|A Lord, a Bastard and a Courier walk into a bar…|
|Summary:||Pippa entertains Jarod and Jacsen at the Rockcliff with her tales of alligators and cunning lads and the gossip from the Mire.|
|Tables. Wenches. Whores, too! And a small, loudmouthed redhead well in her cups already. Rockcliff FTW!|
|13 September 288|
The afternoon stretches lazily on, finally meandering into the soft light of dusk as the sun dips below the horizon. One of the better inns within the town, the Rockcliff is beginning to wind up for the evening, with many a table already occupied; one such houses a tiny little thing, more red curls than anything else, in a modest and plain-looking tunic-dress. Not a shy girl, is Pippa, advertised by the way she's chatting animatedly with the waitress who's ducked by her table to clear some of the empty glasses - whether or not they were drained by the young courier girl is a matter for ponder.
Jarod strolls into Rockcliff with somewhat dusty clothing and a face that's newly ruddy from the sun. So it's a good bet this day has seen him in the saddle, and likely on the roads. He spots an empty table with a good view of the rest of the room - one that neighbors Pippa's, as it happens, and drops himself heavily into a chair at it. The waitress is noted, but he at least has the courtesy to wait until the girl is done talking before bothering her.
That courtesy won't serve Jarod too well if it's a drink he's after; Pip continues to yammer on with her yarn, her arms starting to gesture wildly. "And then 'e went snap," she exclaims to the waitress, hands clapping together. "But the lad, 'e was a quickun, he was, so the alligator ain't had no chance ta taste 'is foot. 'E was already astride the bugger, got 'is fingers all locked up in the beasts eyes, he did." This part of the story is illustrated with curled fingers indicating her own peepers, and a gnash of the little redhead's teeth.
"Alligator?" Jarod doesn't even bother to pretend like he's not half-listening to someone else's conversation, and that bit makes him turn around and rubber-neck it properly. A grin at that, then a glance to Pippa. "You aren't from around here, are you now, Miss?" His grin has an easy, boyish quirk to it. He's half-flirting, though it seems more habit than anything else.
Pippa pauses in her storytelling, interrupted as she is by that lad and his questions, and she peers curiously back at Jarod from behind her hands. It only takes her a beat to turn that feral baring of her teeth into an entirely more friendly echo of his grin. "Ay, no, lad, I ain't from 'round these partses. You ever seen a alligator?"
"I confess I have not," Jarod says, as to the alligator. "We've much water near the Roost, but not the sort that holds alligators. Where do you come from, Miss, that you saw this creature? And how are you called? I am Ser Jarod Rivers, for my part. I'm Captain of the Guard up at Four Eagles Tower in these lands." He indulges in some mild bragging, before looking up at the waitress. "Could I get a mug of ale, please, sweetling?" He looks to have just sat down not long ago, as he's still lacking in a drink and looks dusty and sun-touched from a day of running about. He's sitting alone, though his table neighbors Pippa's and he's presently talking to her as well as the server. It's late in the afternoon, finally getting on toward dusk, and though not crowded yet the place is definitely filling up as the sun goes further and further down.
"O ho!" Pippa flaunts a cheeky smile for Jarod's introduction, pointing a finger at him to accuse: "I know you! The luckiest… ahem, beggin' yer pardon, Ser. — Me too, please Missy!" Her hand is shot up in the air to add her order, and the waitress saunters off with a few of those empty mugs to replace them with full ones. "Pippa Sears," says the little redhead, sitting up straighter and prouder as she introduces herself. "From Seagard, but it were in the depths of the alligator swamplands that I seen me the lad wrasslin' him a 'gator, Ser. The Mire, ay?"
As hot on the heels of Jarod as he could be on just about anyone - which is to say not much - Jacsen makes his way into the Rockcliff as another part of the afternoon crowd, though given a bit more space than most for the sake of his cane that makes an audible sort of thump as he progresses across the floor. "Ah, there you are," Jacsen calls out to his brother, and makes his way in that direction, sparing a smile for the redhead his brother seems sure to be charming. "Didn't keep you waiting too long, did I, Jar?" he wonders of his kin, coming to a stop at the table.
"Lucky bastard, is it?" Jarod finishes Pippa's 'ahem' with a cheeky grin. He laughs. "I am at that, Miss. I am at that. Seagard, eh? I spent some time up there a few years back. It's fine city. Bit livelier than this corner of the Riverlands, but I don't mind the quiet at times. When there's quiet to be had. Would that be Hag's Mire, you mean?" He seems about to ask more, on that score, but the question is tabled as Jacsen enters. He turns, grinning broadly at his half-brother. He's all smiles of late. He scoots a chair next to him out with a booted foot. "Nah, just arrived. Would've waited a bit to put my order in if I'd known you'd be along so quick, but the waitress should be back in short order. Want to see what they've got for dinner as well? They'll be something on the table at home, I'm sure, but I've not tried the cooking since new management took over. I'm curious."
Pippa has the good sense to sport a bit of colour in her cheeks as Jarod finishes off her sentence for her, ducking her head right an' all. "Ay, Ser, ye be across all them rumours, then. The Mire full of Hags, that be the one. Full o' 'gators, too, 'tis." The knock of that cane across the floor as Jacsen approaches earns a curious sort of stare from under those red curls, and as she puts two and two together, Pippa murmurs rather fascinatedly, "Oh, ay now…" Could be her cue to settle back in at her own table, she thinks, clearing her throat and averting her eyes to the few empty mugs still amassed in front of her.
Jacsen drags out a seat and lowers himself into it, wincing a touch. "New management seems decent, if you eat, I'll take some bread… not much hungry for now," he tells his brother, and turns to place an order for his own drink before he settles it and glances towards Pippa. "Forgive my rude intrusion, Mistress, and my brother's brutish lack of grace and manners." He's smiling as he says it, and he leans to thump Jarod lightly in the arm. "Who's your friend, and what is this about gators and a mire full of hags?"
Jarod shifts a look between Pippa and Jacsen, and holds up a hand to the redhead as she turns away. "Join us if you like. This is my baby brother, Lord Jacsen Terrick. And the pair of us are always interested in a good story from those passing through these lands. And I'm not brutish. I'm charming and comely." He elbows Jacsen in return. "There's a song about me. Anyhow. This is Miss Pippa Sears. She is a visitor to our fair Roost and was talking about her travels. And the alligators she's seen in them. What's the Mire like, Miss? I'm told it's rather beautiful, actually. All dark and thick with wild plants growing off the waters and such." The waitress returns around this time, with the drinks he and Pippa ordered.
"Ay, no," says Pippa as she jerks her head up from those ever-so-boring and empty glasses in front of her to set her eyes upon Jacsen with a pretty grin. "Ain't nothin' to forgive, m'lord." She darts a look at Jarod for his invitation, then back to his lordly brother, and then up! She hops all spritely to claim a chair over at the boys' table. "I heard me that song, I did. Sang it a few times back at the 'Flagon, maybe, too. Y'all just call me Pippa, or Pip, ay? None of this Mistress bizzo. It is, ay, all dark with the sun fightin' the trees overhead to find someplace t'shine. A lad best stick to the paths in the Mire, else the mud'll suck 'im up right to his chin, too!" The back of her palm taps up under her own chin to better illustrate what she means.
"Well," Jacsen chuckles a bit at the animated demonstration the woman gives them, his forearms resting upon the table as he leans forward, interested in both his partners at the table. "That certainly doesn't make me any more interested in visiting the Mire, I must say. Sounds very dank and unpleasant." He glances enviously at the drinks brought, having to wait a moment or two longer for his own. "How are the people there? Better than the environment, I hope, Mist- err, Pippa?" The lift in his tone at the end is as much to mark the question as to question his pronouncement of her name.
"I don't know. A few very lovely things must grow in a place like that," Jarod reflects in an abstracted sort of way. "In any case. Pip it is. We'd sing you a rendition of poor Lord Jerold's Lament, but it's a three-part harmony, you see, and we're one short of a trio. Jaremy still owes us both heavy drinking and singing, Jace. I've not forgotten." He orders some bread, and whatever stew is on tonight, from the waitress before she goes. He doesn't start drinking until Jacsen is served. Wouldn't want to get ahead of him. "Finish telling us about that alligator. Did it eat the poor bloke you were speaking of?"
"Oh, the town ain't so bad, m'lord," Pippa tells Jacsen amiably, diffusing the awkward lack of manners that it shows of her to take up her mug and sip straight away. "An' some of them there swamplands ain't got a tree t'be seen in miles. Plenty o' gators, though." She snickers a little laugh, orange curls bouncing around merrily as she shakes her head. "You're just makin' excuses, y'are. I could sing me the Young Lord's part fer y'all, I could - maybe a bit off key though, ay? I ain't no bardess. — Oh, but the alligator! Naw, the lad, he was as cunning as a… as a…" The story stalls as she scratches in puzzlement at her cheek.
"Given what the song has to say about myself," Jacsen observes at Pippa's suggestion, with a quirk to his mouth, "I think I should politely decline on our part." Lifting his mug once it's delivered first to Jarod and Pippa in salute, and second for a grateful sip, Jacsen does listens attentively to the girl's tale, seemingly unconcerned with whatever lack of refinement or social grace she might possess. "Fox, maybe?" he supplies as the tale stales over a lack of proper metaphor.
"Eh, you don't come off so bad," Jarod says to Jacsen. "Not so bad at all, really, which is probably meant as a jab in itself. Anyhow, it'll be fun! You'll see. You'll both have so much fun. We'll all have fun." He hefts his own mug in a little half-toast and drinks. Little nod at the choice of animals. "Fox. Those're cunning. So do you just work the roads between the Mire and Seagard, or do you travel all over?"
"Suitcher self," shrugs Pip as she lifts her mug up again, proceeding then to drain half of it like it were water contained within and not fizzy ale. "As a fox! Right. Gouged out the gator's eyes, and bopped 'im on the head," she bops her own rather jovially, "And the slimy beast rolls 'im over, round and round, but then the lad, he bops again and… phew! Sent the creature belly-up back inta that there swamp. Was right a sight, it were." Her free hand slaps jolly against the table, as does her mug, a little ale sloshing over the sides. "I'm Ikey Searses daughter, Ser, he got him a bucketload o' stables all over the shop and we work courier styles round the Riverlands. I live me in the Mire, mostly, but ride where the letters take me."
The Terrick lord cannot help but laugh at the woman's rendition of the tale, his eyes going appropriately wide at the climax of the alligator's struggles with the lad. "And this lad, he came out alright? Surely the alligator must have done him some harm," Jacsen insists, lifting his mug for another healthy sip, though he doesn't quite race to the bottom as the 'fairer' of his two companions seems to. "Have you ever seen an alligator in person before, Jar?" he wonders, glancing sidelong at his brother.
"Of course he came out all right," Jarod says, caught up in the tale himself. He's drinking at a leisurely pace himself. "If a bloke got eaten, it'd hardly be a good story to tell over cups. He didn't get eaten, did he, Pip?" It's just then that his food arrives, though he doesn't dig in right away. He waits to find out whether the star of Pippa's story ended up as some sort of meal. The stew on tonight appears to be rabbit, and it's flavored with herbs that give it a somewhat spicy smell. To Jacsen, he shakes his head. "I confess I never have. Never ventured down to the Mire, though. Don't have much of a yearning to see those lands, truth be told. No offense, Pip, but I'm not sure I'd take well to living on Lord Rickart's property, given what I've heard of the man."
Pip's eyes widen too, and she shakes her head zealously to Jacsen. "Ay, no! The lad, he was as tall as he was wide, 'is arms each as thick as my fair waist. I reckon that there alligator bit off more than he could chew - or rather, he didn't bit off nothing, m'lord!" She chugs back another few gulpfuls from her cup, and eyes off the food that arrives rather suspiciously. "Ho? Oh! None offense to me, good Ser. They says the same bout your hens Roost over there, they does." Jarod earns himself another of her impish grins. "Course, you all seem fair nicer in the person than they says back in the swamp bars, I reckon."
Jacsen drums a finger upon the table's surface. "What? What dare they say about us fine, decent folk of the Roost," he demands of Pippa, though it's done with a laugh in his voice. "I insist that you tell us, so we might hear the truth of things, and have a chance to prove them wrong. As they must surely be," he determines, with a firm nod. "Isn't that so, Jarod?"
"Hens!?" Jarod laughs, affronted. "*Eagles!* Miss Pip. Eagles. Look at this one here." He slaps Jacsen on the back. "This look like a hen? Seven hells no. But please. Go on. What does old Lord Rickart Nayland say about the hens of the Roost? I shall confess my great curiosity." Since Pippa's story doesn't yet involve anyone being eaten alive, he digs into his stew. Which meets with an approving "Mmm." The bread is stuck in the middle of the table, so they can all partake.
Pip has the good sense to duck her head again, though she ain't blushing this time around. It's not her who dreams up these untruths, it's not! "Oh, ay, they're right unkind about your lord, they are," she says to Jacsen, "Speakin' all kindsa nonsense. They knows you're good with your brains, ay, but they says not too good with a lass. They says your lord walks a lot less grand than my eyes did see with that cane, though, ay? So's it must be untrue." Her brown eyes shift over to Jarod, narrowing a touch. "They says you're not so ready with yer sword arm too, lettin' em through the gaps into your henhouse." Her palms spread up into a surrender pose, and she spreads her cheeky grin again. "But, ay, a lass like me, I don't be believin' everything I hear. I got me some smarts smarter'n that, right o?"
He makes a sound not far removed from a snort at that, setting down his mug of ale that he might tear a piece from the loaf of bread put at the table's center. "Feh, what does some Hag know of doing well by a lass, anyways?" Jacsen remarks with a wave of his hand, settling back into his chair. "Like as not a girl'd claim it was the best she had, just so the Hag didn't have a second thought about proving himself to her, the poor thing." He chews off a morsel of bread and begins working it in his teeth soundlessly, looking over to see how Jarod will respond to such accusations as Pippa, secondhandedly of course, levels at him.
"Aye, Pip, nothing but untruth and slander, which we'll gladly prove to you," Jarod replies after another gulp of ale. "If you'll be in town on the morrow, you can come to the Green for morning practice and see how well I do with my sword. My wise lord brother can set you straight on the rest himself." He laughs. "How far do you venture, in your work? You ever get down about Oldstones, or Fairmarket? Or Riverrun, for that matter?"
Pippa laughs gaily at Jacsen's response, a hand setting upon her fair tummy to press there as she throws her head back. "Ay!" The exclamation comes amidst her fit, which finally does die down as she remembers her still quarter-full mug of ale. "Ay, that's the spirit, m'lord and Ser. All just the lies of those shrivelled up hags, is it, no? I'll be here, good Ser, but is I of a like to rise with the sun? I dinnae hear of any tourney wins to Ser Jarod Rivers name, ay?" She winks, and gulps down the rest of her drink merrily. "Oh, Fairmarket, indeed, right down to Lord Tully. 'E's the fine Lord who does give us the nod for our business, aye."
Jacsen glances aside at his brother, and laughs, "Now come, Jarod… if I'm to prove the slander against me is untrue, do you think our poor Pippa would be in any condition to make such an early appointment?" he asks with a mirthful sort of expression, one that's quickly swallowed down with a gulp of ale. "You said your father's name was Sears, didn't you? Seems to ring something of a bell. I wonder if we did ever cross paths at Seaguard. I did spend a better part of the last five years at Lord Mallister's court.
"Untrue, Pip! Untrue. Why, I'm sure a Ser Rivers somewhere has won a tournament title in recent memory. You so sure that wasn't me? Hard to keep the given names straight, y'know, and you'd be very well embarrassed slighting my accomplishments if all those titles were mine. And I claim each and every one of them!" Jarod gets a good laugh out of Jacsen's reply. "True enough. Well, she'll just have to trust in my prowess, then. I'm curious where you kept yourself at Seagard myself, though I doubt our paths ever crossed. During my own time there I was but a boy, still to squire, and I'd like to think I'd remember a girl like you. I've no head for names, but faces I rarely forget."
"I spend me enough time in the saddle, ay," remarks Pippa saucily, sparing another of her fine impish winks for the Terrick. "Pretty boy like you's like as not got the lasses lining up 'round the corner for a roll, ay?" There's nothing left in her mug, but she checks just t'be sure, t'be sure. The emptiness does cause a bit of a ruffle in her mirth, but Jarod soon sees it right with his claims. "Ah, issit so? Beggin' yer pardon again then, my celebrated Ser! Sears, ayep, Ikey is 'is first. Got us the right big stables down near the docks there, ah? One just outside 'a your fair henhouse here, too. And up in the swamp with the gators. And down in the Fair of the Market. And 'cross on the Red Fork's banks. An' a lass like me could go on all the long day, but the crux of it is, 'is name's Ikey, the Master Sears."
Tipping back his head and draining the rest of his mug, Jacsen sets the heavy thing down with a determined look. "Ikey Sears. Mmm. I do swear that the name sounds familiar to my ears," he tells them both, though it's to his brother the weight of his attention goes. "Need to see to a few things this afternoon, but let's talk soon? Got something to run past you." Reaching for his cane, he begins to slowly stand up, offering Pippa a grin. "It was a pleasure to meet you, and hear of these fanciful tales the swamp lords must tell themselves to keep spirits up in a place where the sun hardly shines," he remarks, "Thank you for the company and the recounting."
"Aye, see you a bit. I shouldn't be much longer myself," Jarod says to Jacsen, though he lingers over his own ale some. "More serious, will you be in town tomorrow, Miss Pip? I actually do have a little job for you, if you get down to Fairmarket way often enough for it to be not too great of trouble or expense. I've an acquaintance down there who I try and get a note to once or twice a year. If I can send it off with you, may as well get it done now."
Pippa fair beams her own smile back to Lord Jacsen, watching on with curiosity as he gathers himself up and out of his chair. That cane - it's sure a fascinating prop. "Pleasure's all mine, m'lord. You have you a right fair evenin', now!" She's got none more ale, but she'll raise a glass to the departing man anyway. And jiggle it round impatiently, in case a waitress might be taking note. "Oh, ay, I will now, Ser Jarod. I can be takin' yer note for you, but I cain't be doin' such for free now?"
Jarod seems content to finish off the last of his food and drink, as he doesn't trouble the waitress for a refill. "You most certainly cannot, Miss Pip. What's your usual fee for that distance?"
Pip makes a show rubbing her chin contemplatively, her cheeky grin not quite dampened in the theatrics. "Ay, now," she begins, raking a long glance over Ser Jarod. "Usually be the part here where I says how reliable I am, and all that crappin' on 'bout service and such. But I figure you's a good lad who knows a good lass when 'e sees one, and I don't gotta yammer on like that 'ere." She thunks both hands, palms-down, upon the table and names a price which is fair, then revises it once just a touch lower. "On account of your fine company, ay? And yer kind invitations for me to come an' watch you at practice."
"Done!" Jarod extends a hand, so they can shake on it. "You're a woman of fair business, Pip. Can I get that price in writing?" He flashes her a quick grin. "As we've both been drinking…well. Best if we both remember the price you quoted me in the morning, aye? I'll have all the contact directions for the fellow I'm messaging to for you tomorrow. His name's Edwin Bevins. Does accounts for a merchant in those parts. I think he owns a stake in the business now, actually. Bought in it a few years back. They deal mostly in imports from the south, good contacts down the Kingsroad and shipping up and down the Blue Fork and the like."
"Ay, y'could," agrees Pip as she reaches one of those small hands of hers across the table to shake Jarod's. "But I don't got nuthin t'write it with, or write it on, ah?" Her next drink arrives, and she thanks the waitress once and again. "Bless yer, Missy. Any chance you could get me and the Ser somethin' t'write with?" And the girl does bustle off to oblige, bless her. "Edwin Bevins," repeats Pip thoughtfully, the musing cut off as she samples her next mug with vigour. Gulp, gulp, gulp. She wipes the back of her palm across her mouth after. "Maybe I does know 'im, when I got my better wits and 'is face in front 'a mine? Who's the man to you, Ser Rivers?"
Jarod shrugs. "Distant kin, Miss Pip," is his reply to that. His tone isn't overly warm as he discusses the man, though he shows no obvious ill-feeling, either. "You've the sort, I'm sure, somewhere in your family. We're neither of us of great consequence to each other, but we've none of us got family left on that side, so we feel obligated to remind one another we're alive once or twice a year. Acquaintance about sums it up well as it can be."
Pippa does notice the dulling of Jarod's manner, and she nods for his explanation, making an effort to keep her smile cheery and light. Or maybe it's no effort at all for the lass. "Ay, well. I'll be happy ter help the celebrated Ser Jarod Rivers in his letter-sendin'!" And she'll drink to that, too, until the waitress arrives back with her writing implement and a scrap. Pip trades mug for pencil, and scratches out on the parchment the price (revised once more, just a very touch lower again, bless her!) with her name signed underneath: 'q.Sers.' … … yes, the 'p' is written backwards, and she's missing an 'a'.
Jarod doesn't quibble over Pippa's spelling. The note is pocketed with a broad smile, and whatever dulling his manner suffered at the turn of the conversation is easily dismissed. Outwardly, at least. His drink finished and dinner taken, he sets enough coppers on the table to pay his bill, and rises. Extending a flourishy little half-bow to Pippa as he does so. "And I will be happy to have my letter sent by the celebrated Miss Pippa Sears. So we're even! I thank you for it, my dear girl. And for the company, which was quite enjoyable. Now, I should be getting home for the eve. I hope you enjoy your stay with the hens, eh?"
Like as not she's unawares of her mistakes, and couldn't call them in the best of her unadulterated wits anyway! Pip flashes her pixieish grin to the Ser as he rises from his half-bow, and gestures to him with her mug. "Even Steven," she agrees decisively. "You feel free t'send me down the Young Lord for company, ay? Those hags says he's the sensitive type, an' I reckon that's gotta spell out better'n the hay than your pretty lord with his cane." Wink! And drink.
Jarod just laughs at that, so hard he's unable to respond for a moment. Finally, "You can sort that out with my half-brothers yourself, sweetling. Whichever one you make blush the least will probably do you more fun where that's concerned. My thanks for the courier service, I'll bring you a note and payment for it on the morrow." With that, off he goes.
Pip waves off the Ser merrily, her mug jostling around in the opposite hand. In not too long, she'll start up a round of Lord Jerold's Lament in her spritely off-key soprano, complete with commentary after about how she's done gone and met two outta three of the boys now, and ain't that some prestige, but none of them done gone and wrassled a alligator yet!