|Summary:||Jaremy and Rowan have harsh words. A letter arrives from Lady Anonymous.|
|Related Logs:||Lady Anonymous|
|The public stables of Stonebridge are quite large and even have a distinct area for visiting nobility to store their steeds while visiting Crane's Crossing. Saddles are stored within an interior building and out of the elements where services are offered for everything from repair to shining. Feed is supplied as well to make sure that the charges are well cared-for.|
It's two days after the joust, which has given Jaremy a day to fight away his hangover, drink a little more, and spend a day blowing off steam while avoiding much of the drama that's blanketed the tourney grounds in a mere twenty-four hours. The latter half of the day, many have seen Jaremy near his good mother and father, spending the day with Lord Jason Mallister. It has been a day of service and conversation with the Terrick liege lord, but the silver lining for Jaremy has come in the form of being able to slip away to see to his horses, Kellin and Orvus.
Standing in one of the stalls with a brush, Jaremy is quietly speaking to Orvus as he brushes the tall destrier's gray mane. "…and so next time I'm sure I'll sit a little lower in the saddle when Strongboar rides. Though you did good, lad. Very well."
"You gave as good as you got, m'lord," comes the familiar voice of Jarod's squire. Rowan wanders into sight outside the stall, folding his arms over the door and resting his chin atop them. "And the tourney's far from over. M'looking forward to seeing you tilt again." The lad looks a little tired, for his part, but otherwise well, his long, feminine fingers stained with black splotches of ink.
Jaremy turns, his long, brown hair sifting to the side to find Rowan gazing from atop the door. The same, unsure expression crosses over Jaremy's face as he first sees the squire, but as always the strange look passes into acceptance, likely as the Young Lord is reminded that Rowan is theirs for a few years yet. "Thank you, Rowan." He replies, patting the horse's neck. "At first I thought to stop after the first event, but I think I might enter the lists. It's a fine substitution for the song and dance routine my brother is spared." Jaremy smirks, nodding towards Rowan's hands. "Another Raven sent? You write so much I'm amazed you weren't sent to the Citadel to take up a maester's chain."
The boy laughs, an easy grin on his lips. "That's a great deal of credit you give me, m'lord, and I thank you. Truth is, though, I wouldn't write much at all if it weren't for my sister." His expression is wistful and fond. "We were born less than a year apart — came up together like twins. Rowan and Rowenna. I miss her something sore and fierce, even as much as we write." He smiles again, adding, "She gives good advice — and makes me laugh. Always seems to know what I need to hear."
"Well the practice does you good, though I'm sure it's nice to have practice that doesn't come in the form of bruising from my brother and his blunted training blades?" Jaremy smirks, turning back to the horse as they talk. "I received the same punishment from my uncle, so if you've a word to complain your secret is safe with me. Seven, that man was brutal…" He pauses, stepping to the side to brush further down the horse's body. "Rowenna. Yes, right that's her name. I'll admit, Rowan, there's times that I've ignored you, but I've always seen your letters to your sister as imporant. She travels in ways I always wished. Where is she now, perchance?"
Rowan laughs again and shakes his head. "You'll hear no complaints from me, m'lord. I love my bruises. The stall mucking and horse grooming and armor cleaning can all be a little tedious, but learning the arts that'll make me a knight?" He shrugs. "S'what I've always wanted, long as I can remember. I used to shadow my cousin Rygar back in the Mire when he'd put the militia through drills — just a wee, tiny slip of a thing, me, trying to do sword forms with a blade twice my size." He brightens with pride as he reports of his sister, "King's Landing, if you can believe it. She and her troupe have a play so popular that King Bob's called for a command performance."
Jarod arrives from the Town Square.
"Fuck what a lucky girl…" Jaremy replies, shaking his head. "…I've never seen the Red Keep myself, and only seen King Robert from afar, but where he is are the likes of Ser Barristan Selmy and Ser Jaime Lannister, much less Lord John Arryn as his hand. You must be very proud." He turns, tossing the brush onto a bag just outside of the stall. Walking with his hand on the horse's back, he steps into the walkway and closes the gate behind him. "When you've achieved your knighthood, Rowan, will you be a threat to my family?" SCRREEEEECH. Change of subject.
"I am very proud, m'lord. I only wish I could be there to see it. But Row understands. Someday." He steps back to let the Young Lord exit the stall. And then there's that question — and everything about the boy changes. The smile dies an instant, grisly death, as does the pride, and the ease. He swallows audibly, going chalk white then abruptly red, like he's been struck. "If you think that's possible, Ser Jaremy, I must ask why you suffer me in your house."
"It's not my house." Jaremy replies, moving to lean against one of the stable's posts. His answer is plain and simple. The decision is never, nor was ever his to make. Sighing softly, the young knight folds his arms across his chest, locking his eyes onto Rowan's. "I need you to understand, Rowan, I like you. You trust my brother implicitly, which is something that we share. I've always kept my distance from you because of the difference of our houses, but now that Lady Valda's introduced this new element I've been watching you closely, almost begging to see something that would give me reason to be cruel to you." He frowns. "But you're not them, are you? The more I look, the more I see a Terrick. It makes me…not sure what I'm looking at."
Jarod's heavy footfalls carry him toward the stables, so they announce the presence of another comer before he's actually in sight. Though they aren't his usual long and loping, ready-to-run-by-nature stride. If anything, he walks like one rather pained. He's not limping or bearing any other notable injury, though his clothes and hair are decidedly rumpled. Apart from that he looks much as usual, though he's still sporting that unfortunate attempt-at-beard he's been cultivating for the past several days. Near-unanimous negative commentary on it has not yet prompted him to shave. He's also wearing something on his wrist, a lock of dark chestnut hair tied with a golden ribbon. That's new.
Voice trembling with emotion, fists clenching, Rowan replies, "You are looking at a person who would die for your house, Ser Jaremy, and for you — for all that your brother loves — despite that you have given me little enough reason to like you. I have not missed your desire to be cruel — I understand you're in pain — but I have never done anything but what is good and right and loyal by you and yours. You already know the answer to your question, and that asking it was as cruel as you could possibly be — but congratulations. You have hurt a Nayland back. Pity I'm the only one you can reach." He dashes the heel of his hand beneath his eyes and turns, abruptly, at the sound of those familiar footfalls. "I have work to do."
"Fuck, Rowan, stay put. This is a question that needs to be asked." Jaremy bites down on his words, eyes lined with guilt and bitterness. He strides forward, reaching to grab Rowan's shoulder. "Damn, lad, understand that one day this House will be mine, and the day that your blasted cousin came to the Roost I got a good look at his eyes. I didn't ask what I did to be cruel to you. I asked what I did because I seek to not be and despite how I hate them now, even I aim to not test your loyalties against your own family. THAT is what would be cruel."
The voices aren't easy to miss, and Jarod pauses at the sound of them from his brother and squire. He does not approach them right away, but finds a convenient bit of wall to lean against, arms folded, listening. He winces some as he leans, adjusting himself so he's putting most of his weight on his left shoulder.
"Then perhaps you should have asked, my lord," says the squire in a low, bitter tone, "will I be a danger to my family. And not will I be a danger to yours."
Jaremy's hand squeezes the squire's shoulder, an attempt at comfort before he pulls back from him. "I should have. You're right." Jaremy replies, nodding his head fadingly. "The truth is that I never paid attention, and now I have to. It's preparating for three steps ahead, hoping you've a good hand on the dance, Rowan, and it's something my father's taught me for years. It's a complicated thing, and this question is one I shouldn't have had to ask, but it's something that I needed to hear from your mouth." He turns away, moving to his other horse's stall. "The truth is, I think that Terrick's Roost is stronger to have you, as is my family."
"Oi! Hello?" comes a voice from the stable entrance. A young man jogs in, gangly and sandy-haired, beset with an unfortunate case of adolescent spots. He stops at the sight of Jaremy and Rowan, looking completely uncertain and then jerking an awkward bow. "Pardon you me, your worthinesses. But… ah… I was told I might find Ser Jarod Rivers somewhere here about. Already been to the Crane — whoo-ee, wot a mess that was in there! — an' the camp…" he trails off, then waves a piece of parchment in the air. "Got something for 'im here, I do."
"Ho ho and good eve gents," Jarod finally interrupts, shoving himself away from the wall to finally stride properly toward his brother and squire. "Not interrupting a tender, private moment, am I? Because I can come back. Perhaps with wine and candles, so we can all get properly mushy." Before he can suggest anything further, the messenger is blinked at. Huh.
Rowan stares at the messenger boy for a moment, then sighs. "The Seven think they're funny, today." He looks up at the ceiling "Hah. Ha ha." Shaking a finger at the divine, he sighs and looks back at Jaremy. "I will carry your father's banner, when I'm knighted," the boy states in no uncertain terms. "If he will have me. And in time, I will carry yours." Clear enough? He jerks his chin at Jarod, telling the newly arrived boy, "That's him."
"Fucking Lords it's like a mummer's play. Yes, that man over there…" Jaremy points in the direction of Jarod's voice. "Is Ser Jarod Rivers, fellow member of the quiet messenger's guild. "I swear, Seven's humor is right, if there isn't an awkward social situation in fucking Stonebridge I'm not involved in." He shoves Rowan in a brotherly manner, turning back to Kellin's stall. "Before this message though, brother, how fucking long were you there?"
"Oh! Aye! Good, then!" The sandy-haired boy breaks into a gap-tooth grin. "'ere you are, Ser. Lady what gave it to me said if you had a reply, I was to come back tomorrow and fetch it from you." He hands Jarod a fine parchment envelope, sealed in red wax. The front is addressed to Ser Jarod Rivers in lovely, flowing handwriting. It smells faintly of lavender and clover.
Jarod takes the parchment, giving it a sniff. "What lady gave it to you?" he asks of the boy. "I'll pay you three silver stags to tell me, boy, and another five if you can point me to where she's staying." That's a hell of a tip. Looking up from his envelope sniffing, he shrugs to Jaremy. "There's one or two, I assure you, my fair lord brother. Not long. I'm not known for my stealthy subtleness, y'know." Rowan earns a quick look, a quickly-crooked grin, before his attention is back on the boy.
Rowan stares at Jarod. Then the boy. Then Jarod again. "I think I need to sit down," he mumbles, and abruptly does so.
The boy's eyes go wide at the prospect of that kind of money. "I — I don't rightly know, Ser!" he cries in obvious dismay. Clearly he wishes he did. "It was all very mysterious like, Ser. She was all hooded like, and promised me — well, never mind that, she just got out-bid." He laughs. "I don't know nothin' more, Ser, but where I'm supposed t'meet her on the morrow and deliver your reply — or tell here there is none. One or the other. Then t'get the rest of my coin."
"Oh shit, brother is this having something to do with that mystery favor? You do realize that learn her name or not there's no way you're not going into this even without her wearing something that matches to catch your attention." Jaremy steps into the stall, starting to brush down his horse. The young lord of Terrick seems to be sidestepping an urge to think of his own passed favor. "Damn, Jarod. You've got a lady dressing in cloaks and sending messages in the night. Rowan? How quiet are you? Are you willing to follow this messenger back to his source?"
"Well, you're very disappointing," Jarod says to the boy, though he digs into his pocket anyone and digs three stags for the boy. "But I'm a canny investor. Consider this a down-payment, lad. You want the other five, you'll produce me a name and location where I can have a few words with Lady Anonymous before the tourney's over." To Jaremy he nods, though he looks almost more pensive than anything else. "Aye. My mystery favor from my mystery woman. Who, might I add, is thus-far a lot less fun than an actual woman. Rowan found it in my pack when we got to the tourney. At least I know she's here now." His brother's suggestion makes him grin, and snap his fingers. "There's a thought. What say you, Rowan? Up to playing spy? You're not an awful tracker. Think you can find My Lady Whoever?"
"I, ah… yes?" Rowan says after a moment. The boy looks light-headed and a bit addled. "I could. But… what would I do then? Truss her up and bring her back in a cart?" He looks bewildered, like he's not getting enough air. "Maybe… I mean to say… the boy did say he'd take her a reply. Perhaps you should… see what's in the letter? And write her something? It'd be simpler than trying to hunt her down, and risk scaring her off. She's obviously going through a lot of trouble to keep herself hidden." He snorts. "A lot less fun an actual woman. Bollocks, you say. I've never seen you so — focused. You didn't hit on a single barmaid or ogle a single ass at luncheon."
The messenger boy beams as he closes his fist around the coins. "You're a good and generous man, Ser! I swear by the Seven I'll do all I can to learn who she is and where she stays, and as soon as I know a bit of anything I'll come running straight to you!"
"What is this?" Jaremy leans out of the stall, looking between Jarod and Rowan with a pair of raised eyebrows. "By the Seven…did I just hear that right? Did Ser Jarod Rivers manage to make it through an entire meal without trying to tug at a skirt? We should probably have that favor checked for some kind of Dornish poison, or check to see if there are stitches at the base of his skull to ensure he hasn't been replaced by a white walker in diguise." Jaremy guffaws, stepping back into the center of the stable. "The lad's got a point, Jarod, open the fucking letter and read it out loud. Allow me to console you over your women problems for a change."
"You're a good, business-minded lad," Jarod says, mussing the messenger boy's hair. "I trust I've paid you enough to cart a message or two for me in the coming days? Good? Good. I'll find you on the morrow. Or the day after. Once I…figure out precisely what I want to say…" He does open his message. Though he does not read it aloud just yet, needing the time to glare at Rowan and Jaremy. "Fuck you both. I'm in training, I'll have you know. I'm all of focus for the melee. No distractions. Besides…fuck it, if I'm going to wear the damn thing, I might as well regard it as a luck charm. If I'm not to get anything more out of it. And if I can get a little of the Maiden's favor it'll be a first, so I may as well work for it, aye?"
Okay, now that was funny. However sullen Rowan might be over Jaremy's earlier inquiries into his loyalty, Jarod being called out so by his older brother tickles the squire to death. The lad emits a positively unmanly giggle and claps his hand over his mouth. He clears his throat. "Of course, Ser," he says, looking like he might rupture something for holding in his mirth.
"Oh, now c'mon, Jarod, be a good sport. It's not a luck charm, it's a favor. When I wore Isolde's it gave me power, but it was also because I knew it was from her. You not knowing who this girl is? Fuck, for all you know it's the Maiden herself?" Jaremy grins as he steps past Rowan, letting the stick out of his ass for long enough to tease his brother. "Now that you've gained the favor of a beautiful lady, why would you want to fuck up the melee? Now you have to perform well. So, in turn, you should keep the mystery then. Pray she's beautiful and pray you win her at the melee."
"Isolde gave you a favor. Like real, live, normal lady," Jarod says. "I'm half-convinced this is a joke. Though I know you wouldn't, Jaremy, and few of my other mates can write so well as to pull this off, so I'm at a loss as to whose it could be. But. Fine." He skims over the contents of the letter. Smiling. Big, dopey smile. He chuckles, spending a moment in silence just reading it. Before he looks back up at Jaremy at Rowan. "If you laugh, I swear to the Seven I will hit you both very, very hard. Perhaps with something large and metallic." He clears his throat. Without further ado…
Dearest Ser Jarod,
You wear my favor even before the battle and I am undone. I cannot tell you how my heart races to see it. My delight is such that I am lightheaded and giddy, as though with too much wine. I am reminded of a song I have often heard minstrels play —
Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss within the cup
And I'll not ask for wine.
Does it seem impossible that I should so admire you, having never had the courage to make myself known? And yet I know you well. Your name is carved upon my heart, indelibly, and the pain is exquisite.
Thank you, sweet Ser. Never have I known such joy as seeing some part of me touching you, even if it is only my hair about your wrist.
When he finishes he just looks at the pair of them. Waiting to see if hitting them will be necessary.
The messenger boy is all googly eyed. "Cor, Ser. I didn't understand half of them words and I think this lady's just done for ye!" He pauses, then looks around. "Should I be gone?" He nods to himself and runs away. "Be back t'morrow, Ser!"
Rowan, for his part, actually looks… kind of acutely embarrassed. He's beet red to the tips of his ears. He clears his throat. "That's… it sounds very passionate," he opines, nodding. Then adds, "And sincere."
"So…" Jaremy replies slowly, looking to Rowan and then again to Jarod. "…damned, Jarod. That's…" He tsks, tilting his head as he does so. "Well let me put it this way. Rowan's right. Passionate and sincere, and damn, whoever that girl is seems to really, really have her thoughts about you. Maybe you've got yourself a shot at someone that would be a good match by your side?"
Jaremy grins suddenly, scratching his chest. "Then again, I have heard rumor of a mummer's horse that knows how to count. Perhaps they taught it to write? Oh dear, Jarod…" He laughs, taking a step back. "…you'll give birth to centaurs!"
"Or, you know, the next day. No great rush," Jarod says, waving the messenger boy off. At their appraisals of the letter, he blinks, As if half-disbelieving. "Sincere? You think? I dunno. I…ha! I'll give you centaurs, Terrick! I told you I'd hit you!" And he bounds over to try and slap an arm around Jarmey's shoulders. Though it's more or less jovial, and he's laughing himself as he does it. "Seriously, Row. Jaremy. What the fuck do I say to this? This is a bit out of my standard depth. I don't really do…poetry with girls." Most of the women he favors do not have a particularly high rate of literacy, so it's not a priority.
"Well," Rowan says, frowning a thoughtful frown. "I think… that if you want to know her, you'll have to… you know… get to know her." He shrugs. "Be honest. Share your thoughts. Tell her how you feel about — the letters, knighthood, family. She might come to trust you enough to reveal herself in time."
As Jaremy's shoulder is slapped, he takes a stutter-step forward and rolls his arm in his socket. "Fuck, man!" He laughs, turning to raise a fist to his brother, threatening to hit back. "It's to be expected, aye? Got to get in my shots while I can, you're almost full grown, like Rowan there." Jaremy teases again, keeping it light, though in truth he's doing his best to avoid taking the situation too seriously for his own unease.
"Ohhhh…okay, seriously? Rowan's got the mind of it. You obviously don't know who she is, but you can tell her about how the favor makes you feel, and perhaps if you're really bold you can tell her about how you took the nervous time to consider your response to her. She's knocked your ass off center. Let her know it."
"I'm still not sure I want her reveal herself, is the thing," Jarod says to Rowan. "I'm hoping if I can find out her name and if it is a noblewoman - and Lu seems to think it is with the papers these are coming on - I can just send our fair sweet sister to talk to her before anything…y'know, embarrassing comes out. Still…I mean, I can't just *not* reply, can I? That'd be rude." And he's plainly kind of enjoying this. On a different level than he tends to enjoy pretty wenches. "Aye, big brother. Soon I might even be taller than you. Oh look!" He straigthens up. "Already happened. Ass off center?" He blinks. "Nah!" Well, obviously a little. "Not at all. It's just…a bit of fun is all. Distraction. With all the important games going on, might as well enjoy this one and see that it doesn't get too serious."
Rowan grins at the horseplay between the brothers, seeming to recover from whatever strange ague earlier beset him. "Look, Jarod, if you're worried she's a noblewoman, just ask her — and tell her why. Surely that's even kinder than sending your sister. But I sincerely doubt she is — I mean, a noblewoman'd have to know better, however much she wanted you, what your answer would have to be. Perhaps she's noble blooded, like you, but doesn't bear the name. Either for the same reason as you, or because her family's so minor and distant from the ruling house the name's changed." He shrugs. "Something like that."
"Oh you fucking bloody liar." Jaremy laughs, snorting in his brother's direction. "Right, centaur-boy, it's a distraction. Look at you, wearing that favor and asking Row and I for advice on the matter, offering stags to the messenger boy for information and begging, just begging to get a glimpse at who this lady is. Bloody knight you are, swung your sword at so many painted targets that you're clearly smitten with the fact that this is one you have to wait to reveal itself. I like this girl, I do." He nods to Rowan, liking his suggestion. "Damn, that or…tell her that and that you're excited not knowing her name, but don't want to leave the tourney without meeting her. Step this in the right direction, Jarod."
"Oh, seven hells, you don't think it's Waldrina Rivers, do you?" Jarod asks Jaremy, with a touch of wide-eyed dread. "I figured when she stopped writing a couple years ago…by the way, if she is here, and you run into her, could you tell her all our ravens spontaneously died and I never could reply to her letters? That'd be good. I mean, she's not *awful* looking, for a Frey. Nice tits. The blotches aren't so bad when you've got that going for you. Looks a little like Lady Valda if you've had a bit of wine, come to it. Without the soul-eating, of course." He considers the letter. "If it *is* Waldrina, her conversational abilities have improved. I'll say that." He looks down at the letter again, all thoughtful. "Maybe. Aye. That might be the best of it. Just…got to figure out how to word it proper. Maybe I'll ask Lu. She's a girl. Sort of. I mean, as much as sisters are."
Rowan laughs, standing and holding up his palms in defeat. "You, Ser, are overthinking this, and I can smell your brains burning. You should write her back and be your charming self — talk about what's on your mind and what matters to you. If she truly knows you as she says, and admires you so, then that is what she will truly value." He shrugs. "I am going to bed, by your leaves, Sers." He snaps his fingers and points at Jarod. "And write it sooner rather than later. Nothing so terrible as keeping a lady waiting." He nods, and turns to take his leave.
"Well, if it's Waldrina, then at least your centaur children are assured to have horse teeth." Jaremy tilts his head, upper lip pulling back to show his front teeth. "Then, Jarod, when she pulls the hood off in the pale of the moonlight you'll hear that whistle that comes through that gap between her teeth. It'll be the maiden's call." Again…Jaremy is teasing. "Think of that? Heavy cavalry with three lances? We'd be unstoppable." Laughing, Jaremy takes another good-natured careful step away from Jarod.
"Goodnight Rowan." That's the FIRST time he's said such a thing, instead of the typical stern nod. "Jarod, between Rowan and Lucienne I think you'll get the right idea down, but if you're going to believe anything I say, believe me that if you're in, she needs to know you've gotten her attention, and that she's got you lit like a candle."
"Her teeth aren't *that* bad," Jarod defends Waldrina. Half-heartedly. "It's just that over-bite really makes them…prominent." He skims the letter again. "This does *not* sound like Waldrina, anyhow, useful as her hooved spawn might be to add to the guard. Lit?" He blinks at his brother. "I'm not lit. Am I lit?" He may be, rather. "Well, I can work it over tomorrow with the three of you. I should take my leave as well. Been a bloody long day." He folds his letter up and tucks it into his rumpled tunic. It will probably be read again when he's not in front of the boys.
"Right, sleep on it. Keep that sword arm ready, aye? I can't be in there with you so it's you and uncle and Kevan…fuck…I hope he knows what he's doing taunting a Greyjoy like that." Jaremy sighs, shaking his head. "Oh and brother?" He looks up. "If Rowan's pissed still…please…make him understand. He's no enemy of mine."
"Rowan's got something up his arse today. Don't worry about it. He was pissed at me, too. Still can't figure out why," Jarod says with a shrug to Jaremy. "I'll have to ask him tomorrow. Bugger, Kevan. Aye. He and I…talked a bit, tonight. We're still mates, I think, but he doesn't seem likely to back down from the Greyjoy. Too bad. I'll miss him if he dies. I was starting to like the aurochs. And he owes me a story about a Dornish girl. Anyway, don't worry too much, brother, and I'll see you on the morrow." And off he barrels.