Page 426: Books and Wine
Books and Wine
Summary: There's bound to be a good deal of both, as Jac and Petra begin their separate investigations into Aerick Charlton's death.
Date: 20/09/2012
Related Logs: None specifically, references the death of Aerick Charlton.
Jac Petra 
Kitchens — Highfield Keep
The kitchens are normal for a Keep of this size, scents of fresh bread and spices meet all who enter here. A large cooking fire with an iron bar that passes from one side of its arch to the other, laden with iron pot hooks and pots; sits against the smaller, right hand wall of the room. Roaring hot on one side, while the other is a bit of glowing embers. Setting temperatures to cook any range of foodstuffs. Above is a small opening in the stone fireplace, an oven of sorts that almost always seems to be baking fresh loaves of bread. A long, heavy blocked table sits in the center of the room, fresh fruits lay at its center while one side might have the meat for that nights sup, and one of the other has a servant kneading some bread, another, peeling onions or mashing neeps. This place is always alive though, even in the wee hours of the morning one is bound to find someone cooking or baking something to be eaten that day, or the next. As the door to the servants quarters is at the back of this room this only serves to prove the last true. A door to the Keep's root and wine cellar is next to the fireplace, when the door is opened, one would find hanging sausages, pork legs, salt beef, and occasionally other wild animals, smoking from the cook fires near by. Down stairs of this cool dark place, a few large casks are set. One, a Riverland Red wine sweet yet bitter in the same taste. The other, a cask of dark ale, flavored by the oaken barrels the liquids reside. Other smaller casks of wine sit around bellow, a Dornish red, bitter as the lands it comes from, as well as a bottle or two of Arbor Gold, saved for special occasions.
20 Sep, 289 AL

Books and wine…just the sort of combination one might expect to find in the Reading Room. Only this isn't a room built for reading, and certainly not for relaxing. But it seems the scribe, such as she is, is doing a bit of both. Reading through what look like the inventories of the keep in one stack and the watch reports that record the comings and goings and significant events around the keep. And if not quite relaxing, she is drinking, a bottle and a glass of wine close at hand. Petra seems nearly unaware of the bustle and commotion in the kitchens around her.

Jac's days have once more returned to a state of disorder. If anything, that is what a war camp is good for — order and schedules. Back at the keep, and thrown into investigating the death of an infant boy, the Songbird now eats when he is hungry — or perhaps when he realizes he is hungry. He staggers into the kitchen, dodging one of the scullery maids as they come sweeping past. He is out of his armor, out of his leathers, dressed in a soft linen tunic and breeches. He pauses right within the threshold, looking over the bustle and commotion. It is then his dark eyes alight on Petra, and he cannot fight the smile that curves his lips. Sweeping his hands back through his hair, he starts in on her, trying to bypass the chaos until he is almost right behind her. He looms over her, peeking down at the books. "Are you lost, Mistress?"

It's unlikely Petra could miss the Captain of the Guard's arrival. One, because of the squawk the scullery maid let out as she nearly stumbled into the man, and for the second, the kitchens are filled with women, common women, common kitchen women with whom the Captain is a decided favourite. He has to do little more than walk into the room before the twitter of birds start up. The smile is returned, if lightly, but Petra's words are blunt as ever seems to be her wont, "I tried, but I can't abide the wailing of women. And Lady Charlton's voice is particularly piercing. At least this cacophony drowns it out. Of course, the lady might or might not still be screaming, who knows. "Have you been recalled from the line?"

Jac raises his hands to the ladies, but already one is fluttering off to fetch him a plate of something or the other, while simultaneously scolding him for not coming when meals are hot. He bears the scolding good-naturedly, smiling winningly before Petra captures his attention once more. He sobers a bit, releasing a sigh as he draws himself up a stool to sit beside her. The seat is covered in flour and glued bread dough, transfering both such grime to his dark breeches the moment he sits down. "Her grief is to be expected, but…" He works his jaw a bit, dropping his voice to a whisper. "She will lose herself to it if she does not let the boy's body rest." Her question serves as a good change of topic, and he stretches his chest a bit, rubbing at it's center. "We seek peace with the Naylands, I serve no purpose there. But here, I can see if it was more than a mere accident that smothered the life from the wee boy. Some whisper it is a Nayland plot," he whispers to her.

"When last I heard, she was still fertile and could produce other children. It is not as though the loss of a child is not something which happens more often than it does not. My concern is for the Lord who has lost his heir." Petra is SO not the mothering type. And while her tone is not, well, it's not that she dislikes the Lady of Highfield, but more that she seems indifferent to her. "The Castellan has seen to the body. If she does as she ought, the Lady will never even see his bones. Lest she try to keep a few as mementos." A shake of her head, at the comment about the peace talks, "Why start a war if you do not intend to finish it as you started?" A nod to the books she's sorting through, some of which should rightly be in Jac's chambers where most of the more recent logs are kept. Petra keeps her voice low, but the noise of a kitchen at work is loud enough to keep her voice from carrying, "That is why I am reviewing these, to see if I can find instances of people being where they ought not to be. With the arrival of this…what is she, an Erenford, just before the babe's death, the nobles traipsing through the township as though it were a thoroughfare and these hangers of lesser Houses that seem intent on plaguing us…we have more enemies than allies surrounding us."

"It is not that easy, Petra. I grieved for… for more than I should have been allowed when my children died." Jac says softly, though he shakes his head as he rolls a hand back through his hair. Murder, though, may be quite different than the sudden, accidental death of an infant. He sits up a bit as one of the maid girls drops a plate at his elbow, offering him a bright smile even if Petra is given a bit of a more cautious look. She scurries off after Jac announces his thanks, sliding the plate closer to him. It gives him a moment to think, speaking up once more. "Though, you are right. A loss of an heir is a greater loss than any other child. There is no guaratee that there will be more sons." He picks up his fork, starting to push the food about the plate. Then he realizes the books she has, some of which he swore were still in his rooms, and he blinks a moment. "Thief," he says, though there is a touch of warmth in the feign accusation. Then he shakes his head, finally taking a bite of the cooled potatoes. "Have you found anything so far?"

"Your children were grown, nearly old enough to begin having children of their own. They were people, in their own right and you had had years to know them and love them. This child was little more than a mouth which could do aught but cry and take the teat. A woman might have a dozen children and only a handful survive past the first two years." Petra, still unmoved. It's not her fault the dead child was little more than a piece on a cyvasse. But she doesn't seem to be wholly heartless. A free hand lifts to tuck a errant lock of hair behind the Captain's ear. The maid delivering Jac's dinner gets a level look from courier. Her claws are certainly not out, but then…that's not really the woman's style. "I have my own thoughts on securing an heir, but I doubt that the lady of Highfield would take kindly to it. An innocent look from the woman at the accusation, "I had need of them. And I've found little. The problem with employing common folk is that they are precisely that. Common. Most cannot write and few have the true presence of mind to make note of things such as if the faces of the merchants delivering goods changes from week to week. And I hear words of possible treasons at the camp, and that already the armies are collecting their followers, and who makes notes of them…and yet any of them might be more than they seem."

Jac accepts the kind gesture from the woman, closing his eyes briefly to indulge in it. Then he looks up toward her, and his eyes are quite somber. "Perhaps it is merely the coincidence of it all. We march on the Naylands, we captured one of Rickart's nieces, and now our heir is dead. My squire turns to the Seven for answers, trying to understand it. Perhaps the Gods are not on our side this time, dear Petra." He shakes his head a bit, a wry kind of smile tugging at the corner of his lips as she explains her uses for the books. "Ah, need of them, but not for the man whose room you stole them from," the Songbird teases. He relents only when he focuses on the state of their investigation. "I thought as much. I should have left some of our better men up here, but we didn't suspect that there would be a threat from this far away." Now he grimaces. "Yes, the Fensters. Plotting, it would seem, though I've not heard if Aleister nor Harold will do anything about it."

"I do not believe in coincidences, nor in the capriciousness of the gods. It is true that children die of natural causes more often than we would like to think and perhaps the child did so now, but there are two many people here, too many people we do not know. And I do not trust any of them." But there's a humour in her voice as she accepts his chastisement, "You were not in your room when I came to get them, or else I would have had use for you as well." A decided frown, "They should be made an example of. The Naylands will jump on any indication of weakness. Particularly if the rumours I have heard are true and they plot to free the hostage. Jac, do you know of any, besides the maester who is skilled in poisons?"

Jac chuckles, warm and deep, all the way to his belly. He shakes his head a bit, reaching to touch the narrow shoulder of the pretty courier, brushing his finger through several of her golden locks. Then he focuses on the woman's words, tilting his head a bit as his eyes stare off into the nothingness. Then he takes another mouthful of food, chewing thoughtfully. "I will speak to Ser Aleister about what to do with the Fensters. Perhaps Lady Jocelyn should be moved to Highfield where she can be better guarded." Then he shakes his head, offering her a frown. "There is a woman down at the Roost who knows of herbs, but it would be unwise to seek her out for poisons. I'm lucky to know which mushrooms to eat and which to not."

"While I can see the advantage of having a hostage on the front line of battle, the easier to use as a visual threat, there is no safety there and no security. She might be killed prematurely, or a plot hatched to aid in her escape. If we mean to keep her safe and hale during her captivity, she should be here. And certainly not where those who sympathize with her can have access to her." Petra seems as intent as ever, the only caveat the slight shift in her weight to give the Captain better access to her hair, "The poisons would not be for me…but, it would do to know if any that reside in the area is known to have the way of herbs, such as those that could be administered to a child…perhaps on a milk-soaked bit of cloth, as if often done with orphaned animals."

"Again, we agree. The Seven Kingdoms will sink into the ocean if we continue this, sweet Petra," Jac jibes with a quick smile on his lips. Then he sobers up once more, taking another bite of food. "I'll have her moved. We are bound to keep her safe, and we shan't have her life threatened by those who may do her harm." Or rescue her, whichever you decide. He considers the poison once more, shaking his head. "I serve you little good, my dear. I could tell you which of these fine ladies makes the best apple pies, but perhaps I can see what a bumbling old knight can turn up. I ache enough after that would-be battle that I'll be seeking comforting herbs for days to come."

"Or the dragons rise again and replace the wolves on our shields." Petra shakes her head, closing the book she was reading through, "I would not put it past the Naylands, if something ill were to happen to her, to claim it was done a-purpose. At least once she is here," the courier seems to have no doubt that the Captain of the Guard can do as he says, "They cannot claim we willfully put her in harm's way." A curl of Petra's lips, "And I can imagine that your door will be broken down by all of the women seeking to aid you in your time of need. Particularly if it seemed a particularly pressing need, and for such a knight. Gallant as any nobleman, but of common birth and within their grasp. I have no doubt they would be very forthcoming."

"Naylands," Jac grimaces. "I haven't had a house bring such a distaste in my mouth since the damned Blackwoods." Though the Brackens and Blackwoods are infamous for their hate. He does broodily have another bite of food even as Petra speaks of the girls in dire need of aiding the Songbird, and the man chuckles wryly. "I would rather have someone familiar look after me than the giddy, giggling girls that would be knocking at my door. I will always answer the door if you knock, though." He flashes her a broad smile, almost boyish in styling despite being five and thirty. Then he sighs. "Though, if I'm to move Lady Jocelyn, I will need to ride back down to the camp." He grimaces, as if not looking forward to yet another ride south.

"And they grow ever stronger. I have heard tell that the Lord's brother has returned, trailing his family behind him." Petra settles back, allowing Jac the time and space to finish his meal, occupying herself with reordering the supplies she's gathered and refilling the glass of wine. "And where is the woman for whom we are waging this war, I have to ask…true her House is small, but…" The courier seems bound and determined not to be happy with anyone or anything. "I would gladly come to your door and tend to your needs as best I could, but I think we would get less answers from those who might know the ways of herbs and poisons with me in the room." A considering moment, "I will accompany you, if you have cause to ride back south."

"The Lord's brother," Jac says aloud, perhaps trying to unlock his memories of the Nayland family tree. "Must be Ser Tyroan. I believe he was the few of the Naylands who came to fight alongside King Robert." He chuckles wryly, shaking his head. "We often fight beside one another, and then we fight each other. How the world works," he says with a strangely nostalgic note. Then he glances over toward her, and chuckles once more. "Then I will endure their giggles and gaggling to see if I can find something out." Then he frowns a bit. "I suppose you will scowl and scold me if I say that a war camp is no place for a woman, and then point out that the Lord's sister was there, so obviously it can't be that dangerous?" Jac lifts his brows high above his dark eyes knowingly.

"The Naylands have many failings, but fealty to their family and the inability to reproduce like rabbits are not among them. I lose track, there are so many of them rising out of the bogs." Petra shakes her head, "I have never understood it. But then, I rather liked Aerys. It was refreshing to never know if you were to live or die on any given day." Petra's shoulders lift in a shrug, "I am no lady, and I would see these rumoured traitors for myself. I am still a little bird, only the cage has changed. As for the Lord's sister, she's not my concern."

"They merely seek to emulate their liege lord," Jac says in regard to the reproductive qualities of the Naylands. Then he shakes his head a bit. "No one should live like that," he says quietly in regards to Aerys. "His madness would become infectious, and we'd all have become just as insane." He casts a glance toward her as he finishes off his plate, pushing it aside. He faces her fully now, his eyes fixed on hers. "You are a strange little bird, sweet Petra, I give you that. I'll ride out tomorrow morning for the camp. I would like to see what you can uncover about those Fensters." He reaches up to touch her cheek softly. "Darek is expecting me, we've lessons to go over."

"Go then, and I will return your books when you have finished with your squire. And in the morning, we will see what we can see." Petra laughs softly, "If you are not too overtired, old man."