|Blood and Stone|
|Summary:||Gedeon and Jacsen speak on Jaremy's fate.|
|Related Logs:||Night Ride Out, So Close|
|Godswood - Riverrun|
|Many trees, one much bigger that is white with red leaves and a face.|
It's the evening on the same day Rose sought out Jacsen to learn the truth of the captive at Stonebridge. It's Gedeon's turn, now, to look for the Young Lord, seeking him out in the quiet, pensive places he seems to prefer on this trip. When he uncovers where Jacsen has tucked himself away this time, he offers a small, rather unhappy smile, before dropping down to sit beside him.
The Young Lord glances up at the sound of approaching footsteps, his blue eyes taking in the blonde knight before he turns to look back at the weirwood once more. "Ged," he greets, simply that, leaning just a touch to retrieve a wine skin seated to his side opposite. "Wondered when I'd see you," he says, without much to tell at his state of mind in the sound of his voice.
"Suppose this couldn't have been unexpected," Gedeon replies, leaning up against the bark of the smaller tree that faces the great, white one. "I like this place," he murmurs, glancing around the wood. "I don't know why, but it seems a space better suited for gods than a Sept does."
"There is something about this place that…" Jacsen draws in a breath. "Steel, stone… We can fashion these things, yes? Castles, whole towns, they can be made by men. Even if they begin young and finish old, it can be done." He waves a hand at the massive, bone-white thing. "But this? Beyond the ability of any man, and might as well be magic. It's seen ages come and go, yet it remains, unchanged." He glances over at Gedeon briefly and says, "I think that might be what I like most about it… It seems unshakable. Unmovable."
"But so many have been torn down, cut to pieces, burnt away," Gedeon replies softly, his voice a little hushed. "They are as unmovable as we permit them to be, in the center of a wood permitted to stand in the midst of one of those steel and stone keeps."
"Mm," Jacsen replies, little more a note of mild agreement. "We men can fashion steel and stone, and destroy all manner of things. But not all things that we destroy can we make again." He folds his hands atop his good knee, drawn up close for the sake of a perch, and lets out a slow breath. "So what is it you've come to urge me, old friend? To destroy that which I cannot make anew for the sake of stone and steel, or to safeguard that which can never be replaced?"
Gedeon huffs out a faint, unhappy laugh. "Its not a decision on which I can offer advice," he replies with a small shrug. "He's your blood."
He glances aside at Gedeon. "And you whom stands to gain the most or lose the most, on what I might choose." He shakes his head and looks back to the tree. "So whether you speak it or not, I know your heart has decided one way or the other. If you've not, then this was all folly."
"It wasn't folly," Gedeon says, "and of course I want to be the lord of Stonebridge. It's why I'm here, why we've come all this way. You've put just as much effort into this cause as I have, but I never intended it to cost Jaremy's life."
"And so again, the question of what you'd advise," Jacsen remarks, a brow risen as he looks to Gedeon once more.
The blond knight peers back, silent for a moment as he considers. Or perhaps he simply looks for a way to best shape his words. "Is it true?" he asks. "Was Jaremy Middleton truly trying to incite a smallfolk rebellion?"
"I've no real way of knowing of course, but it does not sound so out of character for my fool of a brother," Jacsen answers, his blue eyes searching the blonde knight's features.
Gedeon breathes out softly. "And Jarod, who left so suddenly a pair of nights, past. He's sent no word? I presume that was why he left in such a hurry and at such an hour?"
Jacsen lifts his shoulder in a half-shrug. "He's gone to Stonebridge, but what can be believed of what a Nayland might have to say? They claim he has done so, and like as no the has… though it would seem as doubtless that they knew where he was for some time, and allowed him just enough rope upon which to hang himself."
"What a time for him to do so," Gedeon murmurs with a small shake of his head. "That man… I spent years of my childhood watching him so caught up in the fantasy of what he couldn't have that he was blind to the gifts he cradled in his hands."
He lets out a breath through his nose. "Yes, it seems to be the common thought upon the topic of him," Jacsen says, shaking his head slightly. "Would only that those capable had thought to notice before everything went to pieces around him." He sets his head back against the tree. "But that was not to be, and so here we are."
"And what could have been done if they had?" Gedeon asks. "You wore your father's signet even before Jaremy took flight. I know you and Lucienne and Jarod were doing your best to instruct him in better balance and judgment. He was the Young Lord, just how much stronger could the reins have been?"
"He was lost to us, I think, even before I rode home from Seaguard," Jacsen responds, turning his head to the side to look at Gedeon. "And what reasoning could've gotten through to him vanished after his missteps with your master." He huffs a breath. "Still, he is my brother, Ged. Whatever name my Lord Father has put upon him."
"Yes," Gedeon agrees softly, "and other alliances can be made, other avenues of trade opened. But brothers cannot be brought back from the dead."
"What would you do, if all of this was denied you?" Jacsen wonders, his eyes favoring the weirwood once more.
"Choke on the bitterness for a time, I expect, to lose when it seemed we were so close to victory at last. Be a knight of Oldstones, a teacher for Rowan, an asset to Lord Valentin. It is not the path I would choose, if it were mine to pick, but to take the lordship under the resentment and anger of the family to whom I would swear hardly seems much better. I had hopes of a partnership. An alliance to enrich your family and keep mine from being swallowed into the Naylands."
He lets out a breath through his nose. "And you can see no other way forward, Ged, but to give them Jaremy's life, or concede Stonebridge?" Jacsen asks finally, given a long few moments to consider the man's words.
"I am sure, if the Naylands hold the cards, they will dictate the terms. I can see no way they would spare Jaremy's life, save that the claim is withdrawn," Gedeon answers. "I expect you may still be able to win a concession or two for the Terricks, even so. Unless there is something I am overlooking?" He turns from gazing on the weirwood to look at Jacsen instead, expression curious.
Jacsen shakes his head slightly. "There is nothing more left to me, Ged, even if I were to entertain measures most drastic," he explains. "For such things, were I even to entertain them…" He nods to the Oldstones-sworn knight, "You've the Nayland as your squire now, not Jarod."
Gedeon blinks slowly, brows lifting. "And you would encourage me to play that game? With Rowan?" he asks quietly.
He shakes his head. "I don't know, Gedeon. I think, before we came here, I'd never have even countenanced it, but…" Jacsen's hand drifts over the shaft of his cane. "Is she worth something more than my brother?" he asks, "Or your sister?" Blue eyes turn on the blonde knight again. "When I rode home from years at Lord Mallister's side, I…" He laughs, without humor. "I did not expect any of this."
"I am not sure Rowan is worth more to them than Jaremy is, right now. I do not know that any such offers or… threats would be found worthy of consideration," Gedeon says. "What Isolde is worth is most likely dependent on the answer of the very question we ponder."
"Rowan, I think, they would not cherish so highly. But Rowenna?" Jacsen wonders, breathing again through his nose. "Despite what they might have done against her name in the past… the truth of the matter might win a very different reaction."
"One that would be beneficial?" Gedeon asks, a brow arching. "Or do you suppose their shame, in learning, would offer Jaremy some protection and you some leverage in negotiations?"
"I think the like of Ser Rygar might look upon the girl differently than the boy," Jacsen supposes, "Though I cannot say for certain. I do not suppose there is much shame a Nayland can have, being what they are by their very natures."
"I think the only value they would see in a daughter who has spent the last four years posing as a son would be how quickly and effectively they could hide that bit of humiliation from the world," Gedeon says with a small shake of his head. "I made an oath to protect and defend my squire until she is no longer that. Or, barring all else, until the world ends."
"And you'll keep that oath before the Stonebridge?" Jacsen asks, not doubting, merely seeming to seek confirmation from the man beside him.
"I made it before the Stonebridge," Gedeon says. "You would put your faith in a vassal who has proven the flecklessness of his word and honor?"
He lets out another laborious breath. "Would you be such? Were your words and honor not spoken for the sake of Rowan Nayland, and not Rowenna?" Jacsen pauses, and holds up a hand. "Nevermind, Gedeon, for I'm truly not certain if I want you to answer one way or the other. I am sick with the thought of my brother's blood spilled, whatever his foolishness, and I am certain it affects my thoughts."
Gedeon draws breath as if he might, indeed, answer, but the words are washed away with Jacsen's request. "Then give them what they want," he murmurs instead, "and save him."
"At what cost?" Jacsen wonders, anguish there in his voice, though it's hidden well. "I must think on this further, Ged, that much I know." He looks over at the knight. "But thank you for your words, and for not being so willing to condemn a man to die because he is a fool. It might be that it is right, in the end, but it means enough to me to know that the thought is not one so easily considered." The implication is that, of course, others might not have done as much.
Gedeon nods slowly, his expression solemn. "I know the ties of blood," he says, "and what it feels like to lose those so tied to me. I should not wish such on anyone and certainly not my friend." But, it seems Jacsen's words are taken as a dismissal of sort, and he eases into a stand. "Good evening, my lord."