Page 253: Knights on Perches
Knights on Perches
Summary: Rowan and Jarod whistle and enjoy the view of the Grey Garden from on high and discuss knighthoods, banners and other odds and ends.
Date: 28/03/289
Related Logs: Harlaw Isle/Grey Garden stuff in general
Jarod Rowan 
Harlaw Isle — Grey Garden
Rocks and walls and Nayland flags and stuff.
Wed Mar 28, 289

Rowan Nayland will, one day, remember this war in a series of distinct vignettes. There was the crammed in a lurching ship that smelled of vomit and shit, soaked and shivering the whole time part. There was the setting up camp and waiting without a clue part. There was the senseless slaughter of priests and prisoners part which will forever give the Flints and Charltons a special place in her heart. Then the talking part. And the other talking part. And that part where there was more talking, only on a bridge, that seemed to last for days. Finally, then to arms, to blood and violence and chaos that while straight out of a nightmare, at least the could pretend was accomplishing something. And now? Now it's the camp without a clue part again — at least there wasn't another week on a ship to get to it.

Rowan knows the drill once she's in the city — tend her knight's arms and armor, and her own, see to the horses, loot corpses, inventory, drill drill drill. Take a turn at watch, fall into an exhausted sleep, and do it all over again the morning next. Presently, she's on watch, perched on a high rooftop with a good view of the wider thoroughfares all around. She has her bow and her blade and a bit of hard rations that passes for supper. It's exciting stuff, this siege. Exciting stuff.

Ser Jarod Rivers has spent an unfortunate part of the day consumed with more talking. To the Mallisters, to the Terrick men he's doing his best to lead, and briefly to a Nayland levy relaying the day's orders from Lord Rickart. They consist of more watching and more waiting as the Army of the Cape solidifies its control of the city. Finally, as the day wears on, he's free of that. His first order of business, when he's loosed himself, is to wander over to wear Squire Nayland is keeping watch. He stands below her chosen section of wall, and announces his presence with a sharp whistle. It sounds vaguely like a Riverlands bird, and is a hunting call he likes to use back home. Nothing sounds like it on Harlaw Isle.

That brings a smile to her weary countenance — rendering that too-pretty face even less boyish, nudging dimples onto her cheeks. She purses her lips and whistles back, a songbird's warble — nothing in sight, says the songbird. They've hunted together a thousand times, knight and squire. They could probably have a conversation about the intricacies of the court at Sunspear entirely in bird calls.

Jarod grins at the return whistle, letting out three short calls in return. And then, he starts climbing the wall. Grunting as he does so. The Grey Garden isn't much like Seagard. It's a maze of rock, twisting allies and walls of varying heights that don't seem to have much rhyme or reason to them. But the rocks, at least, have plenty of hand-holds for climbing. "See anything interesting out there?" is the first proper verbal thing he asks.

"Pfft," Rowan scoffs, smile still warm and teasing. "If you're going to climb a wall, at least have a rose in your teeth. Don't they teach you aspiring romantics anything." She grasps his arm to help haul him the rest of the way, welcoming him onto her perch all the same. Once he's settled, she offers him her waterskin. "They talked you to death yet?"

"It should be obvious by now I'm unteachable," Jarod retorts, returning her grin as he hauls himself up the wall. "Besides, chewing on roses strikes me as dangerous. Thorns and all." He winks, reaching out to catch her hand and pushing himself the rest of the way up with her aid. The skin is taken with a nod of thanks, and gulped quick before it's passed back. "I'm still alive, so must not have, quite. It's not going badly, really. The Harlaws seem willing to talk terms now that the army's not led by a Mallister." Which makes him frown some, his eyes going to the Nayland banners which fly from the towers a distance along the wall. "Hoping the squids'll yield soon. Then maybe - if we're real lucky - we'll get some relief in the Riverlands again before we press on to the Pyke. Or…wherever in seven hells they ship us next."

Rowan winces at the idea of repeating this saga all over again, respite or no, but nods with a resigned sigh. "Guess this is what I signed on for," she says at length, leaning on the crenelations to frown at the twisting streets. "I was prepared for war, more or less — s'much as anyone can be, before they're seen it first hand. It's the… campaign I wasn't expecting. The day-to-day-to-day-to sodding day. It grinds a body down. I didn't expect war to be glamorous, I swear, but I didn't think it would be…" She gives her head a quick shake. "Interminable boredom broken up with brief, screaming nightmares of blood and death. Worst of all worlds."

"That's pretty much all there is to it," Jarod says, his tone somber, and half-apologetic. "The Rebellion wasn't any better, really, when you strip down to the marrow of it. Save that I was younger and things were more of a…blur, I suppose. Didn't have to think too much on any of it, save staying alive, and doing for my knight." He goes to lean against the wall next to her. His fingers idly clasp the stone, brow furrowing in a thoughtful sort of way. "It's different now, but those parts're the same. They always are, I suppose."

She leans her shoulder companionably against his. "Well," she says finally, her voice a dry chuckles, "there's no one else with whom I'd rather be stuck in an endless cycle of violence and ennui?" She slides a smirk his way. "That's something, at least."

"Aye, that is something," Jarod says, smiling some as he leans back against her a little. He means more by the remark than he really says, from his tone, though he doesn't expand on it immediately. He's quiet a beat before he turns back to look at her and says, a note of apology in his tone, "I should've knighted you after Seagard. It would've been…I don't know. A better thing to think on, after it was done, than all of this."

The girl squire tilts her head, turning it slightly to consider Jarod's handsome, familiar face. "What are you waiting for, really? If I'm truly ready. Why not just do it and have it done? Plenty of knights are made in the field."

"I should, probably," Jarod says, releasing a long breath. "I will, if you want. Though I was going to wait until the Pyke was done. I thought…I don't know. It'd be simpler for you to sort what you wanted to do next, with the war over. And I…" He regards her, shrugging, before admitting. "…I was afraid we'd not be able to fight together, once you're not my squire anymore. Things'll be more…complicated then. Though I'll admit I've no bloody clue precisely how. It'll be a hell of a thing."

"If you think it best," says Rowan, easily enough. She stretches out her fingers, studying her scarred knuckles, then curls them into fists a moment — simply to flex them, it seems. As she considers her hands, she says, "I only… I've said it in jest, but I do mean it — if something happens… if I die, I would go easier with it done." She glances at him apologetically. "I would never — please know I'm not… concocting a ploy to rush things. It's just — it's the truth, plain and simple. And we've talked a lot about this. I'm ready; we're agreed. It's just a matter of when." She shakes her head. "Are you concerned I'll be moved about the cyvasse board, away from your side, if I'm no longer a squire?"

"I'm concerned you'll have less say in where you're moved," Jarod replies. "When you can't wear the shield of Rowan Nayland anymore. By your lord father, for one. You said he might still be able to force you into marriage with that bloody Frey. As for the Terricks…you'll have to settle with Lord Jerold, whether he'll take you as a sworn sword or not. I'll speak for you on that matter, when the time comes. As for sides…" He reaches out to clasp her hand in his, firm. "…Mine is yours, my Mire rose. I mean…" Shrug. "…so long as you'll have it be. And I…if it comes to that…of course I'll do it that way if worse comes to worst. But I'll pray it'll not be that way, if it's all the same to you."

Rowan shakes her head, clasping Jarod's hand. "Fuck that — don't you dare knight me as I'm dying. That's not at all what I meant. You do that, it looks like pity and it makes everything for naught. Knight me now and I'm not going to bust out my tits in the middle of a war. I'm Rowan Nayland at least until the squids are subdued, whether I'm Squire Rowan or Ser. When there's peace again… then — my father. Yours. All the rest." Her dark eyes search his. "Does that make sense?"

"It'd be a surprise distraction, you can't claim it wouldn't," Jarod says with a chuckle, making the easy joke. Then he gives a sheepish shrug. "Oh. I thought…heh. That was what I thought you meant. Fucking island makes your mind go to morbid places. All right. I think I understand a bit better now. Your father likely would want Ser Rowan back with the Naylands. Though it'd also make it simpler swearing to my lord father. How do want it done, anyhow? When the time comes. We've never really talked on it."

The squire shakes her head, rolling a shrug. "No fanfare, no fuss. It's a solemn oath and responsibility, not a sack full of gold dragons." She tilts a wry smile. "How was it done for you?"

Jarod's green eyes go away from Rowan's face, going out to the strange, twisting thoroughfares of the Grey Garden. "Wasn't no real fan fare. I wasn't annoited properly until I got back to the Roost, in the town sept. I don't think Ser Vernon had even bothered to do that bit, when he was knighted himself, so he didn't think much on it. It was just after the Trident was won. It's all rather a blur. I just barely understood we'd won, didn't know Jace'd been wounded yet, or how bad, or that Lord Geoffrey Tordane and his true son were dead. My lord father did, but he didn't tell me until after. There were lots of us being dubbed then, kneeling in the mud. Was lots of mud, since the rivers were so close. And Ser Vernon just told me to kneel and put his sword on my shoulder and dubbed me, and before I really understood what was happening, I was a knight. Barely seemed real. Wasn't how I pictured it. I was far from home, I'd not done anything important to earn it, and my brothers weren't there. It was before Jaremy was knighted himself, I found out later." He half-smiles. "My father saw it done, though. I was glad of that."

Rose nose, listening. "Sounds more like a proper knighting, to my mind. On the field of battle, in the mud. Honest like." She loops a companionable around his shoulders. "I can wait for the anointing and the sept, but I would have it done — Josse has to have his moment, after all, for putting up with my saga all these years. But the adoubement itself…" she shrugs. "We could do it here. Anywhere."

"Aye. Anywhere," Jarod concurs, looking back at she how is known as Rowan Nayland now, expression serious. And perhaps a little regretful. "I will do it here, if that's what you want. Though I'll admit, I don't like the feel of the Grey Garden, or much of what happened before getting us here. I'm hoping they'll ship us back to the Riverlands for a bit, before the Pyke or…whatever's next. If we do wait to do it after the Pyke's subdued…well. No one'll be able to say you didn't earn it. No one ever said it to me, given after the war was won, however I felt for it."

She considers a long moment, then nods. "We'll wait, then, and leave it in the hands of the Gods." She nods again, pushing her fingers through the raggedy, pixie mess of her hair. "There will be enough folk contriving reasons that I didn't earn it, shouldn't have it — if you think waiting out the campaign might mitigate that even a little… it's worth the wait." Rowan leans back against the wall, then reaches up to grasp the nape of Jarod's neck, butting her forehead against his in soft affection. "I needed to be reminded this isn't about me. Thanks."

"I do. And it'd give you more opportunity to prove yourself in the eyes of the River armies upon the field," Jarod said. "And…all right, I'm a selfish bastard who doesn't entirely want to lose you at my side, mixed up in all that." He chuckles affectionately, taking a moment to enjoy the feeling of her head against his. "I don't know how I'd have gotten through the last months without you, Rowenna, I truly don't. It just…hard as it's been, seems to make everything easier."

"I like that you're a bit of a selfish bastard when it comes to me," murmurs Rowan, smiling softly, lashes low. "And… it doesn't matter, really, whether I'm a knight or a squire. I belong at your side. And you at mine. You're quite stuck with me, Jarod Rivers — come what may."

"Am I now?" Jarod's smile grows a notch wider. "Good. You're stuck with me as well, of course, come what may. And I do mean that. After you're knighted, after you're Rowenna Rose Nayland before the world again, wherever you end up, I'll follow. And if your father tries to wed you to some horrid, splotchy Frey, I'll run them through special for you." It's said with a glib sort of humor but there's the sense he's not, really, joking.

Her smile is wide and lovely; she laughs, simply beaming up into his eyes. "Gods, I wish I could kiss you, right now," says Rowan. "I don't think I've ever loved you more."

"Really? Well…good," Jarod says. Though he sounds puzzled. "You know, I never know what I've done when you're pleased with me like this. It's confusing. On the other hand, I can usually figure out why you're cross at me, after I've given it some thought." He winks. Though his underlying manner is serious. He idly runs his fingers over the stone along the wall. "Does remind me. What do you think, of your father heading the army now? Apart from planting the Nayland banners on these walls like they've conquered the whole bloody island themselves, I'm not sure what to make on it."

Rowan smirks, lowering her lashes. "You just made me feel valued and important to you, is all. And you threatened to run through a potential rival — which was sort of romantic." She glances up at him, all mirth and dimples. "I am a girl, deep down." As for her father… she sighs, a pensive frown returning. "Fuck if I know. They're willing to treat with him, that's something. The rest — the banners and posturing — that's just what he does. If he was a bear, he'd piss on the place. It'd mean about as much."

Jarod laughs, perhaps at the image of Lord Rickart marking his territory. "The Mallisters don't like the situation with the banners. Worries me, too, I'll admit. Ser Martyn losing his post as commander of the army's a shame to them, as is how the duel went." When Ser Martyn was beaten into an unconscious pulp without yielding, and only Kamron pulling him off the field in violation of single combat saved his life. "Terrick fortunes are tied close with Seagard, and we're loyal bannermen. But…can't say I think it's so bad as all that, Lord Rickart in command. He led the field at Alderbrook before we retook the Roost, and he led us again when we beat back the squids the other day. He's a decent battle commander, whatever else he might be. And I'd rather the Harlaws treat with him and end this without more bloodshed - and whatever the likes of some in our armies would do to the smallfolk here - than not follow him to salve Mallister pride."

"The old man's not without his merits," Rowan admits, somewhat grudgingly. "The Mallisters here — they'll get over it. You win some, you lose some in a completely spectacular fashion. Lords or whatever, they're just soldiers out here. The politics and the future of House Mallister's still at Seagard with young Patrek. I don't think anything done out here is going to cause a political incident. For once, we're all truly on the same side. However briefly and however ill it sits."

"Aye, Naylands can take all the honors from the Grey Garden they like, for all I care. There's little here I'd want." Though that does seem to bring something else to Jarod's mind. "You've said your father's not much on piety, aye? I mean…from how you've talked he doesn't spend much time in the Sept back in the Mire. Or that's the impression I got."

Rowan lofts a brow. "I can't say what's really in the old man's heart, to be honest. He does attend services, but I'd give better than even odds that's just for show. More posturing. Though just because he's praying in the marketplace, so to speak, doesn't mean he's irreligious." She shrugs. "He married my mother, knowing she doesn't follow the Seven. So he's obviously not… orthodox."

"Your mother follows the Old Gods? I recall you mentioning before that she prayed to the weirwoods sometimes." Jarod sounds curious about this, but he doesn't really pursue it. "I was thinking of asking him, as part of the terms of surrender, that the Terricks take some of the stone from this place with them back to the mainland. To aid in the rebuilding of the town. Our sept, especially. I guess I'm wondering if he'll care at all about that or not."

Rowan nods. "She does. Just… sort of quietly and on her own. There's a weirwood in the Mire — or at least there used to be. I was named there. So was Rowan — all of us were, I think." As for whether Rickart would care about the stone, she chuckles and shakes her head. "The easy answer to that is 'no' — but he might care that you care. If he thinks there's some advantage in it, he'll try to put a price on it. So I'd approach him about it… casually."

"I'd like to see your weirwood in the swamp one day," Jarod says, thoughtful. Though again, that's not something he speaks anymore on. A nod to the rest. "I can ask. Worst he can do is say no, and we're no worse off than we are now. Anyhow. We should be getting down. Shift change soon. We can go back to our tent and…err…you can kiss me there, maybe?" He winks.

Rowan laughs, looking as though she might kiss him right then — but she doesn't, just dimples and bumps his shoulder. "Sounds like a plan." She jerks a thumb to the side and back of the wall. "Want to use the stairs this time?"

"There are stairs?" Jarod blinks, and shrugs. "Huh. Well. Guess if we're being lazy about it, may as well." He'll follow her stair-wards.

And the guard changes. And the sun sets. And there is kissing in Ser Jarod's tent. For a little while, all's right with the world.