|A Brother Departs|
|Summary:||As Jacsen Terrick prepares to leave Seagard for Terrick's Roost, he speaks to his food taster about his concerns.|
|Lord Jacsen's Room — Seagard|
|A generously appointed room, fit for a young lord and a ward of Jason Mallister.|
|10 August 288|
The note, hastily written, might well have caught Avinashi by some surprise given how matters had progressed at Seaguard. One moment, Jacsen Terrick was thick in the council of Lord Jason Mallister, working on any number of tasks put to him, and the next, he was sending a letter to his 'Ashi' that simply said; 'I'm going back to the Roost. Come and find me, as soon as you might.'
When Avinashi is permitted into her Lord's chambers it is to find them a place in some flux, their usual and ordered manner turned somewhat upside down. Two large trunks are open and partially filled, while Jacsen himself stands in the midst of the room, leaning heavily on his cane, directing the two servants set to the task of preparing his belongings for the trek to his childhood home.
It is not new news that Jacsen is leaving for Terrick's Roost by the time the retainer comes to her Lordship's door, though it is still a bit peculiar to see the servants and the trunks and the general way the room has been undone. When Avinashi enters, the faint sound of jingling bells announces her even before the brightness of her clothing does. She carries a little tray of bread, cheese and wine, setting them down on the room's small table. She tears off a small bit of bread and sets a tiny corner of cheese atop it. They're chewed and swallowed and then chased with a tiny sip of wine. She stands in silence, studying the food and waiting. When, after a minute, nothing happens, the tray is carried over to Jacsen. "My lord," she offers in her dulcet, accented voice.
"Ashi," he says, his familiar warmth for the woman not undone by the rather unmade state of his chambers. Jacsen watches as the woman samples the repast she brings, and uses the interlude to dismiss the servants so recently set to the task of arranging his things. When the exotic Dornish woman approaches, he waves her to the small table where he often will take his private meals over work, and makes his way over in his own slow-gaited fashion. "Things are proceeding faster than I expected at Terrick's Roost," he mentions, once he's seated, his cane set aside but within easy reach. "I'm leaving on the morrow for my father's seat."
"So quickly," Avinashi muses, quietly carrying the plate over and setting it down before Jacsen once he seats himself. The words are more an observation than a complaint, however, and with the servants departed, there is no hesitation or request before she draws out her own chair and settles herself across from him. "What has inspired this sudden urgency?"
"The Nayland Lord that wed my brother's long intended bride, Isolde Tordane, has made himself present in the Roost," Jacsen observes, a slight frown favoring his features as he reaches for a bit of cheese from the plate. "And now this matter of Ser Gedeon Rivers, who was a childhood friend, and these letters claiming him rightful heir to the Stonebridge becomes ever more complicated."
He shakes his head a fraction, and swallows the mouthful of cheese. "Lord Mallister… was wroth. Not so wroth as to direct it at my kin, yet, but the Roost must begin to turn things around lest he change his mind on that."
"That seems discourteous of him, this Nayland, to come to your brother's home so soon after taking what was his," Avinashi replies, her gaze lifting and lowering, following the food, though there is no move made to take any for herself. "And your Ser Gedeon plays his game at a convenient time to encourage the Terricks to believe in his cause. But what is it Lord Mallister would see done by sending you to your family's home? What path would he have you guide your kin down?"
"On this? He has not spoken plainly of his mind, not wholly. I think that wise, and likely calculated on his part," Jacsen admits. "He leaves me latitude to do what I think must be done, without tying his name too closely to whatever path I encourage my lord brother and father to take." He tears off a hunk from the bread and then waves a hand signaling that Avinashi is welcome to sample as she likes. His appetite in the best of moods is never very impressive. "This matter of Oldstones, and Gedeon's claim… it's ripe for thoughts of conspiracy and intrigue. But I know the man, as I said. It is hard to believe he would come to my kin with lies in his heart." He tears into the hunk and chews a morsel, adding, "But time does change a man, and I would do well to assume nothing."
"To believe in his heart is no small thing, if he has given you reason to do so," Avinashi responds, pulling away a small piece of bread and breaking off a bit even smaller so that she might chew it daintily. "But time and war and travel are all powerful, and if this Gedeon has seen all three, you must be careful to keep your eyes open and your mind clear. it would be a danger to color him too fondly on what has come before, rather than the man you will meet now. But, for your heart's sake," her lips lift upwards just a little, "may they be one in the same."
"May that be," Jacsen echoes, his blue eyes trailing off to some errant corner of the chambers, a clear sign that he is consumed with thought. "I do not know when I shall return, nor if, as events at home could delay me indefinitely." That news is delivered when the Terrick lord's attention returns to the plate and Avinashi, another morsel of bread passing his lips. "It is hard to see what will come of all this, yet."
She tears off another small bite of bread, chewing slowly and swallowing carefully. "I see," Avinashi replies for this latest news. "Then I will bring you a large pouch of the tea before you go, and you must remember to drink it when you wake and before you sleep. And a third time, in the middle of the day, if you find you are holding wrinkles here." She lifts a finger to all-but-touch the spot above Jacsen's nose, between his eyebrows. "You may write to me, should you need more, and I will have it sent."
His smile is a grateful one, though the expression is not enough to warm the thoughtful, somewhat dire cast of his deep blue eyes. "Thank you, Ashi," Jacsen murmurs, using that favored sliver of her name that, so far as he is aware, he calls her alone. "I will have great need of it, I'm sure, in the days to come." Another small morsel of bread, torn from his small hunk and popped into his mouth. "Not the way in which I'd have chosen my long-delayed homecoming… I admit. Not at all."
She smiles softly for the little name he's given her. "Of course," Avinashi replies, ending her own small hunk of bread by chewing the bit that remained. "I think a homecoming so long delayed always comes only when circumstances are dire enough. What else would prompt you to return, perhaps for good, when your life is here, now? Trouble brewing. Or a funeral."
"Longing, one day perhaps," Jacsen muses, lifting one shoulder in a light half shrug. "I've not set sight on either of my brothers in years. Jaremy since we left to answer Robert's call in the Rebellion, and Jarod since the Trident. Lucienne I might have seen more recently, but my heart would do well for her company again all the same." He considers the woman across the table from him, chewing his bread before he asks, "And what of you, Avinashi? I reckon you knew well this day was coming, as clouds have been gathering for some weeks now, since before the Tournament," he mentions. "Have you given thought to what you shall do, when I have taken my leave of Seaguard?"
"I will manage," is Avinashi's only real answer to that. "Have you given thought to what you will do without a … food taster?" She blinks slowly at him, brows lifted slightly.
"Manage." Jacsen turns that answer over in his mind, and seems not quite satisfied with it. "My father's court is not Seaguard, I'm afraid. Were it not for the recent events swirling about, one might call it somewhat provincial, indeed." He sets the remainder of his bread down and brushes the flour dust from his fingertips. "He's a stern sort of man, Lord Jerold Terrick, though I do not know what he would make of my current… food taster." He settles back into his chair, hands settling atop the arms of the furniture. "You would draw far more eyes in the Roost than you have at Seaguard, and we both know that is no small number."
He considers Avinashi a moment longer, and asks her plainly, "Would you follow me, to Terrick's Roost? Knowing that I might well not properly leave that seat again?"
"Do you think I would dress as I do, behave as I do, if I feared eyes upon me?" Avinashi asks Jacsen, settling her hands lightly in her lap. "I should like to see this provincial home of yours, were it possible. I would follow, if I could be of use to you. I would not ask for your pity, Jacsen Terrick." her chin lifts a little. A muted show of pride.
Jacsen shakes his head slowly. "No, I would not call my thoughts as bent towards you pity, Avinashi, nothing of the sort. Nor is it you I worry about the eyes troubling." He drums his fingers lightly upon the arm of the chair, a habit he takes to oft when deliberating, as it seems he must now. "You would not follow to simply see this home of mine, and examine how it might suit your tastes. If you follow, I will expect you to remain. As you have with me here in Seaguard." The light rap of fingers on lacquered wood halts, and he adds, "Yet I hold you to no bondage in this moment, and will find you no less fondly in my eyes should you not wish to follow. Simply know that the decision to do so is not one taken lightly, not in my eyes."
"Then we are of the same mind about such an undertaking," Avinashi replies with a small, approving nod, "and I will follow you to Terrick's Roost, my lord."
He considers the woman for a long moment, before he concedes with a nod. "We shall leave you to remain here for a while longer, to see to some matters, and whatever affairs you might need to close," Jacsen decides. "It will be easier should you follow somewhat behind, and leave me fewer questions to answer all at the once."
"Very well," Avinashi agrees, offering Jacsen, once more, her small, secret smile. "I shall… how is it said, here, 'put my affairs in order?' I will wait for your word and keep watch at Seagard while I remain here."
"I will have a few private letters I would like you to see delivered," Jacsen informs the Dornish 'food taster' across from him. "And if you've a chance to keep your ear keen for any news that would be of worth in all of this, I'd be pleased to hear of it. I expect it will be a few weeks before I send for you, so there will be time to hear it, if it is being spoken of."
"If it is being spoken of, then I will hear it," the brightly-garbed woman promises calmly, "and I will write you, should there be something worth writing on, and see your letters to their destination. Seagard will be well seen to. Turn your gaze homeward and do not concern yourself with things here."
Jacsen Terrick tips his chin at that last. "And so I shall. My retinue will leave on the morrow by horseback for Terrick's Roost. Before long, I shall send for you to join me, by fairer means."
"If you like. I can ride well enough to manage the trip on horseback, unless your stern Lord father would disapprove. In which case, I defer to your wisdom, my lord, of course," Avinashi replies gently, bowing her head at the last.
"I do not suspect Lord Jerold will give a whit did you walk or flew, save that you did not give him reason to think his son treated you dishonorably," Jacsen assures her, with a quiet smirk. "I merely thought to be kind and generous, Ashi. You can travel as you like, horseback or otherwise."
"But I should return to arranging things for my departure," he decides, bringing the quiet interlude betwixt them to an end. "I thank you for the repast, and look forward to seeing you again at Terrick's Roost." His last words are delivered with a truer sort of smile, made fonder for their relative rarity on the lord's part. "Fare you well, Avinashi Ruhi."
"And you, Jacsen Terrick," Avinashi replies, easing her chair back and standing slowly, setting her anklets to chiming again. She collects up the tray and studies the taller man and his cane for a quiet, thoughtful moment longer. "Until we shall meet again." She dips into a graceful curtsy before carrying the remains of the light meal out the door and alerting the servants that they might return and resume the young lord's packing.