Sir Thierry had tried to tentatively open the discussion of selling the herd or the manor, but the topic quickly overcame the wake. It’s not exactly like vultures circling, but pretty darn close.
The Lord High Mayor of Restov’s representative agrees to arbitrate. Some semblance of order seems to be restored, but the representatives all are worried, and stern glances from chaplains and even High Priests don’t even dent their attempts. The arbitrator agrees to call a meeting of the debtors in Restock in a few days time.
The free city of Restov has a glut of unlanded nobles. The city itself is a city state and client kingdom of Brevoy, but there are a lot of minor nobles, knights and so forth that have sworn fealty to the mayor; there’s not a lot of land to go around. The fact that it is land, with an estate and a manor house (as humble as it is) makes it a wealthy proposition. The Aldori and other like-landless nobles have more means than they actually have title or holdings. The selling of the manor would be a great boon – land to go with their title.
It becomes off-putting relatively quickly as the debating and the talk of money becomes the only topic. Thierry calls it quits and Mr. Aldo starts fetching cloaks. Sir Thierry is being as polite as possible and Mr. Aldo is being quite gracious, Kaylee, however, is not and is quite stern with the guests. Stern looks from myself and my father, stopped nothing.
When the guests finally leave, the pantry is greatly diminished and there’s a ton of cleaning. Tania, amidst tears, sets to work at once cleaning the dishes. We gather in the kitchen. Kaylee, and me, to share a cup of tea with something stronger. Mr. Aldo set us to cleaning the floors and rooms before we lost the daylight. The old floors are warped and never do well with water and mud.
One man, Mr. Howes, remains. He speaks first to Mr. Aldo, then Mr. Aldo brings him before Tamarie. Tamarie graciously agrees to speak to the representative of the Lord Mayor on a topic of protocol and business. They are led by Mr. Aldo to our butler’s pantry turned tea room of a parlor. At least the window was clean.
Word of the Baronet’s passing has made the rounds quickly and, there are outstanding debts to be paid. The Lord High Mayor has already been petitioned to deal with the legacy and what is owed to them. The stranger reads a writ that grants him access to the house’s records and the right to secure the holdings and valuables of the house. To that effect, he will be remaining here amongst the household. He requires only our cooperation and rooms for his two clerks.
Tamarie and the young Master (now the Baronet) spend some time speaking, and Master Thierry decides to go into the city to speak to a lawyer about his current predicament.
When Tamarie found me in the kitchen, I was drinking tea with the last of the medicinal stocks from the wake. The idea of feeding three more mouths from our ever-shrinking pantry set my mind to spinning; although I do remember promising to treat these clerks as honored guests.
We spend the rest of the day trying to clean and restore the floors to a state that at least resembles something better. The stable lads stay on to help with chores around the house. They must have been paid by someone, for they are happy for the work.
That night was unduly quiet for a cold winter’s night. Mr. Aldo tends the fires in the three hearths of the house. The young clerk, Mr. Howe, is trying to be discrete; but his wandering disturbs many.
Kaylee brings the horses in at dusk, and later that eve I joiner her to watch for debt collectors and protect the herd against them.
From whence did it come? 4704 (Five years earlier)
Its a cool February morning on the Mareshal estate.
About mid-morning, Kaylee has taken care of the horses for the morning (a rub down and let them out to exercise). They’re back in the barn and she’s watered and cleaned them. After that, Alsem asks if he could speak with her. She stammers a reply. Alsem offers to take Kaylee for a little ride. He’s spoke to the Baronet and they have leave for a few hours. Alsem saddles a horse, asking Kaylee to double-up.
Alsem is a young man, 4 summers older than Kaylee. He’s trying to grow a beard. This morning he’s shaved his sideburns and made himself more presentable. He seems a bit nervous.
He takes a saddle blanket and puts it around Kaylee’s shoulders. He helps her mount the horse, then mounts up behind her. He reaches around her and picks up the reins.
They ride through pasture land, now fallow since the fall. The snow is melting, barely coming to the fetlocks of the horse. Alsem slows the horse to a canter. He wants to show her something just the other side of the copes.
He says the old tax shed has a sturdy frame; he could turn it into a cottage. He helps her dismount. He ties the horse to a branch and pulls a bundle of cloth from the saddlebags. He hands her a field stone.
He says it looks like a rock, but it could be a lot more. He goes to the back side of the shack, and drops it into the snow. What the shed is missing is a hearth. He could raise a hearth with enough field stones. Adding beams to the structure, some rushes on the floor and sod on the roof.
He spoke to the Baronet yesterday. There’s not much back here, but it’s a beautiful view. Fruit trees at the back of the old orchard need some tending, but could be really nice. He says a man needs more than a few trees, or even a hearth. He picks up his rock .
He admits to having talked to her father, and he …he thought that … he was OK with it. (Kaylee thinks he’s talking about making a house here.) He then says no, about him asking her to live with him as his wife. He kneels and tries to correct his offer. Admitting he doesn’t have anything to offer a betrothed. Eventually Kaylee gets him to kiss her and stop talking about the rock and the hearth.
When the snows finally melted and the ground thawed; he went to work with some of the boys. He added a lean-to and, over a few weeks – erected a hearth. The shack wasn’t big, but it was cozy. There were lots of plans, to expand the shack when the time came.
Back to 4709.
It’s been a tumultuous few days.
I decided to relieve some stress the way I usually do; firing arrows against a target. I measure out 30 paces in the snow, then pull back on the bow, careful to breath out before firing (as Alsem always told me). The arrow flies true.
The sounds then fade away.
The arrow seems to stop 1/2 way to the target hanging in mid-air.
It’s early morning, my breath is in the air. There’s no longer a wind. Everything looks normal otherwise. I walk up to the arrow.
My breath coalesces in the air and the snow crunches under foot. The arrow is hanging in the air. It’s a nice, clear morning. I knock the arrow and it starts to spin. The sun starts making its way across the sky at an inordinate rate. The arrow spins so fast it starts to whistle.
No one comes out of the manor house. No horses from the barn. Clouds boil past, whipping faster and faster.
I return to the arrow after another two days blur by. The arrow is barely discernible. A day passes, a week. The arrow is a disk making this wining sound.
Standing at the front of the barn I watch the wood crack, strain, and slowly decay before my eyes. The light becomes a dim twilight, something behind night and day.
The barn’s dour pull rusts at her touch. The barn ages and dies before her.
I approach the house, but the house itself is falling into disrepair. The grass is pushing up past my knees. There are cracks in the stone and the shutters are growing gray and brittle. And the windows are cracking. A few shatter and crumble.
I call for light, but it doesn’t come.
I moves through the darkened house; trying not to touch anything for fear of its destruction. The wood is bare, the varnish is gone. Floorboards are missing. I pick my way along towards the chapel.
The chapel is falling into disrepair. The stained glass window is cracked. The only thing that doesn’t seem to be withering from age is the bow and arrow on the alter.
The arrow on the alter spins. I pick it up. I can feel the arrow wanting to spin, it’s potential. I let it go, put it back on the alter, and it starts to spin again.
Slowly the chapel collapses and I watch the days turn into blurs. The foundation recedes and the alter stone becomes covered in ivy.
After a while, the arrow’s whistling sound seems to be reducing. Slowly, the sun starts to become visible and the arrow spins, and then stops. It’s pointing almost due west. Slightly WSW.
It points towards the same direction of the South Rostlin road. Not much is out in that way. The southern border of Brevoy. I walk back to the first arrow, behind the barn. It too is pointing WSW.
I wonder if I’m dreaming; and then the arrow flies true in its new direction.
I awaken from a deep and restless sleep.
Tamarie also spoke of a restless night. She dreamed that the clerks assistants came along, and they’d multiplied – 5 or 6 of them. They were tallying things up and finding all manner of skeletons in the Mareshal closet. Is it wise to let others see these stories?
People going through HER books. The family stuff is all mixed in with her private stuff. She’s been collecting magical lore and writing it down. She’s bought stuff over the years (studying magical), but it’s all mixed in. She’s got to separate this stuff and lay claim to what’s hers before it gets thrown in with the estate.
Upon awakening, she begins trying to separate the useful from the secrets, her research from the family ledgers.
The next day, Tamarie meets Mr. Howe and brings out the past few years. They should cover the relevant debts. The rest of the day, she spends seeking skeletons in the ledgers. She finds a few and tries to lessen the damage.
Eventually two other young clerks show up. One is a colleague, the other appears to be an assistant. The younger one is scribbling madly on paper as he walks about.
Thierry talks about going into town. He hopes to be back tomorrow night.
He was speaking the other night to attendants at the funeral. They are interested in the herd. This morning he received a missive. Sir Drella the younger wants to inspect the herd for potential purchase. He’d like to be present, but he must attend the Lord High Mayor. He’d rather Tamarie handle the financial side of it than Kaylee.
Tamarie speaks to Mr. Howe alone. He seems to be finding everything in order. Although the information is scarce. The ledgers only tell half the story and its unclear from our ledgers as to whether interest is applicable or even if it was agreed to charge interest on the debts.
Tamarie tries to discretely ask him to look at the old ledgers. He accepts the idea and asks to see them. The ledgers are rather extensive and not really his mandate to go through 50+ year old ledgers. She asks that the books be put in trust with the Lord High Mayor. She brings them out, as she doesn’t want them reviewed in her personal quarters.
Over the next few days, Mr. Howe sticks to reviewing the ledgers of the last few years. The older stuff is handed over to his younger assistant (who seems to be graying as we watch).
Sir Thierry comes back to bring us up to date and check on the house. He looks grim and haggard. He’s spoken to a lawyer and the Lord High Mayor’s office. In short, they’re running a tally of debt holders and interest. The family lawyer has been trying to keep the house afloat these past years. In short, we’re into it for somewhere between 12 and 15,000 suns; so far.
He has to go back into town. He has a meeting with an Aldori sword-lord about the prospects of selling the manor.
He showed the lawyer the document along with Tamarie’s translation. There is some question about its validity; it talks about the Baronet of Rossley back when Thierry’s grandfather was the Baronet — before they sold off the land. It also refers to Baronet Mareshal, which is Thierry; as there was a time when the two were interchangeable.
Thierry is not taking this well, but he is determined to see it through.
The day after
Thierry departs again, Sir Drelev “the younger” (Hannis) arrives. He is in his late 20s and is accompanied by a small entourage. He’s the son of a Baron, a landed noble and he was knighted. He’s bought a lot of our herd over the years. In better days, the Drelev were competitors with the Mareshals.
They have a trade route that goes through the river kingdoms on the eastern edge of Brevoy. Seems some kind of lizard folk are active bandits along their trade route, effectively closing it down. So the family has fallen back on their horses.
Unfortunately, Sir Drelev seems to have left his manors at home. He is rude, presumptuous and his deal is insulting at best. He offers to take the herd at 2/3 the price. Tamarie tries to barter, but he is unwilling. In the end she does not take his offer.
So we ride out and spread the word. It’s as frustrating as it is embarrassing. The Mareshal herd is respected. Now however, out of season and being hawked like excess cabbage from door to door is beneath the herd’s reputation. Few have enough ready coin to purchase the mounts, even if the desire is there.
Early spring 4704
The snows have thawed. The grass is grown and the winter seedlings were planted. A new colt was foaled recently, taking up a lot of the bride-to-Be’s time and her family. There was some worry about the mare, but she survived the birthing.
I and a scullery maid were in the gardens filling their aprons with flowers for garlands for the upcoming nuptials. We hear a retching from the barn.
Hand off the flowers and send the maid inside. Anselm is around the back of the barn, being sick. Take him to get a drink of water. Talk about the upcoming marriage.
Kaylee takes a bath, her mom sees her hair curled and into small clothes. She’s not exactly willing but we give her no choice.
Kaylee’s mom tells me that her father wants to speak to her. He’s in the chapel. He wants me to take over the ceremony. I agree, although my eloquence comes no where near my father’s.
The ceremony is to be held in the field near their shack. The fruit trees are in bloom.
We gather, and pray.
The Barnonette attends and gives Kaylee and Anselm a wedding gift of the newly foaled horse. Kaylee names it Caliber.
The day is a feast for all the senses. Dancing, music, and food. A happy memory of a simpler time.