|Many Rivers to Cross|
|Summary:||Including a few uncharted ones. Gedeon Rivers is back home, and he's brought some correspondence.|
|Related Logs:||Grand Melee at Stonebridge|
|Jarod Rivers' Tent|
|The bar is open.|
|Sat Jul 30, 288|
Jarod managed to drag himself back to his tent in the Terrick camp (with Rowan's assistance, once the eyes of the crowd were off him). While its among the purple-and-gold of the eagles of Terrick's Roost, the tent itself is in the livery colors he's made up for himself. Black, with a golden eagle's wing. He's parked inside it now, seated on a stool, shirt off, his chest and side a mass of dark and very ugly looking bruises. There's a table set up next to him. It's probably a convenient place to park bandages and the like, for a septon, but Jarod is also using it as a place to set a glass of wine he's liberally drinking from. He started the drinking right when he got back, and while he's not deep into it at the moment he's doing his best to get there quickly.
Josse is a common enough sight around the Terrick camp, Roost-dweller that he is and familiar face to most, if not all the Terricks themselves. His gray robes stand out among all the leather and expensive garb around him, his hood pulled up over his head and partway shielding his eyes until he reaches Jarod's tent, brushing the front flap aside. "Jarod? Is that you?"
"Most of me, aye," Jarod calls to the septon. He has some candles lit, so he's not drinking in the dark. "I think I cracked a rib when I fell on that Oldstones knight." Tackling in armor is a heavy and cumbersome business. "And maybe another when he beat me around the middle during that last pass." A pause and he asks, "How'd it look out there? From where you were sitting?"
"Did you fall on him." Josse's amusement is dry as always, a slight stress on the verb. "And here I was sure it was some brilliant strategy. You were going to be my hero." He smiles a little at Jarod and unslings his heavy rucksack, letting it thud carefully between his sandaled feet. "You looked fine down there. Don't tell me you're worried that you didn't."
"It was something of a combination of strategy and…falling," Jarod admits with a boyish smirk. "Got me clear of that Frey, at least. I figured my uncle was finished, but he hung in there a damn long time. Hope he's all right. I think that pretty mistress from the Oldstones went to tend him. Hope so, at least. He's earned that much." As for the latter, he shrugs. "I tried to play a little to the crowd at first. After a bit though I just stopped thinking about it. Just got into it, you know? I've never fought anyone like the Oldstones before. And I got a chance to cross blades with Ser Rygar Nayland. I'm almost sorry my uncle put him down so fast, though he stood up to the two of us well as he could. I'd wondered what sort of man he'd be on the field, after what he did at the Trident." There's actual respect in his tone as he speaks of Ser Rygar, and no trace of rancor. Rare in his family.
"The Trident had its share of mysteries," says a voice from the front flap of Ser Jarod Rivers's tent. That flap is nudged open so that the towheaded Ser Gedeon can poke his head in and offer a slightly cheeky smile. "Got yourself soundly thumped, today, but it was such a good showing I'd argue it was worth the bruises."
"Yes, I remember," Josse murmurs without looking up, settling down into a crouch to pull open the bag and start rummaging for tending supplies. "And what did his blade feel like?" His eyes do come up then, looking at Jarod's for the answer — and then distracted by someone unfamiliar (before today, anyway) coming into the tent. "Ser."
"Sharp, is how it felt," is Jarod's cheeky reply to Josse. "Though it's the falling that did me more damage, I suspect." He reaches over, with a small wince, to take a gulp of wine. It's then that the other man nudges through the tent flap. The voice makes his neck straighten, surprise registering on his open features. Jarod Rivers was never any good at hiding his emotions, and the years haven't changed that any. "Stranger take me…" he murmurs to himself. And it takes him a moment to summon up a greeting. Though he eventually manages it. "I get thumped often enough, but I never stay knocked down for long. I was wondering if you'd come by." A look to Josse. "Good septon, may I introduce my kin in Stonebridge." The intro comes with a half-smirk, and is plainly something of a joke. The fair-haired knight looks like no blood of Jarod's, that's for certain.
Gedeon ducks his head, his smile briefly sheepish, before he straightens and steps inside properly, his wide smile returning, though perhaps there's something a little anxious in his eyes. "Septan," he says with a nod towards Josse. "Kin in name, if not in blood. Gedeon Rivers." To Jarod he adds with a laugh, "I wondered if you'd remember me."
"Aye. The brighter side of the Rivers branch, I see." Josse smirks at Jarod, then returns the nod to Geodon. More of a bow of his head than a nod; the man may not be a Lord but he's still a Ser. He pulls out a long stretch of bandaging and his mortar and pestle, setting them down on the floor. "Do you want some time to talk?" He asks, raising a dark brow. "I can come back in a few hours."
"No blood of Lord Jerold's, Josse, I don't think I've that many brothers lying about," Jarod says with a chuckle to the septon. "But, aye. All bastards are kin in a way, I've always figured." He leaves it up to Gedeon himself to explain whatever parentage he might have. "Gedeon, this is Septon Josse. He fixes me when I break myself, so he's generally exceedingly busy. We met at the Trident, come to it. Or just after. It's been…" He eyes the other knight keenly. "What now? Four years? Five?" He shakes his head and shrugs to the septon. "Best to get this done, and you know me, Josse. I've very few private moments. Ser Rivers and I shall have plenty of time to catch up, I hope. Are you home for long?"
So, at least for now, Gedeon keeps his parentage to himself. He glances over at Jarod for Josse's offer, his expression slightly hopeful, but as the other knight replies, he nods and smiles. "Best not leave his ribs tumbling loose. Who knows where he'd put them. It's been five years, but I expect I'll be here a long while. I serve Lord Valentine, now."
Josse opens up a small cloth packet of herbs, crushing them into a dry powder into the mortar. He takes Jarod's pitcher of water off a table, mixing the powder up into a well-stirred cold mess. The septon is perhaps intuitive enough to stay silent, his presence for now as muted as his dark robes.
"Yes, I saw you fighting under his allegiance on the field. Must say, I didn't figure if I ever saw you again that'd be the way of it. But he seems a good lord to serve. Certainly fights well. I'm sworn to my lord father now." As if it even needed to be said. "Sit if you like. There's more wine, there." He gestures vaguely to a pitcher and several spare cups arranged haphazardly on top of a trunk. It wouldn't be a Jarod Rivers tent without an open bar. "How long do you think it'll take to heal, Jos? I don't want to be down for too long, things as they are with the Naylands and my folk."
"Things changed after…" Gedeon doesn't finish the sentence. Instead he walks over to the wine to pour himself a cup. "Lord Valentin has taught me much, for all I didn't make much of a showing, today. We'll have to spar sometime, you and I, for childhood's sake." He finds a chair or a stool or whatever allows for sitting, perching there as he watches the Septan work. "The Naylands," he murmurs. "How is it Isolde… Lord Geoffrey promised her to Jaremy years ago. We all knew that."
"A month if one sits still. A month and a half if one doesn't." Josse unravels the very long wrapping of bandages, getting up onto his knees. "You being you, we should bank on the latter. But I can keep it from hurting too badly in the meantime. Which, I will pray, you'll need more than a heavy weapon." He motions for Jarod to move his shirt away so he can see the area in question. Gedeon's question about Isolde attracts a brief flicker of his eyes but no answer. Listening, as he does.
Jarod gives Josse a wounded look. It suits him poorly, and is probably not to be believed. With a grimace he takes off his shirt and tosses it in a corner. Fortunately, it doesn't knock over his wine. "A month and a half? Fucking seven hells. Can I ride with it like this? Horses and girls, if you take my meaning. To say nothing of sword work. I certainly can't stay abed for a month." It's hard to imagine the young man managing it for a full eight hours of sleep, the way he bounds around. As for the 'not hurting too badly,' that idea gets a nod. As for Gedeon's question, he barks a low laugh. Which makes him wince. It hurt his broken side. "The short version? People want what they can't have, and my fair lord brother has figured that out several years later than most of us. The long version? I'll need more wine. Refill my cup, will you? I've a few more bottles around, so I think I can manage to tell it in full."
Gedeon lifts his own cup to his mouth, lips curling into a faint smile. For staying abed a month he murmurs, "With the right girl, you might." Then he stands to collect Jarod's cup, refill it and offer it back to him. "I've an interest in hearing it in full. I never imagined coming back to news that the Naylands were set to possess Tordane lands."
Josse smiles at the wounded look, then settles back, settling the heel of his hand on Jarod's side and rolling the palm along each rib, looking for the cracks he can't see. One rib, intact. Two rib, intact. "Horses, I would stay away from for at least two weeks. As for girls, if you can't use your imagination on this one then you probably deserve to suffer." As he continues on his assessment he glances back over at Gedeon, a little more closely now that the man's talking politics.
"So not on top, then?" Jarod shrugs to Josse. He can live with that. "Fair enough. Thanks." The last to Gedeon, for the refill. He straightens up, with a wince, and takes a deep breath as Josse inspects him. Only one's properly broken, in the middle of his ribcage *right* where he likely fell on Anton, though a couple more are bruised from general abuse. Gedeon's comment gets a chuckle. "Might not be so bad at that, with the right one. Anyhow. Sit down and drink fast. This is a long tale that gets slightly easier to understand the faster one gets drunk. And…aye. I know what you mean on that. Time was this place felt like a second home for Jaremy and me. I hope that's not changed, though I can't imagine it won't with Lady Isolde wed to that Nayland cur." He makes a face. Boy does not like Ryker Nayland.
"That's a promising beginning," Gedeon chuckles both for Jarod's words as well as the septon's barb. He lifts his glass in a silent salute before taking a generous swallow of the contents within. "Tell me how it happened," he requests, his smile slipping away. "And then, if I might, I'd like to ask your private counsel on a matter I find suddenly quite pressing."
Josse makes note of that booboo and moves on. Once he's identified any more spots of particular agony for Jarod, now comes the arduous task of binding it all just right. The bandaging is wide and thin, and he has a few extra pieces folded into thick wads to be placed where the septon thinks they should go. He's gone quiet again while he works, the sort of quiet that's well-practiced. He has probably been in this kind of situation more times than they all together can count.
Jarod takes one long, good drink before he has to hoist his arms into a position to mind the binding easier on Josse. "If you're seeking my counsel, fair Ser, you must've come home in *deep* shit. But I'll certainly talk on it. Anyhow, to the sorry tale of my brother Jaremy's unmarriage. You know what Jaremy's like." A general statement, though with a look to Josse he adds, "Ever since my fair lord brother and me ever thought of becoming knights, Jaremy's wanted to join the Kingsguard one day. Like Ser Barristan the Bold, or the Kingslayer, or Prince Aegon the Dragonknight, you want to reach particularly far back. Problem is, of course, Kingsguard're married to their white armor. They take no bride and inherit no titles. So that's the first thing my fair lord brother wanted, and it took him years to figure out that wasn't the life he'd been born to. That's the start of it, and why he's put it off so long. You know, there was a time I figured he'd sack up and do it one of these days. Renounce his title, let it pass to one of my brothers…" The trueborn ones, of course. Jarod sure as hell isn't going to inherit anything Terrick. "…but my lord father wouldn't hear of it, and Jaremy wouldn't defy him, so instead of riding off to King's Landing he just dithered on wedding Isolde for a year, and three, and five…and so on, you get the picture…hoping the world would change and he'd wake up somebody different, I guess."
Gedeon listens in silence and sips his wine until he's obliged to refill his own cup and then Jarod's if Jarod is in need. He nods as the other Ser Rivers pauses. "We've all had that wish," he murmurs. "I've yet to see it granted."
"Aye, we have at that." With some awkward arm movement so as not to interrupt the wrapping too much, Jarod does finish is wine glass and hand it off to Gedeon for a refill. There's a bittersweet, knowing quality to the statement that Un-Ser Jarod Rivers would not have been capable of five years ago. "Anyhow. While Jaremy was dithering, Lady Valda…" He makes a face, and hisses, as if imitating some monstrous snake creature. No love for that one, either. "…was making other plans. Lady Bitch is still a Frey down to her toenails, and it looks to me like sometime after Lord Geoffrey died she started making arrangements in quiet with the Naylands. Putting out feelers to get a marriage pact made, to put Stonebridge in the coffers of Frey vassals. I guess Lord Geoffrey and my lord father never actually put the pact between Isolde and my brother to paper. Just made promises and shook hands. Chances of Lady Valda feeling any inclination to hold to a promise made only on honor?" He snorts.
Gedeon is all ears (well, ears and mouth, if one counts the wine), a silent, attentive figure as Jarod finishes speaking. He studies the dwindling contents of his cup with a soft, unhappy frown. "If Lord Geoffrey was still alive, he never would have allowed it," he points out softly. "Even Lady Valda, serpent that she is, must know that."
Josse is good at his craft, taking up no more time than needed with the large binding. As the two Sers talk, he finishes that and scrapes the cold tea mixture into a cup, diluting it further with water. This he deposits by Jarod's elbow. "Jarod. Half of this now, half before you go to sleep. I'll bring you some more in the morning." He picks up his heavy bag, hoisting it on his shoulder. "Ser Gedeon. I need to be off and check on Lord Revyn. Seven watch you, perhaps we'll meet again."
"You think Lady Valda gives a damn what Lord Geoffrey would've stood for on Lord Geoffrey's land?" Jarod shrugs. "A lot of things would've been different in him and Geonis were alive. But they aren't. So that's that." When Josse finishes his work he settles in a bit more comfortably, putting down his wine to drain half the septon's concoction. It makes him make a face. He's still swallowing as Josse heads out the tent flap, though he does manage an inclination of his head as a sort of good-bye. When he's gone, his eyes settle back on Gedeon more levelly than before. "I tried to find you, you know. After the battle was over." After he sobered up, rather. There was a couple day lag. "Figured you'd want to be off with those of us headed back to the Roost, to see your father and brother buried. By the time I went looking, you were gone."
Gedeon watches the Septon go, offering a small nod of praise for work well done. He drains his cup of wine but sets it down, rather than refilling it. "I couldn't go back," he says softly. "Not then. I wasn't ready. I…" he draws in a soft breath. "My father, Lord Geoffrey, gave me something in the moments before he died. Something, he'd said he intended for me, if he and Geonis fell. I wasn't sure what to do with it, then." His gaze lifts, stormy eyes troubled. "I am still not sure what to do."
Jarod's face settles into a deep frown, like there's so much more he wants to say about that. But all he finally says is, "You would've done better by your sister by coming home. She had a rough time of it after." He shrugs, putting down his cup-o-herbal painkiller and going back for the wine. His green eyes meet Gedeon's, only a little blurry from the wine and whatever-it-was the septon gave him. "What's that, then?" It's asked quietly, and he just waits.
Perhaps that's the question Gedeon has been waiting for. Perhaps it's the reason he came to Jarod Rivers's tent at all. He reaches into the pouch by his hip pocket to draw out a small package. Within are a collection of letters, carefully folded and relatively well-preserved for all they must have survived the battle of the Trident and five years traveling around with a sellsword. They are all old, but the first is newer by some years. If Jarod is familiar with Lord Geoffrey's hand, he'll recognize the handwriting and the small, shredded remains of the Tordane seal that linger, still.
The first, the 'newest' is written to Gedeon. In it, Geoffrey explains that, much as he has loved and will always love Isolde, he has known since her birth that she could not have truly been his. That, with his and Geonis's deaths (for they must be dead if Gedeon holds this letter) he is the remaining child with his father's blood and the heir to Stonebridge. It begs him to care for his sister, to remember the lessons of honor Lord Geoffrey had tried to instill, to be a fitting Lord to Tordane. The remaining three letters, far older, are written from Geoffrey to Valda. They are sweet nothings, news of who and what he's seen at a tourney at The Crag. But the dates… they are all over the month when, by Isolde's birth, she must have been conceived.
Gedeon sits in silence as Jarod reads, rubbing one hand nervously over his mouth as he waits.
Jarod is not a scholar by nature, so he fumbles with the letters. And it takes him some time to read them. And re-read them, for at first blush he can't absorb the whole of it. By the third time through, his hands are shaking, tan face gone a shade pale. He fumbles for his wine again, knocking the cup over and spilling it on the floor of his tent. He doesn't even notice. "He made you should have what's Tordane…" That's the first thing he says, and he says it a little numb. And, perhaps, with a trace of jealousy. Jarod's got brothers, and a sweet sister who'll likely marry very well, for Lord Jerold to have many dire concerns about inheritance whatever Jaremy does. Still, what bastard doesn't dream of some strange circumstance that'd make his father name him good as a legitimate son?
The rest of it, he just has to read again. And again. And again. "This'll ruin her, Gedeon. You know that."
And Gedeon has these aging papers and a trail of corpses behind him. "I told you I could not go back after the Trident," he reminds very softly. "At first to spare her, and perhaps to spare myself Lady Valda's wrath. And then it seemed, if he truly wished this, I would better serve Tordane by growing into a man than trying to take its mantel up as a boy. I still thought, coming home, with Isolde and Jaremy to be wed, perhaps I need never speak. Only now…" Gedeon stares at his hands and then up at Jarod, looking very much a boy no older than twenty, a little lost, a little bewildered. "I thought of all the others I might speak to, you would understand best. What do I do, Jarod?"
Jarod shoves the letters back at Gedeon. Very nearly throws them, like he's suddenly holding live snakes. "Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck…" He buries his head in the palm of his hands and just repeats that over and over again for awhile. "What do you do? How the fuck am I supposed to know? I do not know things! How is it people haven't come to understand this yet? I am a whoremonger and a scoundrel and a rake - I have letters to give evidence of contesting to my character in these matters! - and *really* not the person you want to get advice from on any matter that doesn't involve hitting something. Why the fuck am I seeing this? Your knightly lord of Oldstones, or Jaremy, could give you far better counsel when it comes to matters of rulership."
Gedeon gathers up the letters, though he handles them more as if they were rose petals or something else equally delicate. They are folded, carefully, and tucked away again. "My knightly lord of Oldstones might have his own interests to see to if he knew and Jaremy… perhaps Jaremy should know, but I saw him earlier, when Isolde's betrothal was announced. I thought his advice might come from somewhere other than his head. You, for all that whatever you keep in your head rattles on occasion, you know what it is to be a Rivers." A bastard. "You know what it would be asking of Isolde and you know whether it would change Jaremy's willingness to have her. Lord Geoffrey would never have wanted Stonebridge to belong to the Naylands. I could stop that, but the cost…"
"Willingness? Like as not, but it'd change what they could be to each other, willing or no. Lordlings don't marry bastards, that's just the way the world is, particularly as Jaremy's heir to our family. My father'd find no value in the match, and it's hardly as if there aren't plenty of marriageable girls in the Seven Kingdoms he could make a better one with." Jarod takes a breath letting it out slow. It's only then that he notices he's spilled his wine. "Get me another drink, for fuck's sake."
"No, I suppose lordlings don't," Gedeon agrees softly. He stands, scooping up Jarod's glass to refill it and hand it back, slightly sticky for all of the wine that sloshed out of it. His own glass, he leaves empty for now. "Though as Lord of Tordane, I could send her with a generous dowry, bastard or not."
Jarod does not care about the sanitary quality of his wine cup. He just drinks it. All of it. Blinking, he just gives that moment to go to his head. Yeah, that'll aid his decision making skills. Though at least he's not just swearing anymore. "You know what I should do with this, don't you? Take it straight to my brother. My father. Lord Jason Mallister. Fuck it, I should have ravens off tonight to Lord Hoster Fucking Tully, because if this has any truth behind it, and if you can prove it all, then the Naylands get precisely shit by any marriage to Isolde, and the Terrick's control of Stonebridge is entirely secure." Deep breath. "That's what I should do." That statement contains the word 'should' a lot. He doesn't seem at all like he *wants* to do that.
Gedeon watches that wine go down and then he listens to that advice. "A little more slowly, perhaps," he advises, either for the amount of drink or the number of ravens. "Perhaps… perhaps it would be best to just speak to Jaremy, next."
"Aye, he's got a right to know sooner than the rest, though he'd have the same obligation for it that I do," Jarod says. And would likely dither just as much. Both brothers Terrick and Rivers hold Isolde in great affection. And have a tendency to make choices more based on affection than pragmaticsm. Deep breath. And wince. Breathing too hard remains painful, though at least he's somewhat numb to it now. "You want my advice? Here it is. First off, you can't stay in Stonebridge. With those on your person, you might as well just send Lady Valda an invitation to have you knifed in the dark one night. If you and your knight of Oldstones would enjoy the hospitality of Terrick's Roost for a bit, it's yours, and you needn't say you want anything but the fine company of some childhood friends and for him to better know the local lord. Not right off, anyhow. Your Ser Anton might agree readily anyhow. Way he showered my sweet sister with flowers after the tourney. If you're to tell Jaremy it'd better be done, when we can put a few dozen Terrick swords between you and whatever Lady Valda might do when this comes out. Second…" He tries not to breath too deeply, though he does have to brace himself. "…you've got to show these to Isolde before anything public is made of them. She's got a right to know what's coming, and make what choices she can from it. Everyone's got a right to face up who they are."
The blond Rivers nods now and again as he listens, taking this advice to heart. "Wise words. Broken ribs make you smarter." a pause and a faint smile. "Or perhaps its the wine. I'll speak to my lord about the Roost, he might be keen to get better acquainted, as you say." For telling Isolde, what bit of mirth returned to Gedeon's face fades away again. "Yes, that had best be done quickly. I thought being a bastard was enough of a curse, but at least I was born, knowing what I was."
"I always counted myself a lucky bastard, for my part," Jarod says with a lazy smile that's part stunned bemusement, part exhaustion, and part quick and copious inhaling of wine. "Raised by good folk, in far better circumstances than most get in this world, but none of the responsibilities for it that were thrust on my fair lord brother." Being a bastard in Lord Jerold's house was a rather different matter than being one in Lady Valda's however. "There're much worse lots a person can have. Once she knows, she might well help you in your cause. There's nothing of Lady Valda in her, and it's not as if she wants this match with the Naylands. She honors her father's memory. Besides…there's a freedom to it. Rivers run everywhere in the land, fair kinsmen. And they don't hold any obligations on them, save what you can make for yourself, with some luck. My fair lord brother has a thousand things keeping him from riding off to King's Landing and being whatever the fuck he wants. I could do it tomorrow."
"You could," Gedeon agrees, "but is that what -you- want?" he asks with a small laugh. "I'll speak to her. And then, you and I, we'll speak to Jaremy. And that, I think, is as far as we needs must plan, for today. Thank you, Jarod." He stands, one hand dropping to the pouch that contain the letters. "It's good to set eyes on you again."
"Another drink, or several, is what I want," is Jarod's glib reply to that. Gedeon sure as seven hells wasn't getting a serious answer to that question out of him. "So leave, so I can have them. Aye. I'd try to arrange a way to meet Isolde outside Stonebridge if you can manage it. Too may Naylands here, and too many swords that are more Frey than Tordane that Lady Valda's surrounded herself with. Meantime, I'll speak with my father and see that the Oldstones shall be honored guests at the Roost. He won't think it odd. You're interesting folk, that's certain, and not yet committed to any house far as I know. Plus, I make most of my friends off men I've let hit me." It's said as a joke, but it's absolutely true.
Gedeon moves to the doorway, pausing to consider that for a long moment. "I suppose I had better hit you someday soon, then," he concludes, his expression solemn enough except for the way his eyes crinkle. In an act of mercy, the remaining wine is set down beside the empty cup, within Jarod's easy reach. And then Gedeon Rivers slips out of the tent and back down towards Stonebridge proper.