|Summary:||Jarod and Amelia have a not-particularly-heart-warming talk about family, service, and hanging.|
|Related Logs:||Many. All These Things That I Have Done most directly|
|Dungeons — Four Eagles Tower|
|The heavy iron door that opens, leading down to the dungeon is the first sign that this is not a welcoming location within the Eagles Tower. The stairs go deep underground to a hallway that extends out in a straight line, the depths enough to conceal cries and screams among the torchlit pathways of dirt and stone. Off the main hall are several rooms that lead to their own areas. One such offshoot has a pair of ten foot wells with flat walls for prisoner storage while two more have caged cells. The last area is one large room with shackle bars bolted to the walls and some hanging from the ceiling. In the center is an open area where prisoners can be flayed and punished as needed.|
|Sun Aug 28, 288|
The sound of footfalls outside Amelia's cell comes at what must be the expected time by now. It's time for a shift change among the pair of guards assigned to…stand there and make sure she stays in her cell. It's not glamorous work. "Thanks, Payte, we got it from here," comes the familiar voice of Ser Jarod Rivers as he takes up one of the positions outside. Which may or may not be surprising. If he's taken part in guard duty here since she was brought in, he's done it silently enough that his presence wasn't apparent.
Hearing any voice is odd. The only sounds she's become accustomed to down here are that of mice and the occasional footfall of guards. Nobody will talk to her and nobody has been down to visit except for those to bring her food. But hearing Jarod's voice is the kind of heart-skipping nerve wrack that she was not expecting. Simply out of reflex she stands in her cell, head bent. Despite nobody speaking to her, she still greets the man from inside, standing in middle and facing the door. "Good afternoon, Ser Jarod," she says gently. No depression. Just the same sotto voice that they heard her confession in.
Jarod doesn't actually look into the cell. He takes up a position leaning against the wall beside the door. His voice carries easily enough from there. His partner on this shift is silent as he shuffles into position, for guard duty. "It's closer to evening, actually, Fair Amelia," is Jarod's reply to her. "Though I suppose one loses track of time down here." Unlike at the farmhouse, there's no particular rancor in his voice. He sounds tired more than anything. "My father's decided what's to be done with you. Have you been told yet?"
"Aye, Ser. I never know how long I sleep and your men know their ply. Prisoners are seen, not spoken to." Asking for the time or date proves useless with them. At the last, there is only silence for several long seconds. She dips her head, eyes closing. She's trying to read his voice and has her own suspicions. "I have not been told, Ser. Would you grant me the knowledge of the Lord Jerold's bidding?"
"You're to hang." Jarod says it starkly. "For the murder of Jens Howard. Though either murder of spying is a hanging crime, and you've confessed to both so…" He shrugs, not that she can see it. "Don't know precisely when yet. Days, I'd wager. If you've a peace to make with the Seven, I'd advise seeing arrangements made to make it soon."
There is a sigh, almost sounding like relief. Then a sniff. He could probably see her swipe at her face once or twice if he glanced in. After many long seconds she speaks up again, her voice tried but the attempt to be strong is mighty. "I'm to be hung. Yes, Ser. But I've made my peace. After telling Lord Jaremy and Lady Anais, I knew. I wanted those days alone so I could manage it. I did not want to turn into a horrid mess here. I'll go quietly."
"It's not a bad way to die, hanging. I've seen far worse. It's very quick. I've never heard anyone cry out, if there's any pain it's over before they can. The ropes don't strangle you, if everything done right. Just breaks your neck, fast as a snap, soon as you drop. And I will make sure the ropes are set up properly, Amelia. I'll promise you that much, at least." There's almost sympathy in Jarod's tone as he goes on about that.
"Thank you, Ser. I know you are taken with anger at me and do not have to afford me that courtesy. But the anger is righteous. I've messed-up terribly. I am only glad that I'm to be hung by your family. It is better to accept the fate decided by those I've loved rather than suffer my death by the hand of those I despise." The Naylands. Amelia sniffs once more, her throat clearing while she settles her composure back. "Do take care of the cat, please. She is not responsible for my actions."
"I'm not angry at you, Amelia." Jarod notes is almost too soft for her to hear. "Save for the harm and hurt you've done to Jaremy. Whether you meant to or not, I don't know. That's between you and the Seven, I figure, whatever I think on it." As for the cat. "I've found your beast to be good company. It'll have a home here."
"I meant what I inclined towards during our cart ride, Ser. I'd intended to quit my life after striking Jaremy and dividing the family. Lines have been crossed recently that never should have been. I regret that." She sighs. "For what its worth, I regret everything else too except for the murder. And also excluding coming here. And the last two years. You all gave me more than I ever could have hoped. Far more than I ever deserved. Thank you for being as kind as you have been. I do not know if you believe me for all my tangles and deceptions past, but I know the Seven are aware of my heart. It is cast iron and painted in gold and purple."
"You should've sold your dragonbone flute and taken the money as far away from here as you could go," Jarod says. "You could've had any sort of life you wanted. As to that. Between you and the Seven, as I said. Though I'm given to understand you put some ideas in my brother's head about Lord Ser Anton Valentin. And Oldstones. My brother sent…words to Good King Robert Baratheon directly due to what you told him. Without counsel of my father, or any of us. Can you guess what King Robert sent us back as to them, Fair Amelia?"
"I never cared about money, Ser. The flute is something I cherish because it is something I got without whoring. Just being me. I'm not a complex person, Jarod. I just wanted to find someplace where I could be me… not 'The Whore from Seagard'." Amelia swallows. But at hearing the last, her head shoots up. "He- Oh my Gods, no. Seven above.." She sounds almost panicked. "What I told Jaremy was a theory that required confirmation! It was supposed to.. Oh Gods," she nearly whines, stepping closer to the door. "If the theory had been right, I trust you would not be speaking as you are. …The theory is wrong, is it not?"
"You trust correctly. Ser Cyric Valentin was given lands and title for his valor on the fields of battle for Robert Baratheon following the Rebellion, and raised to the nobility, and his son inherited the title after him. So we've word of, from the King and his Hand themselves. The King is…displeased with our House at present, Amelia. And Lord Tully and Lord Mallister shall be as well when they hear of this, if they aren't already." Jarod sighs. "Oh, well. It'll be what it'll be. Just…know the trust my brother placed in you. Above even his own family, in some respects. And know that he didn't come to good by it. If you did tell him truly, Amelia, about…everything…did it ever occur to you the Naylands might be feeding you falsehoods in hopes you'd bring them to us for embarrassment like this? When it was clear you'd…well, that you'd fallen in love with my fair lord brother, we may as well just say it."
Augh. Amelia sinks to her knees in the cell with a fleshy thunk against stone. "I do not suppose it would be possible for me to request a dagger, Ser? That I might not suffer this pain.. Please." She whispers. "Or kill me by your own hand." Am hangs her head. "Lady Isolde promised me she would see a raven sent. I'd wanted her to do it so that it would bring sour views upon the Naylands if it were returned that the Valentins were a real House. She promised me, Ser. Know that I never tried to persuade Jaremy to do anything except exercise caution. I.." She gives up and sighs. "I am sorry, Jarod. So sorry." The woman falls sideways to lean against the wall. "It occured to me many weeks ago that they were lying about everything. I'd believed it for so many years. I wanted to believe that I wasn't a whore. That this is not how I would live my life and die. Just some stupid, ambitious girl who sold her virtue and soul.. and got nothing in return. The Nayalnds are an evil that should be scorched from Westeros." She sniffs. "My love for Jaremy will never die. But it is strong enough to know that Anais is better. I wrote him a note bidding him to take her as his wife. Their engagement was announced the next day. I want the best for you all. Even if I fucked that up, Ser. It was not intentional."
"What Isolde Tordane has done, I do not know. Her life and mine go in very different directions these days." Jarod's tone is neutral on that score. The first bit he has no response to. He is not, of course, going to kill her here or give her means to kill herself until she sees the noose. Almost gently, but with an undercurrent of frustration, he asks her, "Amelia, do you truly believe Lord Rickart Nayland is your father?" He sounds like he wants her to say 'No.'
"More than you know, Ser. Lady Isolde is going to fall horribly for Lord Ryker one day. You all must be aware of that. She will lipservice the Terrick name out of loyalty but I believe she will turn her heart from you all in the future. Think what you will of it." She stares at the floor, the words coming out once again as if on autopilot. Amelia only looks up to the door at hearing the question. It makes her stop. She blinks a few times. "Wh- Of course I do! Why would he have told me I was if I was not? He wouldn't lie ab-" And right there her voice cracks and she slaps her hands over her mouth, gasping. It all comes crashing down that he might never have even been related to her. What if she was not? Everything she had done in the last nine years.. she would have spent her life for nothing.
Jarod just shrugs, as to Isolde Tordane. Not that Amelia can see that from within the cell. He's quiet for a long moment, and she's quiet within. "Amelia, you know better than me. For my part…I'd like to believe no man could do what's been done to you to their natural child but…I've seen the lot of enough Rivers who're far less lucky bastards than me to know that isn't the case." Another pause, before he says, "It'd not have made you any different, you know. Whether he acknowledged you or not. You might've been able to call yourself Amelia Rivers rather than Amelia Millen, which some would argue is a trade for the worse anyhow. Either is a lot of baseborn nothing by itself."
Her mind is still racing when Jarod speaks. Her eyes are searching the inside of the cell in a new light, frantic to find a way out of this.. this hell she has landed in. But her wide eyes eventually turn up to the hatch, the woman on her knees with her hands clasped as if in prayer before the words of the Seven. "He promised to bring me into his home. To be treated as one of his daughters. To love me. To care about me." Her voice turns, her heart audibly wrenching with the words that say far more to her motivations than anything else to leave her. "After my mom died I had nothing and he promised me everything." She takes a few quick breathes like she might start sobbing but steels it back. Of everything she had prepared herself for, it was not this. "I'd never take the Rivers name. Nayland or Millen had been my choices. What I would demand for my service. It is not that I despise the name. But I guess I always was ambitious. I wanted to serve someone. Be brought in. Be apart of something bigger than a group of disgusting, vile whores… which is apparently what I am. I really am. I've nothing to show for my life. I never even got to have a child." Her eyes close and she crumples forward in a deflating breath.
"Only the king could've ever made you Amelia Nayland. And even beloved bastards aren't legitimized for mere service. It's only done in cases like the one Gedeon Rivers is trying to press, with the Tordanes. When all others who might've inherited are dead and gone, and there's nothing left, and you're the only choice. I can bleed for this House every day of my life, and I'll never be Jarod Terrick, even if my father would want it that way. As to what you are…" Jarod does another one of those shrugs to the wall. "…you are a daughter who tried very hard to serve her father. I'm a son who's done the same. I don't figure we're so different in the end." Not that he sounds happy about it. "Except in the quality of the men we've served."
"I never knew any of that," she whispers to the door. "Whenever I would ask questions about the technicalities of my being brought into the family I was chided for wasting their time with the concerns of a woman." Amelia's voice is weak, tiny. "We're not the same, Jarod. And you will always be a Terrick in my heart. Yours is magnificent and big and warm. It pumps the same loyalty that Jaremy's does. I.. am a traiterous whore who just wanted to be a Terrick in the end." She sniffs. "You know I was almost married once. A young noble and I courted for many months. We were quite in love. His parents found out what I was, the daughter of a whore, and forbade him from seeing me. We continued. My mother was so convinced we would be together that she slept with a tutor four times a week just to educate me in how to be a noble." Amelia lifts her eyes up towards the Seven. "He proposed to me. We were to be married. He announced it to his parents.. and he was sent away that night. I never heard from him again. My mother was killed several weeks later." She swipes at her face. So close.
Jarod shudders at the story. "I don't figure anything good or lasting comes of such as us trying to get next to such as nobility, Amelia. Neither of our mothers came to any good by it. A person's better off being happy in their place in life. Making what of it they can. I figure, at least. Your man wasn't worth it, if my opinion matters at all, if he'd drop you as easy as that. Anyhow. I would like to say…Amelia, if I ever touched you or treated you in a way you didn't care for over the years…I've never taken a woman to bed I didn't think wanted to be there, for whatever reason. If that wasn't the case with you…I am very sorry for that, for I didn't think I was using you ill."
"His friends told me he was sent to squire in Highgarden. It was as far away from Seagard as his parents could get him on short notice. His heart was true, Jarod," she whispers. "But my mother being killed would have left me few options, Ser. Get close to nobility or.." To his apology she goes quiet. The woman cries in silence for a few minutes, only the sound of her hand brushing her face and a few sniffs leaving the cell. "Jans forced me to stay a whore. I wanted to take every offer given. Every hand lent. But he promised to kill me if I had tried to leave my station. Especially in the last few years. I never wanted any of it. Any. I was just good at hiding it." Its a struggle to keep from crying more. "I loved you all like my brothers. But you were always gentle and respectful. Especially you. Even when you drink. I hated every minute but you I hated the least, Jarod." She's quiet for another moment as more tears fall. "I'm sorry for all this deception," she whispers again.
"For what it's worth I understand some, I think," Jarod says. "Blood's very powerful. And in the end you were just serving yours, for a time. A warrior's life is ugly in places. I'm sworn to do hard things in my father's service, and it's likely how I'll die one day. That's all right. I chose it, and I love my father and brothers and sisters very much, and this is how I can best do for them. Everybody serves somebody in this world, highborn or low. We just pray they don't use us too poorly."
"For two years all I ever prayed for was that my nightmare would end. That I'd wake up and realize that it was all a bad dream and that I was a member of that house." She sighs. "I served you all the best I could, this is true. I could have sold that flute the day I won it and ran far enough away that Rickart would never have found me. And it means a lot to me, but I love you all too much. Then Jans tells me he is going to kill Jaremy?" Amelia shakes her head. "I didn't have the time or the ability to warn you. All I could do was pray that there would be evidence of his plans and that it would prove beyond a doubt that I was not a spy anymore. That I could be trusted. That I was worthy. That this lack act of screwing would be the last time a man would ever touch me… this man who had been forcing me to whore for nearly seven and three. I could protect the family's secrets today and I would be willing to do it in other ways. But.." Her voice falls even more quiet. "Like you said. I'd still been a whore. I could never be more than what I had been, even if the family knew they could trust me. Hindsight is crippling."
"We found no evidence, Amelia," Jarod says softly. "Whether that means anything, I don't know. I can't see how Howard could've done any sort of assassination job staying at the inn, with just his sword and knife, when Lord Ryker's other men were better placed for it in our castle. But perhaps the Naylands have just been careful about covering for themselves. Anyhow, I'll look out or Jaremy and Anais best I can. I could've done it better had I known of this earlier but…it is what it is now. Really no sense in being angry about things that're over and done. Doesn't change anything. Just makes us unkind." If he has anything more to say, it's interrupted by the sound of footfalls down the dungeon corridor. Shift change time again.
"Please do take care of them." No discussion of the evidence. She knows. Its all over and done with. "And Jarod?" Amelia sniffs. "In the cart ride? You talked about that story you loved about the lady warrior?" Last words to him and she wants to bring that up. "I know you know of my half-sister and what had taken place. She told me she told you. Do a justice and consider the story you read and that of this experiement in life. You could be happy, and you deserve to be happy. Just don't be afraid of getting hurt. It happens to everyone." Her voice trembles as the steps get closer. "I love you, Jarod. Thank you for being the man you are."
"I stopped believing my life would be a mummer's song a long time ago, Amelia. Hers won't be, either, though she doesn't know it yet. But you're kind to say such things. I'm glad we got to speak last to each other in this fashion. I wouldn't have liked us ending as we did in that farmhouse." And with that, Jarod pushes himself away from the wall. "She's all yours, gents." To the men coming on duty, presumably. His own footfalls echoe down the dungeon corridor as he departs.
"I'll see you at the hanging, Ser," she whispers to his departing shadow. The woman in the cell drops her gaze to her hands and leaves the new arrivals to the sound of her tears for a few more minutes before silence reclaims her.