Page 169: Dark Words
Dark Words
Summary: Evangeline delivers ill news to Jacsen and Anais.
Date: 02/01/2012
Related Logs: Invasion logs
Anais Evangeline Jacsen 
Roof Terrace - Four Eagles Tower
This is open to the air except for the rookery at the opposite end of the open walkway. Parapets and crenellations are about.
January 2, 299

Since the Ironborn settled in outside the keep, Anais has mostly been in the kitchens and the storerooms, doing her best to ascertain what there is and run the figures on how best to ration them for the possibility of a siege. Once the numbers are finished, though, and people have been given what tasks suit them, she suddenly finds herself with much less to occupy her time. And so, in a moment of quiet, Anais has climbed the stairs to the roof. She stands on the side facing out toward the invaders, the better to see how they've arrayed their forces. One of her guards is nearby, and in addition to his usual gear, he also carries a bow and quiver. "What are they /doing/ here, Kincaid?" she sighs to the guard.

Evangeline, slim and shadowed in mourning black for her husband's lost brother, makes barely a sound as she climbs the roof, the scuff of soft slippers on stones and the shift of silk skirts the only warning. That is, until she speaks to Kincaid herself, commanding politely, "If you would excuse us a moment, I need speak with my gooddaughter alone."

"Same thing as always, Anais," the guard answers with a shake of his head. "Taking what they can." He straightens somewhat when Evangeline approaches, looking to Anais at the request. "I'm not sure that's the best idea right now, my lady," she says slowly, catching her lower lip between her teeth. "Would it be all right if he stood over by the stars?" she asks.

"If you think that is necessary, Lady Anais, though what I mean to speak is for the ears of the family only," Evangeline answers, mild in her yielding to the younger lady's wishes. She inclines a slight nod to the guard to indicate that such should be done, a smile held briefly in her lips as she steps towards the parapet, wind catching at curls as she peers over towards the length of Ironborn camped around.

"Kincaid knows how not to listen," Anais assures, earning a faint smile from the guard, who does indeed move away toward the doors. She even moves a little further down the parapets herself, increasing the space between them and the guard. Once there's a decent distance, she looks to the other woman, carefully scanning her features. "How are you, my lady?" she asks softly. "This has been your home far longer than it has been mine. I can only imagine it's difficult to see all of this."

It's not long after the women encounter one another that yet another Terrick emerges onto the rooftop, though this one leans heavily upon a cane and yet still wears his breastplate, and further still a sword buckled to his left hip. Jacsen moves with confident motions, despite his injured leg, and makes towards his wife and his mother when he spots them.

Something almost sad dances wildly for a moment in Evangeline's dark gaze, focused intently on the men arranged below. Her lips lift in a tight smile, however, and she replies slowly, carefully, "I worry little for the stone and walls of this hall. It is more difficult facing what has happened to Revyn, what may happen to my children, my husband, our family." Her attention is arrested away by Jacsen's approach, lifted back towards something stronger, firmer, more motherly. "My dear, have you come to see your wife?"

"Death is kind sometimes, my lady," Anais murmurs to Evangeline, and from the light touch at the other woman's arm, it's clear she means to be reassuring, in her own grim way. "It seems he fell in battle, and there are worse ends for a knight. As for our family…" She draws a deep breath, but whatever she might say is cut short by Jacsen's arrival. "Jacsen," she smiles faintly.

"As for our family…" Jacsen repeats as he nears the women, his gaze questioning of his wife. Though he does not leave the question to hang in the air, instead answering as he looks to his mother and back to Anais, "Our family shall endure. As shall this seat, and Terrick Honor." His chin rises a fraction, his pride and determination showing through. "I'd heard I might find her here, but it is nothing that cannot wait, my lady," he tells his mother after he's taken a breath, answering her question. "Am I interrupting?"

"No, not at all, Jacsen. I have some news that your father and I thought should be shared among the family before we decide what should be known by others," Evangeline admits with quiet resolve, her fingers lifting to lightly settle on her son's arm as he draws close, the gesture an easily inclusive one. "Ser Aeric has sent a raven from Lannisport. While they are alive, it has been sacked and the Lannister fleet has been destroyed. There will be no help coming from the West." The words thrum with tension, delivered flat and quickly as if the sooner they are rid of, the sooner they will disappear.

"/What/?" The color disappears from Anais' cheeks at Evangeline's news, her hand on the stone of the wall clenching. "That's not- That's impossible. There are over two hundred ships in the western fleet, Lord Tywin, Casterly Rock, how could-" She presses her lips together tightly, all the better to keep the rising panic trapped inside.

Jacsen blinks once, and then twice, before he draws the inevitable steadying breath that greets that news. "Seven," he starts with, turning from his wife and mother and towards the parapet, a hand coming out much like Anais' to leverage him against the smooth stone. "The whole of the fleet, destroyed? How could that be? Not even the whole of the Iron Islands could not field ships to defeat the Golden Fleet. And Greyjoy has sent his banners across the coast…" He shakes his head again, processing this most dire of news.

"I do not know how, nor why, but only that it means we cannot expect the relief of the Warden of the West," Evangeline murmurs, her lips tightening against the inevitable weakening of her resolve, the sting of tears in dark eyes. "I do not believe we should tell anyone. It is why I so requested your Kincaid away, found you up here. The more tongues that know, the more damage such news can do."

"I don't understand." Anais leans back against the stone, brows furrowed in shock and confusion. "It's just- It's not possible. Where would they get the ships? The men? No one beats Lord Tywin. Maybe Ser Aeric is mistaken. Maybe the fleet's just already sailed." She closes her eyes tightly, pressing a hand to her brow. "This changes everything."

"No. It changes nothing," Jacsen affirms, his hand upon the battlement curling into a slow fist. "We only wait now for the Tully banners, and if we count ourselves fortunate, assistance from Stonebridge and the Mire. Whatever Lord Rickart's hatred of my Lord Father, he cannot risk the entrenchment of reavers so close…" He breathes through his nose, using a combination of logic and willful thinking to help him through the moments after that news is delivered, feeling as it does so much like a punch to the stomach.

"Longer still, if we must wait for King Robert to gather forces and come to our aid, but no, it changes only that we must hold for longer," Evangeline answers in quiet agreement to her son, her fingers lifting to settle on his fist lightly as she looks to Anais with—yes, it's a flicker of concern. "We must set our minds to keeping our garrison intact for however long we must wait."

"Tully," Anais echoes, soft. "If the Western Fleet has fallen, we can assume the Banefort has been besieged as well. I doubt we can expect aid from Father." She's quiet, though, trying to sort through the options. "I calculated the stores on the assumption that we might be under siege as long as two months. I knew this was a possibility. I just thought they'd be busy with more important places, rather than that the whole Western Fleet…" She trails off, taking a deep breath. "It's fine. It's an opportunity. We'll fight off the Ironborn, build a shipyard, and build a new fleet for the realm. It's an opportunity." At least that's what she's going with, apparently.

A sliver of the tension seems to leave Jacsen's shoulders as he looks back towards his mother and his wife. "It would take King Robert what, a month to bring the banners to bear here? Surely he will march first to relieve Seaguard, but even a fraction of strength could break the backs of the Ironborn here. No, we mustn't surrender to any despair in this. We must refuse to do so."

There is a nod, a mild incline of Evangeline's head in her ever superior gestures as she agrees, "When one stone crumbles, the others must fall. Any relief will do us all good." She pauses, flickering her steady gaze from son to gooddaughter. "And of the news? What do you suggest?"

Anais grimaces at Evangeline's question. "I'd rather not tell people," she agrees. "But the Ironborn aren't going to sit quietly outside the walls, either. And if they get word that the fleet's been destroyed and choose to shout it at the walls, it's going to hit harder than if it comes from us. And if the people find out that we know and didn't tell them, then they'll lost trust in us, and that will just degrade morale further."

Where his wife grimaces, Jacsen does not flinch. "Hope built on a lie can be easily broken, and almost impossible to repair. It might burn brighter than hope built on this truth… We are just, we are vigilant. I may not step out into the courtyard and shout the news, but neither will I hide it." He looks to his mother. "They already know the situation is dire, it's their faith in us that sustains them. I would not break that for anything."

"Tell who you will. I trust in the both of your judgment," Evangeline answers mildly, her eyes flickering closed for a brief moment as she draws in a breath before straightening away. "I have my own inventory to return to of our stores. I will leave you two to a moment together." And with that, she turns, she retreats.

"Thank you for bringing the word, Lady Evangeline," Anais says softly, looking up with a small smile. "I know it can't have been easy to hold the knowledge yourself." She reaches up to brush a piece of hair out of her eyes, half-turning toward the sea. "Oh, and I've left my figures with Lewin," she adds. "If you'd like to look them over."

Jacsen reaches out for his mother's hand before she can retreat away, seeking to squeeze it if she will let him. "I promise you, my lady, my last breath will be in defense of my family and my people. I will not fail you," he swears.

Evangeline does, lingering that brief moment with a soft smile cast towards her son, until she's all polite Lady of the Roost again with a nod to her gooddaughter. "Thank you. I will be sure to review them," she says simply, before she disappears down the stairs.

Anais watches Evangeline go, remaining silent for a long moment after the other woman is gone. Eventually, she turns to face the stones, looking out toward the sea. "We must be missing something," she murmurs, fists clenched. "There just can't be that /many/ of them. How can they be everywhere at once?"

"They have united around Greyjoy, that much is certain," Jacsen observes after a long moment. "It would not be so dire had we reason to suspect this. Raids, yes, but something of this magnitude, Anais…" He shakes his head a fraction. "I cannot imagine how they would think this wise, or something that could succeed. Even if they managed to defeat us…" He turns, and stands beside his wife, looking out over the muchly changed landscape of a besieged Roost.

Anais considers for a long moment, then looks back to Jacsen. "They don't expect to succeed much more than this," she realizes. "They…They only want what I was proposing we do for some of the people near my home. They want the coastal lands, a little inland. But mostly they want something more productive than their rocks. They don't have to take the whole kingdom, Jace." Closing her eyes, she shakes her head, pressing her brow to the stones of the wall. "Just our part."

He shakes his head. "No." Jacsen seems firm in that, certain for the sake of his wife, and perhaps for his own sake as well. "This is a breach of the King's Peace, a direct blow to his authority. I cannot believe that King Robert would forsake us, Anais, not after how faithful we were to him. Neither with his rule so young. If Greyjoy can decide he will no longer bow to the Iron Throne, than who next? Sunspear? Highgarden? It cannot stand. It will not stand."

"I don't disagree," Anais says quietly, still leaning against the wall. "But it's going to be a challenge to the unity of the kingdoms in and of itself. Sunspear. Highgarden. Casterly Rock. They may well question why they should fight for the Riverlands. And it will take /time/. Time in which the Ironborn can take some castles and fortify them for themselves." She shifts, moving to sit there on the roof, her hands clasped in front of herself. "So we have to hold. Either until reinforcements reach us, or until Greyjoy calls these men back to reinforce /him/."

Blue eyes shift from the relative darkness of the besieged village below to favor his wife. "We shall hold, Anais," Jacsen insists, seeming to have accepted that, offering the assurance more for her than for himself. He reaches a hand out to cover hers. "I will not let them have you."

"They won't." Anais' hand turns to take his, her grip firm. "They'll never have me. I'll die first." She looks up at him, then slowly pushes herself back to her feet. "I'm sorry, Jacsen. I'm supposed to be strong. I'm a Banefort. I'm supposed to be brave, and unwavering, and support /you/."

His smile is without humor, though it carries a touch of warmth. "You are supposed to be my lady wife," Jacsen recalls as he squeezes his wife's fingers. "And a poor lord husband I would be, did I not find the opportunity to reassure my own bride." He draws her hand close enough to kiss. "Come, let us see what rest can be found, before something else demands our attention?"

Anais warms to his kiss, pressing her cheek to his shoulder afterwards. "Very wise of you, Jacsen," she murmurs, sighing. "Though I don't know if I can sleep. Not right now, with so much going on." She twists just enough to look out beyond the walls, brows lowering in a glare. "I wish I could fight them. I wish I could /hurt/ them."