|Summary:||Justin seeks out Anais for a reading of current events.|
|Related Logs:||None in particular|
|Roof Terrace — Four Eagles Tower|
|This is open to the air except for the rookery at the opposite end of the open walkway. Parapets and crenellations are about.|
|April 26, 289|
It's evening, and there's a most excellant view of the setting sun in the west from up here. The wind has turned, usually blowing in from the sea when the land warms up durring the day, but changing to blow back out to sea as the land begins to cool and the heated water draws the breath of the land back to itself. The sky is painted in many hues more vivid than any tapestry, smattered with broken bands of clouds thinly scattered. A few birds wing overhead to seek their night's roost and the rookery is already quiet.
From below come the steps of pair of boots as a man makes his way up from the lower floors. Justin's head is bared, the wind at once snatching at his dark hair. He himself is dressed more formally for he was busy meeting with men from the town to gather and disperse information. Not caring to be shut inside of the walls more than he must, he comes now for an evening's breath of fresh air, and likely to watch the stars come out to spangle the night sky. It is a good place to think. Or to meet someone.
The parapets her are not empty at the moment. Justin may not yet know it, but since Anais has made the tower her home, she can often be found here as day turns to dusk and the taste of the wind changes with the coming of night. Whatever she's been about for most of the day, she seems to have managed to sneak a bath into the schedule, golden curls dark and damp, and left loose down her back to dry. Her clothes are clean, her hands are clean, and even the simple gown she wears is clean and loose. At the sound of footsteps, she shifts from her station at the seaward wall, chin tilting up to see who's coming. When she recognizes the man, she offers a small smile, raising a hand. "Lord Justin," she calls over softly. "Good evening." The slender, dark handmaid sitting nearby looks up from her mending, but seems to content to observe.
Justin is not as clean for it has been a hot and sweaty day spent out of doors in the sun and the dust. He stops the instant he realizes that someone else is already here, and who it is. His gaze slip from Anais to her handmaid, then back to her, "Forgive me, Lady Anais. I did not mean to intrude." Justin's baritone is pitched quite low in volume and he takes a step back to half turn and depart should she wish it. There he pauses thinking before he adds, "When it is appropriate, I still have questions I would put to you. If you be willing to hear them."
"It's all right," Anais laughs softly, smile easy as she moves to make room - not that there isn't plenty - at the wall. "I certainly don't own the walls. Yet." She winks, then pats the stone in invitation. "What is it you want to ask? If I know the answer, I'm happy to share it. I like questions that have simple answers. Not that the complicated ones aren't interesting in their own way."
Not knowing her yet, Justin watches Anais and how easily she laughs, not taking any start or offense at his having barged in on the quiet up here with darkness coming on. So he nods and walks over to stop at the wall and look out - not towards the last light to the west, but towards the darkening east. "You've been here a little while. I hear that you have gone and spoken with the Naylands, one of them at least. I do not know them, not as individuals, only for their family and what has passed between us." Justin looks back to Anais, his voice still low, "I would hear your impressions as an outsider who now calls this place her home and who has married my brother to become Lady Terrick."
"Ah," Anais murmurs, nodding once. "So it's to be the complicated questions, then." Her smile is wry, and she leans forward to set her elbows on the stone, looking out toward the water. Idly, she wraps a tendril of hair around her finger. "To be honest, my first impression was that it was an embarrassing mismanagement of vassals by Lord Tully," she admits, her voice low. "I'm reasonably certain Lord Tywin would have just taken Stonebridge for himself and said someone could have it back when they proved themselves worth the trouble. And it probably would have gone to the Naylands." She draws a breath, tilting her head as she considers her next words. "I think, if I am entirely honest, the Naylands haven't done very much…wrong. Jaremy reneged on his betrothal. Lord Jerold didn't get anything in writing and didn't make Jaremy do what he should have. The Naylands married in. Isolde didn't refuse. Whether because she's an agreeable sort who didn't want to rock the boat or because she wanted to, she went along with it."
"I think…" Justin says quietly, "if what I have heard of her mother, and dimly remember of the woman myself, that Isolde did as her mother pressed her to do. But I do not know Isolde as you likely do." He does know that it is said that his father will no longer say her name in this house where she was once welcome as any daughter. Justin frowns, looking back out at the darkening sky, "I know the names of the Nayland sons but nothing of who they are. You have met Riordan, Rygar, Rickart or Rutgar?" What a mouthful. Not that the collection of eagles who's names all start with J's really is any better.
"I've only met Isolde once myself," Anais shakes her head. "But I did try to find out what I could of her before I tried my hand at Jaremy." Her smile twists, rueful, as she raises one shoulder to all that became of that. "I served as Lord Rickart's host when the army of the cape came to break the siege. Honestly, I found him much like my own father. Bold, and brash, and uninclined to hide his thoughts. Ambitious, but not unduly so. I can't speak to his honor. Ser Rygar is dour, and cold. Less likely than Lord Rickart, even, to hide if he disagrees with something. A military man, and all that that implies. No frills. By the book. Protocol to dot every i and cross every t, but offering little in the way of forgiveness to those who fail him. I had no chance to meet Lord Ryker before he passed, but he certainly seemed to have won Isolde over, for whatever that is worth. Lord Rutger…I spoke with him just recently at Stonebridge. He played at being very kind, but I didn't feel quite as though it was genuine. I think perhaps he's more used to the games of higher courts, where the stakes are higher and the players more willing to gamble. Lord Riordan, of any, is the truer danger. Unlike Ser Rygar, he's willing to play at politics, and understands the value of appearances. Moreso even than his lord father." Sober, she looks out over the waters, a faint line furrowing her brow. "He is playing /my/ game. He acts the part of the gentle lord, the more approachable branch of the Nayland tree. He plays up youth he no longer entirely possesses, and is willing to take a short-term loss for long-term gain." A breath, and she looks back to Justin with a small smile. "And Rowan - or Rowenna, as the case may be - is priceless."
Anais certainly has Justin's attention. He has turned to lean his lower back against the low stone wall, arms now folded over his chest as he watches her and listens. There isn't much light left to study Anais's face though he can hear every inflection of her voice easily enough. He frowns a little before he speaks, quiet for a time first to think about what he would say. "I … do not know politics. It is something I am grateful though to learn Jacsen has taken to keenly since his injury. I think, in order that my family survive, it is critically necessary. That we understand how others use it. I must learn, if for no other reason than not to bring harm against this house through ingorance, or foolishness. I think my father, my brother, and yourself have suffered enough of that." He dosen't say Jaremy's name out loud. Justin lifts a hand to rub along his jaw, "I suppose I will have a chance to observe them for myself when they gather on Sunday for the duel."
Anais stiffens at those final words, straightening and turning toward him. "Duel?" she echoes, concern catching in her voice. "Who's having a duel?"
The white sleeves of his tunic are yet clearly visible as the last light dies, though the black surcoat he's wearing makes him almost half invisible. Justin lifts his head, "Have you not heard? It seems to be all anyone's talking about over there in Stonebridge. Ser Gedeon challenged by the Nayland Sheriff, Lord Rygar. You've heard about the King's letter affirming Ser Gedeon's claim?"
"I- no, I've been busy." Anais blinks, then closes her eyes tightly, pressing a hand over her brow. "The King affirmed his claim, and he accepted a challenge from Ser Rygar? What was he /thinking/?" She groans, turning her back to the wall and leaning there. "Idiots. What does he think he's going to gain, even if he wins? He's just giving them a free shot at him. And all those militia men who served under Rygar in the war…Even if he wins, he's going to lose them, and with bandits…That damned militia is almost as useful as the bridge."
Justin huffs a breath, "Who's to say the bandits that trouble us aren't sent by the Naylands? They'd love nothing more than to wipe out this house and have it as well as Stonebridge, Lady Anais. And they might yet, if we can't stop them. So we must learn to be more clever." Which makes him twist his mouth bitterly. "If he refused, he also looses face. One Knight's challenge to another - and over a bridge no less." How very classic. "Ser Gedeon is in a tight place either way. But /if/ he could win, he might at least gain some temporary backing by the people of Stonebridge." Justin however knows nothing of the militia, having only been returned a little over a week now.
"Honestly, I don't know why Lord Tully allows any of this," Anais grumbles under her breath, dropping her hand with a sigh. "But it isn't as though there's any way to stop it at this point, short of Lord Tully showing up and ordering a halt to it. And even that would be questionable. Either way…" She grimaces. "If Gedeon wins, he's going to need to marry someone with power and money both, and quick."
Justin smiles thinly, "It is questionable how much is reaching Lord Tully's ears and how quickly, Lady Anais. I have lived upon Tully lands these past five or more years and it is not a close distance - more so as you have to go through Nayland controlled land to reach the road south." It might be easier to go by sea, but then she knows very well how the mountains interfer that way. "Nonetheless I can't speak for his opinion upon these matters." Justin taps a finger along his jaw, "As to what you say, it bears some thought." Whatever thought that might be he keeps to himself for now.
Time for a topic change. Justin drops his folded arms to lay his hands on either side of himself upon the low stone wall, "I have asked my father if some of us might meet with him to discuss the repairs, food concerns, and banditry of Terrick's Roost. He has agreed though no time is yet set. It would be helpful if you or Jascen can make it and share your input. It is not wise for us, though well meaning, to blunder around trying to do things without being organized and keeping both my father and Jascen appraised that they may guide us as necessary."
"I hope you'll forgive me if I'm wary," Anais sighs softly. "The last such meeting ended with the decision that we should sell my dowry. But yes, you're right. It's time to take a look at things and see how everything has been going. Cut programs that aren't bearing fruit and see if there is anything new we should be trying." She falls silent a moment, then draws a deep breath before looking back to him with a faint smile. "And I'm a bit dour tonight, aren't I? How are you finding your home, now that you've returned?"
"Wary is good, sometimes." There could be a flicker of amusement in his pale eyes if there were enough light now to see it. As if not wishing to disturb the night that has fallen around them, Justin's voice is barely more than a whisper now, just audable. "I think … it might also do some small good to make clear our progress. At least to our own, to encourage morale among the smallfolk to keep faith. Despair can be a terrible thing, Lady Anais and we are making progress. I hear the Sept is well underway with repairs." There is a pause before he frowns, "I find it in disarray, but nothing that can't be fixed in time. Stonebridge however is more … difficult. And very important to us, Lady Anais."
"Then it's a pity Jaremy let it slip between his fingers, isn't it?" Anais murmurs, turning back to the wall to look out over the land. There's a slight tension in her shoulders, something left unsaid as she lets the silence of the night cool whatever hurt feelings she hides. "I've been with the smallfolk every day," she continues after a moment, quiet. "I'm at their side, in their homes - what's left of them, showing them what I know, learning what they know. I certainly hope they know I am with them."
Justin frowns, "Jaremy, aye. But what was my father thinking to let him put it off?" The third youngest of the four eagle sons of Lord Jerold shakes his head faintly, baffled. He draws a slow breath, watching what he can see of Anais in the dark, conscious of her handmaid trying to work on her mending by the light of the lantern set near to her, below the wall. There's a little light cast by it but not enough for Justin to see Anais's face, especially if she's turned to look out at the night landscape below. Keeping his own eyes from the light, Justin turns to look outwards once more himself. "If they don't, they will hear of it. Word of mouth can be a bitter rumor or an encouraging comment." He smiles, "For example, I heard that you went digging clams." Justin is dressed a bit more nicely than his usual, "Someone from town must have seen you, or their children did."
Anais's lips quirk at the last, not quite sheepish. "I took some of them digging for clams," she corrects, a glimmer of humor in the words. "The children especially. So their parents could focus on doing the things they needed to do to make their homes safe for their children. But some of the women as well. I'm not…" She pauses, considering her words. "I'm not really made for sitting around and waiting for things to happen, or for other people to do them."
That makes him smile a little, "I think my brother is a luckier man than he knows." Justin pushes back from the wall, noting how bright the stars are tonight and how late it's growing. He turns his head towards Anais, "I should retire and let you have your rest also, Anais. Thank you for speaking with me." Justin gives her handmaid a polite nod, then inclines his head more respectfully to Anais who is yet more stranger to him than family. He then turns to move towards the stair to remove himself and leave the height to her.
"So I'm told," Anais smiles faintly to Justin, straightening as he makes to depart. "Any time," she replies simply to his thanks. "It's…nice to talk. Sleep well, Justin. Enjoy your home." And as he leaves, she turns to her handmaid, glancing over the mending. "Inside, Nina, or is the light all right out here for a little bit longer?"