|A Missing Seal|
|Summary:||Justin approaches Anais about something else that went missing with Jacsen.|
|Related Logs:||Jacsen disappearance stuff|
|Where Anais lives.|
|October 1, 289|
In the last few days, Anais has been very careful to be seen out and about in the tower, taking care of business, trying to act as though nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Rarely does anyone see her anything less than perfectly composed. And even in her own quarters, or what used to be Lady Evangeline's quarters, she maintains a careful vigil of composure. The books are taken care of, the monthly food shares allotted, and there is, for the moment, nothing more for her to do. Which means she's in a rare moment of stillness, standing near the window and staring out at the water.
There is a soft knock upon Anais's door, yet firm as delivered by a man's hand without timidity. When she sends someone to open the door, it is yet again her good brother, Justin. He walks in quietly, cleaned up and wearing one of his usual muted purple surcoats that is almost but not quite grey, matched with a white shirt with dark grey pants, black arm guards and black boots. Almost, with his hair so dark, he looks more like a Flint than a Riverlander.
Standing there, Jerold Terrick's younger son lightly folds his hands behind his back while he studies Anais there by the window. "You've noticed by now, I presume, that Lucienne hasn't actually shown up, as she was supposed to." Justin leaves that to hang between them and waits to see if she'll turn from the window, "I also searched Jacsen's room and the Seal isn't in there. Do you have it, Anais?" The question is direct, his gaze sharp.
Anais doesn't look over until Nina announces Justin, and when he speaks, she closes her eyes slowly, turning to rest her shoulder against the window frame. "No," she answers softly. "I don't." Tension sings through her shoulders, for all she stands still against the stone. "Gods damn it, Justin," she whispers, voice hard.
Justin takes a few slow steps and moves his hands to instead tuck his thumbs into his sword belt, "I'll be collecting men to ride out first thing in the morning. We'll comb both sides of the road between here and Kingsgrove, then head for Middle March. It might be wise of you not to mention this to my father, for now. I'm fairly certain now that Jacsen went out to meet her, Anais." His voice is cool, calm, quiet.
"Why?" Anais doesn't move, stiff and tense. "She was coming here. Why would he get up to meet her? And more, why take the seal? And who gave him enough poppy to get up and do it? Why wouldn't they be back yet? It only takes a few days to get to or from Kingsgrove." She sounds as controlled as possible, and yet there's an edge beneath her voice, only hinting at the depth of emotion beneath the surface.
Anais's good brother watches her closely. Justin gives a slow nod, "She could have returned the same day she left. Jacsen departed almost the very night we heard she was returning. So either he went in anger to send her back, or more likely she sent him a message to meet her. /She/ could have lured him into bringing the Seal for some purpose. You know how badly she wanted it, Anais. With her influence over my brother, there is no telling what she planned to do? Coax him into signing over MiddleMarch to her, perhaps. To found her own House? It's a lightly fortified manor, Anais. Defensible." Which is all the more reason for Justin to gather up a fair number of men to go and see.
And because he doesn't want to hurt her, Justin grimaces before he adds lower, "Bandits have been watching the roads, Anais. Jacsen riding off by himself would have been a very easy mark, and even Lucienne with her guards and maids…" Justin takes a few more steps, "Either of those two seem the most likely at this point, unless we gather a better lead."
"Wonderful." Anais bows her head, eyes closed as she struggles to maintain that flawless facade. "Thank you for letting me know, Justin," she says after a strained moment, voice thin. "Is there anything you need from me while you search?"
Whether he wishes to admit it or not, Justin is fond of his goodsister. He cautiously steps over closer and puts out a hand to see if she might come to him. Anais looks brittle enough to cry or break and Justin would hold her if she'll let him. Give a little comfort if he can offer it. "Anais, you are not alone. We are your family now, whatever has happened, or will happen. I need you to do what you have already been doing. You do it so well."
Justin desires to lift her chin to meet his eyes if she will, his fingers rough if gentle even as he's thinking about taking MiddleMarch by force if Luci has the Seal and is holed up there. None of that is said aloud. Instead he says quite low, "Keep you safe. Wait for me and I'll bring you word once we know more."
Anais' eyes are glassy when she looks up to meet his gaze, her jaw tight. "I don't want to do this again, Justin," she says quietly, her voice breaking with the effort of keeping it steady. "I waited for Jaremy. I'm waiting for Jacsen. I've poured so much into the Roost. I've committed myself here, completely. But there is nothing and no one waiting for me. I can't go home. I can't stay here as the sad widow who lost two Terricks. I can't do it."
Justin cocks his head at his seemingly tiny good-sister. "If you can't go home, and you can't wait … then what will you do, Anais? We do not yet know what has happened to my brother. He may be fine." Though, possibly not so fine once Justin's done with him for this stunt. Justin thins his mouth, half lidding his eyes with some contained thought of his own. "What choices do you have?"
Anais smiles faintly, though it's a sad expression, as she gently turns her chin from his hand. "Well, that would be you, Justin," she says softly, reaching out to give his arm a brief squeeze before she moves away from both him and the window. "Assuming your father doesn't take it as an opportunity to be done with me. I don't know what I'll do," she admits, shaking her head and pacing a few steps to the sideboard, trailing her fingers along the wood.
He watches her, keeping his place and lets Anais slip from him to walk as she pleases. Justin draws a slow breath and allows his gaze to roam over these chambers and eventually back to her. "Then, if you do not know what you would do, you can at least wait until we return with whatever news we'll bare, Anais. For good or ill." Justin is about to add more, then stops. He inclines his head to her and half turns, "I should let you rest, if you can. I need to gather the men."
Anais nods quietly, gaze fixed on the inlay of the sideboard. "Of course," she murmurs. "Thank you, Justin. And good luck." Her fingers curl against the wood, one nail digging into the channel between wood and inlay. Drawing a careful breath, she looks up and manages to summon up another small smile, though that tension is back again. "Stay safe."
At the door Justin stops and looks back to her. "That is for the Warrior to decide, Anais. When it is my time to go, I intend to go without shame, and boldly." He smiles, one of those more feral grins if brief. When it is let go, Justin adds more quietly, "We will speak more when I return, Anais." He opens the door and steps out, closing it behind himself quietly.