|How To Do a Fighting Man|
|Summary:||The Captains of the Guard from Terrick and Stonebridge meet to further the joint investigation of the Nayland man's murder at Rockcliff.|
|Related Logs:||Murder at Rockcliff; Quick and Dirty|
|Four Eagles Tower|
|Random alcove sort of place.|
|Mon Aug 15, 288|
Jarod has been informed that a new arrival to the castle is looking for him. So he makes himself reasonably easy to find. He trumps down to the entrance hall, where Bruce likely would've been down to and told the Captain of the Guard of Terrick's Roost would meet him shortly. "I'm looking for a Ser Longbough?" Eyes around the hall, in search of this newcomer.
Ser Longbough isn't long to come. He's asked word of where to find the Captain of the Guard and now, it appears, he's found him. The short knight comes walking down the hallway in very simple garb - but his walk is a rather proud one. "You've found him, Ser Jarod. I'm presuming a bit, that you're him, but I've got a good eye they say." He grins.
"Aye, Ser Jarod Rivers at your service. Captain of the Guard of Four Eagles Tower," said knight introduces himself, extending a hand for Bruce to clasp. "And you're Lord Ryker Nayland's man, unless I also miss my guess. He mentioned you'd like be coming up from Stonebridge, to assist in the matter of finding the villain who did in your man Jens Howard."
Bruce's handshake is firm, but not overbearing. His hands are caloused from hard work with sword and spear. "I am, I am. Fresh from Lord Hoster's service to help me old friend Ser… er, Lord Ryker out with these little incidents, I s'pose. Well met, Ser Jarod. Ser Bruce Longbough, at your service. I'm afraid I don't know a whole lot about the whole situation, but I do know a bit. And I have this for ya." He reaches into the satchel he carries and removes a sealed letter. This he hands to Jarod.
Jarod clasps firm and friendly as well, and shows like calouses from a life of swinging heavy metal objects about on a daily basis. "Aye, Lord Ryker mentioned he'd brought you in from Riverrun." He takes the letter, reads over it quickly, and nods. "Understood. I can tell you some of what we've figured so far, though we're still piecing it together. It's shaping up fairly disturbing. Might be a simple enough matter. Might go deeper. Can't quite figure it yet. Have a seat, we'll talk on it." He motions to one of the alcoves, and heads over to it to plant himself on the bench within. "First off, I should ask. You know Master Howard at all? The sort of man he was, anything of that nature."
Bruce shakes his head as he sits down, removing the satchel from his body and dropping in front of him. A frown tugs at his lips, and he shakes his head. "No, but that's how I think Lord Ryker intended it. I'm a complete outsider. Arrived in Stonebridge a few days past. I know only what he's told me."
Jarod nods. "Fair enough. From what Lord Ryker told me, Master Howard was more regularly a man in service to his lord cousin, Ser Rygar, anyhow. I'll start with the basics. Yesterday morning, just after dawn, Master Howard was found dead by a maid in a private room upstairs at the local inn, Rockcliff. Stabbed in the neck. No way it could've been anything but murder, the way he was done. The previous night he'd been downstairs drinking in the common room, and had gone up to bed alone by all reports. Nobody heard any sort of struggles or screams in the night, and nothing was thought amiss until his corpse was found keeping his sheets not-so-warm."
Bruce nods at Jarod's account of the murder, or the circumstances surrounding it in any case. His brow is furroughed, green eyes thoughtful. "I see. Please, go on."
"He'd taken a room at the inn rather than staying with Lord Ryker's other men here at the castle. Not sure why, precisely. Lord Ryker claimed he found it too crowded here. Which may be true enough. We've got visitors from all parts right now." Jarod sits up straighter as he talks. "I had a local septon with an eye toward medical arts - and a knowledge of how fighting wounds look - examine the body before it was removed from the inn. Name's Septon Josse. He's in town and you can speak to him yourself if you like. But he confirmed it had to be murder, done with a knife. And whoever done it had taken Master Howard by surprise. His sword was within easy reach from where he was laying, and in its sheath as if it hadn't moved since he put it up when he went to bed. He also didn't have any sort of defensive injuries on his arms or hands, or anywhere else. Didn't look like he'd struggled at all, which squares with nobody else at the inn hearing a scream or scuffle."
A pause before he goes on. "This is where it goes dicey. The septon also said, from the way the bed was…Master Howard was having himself a good time right before he was killed. Whoever got him, it was just after or right during when he was fucking someone. Which…well, the more I think about it, the smarter it seems, really." He doesn't say just yet what he means by that, waiting for Bruce's reaction to all that.
"So. It wasn't a friend of his, or else he'd not have been in bed. But, they say he was last saw drinking. Mayhaps he was so drunk he didn't even wake when someone came in his room." Bruce ventures, rubbing at his stubbly chin. "Oh. Well, that changes it. Maybe it was whatever whore was romping on him who cut his throat, hmm?"
"Might've been pretty deep in the wine, but not so much he couldn't get something up," Jarod says with a chuckle. "Just poor luck on him it wasn't his sword. And aye. That's what I figure. I mean, somebody might've come in and killed him after he'd taken his pleasure from whoever-it-was, but I can't say I think that's likely. His purse was taken, too. Now, at first all this relieved me some. What I mean is, a whore getting into a fight with a bloke she's fucking and robbing him blind, that's nasty business, but it's simple enough and doesn't extend beyond a quarrel between two people. And maybe that's all it is. Thing is, like I said before, there's no sign of struggle from Master Howard, which I'd think there would be if it was just a romp that turned ugly. Also…he wasn't in any position where he could've been forcing himself on a girl. The knife wound clearly came from above, stabbed downward, and he was laying on his back in the bed. So, girl must've been on top or at least over him when she did the deed. He was a warrior, good-sized man, don't figure even drunk as a fish he'd go down without a fight if he saw it coming. The septon said whoever it was finished him off in one slice, so he didn't have time to."
Bruce doesn't appear to have much to say to all this, but his frown becomes more pronounced as the other knight finishes speaking. "Obviously, his eyes were closed. Or something, that doesn't matter much. But there's more to it, isn't there? Or else that would be it, Jens Howard would go to the Gods and we'd all be at home sleeping with our wives. What else is there?"
"I think so," Jarod says. "Doesn't strike me as just a fuck-and-cut-purse job. For one thing…given Master Howard's character, it strikes me that, if you wanted to have this man killed and knew even a little about him, this'd be the way to do it. He wasn't in town long, but he made himself pretty well-known as one who enjoyed the company of local women. He'd taken one of the barmaids at Rockcliff - girl named Ruby, giggles too much for her own good - to bed in previous nights. She wasn't working that evening, though, and the inn staff claim they didn't see her about. Not so sure of that myself, but I'll get to it in a moment. Anyway, say you want to do in a fighting man in a way that you know will kill him. How do you go about it? You don't come at him sword-on-sword, else you might go down instead. Poison's not reliable. But if you're a girl - or you can hire one - who's pretty enough to slip into his bed when he's had a few cups…well, I'll admit right now that if it were me I probably wouldn't have put up too much of a fight, either. The whole business smells like it was planned to me, either by the girl who done it or by someone who paid her to do it. Which is about as cold a sort of murder as I've ever seen, slipping into a man's bed just to slit his throat."
Bruce nods at Jarod's account, lacing his fingers together. His eyebrows knit, deep in thought. "Aye. Could have been a job to just cut his purse and his throat. Maybe the girl cooked it up. Maybe the other lad she was bedding did, with her. I don't see what slaying a minor retainer of Lord Ryker would do politically, but then, I'm new to these parts. I can't really discount anything at this point." He reaches into the satchel to remove a skin and drinks from it. It looks like water pouring out. "So, I s'pose I'm going to have to really get into the nitty gritty if I want to find anything about this more."
"I don't see much good this murder does either, politically," Jarod says with a frown. "Apart from making it yet one more grudge between Terrick and Nayland, as it was their man on our land. Still, seems a small thing to try and cause trouble with, and there're bigger matters afoot for our Houses to worry about than this poor dead fucker." He raises his fingers to make a little 'Can I have some?' motion to the skin. He might assume it's wine. "I hope it's just personal trouble and one nasty robbery. Lord Ryker mentions he suspects the Valentins, though he gave no hard reason for it. I'm not discounting anything. But whyever she did it, I figure this starts with finding the girl who was in Master Howard's bed that night."
He leans back in his seat. The stablehands said nobody made a runner out in the middle of the night, and no reports of stolen horses or the like. So little help there. I'm concentrating most on the other room at the inn. There are three private ones on that floor. Master Howard rented and died in one. The other was taken for the night by this castle's own Master of the Hunt. The man likes to drink in town more than is probably good for him. I've spoken to him and he claims not to've seen heard anything. No surprise, he was still half hung-over when we talked. It's the third room where I think we might find something useful to go on." He pauses again. Maybe waiting for the drinking skin.
Bruce sees no reason to deny Ser Jarod's request - though it is indeed only water that gets handed over in the skin to the other knight. "I don't know much about the Valentins, and can't see any reason why they'd do it either. He didn't give me any reason for that either. All I know is that their founder… Ser Cyric, it was, aye, he won his lordship in Lord Hoster's army. Well, Robert's army, really. I remember seeing him and his son with the Mallisters. I started as a serjeant with House Blackwood's retainers, and we fought alongside the Mallisters, so he's a vague memory to me… but I don't see any reason why they'd be involved." Again, he rubs his chin. "Well, that would be a start. Do we know who was in there?"
Jarod nods to that. "I remember Lord Ser Anton's father, a little. Ser Cyric. He was a knight in the Mallister forces - just a commoner then, but he did good work during the war. I squired to a common knight, myself, so we moved in the same camps. Can't say I knew him well, be he did good service as a fighter, and King Robert was keen to hand out honors to the men who fought for him after he'd won the crown. You were with Lord Jason's men, too, then?" Jarod grins, in some surprise, though it's a glad one. "I was knighted just after the Trident. Well met, Ser. Or met again, if we ever met before. Those were large battlefields." He sips from the skin. Shrugging when he finds only water, but he's not complaining.
"The last room was rented for the night, but the innkeeper didn't know by who. He said one of the girls claimed to have a 'friend' in who needed a place to stay. He didn't ask too many questions. Anyway. I pressed him a bit after we'd gotten a look at how the deed had been done, on which of his girls it was who paid for it, and it turns out it was Mistress Ruby herself who bought the room." He frowns. "The barmaid Master Howard had fucked the last couple nights. Paid for it all in silver, too, which strikes me as a odd, as most barmaids' pay there comes in copper. I still can't get anyone to say they saw her in the inn that night. Like I said, she wasn't working and nobody saw her go upstairs with Howard. But I figure she's where we should start with questions. The sheriff's men are keeping an eye on her, and she's still in town. Feel like taking a run at her?" He pauses and adds, "Questioning purposes only, I mean, of course."
Bruce chuckles as he shakes his head. "No, I was with Lord Tytos Blackwood's retainers. The Black Ravens. But, we were quartered close by the Mallister men, and I remember sharing drink and food with many of them. I was knighted after the Bells, at Stoney Sept." He snorts. "Well, that sounds to me like Mistress Ruby knew an easy mark when she saw one. And yes, hah, I think that questioning her is a good idea."
"I remember the Battle of the Bells," Jarod says with a grimace. "Nasty business, fighting in a town like that. Hard place to win a Ser, but I figure it was well-earned. And aye. Figure she's got answers if anyone does. Never figured her for a murderer, I must say. Always seemed a sweet girl. If a bit of a…town mare, I guess you could say. Everyone's had a ride. I took a few turns with her a couple years ago myself, actually." He admits it in a half-abashed sort of way. "Nothing serious. Like I said, she giggles too much. Hurts a man's pride after awhile. But she might've gotten desperate, either for money or some wrong that this Howard'd done to her."
"It was terrible. Lost a lot of good lads that day. I was third in line for command of the retainers, but turns out arrows and swords and spear bumped me up to first." Bruce shakes his head, offering a sad chuckle to cap it all off. "Maybe. I don't wanna make any guesses before I meet her , cause I don't know much about this and filling my head with ideas is a bad idea to do to meself."
"Aye, lots of good men lost all around during the Rebellion," Jarod agrees somberly. "I try not to think on it too much. Hard days, but at least there's peace now with Good King Robert rather than Mad Aerys on the throne, and I remember very well most of the men I fought with. You care to take some rest in the castle before we try at Mistress Ruby? We've good summerwine, and better beer, and some meat still left from dinner. Wouldn't mind having a drink with a man who'd fought with the Blackwood company."
Bruce smiles at last, the creases wearing away from his forehead. "Aye, aye, I think I'd like that, Ser Jarod. A bit of wine and food and a soldier's company. Honestly, as much as I loved working for Lord Hoster, there were always a whole contingents of lickspittles who won their knighthoods by tonguing someone's arse after he'd visited the privy, in some castle, away from the field. Lots of knights don't deserve it, I'm sorry to say. Whether I do or don't isn't up to me to decide, but I have the feeling that you're the type of man who did what he had to do."
"I was just a boy, looking back on it, and I'm not sure how much of an account of myself I gave," Jarod says with a shrug. "Might've taken me longer to come by it in a time of peace, given the way they were handing out honors after King Robert beat Prince Rhaegar Targaryen on the field. Still, I fought with some of the best men I'll ever know, and I try to carry it well as I can. Did Lord Ryker fight for King Robert's forces as well? He didn't mention such, not that we talked on old times like that."
"Well, in truth, I met him at the Trident… but he showed up near the end, with old Walder Frey's force. Could hardly be avoided, that, what with the Naylands waiting for House Frey to get off of their arses and do something. But… that's the way of it, eh?" Poses Bruce. He gets up from the bench. "Well, shall we, Ser Jarod? There's a cup of wine or beer with ol' Ser Bruce Longbough's name on it, methinks." His smile broadens into a wide grin.
Jarod nods to that. "Ah, yes. The Late Walder Frey. No slight against your master. Frey didn't march until the battle was won, and held his banners back with him. We all take our orders from someone, Ser Bruce, just got to pray the someone giving those orders knows what in seven hells they're doing. And aye, we shall." He rises with a grin. "I think I hear one calling Ser Jarod Rivers as well, so let's not keep them waiting."
"Eh. My master was Lord Tytos Blackwood. Then Lord Hoster Tully. Now it's Lord Ryker Nayland, and that's where the buck stops as far as I'm concerned." Bruce, again, offers one of his rolling shrugs. "Course, who really cares what a minor knight who's pop wasn't more than a footslogger for the Blackwoods thinks, eh? Alright, off with us then!"
And so they go, off into the night, to drink, eat and be merry.