Ser Bennyn couldn’t help but smile as he rode up. He recognized the young girl tending horses instantly. Six months ago, it would have been Henred stabling the travelers horses for the festivities. Now, the young girl Ria Sand handled the affair as if she were born to it. In many ways, he knew, she had been. When it was time to accompany House Oakdown to King’s Landing, he wanted to find a skilled aide to tend to his beloved steed. All the nobles and smallfolk alike spoke of the young bastard girl, and her gift with the Seven’s creatures. She did not disappoint. When the company returned, Ria even managed to drive off some Highwaymen who had been following them for ill purpose. Ser Bennyn insisted on paying her wages, as well as a gold dragon besides. He told the young girl he wanted to see it used to further her ambitions of taking over for Henred, or perhaps starting a venture of her own. He wouldn’t take no for an answer, and only asked for her promise to tend to his horse personally when it was needed. When she saw him ride up to the outcropping near Redgate, she returned his smile.
As he dismounted and handed her the reins, he smelled roasted fowl cooking nearby. It seemed the Oakdowns and Conningtons wouldn’t be the only ones feasting. His father had always told him you could tell the smallfolk’s mind about their liege lords based on how they joined in a celebration. Lonetree was famous for sharing Lady Oakdown’s misery, and today they were celebrating in her joy. A mere three months ago they celebrated another marriage, but they hadn’t seemed to lose any interest. Once more the Prince’s Pass was humming with activity as smallfolk gathered, merchants peddled their wares, and noble guests made their way into the Oakdown’s Keep. Tonight was the welcoming feast, and tomorrow would be the blessed event itself. It was a great insult to refuse an invitation of a Lord or Lady, but an even greater insult to refuse a wedding or funeral summons. As a sworn sword of the house, he had no intention of giving such insult. He didn’t care for these things generally, but he resolved to enjoy himself this time.
Ser Bennyn smiled at the young girl. “I see you’ve been keeping busy, little Ria. How fare you?”