|Cold Northeastern Trail|
|Summary:||Jarod, Liliana and Caytiv, along with some helpful retainers, scour the North Fork trail for signs of Jaremy Terrick/Rivers/Middleton. They come up dry, and go their own ways to continue searching for the wayward knight.|
|Related Logs:||May the Warrior Guide Me and subsequent 'Jaremy has run away' logs.|
|Northern Fork — Wilderness|
|The road stretches north to south, long and worn. The further north one goes the more trees and large copses begin to spring up. It heads northward towards Tall Oaks and south to the roads between Stonebridge and Terrick's Roost.|
|Sun Sep 25, 288|
The Young Lord Jaremy Terrick has been gone for Four Eagles for a day and a half now. Or the length of two days, properly, as he left the castle in the night and none knew he was gone until the morning. Searches for him the previous day only yielded reports from the townfolk that he'd gone "east." With no sign of a trail or word of his destination reported. More search parties are out today. A couple men have already ridden down Stonebridge way. Ser Jarod Rivers is taking a couple of guardsmen, young Caytiv Hill, Lady Liliana Camden (along with her very, very put-upon hand maiden in tow) up the North Fork to beat the bushes there. Ser Rivers is unusually quiet as he rides. He clearly didn't sleep much the previous night, or bother to shave this morning, and as always when he toys with the idea of facial hair, the scruff looks odd on him. He rides near the head of the party astride his sturdy brown courser, Symeon.
Yes, with Elise in tow, Liliana has joined the hunt, bringing a small collection of guardsmen with her. Not her usual sworn, but a few younger, hardier and less likely to leave worried wives and children behind. As well, one of the house retainers with a cage of a handful of ravens, just in case. Dressed for the ranging, hair braided and kept back, leathers worn in and comfortable, but with her eyes turned always towards the road and the trails along it. "Ser jarod, how far afield are you taking your men today, before you return?"
Caytiv hasn't bothered to get Ryande dressed, but the moment he was out of the tower he was back on the stallion and out on the green, waiting for direction. And he's quiet, focused, keen-eyed as he rides on ahead, hunting knife at his thigh in case of emergency. At the talk of return tickling his ears he just leans into a faster pace.
"We'll not be staying overnight in the woods, m'lady, though I'd like to send a couple of the men up to Flint's, and another pair perhaps to your Tall Oaks, to put the word out to keep an eye for Jaremy," Jarod says. "If we don't find any sign of him before it starts getting dark, that is. If we do…" A shrug. "We'll follow the trail, see where it leads." Some of the men are outfitted with more provisions to camp, though they seem to be the ones Jarod has plucked to make the ride farther north should it be required. He's doesn't look overly optimistic as to their prospects as to their proper mission. He tries not to show it, but Ser Rivers has little skill for dissembling. He's armed with a longbow as well as his sword, for his part.
All that could be brought with Liliana has been brought, though Elise sees to the handling of her lady's bow, leaving Liliana free to ride when she can, to slide from her saddle and check the trail when she has need, "How well are your men trained to know the ways of the land this far north?" A simple question. There's no accusation with it, "I will not be returning to the keep when you do. I intend to make the journey to Tall Oaks, and then to the borders of our lands, alerting the rangers as we go. We have closer relations to House Flint, and to House Reed. It may be that I might be able to impress on them our need, and enlist the aid of their crannogmen, if Jaremy has chosen to take the roads through the marches to the north of the neck. I have no doubt that my father will give me whatever resources I require." Lord Sarojyn still away from the Oaks, Mikal Camden sits still as regent of the House.
Caytiv doesn't have much to add to the conversation, keeping his metaphorical nose to the ground, back straight but angled forward, jaw set in a harsh manner that adds a sharpness to his otherwise genial countenance. This excursion might well be personal, at this point. He doesn't volunteer himself to one group or the other when Jarod lays out the contingency plans. He's got one goal, and that's taking up the whole of the space between his ears.
"Well enough, this close to the Roost," Jarod replies to Liliana. "I used to hunt in these woods myself with Jaremy and Jace, when we were boys." It's noted with no small amount of sadness. He'll be doing little hunting with either of his brothers in the coming days, for various reasons. He looks on point of arguing with Liliana when she speaks of ranging farther north but he can't, really. And there is gratitude underlying it. "Aye, m'Lady. Three of the men can go with you. We can spare that much." A pause and he adds, "Lady Liliana…if you could keep the true reason for Jaremy's…well, for our looking for him to yourself for now, my lord father and our household would be appreciative. I've been telling folk he went out hunting alone and didn't return to the castle. It's…if we can find him soon, it'd spare him from having the whole of it come out, which'd be better for him and us if he ends up regretting this. You understand?" He rides slowly. The whole party does, so they can try to read the signs of trails in the grass and underbrush, and veer off the trail if necessary. A glance behind him and he asks the squire, "Spot anything, Cayt?" It may be as much to urge the lad to talk as anything else.
"Perhaps, one day you will have the chance to be boys again, Ser Jarod." Liliana pauses, bringing up her horse, and sliding from Tanis' saddle, to move to one of the larger trees on the side of the road, hands reaching for the bark, searching the old and scarred wood, "Your men I will take as far as they will, but my family's own men would come with me willingly so far as I need of them. The ravens I will take with me, to send word back to you if one of the party cannot return themselves." Her head turns, looking back towards the knight, "I would not reveal such things to all and sundry. Only to my Lord Father, for he should know what is at stake, for your House. And then, only at the greatest need. And with Lord Ser Jerold's permission." A glance to Cay, as she offers, "There's a restive place a short distance from here. It has not been used in some months, however, but some supplies might still be there. If Jaremy knows the area well enough to find the caches."
Caytiv keeps his head bowed, watching the growth move, seeing where anything's broken enough to look like a horse passed this way over the last day. Eyes scour the grounds 'til his temple throbs with the tension, staring at the earth with that same whey-faced intensity Liliana's seem him stare at books with. He's quiet even when questioned, going over the grounds again and again, until finally, tense, terse, "There's nothing here," he reports, irritation, frustration underlining the otherwise restrained sentiment. He looks back to Liliana, brows lowered. "Where is it? I'll go. He'll be gaining time on us," he points out.
"He knows these woods like the back of his own hand. I suspect he'd make use of them, if he was headed that direction," Jarod says, bringing his horse up as Liliana stops. He half looks like he's going to dismount and grub around with her but, on second thought, he just sits in the saddle and watches her work. With no small amount of curiosity. "In truth, my suspicion is the men who're headed southeast are closer on his trail." Stonebridge, though he seems reluctant to say it aloud. "If we find nothing today, I intend to ride down that direction myself and see what they've found. And then onto the Mire, if things point that way." A look to Caytiv. "I'd welcome your company on that ride, lad, if you'd oblige. You're Jaremy's squire, after all." He uses the present tense now, somewhat stubbornly. They might get him back, after all. He seems reluctant to interrupt Liliana, but he nods finally nod. "Your father we can trust, I think, but be sure he doesn't spread the word. And tell him…Jaremy may be traveling under the name Jaremy Rivers." He smirks, a mix of fondnesss and exasperation.
"My father is not a man to break trusts when given to him." Liliana lifts her hands from the bark, "Perhaps, 400 paces to the north and west, there should be a smooth riverstone to mark the cache." Those who spend enough time in the woods would know that there are a number of them scattered about, to be used by the border rangers of both the southerly House and its Northerly neighbour, "I would go with you, if I felt my skills would be of use for you. But while I could track as well as you need, my name and the name of my family might help us more than my own personal skills. It may be that he wishes to make his way closer to Toldane that was, if in truth me wishes to make amends for his mistakes." A shake of her head as she turns to make her way back to her horse, "To wish to remove himself from your family, but to wish to retain the tie in a bastard's name seems an insult to your lord father and your house. And to use the name of an acknowledged bastard might well raise more questions than he might be comfortable answering."
Caytiv finally lifts his eyes and meets Jarod's, giving him a faint degree of a rough nod in acceptance of his invitation. But then he makes a swift break for the cache, Ryande moving as if having been trapped behind a gate that's finally opened for him.
"I don't think he understands what it means, really. Not in truth. He's never known what it is to be a Rivers. For which I love him." And there is more fondness in Jarod's tone than exasperation. "Even if my father does disown him…he might take his mother's name. Middleton. Might be good to put the word out for that as well. But he'd not be a Rivers. A Rivers is a name your father gives you, when you can't have his own, not one he takes. I'll take it as some fondness for me that he'd give it for himself, though." As for the cache, he nods. "We should check those along this route. If he was buy himself he couldn't have carried too much gear without arousing more suspicion from the stablehands than it seems he did."
"It seems most consider Rivers, or Hill, or Stone, or Snow, any of the bastard names as noble things. I have always thought them to be a sad thing. And I mean no disrespect to you, Ser Jarod. It seems, to me, that you have all of the strength and good character and honour of any of your siblings. And yet, Rivers, it holds you back. If you had a name of your own, one you chose, or the name of your mother, you could rise and fall of your own making. But to have the name Rivers, it seems you must always fight against the prejudices a bastard must face and live always with the way that name colours people's reactions to you." A nod, as she remounts, settling back into the saddle, "I know the trail of the caches and their general locations. if we must travel on to tall oaks, I can take my men that way, and allow you to finish your own leg, before you turn southerly.
Jarod gets a soft chuckle out of that, shaking his head. "Most do not think such noble, Lady Liliana. Not at all. I don't mind it, though. I wear my Rivers with a certain pride. Much as my sort can. I've always figured it was a sign of regard from my lord father, he he chose to have me his son when he'd no obligation to. I could wear my mother's name if I wanted I suppose but…I am a Rivers. For better or worse, and that's all right with me. Believe it or not, m'lady, I've never had any wish to be a lordling. I'd not be very good at it, and it comes with more obligations than I care for. I wanted to be a knight, and by Seven's grace I managed it. If I wish I were a Terrick…" And he does, plainly. "…it's for the love I hold in those who are, not for anything it'd grant me. Rivers is as close as I can come, so I'll take it as I can." Which is more than he's ever spoken on the subject of bastardy in her company. He clears his throat, nodding to her as she remounts. "Be careful, Lady Liliana. I know you know these lands well but…my father would be very grieved if you didn't return to us. As would we all."
"If the name suits you, and it does not hurt you, or lessen you in your own eyes, then I wish you only all the good and success the world offers you, Ser Jarod. It is not the name a man bears, nor the holdings he has under his command that make a man truly noble. It is a man's heart and his intentions that speak of his true worth. And your worth is without question and of more and better quality than most I have met." Liliana gestures for Elise to join her, as well as the three Jarod has set aside for her guard, "I will return to the Roost when I can. But I will not leave go the search until I am certain that there is no hope in finding him in the lands to the north." She pauses, studying the Captain of the Guard now facing her, her own small group now separated from his, "Do something for me, Ser Jarod?"
Jarod smiles at that, that big boyish grin of his that makes him look even younger than his one-and-twenty years. "You're kind to say it, Lady Liliana. If I may, it's not every well-born woman who'd willing grub around the woods like a ranger for the family she served. So I think you better than the name fortune gave you as well." He inclines his head and shoulders to her, the closest he can come to his jaunty bow in the saddle. To her request, "Any favor I can, m'lady, if I'm able."
"I was born a Camden, a child of wood, and glen, and stream. I was not made to wander the stone corridors of a cold keep like some shiftless ghost. I was born to these lands, and the freedom of the forest. And if I was born a Camden, time has made me Liliana of Camden and Terrick, and if I would be a child of your House, I would serve your House to the best of my abilities." A dip of her head, as close as she can come to a curtsey, in the saddle, "Tell your Lord—" A shake of her head, as she begins again, "Watch over your family in my absence. And…tell my Papa that I love him, and if it is in my power to bring Jaremy home to him, I will do it, even if I must journey all the way to the Wall to do it." She will wait, at least long enough to recieve Jarod's answer, before she'll turn her group to continue the journey north and away from the lands of the Terricks.
"I will tell him, Lady Liliana. And if you do find Jaremy…tell him he's still my brother, and that we love him and want him home. May the Seven guide your journey." And with that, Jarod will let her go, and resume his and his party's search of the woods in a different direction. Though it's to little avail. As sun sets they have, indeed, found no trace of Jaremy Terrick/Rivers/Middleton/Whoever, and must return to Four Eagles empty-handed.