|Brothels and Bookies|
|Summary:||Amelia and Jaremy share some quiet words at the Inn.|
|Date:||14 Jul 2011|
|Rockcliff Inn, Main Room|
|The Rockcliff Inn is one of the better inns within the town and it shows with the well-lit interior and the relative cleanliness to the other locations in Terrick's Roost. The tables are polished with oils and the floor regularly swept. A set of booths towards a darker rear of the Inn's bottom floor, just beneath the staircase, are where whores generally socialize and eye prospects from when not waiting tables. Signs over the undersized bar area advertise prices for ales and wines as well as several different choices of food to be served at the small eating area by the bar or in the main open area in its comfortable seating. A door behind the bar leads to the kitchen and cellar while another near the staircase leads to a private room that would appear to be off-limits to the 'wait staff' except for food and drink service.!|
|14 Jul 288|
Later in the evening, its a couple hours after the long summer's sun as set. Some of the late-nighters are arriving. The early birds are retiring. Others enjoying the mid-shift are still relaxing while Amelia is knelt on one of the tables and finishing a song. She's dressed as expected but her arm is extended out, moving from her chest as she fades out the last notes of one of her favorite songs about lost loves. A few of the men are eying the whores at the back but for the most part most are just talking quietly. One of the knights lifts an arm to help her down from the table and she smiles to him warmly. "Thank you, Gerald. You're too kind."
Having caught just the last few lines of the song as he enters, Ser Jaremy Terrick, son to Lord Terrick himself, enters the Rockcliff Inn. With his sword on his hip and a set of clean, fresh leathers, the sound of his spurs ringing against the floor is evident as the applause from the crowd dies down. Looking rather intense, with a vision of concentration on his face, he passes some coin to the innkeeper and collects a quick flagon of the local bitter. Alone and unaccompanied, he heads to a table near the back and lowers himself onto a bench.
The whore Amelia dips her head in appreciation to the people who choose to applaud and retires gracefully from her performance to check on a few tables. In doing-so she spots Jaremy. There's a few choice remarks in jest for some of the regulars and a table of sworn swords, the latter which gets a wink before she heads over towards the lone figure's table. She holds her midsection gently and dips her head to him. "M'Lord. Can I get anything for you tonight other than your drink? The owner has some fine breast of chicken tonight," she leads quietly. He doesn't seem to be in the mood for the same treatment as the other tables.
Looking up from his flagon, Jaremy's features lift to see a friendly face, one so well versed in the town's affairs. Almost doing a double-take at her question, it appears that the young lord is deep in thought this evening, heavily distracted by private matters indeed. "What? Oh no…no thank you, Amelia, but thank you for offering." The always-kind to smallfolk lord he is maintains even in his distress. "I simply needed a ride out this evening. I haven't missed the last of your song, have I?"
The woman dips her head again to his decline to her offer. She keeps her warm smile. Its the smile of someone who is genuinely happy, not the kind she has been paid to make. He can probably see it in her eyes. "I think I probably have a few more in me for tonight. I still haven't gotten to The Knights Tail," a jesting song about a cowardly boy in his father's armor, "or Thorns." The latter is a song she wrote about fighting for love. There's something about the way she says the last, though. Its lost quickly, though, as she looks to meet his eyes. "Are you okay, Jaremy?" she whispers so as not to allow others to overhear her being so bold. "Do you want to talk about it?" That same tender kindness she's always displayed towards those she is personally concerned for the well-being of.
Jaremy watches Amelia closely as she asks her question, and he starts to flip a gold dragon in his mind. He leans back against the wooden wall of the Inn and brings the flagon to his lips for a long pull. The heavy mug sets down softly on the lacquered table next to his drumming fingertips. "It's…complicated." His eyes tilt to the rest of the room, sensing that he has some modicum of privacy, and that the other sworn swords and knights in attendance are tending to their own business. "Though you would likely laugh to learn that finally, after all of these years, I've entered into trouble involving a woman." He chuckles dryly, nodding to the chair across from him. "You'll have to promise to not write a song about this…" He smirks. "…directly, at least."
The woman waits patiently while the Lord ponders over it, standing at the end of the table with an easy smile. She moves to the seat across from him at his look. But at his mention of a woman, her face slowly melts in a complete grin. "Jaremy, I simply find it a miracle that you haven't found yourself in more trouble with women. You cause quite the twitter among the sewing circles. And their daughters. Perhaps especially their daughters." The accompanying laugh is severely muted as its intended only for him in the kindest of manners. "But I write songs about those I care for all the time. But no names or specifics. Discretion and all." She flashes a larger smile. "So does this wonderfully lucky lady have a name? Or should I start throwing out the names of the Roost's crones?"
Responding to her with a quiet smile and a playfully tilted brow, Jaremy folds his arms across the top of the table and shakes his head. "From what I understand, Amelia, the distinct lack of my trouble with women has become my trouble with women. Consider me curious as to just what the ladies in the sewing circles say of me." He pauses, looking to his flagon of bitter. He reaches out for it, turning so that the handle is at just the right angle to be picked up for his next sip. "No…no this lady is no crone of the Roost. She's a Lady of Stonebridge." Of which there are two. "The younger lady of Stonebridge, of course."
"Idle hands and all that, mm?" Amelia offers with a tilt of her head. "Should have taken a wife years ago, if I may be so bold. You're a good-hearted man. Any woman would be blessed with your hand and the honor of being at your side. But I sort of figured you had someone specific in mind. I know your interest lies not with men." Just a gentle reminder of a time years ago, but one she does not press. "But I can understand your reluctance to look elsewhere. Lady Isolde of House Tordane.. she's a beautiful woman. I met her once. Personal fortitude in a woman like she possesses? Its not learned. That's a gift. A wise choice, m'Lord." Amelia seems to be quite earnest about her words. But then again, the whore is not exactly known for dispensing silver tongue lies. Some talk to her precisely because she doesn't always so imminently remember her place.
And never one to scold a smallfolk unless they are truly out of line, Jaremy's head tilts with a silent nod, as if to grant her a point for credit's due. "Right…right. In truth I may have waited far, far longer than I should have for other reasons, Amelia. There are details that aren't yours to know, but needless to say there are complications, as the seven are likely to give, right? Nothing that comes simple is so worth it." He taps his index finger against the tabletop, eyes leveling on hers. "Tell me, will you be traveling to Stonebridge for the tourney? If you aren't you should probably reconsider. There may be some entertainment in it for you."
The woman sitting across from him dips her head in understanding. She isn't about to beg details. Its not like her. "The Seven have their own designs. But.. allow me to share what I think you are getting at." She flattens her hands on the table and looks at them. "When I was about twelve and my mother was whoring at the Belltower in Seagard? She had a regular who was of the family. I was talking to him once about how hard it was to grow up and be successful like him." Amelia smiles at her own memory and how ridiculous the words were. "But he told me something I never forgot: That which we obtain too easily we esteem too lightly. If you are truly meant for something, as I sing in 'Thorns', it takes more than desire. It takes fire." Her hands lift, curling into a lady-like clasp as she looks across to him. "Very likely I will. I've been requested there by at least one party. I know some of the men would like me to show off my voice and represent the Terricks in that fashion. But-" she extends a finger from her clasp to him with a knowing smile. "You have designs of your own. Favor a lady with a hint?" 'Lady' or 'lady'. Pretending to be the former might get her hung.
"Your wise man must have trained at the Citadel for all the knowledge of those words, Amelia. I could not have worded it so well myself." He reclines slightly on the bench, allowing himself to be the young knight at the table. His fist wraps around the handle of his flagon, bringing it to his lips again. When the mug is set back down on the table, he glances from side to side, lowering his voice. "I am by no means the next Florian and she is not Jonquil, but perhaps I am a fool like Florian was." He waves his hand, changing his train of thought. "Regardless, there is a rumor that should not be spread that a certain noble knight will be jousting, seeking to win the event in a lady's name. This knight will be riding for victory on many levels, but to save a lady from being married to another."
Amelia doesn't directly respond to his initial remarks but for a deeper inhale and a far off look to her for just a split second. She glances to his flagon, waiting to see if he needs a refill but returns her attention immediately to him. But the story comparison has her quirk her brow. "I would certainly agree that neither of you precisely match the story." Its unsaid, but implied: 'Except…' "But that is an effort worthy of the title of a Noble. Such a knight would be an exceptional man to risk it all for someone that meant so much to him. That's quite the gamble. If you find yourself with a name, let me know? I have a few pieces of silver. I'd like to bet what I have on him."
"Oh, Amelia, you know that I shouldn't officially condone gambling, at least especially on my own exploits…" He breaks down the wall, no longer speaking in vague terms. "…though if any other knight enters the joust armed only for greed and vanity I intend to overwhelm them with every last bit of power that I can muster." His eyes narrow, the intense look returning to his face. "So tonight, Amelia, is my last bit of drink before I resume my training. Until the tourney I will do nothing but train, and nothing but focus."
He pauses, letting his words settle across the table between them. "…and so to answer your question, perhaps I am troubled, but I know what must be done. I've a hard road ahead, and I will see it through."
Amelia's eyes twinkle as she watches him. "Of course, m'Lord. Gambling is unbecoming and all. Seven, its nearly cheating when I know how badly the odds are stacked against the opponents. Hard to overpower motivation like yours. Win or die trying." She has seen her share of violence for a whore. But all the rest has her head tilting to her side and watching him. There's nothing but the sounds of the Inn for several seconds while her eyes move over him. "Jaremy?" she addresses softly. Its nearly hesitation. "Look, I know a lot of people. You're aware of this. I need to travel to Stonebridge in a few days time. It will be a quick round trip." As quick as that can be. "I'll let you know when I leave, but I will find out what I can about your opponents and the situation at hand while I can and am in town. I know this means everything to you. It would crush me to see you hurt." Even if it would potentially mean more business to her. But then again, she's talked men into going back to their wives before.
Running a hand through his long, straight hair, Jaremy leans forward and plants a heavy elbow on the solid oak table. His brow furrows in concentration and his lip purses at the edge, considering her offer. "Very well…but do so at your own risk, and please not a word of my involvement in this matter. This is a private matter, and if the wrong word were to fall to the wrong ears this could become more difficult. I've said all of this because we've known each other for years and trust is earned…" He nods to her, meaning to say that she's earned it to some degree.
His lip curls into a friendly smile, and a nod is issued in her direction. "Thank you, Amelia. As always you are very kind to me, and Terrick's Roost wouldn't be quite the same without you."
"I'll be going and placing bets with a gentleman there I have dealt with before. Advance bets have less information but pay off in greater dividends. They are, sadly, also more expensive. But it would be odd if I did not place any." Amelia offers an easy smile. "M'Lord, if I were not discreet, would I enjoy the company of you House as I have? I pride myself on it. I would rather fall upon my own dagger than do such things. But because it requires such discretion?" She lofts her brow as if in suggestion. "When I return I will leave a note taped to my door upstairs. I'll be inside, but read what I have in case you require me to clarify." Its all said quietly, but not in the quiet tone that might attract attention. "Would m'Lord like me to place any bets for him?" To his last she turns a touch red at the compliment. "You're too kind, m'Lord. Thank you very much. Its a pleasure I take pride in."
"Please, no, I'm already likely conflicting the Seven in enough ways that to add wagers to the joust would likely draw their wrath. There's only so much goodwill, or at least faith that I'm in the right, that I can muster." He holds out a hand, palm out, waving her off with a chuckle. "I'll come to visit you again once you've returned and I'll read this letter. Your discretion, as always, is appreciated." He blinks with the statement, unable to deny that long ago when he was much younger, and much less confident, she'd helped him find some. "Just do be careful. Your discretion is a thing of legend, but there may be men in play that aren't as forgiving as I."
He reaches for his mug, finishing their topic and moving onto the next. "So…tell me, Amelia, how have you been. It's been a few months since we've spoken. I take it all goes well?"
Amelia gives a soft laugh, nodding at his decline to placing wagers on his own success. "I suspect its bad luck to bet on oneself, too. But you know me. I have to ask." Ever the pleaser. But she nods once in appreciation at him following her directions. "It should be worthwhile. The person I'm going to see has yet to let me down." As to the warning, she nods. "I'll be fine, Jaremy. I'm careful. Sometimes risky, yes, but often worth it." To the last she smiles and shrugs. "Oh, no complaints. I've been less busy with men lately which has been decidedly nice. But we have more people coming in so it almost evens out. I'm trying to see if I might be able to get paid to sing anyplace. Only two places I can do it anymore without being pelted by stuffy wives are here and Sept."
As always, Jaremy can't help but darken at the ears at her openness about her trade. She's never detailed about the names or the faces, but if Jaremy himself were writing a book on the trade, he need only ask about how business has been. "Gods be damned, Amelia…" He laughs, reaching for his flagon. Tilting it back, he nearly empties is before he sets it down again. "…sometimes your words are delicate and other times they hit like a bull. Well, if it's any matter, I'm glad the lack of business lately has given you time to continue to work on your song. A word of advice, however? Don't write a song about stuffy wives and the sept, or else you're like to get pelted with things far worse than rocks. Don't deny you haven't thought of writing such a song. I know you far too well. You can't hide from me."
Amelia smiles at the reaction, but its a little more forced. "Its the way of my life, Jaremy. Its not a life I've chosen, but it is what I have come to be. In time it will pass and perhaps you will know me as something other than.. what you do." Its rare to even hear her refer to herself as a whore. "Amelia the Singer. Amelia the Married Woman to Some Unsuspecting Sod. Amelia of Terrick's Roost in another town far away." She shrugs. Escape. Little hints and remarks over the years and its not hard to pick up that she does not plan to be a whore forever. Its temporary. She needs to believe that. But through it all the woman laughs at the mention of the song subject. "Ha! Okay, you've caught me. I've considered it. But I have actually sung about being spat on. Cussed at. Most confused it, though, when I sing of the gauntlet and the marketplace. People assume that lost child I'm singing about is actually a child." Its a deeply personal admission that has her flickering a smile and waving her hand as she looks away. "But we don't need to, ahem, spread that around."
"Find yourself in luck that I can be discreet as well. Your secret is safe with me." Jaremy replies, folding his arms across his chest. Tilting his head to the ceiling, he stretches the stressed muscles in the side of his neck with a grunt before lowering his gaze back on the baseborn whore across from him. His eyes glance over her shoulder, scanning the other sworn swords that likely are her regular clientele.
"It seems that all people are born into the station that they are born into, myself included, though I won't deny that there are certain comforts I've been afforded. I do notice, though, that you've a certain ambition. I've heard of women in your profession finding means, eventually becoming the head of their own…establishments, or do you have other things in mind? What have you planned, Amelia?"
The woman returns the appreciative smile to him for his own silence on matters. But her focus drops to the table and she works at an old stain with a fingertip absently. She stops, though, at the mention of being born to stations. Her eyes stare at the table for a few long seconds and for a flashed moment in her eyes the whore looks like she might explode into tears at his suggestion. Ten.. fifteen.. twenty seconds pass. "Jaremy, you have no idea the luck you have in being born to where you are with whom you have," she finally whispers. "Half this town goes to Sept and prays that they might be one day allowed to set foot in the Tower just to help their imaginations visualize themselves somewhere else other than their own lives." The whore clears her throat. "This is temporary. I never want to run my own tavern or inn. Ever. I can't support this. I know what it does to a girl… and we are but girls when it starts. Before you're old enough to think about long term consequences, you're socially outcast and a stigma is placed upon you forever simply for how you have managed to survive in most cases. Men can take the Black. Try to go to war. We have no such options, Jaremy." Her eyes return to the table, then a moment later. "Sorry." But she doesn't answer his question either.
Unafraid of her, Jaremy has the common sense to not look away as she explains the hardships that she faces as a baseborn woman, let alone a whore. He listens quietly, nodding his head slowly as she nears the end. It occurs to him that this is exactly the reason as to why so many nobles don't regularly speak with the smallfolk, but his reputation for being out and about, amongst the people, is a reputation he's earned through many conversations. Some have resulted in the same brave statement about the differences between noble and smallfolk alike.
He clears his throat, eyes scanning over her soured expression and the unfortunate turn that their conversation has taken. "There isn't much that I can offer to you in words for that, can I?" His lips flatten. "It would seem…shallow for me to say it, but I do care about the people of Terrick's Roost."
Its the last words from him that bring her to look up from the table to him. "There isn't much, no. A lot of it is just jealousy. Some people just can't be made happy unless they are sitting on the throne. Even then? Some men aspire to be Gods." She pauses, her lips turning up in a smile. "It would be shallow for you to say if you proclaimed that from a tower and never bothered to walk your boots among the market or even share the private company of a baseborn whore. We're people with stories and faces to you, not income and bad smells." She sits back in the chair, still focused on him. "It means a lot. Its why I do some things. I encourage in my own ways. I help those that.. well, I like to help people who I know can help people like me. The smallfolk. It might be selfish. Maybe not. But.. you're right. I'm ambitious." She nods slowly and only once. "But I'll never be allowed to marry honestly. I'll never get a lot of things. But if I can use what I have now in the right ways?" She taps the table a few times with the point of a finger. "I can make a difference for a scared, alone fifteen year old girl that might otherwise end up on a corner or in a tavern. You, m'Lord, can also make that difference. Which is one of many reasons I support you. You care."
Jaremy, for all his comfort with speaking with the smallfolk, still has to take a moment to choose his words. She's correct that he's honest enough to be out amongst the people and yes…he does care, but he still has to be a lord. "You're right," He starts, swallowing the last of his bitter, setting the flagon down on the table between them. "I do care. You're not muddy faces in roughspun cloth or just farmers that provide income and meals, you are correct. So despite what privilege you feel that I was lucky to be born with, know that there is also duty in what I do. A duty, in my belief, also includes fighting to provide a safe set of borders from which the smallfolk can live and die in relative peace, and gods willing, better themselves. This is what makes us strong." He nods in her direction, making his point clear.
Amelia takes his flagon without even thinking. Its just second nature. Its held in her hands and she looks at it while he speaks. "I've heard that before. Heavy is the head, and all. Jaremy, you can't say that to us - even though its probably true. Seven above, I believe you. I do. But that's not fair to us. When you say that to someone on the street who sleeps ten feet from where they soil? It sounds like you want to protect your borders and interest. Not ours. But then again, there is education lacking through much. Mine is middlin' because my mother fucked a teacher to get me lessons for a few years." She blinks away the memory and looks back up to him. "Jaremy, I believe in people like you and Lady Isolde. You want the best for us and I'm grateful for that. Tournaments might bring us all together like so many children of a family, but at the end of the day, remember how fragile life is. If you had four beautiful daughters and were outed from all your money, power, land, and your title.. what would you do? What would you be willing to do? When this Lordship is truly yours, remember that. If it was all taken away tomorrow, would your people take you in and clothe you in the winter? Or cast you aside in a fruitful summer?" Its not an accusation by any means. Amelia doesn't expect him to explain himself. Instead, what she offers is more just food for thought. The woman looks at the dirty container and rises. "Would you like another, m'Lord?"
"No…I would not. I said this would be my last until victory and I meant it. In truth, I should probably return to the Tower. It's not often that I stay out this late, but there are certain places where thought can and cannot take place." He rises, reaching for his sword's scabbard. Reattaching it to his swordbelt, he turns his gaze back to Amelia, nodding his head to her. "Perhaps if I find myself one day cast out with nothing but my sword and my name, we'll see just as you described whether or not I was a good lord. I will keep your words in mind, Amelia. Thank you for sharing them with me. Perhaps there will come a time when I could repay your kindness. Until then I will continue to visit." He smiles. "Do be safe in Stonebridge, and again…you have my thanks for what you are about to do."
Amelia takes a step back as the man rises, dipping her head slightly as he announces his intention to vacate. "If you are ever cast out, find me, m'Lord. I will help you and your family." There are no qualifiers. Just her.. word? Her honor as a baseborn whore at stake? Then again she doesn't exactly seem to believe she is one. "I don't think there's anything to be done. For now, we are just going to have to sail through life's troubled waters on our own. More or less." The last gets a heartfelt smile and she nods, swallowing back tears that seem to find her for some reason. "Thank you, m'Lord. I'll look for you in a few days." She takes a shaky breath and turns for the stairs, the flagon simply left on an empty table nearby.
Jaremy watches her go, eyebrows stern and his features neutral, a part of his noble bearing. Turning, he heads around the tables towards the front, where he nods to a few of the sworn swords and regular patrons that he recognizes. A murmured chorus of "M'lord" echoes from them as he issues them a lordly nodding of his head. The innkeeper lowers his eyes as well as Jaremy slides some coin to the man, paying for his drink.
"Carry on, carry on. Enjoy your evening, all of you." Jaremy says to them, returning them respect for the respect that they pay to him.
His concentrated expression falls back onto his face as he pushes open the door to the outside, returning to his preparation for the little war to come.