(514-08-20) Baverstock Tasks
Summary: Bryce manages the manor, and Catriona acts as his gopher.
Date: 20 August 514
Related: Dorset Border Trouble, and Perilous Picnic
bryce catriona 


Baverstock Manor - Salisbury


Situated in a terrain that is mostly flat with greens and some grain fields along the river Nadder betwixt some minor stretches of forest are the lands in care and responsibility of the Baverstock family. The manor itself is a long house, with a hall of medium size, a long table of dark cherry wood with long benches there before an ancient hearth with the coat of arms of the family painted on the center of the mantelpiece - the golden bear of Baverstock on a field of red and black.

The stone floor is covered with a few woollen rugs. The walls are decorated with some ancient weapons of their ancestors - swords, shields - but also with the occasional boar's head and antlers of some impressive deer. A few chambers can be accessed from the hall, but the biggest adjoining room would be the kitchen, with a large kettle hanging over the fireplace, and more pots, frying pans, long spoons and forks hanging from an iron structure attached to the ceiling.


Only yesterday the Head of Baverstock Manor had returned from what had been announced as brief excursion. But he had sent word, explaining the delay with the words ‘unexpected complications along the road’ in a letter addressed to Sir Lorcan de Baverstock, who during his absence was left in charge of things. On this late morning Bryce can be found in the Hall of the Manor, sitting at the table where his uncle has presented some papers to him that lacked signature. The mood of Sir Bryce is understandably dim, as he reads and listens to Lorcan’s explanations, a mug of ale somewhere before him but untouched as of yet.

His squire Carl leans against the wall by the hearth, glancing from the fire burning within now and then back to his knight. A bruise on his forehead only in part disguised by the red locks that fall into his freckled face.

Wherever Lorcan might be, it's no surprise that Catriona is close behind. One might smell her before one sees her — the slight musk of woodsmoke and bergamot. She bustles in after having given the men some time to talk between themselves, dressed plainly as she usually is but also looking clean and fresh in a long tunic of green over off-white underpinnings with long sleeves showing beneath. Her figure can just barely be discerned thanks to a brown belt about her waist. At her throat is a pewter and dark wood cross. That thick chestnut hair is once more braided in a wide fishtail braid and left draped over her shoulder. She pauses though, once she has made her presence known, and waits to be addressed or invited to interrupt by either man. She has that time of hers with her, where she tracks the comings and going of supplies and exports for the manor. The size of the thing makes the petite woman seem even smaller. So she waits, with her head slightly tilted down, in a gesture of respect.

Bryce is not wearing his martial attire today, but is clad in a plain dark grey tunic and braies of black; his dark brown curls may look quite a mess to Catriona’s critical gaze; and he is aware of her presence, as a pointed glance in her direction betrays, when her casual stroll might have taken her past the place where he sits at the table. A few more words are exchanged with Lorcan, the required signatures given then, which will be enough to bring about that characteristic smile of a task dealt with on his uncle’s features. Bryce shifts in his seat then, reclining actually, mug of ale in hand as he enjoys a brief moment of respite. Dark eyes lift again to where Catriona sits, and his angular features twist into a smile. “Cousin. You are well, I suppose?” Lorcan meanwhile grabs the pieces of parchment and leaves the hall, offering his a daughter nod and a smile as he passes her.

Catriona will sit — but only once her cousin or father have indicated that she should do so. “I am, thank you,” she says in her usual tone. She speaks a little quickly, her rich feminine voice a little more professional than when it was a younger woman’s squeak. “And I hope you are as well. One of the mills, however, isn’t doing quite as good. I’ve spoken to Alfred’s son, the man who works that particular mill. Well, the son of that particular man…” she seems almost as though she might go too far off a tangent, but she shakes her head, righting herself. Her sharp blue eyes rest easy upon her cousin now that she has situated herself across from him. “One of the cogs has bent, he says. While I’m sure we can likely make a replacement here, eventually, there’s one or two blacksmiths around the area that are already known for being able to reproduce the part with good results.” She glances to her father, then back to her cousin. “With your permission, I’d like to go out and make a replacement purchase.” She falls quiet, just then. At one point her eyes do flit to Bryce’s hair, but then they return to his face.

Failed.
Bryce checked his Awareness of 10, he rolled 14.

“Hmm.” Bryce listens to what Catriona has to say on the mill, and his hand moves to scratch his chin even if it sports a rather clean shave. “I’d say,” – his gaze flits to Lorcan who was already about to leave, before it shifts back to meet Catriona’s expression, of her being so eager to help. “I’d say, yes, please do so. That cog needs to be replaced.” Her glance towards his slight mess of hair is completely missed by the Baverstock knight. “Anything else?”

There is a sound of wood scraping over stone, when Carl moves over and pulls out a chair at the far end of the table and he takes a seat, his gaze shifting from Bryce to Catriona – and then to the mug of ale in Bryce’s hand.

Catriona turns her head to the squire who sits, but it doesn’t take much of her attention. She shakes her head a little, sitting up just a touch straighter and letting her hands rest on the large tome that is her constant companion more than most companions. But then she reconsiders, and she looks at the book for a moment, one slender finger tapping the closure thoughtfully. “Just … one other thing. No decision would be required now, and perhaps my father has already spoken with you on the matter. But it is something I would put for your consideration. Some of the tenants I’ve spoken with in the course of the past few weeks say that their harvests have been a little better than expected. Not much so, but … a good year,” Catriona explains, tilting her head to the side just a little as she regards her cousin and his face while she speaks, as if to glean his thoughts on the matter as she tells it. “There might be some opportunity to bring a bit more to market in Sarum than previously anticipated, and with the prices we’ve secured from our last trip there, it means we might do a little better this season than the last. However, we might also hold back on some of the excess beyond what we had planned to have in our stores. That way, if the winter is harsh this year, we are better prepared. There might also be some opportunity to sell the excess in the winter at an even higher price, if there is any demand. But that is not guaranteed.” The brunette glances away, thoughtfully, for a moment. “Either way, it is a question I wished to pose to you. You have some time before you will wish to decide how to proceed — a month perhaps.”

Bryce catches the glance of his squire, and with a wave of a hand gestures for the lad to help himself to some ale, pointing to the jug and the cups on the table. “Do you wish some ale?”, he inquires then, towards Catriona, and a sideways glance towards the squire, hinting at the lad to go and pour a cup for the Baverstock cousin as well, if she so wishes. His own mug is put down before him, as he then considers Catriona’s question. “Maybe a bit of both,” he opines then. “It cannot hurt to be well prepared for winter, but still… I would hesitate to withhold all of it from the market. As you said… we owe the good prices to your negotiations…” Air leaves his nose in a thoughtful exhale. “I shall think about it, as you suggest. Thank you for your good work.” The latter he adds with a faint smile curving his lips. “Meanwhile….”, and here Bryce de Baverstock’s gaze lifts to where Lorcan’s steps have come to a halt, to his uncle, turned towards them in so far silent observation of their conversation. “I am taking measures to enhance our means of defending the manor should it become necessary. Which may indeed be the case. With the recent Saxon raids… and now Dorset knights sneaking about in our beloved Salisbury, gathering intelligence on our manors…” His dark eyes flash with dark fire. “We need to be prepared when the next raid comes.”

Catriona shakes her head and waves off the offer of ale — none today, it seems. Or perhaps the stolen stuff tastes better. The touch of praise has Catriona lowering her head in a gentle nod of respect and appreciation, but she doesn’t speak to interrupt the man and lets him continue. Talk of defense for the manor has the girl tilting her head just a little to the side then, eyes tilting away as well as she listens and considers. Her mouth becomes something of a thin line of concentration. Once Bryce has finished explaining, she looks to him again and rights her head, nodding once more to him. “May I enquire as to the nature as to these measures?” the girl says, her words a bit more slow and not carrying the weight of her earlier topics. This is a request, and one she makes just a little timidly. “And perhaps as to what it is you require for these defenses that you do not yet have?” That’s her speciality, after all. Catriona, acquirer of things.

“I’ve told Patric to increase the training and regular practice in the use of swords and spears, for all residents of the manor.”, Bryce explains, his gaze flitting down to where his fingers close about the mug of ale. “We might need more weapons, in the long run, but weapons are costly…” A slight tap of a finger against the clay of the drinking vessel. “We need lookout posts, to warn us of any unusual activity or approach. And… if they come with horses, we need long pikes to bring them down. Those could be easily made from wood of the forest, and kept somewhere here in the manor.” Laying down his ideas with definitely martial tinge for his lady cousin to comment upon. “What do you think? Are there other suggestions that come to your mind?”, the Baverstock knight inquires with a raised brow.

Carl meanwhile has helped himself to a cup of ale and resumes his seat from before, his other hand brushing some stray lock of reddish hair from his view, before he takes a good sip from the ale, whilst watching the interaction of his knight with the Baverstock cousin.

Although Catriona is no warrior, certainly no military expert, all the same she considers the questions. “I can arrange a team to begin felling trees for such pikes and towers as you’ve suggested,” she offers. “I’d recommend we try to complete that before winter, for when the ground is frozen there will be very little that can be built upon it. Felling trees in the winter isn’t quite the easiest thing either, as I understand. As to cost…” she begins to open the tome before her, but then decides against it and once more locks it. “Father, I think, can speak to that more than I can. Between his memory and my notes, however, I think we can provide an estimate of available funds for any additional purchase you might need. Minus pay for the teams I’d already mentioned.” Her sharp blue eyes tilt downward, almost to Bryce’s mug. But she doesn’t look at it — she looks through it, her mind quite far away from where her eyes have settled. She’s quiet for a few moments, then lifts her eyes to the man again. “I may have a suggestion. It may be foolish and…” a small, somewhat sheepish grin crosses her features. “I would not wish you to think me a coward, cousin. But perhaps a room in the manor itself for women and children to gather, if needed. Reinforced, perhaps, with a ladder stored within to be used for an escape, as necessary.” Once more, with her suggestion, she speaks more slowly and carefully than she did with her offers of assistance — those came out easily and quickly.

Bryce nods to her remarks on felling trees, “Yes, that makes sense. Besides… we should get to it as swiftly as possible.” His mien is pensive, the faint smile on his features more a sign of appreciation for Catriona’s thoughts than an indication of current cheerfulness. “We have some weapons already,” he says. “And I am not sure many will be needed, but we shall see to have our weaponry replenished.” Another slow incline of his head, as he uses her moment of thoughtful silence to take a contemplative sip from his mug of ale. Catriona’s hesitant suggestion then has him lift his gaze, his head turning to regard her fully. Her words have him considering for a moment, but the smile of acknowledgement he gives her somehow already anticipates his reply. “I don’t think you a coward, cousin, but a very clever mind. Yes, I agree, such a room to retreat for the women and children sounds like an advisable option.” Again, dark fire flashes in his gaze in the moment he lowers it, considering perhaps not only the current females and children of the manor, but a future addition as well. “Thank you again, for your suggestion.”

Catriona bows her head. “Of course, I only hope that it may be useful in some way,” she says, lifting the tome toward her. “I’ll speak to a few of the tenants who have been in need of work of late — the trustworthy ones, at any rate, to begin to gather some of the people. By the time I’ve returned from finding the cog replacement, they should be prepared to work. Hopefully already working, although I don’t wish to overpromise.” The brunette tilts her gaze down the table again to where the squire sits, then back to Bryce. “If you wish, I’ll also speak to the carpenter, Leofric, about what arrangements would be necessary for such a space and where it might be best situated in the existing manor.” She nods once, making a mental note to do just that unless Bryce indicates otherwise. “Is there any other way I may be of assistance to you, cousin?”

Bryce smiles, this a slightly more pronounced version, when Catriona announces her plans of how to approach this task. “I am most grateful for your thoughts and efforts, Catriona.” He hesitates, shifting his gaze to where Lorcan still stands, their eyes meeting briefly making the smile dim ever so slightly on the younger Baverstock knight’s features. “I thank the Lord above for each day our manor is blessed with your presence…”, he says then, hazel eyes cutting to Catriona. “And no, that will be all, at the moment. If you could see to making the necessary arrangements, that will give me time to deal with other matters of the manor.”

Lorcan’s gaze lingers on his daughter, thoughtfully, but not without pride. A nod he gives Catriona, before he moves to leave the manor on some business or other.

Success
Catriona checked her awareness of 15, she rolled 6.

Bryce’s smile comes, and then with a glance to her father it fades. Catriona had been watching Bryce’s face rather intently, interested in his reaction to these proposals. So she sees it, enough that she even glances over her shoulder to see if her father had said or done something to encourage it. For a moment, it seems like she might say something. Something smarmy perhaps, finally bringing out that sharp-tongue of hers. But she hesitates, resists, or something else entirely. The tongue stays sheathed, and she now looks concerned. But it was not spoken of to her, so she opts not to speak of it herself. “Of course, cousin. As always, I am grateful for your trust. And I am always at your service.” With that, she moves to rise, letting the heavy tome sling lowly in her arms so she carries it against her abdomen. “I’ll leave tomorrow or the day after then, as soon as the arrangements are in motion.”

Nothing had been spoken. There had just been a brief exchange of glances between the young head of the manor and his older advisor who also happened to be Catriona’s father. But how to read it? Bryce’s features tighten slightly, aware as he is that he is being judged for each move he makes. Even more so in the presence of his uncle, who may have his own plans for the younger daughter; with a betrothal for his older daughter arranged but then broken just recently, as another member of the Baverstock family seemed the wiser choice for a match with House Wylye. Whatever Catriona’s fate will turn out to be – it is unlikely she will spend all of her life at Baverstock, and it would be a folly for Bryce to get too used to this helpful member of his family.

“I wish you safe travel,” Bryce de Baverstock says with his faint smile back in place. “Take one or two knights along.” He lowers his chin, giving her an ominous glance. “I’d prefer to see you return hale and whole, cousin.”

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