|Summary:||Anais summons Sterling for another perspective, and comes away with darker thoughts.|
|Related Logs:||Fight Stuffs|
|Young Lord and Lady's Chambers|
|Where Jacsen and Anais sometimes live together, but mostly fight.|
|June 13, 289|
The night before, Anais returned late from the beach, exhausted and content. This morning, she awoke with a lovely sunburn over her cheeks and her shoulders, a spray of freckles across her nose, and a song in her heart. She hummed her way through the keep most of the morning, then returned to her quarters to check in on Jacsen. And while the Young Lord has been seen since then, she has not. Once word of the bandit hunt's results reached her, she sent Kincaid in search of Sterling, requesting the knight's presence in her chambers. When he arrives, she's leaning against the windowsill, looking out at the sea with her arms crossed over her chest. There are a few candles lit, but the room is dim, in deference to what seems to be something of a mood.
Sterling is a day back from the woods, having returned just before Jensen was brought back. As such, he's now washed and cleaned and at the service of the Banefort girls, even if one of them no longer has the name. He comes as he is bid, drawing the dagger from his belt to knock on the door with the pommel, then sheathing the weapon immediately once more. When bid to enter, he does so, closing the door behind him before he notes, "Bit of a row, then, Lady Terrick?" Of course he's heard; he works for Lady Banefort.
"You could say that," Anais answers quietly, reaching a hand up to her neck with a heavy sigh. "I said some things I shouldn't have, and Jacsen did as well." She winces as her hand pulls at sunburn, lowering it once more to look to the knight. "I need to stop thinking like my father and start thinking like my mother, Sterling," she admits, turning to face him more fully. "But she's not here to talk to, and- And you know her mind better than anyone here. And if you say I'm treating you like a woman, I swear, I'll throw something at you," she adds wearily.
Sterling looks around the room, taking it all in as he listens as well, his left hand curling in so he can then look down at the nails, sucking idly at his teeth. A long moment later, he notes, "Well, what do your little birds say, Lady Terrick?" Looking up again, he adds, "The ones 'round your husband. And in the kitchens. And around whoever else is pissing you off."
"No one will watch Lucienne," Anais grimaces, leaning her head against the windowpane. "Not really. But from what I've been able to work out, she came to Jacsen while he was going through the withdrawal from the Milk of the Poppy and tried to offer him some in exchange for his father's seal. Come to find out she was scheming to take it before he even woke up again. Then I find her inviting the Groveses here and getting Dmitry to broach the topic of a betrothal between her and Lord Stafford, despite the fact that Lord Jerold said that any such thing would have to wait. Because we don't have the resources for a dowry right now." She reaches up to rub a knuckle at her brow, as though the headache of in-laws could be rubbed out with enough pressure. "I still suspect he's been with the Dornishwoman. But whether it's another woman or the drugs, half the time he can't even…finish. But he accuses /me/ of having an affair, then says he doesn't /care/ if I did." Which of those things is worse is still a subject of debate, apparently.
Sterling tucks his hands together in front of his stomach as he listens further, "So you have two problems. Lord Terrick's only daughter, and your husband." She named herself her father's daughter, and so he addresses her as if she were her father. "Get something into her food. Something to put her out of it for a couple weeks. That'll give you time to put someone you trust close." He hesitates then, as if remembering she's actually a daughter, and then he goes on, "As for him. There's other tricks. Find what he likes. Suck his cock. Him on top. You on top. Whatever. Do what he wants, he won't stray. Won't have the energy."
"Do you think I haven't tried?" Anais' cheeks flush, but she called the knight here for a reason, and can hardly complain when she gets what she asked for. "Sterling, we- Right up on the parapets, in the middle of the thunderstorm the other morning. I am not- I mean, I don't exactly have a large sample size, but I don't think I'm that bad at this! I just can't spend every minute of every day having sex with him. I need him to do other things." Stepping away from the window, she moves to light another candle. "As for slipping something into her food, I don't even know what one slips into food, and the maester is not a particularly accommodating man."
Sterling shrugs his shoulders at the explanation, "Then you haven't found what he likes. Doesn't matter how good you are. Just matters what he likes. If you even want to keep him close. Or just get enough to get an heir, and then don't care." Well, that's blunt, but then again, he already told a Banefort to suck her husband's cock. "There's gotta be a midwife or woods witch in town. Or the next time you go to Hag's Mire. Probably plenty of poisonous shit there." He's not judging. He's just saying.
"How am I supposed to know what he likes?! Gods, it's not like he came with instructions, Sterling. I'd never done this before. If there's something he likes, then all he had to do was start things out that way, and it's not like I'd know any different." Anais flounces into a chair, perhaps indulging in just a moment of childishness. "As far as Hag's Mire goes, I'll be a hundred years old before I go there again. Everyone's convinced I did something awful. Which I didn't," she adds with a glare. "But maybe I can get something in Seagard," she allows. "It'll be a tournament, I'm sure plenty of women will be buying things."
Sterling shrugs his shoulders broadly, "Ask a whore. They know how to find what a man likes." He picks at a fingernail, as if three scrubbings hadn't cleaned them already, "Ever think that maybe he was nervous too, Lady Terrick? Maybe still is? Leg like his, bet he didn't spend much time with the whores. Probably didn't know ass from teakettle the first time." He bows his head at the glare, "Sorry." There's a pause, then he shrugs again, "I don't care what the f — " Right, Banefort lady, "I don't care what you do, so long as it doesn't screw over the marriage. I'm sure Lady Banefort and Lord Banefort don't either."
"Stranger take his damned leg," Anais mutters from the chair, though there isn't much force behind it. "I thought men were supposed to think with their cocks, not their legs. That's the problem, Sterling. He's so /sensitive/ to everything. It's like living with Shayla when her courses come, only all the time, I swear. It's not my fault if he doubts himself all the time. When I try to point out his strengths, he doesn't believe me. He just sees it all as weakness."
Sterling gestures from one of his legs to the other, "There's three there, Lady Banefort. They're all legs." For a moment, one corner of his lips actually moves, twitching upward as if he might show amusement, and then the moment fades, and his expression is blank again. "Sounds like he needs some men around him. He's lost two brothers, yeah? Most men need other men, and women, to show off for. Got to find something he's good at, and give him some excuse to show off." And finally, he does snort, "Not like the cliffs. I heard about that. Would've liked to see the later parts of that mess myself though."
"He was good at people. He was good at politics. But now his mind is fogged by the Milk of the Poppy, and he's just /wasting/ everything he has in mourning over his stupid leg," Anais says, frustrated. "Why can't he just let it go? Why can't he enjoy the things he's good at? Why-" She stops, turning away and wiping a hand at her eyes with a sniff. "I hate this place, Sterling. I hate this stupid keep, and the stupid Terricks, and stupid /soup/ for dinner every night."
Sterling drywashes his hands for a moment, then releases them, letting them drop to his sides. "Lady Terrick." He measures something a moment, then goes on, "Grow up. You wanted a castle. You've got one. The Terricks are stupid, proud bastards, but the ain't worse than anyone else up on this shitty Cape. They're all stupid. Lady Banefort's daughter should be able to run the whole Cape." He picks at another nail, "I could do with some boar though. But if wishes were dragons, I'd be Twyin Lannister."
"Well maybe I changed my mind." Anais pushes up out of her chair, pacing a few steps. "It's just these /people/, Sterling. They won't see sense, they won't be guided, they all just run around like chickens with their heads cut off. And they won't actually do anything useful, because they're too busy being /honorable/. Unless it comes to actually respecting anyone else. Then all bets are off. They're just the /rudest/…" Eventually she runs out of things to rant about, letting out a huff of a breath. "So you're telling me the best advice you have to offer is to suck his cock."
Sterling shrugs his shoulders, spreading his hands helplessly — perhaps not so far as another man might, but they do spread. "Asking one of the whores how to find out what he wants might be better. Never heard of a man who didn't like that, but you never know." There's a pause, and then he adds, "Someone wouldn't be guided, Lady Banefort'd bully them. They wouldn't be bullied, she'd guide 'em. Either way, she'd lead them, or find someone else they looked at to do it." Sterling rubs his thumb over his fingers, then finally puts in, "Wouldn't have thought they could be ruder than me." Was that a joke?
"And then what, Sterling? He accused me of fucking someone else. /He/ can apologize. I'm not going crawling back to him, asking him to forgive me for telling him the truth and not doing anything." Because it's the Terricks who are proud, right? Anais moves back toward the window, glaring out at the water. "I asked Papa to send Justin or Joseth to be a page for him. Once they're here, I'll cut off his poppy. Then we'll see if he gets a little more reasonable."
"Hrmph." It's a thoughtful sound. Sterling thinks a moment longer, and then comes up with, "If he does have a bit of sweet on the side, he's not likely to come crawling back to you, is he?" He sighs a bit, "If you don't trust him, and you don't like him, you haveta' make him need you. For something. If it's serving his needs, that'll work. If it's knowing everything that goes on, that'll work." The mention of cutting off the poppy causes him to frown, "You do that, he's like to hate you. Least, as long as it hurts."
"He already hates me. I might as well get some satisfaction out of it." Anais chews at one thumbnail, shoulders tense. "Would you follow him for me?" she asks, looking up. "Just for a little bit. Just to find out who it is." She pauses, then adds matter-of-factly: "So I can eliminate her."
Sterling ponders that, "I can be around now and then, Lady Terrick. Don't know how much good it'll do, since he doesn't know me from King Bob's hairy balls. Probably get suspicious of someone he doesn't know following him around." The faintest hint of a smile touches his face again, "'Course, he don't have to always see me. I'll do what I can."
"Thank you." Anais lets out a slow breath, crossing her arms over her chest again. "I'm so angry I can hardly think straight right now. I can't decide if I want to fix things, or run away, or just hurt him as much as I possibly can. But any of it starts with knowing what he's doing."
Sterling shakes his head, "You can't run away. Not unless the marriage is annulled." A frown flickers down his features, and then washes off again, "I don't think Lady Banefort'd like it if you got yourself disgraced and forced limp-dick to annul the marriage." Oh look, new nickname. "So then it's a question of fixing or hurting, isn't it, Lady Terrick?" Finally, he scratches at his chin, then examines his nails again, "Making him sick could help either way. Nurse him back to health if you want to fix it, or just keep his broken ass sick if you want to hurt him. That more what you wanted to hear?"
"/Me/ disgraced? He's the crippled addict," Anais replies bitingly. "As if that isn't reason enough." Tired, she reaches up to push a hand through her hair. "I have to deal with Lucienne and whoever else he's leaning on. Once they're gone, then I can take away the poppy and he'll have nowhere else to turn. I tried, Sterling. I tried to get him to love me. But if he won't…If it's him or me? I won't be pushed aside. I won't." She takes a deep breath, pushing away from the window. "I need to sleep. Thank you for coming. I suspect he'll try to take advantage of the tournament to enjoy whoever his other woman is, whether it's here or in Seagard. Watch him."
Sterling shrugs, "So life ain't fair." That's his only response to the comparison between crippled addict and a woman who's unfaithful or does something else stupid to get a marriage annulled. Still, he nods, "I won't bother here. I'd be noticed too quick, since he doesn't know me. At the tourney though. I'll follow him there. If he's fucking something else on the side, I'll find out who it is."
"Thank you." Anais moves toward the few candles in the room, pausing as she reaches the first. "You should go," she suggests. "It's going to be very dark in here shortly." And the furniture might get moved around. WELCOME HOME, JACSEN.
Sterling nods his head, "Dark's good." He nods again, almost a bow, and adds, "Enjoy, Lady Terrick." He can see the evil going on behind those eyes, and he's nto exactly complaining. The common knight turns and departs.