|A Fine Day for Fishing|
|Summary:||Rose is without plans on her day of liberty and kidnaps Jacsen to the fishing hole.|
|Related Logs:||Post Pillow Talk, precedes The Qualities of Lordship|
|Steps of Four Eagles Tower, Terrick's Roost and a forest lake nearby|
|28th Eighthmonth, 288 AL|
It's yet early in the morn, but already the heat of the day has begin to squeeze on the depths of Four Eagles' Tower, sending many whom have no need to remain inside into the relief that might be found outdoors, be it an errant breeze or the splash of the surf.
For Jacsen, it is the former, and only lightly felt as he sits on the steps leading up to his father's fortress, his less fortunate leg spread out while the other bends at the knee, serving as a prop for the sheaf of papers the Terrick lord seems to pour over. A cup and pitcher sit near him, reached for every now and then as a source of mild relief and refreshment.
Light steps dance down the stair behind him, bringing Squire Rowan, in all her cross-dressing glory, up alongside. "Oi! There you are!" She drops down to sit beside him. "What terribly boring thing is it you've got there?" she wonders, peering over his shoulder at the papers.
Jacsen smirks. "Why, aren't you chipper this morn?" he wonders with a small chuckle. "And back to what I'm sure is more comfortable garb, too." He casts the top parchment aside at Rowan, and shakes his head. "Surely /you/ could help Master Vark see to his poached livestock being returned? I think he fails to understand that I am not in Seaguard of late, and so, can accomplish precious little there."
"Poached livestock… in Seaguard?" Rowan laughs. "First of all, that sounds dreadfully dull. But at least he must think you exceptionally competent, to assume you can rustle back rustled cattle from such distance?"
"It's more a dispute over who owns what calves where, and somehow I am expected to wield some influence over the local authority that makes the decision," Jacsen shakes his head a bit, and leans over to retrieve the document, returning it back to the stack and reaching to close the leather portfolio. "Dreadfully dull to us, but worth considerable coin to the two men in question I'm sure."
"Mmm, I'm sure," Rowan agrees, wrinkling her nose. "So what are you going to do about it, then?"
"I? Not much, I think. The matter is not one that was ever beneath my purview, even at Seaguard, and to answer one such request would be to invite a dozen more. It's no precedent I wish to set." Jacsen shrugs a touch, and lifts up his wine, sniffing at the watered down stuff. "Thirsty, Rowan?"
"Not for wine," Rowan reminds him, wryly. "Probably not ever again. You can't imagine how sick I was." She folds her arms across her knees and looks out over the courtyard, all the bright swatches of light and crisp morning shadows. "I have a day of liberty today," she says, glancing at him. "And my plans have fallen through."
"Oh, you might be surprised," Jacsen informs her, before he takes a long sip from the cup before setting it aside. "But that is neither here nor there. What are these plans, so crass as to have fallen through on you?" His brow quirks with idle curiosity.
"Hardly worth mentioning," says Rowan, a faint dimple appearing alongside her mouth. "The point is that I am suddenly with plans or good occupation. And you are besieged with paperwork containing concerns not at all yours. We should find some mutually satisfying remedy." She tilts her head. "Do you fish?"
That she does not seem ready to speak after her discarded plans earns the quirk of Jacsen's brow, but the curious look disappears soon enough when he shakes his head. "Not in many years, since I was more a boy. Before Jarod and I went off to be squires in our grand adventure," he remarks. "I take it you are more familiar with it, then?"
"I am positively abysmal at it," Rowan assures the youngest Terrick brother. "But I can manage the motions. And it's very relaxing, whether one catches anything or not." She smiles a winsome smile. "Will you come?"
He tilts his head to the side, considering the woman, dressed as a man, who poses that invitation to him. "It is not too far, is it?" Jacsen wonders, as he reaches for his cane and begins the process of climbing up to his feet, made somewhat easier for the sake of the steps he is seated upon.
Rowan shakes her head. "Not at all. And we can ride, if you prefer. There's a trail through the wood the horses will find easy enough." She stands as well, clasping her hands behind her and waiting.
"I suppose a ride would suit well enough," Jacsen determines, with a glance up to the sky. "I'd rather be in the wood where there is some shade to enjoy. I've little doubt today's heat will be most unkind." He motions for a servant to come and take his things, offering instructions on where to take his sheaf of papers. Elsewise, the Lord is willing to follow Rowan's lead.
She beams. "Good! I'll gather the bait and tackle, ready the horses, and you…" she squints a moment, then snaps her fingers in inspiration. "You hit the kitchen? We'll want lunch, later. Have Cook make us a basket."
Jacsen chuckles. "I suppose I can have someone get some things together for us," he agrees, but seems in no hurry to hobble his way over to the kitchen himself. He seems set to let Rowan off to take care of her end of the arrangements, before he asks, "What are you working at, squire?" Her title, such as it is, is used in lieu of either her false name, or a name that might well give some clue to her secret to others.
The girl squire blinks and raises her eyebrows. "Well, just now I was going to work at getting… bait and tackle? And horses?" As she'd just said. "Sorry, what's the question again?"
His lips quirk, but the Terrick lord shakes his head. "Mm? Nothing, Rowan, nothing at all. I'll see we've a repast for the afternoon. And something other than wine for the sake of thirst," Jacsen notes, not like to force wine upon the poor squire. "I shall see you shortly."
Off to their separate tasks, they rejoin in fairly short order, Rowan organizing gear and horses with the economy and efficiency that marks an experienced squire. She awaits him in the yard, spoiling both her mount and Jacsen's with apples and excessive praise.
"Ah, so that is how you've gotten them so well in hand," Jacsen observes as he ventures into the yard, a hefty pack thrown over one shoulder and held by its leather strap, while he navigates with his cane in the other. "Think you ready to be off on this little trek, then?" His lips quirk. "I fear the fish have likely little to worry from us, but the fresh air and cool water will do me well regardless."
"Of course," Rowan replies, grinning and moving to relieve the Terrick lord of his pack. "I may not have the smoothest manners with human beings, but with horses and hounds I'm a most practiced courtier. Flattery and bribery get you everywhere." She nods. "Quite ready — let's. And you might be surprised! Fish are not very bright. We might catch a few."
He steps over to his own brown-dappled horse, patting the beast with a tender, familiar touch. "Hm, something tells me you'd manage well, should you ever need navigate a more human court," Jacsen remarks, his lips twisting in a smirk. He slides his cane into the holster at his saddle, and leans mostly on the one leg while he fastens the large pack there as well. "How long do you expect the ride to take?" he wonders, looking over his shoulder at Rowan.
Rowan backs off gracefully when it's clear Jacsen's intent on handling his pack himself. "Sorry. Squire instinct." She smirks back, eyes mirthful, at his assessment of her courtly ability. "I'll pretend that was a compliment. It shouldn't take us long at all. Ten minutes. Ten and five, tops. It's not at all far."
"Who's to say it wasn't one?" Jacsen wonders, and nods his understanding at the timing of their travels. He takes a moment to prepare, before hauling himself up into the saddle, his less able leg bound with an unusual strap that hangs from that side of his seat. "You have, after all, managed to charm me," he points out. "Sort of."
The squire waits for Jacsen to mount, then takes to her own horse. She begins to blush at what is certainly a better compliment — then yips a startled laugh. "Sort of?" she asks, grinning. "Why thank you ever so, m'lord. I find you sort of charming, as well." She snorts and takes up the reins lightly, guiding more with her knees. The humble-looking brown mare she's taken for her own begins toward the road.
"Well, come now, you need to have at least one of us men not so completely twisted up when it comes to the your fairer side," Jacsen remarks with some humor, edging his horse in the same direction as the Nayland squire's, using his reins more than the gesture of legs.
She rides close to his side — enough so that certain remarks can be delivered sotto voce, as this one is, "I think you must have the wrong cross-dressing squire." A bemused glance follows, and a shake of her head. It's not far down the road from the Towers that they go off the beaten path, though the terrain is gently hilly, not rough, and easy enough on both horse and rider. From there, they head to the edge of the trees.
"Mm, of course. I wonder what it is that draws so much of their sort to the Roost? Perhaps it is something in the water…" Jacsen trails off, his horse following Rose's lead as they wind off the onto less traveled paths. It is a short while before he speaks again, enjoying the sounds of nature about them, and the comfortable quiet. "Your dedication is a few days behind you now," he remarks, "Does it still sit well with you, the choice you've made?"
"It does," says Rowan. There's a narrow but visibly worn path into the forest, and the horses walk it peacefully, dappled green and cool shade enveloping them. "It wouldn't have been the same without you there — all of you. Though Jarod as vaguely infuriating as always." She smirks wryly. "But all of you played an important part in settling my heart and soul on the matter. Your questions answered my own questions. I really can't thank you enough."
"The invitation is, in its own way, a thanks," Jacsen supposes as he follows Rose down the path upon horseback, his mount's gait light and unhurried. "Or at least a token of respect and esteem, with which a question however well phrased seems like a light gesture, and is wholly worth it."
"You're kind," says Rowan — more truly Rose, it seems, with each bit of distance achieved from the Tower. Her seat on the horse is impeccable and her posture lovely, but somehow without its former, boyish conceit, despite being astride. She lifts her chin to a brighter spot up ahead, where the path opens into a clearing. "Not far now — just over there."
He makes a noise of agreement at her statement, but is otherwise silent as they make their way through the woods and towards that clearing. Jacsen leans forward a touch that he might offer a fond pat to the neck of the beast he rides before he follows out into that opening.
The clearing is wide and dazzling to the eyes, sunlight reflected off the lake at its center. The trees overhang the shore, providing deep pools of shade before the ground becomes sandy loam and meets the water. Several large, flattish rocks beckon swimmers and sunners further out in the water, and a breeze rustles the trees, as though shushing the birds and their persistent song. "Here we are!" says Rose, dismounting. She lets her mare browse the grass as she unloads the rods and tackle.
"Quite the spot," Jacsen determines, looking about as if he might recall it from his younger years, for so little of the land about his father's keep was foreign to him then. "A fine choice, Rose." He takes a while longer to be off from his horse than the squire might, for reasons most obvious, but he carries the pack with him when he stalks over to where she takes the rods and tackle, ensuring it is left in the shade. "Do you come here often?"
"I used to," Rose sighs a bit wistfully, spreading a large blanket in the shade, a spot where the cover of the trees extends to the shore and into the water a bit, as well. "I used to come and swim at night. Got away with it for years — until Ser Gedeon found me out. Since then — " she sighs. "Well, it was risky and stupid to do in the first place. The Seven sent a gentle reminder that I can't afford those kinds of risks."
"So that is how all this came about," Jacsen remarks, more of a statement than a question, leaning against a nearby tree to ease the strain on his leg. "A slip in the water, and a gregarious knight come upon you…" He glances over at the pool and shakes his head slightly. "How much our lives can change, on the progress of a single, seemingly random moment…" His wistful expression does not linger though, replaced by a more attentive look. "Do you think yourself better off, Rose, for the truth having come out as it has?"
"I… don't know," she answers honestly, after a moment of consideration. She sits on the blanket, taking off her boots before assembling the sectioned rods and stringing line. "Some days yes, some days no? I enjoy the opportunity to be myself — and I have it more often, now that the secret's shared with more people. But then… then I think how it will force me to leave the place I think of as home, and the family of my heart. How it's just… crushed Jarod in ways I couldn't have imagined and still don't entirely understand." She frowns as she ties off a knot on a hook. "I guess… no. Really, the damage it's caused outweighs any of the positives. But it is what it is, and there's nothing to do but make the best of it."
He nods to that, a thoughtful look favoring his features as he glances out over the pool's surface once more. "Some things, once done, cannot be undone or compensated for no matter how hard we try. Times like this, we would be better suited did we spend our time chasing the breeze," Jacsen agrees, in a somewhat philosophical way. "How is Gedeon, as a knight? Do you find him up to the task as my brother was?"
"His style of fighting is better suited to my build and strengths than Jarod's… that much is true," Rose says, setting a prepped rod aside and working on the other. "He's an excellent teacher, and he's very dedicated to the task. He's honorable and fair and loyal to his Lord." She pauses as she tries to tease a tangle out of the fishing line. "He has a great deal more faith in me than Jarod does."
"You think my brother has no faith in your ability, Rose?" Jacsen wonders aloud, his brow rising curiously with his question. Despite what evidence might be to the contrary, he seems rather sincere in the asking.
"Your brother," Rose replies, flatly, as she ties on another hook, "thinks I'm a malicious liar, a hysterical girl, and overall an imbecile." She glances up, her expression wry. "If that doesn't equate to a lack of faith, I'm not sure what does."
Jacsen makes a faint sound at that. "On the surface of things, I would agree, that seems a fine assessment of his thoughts," he agrees. Though it is made plain that the knight's brother thinks there is much more to be said than just the surface of things.
"If you're going to try to convince me of Jarod's great depth, I'll need to start drinking now." It's both bitter and affectionate, that slight. She tilts her head. "Come and sit? You may find it more comfortable, and you'll need to be a little closer to the water to cast."
"You are not so unlike, you and he," Jacsen observes, slowly unfurling from his perch against the tree to hazard steps closer to Rose, eventually steadying himself to awkwardly, slowly, lower to the ground. His cane is an integral part in ensuring he does not simply fall.
"Which must be why we can't be in each other's company for ten minutes without devolving into shouting at one another," says Rose. "It's hard not to wish I'd remained a boy, sometimes." She roots a worm out of a small pail of soil that's come with them, sectioning it in half with her thumbnail and baiting the hooks
He sets his cane aside and reaches for one of the rods, considering it in his hands a moment. "You don't see it? Why his own personal experience makes him so visceral in his insistence that your course is wrong, Rose?" Jacsen glances across the space between them at her while she threads the hook through the half of worm. "Truly?"
"Yearning for something you can't ever have?" Rose posits, frowning. "The difference is I can have it. And I will." She hands Jacsen the baited rod, asking, "Do you remember how to cast?"
"Can you, Rose?" Jacsen wonders, though his attention turns back to the rod in his hand and he examines it again before he shakes his head. "Best you show me, lest I end up hooking myself on the line."
Rose rolls her eyes. "Oh, fucking hells, don't you start. I only need one Jarod in my life, thank you." She holds her rod in one hand, hooking an index finger under the line. "Like this, and then you release your finger at about… eleven of the clock, on the arc." She angles her rod back, then whips it forward, releasing the line mid-motion so it spools out over the water, hitting the surface of the lake with a plunk of the weighted end. "Reel it in just enough to keep it taut, and wait for the tug of something taking the bait."
He busies himself for a moment preparing to cast the rod, only observing, "I'm more interested in whether or not you can see it as he does. It might help." Jacsen finally throws his cast out towards the water, and does a half decent job of it, though he takes a moment to think to draw it taut as Rose instructs. "And what of you and Ser Gedeon?" he wonders, as he watches his line and the water about it for any hint of motion.
"Well done!" Rose says of his cast. She advises, "Keep your finger on the line — or rather, under it, like when you were casting? That way you can feel the tug." As for Ser Gedeon, "He has every faith in me." Simple as that. "Though I do wonder — I know this is between you and him, but it does affect me, as his squire — why would you ask him to swear to Lord Jerold, when you know he's already sworn?"
Jacsen's brow lifts a touch, though his gaze remains on the line in the water. "He told you of our conversation, did he?" the Terrick lord wonders, rhetorically. "I presume he also mentioned we were both of us quite in our cups?" That does not sound like it is the whole of his answer, or even quite his answer at all, but rather a question made in preamble.
Rose smirks faintly. "He did mention that, yes. And I did accordingly present that it might well have been a misunderstanding, or an expression of wishful thinking, rather than an — actual request."
"Then I gather you know what he, Jarod, and I were about that evening," Jacsen surmises, while his attention remains upon the line in the water. "Perhaps now I might understand the strange tension you seemed to share at your dedication ceremony. Unless Ged has simply grown to dislike the Seven, in his years in the East." He doesn't wait for an answer on that comment, or the one before it, instead offering her something of an response to her question. "Lord Anton is gone, and will not be back for a few days yet, so there is no harm in him actually /doing/ such a thing… I mean to begin to turn myself to this matter of Stonebridge, and Gedeon's rightful inheritance. I mean to see House Terrick stand behind him firm, as Geoffrey Tordane's son and heir."
He glances aside, at Rose. "But for all that has happened since I have returned, I have seen nothing of a fire inside him for Stonebridge, or for doing what he should have done by his father five years ago. No remorse for his failure then, no drive to make it right now. My challenge is more an intellectual one than a literal one, though I'd ask you to leave me to make that clear. I want him to begin to truly weigh things, know that sacrifices and tough choices face him, that he faces a task that is uncertain and full of twists and turns he must navigate." He looks back to the rod and line with a sigh. "Would that he had sworn to my father those years ago, and presented his letters then. Ged is a good man, and he might even have married Lucienne, perhaps, to seal Stonebridge's rule."
"If I gave a toss when my knight goes whoring, I wouldn't have lasted in Jarod's service, would I?" Rose says a bit tartly, resting back on an elbow and stretching out her legs. "Not all men crave power, Jack. That Gedeon fled his responsibility for a time, but realized he could no longer when the Naylands came to claim it… that's not so difficult to understand."
He leaves her tart response as the final word on that, at least for now, and busies himself drawing the line of his rod just a bit closer, sending a faint ripple across the pool's surface. "Who is speaking of power, Rose? He had a duty to the people of Stonebridge, one put to him by the dying request of his own father… an order from his lord, if you like. Rather than acknowledge it, he fled," Jacsen points out. "But my disappointment in his decision is neither here nor there. I love Ged, despite his faults, and I know he forgives me mine. I would see him take his birthright, and if not for his own want then for the good of Stonebridge's folk and the Roost's, because we both know that the rise of House Nayland is good for none save House Nayland."
"But we are speaking of power, in a way," Rose counters, philosophically. "Only men who love power rush to such duty. Men who love duty, though they embrace it, seldom rejoice in the weight of the crown. And some men, especially when they are boys, run from both — to their eventual sorrow." She nods at his conclusion. "We are in agreement on that."
"No, there are certainly men whom rush to their duty, whether they love the outcome or not, they face it knowing it is right that they do," Jacsen states, with certainty. "But you are right to say that some men, mere boys, think it better to run. And it oft leads to such sorrow. But…" He lets out a slow breath. "It is not as if this sorrow of Stonebridge's is his alone in authoring. Nor, it seems, will it be his alone in undoin-" The rod jerks slightly in his hands, and Jacsen seems surprised, though he grips it tightly. "I've got something!"
Rose starts, beaming and laughing. "Jerk back — hook it!" she cries, abandoning her rod and moving to his side. "Keep the line taut, but don't reel it in all at once — you could snap the line or the rod that way. Let the fish fight you, then when you feel it flag, reel in some more."
"Wait, what?! Don't reel it?" Jacsen's forehead crumples some as he processes the instructions, delivered in the excitement of the moment as the water's surface is disrupted by the tugging of whatever's caught his bait. He relents some, waiting a few heartbeats before the struggling calms and he begins to pull again, only to watch as the line snaps, its ruined remains hanging lamely in the wind. "Oh, come on!" he cries out, "Damned fish!"
"Fuck!" Rose cries in dismay as the line snaps. She kneels up and shakes her fist at the water, and the presumed fish therein. "Next time!" she shouts after the scaly fiend. Grinning, she settles down beside Jacsen and bumps his shoulder with hers. "No harm done. Happens to everyone. They're tricky buggers, those fish."
He mutters as he tosses his rod to the ground beside him, with force enough to project his anger though not enough to harm the thing. "Damned fish," Jacsen repeats, his sour look not able to resist at least some small humor, when she bumps into him so. "Mayhap he is a greedy fish, and will come for your hook too, like some conquering aquatic Targaryen, seeking to conquer all the Seven Hooks," he suggests, "And you can lay him low when he comes at you." Yes, fish, Jacsen Terrick will have his vengeance.
Still laughing, Rose hands him her rod and takes up his. "Here. Mind my line while I mend this one." She remains near him while she works, shoulders almost touching as she ties on hook and sinker with tiny, intricate knots. "Thank you for coming out with me, today," she says, voice soft and warm.
"Very well," Jacsen decides, taking the rod in hand and tending it, though his attention is as much on Rose and her work mending his torn line. "It seemed a fine suggestion," he answers, with that small smile of his, "And so it has been. I'm glad I did."