|Games Men Play|
|Summary:||Isolde tells Josse about the other part of the Gedeon incident, and Ryker walks in at a very bad time.|
|Related Logs:||Sibling Rivalry|
|Isolde's Chambers at Tordane Tower|
|Some room. It's nice in here.|
|Mon Aug 01, 288|
As she had wished it, Isolde had Milicent send for the Septon and poor Josse now sits in the room. Lady Nayland of Stonebridge moves around the foreign room that as once her mother and father's - now her's. The roses are shedding petals from the vases and as she comes around the bed, she reaches to take up the small King's Guard figure that was setting on the bed side table. Turning it in her hand, she is still silent for a moment or two before she offers a smile to him.
"Do you remember my half brother Gedeon?" She asks of Josse, brushing a thumb over the figurine.
Finding Josse was not difficult. Someone in the Tordane household had granted the tired septon a place to rest after he'd come on bidding from Lady Igara the night before, their conversation stretching into the evening hours. He stands quite still in Isolde's room, his hands clasped neutrally behind his back as he watches her and the figurine. "In all honesty I had not, my Lady," he replies, his voice carrying a slight tinge of reserve. "Not until two days ago."
"I am sure the news of it is spreading rapidly…" Isolde intones and then turns the figurine over in her hand. A moment of uncertainty and her lips press together. "He brought news that gives me reason to think I should speak with my husband on the matter." A weariness enters her gaze. "This will gravely effect us both should there be any truth…and I may not be the Lady he thinks I am." Her fingers squeeze over the figure and she sits on the edge of the bed, head bowing to look at the details of the figurine for a slight distraction. "My half brother brought word…he brought letters from my father's hand before his death. Letters that put into question…my legitmacy.."
Something clicks in Josse's blue eyes — or at least attempts to, but in the end leaves him still with the knitted brow of confusion. And not just a little bit of shock, his chin lifting a fraction. "Seven bless," he says under his breath, the air stung by words that have the tone of something far less gentlemanly. His eyes narrow slightly, a pause for a moment. "Yesterday," he says, tensely, as if braiding something together now. "This was yesterday, was it not."
Ryker had already left, right? Something about needing to speak with someone at the square. Apparently he did not need to speak that long because he opens the door the rest of the way just in time to hear 'question…my legitimacy'. Like most men hearing that, gears turn in his head. Systems begin flashing red lights. Klaxons go off. He takes a few more steps after the door closes and he looks to Isolde. Yesterday? He got married yesterday. His face clouds over and the man looks between them. Some men might explode and demand to know what is being discussed. They might shake their new wives until the truth spills out. Ryker? Ryker just stares at his wife.
At the question of yesterday, Isolde lifts her head, "Yes, Josse…" Her back to the door, she has yet to see Ryker, but her skin prickles from his stare. "He brought letters to my father's grave. He said that my father claimed me as not his…at first..I felt the loss…" she lets out a long breath, "But then I felt the anger as he asked me to reveal this…he wanted Stonebridge…he wanted my home. This is all I have ever wanted. I…" She starts to shift and then she turns to try to look at Josse when she sees the other shadow. She freezes, her heart leaping to her throat and slowly her head lifts further to meet Ryker's gaze and her mouth opens, parting as her brows furrow. She looks to Josse than back at Ryker before she is to her feet as swiftly as she can be, turning fully with a sweep of skirts, the bed safely between them as she clutches the figurine in both hands.
Josse has his mouth open to respond when Isolde's demeanor changes so and he turns quickly on his heel, his body instantly tensed with the reflexive expectation of — something other than Ryker, but just as potentially dangerous. For a moment it's just his own heartbeat thudding in his ears before he can even hear his own voice. "Young Lord Ryker." The septon turns around, not quite putting his entire back to Isolde but mostly facing the Nayland now, his hand lifting in the air with palm facing the man. "Stay yourself. If there is a matter here let it not be made worse by anyone in this room."
Ryker crosses his arms, just watching the pair. Eyes move between them. That cloudy face remains. He appears to be waiting to hear more. …and sooner would be better. "That would now be Lord Ryker." That seems to be all he has to say, eyes merely glancing at Josse before settling once more on his wife. Why is it people always whisper at moments like this?
There is no more 'should I tell' - this was blundered in to. Isolde does not take her gaze from Ryker until she can not bare his glance any longer. Her head turns and her cheeks flush with color. "My Lord Husband.." Intones the the Lady before she looks to Josse. Slowly she comes around the bed and towards the Septon's back. The figurine is gripped in one hand alone and she lifts her other to touch Josse lightly and let him know she is there. "There is a matter we need to speak of.." She addresses Ryker directly, straightening. She turns away from them both and moves to her low dresser of drawers, lifting cover of the book Josse made for her, she withdraws the letters she took from Gedeon.
Josse ignores Ryker's correction, saying nothing. His hand stays up as it is until Isolde touches his arm and then it lowers to his side. Sharp attention stays on the man for a while — when he looks away to Isolde again his head starts to turn long before his eyes do. The sight of the letters in her possession make one dark brow arch sharply but for the moment the septon says nothing, leaving the air between husband and wife unguarded.
Ryker just watches from the same place in the room, staring at his wife. Waiting. In silence. His eyes slowly turret towards Josse, watching the man to see if there is anything from him. Nope? Eyes methodically move back towards his wife and her letters.
Hesitantly she holds them to her and Isolde peels away the top one. Her steps bring her back to the two and slowly she extend the top one to Ryker. "My Lord.." She whispers and holds the others to her chest as she does not let her eyes fall. "My half-brother brought this…delivered it to me yesterday at my father's grave." She draws slow breaths but it is obvious despite her conversations, she is still overtaken by the news. The sound of the letters she holds yet crinkle as she holds them tightly. "It is with the Tordane seal..in my father's hand. My mother denies it.." Her voice remains soft, allowing Ryker to read the letter.
"Madness," Josse says under his breath, finally. The septon breaks from the trio to pace a few steps away, walking at a controlled pace. When he turns around again, slowly, he extends a hand palm up towards the letters. "Why give those to you, Lady Isolde? There are a hundred hands that would be on their knees to beg for such papers as this, why just hand them over this way?"
"At your father's grave." What he meant to say was 'before the wedding'. Ryker stares at Isolde for a moment after the letter is extended and he reaches out to take it. Just long enough to make someone wonder if he is actually going to read it. He holds it in one hand and reads it. Twice. In silence. He lifts the seal to look it over before lowering the letter to look between the two. "Valda denies it. But you believe it?" His head tilts evvver so slowly to crack his neck. The sound nearly echoes off the stone walls. "Who knows about this?" He watches Josse pace for a moment and looks back to Isolde as if she could supply him an answer. The man's dark features are slowly turning red. The vein at his left temple is starting to become visible. Ryker..is getting angry.
Josse's question draws the Lady's head up slowly. "He let me read them…but I took them from him…he tried to stop me. When he first gave them to me, he said we could burn them. But he seemed so insistant for them.." She states. "The way he acted…the…I grew angry at him. I told my brother I didn't believe him. I was selfish…I was scared. If I am not Geoffrey Tordane's daughter, who am I?" She asks, the edge of her voice growing sharper as the old worries from the day before until Ryker speaks. "I don't know what to believe.., my Lord Husband." She thinks on who knows. "Besides us…my mother. Ser Jarod Terrick…Gedeon must have told him the other evening. But Jarod has not spoke of it..but in his council I would be better to be a Rivers than a Lady. To give up Stonebridge and my people…"
Jarod too? Josse's eyes flicker towards Isolde's dressing table, distracted by some memory, then he looks back at the two nobles. "I do not understand your half-brother, Lady Isolde, gods help me. He brings you this news on your wedding day and talks of burning them, yet has already spread word of them. Their truth or not aside for the moment, what in earth and sky does he want from this?"
"Probably the only copies." Ryker just says it as if it were an off-handed remark. He reads the letter a third time. "So Ser Jarod decided that he was going to support this? And try and get involved in an internal dispute by convincing the woman I was to marry that she should give up everything for a piece of paper." Ryker nods a few times and slowly settles the letter on the table in front of him. "Isolde? I will ask you to stop referring to this man as your brother because, sparing you the details, he is fucking dead. Make your peace for him. The Septon is here." Utterly the picture of calm except for the slowly building redness to his face. There is only the gesture to Josse before he addresses the question. "I'll tell you what this is. This is a fake document produced just in the nick of time to prevent an action that he stands to gain from stopping. Where has he been the last five years? Who has he been with? What has he been looking into? Does he hold malice against the houses Tordane or Nayland? And most importantly, and I ask because of Jarod, is he working with the Terricks who likely have access to old copies of Tordane documents and their seals."
Isolde's gaze flickers to Josse and she slowly nods her head in agreement. "I found it distressing how he changed…but I can tell you..to see such a thing. How could I not doubt?" But as Ryker then speaks her head comes about to look at him and though they have not spent a lot of time together, she can note the look of anger bubbling. Her chin lifts at his request and the Lady swallows. "Do not do anything rash…if I thought this real completely..the documents would have been burned and I would have the sworn take him. But …to do so condemns me. He has shared with others…my only thought is that the action would keep Stonebridge from Nayland hands." And in truth, she had considered it. Her gaze drops quickly as she thinks back to Jarod, the letters in her hand pressed to her chest.
Josse gives Ryker an odd look somewhere in the middle of the man's speech. He folds his arms, listening to the Lord finish and then the Lady. "If Jarod knows, then all the Terricks know. If you two know, then the Naylands know. Killing him means you might cut off a little further rumor to the smallfolk around, but as for ears capable of commanding men to shed blood over the matter, the damage is done." For as still as he is, his voice carries an edge. "Whatever happens to this Gedeon is not the biggest problem."
"Do not do anything rash? You mean, perhaps, like forge documents that would bastardize my sister for the sake of my own ascension from.. some unknown past of questionable activity? That sort of 'rash'? No, this man will spend the rest of his natural life in fucking pain for trying to dethrone nobility." Ryker's anger is starting to surface. Its edging into his voice. But the last from Isolde seems to finally boil it over. He kicks the chair sideways and levels his finger at Isolde. "No!" he barks. "That is not the only action. This ruins you for the rest of your life and would destroy the hopes of any children you might have! You could very easily be left with nothing while this unknown cock swaggers into your town and takes your tower from you to rule your people however he see's fit?!" he roars. "How completely convenient is that?" He takes a steadying breath, calming slightly. "You are no bastard, Isolde. But if you want to roll over and die on this and give up Stonebridge because some fucking whelp made up a lie with a seal, then quit now Isolde. I'll default this marriage for you. Because this will not get easier. You stand or you fall, but you fight for the woman you want to be." He's daring her. The man very likely means every word of what comes next. "My wife or a peasant? But be warned: I will not be wed to a quitter." He then looks to Josse and shakes his head. "Maybe. Maybe not. The point is, Septon, that this man is attempting to dethrone a noble through fraud. That is a crime that cannot go unpunished. They will be warned to keep their distance from this lest we begin to believe they had a hand in it… Which Ser Jarod seems to support with his attitude towards my wife." True or not, the accusation could be made.
Isolde flushes with color as Ryker tells her to stop referring to Gedeon as her brother. "I have lost my father and my brother, Gedeon is the only sibling I have left and whether or not he has ill intent in this..he is still that, my brother. I would no sooner ask you to stop referring to your father as he is or the like. I can not change what is done and so he is yet, my brother. And Josse is right, you kill him, rumors seem truth. If we react as you wish…" She shakes her head and keeps the three letters of personal correspondence from her father to her mother closely to her. But the Lady holds her tongue as the Young Lord suddenly erodes and lashes out. The chair being kicked startles her and she jumps back, the letters in her hand crushed as she stares, her eyes widening. Her heart rushes and a gasp of air is drawn in when she remembers how. A step back is taken as brows lift and then dig deep furrows into her forehead. When he regains his calm, she lowers her gaze and then waits for quiet. Finally her voice rises. "I believe Ser Jarod is the only one that knows…and he kept it to himself. What Gedeon is doing spreading it to a few and slowly…is to give it weight. To let others make it real in their mind."
As the Lord goes about kicking chairs, Josse arches a dark brow at the flying wood. "For Gedeon's sake I'll hope you have better aim with your hands." He looks back at Isolde, shaking his head. "My Lady. How long do you think anyone would keep things to themselves, especially something that would so impact their House if true?" The septon is not one to press his opinions onto politics — this conversation he's had with Isolde so many times — and in the slight pause he clearly filters some words. "You are not the first and will not be the last to have their claims threatened by rumor. If every nobleman laid down his banner every time someone power-hungry came along, there would be utter chaos. We smallfolk depend on what stability you can give us." He shakes his head, glancing between the two. "Is there something about this rumor that makes it more powerful than the denials of you and your Lady Mother? What is it about this that has you even thinking who hears it would believe its truth rather than it being the ramblings of a newcomer with a vengeance?"
Ryker glares at Isolde. "This person you claim as a brother intends to ruin you and take what is rightfully yours out from under you. The difference is that Rickart-" never 'father' or 'dad', "-has not done anything legally worthy of execution. Had this poisonous runt done it to your brother, what would he have done? Let him take it? Apparently you're okay with continuing to consider this man family because he carries part of your blood. Or none, if he is to be believed by his assertions — which makes him nothing at all. He can promise the world and deliver you nothing when it is done." He eyes her carefully. His ire then falls on Josse for his initial comment, Ryker looking like he might be willing to order the Septon killed on the spot for saying what he did. The Lord's eyes stay on him while he speaks before looking back at Isolde. There is something deadly there. Almost as if he is waiting on an answer.
A crashing of furniture in her dear Cousin's chamber gives Igara pause at her needlework, and she sets it aside, rising cautiously and moving to her door without so much as a scuffle of shoe on the floor. She slips out of a crack in the door and floats toward the sound of angry voices, coming close to the door, hesitating with a clouded brow to listen a short while before lifting her hand to give the door a frail-sounding tap, wiping the cloud from her forehead and donning a look wrought with worry, wide-eyed and uneven-browed.
Ryker's anger beats down on her, like the seething sun and Isolde quiets, her eyes darkening at his words. The Lady hesitates in approaching her husband but starts to. "My point is..no matter what he does, that is still the case. Not that his actions endear him to me. It is pressing that he is in such a position…because he was the one 'given' these letters, my Lord Husband. He has truth to his claim because of the position he was in when given them…and because.." She looks to Josse and Ryker both, "They hold his seal and what looks to be my father's hand writing…" She says, "Have those that have been questioned before dealt with such tangible things such as these and since Ser Jarod has seen them….it means there is more than Gedeon's word now." Trying to calm Ryker some, Isolde gives him a look of her green eyes and takes a step closer, offering her hand and nodding Josse towards the letter, as if to take it. The slight tap at the door causes her ears to prick and she quiets immediately, freezing in place.
Josse meets Ryker's eyes and then looks back at Isolde, nodding slowly as she further explains the situation. It makes his expression darken slightly to hear these particular details, and he bows his head to her before he goes to see these letters for himself. Paper crinkles softly in his calloused hands, his lips pressed thin together. "Such tangible things indeed…there is still the question of forgeries, no doubt. If my Lord and Lady wish and trust me, I can take them and another example of your Lord Father's handwriting to my superior and have him make a sworn ruling as to whether it is indeed his hand. It will make it neutral, godsworn that he will not reveal to any but us." His blue eyes flicker up to them as he makes the offer, then looks back down. "I believe that assuming Ser Jarod will not tell the Terricks is a mistake. He is an honorable man and does honor to his family; it will be his duty to inform them." This is said with no malice; his friendship with Jarod is no secret in the Roost or Stonebridge. "Ser Gedeon's fate aside, they will-…" He suddenly stop too when Isolde reacts to the tapping at the door. His eyes flicker to it, then the Lady, then to Ryker.
"Sometimes it is necessary to remove an arm to save what is left of your body. Sometimes it is necessary to remove someone else's to protect yours." Ryker's words are biting, his anger seemingly moving from the situation towards Isolde. He holds up a figner, warning her away from a closer approach to him right now. "'When he was given them'. You speak as if you believe this are genuine, Isolde. There is more than likely nothing genuine about the handwriting or the seals. Half of the latter is even missing. Isn't that just perfect?" The Lord's anger is still bubbling. "If Ser Jerod backs this man he is in conspiracy to impersonate nobility and dethrone. This man is no more a brother to you than Jaremy Terrick is to me. Perhaps even less so. Either he is blood and this is all lies, which is not the action of family you should acknowledge but the actions of a bastard, or he is not blood and this is true." He seems to be concentrating on the idea of having them evaluated when he wheels his gaze on the door, eyes bearing down like a freight train.
All goes silent within, and no answer to her tapping, and Igara swallows, once, but pushes the door from the jamb, only a small bit, peeping in— but only to the floor. "Gentle cous?" she calls, meek-voiced. "Ay, me, I heard such a clatter. I fear that you have fallen and hurt yourself… dear cous, if you can hear me, only answer me, pray."
There is only a faint look of relief at the sound of Igara's voice but her gaze shoots up to the men. Hesitation settles over Isolde and she brushes past Ryker, moving for the door with a sweep of skirts. A smile paints its way to her lips. Standing to take up the space of the opening Igara has taken, she shakes her head, "Forgive me..I am just fine. So sorry to have startled you, dear Igara. There is no need to worry." No invite in at the moment, instead just a gentle smile and blocking of view.
Josse makes not a sound as Isolde deals with her own house. His eyes flicker to Ryker and then back down to the letters for the time being, held carefully that they might be quickly folded should the need arise.
Ryker stares at the door.
Igara looks into her cousin's eyes with a certain edge of frankness Isolde has seen there before, just between their eyes, her own hunting into Isolde's for answers. But she nods her head with the same demureness of spirit as ever, "Ay, my Lady cousin," she replies obediently before her voice spikes with a girlish enthusiasm. "I am near to finished with the piece you helped me start. I would show it you, have you the time to be by and see it." Girls and their embroidery.
At the request, Isolde's lips part a moment and she shoots Ryker a look from the edge of the door. Her smile slowly returns. "My Lady Cousin, sure..I would gladly come see how it looks. If you will give me a moment?" She asks of her and then dips her head, turning slightly to look back at the two men. "I am going to attend my Lady Cousin, at your leave, my Lord Husband?" She waits.
Josse is not by any stretch Isolde's Lord Husband and so says nothing. he folds his hands behind his back and the letters with it, so that they won't be visible when Isolde opens the door.
Ryker continues staring at his wife, his eyes attempting to drill holes in her head and out the other side while Igara whispers about embroidery. His eyes don't drift when she turns. "Not until you answer my question, Isolde. Do you intend to fight this or do you intend to quit? I can make you a peasant in five seconds if that is your desire, but I will still fight to hold this town and keep my promises to you." His eyes narrow. "Your bastard 'brother' can make no such assertions or back them up, so choose carefully."
There is a faint sigh from Isolde as Igara's ears are now becoming exposed. Her forced smile starts to vanish and she turns to him. "If I did not intend to fight this, I would have spoken the way I did to Gedeon, I would not have defied him. My Lady Cousin was there, she can confirm most of this. I will admit to sorrow, my Lord in the face of this, but he threatens my home. That I do not take lightly and I will fight for it. These are my people…and this was my fathers keep. I shall continue to keep it so as long as I live." There is conviction in her voice.
Lord Ryker said a swear. It's enough to give an innocent child fits, and just so Igara seems thoroughly aghast to hear such words from her cousin's new husband, raising her hands as if uncertain whether to cover her ears or cover her mouth, but settling on the latter.
Josse might as well be furniture, for the time being. His eyes shift from the pair at the door to the window, giving himself respite to be able to think while the situation threads between the collapse of Stonebridge and needlework.
Igara's eyes draw upward to her cousin once more, and, mouth still hidden behind her hands, she peeps, "That base blade who did assault you? Ah, won't he be taken under guard for such an act?"
"Then you will start behaving like it, Isolde. When you speak of these things, do not lend them more credence than you would a slug. Defy them with all of your heart and mind. Or step aside. When you deny your are the Lady of Stonebridge, you are quitting. I will hear none of it from a wife. End of discussion." Ryker's words are still biting. The implication is quite clear that she had better be defiant. There is no option or breathing room. "Take your leave." He then breaks his stare at his wife and looks to Josse.
A tick enters Isolde's jaw and she gives a nod of her head to Ryker. "I will have no failing." The Lady looks to Josse, now entrusted with the letter. She lets out a long breath. Once out from beneath Ryker's gaze, she dips her head and looks to Igara. "I am ready cousin, all is well. Let us see your embroidery. I am sure it is quite lovely." Her voice soft, nigh uncommitted but her smile remains.
Igara lowers herself into a perfectly executed courtsey. "My Lord," is yielded with childlike ease to Ryker, and "Septon," to Josse before she rises from it, looking to take her Lady Cousin's hand, if it be grated to her.
Whether said letter leaves the room is yet undecided, the septon's offer having hung in the air. But for now the precious papers are safe in Josse's watch, the documents stowed into some deep robe fold. "My Lady Igara." His hands return in front of him, clasped together as he bows to the noblewoman, eyes lowered.
Ryker looks at Josse and narrows his eyes. "Still your tongue properly in the future, Septon. I will not be talked to like that." The biting anger is gone but the warning is clear. "My wife retains rights others do not enjoy." He tilts a finger just a slight bit towards the man before turning partially to head back towards his dresser — probably his initial destination. "You mentioned being able to get them verified? Take one of the letters supposedly written while at the crag that mentions as few details as possible. The rest will stay here, locked away someplace safe. But it would do your superior well to recall that the testimony he gives had better be of the kind that he feels secure enough to stake his life's reputation upon."
Free of Ryker, the tension is still palpable and she takes her Cousin's hand. Isolde nods her head, "Lead the way, my dear cousin.." She instructs lightly. Closing the door behind her as she slips out into the hall, she can hear the conversation going on for the moment before it fades and the ladies are left to walk towards the guest room that has now become Igara's.
Igara brings her other hand about to catch at Isolde's, turning about to walk backward toward the room where she has been installed, looking up into Isolde's eeyes with an earnest fretfulness, but not saying anything until they've crossed the corridor. "Dear cous, what goes on? Why is the Lord your Husband so very cross? And what has that base blade done, that he threatens your city and people? He says you doubt your title— what does this mean? What -can- this mean?"
Josse has the good sense not to smile at Ryker's admonishment, just inclining his head downwards. "Aye, my Lord. Please forgive me; my low graces come not as easily as those for whom it flows in the blood." Years around nobility have no doubt taught him to apologize well. There's a slight pause to let the door shut and then he removes the letters from his sleeve and holds them out to Ryker, letting the man select which stays and which will go. "My superior is a master of calligraphy. If anyone can call this to truth it will be him. We will need another sample of her Lord Father's writing to compare it, if my Lord and Lady will be kind enough to provide it."
Ryker just nods to the man's apologies and it seems to be forgotten. He is in his oak closet for a moment before removing a heavy crossbow and a large set of bolts and arrows. He steps over and views the choices. He just scans them quickly, selecting one and handing it back. "This goes with you for inspection. The sample of Geoffry's writing can be taken from any number of source documents in the library. I'll select one from as close a date as possible to the ones indicated." He steps away, the rest of the letters in one hand and the crossbow in the other, a gesture indicating him to follow.
Isolde for her part tries to keep her face neutral as Igara presses for questions. "Not now cousin, once we find closed doors." She grips Igara's hand tightly and sighs, slipping into the guest room with her.