|Nothing Changes, Except Everything|
|Summary:||In which Ser Jarod and Lady Isolde catch up on old and new times.|
|Lord and Lady's Chamber — Tordane Tower|
|Fancy, sad room.|
|Fri Aug 10, 289|
Mid-morning is still at least somewhat cool in the realm of temperature but Isolde is not yet used to the weight of her dresses. Having just bathed for the day and sitting while her lady's maid does her hair, Isolde stares out the window of her room, watching the sun climb in height in the sky. The deep blue she wears at least helps to give her skin some depth to its color even though she has been improving day by day. There are rumors she has been out and about on the Tower grounds but never long enough. She shifts the cup of tea in her hand, moving it about absently before finally taking a sip and returning it to her lap.
"Asha, do not forget to prepare something for my return, a my changing dress I think to give some relief and have a basin of water ready. I am not sure how long he will wish to picnic, but I would prefer you remain close." She says with a soft smile.
There's a knock at Isolde's chamber door, and one of her regular guards on the other side when it's answered rather than Jarod himself. While he's been in Tordane Tower some months, he still doesn't feel as comfortable barging about the place as he did his own home at Four Eagles. Or even, perhaps, as he once might've when this House bent the knee to the Roost not so very long ago. "Pardon me, m'lady," the guard says. "But Ser Jarod the Half-Eagle was asking if you had time to see him this morning." That's apparently what they're calling the Terrick Rivers here now. "Didn't say about what exactly."
The name is known, but Isolde still seems surprised, nearly dropping her tea a she adjusts to look at the guard. "Allow him in, please." She finally manages to say and nods to the guard, leaning forward to set the tea down on the desk near the window where she sits on the chair waiting for Asha to bind off her braid. There is a gleam now to the Lady's eyes and she seems to bright, smoothing her dress and sitting a little more upright despite the exhausted and somewhat wan features. "Asha, when the Ser arrives, I will have you fetch refreshments if he cares for any." She instructs and than is looking to the door and than finally back to the window. But she can not help the movement of her eyes expectantly to the entrance.
Jarod himself enters not too long after. He's not been much changed by the past months it's been since they've seen one another. For all that they've been in the same house for some time now. And yet he is, in small ways. The crane-and-harpy sash at his swordbelt, rather than the purple-and-gold eages, is the most obvious. His leather boots lack the knight's spurs he was so rarely without, even when not riding, since the day he was granted them. And his green eyes are more serious, not that that's rare right now. For a moment he just looks at her, like he's trying to summon up something he had prepared to say. Which he doesn't, immediately. "Umm…" It's not awkwardness, so much as simply not knowing where to start. Finally, he shakes his head, chuckling. At himself, seemingly. And he cracks a slight grin at her. "Hullo, Iz."
Even she is quiet when he seems hesitant, taking in those small changes that mean so much and Isolde looks up to those eyes. So serious. Her lips part, hanging on her own greeting. She herself is different as well, weaker, slower, perhaps older in the set of her face and posture. But it is that grin that helps remind the Lady of who he is and who she is and despite Asha not finishing her braid - poor woman - she is pushing herself up. Its shaky as she presses a hand against the desk to do so and the hair falls from Asha's hands. "Jarod.." She says in a rather rushed tone and is turning to face him more fully and moving towards him, grasping at her dress to keep from tripping on it. She looks determined despite the slow movement. "No matter how much Riordan assured me you were here, I did not believe him til now. Its so good to see you."
"It's good to see you as well," Jarod says warmly. He means it, whatever else the last year has brought both of them. There's concern in his eyes. But, then, it's not like he doesn't look a bit older himself. He offers her his arm, both to clasp and to steady herself. "I'd wanted to speak to you about it myself, when the Naylands offered me a place here after…" All the things. He just trails off again rather than starting directly into all of it. "…never had the chance. The Naylands've had you rather closeted these months. Not that I can blame them, I suppose."
She takes that arm readily and Isolde holds on, straightening as she studies him. "I was not allowed a great many visitors and still doesn't seem that mattered much. Whatever was done to Ryker…someone found a way." Assumptions are grand. She smiles softly and sighs a little. "But I am still here, so whatever plans someone had fell through." She shakes a little but does rather well, standing on her own. "Please, sit with me, I am conserving my energy for my goodbrother. He is taking me on a picnic." And the courting is in full swing already. She motions towards the cushioned chairs near the hearth. "I am glad you are alright, safe and whole." She studies him over, notes the change of colors on his clothing and lingers on it. "So you are here for good. How are you handling everything?"
"Aye, I don't suppose it did." Jarod doesn't argue the idea of foul play, as to either Ryker or her child. His jaw tightens at the thought, but he seems to think the assumption a natural enough one. "Your goodbrother? Which one?" he asks, as he escorts her over to sit. He'll take a spot next to her when she's settled. It's asked almost as a joke. "I would've called on you sooner, but both Lord Rutger and Lord Riordan seemed to have much business to attend to with you. Aye. I'm here. My oaths go to Tordane Tower now, and if I've anything else in mind for myself, I don't figure I could go anywhere until the matter with the Charltons is settled. I'm…" He, once again, doesn't seem to know where to begin. "…how much have you heard? I don't imagine my stupid life has been top of your concerns."
Settled back down, she improves far more than she was on her feet and the Lady awtches him, a brow lifting and a slight nod. "I am glad I have your aid and that you are here. Though why you are and the circumstances behind it, that is still a mystery to me." She smooths her dress and then regards him before her smile goes tight, pulling at her eyes. "I…yes, both are at my door very often." She says, sounding more tired now. "Riordan is taking me out this afternoon. I will be glad to get more air and sun." She says but motions with her hand. "Please, Jarod. Tell me the circumstances of why you are here. It is not my choice that certain information is not offered to me. I am going to remedy that." She says and settles her hands down to her lap.
"I married Rowan Nayland," Jarod deadpans. He adds quickly, firmly, "Who was actually Rowenna Nayland. Pretending to be a boy. But is actually a woman. She is! If you here anything to the contrary, that part of it is bosh." Because carrying on with a boy would be somehow worse than the rest of the ludicrous situation.
The seriousness of the sudden statement catches her and Isolde's smile fades a little, but remains still. Silence. Pause. "Well there goes my chance." She offers in the face of such news and potentional scandal. "I just never did move fast enough with you, Jarod. I shall lament my mistakes for the rest of my days." She continues her levity and than reaches out, saying softly. "I knew about her..I was told taht much but not that you had wed. Is this not common knowledge?" She asks. "Riordan tends to keep me filled in about almost everything." Pause as she takes a moment to study his face. "I am happy for you though."
Her reaction to the news is plainly not what Jarod expected. It takes him a moment to respond, and he has to chuckle again. It's not a mocking sound. Just very wry. And a little bittersweet. "I don't think marriage was ever a possibility for you and me, Iz. Not that I wasn't stupid enough to dream on it once or twice, when I was seventeen. But I was just a bastard boy, which your mother never would've permitted. And you were for Jaremy, however much he mucked that up. But this'd still be Terrick land, and I'd have taken the Tordane name, so it'd still be heard in these halls." He shrugs. "Life's never that simple, though." He doesn't seem regretful, even if he's plainly thought on what might have been now and again. "Aye. It's known. We're quite the scandal, the pair of us. When she told Lord Jerold what she'd done, and I told him what we were, he dismissed me from his house. Harsh as he could. Stripped me of my armor and horse, and my spurs. All trappings of a knight save my sword. And my Ser, can't take that. Called me Jarod Nayland, like it was a curse." Which still stings, plainly. Though the last part from her makes him smile. Sitting next to him, she can probably smell the faint scent of lilac and cloves. Likely his non-ladylike wife's perfume. "She's…I love her so much, I can't even…she's the only thing in my life that makes any sense now."
Its the best she can give because he may not have enjoyed the ones she keeps to herself behind that supportive smile. "I am sorry, Jarod. I know what it is like to find disfavor with your family…" Once family. "You are here now and you are welcome. I would gladly make you one of my family." Pause. "It may be selfish, but I am glad things happened the way they did. There are few people I missed from the Roost. You and Luci…Jaremy is too far away for me to hold out hope. But I have you two." She whispers and look thankful as a rather understanding smile presses to her lips. "Good. I am glad you love her as much as you do. Love is to scarce a thing lately..I am glad to see it." She says and she studies him, gives him his due. "Marriage suits you, Jarod. Very much."
"It's funny, but it does, I think," Jarod says, as to marriage suiting him. "I'm not Jarod Nayland." That's another obscure point that seems to matter to him more than it probably should. "Rowenna was disowned by Lord Rickart when she ran off - when he thought she ran off to join that mummer's troupe she invented. I figured it'd stay that way and we'd just…I don't know. Go off and be hedge knights or something. The Naylands took her back, but she's out of any line of inheritance. I'm no lord, not like if I'd done it proper. Some men took to calling me the Half-Eagle during the campaign on the Iron Islands, and I've been wearing it like a surname. I feel like it suits me, actually. Maybe better than Rivers ever did." This one, at least, he seems to wear more comfortably than the bastard name. "You know what's funny…you were wed to Lord Ryker, and I to Rowenna now. Makes me your goodbrother. Just like how it was always supposed to be." His smile crooks, warm and wry. "Except nothing like how it was supposed to be."
"It does." She confirms for him and Isolde lofts a brow. "No, no you are not. But you can still be part of my family." She says, grinning a bit at the mention of him claiming his own surname. "That suits you as well. You deserve your own surname, Jarod. I have always said you were bound for greater things. Beyond the name of Rivers. It seems that may be coming true." She admits and than tilts her head, listening to is mention of goodbrother and she can not help but smirk, a nod of her head given as she considers that. "Nothing is never like its supposed to be." She says in retort with a sigh. "Only those foolish enough to believe think like that. You learn to bend to survive…sometimes that does not even work." She tells him but steers the topic elsewhere. "NO matter how you have to bend, you are here now and that is what matters. Where are you staying?"
"I'm more a scandal in the Riverlands than anything else at present. But you're kind to say it," Jarod says. "Don't know what I'm bound for most days. Anyhow. Rowenna and I have rooms in the tower. I don't see that changing anytime soon, so long as your hospitality allows." He regards her a beat. "My lady…my oaths are to Stonebridge, and to Tordane Tower. However much the Naylands would like to think of this as just another arm of the Mire now…you are the Lady of Stonebridge and I am your knight before theirs. So I've been telling myself, at least. Only thing that's been able to make me wear this without feeling like a complete traitor to the Terricks." He fingers the sash at his swordbelt. "The harpy still doesn't look right with the Tordane sigil."
Her face softens, the Lady listening and she nods her head. "No, it does not. But there are some of those born bneath the harpy that are worth their words. Just a few. I hope to make the Harpy stand more easily beside the Crane…it may not be easy but I will see to it. There are…plans in motion to make certain that the plottings of certain Naylands do not break apart my plans for Stonebridge." She pauses and dips her head to him. "I am, still Lady of this Tower and will do all in my power to make certain it stay sthat way, that my people will have a just and thoughtful Lord. I think Lord Riordan could be that…if he were to focus his attentions." She admits to him, but softens her voice. "Would that you keep a secret for me, if you are my Knight and trusted friend, I would do well to be able to speak to you." There is a need in the gaze she gives him. "I have considered speaking to those of the Erenford contigent, to perhaps oust the Harpy all together."
"Which Naylands do you mean, my lady?" Jarod asks. "I've been…well, it's been not quite certain who will actually hold the regency here in the last few weeks, at least long-term. So Lord Riordan's not asking for relief from his father, then?" He sounds a touch surprised. And not entirely pleased. Though the last draws a blink from him. "I will share nothing you wish me to keep secret for you, my lady. The Erenfords?" He's more thoughtful about this, but again seems more pensive about it than anything else.
"I do not trust Rutger and my mother, I think if they are to move, it will be against Riordan and myself. I must have somewhere to turn if that is the case. I have pondered by the Erenford's are about other than to find aid against the Charltons." She exhales and draws a breath, running a finger to her lips. "I am considering the Lords of Erenford, Ser Nevan or Brennart, but my hope is to help guide Riordan. His father has given him leave to court me and to take control of Stonebridge…but his brother is not happy about this and my mother has no love for the younger of the two." She says and sighs, "How I wish Ryker were still alive." There is a knock at the door and Asha returns with wine and a missive. "The Lord Riordan is waiting for you when you are ready."
Jarod's frown only deepens at all that. He has to turn it over in his head, always a rather slow process, before answering. And while he's doing that the lady's handmaiden arrives. "Will you hear my counsel on this, my lady? For whatever it's worth. Not sure that's much."
"I feared you would not offer, please. I would." Isolde says and shows more of the wear from her ordeals than before. She lets her green eyes settle on him and than look to Asha. "Asha, wait outside, pour the wine and go." She says, taking extra precautions to their exchange of information.
"I know little of the Erenfords, but I can't imagine how they'd do you any better than the Naylands," Jarod says. "They're grasping for your power, just like everyone else. Just like everyone always has since the day your father and brother died on the banks of the Trident." And there's real sympathy in his voice. "One Frey-sworn batch of blighters is no better than another, to my mind. As things stand, the Erenfords might join with the Naylands to support Stonebridge against Lady Danae's claim. She's pressing on behalf of Ser Gedeon, and she's deep in bed with the Charltons. But if you try to break away from the Naylands now, you'll likely stand alone with whoever you end up with. And the Charltons are very rich and very ruthless and have many swords, and I don't figure you'd be able to stand against them for long if you made Lord Rickart your enemy as well."
"It is not something I have forgotten well.." Isolde sighs, rubbing at the bridge of her nose and nodding her head despite it all. "That is a risk, a very very certain one. I was hoping to hold out until after the Charltons were dealt with but if Rutger and Riordan have a fight over power, this could not end well for me in any case." She offers him a smile and than falls to silence, considering the advice. "For now, Erenford is an ally. I shall not overreach and seek to bring them in closer to Stonebridge. Not until I know for certain the movement will not leave me bereft of allies." Her green eyes study Jarod closely and she offers him a smile. "Your frankness was needed. I have no one whom to speak to on these matters. I would have you moved to my personal guards, if you would accept. I would like you to visit me daily if your wife will allow, to be my extra pair of eyes and ears."
"May I ask, my lady…why do you need either of them as your Regent?" Jarod straightens up, all emphatic, like he gets when he's trying to explain an idea he's oh-so-excited about. "Lord Rickart put Lord Riordan here as regent that's true enough, but up until not long ago he was trying like seven hells to get out of it. I don't know why. I think he had some grand scheme that only made sense to him. He reminds me a little of Jaremy, really." It's fond, but not a compliment. "As for Lord Rutger…he's a good lord, though I'm not sure he's a good man, if that makes sense. He's likely more capable, but I'm not sure I'd trust him. And…Iz, I don't honestly think Lord Rickart gives two figs which of his sons courts you, so long as it keeps Stonebridge under the Nayland name. All he's looking for is assurances. What I'd propose to you is this. Agree to keep both of them close as your advisors. Perhaps put Lord Riordan in charge of your cavalry. He's good at that, though I'm not sure he's skilled at politics. And promise Lord Rickart your fealty, when the Charlton mess is settled. And perhaps that you shall wed a Nayland, but the one of your own choosing, after you've come to know both men better. This is no time for them to start having a pissing contest over who gets to call themselves regent to your lands. Surely they'll see that." As for her last request. "I would like to talk with you more often, my lady."
His words cause Isolde to smile, warmly so and she sighs, her eyes dropping to her lap as she considers what he advises her to do. It is not long before she makes eye contact again and she laughs at the mention of a pissing contest. "I am glad I am not the only one that sees Lord Riordan as Jaremy…" She lets out a breath. "Perhaps that is why I have so much hope for him." She lets out a sigh, "Your advise is sound, but how long do you think they will be content to remain as advisors? Riordan perhaps, but Rutger? I have a suspicion he would likely do desperate things to make sure that he was chosen above his brother in the end." She intones and presses her lips to a thin line. "But it all starts with the father, I will have need to speak to him first. To make certain that he understands my position. Marrying a Nayland too soon after everything would certainly seem like a desperate move on their part." She loosk to him then, gaze softening as she lets the topic go for the moment. "Than you shall. I will speak to my mother and see to it that you are here. to aid me. She is wary of those around me, she wants to make sure I am safe."
"For so long the Charltons are a bigger enemy than their own blood," Jarod replies. "Does neither of them good if Stonebridge is lost for all the Naylands. They both seem to hold their family interests higher than their own, just have different ways of going about it." As for Rutger, Jarod shrugs. "From what I know of them I think Lord Rutger's the more pragmatic one, truth be told. He'll be ruled by his head over his heart." As for Isolde's mother, he snorts. "I've seen little of Lady Valda since I came to serve here. Which is probably for the best. Anyhow, I'll not keep you further, but we'll speak again as you like, my lady. It's…it's to see you, Iz."
"So I have heard. Both would die for their families, it is something to admire and often not seen despite all the claims given to the contrary." Isolde laments and than smirks at the mention of Valda. "If you wish to speak with me more, I fear you will have need to see her often. Though you will not be required to speak with her other than a greeting." As he hints at departure, she pushes herself up carefully to her feet and adds, "Iz, it has always been Iz, Jarod." She says and smiles. "It is good to see you too. See you as happy as you are as well." She smiles and nods her head to him. "Come tomorrow if you have the time."
"My girl makes me happy. I'm still sort of…bumbling through the rest of it. We'll see how it plays. I should speak with the Erenfords as well, come to it. Ser Bruce wanted me to coordinate with them on scouting, see if we can get a proper idea of what the Charlton and Haigh forces at up to." Jarod stands, and bows. Still with that same mummer's show flourish he's practiced in front of the mirror for years. "On the morrow, my lady." And he departs, with that.