|Summary:||Anais and Jacsen run into each other in the Cellar. Supplies are getting short and plans keep shifting.|
|Date:||30 Jun 2012|
|Cellar - Four Eagles Tower|
|The Cellar's stairs drop down from beside the kitchen entrance and drift below ground as a shallow angle. The dirt floor in the basement provides just enough dampness in the air, mixed with the cooler temperatures, to help keep the goods stored down here somewhat fresh. The foods are kept to one side and down a set of halls while the casks of wine and mead are kept closer to the stairs.|
|Sat Jun 30, 289|
As the supplies run lower, Anais spends more time inventorying what still keeps in the cellar, as if she's going to find a new stash of food behind some crates she just never thought to move. Or, more likely, to make sure that the oldest things are used first, so that nothing gets spoiled. And on her return from Seagard, she's set herself to yet another inventory. Unfortunately, there's no more food than there was before. It's certainly sobering, after the fun of the tournament. At the moment, she's leaning over a stack of crates, making notes in her little journal about just what's where and how much there is.
Jacsen, on the other hand, has been leaving the inventorying to other hands - like his wife's. He knows that they're running lower every day, but has no desire to see it with his own eyes. That is, until he returns from Seagard after his extended stay. "Anais," he says with a touch of surprise in his voice when he sees her. "Another inventory? How much do we have left, by your count?"
"I can't seem to put any more food into the cellars," Anais sighs wearily. "The least I can do is keep track of what's here. Same as before, really. We might be able to stretch it another couple of weeks if we shortened rations a little further, but there's no sense in starting that now." She summons up a faint smile, closing her quill into the journal and tucking it under one arm. "How do you feel about taking up a life of piracy? I hear it can be profitable."
"It will come," Jacsen reassures. Then, more quietly, "It must come." The question of piracy elicits a snort. "Yes, that would be a sight, wouldn't it? I should be even more useless on a ship than I am on land, and would have mutiny on my hands within a fortnight." He leans against a crate, looking weary. "At least this matter of hostages appears to be resolved. I am still waiting for some more word as to the finality of it, but… it appears that way from rumors."
"Well that's a relief," Anais murmurs, a slight tension in her shoulders easing at the news. "I didn't much fancy the idea of trying to get food through another war." When he moves to the crate, she moves to lean next to him, shoulders touching lightly. "Do you miss Seagard already?" she asks with a small, sympathetic smile.
Jacsen smiles faintly. "No, I don't imagine you did," he murmurs. But maybe he did, from his tone. Her question has him draw a breath and open his mouth to answer, then pause and consider his words a moment. "Seagard is—difficult," he says, trying to find the right word. "It reminds me of another time. When I was whole and so was my family. And even though I was working toward alleviating the Roost's hunger all the while… from afar, the problem seems so… small. A trick of perspective."
Anais nods her understanding, holding the journal against her chest. "It seems so different there. Though some of that comes from not having to be…This." She looks over at that, smile flickering. "When we're not here, I feel like we can just be ourselves, instead of the Young Lord and Lady. Which is nice." She leans against his arm a little more, looking over what remains in the cellar. "When we're back on our feet, we're going to set aside an obscene amount of stores to avoid this sort of thing again."
"When we're back on our feet and the fields are ripe again, that shouldn't take too long," Jacsen says. "The trick is getting there." He licks his lips and draws them in between his teeth. Thinking. "I enjoy playing the Young Lord at the right times. I believe I've found a friend in Lord Ramsey Charlton, though he's unlikely to be highly regarded in his own House. And have had some productive discussions with Ser Kittridge." He chuckles. "I think I've even gotten Lady Roslyn to trust me. Or at least not distrust me."
"Oh?" Anais looks over at him, smile faint. "I made some inroads with Lady Katrin and Lady Jocelyn. Jocelyn seemed rather taken with Dmitry at the dance. He's a dutiful son of the house, for all his jests." Reaching up, she tucks a piece of hair behind her ear, absently checking the placement of the rest of her hair in the process. "When do you enjoy playing the Young Lord?" she asks, tilting her head curiously.
The corner of Jacsen's lip curves upward, the half-smile accompanying his answer. "When men turn to joust over words instead of lances," he answers. "Good," he says about Jocelyn being taken with Dmitry. "Because it seems the Naylands wish to revisit the Justin-Roslyn idea to have cousins marry instead. At least, that was the sense that I got." He glances up at her and asks, "Did Ser Riordan give any indication of a like mind?"
"About cousins?" Anais arches a brow, then shakes her head. "Not really. Although he didn't much care for the condition Lord Rutger tried to set about making certain Roslyn couldn't be set aside. He was of the mind that it's likely to set Lord Jerold off the entire arrangement. Something about Lord Rickart setting aside his first wife and Lord Jerold disapproving of it?" She looks over, uncertain of the details. "Anyhow. He's as devoted to Roslyn as you are to Luci, so I suspect you're just as well working through her if you'd rather go with cousins."
"It was foolish enough a demand that I have to believe it was deliberate," Jacsen says, distaste creeping in to his voice. "They were never out to make the match work in the first place, that is my sense. I believe many things of the Naylands, but I refuse to believe they are that foolish." He shrugs with a sigh. "I won't do business through her, but she may be useful in… shaping negotiations," he says with a slight frown. "She and some others may be coming to the Roost soon - she said they were headed to Kingsgrove first."
Anais grimaces, quiet a moment. "I believe Riordan truly wanted the alliance," she admits quietly. "But I think you're right about the rest. And for all he may be his father's favorite, he doesn't have the ruthlessness to pull the rest of the family in line." She draws a breath, then lets it out slowly. "I managed to speak with a few merchants in Seagard about food. It's there to be bought, if we can find the coin."
"Then I shall have to speak with Ser Kittridge in earnest on the matter of a loan," Jacsen says simply. "If this betrothal with Luci works out, then they may be amenable to a reasonable interest." More reasonable, at least, than what anyone else may be willing to offer them. "If we're able to get the grain from elsewhere - Seagard, or wherever this mystery source that Justin is pursuing - then perhaps we can get the Naylands to have wasted some coin on buying the Groves surplus. Not all, but some."
Anais casts a sidelong glance his way at the last, smile fading away to nothing. "I wish you could be more reasonable about the Naylands, Jacsen," she says quietly. "This feud isn't doing any good for anyone. Hurting people just to hurt them is only going to keep things tense." She doesn't press the issue beyond that, stepping away from the crate, and from him.
"Oh? And what would you have me do?" Jacsen asks her retreating form. "Pander to them? Play into their hands as they go from Roslyn to Jocelyn to reduce their dowry but still make a minimum effort at 'reconciliation'?" He scoffs. "I will not hurt them just to hurt them. But I will take any reasonable path that sees maximum gain for the Roost with minimum profitability for them. I will not be out-maneuvered."
"Just…" Anais trails off, sighing softly. "Nevermind," she murmurs. "I should go and transfers these figure to the main ledger, though. Is there anything else you needed?"
Jacsen just shakes his head. "Go," he sighs, gesturing to the exit. He makes no move to it himself; he'll stay down in the cellar awhile alone.
Logically, Anais knows she shouldn't leave things at that. But it seems the logic doesn't win this time, as she continues up the stairs and out of the cellar without another response.