Page 309: After All This Time
After All This Time
Summary: Lucienne and Justin finally re-meet.
Date: 24/May/289
Related Logs: none. HA
Justin Lucienne 
Tent, Terrick Camp
Pfft, is a tent, use your imagination
May 24, 289

It is not so far from the exact spot that the grand melee of the Frey's tourney is being held, that the Terricks make their camp; inconspicuously, another tent has risen amongst those in recent days. The Lady Lucienne and her entourage, on their way home from Middlemarch, have elected to spend some time spectating and join the greater retinue on their way home to Terrick's Roost. Rather than traipse the sodden grounds to observe an event she's no interest in, Luci is to be found in her makeshift dwelling, waiting patiently with a pitcher of water and some slowly-browning sliced apples at a table within. One of her handmaids is brushing her curly hair to a sheen, and the two girls keep a quiet conversation as they wait.

As most males would be, Justin was loath to leave and miss the melee. On the other hand, news that his sister had arrived to the tournament was enough to make him desert his watch upon the fighting without a moment's hesitation. After all, he hadn't seen Lucienne in more than five years, perhaps eight? Not since he went away as page and later to squire to Ser Haffrey Tully in Riverrun. It was quite an honor to squire to a member of the Lord Paramont's household, but it was also a fair distance away from Four Eagles Tower. Therefore the young man who arrives where Lucienne is waiting is mostly a stranger. Justin's dark hair is nearly black, like Evangeline's, his face shaped something like Jaremy's, his eyes grey or grey-hazel. The same height as their father, he is lean and fit. Dressed predominately in black surcoat edged with golden hued threadwork with a blue-violet tunic beneath, her brother arrives wearing sword and dagger but no armour and no spurs.

When Justin sees his sister with her handmaiden tending to her hair, he stops there just inside of the tent flap to study Lucienne. He does not say anything at once, watching her.

Lucienne's hair is dark also, and she bears good resemblance to their late mother; the same small frame, same delicate features. Years ago, she was just a wisp of a girl lost under a mass of tangled curls, but today she is a woman grown, slender, pale, and gaunt. There is less of Jerold in the girl's appearance, but the proud lord's influence is apparent in her manner, at least. She sits straight and tall, and rather solemn, for all her handmaid wears an easy smile.
When finally her attention is caught by the sight of her unfamiliar brother, Lucienne takes a long moment to rake dark eyes over Justin, her expression distant and difficult to read. She lifts her chin just a touch, and raises a hand to stay the brush in her hair, before rising to her feet to make greetings. "Brother, my lord," seems safest, delivered with warmth that turns a small smile upon her lips. "You've been gone so long I hardly recognise you."

Justin looks older than his years, only older than her by a year but far from any trace of soft youth about his face. His mouth is a firm line, almost frowning as he studies her in turn. Until she moves to greet him. Then his mouth eases into almost but not quite a smile, "Lucienne, I'd know you anywhere. You must be a younger version of mother, what I remember of her." The same darker eyes perhaps. Justin's baritone is kept low in volume. He takes a few steps slowly to cross the pavilion floor and quietly puts his calloused hands out for her own, "Though this isn't Terrick's Roost, I bid you welcome back nonetheless. Lady Anais and Lady Muirenn will be very pleased to have you… especially, father."

"May the Gods keep her," murmurs Lucienne at the mention of the Lady Evangeline, her own eyes betraying a deep sadness for a fleeting moment. Not to be deterred, the Terrick girl bolsters her smile wider, skirts billowing as she crosses to place her hands (notably lacking in callouses) in Justin's. "And you, Justin, welcome home. I've not been gone half so long as you, but I do so look forward to returning. Will you sit with me? I should like to hear how things lie at the Roost, if you've the time."

"Of course. For you, I will make all the time you desire." Justin has infact brought a wineskin with him from the melee, which he offers to pour for her, "There is very little of food and drink at home. I would advise you have your fill here upon Frey hospitality while it lasts." He will not take a seat until he's seen to her drink, if she wants it, and produced a goblet he had hooked into his sword belt that was in use previously. Justin then settles himself and gives a polite nod to her handmaiden, rather than ignore the girl.

Looking then back to his sister, Justin smiles thinly, "I've only been back a little over a month. There has been much work to do, but the reconstruction of the Sept was nearly complete ere we departed for the Tourney." It's a start upon the topic of the Roost.

Lucienne declines the wine with just the one shake of her head and a quiet, "Thankyou, no." Instead, she gestures to a spare seat at the table and the meagre fare set out, and slips into her own chair. Her handmaiden, much more prim in the presence of a lord, dips a low curtsy to Justin and moves further from conversational distance, putting the brush away and seeing to her lady's bed instead. "Things were dire when I departed for Middlemarch," continues Lucienne, "And without any word I had expected to return to the same. The sept is good news, though; heartening. And can you tell me, has any progress been made on filling our stores?"

Justin tries not to grimace, "Things … are probably far more dire now than when you left. However, the Lord Regent Riordan Nayland did bring quite a few wagons of food and needed supplies very recently. So there is something. Not nearly enough. Besides food, we lack seed to plant and the current harvest up coming is going to be very thin, Lucienne." It has not escaped Justin's notice that she is rather too thin herself, even gaunt and the worst is yet to come. It makes him frown, watching her, "Funds are tied up in reconstruction and fishing boats. Lord Kittridge Groves has brought a proposal to sell us the Grove's surplus stocks - which is sufficient in quantity to likely see us through our current need. However, he has already had an extremely high offer from the Naylands that we can't possibly match. Knowing we can't, Kittridge is pressing father to return lands taken from the Groves for their ill chosen side in the Rebellion. I believe father is considering it."

The wine he poured for himself Justin now pauses to sip ere he continues, his voice still kept low, "Meanwhile, Lady Anais is seeking other sources - either for food and seed, or loans of funds. We also have a rising bandit problem. The smallfolk are beginning to go from hunger to starving. They've long since eaten their animals. There's hardly a horse or an ox to be found among the smallfolk between Four Eagles Tower and Stonebridge."

Lucienne studies Justin carefully as he speaks, taking note of every grimace, every twitch in her brother's expression. It's only as he pauses to sip at his drink that she turns a grim look down to her own cup, curling a slender hand about it on the tabletop. She draws in the kind of whistling breath meant for fuelling sighs, but measures it out slowly instead, and and supposes: "Likely the only lords in a position to loan us funds are our honourable hosts here… and so we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. What do you make of it, brother? We can't let our people to starve."

"No, we can not." Justin agrees quietly, "I told Anais that I could sell my horse and maile to pitch in. Every few thousand stags would help us now, and I believe Ser Hardwicke won a goodly sum, something more in gold dragons, from the joust and his ransom of Ser Stevon's horse and armour. Rumor has it, he's said he would donate it. I will ride south to bespeak Lord Tully himself, if father agrees it might help. They at least know me there. The Mallisters have everything tied up in rebuilding Seagard themselves." Justin fingers his wine glass before he lifts his pale grey eyes to his sister, "There is something more. The Naylands have proposed to betroth their daughter, the Lady Roslyn, to myself. An attempt to ease or abolish the feud between our families. /If/ father and Lord Rickart can come to some agreement, it is possible she might bring enough dowery in food or funds to give us relief."

Luci makes a long study of the rim of her cup, her eyes darting over every last millimetre beneath thick lashes. And finally, she does lift it, but not to take a sip, simply to wield it. She makes something of an art of it, the water within sliding without slosh as she gestures with the cup to her brother. "Bank not on that betrothal, Justin," she advises softly, "For these things have been spoken of before, and never eventuated. That rift runs deep, and it would be quite a turn for our father to accept." That spoken, the dark-haired girl draws another long breath before continuing. "Perhaps it would be wiser to surrender the land to the Groves?"

Justin gives a small nod, lifting his own metal goblet to taste of the dark Frey wine. He watches his sister's slender elegance of movement, nothing like the gangly bratty girl he vaguely remembers, now, but a young woman. "I do not have much faith the betrothal will come through to a marriage, though … I might be cautiously pleased if it did." Why he doesn't elaborate upon at the moment. Justin continues, "Despite the fact that exchanging land for food is absurd, it could be right to return land to the Groves. As much a trade as a gesture of mending a rift we have with that house also. Lord Kittridge is heir and he is quite bitter and resentful of how his House was treated after the Rebellion."

One thin eyebrow shifts as Lucienne regards Justin, a silent invitation for him to elaborate on his opinions regarding the Nayland betrothal. What she says, however, is: "Perhaps, if the Groves want their land so badly, they might take a Terrick along with it."

That makes his brows rise. Both of them, briefly. Justin regards his sister over his wine cup, "You would suggest to father he betroth you to Ser Kittridge?" Lucienne's brother asks this almost as if he would rather punch Kittridge in the teeth. However, he's careful not to have anything particularly readable in his own expression other than to consider it. "I think you could do better, but he is an heir to a brother house sworn to the Mallisters with whom we have fallen out of friendship with. At least it wouldn't send you far away from home. I haven't the faintest idea what father would think of it." One can easily surmise that Justin is not close with Jerold since he's been gone away for a number of years.

"I would think," Lucienne counters with a suppressed smirk, "It a smarter match than that with the Knight of Oldstones." She elects now to drink, taking a dainty sip from her cup before setting it back upon the table. "I'm certain there will be time made to discuss it, once I am home. I have news for him also, of Middlemarch. But tell me brother, for I did not miss it: cautiously pleased?"

"Indeed, a wiser match than Oldstones at this time." Justin agrees. He glances up from the cup he was idly fingering when Lucienne returns to his previous comment. "Well, if it would be possible to move past whatever it was that got our two houses rivaled, than I would be for that, for the good of the Cape. It would give us some breathing space, else now that they control Stonebridge, the Naylands could very well choke us to death with tariffs and taxes on everything that comes west. Sap our strength. They are very close neighbors if they mean us ill and now will have a good deal more wealth than we to wield. As well as a great many sons and daughters with which to forge alliances with other Houses. They aren't the disrespectable, dirt poor nobody's anymore that they used to be." A pause before he adds quietly, "Also, I …" Justin hesitates, returning his gaze to study Lucienne. Even though she's his sister, they have not been close a long time. But if he would share such thoughts with his father if asked, Justin perhaps decides he can share the thought with her as he adds, "I think that I like her."

Lucienne considers the argument her brother presents, her head kept perfectly still even as her eyes flit between Justin's face and the rim of her cup. They settle upon her brother, though, at his last admission, and a smile starts to slowly spread across her deep red lips. "You think you like her," she repeats, highly amused. "Ah, brother."

Subtly, he shrugs, "Of course that's completely foolish and doesn't matter in the least." Justin twists his mouth wryly, "I can't imagine father going for it but we will see. He did not outright say no to the Regent. Ser Riordan took the proposal to his sire and Rickart also hasn't yet said no, though he also hasn't said yes. They will … discuss it. Jerold stipulated a Nayland bride of his choosing to a Terrick male of their choosing. Which means, it might be neither her nor myself in any event, should it come to pass." Justin finishes off his goblet and rather than refill it, he says, "They would never agree to letting go Isolde. It would have to be a bride of their blood."

Justin adds, "Father did say outright they could absolutely not have you."

Lucienne tilts her head toward the table, keeping the rest of her smirk to herself. "So nobody has said no," she muses, wry, "But nobody has said yes. Politics - patience is surely a prerequisite." Shapely nails tap a short rhythm against the outer curve of her cup, and Lucienne lifts her eyes again. "Of course he said that. Did Lord Riordan think to ask it?" Surprised, her brows knit a little before she delivers a touch more tenderly, "You might yet have your Nayland bride, Justin."

Justin stares at his cup, at the nicks and the carving of a hunting scene upon the goblet. Lucienne's last words bring his gaze back to her and for a breath or two he doesn't give answer. "I hardly know her. What matters is what our House can gain from it. Patience is all good and wise, but we do not have the luxery of time when hunger eats away at our people. /Something/ will have to give sooner than later." But, Justin makes a negative indication of his head faintly, "I heard that Ser Riordan admitted to having specific instruction from his father /not/ to mention you. Father brought your name up. I was not presant for their meeting."

Leaning back in the chair, Justin leaves the cup on the table, "I have been busy scouting the land between the Roost and Stonebridge. I may have located our bandit's camp. Or it may be unrelated. Upon our return some of us will be trying to lure them out so that we might deal with them. Before that goes too far."

"Interesting," is Lucienne's response, regarding the negotiations between the rival houses, and she leaves it at that. As the talk turns to outlaws, any trace of her smile vanishes, and her posture stiffens. "That seems wise, certainly. We would do well to quash any uprising, with minimal fuss. Do you expect they are armed? Armored?"

"If .. they are the ones huntsman Kain and I have been espying, they number perhaps half a dozen strong woodcutters with axes, no armour. And perhaps another half dozen carpenters, men of enough physical fitness to fight. Whether they actually know how to, or are driven simply by hunger is another question." Justin lightly taps the table top with a finger but does so without making any audible noise, all of his movements and his baritone low, as though he were used to quiet places and not rowdy, crowded ones. "We saw them felling oaks and errecting strong fences such as would be required for large livestock, yet there are no livestock. On the other hand, there's rumor of a few Ironborn lingering and possibly taking shelter up in Tall Oaks, but we've had no proof of that. If this doesn't work, or the banditry persists, I intend to ask the Lady Lillian for permission to scout that area."

"Where at Tall Oaks would they take shelter? The place is burned, and Ironmen aren't used to the trees," says Lucienne, with a shake of her head. With growing frustration she continues, "The siege is long broken, the war is over, were there not scouts sent earlier? I — forgive me, Justin, I forget myself. I am certain that you and our men will have this matter in hand promptly, brother." The apple slices set on the table are certainly not appetising now that they've long gone brown, but Lucienne reaches for one regardless. "Will we depart for home on the morrow, do you anticipate? Or do you intend to stay a little longer?"

Justin makes a dismissive gesture with the fingers of his left hand, still leaning back in the chair and relaxed, "No, I agree it's unlikely. Which is why I haven't pressed it. It's also too far I think for bandits to take a wagon from the road to Stonebridge and get away again without trace. It was a wagon with at least one armed guard. There have been minor incidents since and little enough to tempt anyone. The Nayland food wagons were too well guarded for them to try." Justin can't abide food going to waste after the past month living in the Roost. So he sits up and joins Lucienne in picking up a slice to eat. Slightly browned, they nonetheless mingle sweetness with a lingering whisper of tart, "I must. My horse is lame and I will be afoot. Others will likely linger a day for dancing and closing festivities."

Lucienne does not hesitate before offering: "You may ride with me, if you wish. I know there's a seat to be spared in my carriage, or perhaps a horse to be spared somewhere amongst the retinue?" She takes an elegant little bite from the slice of apple she's picked, chewing behind closed lips that curve a rare, simple smile.

Of course he already finished the bit of apple he had picked up. Justin raises both of his arms over his head to place his hands behind his neck and leans back to pop his back before he moves to stand, "No, I will not ride in a carriage, but thank you. If there is a horse to spare that I might lead my gelding, I would accept that. Otherwise, it'll do me no harm to walk - it will only take me longer to return." Justin picks up the chair and returns it to it's former position ere he took his seat, "I'll leave the wine for you if you'll use it, else I'll take it. I should retire. I prefer to rise early." Yet Justin lingers long enough to smile lightly and chide her softly, "It is good to have you back. I will make certain you have meat and you will eat. You are too thin, Lucienne."

"Then we will find you a horse," insists Lucienne with an air of finality. She rises with her brother, though leaves her chair untucked, and echoes his light smile. "Take your wine, brother, I've plenty to drink. And I've no idea what you're talking about - I've always been this thin. Send your meat, if you must, perhaps we can sup together. It's good to see you again, Justin. The more Terricks in the Roost right now… the better. Sleep well, we'll be ready to depart in the morning." Likely not quite as early as her brother, given Luci's habit of sleeping late.

"I will stay as long as I can, though… I would like yet to earn my spurs." And that might take him away from the Roost again. Justin picks up the wine skin and hooks the empty goblet back through his sword belt. "I'll see you have pheasant, if I can still find any. Gull eggs and fish if I must." He inclines his head politely to her, not familiar enough for an embrace and it may not be much his style anyway, unlike Jarod. With that, Justin turns and gives the quiet handmaide a nod for parting and removes himself to step into the night.