|Summary:||Lord Jacsen decides to grill Ser Gedeon once whores have been had and both are drunk.|
|Rockcliff Inn — Terrick's Roost|
|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.|
|23 August 288|
It's about an hour after the three men disperse to pursue feminine pleasures that Gedeon returns back downstairs. His hair's a bit tousled, his clothes a little rumpled and his expression generally satisfied as he seats himself back at a free table to order another tankard of ale and some more bread, with a wedge of cheese as well, this time.
He looks a touch less disheveled than his friend, and like as not he's a far sight better than his brother will be, does Jacsen Terrick when he makes his way back into the common room, his coming made somewhat more obvious for the sake of his cane thumping the floor in a predictable rhythm. "Oh, good… I'm starving," he decides, as he slowly lowers himself into a chair, and motions for another tankard of his own. He does this all without saying a word to Gedeon, though he does look across at the man after swallowing a mouthful of the ale he's handed. "So? Did our fair lady live up to the promise of your courtship, Ser Celtigar?"
"I would say I am feeling decidedly like a well-attended crab leg," Gedeon replies with a lazy smile as he cuts a thick slice of bread, tops it with a generous slice of cheese and passes it over to Jacsen. "And your dark-haired beauty? Was she all you had hoped?"
Jacsen leans over and takes the bread and cheese, holding it aloft with a thankful nod, before he bites off a large mouthful. "She's a sweet one, that girl," he shares as he chews, not much caring for propriety at this late stage in the evening, "All soft and willowy." He drains his mouthful with another sip of ale. "Guess Jarod must be busy talking over his relationship with his barmaid," he notes, nodding to where another woman, and not the one Jarod went on about, tends to the bar.
Gedeon pauses in his chewing to peer over his shoulder and blink slowly at the bar and the girl working behind it. This late in the evening, he's obliged to squint a little, as if that might sharpen his vision. "No Lyla," he agrees before looking back at Jacsen. "Perhaps they're cuddling."
"Wrong brother," he mutters, shoulders shaking with a quiet chuckle before he turns back to eating his bread and cheese. "You got any girls around these parts that would remember you so fondly, Ged? Or back at Stonebridge?" Jacsen takes another large bite, his rather minute appetite seeming to rear its head now, of all times.
"I don't know," Gedeon muses as he cants his head to the side. "I don't think so. If there were any, they would still be living beyond the narrow sea." He pauses for another mouthful of bread and cheese, jawing through it and gulping it down before he asks, "And you, my lord? Any broken hearts left behind at Seagard?"
He smirks at that last. "Nah, Ged. I left my heart breaking ways behind at the Trident," Jacsen says, resting his head against the tall back of his chair. "Along with all the use out of my leg, and my dream at being a knight." He lets out a slow breath, and chuckles. "Ain't quite so many songs and stories written about some hobblin' fella, good looks or no."
"Well, there's one," Gedeon points out around a soft grin, "and there may be more. More than one way for a man to prove himself, you don't need to hear me say that. The Roost needs you, you serve it well, I bet we'll all be singing your songs in time."
Jacsen snorts at that, and reaches for his ale. "I can't wait to hear the ladies swoon at tales of Aemon the Dragonlimp," he notes dryly, and takes a long sip. "Now Anton Valentin and Gedeon Rivers, that makes more of a tale. All wrapped up in the mysteries of the East…"
Gedeon simply snorts in return, smirking even as he shakes his head in denial at Jacsen being recalled so infamously. "They may sing songs about Lord Anton, one day," he allows. "He fgights better than any man I've yet met, and if he can build Oldstones back into a proper town, those two things alone would make him memorable. Me, well, we'll see. 'Gedeon Rivers' is not much a name worth singing over."
"But Gedeon Tordane, Lord of the Stonebridge…" Jacsen offers, wagging his brows lightly, "Exiled off to the east, denied his birthright, forced to return and claim it from a scheming nest of Hags… That could make for a decent song."
Gedeon ducks his head, laughing softly. "That could," he allows, though his tone and his smile are sad. "Perhaps it would. But, it relies on letters I don't have and a King I fought for but never met and, I suspect, a good deal of mercurial luck. I won't get my heart set on such a thing, I can't let it burn in my blood if I am denied. So, I make my peace with being no more than what I am, in case that is all I'll ever be." He groans, running a hand over his face. "And if I sound that maudlin, I am well and truly into my cups."
He shakes his head, chuckling a bit. "Damn, Ged, that sounds almost depressing," Jacsen admits, leaning forward to pick up what's left of the bread and cheese, before popping it back into his mouth. "I mean, way you sound…" He says as he again chews, the words muddling slightly, "… you don't really seem to give two shits about how it pans out. I mean, you got this word from your father himself, don't you owe it to his memory, at least?" He clears his mouth with ale. "No offense meant, just… I'd have expected different, I guess."
Gedeon studies his half-eaten bread and cheese before glancing over at Jacsen, brows lifted a little. "And how would you have me be, my lord? Proclaiming myself Gedeon Tordane? Pledging that I would have Stonebridge or blood? What is it you would have expected? You're a clever man, Jacsen Terrick. You tell me what it is you think I should do."
Jacsen gives Gedeon something of a look at that, especially the last. "You know, when people say that I'm half-sure they're being sarcastic pricks," he grumbles, though it's not without some humor. "But in your situation? I don't know. It's an unusual one, indeed… But made all the more difficult for the peculiar way in which you've chosen to go about it, Ged. That's what makes me shake my head and wonder."
"I find the whole situation peculiar," Gedeon replies as he frowns down at his snack. "and you still didn't answer my question. What would you have done, if you'd found yourself in my place?"
He considers the fellow drunk and carousing man at the table with him for a long moment, perhaps framing the words behind the fog of ale. "Well. I wouldn't have taken up and gone off to the East for five years," Jacsen decides to say. "With those letters in my hand, the truth ringing in my ears, and love for my father in my breast… I'd have gone to Lord Jerold Terrick and told him the truth then and there. You and I both know he'd have seen the matter done himself."
"I didn't know it at fifteen," Gedeon answers with a shrug. "Or rather, parts of me didn't. It's clear enough in retrospect, but then, Isolde was still my sister, and we had both lost a father and a brother. I couldn't bear the thought of taking anything else, I didn't want to be lord of anything, I didn't want the responsibility. I just wanted to hide. And then, I was in the East, ad there was hardly any going back, then."
"But you did know that it was what your father had wanted, Ged," Jacsen remarks, turning a bit in his chair to better face his childhood friend. "And unless you never told me what really happened at Stonebridge, he was as good to you as my father ever was to Jarod. I can't understand why you'd choose to follow some stranger into the east, rather than take up your father's charge. Isn't that what every bastard son of a decent man wants? To be his father's true son in the eyes of others?" Obviously, he could never quite know for himself.
"Yes," Gedeon agrees softly, "I think it is. And my father was good to me and kind. And often, he was gone. And in his absence, the Lady Valda saw to my care, and she took great pains to teach me what I was and was not. So I suppose, when I read those letters, I imagined I was more likely to be punished for them than believed. It was what he wanted, and it's what I wish to give him, now. But damn the man for waiting until he died to tell me so and leaving me alone to do it."
"That's the thing of it, Ged. You weren't alone," Jacsen insists, shaking his head. "Even if you didn't know the measure of Lord Jerold, you had Jaremy, you had Jarod, you'd have had me, such as I was…" He slumps back into his chair. "Instead, you took off with some knight you hardly knew by comparison, and rode off to the East." He shakes his head some more. "Honestly, I feel like there is a chapter to this story I just haven't read yet, Ged."
"That's… what you don't understand. I was alone. In my mind, of course I was. You remember me as a boy, don't you? I was quiet or was Isolde's rag doll, that girl was always dragging me along and I felt… I appreciated it. The company. The kindness. But I was taught, in manners most convincing, that it was a kindness for my father's sake, not for my own merit. And he was gone. He and Geonis dead, and me alive somehow, and with letters saying… gods, Jacsen. Of course I ran. I didn't know Ser Anton well, but I knew he knew nothing of my father and nothing of anything but whatever merit he saw in me for myself. Of course I went with him."
Jacsen shakes his head at that recounting, but swallows his protests along with a mouth full of ale. "I guess I can't say I know quite how you felt, it'd be a shit thing to say I did," he concedes. "But I still want to know better, Ged, if you're willing to let me. Will you tell me how it went down, between you and your Lord? Who'd he serve with at the Trident?"
"I'm not asking you to agree with my choices, Jacsen," ale and bitter memories make short work of proper titles, "I only wished to explain them a little better. Ser Anton served under the Mallisters at the Trident. He saw me training a couple times, when we were all waiting to be sent out. Just sort of watched me, offered a few suggestions, didn't even ask my name. And then, after, he was the first man to find me after Geonis and my father had been slain."
Jacsen's brow rises. "You're not? Well, shit. Maybe you should be," he remarks with a shake of his head. "Your decision that day damn well affects a lot of people, and a whole lot more might be affected too, should the King see no merit to your claim. It's a serious thing, Ged, the most serious thing there is. You might not have asked for it, might not even want it, but the moment your father put those letters in your hands, each choice you made was not just made for Gedeon Rivers, but it was made for the whole of Stonebridge." He slumps back again into his chair, looking a bit spent at all the conversation, he glances into his mug and takes a long sip of its contents. "And then you come around with these letters, just when the Naylands have claimed Isolde, and your apparent birthright? A fine fucking mess, that. And timing too canny by half."
"Yes, I know. I know. I understand that, now," Gedeon groans, folding his arms so that he can hide his face in them briefly. "I grew up at least a little bit, came to realize that much." He lifts his head again, frowning. "I want you to believe that I'm telling the truth. I want you to support this claim. I'm not asking you to deny that running off was foolish, I'm not trying to convince you it wasn't. That's what I meant. Why are we discussing this when I am fucking drunk?" He puffs out a soft breath. "I didn't know about the Naylands until the tourney. When I found out, I went to Jarod and then to Isolde before the wedding, but things were too much in motion, then. It was canny timing because that was what finally made me realize I had to speak."
"Because Ged…" Jacsen sighs, and downs more ale. It seems to help him formulate the words he needs to express himself, at least tonight. "One or both of us'd have stalked off by now and we'd never get to the damn heart of it. I'm stuck, here… stuck between loving my friend and bloody cursing your stupid self," the Terrick lord admits to the man across the table, not so loud as to break through the noise that serves as backdrop to their conversation. "I have to come back home, the first time I've been home since the Trident too," he reminds, "And find myself in the so enviable position of having to question the truth and honor of my one and only friend. Oh, I love my brothers and count them as close as anyone, but they are my kin, it is only mete. You are the only one besides my own blood to ever count as so close to me in those days, when I'd have been so different a man that I am now. And instead of being able to champion you and your cause, I have to ask these bloody questions."
He heaves a sigh, and shakes his head. "You want me to back your cause without hesitation? Go tomorrow to Lord Jerold and pledge yourself to his service, for the love our fathers bore one another, and as repentance for your error in turning away from this for so long. Beg Lord Anton his forgiveness and ask him to let you go. If you so wish to be Lord of Stonebridge, and banner to House Terrick, then mayhap you should prove it."
"Unless your loyalty to my father's house only extends so far as it can make you what you should have already been."
There are several slow blinks at Jacsen and he squints slowly at the man as if seeing him is hard. "That," he says slowly, "is absolutely not something to ask me when I cannot walk straight." He ducks his head. "If Stonebridge was mine, I would pledge it to the Terricks, I've said that much, already. I will swear it before Lord Jerold, if you like. Sign a document, whatever you wish. The Tordanes were bannermen to your family, and that was Lord Geoffrey's pride and pleasure. I would see that put to rights. But what need has Lord Jerold of one more knight? What need has he of my sword? Lord Valentin is a friend and a good man, and if my place is not at Stonebridge, much as I want it to be, I could make a difference at Oldstones. I could be more than just a knight in a full house guard." He gives his head a shake. "Let me think on this when I can think straight. Don't ask me for an answer, now."
He shakes his head some, closing his eyes when he lolls his head back against the chair again. "Not asking anything, tonight, Ged. But when I'm sober? For the love I bear you, I am honest. If you don't do as I'm suggesting, and put yourself to Lord Jerold's service," Jacsen tells his oldest friend, "Then at least ask yourself why you've come asking for House Terrick to give to you without knowing the outcome, when you're not willing to do the same." He swallows back the rest of his mug and sighs. "Maybe she won't mind if I crawl back into bed and sleep this off…"
Gedeon only groans again, pressing a hand over his face. "I am stumbling back to the Tower," he decides for himself. "I need to sleep. And think. And sleep. Good luck, I hope you find a bed." He lifts his hand in a weary wave before pushing, a little unsteadily, to his feet.
Jacsen tosses his mug idly on the table, though it rolls only once before the handle stops it fast. "Fine. But if I fall, you're going to have to carry me the rest of the way," he tells Gedeon as he moves to get up, clearly having no interest in letting the man go on his own.
"So long as by 'carry', you mean 'drag', then you've a deal. Here, we'll lean on each other. I'm not sure who is the worse for walking, tonight." He lifts an arm in offering, so the pair of them can be mutual support as they stumble home. "Now, how did that thing go? The boys of House Terrick are pretty and feckless, pretty and feckless, pretty and feckless…"