|(Not Quite an) Apology #2|
|Summary:||Before he can leave the Roost, Jacsen Terrick makes an offer to the Knight of Oldstones.|
|Related Logs:||The Courier|
|Great pillars rise above the occupants of the room, the ceiling arching across the structural supports in a lovely feat of construction. The north and south walls have expansive windows that filter in sunshine during the day while ornately designed torches provide light at night. The room is large enough to host a great feast for quite a number of people but the tables are typically kept elsewhere. The Lord's Throne is at the west end of the room on a dais with a high, circular window that brings in the setting sun with the late afternoons.|
|27 Aug 288|
Always an early riser, the morning of the 27th is no different for Lord Ser Anton Valentin, despite the fact that he returned to the Roost only late the night before after a week or so away on business. Most of the bustling at these hours is still servants making ready for the family's awakening, and once the throne room has had its morning dusting, he is able to sit undisturbed in one of the chairs set about nearest the entrance. He faces the open door, watching idly, chin propped on two fingertips.
There is no obscuring his steps into the throne room, even if he'd the notion he might do so, for every other step Jacsen Terrick takes is accompanied by the familiar tap of his cane upon the floor. It is graciously muffled by some of the thin summer carpets put over the stones of the floor as the maimed lord steps from the entrance hall and into the wide space that serves as his Lord Father's throne room.
He pauses on the threshold, glancing about with intent eyes of a striking blue, eyes that halt when they set upon Anton's seated figure. It's in the Knight of Oldstones' direction that he begins, though it takes him longer to close into a conversational distance than it would a more able-bodied man. "My Lord Anton Valentin, might I impose upon your company?" he inquires with a pleasant tone as he nears.
Anton watches Jacsen's approach without moving, observing all the way until the younger lord stops before him. He gaze flicks up Jacsen and stops, consideringly, upon his face. "Very well, Lord Jacsen," he replies, "As I informed your sister last night, I intend to take my leave this morning, though she has convinced me to allow a chance for your brother and father to apologize before I do. I had hoped they might be rising somewhat earlier that this business might be gotten done with."
Jacsen draws out another of the chairs at Anton's table, and lowers himself into it with a small sigh. When he looks up at the Lord across from him, it is with a look of some understanding. "I imagined that you might, my lord. Whatever you might have heard, from my sister or otherwise, it is certain to have come across as unkind." He pauses to take the slightest of breaths. "Which, of course, it was. Still, I will be disappointed to have never quite made the proper acquaintance with you, Lord Valentin, and I should very much mourn the absence of Ser Gedeon. He and I, of all the children of Jerold Terrick and Geoffrey Tordane, found closest companionship to one another. His time with you has shaped him, of course, but he is still much of the boy I once knew."
"Unkind?" Anton repeats dryly, though he says nothing else as Jacsen goes on. "Ser Gedeon may elect to remain for a time," he says, "Perhaps he shall have better of the Terricks than I have had. I wish him luck with it. As for making my proper acquaintance, Lord Jacsen, I cannot wonder that you have not; apparently it would have been considered quite a waste of time, as not a thing out of my mouth is to be trusted, introductions included."
Jacsen's look is one of some candor as he listens to Anton, a hand set upon the table's surface lifting and drumming once, fingertips softly colliding with the wooden surface beneath. "My lord, you've been insulted, and not ungreviously," he agrees, "But this was not, and has not been, a matter of House Terrick. It has been the admittedly misguided and foolish suspicions of one. And while we all share in his shame, and all offer our apologies, do not take that to mean I had no interest in your acquaintance. Though I know you not, my sister spoke well of you, and Gedeon serves you proudly. You served the Mallisters at the Trident, and so we share that bond between us." That hand upon the table turns palm up, and he spreads his fingers in an open gesture. "I am not my brother, my lord, and I find it prudent to make my own decisions about a man."
"The heir to House Terrick is not to be taken as a representative of the house?" Anton replies, a brow lifting, skeptical, clearly. "He will be House Terrick, should he live long enough. Perhaps you did not take part in giving the insult; I believe that your sister did not, either. But this is a matter of House Terrick, like it or no, and it is indeed a very grievous insult, not to mention one given to a guest while feigning a desire for friendship. I am hard press, Lord Jacsen, to find a reason I should not call your brother to account. No one could say I did not have just cause."
"I think you know my meaning in this, my lord," Jacsen remarks, enduring the man's skepticism with a manner much unchanged, "That my brother, yet heir and with much to learn, acted on his lonesome in a bout of rank foolishness. It was earfuls of questions whispered into his ear, mixed dangerously with the fallout of matters at Stonebridge. He was wrong, and his actions /were/ shameful to us all." His eyes do not leave the man seated his opposite as they speak. "You are well within your rights, from all I can tell, to do just that. And if that is what you wish, then so be it, but…" Jacsen leans forward slightly in his seat and says, "I think we both know that such will take us down a path neither your House nor mine would wish to travel, when there is so much we might gain from a better path."
"And what path is that, Lord Jacsen?" Anton inquires, lifting a brow in question as he returns his gaze, "I hope you will forgive my lack of manners, but at present I cannot say I feel much desire to walk any road with your brother, nor do I find I have much faith in more Terrick overtures, as they have proven no indicator of good will at all thus far."
Jacsen tips his chin at that, not willing to disagree with Anton's assessment of things. "We would first need acknowledge the slight done you, and have the matter of Jaremy's formal apology done, in a matter that will satisfy your honor, my lord. When that necessary business is done, I would offer to accompany you, myself, to Oldstones. I will see an apology delivered to your Castellan, if you deem it necessary, and together we could draw plans together for the rebuilding of your seat's ancient hold. It is no small thing, the resources that Terrick's Roost can bring to bear, and I would see a significant contribution made of material and talent put to Oldstones. That this friendship between us is made of something firm." He draws a slow breath. "I know you must be angry, and I know you are slighted. But this /can/ be put to rights, as it should be, my lord."
Anton listens, his gaze keen, if hard, as Jacsen speaks. "With materials and talent," he extends Jacsen's sentence, and nods in thought rather than agreement. "Your brother has done incalculable harm to my reputation, and I cannot see that being repaired as easily as walls are. How do you think that will look, Lord Jacsen? I am insulted to the core, and I take a few loads of lumber and some masons on loan in return? It would seem I held my honor very lightly, and I think I would have to, to sell it so outright."
"You will be seen in a light as you wish to establish it, my lord. Should you wish to be seen as one who takes his honor so lightly, you may fashion it that you are seen so," Jacsen provides, not deterred by Anton's response. "Equally, should you wish to be seen as a man whom knows the power of forgiveness… and mistake it not, your forgiveness gives you a great deal of power in this relationship… as a man whom demands respect and as a lord that knows the value of foresightedness… you may be known as thus." He leans back into his seat, considering Anton. "Lumber and masons are but a beginning, a tangible sign of the bridges we wish to build with one another."
"Lumber and masons are a business transaction," Anton replies, "Not a tie between Houses. When your family wished ties to House Tordane, or House Banefort or House Mallister, did you offer them naught but goods and services? What you suggest is a matter of coin only, not of honor or respect. House Valentin may have only five years, but it is precisely as noble as House Terrick and to accept less than you would offer any other house for such a slight is not something I am prepared to do."
"Lumber and masons, my lord, are my most immediate thought. An overture that is made of firmer, more tangible things than words of friendship alone, which you rightly expressed you hold in little esteem. It is you who set the tune here, my lord, I am simply seeking the steps you desire." Jacsen draws a breath, weighs the man a long moment, before he responds further. "You are right, that when House Terrick wished to deepen the bonds we shared with House Tordane, we sought to take their daughter into our House. And that our bond to the Banefort is meant to be sealed in such a fashion. So too do I know the crux of what you desire, the shining jewel of my father's House." His fingertips resume an errant, almost noiseless drum upon the table's surface. "And it might be that such a bond might be made, but it will only be made with the hand of Valentin's friendship outstretched once more, and firmly clasped by Terrick's. She is not something haggled over, or given for the sake of appeasing bruised honor. To offer her as such would be to diminish her, and I trust that is something neither of us would stand for. For us to cross that bridge, my lord, we must first cross this one."
"That said, I can see the service of a cousin as a ward to your House made sooner, and perhaps the promise that one of your own progeny be made ward of our House, and squired to a Knight high in my lord's service and esteem, though that is some years yet to come."
"I must be the one to stretch out the hand of friendship, Lord Jacsen?" Anton replies, "I have done nothing but for these weeks I have been here and we have seen what came of that. No, it is your family's turn to demonstrate more than an idle interest if my friendship is something you value. House Nayland has made the sorts of overtures you offer on the strength of one conversation alone, without even any request from me. Their own son will shortly be ward of my house, and not because they have done me any slight that need be made up for. And for what your brother has done you offer me the same, and a cousin?" He shakes his head, and once more before he speaks, "No, Lord Jacsen. I think that you mean well by this, but you run near to compounding the insult."
"While I trust you mean well in plainly stating the way in which you see things, my lord," Jacsen remarks smoothly, "It is now you who come near insult if you think to contrast my offers of friendship with those overtures House Nayland makes to you. If you know nothing else of Hag's Mire, recall that it is into their hands that your own retainer's birthright, writ upon paper in his dead father's scrawl, now rest. Kept away from even your Ser Gedeon Rivers, they have refused to return them." His fingers sound a final rap upon the table. "He is your man, Gedeon, whom followed you faithfully into the East. Should you stand artifice on the part of those that would deny his right to nobility better than you stand a foolish son's inquiry into the state of yours?"
He draws a small breath and lets his words settle, keeping calm his demeanor and words. "You served at the Trident, and acquitted well of yourself, such is clear. I take you to be a man of intellect, and a man of integrity, for it is such qualities that surely bore you through the crucible first of the Rebellion, and later the Free Cities. So permit me to clarify. /I/ am offering the hand of House Terrick, outstretched, in friendship. I am asking you to take it, Lord Anton, that we might clasp one another as friends and see this black mark put behind us. I wish to make amends for the sake of my brother's foolishness, and my House's shame. Should you accept this friendship, accept apologies, lumber, masons, a ward, the guarantee of future honors for your heirs… That is the path to what you seek. Friendship we begin here, and marriage might well seal Valentin and Terrick as kin."
"I would not stand to see Gedeon further denied or threatened," Anton replies evenly, "And had I the ability to see his claim furthered I should have taken it myself before now. Your house has that ability, Lord Jacsen, and what have they done? They offer words, and they all sound so sincere, but what has come of it? Ser Gedeon's claim stands in exactly the same stead today as it did the day your family first learned of it. So perhaps you see why I am reluctant to put much stock in the promise of future action from House Terrick, as I have yet to see any of those bear even the smallest, most unripened fruit." His gaze narrows ever so slightly, appraisingly, at the young man across the table and he goes on, "Perhaps you are different from your father and brother, Lord Jacsen, but in the end it is their hands that I see upon the reins and I am not sure the journey you propose is one that they would venture on. As it is," he says, rising, "I must speak with Ser Gedeon, and see that my mounts are readied. I would leave in an hour, if your brother the Young Lord wishes to speak with me before then. I will think on your proposal."
"Ser Gedeon's claim is a delicate matter, and one that can be made as easily as broken with hasty action," Jacsen remarks, leaning forward and reaching for his cane, that he might begin to hoist himself from his seat. "Could you press into my hands these letters, I would take them myself to Seaguard on the morrow, and Riverrun soon after, that we might marshal the support necessary to encourage the King's hand in this matter. I love Ser Gedeon well, and his claim only serves to both his betterment and ours. Believe me when I say that my interests align with his, in this." He draws a breath and adds, "Speak with the Young Lord, as I know he wishes to, but understand that my father has empowered me to negotiate such things if you are willing to accept my proxy. Should you wish to accept, I might deliver you writing to its effect." A light bow of head and shoulders is paid to the man in deference. "I will await your word, Lord Anton. It is my hope yet that I might accompany you to Oldstones, to further our understanding, and begin our work together. Regardless, I do thank you for your indulgence."
"It has been a full month, Lord Jacsen. I am hardly advocating haste. Simply any sign at all that there will ever be action. We can all sit about lamenting Gedeon's loss of those letters as long as we like, but that will not bring them back, and if we are waiting for Ser Rygar to bring them with a bow on before acting, well." His shoulders lift in the suggestion of a shrug and he shakes his head. "I am pleased that you would take his part in this, at least, whatever may come of it." He pushes his chair back in beneath the table and inclines his head very slightly in return. "I will be in touch, Lord Jacsen. When I have made up my mind one way or another. Who knows, I may yet decide it would serve my honor better to end your brother's life in a duel and have done with it. We will see what he has to say for himself." He smiles, tightly, and nods once more, saying, "Good day, Lord Jacsen," before taking his leave.