanding, Princess," Kat says in a low voice, ignoring the sound of amusement she is hearing from the assembled 'audience'. "My men and I have ridden through the rain for two nights, staying under the cover of darkness to make it here with none the wiser… and upon arrival we have to be wed immediately.. but NOW I have to duel some Corsair 'princess' for your hand in marriage?" she asks, her words quietly spoken and low pitched. Quietly because shouting would likely mean that coin would change hands, and she hates to see her men win bets at her expense. Low pitched because if she doesn't keep her voice low she might be shouting at him… and more bets would be won Calm because she might be tempted to break his nose or anything else that gets in her way, and thus.. even MORE bets would likely be won.

"Right." She yanks her hand free and wipes the blood off of her hand, wrapping the cloth around her hand, her bloody gods bedamned sword hand at that. "Fine. Send a bird or a runner or what ever. Lets get this over with."

"You're the one that told me to wait until after the ceremony, pup." Paule says back simply as the Baron takes his own hand back, his shooting hand as he goes to wrap it up as well. There's plenty of coin out there to be passed around the two. "And no." he says firmly. "Once the Bitch finds out, she'll issue the challenge to you for her daughter. Which means they will want to set up something. And if it was like it was with my father, she'll demand we choose the location. Which means this time, we will have the Bitch in a place and time of my choosing. And I can finally get in to deal with her while you take out the Bitch's bitch." he says simply as he looks towards her as the Baron steps away from his new bride, looking to his men. "Get the word out about the marriage." he orders his scouts first. "Make sure that the courtesans to the minor chieftans know first. They'll get the information up the pipe faster. Second, let the Fen March Vineyard know that their valley will be hosting the match. It's a bowl valley.." he says, explaining to Katarina. "We can capture their troops in the bowl and wipe them out." the Baron says as he looks to the others. "We're going to have three days, tops before the challenge is issued. I want you all ready to strike at their bases when they relax, assuming that we will be concentrating on the duel."

"Show me their tactical defense lines, their force deployment numbers and the estimated number of fighters - soft and trained - that they'll be able to pull into a fight," comes Kat's words in reply, still casting a wary eyed look at the Baron, possibly still calculating whether or not she can kill him and go on about the rest of her day.

"Downplay the number of fighters I have with me, keep the actual count under wraps so that they aren't sure how many men to bring with to mix into the equation. My men will work with yours, we'll need maps of the terrain, someone who actually knows the ins and outs of all of the little quirks and crevasses there are to take advantage of. We brought enough spare provisions to go around," she pauses and makes a small eye roll.

"We did the math and tried to pull enough spare provisions to go around to last for a few days. We had no way of knowing when your men had eaten last or what sort of provisions you'd have at hand and no, princess, we didn't have time to stop and hunt along the way. Hard tack, travel bread, dried fruit, some grain and a few tins of coffee beans," she didn't leave home without the damned coffee now did she. "Sort my men with yours, and who's your second?" she asks, actually asking the first question, not really just demanding intel.

"If you're asking if we have a knight in charge, no." Paule responds easily as he walks down the stairs of the altar, listening to his wife and playing with the information he was requested. "Any of my men are well-trained in land navigation, myself included. I do not sit on my ass and wait for the information to come in. I serve in the field just as often as much as everyone else." he says as he waves a hand to have Katarina follow him.

"The next couple of days, we can work on incorporating our units together." he says as he moves along the lines. He pauses to speak to a couple of people on occassion. His words are quiet, orders given as he looks towards Katarina. "The point is to not to ever let them know what our numbers are. What, do you send a bulletin to your enemies telling them how many people that you're bringing?" he asks in confusion. "Tell your men to ditch their colors and mix their armor with common clothes." Said quietly, he glances at her.

"Appreciate the coffee. My men and women are hunters and foragers. We'll provide fresh meat and fruits and vegetables. Even milk on occassion." he comments as walks along and waits for her again. "As far as my second? I lost him a couple of days ago. We got caught at a raid on a grain depot, the explosion tore him up. You're my new second, it seems."

Kat makes a small sound that's almost .. /almost/ a snicker, but not quite. "You really must think that i and my men are dumb as rocks," she says in a low voice as she follows the Baron down the steps from the altar. His words, yes, are relayed - without her having to reiterate them, word for word - with a glance aimed at her 2nd who gives a subtle nod in return. "I? Hah, you're my second, if anything, but we'll quibble about the details later. We win the fight here and get you out into the field, some combat experience other than in the same lovely stretch of coast line," a touch of sarcasm there, "and we'll see who teaches who." She rolls one shoulder slightly, easing the set of the new armor and gear where it fits over her shoulders, "Take the provisions or don't, Princess, accept the gesture of good will or not, as you like."

"If the shoe fits, pup. Tell you what. You stop speaking condescending to me, and I won't do the same to you.. kitten." Paule says in response to his new bride as he shakes his head a little. "If you're done being as bad as the bitch, I have things to take care of. Dole out the provisions, I'm not going to beg for them. Good night, Katarina." he says, apparently heading to his tent to get some rest, trusting the woman to set up her own camp.

One more nod is given to her 2nd before she shadows the Baron as he walks out of the Temple. "Stop calling me Pup and I'll stop calling you Princess," is the peace offering that comes to mind. "If I wanted you to beg for the provisions I wouldn't have offered them in the first place," she adds in a low voice before making a subtle head tilt to send her 2nd on his way and continues follow the Baron. "Right, because the rumor mill will just have a field day if I do anything but follow you to your tent," she mutters and lengthens her strides to keep pace with him. "What are you, six foot or something?" another mutter, snagging her pack from just inside the door of the temple, shouldering it. "And don't call me Kitten," she adds. "What in the hells IS your first name anyway? All I have is 'the young baron of Westmark' to go by."

"Deal, Baroness." Paule offers as he holds open the tent for her. "Come on then, the floor of the tent will get wet the longer you dawdle out here. I'm Paule. Paule Westmark. And I'm six foot two and eleven stone and seven pounds." he says simply as he waits for his Baroness to enter and join him.

"Bloody giant," Kat mutters as she ducks below the flap of the tent and steps inside, straightening again and.. in the doing comes up not quite to his shoulder. She casts a look around his tent, sweeping a look around in a studying manner, "A neat and orderly living space is the sign of a dangerously disturbed mind," she remarks. "So either you're dangerously disturbed or you've lived so long out of only what you can carry from camp to camp that any tendency you might have toward being a pack rat has died a sad death." She shrugs her pack off of her shoulders, again, "Katarina Rhaedan.. Westmark, what ever, we survive the next few days we can quibble over names at a later date."

"Take what you can when you have to grab and go, Katarina." Paule responds, and then shakes his head as he closes the flap behind himself and the new Baroness. They have much to figure out in the next few days.

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