|Summary:||Anneke of Oldstones rides to Terrick's Roost, and the accusations fly.|
|Courtyard — Four Eagles Tower|
|The Courtyard of Four Eagles Tower is floored with a fine grey stone that match the color and tone of the interior structure of the castle's yard. Plants have been potted and placed around the entrances to add some color, the greenery accompanied by several trellises of flowers that climb the support columns. The most prominent structure in the area is the set of large slab steps that lead up to the great oak doors of the Great Hall. Several hallways and accesses lead off into different sections of Four Eagles which makes this the hub of noble activity when court is not being held.|
|August 18, 288|
One would think, that with the guests slowly filtering out of the Tower, that activity within the House would be quickly returning to normal. But for every guest that leaves, another duty arises. Stores are depleted, orders have to be placed and the tower is hard pressed to be getting ready for the wedding that looms closer and closer. Thankfully, perhaps, the blooded Terrick ladies have found themselves more occupied in the preparations of the bride to be, leaving the proxy Terrick to do as she pleases, so long as it helps the preparations. Just so this afternoon, with the hunting party returning to the grounds, returning with a fair handful of deer and wild boar. Liliana, in and among the men, seems at her ease. Not so dear Elise, who's looking decidedly green. But she's a stout girl, or tries to be, and she's putting on a decidedly brave face. Even if she is clinging to Liliana, sitting behind the woman. As soon as the group comes to a halt, work is already in progress. Sleds built to carry the meat are untied, the young handmaiden is handed down, and Liliana slips down from her mare. Dressed in her ranging gear, leather jerkin, homespun shirt, breeches and over those leather riding skirts. "Come, little one, you have well-earned your rest. Go and send Vena to me." The small girl nods, before she dashes off, in time to meet cook and her assistants as they come out to meet the party.
With word of supplies coming in, Anais took the time to change into a dress in dark brown cotton, one that looks like it's seen more than its fair share of hard work, with loose sleeves that push easily up to her elbows. She's braided her hair, and even wrapped the braid around her head, all the better to keep the fine, fair strands out of the way. She has a trail of household women after her, as well. "We'll need at least two boar intact for the wedding," she informs them. "And start with six pheasants, if we have them. Otherwise, we're looking for sausage and pies. There may be a soup or stew, but we can worry about that closer to time." She smiles swiftly when she sees Liliana, and if there's a trace of envy in her eyes, she hides it well. "Liliana. It looks as though things were successful?"
Liliana's final stop, is the sworn who brought back Scarlet; the falcon hooded, but having the look of an avian taking a well deserved rest, "Return her to the mews, if you will, please, Saen." The man nods, remaining ahorse, and heading off in that direction. The calling of her name she hears while her back is still turned, but the smile she offers as she turns to meet Anais and the retainers coming out with her, hands loosening the stays of her sleeves and typing them up to free her arms to above the elbows, "I did try to steal you away, Anais. But that sister of yours…and we still haven't the room for me to store a body." There's a quirk of humour in her voice, as she goes to meet the woman, making no attempt to hide the traces of blood that splash her leathers here and there, "We were able to find everything that you requested, accepting one of the deer. But I think we have enough time to have another hunt before the preparations begin in earnest." A hand reaches into her skirts, removing one of the slender boning daggers she carried with her, offering it to the woman, "Feeling a bit unladylike, my good Lady of Banefort?"
Anais rolls her eyes sympathetically at the mention of her sister, shaking her head. "They really are much more fun at home," she offers, even if it's half-hearted. "I'm afraid they're feeling a bit worn thin with staying here and waiting for my wedding, though. We all had hopes when we left home." She /tries/ to be empathetic to her sisters' problems, at least. "Anyhow." A smile quirks when she sees the boning knife. "I told you, if you really want to hide the bodies, you feed them to the fish. In pieces. And," she continues, making certain her sleeves are out of the way, "There is absolutely nothing unladylike about seeing to the supply of the household, Lady Camden," she says archly. "It's simple household management."
"They could well return home, if they chose. There is nothing forcing them to remain. Allow them to return home by boat and return with your family on the wedding ship." Clearly, Liliana has no sympathy where Anais' sisters are concerned. The boning knife is handed over, as Liliana goes to retrieve the string from which are hung the clutch of pheasants brought back at Anais' request. They're not large birds and it's careful, delicate work. Better suited to a woman's hands than a man's. Thankfully, the retainers are already moving out tables and buckets as needed, for the work of dressing the carcasses to be done in the kitchen yard. Likely to spare the hall itself from the mess and the stench of the preparations. "I am so glad that we agree on that, Lady Banefort." As archly delivered as Anais', but the spark of mischief in her eyes belies the seriousness of the tone.
"As nice as that might be for us," Anais laughs, shaking her head, "I'm afraid my father is hoping they might still catch someone's eye. After all, we're a popular place, apparently. And Terrick's Roost gets far more visitors than the Banefort." She reaches to take one of the pheasants, spreading a wing to get a look at the feathers. "That, and he may very well be enjoying the quiet." And who could blame him? At least she seems to have brought women from the kitchens, rather than more delicate handmaidens, who seem comfortable with the task at hand. "Did you at least enjoy the ride?" she asks Liliana, moving toward one of the tables.
From the far end of the courtyard, Jaremy is seen speaking quietly with one of the house retainers near the stables. Off to the side, a bit sequestered, the two engage in a long conversation that leaves Jaremy biting at the edge of his thumbnail. Lowering his brows in a look of concern, he reaches out to pat the man on the arm, giving him a shake. The inaudible dialogue is obvious, he's thanking the man for something. The retainer walks away, leaving Jaremy to his thoughts. After drumming his fingertips against his goatee for what seems like minutes, he turns and heads further into the courtyard. The commotion with the buckets and the fowl snags his attention, and upon seeing Anais and Liliana, he alters his course to meet them.
"There aren't any more prospects for them here." That's said as if it were fact, though Liliana is not forthcoming on precisely how she's come to that decision. But she's not idle with her hands, as she turns to where water is being boiled for the blanching, before the birds can be plucked, "But I can certainly understand how much quieter it would be if they were not in his halls. And yes, it was invigorating. We have not had such a grand hunt in…many months." The flesh of the bird in hand is checked over, the amount of blood remaining to be let (not much). "I imagine you had just as much enjoyment as I did." Again that humour. She knows the poor woman is being run ragged with the preparations. Jaremy is not noticed at all, as she's her back to him, facing off opposite Anais across the table.
"What, you don't want one of them marrying into the Camdens?" Anais teases Liliana with a grin. "And whatever the rumors about Ser Anton, I suspect my father wouldn't mind even a dubious claim to another spot in a good location. Shayla thinks Ser Jarod is quite attractive, but I doubt my father is interested in doubling up so close. And Seven know there will be plenty of people here at the wedding." When she reaches the table, she uses the knife to place a single cut for draining blood, hanging the bird over the edge as she checks the other supplies.
Coming to a stop not far from Liliana's right, Jaremy has the good sense to avoid the 'splatter zone' for the meat dressing that's going on. To his credit, he doesn't seem to be affected by the sight of the blood. Instead, he folds his arms across his chest and watches their hands in silence, lost to his thoughts. The "Terrick Stare" is cast in the direction of one of the slow or unlucky pheasants, and in response to some unsaid motivator, he turns on his heel and heads over to Anais' side of the table. "Good afternoon, Ladies…"
"I may not have much, in the way of friendly feelings towards your sisters, Anais, but I would not wish my Cousin on any of them. Alyse would terrorize them mercilessly, if one of them were to marry her twin. But that might be to the good. To be sure, if one of them ended up with the Oldstones, it would certainly remove the unwanted attention this House has been getting." And by House, she means Lucienne. A tilt of her head, as she catches sight of Jaremy coming up beside her, but he stays there not long at all, "Lord Jaremy."
The ladies in question are hard at work, seeing to the dressing of a clutch of pheasants at a table. The rest of the party as well as the kitchen retainers Anais brought with her are already preparing to dress the boar and the deer brought back from the hunt. One of those retainers, seeing Anais' need, bring up a bag of of well, bags, likely for the feathers, and a mounting rack, from which the pheasant will be hung after dressing. A bowl for collecting the offal in one and the edible organs in the other are already set out.
"Ah, well. I doubt it will happen any time soon," Anais shakes her head to Liliana. "They've not been proactive." She looks up as Jaremy approaches, smile flickering across her features. "Good afternoon," she offers cheerfully, reaching for the back end of the pheasant to start plucking at feathers. At least she seems relatively practiced at it. "Care to pluck a pheasant?" she offers with a swift smile, glancing toward where horses and sledges are being unloaded.
Jarod strides into the vicinity, step long and rather quick. Though he doesn't seem in a hurry, precisely. He's just naturally given to moving at as close to top speed as possible at all times. Anais and Liliana are spotted, and he flourishes a quick bow to them, bloody work or not. "Ladies. Ah! Venison. Brilliant. I've not had that in far too long. Been meaning to get out and doing some hunting myself, just not time for it. You have a hand in the killing of that fine mess, Jaremy?" He offers his elder brother a quick grin, though the look on Jaremy's face - "Terrick Stare" and all - turns his gaze a little curious.
"What?" Jaremy looks up from the dead birds and meat, distracted as if the words reach his brain a few seconds after they reach his ears. Blinking, he glances between Jarod, Liliana, and Anais, shaking his head. "No…no I didn't kill any of these, though that boar must have been a beast on the spear." A few heartbeats pass, accentuated by an impatient tapping of his boot. "No, I'm not going to be able to help you with this, I might actually have to head out from beyond the walls for a little while. Maybe a day or two at most. Jarod? Were you going to head to Stonebridge at some point about that investigation?"
"Perhaps, if the Lady Banefort allows, Ser Jarod, some of the venison might be reserved for the evening meal." And indeed, some was brought back for the night's meal. It would have seemed churlish to not do so. "But this hunt was for her benefit, and your Lord brother's." Still, Jarod receives a flash of Lili's smile, and a dip of her head in answer to his bow. "The boar was a joy to watch. He gave the men quite a challenge." Liliana is not nearly dirty enough that she might have participated in the hunt through sodden underbrush and mud. Likely as not, the hunting falcon and the longbow arranged on her saddle were her contribution. "Beyond the walls?" A glance to Anais, but she asks nothing more.
Anais' brows rise at Jaremy's words, and she pauses in her plucking. "Head out?" she echoes, gaze sharpening on her betrothed and his absent state. When he adds Jarod to the conversation and mentions Stonebridge, Jarod gets a dose of the look as well. The Banestare. She falls silent for a moment, plucking out a few more feathers with a bit more force than is strictly necessary, before she speaks again. "What is it that's drawing you out, Jaremy?" she asks, voice carefully modulated to nothing more than simple curiosity.
"I suspect I'll need to go there soon, aye, with father's leave," Jarod replies to Jaremy. "The man who was killed was apparently more usually in the work of Ser Rygar than Lord Ryker, so I'll require words with him, I think. And Lady Igara will need an escort home. I'm sure Stonebridge shall provide her one, but I'd like to offer my services to it as well. I must say, Jaremy, I find the way Lord Ryker left her here in a strange house abed without his company - after the death of his man in town besides - decidedly lacking in chivalry. I suppose as a highlord he has other priorities but…" He shrugs. It's still not something he approves of. "I don't think that'll be for a day or so, however, still matters to piece together here. Why? And where're you thinking to be off to?" His eyes narrow a little at his brother. He also idly starts rolling up his sleeves, perhaps preparing to offer his services to the plucking. Not that he dives in yet, Jaremy is still his main focus.
Leaning back on one heel, Jaremy's eyes lower back to the table, lost in another form of thought. Resting one elbow on another folded across his abdomen, a hand is left to over before his lips. One finger taps silently on his lower lip as his eyes glance in the direction of the nearby servants. "Yes, beyond the walls." Considering the nearby servants, he casually leans over to Anais and murmurs something in her ear before he moves back to his initial spot, fingertip still tapping. "I think I'd like to have a few conversations at Stonebridge myself, in fact. But you say she's not going to be ready to move for a day or two? Damn, I was thinking to perhaps leave tonight and take up at that boarding house near the border so that we could be there early." Leaving Liliana and Jarod still a bit in the dark, he chews at his lip and does his best to try to explain. "Father must be here. I think you and I both agree that the matter of the murder and these letters should be addressed with Lady Valda and Ser Rygar. Perhaps I could make sure he's ready to receive you, Jar?"
Jaremy whispers: Nayland is building a trade route to Oldstones.
The sound of riders — perhaps no more than two, by the hooves — reaches the courtyard. The guards on duty call a challenge, which is answered in a strong, clear feminine voice. The word "Oldstones" might be easy to pick out, even at a distance.
Liliana knows best when to speak and when to listen. With Anais taking over most of the interrogation, she steps away from the pheasant she was working on, lifting her voice to direct the servants. Smoothly and efficiently, but every one of them ends up working at a task that leaves them out of easy earshot of the table where the four nobles are, leaving their conversations a bit more private. But it goes not so long, the chance for conversation, before the sound of hoofbeats on stone ring in the far courtyard. "For the love of the Gods. Shall I receive them, Lord Jaremy?" It seems to have become her lot in life. The unexpected guests.
Anais blinks at Jaremy's murmured words, though she doesn't stop her plucking, hands moving without any conscious direction. And then there's an arrival at the gates, and the name of Oldstones is spoken to carry. Arching a brow, she finally stops plucking, setting the pheasant aside and calling over one of the kitchen women to take over. "I suppose we should go and welcome our latest guest," she suggests, leaning over a bowl of water to rinse off her hands. There's a brief, dismayed sigh as she looks down at her clothing, but there's only so much to be done about the drab brown cotton. "It never ends, does it?" she smiles ruefully to Liliana.
"Matter of whether I'm ready to go for a day or two as well, I don't want to come to Stonebridge with incomplete information about this killing," Jarod says to Jaremy. "Nor, must I say, do I think it's a good idea for you to venture there, brother. Lord Ryker coming here was foolish, in my opinion, but that's Nayland foolishness. Jace might be better to go in your place, if you think this business requires a lord's handling. If you are going to insist on the errand yourself, at least send a rider ahead letting them know you'll be coming to their halls. It's good courtesy, as unsteady as relations are between us. I'll go when you go, that's a given, not about to watch you head out there without me, though I would request at least another day for it. Unless your business won't keep until the morrow?" From his tone, he doubts it. But the riders distract him, head turning toward the sound of people incoming. And the cry of "Oldstones." "Huh," he mutters to himself.
Eyes narrowing into cat-like slits, Jaremy's lips curl into a cheshire grin at his internal monologue. Eyebrows lifting towards Liliana, he quickly shakes his head and lets his arms drop. "No, but you're more than welcome to do this with us. You are a part of the house." With a mission dancing around in his eyes, he turns. "I'll send a rider ahead but I'm leaving tonight. Jacsen is just getting settled in and anyone less than I and Rygar would assume I'm playing safe. Besides…they'd be foolish to allow something to happen to me as their guest. I'll prime them for you, brother." Letting that dark smile of his fade, meaning he's set himself to be up to no good, he turns and heads towards the riders and a quick pace. "Ho, Oldstones." He raises an arm in greeting, hand resting limply over the hilt of his sword as he makes his way over.
The sound of hoofbeats at a smart trot clatter on the courtyard stones, and soon enough the new arrivals are visible. Anneke of Oldstones, dressed in the blood-in-vein red of her house, riding a dappled grey palfrey, her gown so full that she doesn't require a side-saddle for modesty, however scandalous riding astride might be in and of itself. Her hair is worn long and wind-tossed from riding. With her is a huge, stunning hulk of a man with leathery tan skin and shockingly blonde hair. His size is such that his full-blown horse resembles a pony beneath him. He's dressed very simply, slightly better than the lowest tier of peasantry, but not by much. "Hail, House Terrick!" calls Anneke, smiling broadly. "How are we this fine evening?"
Liliana takes the time, after Anais, to wash her own hands, but the glance of the flaxen-haired woman to her attire receives a short laugh from Liliana. "Do not worry, Anais, I am not better than you. If they will not come announced, they will simply have to get us as they find us." A dip if her head, as she hears Jaremy's decision, before she falls in at Anais' side. At least she remembered to leave the boning knife behind. And so, the group of Terrick, Rivers, Banefort and Camden move away from the kitchen yard and the butchery done there and make their way into the courtyard proper and the two announced riders from Oldstones.
"Jaremy, you-" Anais cuts herself off before she says anything entirely improper, pressing her lips together in a determined expression. As Jaremy starts over, she moves to take his arm, leaning up to whisper something into his ear as he walks. Though she manages to keep a polite, neutral face, there's something a little sharper in her eyes. Once they're nearer to Anneke, it's the man with her that draws Anais' attention, polite smile in place as she leaves the greetings to Jaremy.
You whisper, "Jaremy, you must be careful. What is there to gain from rushing to Stonebridge? What will you do? Throw an accusation in Lord Ryker's face? Don't you think it would be wiser to speak with Ser Anton? Or gather some information using /scouts/ first?" to Jaremy.
"I'm riding with you," Jarod says firmly to Jaremy. "If you're insistent upon this, you'll not be off without me. We'll prime them together. Or, whatever. I do again ask we be off in the morning. I've just one town girl left to talk to, and I should be ready to face Ser Rygar with everything. Or, well. Much of it as I can know. Please, my lord brother, grant me this, I think it could be very important." The casualness is gone from his manner as he asks that, and at the same time it does sound more a concerned request from retainer-to-lord than typical brotherly banter.
"Deal." Jaremy nods to his brother sharply, leaning in to steal another whisper to Anais. It takes a moment to get it out, forcing him to pause until he fully accepts the steward of Oldstones. Casting a quiet, soft look to Anais as he leans back from her, he turns to see Anneke and her rider, recognizing her from the tourney. "We're well. My brother and I were just discussing taking a ranging. Please…do come in our stablehands will see to your horses. What brings the steward of Oldstones to Terrick's Roost?" Disconnecting from Anais, he steps towards Anneke's horse and offers to help her down. "Please, allow me to assist you."
Jaremy whispers: I'm not going to make accusations, dearheart. Rygar thinks us weak. Lady Valda has much to lose. I'm not off to war them, I'm off to step in uncomfortably close and make them paranoid.
Anneke dismounts gracefully with Jaremy's assist. "You are too kind, Lord Ser Jaremy." She looks up at the huge man in her company, still astride. "You can come down not, Lars, dear." The man dismounts obediently, and the Oldstones woman touches his elbow, pointing at the stables. "Lead the horses over there. The men inside will know how to care for them. Then you may find the kitchen and, if you are kind and polite, they will feed you." Lars lumbers off to do as he's bid, and Anneke turns to face the welcoming committee. "Please forgive me for arriving unannounced. I know what terrible trouble that can cause a household. In fact, Oldstones has had a number of unexpected visitors lately." She says this last to Jaremy directly, her smile still wide and lovely, but somehow significant.
"Seems to be the standard going of the year. We've had many ourselves." Jaremy retorts with a tilted nod of his head, meeting Anneke's smile with one of his own as he turns to help her horse to the stablemaster.
With the Oldstones duo received, Liliana takes the time to get the measure of man and woman, an expression of compassion on her face for the large man. "They will be happy to receive your man, but may we offer you some refreshment while you wait for your horses to be settled? Perhaps a seat at the table?" The infamous table, set so often and so well for the host of visitors that have crossed the portcullis to the Tower.
Dressed in a pair of blonde hide riding trousers, tall boots and a light linen tunic not much cleaner or more fine than an average commoner's, and copiously damp down the sides and back, to boot, Cayt's on his way back to the Roost and the shade of the stables from his mission of humility down in the town. He hardly looks humbled by the work, though. Legs are the good kind of sore, the sore that lets you know good work's been done, and if he rather reeks of sweat, it's a good, manly reek, isn't it? Though having a bucket of water thrown on him would probably be an advisable move, especially before he does something silly like grabbing up his sister for a hug. He may just have it in mind, heading on toward where Annie and Liliana are washing up.
Anais grimaces faintly at Jaremy's whispered words, though there is some relief as well when he steps away to greet the latest arrival at the Roost. When Anneke mentions visitors, there's the faintest arch of one brow, though her reaction is guarded. Dressed in a plain brown cotton dress with the sleeves pushed up to her elbows, and with her distinctive fair hair braided and wrapped around her head, she doesn't look quite like she usually does.
Anneke smiles warmly at Lilianna, bobbing a gentle curtsy as she inclines her head to both ladies. "I would adore a glass of summerwine, if there is some to be had. How very kind of you." She moves to the table, smoothing her skirts beneath her as she sits. "I am Anneke Steward, castellan of Oldstones — please forgive my manners. It's been a long ride and my wits are addled by it."
Liliana can see to the wine easily enough. Better that Jaremy and his soon-to-be Lady Wife receive the visitor. "It will be only a moment, Mistress Stewart." A glance to Anais, "I will be only a moment." And knowing Liliana, she'll bring enough for everyone. With her duty done and all, she leaves to see about arranging the refreshments and their delivery to the table.
It doesn't take long for Jaremy to lead Anneke's horse to the stablemaster, handing it over with a few quiet words and a friendly nod. The stablemaster then turns to a young boy and issues a few commands. The boy runs in the direction of the stables. Nodding in satisfaction that the work is done, Jaremy turns back to the group and steps over to his betrothed. Offering Anais his arm, he takes one final glance at Anneke's guard and then addresses the steward herself. "It's quite alright, Mistress Anneke. It's quite a long ride from Oldstones. Please, take a moment to rest and gather yourself. What brings you to Terrick's Roost? We've been entertaining your Lord Anton…"
Caytiv ambles up just as Operation: Hospitality is getting into motion. Whether from fear of getting stuck standing around not knowing what to say to anyone or from an active desire to be helpful, he breaks into a long-legged lope to join up with Liliana. "Ay, lass, need ye a hand in carrying the lot?" he asks of her.
"A pleasure to meet you, Mistress Anneke," Anais smiles politely as she takes Jaremy's arm, though her gaze follows after Lars for a long moment. Jaremy has the pertinent question in hand, though, and she seems content to follow along for the moment, watching and listening.
The retainers are already well on their way, by the time Caytiv moves up to join her, "Certainly not, Master Hill. You are no retainer to this House." But that;s gently said, in a tone rich with Liliana's understated humour, "But as my sworn of today is busy attending to the duties of the hunt, you are welcome to attend me." Which really means make sure no one tries to stick me with the pointy end of everything.
The retainers are already well on their way, by the time Caytiv moves up to join her, "Certainly not, Master Hill. You are no retainer to this House." But that's gently said, in a tone rich with Liliana's understated humour, "But as my sworn of today is busy attending to the duties of the hunt, you are welcome to attend me." Which really means make sure no one tries to stick me with the pointy end of everything.
When the wine finally does arrive, which does take a few minutes time, it will come along with a selection of cheese, fruit and fresh crusty bread.
Caytiv is no retainer to this house. The point is made, and seems to hobble the mountain lad in his steps as he tries to parse it. "Yet I have arms, ay?" he counters the polite with the practical after his usual manner. But he's let to come along, and that's enough for him, for the time being, anxious to be out of the way of the polished greetings underway and so willing to play bodyguard, a role he knows well enough from accompanying the wee blonde horde of Banefort lasses.
"Thank you so very much," Anneke says to Liliana, graciously, as the wine and other refreshments arrive. "We try to be as gracious at Oldstones, but often visitors find us quite unprepared, in the process of rebuilding as we are. What we can offer is humble." She sips her wine, looking up at Jaremy. "I trust your man found everything to his liking? He did come such a long way."
To the question, Jaremy follows Anais' gaze to that large, armed man with an almost amused look on his face. As if he wasn't paying full attention, Jaremy turns his head to Anneke and smiles quietly. Quirking a brow, he reaches out for a mug of the summerwine, taking one for himself. "I'm sorry, there are so many questions being fired all around this courtyard that I've gotten confused. Please, take another moment to rest and gather yourself. I find myself curious as to the purpose of the visit. Is your junior maester at Oldstones yet settled in? Surely there are many affairs you'll miss tending to by this visit if he's not." He pauses. "What's this about a man?"
Ah, and there goes that brief glimmer of hope in Anais' eyes with Anneke's words. Not that her smile falters in the least. Though there could be ice floes in those sea-deep eyes. "I don't believe you mentioned what it was that brought you here, Mistress Anneke," she smiles politely to the other woman. "I do hope there's nothing amiss at Oldstones? I can't imagine anything less than an invasion would draw the steward away while the lord is also out."
Anneke proper her chin up in her hand, smiling pleasantly. "The Terrick retainer who came to visit, Lord Ser. Not that he identified himself as such, which was a trifle rude, but I found him very charming company all the same. In fact, we had so many pleasant hours together that I'm sure I'll recognize him to see him again." She sips her wine again, turning her attention to Anais. "Oh, dear, no. We've not been invaded, though your concern is certainly touching, my lady. But there have certainly been a series of interesting events of which I thought my lord Anton should be made aware. There's not much of a household to run at Oldstones yet." She looks back to Jaremy, still smiling. "But of course, you know that."
Having seen to the disposition of the retainers, and giving word that the large man who came with the Oldstones castellan was to be seated at the table close to where Jaremy now receives his visitor, allowing the man the comfort of cool shade and the breeze that flows through the courtyard off of the sea not so far off, and given his fill of food, Liliana moves back to rejoin the Lord and his Lady.
"Did he now?" Jaremy asks, eyes sharpening their gaze on Anneke. With the goblet in one hand and Anais on his opposite arm, Jaremy pauses for a sip from the goblet. "We've many a retainer, Anneke Steward, many that did and did not attend the tourney at Stonebridge, but surely a steward of your status I'm sure has quite the memory. Did you meet many of our retainers at the tourney?" He takes another sip, offering the goblet to one of the passing servants. "Your Ser Anton has told me much of Oldstones and the land around, but he didn't tell me so many fair-haired strongmen were in those lands. Where in Westeros did you find this one? We may have to see if any of your camp sell their strength. We've a docks being built and stones are rather heavy, Mistress Anneke."
"It would seem you might be vulnerable to an invasion, in that case," Anais tsks softly to Anneke. "I'll have to write to my father and see that he's keeping a sharp eye against the Ironborn incursions that plague so very many of us. It would be a pity to go home and find it inhabited by Greyjoys and Botleys and Harlaws." She takes a glass of wine as drinks are delivered, watching the other woman as she sips.
Chuckling, Anneke shakes her head. "My presence won't keep the Naylands or the Ironborn or anyone else from taking Oldstones. Our real saving grace is that — as yet — there's not a great deal to take. Even the Ironborn could scarce be troubled for the minuscule plunder we offer. What our lords need to know cannot always be trusted to a retainer's memory or committed to parchment, don't you agree?" She tilts her head, looking at Jaremy again. "We followed him back here, Lord Ser. If he is not yours, then he is your father's. I would hate that my lord Anton have to trouble Lord Jerold with such a thing. Unless you are suggesting the man acted on his own?"
As Liliana moves to stand near Anais and Jaremy, the young lord turns his head to watch her face. Expressionless, wearing the Terrick Stare, he blinks slowly and raises his hand to brush a stray lock of hair away from his eyes. Giving his head a slight shake, he tsks and lowers his eyes once more to the seated steward of Oldstones. A silence settles in as he look to her as if he's atop his perch and isn't quite sure yet to do with her. The stare continues. "You're rather adept at dodging questions, Anneke Steward. I'm sure you've taken great interest in following such a polite man to find out where he was riding home to. Perhaps that's the benefit of having a good steward than a maester. A maester serves the house and whichever lord is in it. Tell me…and actually answer me this time, not unlike you avoided the answer about your blonde-haired guard. I'll have answer to that soon enough, I assure you. What, pray tell, about the visit of my man is so pressing that it could not have waited until his return to Oldstones? All of those strong servants must be rather expensive, as well."
Anais arches a brow at Anneke's mention of troubling Lord Jerold. "I can't imagine why Lord Jerold would be troubled by hearing that someone from Terrick's Roost visited Oldstones," she murmurs, taking a sip of her wine. "After all, it would seem Ser Anton has made no pretensions that he isn't courting Lady Lucienne." She looks to Jaremy then, brows rising. "Your father hasn't been put out by the presence of my father's men, has he?"
"Because he lied, Lord Jaremy," Anneke says, her polite smile fading into a far more straightforward expression. "A man who comes to my home and lies about his identity and his intentions, polite or not, was not sent in the spirit of friendship. He claimed to be a peasant from a place of no consequence — and to find that he was sent by Terrick's Roost?" She looks to Anais. "You will pardon me, my lady, but my lord's honest visit in friendship to this house is not at all the same thing." She stands. "If you will pardon me — you have my gracious thanks for the welcome. I shall let Lord Anton know of my arrival."
Liliana's expression is warm, welcoming, as she finally settles at the edge of the table, but words, she offers not at all, the discussion already passing well out of her demesne. Wine she pours, offering it to Caytiv, with a gentle hand to indicate that the squire should remain at her side. But even those small graces do not seem to be ready to be observed, as the Oldstones castellan rises from her place, "I am not certain where the Lord Valentin might be found, but I will have our retainers seek him out, and in the meanwhile, we will make certain that rooms are preferred for yourself and your man."
"I will send a servant to inform your Lord Anton of your arrival, Anneke Steward. While that is being done I cordially invite you to sit, please enjoy finishing your wine." Jaremy motions to her chair with a deep nod of his head. "Even in these lands it's considered quite rude to not answer a lord's questions, and since your arrival you've done well to ignore every last one." He glances to Anneke's guard and then to the steward once more, eyes narrowing.
Anneke blinks a few times, mildly, then settles gracefully back into her chair. "I didn't realize were were providing each other the civility of open honesty, Lord Ser. Please. Restate your questions? One at a time."
"Jaremy, please," Anais murmurs, reaching a hand for the lord's forearm. "Mistress Anneke, I'm afraid things have been terribly unsettled here of late. I'm sure if there was someone from Terrick's Roost who had the extreme bad taste to lie about his origins, I can only imagine he did so out of fear or concern, and likely not merited. The Seven only know who told who what. Ser Anton and Ser Gedeon have been our guests these last weeks, though. Surely we could act as friends, rather than strange cats?" she suggests with a faint, rueful smile.
Liliana once again steps away from the tables, moving as easily and as gracefully as if she were in her more courtly garb, "As you say, Young Lord Terrick." She pays him all the courtesy he deserves, moving off to select one of the members of the house guard, and, after a few minutes of murmured conversation, the man moves off, likely as not to hunt down the erstwhile Lord of Oldstones.
"Thank you for all your trouble, dear," Anneke says to the departing girl. She sits back in her chair and sips her wine, eyes steady on Jaremy. "I have done my best to be cordial, Lady Anais. And I shall continue to do so."
Jaremy tilts his head to Liliana, speaking softly to her as he remains at Anais' side. "Please, yes, I'm not sure as to where he is either but surely one of our staff can find him. Perhaps to start with his rooms. Thank you so, Liliana." He says to her as she departs, turning back to the conversation at hand. Without a temper, he nods in agreement with Anais. "The Lady Anais makes a fine point, Anneke Steward, one I agree with. Lord Anton and I rode up and down the coast together, and we spoke of me one day visiting Oldstones. We should speak as friends, and the matter of this rider will require me to speak with your lord personally." He pauses, clearing his throat, smiling softly. "My questions weren't necessary, please, pay no mind to them. What were your thoughts on the countryside riding in?"
"Will it?" Anneke raises an eyebrow at Jaremy, looking amused. "It would certainly have been better-done if you'd spoken to him about it beforehand, don't you think?" She smiles. "But neither was that question really necessary. I'm afraid I didn't get to enjoy the countryside as I normally might have. We had to make good time, tracking a mysterious rider back to his point of origin."
"Cordial, perhaps," Anais agrees with that same small smile, almost sympathetic. "Though you do seem frustrated with the matter. Not that I can blame you, of course. I can only imagine the amount of work that goes into establishing a holding from ruins. To have to wonder if your neighbors are not friends at all must be terribly unsettling. I am sorry if you were concerned." Apologies offered, she settles back a bit, one hand still resting lightly on Jaremy's.
If there is one thing that can be said for Liliana, it is that she is indeed efficient. It takes little enough time for the hunt to be set to getting underway, and to free her to return to the table, "It is never a comfortable thing, to begin a visit to a foreign House with a spot of tension. But I am certain that once the Lord Valentin has been found, he will sit with the Young Lord to discuss the matter. I would expect nothing less. He and his knight have been gracious company."
"I believe my thoughts as of late have been scattered for my new love and the matters of my impending wedding. Perhaps you are right, Anneke Steward. Perhaps." Jaremy smile softly, eyes never leaving hers save for the casual blinking. The smile fades into a softened look, yet always hard around the eyes. "Allow me to set your mind at ease so that both of us are very comfortable with this situation. What Lady Liliana says is the truth. We've been good friends to Ser Gedeon and Lord Anton and in turn they have been generous guests. I love my sister very much, and there has never been a point in our communications with Oldstone that I've meant any offense, as surely your Lord means us nothing but love and honor."
"Mistress Anneke," Anais murmurs, taking a sip of her drink. "I understand that you've followed this man back to Terrick's Roost. But are you certain he was one of ours? I'm afraid we've had some concerns of our own of late. It seems there is someone trying to stir up trouble between the Terricks and the Naylands. No doubt making it seem as though Terrick's Roost sent people to spy on Oldstones would do a great deal to interfere with any budding friendship underway here." She glances to Jaremy, then back to Anneke, smile wry. "Granted, I've no knowledge of the disposition of Terrick's Roost's fighting men. I could simply be unaware of such orders. But I can't help but be wary right now."
The praise for the other members of House Valentin pleases the castellan, and she turns another warm smile on Liliana. "They are charming, aren't they?" She listens in silence to Jaremy, then turns her head to consider Anais. "Then we can settle this matter quite easily." She looks at Jaremy, sipping her wine again. "Allow me to meet your house guard."
Liliana's smile is mild and still friendly, in keeping with the Camden lady's general mein, "They are indeed. Or they have been, in my small experience encountering them." As to the woman's request, Liliana's smile only deepens, though there's something in it of reproof, "Mistress Stewart, it may well be that you provide good service to Oldstones as their steward, but as a steward of no small amount of skill and knowledge of the ways of court, you should know better than most that such a request is well outside of the bounds of your duties to your House, and your place as a guest of ours. If you are truly set on believing these things about the origins of the man you say you followed here, it behooves you to allow your Lord to pose such a request to ours."
Jaremy's head lulls to the side, in Anais' direction. In such close proximity, he's close enough to whisper, but chooses not to. Instead he glances over her cheek towards the blurry corner of her eyes. Listening as Liliana speaks, he lifts his brows and nods a few times as the lady of Camden's suggestion is versed. "If you were so certain this rider was a man of either my or my father's retinue, Anneke Steward, you would have come to quietly and discreetly inform your Lord or had waited until he returned to inform him of such." He smirks, shaking his head from side to side. "Accusations are very rude things, as are demands made on behalf of your not-present lord. I'm sure he and I have very much to speak about concerning these gestures, steward." His smirk forms into a fasely polite smile, clear enough for her to see. "So I suggest we keep civility in this conversation. It's much more polite."
Anais sighs softly, taking another sip from her glass. "Obviously this is a sensitive subject," she murmurs, giving Jaremy's hand a squeeze. "For what it is worth, Mistress Anneke, I am certain that Terrick's Roost hopes only for friendship with Oldstones." Her smile quirks, faint. "But perhaps we might speak of something more neutral? I know we've extended an invitation to the wedding to your lord and Ser Gedeon. Are there other knights at Oldstones we might expect to attend the tournament?"
"I've accused you of nothing, Lord Ser — that you think so, to a mind given to such speculation, might suggest something weighs on your conscience." Anneke delicately selects a bit of cheese, nibbling it. "Nor have I made any demands. I made a request. One I really see no reason to deny. Certainly a castellan," she places faint emphasis on her position, "has reason to be interested in how a grand house such as this is staffed and functions. When she is responsible for creating a similar situation for her own lord." She continues to regard Jaremy with amusement, his barely polite smile making hers more genuine. "My Lord, you mistake hostility where there is none. I have been entirely civil, I think. If I have not, please instruct me." She nods to Anais. "Your invitation is most kind, and we are deeply honored. But I am tired from my journey, I fear, and the Lord Ser has indicated I am not dismissed until I've answered his questions. Please forgive me if I would rather he continue, so I can rest."
"You stated, Mistress Steward, when asked as to your reason for traveling so far from Oldstones, that someone from Terrick's Roost came to your lands with the intent to deceive you. Indeed, you claimed that he lied in saying that he was 'a peasant from a place of no consequence'. And you went so far as to insist that if he were not the Young Lord's man, then he belonged to Lord Ser Terrick. If that is not an accusation of wrongdoing, as the actions of the smallfolk of a House are often seen to reflect directly on the House itself, then I would be interested to know exactly how you would define an 'accusation'. As interested as I would be to actually meet this man. Surely, if you followed him all the way from Oldstones, you would not have left off following him until you knew precisely where he had returned to. Indeed, I am surprised you did not bring him with you," Liliana glances over towards the man at the table close to them, "Unless this is the man himself? As to asking to see the House guard, that is hardly required, if all you need is instruction on how best to defend your holdings. That is something that can be conveyed by simple conversation. If I am interpreting your intentions correctly, and please do correct me if I am wrong, your intention in making this request, is either to avail yourself to as much knowledge as you can get of our defenses, or to see if you can pick this mysterious man's face out of the faces of our House guard, and so strengthen your accusation against the Young Lord and his Lord Father."
"I do believe your words were…Terrick retainer that came to visit that you followed back to Terrick's Roost and you would so hate for your lord Anton to trouble my father with this business. I do believe your words were…something weighing my conscience? I offer you a chance to continue to sit and drink at eat the food my house has provided to you as a respite from the road and you tell me that I've ordered you not dismissed? I made myself quite clear ,steward, that I was offering you a place to be staged while we contacted your lord, a guest of this house." Jaremy shakes his head, frowning. "Consider it a lesson, castellan, that when wishing to learn how such a grand house is run and functions, the first step is to treat the lords present with respect. Perhaps you will remember this one day." He nods towards the stablemaster. "Ready their horses."
He looks down to Anneke, eyes sharp and firm. "I will inform your Lord Anton when he has been found of this and pass on your accusations to him. I will speak to him at great length regarding this." He turns, heading to the table near her guard. He picks up a small piece of cracker and slips it into his mouth. He gives the large, blonde man a quiet look. "This one's earned little." He glances back to Anneke. "If you've anything to say in parting, now's the time. I will not be spoken down to. I will send forth preparations for your stay on your way back to Oldstones."
Anais closes her eyes as both Liliana and Jaremy respond to Anneke, pressing the tips of her fingers to her brow. "I am sorry," she murmurs when she looks up to the other woman. "It is unfortunate that it has come to this." She sets her glass aside, glancing to Jaremy. "Perhaps Mistress Anneke might lodge at the Rockcliffe, Jaremy," she suggests. "It would be unpardonably rude to send her away when she's travelled to speak with her lord. And an inconvenience to our guest, Ser Anton, to have to go after her, when he's certainly offered no insult."
Anneke blinks mildly at Liliana. "How quickly you shed the mien of civil hostess, my lady. It's not very becoming." She turns her attention back to Jaremy, selecting another bit of cheese. "Yes. That is very clever of you. I am here to scout your defenses by determining where your entirely visible household guard are posted. I mean to ride on Terrick's Roost with the entirety of our smallfolk, here to throw ourselves upon the pikes of your standing army." She nibbles the bit of cheese. "We might manage to bloody one or two of you. The baker's wife wields a vicious rolling pin. It will. Be. Glorious." She raises her eyebrows mildly. "Yes. I should like to see if the face of our visitor is among your men. Why not? You are obviously quite innocent and I am mistaken, as you've all taken great pains to suggest. Forgive me, but I am a simple woman. I prefer the simple and direct approach to answering simple, direct questions." She stands. "I have asked kindly for your instruction, Lord Ser, as to where I have been uncivil. You have not been so kind as to instruct me. I have stated my concerns, and asked that you be candid. You have not been. I have asked for the privilege of meeting your men, that we might put this misunderstanding behind us. You have interpreted my request as an accusation. You have commanded me to sit and be questioned, but questioned me not at all. I must admit, I am at a loss. Please do inform my Lord of all you have gleaned from this meeting. I'm sure he will find your interpretation of events as… enigmatic as I do."
She looks to her manservant, the improbably large Lars, who reacts not at all to Jaremy's words. "Come, Lars. We will be staying in town tonight."
"As to whether or not it is unbecoming to state facts and return words that have been offered to me that have laid the appearance of impropriety at the feet of the Lords of this House, I cannot say, Mistress Steward. I can only judge your intentions by the words that you offer us, and none of them have been friendly, and reply in kind. I will say, that your attempt to make light of our concerns as to our safety are equally unbecoming. The Castellan of Oldstones you may be, but at this moment, you are a guest of this House, and your manner, as regards your treatment of its Young Lord is severely lacking." Liliana remains as calm as ever she has been, but she does see to instructing that the horses the two Oldstones retainers came on should be brought for them. Jaremy has made his will known, and she does as he instructs. Anais' dissent, in response to Jaremy's decree goes, for the moment, uncommented.
"She may stay at the Rockcliff." Jaremy says simply, shaking his head from side to side down at Anneke. A look of disappointment crosses his face at her tirade. "Anneke Steward…I am…not sure where you are going with this, though I apologize if I gave you the impression that I thought you were spying on my good people. Rolling Pin? I'm…still not quite sure what you mean." He sighs, rubbing his brow. "I will send word for rooms for you and your man at the Rockcliff, that boarding house is as good as any, and you may stay there until this matter is settled with your lord. Please…" He looks to Anais and Liliana. "…please do not treat her any less than the friend to the house that her lord is, as he is our guest. I do remember her to be in better spirits when we first met. Perhaps we can get back to that point in good time." He nods to Anneke. "The Rockcliff has warm, soft beds. Please. Rest on our behalf, and when we speak next let us do so correctly. Aye?"
Anneke doesn't comment on anything Liliana says further. It's not quite ignoring her, but it's close. She bows her head to Anais, dropping a curtsy. "My lady. I hope the Terricks realize how very, very fortunate they are to have such a gracious and diplomatic young woman to take their eldest in hand." She stares at Jaremy as he abruptly changes his demeanor. Just stares. And then laughs. It's a merry sound. There's no derision in it. "Oh, my." She casts a sympathetic look at Anais and sighs. "Oh, my." She shrugs at Jaremy's conclusion. "Honesty is the only correct way for men of honor to speak. So we shall see. Good evening."
WWTLD? Tywin Lannister doesn't /have/ these problems. Anais, however, does. And sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor. "I hope that we can come to the truth of this matter, Mistress Anneke," she murmurs, dipping her chin politely. "I know that Terrick's Roost does not wish to make an enemy of Oldstones. And I know Lady Lucienne would be terribly upset at the thought that there might be friction between the two houses. Hopefully this will be resolved swiftly."
If Liliana seems put out, at being nearly ignored by the woman of Oldstones, she certainly doesn't give any sign of it. Duck…water. The horses are prepared, and after a nod to acknowledge Jaremy's instruction, she sends one of the house guards to precede the duo, like as not on his way to ensure that rooms are ready for the pair when they arrive at the Rockcliffe. And with that done, she returns, "It has been done a you instructed, Lord Jaremy." The stablemaster remains, holding the horses ready for their departure.
Jaremy watches Anneke quietly from his position, continuing the cold, typical Terrick facial wall. His eyes fail to blink at her laugh, but as she turns away, Jaremy turns his eyes to his betrothed. The look is unmistakable. It's the same look at he gave her when he announced to her earlier that he was to ride out.
"Take your man and leave these lands this instant." Jaremy says flatly, darkly, nodding in the direction of her horse. "I will send a rider to follow you at a distance. There's a boarding house a few hours in the direction of your Oldstones. Board there and ride home in the morning." He brings his goblet to his lips. "Your insults will not be accepted and I tire of them. I will speak with your lord about your conduct. Be gone."
Anneke looks at Jaremy a moment, curiously. "What a strange creature you are, Lord Ser. A compliment to your future wife is so grave an insult that I am banished from your lands? So be it." She curtsies to Anais once more. "Good luck, my lady." She turns and goes to mount her horse, waiting only long enough for Lars to join her before riding out.
"Jaremy…" But Anais can only protest so far, and she presses her lips together, closing her eyes. She raises a hand to her brow, the other arm folded across her chest, as the steward departs, making no further comment. There is no saving grace to be had here.
Liliana waits until the Oldstones Steward has departed with her manservant, before she returns to the table, reaching out for a glass of the summer wine that she poured for herself, but instead made certain to pass to Caytiv, while he sat at table with them. Left hand raises the glass to her lips and she takes a long swallow, nearly finishing the glass before she sets it down again, "I do so love visitors."
Jaremy at least has the good decency to wait until Anneke and her guard are out of the gates before he turns and spits on the ground. It's not a 'i cast the out' spit, but a high-powered man-of-the-woods spit. It's the best he can do to avoid kicking something over. Sneering, he shakes his head and steps over to the table with the drinks, filling his mug once again with his back to the rest of the group. Setting down the pitcher, he turns his eyes again to the gates, mind performing a complex series of calculations that he can't seem to keep up with.
Once Anneke is gone - established after a glance from beneath her hand - Anais draws a deep breath, releasing her posture and moving to Jaremy's side. "Jaremy," she murmurs, more gently this time, as she reaches a hand for his shoulder.
While she certainly seemed intent to drink the glass in one go, once she lowers the glass back to the table, Liliana does not reclaim it. Nor does her expression lighten, in the wake of the departure of the Oldstones Steward, as her eyes turn to Anais, and then to Jaremy's back. Never has Liliana looked so much like the more martial of her uncles, Lord Dafydd, than she does at this moment. "What is to be done now?"
Downing half of the contents of the goblet, Jaremy sets it down and pushes it away. Even in his frustration he can't bring himself to drown himself in drink, which despite the rather ugly sign of Terrick politics that was just displayed is a good sign for his future marriage. With an audible sigh, Jaremy reaches to his shoulder to place his hand over Anais'. He turns his head to look into her eyes, searching for what he can of her opinions. His words are obviously directed towards Liliana. "I stay." He says simply. "I will send Jacsen with Jarod to Stonebridge when he goes…and I prepare to face Ser Anton."
Well-supervised, Anais dares to press her brow briefly to Jaremy's shoulder, even as she gives his hand a squeeze. "I am glad that you will stay," she murmurs, looking back up to catch his gaze. "But Jaremy, you /must/ be careful. Yes, she was out of line. Yes, she was rude, and insulting. But she also walked the line of courtesy. She took the care to make the /words/ polite, if not their implications." She moves to face him more fully then, arching one pale brow. "/Did/ you send someone to investigate Oldstones?"
Liliana still looks decidedly displeased, as she watches Anais and Jaremy's interactions, but while she seems to be serving as their chaperone, for the moment, she doesn't comment on what precisely it is she's displeased about. Mouth opens, but Anais asks the question that sat on her lips, waiting only to be give breath. ""Shall I go to send word to Ser Jarod and Lord Jacsen?" Clearly, in this at least, asking of Jaremy wishes for her to leave them.
Squeezing her hand in return, Jaremy tilts away from her gaze after a quick look of understanding. Yes…he understands. Yes…he was painted into a corner. When she steps around to stand in front of him, he keeps his gaze away from hers long enough to look back to Liliana. Thankfully their servants have scattered, leaving them alone. "No…not yet I'll take care of it myself. We've a few days as it is."
He turns back to Anais, finding her eyes, and although he bears a yoke of shame around his neck, he doesn't shy away from the question any longer than he has to. "Yes." He says, jaw settling. "He was supposed to ride through, not stay and have tea. Otherwise I wouldn't know about the trade route the Naylands are lining up to their lands." His eyes tilt between the two of them. "You saw that guard of hers, aye?" One of his nostrils tugs in a sneer, shaking his head. "Allow me my shame but…with every step I'm finding things we should fear."
Anais sighs softly at Jaremy's answer, looking down to the ground for a moment. "Jaremy…" She reaches up to rub the heel of her hand at one eye, pressing her lips together. "If you're going to send people to do your dirty work, you really must make sure they're /competent/." She looks up once more, something guarded in her eyes. "And if they can't be competent, they should at least be able to lie convincingly."
"As you say, Lord Jaremy." Liliana, however, remains exactly where she's standing, that unfavourable look giving her a severity that seems fitting on her features, despite being seemly alien to her face, given her normal demeanour, "I see. I do not believe that this is something that you Lord Father will not find out about." A nod, to Anais, "Or instructed that under no circumstances was he to return to Terrick's Roost, where his activity could be traced back to you."
"Aye, and I'm going to have to find out what happened, because if there were more of those blonde men around than worth counting he may have very well been caught. Oh…do come in…" He murmurs his words, but gestures with his hand as he speaks to emphasize his point. Frowning, he runs a hand over his face and through his hair, sending the long, brown strands in waves over his face until they're finally pressed to the back of his head. "Yes…my father will not be pleased. Not in the least, nor will Lord Anton when he learns I've sent that mouthy, gamefully disrespectful bitch of a steward of his back to Oldstones. She came here to fish. She came here because she had to fish. She wasn't going to leave until she got what she wanted." He looks from Liliana to Anais, catching her guarded look. "I could stop this. Collect my shame and wait patiently until the wedding…send my brothers as envoys instead of myself. Cool myself behind these walls…" He frowns, looking back to neutral space. "…by all means if you both think I'm a fool tell me, but while investigating these murders and poisonings and whatever other bullshit comes to pass I feel we're losing ground and valuable time on what is something that might very well devastate the balance of power in the Riverlands, let alone my house."
"It wouldn't have taken a flash of genius to say he'd come to invite any other knights of Oldstones to participate in the wedding tournament," Anais sighs, turning to reach for a glass with wine left in it, whoever it belongs to. "Whatever the case, Jaremy, the man is courting your sister. It depends on what you want to come out of this situation. If it were me?" She takes a drink, glancing to Liliana as though inviting another opinion. "I would go to Ser Anton and tell him, with all embarassment, that I let a big brother's sentiment get ahead of my sense, and sent someone to see if Oldstones was nice enough for my little sister. And when I was confronted by the steward, there were more sinister implications. Afraid that admitting to sending him at all would look like an admission of guilt, you overreacted. You apologize profusely, and hope that he can understand the foolish lengths men will go to for love of family."
"If I believed you to be a fool, I would have told you so long ago, Lord Jaremy Terrick. I have known you long enough to have learned everything that I need to know of your quality. And there is nothing foolish in it. But the plan was improperly executed, that I will not deny. An outrider should never be allowed to return to his starting point by the easiest road, not if his intent was to hide the reason for his ranging. I have and will support you, Lord Jaremy, as the bonds of family and law and affection require." Liliana nods, listening to Anais, "It may well be that you can use her tack to salvage the situation, but I do not know how to advise you on how to salvage the damage to your position and reputation your betrothed's betrayal has caused." The barest hint of a dip of her head in Anais' direction.
Jaremy blinks and looks over to Liliana, confused. "Betrayal? What? No…no…" He shakes his head, waving off the thought. "Nothing of the sort has been done here. The truth is despite my theories I can't risk the safety of the household against my theories. Granted, they're all starting to come to light but if I've disgraced my father I might find myself married to Anton before Lady Anais and my day comes. Even if I'm right…I have to keep things calm until they come to light because at this rate I'll do more damage than good before that day comes." Stretching his arms over his head, the come down crossed behind the back of his head. Suddenly they drop as he does his best to calm down. "You're marrying a brave fool, Anais. This must be horrifying to learn."
"/Betrayal/?" Anais echoes, arching a brow at Liliana. She stands up a little straighter, and if she were a dog, every hair on her spine would be standing up. "Liliana, if you honestly believe I would betray Jaremy…" Trailing off, she draws a deep breath, closing her eyes and shifting her shoulders until that tension fades away. Only then does she open her eyes and continue. "Then I suppose Oldstones might as well," she continues in a cooler tone. "And perhaps should they wish to pursue that course, they might come to me."
While both of them decry her, Liliana chooses to speak to both of them, through the words directed towards Anais, "In little more than a month's time, if Lord Ser Jerold does not pass you onto Lord Jacsen when he gets word of this escapade, you will be his wife. It is not your place to disagree with your Lord Husband, in public and certainly not in the view and hearing of those who oppose him. Whether you felt your actions right or wrong. To do so, as you did, is to betray him, and you place as his betrothed, his future Lady wife. You have diminished him in the eyes of the Oldstones, turning him from a Lord capable of one day ruling his House, to a lesser man of weak will who needs to be 'taken in hand' by his woman. He is not a dog, to be brought to heel by the leash in your hand. He is the Young Lord of Terrick's Roost." It may be that there is no blood that binds Jaremy Terrick and Liliana Camden, but at this moment, she seems determined to defend him as fiercely as she would defend her own brother. "Is that how you wish for your husband to be whispered about in the courts of the other noble houses?"
Jaremy only have moments to deal with Anais' suggestion that she be treachery-bait before Liliana's words come across. His hand raises to his chest-height, fingers splayed out and waving. One of his eyelids twitches, and he cringes. "Liliana, please…" He shakes his head, trying to deflate the situation. "…regardless of the problems that this steward brought to our table alongside the obvious Ironborn she has working for her, we can't afford to start fighting with each other. You're part of the power that runs in my veins, and if this house shakes itself apart we'll start being picked at like fallen lambs to their wolves. Anais oh-so-casually reminded Anneke about the armada. It was a good move." He turns, reaching to place a hand on Anais' arm, eyes filled with concern. "Anais…I don't want to place you in danger like that. I know that neither of you want to be treated like you're made of glass, but…" He sighs once more, trying to find a better way. "…Liliana, I want to marry this woman, but the truth is that the more strength I push back with the more they treat play me as the fool. The more diplomacy I provide, the more I'm presented as a coward. I'd rather fight dragons and white walkers at this point."
Anais draws a deep breath. "They already have their opinions of Jaremy, Liliana. He is a known quantity. I am not. It an advantage we can play for a few months, at best. I will not squander it. It takes a great deal to change the opinions people already hold. I cannot make the perfect opportunity for Jaremy to change their minds appear here. I cannot deliver a shipful of Ironborn to his waiting sword, or a brilliant tactical victory. But if the only way I can change their minds is to think that I have some part in it? They will see him as a Lord not to be trifled with. Whatever it takes." Her eyes are cold as a winter storm over the sea when she turns away from the other woman. "Please excuse me, Jaremy. I should really see to a few matters."
"I have always supported you, Jaremy, and I will always support you. Through your bad ideas and your good ones. You have been good to me, and you and your family have given to me much of what I lost when I left Tall Oaks. But you cannot ask me to stand by and allow you to be disgraced, simply because the person doing it happens to be the woman you have been bound to by the will of her father and yours, regardless of whether or not you have convinced yourself that what they want is what you want as well." Her eyes fall to Anais, and the expression in her own is as frosty as the one Anais sends her way. "I see. So you will cultivate the idea that he is your puppet, and you are the woman behind the throne. How alike you and the Castellan of Stonebridge are, Anais. And look how poorly that turned out for your betrothed." She too steps back, half turning towards the kitchens, "If you will excuse me, I have still to oversee the supplies brought back for the wedding feast." And then, she does turn completely, striding away across the courtyard to return to the task dictated to her by duty.
Jaremy watches Liliana step away, eyes trailing her in silence as she disappears into one of the doors that lead into the Tower. Sighing, he brings his hand to his temples, rubbing softly. "Do you want to just…run off to Bear Island or something?" Jaremy growls, trying to get control of the situation. "I think she feels like I'm the one that got sold…" He offers with a deep frown as he turns to take Anais' hand. "I…am not going to be able to talk you out of this one. I can see it already." His jaw sets. "You're right that there's time yet for me to claim my name. If they're not going to fear a list of deeds I've yet to perform, they should learn to fear our union, and if they won't hesitate at that…then for now they should fear you, aye? This is fucking ridiculous." He kisses her hand softly and starts to retreat. "I'm not wrong, Anais. I won't fail you. I swear on this. We're stuck with each other…"