Page 297: A Song of Frogs and Dragons
A Song of Frogs and Dragons
Summary: Anais takes Riordan on a sunset ride along the coast, and speak of the past.
Date: 12/05/2012
Related Logs: Taking place shortly after Riding Out
Anais Riordan 
Coastline - Terrick's Roost
The Cape of Eagles looms out over Ironman's Bay, a vast, blue ocean inlet, that spreads its watery depths out beyond the horizon. The path that leads down to this coast winds down behind the towers for several hundred meters before arriving at the rocky water's edge. Rather than sand, the coast is covered with innumerable smooth and rounded stones about palm-sized. They stretch up and down the coast in all directions with the battered remnants of driftwood scattered about. Above the beach, one every mile or two, are towers with a large bell and mallet atop them which are to be beaten to warn of an incoming invasion. A small dock is being constructed of thick northern timbers, with mooring space for two large ships, or perhaps a half dozen smaller craft
Sat May 12, 289

It's not a long ride from the keep to the shore, and Anais doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry. She rides comfortably, despite a few antics from her mount, who seems eager and willing to move a little bit more quickly than that. When they reach the shore, it's a rocky place, though the stones are small and smooth, fading to sand at the water's edge. Sunset is still an hour or so away, but as Anais predicted, fresh, cool air is coming off of the water, cooling the heat of the day.

Riordan's black gelding keeps easy pace with Anais horse, and there are a few times where the rider manuevers the beast, to head off the other mount and keep it from losing its head completely. That, and perhaps Riordan simply wants to show off for the Lady Terrick, which is a definate possability, judging by the glint in his eyes. Or it could just be the evening sun. "I must say," he calls out to her, grinning from ear to ear as the sea breeze whips at his riding cloak, "It is a pleasant change, the smell and the sound of the sea, without someone trying to kill me." A pause. "Though I am sure there are plenty in your family who wouldn't mind the chance to try." If possible, the quip makes his smile larger.

"Mmm. And if they pass, perhaps Lady Muirenn would be willing to take up the gauntlet," Anais drawls, dry. "I'm sorry about that," she adds, lowering her voice and letting her mount take a few quick steps of a trot to draw away from the guards. "I…didn't expect that sort of reaction. From Jacsen, perhaps, but not from Muirenn."

"Hmm?" Riordan asks, for a moment actually confused, even as his mount easily maintains pace with Anais' own. When he catches on, he actually laughs. "Oh, this morning? Nothing to apologize, Lady Anais. The Lady of Mallister likely saw me as little more then a Frey pawn, sent to do the dire bidding of her family's rivals." He offers a chuckle at the thought, before adding, "I actually ran into her this afternoon, and we had a pleasant talk. A little quick to take offense where none is meant, but for all of that, she's a pleasant young woman. I think I left her with a favorable impression." He pauses, before letting out another laugh, though whether for those last words, or the thoughts that lead him to his next ones, may be unclear. "Besides, openly hostile I can deal with. It's the likes of your goodbrother, Lord Justin, that give me pause."

"I'm really not sure how you all muster the energy to hate the Freys," Anais admits with a shake of her head. "So Lord Walder waited out the Trident. If Lord Tully objected, then he should have done something then. Otherwise, then just accept that he isn't trustworthy and don't trust him. Why get so wound up about it all?" She raises a hand, to forestall objections. "Yes, I know. Honor and doing what's right. There are ways of being honorable without being foolish, though."

"Me? Hate the Freys?" Riordan asks once Anais is done speaking, looking more surprised then before, and then he laughs. "You are aware that my family - with the exception of three men - waited out that war as well? That I marched under their banner as well as my father's when the call finally came?" He shakes his head. "I'm not saying I would have done the same had I been in Old Walder's shoes, or my father's for that matter, but the fact is, I wasn't. My father upheld his oath to his liege lord, and I to mine, and the rest shook out as it did." He shakes his head. "Don't get me wrong, Lady Anais. When my brothers and cousin were off to war, and I had to sit on my ass making my own amusements, I wanted so badly for the order to come for me to ride. But what my father did, he did for his family, and for his oaths. As did Old Walder. Whatever my own personal leanings on the issue of King Bob versus Prince Rygar in their search for Northern… love," and Riordan lightly coughs, perhaps forgetting, in his easy familiarity, that whatever he was about to say isn't necesarily fit for a woman to hear, "My liege lord, and his liege lord, made the smart call. I hold honor important, Lady Anais, but I am in firm agreement with you on this. If honor can't protect those you love, or feed your people, then hiding behind the shield of honor is just plain stupid." He lets out a breath, before adding, rather wryly, "If only your Goodfather would see the sense of that."

"He won't," Anais sighs softly, catching the inside of her cheek between her teeth. "It isn't that I don't respect honor. It's just…it isn't the only thing that matters." The sound of the surf masks their words from the guards behind, and after a moment, Anais looks over with a wry, reluctant smile. "We don't talk about some of the aspects of the Rebellion in the Westerlands," she notes, dry. "King Robert married Queen Cersei, as Prince Rhaegar ought to have done in the first place."

"So we find a way around this," Riordan says, softly, but rather sharply. "Seven, Anais, but don't tell me you don't believe in this now too? You are the one who brought me this bleeding idea. Do you truly expect me to carry it on my own shoulders the whole damned way?" In his expasperation, and the continuing feeling of familiarity as the two speak, he seems utterly unaware that he's spoken to her without title, and with curses interspersed throughout his phrasing. "If I can't punch through to your Goodfather's honor, then I will appeal to it, or work around it, or whatever else needs be done. But this is what my family needs, and what yours does beside. And I will make the rest of you damned well see it if it takes every ounce I have left." His voice rises a bit at the end, not angry, but empassioned and set on the task ahead. This is a different Riordan then most see, one set on the scent of duty.

And then, Riordan lets out a breath, returning to the softer tones of before, distracting himself with thoughts of the past. "Well, I don't see as it would have made much difference, except for perhaps making the ending a whole lot bloodier," Riordan says, in regards to Cersei. "The Kingslayer might not have become the Kingslayer, but then King Bob could likely have allied with the Martells since their daughter wouldn't have been married to Rhaegar, and Mad King Aerys might well have set the whole damned city of Kings Landing ablaze. And Lannister being tied to one side or another didn't actually effect the outcome of the Ruby Ford." He shakes his head. "Are you aware how that whole damned mess got started?" he asks, curiously, glancing aside to Anais.

Anais starts slightly when Riordan raises his voice, arching a brow at him. "I didn't say I don't believe or I'm giving up. I'm just…frustrated, that's all. You needn't worry about handling it all on your own." If her feathers are ruffled by his words, she doesn't show it for long, transitioning to the rebellion. "Can you imagine taking King's Landing without Ser Jaime to remove the Mad King? Taking King's Landing /at all/ without someone opening the gates to Lord Tywin? It would have been long, bloody, and the Trident would have been moot." Or at least that's the Lannister bannerman line, at least. "As for how it started…" She trails off, then shakes her head. "I was only twelve when Lord Tywin called the banners, and the Banefort has ever been isolated. We heard little, and I suspect my father sheltered me from much of that."

"I'm sorry," Riordan says, a smile appearing, though a rueful one. "It's just… not been easy. I expected it all, of course, but coming to a place where you are distrusted by nearly everyone you meet, if not outwardly hated, just for a name that you have carried with pride all your life…" He lets out a chuckle that is half sigh. "And everyone I meet, aside from you, and Jarod, and my sister, seem utterly convinced that I am wasted my very breath." He rolls his shoulders, saying, by way of simpler explanation, "I suppose I am frustrated too." He falls silent, for a moment, perhaps waiting for the politics of the current time to finish its course in their current conversation, before going back to the politics of the past.

"I understand," Anais says quietly. "They're so…set in their ways. So unwilling to take a chance. It doesn't have to even be trust to begin with. Just a chance." She draws a deep breath, then lets it out slowly. "Anyhow." A smile tugs at one corner of her lips as she looks back to Riordan. "I suppose you were a bit older than twelve at the time, and more centrally located. Tell me, what was the talk of the kingdom about how it all started?"

Riordan studies Anais for a long moment, with an oddly thoughtful manner. Whatever thoughts go through his brain, it causes him to say, "You are an amazing woman, do you know that?" He gives her a large smile, though leaves little enough time for her to answer, before he nods, his smile wry once more. "Not just talk. I was there. You see, I was squired to Lord Whent of Harranhal, and a page there before that. Lord Whent was the one who gave me my spurs. So a year later, when he held a Tourney for the Realm, I of course was one of the first knights there. So… I saw everything at its beginning." He shakes his head, sheer wonder on his expression. "Do you know, were it a few weeks ago, I'd have told you I could not imagine the stupidy that drives a man in the face of love for a woman?" He lets out a laugh. At himself, at his whole damned gender. "It all started over a woman, Lady Anais. Robert's betrothed, Lyanna Stark. Rhaegar took to her like a moth to a flame, and named her Queen of Love and Beauty when he won the tournament, over his own wife, Elia of House Martell. That was how it all began." He waits for any questions, before he continues the story.

Anais flushes at the compliment, looking away and leaning down to check her stirrup to cover the expression. When she straightens, she tucks a curl behind her ear before returning her attention to his tale. "Young boys must not hear the same songs and tales that young girls hear," she muses, smile crooked. "Elsewise they'd all know the downfalls of men are either pride or women. Or heroism. More seem to fall to heroism than anything else." Still, she limits her musings to that, waiting for him to continue.

"True enough, I suppose. But still, any boy who grows up to earn his spurs eventually learns the difference between the glorious tales, and the realities of life. It's easy to forget how based in truth they can be." If Riordan notices the flush from his earlier comment, he does not speak of it, and contents himself to continuing his story. "Anyways, it seems that whatever began at that Tourney did not end. I doubt any of us will ever know the truth of what the Stark girl felt for the prince, but it's clear enough based on his actions what Rhaegar felt for her. By the next year, word came that she'd been abducted, by the Prince, or so it was said. And then when her elder brother and some other lordlings, including a Mallister in fact, came to plead with Aerys regarding the Prince's behavior, he had them imprisoned. So the then Lord Stark and some other lords went to plead with the King about that and…. well. I assume you know what comes next?"

"Mmm, I have heard that," Anais says quietly. "Though I've never known how much of it was truth." She looks up, smile faint. "And I'd rather not, if that's all right. I understand the point, anyhow." Drawing a breath, she looks out to the water as the sun dips toward the horizon. "Is it just me who looks at these things and…thinks so much comes down to failures in communication?"

"Fair enough," Riordan says, with a small nod, though he does clarify, "I merely meant to say that with their deaths, the rest of the war to come was practically writ in stone. And all it could have been avoided if Rhaegar had… I don't know. Not fallen in love? Gotten past it? Or hell, even just challenged Robert for her hand and left his own wife. It might have lost the Dorne from the rest of the Kingdoms, but it would have been a small price to pay to prevent… everything else." He waves his hand to gesture at… well, everything. "That war changed too damn much." He shakes his head, before drawing in a breath of his own, letting it out, and following Anais' gaze. His voice, when he speaks again, is a little reverent, perhaps taken in the sight of the coast and the setting sun… and perhaps, just perhaps, the profile of his riding companion against it. In fact, if she turns back to look, she will find Riordan watching her, and not the view. "Perhaps," he says, simply, musingly.

"Or Lyanna Stark might have had the fortitude to tell her family what she felt," Anais suggests, letting her horse wander close enough to the coast to wet his hooves. "To tell the king she wasn't interested in him. Or to tell the prince the same, if that was the case. I've heard she was hardly a shrinking violet. It seems unfair to put all the blame on the men, when she was there as well." She turns to look back to him and, seeing his look, catches her lower lip between her teeth. "It takes at least two people to cause that sort of trouble," she says softly.

Riordan meets Anais' gaze without a care in the world, utterly unafraid to do so, and the smile he gives is as soft as his words that follow soon after. "I suppose it does at that." He holds her gaze just a moment longer… and then the soft look is replaced by a wink, and then gone completely as he digs his heels in, and urges his horse forward, racing ahead. The hooves of his steed kicking up sand, he calls backward, "Why are you all the way back there, m'lady?!"

"Because I value my safety!" Anais calls after him. She must at least somewhat, because she actually steers her horse to less rocky ground before loosening her reins with a laugh, letting him do his level best to catch up. "And my horse," she adds as she draws nearer. The guards behind them are also letting their horses run now, unwilling to lose track of their ward. Anais herself seems to trust her mount - who does have a fine, smooth gait - enough to let the motion take her, the wind off the water and her passage tugging strands of hair from her bun.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Anais=Animal Handling Vs Riordan=Animal Handling
< Anais: Good Success Riordan: Good Success
< Net Result: Anais wins - Marginal Victory

Riordan's gelding, fine beast that he is, is rather unfamiliar with the terrain that he now races over. It is a measure of the beast, and the skill of his rider, that the race - if it can be called such - is a close thing. But in the end, Anais' horse not only catches up, but begins to pass the other. Riordan's laughter chases after the Lady, as does his horse, and a bright smile rests easily on his face, all other worries cast aside for now as he simply races behind Anais. He leans forward, urging his horse to greater speeds, and all the while keeps his eyes fixed on the figure in front of him.

Anais must not have gotten the memo that it was supposed to be a race, because when she starts to draw past Riordan, she tightens her hold on her reins again, casting a swift smile over her shoulder. "What is it you're doing back there, Lord Riordan?" she asks with a laugh, turning his question back on him. Granted, she only slows her mount enough to draw even once more, seeming to thoroughly enjoy the run.

Riordan, for his part, seems content to run his horse alongside Anais' once he catches up. "I was just admiring the view," he tells her, a grin from the thrill of it all lighting up his face. He holds her gaze for a minute, before letting out a laugh and looking past her. "You were not kidding about the sunset here. I can see why you like it."

Anais laughs once more, for the sheer joy of the ride, before starting to pull up, bringing her horse down to a trot, and then a walk once more. The flashy gelding gives his head a shake, prancing a bit. He'd be glad to run longer, apparently. "I once suggested to Jacsen that we should build our own little cottage here on the shore," she admits, reaching up to try to smooth back her hair. "I miss being able to hear the sea from bed."

"I got used to it on the Isles," Riordan says, with a nod of his head as he draws in his own horse to fall alongside hers. "I can understand the draw. It is not unlike the Mire… at least, having noise to fall asleep to. I can't tell you the sleepless nights I've had in Stonebridge, simply because of the quiet. But even the sea isn't the same as the Sevens. I miss the song of the frogs, most of all. You can always tell where you are in the Mire, by which songs are being sung." His gaze drawn back to Anais by her motion, he tells her, "You should leave it like that. The look suits you." His eyes sparkle in the setting sunlight as he studies her a bit longer. "Why didn't he?" he eventually asks, quieter then his previous words, yet still pitched to carry over the other sounds.

"Frogs, hmm?" Anais echoes, a faint smile at one corner of her lips. "My brothers used to find a few of those in the streams to generously share with the rest of us. Elinor used to shriek so loud…" She trails off, loosing her hair from the bun and quickly plaiting it into a loose braid, correcting her mount with gentle pressure from her knees when he tries to wander. "Why didn't Jacsen build a cottage on the beach here?" she echoes, laughing softly. "Ironborn, for one thing. Impracticality, for another. It's a pretty thought for newlyweds, but not exactly responsible behavior."

"My brothers and I used to do similiar. We would often come up with nefarious schemes, but in the end I would ruin it by telling Roslyn. I could never keep secrets from her." Riordan laughs to himself at the memory. "I swear, some of them likely though she was a witch, with how she knew exactly when or where they'd be coming after her." The memory held for a moment, it fades slightly as he watches the Lady Terrick. Riordan seems a little dissapointed when Anais fixes her hair despite his words, but the look is brief, quickly replaced by a frown at her explanation. "And what would it cost him? My brother accounts your husband a smart man. Surely, even with the plight of your land, it would take little for him to see such built, and the reward would be great indeed." He shakes his head, letting out a soft snort. "Anyone with eyes can see all you've done for this place, these people, Lady. You deserve a little impracticality."

"That is kind of you to say, my lord, but right now we have smallfolk without homes," Anais notes gently. "It simply wouldn't be right. Besides," she continues, smile ghosting across her features, "There are always tents. When there's time." Tying off her braid, she takes up her reins once more. "As for what I've done for the people here, it's only as much as I'd need to do for them to see me the way they see Lord Jerold. These people love him. Love the Terricks. It's…something to see. And it meant everything when the reavers held the town. We didn't have the strength to protect them, or the numbers to ride out and save them." She's quieter now, sobering. "I think that was the worst part."

The train of thought seems to sober Riordan too. "We'd just got hit by some reavers of our own when we got the news. We were able to hold them back, but I almost died that day. That was the day Ser Jarod saved my life. When we were back in the tower, getting seen to…" Riordan actually stops talking for a moment, for some reason. "Jarod wanted to hare off on his own, try and take the whole damn lot of them to get through to your family. I was going to go with him. I owed him that." He pauses again, and the look he gives her is open, utterly and truly. There truly is no guile in him. Rather then going into further details, like whatever stopped them from doing such, he simply says, "I'm sorry we didnt get there sooner. I truly am."

Anais shakes her head, though she presses her lips together tightly against something. "It took every man you brought when you came," she says quietly. "You did the right thing. We were the ones who were unprepared. Who let them ambush us." Her eyes close, just a moment. "Once, Maron Greyjoy brought a group of the smallfolk to the walls. Thirty of them? A lot of them. He said to come out, or he'd kill them. And I stood there on the wall, and I watched him do it. I mean- I mean, I tried to tell him it was a waste of resources his men could use. I tried to convince him. But…But I didn't beg. And I didn't cry. And I didn't open the gates. I know I did what I had to. I know opening the gates wasn't an option and would have cost more lives than that. I know I couldn't afford to look weak to them. But still. I stood and watched as he and his men cut their throats." She looks up then, a shine in her eyes the only evidence of the depth of emotion behind the words. "I still owe the people of the Roost for that."

"No you do not," Riordan says, simply, clearly, holding her gaze without hesitation. "They owe you Anais," he says quietly, but fiercely. Once more, he's apparently forgotten her title. "The people of the Roost owe you their very lives, as do those of Four Eagles Tower. Rather then doing the honorable thing, you did the right thing." He pauses, then, and more gently, he says, "Do what you need to, to ease your soul. But don't do it for them. Do it for what it cost you to be that strong. Because you will need to be again, for them, and if you are not whole when that day comes, it will break you. And you will do noone any good if you can not go on."

"Break me?" That seems to draw Anais out of the memory and she looks up, a slow smile curving. "Lord Riordan, I may have married a Terrick, but I am a /Banefort/. And we are constitutionally opposed to breaking." She shifts in her saddle, turning her horse back toward the Roost. "More practically speaking, though, I do still need to earn their trust. Just because we understand doing the right thing instead of the honorable thing doesn't mean they understand why I stood there and watched the reavers kill their families."

"Well, I don't know, you looked especially breakable right then," Riordan says, never one to be afraid of making a joke about something, even if it just happened. "I'm just not sure you Baneforts are all you are cracked up to be. Now Nayland… that is a good, strong name. No breaking there." He gives Anais a mischevious smile to lighten the mood, before nodding agreeably to hers. "No, you're right, of course." He pauses slowly, before saying, "Sometimes I think I see why the Terricks hold tight to their honor. In the end, it's just… easier, isn't it? Even if people dislike your decision, if it was the honorable thing to do, all you have to do is hide behind that shield, and they forgive. But the right thing, the practical thing. Well."

Anais snorts a laugh, leaning over to try to punch his shoulder. Growing up with four brothers, she's learned a thing or two about the shoulder punch. Mostly to use knuckle. "Honor's a way of making power less threatening," she says as she settles back once more. "It makes you more comfortable to people who don't have power. It makes you predictable. Honor is proscribed, every action laid out. In that way, honor is easy. It's only when those actions run against what you want to do that it's hard."

"Hey-!" Riordan says, though he's far too busy laughing to really avoid the punch, even if he wanted to. "I'll get you back for that," he says, giving her a wink. How he will, though, goes left unsaid. Though given that he was raised around sisters who grew up around MORE then four brothers - one of them the would-be knight, Rowenna, in fact - it is likely he is used to plotting against those he can't hit back. So it'll probably be good. "Yes, that is true," he then says, moving on from his threats to the more philosophic of their topics. "And as I've said, I hold honor to be important. But there is something to be said for being unpredictable on occassion." For some reason, his words make his eyes glint in amusement once more as he studies Anais.

"A time and a place for everything," Anais replies, though it has the air of a lesson long taught. "And if I find frogs in my bed, I'll know who to blame," she adds, a twinkle of humor in her eyes. "And then I'll make sure someone brings them back to your room to help you sleep. Because I am a gentle and benevolent lady that way."

Riordan lets out a long laugh - louder still at that last part about Anais' traits. "You are certainly a lady of rare qualities, I shall give you that," he tells her with laughter lingering in both his voice and his eyes." Looking past her, at the darkening horizon, his smile fades just a touch. His expression regretful, he queries, "Perhaps we should head back?"

"We should," Anais agrees, smile crooked. "I don't think we packed but more than one torch, and I'd rather not manage to get lost. That would be somewhat embarrassing." She draws a breath, letting it out slowly as she watches the last of the light fade over the water. "And I suppose I should try to get some sleep as well. The next few days will no doubt be very busy. And draining in their own way."

Letting out a chuckle that is lighter and quieter then previous ones at Anais' first words, Riordan inclines his head to her at her last ones. "Yes, I suppose they will be. Perhaps we can do this again, though. I feel more renewed then I have in awhile, and I have a feeling we'll both be needing more of that feeling after the meeting with your Goodfather." There's no longer frustration in his tone at the thought, though. He truly feels refreshed.

"This, and a few strong drinks," Anais agrees, though the last is mostly under her breath, smile quirking. And with that, she leads the way back toward Four Eagles, guards trailing behind.