|As Only Old Friends|
|Summary:||Long and long, since Caytiv and Liliana have had occasion to spend time together. Things haven't changed.|
|Related Logs:||Follows immediately after News of the North.|
|Former Marketplace — Terrick's Roost|
|Once the marketplace. Now rubble and ash and the destruction in the wake of the Ironborn. Site of a temporary aid station.|
|15 Jan, 289 AL|
"T'war a great force here, lassie," Cayt lowers his voice, approaching Liliana's station as it gets less crowded with Lords and Ladies. "An' all them blokes are wont t' care whether they'll eat on the crossing back whence they cam, ay… reckon they'll have took with them all they could carry, an' burnt the rest of spite," he grunts through the bad news. "But the folk at the Stone Bridge have been free-handed to all our refugees, an' they won't like to let the rest of the folk here to starve whilst we re-build."
"I think we must still make the effort to search, Cayt. They would not have known all of the cellars and storage places where food and necessary things might have been kept." With her work, for the time being, being handled by the small group of healers gathered under the tents, Liliana steps out from under it, comfortable in the squire's presence, Eli not far behind her. "And if we must hunt and fish, then we will do so. Though it will not be so enjoyable as once it was." A smile, but sad, remembering the times she and th squire rode out to bring back game for the keep. "I feel a recklessness in me, Cayt. I know I must wait, and yet…I would ride to Tall Oaks tonight, if I could, and fight every ironborn in my path, if only to see and not just believe, that all is lost. And yet, I think…I do not think I would survive it." There's a bitterness in her voice, "I am the Lady of Tall Oaks now, so I am told. Lady of a dead House. And only the dead wait for me where once I called home."
Caytiv doesn't look at Liliana like a Lady, much less the Lady of a house— unable to see her as much but the huntress and tutor he knew. "The hunt was founded by man to feed his family, ay. Sure, an' it may not be for fun, now, but it will come into its own and remind us of its primal virtue," he looks to encourage her. "Life will be rough, but man has lived rough before and may once again. Only remember that you," he lifts his chin to gesture at her, bringing it from the generic 'you' = 'a person' to the specific 'you' = 'Liliana,' "Are strong. And will live, even if the world has gone on ahead of ye, lassie."
"I am afraid that the world will always go on ahead of me, Cayt." There are few, long as she has lived in the Roost, who might know the Lady so well as the squire, odd as it might appear. And if Liliana must be strng, in the presence of others, Caytiv would be one of the few who could see how poorly she's managing the news of the loss of all of her family save one. "I can be strong. For you, for the Terricks, for the smallfolk…but for myself." A momentary pause, as footsteps carry her towards one of the broken down and burned houses. "Thank you, Cayt."
"Tha world's gone on ahead of many a person in its time," Cayt replies, "An' will do so to each an' all of us, when our time comes." Depressing, perhaps, but solid, almost hopeful in the resilience of reality. "What your lot will be in it… you only discover as you go, lassie," he whispers. "What lot of joy will come to ye, what lot of sorrow," he lifts his eyes to the burnt house. "When the fire razes the mountain rests, even the springtime seems so very bleak."
"I pray that I have had enough of sorrow. But I fear the Gods do not answer my prayers." A glance down, before Liliana nods, more to herself than to her companion, and slips on her thick hawking gloves, pulling therm out of her belt, and steps forward, to begin the work of pulling apart the remains of the house to salvage what can be. "You should have been more than a squire, Caytiv. More than the knight you will one day become."
Caytiv has never shrunk from work, and even as the burnt ruins loom before them, he steps to with a ready countenance and braces himself against a beam, careful where it might go before he shoves it loose where it was threatening to fall, in time, with rain or the pull of gravity. Then, stepping over, he bends down and hefts up the beam, pulling it clear of the rest of the rubble and tossing it alongside the foundation. "Ay, lassie?" he asks after the riddle. "I offer my shoulder to what work I am able, here. If more is needed of me, I only hope that I can find it in me to give."
Liliana has not the strength of the squire, though they're nearly of a height, but what small pieces she can manage, she does, if only to keep herself busy. Always busy. As if, were she to stop, truly stop, she might not start again. The smaller rubble, mostly what's burned and too brittle to be of use, she piles to the side to be carted away, "There are those who are noble because they are born to it. And those who are noble because it is born out of them. The first are often revered when they should not be, the second ignored at great loss. You …I do not wish to be ignored."
"Perhaps not, but good deeds, and those who do them, should be recognized, and not forgotten." They make a good pair, the smaller woman and the larger man, finding, at least for a little while, that easy companionship they had over book and buck. "Do you really think your knight will stay in the Roost to rebuild? Or will you be off to Seagard or wherever the ironborn remain?"
"We will go to war again," Cayt gives his opinion, nodding slowly as he does so, as if he had to convince himself of it, first. "Though I do not doubt troops will remain here in guard of the place. Whether Ser Jarod will stay or whether he will ride…" Cayt shakes his head, "If they are riding, he will ride," he predicts. "Though now that he has his old squire once more, I may ask leave to remain and look after Annie. I was sent here to see to her, after all, not to ride after some other prize." He hesitates, "Yet sure Annie would be the safer were the Ironborn convinced not to return," he sort of argues with himself, an attitude Liliana has seen in him before, especially in his studies.
"We would all be safer, if the ironborn were routed from these lands. But you must do as you were bidden to do when you were sent here. Regardless of how life has changed for you since you returned. If your Lord Father bid you look over your sister, then that must be done. What would you feel…if you were fighting far from her, and heard news of the worst? You would never be able to forgive yourself, or stop thinking…what if I had been at her side. Family is too important, Cayt." Well does the Camden woman know it.
"The man who saw his seed in me bid me come here to take on a squirehood," Cayt explains, "Though I think he ne'er expected my a-squiring to go far away from the Roost itself," he puts the last piece in place of the strange dichotomy of orders under which he's acting. "I have already felt so, lassie. When we were at the Stone Bridge and word came of the attack. I had no way to know whe'er sweet Annie still saw th' light o' th' day or nay, an' it did gnaw me rough inside not to've been there to see to her."
"Then if he bid you both watch over her and squire yourself to a knight, then choose one who will not leave the Roost while he lives. That would have been Jarod, when once he was Captain of the Guard, but now his duties, even were the ironborn ruted, would see him in Stonebridge with the Lady Lucienne. But there are knights still, that remain in the Roost and might do well by a squire. Ser Blayne, for example, who stands now as Captain of the Guard. Or perhaps one of the knights sent with the Young Lord Mallister's retinue. They will not leave him for any reason."
"Ay," Cayt answers simply. "Sound good sense you speak, lassie, an' I will see to whether I may take my leave of Ser Jarod," he agrees, throwing another charred length of timber onto the pile and standing straight a moment in pensive consideration before he bows to the work again. "An' will you go, then, t' see for yourself what it is you must see?" he asks her.
Liliana pauses, looking out past the small pile of rubble she's accumulated, and off towards the north, and home, or what remains of it. "Yes. I will go. Because I have to know, because I have to see, and remember. And because in all likelihood, their bodies have been desecrated, and it is my duty to give their remains to the gods. I must do for all of them, as well as I can, but never could I do as well as they deserve."
"Ay," Cayt utters, low, somber, pausing, himself, with a charred timber over his shoulder as he watches Liliana's profile, eyes settled there, adam's apple moving with a swallowed emotion. "There's work enough fallen on yer shoulders, lassie, an' terrible work, a' that. But naught'll keep ye from it, not the Ironers nor those here who'd try to stop ye."
"No, nothing will stop me." And there's a grimness there, in Liliana's voice. "I am a Camden, of Tall Oaks. And even the King himself will not stop me from doing for my people what needs to be done. We may not have been a large House, powerful or full of renown, but we were people of good heart and noble character." Liliana tosses aside the piece of rubble in her arms, a hand falling to rub her thigh, massage the place where the flesh, knitted, but not yet healed, is protesting the hard labour to which she's been pushing it. She turns, the limp, which she's tried so hard to fight, coming back, as she looks for a place to rest. "I am very tired now, Cayt."
"Lass," Cayt stands, "Are ye whole?" he asks her, picking his way down an uneven patch of earth and offering to her his sturdy forearm to hold onto if she needs the support. "Come, an' I will bring ye back t' the tents." He doesn't suppose she wants to go to the tower, for one reason or another.
Liliana accepts the hand, but she turns not towards the tents, "There is nothing that can be done for me that has not already been done. The maester says it will be some months before my leg returns to full usefulness. A trip the tents will not speed that along." Rather than the tents, Liliana settles her hand on Caytiv's arm, pointing off towards one of the many small streams that pepper the land and make th area, well, made the area so fertile, "Can we just go and sit a while, away from everything?"
Will make the area fertile again, in fact. The torched materials will make everything flourish fresh… in a few years' time. But for now, Cayt bows his head in assent. "Ay, lassie," he tells her gently, applying some pressure just below her elbow to let her know she can lean on him if need be, without going so far as to ask her to, knowing well enough that she would prefer to make it on her own. "You fought, yourself, against the Ironers, ay?" he can only presume, from her injury, as he walks along with her toward the water.
"When they first arrived on the shores of the Roost, we were returning from the green, and after Anais and Muirenn and all were safely inside, the guard stayed to hold them off, to allow as many of our smallfolk as could be, to escape into the safety of the keep. I stayed to help, as I could, but I would have been better served to do it from the wall. Where an arrow might reach, but a sword would not. It was Ser Blayne who helped to free me from the fray, and Lord Jerold who got me to the keep." A shrug, "It went better, when they came to sabotage the gate, but it was a close thing. I suppose you are always better prepared the second time around. If you have a second time." Liliana moves as easily as mostly level ground and Caytiv's support will allow her, though she takes her time arriving at the water, settling heavily to the earth, hands sinking deep into the remains of the grass.
Caytiv crouches as Liliana lowers herself, keeping his arm at level for her to use to balance on and not tumble, and then, once she's safely laid upon the grass, he pulls his elbows onto his knees and squats there like a gargoyle, back hunched and hands draped limply between his knees as he looks to the water. "T'war a brave thing, lass, t' stay a-field in all 'at. Yet ye did ne'er shy from what was rough, ay."
"It was foolish to stay, and not use my skills where they would have been the most useful. I should have gained the wall. My mother says there is too much of my Uncle Dafydd in me. To rush headlong into danger when I should seek only my own safety. But I do not know any other way to be. I cannot hide behind other men, when I can do for myself." Liliana looks over towards the squire, "Was the battle truly awful, Cayt?"
Caytiv somehow doesn't seem phased when Liliana counts herself amongst the 'other' men. He knows her well enough to be so. He reaches a hand down into the grasses, or what's left of them, pulling at a stalk and sliding the light green-white stem from between the darker green leaves peeling from the plant and bringing it to his mouth to chew on. "Nay, from th' line a' th' reserves, a-tleast," he murmurs. "I rode wi' Ser Jarod an' by the time we got t' th' field the Ironers were about routed. An' we were not let t' go after an' ravage their numbers as they fled. Th' men up front took the worst on it, ay," he remarks dryly.
"I heard word that they seeded the ground behind them as they fled with caltrops. I have not had a chance to speak with our stablemasters, but my hopes are that not too many of the horses and their riders were injured because of it." There's quiet, as she listens to Caytiv's version of the battle, and a nod, "It seems not so great a thing, to fight a war, when it faces you full on, rather than being a part of a story. They destroyed the sept, did you hear? Threw the rocks at us with their catapults, until the Lord Jerold and his men destroyed them. They drowned the youngest septon in front of us for sport. It was…their morning amusement, to kill our folk before the walls of the keep in the mornings."
"I saw na'y a tactic such as," Cayt offers honestly. "We rold through their line— they turn't an' fled," he sums up, shaking his head and then lifting his hands to rest behind his head as he bows it. "Ay, lass, I did hear," he whispers. "Would that we'd have wiped the last of them from this life ra'er 'an leavin' 'em t' flight."
"Gods forgive me, but I can only hope that when the good King rides, that he will wipe ever last Ironborn from the lands. And that would be better than they deserve. They come to our land, treat us like animals, to be hunted and killed for sport. Let Robert treat them as they have treated us." Not only a recklessness, but there's a savagery in Liliana, when the mood strikes her. Though, thankfully, it does not strike often.
Caytiv doesn't register the same seething rage as Liliana, only a kind of quiet, resigned mournfulness, but neither does he disagree. "T'isn't much, ay, t' kill a man when he's hurt ye an' yours as these Ironers have. Put a spear below their chin as y' would a lion preying upon thy flock, ay, an' nary a thought about it." No anger, though. No sense being angry at a lion for being a lion. But no remorse in being rid of it.
"They aren't men. Men have honour. They are animals." Liliana shifts, scooting closer to the water, allowing her fingers to dip down into the water, picking out the bits and pieces of debris still floating there. "I was surprised to see the Frey come to the rescue of the Roost." As if a change of subject might be better for her disposition. "There has long been great hatred between Nayland and Terrick."
Caytiv takes a deep breath, letting his head free to unbow and watch Liliana at the water's edge. "I don't reckon such hatred has air to flame un'er the press a' so many Ironers upon our shore. Here's to the hope th' unity will last," he sighs softly along with that hope.
"Let us hope many things will last, long beyond the departure of the ironborn from the riverlands." Liliana looks back, holding out one of her free hands to Caytiv, asking, without speaking the words, for the squire to join her by the water. "You give so much, and you ask for nothing in return." And that is the truth. Uncouth the Hill might be, but he has never treated Liliana with anything but respect.
Caytiv notes the gesture, yet is lethargic in taking in its meaning, thoughts, perhaps, occcupied elsewhere. But finally he leans forward, pushing into the grass with one hand and then sprawling past it to lay on the bank by Liliana, looking at her with a lazy-lidded gaze and the spray of grass wedged between his teeth. "From ye, lassie?" Cayt asks for clarification. "Ye have given me much, ay. Been patient with me at my books, an' ne'er did mock me at them. Been a companion at the hunt th' likes I could nay find among the menfolk here."
"How could I ever laugh at you? You have been my friend and my boon companion." Liliana shifts, as the squire comes closer, reaching out for him. And while there's nothing romantic in the gesture, there is something desperate in it. As only friendship calling out to friendship can be, as she attempts to bury her face in his front. Even the strongest dam cannot hold back the flood forever.
Caytiv gives a slight grunt as his form is met by Liliana's, but he turns to his back and lets the lass cry on him as she will, getting his arm free from under him and lifting it instead to pet at the back of Liliana's hair. "Ay… Ay, lassie," he whispers to her, not meaning anything by the words, only uttering them soothingly, as he would to a child.
There is much to be said, for the strictures of propriety. Of nobility and the rules and etiquette that goes with it. But rules cannot ease a broken heart, nor soothe the pain that comes with the ending of the world. Or so it must seem to the Camden woman. Only friendship can do that. And compassion. And for a time, it's all Liliana asks of the squire, and all Caytiv offers in return.