The Gathering

The Gathering
Summary: Having spent time apart for various reasons, the Westmark family reunite in the Golden Crown Inn. Castor is up to his usual tricks, and makes a new acquaintance: Koll - the Bear of the Mountain. Now that the Westmarks are together once more, anything is possible…
Date: 27/05/2013
Related: None
Castor Coriaria Paule Katarina Koll 

Common Room, Golden Crown Inn, Wolveshire
A lowered ceiling and rafters combined with a clutter of tables and chairs create a far cozier atmosphere than the foyer. To the right of the room is a long wooden bar behind which mirrors and shelves are arranged to display the carafes and bottles of liquor available to patrons. Cushioned stools line the outside of the bar to provide seating for customers. The room is bisected by a long half-wall topped by panels of glass etched with an artistic rendering of famous moments in Taniford history. The partial wall reaches nearly to the ceiling and creates a unique acoustical environment while also serving to divide portions of the room. On the side closer to the door, the tables and chairs are larger and more crammed together. The other side has smaller, more intimate settings: low booths against a wall with curtains that can be drawn closed, small tables with plush, low-slung chairs. There is a kitchen beyond the bar and servers often bustle in and out.

The door to the kitchen is behind the bar, set in a hinge that makes it easy to go in and out for someone with full hands. A low archway leads back into the main room of the inn.

May 27th, 1329

Katarina and Paule are sitting at one of the tables, talking quietly as they enjoy an intimate meal, the couple discussing what they've learned since they arrived in the city. "I spoke with our Princess today. It seems that the Duke has taken to falsehoods in order to claim that it was the Queen and not himself that chose to hold our royals." he says quietly. "Which means there is no telling what lengths that he may used to hold others of us here." he says between bites of food. "I would think it would be best to speak with the Prince and Princess as soon as possible and then return to the Barony. It is dangerous times to travel as a family, beloved."

"It is always dangerous to be abroad," Katarina replies in a quiet voice of her own, reaching for the pitcher of wine and adding just a bit more to the cup in front of her and another small amount to his. "Though I would prefer to speak to the Duke as well, get our own measure of the man. What one person says, and what another person says, not always the same thing. You know as well as I that rumor and truth are not often the same," she adds in that same quiet but mild tone of voice. "one man's lie is another man's holy writ, after all."

"While that is true, Kat, the Duke was there and made no mention to defend himself. Just simple acceptance that he originally detained the Prince and Princess and then asked the Taniford Queen for permission." Paule responds simply, a shrug of his shoulders. "Of course, the Princess was also offering her hand to the Duke to be held, so I believe she may have been coloured by her time here, though she was appreciative of the pup we brought to her." he says, as he takes a drink from the wine. "I tried some of the local vintage today. Terrible. Way too dirty-tasting."

"I'm sure the locals can't taste the difference," Katarina remarks with a tone of amusement in her voice, or if not just amusement but perhaps a touch of disgust, to have a palate so uneducated. "Hmm, well, I'm sure the Princess is eagerly husband shopping then. Perhaps this duke will suffice, until larger game comes along," she suggests. "Do you think her people will take good care of the pup?" genuine worry there in her tone of voice.

Those that wish to keep a low profile and talk in quiet voices may well dread the arrival of the Inn's next patron. The doors swing open roughly and the man who needs to duck to fit his massive frame through the door is accustomed to the type of reaction he brings. The effect is only exacerbated by the fact that this is a Taniford town. It's enough to make forks drop, conversations cease, and heads to turn. The Bear in the North, he's known as. And that massive warhammer that's slung across his back became famed for its ability to turn Corsairs into a fine, red paste.

Still in full chainmail, his chest emblazoned with the house sigils of Rhaedan and the crest of its royal guard, Koll Riedel makes no efforts to hide his identity. His dirty blonde mane of hair is windswept, the portions of his cheeks that can be seen around his savage beard reddened from a lengthy period of riding. It seems that someone has called the cavalry. "Two ales," He says in the direction of the barkeep, taking heavy, armored steps in that direction. "And neither of them that Taniford pisswater you try to pass off as being ale."

"It reminded me of the bog water we had to take to sometimes." Paule says as he adds in, "If she is husband shopping, there are plenty of single nobles back home for her to try to woo. What is she doing down here in the slums?" he asks with a shake of his head. "And I'm sure, if they have a sense to them, they will take care of the pup as well as I have tended to my own." there's a wink towards Katarina until the very noisy Knight arrives. And Paule blows out a breath between his lips and looks towards his wife. "You remember that night you first introduced yourself to me? That was close. Except not." he says, grim amusement crossing his features. "At least you had some finesse in your entrance?"

From within the main room of the Inn, one can hear some girls giggling, accompanied by the light-timbred laughter of a male tenor voice. The giggling is punctuated by the occasional apology, the scuffle of boots on the floor, and then the quite murmur of conversation.

Castor, the second-eldest of the family Westmark, steps in through the archway, his earthen-hued cloak showing more than a few signs of wear and tear, his neck and shirt streaked with mud and grim - from a long journey - and the grin on his face as wide and roguish as it has ever been.

He has two blonde-haired barmaids on each arm, all grinning brightly as he moves through the Inn. He has to alter his path a bit to avoid walking into the giant of a man in the room, and then directs the two girls toward the bar, lowering his hands to give each one a playing pinch in the posterior.

That is when he spots his parents in the room.

A wince passes briefly over his face, and he pats the two girls on the behind. "What do you say to a round of drinks, eh? I just remembered there is… somewhere I have to be…"

"That bad?" Katarina says with a laugh as she uses a napkin to wipe her hands clean, casually nudges Paule's shin with the toe of one of her boots as she looks toward the door. one eyebrow arches subtly upward as she speaks, in a quiet aside, to her husband, "I was trying to make a point," she reminds with a brief glimpse of a rather cocky grin. The grin turns to one of surprise at the arrival of her 2nd child, blue eyes narrowing ever so subtly in speculation upon the barmaid's who are helping her son keep his arms attached to his shoulders.

She takes note of precisely when her well behaved offspring takes note of their presence and aims a sunny smile at Castor, "Dearest," she says as she rises to her feet and crosses through the room to enfold her son in a hug that is a few degrees short of snapping his neck before drawing him with her back to the table. "Finding your own entertainment, are you?"

Two frothy ales are laid out before Koll as he walks to the bar, though his attention is momentarily broken by the lad with the two bountiful barmaids crosses his path. Lips quirk into a smirk as he takes the first ale and tilts it back, and in an instant, it's simply gone. He sets it down on the bar with a long, content sigh - like the massive man had an equal thirst.

He takes the second ale and sips at this one, and is turning towards Castor as if to initiate conversation when he catches the scene play out before him of the son being caught out by the mother. He makes the immediate decision to do the right thing. "Ah! You fetched me my tavern girls!" He exclaims to Castor, pulling the two girls cleanly onto his sizable lap with his large hands as he sits down at the bar. "What a noble thing of you to do!"

Feeling that nudge to his shin, Paule looks amused for a moment, "And you made an impression. So much of one I just had to marry you on the spot." the Baron offers in amusement, starting to say more when his wife and dutiful mother spots the wayward son and rises to his feet. "You know, love.." he offers casually, "…he's no longer fourteen and exploring the garden with the maid's daughter." At least he tries to help his son's issue, but alas, Katarina is off to capture Castor and bring him back over as the giggly barmaid takes over with Koll. "Can't win them all, Cas. And they probably have something you don't want anyway."

"The clap, gonorrhea, syphilis, crabs…" Katarina suggests in a quiet voice, though not so quiet that her son - and likely her clever husband - can't hear her words. "As though age matters, my love?" she wonders at Paule as she reaches up - that's right, UP, Castor having inherited his father's height - and smooths a wayward lock of hair away from Castor's forehead. "How were the roads?" is wondered as she nudges Paule to slide over so she may sit at his side.

Cricket Westmark is no such common creature — when she slips into the inn, it's alone, and her sturdy black traveling-cloak shows only minimal signs of road grime. There's something unmistakably haughty about her as she observes her twin's progress towards their parents. Oh, Cas. Will you never learn? She stops briefly to shed her outer layer altogether, folding it over her left arm before putting on a milder expression with which to greet her parents. It would never do to be arch about this little family reunion, now would it? "My Lady," the older Westmark child says with all due deference, inclining her head towards Katarina before turning to Paule, "My Lord." None of Castor's upstart entrance with wenches, oh no… Coriaria is all prudence and propriety.

Keeping his back to his mother for the moment, Castor lets his eyes fall closed in a, 'just what I need right now' expression - when the mountain of a man unexpectedly comes to his rescue. Flashing the giant a brilliant grin, Castor takes a step back from the two barmaids and mouths to Koll the words:

"I owe you one."

Then he takes a deep breath, turns about by swivelling on his heel, and puts a thin smile on his face for his mother and father. "Mother! Father! I… What a pleasant surprise to find you… here! Affairs of state, no doubt, yes? Security of the kingdom… I… have only just returned -" and he lifts a hand as if to slap Koll on the shoulder (he has to lift his hand somewhat high). "- to do a favour for my good friend, here…"

He leans back toward Koll.

"What is your name, by the way, friend?"

Noticing the new arrival, Paule rises to his feet politely and comes over to smile towards his daughter. "Coriaria, come join us for some food, though I think Kat and I will be retiring soon?" he asks, as he offers his arms to his Cricket for a hug. Unlike Kat, he's not going to drag his daughter around.

Koll chuckles as Castor is dragged away, tilting his glass in acknowledgement of his silently pledged words. He releases one of the giggling barmaids from his broad lap, "I'm gonna need more ales," he informs her, then turns back to the one that remains on his left knee. "You can stay," he informs her, bringing his mug back up to his grinning lips. He falls into obscurity at the bar for a few moments - as much as someone of his size can, at any rate - before he's suddenly brought back into the unfamiliar conversation by the pat on his shoulder. "Koll," he says, before the more important addition, "House Riedel." So there's such a thing as the noble savage.

"Of course, and it was very generous of you," Katarina remarks as she shakes her head again, amusement clearly writ upon her expression as she spots her eldest - by a matter of a few but very important minutes in the natal order of things. "My dear, you look lovely, and your timing is - as always - impeccable. Your brother was just trying to convince us that he was delivering those lovely barmaid's as a gift to the gentleman," she tilts her head in a nod to Koll, "and the good man from House Riedel was playing rather nicely along." She glances back up at Castor, "I'm sure that he was just regaling those nice girls with stories of his travels and inquiring after the weather, the cost of meals, where to find the best entertainment, yes?" She turns that amused smile at Cricket, a sly trace of a wink before she nods to Paule. "Yes, it's been a long day and we'll be up before first light to see about those meetings."

"Castor," the shorter man replies to the giant. "House…" he glances over at his shoulder at his parents. "House-bound after this little display, I fear." He smirks roguishly at Koll and then reaches behind himself to put some coins on the counter. "For the ales," he murmurs—

—Then he spots Coriaria.

"Sister!" He exclaims happily - and with no small amount of relief in his voice (at least, not small to what Coriaria can see and hear in her twin). Striding forth, Castor spreads his arms to wrap Coriaria in a brotherly embrace. Then he whispers:

"Polly, I need your help here. If Mother or Father ask, I was… I was… Oh, make something up - so long as it is not 'out killing brigands by myself' or 'losing my monthly allowance in anoth—in a game of cards.'"
He smiles tightly.

"Fath-" But she's cut off by her twin's impetuous hug, and tries not to sigh when he relates the most recent of his problems that she must (as she always does) cover for. Though she'd like to frown, she manages a winning smile instead. Her brother knows it's the 'not to worry' signal. Extricating herself from Castor's grasp, she moves to finally embrace her father, comforted by the presence of both her parents, but reserving a special affinity for the head of the family. "Papa," she smiles, choosing the more intimate form of address, "Don't let Cas and me keep you from your rest. You know I've always got an eye on him." Cricket flashes she same reassuring grin at her mother, who is no doubt very familiar with the role her daughter plays in keeping Castor's nose clean.

Koll frowns as he watches the interactivity of the family, and he can't shake the sense of familiarity. One doesn't stand as personal guard for the royal house without having some interactions with the key players of the North, after all - even if it is as much as the silent observer, standing ready with his massive warhammer resting between his plated feet, ready to strike at a moment's notice. "My lord, my lady," he bows his head as Katarina refers to him, and yet still towers above. "My apologies, I didn't expect to encounter you here. I imagine you're aware of my purposes in this… town." A beat. "Why I've been sent. But it has been a long ride and I'd prefer to leave business to the 'morrow, as I imagine you would too. It's late." He looks towards Castor as he embraces his sister, extending another a bow of his head, the barmaid shifting off of his lap to assist her companion in laying a line of drinks out before him. "It'd please me to share these ales, if you both care to?"

"I suggest then, Castor.." Paule says quietly and evenly, "That you find a way to negotiate for your allowance for the rest of the month." the Baron offers quietly. "I hear that there are a few shops in town that are looking for extra labor." hey, Paule did his time to get where he is, why not make his son work a little as he nods towards Coriaria and pays his daughter a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you, daughter mine, my mother and I will sit with both of you before the two of us return to Westmark, since you are here and can serve as our voice as well." he says as he glances towards Katarina. "Shall we, my love?"

Castor would wince, but he is trying too hard to smile. He has always been proud of his smile. "I am only speaking in jest, Father - My Lord - " and he half-turns to accept an ale from Koll, his smile becoming more grateful. "I am just so pleased to see you all again, safe and sound, here… of all places…" His voice trails off a little, the more he speaks.

Perhaps he just doesn't have the energy to lie, today.

"It was not as bad as you think," he whispers to his sister, speaking out the corner of his mouth.

"The morrow will do quite nicely," Katarina murmurs with another of those subtle inclines of her head in a nod to Koll, "we'll endeavor to speak with you early in the day but certainly before the day ages to mid afternoon," she promises before sharing a grin with her daughter and a knowing gleam of her eyes. Yes, she is VERY familiar, after all, she did bring these two mischievous scamps into the world, didn't she? "we shall," she agrees, pausing to lift the pitcher of wine and carry it along, after all, she'd brought a polite amount of wine with them and had the Inn stock it - with care - to be reserved for their use. Just because they're rubbing elbows with these outlanders does not mean she has to drink like one. "Do try to stay out of trouble, dears," she says as she links one arm with Paule's, "and remember that any bail request made before dawn will not be met before noon," she reminds with a gleam of another amused smile.

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