|Horses, Rivers and Snows|
|Summary:||In which Mistress Oliva Snow introduces Ser Jarod to the right horse for him.|
|Related Logs:||Some vague references, none specifically|
|Paddock — Terrick's Roost|
The year is 284. The place, the paddock not far from Four Eagles Tower. Ser Jarod Rivers awoke late today. He's spent the last few weeks on patrols down along the Cape between the Roost and Seagard. Searching for poachers and watching for raiders from the sea and that sort of thing. It's unglamorous work but he volunteered for it, and might have volunteered to be gone longer, had his horse not been injured during the whole adventure. The poor beast had to be put down, and he came back to the Roost afoot and without a mount. He's out to look over a replacement today. He is not exactly getting his pick of the best horses at the Roost, but there are several sturdy young coursers trained as spare battle mounts that might do for him.
It has been an awkward few months for the young Oliva Snow. She has started to gain the reputation of the mute Northern girl who follows Master of Horses around like a lost sheep, praying no one will ask her a question or need her direct assistance, or worse as her opinion. Up in the North, her smallfolk family are masters of the horse trade. Here, few people even know the Fleetwood name. Today, Master Detir is out looking after the more urgent horse matters, leaving his quiet apprentice to tend to the younger charges of the stable. Instead of working in the stables, she has utilized the comfortable day and dragged the coursers out into the yard. Several are lazily grazing while she brushes down a pale grey gelding.
Jarod leans against the rail of the paddock, looking over with horses out being exercised. He's got the strut of a somewhat new-made knight still, despite the months that've passed since the Trident, and he's well-known around the castle as Lord Jerold's Lucky Bastard. Still, his face isn't one that's been seen much in the past months. After he was first knighted he volunteered to spend a great deal of time down in Stonebridge. Then, for whatever reason, abruptly stopped volunteering for that and ran off to ride out on far-flung patrols. So the Northern bastard is an unfamiliar face to him, when he lays eyes on her. And lay them on her he goes, looking her up and down as she brushes the gelding. He's not really trying to leer, but he's an 18-year-old young man, so he sort've can't help himself.
Oliva gets that feeling that someone is looking at her. Her hands slow as she continues to brush down the horse, eventually coming to a stop. With a deliberate movement, she looks over her shoulder toward the leaned knight. Her dark brows arch high over her equally dark eyes, and she tilts her head a bit. "You shouldn't stare, milord," she blurts out suddenly. "It can cause ill omens." She claps the brushes together, causing the gelding to shudder a bit at the sudden noise before he dips his head down to graze at some of the tender new grasses. If she has spoken out of turn, she doesn't look at all apologetic.
"I'm no lord, pretty one," Jarod counters back with a broad, boyish grin. "And I assure you I'm lucky as all seven hells. No ill omens about me. I'm Ser Jarod Rivers. Sworn sword to Lord Terrick." And his bastard spawn, though that part isn't in his chipper introduction. And then - though it's entirely unnecessary for a common woman - bows to her. It's sort of overly whippy and he tries to pivot in a way he must think impressive, and he sort of has to hop to keep himself from tripping over his scabbard. He clears his throat, straightening back up as if that totally hadn't happened. "And what is your name, sweetling? I thought I knew all the girls at the Roost. Or at least that I'd caught up on all the new faces worth knowing since returning from Seagard."
Oliva keeps that brow neatly arched even as he calls her 'pretty one', though it does spur the smallest smirk on her full lips. Tucking the brushes into the broad pockets of her apron, she strides forward several sturdy, nonetheless graceful steps toward the knight even as he bows. She pauses a few steps from the railing, and offers him a brief and simple curtsey. "Oliva Snow," she provides in response to his own introductionbastard to bastard, it seemsbut hers is short and simple at first. Her arms cross languidly at her chest, and she rests her weight into a cocked-out hip. "Perhaps I was not worth knowing, Ser," she responds, though hardly in a self-deprecating voice.
"You're a Northern girl." Jarod's green eyes practically light up. One can almost hear the mental, 'Woo hoo!' being sounded in his brain. "My kinswoman in the North, in fact!" His grin turns half-rueful. "On the wrong side of the sheets, that is. Don't take offense, my not-quite-lady, for I mean none. But I've always figured all by-blows are kin of a kind. I've many half-brother Rivers and Hill cousins in the Westerlands and…well, the less said about those scary step-children on the Pyke the better. So no. You're quite worth knowing."
"I'm a Northern girl," Oliva confirms, though she gives the knight a speculative look. Though at the mention of being on the wrong side of the sheets, she snorts; granted, its not an unattractive noise, but its still a snort. "I take no offense, Ser… I've never seen issue with my sheets." Suddenly, she smiles and it adds a pleasant quality to her pretty face. "You know my name now, and my face… does that qualify as knowing?" She now crosses her arms along the strong beam of the railing, leaning offsides from the knight so she still has to tilt her head to the side to look at the knight. He is given a good look over — a kind of judging stare that Master Detir would use to size up a brand new yearling.
"I suppose it does at that," Jarod proclaims with a laugh. "And I'm Lord Jerold's Rivers, for my part." He says it with pride, if perhaps of a back-handed sort. And if it might be strange to picture the pious, honor-bound Lord of the Roost with a bastard, he plays it off as if it's not. "So, tell me. What's a Snow doing all the way down in our warm Riverlands? Not melting, I hope." He chuckles at his own joke.
Uh oh, the Lord's bastard boy. Oliva has heard about this one. She clasps her hands on either of her elbows, giving him a slightly inquisitive look. If only the Snow girl did more than eavesdrop onto gossip, she might plan to ask more questions about him to the chattery kitchen girls. His question causes her shoulders to lift in a shrug, and she offers him another smooth smile. "It will take more than Rivers to melt Snow, Ser," she points out casually before she goes about actually answering his question. "Master Detir came to my uncle seeking a knowledgeable stablehand. I am knowledgeable. He eventually got over the fact that I'm a skirt-wearing knowledgeable stablehand." This is perhaps the most words she has said since she arrived — wait until that gets around. Jerold's bastard made Detir's shadow talk; its magic!
"I don't know, our Riverlands can get pretty hot," Jarod replies with that big grin of his. If you know what he means. He's about as subtle as a brick. "Oh, you've an eye for horseflesh, then?" That didn't even sound like a euphemism. "What do you think of the crop of young ones? I had a rouncy I rode back from the Trident, but he broke a leg on the way back from Seagard. Poor bastard. I mean, not a literal bastard. Not that I know much of horse marriage customs." He winks. "My lord father said I could take one of the young coursers for my own."
Oliva has yet to build up strong defenses against knightly advances, so she blushes brightly at her cheeks at the first of Jarod's words. She looks down coyly at her forearms before she tilts her gaze back up to him. Thankful for the subject change, or at least the casual slide into something more familiar, she straightens up a bit. A frown comes to her lips at the story of his horse, and she shakes her head. "It is always most unfortunate when that happens, Ser," she responds gracefully. Now, she casts a glance over her shoulder toward the cluster of young coursers, one of which has started to prance around in the free yard. "They are all young, Ser. But sometimes young does a knight good." Then she asks a genuine question — a horsemasters question. "What kind of knight are you?"
"What kind of knight am I?" This question puzzles young Jarod Rivers. His brow scrunches up as he considers. "The…uh…dubbed kind?" Another laugh at his own joke. "Pardon me, Mistress Snow, but I'm not sure what you mean. Isn't there just the Ser kind?"
Oliva is intrigued by the puzzlement, though she gives him an apologetic smile. "Forgive me, Ser… do you joust? Will you put many miles under their hooves? Do you think you will be in places beyond the Riverlands?" She shakes her head a bit. "Its okay to not know the answers to these question, Ser… but it is good to find a horse that matches your needs. For instance…" She points to the grey gelding she had been brushing. "He would suit you if you do not intend to joust, or feel you are patient to train up a jousting mount. He is not as fast nor steady as his brothers, but he also has great stamina. I've seen him run the Green for hours without getting tired."
"My brother Lord Jaremy's the better jouster," Jarod says quickly. As if admitting his own prowess at such a thing would be a betrayal somehow. "And better rider and all that. I do like to ride, though. I guess…I'd like to maybe try jousting someday. Mostly, though, I'd like a horse who was sturdy. And fast, though maybe not the fastest. This one is fine looking." He reaches out to pat the gelding's nose. "I do need a warhorse, though. One that'll hold up in a fight. Not one of Jaremy's flashy destrier's but…sturdy." There's a young brown courser that suits the description of his needs perfectly, though his eyes bypass it as they sweep around the paddock. It's a terribly nondescript horse.
Oliva turns so her back is to him, her elbows supporting her lean as she looks over the horses that graze and wander about the paddock. She considers all his keywords, all his needs, and also what kind of rider each of her charges need. She nods her head slowly before she pushes off the railing, stepping out into the green. The horse girl crosses her arms in a critical stance, narrowing her eyes finally on the brown courser. She actually kind of likes the horse — an overlooked wonder. Plain, some would say. She clucks her tongue to him as she touches his neck, and slowly begins to lead the horse back toward the knight.
"Huh." Jarod eyes the courser she picked skeptically. "Well, that's definitely not Jaremy's destrier, I'll say that." Still, he reaches out a hand to pat the beast's nose, when the horse is near enough. There's a white, almost star-like spot on it that seems to attract him. He's quiet a moment. Studying the horse, or just up in his own head. Could be either. "You mind if I ask if you've got any brothers or sisters, Mistress Snow? Half-ones, I mean. Trueborn ones."
As the pair finish their approach, Oliva ducks into the pocket of her apron to remove a solid lump of sugar. She rests her shoulder under the horse's chin, a nice height for that kind of gesture. She offers the lump to the horse as the knight casts judgement on her choice, and she smiles at the tickling sensation of his soft lips to her palm. She glances up toward the knight, and she shakes her head a bit. "We are of two different worlds, Ser Jarod… my father acknowledges my existance, but I lived only with my uncle. My mother died bringing me into the world… I have no brothers nor sisters to speak of."
"Ah." Jarod just nods to that, asking no more after the noble half of her family. Though he does add, without looking at her, eyes still on the horse, "So did mine. My mother, that is. Only kin she had left was her father, the old Lord Terrick's steward and he…well, he wasn't too happy after I was born. So Lord Jerold took me in, raised me alongside my brothers and sisters. Didn't realize until I got older that I was different than them." Though he seems to realize it now. "You ever…jealous of your noble kin?" He says it in an undertone, like it's a thing he's half-ashamed of voicing.
Oliva looks up at the question even as she gently knuckles the horse's soft nose. "No," she said abruptly without hesitation. "I've seen the way the noble half live… I've seen the noble ladies and their dresses and their husbands and their children. No, Ser… I'm never jealous." She meets his eyes, holding his gaze without much regard if she has gone too far with her own boldness. "There are things I have done that I could never do as a noble lady." She offers him a genuine smile — perhaps even a smile between bastards.
Jarod returns the smile, a crook of his lips that's warmer than all the 'impressive' knightly smirking he was engaging in before. "Aye. That's true enough. It's just…I'm not either, generally. But it's just, my brother Jaremy's got this really nice…horse." There's a long pause between the rest of that sentence and the word 'horse.' "Lovely creature, great body. I mean, form. Horse form. Musculature or…whatever." He makes a sort of curving gesture with his hands. And then makes himself stop talking about that. "He doesn't really seem to appreciate it, though. Doesn't even bother to ride it. And I was thinking…well, it's going to waste, and I'd take good care of it. I'd take it out for a damn fine ride, often as it wanted. But I can't, because it's my fair lord brother's."
"I know that horse," Oliva comments. "He is a beautiful creature, but…" She shrugs her shoulders a bit, which causes the horse to shake his head as her shoulder nudges against his chin. His tail gives an idle toss. "Find yourself the most beautiful woman in all the Seven Kingdoms… lock her up, never let her see the sun, deprive her of the beauty of the world… she will be disgraceful next to the average woman who runs the fields and loved by a gentle hand." She rests her head beside that of the brown, plain courser. "You treat this horse better than your brother, and he will surpass the neglected warhorse with ease."
"Horse! Beautiful horse!" Jarod says firmly. Blushing. "I mean…not that I want to be locked up with a horse. I don't know what they say about me around here but I'm not into that." He tries to meet the eyes of the courser, and promises it mock-solemnly, "I'm really not. Jaremy might be, though, the way he carries on about his real destrier sometimes, so we'll just stay away from him, eh boy?" He grins. "I rather like this one, actually. Not much to look at, but he might hold up well. Could I take him out for a ride before I decide? See how he handles the trails?"
Oliva laughs brightly to that. "I did not mean to suggest, Ser," she says with an equal blush. Then she shakes her head a bit as she steps aside to give the knight some room with the courser. "Take him out, see if he likes you. It is an equal relationship, a horse and his rider. He won't do what you need of him if he doesn't like you." Then she considers the horse with stern dark eyes before she looks over to him with a nod. "He will fare fine. Would you like me to saddle him up for you, Milord?" Bastard lord or not, hard not to break that habit.
"I'm no lord, Mistress Snow. Just Ser Rivers'll do me just fine. And aye. Thanks." Jarod gives her the horse's head back, so she can take him for saddling purposes. "I won't have him long. I've got drills this afternoon. Not for myself, but for this little puke of a lordling the Naylands sent us. Skinny brat. My lord father says he wants me to take him as my squire. Slight for a lord to do like that for a bastard but…Lord Nayland wants to slight this particular son of his, I suppose." He shrugs. "I'm trying to look at it as a challenge. Make a man out of him. He's a scrapper, at least. Not half so bad as I'm told the Naylands generally are. Never had a squire before, truth be told, so I'm not quite sure what to do with him. Except make him hit things. A lot."
Oliva nods as she begins to guide the horse to the paddock gates. It follows dutifully behind her, almost sniffing around her apron pockets for the sugar lumps hiding within them. The woman smiles over toward him at his assessment of his new squire, and she offers a slight arch of her brows. "I'm sure you'll make due, Ser Rivers… hitting things is a good start." She inclines her head a bit. "I will return with him ready to go." And she starts to lead him off.