|Summary:||Negotiations between Lords Jacsen Terrick and Rutger Nayland on this whole matter of Lady Isolde's legitimacy.|
|Related Logs:||All the Riverrun Stuff|
|Lord Hoster's Library|
|Lots of books and shelves and stuff.|
|Nov 13, 288 AL|
While the Terrick and Nayland contingents have been assigned separate quarters during their stay at Riverrun, this meeting is held in "neutral territory" - the private library of Lord Hoster. In the center of the chamber are several high-back chairs, arranged in a circular pattern around a table, surrounded on all sides by bookshelves. Rutger Nayland is already here, one hand behind his back while the other brushes along the row of books he is currently browsing. Something in here surely will catch his interest.
The precise sound of Jacsen's cane thudding upon the floor with every step he takes tells the Nayland that his Terrick counterpart has arrived before even the somewhat familiar face can appear around a bookshelf, looking not all that much changed from their last encounter, save that his features have sharpened with proper adulthood and the signet ring of House Terrick ways down his right forefinger. "At long last," he declares, and comes to a halt. "Lord Rutger."
Rutger makes efficient use of the time elapsed, between hearing the thuds of the cane and Jacsen's appearance, to finish browsing the bookspines. Turning to face the doorway just as the door opens for Jacsen, Rutger inclines his head to his counterpart. "Lord Jacsen." He greets, those distinctive yellow eyes of his resting on the young Terrick's features. "It has been too long." Then his officious tone turns less so, as he moves towards the chairs. "Come, sit. We have much to discuss, you and I."
"And not how I would have met you again," Jacsen remarks, at talk of it being too long, "But I don't believe we can either of us call ourselves surprised, can we?" He makes his way over to one of the chairs at the round table, his hand resting upon the back of it. "What has occupied you, in the years since last we spoke?" The Terrick Lord draws out the chair and sits, putting the cane down against the arm of the chair.
"Running errands for family and my Lord Father, I fear, yet wishing my time was better spent." Rutger laments as he steps to an adjacent chair, and slowly takes a seat. "You look well." He ventures once he's properly and comfortably seated. "The mantle of heir of House Terrick suits you, milord. I too wish we would meet under better circumstances. Our last conversation was…. refreshing."
As Jacsen settles into his seat, he leans one shoulder forward, that his right hand might rest upon the table, his fingers rapping once upon the wooden surface. "Younger men, we were then, my lord… though I remember it as kindly. The years do seem to have done you well, if your condition is any indication… and you stand before Lord Tully to represent your House, when even Lord Rickart's heir walks these halls, so it must be that your kin value you well. As they should."
"Ahh, but you see, I speak for my House on my Lord Brother's pleasure." Rutger shakes his head ruefully. "But on this matter I do speak for my House, subject still to Lord Rickart's approval." He leans forward as well, fingers steepled upon the table. "Still, I see this as a unique opportunity for us to put into action, what you and I discussed so long ago. An opportunity for a first step to move past some of the irrational, pointless vitriol our Lord fathers have for each other."
His hand, otherwise still upon the table, does lift a forefinger and begin tapping noiselessly at the wooden surface beneath. "Perhaps, my lord, though… I fear the vitriol is quite justified in this matter," Jacsen says, "And while you and I might balk at the thought of wasted blood, wasted treasure, there are those within your family's court at Stonebridge that yearn for it. Look no further than Ser Rygar, hmm?"
Rutger's yellow eyes narrow fractionally at this. "You understand Ser Rygar is first and foremost a soldier, yes? His views are by trade one of allies and enemies, with precious few alternatives in between. I lament the fact that he finds it necessary to keep secrets to himself, that even the rest of his family needs be kept in the dark. But whatever faults the man has, my cousin is loyal. He will not go against the command of his Lord… if his Lord is strong." His head tilts ever so slightly, a subtle subtext in his words. "The opportunity lies with us, now, in this room."
"He is the blade, wielded by hands in the Mire, my lord. I understand this, I think, as I believe you understand that the path our Houses go down cannot end well," Jacsen affirms. "A strong lord would be an absolute requirement, though I think strength will need be coupled with respect as well, as the Ser is not a man without, I think, certain principles." His hand upon the table rises, and Jacsen waves it, saying, "But we did not come to speak of one man, or even two. As you say, the opportunity lies with us, but what shall we make of it? We are very far from peace, Naylands and Terricks."
"And I shall not pretend we will achieve peace here, just you and I." Rutger allows. Unsteepling his fingers, he pushes back and leans back against his chair. "The Lord Paramount bids us to arrive at some accord over this matter we gathered here for, and that shall be a first step." He pauses thoughtfully for a moment. "Let us speak frankly, Lord Jacsen. While Lord Hoster's judgement is far from concluded, I have been assured that the final sealed letter in Lady Valda's possession is indeed legitimate and true. Unless I have been deceived to the legitimacy of that letter, I believe we both how what Lord Hoster must rule. Do you disagree?"
He seems agreeable enough with the first of Rutger's words, though the last evokes a slight shake of his head. "I am not so satisfied as to that matter, my lord, especially given that I have word from Lord Hoster Tully himself, that the letter naming Lady Isolde a bastard and Gedeon his willed heir bears all the hallmarks of a genuine letter writ by Lord Geoffrey Tordane's hand. And it is Lord Hoster's assurance I will take at face value, not one offered to you by Ser Rygar. For reasons most understandable, I'm certain."
Rutger heaves a long, but steady sigh. "Unless we have a common basis to start from, negotiations will be difficult. You realize that we have not rallied House Frey's support in this matter, even when Gedeon Rivers' claim insults one of their daughters? Should Lord Hoster rules against Lady Isolde, Lord Walder Frey will doubtlessly interfere… a condition I wholeheartedly wish to avoid. For the bad blood that results will never be cleared, and it will be Terrick and Nayland blood that will be spilled. All because an opportunist can profit from this ridiculous hatred between our houses."
"Do you not think your Lord Walder Frey would intervene if he saw fit? He is not ignorant of what passes here, of that I am most certain. And if he were to see fit, his quarrel is with Ser Gedeon Rivers, sworn to Oldstone, not Terrick's Roost. Our cause is that of Lord Geoffrey Tordane, whom was a faithful and honorable bannerman to my lord. If Ser Gedeon's words were lies, then we will acknowledge that the same as whom honor truth. But as I have said, my lord, our Lord Tully has assured me that a proper seal aside, there is no way in which Lord Tordane's bastard son's letter could be more accurate," Jacsen remarks, leaning back into his seat, hands settling upon the arms of his chair. "So we have our common basis, you believe your document to be valid, as I do believe Ser Gedeon's own, by virtue of the rightness of Lord Tully's assessment."
"If these negotiations are to mean anything, the goal must be so that whatever the outcome of Lord Hoster's ruling, it does not cause unending strife between our houses." Rutger points out. "Therefore, this is my suggestion: we must come to an agreement for each of the two eventualities, such that neither of our Houses end up with a complete loss. We must seek mutually beneficial arrangements to this end." He clenches his jaw momentarily. "I must also insist on further arrangements that will prevent others from further profiting from our families' ongoing feud."
Jacsen tips his head to the side, and into his waiting hand, elbow propped upon the chair's arm. "We are of a like mind in this, my lord, save one important point… Lord Hoster Tully wishes us to find some accommodation that he might be spared a ruling, and deem the matter satisfied." He considers the man across from him, and lets out a slow breath. "Also, there is another point to consider… you cannot sign to any compromise you might negotiate with me, can you, my lord? I bear the seal of the Roost, so there is no concern in that for my sake."
"Indeed." Rutger nods to the last question. "Whatever compromise I agree to, I will require my Lord Brother's blessing, at least. It is inconvenient, but I am confident they can be convinced; if they choose to make me a fool by reneging on compromises I made, well, they will find I am not so easily brushed aside." Whatever that means, Rutger does not elaborate. "Does that satisfy my Young Lord Terrick?"
"No, truth be told. I would prefer to deal with you knowing your father's authority was so vested in you, for the sake of the surety of our agreements, and for the sake of knowing a wiser hand held the reins than those I suspect that do," Jacsen answers, as frank with the man as Rutger requested. "But as I do not think that shall change, I will deal with you. Know that my good faith is, in itself, the kindness I offer given our history."
"And that good faith is appreciated, and returned in kind as my power allows." Rutger returns. "So then, as Lord Hoster wishes for us to reach a compromise to spare him a difficult ruling, let us speak frankly. On the question of Lady Isolde's legitimacy as heir to Stonebridge, you will not be surprised to know that House Nayland will not allow the usurper to sully the Lady's good name, or yield Stonebridge to another." Surprise? Unlikely. "Now, Lord Jacsen, we both know the loss of Stonebridge as an ally to House Terrick is a sore insult, but you and I are both pragmatic men. If we can come to an agreement where the usurper's claims are dismissed, I am prepared to offer economic compromises that will ease the loss of revenues for Terrick's Roost."
Jacsen's blue eyes consider the man a long moment. "My lord. Let us assume, for the sake of considering your suggestion, that Gedeon's claims are without merit," he suggests, his head still cocked to the side and held in that upturned palm. "And that the Lady Isolde is rightful heir and claimant to Stonebridge. There are, in that case, other matters that must be satisfied. The loss of Stonebridge as bannerhouse is an insult in itself, no matter the reason, but do not fail to recall that the same document you would predicate your position upon /wills/ that the Lady Isolde be wed to my brother Jaremy. Economic concessions ease the burden upon both our small folk, mayhap, but they are poor satisfaction for the insult and dishonor done my house."
Rutger lofts a brow at that request. "I have been assured that Lady Valda did indeed offer Lady Isolde's hand to Lord Jaremy, though he declined. If that is indeed the case, then the insult lays not with Lady Valda's actions. Do you have reason to believe this is not the case?"
"It is my understanding that he did not, my lord," Jacsen remarks. "And, as you bid me be frank with you, allow me to point out… the insult is done, if even my brother was young and foolish enough to have declined such an offer. It should have been put to Lord Jerold, whom was by rights Lady Valda's liege, and Lord Geoffrey's will given more than a half-hearted attempt to offer something to my brother he did not properly understand. It might break no law for me to stand at council and question the actions of honorable men, painting them in the worst potential light, but it is a slight to their honor all the same. What has been done here, if indeed my brother ever refused such an offer, is little different."
"And it was put to me that Lord Jerold himself declined Lady Valda's offer." Rutger notes thoughtfully. "Whatever the case may be, Lady Isolde is now my brother's bride; I spoke to her last eve, and she is dedicated to him. Lord Jacsen, I agree that you may well raise this issue, but I suspect it will likewise irk Lord Hoster as it replaces the need for one ruling for another. As well, would it not seem an action of spite and desperation on your house's part?" Before Jacsen can answer, Rutger raises a hand. "What if we bury that slight with a happier compromise? Perhaps if we agree to a marriage between our houses?"
"No, I do not believe it shall irk Lord Hoster, at that. If the matter of refusal is put between the word of Lady Valda Tordane and Lord Jerold Terrick, it is clear whom would be given the right of things. And no small matter, that," Jacsen reminds his counterpart, "As you cannot hold up Geoffrey Tordane's will to affirm the Lady Isolde's birthright and claim that such makes it law, as it makes all parts of that will law, including the marriage to my brother." The suggestion that Rutger brings forth does, however, earn a cocked brow. "What sort of marriage my lord? I concede, I've a hard time imagining one that either of our Lord fathers might concede to, but I will listen all the same."
"The difference, I believe, is Lord Geoffrey's letter conveys his wish for Lady Valda to arrange for a marriage between your brother Jaremy, and Lady Isolde." Rutger points out in turn. "There are many circumstances that may prevent that from happening. It is an entirely different matter from affirming Lady Isolde's legitimacy." He leaves it at that for the moment. "I agree with you, that it may vex both our Lord fathers for such a marriage to happen. But if perhaps they are not prepared to commit one of their own children, perhaps a nephew or niece." There's another pause. "As unthinkable as such is, there is precedent of lesser cooperation. My own brother, Rowan, has been squire to Ser Jarod Rivers…. although I am unclear on the circumstances of the ending of that promising relationship."
"Mm. The same Rowan that is squire now to Ser Gedeon Rivers, ironically enough," Jacsen remarks, his lips favoring a thin, wan sort of humor. "And no, my lord, there are no impediments to carrying out the will of a marriage, save the deferment of the offered party, or the subterfuge of a mother seeking to avoid her duties to her late husband's testament. And that is how this will be seen, here at Riverrun, and across every seat that remembers that the Freys and their bannermen did not hold faith with Lord Tully when he called them to arms." He lets out a breath, and holds up his other hand to deter any immediate response. "Forgive me if I seem to repeat myself, my lord, but the point is an important one." His hand lowers. "What would you see come of this marriage, be it even of less notable measures of our kin?"
Rutger seems content to let the question of Lady Valda's actions slide for now. "A first step, as I said, in establishing a proper link between our houses. Given time, and you will forgive my wishful thinking, but perhaps one day in the far future, House Terrick and House Nayland will share many more blood relations, rather than spilling it on the field." He reaches up to stroke at his chin. "My cousin Tenysa may be a suitable candidate for your consideration. If I were bolder and believe our Lord Fathers can be so convinced, I would even put forward my own brother Riordan; your sister Lucienne is of marrying age, is she not?"
Jacsen gives the measure some thought. "Lucienne is of such an age, yes, but her hand is sought by the Knight of Oldstones, and I daresay that Lord Jerold would never concede to such a match for his splendid daughter. Though Lady Tenysa is said to be a handsome woman, though I know little more of her than that. Perhaps…" His brow climbs. "Though I hesitate to open any of those dear to me to the prospect of enduring some of the same underhandedness that has brought us here now, perhaps the better union might be of those yet born."
"Indeed." Rutger has to nod in agreement. "Or perhaps those sons and daughters who will become of marrying age in the years to come. I myself have two sons, Aric and Aronn, seven and six years of age; if you are agreeable, Lord Jacsen, I put them forth for your consideration." The revelation that the Lord of Oldstones is seeking Lucienne's hand, however, bears another remark. "Speaking outside of our negotiations, my Lord, do you trust your dear sister to be wedded to Lord Valentin? You recall when I spoke earlier of opportunists…"
The Nayland Lord's counterpart shifts once upon his seat, straightening as he considers the man across from him. "Opportunists, my lord?" Jacsen invites, his brow climbing. "You mentioned this before but… in no detail."
"Lady Isolde is of the opinion that Ser Gedeon is but a pawn in this matter." Rutger points out, idly reaching for his belt. "That it is but Lord Valentin's ploy to extend his own holding at the expense of both our houses. I cannot confirm her suspicions, but there appears to be some merit to it. You know my continual misgivings regarding our families' feud is precisely this, that it will eventually profit some other player."
If Jacsen had ever let the thought occur to him before now, and doubtless he has, he does not show it. "Has she, or you, anything to lend this credence save supposition, my lord?" he asks, leaning forward in his seat. "If you do, I would hear of it. The Knight of Oldstones is, despite his reputation, something of an unknown quality."
"I do not." Rutger admits, withdrawing an ornate dagger from his belt. Jacsen may remember that he has a habit of toying with one during long discussions. "He has not been a factor in the Riverlands until so recently, but I intend to devote some effort into discovering more about him. I would be happy to share what information I uncover with you, if you so wish." And the dagger is now twirled idly in his hand. "But back to the matter at hand, my Lord. Does my offer of a future marriage between our houses, and hopes for a closer tie between us satisfy you on Lady Valda's slight?" He pauses for a thoughtful moment. "Perhaps if I were to… sweeten the proverbial pot with information regarding Jaremy's Middleton's whereabouts, as a sign of my goodwill."
The index finger most heavy with Lord Jerold's signet ring taps lightly on the arm of the chair, as Jacsen considers the man's words. Talk of Jaremy, called Middleton or Terrick, caught words before they might be said. "A marriage serves to benefit both our Houses, and unless it were to be the child of Lady Isolde and Lord Ryker themselves, is not even worthy of considering as recompense for the slight done." The chair creaks as Jacsen leans further forward. "I shall tell you, my lord, what I might take as fair recompense. The value of the dowry that would have been paid to House Terrick for the marriage to Isolde Tordane. Coin can not replace honor, but the remittance of such a thing would signal acknowledgement that Isolde should have been wed to my brother, and so can satisfy both the testament of Lord Geoffrey, and the honor of my House. The future marriage would be a measure for peace, not satisfaction of honor, but something I would still pursue. And information on the whereabouts of my brother…" The Terrick lord's jaw sets. "I would consider myself indebted to you, Lord Rutger, for such. Regardless of the disposition of these negotiations. It serves us both that he should be reined in, and by Terrick hands. Anything else could be… difficult. For us all."
The dagger continues to twirl and flip in a dazzling display, but Rutger does this without conscious effort, as his yellow gaze is on Jacsen as the young Lord speaks. Is he considering the value of such a compromise, or whether he can make it stick? "Half the value of the dowry to satisfy the slight." He says after a moment. "With a favorable tariff on all future trade goods passing through Stonebridge. I propose the formation of a merchant company based in Stonebridge; every shipment bearing the banner of this company pays only half the tolls and taxes and is guaranteed safe passage. The company's interest shall be jointly owned by our houses. I trust this arrangement will benefit Terrick's Roost long term economic situation far more than a one-time payment." The question on Jaremy is not yet addressed, but apparently next on the agenda.
"Three quarters of the total sum, my lord, and no less," Jacsen counters, leaning back into his seat. "The merchant company is a fine idea, and with some refinement something I will agree to, more or less as you state it. But there are other concerns that should be addressed betwixt Stonebridge and the Roost, if you are to have me willing to concede Stonebridge on the merit of this supposed last testament. Despite no threat raised from the Roost or its inhabitants, patrols of our border have increased dramatically since the marriage between Lord Ryker and Lady Isolde. I would see a stop put upon this practice, which only increases the agitation of men on either side, and could lead to further conflict."
Rutger stops twirling the dagger and flips it into his palm, then lowers the point to the table in a delicate balance with a finger on the pommel. "Trust, as you and I both know, takes time. I propose we gradually decrease the patrols on the border over the next three months, first in numbers, than frequency, but yes, I trust this is agreeable." A pause. "In return for House Terrick's concessions on the matter of Stonebridge and Lady Valda's slight, I am prepared to accept on House Nayland's behalf, to pay three quarters of the equivalent of Lady Isolde's dowry, as well as the set up of the Merchant company, subject to further refinements. As you said, I would be very interested in persuing further discussions on marriages between our sons and daughters." While he awaits Jacsen's final acceptance of the agreed terms, Rutger does add. "On a more personal level, I am also agreeable to exchange of information on whatever we discover of Lord Valentin's intent if you are. As for the matter of Jarmey Middleton: I received reliable reports just prior to leaving Stonebridge, that he has recently been seen in the vicinity of the Twins, gathering discontent smallfolk to some unknown cause, but very few sellswords if any. My Lord, you do not need me to tell you he is playing a most dangerous game; to be seen as instigating rebellion in House Frey's own lands, his life will be forfeit."
"There is yet one more item we must consider, my lord. Though we are the Houses that should properly barter this arrangement, it will not be lost on those observing that another party has not been considered," Jacsen reminds him. "And while I might concede to acknowledge the legality of the seal upon the testament so recently produced… I have been given no evidence that the letter Ser Gedeon Rivers possesses is anything but legitimate as well. I cannot, and will not, leave so obvious a contradiction in matters before me." His tapping finger stills. "We might find some pretty language to avoid the matter of the letter claiming Isolde is illegitimate, say… that the desire of the father to see his son made true was so great it clouded his vision, or something else that spares Isolde… but I would suggest that we speak together in supporting a request that King Robert acknowledge Gedeon Rivers as Gedeon Tordane, last of that name. He would stand last after every drop of Tordane blood in the veins of others, as it pertains to Stonebridge, but it would satisfy and reconcile these two documents that both bear enough weight to be considered valid. Yours, by virtue of a stamped seal, and ours, by the testimony of honorable and just lords of the Riverlands. It is no guarantee for Ser Gedeon, but it might be enough to satisfy me that right has been done in all of this."
Rutger listens and considers the request. "Lord Jacsen, I trust that we have accomplished much this evening by speaking frankly and openly, and I will do this now: To support such an endeavor would cause much embarrassment for our house in the eyes of Lady Valda, and no doubt House Frey. This, I fear, I cannot agree to, not without conditions." He pauses and hollows his cheeks thoughtfully. "Perhaps if you were to suggest this course of action, that House Nayland may publicly take it under consideration so that those observing would be satisfied. We may then table the matter for future discussions. You asked before what authority I have to speak for my house, and this is where I fear it has been exceeded."
"Think long and hard on this, my lord, as shall I," Jacsen says, even as he reaches a hand for his cane. "You've a document to your credit that while it bears a seal and at least a reasonable facsimile of Lord Geoffrey's hand, was long held and not produced even when such could have avoided this entire debacle. Against that, is set another letter, that bears the authentic hand of the same Lord Tordane, and upon which no few Lords are willing to attest and defend. The seal might win out, in the letter of law, but we know both it is men whom make it so. We cannot ignore whole cloth Lord Geoffrey's wish to see his son legitimized." Jacsen pushes to his feet. "I will bend my mind these next few days to all we've discussed, and we shall speak again."
"As I said, my Lord, this is one point that may have exceeded my authority." Rutger notes, and as Jacsen rises, so does he. "I shall consult with my Lord Brother Ryker and Lady Isolde on this, however, and put my support behind your request. I hope when we speak next, I will bring you their consent to support Lord Geoffrey's wish." The dagger is grabbed by the hilt, and deftly sheathed. "In any event, it is good to speak to you again."