The clop-clop-clop of multiple horses resounding on the stone pavement, a small retinue reaches the gates of Lubbrowa with a black-axe-on-a-golden-field banner fighting against the wind and looming over the company.
On a small blue roan, a Second One herald announces the group towards the guards: "I introduce Chieftain Rivkah of the Clan of Tor Kleykirya of the Clans of the north, who requests audience with Lord Takkan d'Raibesselt of the Clanlands d'Serrai, and brings a gift in goodwill gesture..."
A large and mean-faced stallion, the color of a pure dark night without a star in sight, is brought forward as the herald raises his arm to the side to call for its attention. The animal steps heavily, metal-horseshoe reverberating against stone, as in defiance towards its new master, no offer of friendship from it.
This all is observed by cold blue eyes and a mask of indifference on the sandy-skinned and sandy-haired First One who was just now introduced, mounting atop an equally large but infinitely better tempered white spotless mare, and wearing a lavish coat of white furs crossed by a black leather strap at the waist line to allow it belted.
"...which signalizes the improvement of relations between the two..." continues the herald, his ceremonial monologue drowned away from Rivkah's attention as she leans forward and whispers something softly to her mount and confident, her hand caressing the equine's strong neck and her own eyes closing for a brief moment, in wait for the formalities to be over.
The gates of Lubbrova are wide open - and leading to them betwen a double line of mailed guards stands a lone figure, the axe traditionally used by his clan in the crook of his arm. Stiff posture, but the eyes are alight. Above him the heavy gatetower flies the banner of the d'Serrai - a simple spear on red and white, next to a banner showing the black axe of the visitors.
Takkan listens to the words of the herald, nods slowly once he does finish.
'Well spoken - my thanks! Thus be welcome - and enjoy guestright. No harm shall befall you in my house, stay as long as you wish - and here your enemies shall be mine'
With the traditional formula spoken Takkan seems somewhat at loss for words...uncharted territory ahead, mayhap.
'Please follow me.'
With that the guards file into the dark gateway - Takkan walking besides the white mare, fidgeting somewhat. Rivkah is not quite sure, but she thinks he did mutter something like '...not sure if this was such a brilliant idea...'. That and the fact that Takkan seems to ready himself to grasp the bridle of her mare is somewhat unsettling.
As the small troop exits the gate, against of the glare of the sun Rivkah can just make out long, long lines of warriors - who, seeing the visitors emerge into the plaza, clash their spears against their shields and raise one deafening shout.
With consumate skill Rivkah controls her mare, her retainers likewise....only the herald has a few troubles. With a slightly maniacal, panicky grin Takkan looks into Rivkah's eyes: 'I...wanted to impress. Please forgive me.'
With that, the hundreds over hundreds of warriors arrayed in rank after rank once more clash their weapons on their shields...and shout.
Into the ringing silence - and looking straight into the eyes of his visitors boring into him, raised eyebrows all:
'Ah....Baroness, welcome.....welcome to Lubbrova!'
An unkind observer might have noticed his huscarls looking straight ahead very disciplined, pressing their lips together, trying very hard....one giant of a man even has tears running down his cheeks despite that, his shoulders shaking.
Luckily, the scene breaks - the warriors breaking ranks, grooms rushing forward offering to take care of the horses. Thus the stern image dissolves as cheerful bustle more akin to normal life takes over. The din of greetings, cheerful shouts and the colourfull curses of a carter having been prevented to cross the plaza.
Lubbrowa seems a pleasant place - timbered houses, some even sporting three stories. Once the cavalcade crosses another plaza, market stalls lining its edgeds and lively barter being shouted back and forth. Finally the troop does arrive at a pretty house set apart from all others. It is both pleasant - and easily defensible.
'Lady, I hope this will be acceptable as a home during your stay. Please also accept these four hands of huscarls - they were chosen for the honour to serve as your guards. Your life is theirs. Their life is yours.'
At that the grizzled leader of the 20 looks into Rivkahs eyes, nods once and pricks his palm with his dagger, marking the gatepost of the house with his blood: 'Thus it will be'.
With the formalities out of the way, Takkan takes a deep breath, again looking into Rivkahs eyes: 'Lady, I am very pleased you are here. It would be an honour if you would join me this evening - for there will be a feast in your honour in the clanhall of Lubbrova tonight.' He looks somewhat desperately sincere.