|Summary:||Anais meets Rowan, and her bastard brother shows up to squire with the Terricks.|
|Stables and Kennels — Four Eagles Tower|
|The Tower's Main Stables are nestled into the corner of the courtyard near the portcullis to facilitate quick, easy exits when required. The rear of the structure is backed right against the interior wall of the castle with the heavy wooden roofing gently sloped down towards the slate out front, the floor of the stables kept to dirt. Thick wooden beams are plunged into the ground and serve as a base for the walls between each stall. Hay serves as most of the flooring in the area with a large stack of it off to the side. Each stall has a thick layer on the ground to serve as bedding, with most of the space dedicated to horses though a few have pens of dogs and hounds. An enclosed structure at the end serves as dry storage for riding equipment and saddles.|
|August 4, 288|
It's several days since the Terricks, Baneforts, and Valentins have returned to the Roost, and Rowan Nayland — none of the above — has reestablished himself in the stables and kennels, where he is often to be found. Recovered from a rather sudden and acute illness that took both him and young Ser Gedeon (the two were brought back from Stonebridge in a cart, semi-conscious, feverish and in great pain), he's now back to his duties and then some. The 'then some' is anything not specifically pertaining to or serving Ser Jarod — but it's work, nonetheless, tending to the animals here. Soothing work, good for the soul. So it is in meditative peace that he paces between the stalls, checking each horse, teeth to hooves, making sure they're all well as he left them.
Since her arrival at the Roost, Anais has been seen just about everywhere. Village, shore, roads, market, and castle have all drawn her attention. The reason for such avid explorations became clear just last evening, when announcement of her bethrotal to Lord Jaremy went out. The announcement, however, doesn't seem to have slowed the lady's activity.
"Go on ahead, Gwyn!" Anais calls over her shoulder as she leads her grey mare into the stables, laughing at some earlier jest. "I'll be back shortly. Or eventually," she adds in a lower tone to the mare, reaching up to scratch between her ears. "One more minute of pouting and I'll scream."
Word travels fast in Terrick's Roost, and it's likely that there's no one — down to the smallest of the smallfolk — who hasn't heard of the Young Lord's engagement. So, though they've never quite been properly introduced, the squire makes a proper greeting, coming up the side, center aisle to meet the lady and her horse. "Lady Anais," he says in a soft, grave tenor, bowing low. "I'm Rowan, Ser Jarod's squire. Will you allow me the honor of seeing to your mare?"
"Oh!" Anais startles at the voice, though a wry smile curves quickly enough. "I promise not to scream in the stable," she offers, though she steps to the side easily enough. "It's Rowan Nayland, isn't it? And you won the squire's tournament?" She gives the mare one more good scratch before offering the reins over to the squire and moving out of the way. Out of the way for taking care of the horse, that is. Apparently she has no intentions of braving her younger sister's disappointment any time doon.
"That is I, my lady," Rowan confirms. Guilty on both counts. He reaches up to stroke and admire the mare, making eye contact and letting the four-legged lady be sure of him before he goes hauling her off anywhere. He pats himself down absently, finding a sugar cube in one of his pockets and offering it to the horse, flat-palmed. "And you're Anais Banefort, soon to be Terrick, and in time, Lady of the Roost." He glances at her, inscrutable. It's a friendly enough look. But a complicated one. "You are gaining a fine family, my lady."
Anais's smile quirks at the observation. "I am," she agrees to all counts, dipping her chin in a nod. "Though to be fair, I'd thought it all the way through to the gaining a fine family without dwelling much on the 'eventually Lady of the Roost' part. That part is…a little more intimidating." She watches the squire with the horse, smile easy. "She's gentle. A very appropriate horse. How long have you been with the Terricks?"
Rowan tilts his head, a wider smile breaking across his features. "A very appropriate horse," he echoes, laughing. "My lady, what a tepid and terrible thing to say. It's a good thing she only speaks Dornish, this one." He leads the horse back to its stall, taking the journey at an easy stroll. "Appropriate songs are never the catchy ones. Appropriate dresses are never as pretty. And appropriate behavior?" He flashes an impish grin. "No fun at all. So I can only conclude the lady likes her horses a bit more spirited?"
"Well, my mother picked her," Anais laughs, reaching out to give the horse's haunch a pat as she's led away. "And I suppose 'appropriate' isn't entirely fair. She does exactly what she's asked, at the moment at which she's asked it. Which is very fun for some things." She follows behind at a safe distance, glancing over her shoulder just once to make sure no one's following. There's a Banefort guard at the entrance, but thankfully no sisters. "Hunting, or riding a course is a dream. Simple rides can get boring, though."
"Excellent. I'm glad you find her so. She seems a sweet thing," says the squire, removing bit and halter, harness and saddle, a hand on the mare as he moves around her, letting her know where he's at and what he's about. He glances toward the doors as she does, curious, but doesn't comment on the look. "You seem glad of the match you've made, if I may speak so boldly lady." He goes about preparing a mash or the horse's supper, and spreading fresh hay. "It's nice to see, considering all the… nuptial drama there's been, lately."
"I've yet to run into someone with something bad to say about the Terricks," Anais admits, leaning against the edge of a tack box as she watches. "Not even their Nayland squire," she adds with a brief smile. "There are many worse matches to be had. To be honest, sometimes I find myself counting, like you do after thunder, to see when the lightning will strike." The mention of drama draws a deep breath, even a hint of a roll of her eyes. "Drama of all kinds, I think. I heard you were ill, though. Are you feeling better, then?"
Rowan slings a bucket of fresh water into the trough, wiping his hands on his breeches before reaching for the curry comb. "I'm a bit strange among my kin, I assure you," Rowan says wryly. He begins grooming the mare in long, even strokes as the horse lowers her head to eat. "Ask any other Nayland if you wish to hear the entirely opposite view of the Terricks. Not that I'd endorse their opinions as having any basis in reality. But… there are no saints, my lady. The Terricks are as human as all other men. They just happen to be the family I've chosen. Love forgives much." He nods. "I am entirely recovered, my lady. Thank you for asking."
"I'm glad to hear it. For you, and for the Terricks," Anais adds with a rueful smile. "I can only imagine what the Naylands could say about the Terricks if they let any harm come to you. Particularly right after the wedding. Do /you/ know the source of all this animosity?" she asks curiously, moving to fold her arms over the stall door as she watches. "I seem to collect a great deal of wary looks and careful dodges from each person I ask."
"Hah," Rowan utters a soft, wry laugh. The question gives him pause as well. He consider for a moment, then shakes his head. "If people are avoiding answering your questions, milady, I think the answer may be no more sinister than… they've simply forgotten." He takes up grooming again, movements rhythmic and steady. "Blood feuds, who knows how they begin? The Naylands have a story to which they hold, the Terricks another, both involving grandcestors so long buried even their bones have gone to dust. And since then, no one has been willing to turn the other cheek, for certainty that any hint of weakness will invite the tyranny and domination of the other — and thus, their own demise. There is no trust. And because they cannot trust the other to be fair, to show mercy, the will show no mercy themselves. It is kill or be killed, as long as we all believe it so."
Anais hums to that explanation, falling silent for a moment and keeping her own thoughts on that to herself. "It's going to be interesting, at least," she muses eventually. "This is going to sound like a silly question, and it's probably technically prying and inappropriate. But…how old are you?" Her cheeks flush slightly as she grins. "I only ask because it seems my father may be sending one or two of my brothers along, and it would be nice to think they'd have others their age around."
"Bless you lady, you've no idea," says Rowan, with equal parts wry mirth and rue. He smiles warmly at Anais, shaking his head of dark curls. "It is neither prying nor inappropriate to me, milady. It seems a most practical question, considering. I will turn ten and eight the end of Ninthmonth." He brushes the curry comb briskly across the mare's flanks and haunches. "How old are your brothers, then?"
"Oh." Anais' brows rise at the answer, and she tips her head to one side to reconsider the squire. "Well you won't be a squire much longer at all, will you?" She sets her chin on one fist, comfortable. "You're about my age. My younger brothers are fifteen and twelve, though. The trueborn ones. Joseth and Justin. And then Evan is twenty-three. And Quenten's the heir." A wry smile curves, and she laughs. "And none of /them/ are prone to pouting, which is a definite advantage over sisters."
She and Rowan are in the stables, with a Banefort guard at the entrance. Rowan is taking care of Anais' mare post-ride, while Anais watches from outside the stall.
A roguish clasping of arms with the guard is exchanged and a pair of armoured riding boots draws Caytiv on into the stables with a rustic ease to his bearing, a shoulder back, thumb tucked at his scabbard as he sways to a stop. "True born. And you'd leave out your favorite bastard, Annie?" he dares her with a rough mountain roll to his words, grinning at her even as he accuses her of the infidelity of her memory.
Rowan laughs again, shaking his head. "Not all sisters pout. I take it yours are a little moody?" He starts to work on the mare's tail and mane, pausing to pick out a burr here and there. "I'm sure it's natural to act out a bit, with all the attention centering on you — and it will only increase, as the wedding draws nearer. They dream, doubtless, of finding a handsome heir of their own to marry. Perhaps if you gave them something special to do for the wedding, according to their talents, so they might also share a moment of the glory. A song to sing, a piece to recite." He looks up, blinking at the new arrival, tilting his head. "Seven bless, but the lords of the Riverlands are fertile. I swear they get bastards by walking in a room."
"Gwyneth is moody," Anais admits, then laughs. "And to be fair, she's happy again the minute she catches sight of another pretty face. If I were cruel, I'd drag you out just to save me the sight of it. That would give her something special to do." She doesn't seem inclined to leave the shelter of the stable, though. That voice draws her attention, head tilting without her turning around. "That one's a Hill," she informs Rowan with a swift smile, spinning around and setting her hands to her hips. "I don't acknowledge even /favorites/ who don't send me letters for months at a time," she accuses before laughing and striding swiftly toward her brother. "I didn't think they'd send such a bad influence on." Protocol be damned, when she reaches her brother, she's quick to catch him in a hug.
Catch him? Why, the moment she gets there he's caught her, and she's up in the air with a squeeze and then, in a curious maneuver which must be all the rage in the Banefort courts, Caytiv slides his sister about, getting an arm about her waist to carry her under his arm like a lamb to market. "You know I don't write good yet, Annie, and you're making your fun of me. What about you? I get word and just like that you're a-wedding of some fellow. I'd have thought Gwynn'd be the one to go off full trot. This the guy?" he tips his chin up at the fellow tending the horse, obviously… not that keen on the visual cues of courtly life, giving the squire a looking over. "Caytiv Hill, Lord."
The squire watches the siblings — half-siblings — reunited, smiling wistfully at the display. He blushes and laughs as he's mistaken for Anais' intended, shaking his head in abashed modest. "No, no, my friend. I'm just Ser Jarod — her brother-in-law to be's — squire. Rowan Nayland." He steps forward to clasp the Westerland bastard's forearm just beneath the elbow, his grip form and forthright despite the delicate hands. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Caytiv Hill. We count ourselves abundantly blessed to have your sister joining us here at the Roost."
"Cayt, if you don't put me down, I'm going to do something even more undignified than what you're doing right now," Anais threatens through a laugh, aiming an elbow at her half-brother's stomach. "Rowan, this is my half-brother Caytiv," she introduces as if said brother wasn't being entirely inappropriate. "A truly terrible influence whom you really should warn Jaremy about. I can't believe he sent you," she laughs again.
Caytiv grasps Rowan's forearm in his, a hearty, wholesome gesture, even with a Lady held underneath his other arm like so much livestock. He grunts at the elbowing, but an elbow is nothing when you've had hooves at you before, so he just laughs it off and puts the lass down. "I was out at Fairmarket on an open tourney when I got word. I guess your Da wanted someone out here quick as." His brow furrows some while Rowan goes through acrobatics to demonstrate the realtionship between the two, but then he sets his jaw and gives a rough nod. "So 'en I'll like as no be a-squiring alongside, Rowan. If your knight's brother finds me of good help. I'm late to the start of this business, but this one's Da… wanted to give me the shot at it anyway."
"Well, if you've got the chops to compete in tourneys, you've got more than a leg up on most squires, Hill," Rowan says, pleasantly. "They're always telling me to pick on someone my own size — it'll be nice to have someone with whom I can oblige that imperative." He grins. "If you're willing to work your arse off, you'll do fine. It doesn't take a Maester. Just a strong back, a good arm, and an ability to subsist on very little sleep."
Anais brushes out her skirts once Caytiv lets her down, shooting a smirk toward her younger brother as she makes certain everything is in order. "Cayt's solid enough," she nods to Rowan. "I don't think anyone's holding out hope for him to become a great tactician, but he might match Quenten for size eventually." It's good-natured ribbing, the sort familiar to siblings everywhere and delivered with a smile.
There's a small gathering inside the stables, though the bulk of the Baneforts are likely back in the tower after an afternoon ride into the town. There's still a single guard at the entry. Inside, Anais is currently making certain her dress still sits the way it's supposed to as she speaks with Rowan and another young man in the Banefort colors. This one's new, though.
"Open tourney," Cayt repeats, somewhat self-deprecatingly, "T'weren't no big thing, just some guys looking for a roughing. This one's Da," he seems hesitant to call the man in question his own father, though he's obviously open enough to being recognized, "Sent me off to see how I was faring with the blade." A rolling turn of laughter seems meet to answer the question without answering it: not terribly well. "But work in long hours is something I've fared well with before, on the pass with the flocks. Hope I can be of some good here."
"I'm quite sure you will," Rowan says to the squire-hopeful, encouragingly. "And just think! If you serve Ser Jaremy, your service should be a cake walk. You put a word in your sister's ear, Jaremy gets a few dark looks and icy silences from his wife over breakfast, and your Ser will be a pussycat." He's kidding. Honest. Mostly.
Jaremy, wearing a clean set of clothes and cleaned after a day of working with his father on matters of house, steps down into the courtyard. A bit tired, it seems, from working all day indoors has left him both a little restless or burdened by his thoughts at hand. He crosses the courtyard to speak quietly to one of the servants, who motions him in the direction of the stables. He turns, and after motioning to the guard at the door quietly to say hello, he passes through into the covered structure. Once inside, he quickly finds Anais, but instead he steps over to Rowan. With a grave look on his eyes, he walks over to the young squire. "Rowan…" He blinks, fairly certain he heard the word pussycat as he was entering. The look is replaced by one of quiet concern. "…I wanted to come by and see how you were doing."
"I would never interfere in my lord husband's business," Anais informs Rowan archly. Never you mind the way she presses her lips together against a grin. It doesn't help when Jaremy shows up as if on cue. "Jaremy," she manages to greet, though she's suddenly seized by a coughing fit, turning away and covering her mouth until it passes. It's just better that way.
Caytiv lets out a snort like a hungry horse, the force of it moving his shoulders and chest with a show of mirth at Rowan's commentary. And then Cayt's sister is trying to cough away her lungs, and he looks to her for a suspicious moment as if thinking her to be a great fake. If she doesn't seem to be actively dying, he turns his attention back to the newly arrived Jaremy, squaring his shoulders off better than most lads his age are wont to do, "Then you'll be the Lord Ser taking a-wedding to my sister," is his manner of greeting, a rough and rustic manner of speaking, no polish or manner to speak of, but he steps tp and offers his arm for a clasp. "Caytive Hill, Lord Ser. Great Bastard of Banefort. Our Lord Da's given me to know you're a-needful of a squire. He's sending of another of his Named sons after me, once he takes his pick of them, but for the meantime he bids you make your trial of me, and if I prove to have a place in your service, to give me it."
Visibly biting the inside of his cheek, Rowan manages to keep the shit-eating grin off his face… but not from his eyes. He bows his head and bows in quick deference to the Young Lord, taking a deep breath before he trusts himself to speak. "I am quite recovered, my lord. Thank you for your concern. Ser Gedeon should be up and about soon, as well."
Making his first bit of attention the newly non-dead Rowan's case of health, Jaremy merely responds to the young squire by planting a hand on his shoulder, giving it a shake. "Good. We're not ready to lose you yet, Rowan. I don't believe my brother gave you permission to die." He offers the lad a wink and a friendly nod, and with a hard squeeze of the squire's shoulder he lets him go, giving Rowan a knowing look. "We've a need to speak with Gedeon soon as well."
Turning, he squares off their conversation, finding a place so that with minimal head-turning they can all speak to each other. One arm behind his back and another on the hilt of his sword, he smiles and nods his head to Anais. "My betrothed." He says with no small amount of pride, double-taking at Caytiv's announcement. His teeth are bared in a sudden grin. "Fast ships indeed, though you're quite older than I expected, Caytiv Hill." He glances to Rowan and Anais in turn, taking in their expressions before turning back to Caytiv himself. "Well, Caytiv, are you ready to learn at the expense of sometimes hating your entire existence in trust that I'll teach you what you must know?"
Eventually Anais conquers the 'coughing fit,' though there are tears in her eyes when she turns back to the knightly gathering. "Excuse me," she pants, wiping at the tears and trying very hard not to look at Rowan. Clearly she's allergic to Rowans. "I'm told Jaremy's an impressive knight, Cayt. Though I seem to miss his every practice. I'd be suspicious, but I /did/ see his uncle and brother in the melee, and it was fairly impressive."
Caytiv tips his chin up, offering no further explanation at the present moment for his swift arrival or advanced age to begin the squiring business. He only gives himself for Jaremy's inspection and mocking with a good grace. "Ay, Lord Ser," he replies, that mountain rough rolling in his voice enough not to make the answer as brisk as it was surely meant to be. "I'll hate the very rising of the sun and taking of the air to come a fair blade in your service."
Neither does Rowan look at Anais. Well, he does once. It's just the tiniest glance from the corner of his eye, and it almost does him in. He bites his cheek again, hard. Jaremy's robust bonhomie seems to leave the squire abashed — perhaps even a trifle off-put — but he gives the Young Lord a faint, wry smile despite. "Jarod never lets me do anything fun," he quips dryly, regarding his lack of leave to die. He nods again as Jaremy mentions the need to speak with Gedeon, but steps back to let the knight have a look at his potential squire.
Jaremy's no fool, he looks between Anais and Rowan, catching the obvious faded grins of inside joking, though he's oblivious of the charge. Instead he narrows his eyes at them, a warning that he'll catch them in the act the next time. Huffing, he allows himself to smile as he turns back to Caytiv. "I'll make you eat those words, lad, but perhaps you'll give Rowan more competition at the next squire's melee at the tourney when your Lady Sister and I are wed. Your father sent you to a good teacher, though I'm sure Rowan will also argue that he's got the better knight." He offers Caytiv his arm to shake, once again glancing back to Rowan and Anais with the 'we need to talk. Soon.' look.
Anais has herself under control by the time Jaremy's giving her the look, though that look almost sets her off again. Clearing her throat, she moves to take Jaremy's arm, even as he adds that other pointed look. "We should let Cayt start getting settled, don't you think?" she suggests with an innocent smile. "And it's probably time I go inside. It's been a busy day."
"You're sure welcome to do so, Lord Ser," comes the rejoinder from Cayt, not so much challenging the Lord as stepping up verbally to the challenge already issued. He lowers his head, turning it just so to angle a look over to Rowan as a match is suggested, but a friendly one, hardly confrontational, despite the shepherd bastard's rough demeanor. He turns back toward Jaremy and grasps the man's arm firmly. "I am at your service, Lord Ser."
Rowan sketches a bow. "I should get to the smithy before they close the shop. I have to retrieve some things for Jarod." He says to Jaremy, "If you need me later, I'll probably be in the Kennels. One of the hounds has an abscess we've drained, but it needs watching."
"Excellent!" Jaremy replies with a broad grin, allowing Anais to easily fall in against his side. He lets go of his new squire's hand and nods to the young man. "Get yourself settled in, get a hot meal in you, and meet me in the courtyard at first light. Bring what you're used to training with and we'll start there." He nods to the man. "Don't be late." Turning, he nods to Rowan, and starts towards the door with Anais. "We've not much time before dinner, but I believe we should speak with my brother."
"I'll expect a report on Jaremy's progress afterwards," Anais grins to her brother, winking, as she starts away with her betrothed. "It's good to see you, Cayt," she adds, smile warm. "I'm glad you'll be here." And with that said, she's off to meet with the brother.