Page 424: I Will Survive
I Will Survive
Summary: Squire and Knight talk it out.
Date: 19 September 2012
Related Logs: Stonebridge and the death of Aerick
Jac Darek 
Charlton Encampment
It's a camp.
September 18, 289

Morale sinks like the sun that has started to set over the Charlton camp. The wounded who managed to retreat with the rest of the host moan and groan in the tents, adding a lament to the usual harmony of sunset. Jac Caddock sits on the outskirts of the camp, looking out toward Highfield with Stonebridge at his back. He wittles at a bit of wood, though what he intends to make of it has not yet taken shape. He does not sing on this day, lost in his own thoughts as his knife nicks away at the wood. His armor is in his tent, cleaned and polished, along with his swords and other belongings. He is in leather and dirt, the things he loves best.

Darek steps out of the tent, cleaning the last of the armor polish off his hands with a rag. Or rather, off his right hand and the fingers sticking out of the bandage on his left hand. He tosses the cloth back toward the tent, stops as it falls short, sighing and moving back to pick it up and flick it the rest of the way inside, then straightening up and moving over to his knight's side. "All cleaned up, Ser." The words are low, for all the squire's light tenor, and he settles down on the same long as the elder man. "Retreating sucks, Ser. If I catch any of those pink pussies in the next attack, I'm gonna chop 'em up." Evidently his morale has sunk, but not all that far.

"Good, good," Jac says distractedly as he continues to wittle away at the wood. There is a lapse of silence as he continues to work, and then the Songbird glances toward the boy. "There may not be a next attack, lad. Ser Harold rode out yesterday to negotiate for peace." He does crack a small smile though. "You did well out there, Darek… a good show of a squire that will one day become a knight. I saw you break that levy line on your own." He continues to wittle, but there is still little life to that woodwork.

Darek gapes a bit at the first statement, "But Ser…" It's almost a whine, as if the common knight could overrule the nobles above him and give another order to attack. Subsiding into a bit of a sulk, he starts picking idly at his bandaged hand, only to start puffing back up under the praise, "Fucking pikes. There're not so tough once you get in under 'em, Ser." For a moment, a smug smirk controls his features, and then he sighs a bit, "Fuck. I mean… I was just trying to stay close to you, Ser, watch your blind side. And the levies did a lot of that. Pushing, that is." They're honest statements, but he's rather obviously forcing them out, as if conscious just how much he was starting to preen. "Sorry about getting washed out there at the end, Ser, away from your side, that is. This big guy with a hammer kept trying to knock my block off."

Jac casts a glance toward his squire, and he offers him the vaguest of smiles. "Be sure to get that story of yours down for that girl of yours, you will want to tell it right." He then turns over the wood, and starts to work on the other side with slow gestures. Then he shakes his head. "Don't need your apologies, Darek. Take what happened out there and learn from it… there are ways to deal with big guys and hammers." He chortles to himself before he sinks into another length of silence. "With the death of his son, Lord Aleister will be back at Highfield. It will be up to Ser Harold to determine the terms of peace."

Darek nods his head at the first point, "Yeah… she ain't hearing about the levies or following you, Ser." That gets a bit of a smile, and he pats the hilt of the sword at his hip, "And if we weren't trying to break those fucking pikers, Hammer-man would have been begging me not to hurt him." Well, probably not, but what are teenagers for if not boasting. He shifts a bit on his log seat in the silence, and his shoulders sink a bit on the mention of young Aerick's death, "Fucking Naylands. How the hell did they get someone back to Highfield and all the way to the Young Lord's chambers?" Scrubbing his unbandaged hand back through his hair, he casts a glare over his shoulder, "Guess we should'a left some of the Guards back at Highfield instead of mostly levymen? Maybe… fuck…"

Jac has to chuckle a bit at first, shaking his head. "Don't forget to tell her about that hand, too." Then the Songbird Knight breathes out a steady exhale, looking back out toward where Highfield would stand. He is silent for a long moment of time, as if trying to get his own thoughts together. "We might have always had a Nayland spy within our mits," the man says, keeping his voice low. "Needless to say, I will be tearing apart the maid staff until I find out who last saw the boy alive." He rubs at his brow, as if his head aches. "And I will need to answer for my own part."

Darek nods his head, "And whoever was outside the door, Ser? Might know who went in and out." He shifts his feet a little, studying them for a long moment, "Might also check and see if anyone climbed up to the window." There might be a bit of a blush at that, but it's just a hint of pink really. "I dunno that I wanna know what Ser Aleister'd do to whoever did it. I heard he gets nasty when he's mad." Once more, the squire looks back over his shoulder toward the stubborn town of Stonebridge, "Think he'd burn the town to the ground if he found out it was a Nayland, Ser? Doesn't really seem like that'd be useful, what with Lady Tordane supposed to rule these people, but it seems like something someone angry'd do."

Jac breathes out a sigh, shaking his head. "Guards are limited in the keep, Darek… it is hard to have every door looked after, especially when most of the men are away at war." There is something dismal in his voice, as if he may be blaming himself for this event. He casts a glance toward him now, and he shakes the thoughts from his head, breathing out a breath. "Men who have lost do crazy, stupid things, lad. Certainly Ser Henric told you that. It depends what sort of man Lord Aleister is. If he is like my father, he will find a way to turn that grief into something fierce and strong. If he is like me… Gods save us. Had I the power, I would have burned King's Landing to the ground."

Darek nods his acceptance of the correction, leaning his forearms against his knees and turning his left hand over and back to study the bandages wrapped around it. Smirking again at the commentary about personality types, he adds, "From how I heard it, they kinda tried to do that anyhow, Ser." Not quite, of course, but there were certainly fires burning. He's silent for a long moment then, finally looking up and noting, "It's not your fault, you know, Ser? I mean, like you said, the Guard was needed down here. They were the only reason we didn't just bounce straight off the Naylands in the fight."

"That they did, lad, that they did," Jac remarks softly as he continues to wittle. He doesn't go further into those details, that dark little hole. He casts a glance toward his squire, and he cracks a small smile that does not quite touch those dark eyes. "That's the burden of it all, Darek… as a man on my own, it is not my fault… but as the Captain of the Guard? It is the protection of those in that keep that falls to my shoulders. I should have kept loyal men there to watch over the Charltons while we were out here." He shakes his head a bit, and his jaw flexes with capped anger. "If peace is indeed what is coming our way, there is little need for me here. I might ride back to Highfield, see to these unpleasant things."

Darek shrugs his shoulders widely, spreading out his hands as he does to broaden the gesture, "Did you tell Ser Aleister to send so many of the Guard down here, Ser?" He doesn't even really wait for a response, knowing or assuming a negative response, "So it ain't your fault, Ser. No matter if you're talking you-you, or Captain of the Guard-you. You've gotta do what the nobles say you've gotta do, right?" He perks up a little at the mention of going back to Highfield, "Think we might go back there? I mean, the reason sucks, but it'd be good to be back in town again." And out of this damn military camp where it's so damned hard to get your girl into your tent unnoticed.

Jac casts a glance toward his squire, and he shakes his head again. "We will see what Ser Aleister has to say, young Darek." Now the Songbird looks down at his wittling as it starts to look a bit like a wolf in his palm. Then his squire makes him laugh — a deep, rumbling laugh that sparks a bit of warmth in that grim expression. "I think we might, lad. I'll speak with Ser Harold, see if he will excuse us to return to Highfield. Let Ser Thom know I'll require six of the household guard to ride back with us."

Darek kicks at the ground a bit, "Don't get me wrong, Ser… if there's gonna be more fighting, I want to stay here. That was about the biggest rush I've ever had." There's a thoughtful pause, "Cursed near, at least." He picks at the bandage again, "If there's not gonna be any more fighting though… I'd cursed well rather be back there." He pauses a heartbeat, then clears his throat, "Where we can do some good, I mean, Ser. Not that I'm not learning a lot from the men around camp." …and none of it good, most likely.

The Songbird flashes the boy a white smile between dirty lips. "If the peace talks go south, we will be within a day's ride of the camp. We are under a peace banner right now, which means it will be foolish for any to attack until reason is given." Or at least that's what the honorable, noble man does say. He does cast Darek a dubious look. "And what have you learned so far, Darek?" There is a touch of amusement in those dark eyes, overshadowing the anger and loss of morale easily for now.

Darek nods his acceptance of the first point, "Of course, Ser." The question has him grasping for a quick answer, "Well, besides how to get inside a pike, Ser…" that buys him a little bit of time, "Uh…" that, not so much, "I learned a couple new songs, Ser. A couple actually aren't dirty. And I learned to always have a canteen on ya when you go into a fight. And this crazy fucking trick with a knife that you slam between your fingers." He mimes spreading out the fingers of his left hand and stabbing a knife between them in a quick pattern.

Jac chortles a bit. "So, life or death skills," he points out. Then he shakes his head a bit. "Next time you go up against a big man with a hammer, think of it like a fist fight… get your opponent to miss, and the weight behind the hammer will make it harder to recover." He elevates his dark brows behind the shag of his bangs before he tucks the unfinished wolf pup in the inner pocket of his leather jacket. "You survived your first battle, Squire. Survival is an important skill."

Darek thinks that over, nodding slowly, "I tried to get my shield in the way." There's a pause, and then he grins, "No, I did get my shield in the way. Just didn't matter. Maybe next time I'll just try to get out of the way." He looks down at his left hand, twitching his fingers as if they were on the neck of a bow and wincing as he does, "Fuck… still hurts. Yeah. Next time I'll definitely try to get outta the way. Or just stab him in the gut." Tossing his hair back, he gives his squire a cheeky grin, "I didn't just survive, Ser. I kicked some fucking ass. I mean, I think I even hit someone with one of the arrows I launched early on."

Jac chuckles, glancing down at the injured hand. "Keep flexing your fingers, don't let your hand go stiff. It will give you trouble later." Then he claps his squire on the shoulder with a squeeze. "Relish in that, lad. The next time, you will compound on those successes. But then think about what you could have done better, where did your skills fail you. Those are the ones we work on next. Next lesson, we see how you fair against another hammer now that you have seen one in action." He looks as if he might be aiming to stand, but then he settles back down again, rocking back on his seat.

Darek nods his head at the first advice, "That's what the healer said too. Hurts like a bitch though." He grunts at the suggestion, offering a smile impish enough to send a dimple into his cheek, "You going to be swinging that hammer, Ser?" And then his knight starts to stand up, then settles back down, and the squire pops up to his feet, teasing, "You want a hand up, Ser? I've got one left to offer. And I know you're getting old and all that…"

"You are not the only one in discomfort, lad," Jac says as he rubs at his chest where the crossbow bolt had been yanked from his chest. He breathes out a steady exhale before he waves off the boy's hand and pulls himself to his own feet with a scowling wince. Then he shakes his head a bit. "Maybe I'll have Ser Markin swing that hammer," he says, mentioning the giant that the Charltons do have in their ranks. He casts Darek a wry grin. "He'll give you good practice. I prefer blades."

Darek keeps his hand held out until Jac gets fully to his feet, then shrugs helplessly, "I don't know that there are many in the camp that aren't hurting like fuck today, Ser." The threat from his knight draws a wince from the youth, "I thought you wanted me in one piece so you could knight me some time. Can't very well do that if Ser Markin spreads me in a thin paste across the courtyard at Highfield, Ser." Still, he shrugs the complaint off, offering up a bright grin.

"Right you are, lad," Jac confirms with another tight-chested chuckle. Then he casts the boy another dubious look, and he flashes a grin in response to his own. "Ah, I suppose you have a good point… alright, I'll swing the hammer." He pats the boy on the shoulder and then gives him a small shove. "We prepare to leave for Highfield in the morning, Darek. Do whatever you need done before we head out, and make sure to inform Ser Thom."

Darek rocks back a step or two at the shove, grinning broadly, "I'll start packin' up our gear, Ser." He nods again, "After I tell Ser Thom, of course." He stretches broadly, "Be good to get back on a horse. Sucked having to walk into the fight the other day."