|Fit To Bear Seal|
|Summary:||Lucienne and Justin speak upon a few matters, including who should bear Lord Jerold's seal.|
|Related Logs:||There will be, at some point.|
|Entrance Hall, Four Eagles Tower|
|The Entrance Hall is more than two dozen feet high with ornate columns hefting the fresco ceiling above all. Plush seating is arranged around one side for visiting nobility while the other has less comfortable slab stone or wood benches for the peasantry. Alcoves dot the walls for more private discussions and sworn Guards patrol this hall at all times and especially during court. Several hallways and doorways lead off to different areas of the castle with a spiral staircase carved neatly into one corner that winds its way up.|
The sun is high outside, a lovely summer's day by all accounts. With the party from tourney mostly home now, and Lord Jerold intending on holding court on the morrow, the castle is a-bustle with activity; maids straightening this or that, knights polishing arms and armor, lords and ladies primping and parading. It has been long months since the sound of Lucienne's harp filled the high hall at Terrick's Roost, and despite her fondness for sad and haunting melodies, she's currently plucking an uplifting tune. Every so often, someone or other will pause nearby her seat on the nicer side of the hall to listen and smile as the girl all-in-black plays.
As is usual for him, Justin's been out most of the day in the town of Terrick's Roost, overseeing what he can of the rebuilding, making lists of things that are needed but lacking, ararnging to find and lend out what things can be substituted. It's been a hot day and indeed, the sun has been high and bright. As the day begins to wane into late afternoon or early evening, Justin finally walks back to the tower.
He enters the hall now, his black doublet removed and wearing a thin, off white tunic much dampened with sweat now mostly dried. His dark hair is tossled, his boots without spurs dusty. The sound of the harp at once stops him to look for Lady Tiaryn, half expecting to see her here within the hall, pale grey eyes to settle upon Lucienne instead. A passing server's arm is nabbed, Justin's baritone quietly asking for something to quench his dried throat.
The tempo of the song picks up a little, slender fingers twigging string after string in rapid succession as the melody crescendoes; Lucienne is lost to her harp for a moment, her eyes closing and a small, content smile spreading across her lips. She draws a breath in as she plays the highest note, and holds it all through a long, dramatic pause, before expelling it and opening her eyes as she begins to play again. That's when she notes Justin's entrance, craning her neck and lifting her brows as she tries to garner his attention without interrupting her tune.
The server goes off to the kitchen to find something suitable, and suitably watered down of course since supplies are rationed. Even drink. Justin stands there watching her and as he's about half dressed and doesn't know Lucianne as well as he used to, he shrugs his doublet back on to be somewhat more presentable. He doesn't quite go so far as to fasten the brass eagle clasps of the otherwise plain garment, the clasps dully gleaming to match the pommels of his blades. Walking across the hall at his leisure, Justin sets his hands loosely behind his back and smiles a little at her playing. He doesn't seem inclined to interrupt her melody.
The melody plays on, and on, for another minute or so, finally ending on a high note that drifts about the hall airily. Lucienne flexes her fingers, sending a brief look down to her reddened fingertips before smling again up at her brother. "My lord, brother," she says, with every effort made to be warm. "Have you a moment to sit with me? I shouldn't like to keep you long." There's room on the bench seat next to her and the harp.
A few people are bustling through the hall, including the server who brings a tray with a pitcher of watered wine and two cups. Justin indicates where to set them so he may pour for himself, and for Lucienne if she cares for any, "My lady, sister," he replies eveningly, though it sounds more formal than warm in wording, if not tone. Her brother might look fainly amused, "Certainly. Do you care for a cup ere I do?" If Lucienne does, Justin will pour her one as well, and if not, so be it. He takes a seat where indicated and drains half his cup in the first draught before he lets out a slow breath, "Hot out there today."
Justin adds quietly, "Quite a nice surprise to hear you playing, when I walked in."
"Please," returns Lucienne when offered a drink, nodding her head gently. She takes her cup from Justin, sipping demurely. "It has been particularly warm today," she agrees, eyes drifting briefly down to her wine before lifting again. "It was… my fingertips sting for the effort, but I've missed sitting here in this hall. The music echoes so beautifully. Any progress to report?"
Justin tastes his own cup once more before lowering it and glancing over the hall, "Well, yet another screw used to bore dowel holes broke. We're in need of a better smith than we have to make new ones. We can set timber beams with dovetail notches instead of dowels but it takes more time to cut them. The shipment of stone we were expecing is late. The storm was rough at sea adn there's worry the ship that was bringing it in was damaged and laid up." Justin muses, idly looking down at his calloused hands, "Plenty of fields fallow and ready to plant if we had the seed or the oxen, but we haven't. I wish Lady Anais was back. I need to go over some of the books with her to judge how long our supplies will last yet." He pauses for a few seconds before Justin glances to her, "Lady Muirenn plays the dulcimer sometimes but there's been far too little music."
Lucienne nods, her smile dulling to a thin, forced-cheer sort of thing. "I… would be happy to go over those books with you in the Lady Anais' absence, Justin. Our lady mother, Gods rest her, used to take me through them often before…" That sentence is cut off with a gulp, and Luci moves on quickly. "Lord Jerold will be holding court tomorrow. I had hoped to press an answer from him on the Groves surplus, but even with one forthcoming we may be too late. Did you have other concerns to address with him?"
He's a bit tired, smells of sweat and could use a bath. Justin leans back and reaches over to pour himself a refill into his cup, "I spoke with Ser Kittridge ere we departed the Tournament. He gave us three days to get an answer back to him. I told him I would, a yes or a no. And if I can't get it back to him in time, he's selling the surplus to the Naylands. Which needless to say, complicates things for us should we be unable to obtain the supplies we and funds we require elsewhere. These things can take months, and it's cutting it pretty thin if father turns down their surplus. Really, even if we accepted and traded some portion of former Groves land back for it, can we make an arrangement for additional shipments in the coming year? And not just for food, but we also need planting seed, many teams of oxen, and well … we lost so many smallfolk to the Ironborn, we are simply short handed in abled bodied men." He's been over this sooo many times, Justin lifts a hand to rub over his face and especially to remove grit from his eyes and brows, "Hmmm.. lots of things to discuss." Lowering his hand, he draws a slow breath to continue, "There's the Nayland offer of betrothal. I rather expect father might be interested in how I feel about that. Or perhaps not." Justin glances aside at his sister, "And there's been an offer to take me on as squire. But I would be leaving the Roost again to do that. At least for a little while. And lastly, I need to ask him if he wishes for me to ride south to bespeak Lord Tully himself about a loan. To help us get back on our feet. We probably need it whether we accept the Groves offer or not, unless … the betrothal goes through and Roslyn comes with a sizable dowry."
Lucienne, on the other hand, is clean and smells faintly of honeysuckle. She allows herself to lean slightly against the back of the seat, making sure to keep her shoulders from slumping. "The Lord Riordan offered me insult, the morning before we left," she shares quietly. "If he continues to try and negotiate an alliance the way he approached me, we can kiss the Lady Roslyn's dowry goodbye. Justin, I - I fear for our House." Dark, wide eyes blink up owlishly at her brother, and Lucienne frowns. "Jacsen barely makes an appearance lately, while his lady wife courts impropriety. This deal with the Groves should have been struck months ago." She searches her brother's face a long moment, before wondering quietly, "I can trust you?"
He probably could be a bit more concise and less rambling if he wasn't so tired. But an hour or so of rest away from the heat, and some hydration, should perk him back up for whatever lays ahead in the evening. For now, Justin tips his head back against the walk, easing his legs out to get as comfortable as he might as he idly watches folk passing through the hall. Mostly getting ready for the evening repast, and tomorrow's gathering. "Of course if we do not accept the Groves offer, any other house's supplies must come from inland. Which means, it has to pass through Stonebridge and be tariffed and taxed. Perhaps very heavily, if the betrothal falls through."
Justin stops when she speaks and he stiffens where he sits. He gathers himself to sit up, "Offered you insult, how?" For a breath he's distracted by that remark.
Luci's brows knit, tension ticking in her jaw at the thought of taxes and tariffs. There's no release when she's pressed for details of the Stonebridge Regent's insult, and she huffs out a breath of displeasure through her nose. "He came upon me, and started regaling me with tales of how our Lord father started this whole rift, openly speaking against Lord Jerold, and I requested he stay his tongue. He continued, and as I took further offense he lost his temper and called me childish. The whole conversation was… it was uncalled for, Justin, and it was unwise on his part. He apologised, but only after I cautioned him a second time."
Well of course Justin pays close attention to what Lucienne says. Men have challenged one another to fight over insulting of a lady, and especially one's sister. "But he did apologize and bother you no more?" As if he better have! Justin scowls a little darkly before he sips his wine. He then says, "For a Nayland, I almost like Ser Riordan. But Seven help me, I won't abide him insulting you, Lucienne. I'm glad he apologized." That's all they'd need right now. Justin shifts his jaw around, leaning back to try and relax once more. He looks pointedly at Lucienne, "Why do you ask if you can trust me? Whatever else I might be, I'm your brother, Luci. I would hope that if I needed your confidence, you'd keep mine, and I yours. Assuming the matter wasn't damaging to do so."
"He apologised, and I… left him to think about his actions," Lucienne responds, her lashes falling to hide a glimmer of pride in her eyes. She lifts her cup for a sip, and flutters her lashes back open. "I don't believe it worth pursuing, as yet. But I will be making mention of it to Lord Jerold." She draws in a deep breath next, working up to answering that last question. "I don't need you to keep a secret," she says, then measures her breath out as a gentle sigh. "But I do need your confidence, Justin. At court tomorrow. Do you have faith in me?"
Justin frowns, watching Lucienne, "That depends. You'll have to appraise me in detail before I can determine my agreement or not. I will agree to nothing, blindly." He likewise sips his wine, now waiting to hear her out.
Lucienne was clearly worried about that, says the slight downturn at the corners of her mouth. "Very well," she says, then draws another sip from her cup. "Jacsen grows more and more frail, his leg troubling him worse every day. I fear he is in no state of mind to be making decisions, as this Groves matter has shown. Tomorrow at court, when the time is right, I would ask our Lord father to consider relieving our pained brother of his duties as seal bearer." There's barely a pause as Lucienne lifts her cup to her mouth and adds over the top of it: "And assign his seal to me, instead."
"To … you?" Justin tries and perhaps manages to keep a rather unreadable expression, "And do you have vast experience carrying out such duties to warrant such a request? You have been gone to MiddleMarch for a good while, Lucienne. And you are not likely to remain here more than another year, maybe two at most, ere you are married into another House." It has to be admitted that he sounds … skeptical. A pause to set his glass of wine aside for the moment, "Jacsen may be ailing. However, that is in large part I am told, due to our being unable to currently obtain certain medicinals. Which is a temporary problem." Studying Lucienne, her brother very faintly frowns, "You are asking a lot, when I do not know what you have done in the past for this house, as concerns very important administration. I should think that father will also question this, and what you would do as reguards to other Houses and our current concerns."
Lucienne drains her cup, and nestles in down in her lap. She smiles sweetly up at her brother as he questions her suitability, in contrast to his frown. "When Jacsen was well enough to act in his capacity, it was me he would come to, for advice. I played a vital part in smoothing over Jaremy's indiscretions with Oldstones, and have spent time making peace in Stonebridge. I know plenty about administration, thanks to our late Lady mother - Gods rest her - and I would not expect the assigment to be permanent; once Jacsen's health returns, or an offer is made and accepted for my hand in marriage, obviously I would depart the position." She draws a long breath, and allows herself a sigh. "You've been gone long years, Justin, but with Jacsen so ill and the rest fled from our House, it is you I must needs turn to for support. Help me do this, and I promise you, we'll turn our House's fortunes around together."
Justin has been gone long years. He scrapes a hand through his dark hair and lets out a breath in a slow sigh, "I don't know, Lucienne. I hardly know you anymore. Not that you know me any better. I should think if you ask father and he says yes, then aye. I will do what I can to support you. So long as your decisions are sound and fair, else I won't hesitate to tell you if I think you are wrong. However, as you are far more recently returned even than I am, I can hardly throw my support in with you without having a chance to observe how you handle things for a while. I think it would be better if you waited."
Lucienne's shoulders droop, right around the word 'waited'. Her whole expression changes, and the light in her eyes snuffs right out. "Waited," she repeats. "Waited. Do you see what waiting has brought us, Justin? Waiting is the problem, not the solution. We're waiting for Jacsen to get better, waiting for a windfall, waiting for an audience, waiting for an alliance, waiting for our luck to change, waiting to see how I handle things… you can wait all you like, as the members of our House seem so fond of doing. I intend to act." With a disappointed frown, she gestures for a nearby guard to shift her harp.
That makes his gaze sharpen upon her, "Aye, and you'll find that I agree with you upon that. However, at the same time, I do not believe in being foolishly brash. I haven't the faintest idea how you wish to treat up on these topics, other than we agree about the Groves harvest. I'm not so sure I agree with your suggestion of betrothing to Ser Kittridge. I was mistaken about him being heir to his house - he has an older brother." Justin makes a dismissive gesture to that detail, "With everything else we need to focus on and push through now, you can wait a month or two. You haven't even unpacked your bags or been here a single day since your return, yet. Let alone had time to catch up on all that concerns our House, Luci. Even with my /lack/ of administration I'd have to say that I'm probably better suited to what you propose than you are. If you are well suited, then show father and myself that you are, Lucienne. Rather than going into a childish pout. Convince us. Convince me."
"I'm not in a childish pout," Lucienne quips back. The guard who moves to shift her harp is obviously experienced with such, as he is gentle with the instrument. "In one breath you demonstrate a severe lack in your heraldry, brother, and in the next presume to tell me you're more fit to bear seal than I? Perhaps it is you who needs work on his argument, dear Justin." She spends a moment softening her manner, trying to sound reasonable. "I have been informing the decisions of this household for years now, while you've been squiring - and you mention you may be off again shortly, for just that. Are you truly more suited to it?"
Just because he was misinformed as to who was currently designate heir to a house he'd hardly had cause to think of until recently? Justin only looks at her levelly, "I wasn't the least bit serious in my qualifications to hold the Seal. I'm not qualified, and wasn't really claiming to be so. But for all I know, you aren't. I do not mean you offense, Lucienne. I am merely stating that I think it's father's decision and I can't throw in my support without having a little time to see what sort of person you are for myself. I think that's a very reasonable request on my part." He moves to stand, finishing off his second cup of watered wine before placing the goblet upon the tray as though preparing to depart.
Lucienne sighs, long and deliberate. "Justin," she says, pushing to her feet to follow with her last-ditch effort. "You hardly know Jacsen, either," she points out, "But you've seen how he's fared. Our standing amongst the noble houses of the Riverlands is suffering, and not just for a dip in wealth. I had hoped you'd feel differently. I could help you win Roslyn. This way, we could help each other. I just… I want to help. This is the way I know how to help."
He stops and turns, looking at his sister. "Is the Lady Roslyn some prize to be won? /If/ I had some personal feelings upon the matter, they are nothing compared to doing my duty to my house, Lucienne. I remember Jacsen and he was sound enough of mind before. While I agree that I would like to see this house more pro-active and less … sitting on our hands, there certainly could be worse." Justin steps back to his sister and if she will let him, he'd take up Lucienne's small, slender hands into his own. He stands quietly before her, tired and soiled from his day's efforts, "I intend to press him myself upon matters. None of this is about me, or you. It is about our House, Lucienne. And what ails it we need to fix together, aye. Ask him and let us see what he says. Then if he wishes to know where I stand upon your request, I will answer him honestly, Lucienne. Until then, I'll sleep on it, all right?"
Lucienne gives her hands to Justin, her fingers still red and tingling from all that harping. "I'm not asking on some selfish whim," she insists quietly. "I want to help, before I'm sold off somewhere. These are my people, you are my family, I don't want to sit by any longer and see us ruined. Go," she urges, pushing gently. "Take your ease, brother. And take a bath - I'll see one drawn for you. We'll see what tomorrow brings."
That makes him twist his mouth, smiling down at his petit Luci, "In that I am selfish - I do want and need a bath." A pause to draw his breath before Justin adds quietly, "We'll speak again tomorrow if there is time. I would know how you stand upon several matters yet. And then perhaps." Gently he gives her fingers a squeaze, then he turns to head upstairs.