Hoggs and Kisses
After introducing Robert Birdcatcher to Harron and Michael Craft, Gerbold leaves the three to get settled and goes to the stables to check on the condition of Birdcatcher’s horse. At the stable, giggling and moaning greet his ears, but he ignores these sounds and does what he came to do.
He finds the sorrel mare with a black and a white fore sock and examines her. She is well mannered and calm and seems to realise he means no harm. She is well cared for and her shoes are in good condition.
As the Knight leaves the stables, the giggles have ended, replaced by grunts and soft feminine cries. His brow furrows as these sounds bring back memories old and recent. Purposefully, Gerbold seeks out Aaron.
As usual, it is Ryn that answers the door. "Is your Master here, boy?” Gerbold has decided that he will enjoy this little game and he speaks perhaps, just a little louder than he might normally.
“Of course, Ser.” Ryn gives a small bow but does not yet open the door to permit the knight inside. “Ser Gerbold here to see you, Master Aaron… shall I send him away?” the young man’s quick flash of a grin tells Gerbold he will enjoy the game too and likely play it better than the ageing Knight.
“Show him in, Ryn.” Aaron heaves a half-hearted sigh, knowing these two don’t likely dislike each other quite as much as they let on. “Good evening, Ger.”
“Good evening Aaron. I have been thinking…” Gerbold pauses to allow Ryn his sarcastic display. When the eye rolling is finished, the Knight continues: “About young Ser Hogg. It seems to me there are only three reasons he would ask you to help him now. Wealth, power or sex. We know his house is neither particularly wealthy, as houses go, and it’s not powerful. So perhaps that is not his urgency in having his ward ship ended. My guess is that there’s some woman. Perhaps one that he can not be with, in his current political state.”
Aaron stands silent for a moment. "Ryn, I need to talk to Gerbold alone.” he says softly.
The boy blinks, hesitates for a moment, bows his head and departs. There is curiosity in his eyes, but he knows Aaron does not keep secrets from him without good reason and trusts the young heir’s judgement.
Once Ryn has gone and the door closed, Aaron continues. “I have information that Etan Hogg and Sylvie Lannister may be… involved.”
Gerbold’s eyes widen at the import of the statement. “Are you sure?”
“My source is beyond reproach." Aaron pauses for a moment. “They were seen kissing.”
“So it seems I’m cleverer than I look, blast it all. I was hoping you’d tell me I was wrong. Good that you sent Ryn out. Less who know, the better. Do you have any plan in mind to stop the affair, or the wedding?”
Aaron looks out the window in thought. “If it is just an affair, I see no reason to stop either. Marriage and love seem to be mutually exclusive for nobles. That’s not what bothers me.”
Turning, Aaron looks at his Knight Champion. “Gerbold, Sow’s Horn is a weeks ride due north of King’s Landing. If you were madly in love with a woman, would you be desperate to put twelve hundred miles between you?”
“No, I wouldn’t. But I might want to be free to marry her. And she might refuse Master Manning, if her lover is no longer warded.”
“That’s probably more likely.” replies Aaron turning again to the window. “Which means Etan tried to mislead me. I am shocked.” Aaron’s voice drips with sarcasm. “It wouldn’t surprise me if the man is deluding himself. Perhaps Sylvie sees it nothing more than an affair… or perhaps there is more going on here. I won’t know for sure until I meet the woman. I do know Etan and Kevan aren’t the only ones she’s affected. Darren Manning is also in love with her.”
Of course he is. Perhaps William or Kyle will fall for her too. She must be far better looking than her portrait. Aaron, I am not a man knowledgeable in relationships. I was a virgin, as Tara was, when we wed. Just didn’t see the need of other women. But I am reminded of the Lugas wench. Would Hogg be ready to kill of Master Manning, either to have her or at her behest? Maybe see him fall into a river, or off a cliff?"
“I think a man is capable of anything when there is a woman involved.” replies Aaron acidly.
“Aye. So I guess we do as planned and keep our eyes on him.”
Aaron nods. “We can do little for now. I would prefer to extract Darren from the equation, if only for his own safety. Sylvie may only be guilty of poor judgement. Etan is quite dashing, in his way, and Kevan is a bit if a stick.”
“If by dashing, you mean pretty but thick… then aye. She might not even know about the young fellow.”
“Perhaps. It depends on what kind of woman she is.” Aaron thought for a long moment. “If she is an Iris Dannett, then we just have Etan to deal with. If she is a Marta Lugas, then we have much bigger problems.”
“I want to go home.” Gerbold looks, as usual, stone faced.