(515-03-11) House Negotiations
Summary: Joachim breaks bread with Sir Claire and Sir Drustan.
Date: 03-11-515
Related: Newton's Visit to Stapleford
claire drustan joachim 


Drustan was away at Falt when the guests arrived. Despite the very near birth of their child, Claire insisted he go and uphold the terms of the marriage. After all, their word is their honor. So at the beginning of March she probably has only a few weeks left - but it could be anytime. Drustan probably decided to return early in the morning and found that they had guests from Newton. Claire was only just waking up and getting ready for the day when she was able to give him a quick rundown. 'Sir Joachim and his wife are here to be neighborly, check in with fellow RC's, and see about holding up an alliance our parents have held.' Briefest of summations. Claire asks for him to clean up and meet everyone in the small study.

Breakfast had been delievered to the Newton pair with a variety of choices. There's little sign that anything is amiss with the manor, though the commoners do look a bit thinner than most. Rough winter? Considering the fact that Claire can't afford weakness to be seen, she probably could not have said more than she had. Things had not been easy and she had never trained for this. But at least she understands hospitality well. She's had a warm fire set and the same table from the night before is to be used for meeting this morning. It is large enough to seat six comfortably. When they arrive, Claire is already there and her Squire stands nearby, hands clasped in front of her while she waits for directions from the Knight that is just finishing up some eggs.

An early ride in that showed a short night; faint circles of darkness beneath Drustan's eyes. His Squire was worse for wear and told he could rest the afternoon after attending all his chores. Brief summary as it was, it was interrupted by the Falt fussing over his wife before seeing to cleaning up from the road. When the man appears for breakfast proper, he is attired in well-kept, but subtle attire. Falt, like Stapleford, lends towards more modest colors. Where Stapleford pairs gold with black, Falt chooses white… though the Knight tends more towards grey. Thus, black trou and white tunic with a thin overcoat of grey are the selection for the day, along with the sword at hip. The man's hair is swept back towards the nape of his neck; curls made heavy by the dampness of a quick cleaning of dust from the road. As he passes behind Claire's chair, he leans down to press a brief kiss to the Keeper's cheek before taking a seat of his own.

"I have assured I will not need visit again for at least a month's time. They are understanding of my desire to be available," unless the Earl makes requests of the Falt, "for the birth of my firstborn." For Falt men to even survive to the birth of their heir is a rarity. Cause for celebration, perhaps.

At least one of the visiting Newton couple was up early - alas poor Lydia's morning sickness had combined with her sour stomach from the trip to Stapleford, and made rest a precious commodity with an inflated value during the night in the visitor's suite. Despite the lack of sleep, Joachim awoke early, and allowed his wife to stay in and rest while he handled being the social one the first thing in the morning. After finishing off part of the breakfast and leaving Lydia a small variety of both bland food and some more flavorable fare if she feels her stomach can handle it, the knight dressed while she slept in bed.

Drustan may find himself a kindred spirit in the darker colors, as Newton favors the argent and sable, Joachim's outfit is very much similar to the Falt knight with the exception of a grey tunic in place of a white one. As he finally emerges from the guest room and makes his way down to the study at the invitation of the Lady of the house. As he arrives at the entrance, Joachim waits for the couple to have a moment to reunite before he clears his throat. "Good morrow." he offers polietly with a bow of his head. "I hope you slept well, Sir Claire." the knight offers before lifting his head to Drustan.

Claire has favored whatever fits these days. Likely she cannot wait to get back to her original size, but for now she's attired in a blue bliant that fits her belly and does not bother to taper back in. By the looks of the garment, it does not seem befitting a noble. Perhaps borrowed from a commoner? Claire doesn't have family to ask how to move forward so she feels her way through it. Even if it means temporarily borrowing clothes. The kiss to her cheek is met with a smile, though. For Joachim, it may be the first time he has seen one of the family actually show real emotion that doesn't come and go like a wind. She presses her head into the kiss and the smile even meets her eyes. There's a bit of that glow, too. Happy to see her husband again, it would seem. She forks in one of the last few bites of eggs and forces herself to stand when Joachim enters. "Good morrow. I slept about as well as possible. That is to say that I did not sleep much at all. Your wife has many sleepless nights ahead. Thankfully it is not so bad until about the sixth or seventh month when it begins to get uncomfortable." And this will soon be behind her. Assuming she doesn't want to have another right away. Clearing her throat, she looks between the two men. "Sir Joachim de Newton, this is my husband Sir Drustan de Falt." Official introductions and true to the rumors, Drustan has retained his original family name just as she has. "Please be seated at your leisure. If you require any food or drink, simply ask. My Squire will see that it is done."

And none to have had child recently enough in Falt to make query there, either. They are families fighting to secure the next generation. When Claire rises, so does Drustan; if primarily to place a hand beneath her arm and provide balance. Doting would be the word. Young as they are and he about to be a first-time father. Perhaps he's been tasked with keeping his duties at Falt so that Claire may have a break from being fussed over so. He'll remain until Claire returns to her seat, helping her to it. The Knight smooths at his — lighter, for the warmer months — attire as he regains his own seat.

"A pleasure, Sir Joachim." His own features remain largely dissembled, though there were sparks of something within blue eyes when tending to Claire. The pair is clearly a match of preference and perhaps even love rather than for mere political gain. The Falt does, once settled, turn towards the waiting Squire. "Ellee, will you have my breakfast and anything our guest requires brought out? And once you have a moment, please see that a meal makes its way out to Cai." For his own squire is like as not going to fall asleep in the stables before thinking of seeking out the kitchen.

Joachim was about to suggest that Claire should not rise, however, he caught a hint of her pride last night - so says nothing, watching Claire with her struggle, and there may have just been the smallest nod of approval when she made it to her feet. He would have done the same even if he had a gaping chest wound. That small approval is shared with Drustan's treatment of his wife, as Joachim greets in kind. "I fear that it has already been rough from her since the start, Sir Claire." he admits with a slight frown. "She was quite ill the trip here, and is still in the bed this morning. I hope that she finally finds some blessed rest so that she may join us later. I have kept a good supply of ginger and sweetmint on hand for her at my mother's suggestion, so hopefully Lydia's malidays will calm."

Turning his attention to Drustan, the name Falt causes Joachim's smile to become more genuine. "My family owes yours the debt of our house still, in spirit, if not in funds." he admits. "There are many a story of how those from Falt were instrumental of retaking Oxbow Hill and House Newton when it fell originally at the hands of the Saxons. A man or woman of Falt will always will be welcomed in the Manor at River Wylye. You are well met indeed, Sir Drustan."

Turning his attention to Ellee and the request for a meal, he shakes his head. "Oh, no, the feast you provided us in quarters this morning was more than adequate, Sir Claire. Only something to drink is all I require at the moment, I shall share in what it is you two are drinking." he comments as he moves to take his seat finally to settle his hands in his lap.

Claire doesn't fuss at being touched so or 'helped'. If there is anything to say, she seems like the woman to say it in private. She will remain standing until Joachim seems ready to sit as well. When Drustan addresses Ellee, though, she steps forward from her post in the corner and looks directly towards Drustan. Having become something of a personal bodyguard to the pregnant nigh-Head of House, Ellee is usually around and ready for some of the stranger needs. She still finds herself tending to the necessary drills, but the menial tasks have been replaced. She works a full 18 hour day. Every day. "Of course, Sir Drustan. As you wish. Sir Joachim, I will return with your drink as well." Claire gestures to the table. There is a small cask mounted on its side on the table still. "I am afraid I have lost my taste for wine and ale. I drink a lot of water now." She motions for the men to sit as Ellee moves off. "So you may drink the water or wine, we have plenty of either." Settling in, she lets the two men speak for the moment while she finishes her eggs.

"Please, send my regards to your wife. I cannot claim to understand pregnancy, but I do have some knowledge of being stuck abed. I wish it upon no one." He and Claire had to remain a few weeks at Ebble Keep the prior summer, after his near-death at the hands of meddlesome Dorset knights. At Joachim's words in regards to his house, there is a touch of pride within Drustan. Falts are few, but their Knights are fierce. Custennin's performances in the joust tell that tale. Drustan, however, does not share the same size as his cousin. There is a similar darkness to features, however, showing at least a distant common thread.

"I have taken an interest in stronger bonds and relations between like-minded families, so I was pleased to hear of your visit upon my return and glad that I had not missed it." There is only rough scheduling when it comes to his own duties. He glances Ellee's way, before she departs. "Some wine, then."

"It is my sincerest hope that Lady Lydia will feel well enough to join us as soon as she is capable, but if not, I will do so, Sir Drustan, thank you. And yes, it seems to prove that there are some things we're not ever meant to bear ourselves." Joachim admits - a bit of appreciation for the female body to change so much and bear a new life and then recover. His own squire is currently running drills, and making sure the horses are taken care of as well as attending to any tasks that he may help around the house with. And with a bit of freedom, the squire can act as Joachim's eyes and ears to help him get a better understanding of the House with the commoners.

"Then you share the same interest of why I came to visit your Sir wife. As I was explaining last night, Newton has spent much of it's time since the Saxon raids as a House closed in on itself. As such, I fear that our ties to the outside world may have weakened - and our understanding of the world with it. Lady Lydia has been enlightening in helping me to understand things further, as I work to both renew former bonds and build new ones - though some have taken me out of my comfort zone, I am glad to take on the challenge that my brother had hoped to start before his murder.." yes, that's the word he chooses to use in this case, because it is how he feels, and that flash of hatred touches his features for a moment, "..at the hands of Dorset."

Claire lets the two speak while she finishes what is on her plate, taking her time. Pleasantries were exchanged last night between her and the Newtons, so she is fine to let the men speak as they will. It is not until Drustan speaks to stronger bonds that there is any sign of anything. She openly stares at him for a few long moments, those eyes right back at his. After, she ends up looking back to the cup of water while she settles herself back in the chair at the head of the table. When the woman speaks, she directs her voice towards Joachim. "Sir, you choose words. You feel he was murdered. To many manors and houses, that would be a charge for war, if I'm not mistaken. Do you seek war or revenge for what happened to your brother?" Those bright blue eyes finally look back at him.

To Claire's stare, there is a level one in return from more muted blue eyes. They may not have been wed long enough to share the sort of telepathy that long-suffering couples seem prone to, but there is an attempt to understand at the very least. He leans forward, just slightly, against the table; forearms propping him up there to listen as Joachim speaks.

In the Falt Knight, there is no denial or ill reaction at the chosen term. Drustan very nearly was slain in such a cowardly way, himself. It was only by fortune of the Dorset knights to not wish to be marked for murder upon Salisbury lands that the man survived. There is a heaviness to his own brow, but he does not protest the Newton's choice of words. A glance to Claire at what she offers, before he is looking back to their guest. "In these times, leadership can fall upon the least likely of shoulders." His own father, a legitimized bastard to sit as regent, pays testimony to that. "Shoulders that find themselves suddenly weighted with more than simply the concerns of Knighthood."

Failed.
Joachim checked his vengeful of 7, he rolled 8.
Success
Joachim checked his forgiving of 13, he rolled 9.

If Lydia were here, there may be a comforting hand or word to soothe Joachim's accusation, however, without her presence, it's sharpened to a percise point. "Sir Claire." he speaks plainly, honestly. "My brother was captured in trespass of Dorset lands. That I cannot deny. However, there was no demand for ransom, there was no airing of greivance. Instead, at their earliest opprotunity, he was dragged out along with Sir Tomas de Idmiston, and both men were murdered in cold blood. Dorset's unprovoked…" the knight finally seems to find his feet, figuratevly speaking as he draws in a breath. "..trespass to use the raid as a call to attack Salisbury and the skirmishes it provoked should have been answered harshly. While the results.. may have brought both Salisbury and Dorset to the tables of Camelot to dictate terms of peace, it left a bitter taste in my mouth that the sweetest wine has yet to erase."

Finally, however, he relents. "Aye, Sir Drustan speaks true - we find ourselves in the strangest of times. Those that should have never been burdened with leading their lands find themselves with the responsibility. I cannot hold anger in my heart towards Dorset and be effective to my people back in Newton, so I must set aside such thoughts for now and concentrate on what's best for my home."

Claire sips at the cup of water while she listens to what her husband has to say. Ellee returns and carries some hard boiled eggs for Drustan with a few slices of warm bread. Something else cooked that smells like fresh fish from the river. The plate is set before him and a cup of water is set in front of Joachim, just in case. The girl then turns smartly and moves off for the kitchen. Serving Cai food? Well it's one of the few things that can wipe the serious look off her face. Claire, however, pays no mind to the Squire. The attention of the woman seems focused completely on Joachim. As Drustan may expect, the woman says nothing about any of it while the visitor speaks. He completes his thoughts on his own and she nods carefully, looking over his body as if watching for further tension. "Some call it a burden. Some wear it with pride. I am unsure how I feel about it yet." Even if it is weighing heavily on her, to the point of heavy stress. It isn't just the pregnancy keeping her from sleeping. "While the death is regretful, I am pleased to hear you decide such a thing." The voice is quiet and careful, the words spoken slowly. "In my time as a Squire, I spent three years fighting Pict raiders and killing them. They are but one threat. Also facing the Saxons as well as the possibility of an Angles invasion of Britannia, I find it disgusting that Dorset would engage in such matters. Knowing you have better sense, especially given your house, brings me assurances that mere promises cannot assuage." Spoken like a proper noble Lady, sitting straight. "Thank you for your honesty. It is a quality I respect, Sir Joachim."

With a murmured thanks to Ellee, so as to not interrupt, Drustan sets in with his meal after ensuring there is wine for he and the Newton Knight both. It gives Joachim two options, but neither seems difficult to give for the hosts. At least at the moment. The Falt eats, listening to the two speak of Dorset. He draws a breath, when there is moment to speak, setting cup down after a quick drink. "The mission to Marlboro I served upon showcased well how even those who pledge to serve Arthur and those lieges of county beneath him will often aspire to greater things. Men betraying one liege for another in utterly despicable methods. It is a man who strays from faith and duty who does these things."

"Agreed. And my faith and duty is to Newton now." Joachim agrees easily. "For too long it has been wrapped in a cloak of distrust and suspicion that was weaved by fear and contempt.. and it has fallen on my shoulders to start to slowly remove it. It is not been the most pleasant task, I admit.." and with that, he accepts the wine with a grateful smile and a word of gratitude to Ellee as the knight takes a draw from it before he sets it down. "…though meeting with those that I hope to call ally - and eventually friend in the future." With that, there's a hopeful smile offered to the couple. "Besides, my wife will love to have someone to discuss the joys to come in the future with someone that is currently paving the path."

"I'm unsure I would sully the nature of 'men' by ascribing such actions to be perpetrated by such individuals, Sir Dustan. Such barbarism and disrespect for the rule of Arthur is more the behavior of ill-tempered boys. Children act without thought." There's a subtle venom to it. Claire clearly dislikes the Dorset folks, but stops short of saying more than she already has. Her eyes then flick to Joachim. "I understand the dislike and fear of a house. Being accused of worshipping the devil for most of my life, I've grown weary of such tidings. But I also do not sew much importance to them. What we do and how we worship is our business and that of the Earl should he choose to ask, nobody else's. Stapleford has looked inward for strength for generations." She rests her hands on the table, clasped together. "Possible allies. In the past we have maintained such through those who came before. I am willing to consider it. But we are slow to trust, Sir Joachim. However, that does not need to prevent us from speaking more and often. Especially if poor Lady Lydia is going to have to watch me deal with being a first time mother. I understand it is hard on all mothers." At least she has some entertainment with the last.

"And I will perhaps find myself a compatriot in what I hear I shall be put through." This, from Drustan, during a lull in his eating. "Such horrors, supposedly, our wives are to become, to hear it told. I am still waiting for the cursing of my and my family's name for her discomforts. Perhaps I was told wrong." Thinking upon Dorset is no enjoyable thing and the Falt opts for a different route; that of mild humor. Playing off of Claire's words in regards to the child they will have all too soon. He lifts his wine, glancing sidelong to the woman who sits at head of the table. There's a hint of a smirk at the corners of his mouth, but only fondness in his eyes. "I do not think anyone is under the assumption that alliances come about overnight."

"Yes. Such alliances that run deep are built upon continued trust and alliances, Sir Claire." Joachim agrees. "There are those that look upon our house as the house of priests and nuns, as we have not been open to other religions and thoughts." he says with a small sigh, reaching up to rub his temple. "It is not an easy path to follow - and for now, the offer is for an alliance based on faith and mutual respect is more than what I can hope for." he admits. "Especially as you wait to hear from the Earl on your future role, Sir Claire. However, should you find that you need to have someone speak on the handling of the hospitality of your home, I will be sure to throw in my lot." It could help Claire's case to have a house respect her thought to be the heiress.

"And I have heard my mother bark fearful things at my father as he is intent on keeping her pregnant, though it seems his illness this year may finally bring his streak to an end." he admits with a small thoughtful look. "But I hope that our overtures for future hospitality and talks are accepted by your house, Sir Claire. And I shall be paying a similar visit to Sir Custennin, as well."

"We do not become horrors. Our lives simply become more complicated and it has an effect on us. Less sleep, needing to feed our child from our breast, tending to their soiled selves. But I think I understand your humor." As much as she tries to play it off, she /is/ pregnant and her hormones and brain are going ten directions. Trying to keep on track is difficult some days. To Joachim, he nods slowly. "Good. It would seem that I need to affirm that I am unsure of how to approach an alliance, Sir Joachim. I know it roughly states to mutual defense, but more than that I am unsure. WE'd spoken of such things last night but that is my limit." Like they said, some people find themselves in a position they never thought they would have. Could be worse, though. "I appreciate the offer. For now, let me propose this…" Her hands press flat, palm to palm, while she tries to think of how to put this out there. "For the moment, until I can speak with my husband and we can visit Newton, we will offer shelter to Newton and send help, if needed, as I can. We expect the same in return. However, gross misconduct that brings folly upon the house cannot embroil Stapleford. You are good people, though, so I expect that to be simple. Obviously the same exceptions apply to us. I just want it all said. For now, we can agree to that and as our friendship grows, we can revisit the terms of it all. As we invest each other and our trust, we can invest other…" she runs out of words and ideas, leaving it there. Hopefuly that works.

There is, however impolite or improper, a kind gesture from Drustan as his wife speaks in response to his jest. He reaches out and lays a hand over hers, squeezing gently. It is not a meal of state. It is morning bread being broken with guests who find themselves in similar states. Newly wed, soon to be parents, and running households they never expected to be handed the reins. Straightening, he returns to his meal. There is a thoughtful expression, yes, as the two speak of what can be offered in the here and now. He does not voice any thoughts, but it has been made clear enough - there is much for he and Claire to speak upon.

The Falt does tilt his head in a nod to Joachim. "My cousin would be pleased to see you. If you know when you intend to travel, I could perhaps schedule a visit around the same time." Depending on his soon-to-be-born child, of course. "Interests of Stapleford and Falt are both quite important to me."

"I understand and accept your terms. We will not bring folly or dishonor, such thoughts are not tolerated within the home, Sir Claire." Joachim agrees as the knight gets the underlying meaning that the meeting should be drawing to a close. The knight has sent away his own sister for her overtures to seduce a stableboy after all. "It may have to wait until after Lady Lydia has had our child before we may visit, unfortunately. Unless her stomach settles later in pregnancy." he admits with a sigh. "The journey here was hard on her, and I'm allowing her as much rest as possible before we travel back. But I thank you for your suggestions and offers, Sir Claire. They are appreciated and will be likewise weighed upon your own visit." he agrees easily before he rises and moves to offer his hand to the pregnant knight. "To future negotiation, then?"

Claire looks to the hand and there's a complex look from her. She's grateful and still trying to appear strong. Anyone can see the strain on her, so maybe she's doing it to make herself feel better. Or maybe its real. But she does appreciate it. The young woman looks to her water once again, then back to Joachim. "The interests of Falt are something I also keep an ear out for. When you speak to them, you have my blessing to tell them of what we have discussed. However, I will need to speak with Sir Custennin as well. If the Earl grants my request, it changes the nature of the marriage and relationship with the house." Slowly rising, she holds her hands to the table for balance. "Next we meet, we will go to Newton to visit. As you did us the courtesy, I will send a rider in advance. Once there, we will be able to discuss in further." She reaches out to grab his arm firmly in her hand, shaking it as Knights. "To future negotiations, Sir Joachim. "

When Claire goes to stand, so does Drustan. He has not quite finished his meal, but that can be done easily enough after things are finalized. He allows his wife to handle matters of departing words, shifting back to his heels with hands clasped behind him — loosely. He's not leaping to attend to her now, but he's ready should there be the need. A tilt of the head, to, for the words of each. "Perhaps we will see the groundwork laid for a strong future for our children, in these proceedings."

The arm is grasped tightly - a sign of respect - not only between fellow knights, but from one head of household to another, she's already an equal in Joachim's mind. "Of course. I will not hold any assumptions, and continue to work to better relations." he promises as he releases the young woman's arm. "I believe when we next meet you will no longer be troubled with a child in your belly, for he or she will be bundled at your breast instead." It's not a lewd comment, one more of hopeful a healthy birth for her. "I shall make my leave so the two of you may speak and reacquaint after your time apart."

Claire nods in agreement for her husbands words, but does not elaborate. No sense in it. Succinct and truthful already. But she does smile a little more and seem more secure in herself at feeling the grip. A measured sigh leaves her. Much better. The strength seems a little less for show and more known to herself. "Hopefully that is the case, Sir Joachim. I certainly look forward to our visit to Newton. Take as much time as you need before departure. You're welcome to stay as long as you like." She dips her head to him in returned respect.

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