Jade Gardens Keep - Great Hall

The Great Hall of Jade Gardens is an open, well lit space. It extends the full length of the building, beginning with thick, barrable oak doors. From there, heavy tables are arranged the length, five on each side of the room. The floor is made of smooth cobblestone, plain carpets adorning the open space left for dancing and festivities. At the end of the hall sits one last table, in the middle, for the lords and ladies of the keep. Behind the noble area is an intricate tapestry honoring the Houses of the Baron and Baroness-currently a well-done piece illustrating a man on horseback. On either side of the work, plate glass patio doors open to the north, revealing the namesake of the home.
At the front of the hall are two immense, gentle sloping stairs to the second floor. Just beneath them on the left is the door leading to the kitchens, to the right, the attached smithy. Next to those doors are the exits to the servant's sleeping quarters.

Duhnen is camped out at the large table, picking through a small plate of food without much hunger. So, instead, he's busy pushing it about in various patterns.

Ester starts making her way down the stairs. An interesting sight. Leather armor, cloak and a young infant, cradled gently in the crook of her arm with head leaning up against her shoulder. He seems to be dozing on and off, thumb in mouth and alternately sucking and resting as he moves in and out of sleep.

Looking over to the stairs, Duhnen fixes a sad look on Ester as she descends. "Still leaving us?" he asks her tiredly.

Ester looks to Duhnen and neither agrees or disagrees with the question. "I'm hungry," she states, "Just getting something to eat." Connor stirs as she speaks and she reaches up to lightly stroke his hair.

"I don't want my unthoughtfulness to ruin this, Ester. I was wrong, I don't deny that. I should have sought you out immediately," Duhnen tells her desperately, sliding the plate of untouched (uneaten) food across the table in her direction in offering.

Ester looks at the plate and then at the door leading to the kitchen. Deciding on the plate she pads, well as best as someone who wears heavy boots can 'pad', over to the table. Carefully she slides into a chair, being careful not to jostle Connor too much. "I'm not sure exactly what you are speaking of ruining," she says quietly, "What exactly is /this/?"

"Our friendship," Duhnen answers in short, before nodding down to the plate. "It was roast chicken and dried sprouts, though I somewhat mixed it all together. I wasn't very hungry."

"Food is food. I'm sure it's edible," Ester replies and glances down as Connor begins another rapid round of sucking. Seeing him content enough she forgoes any utensils and picks up a piece of meet. "It won't be ruined," she says quietly before slipping the piece into her mouth.

"I'm glad to hear that," Duhnen responds quietly, looking down to Ester's son. He watches the half sleeping baby, and smiles slightly. "He's growing quick, isn't he?"

Meanwhile outside in the courtyard.....

Jade Gardens Keep - Courtyard

Jade Gardens is set at the forefront of a expansive stretch of land, the markings of tilling and mining from centuries before still visible on the soil. The keep itself is set onto something of a flat hill, whether made that way or naturally so, its become forgotten through the years. Servants' homes can be seen in the nearby fields, as well as pastures, close at hand, for both the nobles' horses and working beasts.
The courtyard of Jade Gardens is a simple one, circular in fashion and unwalled. The carriage house is to the left, tucked in the shadow of the building. No windows adorn the front walls, grey stone rising into the sky and topped with banners of green. Two heavy doors lead into the keep itself, the fields stretching out around the strange manor house.

It's mostly quiet around the outside of Jade Gardens, there being sparse amounts of activity, what with most of the residents inside, having taken shelter from Winter's last stretch. Though one could occasionally see one of the staff stepping from the stables to make their way inside the keep proper, or vice versa.

Tinumir Swift looks about the courtyard and speaks quietly. "Goodness, are you sure this is the right place Rhiannon? This is...quite the rich little residence..."

Rhiannon stands in the courtyard with Tinumir Swift, for her part, looking just a little bit meek at being in such a grand place. She takes a deep breath and looks forward, "Well, I am applying to work for the Seamel family, they are Royalty after all..." She says, "I wonder if I wait here long enough if one of them will just...'show up'."

On one of those few travels between keep and stables, the walking individual looks up and over, by chance, his step slowing slightly as he sights the two women. Adjusting how a small sack hangs over his shoulder, he turns about to lift a hand in greeting, giving a small wave.

Tinumir Swift seems too distracted by her surroundings to notice the man at first, but after a moment she notices him and returns the wave with a slight smile.

Rhiannon spends a moment looking utterly lost, thinking between bowing, curtseying, or any number of greetings, before she simply curtseys and offers a meek wave.

Seemingly taken a bit aback by the reactions, the man takes a few steps towards the pair, getting a better look. "Don't recognize you from 'round here don't look like bandits, yah? So why are you standing out here in the blasted cold? Can come in, you know. You looking for someone?" he abruptly speaks, the words rolling out quickly and slurring together somewhat.

Rhiannon nods softly, "The Duke, Duhnen Seamel, or the Lady Gabriella..." she says, though she doesn't move from where she is just then.

Tinumir Swift simply remains quiet for now, letting Rhiannon do the talking.

Fixing a squint upon Rhiannon, the man abruptly laughs. "You call her Lady and she'll cut yah." He lifts a hand and waves it energetically. "No. No, not really. But she'll tell yah to stop, guaranteed. The Surrector is inside, eating now. If you need to see him, he'll probably talk to you." He shrugs and turns about, moving to re-enter the building.

Rhiannon hmms, and blushes softly, "I...I'm sorry, is that not her proper title?" she says, afraid she's offended the man. She nods slowly, "Aye." she says, nodding. She looks to Tin, "I guess we should go inside?"

Tinumir Swift nods and takes one more look around the courtyard. "Lets head inside then...I still feel really out of place here though..."

The Great Hall of Jade Gardens is an open, well lit space. It extends the full length of the building, beginning with thick, barrable oak doors. From there, heavy tables are arranged the length, five on each side of the room. The floor is made of smooth cobblestone, plain carpets adorning the open space left for dancing and festivities. At the end of the hall sits one last table, in the middle, for the lords and ladies of the keep. Behind the noble area is an intricate tapestry honoring the Houses of the Baron and Baroness-currently a well-done piece illustrating a man on horseback. On either side of the work, plate glass patio doors open to the north, revealing the namesake of the home.
At the front of the hall are two immense, gentle sloping stairs to the second floor. Just beneath them on the left is the door leading to the kitchens, to the right, the attached smithy. Next to those doors are the exits to the servant's sleeping quarters.

Tinumir Swift felt out of place outside, certainly...but in the grand hall, she felt almost insignificant. "Goodness...this hall is huge..."

Ester is sitting at the table across from Duhnen. A young infant, looking about 6 months old rests on lap and arm. He appears to be sleeping against her leather armored shoulder. She picks at plate of food with her fingers, chicken perhaps and some sort of dried greens. She gingerly chews being careful to stay as still as possible. The pair appear to be in conversation and after swallowing speaks. "Aye that he is," she states and looks down at the boy with proud smile, "His father was a large man. It isn't surprising." She pauses, "It will be good to spend more time with him I suppose. I hope he will be happy at the farm."

Rhiannon makes with her entrance into the keep. Looking all the more intimidated by the grandeur of her surroundings. She nods to Tinumir, "Well, you figure they have enough money to employ their own smith..." she says softly. She hmms, and looks forward, biting her lip, "And here I am, interrupting his dinner." She says softly.

Duhnen doesn't seem to be eating, at least. Instead, he's focused on Ester and her baby, watching the pair. "Wonder if he'll be as hulking," he muses with a soft chuckle, resting an arm on the tabletop. Others move about the warm great hall, keep staff going about their business, or seated together at parts of the arranged tables, eating and talking.

Tinumir Swift notices the two, with the baby, at the table and points them out to Rhiannon. "Well go'd best go introduce yourself Rhiannon..."

Ester grins and brushes her finger lightly over the infant's head, "Maybe. He'll be strong no matter. How can he not?" She doesn't appear to particularly notice the new arrivals either.

Rhiannon looks to Tinumir, almost as if she's been thrown to the wheels of a passing carriage. She swallows, and ahems, stepping forward slowly, "Sir? Duke Seamel?" she says, curtseying, and then to Ester, curtseying, "And Miss....?"

Looking over from Ester, Duhnen focuses on the new arrivals, his smile turning to a look of mild curiosity. "Yes? Hello," he greets, nodding his head to each in turn. "Welcome."

Tinumir Swift stands a little bit behind and to the side of Rhiannon, bowing politely. She seems a little more confident now than she was a moment ago.

Ester doesn't say anything as she turns her head to regard the women. After Duhnen speaks, she smiles politely and gives them a simple nod in greeting.

Rhiannon smiles softly, "I'm here, because I've heard that you require the services of a competent smith. I'd like to apply for the job, as it were. I guarantee you I am of some skill." she says confidently.

"Ah," Duhnen nods his head, glancing to Ester and smiling, before he rises to his feet. "Yes. We could use someone," he informs Rhiannon, getting a look at her. "You've worked a forge before, you say?"

Tinumir Swift smiles, glancing to Rhiannon, giving her a little nudge of encouragement.

The boy in Ester's arms stirs and makes a soft cooing noise. Ester looks down to assess and after a few moment she to slowly rises. "Excuse me," she says quietly, "I will take this time to go put him down." Without waiting for acknowledgment she turns and starts walking towards the stairs.

Rhiannon nods to Ester, and then looks back to Duhnen, "Yes, I most certainly have, I grew up in my father's forge."

Nodding his head to Ester, Duhnen gestures to some of the chairs about the table, inviting Rhiannon and Tinumir to sit. "That's very good. I'm Duhnen Seamel, as you know. Your names?"

Tinumir Swift walks over to one of the chairs and gracefully takes a seat. "I am Tinumir Swift." She glances towards Rhiannon, waiting for her to take her seat.

Ester walks ever so slowly up the stairs and disappears into the hall.

Rhiannon curtseys softly, "Rhiannon Steelsong." she says, taking a seat herself, "Thank you."

"Well, Rhiannon. I'll let you work here, and give you a try," Duhnen nods his head to her. "You'll have lodging in the keep, and I'll pay you wages. Your duties will include making and repairing tools, shoeing horses, and any other metal work that may be needed about the area. Does that sound well do you?"

Tinumir Swift simply sits quietly, watching the exchange between the two, a quiet smile creeping over her lips.

Rhiannon hmms, and nods softly, "I can certainly do that, will you ever need my skills for weapons, or shields m'lord?" She asks plainly.

I'll be forming a guard here, and am actually hiring for just that purpose," Duhnen nods his head to her. "So it's possible I'll need some of those as well. I'll let you know specifically when it comes up."

Tinumir Swift looks up momentarily at the mention of hiring guards. She seems interested for a moment, but then loses herself in thought again.

Rhiannon hmms, and nods softly, "Oh, well.." She looks to Tinumir, "Tinumir might be able to do just that." she says, "As for arming your guard, I assure you that I take great pride in my craft..." she pauses, "You might call, m'lord."

Ester reappears sans child and walks down the stairs her heavy boots thumping on the hard stone. Now free she shrugs her arms and shoulders in circles as if loosening them.

Duhnen's eyes flit over to Tinumir briefly, before returning to Rhiannon. "You'll be free to make weapons and armor as well, if you wish to sell it on the side. I see no harm in that, so long as we're allowed a small portion of the profits."

Tinumir Swift looks up again, deciding to let Rhiannon finish her business before bringing up anything about the guard.

Rhiannon hmms, and nods softly, "That is much appreciated M'lord, I could not hope for better arrangements, what sort of a cut would you require?"

Ester reaches the bottom of the stairs, watches the trio for few seconds and then walks over to the large fire place. She plants herself in front of it and holds out her hands to warm them.

Considering that, tapping his fingers on the table, Duhnen 'hmms'. "I'll figure an exact amount for you soon, if you can wait on that. I assure you it'll be fair."

Tinumir Swift nudges Rhiannon and whispers softly. "Well it seems what money I do pay you will be cut a little...but as long as you have a good employer, right?"

Rhiannon hmms, and flashes a look to Tin quietly. She looks to Duhnen and nods quickly, "Oh, I'm certain sir. When will I know what my regular wages are to be, and where I will be staying?"

"I'll pay you 225 imperials a week," Duhnen offers her, nodding his head. "Your meals and board will be free, of course. I'm not going to try to make you pay for that." He grins a bit.

Ester turns her hands over and ends up staring at something on one of her palms. She shrugs lightly to herself after some careful study and flexes it into a fist.

Tinumir Swift offers Rhiannon a smile and sits up politely, waiting patiently.

"As will your materials for your work, which is why I'd take a cut of any side jobs you do," Duhnen adds, nodding his head.

Rhiannon ahs, ands nods quickly, "That sounds most agreeable m'lord!" she pauses, and considers, "Is that to say that includes materials for my personal projects?"

Ester grows bored with her hand and turns away from the fire. Clasping her hands behind her back she starts slowly walking across the room, looking at nothing in particular as she loses herself in some thought.

Tinumir Swift looks back and forth between Rhiannon and Duhnen, following the conversation quietly.

"Indeed," Duhnen confirms, looking over to where Ester is thoughtfully. "I'll want you to meet with my wife as well. You'll be working closely with her, I believe."

Rhiannon nods softly, "Wonderful, m'lord. Your wife?" she nods, "I should like to know more about that, but I believe Tinumir has concerns to speak on m'lord."

Ester wanders to a stop in front of the tapestry that hangs in the far end of the hall. Her head tilts back as she studies its surface, eyes flitting to and fro.

Tinumir Swift nods quietly. "Only after your business with Rhiannon is finished, m'lord. I simply wished to inquire about the guard position you mentioned earlier."

"If she has no other questions, I can address this," Duhnen offers Tinumir, considering her more closely now. Rhiannon nods curtly, politely to Duhnen.

Ester finishes with the tapestry, looks over her shoulder at the trio for a few seconds and then takes a couple of steps to one of the glass patio doors. She steps close and peers out into the dark beyond.

Tinumir Swift sits up, a little self conscious. "You mentioned you were considering hiring guards, m'lord. I am currently looking for an employer, and I thought the job might suit me."

"Ahh," Duhnen nods his head, pursing his lips for a moment. "Have you had any mercenary experience? Done any work with weapons in the past?"

Tinumir Swift shakes her head. "I've never been a mercenary, per say m'lord. I do have experience with swords though. I am a practiced fencer."

With little warning the huntress turns on her heel and strides back over to the trio. Hand grips the back of a chair next to Duhnen. It scrapes on the floor as she pulls it out. With cool regard she looks over the two women as she settles onto the seat, almost as if she is studying them.

Rhiannon blinks softly, and nods to Ester softly, looking between Duhnen and Tinumir, listening quietly."

Duhnen nods his head shortly, glancing to Ester as she joins them. "Fencing? So you're familiar with a sword. Any type of blade specifically? What's your preferred weapon."

Tinumir Swift smiles. "The rapier, m'lord. It is the most traditional fencing weapon, and it is the weapon my father used as well."

Ester's only acknowledgment of Rhiannon's not is a slight dip of her chin in her direction. Her focus falls upon Tinumir, to whom she listens too, eyes narrowing slightly as she speaks.

Rhiannon hmms, listening to the exchange between TInumir and Duhnen curiously.

"What's your father's name?" Duhnen asks her, sounding interested. "Would I have heard of him, by chance?"

Tinumir Swift smiles. "You may have m'lord, I'm not sure though. His name was Iriador Swift...he was a somewhat well known fencer and duelist."

One hand rests on the surface of the table, fingers starting to tap in slow succession. Ester continues to watch Tinumir, gaze steady and unwavering. Her other hand slides from view down towards her lap.

Rhiannon hmms, her eyes venturing now from Tinumir between her and Ester. She hmms, and then looks back to Duhnen.

Duhnen nods his head to Tinumir. "Would you mind if I tested you, at some point, then? To see your abilities? You understand, I take this very seriously, as it's my family you'll be guarding."

Tinumir Swift nods, her smile fading as her expression becomes more serious. "Of course m'lord, I understand. I would have brought my own sword today if I had known, but I did not know this opening would be available."

In little more then a blink of an eye Ester is on her feet. Moving in one fluid motion, she leans forward, her hand reappearing hunting knife gripped tight. It swings forward over the wooden surface and she slams the tip into the table in between Duhnen and Tinumir.

Rhiannon looks about to say something, before she blinks softly, looking at the blade now stuck in the table. She pauses a moment longer, before silently appraising the knife.

Duhnen looks down to the knife, before back up to Tinumir, not seeming too fazed. "Mistress Shardwood's son is often here as well, you see. Hence her pointed statement."

Tinumir Swift nods. "I understand. This would be a position of importance. An incompetent guard would be unsuitable for the position."

After assessing the reaction Ester, seemingly satisfied by it, sits back in her chair, leaving the knife to quiver until it come to rest. "So far so good," she comments in a neutral tone with a side long glance cast at the Surrector.

Rhiannon mhmms, and nods softly, "She ventures to comment, "I brought my Rapier..."

"Now wouldn't be the best time to put it to use, I don't believe," Duhnen responds with a nod to Rhiannon. "Though we'll go over the other details of the employment." He fixes his eyes on Tinumir. "You'd have lodgings here, with food as well, of course. 250 imperials a week."

Tinumir Swift offers a brief smile. "That would be more than acceptable."

Ester's shoulders relax as she leans against the back of the chair. "The food isn't the best but it is acceptable," she comments face and expression deadpan.

Tinumir Swift chuckles softly. "Its probably better than my own cooking, m'lady. I do believe I will manage."

Rhiannon smiles softly, "I think I'm more than happy with our arrangements. "She says brightly.

Duhnen tosses a sour look towards Ester, though it's tinged with underlying amusement. "You can both stay here for the night, if you wish. Though Silkfield is close if you wish to stay at the inn there. Either way."

Ester catches the look and raises a brow, her expression saying 'what?' as if she doesn't understand. The ever so brief quirk of a grin at one corner of her mouth the only action that betrays her underlying intent.

Tinumir Swift bows her head politely. "I will need to collect my belongings, m'lord, so I will more than likely not stay for the night."

Rhiannon hmms, and nods softly, "Where will our permanent lodgins be m'lord?" She asks curiously, if politely.

Duhnen gestures to a door on the side of the hall. "Past there," he explains to her. "There's plenty of room. It more than makes up for the food."

Ester looks away from the conversation and tilts her head to the side, giving her neck a good stretch. She reaches up to rub it for a few seconds before straightening and stretching it on the other side.

Tinumir Swift smiles. "I have no doubt the arrangements will be fine. Is there anything else we should know, m'lord, m'lady?"

Rhiannon smiles and nods quickly, "Most wonderful, I look forward to my employment here m'lord." she says with another nod. She hmms, "If you wouldn't mind telling me where the Smithy is, that I might accommodate myself?"

"Directly through that door," Duhnen gestures to the opposite wall from the staff quarters. "There's probably some of my old projects still about in there. So if there's a mess, forgiveness." He smiles at that.

"It was a pleasure to meet you Mistresses," Ester quips as she rises to her feet. She leans forward, tugs the knife out of the table and slips it into the sheath that hangs at her waist.

Tinumir Swift begins to rise from her chair. "Then if there is nothing more, m'lord, if you would excuse us."

Rhiannon nods to Ester, "May I be excused, to see the Smith m'lord?" she says, not yet standing.

"Enjoy," Duhnen wishes Rhiannon, nodding his head. "Good to meet you both. I'll be around if you need anything else."

Tinumir Swift smiles and excuses herself. "A pleasure, m'lord, and thank you."

Ester nods back at Rhiannon and then Tinumir. She grows silent as she waits them to finish their departure.

Rhiannon nods curtly, "Thank-you very much sir." She says, standing and making her way for the forge, trying not to run.

Ester watches until the women are gone and out of earshot. She scratches her ear and comments with a wry smile, "You really should try and be the bad guy for once."

"I'm not very good at it," Duhnen answers with a dry chuckle, looking over to her. "At least ,I don't think I am. Am I?"

"You are when it comes to Duchess Nillu," Ester quips dryly. "Anyways, good interview. They seem as if they may work out."

"I'm only a bad guy with bad people," Duhnen shrugs, settling in the seat. "The blacksmith will turn out fine, I'm sure. We'll have to see with the one who wants to be a guard. Once I see how well she handles herself."

"Aye," Ester says with a small amused smile and light pat on the knife in the sheath. "I will help with that..."

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