|All These Things That I Have Done|
|Summary:||Terrick-and-a-half have a chat with Amelia Millen and she's taken back to the Roost…for now.|
|Related Logs:||The Trouble With Whores|
|Abandoned Farmhouse - Middle of Nowhere|
|Given in set.|
|Thu Aug 25, 288|
It takes just short of two hours to ride one way off the road towards the abandoned farmhouse that has sat in disuse since a severe case of the flu wiped out the Miller family more than twenty years ago. The woods have filled in generously around the farmhouse's enclosure wall to effectively hide most of it from the fields that have begun to sprout trees as well. With part of the wall nearest the entrance collapsed around a fallen tree, the smaller quarters and storage to the immediate left look to have been gutted by a fire some many years ago, though the main structure to the right looks mostly intact. The chimney's exit from the top has been expanded by the collapse of the protrusion. Few of the windows are still intact but are all dark. Late into the afternoon, the woods are extremely still. A few birds chirp but otherwise the only sound is the bubbling of a distant creek running high due to some rains to the north. Jeremy had told her to be prepared to run if anyone but he had shown. But with the incoming of the Captain of the Guard from Terrick's Roost, she is even less likely to flee — not that the two guards would even allow it. Upon entrance, two of the horses are tied up at the post near the back and smoke drifts from the partially collapsed chimney, the scent of cooking meat permeating the air. Standing at the side of the door to the home is Amelia, the woman dressed in simple commoner garb, the clothes more appropriate to that of a man, though. The Banefort guard stands on the other side of the door with his eyes towards the entrance and his hand on the pommel of his sword. Ser Coyn, the other guard left, is nowhere to be seen at the moment.
"Cozy little lost nest we got here," is Jarod's quip to Jacsen as they ride up to the ramshackle building. He astride his utilitarian courser of a charger, who he's named Symeon. He dismounts and gives his horse over to the care of the Banefort men as they enter. No armor for him this evening though, as ever, he's wearing his sword. "Been awhile, Fair Amelia," he says to the whore. There is none of the usual friendliness or good nature about his manner tonight. "Inside. We're going to have a little conversation."
Unremarkably, it is a touch more for Jacsen to be down from his horse and upon Amelia, though she might well take keen note of that. He'd never had her, as had his brothers, but he was no complete stranger to the woman. And here he comes now, unbuckling his right leg from a strange strap connected to his saddle, and reaching to fetch a slender cane that he uses to prop himself up when he's done picking up his lame leg, moving it over the saddle, and sliding to the ground. His grimace is voiceless, but he seems to have recovered himself well by the time he's found Jarod's side. He says nothing to the woman, letting his brother direct traffic.
Amelia bows her head at the men entering into the walled area, the woman's respect back. She lifts her eyes and head again when she is addressed, the Banefort man moving to take the horses without hesitation. But the look to Jarod is one of expectancy. "Yes, Ser Jarod." She turns to head inside the house and moves to the other end away from the door before she turns. The place is spartan, at best. There is a repaired, makeshift table in the kitchen with some chairs around it, and then a log in from of the hearth to sit on. Other than the firewood and a few stitched items hung on the walls (her work by the looks of how recent it is), there is little else. The hearth has a pot on it bubbling, the smell of meat and potatoes cooking is much stronger in here. She gestures around the house. "Ser Coyn has explained to me rules. I can only handle knives around him. I must be in accompaniment of a guard at all times. I will not move closer than two paces to someone unless seated at a table. Are there any additional rules you have for me?" she offers. the woman was ready to give herself up. She still looks like it. She's calm, more or less, but still a touch nervous.
"Ser Coyn's a gentler man than me, Amelia, I'd have had your hands bound and likely you gagged, for your pretty words seem more dangerous things than what you can do with a knife. And I've seen your handiwork there, I think, so I don't slight your ability to do men injuries on that score, either. If and when we take you back this evening, that's how you'll go, and I'll tie your fair wrists myself. Sit down." Jarod takes a place at the table, for his part. Green eyes cool and almost hard as he regards her, which is new for him. "You've spun some fantastic tales for my brother Jaremy. And even Lady Anais, sharp woman that, though she still seems to find your songs prettier than I do. Figured I'd hear them for myself, so I knew what sort of creature I'd be bringing into my father's house again. You know my brother, Lord Jacsen. I don't think you'll find either of us so longing as Jaremy to believe your songs, but we'd hear them anyhow."
Amelia's expression twitches at the words from Jarod and she dips her head, averting her eyes to the floor. "Yes, Ser Jarod," she says quietly, the woman following her directions to sit at the table. She still carries herself like the same woman. Upon sitting and being introduced, she lifts her eyes to Jacsen and nods. "M'Lord Jacsen. If words are to be believed then we served the same masters at the Trident. Its an honor." She dips her head to him once more and looks back to Jarod. "Ser, I am aware of what I have done and your opinion on the matter. I do not believe you to be pleased. But exertion on spite will not change truth. You will hear it with angry, sympathetic, or neautral minds. It is not a request, Ser, but only information." She dips her head to him once more. "Where would you like me to begin?"
Said brother hovers somewhat to the periphery as the dialogue betwixt Jarod and Amelia fills the space of the cabin, his expression passive and cool. "Do try to be thorough," Jacsen suggests, choosing to rest against the wall rather than favor the table betwixt the two of them. "I'll have the whole of the tale out of you one way or another, so let us dispense with the trouble of unpleasantries, I beg of you." There is no begging in his tone, despite his statement, but rather cool calculation. To that honor she bestows him, he responds with restrained politeness, noting, "You are kind to say such, but know that I can hold you in no close esteem whatever our shared victory on the Trident." He pauses a breath and adds, "You should start from the beginning."
"I don't think you've too much call to chide me for exerting spite, Fair Amelia, so I'll do it as I like," is Jarod's rather terse reply to the woman. Though, after a look back at Jacsen, he nods. Though if he's at all abashed, he doesn't show it. He folds his hands on the table, looking across it at her. Saying nothing more for the moment, while he waits for her to spin her tale at Jacsen's request.
"I would expect nothing less, m'Lord." Amelia says gently to Jacsen in reply to the words about the victory. She takes a breath and looks to Jarod. "Yes, Ser. Well, Lord Rickart Nayland first made contact with me on March twenty-seventh, in the year two seventy-nine. My mother had been whoring in much the same fashion I do, her life was similar in service to the Mallister family in Seagard. She was murdered two days prior and he found me at the funeral myself and some other women had been able to afford. He waited for me to leave and he approached me. Lord Nayland introduced himself and explained who he was and that is when he informed me that I was his daughter, a bastard obviously. My mother had never spoken of who my father was and seemed somewhat embarassed by it so at the time this made sense. It was at this point the Lord Nayland instructed me to begin whoring like my mother had because she had set such a fine example and was a woman to look up to and she was a beautiful woman.." She rolls her hands and eyes. "And I believed all of it because I wanted to. He told me that he had a task for me that if I did a reallllly good job with it, he would acknowledge me and bring me into his home in Hag's Mire. I was starstruck… so I did. And I heard nothing more from him for a few years."
Intense blue eyes rest on Amelia as she begins to tell the tale that has supposedly brought her to this place, and so close to the rough tug of the hangman's noose. If Jacsen has issue with the explanation she begins to offer, he does not voice it, merely leaning back against the wall and crossing his arms over his chest, taking his cane up in one hand and using the wall to ease the strain on his lame leg.
Jarod is silent as well, though there's something akin to pity in his eyes as she speaks of Lord Rickart. He shakes his head but, for the moment, just lets her keep talking.
"When the Rebellion started and the Mallisters sent for their banners, I volunteered to leave with them and I joined the columns. I could sew and make some things with herbs so I put most of my efforts down to caring for the wounded but I still dabbled in whoring for money on the side. The Mallisters trusted me." Amelia's face and lips turn down as if thats a point that might make her cry, or at least has made her in the past, but she plows on ahead with a steadying breath. "On our way back to Seagard, a man grabbed me and offered me money to travel to Hag's Mire with him. So I went and it was there that I met Jens for the first time. I saw my father from afar and he nodded to me but I never spoke with him again. Ser Rygar Nayland oversaw most of what was going on. Howard spent six months with me instilling how evil the Terrick family was, how you all deserved.." She looks like she might be ill, her face turning a big flush, flattening a hand on the table, but she skips ahead and moves along. "He showed me how to be sneaky, too. I apparently did not need help with earning trust. But he gave me some more schooling on how to put puzzle pieces together and read between lines." Funny considering she can hardly read, but she does not smile. "After six months, he gave me the boot and sent me packing to Terrick's Roost." She swallows, sniffing once and settling herself. Her eyes stay on the table but her posture still ramrod straight.
Where Jarod might find reasons to find pity for the woman, Jacsen seems to have found none. He's silent as he listens.
The pity - what there was of it - fades from Jarod's expression as Amelia goes on and he just frowns, sitting up straighter in his chair, near-glaring at her. His jaw's clenched tighter, but he still says nothing.
Amelia does not look up, even at the sound of Jarod sitting up. "I came to the roost and applied at the Rockcliff about two months later after wandering around the area and meeting people. I got settled quickly but you all were wary of a whore who had finer tastes. You all were smart about it and I could get almost nothing for the first year." Her posture starts to buckle, the shoulders sagging with her neck. Hair drifts around her ears to surround her face. "The second year.. A little more. Guard shifts. The names of most of the staff at Four Eagles. What people liked, what they didn't. Then.." She sighs. "Then people start confessing fears to me. Dreams. Hopes. Jaremy had always been nice to me but other people started treating me like not just a person, but maybe even a friend." Her expression falters, the woman forcing herself to smile down, her hands in her lap. "You all were so nice to me. You never asked anything of me that was awful. You treated me like a person. A whore never had it so good. I was loved, Jarod. I hadn't had a family since m'mom died." She sniffs again, her head nearly hung all the way. "And I start to realize one night that maybe I had done something wrong. That Jens, who was demanding more and more and giving me nothing, wasn't a good guy. Well I slowed down with what I was giving. He got mad. Said if I didn't start fucking more men and getting more information, he'd have me killed." Third-party rape. She clears her throat. I- I had to start making stuff up. About a year ago I just couldn't do it anymore. The stuff I was giving Jens was gibberish and useless. He was getting madder. The threats were getting more intense. I-" She opens her mouth wide like she might throw up but instead lifts her head to look at Jarod. She's splotchy but there is just horror there in her eyes. "I couldn't think of how to get out!! I was trapped." She's whispering. "J- Ser Jarod, I wanted to tell you so badly. I just wanted to get it out so you guys could save me but.." Her jaw trembles. "But I know what kind of penalty this carries. So I couldn't. I didn't want to die. And I couldn't give Jens anything so I had nothing there and he was going ot kill me.." She sniffs, trying really hard to fight back tears. She will not cry, godsdamnit. "And then he came to me just after the tournament last month and told me that if I killed Young Lord Jaremy, Rickart would recognize me despite my failures in the past." She swallows hard, looking away again.
A slight heave of breath is Jacsen's first stirring, as the woman recounts her tale and looks upon his brother with such an imploring look, mayhap hoping to find some understanding that like as not was not there. His cane thumbs, unmistakably, as he crosses the floor and stops behind Amelia. He is only half turned to her when he places a hand upon her shoulder. "You are almost there, Amelia. Say the rest," he murmurs, gentler than she might expect.
His brother, who has the advantage of seeing Jacsen's face, knows there is nothing of gentleness in his eyes.
"So you say, Fair Amelia, so you say," is Jarod's reply to the prospect of her giving the Naylands 'gibberish.' "With Master Howard now in no shape for talking, no one around to tell us different, is there? Anyhow. Go on. You aren't done yet, sounds like." When she looks up at him he pulls his hands off the table and places them in his lap. As if he's trying to put as much space between them as possible. To Jacsen, he offers only a shrug. What he makes of the tale is very hard to read, which is another rarity for him. Ser Rivers is generally an open book.
"If I had proof or could have gotten any… I would have." That's all she can say to Jarod before moving on. "I knew on the spot I couldn't do it." She looks genuinely ill, even as Jacsen touches her shoulder. Slight, slight trembles. "I couldn't kill Jaremy. And I think he saw it in my eyes are he said something like 'Well, no matter. We're going to kill him if you don't. Just thought it might be an opportunity we could extend.'" Amelia swallows again, her eyes looking vacant with the fresh memories. The tears held behind her eyes seem to fade slowly, though. "I was horrified." She seems to have gone to autopilot and her body seems to have lost everything. "He left me standing there in Stonebridge dumbstruck. So I went back to the Roost. After I struck Jaremy I came here but on the way I found out Jens was going to be in the Roost. Well he arrived that night and I couldn't let him hurt Jaremy. I knew what I had to do. It was like with the Tordane Treasury, Ser Jarod. You sally forth and do what you have to. So I went to him. That is when he told me that the target had changed since Jaremy was getting married and Lord Jacsen returned. He said the alliance with the Baneforts was too strong. He said that if I killed Jaremy, Anais would just marry Lord Jacsen. So I had to kill Lady Anais. So I told him I would do it. Then I got him in bed.." She swallows. "And I sliced his throat. Didn't take more than a second or two. I cleaned up.. and I left. I ran into Jaremy on the way out of town. Managed to get in and out without being seen. Came back here. Didn't honestly expect you all to figure it out.. but I'm just a commoner, Sers. I don't know too much." She finally falls silent, the hand on her shoulder having been given no notice. She just stares at the edge of the table to her left, face blank. The fire crackles in the hearth.
The hand recedes from Amelia's shoulder as she finishes her tale, and the Lord Jacsen steps his way over to one of the chairs, finally lowering himself down into it. His eyes rarely leave the supposed Nayland bastard, save once or twice to take the measure of his brother's expression. "So you'd no shame in fucking my brother… both of them… but when it came time that you knew Jaremy's life was on the line," he recalls, "You determined the only course of action was to kill this man yourself, and escape into the night. Is that so? Surely you realized that if the Naylands would send one man to kill the Lady Anais, they would simply send another? Jens Howard /told/ you as much when they asked you to perform the deed."
He leans forward and raps a single finger upon the table's surface. "You might be a whore, and a liar, but I have yet to take you for a fool."
"Your concern for Jaremy's life overwhelms me, Fair Amelia. Truly. I'm touched and warmed in a special place." Ser Jarod Rivers is a sarcastic bastard. "It ever occur to you to take this to Jaremy himself? My fair lord brother has more affection for you than is smart or sane, he'd have listened. Seven hells, Amelia, had you told me this tale while Jens Howard was still breathing on our land *I'd* have listened. But you didn't. You didn't make this a matter of law, or a matter that my family could try and handle. You let Jaremy and Lady Anais go unprotected and unaware of this threat to them you speak of, save by your hand and the knife it held, in a way that allowed you to do as black murder as I've ever seen to a man you seem to have had a lot of hatred for, while letting your conscience call it a favor to my family. Am I wrong in any of that, Fair Amelia?" A look to Jacsen, and he shrugs. "If it's any consolation to you, little brother, I'd rather have Myrish Fire poured directly on my manparts than ever touch this again."
When Jacsen speaks up to her, her eyes drop to the table again like her brain is finally working again rather than just recounting memories. She sniffs once and rapidly swipes a finger at her eye. "Lord Jacsen, you've no idea the shame involved in whoring," she whispers sadly. "And yes that is so. And if they send another man, then I could kill him too. I hoped. I don't know. I didn't have time to think." She hears the last from him with a sour note to her face and hearing the last fram Jarod does it. He face turns up into something terrible and just when it looks like she might explode into tears.. her stomach empties onto the floor beside her by way of mouth. Its not a lot. But the sound is sickening. She wipes at the tears from her eyes first. "I don't want to die a whore," she whispers and then wipes at her mouth. Another sniff and Amelia looks away from the little mess and back to the table. "Ser Jarod.." She sighs. "I had just attacked Jaremy and been flogged. I went back to Terrick's Roost the next day and tried to get a hold of Anais or Lucienne, but nobody was going to listen to me. Lucienne and I talked but I didnt get to the part about Jens. Then she tells me to get out of the Roost and never again approach the tower. Guards heard this. So not only would nobody have ever believed me because I was just kicked out of the Roost, I would likely be killed if I approached the tower. And you are welcome all day to say that you would have believed me if I told you about a threat, but after being flogged and striking Jaremy we both know that it would have looked pitiful and desperate like some kind of effort to worm my way back in. I know none of you wanted me there. So I just killed him. Think what you want. I defended what's right and proper in this world and I will not apologize for it." She sniffs, swallowing and making a face at the taste in her mouth.
Jacsen makes a face as the woman empties the pitiful contents of her stomach onto the floor near her feet. "Really, was that quite necessary?" he asks rhetorically, turning a glance upon his brother. "If her defense is that she is stupid, and made a stupid mistake…" He offers a slight shrug of his shoulders. "I'm not seeing the question I might ask to unravel her lies, were she indeed telling us falsehoods. But my original point stands. Executing her, despite being what she might deserve," he stresses, talking much like the woman were not even there, "Can only serve to do our position harm. We're wisest to keep her alive, and her capture secret, for now."
"Perhaps not," Jarod says, looking at Jacsen rather than Amelia, as to the necessity of his words to last to her. "But aye. That's the pointy end of it. She's a confessed spy and confessed murderer. Even if the reasons for one are true, they don't undo the other. Both are hanging crimes, so either way it's a short drop with a sudden stop and done quick as you please just the same." Though he does nod in agreement with his brother. "This is more complicated than just seeing justice done, though, brother, I have to agree on that. Gone from our hands or dead - perhaps even more dead if there's a shred of honesty in this - she's something the Naylands can exploit against us."
Amelia just gives Jacsen a look at his first question. She sighs and looks back to the table. "Be warned, Sers.." Amelia finally speaks up. "Lady Anais has offered me a position in House Banefort and to see me taken care of. She intended to see me flee to it. She may react poorly to an execution. If you care for her happiness it may be necessary to speak with her on the matter." Its not a threat or an 'ah ha' moment from Amelia, the words just tumble out. "And if hanging is what happens.. I.. I have come to terms with that. I would rather be hung by the Terricks than turned over to the Naylands. Those fucking people will probably torture me for anything I know. I'm soft. I'll have no choice but to speak and then they will just kill me. I'll take a noose over that. And if you must get me for murder? I'd not suggest announcing charges for spying. It lulls the Naylands into thinking they're secure with what happened. Unless you pin the murder on someone else and just want to hang me out here." She's put some thought into this. Likely every waking moment from the day of the murder til now.
The younger of the two brothers, the one with the lame leg and the cane, turns a cool smile upon Amelia. "I am no Ser, Amelia of Seaguard, and I hope you seek no knightly kindness out of me. As for my brother… well." His index finger drums on the table's surface again. "I suspect you can guess why he might be less than charitable to one such as yourself." Jacsen leans back in his chair some and turns a look on Ser Rivers. "I suspect we can explain all of this to Lady Anais, and she will be rather amenable. It's rather the matter of our Lords father and brother that I'm somewhat concerned over."
"Cunning thing, isn't she? This is what I meant about her pretty words being more dangerous than her hands, knife or no," Jarod asides to Jacsen. Still not looking at Amelia. Though his eyes do return to her finally. "I'll not have a good common woman - dead or no - have your vile murder attached to her name, and her family have to live with that for all their days. That's an idea that won't happen while I'm breathing air. And we didn't come here to kill you tonight. You won't die tomorrow, either. Beyond that, no promises."
"I seek no kindnesses, m'Lord. But yes, I understand why people are upset." Amelia nods to Jacsen before looking to Jarod. She sighs and sits back in the chair, head tilted forward. "I don't care. Kill me or don't. I've already considered doing it to myself. Just saves me the effort."
"Then you shall not be disappointed," Jacsen remarks towards the woman without fixing his gaze in that direction. Instead, it remains upon his brother, to whom he asks, "Have you else you'd ask of her, Jarod? Or shall we proceed with bringing her back to Four Eagle's Tower?"
"Wherever we keep her hidden in the tower, I'll try and have two guards watching her at a time," Jarod says to Jacsen. "Mix up who's paired with who on different days, too. So she can't get one of them alone and twist them around her pretty fingers. Wouldn't mind just having her gagged at all times, truth be told, but you or father might have more questions for her. Or Lady Anais. Seems a waste of energy to have to go put it in and take it out again for every occasion." To Amelia, he shakes his head. "Much as I'm sure your lord father - if he really even is your lord father - would appreciate your death at the moment, Amelia, I'm not inclined to let you do his work for him, either." As for anything else, he shakes his head. "I've heard all I care to hear from this one, I think."
Amelia quirks her brow, almost incredulous. "Are you serious? You two are worried about getting me into the tower and keeping me gagged? I've had offers to have me shipped off and flee to someplace also as recent as a few days ago. I've turned them all down in preference to surrender to you, Ser Jarod. Why would you possibly take me back to the tower if you're worried about me being seen? Just move me to a new location or leave me here. Leave fifty guards or leave none. I'll cook for them, do laundry, I don't care. If I were trying to leave? I would have left. But sure, suit yourselves. You two have to do all the extra effort. If you want me to sit in a chair and sleep all day, I can do that, m'Lord."
His cool demeanour seems at risk of cracking, albeit lightly, when Jacsen rolls his eyes at Amelia's latest statement. "When I want strategic advice from the whore-turned-spy-turned-murderer, I'll think to ask." He uses his cane as leverage while he draws himself to his feet. "If we're finished here, let us have them prepare her and be back to the Roost brother?"
"I'm flattered I'm your prefered jailor," Jarod says wryly to that. "Concern is less for you, Fair Amelia, than those others in this land who might be interested in where you've found yourself. And you'll be in a cell, doing nothing but that which you're bid by my wise lord brother and my good lord father. For my part, I've no idea what'll become of you. But I'll not have you in the wind where you're just a weapon to harm of my father's house, dead or alive. At least with you in hand, we can see the blade. Aye. Let's get to it. On your feet, Mistress Millen." Jarod stands as well. "You can ride back with one of the Banefort men. Lord Terrick's horse can't carry you, and I don't terribly care to put my hands on you in any way just now. I've brough a cloak you can wear so your face'll not be seen. Keep the hood up and say nothing until you're locked away. Because if you do any different, Fair Amelia, I swear in the name of the Warrior and the Father both that I'll run you through the throat with my own sword. My oath on it. We understand one another, you and me?"
Amelia lifts her hands to Jacsen and says nothing in reply. To Jarod, though, she stands from the table and steps backwards. "I'll ride back with Ser Coyn, then. And yes, we understand each other. I'll say nothing and do as I'm told. I'll answer all questions as well." Her voice is quiet, the woman obviously a little upset at being called a whore still and Jarod's words cutting deeper.