Page 291: Mint Juleps
Mint Juleps
Summary: Jarod and Bruce laze and drink and reflect on current matters.
Date: 06/05/289
Related Logs: Bandits and Stonebridge Duel stuff
Bruce Jarod 
Town Square — Stonebridge
The surrounding terrain has several small gullies and streams that feed into the waterfront area just adjacent to the town square, the sails of the boats visible over the tops of the buildings. The square is floored in the same heavy stone that the east docks and castle are constructed of while the buildings are a mix of the stone, wood, and mortar. There are quite a few fish vendors with their fragrant catches for sale among groups of tables which tend to be busy most of the time.
Sun May 06, 289

Jarod is just returning to Crane's Crossing from the direction of Tordane Tower. Though he seems in no particular hurry. He wanders through the town, stopping to browse the merchant stalls or exchange greetings with men he's vaguely acquainted with.

Bruce doesn't seem to be in any particular hurry today. In fact, he doesn't seem to be doing any work at all today. For once, the Stonebridge Captain of the Guard is not attending to duty. With his wife and two sons down for the morning, the knight is going to get an early start to a leasurely day. He's got a wineskin on leather straps that he's carrying and a silly smile on his face.

Jarod remains technically unemployed and at some liberty, for his part, though it doesn't seem to rankle him particularly at present. He turns from examining a display of leathergoods and, while pivoting, spots the Stonebridge captain. He raises an arm, calls out a hearty, "Ser Bruce!" to the other man, and heads in his direction. "Do my eyes deceive, or are you at liberty today?"

Bruce snorts, his smile broadening until it reaches his eyes at the sight of his ol' pal. He waves the full wineskin, probably a quart of whatever it is, in front of his face. "Aye, I am. And going to enjoy the weather while I can. You should absolutely try this, Jarod. It's bloody delightful."

"I'll give it a go," Jarod says gamely, taking the wineskin. He sniffs it, then drinks. "Is a damn fine day, isn't it? Hope the rest of summer lasts like this. Not too hot, breeze coming off the river. Still prefer the coasts. Not so muggy. But I could get used to this." He drinks once more before passing the skin back. "Heard my lady smacked around one of your guardsmen the other day?"

The drink is mild, though with a bite. It's a type of distilled barley beer, a whiskey, mixed with a large amount of mint and some sweetness. Honey, perhaps? Bruce takes a pull of it himself, a long one, and then caps it. He nods. "Ha! Aye, she beat the stuffing out of Guardsman Weaver. Well, he was trying to go easy on her with the hits but even so, he would have lost. He stopped a few of her blows but she's quite the fighter, your Lady wife. But we all knew that already. Scarcely seen many men take the beating she has."

"You put honey in this? Reminds me a little of squid piss." Which Jarod admits, "I've rather taken a liking to it, so that's not a complaint." As for the praise to his wife's beating skills, he grins broad. "Aye. She's a scrapper. Always had to be, even back at the Roost when she was taken for a boy. Everybody figured she was a skinny bugger, and a Nayland besides. Not sure what in seven hells folk'll make of her now, but those who saw her fight on the Pyke can't say she wasn't born for the Warrior's path."

"Eh. She earned her Ser fair and square if you ask me. I told her so yesterday. But that don't mean she can suddenly be a woman knight. Still, m'lady ser has an appropriate ring to it for her." Bruce chortles. His eyebrows knit a little in frustration at Jarod's proclamation about honey. "Aye, I did put honey in it, but it doesn't taste like bloody mead! The mint, the mint, lad!" He laughs again. "My goodbrother is er… well, I think I've told ya. He deals in liquors and wine. This one's his invention, and he told us how to mix her up."

"It's up to her how she wears the 'ser' now, whether men respect it or not. I never particularly expected they would," Jarod says. "She'll figure it out. We'll both figure it out, I suppose. Should be interesting." He grins as he says it. "Your goodbrother's family still in the Blackwoods? That's a piece of the Riverlands I'd like to see. Might get a look at the Vale while I'm over that way, see those mountains that're supposed to go straight to the moon and all that rot."

Bruce simply nods as Jarod talks of his wife. He answers the next question, though. "No, he's a Riverrun brat. But he's living up in Fairmarket, now. Well, down. He travels for his trade. If you want mountains, our lands have 'em you know. Nothing as huge as the Vale, but big enough. I should know, I grew up in their foothills and around the paths there. Right north of Raventree, a few hours ride on a good stout pony and your in the mountains proper. Say, I wanted to ask you something. Come, let's take a seat." He motions off in an area near the square, a patch of green and trees often used for picnicking and roasting foods on nice days. Even feasts, when it comes to that.

"Fairmarket, eh? I've got family over that way as well. My mother's kin." Jarod speaks about his mother with a certain amount of awkwardness as he goes to sit, sprawling comfortably on the grass. "Her father. My grandfather, I suppose, though I've never had much to do with the man. He was a steward for the old Lord Terrick, my lord grandfather Tomas. Left the Roost after I was born and my mother died, though. Should write to him, come to it, tell him I've wed. Anyhow. What've you to ask of me, Ser Bruce?"

"Hah! I wonder if he knows them. Probably. Well, I didn't come to ask anything, mate." Bruce plops down next to Jarod in the sunlight. "But, since you're here." He grins, tapping the side of his nose. "We're looking to deal with the bandits. We'd been since we got back, but obviously things out of my control happened and we're here now. Anyways. Having a man who's as good with a sword as you would be a great boon. I've heard that the Mallisters, Terricks and others are going hunting too. May as well pool resources, though I've not had a moment to talk to 'em. You game?"

"Might just. His name's Master Edwin Bevins. Owns a piece of a merchant company now. He's still bitter toward Lord Jerold, but I've been told there's a living for me there, if I want it. Wouldn't be a bad, working for him, if things go really tits up for Rowenna and me here. We're settling better than I figured we would, though, and I still feel like I've got business unfinished in these parts." Speaking of, he perks at the mention of bandits. "I figured you'd want in on that. Seems a decent way to start us working together as better neighbors. Damn right I'm game. Ser Kamron asked me along back at the Roost, but I we weren't certain if Lord Patrek would approve of me serving him direct. Way things broke with me and Lord Jerold. If I go along with the Nayland men, though, no need to worry about offending my lord father. Well, more than I already have."

Bruce laughs. "Perfect. I need to go ask Lord Riordan, as a courtesy. He's not particularly hard to convince on matters like this, I don't think. Is Ser Kamron still in Stonebridge? We should have a little gathering if he is, discuss what we know."

"He is, aye," Jarod says. "Staying at the Crane, I think. I shared a pint with him and my half-brother, Lord Justin, the other night. Along with that Groves man, Ser Kittridge. He's offered us aid with the banditry on Terrick lands, too. He might want to come along." He pauses and says, with a half smile, "Bet Rowenna would as well."

Bruce can't contain another laugh at the thought that last thought. "Aye, I'd wager she would! I don't have a problem with it. Another sword, and she fights better than I do, so who am I to disparge, aye?" He uncaps the skin and takes another long pull, offering it over. "We can't let borders be an issue here. The bandits don't respect them. Neither should we. They're a problem for the Cape, not for Terrick, Nayland, Groves and Mallister individually."

Jarod takes the skin, gulps liberally, and passes it back. "Minty!" he proclaims. But to the rest he nods seriously. "Things'll have to change now, with Ser Gedeon dead. That's as good a place to start changing it as any." Which seems to bring something to mind. "You heard about those men gathering near Lady Danae's pavilion? Soldiers in black, they're saying. Where do you figure they're coming from?"

"There's sellswords abound. I haven't had much time to look into it, with it just happening over the last few days. But I wonder where she's getting coin from, to be honest. Neither Ser Gedeon nor House Westerling are particularly rich. Anyways, I'm not especially worried. Firstly, it's her Lady's right to hire men. Secondly, we outnumber them, are better lead and could stomp most anybody with only the Guards and knights of Stonebridge. And thirdly, if it ever came to it, we've got well trained pike." Bruce runs through his list, enummerating them on his hand. "It is a bit strange, though, aye? She's had a /lot/ of visitors."

"That's the question. The Oldstones aren't so wealthy as all that. Ser Gedeon had oathed to bend knee to the Terricks if he won Stonebridge, but Lord Jerold's coffers haven't the money for them, either. All we managed to get from the war is tied up in the rebuilding, and keeping the Roost fed." Jarod frowns. "And besides, if my lord father was supporting her, he'd do it openly. Those men'd be wearing gold and purple. So far as I know, she's not made any move to try and tie herself in with my lord father's house. My brother Lord Justin offered her a place back at the Roost, for her safety, after the duel. She didn't take it, set up camp here instead."

"It's all a bit curious. Someone's paying, that's for sure. As much as I'd like to keep out of the politics, sometimes I do need to pay attention. Finding out whose holding the purse strings would be useful." Bruce rubs his hands together, sleepy eyes raising to look at the sun. "But no matter what happens, I'll take solace in knowing that at least he will continue to shine."

Jarod tilts his face up toward the afternoon rays. "Rises in the east and sets in the west. One of the few things in life you can count on. For my part, if she doesn't intend to hold true to Ser Gedeon's wish to bend knee to the Terricks…I figure that's not so bad for my family. My hope is we bury our attempts to regain Stonebridge with Gedeon Tordane. Things'll have to change."

"I wish there were a way to rise over these idiotic disputes. And even though you're a Terrick by blood and conviction, I hope we can agree how stupid they are, aye?" Bruce's bushes eyebrows push their way up on his forehead.

"It's time for it all to be done," Jarod says. "And perhaps now that the last of the true Tordanes are dead, or have married their name away, it can be. I don't think the Terricks stand to gain anything by opposing the Naylands here anymore. Might put themselves in a better position by burying their feud. Or at least coming to some sort of accord."

"Aye. It's not helped by the fact that the Naylands feel themselves eternally slighted, either, though perhaps this current crop might do a bit better without… well, whatever it was that caused it. And we've now all fought a common enemy on the same side. Perhaps the noble houses of the Cape should be looking to rival another area, instead of beggaring their brothers." Bruce pauses a moment, snorting. "But listen to us. A commoner and a noble bastard making plans that those of better blood would laugh at."

"You have the ear of the Naylands, Ser Bruce. And my lord father…well, I did once. I wonder if now anything I might say to him would just sound like me playing a mouthpiece for Lord Rickart, in return for the graciousness their family's shown me and my bride." Jarod shrugs. "We'll see how it plays. Little else a man can do in this world."

"I might have their ear in some matters, but men often hear and do not listen. You know? Aye, aye we will. I'm going to go see the Lord Regent and get him along with you coming on for the bandit hunt. I expect that to be a two sentence conversation at most." Bruce laughs, his good nature evidently restored. Not that it takes a lot to do that.

"Tell him I'd prefer to come along as a sort of…hedge knight?" Jarod shrugs, unsure that term quite fits. "With but not quite with, if you take my meaning. I'm considering more and more bending the knee to Tordane Tower, but I'm not quite ready to commit yet. I owe telling my lord father of the idea first, at least. I should write him a letter."

"Oh, that was what I intended. The swearing thing's got a lot of weight to it. Not something you want to agree to until you're absolutely sure, right?" Bruce queries back, though it's answered by himself with a nod. "I'll do that. Until later then, Jarod? Hey, if you'd like to have a couple of drinks from my cellar tonight, I think Aleks would be more than happy to have company."

"Might just take you up on that," Jarod says, offering Bruce an imitation of a knight's salute with his palm. He doesn't move from the grass, for his part. It's a nice day, and he can fritter away a bit more of it.

Bruce pushes himself up from the ground with a wince. "Ach. I'm getting old and creaky. Gods keep, Ser Jarod." He trudges off. The man's left his drinkskin behind.

Jarod will return that skin to Bruce eventually. Empty. Can't let good booze go flat.