Page 137: Coastal Defense
Coastal Defense
Summary: The Captain of the Guard and Ser Hardwicke talk on the matter of Ser Jaremy. Awkwardly. Fortunately Ser Aeric shows up and they have a much friendlier and more relaxed conversation about the possible threats of pillaging Ironborn.
Date: 29/11/2011
Related Logs: Docking; News on the Roof; Eagles of the Cape
Aeric Hardwicke Jarod 
Courtyard — Four Eagles Tower
The Courtyard of Four Eagles Tower is floored with a fine grey stone that match the color and tone of the interior structure of the castle's yard. Plants have been potted and placed around the entrances to add some color, the greenery accompanied by several trellises of flowers that climb the support columns. The most prominent structure in the area is the set of large slab steps that lead up to the great oak doors of the Great Hall. Several hallways and accesses lead off into different sections of Four Eagles which makes this the hub of noble activity when court is not being held.
Tue Nov 29, 288

The afternoon hours are lengthening into evening, and those retainers of the Roost who had business out of the castle for the day are slowly but surely filing back in. Ser Jarod was among them. He spent the day in the village in discussions with the local sheriff. Though he's been in and out of the castle a great deal in the last days. A couple of nights ago he disappeared altogether to 'inspect the coastal watchtowers.' And he returned with his face half-sunburnt and half-not, giving him an odd two-toned look, as well as his right hand bandaged as if he'd scraped up his knuckles. Today's adventures don't appear to have damaged him, however. At least not visibly, as he's not bearing any new scars as he rides his sturdy brown courser in through the gates.

Hardwicke looks to have been here for at least a brief while before Jarod, though his attention is caught for the moment in brief conversation with another of the knights. It wraps itself with a final nod and farewell, and the cast of Hardwicke's gaze only then catches Jarod. Something dry in the twist of his greeting, he says, "Ser."

"Ser Hardwicke," Jarod replies in kind, dismounting and handing the reins of his horse off to a page. The beast is led back to the stables. Jarod lingers in the yard. If the dryness is noted, the only outward reaction is a little tilt of his smile toward the crooked. "How're matters about the house this day?"

"The same as ever," Hardwicke replies, his gaze trailing after the page leading off Jarod's horse with an idle sort of observation. It shifts then to the taller heights of the tower. "It manages to stand."

"Aye. Towers're dutiful about standing," Jarod replies with a grin, taking it as a joke and giving back one of his own. Though his underlying mood is serious enough. The young Captain of the Guard has been in general more serious since his return from Riverrun, and the beginning of the whole matter with the former Young Lord Jaremy. "You have a moment, Ser? Couple odds and ends I wished to speak with you about." A pause and he adds, "Get another view on."

His arms crossed loosely over his chest, Hardwicke arches one thick brow as he watches Jarod. "If you wish," he says after a moment's consideration. "I can probably spare the time."

"Excellent. Let's walk for a bit," Jarod says, turning on his heel to begin a stroll around the inner courtyard. And motioning for Hardwicke to follow. Ser Rivers is very poor at sitting or standing still for any length of time. He seems to operate more comfortably when in some sort of perpetual motion. "To the first. I spoke with the Lady Lucienne the other day, and she intends to visit Ser Jaremy in Stonebridge. Soon as befits her schedule, I think. I shall accompany her, of course."

Hardwicke has no such problems with stillness, but he nonetheless moves along to keep easy pace with Jarod. He takes in this first news with a carefully impassive expression. His final judgment: "As you will." After another moment, he adds, "Although you might speak to her lady mother of it."

"Lady Lucienne's spoken with Lord Jerold about it, I'm sure. But, aye, I can have words with the Lady Evangeline as well. I am not overly worried for her safety in Stonebridge town, though of course I shall not leave her unattended by our men. The Naylands want to leverage Ser Jaremy, I figure, not break the peace in any open manner." Jarod pauses and asks, "How much have you heard about what Ser Jaremy did down in Stonebridge lands?"

"Of course," Hardwicke agrees, casting a slightly critical gaze over at Jarod as they walk. "Leverage or not." He turns his gaze back to the path ahead of them. "The same as most. Lady Terrick is determined to see him living."

"We would all like to see Ser Jaremy live, though I see little way forward for it," Jarod says. "I went to Stonebridge personally to beg that he be allowed to join the Night's Watch rather than face execution. Would be proper for a knight sworn, and exile serves justice. Ser Rygar would not hear it. There may…there may be a chance, I think, if the matter is taken to Lord Ryker and Lady Isolde directly. They are the true lord and lady of Stonebridge. And the Lady Isolde may have more mercy in her heart for Ser Jaremy than those Naylands she wed." The critical gaze is noted, and met. He stands up a little straighter. "Is something the matter, Ser?"

"It might be that your voice holds little value to Ser Rygar," Hardwicke says bluntly. "Whatever better luck is to be had will be found by Lady Terrick. She is going to Stonebridge." He smirks just slightly at the question. "Of course not. Ser."

"If she believes a mother's pleas shall carry more weight, I understand her need to try," Jarod replies. His smile fades as to his voice having 'little weight,' but he looks more somber than angry about the barb. Perhaps he feels it's true on some level. "Perhaps we will travel together, since we all go in that direction. Lady Lucienne may perhaps speak with the Lady Isolde, Lady Evangeline with Ser Rygar. Many birds, one stone. Or…something."

"Or a noble's," Hardwicke says, and there is no mistaking the quick flicker of resentful annoyance. He scratches a hand down his beard.

"Or a noble's, yes, fair enough," is Jarod's rather terse reply to that. "Whatever either of them speak with, I hope it moves the Naylands. I cannot excuse my brother's crimes, but there is honor to be found on the Wall, and he deserves the chance at life there."

"It sounds as if you should write poetry of it," Hardwicke says, voice blanding.

"Aye, perhaps I will!" Jarod replies, his voice unblanding as Hardwicke's goes blander. "I am a man of many misguided letters. May as well pen some more while I'm at it." He pauses a beat, clearing his throat. "Apologies, Ser. The matter of Ser Jaremy is…raw for all of us. Anyhow. We'll see each other in Stonebridge, but that wasn't the only matter I wished an ear on."

"Mine still seem to be attached," Hardwicke replies succinctly. He offers little in the way of response, even silent, to the words before that.

"Have you had occasion to meet the Ironborn woman who's come to the Roost?" Jarod asks. "The Lady Kathryna Harlaw, she's called."

Hardwicke's brows arch, though he does not turn his head to look at Jarod. "I have."

"What do you make of her?" Jarod asks, tone no longer particularly terse. He's curious.

"She is capable," Hardwicke says without much time given to consideration. "She is Ironborn."

"She is something else, I'll say that," Jarod says with a half-grin, reflecting on the Ironborn woman as…well, as only a twentysomething young man with few qualms about chastity can reflect on women. But he clears his throat, getting back to business. "She is capable, but at what, I wonder. The behavior the Ironborn of late is…odd. Have you thought on it these past months? Seems even odder with her presence here now."

"You think they have something in mind in sending a diplomat other than diplomacy?" Hardwicke says as he walks through the courtyard with Jarod, voice a bit roughened by sarcasm. "Shocking." He shakes his head with a quiet snort. "Pirates do not stop pirating without reason. Maybe they decided to seek out more personal avenues of conquest."

"Are the Iron Isles known for their love of diplomacy, Ser Hardwicke?" replies Jarod with a grin, though it doesn't warm his green eyes. "I spoke on the matter some with Lord Jason Mallister when he was in the Roost last, and he said the same. Little sign of them around Seagard this year, which is even odder in those parts. Not to question quiet but…too much quiet seems funny, you know?" Jarod and Hardwicke are taking what appears to be a walk around the courtyard. They're in conversation and, while it's between the pair of them, they aren't making any effort to be terribly private. It's getting on later in the afternoon, those tower residents who had business in town for the day slowly but surely trickling back in for supper and evening rest.

"Always question quiet," Hardwicke says in a tone of brisk instruction that hasn't changed much over the years, even after Jarod was appointed Captain of the Guard.

Aeric has been spending most of his free time down at the dockside overseeing the construction and meandering the town looking for viable apprentices to the tradesmen he brought. He rides into the courtyard now riding a little high in the saddle and dismounting with only a little stiffness. The reigns are turned over to a page who comes jogging over and the older knight gives himself a little flex from side to side before taking in his surrounds.

The brisk instruction actually seems to relax Jarod's manner around the older knight. He nods, seeming about to go on, but the appearance of the new - and still somewhat unusual - knight in the courtyard makes his attention flit in that direction. "Speaking of things from the seas. This way." He motions for Hardwicke to follow him, and moves to greet Aeric. Raising a hand to offer him a wave. "Good afternoon, Ser."

Hardwicke follows the draw of Jarod's attention to Aeric with a slight hint of annoyance in the downward corners of his mouth for the interruption. She offers no such wave or immediate greeting to the newcomer, but he does continue to keep pace at Jarod's side.

Aeric is a fairly observant sort and notes the pair's approach. He straightens and awaits their proximity with a declination of his chin in greeting. "And you, both. How have the years fared for you gentlemen? It has been.. since the Trident.. when last I saw either of you unless I am mistaken." He extends a hand in greeting for a genial grasp of forearms.

Jarod takes Aeric's hand and clasps it warmly. His smile warms as well, though it has a wry twist to it. "I pray you remember me little from those days, Ser Aeric. I was but a squire of sixteen with little to impress any proper knight, and even less sense. Well, I am better with a blade now, at least." He chuckles. "Ser Jarod Rivers, in case you've rightly forgotten. Captain of the Guard at Four Eagles now." And Lord Jerold's bastard son, though that's never part of his introduction. "I apologize for not greeting you sooner, Ser. We are most gratefully for the aid Lord Jason sends for the war galley. My mind turns very much to sea defenses these days, as Ser Hardwicke and I were just discussing."

"No good came of a quiet Ironman." Is that even a real saying? I guess it is now. Hardwicke clasps Aeric's forearm after Jarod, his own grip firm and expression less immediately warm. "And I'm just older," he says with particular dryness."

"Are not we all?" Aeric returns with a faint laugh. "In any case, no, I had not forgotten your knighthood or your new responsibilities. In any case, your Lady took care of the greetings and I am well tended to.

"Are not we all?" Aeric returns with a faint laugh. "In any case, no, I had not forgotten your knighthood or your new responsibilities. In any case, your Lady took care of the greetings and I am well tended to." He gives a glance about then keeps his voice more locally conversant by volume. "As to the Ironborn.. I have two questions. What do you know of a Mistress Damara Kell, servant of the Camdens, and a Lady Kathryna Harlaw?"

"Of the Lady Kathryna Harlaw, only a bit. Less than I'd like for my own comfort," Jarod replies. "Though I did have a go with her in the practice yard. Think I got the measure of her with a blade. She's not a bad hand, I'll give her that. Though I bested her. Good little fight." His grin crooks. Though his underlying manner doesn't completely lose its seriousness. "I know she claims to be here on a diplomatic mission stemming from an incident many months ago where a kin of the Greyjoys died in a duel at Stonebridge. Though I do not trust that's her true and complete purpose. Of Mistress Kells?" Mention of her confuses Jarod a little. "She's a falconer to the Camdens. And…" He shrugs. "…I think mistress to Lord Camden himself. They kept very familiar company when they were at the Roost last, at least. Why do you ask of that one in connection with the Iron maiden?"

Hardwicke waits in silence as Jarod speaks first, listening with attention sliding between the two men. And, in the end, he apparently finds little to add to Jarod's summary of the two women, though it does inspire a dry smirk across his expression.

"Because the Mistress and the Lady seem quite familiar and the falconer was asking me the other day about the construction status and material needs of the docks." Aeric summarizes. "Suffice to say, without someone vouchsafing for her, I'm telling her nothing and forbidding her from the area."

"The Camdens getting familiar with the Ironborn?" Jarod snorts. "That's a match I'd not have thought on. I like the Tall Oaks folk well enough, but they are so committed to the ideal of peace they seem to shrink from taking any action at all. Or stirring themselves much outside their woodlands. Fair enough, I'll not speak ill of those who don't trouble me, but it's very odd they should strike up friendships with the Ironborn. Agreed. I don't think it good to be too open about our defenses with any outside the Terricks and their allegiance. Let alone one who asks such questions while keeping such company. Still, it might be innocent. The Camdens had spoke of trading us some lumber to aid with construction, though I know not where that deal stands."

"With the Camdens so enamored with quiet, they might be willing to buy the show of diplomacy," Hardwicke points out, sounding distinctly unimpressed by the possible explanation. "They haven't had to stir at all: the woman came to them." He snorts. "There's no reason for a Camden falconer to know our business."

"Indeed. If she so desires to 'help', and she did mention the trade agreement, then she had best produce a writ from the Lord Camden to that effect. Until then? She ought keep to her falcons. Its best for her in any event. It may be innocent. The Harlaw may know of her affiliation and the agreement and could be taking advantage of naivete to whittle information from Mistress Kell. Of course, I could nurture the pair and feed her false information. If the Harlaw acts upon it, then we know Kell to be a spy and can act accordingly."

"I'd hesitate to believe any Riverman is naive enough to easily trust an Ironborn," Jarod says to Hardwicke. Not that he, precisely, disagrees. "Though I suppose they'd see little of them in that part of the country. Even on the coast their threat has been diminished from the histories I've read." Aeric's idea of false information feeding earns a short nod. "Can't hurt. Give it a go, we'll see if anything comes of it. Like I said, Ser Hardwicke and I were talking on the Ironborn before you came. This Harlaw woman's effort at diplomacy is strange. Plays into a general feeling of strangeness coming from the Iron Islands lately. I spoke a little with Lord Jason on the subject of them the last time he was at the Roost. They've been quiet for months, nearly half a year now. I hate to say too quiet but…" He shrugs. "As Ser Hardwicke put it, no good came of a quiet Ironman."

"Underestimating the stupidity of the people you want to act wisely is almost as bad as underestimating the wisdom of those you hope to be idiots." That wisdom given, Hardwicke falls quiet again.

Aeric smirks faintly at Hardwicke's words and gives the man a sage nod. "I may get somewhere with the Lady Harlaw. She respects my experience at sea, if only as a worthy opponent. She's young but there's a spirit in her also that won't let her back down from me. Naturally, she'll be suspicious of my motives and that makes her all the more a moth to my flame. If nothing else, it will keep me entertained."

"The Lady Harlaw's the sort of woman who might be entertaining, can't be denied," Jarod says, his grin crooking again, green eyes bright. "But, aye, best to show her all courtesies until there's a reason not to. I've never heard of an Ironborn diplomat, but perhaps she's here on some real mission. Even if not, may as well wait until she gives us reason to have her as an enemy rather than making her one from the off." But even the idea of entertaining the Lady Harlaw doesn't lift the seriousness from his mood. "When Lord Jason and I spoke on this, he mentioned he'd heard of similar 'quiet spells' before. Generally when the Ironmen were too busy fighting each other to trouble the mainland."

"Not an unappealing prospect," Hardwicke rumbles, scraping the nails of one hand against the rough rasp of his beard.

Aeric nods. "Ironically, if we were more unified, now would be the time to strike them and resolve the issue with a finality. Which.. may be why they've sent the honeybee to court us. Best to tie us up in diplomacy so war does not cross our minds, hmm?"

"Mmm-hmm, indeed," Jarod mutters. "Well. I'll not complain if the Ironmen are off killing each other in the Pyke-lands and be no trouble to us, though if that conflict boils over onto the mainland it'll touch the River coasts first, if not the Westerlands holdings like Banefort. Any case, Ser Aeric, I very much like the idea of getting that war galley in working order right now. If nothing else, it'll make it easier for us to keep an eye on the seas."

"Indeed," is a rather catch-all answer to the wealth of conversation, but Hardwicke does seem to mean it. He inclines his head. "Duty, as always. Sers," he says in succinct farewell before turning and heading off.

Aeric nods firmly, resolute to that purpose. "Presently, the largest issue I have is manpower. We need men to train as sailors and marines. A ship is only as mighty as the men who sail her." There's a wry turn to his expression then he nods to Hardwicke. "May the Seven watch over you."

"I could offer a few from the house guard to train as marines," Jarod says. "I'd not want to take too many from their duties, and few are sailors, but they're good fighting men. It'd supplement their skills, if nothing else. I'd be interested in learning the basics myself, as my other duties allow. For sailors you might be able to find young men in town who're looking for work and interested in the adventure of it. Lady Anais also has thoughts on how we might recruit sea-farers from the Westerlands. All those plans and training take a good deal of time, though, however it's done. I hope you're not in a hurry to be back at Seagard, Ser Aeric."

Aeric laughs brightly. "Only as quickly as my Lord Cousin should demand it. I am here at his command." He allows a gracious bow of his head. "I shouldn't imagine I'll be demanding your hospitality for more than a year or two anyway. Unless you all prove inept at seafaring. Training a man to be a good ship captain is something many take a lifetime to do."

"Much can happen in a year or two…" Jarod says, rather thoughtfully. "Well. We'll do our best not to prove too inept. Now, if you'll excuse me, I should clean up for supper. Good to have you in the household, Ser. If you've time in the next days, you should take a drink - or many - with Lord Jacsen and me and we can tell old stories about Seagard. My lord brother misses it, I think, some days. I do as well, though I only knew it as a boy of fifteen, and my time in the city proper was cut short by the war."

"Do but let my Lord Host know that I will be a moment, perhaps even late, to supper." Aeric offers apologetically. "I've a few things to attend to before I set myself to presentable." He gives a last nod before turning towards his own business.