|Summary:||Jarod confronts Anais about some of the secrets that have come out.|
|Roof Terrace — Four Eagles Tower|
|This is open to the air except for the rookery at the opposite end of the open walkway. Parapets and crenellations are about.|
|August 20, 288|
Jarod has been hunting for Lady Anais Banefort this day. Not that he's been hunting terribly long. One of the first places he looks is the roof terrace. There's a seriousness about his manner, and a slightly lessened amount of bounce in his step. Though the days in the castle are serious at present enough to dampen even Ser Rivers' jolly spirits.
The roof terrace is usually a good place to find Anais, especially when things are unsettled. With a guard at the doorway and a handmaid not too far from the guard, she's at least managed some semblance of privacy as she looks out over the lands of Terrick's Roost. The guard calls over when Jarod arrives, and she turns, brows rising slightly at the knight's serious manner. "Ser Jarod," she greets, moving over to make room in her current crennelation.
"My Lady Anais." Jarod drops a quick bow to her, with a somewhat abbreviated flourish, though it's not accompanied by an easy grin today. The guard and the handmaid are noted, but he just shrugs. "Might we walk a bit? With your attendants, of course. I do wish to speak with you in some privacy, but that's the most that can be managed. Have you spoken with Jaremy since the meeting with our father last night?"
Anais glances to the guard and handmaid, nodding once to them before she moves to join Jarod. "I spoke with him briefly," she answers, choosing her words carefully. "Though he didn't really share any details. He was…clearly upset. Not sure if he should continue trying to do anything. It seems as though everything he's trying is only making things worse right now. No matter how reasonable the cautions." Guard and handmaid trail behind, though they seem to have their own conversation going.
"I'm not sure, either, but we'll talk on that. I've a matter to address with you personally, my lady, if I may speak plainly." Jarod offers Anais his arm. Nothing too familiar.
Anais arches a brow, but takes the offered arm with a light touch. "Certainly," she agrees, glancing over her shoulder to make sure they're being followed before she continues forward. "If there's anything I can do to help, Ser Jarod, please let me know."
"Several things came to light on the table with my father last night, among him and my brothers and me," Jarod says. "Particularly many of Jaremy's dealings with Amelia of Seagard. As they relate to her possible…involvement in the killing of Master Jens Howard, which I've been investigating." He pauses, turning so his green eyes catch hers. Or at least try to. "Is there something you'd like to tell me on that, my lady?"
Anais grimaces faintly, meeting his gaze without flinching. "Not for a certainty, no," she answers, lifting one shoulder in a faint shrug. "The last I heard, a few days after her release, Miss Amelia was on her way to King's Landing to search out proof on some matter she wouldn't elaborate upon. I don't know how long it takes to get from here to King's Landing, or how long her business should have taken there. I'll confess, when I heard how Master Howard was killed, her name came to mind. But I thought it unlikely that she would be back in Terrick's Roost already. And I couldn't see what she would gain from it."
"I recommended she got to King's Landing after she was released from our dungeons, but it appears she lingered. At least for one more stay at the inn at Rockcliff the night Master Howard met his end," Jarod says. "A witness puts here there, renting another of the private rooms - just next to his - and paying in silver. Whether she did him or not…well, there are questions that need to be asked." He frowns. "Jaremy's not spoken to you anymore about Amelia Millen, then? Or about some danger you might've been in from Master Howard?"
"Are you sure?" Anais' brows furrow a moment as she walks. "I watched her board a carriage away from the Roost. Though I suppose she could have gone to Stonebridge and turned back." There's a pause as she thinks that over, before the last sinks in. "Me? I never met the man. As for Amelia and Jaremy…" She presses her lips together, then looks back up to Jarod. "Obviously there is something. But it didn't seem to be in good taste to ask either the prostitute or my betrothed about exactly what the nature of their relationship was. And both of them seem inclined to act as they see best fit without truly considering the potential consequences."
"I don't think it was anything like that, my lady," Jarod says. Not that he'd likely tell Anais if Jaremy was diddling something on the side, but he sounds reasonably sincere and sure in this denial of it as to Amelia. "I think she was passing Jaremy…information. He really didn't speak to you on this?" He blinks at her, his manner relaxing a little. In a way. It makes him a bit more hesitant, however. "I had assumed Jaremy'd gotten counsel on this at least from you. I was actually fairly cross with you, as it seemed to me that you'd kept a matter that might endanger you from me. But…doesn't seem so. Huh." He pauses, like he's seriously considering whether or not to go on. But he finally sighs and shrugs. "It's all out now, so I figure it won't be long before you hear of it. I'm sure Jaremy had his…reasons for keeping it to himself." Well, he tries to sound sure. "Jaremy *did* meet Amelia in Stonebridge, when we all figured she was gone from this country. And when he saw her there, I guess she told him…that Jens Howard was in Terrick's Roost to kill Lady Anais Banefort. You, my lady."
"That he was receiving information from Amelia?" Anais arches a brow, then shakes her head. "I assumed as much. But after the incident at the Rockcliff, I was under the impression that she was going to continue whatever she was doing without his input." She pauses then, smile quirking as she looks up to the captain of the guard. "I assure you, Ser Jarod. I am all for large, well-muscled, well-trained men seeing to my safety in as many aspects as possible." At the last, she stills somewhat, head tilting ever so slightly to one side. She's nothing to say just yet, letting that sink in for a bit.
"I've no idea if there was any truth to it, my lady, we found nothing to indicate he was doing more than working as Lord Ryker Nayland's service man in his room at Rockcliff," Jarod says. "Though he did have a history in town. He'd come here before, on two occasions. The first actually relates to Amelia as well. You've heard about the incident where she was accused of stealing from the Tordane treasury? About two or three weeks ago, before the Lady Isolde wed to Lord Ryker?" He'll explain if she hasn't, but he goes on. "I guess Howard was in town around that time as well. At first I'd assumed he was one of the men who'd come with Ser Rygar to apprehend her, but the witness we talked to said that wasn't the case. Said he'd gotten to town a day or so previous, for business he wouldn't talk too much on. He was also here about three months previous to that, but I've even less an idea what his mission in the Roost was on that occasion."
"Spying, no doubt." Anais is quiet once more, looking ahead of herself as she walks, rather than at Jarod. "Do you know," she muses softly. "I think I'm almost /flattered/. Certainly determined." Only then does she look up to the captain of the guard, her eyes as cold as ice floes. "If they want me dead, then they're frightened of me. Or at least of my father and the alliance between Banefort and Terrick. And that means we're on the right track."
"If they want you dead," Jarod says. "Jaremy believes Amelia, so put as much stock in that as you want. For my part…my lady, much of what she seems to've told my brother is real far-fetched, and could be at best embarrassing if it doesn't hold up like he seems to believe it will. I can't quite understand why the Naylands would want you dead, unless you've any ideas?" He looks to her, asking for a little help there. "They wanted Stonebridge. They got it. They may not like my family, but why would they interfere with a match that's got nothing to do with them, when they're winning the peace? As Ser Rygar likes to put it." He shrugs. "Though I do think you're on the right track about the spying. Seems a very likely reason to keep bringing a man back to the Roost. Oh. There's another kicker about Amelia, if Jaremy's not told you." Dramatic pause. Well, sort of. It's more wry 'Can you believe this shit?' dramatic pause. "She claims to be Lord Rickart Nayland's bastard daughter."
"That, I knew." Anais acts as though Amelia's parentage is of no interest, wrinkling her nose with a shrug. "Not acknowledged, though, so I can't see that it makes any difference to anything except the way that she views herself." She walks along in silence for another moment, considering her words. "The Naylands wanted Stonebridge, and got it," she agrees. "But the Naylands are not the only house in question. Jaremy and Amelia seem to be fixated on Oldstones. And if their theories about Oldstones are correct…That would be a very good reason to want me dead. Think about it, Jarod. Gedeon aside. Personally, I think all of this with Gedeon is at best a feint. A distraction, to keep the Naylands and the Terricks at each others' throats. Whether it's true or not, because even if it's true, it gains nothing for anyone. But Ser Anton? That is another matter. Even if he is exactly who and what he claims to be, he is a small, young house that could all too easily be snapped up by one side or the other. As it is, he plays the Terricks against the Naylands, supporting Gedeon's claim to Stonebridge and courting Lucienne, while making trade agreements with the Naylands. Ser Rygar is old enough and patient enough to wait. What is it to him if Ser Anton marries Lucienne and allies with the Terricks if all of the trade and income from Oldstones goes through Stonebridge and Hag's Mire? He will still be winning the peace. Ser Anton gains two alliances, more power to stand on his own two feet, and maintains the independence of Oldstones. Whether he is, as Amelia and Jaremy suspect, Ironborn or supporting the Ironborn, or not."
Anais draws a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "I am a complication. Even if there is no involvement from the Ironborn, I bring my father's ships and eye to this area. And if there is involvement from the Ironborn, a Terrick alliance with the Banefort is a /major/ complication. We gain the sea. Attempts to bring in more men along the shore might be seen, might be noted, might be stopped. Killing me kills that alliance. My father would not forgive it. And then Terrick stands alone, by far too weak to interfere with the growth of Oldstones."
"If. What proof as Amelia offered to this? I know Jaremy believes her words but…" Jarod sighs. "I agree, my lady, if warrants investigation, particularly given how little we know of Lord Anton Valentin and how wrapped up he is both with my sweet sister and Ser Gedeon, who I still count a boyhood friend. Well, I guess we'll figure out the truth of that soon enough. But…what concerns me is, Jaremy is acting on so much of this alone. He didn't bring this information to my father. Or to Jace. Or…perhaps it's just ego, my lady, but I'll confess I can't help but be angry at him for hearing of a threat against the life of a lady of this house and saying nothing to me whatsoever. Whatever stock there was in it, I'd certainly have watched you closer. I'll have you watched closer now, though I know not what to make of it. It's my duty to protect all under this roof and he just…" He trails off, shrugging. "…I don't know. Sorry. Anyway."
As for Amelia. "I said much the same to Jaremy last night. Whoever Amelia's father is, she's not acknowledged. She's got her mother's name. She isn't a Rivers." Jarod seems to take a certain pride in his non-surname, as at least it's some recognition from his father.
"Jaremy…" Anais pauses, considering her words. "Jaremy has suddenly realized how important it is that he be seen as strong, capable, and intelligent. Unfortunately, he's spent the last several years being seen as kind, amiable, and free-spirited. And he has yet to develop the patience he needs to wait through the transition. He desperately wants to prove to everyone that he can be a great Lord of Terrick's Roost, and overcome all obstacles. But he is /too/ desperate. And all anyone sees of any of it is…flailing."
"But nobody's all of strong, capable and intelligent, though," Jarod says. "I mean…that's not exactly what I mean, my lady, people are, but the whole reason you've got a House guard, and advisors, and stewards, and a maester and septons, and retainers and all of it is that all this is too big to be anything on just one man. My father doesn't do that, and he's accounted a strong and good lord. He left a good deal of the work he needed done last night delegated out to Jace and myself, and we sure as seven hells didn't think him weaker for it. We're honored to be of service."
"Your father is a man grown, with all of his proving behind him," Anais points out gently. "Jaremy's whole world has been wrapped up in his identity as a knight. In wanting to be a part of the Kingsguard. But he's been shut up here his entire life. He didn't go to war with the rest of the family. He's hardly even allowed to ride in tournament. He is…" She sighs, reaching up to rub a hand at her brow. "He is a picture-book knight, and there are too many people here who are ready to remind him of it, the Naylands first and foremost. And he is sensitive to it."
"Jaremy didn't miss anything by not going to war, my lady, I can promise you that," Jarod says softly. He shrugs. "As for the rest of it. He could, you know. Uncle Revyn didn't agree with Baratheon's cause, so Jaremy sat out the war with him, and that's a matter of serving a knight who's obeying his conscience, so I'll sure as seven hells not call it wrong. Jace and I were just squires. We just went to serve our knights as well. But Jaremy could've done time on the tournament circuit, or spent time in Lord Mallister's court learning the politics of the realm as Jace did. He's a knight of this House, same as I am. If he told father he wanted to serve in the field day-in and day-out, what I figure is that father would respect that as a man's choice and have to let him. Our father's sometimes hard on us, but I've never felt shamed by him. If anything I've felt prouder doing his work than I ever figured I could. You know…I've never quite understood why Jaremy didn't join the Kingsguard. Or at least try. I mean…it was all he talked about when we were boys. And when he was dubbed a knight I figured…" He shrugs yet again.
"Politics, to begin with." Anais looks over with a sidelong glance. "Lord Tywin was /wroth/ when Ser Jaime was dubbed into it. It wasn't an honor. Aerys was robbing Tywin of his strength and his heir. The knights of the Kingsguard are fine knights, yes. But there's more to it than prowess. And it isn't /really/ suitable for an heir." She sighs softly, pressing her thumb against her lips. "I don't know how to make everything right, Jarod. But I know that it /isn't/ right. I just feel as though there's something very important that I don't know that just needs to fall into place."
"Perhaps, my lady. Life's still a good deal what you make of it, though, whoever you are, and there's more choices than joining the Kingsguard and sitting in a gilded cage. I don't know." Jarod does yet more shrugging. "One of the things I've always loved about Jaremy was that he never seemed to want it. The title, I mean, and all that came with it. It always seemed like he'd be happier…not bastard-born, maybe, but a second or third son. But he is to be the heir now and…I'm not sure I've served him as well as I should've, my lady. There's a lot, particularly, when it comes to Amelia Millen, that I didn't question my brother on. I just figured…I don't know…" Or doesn't quite know how or want to articulate it, which is more probable.
"I know," Anais murmurs in regards to Amelia. "It's…I don't even know everything, but I know it's complicated. I try to understand. That's all I can do. As for helping Jaremy…Perhaps it's time to give him the advice you would give to your father. To be more than silent support." Her lips twist in a rueful grimace as she look up. "Since apparently it's inappropriate for his /betrothed/ to do anything else."
"That's the trick of it, my lady, it's not exactly appropriate for me to question him openly either," Jarod says. "I know Jaremy doesn't think on me this way but…at the end of the day, I don't really have any standing in this House. No more than any other sworn sword. I serve at the pleasure of my lord father and fair lord brother. So…when my fair lord brother fucks up and orders me to do things that're fucked up…what am I supposed to do? I can gently advise him on other courses of action, but at the end of the day I've got to do it, don't I? Particularly if he doesn't bother to tell me about threats against lovely Westerlands ladies or grand schemes involving the Iron Islands until he's already done about five things I would've advised against."
"You and me both, Ser Jarod," Anais murmurs, reaching up to rub a hand at her temple. "Well. I suppose I will be a bit more careful about the places I go, in the interest of not ending up dead. I can't imagine that whoever it is is going to just give up."
"I could assign another guard to you, my lady, though you've not come to any harm with the man you've got now, and you're rarely unattended," Jarod says. "Still, if you'd feel safer, I certainly will. At least now we know to watch for something, and the man you've got can be warned. It'd not be a bad idea to carry a dagger with you, if you don't already. Not that I'm advocating you trying to off some villain yourself rather than leaving it to your sworn, but won't hurt." He does yet-more shrugging. It's his go-to gesture at present. "For what it's worth, Lady Anais, I don't think you've been inappropriate at all. I was real glad when Jaremy seemed to be taking marriage to you seriously. You seem a woman with a good head on her shoulders, and a spine besides. And you come with warships. I approve of warships. Who said you were being inappropriate? Not my lord father, certainly, or Jace. They both like you."
Anais reaches into a pocket, drawing out just enough of a dagger to display the plain, leather-wrapped hilt. "We're not helpless in the Banefort," she says simply, tucking it away again. "As for inappropriate, Lady Liliana accused me of betraying Jaremy by trying to gentle his hand with the Steward of Oldstones. Rather loudly, in the middle of the courtyard, in front of Jaremy. As if I was some sort of…fishwife, beating him about the head with a frying pan."
Jarod blinks. Mostly, he just looks confused. "Betraying? Uh…" Blink. "My lady…my father raked Jaremy over the coals for treating the steward from Oldstones the way he did. Whatever Oldstones might be, he should've approached and dealt with her different. So…you did what Lord Jerold would've done, if he'd been there, only perhaps more gently? I…can't see how that's not appropriate."
Anais smiles faintly, leaning up to drop a chaste kiss to Jarod's cheek. "Thank you," she replies simply. "That was my thought. It just- I've been trying so hard to do everything right. So hard to be appropriate, and not overstep my bounds. It stung."
Jarod blushes at that, letting out a "Ha!" in surprise. "Well, I guess we're properly brother and sister now. Heh. Anyhow." He pats her shoulder somewhat awkwardly. "Much as I like the Lady Liliana, she had no real right to speak to you that way, my lady, especially in front of Jaremy. *That* was over-stepping, to my view. If she'd addressed what she felt was a breach just between the pair of you that's one thing, but she'd no right to take you down like that in front of him. That's not even out of highborn manners. That's simple courtesy. For my part, I think Jaremy could do with more of your advice." He does more of that shrugging thing. "Maybe I should put myself forward to him more as well, whatever's appropriate. I don't think he'd mind. It's just…I guess it's hard for me to question my fair lord brother…even when I don't particularly think he's doing precisely the right thing…"
"It never hurts to question, if you do it carefully," Anais shakes her head. "Questions help us to look at things in a different way. They help us to see things we wouldn't otherwise have thought of. I can't help but ask myself, for example, if Ser Anton is even actually Anton Valentin. In the chaos after war, it would have been all too easy to claim the name and everything that came with it. But then I have to ask myself if that even matters, when it comes to what we do."
"For that, my lady, I can say that he is," Jarod says to Anais, as to Anton. "Jace could as well. He and his father fought with the Mallister forces. Which…Jaremy didn't ask either of us about." He smirks. And shrugs. "I remember him a little. I remember his father better. Cyric Valentin was a common knight, then. Not unlike the man I served. He was a solid soldier. Not so good a swordsman as his son, perhaps, but he was loyal and earned many honors on the field. Good King Robert was eager to hand out honors to those who'd fought for him after the dust settled, so him being granted land and title Lord Tully was wanting to be rid of doesn't really come as all that strange to me."
Anais' lips quirk at Jarod's answer. "You see?" she laughs softly. "It never hurts to ask questions. Sometimes you come out with an answer for something that's been vexing you anyhow." She takes a few steps in silence, then gives his arm a squeeze. "So. You think Amelia killed Master Howard, either because she believed he was going to try to kill me, or she's telling Jaremy that's why. Can you think of another reason why she would have done it?"
"I'm trying to avoid making judgments on who killed him, my lady," Jarod says. "What I think is this. We're sure it was a woman who killed him. It was done in a way she could have fairly easily. She was placed in the room next to him at the time it happened. And it was cold-blooded murder, my lady. He had no defensive wounds on his body, and looks to have been completely defenseless and happy as you please before he met his end. That's a black thing, to cut a man's throat like that. If she didn't kill him, she can tell us what she was doing that night. If she did, she can speak to why and might be reasons why we'd go easier. But murder's a hanging crime, and there is justice in the Roost if I've anything to say about it. As for why else she might've done it…whoever killed him took his purse, not that I think this was a simple robbery. If she was Lord Rickart's daughter, and thought enough to make it an issue with Jaremy, perhaps she was mixed up in some Nayland business. Or perhaps he'd just done her wrong in the past and she figured it was time for him to meet his end. I don't know, my lady. I just know this is a very dark deed, and when there's a body dead unnatural on this land, we deserve answers as to why that happened. And our people deserve to know that you can't do murder here and get away with it, or else nobody feels safe in their bed at night."
"Or she honestly thought that he was going to harm me," Anais suggests, grimacing. "And that she didn't have sufficient proof to bring the information to someone here. So she thought she had to take matters into her own hands. Just like she did with Jaremy." She sighs, eyes closing. "I can see it too easily, Jarod."
"Frankly, my lady, if she thought that it really should've been taken to us here at the Roost, and we could've figured out a way to handle it," Jarod says. "Jaremy seemed damn eager to believe her, so there's that to begin with, and whatever my fair lord brother might think, if he brings me a thing like that I'd help him with it. If he asked I wouldn't even take it to father right off, not that I think that would've been bright in this case. I mean, what? It's shameful for his brothers to help him protect his lady but not shameful to have a woman and a whore besides do it? This is all very odd. You got to admit that. I'm not saying she might not've had her reasons, if it was her at all. Just…it was a black deed, and answers need to be had. That's all."
"I'm not disagreeing," Anais shakes her head. "It's very much like when she hit Jaremy. And I told her that was unnecessary as well. It wasn't going to convey the message she wanted it to, and it caused an undue amount of pain all around. She and Jaremy both seem to have this /compulsion/ to take the hard way that punishes themselves when there are easier ways to do things." Sighing, she reaches up to tuck a piece of hair behind her ear. "Anyhow. Was that all you needed to speak with me about, Ser Jarod?"
"Did a lot more harm than good to Jaremy's ego with that, I figure. But it's done. Like everything else is done. We'll…figure it out." Jarod doesn't voice any plan as to how. "Aye. That's all. Thanks for your time, my lady. And…don't be too hard on Jaremy for keeping this from you, please? I wouldn't have talked on it with you if I didn't figure you weren't at least in on it all this already. Though I guess I should've figured you'd have a better head than to keep threats on your life to yourself."
Anais laughs, smile flickering across her features. "I decided a long time ago that my life would be easier if I decided not to hold things against my husband," she informs the knight, rueful. "Grudges are useless things. Besides, he'd only do it because he thought I'd be worried if I heard it. Jaremy doesn't have it in him to hide things from me for anything other than kind reasons."
"Dumb ones, too, on occasion," Jarod mutters. "But, aye, the parts of this that bother me I should talk on with him. And, aye. I'll never doubt my fair lord brother doesn't have the best heart of any man I know. Even if I want to give him a bloody lip at present. I'll leave you to it, my lady." With that, he flourishes another bow to her, pivots, and heads off.
"To what, the bloody lip?" Anais asks with some amusement. "I'll let you take care of that, Ser Jarod. A good day to you," she offers with a flick of her skirts, before turning back to her walk and her people.