|Summary:||Lady Lucienne's bastard brother assures her she could not possibly be anything as nasty as…a bastard.|
|Lady Lucienne's Chambers — Four Eagles Tower|
|The bar is hidden, but open to VIPs.|
|Tue Dec 06, 288|
The Lady Lucienne is a solitary kind of creature, preferring the calm and the quiet of her own company as often as she can manage it - therefore, it may come as no surprise to anyone looking for her that a knock on her door might be answered with an invitation from within. She is currently reclined on one of the chairs by her fireplace, watching some strong tea brew on a side table, a mess of cut and dried leaves and berries leeching their flavours into her pitcher. The scent is immediately noticeable; sweet, honeyed even, like a delicate dessert, and it fills her chambers.
"Luci? Lu?" The call is accompanied a knock, three loud, rhythmic thumps. Jarod, plainly. When he's invited in, in he comes. He's back from his adventures in Stonebridge. And they did, apparently, include some fairly standard Jarod Rivers' Adventures, as he's a bit bruised. Nose and a small chunk of forehead by his left temple, respectively, though both are faded to already brown and not swollen or anything terribly gross. He's holding something behind his back. "Heard you'd come home. Should've come and found me. I'd have ridden back with you."
She doesn't rise, peering around the back of the chair towards the door as Jarod steps in instead. "Come in, come sit," bids Lucienne, her brows furrowing slightly as she spots those bruises he's sporting. "I'm sorry, I just - well. I left in a hurry, but I should have come found you. What was it this time?" She brushes her nose and temple with a slender finger, indicating his injuries.
Jarod shrugs, as to his own injuries. "Oh, just some personal nonsense. I was entirely - well, mostly - in the right. And I won. Well. The fight, at least." He's less-than-enthused to brag about it. "I met Lady Elinor and very lovely companion of hers in Stonebridge, and they fixed me up a bit. No worries." He approaches her, not sitting right away. Instead, he flourishes the thing he's holding out from behind his back. It's an old, very abused, grey stuffed animal sewn to resemble a wolf, with large black buttons for eyes. He shrugs. "Brought you a visitor."
"You're always in the right, the way you tell it," Lucienne chuckles, what would usually be mirth now dull and flat. Her lips part to speak again, but the flourish — and Buttons — stops her dead in her tracks. "Ohhhh," she murmurs, pushing up out of the chair to claim her most treasured of childhood companions and her half-brother up in fierce embrace.
"He missed you, Little Luci," Jarod says, shoving the stuffed wolf rather in Lucienne's face. To attempt to 'bite' her nose. "Hold onto him for awhile if you want. I just keep him in a box these days with some other old things." He embraces her back, of course, warmly and tightly.
Lucienne wrinkles up her nose into the happiest of scowls at Buttons attacks her face. "Hey, now!" Her slim arms squeeze Jarod zealously, a noise echoing in her throat for the effort, and then she lets him go. Not Buttons, though. She'll keep the wolf, and a smile as well - though the latter is a little dimmer when she wonders, "I suppose you heard, then?"
"Aye," Jarod says, a frown coming to his face. "It's vile nonsense, of course. You know that, don't you, Luci? Your lady mother's virtue is above reproach. It's just slander, whispered by Nayland curs or Lady Valda nee Frey or both to get us back for supporting Ser Gedeon in the matter of Stonebridge. And I'll put my fist through the face of anyone who insults you by it." Her bastard brother will totally hurt anyone who calls her a bastard.
"I know," she says, cuddling Buttons tight and dropping back into her chair defeatedly. "Why pick me? Why not one of the boys? I… thankyou. Ser Hardwicke said the same. If anyone dares the claim to our faces, you'll throw them in the dungeons, won't you? I will. I'll do it my very self." Buttons enjoys a nuzzling from Lucienne, his little wolfy cheek rubbed against hers comfortingly. For a moment, she looks a girl again, young and frail and vulnerable, cuddling an overloved stuffed toy.
"Bodily, with my own two hands, I'll throw them wherever you please," Jarod promises. He stands to get himself a cup of tea. "There…err…anything around I can put in this for…flavor?" He is not looking for sugar, apparently, as he checks under her bed first.
"Maybe off the Wall in the north," mumbles Lucienne. Under her bed, indeed, is what Jarod is looking for: wrapped in an old sack to better hide it, a bottle of fine, bitter liquor, already partly imbibed. His sister's smile curves again. "You've got a good memory, don't you? I'll have a drop, too. Just a little one, mind. —Do you really think the Naylands started all this?"
Jarod gives himself a couple of shots. It's an even mix of liquor and tea for his cup. Then he sits down again. The bottle's left out within somewhat easy reach for him. Or her. He returns her smile with a slightly crooked grin. Though it fades when she asks of the Naylands. He nods. "Aye, I do. Anything to undercut our chances of reclaiming Stonebridge. And perhaps drive a wedge between us and the Valentins, as Lord Ser Anton is courting you. There's nothing those dogs won't stoop to, to hold onto what they never should've had in the first place. I'm sorry it was you they toyed with, Luci. You deserve it least of any of us."
Lucienne spends a little longer just sitting and cuddling Buttons, before seeing to her own tea. She makes no comment on Jarod's brew, though surely she hasn't missed the mixing of. "That makes sense, I suppose," she says, tucking the wolf carefully under one arm so that she might pour a cup. A dash of liquor, a little stir. "I don't… do you think the Lord Ser Anton will pay it any mind? Surely not. He has better manners than that, and especially after the mess with the King's raven…"
"Surely not, he understands the game that's being played," Jarod says firmly. He sips at his spirited tea. "No one with half a mind will. Lady Evangeline is not Lady Valda. Her reputation is spotless. This is just a sign of how desperate they are. They know King Robert's sympathies will be with us, especially after the show the Naylands put on for Lord Hoster Tully. They're just being awful and heartless and hurting us for the sake of hurting us. That's how the Naylands do."
"Mmmmm," murmur Lucienne as she returns to her seat. She spends a moment arranging Buttons on her lap, then takes a sip of tea. "Awful, vile creatures." Even as she speaks, she seems to be contemplatig something.
"What're you thinking on, Luci?" Jarod asks, idly stirring his liquor-tea as she speaks. He's familiar with the contemplative look. It makes his brow furrow. Thoughtfully, though his thoughtfulness isn't as impressive as hers is.
"Oh, I don't know." The words ring with a certain sadness, for all they're not the truth spoken. "I just wish there was some way to pin it back on them. How dare they, Jarod. How dare they." She frowns into her teacup.
"There might be," Jarod says. "This began in Stonebridge. Least that's where I heard it first. And whispers can be followed. We shouldn't just let the slander against you and your lady mother go by without a response, for certain."
"That's where I heard it first, but then… that's where I was at the time, too. Perhaps I'd have heard it earlier, were I somewhere else. Still…" There's that thoughtful look again, and Lucienne pauses for another sip from her cup. "Perhaps if we work quickly enough, there might be some hope of finding who started it?"
Jarod nods firm to that. "When did you first hear of it? I didn't until I went down to Stonebridge, the day after Remembrance Day. Perhaps you could set Lady Anais and her sisters to sifting for rumors down there, or your ladies' maids. I can interrogate a man if I find him, but I'm not that good at gossip."
"The day after Remembrance Day," confirms Lucienne. "I was looking at a tea stall," Surprise, surprise, "When I overheard it. And then… curses. I shouldn't have ridden home so quickly," she scolds herself, a hand uncurling from her teacup to pet Buttons as though he were a lazy cat. "Lady Anais no doubt has more important things to attend, but her sisters might be able to oblige."
Jarod does more nodding at that. "It should be your operation, Luci. Though I'll help in any way I can. Lady Elinor seems like the sort who'd be good at that sort of thing. Easy with people, and she seems eager to get more of a taste of Stonebridge society. If any of them need escorts, I can like find business for myself down in that neck of the woods."
Lucienne adds a nod or two of her own to Jarod's bobbing head. "Thankyou. Really " She puppets the little stuffed wolf's head in a waggling shake, " thankyou. Do you know if the Lady Elinor is still in Stonebridge? Perhaps I should ride back. All this back-and-forth, poor Ticker is like to throw me from the saddle to get me to make up my mind."
"And perhaps we should give a bit back to the Naylands as well," Jarod says, frowning. "Might we should speak to Jace about this. I don't mean slander them untruthfully but…those folk and Lady Valda have hardly lived perfect, pristine lives. Must be certain truths we can see told in the village square." As for Elinor. "I think she's staying another day or so. She was acquainting herself with the Lady Danae Westerling. Who I think you should meet. She's quite charming." He grins slight. "And rather skilled in certain useful ways. She made a poultice for my poor face."
Lucienne takes all this in, her brows lifting thoughtfully for the idea of giving as good, or better, than she's gotten. She smiles this time, into her cup of tea, and draws another sip before supposing, "And now you're smitten? Westerling. Seems those houses are more and more looking to us, doesn't it? I might speak with Jacsen and ride back this evening, or at first light tomorrow."
Jarod snorts as to being 'smitten.' "Hardly. I know my place, Little Luci." He winks. "It was refreshing not to be slapped in some manner by a woman, though. I will say that. But, aye, at least it seems those Western Houses are more and more looking to the Riverlands. If she wants to make inroads for the Crag, we might as well make ourselves open to digging. As it were." He takes a drink. "Anyhow, tell me when you're going back. I'll ride with you."
"Your place is what you make it," retorts Lucienne, with a quick smirk hidden behind her cup. "I'd like that. We could race." She abandons her china to the side table, electing to spend a little more attention on Buttons the wolf for the moment. "I'll give you a headstart, even."
"I have been meaning to stretch my horsemanship a bit," Jarod says with a grin. "But I don't need a headstart. I can beat you fair and square, little sister." His grin warms as he watches her with the toy wolf.
It's Lucienne's turn to snort, and she shakes her head. "You don't stand a chance, dearest brother," she boasts, puppeting Buttons the wolf over to the arm of the chair. She tilts his once-furry, now smooth head to one side, and wriggles it around as she speaks in a falsely gruff, low-pitched voice: "You don't stand a chance, mister. I shall feast on your bones after my lady runs your horse's hooves bare."
"Feast on my bones? Gone rabid in that box over the years, have you, boy?" Jarod talks wryly with his killer-toy. He finishes off his tea with a gulp. "I'd best leave you to it before he eats me alive. You feeling better, Luci?"
"Who're you calling 'boy', boy?" Buttons is affronted by the insult to his wolfly nature, it seems. He starts to savage Lucienne's arm in frustration, which makes her smile all the more. "I am," she tells Jarod, back to her own sweet voice. "Thankyou. I promise I'll come find you this time, before I go riding off."
"All right. I'll let you two alone," Jarod says, turning to go. "We'll ride together later, sweet sister." He leaves her on that note. Not even mussing her hair.