Page 146: Investigations
Summary: Jarod and Hardwicke do some barside investigating.
Date: December 8, 2011
Related Logs: An Early Return, Comfort Wolves, Down at the Docks
Jarod Hardwicke 
A Seedy Bar — Stonebridge
It's a bar. Of seediness.
December 8, 288

On the outskirts of Stonebridge town are several seedy-looking establishments, certainly no Crane's Crossings. Light spills out the open windows of one in particular, and as the door is opened a rotund man spills out with a slim, giggling girl fawning all over him. Inside, there are more chairs than tables, and the place seems fairly busy. An auburn-haired girl and a tall, rakish man work the bar, each competing furiously for tips.

Into this not-so-rarified in slides Ser Jarod Rivers. Though he's not dressed as the Terrick Rivers today. He's minus his purple-and-gold sash and is in a simple, rough leather jerkin and one of his more worn blue tunics. Not that he looks terribly down-and-out, for all that. Hard as he tries, he's too clean-cut to really pull off seedy. But he could easily pass for a hedge knight or middling-successful mercenary. "Looks like our place right here," he says over his shoulder to his companion, before heading toward the bar. Where the auburn-haired girl is tending it, of course.

Hardwicke perhaps pulls of seedy a little better, what with his generally disagreeable demeanor and disdain for the nobility and all their trappings. Having a habit of dressing simply as it is, it is not much work to pull out the most well-worn of his plain clothes. He looks much like an old hedge knight war veteran. The only response he offers to Jarod is a low grunt of assent, his dark eyes flicking about the establishment as he follows along to the bar.

The gent behind the bar sees them approaching, and hurries about finishing the top-up of glasses for two other patrons seated in front of him; unlucky for his tips jar, the auburn lass is on the case. "Allo, sers," she greets, her voice like suede - soft, but a little rough. "Can I getcha drinks?"

Jarod leans on the bar rather than sits. Better to put himself forward toward the pretty barkeep. "You can get me anything you like, sweetling," he says, flashing her his best boyish grin. "What would you recommend for two men in search of a good drink? And good conversation, if we can find it." He winks.

Hardwicke snorts quietly at Jarod's shameless flirting, and he goes ahead and seats himself at the bar in lieu of more ~friendly~ leaning. "Ale," he says. "Whatever's decent." You are bad at this game, Hardwicke.

The auburn lass, whose name is… Sal, smiles a country mile wide at handsome, clean-cut Jarod's leaning. She repays him in kind, settling her elbows on the bar and pitching forward to show off her cleavage. "Oh, we got a couple o' southron ales you might be likin', ser. Bit pricey, but they're worth it." She spares but a glance for Hardwicke, one curious brow lifting. "That okay?"

Jarod gives her cleavage a good long smile, though he gradually lifts his eyes back to her face. "Aye, I'll take one of them," he replies to her. "We're looking to come into some coin soon, so I figure we can afford some…simple pleasures." Another look down at her chest. "We're just passing into this bit of the Riverlands and are looking for a place our swords might be of most use. Figured there might be work here. Tensions're high among the local lordlings, from what we hear, and that always means pay for steel."

Hardwicke jerks a chin in silent assent to Sal's question and let's Jarod do the talking (and ogling) for the moment.

Sal wiggles a little for Jarod's viewing pleasure, her smile crooking as his eyes find her face again. "S'at right, is it? Ain'tcha heard, luv? It's not the lordlings who rule the Riverlands - everyone's a bastard, nowadays." She smirks, and chuckles a little to herself as she presses up and off the bar to fetch those drinks. "You want the tall mugs?"

"Everyone? You a Rivers girl?" Jarod asks with a chuckle, watching her wiggle appreciatively. "They do seem to fall off the trees around these parts, don't they?" He looks over at Hardwicke. "You spend any time in these lands when Lord Geoffrey Tordane ruled here? I'm sorry I missed Stonebridge in those days. He sounds like a fun lord to live under, girl on every arm, high and low and everything in…" His eyes do another up-and-down sweep. "…between."

Hardwicke snorts a humorless breath, though a muscle twitches in the line of his jaw. Still, his voice is gruffly casual when he says, "It's a wonder he found time to sire one legitimate heir. Then again, maybe not."

Sal saddles the boys with tall mugs of the expensive stuff, setting them down with practiced ease - it looks careless, but nothing spills. "Lord Geoffrey was alright," she supposes, thoughtful. "There weren't no levies, back then. I was just a girl, too young for the likes'a him. I hear he had a taste for proper ladies, though, lads."

Jarod scoffs. "A proper lady's no fun between the sheets, so he can keep them far as I'm concerned. Though I hear the same. You figure that's true, that he slept with the wife of his own best friend? Seems like pretty low behavior to me, that I tell you what. Man who called himself my friend did that to me, you can bet I'd lay him flat…" But he's sort of getting off-point. He makes himself stop. Clearing his throat. Drinking some ale.

"Like you'd know," Hardwicke counters to Jarod's claim of particular values of fun. He does settle a silent look on the younger man for a moment until he quiets. It's then that he picks up his own drink and takes a gulp.

"You got a missus?" Sal hones in on Jarod, giving him a wary eye. She gives him a moment to answer, before shrugging. "How should I know? I've never even seen the little Lady Terrick. Maybe she looks like our Lord, maybe she don't. Inn't that the way you tell these things, unless you got some special letters?"

"I most certainly do not!" Jarod proclaims. "I am free as the wind and unattached and very happy in it, thank you very much." His tone practically tacks on a defiant 'SO THERE!' to the end of that, before he drinks again. And tries very hard to steer himself back on point. "Oh, I've no fancy letters in my back pocket, sweetling, I am but a common man. There somebody in here who's seen the Terrick girl? Maybe they could tell us if she looks Tordane or not."

"No other way to tell," Hardwicke agrees in a lower rumble into his glass. He looks up at Sal underneath his heavy brows, studying her. "People are enjoying the idea she is, at least."

Sal snorts at Jarod's defiance, and stage-mutters to Hardwicke, "How long ago she leave 'im, yesterday? Day before? Last week?" She shrugs again, turning back to younger knight. "I dunno. Was Annie who told me," and she makes a show of swinging a look about the inside of the tavern. "but she ain't here tonight."

"Nobody left me! And I'm much happier now, so sod her!" Jarod says those contradictory things loudly and emphatically. Ahem. Drink. He'll perhaps let Hardwicke handle the questions about Annie.

Hardwicke shares a more companionable snort with Sal at her question, though she leaves it unanswered. Perhaps in deference to Jarod's pride. At any rate, he has more important things to pursue: "News always travels fast," he says, dry as dust. "She the bar gossip, then?"

Sal settles her palms both flat against the bar, locking her arms straight as she puts some distance between herself and the two knights. It's Hardwicke she eyes suspiciously now, her murky green eyes raking over him. "Are youse two spies," she asks in an accusatory tone, jerking her forehead towards Jarod. "What's it to ya? Annie's a right nice sort."

Jarod has finished his entire ale by the time he rejoins the conversation. "I'll take another of these, if you please," he orders from Sal. "And we're not spies. We're just…feeling out the territory." He looks down at her chest again. "You figure the Lord of the Roost'll get hard-fisted about those sorts of rumors being spread about his wife and daughter in these parts? If so, we figure Tordane Tower might look kindly on hiring on a couple more sell swords. I'm just curious where it's all coming from, and how serious it is. Can't bargain on how much a lord'll be willing to pay until you know how bad he needs you, you know?"

Hardwicke snorts into his ale. "Trust me," he says. "I'd be a fucking shitty spy."

Sal studies the pair a little longer, still and suspicious. And then she springs into action once more, fetching another mug for Jarod. "I dunno," she says idly as she pours. "Maybe y'all should ask Annie, instead. She only lives a couple doors down."

Jarod exchanges a look with Hardwicke. "We may just do that. We'll not trouble her, mind, swear to Seven on it. If she can give us some good information on the terrain, might even be some coin in it for her." He'll make short work of his mug. If they're migrating, he wants to finish it before being off.

Hardwicke shrugs, silent and noncommittal. Maybe they'll talk to Annie. /Maybe not/. Nothing suspicious here. He does down the rest of his ale, though.

Sal gestures with her hand toward the door, then to her left. "Out that way, two doors down. The red door. That's Rysann's place." She collects her tip jar as she pulls her hand back toward herself, jingling it at the boys. "Just 'scuse me a moment, I gotta serve this lad o'er here…"

Jarod finishes his second ale in short order, putting down enough coppers to cover his own bill. Not Hardwicke's. And he tips Sal generously. He enjoyed her view. "C'mon," he says to Hardwicke, ready to take his leave of the dive.

Hardwicke sets down his own tab, though his tip isn't quite so generous. He gathers himself up, nodding once to Jarod, and starts towards the door.

"Well, that was something, at least," Jarod says, once they're outside. "We'd best go fetch Lady Lucienne before we talk with this Rysann woman. Maybe my lady sister can actually get some answers from this."

Hardwicke looks at him blankly. "Why in fuck would we go get her? What do you intend to do, put her in the midst of the common squallor?"

"She has a right to face those who slander her, Ser, and to get the answers she and her lady mother need out of this," Jarod replies, shoulders squaring. "We shall be with her, and we go to a smallfolk home, no dirty swill hole."

"And we have a duty to find the facts /before/ we bring her around to every gossip in the city," Hardwicke counters, squaring up at his full, broad height as he looks distinctly /down/ at Jarod, no matter their heights. He looks distinctly unintimidated. "For all we know, she's just one more among many throwing a rumor around."

Jarod stands his full height as well, trying not to be looked down at, at least. Though he doesn't, really, have it in him to argue with the older knight. Captain or no, Hardwicke is still someone he used to serve as a page to at Four Eagles. And he still respects the man too much to really fight him. On this, at least. "All right. We'll see how it plays, before we tell Luci what this woman has to say." His tone, at least, is clear that she will be told by him.

Hardwicke narrows his gaze on Jarod at that particular tone, but accepts this conditional agreement. FOR NOW. "Good," he says, as if he is the Captain here. "Let's go, then." He turns without another word to head in the direction Sal spoke of.