|Summary:||Jaremy finally speaks with his father in private about his "gut feelings" and the two broker a common understanding about the threat to Stonebridge.|
|Common Hall — Terrick's Roost|
|A series of rooms, ranging from the main halls to a small sitting room.|
Lord Jerold has attended the business of the day without, before stepping back inside the Common hall. Trailed by a retainer and walking alongside one of the builders the two are in conversation on the subject of the Dock designs. The depth to which stones must be sunk, how thick the pilings must be- it is a staggering depth of detail to those who have not before dealt in such.
Knowing Jerold's paths he normally takes throughout the day well, Jaremy has planned ahead to speak with his father. Instead of approaching from the side, he stands at the end of the common hall, waiting for his father to come within earshot. As speak of the docks reaches his ears, he steps forward and falls into line beside his father, walking until a break in the conversation turns Jerold's attention his way.
Jerold's eye falls upon Jaremy before a lull in conversation does. The Lord of the Roost nods once to his son as the younger Terrick falls into step, before looking back to the builder. One the man has finished his words, Jerold answers him, "If the shallows are not deep enough, we will extend the dock the further fifty paces, as you say. Offering landing for larger ships within the lee of the coast cannot be forgone. Carry on," Lord Jerold bids the builder, who bows with the gained assent, and frees Jerold's eye to return to Jaremy.
"I was able to get to speak to Lord Camden in regards to the lumber he's brought in." Jaremy updates his father, though by the tone of his voice and their many years of conversation, the topic Jaremy leads with is only an insert strategy. "Looks like strong, useful lumber, should be exactly what we need to get that dock built." He glances back over his father's shoulder to the retreating builder as they walk. "Seems like everything is going well…" He pulls his gaze to Jerold's face. "…how free are you right now, Father?"
"It is an expense we shall be smarting for a good while, Jaremy," Lord Jerold notes on the question of the timber. "However wise the investment, the treasury is more thin than I would like." Dispatching the retainer who follows a step behind with the words, "Bring a bottle each of the summerwine and water." Before giving the number of goblets to fetch as well, he looks to Jaremy. Whatever the answer from his son, the retainer bows and steps toward the cellars, leaving Jerold to answer, "Free enough. What words would you have?"
"The same." Jaremy says to the retainer with a scant nod, sealing in his drink order for the conversation. Resting one hand behind his back and another over the hilt of his sword as he always does, he waits until the retainer is a good enough distance away before continuing. "I felt that this business with the letters brought in from House Valentin deserved a private conversation. I wanted to get a chance to speak with you about it. We came to a disagreement that night and I realized I'd not taken the chance to point out to you what I'm seeing."
"I am curious what it is you see, Jaremy, that had you so convinced I were becoming some ravening war-monger," Jerold answers, tone twisting toward the wry. "Sit, and tell me what you see in the matter of these letters, my boy," he invites, taking a chair of his own beside the common hall's hearth.
A quiet, relieved look crosses over Jaremy's face as he's offered the seat, which he turns and takes calmly. Stretching out one leg, he folds his arm and settles into a relaxed posture. "Father, I don't think that you're a warmonger, not in the least…perhaps you'll understand better once I explain. I have a gut feeling, as does my sister, that these letters may not be genuine, and that there may be something larger happening here that doesn't make sense just yet. It doesn't add up, and until we know more about Ser Anton and Ser Gedeon, I'm nervous at acting on their word alone."
Jaremy clears his throat, counting on his fingers. "Ser Gedeon, with such love for his father and your alliance swears to Oldstones, who nobody knows, and has a broken seal letter that Lord Geoffrey could only request be made true. Gedeon gets poisoned and the likely implication is Valda, but the body shows up on their lands. Sure, very few can prove the claims in the letters aren't true or false but even now there's strange things coming back from Banefort, like that Lord Geoffrey dined well with the Harlaws at the tourney. It's all so damned convenient, Father, and we don't know this new house. Why didn't Gedeon bend the knee to you instead of Oldstones if he loved us so much?" He shakes his head bitterly. "They may have betrayed us, but if the end result of this is Nayland baring steel to defend Stonebridge, it could put Isolde out on the street to fend for herself, defenseless over what could be a load of bullshit."
Jerold's expression begins patiently puzzled as Jaremy touches on a half dozen seemingly divergent issues. Of all the things he might say, the first thought to be voiced aloud addresses Jaremy's last breath: "I have bade you once, I shall do so again, Jaremy: do not speak that woman's name in my presence again." His eye is hard and tone brooking no discussion on that. His retainer returns shortly, and the goblets are placed out, with an even measure of summerwine and cool water poured into each cup. A motion of one hand dismisses the retainer, who waits within eyeshot against one wall. "As for the rest…"
He takes up the goblet and sits back in his chair. "Ser Gedeon has served Lord Valentin for the past five years. In Braavos of all places. I will not fault the man for remaining loyal to one who took him in after dear Geoffrey's death. He was a young man, and a young man deprived of his father is not always a sensible one." A freshly drawn breath, "As for Oldstones, it was granted to Cyric Valentin at the end of the Rebellion; it is yet a young house. PErhaps we would know of this new house were we closer, but Oldstones is rather distant. What do you think word from the Banefort and talk of harlaws has to do with any of this?"
The young lord takes in a deep breath, releasing his words with it, knowing well they won't be received. "What would you have me call her then? She's still a player in this, even if she is a foul bitch. Mark my words, one of these days she'll find herself being eaten alive by all of this treachery she's called upon her house and she'll beg us for mercy. She plays hard games…"
"Look, at least you're seeing the start of it, Father." Jaremy takes up his mug, sipping from it before setting it down on the table. "So Ser Gedeon, in his father's last moments is given a writ of papers that could lead to Stonebridge being signed over to him, including a theory that Isolde isn't the true heir, aye? So instead of taking this to us he signs with an unknown house and travels to fucking Braavos? He disappears there for five years only to return for the tourney where the announcement of Isolde and Ryker's wedding which spurs him to put the papers into action. Ser Anton, who we don't know any better than any other knight of the realm from far away, despite not initially being able to verify the seals intact places his word as a knight that he thinks the letters aren't forged? Come on, father…"
Jaremy leans forward against the table. "…Valda, and I'm sorry for saying her name, is a lot of things but she's not a fucking fool. She wouldn't have allowed that boy to be found dead in her neck of the river if she was the one that poisoned Gedeon. SOMETHING is strange here. The word Anais received from Banefort didn't clear Isolde's name, but it did state that at the time Oldstones was believed to be a ruins. It was nothing, and it was suggested that Geoffrey and Lord Harlaw spent long hours drinking. Harras Harlaw arrived at the tourney…" Jaremy shrugs. "…I don't know. SOMETHING doesn't feel right about this to me. Not in the least. I don't like the way Ser Anton looks at Lucienne, either."
"Valda's daughter-" That seems to be the accepted way of referring to Isolde, "Will reap what she has sown, Jaremy. I do not think it necessary to say more on that, presently." As Jaremy goes on, Jerold's regard hardens again. "Jaremy, what are you seeking to convince me of?"
"Valda's daughter, father, did not make the decision. It was Valda's betrayal, not hers. If she is innocent in this she deserves our vigilance and justice." Jaremy dares to be bold, tapping his index finger against the table's top. "I'm seeing a chain of consequences in which Lord Rickart would probably muster at Stonebridge to defend this, and if there is something further going on here, father, then we're only helping set these pieces into place. I am asking you to please, be cautious about House Valentin and open up diplomacy to the Naylands on this before it turns into a fucking mess. Information is key."
"You are being dangerously naive, Jaremy, for all your scolding of my supposed blindness," Jerold retorts, displeasure clear in his manner and voice. "Valda is a re-cloaked witch, but it was the choice of her daughter to accept this betrayal. Justice is not blind, nor is it always kind, boy. As for opening diplomacy with Rickart, I do not intend to pass one word's council with that craven wretch until I better understand what is to be discussed. My stance has not changed since the last council: I intend to learn the truth of Stonebridge's legitimacy, the first step in which is to discover whether the Naylands have destroyed these letters. If I am assisting pieces to be moved by seeking the truth, then I am content to move such pieces, Jaremy. Bring me information, not wild speculation and shapeless agitation."
"Fine, I'll bring you information." Jaremy replies, biting down harshly on his words. "Don't get me wrong, father, this isn't about her. Granted, even if you think me naive you didn't have to bear the look on her face when she saw me watching her next to her now husband. I don't know what went on behind those negotiations, but her and I both lost in that deal. This is about the bigger picture, and I intend to find more information." He takes another sip from his goblet. "I've given my word that I will see justice in this as well. Though I must ask this: Even if the papers are destroyed it's already been verified that with the seals broken they wouldn't hold up to King's Law, aye? Why are are you pursuing this? What, in the end, if these are real letters, do you plan to do?"
"I will do what any knight swears he must, Jaremy," the Lord of the Roost answers, matching sharpness for sharpness. "I will seek the truth and see justice done, as best I can. If it is discovered that Valda's daughter is illegitimate, she cannot inherit Geoffrey's lands. That is the King's Law, as well you know. While the letters alone will not turn this question, I would yet see them. I know the sight of Geoffrey's hand better than any other, and wish to know, for my own sake and his."
"That's the fucking worst of it, isn't it?" Jaremy grunts, reaching again for his mug. "Of all of the people best to know the Tordane lord's handwriting it's you, and so far I don't think a single Terrick has had access to these. I pray that my gut is lying to me, Father, truly I do. This is the sort of thing I'd rather have been a fool about than to give myself over to hatred." He pauses for a long pull from the goblet, drinking slowly. "If she is illegitimate, then yes, King's Law permits. I will stand beside you in that every step of the way. Please understand, I always have stood beside you, it's just that even with all of this I feared that I saw something you had not. Even if King's Law is enacted, do you think Rickart would still defend Stonebridge as theirs?"
"Rickart Nayland is a craven blowhard," Jerold states with derision, taking a long swallow of the diluted summerwine. "There is nothing so terrifying to such a wretch as an honest fight. He is jealous and proud, true- I can readily imagine how you might think he would fight before falling back… but weak men will never dare stand alone." He draws a slow breath to savor the taste of the wine. "The worst of it is that Geoffrey is not here to speak for himself. The worst of it is that the last words he shall ever speak are through vulgar ink and parchement. It is unfortunate that no Terricks have seen these letters, Jaremy. But it is nowhere near the worst of this."
"What is the worst of it then? I'm not saying that Rygar Nayland deserves our time, because if Rickart Nayland is a craven blowhard then Rygar is a cack-chewing aurochs, but I do believe this Ryker is here to make himself available to speak. Gods we've got a full house, don't we?" Jaremy's hand goes to the top of his head, scratching as he reclines in his chair, doing his best to find what he has to say about everything while trying to bond on some level with his father. "I think the worst of it, I see, is that if we end up having to fight the Naylands on this, our men will be dedicated to the east at Stonebridge, and there's no telling if the Greyjoys are going to come back for comeuppance."
"I thought I was quite clear," Jerold notes idly. "The worst of this letters nonsense is that Geoffrey and Geonis died at the Trident, and the Tordane name fell to those of lesser quality. But it is not right to dwell upon such things, five years after they are decided." A slow breath drawn in as he orders his thoughts. "That is one advantage your wife-to-be brings us, my son: any aggressions the Greyjoys might entertain can be countered. Anything too large for us to contain ourselves will be met by a punitive strike out of Lannisport. Lord Banefort is as resolute an opponent of the Ironborn as is Jason Mallister, whose hatred for them is famous well beyond the Cape of Eagles."
"Right, sorry, for some reason I had the thought that you were stretching in a different direction. You're right, none of this would be happening had Aerys stayed his hand and that damned battle at the Trident hadn't claimed them. You're also right, through this marriage we have secured a bit of a defense against the Ironborn, and those docks are going to open up trade to the north, perhaps even as far as Bear Island, aye?" Patting the table's top a trio of times, Jaremy smirks and goes back to his drink. "I'll speak with the maester tomorrow and think of other things that can be searched for on this issue, perhaps see if there's any log of activity at Oldstones in its area. Sooner or later we'll find someting that tips it in the true direction."
"One can only hope," Jerold returns with a tight smile. He is non specific as to which, or all, of Jaremy's hopes he speaks on. A breath drawn before the last of the diluted goblet is downed. "Was there anything else you wished to speak with me on at present, my son?"
"No…no, Father, that was all, aside from an apology for speaking so heatedly at the meeting." Jaremy replies, rising from his chair. The apology is well directed, but he is quiet about it. "Something still doesn't sit right with me, and I can't put my finger on it, but I was out of line. I'm sorry." Downing the last of his cup's contents as well, he stretches his arms out before him and then curls them back towards his chest, folding them. "I've still yet to properly meet with all of our guests, do I have your leave, Father?"
Jerold inclines his head to the offered apology. "You were ill, Jaremy. It is forgiven." He nods again to the requested leave. "You have my leave and my blessing. We will speak more on the morrow." Re corking the unspent summerwine, Lord Jerold washes down the drink with a swallow of clear water, and rises to seek out his own rest.