A Bird In The Hand

Title: A Bird in the Hand
Time Period: January 1, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: The pair are given a message. It's not good news.

It's been a disappointing day or two. Bridget hasn't been back in the manor long and she doesn't plan on staying, but she has hit a bit of a wall. Frustrating.

Plus, she really needed a drink. Just one, just something to ease off the tension in her shoulders. So with mug in hand, she stands by a window, her hand bracing her against the frame as she looks out over the grounds.

The afternoon has bled into the evening, and Jorn has since returned to town; after his outbursts, with both Bridget and Algernon, he shied away only to make himself presentable enough to return, and not in a hungover, half-drunken haze of discord. A bucket of water can do wonders for anyone, if you want it to. So when Jorn does get back, it is to woeful faces and the nervousness he's somehow harvested all day. Not smelling like muck can give you a false sense of security.

He's on the second floor, sequestered in a study that overlooks the speckled white of the grounds. Jorn is not the only one here, waiting for something to happen — Bridget is there, propped near the window. The northman hasn't spoken to her since the last they spoke. Though he shuffles limply over to the window, arms crossed, Jorn does not break his rather stony, tired silence.

They cannot see it from here, but torches light the forest and moors outside Dornie where search parties comb the blackened landscape in the dark, pressing onward in spite of the worsening weather. Hailstones glance off the study's ornate windows.

Adler and Dina have most of the settlement out looking for Cordelia, including her mentor, Dornie's physician, and her mentor's almost teenaged son. It is probably safe to assume that the horse lord is with them.

People grow tired more quickly than their animals do.

Something inky flashes at the window Jorn stands in front of. Wings buffet against glass.

When Jorn comes over, Bridget, too, stays silent at first. But, she can only stare out the window for so long before she lifts off to look his way. "I was out of line, before," she says, at length, and as fate would have it, she's turned away from the window at that flash.

She lets out a light sigh as she moves to set her drink down, not even finished. Which may be a first. "Blame it on stress." That's what she's blaming it on, anyway.

Sense of smell can't get you far when there's nothing to find. Perhaps that is what makes Jorn feel useless the most, aside from his issues with drink and slumber from the morning. He practically has his forehead to the glass, watching the lights in the weakening dusk as they flicker and bob against the looming shapes of trees and hillocks. His eyes move down to Bridget when she breaks the quiet for them. Usually Jorn looks so bushy-tailed, and the bags under his eyes don't suit them at all. The curve of his mouth that is made as a response is one she is familiar enough with. Something of recognition, though not boastfully so.

Jorn doesn't turn himself from the window to look after her, however, which gives him a startling view of the sudden blotch that obscures the glass.

"Faen-" Though the man does not shrink from the window, nor blink terribly hard, Jorn still jerks up his forearm as if the winged thing had come right through the panel.

A raven, black as the night outside, sits perched on the windowsill, its wings folded against its body and silver band gleaming around its left foot.

Bridget turns back at the word, her brows lifting curiously before she spots the bird there. It's not too odd to see a bird about, but her eyes catch that glimmer of metal and she comes back over, leaning against the inside sill to look at the creature. "What's that you got?" she asks, rhetorically, although she gestures Jorn's attention.

She moves then, to slowly slide open the window, trying not to scare it off, but too curious to let it be without taking a better look.

Once he realizes that it is a bird, Jorn lowers his hand again, peering intently out the windowpane to examine it before all else. He notes its health, its firm grip, and the delicate silver worn on its leg. His hands plant themselves on Bridget's rather abruptly, when she has the window open but a crack. Jorn's eyes are still on the bird, though, and he is not quite ready to just open the window.

"Be careful." He lets her slip the window open a bit further, but only so wide as the bird's head. "I'm not in a bird mood…"

The bird gives an anxious flutter of its wings when Bridget opens the window, the study's light flooding over its shape and illuminating the metallic sheen of its feathers. It must not mind the cold or the wet, because it doesn't immediately launch itself into the study as soon as the soldier has made the opening.

Instead, it turns and shows her the cylinder attached to the band on its leg.

A message.

Bridget pauses at the touch, and she looks up at Jorn and his warning with a firm nod of her head. She crouches down a bit, to be on level with the opening, and she regard the bird a moment longer before she reaches her hand out.

She still moves slow, even though it shows no signs of being easily spooked, but her fingers work to pull out whatever's inside that little tube.

Jorn is that head higher than Bridget, and it comes in handy to hold the window and leer down out of the space opened. The bird seems tame enough, to boot. With how it turns to present itself and its objective, he expects it not to be pecking or clawing at any prying hand that the woman puts out. He doesn't like this, and not only because this creature is a stranger.

The message inside is succinct because it has to be. There is only so much room on the slip of paper, and the author's penmanship is extremely cramped.

If Goneril and Edgar have any desire to see their daughter alive again, then they will deliver two dozen rifles from the Rowntrees' factory, along with four cases of ammunition to Horseshoe Pass in the Cloud Mountains on the fifth of January at sundown.

They are to come alone and unarmed on two of Edmund Rowntree's best horses and should expect to walk back on foot.

Bridget straightens up before she actually unrolls the paper to read it. But when she does, her expression darkens considerably. There's even a low growl before she shoves the paper at Jorn's chest and stomps over to where she left most of her gear.

The way she straps her sword to her back and slips knives into her boots, it's almost like she's got a mind to storm out there herself right this moment.

Jorn looks after her before he plucks the paper from where he caught it on his chest. He gives the bird another careful look before reading it himself. They do not have similar reactions for nothing- Jorn's brow deepens, and the hand not holding onto the slip cracks at the knuckles when he makes a fist against the pane. Weapons are things to be traded for, not ransomed for. Jorn prefers to think that Cordelia's life is worth more than any weapons, but there is a shortlist of who thinks the same. These people are obviously not on it — and hopefully her family is. Both sides.

"Where are you going?"

Bridget looks up from the work of fastening her bracers on, and her gaze sweeps over him for a moment. "Well, I'm going to the Cloud Mountains, aren't I?" She says it matter-of-factly, and turns her attention back to getting herself put back together.

"Can't just leave her there. And even if they aren't there… I can have a look over the spot, we can have some sort of plan to tell her mother and father." She does glance up at him, a frown on her face. "I can be careful. I know how to move through the wilderness. They won't see me." It might be a touch of overconfidence there, but she seems serious.

Jorn sweeps around her, essentially putting himself in the way of the door, the window still open and the message in his hand. "If they see you, or know that you are there, they may kill her outright. Could you live with that?" He frowns, the lines in his beard darkening as he does so, and his brows knitting further up on his forehead. "I know you're capable, Bridget. So am I. But this is Cordelia, not some militia rat." Inferring that such punks are- well- dispensable. It is his old way presenting itself there.

"You cannot just go there, they may be waiting for someone to show up like you aim to. Then we'll have two ransoms, or two bodies to bury." Granted, every such hostage is always worth more when alive; the threat, however, Jorn does not take lightly.

"I can't just sit here, Jorn," Bridget says, standing up from her chair, but not stepping toward the door just yet. "She's just a girl and they're up there doing god knows what with her and I can't just. Sit. Here." And that frustration funnels into a pace back and forth, quick strides making short work of the room's width.

"What do you want to do instead, just wait until we're pulling weapons to an enemy?"

Jorn slides his hand over his hair, staring down at the message as if it held some other one in the study's light. His nose rankles just so, as it always does when irritated — a rankled muzzle when together with his gritting.

"No. I don't stand for giving my enemy my weapons." This one, though, has a vice on him. Jorn scans his boots, and glances back up to see if the bird is still there. "A disguise may only work if they do not know your face. This is not exactly the best intelligence situation, given we know nothing about these people. Without more, I can't advise anything, whether going out there or staying behind." It sounds as though he also wants to make the trip, but there is that reluctance to put the girl into any more danger than she is already in.

"Exactly. They hold all the cards, but a scouting mission would help even the odds. In any case, none of them — " the family, that is " — is going to walk into this blind. I'll go in a disguise, if I must."

Bridget comes over to put her hands on the window frame again, although it turns out to be a different window. "I don't know what else to do, beyond sabotaging the weapons. But I'm reluctant to let this get that far."

Content that for the moment, Bridget is not going to zip straight out the door, Jorn moves over towards the open window. "That could be disasterous, even if it got so far. Anyone of sound mind would test a tribute before it is over." He makes to close the window as he speaks, eyeballing the bird if it is still there, or the empty sill if it has gone.

"No blindness." He agrees. "Everyone needs an eye."

"I know. Which is why I would rather go take a look, see if we can set up an ambush or something. Or, better yet, track them down and get her back. I know you don't want her hurt, but there's one thing I never do. And that's to trust a villain to keep his word. She's in danger either way. They all are, if they go up there alone." Bridget does look over toward the door, as if she might be thinking of making a run for it, but it seems the forced pause helped her calm down. At least a little.

"Do you need me to come, even partway?" Jorn latches the window, looking over to the young woman with a spark in his eye. "How should we handle this?" He holds the paper still, fondling it between two fingers and gesturing it towards Bridget. "Should it wait, or do I have to be the one to tell them?" Alone. Jorn is not good at 'news'. She probably knows that. "None of them will like it, and coming from me may make it worse."

They both know that he failed, somewhere along the line, and that the guilt is as strong as anything.

Bridget turns to look at him as he brings up a rather excellent point. Her fingers tap against the window frame for a moment before she comes striding over his way. "I'll tell them," she says as she holds her hand out for the paper. "But they'll know we both are working to put this right. Not just me."

She may have been harsh when she first heard the news, but she's not going to cut him out of the recovery. "I'll let them know we're going up to scout, and when we're done, we'll have a plan for getting her back."

"Tell me if anything changes. I'll be downstairs." Presumably getting ready to leave with her. Jorn presses his hand onto Bridget's, the paper between their palms, and his fingers brushing over the side of her hand. The smallest of gestures, and yet the biggest reason being that he trusts her. "Describe the bird, too. In case that it returns."