Gerbold sips the wine. It is sweetish, but not cloying and not over-strong. He nods as Etan Hogg approaches with a sense of purpose.
“Well fought today, Ser.”
“Aye, and you, Ser.” Gerbold sees that young knight was hardly sober, but not yet sloppy drunk.
“Can I ask why you spared those men? Seemed a waste of time and effort to haul them all the way back to town. Is that Aaron’s influence? It certainly does not seem like the actions of a man of you reputation.”
“You equate evil with stupid, Ser. Keep that up and you will be dead long before you can inherit the rule of Sow’s Horn. But yes, it is Aaron’s influence. Only a month ago, I would have been looking to slaughter the lot. But Master Aaron has a way of getting information from people. Few can stand his open gaze, his questions for long. I would put him against any torturer and gamble on his information as the more accurate. It is difficult not to be honest with him.”
“But they were scum, small folk living in a forest, what could they know of value to people like us?” Hogg still didn’t seem to understand.
Gerbold held his tongue, from the quick reply, but did raise an eyebrow. “If you do not know, then I can’t tell you. You heard what happened here, aye? That house Pierce was accused of killing House Dannett farmers? It was Aaron’s ability to get people to talk, that proved we were not involved. My methods would have simply increased the body count. We learnt much from that scum we took today, and now there may be a few more hands at the wall.”
“I still say there weren’t good enough for the wall.”
“You have never been in the north, have you? Are those men too poor, too low to sacrifice themselves to protect your lands?”
“Bah, what do you know of the noble mind?”
“Far more than I ever wished to, Ser.”
“Bah…” Hogg waves a dismissive hand and takes a refill of his mug, from a passing servant. The young knight spies someone likely to be more agreeable and stalks off to harass him.
“Charming, isn’t he.” said Aaron as he draped his cloak over a chair and sat down. The sarcasm was subtle, but there.
Gerbold replied with a grunt and sipped his wine. “How did things go with your Father?”
“Surprisingly well.” replied Aaron lightly. “I think he was taken off guard. He will probably be better prepared the next time.”
“Will he do as you asked?”
“Definitely. Pierces keep their agreements to the letter.”
Gerbold nodded. “What do you think of the young ward?” Both men watched as the Ser Hogg was now deep in conversation with Lord Manning.
“I think what I think of him pales in comparison to what he thinks of him.” Aaron took the glass of light white wine offered to him by a young serving girl, gave her a smile and thanked her. The girl blushed a livid red and hurried off as the young man sighed at this usual reaction. “I’m more interested in what everyone else thinks of him.”
“And?” asked Gerbold.
“Well, if I am reading things right, Lord Manning holds him in high regard. Kevan is indifferent, and Devan is impressed. We might have to keep an eye on him, as he seems to be the only Manning that’s salvageable.
Stephyn is indiffernt as well, although Eton thinks they are friends. William doesn’t trust the man. Kyle seems to actively dislike him, which just shows you how intelligent the boy is. I doubt Eton has noticed, though. Kyle is only fourteen, shy, and a third son; not nearly important enough to pay attention to yet."
“Hard to tell.” replied Aaron with a thoughtful look. “Friendly enough I guess. He certainly has done his duty to the man, but he has four children of his own. Don’t ask me what Kat thinks. I’m not THAT good.”
“Etan is a fool, I think. And I would as soon push him into the ocean from a tall rock, as speak with him.” Gerbold is relaxed and seems actually to be having a pleasant evening. An occassional smile play across his weathered face as he watches the younger folk dance. “Perhaps though, it is only youthful arrogance and inexperience that makes him so. maybe he’s salvageable. I have my doubts. My guess, is that if I am able to see he is a fool, that your aunt has a strong opinion of him. She might even agree with me.”
“I think that if he was salvageable,” smile Aaron wryly, “my Aunt would have salvaged him by now.”
“Indeed. I only know that I do not like him.”
Aaron took a sip of his wine and settled back in his chair. “As is often the case, Ser Knight, we are in complete agreement.”