|New Words and Old|
|Summary:||On their walk back to the keep, Justin and Liliana discuss new business and old events.|
|Related Logs:||Justin offers to be a gentlemen: A Hunt's Afoot...Maybe.|
|Coastline — Terrick's Roost|
|The Cape of Eagles looms out over Ironman's Bay, a vast, blue ocean inlet, that spreads its watery depths out beyond the horizon. The path that leads down to this coast winds down behind the towers for several hundred meters before arriving at the rocky water's edge. Rather than sand, the coast is covered with innumerable smooth and rounded stones about palm-sized. They stretch up and down the coast in all directions with the battered remnants of driftwood scattered about. Above the beach, one every mile or two, are towers with a large bell and mallet atop them which are to be beaten to warn of an incoming invasion. A small dock is being constructed of thick northern timbers, with mooring space for two large ships, or perhaps a half dozen smaller craft.|
|16 Jul 289 AL|
True to her word, Liliana and her small party have indeed set out for the keep, following along the westerly course, avoiding the road in favour of the green, or perhaps, in some places, what once was green. Justin's horse has been retrieved, and prepared for departure, though he did not make the trip out with them. Instead, he was left at the inn and the Lord Sheriff made aware. It simply wouldn't do for the Lord not to have a mount as needed. But the prep work, at least, could be done. For the moment, the swords have the care of the horses, Elise and her Lady wandering to and fro with baskets in hand, chatting amiably, as women, regardless of their station are wont to do.
As expected, a rider comes up from the east from the direction of town. The horse is the very same pale grey, white against the landscape with his grey points at mane, tail and lower legs. Justin sits the gelding with the ease of a horseman, light in the hands and using weight and leg rather than the reins for control. As the pair draw closer, the horse drops out of the rolling canter and transitions down smoothly through trot to a walk as they catch up. Justin walks the grey and inclines his head to the group, "It was unexpected to find my horse already saddled and waiting. Thank you." He turns his head, the evening breeze coming in over the land from the ocean to sweep over the bluff and ruffle his dark hair. As the women are walking and their own horses led, Justin pulls up and dismounts to lead his own as well. "A fine evening. Are you finding the herbs you had hoped for?"
Liliana turns, away from the oncoming sea breeze and back towards the sound of rider approaching. There's nothing of affectation in the Lady's manner nor any attempt to mitigate the effects of the wind on unbound hair. A hand rises, hailing the knight and lord, the group pausing to allow him to catch up. "You had business still, we thought to relieve you of some of the burden that comes with returning home. No thanks are necessary." There's a hint of ruefulness in her expression, "A fine evening, and we are finding what we may. New shots for the garden Muirenn was tending when last I left the roost. The last has not yet forgotten what it was made to do."
"Lady Muirenn will be well pleased with your thoughtfulness. The garden at the Sept is also being redone, should you care to put a hand to adding to it." Justin walks at his ease leading his quiet horse on a loose rein behind himself. "I am curious what you do to pass your days here with us, besides collecting herbs. I find it curious that I haven't had more than passing glimpses of you these two months or so I've been returned home." But then, Justin has been rather busy with many duties of his own.
"It was she who had the thought to build a place where we could raise what we need and so supplement our dwindling supplies." A nod, "I have not been to the Sept, but Elise has been, and we assist as we can." As to the fact that she's rarely seen the man, well, "I have not been at home, most of these last two months. Not if I could help it. The resources of the roost are few and not much can be spared to see to what once was my childhood home." Meaning the oaks. "Lord Terrick is kind, and has allowed me some freedom to roam where I can to gather in the places I have known all of my life. And to make what small preparations I thought might have been necessary to see the lands put to good use again, but that avenue is rapidly closing. It has not been difficult to be away. My retinue is small, and we have the means to fend for ourselves and so do not burden the roost with the need to supply us." A pause, to bend down, skirts swept to order to allow her to take the time to pry a small shoot from the ground, to set it into the small bed at the bottom of her basket, "When I am not away, I help as I can around the keep. With the fishing supplies, sometimes with what small game is brought back." Liliana looks up and over, "I had heard tale of you, though had never seen you before today. When I first saw you across the square…" a shake of her head, "You reminded me of one long gone to the North." That would be the other other Terrick son.
Justin listens as they walk, then twists his mouth at mention of his brother Jaremy, whom he indeed resembles. "My foolish brother is missed. I hope he fares well, in the north where things must be far more simple." There might even be a touch of envy for that simplicity, free of political entanglements. Justin gives nod and manages a faint smile though, "Ah, that makes sense. Whenever I can slip away to hunt and roam over the land, I do so as well, Lady Camden. Though with game thinning, more oft than not my excuse must be patrols to keep an eye out for renewed bandit activity. As you might expect, they are keeping their heads down after the recent slaughter." A raven flies over, or a crow. It's not easy to tell when backlit in the evening light. Justin's gaze lifts to track it but it neither seems to be going to, nor coming from, the tower. A random bird, most likely. "Hopefully we will finalize a loan soon or even several small loans from multiple Houses. Then we can begin to ship in food stores, seed to plant and oxen teams to plow. Though, if fighting breaks out over Stonebridge, that will likely cut off our supply. I wish we could arrange to bring what we need in by sea, but my brother Jacsen does not think it viable, as yet."
"Perhaps he was foolish, in the end, but only because he could not forsake the call of his heart for the call of his duty. And now, duty will be his only companion. And perhaps he will find redemption on the Wall." Again, a glance back to the man, as she rises, brushing some nominal amount of dirt from her fingers. She will, after all, only get them dirty again, "Simpler? Perhaps. He has only to guard and watch and die." A hint of bitter, before it's smoothed away. Jaremy, after all, is not something any of them can change. "The game will be plentiful soon, and in many places it still is, but it requires a dedication of resources that are not easily given. I know that rabbits have been easily bred, though that pales after many long weeks." Eyes rise, tracking the bird, before she looks back down. Messenger or no, they will know soon enough, "There are other avenues that might be explored, and other Houses with which to trade which would not require passage through Stonebridge. And with only one ship, some things might not be, but Terrick did not wed itself to the Banefort for no good reason."
"He supposedly loved her - so I don't get that his heart wasn't in it. At any rate, he did have a duty and that weighs far more than our personal wants." At least Justin seems to think so. He frowns, squinting faintly against the breeze to peer ahead. Justin has paused in walking also to allow her to collect the herb, patient. Liliana's words draw his gaze back to herself. "We all watch and die, Lady Camden. It's what we do inbetween that matters." Ah, but then it's his turn to turn his mouth bitter, "That one ship my sister has sold, so we have not even lady Anais's dowery. What idiocy Lucienne thought to gain by that, I don't understand. Now we are stuck with longboats from the Ironborn we haven't crews to man. And they are not particularly useful for fishing or mercanting. Better if she had found a way to sell /those/ and keep the one we needed." When Liliana is ready, Justin resumes walking. All the while he keeps his baritone pitched low in volume as though used to quiet, "The Banefort were hit hard also and for now there's no help to be had there. My brother seeks to find me a bride who will bring a much needed dowery in funds, or foodstuffs. Luckily, it no longer includes the Naylands. Not for me." Dmirty and others of his cousins might yet be in trouble, not to mention Justin's younger brother who's still off squiring someplace or another.
"Love has ever been the bane of duty." Liliana continues along, matching her stride to the knight's, and though she has not the man's height, she's not so small that it proves a struggle. "Perhaps you are right, my Lord, but some do less with the time between than the gods have given them the strength and ability to." A frown, considering, as she hears news of the ship being sold, "I cannot speak to the Lady Lucienne's mind, but what has been done is done. And perhaps those ships could still be of use. If indeed the Banefort and those Houses to the south are indeed as badly aspected as we are, then it is to the north that we must turn our eyes and our hopes for alliance and such assistance as they can offer." She pauses, considering, before she continues, "While our discussions have only begun, I have had offer from one such northern House to build a port on those lands of mine as meet the sea. That would be a boon to both of our Houses and might help to pave the way for other negotiations." A look of surprise, at his comment, "I had not heard that you were unmarried. But I think that will not be the case for long. It seems all around the realm, men and women are being bartered for what little the ironborn left us. But if you are pleased not to have your head turned in the direction of the Naylands, than I wish you joy of it."
Justin refuses to get too grim, having had his fill of it the past months. His mouth thinned, he then laughs easily if wryly, "Oh, you have missed much, Lady Camden, if you thought I were married already. The lady Roslyn Nayland and I were nearly betrothed and it seems it is all that concerned everyone these past months, save Stonebridge. Though she is seven years my elder, I was willing if it would bring us what we require and put some end to the rivalry between our Houses. It sounds however that she has proven herself Nayland to the bone, for they played us, dear Lady. In the end I should thank Lord Rutger, for it is he that cast light to things, whether he meant to or not." Justin shrugs, "Aye, do you mean the Flints? I know that young Lord Anders seeks arrangements with my father but for some reason has been put off, though I know not the details. A port would be good, but if you haven't the people to make a holding, how ever would you populate a port city, Liliana? Would the Flints send their own people to opporate it as well as send the ships?" Still, Justin nods, "I gather the Erenfords and the Haighs both are interested in offering us loans, not just the Groves. And I am certain there will be further discussion of betrothals, at some point. Unfortunately, my House is much like Lord Tully's in that we are infamous for dragging our feet and doing too little, too late. I pray to the Seven we do not make that mistake yet again with feeding our people."
"Politics move quickly, when there is need, and the need of the Roost is great. I have seen weddings in a few weeks, two months would be almost a luxury of time to wait for such an alliance." Liliana seems not at all put out, though in deference t the conversation, she is not picking quite so much as Elise is, the redhead darting to and fro as the whim takes her, "I know little of the Naylands, and have learned little more in my time here. They are not a subject that comes up often for discussion. It seems it is assumed that we must all just hate them whether we know the reasons or no." A nod, as well, at the question, "Yes, the Young Lord Flint made the proposal. And the port would be his, of course. There is truth and fiction and each must be given its due. It is a fact that I am the Lady Camden. The fiction, is the idea that I have any control over the lands that once my family held. I have no men to hold it, no smallfolk to people it, and no way to protect it. My family help some of the largest holdings in the riverlands, with our woods extending from north of the roost to the Neck, from the lands of the crannogmen to the cliffs of the Flints. In other times I would have been a prize brood mare to the game of thrones. But there is no House Camden any longer. And if I control those lands, in name, at least, it is only because the Lord Paramount has not seen fit to divvy up the lands to his remaining bannermen." A twist of her lips in humour, "I thought that was a trait of the Freys. But perhaps the Lord Paramount as well, at least in these recent days." A dip, at the comment, "If those loans be brought in or not, a way will be found to save the people of the Roost."
"Hmm… politics /can/ move quickly, but in the months I have been returned, it's been quite the opposite, Lady Camden." Justin has chafed under the lack of progress. He quiets however to listen to her, his horse pausing at one point to lift his head with ears pricked. Jerold's third trueborn son likewise looks to see what has caught his horse's attention but it seems only to be a dog hunting for rats along the bluff. He is thoughtful of what she says before Justin says low, "I would not entirely discount yourself yet. If a House has the folk to help rebuild and populate the land that now lays fallow, you may yet be a bride prize. After all, if my own House but had the people to spare, we would jump at the opportunity. Perhaps the Flints have simular in mind. To be honest, I would rather the Flints to marry in and become our neighbors than the Charltons to encroach. And it would give you and House Flint, or any who married you, /legal/ claim. Indeed, Lord Tully likely doesn't care so long as the land produces for all of us will pay our tithes owed to the Lord Paramont, no matter who controls. Because if nothing else, land is still what most Houses want most and more of, dear Lady."
Justin adds quietly as they walk, "If Stonebridge continues as the distracting focus, in a few years we may well be in a better position ourselves to help you rebuild. Smallfolk and investors both can be lured in with the right incentives."
Liliana laughs softly, as their path brings them in close to the stone wall that precedes the beach at this stretch of the coast, and she calls Elise over with a soft word, offering her basket as she makes her way towards the rocks, "You have a soft heart, I think, my Lord. You would propose to take the Camden lands by marriage. I will pose you another, more likely scenario." She begins to work her way down along the rocks, seeming to have mastered the art of remaining properly masked and nimble, "The Lord Paramount, as you said, cares not for the family that rules the land, but the taxes it brings to his coffers. Why go to the trouble of marrying for land that lies abandoned, when such land could simply be taken, taxes sent and a claim staked? Land that lies fallow is land that does not require an alliance to win. So why throw a son or daughter away, when they could be saved for such time as they are truly needed?" Liliana finally manages to make it down to the shore, Elise taking the longer and safer way around, eyes, however, ever on her lady.
You say, "And why help me rebuild, when a House's attention could be turned not to rebuilding a dead House but expanding its own?"
"Well, I was suggesting that … if you married, that house would be the one to claim your lands and make them their own, most likely. So you are right in that, I fear, to be the more likely." Justin pauses to watch her making decent down towards the rocky beach below and waits until the women are well started before he'll bring his horse. "As for taking it by force, I think the House most interested in that prospect has a stronger interest in Stonebridge. Wealthy as they are, the Charltons are apt to be occupied for a time. You are probably right though that several Houses will seek to engulf portions." He's clearly in no position to be able to do anything about it, Terrick's currently having their hands full with their own concerns. When Justin deems the path clear enough, he begins to make the descent as well, leading his horse. He falls quiet, enjoying the light wind, the sound of a few evening gulls roused from their nests to wing overhead.
Once the lady in question is firmly rooted on the sand, she settles on to a nearby rock, working at pulling off her boots. "Do you know what the good king Robert gave my family in repayment for our losses, after the defeat of the Ironborn?" Again, that half smile, "Nothing. We were given no restitution and no spoils, because we gave him no troops for his war. Nevermind that we gave no troops because every man woman and child had been slaughtered. In his mind, we gave nothing, so we received nothing, and that an entire House was lost was no more important than a pebble picked out of the hoof of his horse. If the King would treat us so, why imagine lesser lords would be any different?" Once her shoes are off, she begins to trek towards the water line, "I hope, for the sake of your House, that the Charltons are ever busy and do not turn their eyes to the Roost." A smile then, and a hand, to wave away such things, "But you did not mean to talk politics and carry such heavy burdens on such a pleasant walk, did you, my Lord?"
Justin is already amply worried for the future of his own House, especially if other Houses keep them from gaining the food and supplies they so badly need. Instead of saying it out loud, Justin agrees quietly, "No, you are right, Lady Camden." Once his own horse is down from the path, Justin walks out towards the water and then stops to look out at the sea. The grey gelding follows his rider.
You say, "So tell me the other news of the realm, then. Surely there must be good to soften the bad. We are still here, and surely the efforts continue. What has befallen the roost in my absence?" Liliana waits, until Justin has joined her by the ocean, before she wades out into the surf. Though wading is hardly the word for it. She goes far enough that the waves wash over her feet, "Or if that proves a sad tale, tell me of the places you have seen away from the Roost. There is much of the world that I have not seen, and stories will do until freedom allows.""
He has as yet kept his boots and stays on the edge of dry stones as the waves gently wash up. His face is rather grim, and a little lean for his years, likely loosing some weight since his return home like everyone else on short rations. "There isn't much to say. We rebuild … the Sept has been reopened. We make progress though it be slow. Homes are rebuilt and a new warehouse is begun. It is only fitting that stone we received as part retribution from the Iron isles has been used to rebuild the Sept, after they defiled it. Fields yet lay fallow." He tries to think of things he might tell her, things less grim. Justin shrugs, "We've had some bandit troubles. A group of them took noblewomen at picnic captive upon our lands, ladies from many Houses with their handmaidens and Septas. I played some part in tracking them and taking prisoners, which earned me my spurs. All of the women were recovered safely. The prisoner I questioned and it lead to the capture of a bandit who had escpaed, and the recovery of some of the stolen horses. Once I was appointed Sheriff I then set to hang them, though instead their sentencing allowed them to take the Black, as my father ordered." A pause, as he watches Liliana walking out into the water, "Lord Patrek held tournament about three weeks ago to celebrate his betrothal to a Redwyne. There I entered my first joust and became a Champion. Ser Jarod, my half-brother, unhorsed me to win the day but not before I had unhorsed three other men myself. The funds I brought back in ransoms I have given over to the needs of the Roost. I understand that Ser Kell has done likewise."
"That is something I both can and cannot understand. You would use stone that could be of greater use elsewhere to rebuild a house that offers nothing but a place to worship. And yet you who follow the Seven have need of such a place and it likely did more for the good spirit of the people than if it had been used to build elsewhere. It is a strange thing, to bind your gods to statues and buildings." But there is no derision in Lili's voice, just a sort of philosophical musing. "I can imagine that it was not only the bandits who looked askance at the women. Hungry mouths likely do not enjoy riches paraded before them. But you did well in returning them home. And a credit to you, and your spurs. I did not attend the tournament, but you have my congratulations on your victories." She ventures no further than where she is, though she looks now down along the coast, "I learned to swim not so very far from here, in that cove there. Strange, the things you remember."
"Aye, for the morale of our people, Lady Camden." Though Justin gives her an odd look, "Do you then follow the Old Gods? The Weir wood is not unlike a temple of stone in some ways. If it was destroyed, would you not try to replant it, if you were able?" He finally leans against his horse and draws off his boots, using the tug loops inside to lace a leather saddle strap through to keep them dry. When he is down to his bare feet, Justin rolls up his pant legs. "The Sept is more than that, however. There is a garden filled with medicinal herbs people of the town can use, as well as a place we send our orphaned children unti they can be fostered into new homes. It is a place of commmunity, something we give to our people before our own needs."
Justin then can walk through the shallow water as well, his horse trailing slowly behind him as they walk along the stony shore. "I too learned to swim in that cove, as a boy ere I was sent away as page to House Tully. And dived from those cliffs many a time." Which makes him smile.
"In many ways, our House was a House of the north, our ways those of our northern allies. In years long and long, I think we once bowed the knee to Stark, and not to Tully, but that was many and many a, as they say. But yes, I worship the old Gods, as my family before me." A smile, "A weirwood is indeed a place where we worship, but if we are far from a godswood, a true godswood, such as still grows at riverrun, we can worship regardless. And a weirwood has no other purpose but to bloom. In that it is different from stone. A weirwood cannot protect you, nor build a wall around you, nor even shelter you from the storm. Would I replant, if I were able? There has not been a sapling south of the wall for hundreds of years. And I have not the resources yet to venture past the wall to try to find such as could replace the weirwood the ironborn tore down and burned at the oaks." Liliana makes room for Justin, always careful to keep a proper distance from the man, a habit well-learned and carried out with no conscious thought. "And yet, despite all the other things it would do, it is the presence of your gods that allow it to do everything it can do for your people. Or else you could have kept orphans at any abandoned building in the roost and planted herbs in one of a hundred fallow gardens. "I have never dived from the cliffs. I am not so brave." She lowers her voice, well, lower than it has been, the tone amused and conspiratorial, "Also, I think Eli would choke me and drag my unconscious body back to the keep if I tried. She is very concerned with my safety, the dear girl."
Justin keeps his own distances, somewhat aloof, so she will be in no way crowded. He drifts on along the beach, barely staying withtin a comfortable conversational distance. He huffs a breath softly, "There are lower cliffs the women use, less than 20 feet in height I think, in a sheltered place away from prying eyes." Justin gives a nod, "I have seen the Godswood at Riverrun. A very peaceful place. But blooms without fertile seed are empty blooms, my Lady." Justin looks up the shore and adds, "I should leave you to wading and get on back to the tower myself. Studying law isn't entirely to my liking and too easily put off."
"That depends entirely on what fruit you are intending to grow, my Lord." But as he makes mention to depart, she pauses, offering a curtsey that is every bit as polite barefoot in the surf as it was shod in the marketplace, "I thank you for your company, and your conversations, Lord Justin. And I will consider your words and perhaps find my way to those cliffs, if the need arises. I have no doubt that I will see you again, perhaps when next you manage to escape your studies."