|Summary:||Roslyn questions Jarod's. He and Bruce discuss the Charltons' toward the town. Cameo by Rafferdy.|
|Related Logs:||The Latest Struggle for Stonebridge|
|Stone Walk — Tordane Tower|
|Set at a slight incline, the stone pathway leads up a slight rise northeast out of the town square towards the single tower of House Tordane. Grass grows thick and plush along the side though it is well maintained. Private shops and stables are located up closer to the manor with the family's private stables attached directly to the exterior wall of the small castle.|
|Sun Aug 12, 289|
The town of Stonebridge is a mix of tension and attempts to maintain some semblance of normalcy at the moment. Half the levy has been called up, taking many of the smallfolk's hands away from their regular tasks, while the other half waits for the seemingly inevitable interruption to their lives as well. Rumor has it the Charltons are massing for something much more aggressive than just parking a garrison of men in an inn common room, though there's no sign of them in the outlying lands yet. And sadder word has spread quickly of the death of Lady Isolde Nayland's child, though the Lady of Stonebridge herself is said to have survived the birthing. Dark days on the horizon and all that.
Ser Jarod has obviously just come from drills in the yards outside the tower, sweaty and sporting a new bruise under his eye. He's presently splashing himself clean(er, at least) in a rain barrel. He's dressed in boots, trousers and a soft undershirt made to make wearing armor tolerable. A little ways away a page boy is cleaning his partial maile armor. Or fumbling with it, more accurately. Jarod is still squireless, and so lacking in the semi-professional servitude most knights receive.
It is only the combination of both events that seems to have called the Lady Roslyn Nayland back to Stonebridge and away from the lands of her betrothed, though the lady still looks well-rested, a subtle glow of happiness to her despite everything that is hard to catch. It is even harder to catch given that she is atop her horse, a spotted grey thing that clashes with the plain brown wool of the gown she rides in. "Ser Jarod," she calls, as she pulls the reign on the mare, the horse responding neatly.
Jarod's head comes up from the barrel with a splash at the sound of his name. He gives his head a shake, not unlike a hound after a soaking. Though his short-cropped hair doesn't create that much of a shower around him, at least. "Lady Roslyn?" It's half a question at first, when he sees her at a distance. She's been gone awhile. Though when he recognizes her properly he grins broad, and bounds forward to greet her with one of those sweeping bows he likes to flash to the ladies. "I thought you'd tucked yourself away in Kingsgrove permanent-like. Can't say I'd have blamed you."
"Would that I could, but I felt that I should return to give my condolences to my goodsister," Roslyn answers quietly, her gaze sliding unimpressed over that swept bow for all that a touch of humor shows in hazel eyes for his words. She slips from her horse carefully, a certain grace to her movements despite the uneasiness of it. She looks around for a servant, finding one with a slight nod to hand her horse off before stepping towards her dripping wet goodbrother. "Perhaps I should go back before anyone else sees me?"
"The lady'll be appreciative, I'm sure," Jarod says to Isolde. "Lord Riordan and Lord Rutger have been very attentive to her but…I'm sure a woman's company would do her well." And, he can't help but add, "And there's less chance you're just trying to cozy your way into share of her castle." Shrug. "Not to slight your lord brothers, of course." Not that he takes it back. Her last remark prompts a half-smile. "There's still time to make your escape if you're of a mind to. But for my part, I'm happy to see you back about the house. Can I walk you up?" He gestures toward the tower. It's midday, just reaching the hour where it's getting uncomfortably hot for drills. Which Jarod has recently finished, judging by his sweaty and hastily-washed look. Roslyn has just arrived and is dressed for riding. She's just handed her horse off to a servant.
Roslyn pulls neatly at her gloves, only casting a reproving look for Jarod at his words that would cast doubt on her brothers, for all that she does not lecture him aloud for them. Instead, she says, "A woman's word is much different than a man's in many ways, though I can't say whether my goodsister would appreciate them or not. We met but briefly at her wedding, and have not seen each other since, given her condition." Even as she makes her careful statement, she folds her gloves together with a look towards the tower at Jarod's offer, inclining her head politely. "Thank you. Perhaps you can tell me more of what to expect while we walk." She looks towards Jarod's arm. Are you going to extend it for her, Jarod?
Rafferdy wanders up the walk, coming from the stables. He's dressed… like a noble who has been riding. His arms are even covered with sleeves! Hanging from his hip is his crossbow, an addition he's kept handy lately just in case the Charlton's show up for dinner. He nods to Roslyn and Jarod as he approaches. "Hey kids," he greats with a smirk.
Jarod is indeed offer Roslyn his arm. He knows his knightly manners. Most of the time. "Lady Isolde has always lacked for friends who aren't just trying to get something from her. I fear these days haven't changed that much. Lord Riordan had spoken of stepping down from his regency some time ago, and I even took a few orders from Lord Rutger with the understanding he'd take his place. I don't think anything was ever settled with your lord father, though, and now they both seem to be trying to…mark their territory?" He did try to come up with a better way to say it. He just failed. When he hears Rafferdy's greeting he raises his other arm, the one not given to Roslyn, to offer him a wave. "My Lordling Nayland. How goes the day?"
Roslyn's fingers touch lightly at Jarod's arm where she accepts it, her lips quirking up in a neutral smile at his news that betrays little of her reaction. "And how fairs the household given this? And the Lady Tordane? She must be rather upset at the loss of her grandchild. Every woman awaits a grandchild to dote on," she says quietly, a question buried beyond just the simple words as she looks to her goodbrother. Her actual brother's appearance garners more surprise, her brows lifting as she greets, "My little Rafferdy wears sleeves. You cannot fool me into acting the elder by just a bit of cloth." The last obviously for his greeting of 'kids'.
Rafferdy smirks, nodding at Jarod, then answering Roslyn, extending his arms, "You don't like it?" he asks. Tilting his head, he chuckles, "They itch." To Jarod, "You're talking about Rio." He rolls his eyes, "Who knows what he wants this week."
"I speak little to Lady Valda," Jarod says. He's not good at neutral, and he's never tried harder than propriety demands to hide his dislike of the Dowager Tordane. "So might be best to ask her yourself. Or someone who keeps her company. The household fares well as can be expected. I think it does the folk around the tower well to see Lady Isolde up and about, much as she can be. Ser Bruce is well again, and has taken a firm command of the levies and the guard. I need to meet with the Erenfords we've in house soon, come to it. Ser Bruce asked me to see to our scouts, and I wanted to ask them how their border patrols were faring. They're nearer to Charlton and Haigh lands than we are, might see them moving before we do." Rafferdy's remark earns a smirk. "Lordships want what lordships want. I just figure it'd be best to settle it when the Charltons are dealt with."
"The Erenfords are being treated well, I hope? In a time like this, they are rather esteemed guests, I would imagine," Roslyn questions in addition to that news, a slight nod tilting her head for a moment as she looks to Jarod for a long moment. Whatever question she might have is held for the moment to turn back to her brother with a smile. "They suit better than bare skin. You look dashing," she assures him. "And we only speak of the household, not Riordan. Ser Jarod was catching me up on what I may have missed, given my time spent at the home of my betrothed."
Rafferdy shrugs, "Dashing… Oh dear," he rolls his eyes playfully, "Don't tell Father." Then he nods, "Yeah. I heard about you," he offers in response to the mention of her betrothal. "You good with your match?" he asks, while casual with words, genuine with heart. To Jarod, he smiles, "I suppose that much is true."
Jarod nods to Roslyn. "They're being shown all good courtesy, so far as I know. The Charltons haven't made any friends with them, so they might take Stonebridge's side in whatever's to come." He looks curious about Roslyn's answer to Rafferdy. "Aye, how did you find Kingsgrove? My sister, Lady Lucienne, is bound there. She's betrothed to Lord Staffordnow, and has gone there to adjust to his company and those lands before they're wed."
"We are well suited," Roslyn answers, and for all that her words attempt to hold the polite neutrality that is her custom, there is a very subtle hint of a smile. "The lands themselves are beautiful, flourishing. They prosper by being hidden from all of our squabbling and the Ironborn's invasion." She dismisses the subject with a shake of her head, instead saying, "I take it they've been spoken to already, then, about the possibility? It wouldn't due for us to merely expect them to take our side without any attempt to secure them." A pause. "The Seven know we have enough of us to at least offer a marriage." Her gaze barely flicks towards Rafferdy at all, the bachelor standing right there.
Rafferdy shakes his head quickly, "Just because I'm dressed well doesn't mean you need to marry me off, Lady."
"I wish you happiness, my lady, though you'll forgive me if I say I wish things had gone another way," Jarod says. He does not mention his half-brother, but that's the plain implication. "Aye, the Groves were luckier than most, and they seem skilled and prospering from the Cape's present situation. Well. Business is business, I suppose, so I'll try not to fault them too much for it. Though I wish…I wish many things were different. I wish you happiness, in any case, and that one day you'll find good company with my lady sister in their orchards." Mention of marriage and Rafferdy does draw a chuckle.
There's a mildness to Roslyn's tone as she questions, "Will I forgive you?" It is hard to tell if it is teasing or not, for all that she casts a sideways look to Jarod. "I can understand, at least. With the news of the Cape, it seems as if you may yet be pitted against your family, if they side with Charltons. Whereas, if it had not gone so, maybe you would not be. Tell me, what will you do if the Terricks join the Charltons against the Naylands, Ser Jarod?" The weight of her gaze lingers in a steady study on the knight as she asks it, only answering Rafferdy offhandedly, "You'll do your duty, sleeves or not. But, as I said, there are plenty of us, not just you."
Rafferdy sighs, "Yeah. I suppose I will," he responds quietly, nodding. "I should go." He gives a quick bow, excusing himself quickly, and begins to walk towards the tower.
"We'll see how it plays," Jarod says, as to his family. "I would likely ask my leave of this household, my lady, were things to go thus. I shall not spill the blood of my kin. But we're a ways from that yet, I figure." He offers Rafferdy a parting nod and a quick, "Farewell, Lordling Nayland."
"So, you'd abandon us if things turned badly enough that your family joined the Charltons?" Roslyn questions of his answer, her gaze sliding sideways to Jarod again after she waves goodbye to her own brother. "I will see you later, Rafferdy." It's a promise. Or a threat.
"I will not spill the blood of my kin," Jarod repeats. "Nor take the field against them." He meets her gaze without any trouble. "I told Lord Riordan as much when I took my oaths to this house. If that comes to pass I know not how your family shall deal with me, but that's where I am. If that answer displeases you I'm sorry."
"It does, ser," anwers Roslyn flatly, as if there were any doubt of that. "That you would abandon your wife's kin in a time of need displeases me. It troubles me to think that you would let us face the possibility of death rather than take the field against Terricks, if they take the field against us." Her fingers slide away from his arm, her gloves refolded as she gives Jarod a neutral look, for all that displeasure. "But, as you said, we are a ways from that. Take care, Ser Rivers." With that, she turns to walk to the tower without looking back.
"I am no kinslayer, my lady, whatever else the world might make me," Jarod says, looking a little sad as she takes her leave of his arm. Though he takes none of it back. "I pray that is a choice I shall not be faced with. Until it is, I shall serve this house as well as I know how." He offers her a bow as she makes her way into the tower. Adding under his breath, less to her than himself, "For so long as I can."
Whatever Roslyn may think, her emotions are lost in the simple nod she gives Jarod. She does not say anything else, her gaze only lingering for a moment before she turns back to the tower.
…a little later in the Tower Hall….
Bruce is off to the side of the common room, enjoying a rather simple meal of bread and a couple of boiled eggs while he looks over some pieces of parchment.
Jarod strides into the Tower Hall. He looks fresh from drills, though he's splashed his face and arms enough to pass for moderately 'cleaned up.' There's a pensive, thoughtful frown on his face. But he's often a pensive, thoughtful bastard of late. No whistling. He doesn't immediately notice Bruce, though his wandering path is taking him in the general direction of the hall tables where the sworn and servants often gather.
Bruce raises his sleepy blue eyes at the sound of footfalls. He often does this, not highborn enough to assume that steps around him can safely be ignored as servants. His expression doesn't change, but he raises a hand to alert Jarod to his presence and signals for him to join.
The hand does catch Jarod's attention. He pauses near Bruce's table, raising a hand to offer the Captain of the Guard a quick wave in return. Before plopping himself down. "How goes the day, Ser Bruce?"
"Oh, bloody, it's you and me. Just call me by my given name, you poncey bastard." Bruce smiles wryly, winking at Jarod. "Fancy some fare? I'll get it sent down, it's no trouble at all. They've got it waiting in the cupboard or some such." He motions to the food.
"Poncey? I'll show you poncey, Bracken-bred fucker," Jarod retorts with a grin and easy laugh. "Aye, could do with a meal. I stuck my head in on some of the drills this morning. It's a relief to see the levies at the ready. Gets the townsfolk more on edge, but it's not as if they weren't to begin with anyway. With the way some are talking in the taverns, I think everyone half-expects the Charltons to come and burn the place to the ground. Bloody mad."
"Bracken? Ye Gods, c'mon now, you know me better than that." The Captain's bushy eyebrows rise and fall in turn. "Aye. Right, that. Well, I've been down and out, m'boy. So you should probably fill ol' Brucey in on the juicy details that a well bred man such as yourself would know."
Jarod winks. Though, as easily as he puts on merriment, his underlying mood is serious. "There're rumors flying, but so far as I can tell things aren't dire yet. The Charltons are moving, word is, and allying with the Haighs. Not sure what their intentions are. The Lady Danae's with child, the rumors also say, but I can't see that there's much they can press with her claim to these lands until she births it. Maybe word of the death of Lady Isolde's son is making them bolder, though. Seven only knows. The Naylands requested support from the Freys at the Twins, as to their rights to the land, but so far as I know Lord Walder just put them off."
"Of course he did. As he always does. Lord Rickart brings in new lands for Lord Walder, and the latter responds by ignoring and not supporting his vassals. Sometimes I think… well, never mind that." Bruce shakes his head, calling over a serving girl. "Get Ser Jarod the same thing I'm having please, m'dear." He returns his attention back to the Half-Eagle. "And what happened with the alliance proposal to your father's house? That had been going well, hadn't it?"
"Many things change in the Riverlands, but the Late Lord Frey's constant," Jarod replies wry. "Can't see how it does him any good to let his bannermen squabble like this. Though I suppose it's still gold in his coffers, whoever keeps Stonebridge." Mention of alliance with the Terricks brings a frown to his face. "Not sure where that stands, truth be told, save not much progressing. There was talk the Lady Roslyn might wed my half-brother, Lord Justin. But she's betrothed to one of the Groves lords now. So I guess that's fallen through. Lord Rutger still seems interested in talking with them, but they don't seem very eager to give much or move fast on it. Meanwhile, word from the west is the Charltons have given the Terricks some sort of rights to gather food on the old Tall Oaks lands. Which Charlton holds now, somehow. No word of troop support being involved. Not like the Haighs. I can't imagine my lord father getting in bed with the Charltons too deep, with how uncertain the whole mess is. Still, can't figure that's bodes well for them taking the Nayland side."
"Your lord father is trying to help his lands the best he can. If the Naylands didn't move quick enough, the Charltons took advantage of the weakness here, I suppose, and stepped in to help. With no altruistic motives, I would imagine, but then again this is real politics. I thought much about such things when I was sick. I used to keep my nose out of that side. No more. I'm going to be forceful with my opinions. House Nayland and House Terrick need to link. Stronger together and a stronger region… the Charltons are outsiders trying to butt their way in." Bruce frowns, shaking his head. Then he realizes how amusing that must sound. "Coming from a Blackwood yeoman lad, of course." He laughs.
"I figure we can still hope the Terricks'll stay neutral, at least. It'd do them poor to pick the wrong side, and have to deal with an enemy that controlled Stonebridge," Jarod says. "If the Naylands have missed their chance with them, I'm praying they stay out of it, at least. If we can't persuade them to take up arms against folk giving them food, perhaps the Naylands can still manage that. Things might go easier, now that Lady Isolde's up and about again. She's a bit better and making friends than the brothers Nayland." He smirks, offering a quick thanks to the servants when they deliver his food. His meal includes beer, of course. "Oh, and I got reports back from our scouts this morning. Little to tell from the Stonebridge men, though the riders from the Mire are keeping an eye on matters closer to Hollyholt."
"And, do the Mire men have anything a bit more concrete on the fact that they're keeping an eye? That's important, don't get me wrong. But I want concrete information, not a status update to what they're doing at this moment. Maybe I should send them a message dispatch telling them that you and I are sitting in Tordane Tower, eating bread and boiled eggs, hmm?" Bruce muses, smirking as he pops one of the eggs into his mouth.
"The last reliable reports they got had the men of Hollyholt massing to meet up with the Haigh armsmen, and heading north. Toward the Twins," Jarod says. "Little sign of them on any of our borders so far. Makes you wonder if Lord Walder's playing so cool with the Charltons as he's playing with us. I figure we might get more reliable reports from the Erenfords, if they'd cooperate with us. They're nearer to the Twins and Haighs than we are."
"And do we have any actual numbers, or just vague reports?" Bruce presses further.
Riders recently returned from the eastern portion of the Riverlands have begun to murmer and whisper about a host of Charlton Knights, Men at Arms and levymen who left the lands of Hollyholt and promptly marched north-west ward, into the lands of House Haigh, where they were apparently greeted with open arms. Shorlty there afterwards, say the riders, a host of Haigh Knights, Men at Arms and levymen soon joined the ranks of those of Charlton and the combined host began a march to the west, towards the seat of Frey's power; The Twins.
"Hundreds. The Charltons've called up their levies," Jarod replies. "A more exact count we don't have at present. Couldn't get men close enough to estimate proper. They've three-thousand smallfolk to draw from in Hollyholt, discounting women and children and men not fit to hold a sword from that. Atop the one-hundred knights and men-at-arms they've got sworn. The Naylands can't match that, though with the training the Mire and Stonebridge men have gone through, got to figure ours are superior in ability. It'd be bloody if they committed all their men to the field. I wonder if they would. Can't imagine there'd be much of a town left to take, if their only idea was just to march in and strong-arm it from us."
"Then we've got poor scouts, and you and I are going to have to do some scouting of our own, mate." Bruce surmises from the information given. "As far as the quality of troops, I saw our levies in Stonebridge, never mind the Mire, outperforming their professional men at arms during the war. That's not to underestimate them, but a fierce wall of pike we do make. But we need allies. People to put men in the field beside us. The Erenfords are really the only option I can see. Maybe the Groves, their troops were hale and hardy during the war. Hmm."
"Groves might at that, with Lady Roslyn to be wed to them now. Lord Rutger seemed to be trying to work some deals in Seagard when he was there for the tournament, though he'd not say much about it. Aye, allies." Jarod smirks, though there's little mirth in the expression. He interrupts it by eating, and chewing. "The Naylands are better at making enemies than friends. I do wonder what Lord Frey's thinking. I've little patience for cloak-and-dagger shit, but I wonder if the Naylads've got little birds in their employ at the Twins. Would do us well to know what Lord Walder said to Lord Aleister's little army when it marched toward his doorstep."
"I do wonder what in their right minds the family members here are thinking. Making friends is not that bloody difficult. Every time something good is on the turn, someone here blunders. It's comical. I often ponder in the blind luck of anybody negotiating anything successfully for them, let alone bethrothal to Lady Isolde. As they say, a broken clock is right twice a day. Blind luck of the Gods." Bruce says, laughing in a helpless manner and shaking his head.
"Aye, well, when it came to Lady Isolde's betrothal, just had to get through my brother Ser Jaremy," Jarod says wry. And while he won't say any more insult than that to his beloved half-brother…yeah. He shakes his head, and drinks.
"Heh. I was still in Riverrun, at the beck of Lord Hoster. One year ago now, I believe. How times've changed, eh boyo? We've defended our homes and gone brought the war to a bunch of barbarians. And we did it unified. Gods, I can't stand this petty squabbling." Bruce snorts.
"A year ago I was with my father's force at Four Eagles, with little to worry about but my fair lord brother's follies and whether I had enough coin to pay the whores at the Rockcliff," Jarod says with a grin. "Gods, feels like more than a year. A lifetime or two. I still don't sit easy under the Naylands, truth be told. Especially with them not managing their alliance with the Terricks so well as I'd hoped. Not sure where that'll put me, worse comes to worst. But I've my girl. Mad as it might seem, I'd not change that part of it for anything. Though if I'm being honest, I'm not sure where she and me will be when next year comes."
"It doesn't seem mad to me at all. My old lady's not quite as well blooded as yours, but she's still a half noble. Luckily, it's her mother's half which means I'm still the man of the family." Bruce grins broadly. "Aye, I understand. Here's to hoping that at least this part of the Cape can be mended and allied, even if others are trying to divide us again."
"Bet she also doesn't figure she can kick your arse on a good day. Or maybe she can." Jarod chuckles. Though his underlying mood is still lacking for merriment. "Part of me almost wishes Lord Rickart had tossed Rowenna out when she went back to make amends with the Naylands. That's how I figured it'd go. Outs with our families and off to live by our wits in Dorne or King's Landing or suchlike. Well. Wasn't the way of it. Lady Roslyn asked me earlier what I'd do if the Terricks allied with the Charltons. I don't figure that'll happen. At least, I don't figure Lord Jerold will lend them swords, too much of their own rebuilding to do to bleed themselves here. But I'll tell you straight, I'd not be able to fight my own kin."
"She's more wily. She'll put something in my food or simply batter while I'm not looking. And I understand that. I wouldn't want you to be divided, and furthermore, I don't think we would win in a battle that Terrick swords were comitted to." Bruce says, pushing his now empty plate away.
"We'll see how it plays. I shall serve this house well as I can for as long as I can through this mess with the Charltons. I owe Lady Isolde that much. Beyond that…figure it out when I get there. Haven't ended up with my head on a pike yet, so I still count myself as a lucky bastard." Jarod eats more off his own plate. It's not near clean yet. "Anyhow, I'll speak with the Erenfords, see if they know any more than us."
"Please do. I've still got some supply issues to smooth over before I can meet with them. As of right now, consider yourself as my deputy, Jarod. You're the best we've got here, and I'm glad to be working with you." Bruce smiles genuinely.
"Many things about the Naylands I still don't sit easy with, but I'm glad we're on the same side," Jarod replies with a grin. "Just don't piss off your wife and drive her to poisoning, and perhaps we can manage something."
"Aye, well, she's gotten two strong little lads from me already. She might be done with me, my days may be numbered!" Bruce laughs, and rises from his seat. As he does so, he dusts crumbs off of his trousers and sticks his hand out. "I need you here, Jarod. Don't leave me alone with these lunatics."
Jarod has to laugh at that, wiping his own hands before reaching across the table and clasping Bruce's. "I think I'm rather stuck here for the moment, Bruce. No fear. I'll see you later."