|Matters to Discuss|
|Summary:||Anton and Jarod jaw on a few of them. Of cross-dressers and poisonings and fealty and things.|
|Related Logs:||None directly, most current events are referenced|
|A reasonably private place to walk - Terrick's Roost|
|Sat Aug 13, 288|
Morning is a popular time for knightly exercises, especially in the summer, when avoiding the heat of the day is a prime concern. Ser Anton Valentin seems to disdain the castle's yard, or at least has this morning, instead riding out to see to his training elsewhere. He returns now, dark brow and dark clothes the darker for a few hours' sweat. He dismounts the big roan destrier he won at Stonebridge's melee, and leads it through the grounds.
Jarod is in the castle yards, for his part, getting some of said training done. He's finally starting to properly take part in practice again, his ribs having mended enough where he can strain himself a bit more. He's trading blunted blade blows with a Terrick retainer, though they slow and Jarod calls for a stop entirely when he spots and recognizes Anton. "Lord Ser Valentin!" He raises a hand toward the other knight. "Is that horse as fine a ride as he appears?"
Anton turns his head and lifts a hand in return greeting, calling back, "Aye, Ser Rivers. Still getting accustomed to one another, but he's a fine beast." No stableboy immediately in evidence, he leads the horse with him as he approaches Jarod, glancing him over briefly. "Healed enough to return to training? I'm glad to see it."
"I'll admit I envy you him. Had I known what the prize was…well, I can say I would've fought harder, but I suspect I just would've broken myself further. Does he have a name yet?" Jarod asks. "And, yes, I seem to be mending. Like my lord uncle I am made of old rocks and difficult to kill. Perhaps we'll have time for another go at each other before you leave. Though maybe not quite so hard this time. I don't want to spend all my time mending."
Anton chuckles and nods, "Aye, a fine prize, if not one well-advertised beforehand. And no, no name just yet. I'm waiting to see if one presents itself." He strokes the stallion's neck and then chuckles and nods, "Perhaps at the wedding tourney I hear your brother is planning. I've yet to decide whether I'll compete, but if I do I'd be pleased to face off against you again."
"Was a good little fight, wasn't it?" Jarod says, boyish grin flashing across his face. He puts up his practice sword. "Would you like to walk a bit? Occurs to me we have some matters to discuss, while you're still in residence at my lord father's house."
"I enjoyed it well enough," Anton replies with a smile before nodding, "Sure. Shall we aim for the stables so I can pass this fellow off?" He turns his steps (and his horse's) that way, though at no great speed.
"I follow where you go," Jarod says, falling into step beside Anton. Also at no great speed. "I should thank you, for taking Rowan on as you did. I know the situation is…difficult."
"It is…unprecedented," Anton nods, his tone making the words more agreement than not. "It seemed the best outcome for all. All other considerations aside, I do think it's true that at this stage, learning more of Ser Gedeon's fighting style would benefit Rowan most. They're more alike in ability than you and… he." After a brief pause, he says, "Rowan seems convinced that you will keep this secret, even from those closest to you. I hope that this trust is not misplaced? It would be… problematic for all of us, otherwise."
"Perhaps they are," Jarod says, though he does not sound precisely happy about that part of it. "Though I think Rowan would've been ready for the knighthood in a year under me. If things'd been…well. They aren't." He stops, turning to regard Anton. Green eyes hard and serious. "I have given my promise to Rowan that I shall tell no one what he is. And I shall not. If you need additional assurances…" He puts his hand on his sword hilt at his belt. "…I swear it to you now upon my honor as a knight, I shall tell no one what Rowan Nayland is. Does that satisfy you, Ser?"
"I agree," Anton replies, "You have clearly done an excellent job in your training of Rowan, please don't think I meant to say otherwise. Were remaining in your employ an option, I have no doubt it would have continued to benefit him. I simply meant to say that I think we may be of some aid to him as well, and that the reasons supplied to his dear brother Lord Ryker were not total fabrications, at least. Enough that they will hold up to scrutiny, which I imagine they shall get. As for your word, Ser," he replies, "I am satisfied. I understand this is a difficult situation for you. Your handling of it is admirable."
"No, you're correct, Rowan is physically unsuited for greatswords, which is my preference in the field," Jarod admits. "Anyway. Aye. For the best. And I'd not call it admirable. I've been a blind man for four years. Had I realized the truth of this earlier - and I concede now looking back that in a thousand ways, a thousand times, I should've - at a time when things were not so contentious between the Naylands and my own folk, it might've been easier to manage."
"Once you know it is impossible to imagine not having seen it before," Anton replies, "But to have guessed it sooner?" He shrugs, and shakes his head, "Who would? It is unthinkable. There is no reason for the mind to go there, to make that leap from a strange, skinny boy who probably prefers men - an explanation that I would think covers most all of it well enough." He shrugs and shakes his head, "At any rate… I would call it admirable. Many men would have turned him out years ago for what he seems, or taken advantage once they learned what he is. You did neither."
"Aye, that is what I figured," Jarod says with a shrug. "As to that…there are some knights they say are buggers, they can still kill things, so I don't figure that's any of my business. For taking advantage…" He frowns, jaw setting. "I am not sure what sort of men those would be, Ser, but I'd not call them true knights. Come to it. I was rather alarmed Ser Gedeon thought it would be at all…proper for Rowan to share a room with him. Knowing what he…is." For such a casual lecher, he manages to talk about 'proper' in an almost prim manner.
"Ser Gedeon and I rather agreed with you on that point," Anton says, "It seemed improper. But Rowan was not at all comfortable with the idea of sleeping in the common hall with all the other squires and retainers, and at the time assumed that his room here at the Roost was not still an option. I think you for making it one, it is a solution we are all better pleased by."
"The common hall would've occasioned less comment, but it is what it is. I trust that while Rowan is in your house, Lord Ser, you will see that Ser Gedeon's conduct with Rowan is within the bounds of knightly honor," Jarod says. "A squire has many duties to a knight but if he takes advantage, as you put it, of the situation…well that'd be a grave dishonor, to my mind."
"Would have occasioned less comment, perhaps, but given far more opportunities for accidental discovery," Anton points out, before shrugging, "I was rather inclined to take Rowan's word on the matter of which option was worse. He has more experience navigating the keeping of this secret than the rest of us. At any rate, it is resolved for the better now. As for Ser Gedeon," he replies, tone growing a shade more firm, "He is an honorable man, who takes his knightly vows as seriously as you do, Ser Jarod."
"Good," Jarod says shortly. "Then there is no cause for concern." He's still rather tight-jawed on the issue, but it's not a point he terribly wants to linger on. "Have the pair of you been bothered while Lord Ryker Nayland has been in our house? I confess, Lord Ser, I thought Terrick's Roost would offer more Nayland-free walls for Ser Gedeon. I'd half a mind to toss the Lord of Stonebridge out on his ass, but that would've been an insult to the Lady Igara and I'll admit not have helped the situation. Still." He allows a quick grin. "I confess I would've enjoyed it."
"Bothered?" Anton shakes his head, and then chuckles at that grin, admitting a brief one of his own. "I cannot say I would not have enjoyed seeing it myself," he repliies, "I have spoken but little with the Lord Ryker, as yet, though I would not count on that to last. His cousin Ser Rygar was eager enough to speak with me, I half wonder if Ryker is here on the same errand."
"Came courting, did he?" Jarod chuckles to Anton. "Well, that's highlord business, m'Lord, though if you want the measure of the Naylands I'd advise you to spend time with Lord Ryker while he's here. Perhaps he is, though it seems he's not bothered to talk at all with his cousin about what Ser Rygar experienced in this house. He knew nothing of Rowan's bit about claiming to want to join the Kingsguard, and caused the Lady Igara some rather horrid embarrassment by his ignorance, as I understand it. My own thought is that he's here to make trouble. Either to throw his lordly weight around and antagonize us into breaking the peace - which we shall not do - or to gather intelligence and spread division among us for his own purposes."
Anton chuckles and shakes his head, "I had hoped that Ser Rygar was a better representation of the family than Lord Ryker," he replies, "A younger cousin and a royalist he might be, but he seems a man worth respect. And yes, he did come courting," he admits with a smile, "Very prettily, I must say. He offered a rather appealing carrot, and demonstrated some restraint in showing off the stick behind it." He lifts a hand to scratch at his jaw, listening and nodding, "True, he seemed not to have spoken with Ser Rygar at all, which is odd. And the business with Lady Igara was very badly handled by him, as well, which is a shame. As for his purpose…" he shrugs, and shakes his head, "I could not guess. I think I would suppose the latter. They are winning the peace after all, aren't they? Why bother with war? Only Terrick stands to gain from that. But his manner is certainly one to inspire more animosity than trust, that much is true."
"Ser Rygar is a true knight, but he is but one man, and no better a measure of his own House than I am of my lord father's," Jarod says. "For which I'm sure Lord Jerold is grateful, he acquits himself just fine on his own. As for courting, that *is* business for my lord father and brother, but the embarrassment of Stonebridge aside, the Naylands are grasping opportunists who will give little support to their vassals once they've secured them, and their lieges the Freys have a reputation for never bestirring themselves from the Twins. Each time my father's vassals have needed aid, aid has been sent. And there is even more strength in Seagard, as my brother Lord Jacsen can tell you. Stonebridge is lost, and that is a blow, but it is a small wound. We will survive it."
"Should it ever come to blows, Ser Jarod, I think your father will hope you are a fine measure of your house indeed," Anton replies. He listens to the rest, and smiles crookedly, replying, "Funny, Ser Rygar said the opposite, as is to be expected. According to him, Terrick and Mallister are spread thin as it is, and have not the means to defend Oldstones, as far removed to the south as it is, even if they should like to. While with Stonebridge in their hands, Nayland and Frey grow ever-larger, stronger, and richer." He shrugs, replying, "It is a matter that will keep, I think. I would not rush to swear to anyone, before taking the time to get a truer measure of them than words can give."
"As is expected," Jarod says with a shrug. "I haven't a head for politics myself, m'Lord, and my affections are obvious. But, yes, it will keep. I do urge you to make time to speak with my brother Lord Jacsen, now that he's back. He's just come from court at Seagard, and can give you a better measure than anyone of what life would promise for a Mallister bannerman. And you would like him, I think. He is a veteran of the Trident himself. Would be a knight, but for the wound he took on the field, which left his right leg poorer. Still, it has given him time to know the courts far better."
"I will do so, and happily," Anton nods, "He had mentioned a desire to speak more, and I would hear more of Seagard. I have not had a chance to visit since I returned to the Riverlands, but I grew up there for a time, you know," he says, "Before your time or your brother's, I think, but perhaps you might have met my father? Ser Cyric, then, and just a sworn sword." When Jarod speaks more of Jacsen he nods, "Ahhh. Lord Jason's personal squire, wasn't he? I remember hearing the lad took a nasty blow in the battle. It was a shame, I had heard he had great promise as a knight. But well that he's made the most of his other skills. I'll look forward to speaking with him more."
"I remember your people a little, Lord Ser. Or your father, rather, as he was a knight in the Mallisters' service when Jacsen and I squired there," Jarod says. "Jace did for Lord Mallister at the time, aye, and did for him well enough to be afforded a stay in his household long after the war ended. I was attached to one of Lord Jason's sworn swords by the name of Ser Vernon Mullard, who you may not recall. He was a butcher's son risen to the knighthood, and I'm as much a product of him as my lord uncle, I think, for better or worse." Though a touch wry, there's great warmth in his tone as he speaks of his old hedge knight. "Your father was in the Mallister's service, if I recall? Do you mind my asking, Lord Ser, why he did not swear his House to Seagard after he was given Oldstones?"
"I recall the name, I think," Anton nods, "I knew many of the knights there at least by name or face, though I have not been much there except for during the war itself. Good men all, as I remember them." As for the swearing of Oldstones, Anton chuckles, and shakes his head. "A good question, Ser Rivers, one I have wondered myself. From all that I can tell, the answer is, believe it or not, because Lord Ser Jason never asked."
"Ser Vernon was a good man to drink with, Lord Ser, and he taught me how to find the best whore in a crowded tavern, as well as what to do with the business end of a sword," Jarod says with a chuckle. "I was quite fortunate to have him as my forger. He works the tournament circuit now, from his last letter, though I think he'll return to Seagard once he's won himself a bit more glory and a few purses. Never asked?" He makes a soft "Huh" sound. "As I said, no head for politics. Though I can say that, as a knight, I feel the better knowing Lord Jason is my father's liege than I would in taking my direction from the Twins."
Anton shrugs. "Strange to think, isn't it?" he replies, "I mean, in truth… my father had no head for politics, either. I don't think he ever paid the business of the lords around him any mind, except when they bid him do something in particular. Whether he even realized he hadn't sworn to anyone and ought to, I'm not sure. He was not much for correspondence, so I've little to go on. As best I can tell… nobody ever asked him. Perhaps they all thought someone else had done it, or was meant to, I don't know. Oldstones is not much now and was even less then, there's not a lord about who would have missed it five years ago."
"Did you make much fortune for your House across the Narrow Sea?" Jarod asks, a boyish curiosity coming to him as he ponders the Eastern lands. "I've heard a man can make a great deal for himself over there. That it matters not what your name is, only that you've wits and strength and the ability to earn something for yourself. And that the Braavosi dance on water, so perhaps the rest are fairy stories as well."
"I did well enough for myself," Anton replies, "As well as any man might, to return with my life, all my limbs, and more coin than I began with. And aye, that's true," he nods, "The companies care about your skills and nothing more. You could be a nobody out of the gutters or the Dragonknight himself and you'd have the same chances. As for the dancing on water, well…" he smiles faintly, trailing off, and shakes his head, "A man must keep some secrets."
"I'd like to see the Eastern lands before I die," Jarod admits. "Not that I tire of my lord father's service. But there's much of the world I'd like to see, just to say I've seen it. The gardens and chivalry of the Reach and the legendary women of Dorne, and the frozen Wall at the edge of the world in the Northlands."
"There is a lot of world to see," Anton replies with a nod, "I count myself lucky to've seen a fair bit of it. Tournaments are the best way, really," he advises, "They happen all over, and you can make a half-decent living at it if you've the skills. You have to go where they are, but it's a rare month when there aren't a few to choose from."
"I may do the tournament rounds for a year or two, if things are ever quiet again in the Roost to give me the liberty," Jarod says. "And when I've earned a bit more under my lord father to warrant the leave. The Reach supposedly hosts tourneys for every occasion, and I'm told there are many in King's Landing these days, as Good King Robert still likes very much to see a good fight." He grins. "Or I may not. I've a happy enough home, and owe my lord father much service for the opportunities he's given me. I'll see where the next years take me, I suppose."
Anton nods, "The Reach is definitely a prime area," he confirms with a nod, "And King's Landing as well. Though best not to forget the smaller tourneys elsewhere. They may not have as large a purse to give the victor, but you're more likely to end up the victor for it. You've time yet," he nods, "If you were five and twenty or more I'd say go now, before you've hit your peak and passed it, but." He shrugs, "You've time, and a good position here, as you say. On days when you don't have to try to be polite to Lord Ryker, at least," he jokes.
"I have to be polite to him?" Jarod quips with a laugh. "That's news to me. I do have to protect him while he's here, as it's on my lord father's honor and mine if that lout comes to any damage in the Roost. Which is no small part of why I hope he leaves quickly. I will be disgruntled if I must do myself an injury keeping him from harm. And aye. Plenty of time for the rest of it. I thank you for the advice, Lord Ser. Is there anything further you need of me? We've many guests and I've many people to see if I need to do an injury to himself for, on their behalf."
Anton laughs and shakes his head, "Perhaps not. But I do. I'm told it is poor form, for a lord not to be civil to another. Though it seems Lord Ryker feels no particular obligation in that direction," he adds dryly, "So perhaps I am mistaken. For a house that seems interested in courting my favor, I get the distinct impression their heir thinks very ill of me indeed. Not to mention the business with the poison," he adds, tone souring. He shakes his head a bit, and then replies, "No, Ser Jarod. Please, I would hate to keep you from your duties."
"I am but a common man, Lord Ser, and free of such obligations," Jarod says with another jolly laugh. "Though I do my best to mind my manners, for my family's sake, so I'll try not to embarrass them too badly. Aye. The poison." That banishes all humor from him. "Do you think the Naylands had a part in that, my Lord? I myself cannot quite bring myself to believe it, though I suppose they have motive in the manner as much as Lady Valda Nee Frey."
"They and the Ladies Valda and Isolde would have had the gain of it," Anton replies, before shaking his head, "But there's no proof beyond that, is there? It makes sense, but…I'd not risk slander by accusing any of them directly, myself. Still, I'd be curious to hear what Lord Ryker says of it, were he asked in company. And I cannot say it inclines me to think well of any of them, whichever may have put the oil in the skin."
"I've known Lady Isolde since she was a child, my lord, and I don't think she has murder in her, however much this may have shocked her," Jarod says. "Lady Valda…well, her I'd call capable of it, between the pair of us. As you say, there's no proof toward it. For Lord Ryker's part…I don't like the man, but I hesitate to accuse one I don't really know of such things. Poison is a craven's weapon. A man - one who's sworn as a knight besides - would have to be very low indeed to be a party to it, and if Lord Ryker is that, then I mourn for Stonebridge, for it has fallen into the worst sort of hands."
"I know the Lord Ryker even less than you, I'm sure," Anton replies, shrugging, "I don't accuse him. I'd just be curious to see what he says on the matter. Whether he had a hand in it or not, I would wager he has an idea now who did. I don't know," he says, shaking his head, a hand lifted to run into thick, dark hair, "It's a tricky business, isn't it? Someone tried to kill a knight in my service, a man I count a friend. To be able to do nothing about it…" he shakes his head, "I am too used to having my enemies charging plainly at me, there to be cut down before they cut me. This business of guessing and hinting, I don't much care for it. And the waiting… that seems to be all there is to do, around here, is wait. We wait for letters and wait for records and wait for word and wait for meetings and wait and wait… and in the meantime it seems we forget what we are waiting for, precisely. I don't mean to sound ungrateful," he says, "Your family has been generous to make us your guests, and to look at all into Gedeon's business, but… I begin to wonder if any more will come of it. Already it seems most have forgotten that a week ago someone tried their hand at murdering him."
"I confess I know not how to deal with poisoners, Lord Ser, or other enemies who move behind men with cloaks and daggers," Jarod says. "A man comes at me with a blade, I can fight him clean and it'll end how it'll end. It's a simpler life. All this is highly complicated. My only interest is seeing Ser Gedeon remains safe while we find out the truth of this. One way or another. The rest of it, I leave to people who're better equipped to deal with it. For the poisoning, I wish there were more we could do for it. That investigation is now the affair of Stonebridge, however, and Stonebridge is out of our hands. If Lord Ryker is not a villain in this, perhaps he can tell you how it proceeds."
"I just hope that the truth of it is found before it no longer matters," Anton replies, "But we will see. I understand your family's caution, certainly. I know they do as much as they can, and we're appreciative of that. As for the investigation…" he shakes his head, "It is hardly in Stonebridge's interest to find the truth, if it is what we think it, and what it seems," he says, "But perhaps I give them too little credit, who knows. I may see if he has any progress to report."
"I give Lady Valda and the Naylands no real credit in wanting the truth of it, my Lord, but I hope Ser Gedeon is still enough Lady Isolde's brother that she cares to," Jarod says. "And Ser Rygar, at least, is a true knight and would not, I think, be a party to murder. Such are the only hopes I have for it, whatever they're worth. I doubt you'll get much of use from Lord Ryker, but he's here, so might as well try and get a moment with him while it's too be gotten. By your leave, m'Lord." He bows, and makes to take his leave.
"If Lady Isolde cared for the truth, Ser Jarod, she'd see those letters back to Gedeon's hands as she promised him, so that they might be given to one who could verify them," Anton replies, shaking his head, "I hope she is still the lady for which your family holds such affection, but I confess in my brief experience of her, I have seen nothing to indicate it. We will see what happens, I suppose." He shrugs, once again, and then smiles faintly, "I apologize for burdening you more, Ser Jarod. I know none of this is your concern, even less than it is your father's. I'll leave you to your work."