|Summary:||Frustrations are running high in Four Eagles.|
|Related Logs:||The Highfield announcement, the Groves Harvest, and a half-dozen other things around the Roost.|
|Reading Room, Four Eagles Tower|
|The room has a large glass window and seat that looks out partially over the cove, in daylight hours the sun provides illumination to the room. Other stools and chairs linger in small groups as shelves along the walls are littered with scrolls, books, letters and documents. The contents are a modest collection of local records, histories, and literature offered to both the family and guests of Four Eagles Tower.|
|23 July, 289|
Quiet footsteps precede Anais' arrival in the reading room. Hers, Kincaid's, and Nina's. Outside, though, there's a quiet murmur of voices before Anais steps into the reading room and closes the door very gently behind herself. Still moving steadily, she walks over to one of the chairs, picks up the pillow, sits down, and promptly screams into the pillow.
Kamron is sitting in one of the overstuffed chairs, his left leg crossed over his right. He's got one end of a frayed rope in one hand, and he's tugging lightly on it to keep Bear busy, every once in a while leaning forward to ruffle the pup's ears. When Anais comes slipping in, he looks up, but doesn't say anything. After all, she's crossing the room right away, and screaming into a pillow. He blinks once, then shakes his head, letting go of his end of the rope to steeple his fingers in front of him, looking over at Saffron and shrugging a little helplessly before he looks back to Anais.
Saffron is jotting in a small journal, putting thoughts all over the page through the tip of the pen. She keeps glancing over toward Kamron as he tugs and plays with the small corgi pup. It causes her to smile now and then, a peace settled over her. Of course, peace is overrated. As the door opens to reveal Anais and her entourage, Saffron looks as if she is about to greet the woman with warmth — but it stalls at her lips as she takes up the pillow, and screams into it. She blinks over toward Kamron and then back at Anais. "Annie," she says softly. "Is everything alright?"
Anais lowers the pillow at Saffron's words, cheeks flaming when she realizes she isn't exactly alone in the reading room. "Oh," she says quietly, looking sheepishly at Kamron. "Hello." She ducks her head, spending a few minutes of quality time fluffing up the pillow and wiping away any remnants of what might have been the beginning of tears. "No," she sighs when she's finished, setting the pillow carefully back in palce. "Everything is not all right. Hoster Tully is a spineless, worthless, senseless, dickless wonder of a Lord Paramount, and apparently decided to give Tall Oaks to the Charltons, which means the arrangement we worked out with Liliana means nothing, and is the end of our hopes of a hunting trip that might have gotten us enough meat to at least ease the hunger until we can get crops from elsewhere."
Kamron frowns slightly at Anais' words, "I heard, Lady Anais." He draws in a long, slow breath, "I did a little checking. It appears to be legal." He smiles faintly, "Of course, I'm thicker than most of the law books here." Leaning back in his chair, he sighs again, "Lady Camden couldn't give Lord Tully any taxes from the lands. The Charltons could."
Her fingertips brush through her cinnamon-red hair, pulling at the little braid of hair that one of the smallfolk girls had woven in through her locks during their outting. She glances toward Kamron a moment before she frowns a bit. She chews a bit at her lower lip, considering both the Terrick wife and the Mallister betrothed. Then she breathes out a small sigh. "We could always appeal to the new Knight of Highfield to honor Lady Camden's offer to let us hunt."
"The Camdens might have been able to pay their taxes if Tully had done his duty and rendered them aid in a timely manner," Anais snorts derisively, leaning into one corner of the chair. "He's a Charlton, Saffron. He's as like to give us leave to hunt the woods for nothing as Lord Tywin. I'm so tired of failing," she says, those last words infinitely softer and carrying a heavy weight of weariness.
Kamron nods at Saffron's words, "And the money from my melee win, and Ser Hardwicke's jousting at the Twins should help stave off hunger long enough to finalize a loan from the Groves or the Charltons, and to buy grain from the Erenfords or the Haighs." He sighs softly at Anais' snort, "I doubt that Lord Tully had aid to give them, Lady Anais. Certainly not in the amount necessary to save Tall Oaks. No one had it."
Saffron frowns a bit. "Annie, I know you are upset… but this isn't your failure. You did all that was necessary, and we were all prepared to go out and bring forth food to the Roost. You shouldn't let this weigh on your shoulders." She glances over toward Kamron, chewing a bit at her lower lip. "This isn't your fault." She twists her fingers a bit together in her lap having set aside the journal and the pen.
"None of it's my fault, Saffron, but that doesn't mean it isn't my responsibility to fix it," Anais murmurs, rubbing a hand at her brow. "I just sent a letter to Lord Erenford with Lord Brennart and Ser Kell. It seems they have the grain and /may/ be willing to offer us at least some of it on credit. At least Lord Brennart thinks so. It's just as likely he's more optimistic and his father won't be willing to give us anything either." She looks over at Kamron from beneath her hand, quirking a brow. "Hardwicke's tithe is good to have, but it's hardly solving all our problems. With your loan, Hardwicke's tithe, and Kell's loan, we may have enough for animals to help plow the field and perhaps some seed stock. If we're lucky. I'll be sending the horse Quentyn sent around to the fields once we have seed. The rabbit hutches are keeping the edge off, but fresh goods of any kind are almost gone. We'll be eating seaweed soup in a few months."
Kamron glances over to Saffron, nodding his head and reaching out to offer her his hand to touch fingers briefly. "Not your responsibility alone, Lady Anais." He frowns a bit at something she says, adding, "Ser Hardwicke's tithe? He spoke of giving nearly all of his winnings to the Roost, as he didn't need them. That would have been several gold dragons." A frown flashes over his features, "I suppose he could have changed his mind."
Saffron offers a little smile toward Kamron though it is short lived as she looks back toward Anais. "Perhaps there are other lands to hunt on. I know the Camden lands were the easiest, but perhaps we can find some game on the Mallisters land or perhaps even the Groveses." Though she thins her smile a bit. "Though I suppose the Groves are not interested in giving the Roost anything for free." She rubs a bit at her brow, tension building along the frown in her forehead. "There must be more that can be done." She looks toward Anais. "You shouldn't assume that the Erenford's will fall through."
"It's not assuming, it's preparing for the worst, so that it isn't the end," Anais shakes her head to Saffron, though her brow furrows slightly at Kamron's news. "He never brought it all to us," she shakes her head, and this only seems to add to the weight on her shoulders. "Not that we had any right to expect it. I suppose he's just looking out for himself, with a new wife and a baby on the way. Nevermind that I threw them a wedding." She draws her feet up in the chair, pulling her knees up to her chest. "Riordan would let us hunt in Stonebridge, but that's not a viable option. Why bother? If that's where Hoster Tully is coming from, then I suppose I should just focus on packing up anything that belongs to the family for when he kicks us out for someone with more coin." It's not like Anais to let a setback get her down, but she's had so many lately…
Kamron nods at Saffron's words, shrugging slightly at Anais' response, "The Lord Regent of Stonebridge would charge us just like anyone else. If he didn't, he would have to explain himself to his father." Her continued response, however, draws a deeper frown, "Lady Anais. You're succumbing to despair. You know that Lord Tully has nothing but goodwill for the Mallisters and our banner houses. When was the last time you set aside your concerns and just enjoyed life?"
Something about the familiarity in which Anais uses Riordan's name causes her to purse her lips a bit, but perhaps she's just letting the rumors get to her. She brushes out her skirts a bit, picking at the stormy-colored wool. This distracts her for a few moments as Anais continues to vent a bit, and then she releases a centering sigh. "Annie… I don't think that Lord Tully would do that to the Terricks. The Camdens… their fate… its not the same. You are still here, with people and a… castle." She does begin to nod in agreement to her betrothed's statement. "Come Annie… perhaps its time to take a bit of time for yourself. Maybe we should take a trip to the Banefort, or perhaps journey to Seagard even for a little bit."
"Going somewhere else isn't going to make the problem go away," Anais says irritably. "All it does it make it seem worse when we have to come back." She pushes out of the chair, stalking a few steps in one direction, then another, too restless to even pace consistently. "Is it succumbing to despair if it's all true? I can't get anything to take. I try, and I try, and I fail, and I try again, and none of it seems to make any difference. It's all so /close/. If we could just get seed and food, it would all be fine. And it isn't as though there's none to be had. But no one even wants to make a deal for it. I swear, they'd all rather let it rot in storehouses."
Kamron shakes his head, "No. It won't go away. But if you work on your own without stop, you'll drive yourself mad, Lady Anais." He leans forward, his voice hardening a little as he speaks, "It makes good sense to look for other source of food than that which was bought up only to make us buy it, and likely at the highest price possible. There was no other reason to buy up the Groves' harvest." He taps his fingers against the arm of his chair, "Besides, you have made a difference. You have started the rabbit hutches, and you have helped clams, and other initiatives. Those have all worked."
Saffron frowns a bit toward Anais as she speaks on, and she casts a glance toward Kamron with a bit of worry in her pale blue gaze. She begins to nod her head in agreement with Kamron's words. "I agree with Kamron, Annie. There is much you have done for the Roost." She sighs a bit. "And I have said that often, cousin. So the Camden hunting grounds fell through, we find somewhere else to go. There are other options. Perhaps we look to the east, see if we can find some place inland."
Anais sighs heavily, pacing a step that turns into nothing more than a pivot. "It just- It makes me so angry. Everything I do, everything I pour into this, and stupid Hoster Tully, who couldn't be stirred to do anything when we asked for his ruling on Stonebridge, now suddenly wants to participate and give Tall Oaks to the Charltons. The gods damned Charltons. The last people who need anything."
Kamron nods to Saffron again, "The east, the south. But the hunt wasn't going to bring in enough meat to make a difference in the long run, Lady Anais. We all knew that. It was a way to entertain the nobles without costing the Roost anything. Perhaps it would have helped, but it's grain we need, not meat." Sinking back into his chair again, he shrugs, "Why are you really angry, Lady Anais? Not because a hunt failed, not because of Highfield…"
Saffron thins her lips a bit, and she finds herself at a complete loss of how to comfort her cousin. She glances toward Kamron as he begins to hone in on what is really bothering the Terrick newlywed. When she looks back toward Anais, she carefully ventures, "There has been no new conflicts with Lucienne, has there?"
"What isn't there to be angry about?" Anais shakes her head to both of them, returning to the chairs without sitting down. "There's nothing new with Lucienne. I made a show of making nice with her, and we've kept our distance since then." Quiet, she rubs the heel of her hand under her eyes, holding back tears. "It's just the grain that tips the scale, is all. One little failure after another, and finally it looks like maybe something might go right, and it just gets…taken away. Just when you think everything might be all right, it gets taken away."
Kamron looks over to Saffron then, worry flashing across his features, and then sadness, "You need some time to enjoy yourself, Lady Anais. Sailing, dancing, or just going out riding. Something to take your mind off things. There are a great many intelligent, dedicated people here at the Roost and across the Cape working to fix the problems of Terrick's Roost. We will manage." He sighs, and then tries another tack, offering up a crooked little grin, "You've heard the terms proud as a Mallister and stubborn as a Mallister, haven't you? Well you've several Mallisters on your side, as well as Baneforts and Terricks."
"Anais, for the love of the Gods, please stop this," Saffron says, a bit of sternness in her voice. "I don't know what to say to you anymore. I've said time and time again that you need to give yourself some rest, that you need to step back, that there are other people who can handle these things, but you still keep going and going. The grain is lost, the hunt will not come to pass. That is the way it is." The redhead lifts a hand to rub at her own brow, trying to fend off the threat of pain behind that forehead. "You need to take a moment to find your center again. You are getting upset that Lord Tully gave lands of a dead House — " Perhaps a little harsh, but direct. " — to a House who would make a good ally." She takes a deep breath. "Please, Anais… stop wearing yourself thin, or you are just going to unravel."
"Oh, go shove it, Saffron," Anais snaps at her cousin. "It's all very easy when you're in love and don't have any responsibilities outside of the ones you might choose for yourself. When any path is open and you aren't trapped, for good or for bad. When running away is still an option, if things get worse. I'm happy that you're happy, but that doesn't mean I have to be, so just- just- just stop." Stubbornly, she moves to adjust the pillow on the chair, making sure it's square. "Stop working so hard. Yes, I'm sure that will solve all the problems. I'll just leave them alone and they'll fix themselves. Goodness, why did I ever even bother learning how to run a keep when all that needs to be done is to leave it alone?"
Kamron starts upward when Anais snaps at his betrothed, slapping his left palm onto the arm of his chair. "Enough!" Actual anger flashes through those usually sparkling blue eyes, giving them a different sort of glow. "My duties are about to become those of my wife-to-be, and those duties include looking out for the people who you complain about looking over every time we see you. And to be honest, it's beginning to wear. You know that we are not suggesting that you completely ignore the work around you. We have a duty to these people, but we cannot complete that duty if we wear ourselves to the bone."
Saffron flushes with anger at her cousin's words, fingers working tightly together as if to keep at least a physical reaction to her anger under control. "You were the one who wanted to marry an heir—!" She begins to snap back, but then Kamron goes and raises his own voice. She folds her lips together, glaring a bit between the Mallister and the Terrick. She flares her nostrils. She settles into a low boil instead of raging over. "I said I would help you make this place feel like home," she begins in a near whisper. "Do you even want to call this place home?"
Kamron raises his voice, and all of the fire in Anais' eyes flash freezes to ice as she turns to the Mallister knight, chin rising with an arch of her brow. "I'm certain you didn't mean to raise your voice to me, Ser Kamron," she says with a perfect stillness. "Nor to imply that I have had anything but the best interests of the people of the Roost in mind. Certainly," she adds with an equally chilly look to Saffron, "Not in my own home." She remains still for a few moments, then takes a step back to better see both of them. "Forgive me. I seem to have mistaken you both for confidants or friends in whom one might confide. I see now that that was selfish of me. In the future, I'll be more careful to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself, as befits a lady."
Kamron shakes his head at Anais' words, "Don't retreat into courtesy now, Lady Anais. We are speaking as friends. And as a friend, I'm telling you that you're not the same person you were when I got here. You've become harried, distracted, irritable, and explosive. You've driven off your friends here, and now you're doing your level best to drive myself and Lady Saffron away as well."
Saffron does not seem to cool even in the blast of ice from her cousin. Her jaw tenses as she stands, stepping forward as if to match the retreat of her cousin. "We're family, and we have always been friends, Anais. I'm here for you to confide in, but it is tiresome to try to provide you with help and advice only to be disregarded." There is a touch of strain in her expression as if she is fighting with her own emotions. "Please, Annie… don't you see what is happening with you, don't you hear yourself? I'm here to help you, Annie… but I'm running out of ways to comfort you, ways to try to make things better."
"I'm sorry if I'm not much fun lately." There's strain in Anais' voice, fire and ice crackling across the surface. "But it isn't so simple as taking some time away. That's what I get from everyone. Take some time for yourself, go off and do what you want. If it was that simple, don't you think I would? Who's going to take care of things if I leave, though? What message will it send to the people of the Roost? How can I show them solidarity, how can I earn their trust, if I run off whenever the strain gets to be too much? They don't have that option." Some of the steel leaves her spine, shoulders tensing. "And gods forbid I should leave Jacsen alone. Either it's a sign that I'm having an affair, or else I risk someone else taking advantage of him and the drugs. I have a thousand problems, and I can't solve one of them. So yes, it's wearing on me. No, I'm sorry, after a siege and six months of the aftermath, I'm a little bit on edge. But the only way to fix that is to fix the /problem/."
Kamron shakes his head at Anais' words, "I'm not talking about going off on a week-long trip somewhere. I'm talking about an afternoon riding with friends. With family." He points out toward the nearest window, "The people out there… they take time to look at the flowers, to play with their children, to do what they like. They'll understand it if the nobles in the Keep do the same." He shakes his head, "Jacsen's stronger than you think, Lady Anais. And I'll be happy to spend an afternoon with him. Talking, reading, whatever." Spreading his hands to his sides, he inquires, "Unless you think that I will take advantage of him and his drugs? You can't solve everything on your own. You have to work together with people."
"There are other people here, Anais. You are not the lone woman trying to save a dying village. Don't you think everyone else is trying to fix things, or that there aren't others around to make sure that someone doesn't take advantage of Jacsen? Leave Kincaide to look after him. Fuck, let Sterling look after him." Saffron shakes her head a bit, releasing a sigh. She reaches up her hands, scrubbing at her face and hair before she steps away from her seat once more. She moves to stare out a window a bit, trying to get the last of her emotions reigned in.
"Will they, Kamron? Because I remember spending three days in a cave at the mercy of people who didn't understand." Anais reaches up to dash a hand at her eyes again, shaking her head. "You don't understand. It isn't about having more work than I can do. I have people helping. I have more people who want to help than I have jobs to give them. I go out and shoot in the morning, I ride in the afternoon. It's knowing that all the help might not be enough, and when it isn't it will be my fault. My failure. Because whoever helped, it was ultimately my responsibility."
Kamron nods at Saffron's words, then shakes his head at Anais once again, "No, it's not, Lady Anais. It's the responsibility of Lord Terrick, Lord Mallister, Lord Tully, and ultimately, His Grace King Robert. It's our," he circles a finger to indicate the three nobles in the room, "responsibility to help them. This is not all on your shoulders. And if you keep trying to put it all on your shoulders, Lady Anais, not only will you drive everyone around you away, but eventually, your shoulders will buckle."
Saffron sighs, her shoulders dropping a bit. Her arms cross at her chest, looking out across the vantage point from the reading room windows. She frowns a bit to herself as she listens to Anais and Kamron's words; there is little else she feels she can add without letting the words she doesn't wish to add seeping through. She closes her eyes slowly, and she holds her breath.
"I thought," Anais says quietly, "That I was trying to share the burden now." She shakes her head, wiping at her eyes again. "But I hear you saying that you're not interested in hearing me complain." Quiet, she moves toward the desk, drawing a key from around her neck and retrieving the ledger from a locked drawer. "Excuse me. I think this time with friends has been stressful enough for one day." And with those tired words, she tucks the ledger under her arm and starts toward the door.
Kamron shakes his head, "We're interested in helping. Which is what we're trying to do. The houses, the children, the money. We can't do the negotiations for House Terrick. I know that you and Jacsen are working on that. What we," he glances over to Saffron as if looking for some confirmation, "don't want to do is help you sink further into depression. Come out riding with us one of these afternoons, Lady Anais. I've asked My Lady about the Banefort, I would like to hear how you saw it growing up." He shakes his head, sighing, and moves over to scoop up Bear where the puppy is still playing with his rope, "Later though. We'll not burden you with our presence any longer."
Saffron looks over her shoulder a bit toward her cousin as she starts to depart. She looks to be on the brink of saying something, but it falters on her lips. She instead just watches Anais with those pale, tear-shined eyes. Her arms do not fall from her torso, nearly hugging herself now. "Later," she manages to muster when Kamron speaks about going for a ride. "Perhaps it will do us all some good." She chews softly at her lower lip before she looks back out the reading room window.
"Tomorrow," Anais says quietly, not looking at them. But at least it's a concrete time, which bodes well for following through on it. "I'll send Nina to check in one you when I'm free." And with the ledger under her arm, she steps out of the reading room, returning to her own quarters. Kincaid sticks his head in the room, quirking a brow curiously but looking somewhat relieved to find everything apparently intact, and tips a salute to Kamron and Saffron before jogging after Anais to catch up.
When Anais departs instead, Kamron just sighs, returns Kincaid's nod, puts down Bear, and then moves over to stand behind Saffron, putting a hand gently on her shoulder. His fingers tighten lightly on the muscles there, massaging gently, but he makes no move to step up close against her as he might were they already married, nor does he speak.