|Of Correspondence and Girls and Dead Septons|
|Summary:||In which Jarod and Josse catch up on recent events.|
|Related Logs:||Notes to the Dead Septon Office|
|Jarod's Chamber — Four Eagles Tower|
|The bar is semi-open.|
|Wed Sep 14, 288|
It's getting on into midday. Morning exercises are over, but it's still early enough that the 'business' of the day - whatever that may be - is being attended to. For his part, Ser Jarod Rivers can be found in his chambers, sitting at his writing desk, brow-furrowed at a bit of parchment he's presently scrawling on in a stop-and-start-and-frown sort of way. His door is closed by not locked.
Josse has been away from Four Eagles for a few days in a row, a slightly unusual stretch of time for him. Satchel slung over his shoulder and a notebook tucked under one arm, he heads quietly up this well-known corridor towards Jarod's room. Three swift knocks on the wooden door. "Jarod?"
"Aye, it's open," Jarod hollers, setting his parchment aside and turning his chair around so he's facing the door. He doesn't bother to get up. "Good afternoon, Jos." The septon is offered an easy grin and inclination of his head, though he doesn't bother to get up. "Sit down. There's wine if you want some." Though he isn't drinking himself, presently.
"Oh, good." Josse nudges the door shut with his foot till it clicks. He pulls the strap of he satchel off over his head, turning his dark hair into a mess as he does it, and deposits himself into the handiest chair by the desk. The parchment's noted in the middle of a visual search for a cup and said wine, and he lifts his chin that way. "Writing, again? Really, who are you and what have you done with Jarod?"
"Just some personal correspondence," Jarod replies with a smirk, though Josse's jab doesn't - perhaps surprisingly - earn a laugh or return dig from him. "There's a courier in town who runs letters down to Fairmarket. Figured I'd take the opportunity to pass a word to Master Bevins." His maternal grandfather, though he mentions the man rarely enough that the name may not be immediately familiar. "I'm about due to my yearly reminder to him that I'm still alive." He pushes his wine flagon over toward Josse. There's a more-or-less clean cup within easy reach. Jarod may've had plans to use it himself later.
Josse picks up the flagon and pours, the state of the cup not seeming particularly bothersome. "Bevins?" If Jarod's ever said the name in front of the septon, it's likely been more than two years now since.
"My mother's father," Jarod explains. And his grandfather, though that's not the term he goes for. "Used to be a steward in the service of the old Lord Terrick, though he quit that after I was born. After my mother died. Lives down in Fairmarket. Does accounts for a merchant there. Actually owns a stake in the business now, I think. Does well for himself, as I understand it. He writes me two or three times a year, I write back once or twice." He shrugs.
"A merchant. So you do have something in you that knows how to negotiate." Josse smiles slightly. That could also easily have been a jab, but something about his tone isn't that at all. He glances down into his cup long enough to take a sip. "Have you ever met him?"
Jarod does get a laugh out of that, though it's a shortly barked one. "Buried deep within me, if it's there, I suppose. Aye. I've met him twice. First time was about fifteen years ago. He came to the Roost after the old Lord Terrick - my other grandfather - died. I guess they'd been friends of a kind, though I don't gather they parted well. I was young. I was just a boy. Second time I was…fourteen or fifteen. It was after I'd gone to squire with the Mallisters. Lord Jason had some errand he needed run down in Fairmarket and I convinced the knight I was serving to ask to go along so I could…I don't know. Let him see I was trying to make something of myself. Figured he might be proud of that. It was…well, it was what it was. We talked for a bit, he gave me some of my mother's things. That was that. Just the letters now."
"It's good he speaks to his blood," Josse replies. His hand settles on the base of the cup, turning it around. "Even if only by letter." He absently scratches his cheek. "What did he give you? Of your mother's?"
"Aye, we're both very good about our obligations. Maybe that's inherited," Jarod says, a little dryly. The question earns another shrug. "A few odds and ends. Handkerchiefs she'd sewn. A couple pieces of jewelry she'd kept - nothing fancy, she wasn't that sort. A book or two she'd been fond of. That sort of thing. Nothing too interesting if you weren't me. I've still got it all, though." He frowns at his letter. "I don't know why I have such a hard time with these. It's not like we write each other much of import." He hands Josse a folded parchment on the side of the table, his last letter from Old Bevins from July, from the look of it.
I hope this message finds you well. Congratulations on your appointment as Captain of the Guard, which you wrote of in your last. The Terricks generally treat those who serve them quite equitably, so I am sure it was well-deserved. I recall the Roost as a place of much peace, so you should not find yourself overly taxed, though I concede times have changed since I last set foot in that corner of the Riverlands.
The business with Stonebridge is unfortunate. I take it Lord Jerold did not bother to secure his heir's betrothal contract to the Tordane girl in writing? That was a costly and feckless oversight but one that, unfortunately, I find unsurprising. You would do well to advise your lordship that while he can trust in his own promises all he likes, only a fool does not get those made to him by another man locked in parchment and quill.
I remain in good health, by grace of the Seven, and we successfully opened up a trade line with a spice wholesaler who grows not far from King's Landing. The expense to get the shipping contacts in order was dear, but it shall yield a very tidy profit in not more than a year's time.
I have enclosed a few cuts of dried lavender blossoms with this letter. Please be kind enough to place them on your mother's grave on my behalf and with my love, for she adored those flowers so.
Josse smiles a little as he takes the parchment, keeping it a safe distance from that wineglass and a potential elbow-knocking. "Jewelry?" He asks idly as he starts to skim the letter — either that or it's ahandy way to avoid Jarod's eyes for a minute. "What kind of jewelery?"
Jarod shrugs some more. "A necklace made out of seashells. A little silver bracelet - I figure it was a gift. Don't know from who. That sort of thing. Like I said, not that interesting." He holds out a hand to retrieve the letter when Josse's done with it.
Josse's eyes are watching the edge of the parchment rather than the writing as Jarod answers. He's silent for a moment, then his eyes flicker back to the text. An odd series of questions from a man who's never concerned himself with jewelery in his life, and whatever that was about takes a heartbeat or two to be shut away again. He reads down to the bottom fairly quickly and hands the letter back, picking the wineglass up again. "He seems a good man. Sharp. He calls himself your grandfather." That was noted.
"He's a decent man," Jarod says, taking the parchment back and folding it with care. "Respectable. He has little love for my lord father, but I understand why. I don't agree, quite, but I understand it." He notes it a little sadly, and does more shrugging. "Anyway. I'll finish later. I don't think my courier's going to skip town right off. You didn't come by to talk about my writing efforts, I don't think." And he's plainly eager to change topics.
"No," Josse says, moving on easily enough. "Someone else's, actually." He clears his throat, drumming his fingers on the well-used notebook he'd brought in. "Amery's."
"Oh, yes. Our poor departed septon." Jarod's manner grows more grave, as to that, and he angles in his chair some so he's better facing Josse. "You went over his journals, then? You make anything of them?"
"Well." Josse doesn't move to open the thing on the desk. It might actually be the book in question or just one of his own with jottings in it. There's no name on the front. "He mentions the letters. That he was thinking of asking your Lord Father to let him study some of Geoffrey's old letters but in the end he decided not to." He tilts the wineglass slowly towards him, then away. "I went asking around. About a week before Amery died, Lord Rygar had come and attended a service, along with a retainer — that retainer spoke to Amery afterwards but there's no record of what about. Confession, I'd suppose. Your Master Raffton Howell was there the morning he died." This is offered as neutral fact. "They told me the night it happened, Amery told a septa he was going to retire early as he had an ache…a 'terrific ache'. Then he fell and died upon those words."
"Raffton Howell?" Jarod frowns, plainly surprised. The bit about Rygar is less of a surprise, but no less troubling. "I'll have to have words with him. The man's served us well enough these past years, but he was captured at the age of thirteen. Ironman. He was involved in a raid on a village up the Cape of Eagles. We figured he'd put it behind him but…" Jarod shrugs. "Man with a history like that, I'll confess it might not be hard to influence him. And they don't pray to the Seven, the Iron Islanders. Worship some…Water God or something. I don't hold too much with it. It's weird."
"The Drowned God," Josse supplies. His mouth screws briefly to the side, eyes glancing down at the notebook and then back at Jarod's face. "I didn't know that about him. I don't think I've ever had real words with the man…unsurprising, I guess now that I know that."
"He's converted to worship of the Seven, so there's no real reason you would," Jarod says. "You said he was considering asking for my father's old letters. Do you know how Amery went about verifying the ones given to him? Did he use letters old letters Isolde has? I can't imagine Lady Valda Nee Frey would be that pleased to hand over her own correspondence to the project."
"Isolde had given me one of Lord Geoffrey's letters — or rather Lord Ryker did, if you want to get technical." Josse says, then pauses to sip his wine. "I don't know if Amery didn't trust it or what, but…all I can gather is once he decided they were authentic he didn't think it necessary to involve Lord Jerold."
"Huh." Jarod takes that information in. He doesn't seem quite sure what to do with it, but he plainly turns it over in his brain a few times. "So we've Raffton Howell at the sept the morning he died. And Lord Ser Rygar up a week earlier to take in a service for no real good reason. I wonder…" He frowns. "Amelia Millen said, before she died, that Ser Rygar was plotting to have Jaremy murdered. And Lady Anais, after it didn't look like that was worth much. I don't know how much stock to place in her words but…" A shrug. "…I'm starting to take that man's coming to these borders as a herald of bodies in some regard or another."
Josse raises an eyebrow drily at the mention of murdering Jaremy. "Really." He flicks the back of his fingernail against the cup. "Well. As no-good as it sounds it's still circumstantial at best, and to be honest it's frustrating. What possible reason could Master Raffton have to be involved, if — in conjecture — he were?"
"No idea," Jarod admits. "Perhaps it's a matter of money. Ser Rygar paying him to do his dirty-work in the Roost. Or he's out for some obscure form of revenge, even after being treated well within these walls all these years. Can't know the man's motivations until we speak to him, which we should do prompt. But, aye, just circumstance, no proof on anything. Do you think more could be found down in Stonebridge? I've been tempted to head down that way for awhile now. Half-tempted to have words with Ser Rygar on this matter, though I've no idea how I'd put it to him."
"I still have to pay a visit to the herbalists there." Josse replies. "It's a long shot, but I've been needing to check in on the grounds there for a while, so it wouldn't look suspect. We'll travel if you like." He finishes the wine in his glass and pushes the cup aside for now, folding his arms on the desk. "What is Ser Rygar like?"
"My brothers have been talking of going down that way for awhile, meet with the new lordships, get the lay of the land now that it's not ours anymore," Jarod says. "We may make a proper voyage of it. Or not. I'm not sure how safe it is to put toes on that land. Then again, if a man's pulling this sort of cloak-and-dagger shit to fuck with you, he's unlikely to come at you direct, so in a way having him in plain sight makes him less dangerous. I don't know. I'll think on it. Let you know." As for Rygar, that one makes him stop to think for a moment. "I took him to be a true knight. He fought for the Royalists during the Rebellion. Fought when the rest of the Naylands were sitting pretty and safe in the swamps. Fought for his conscience, when he didn't have to. Even though he ended up on the opposite side of the field from where I was, I can respect that. We talked on it once. The war. What had…come out of it. He said to me…he said, Robert's Rebellion broke the bounds of fealty in the land. That after it was done…what was left over was rule by who was strongest. I called him wrong."
Josse nods once to the talk of a Terrick jaunt to Stonebridge, more of his attention on the latter half of Jarod's answer. "And how did he take that?"
Jarod shrugs. "Well enough. It wasn't an argument, really. We were just talking. As knights and men. I said to him, all the the Rebellion had done was put a new king on the throne. Good King Robert's son'll be king after him, and his son after him, and we've all bent the knee and the land is whole again. Ser Rygar…" He's quiet for a moment, like he's trying to summon the words back into his mind. "He said to me…'Bonds of Fealty are longer so strong as once they were, but blood flows as freely as ever it did. The strength that brought Robert to the throne was the strength of arms. That is what rules the land now.' That's what he said to me."
Josse considers that for quite a while. If the septon has his own thoughts on the Rebellion itself that's not what rolls the conversation forward, but rather: "Do you know what he thinks of Lady Valda?"
Jarod shakes his head on that. "No. No idea. I know what I think of her." Jarod's tone is dark on that. "She's a vile, scheming bitch who treated her own daughter with cruelty no child deserves from their mother, and I can't even imagine the life she inflicted on Gedeon Rivers, save that I'd not have been a bastard in her house for all the gold and jewels and elephant girls across the Narrow Sea. And I'd put neither adultery nor murder past her. But I have no right to speak such harsh things against her honorable ladyship." He snorts. "Not without proof, at least, which we've none of at present."
"Indeed," Josse replies, a little drily. "I only ask because if it comes down to speaking to Ser Rygar on a matter like this, she is bound to enter the conversation — whether directly mentioned or not." He pauses a long moment, glancing at the notebook with thinned lips. "This will sound mad, but I wonder if Lord Ryker ever told Ser Rygar that he allowed an outside party to verfiy those letters."
Jarod shrugs. "No idea. Rowenna said to me that when she spoke to Lord Ryker while he was here he was…paranoid. That's the word she used. I figured it had something to do with the Valentins, but it might extend to his own family as well. I don't know. A few weeks ago I'd not have thought that possible but the Naylands…they don't seem to have much trust in each other. Must be a strange way to live. I can't imagine it. Not that I can't fight with my brothers and sister when I think they're mistaken but…" He shrugs. "…it's blood, at the end of the day. And Ser Rygar, if nothing else, seems to serve the Naylands most well. If not, perhaps, Lord Ryker directly."
Josse makes a sound in his throat, still frowning. A nod follows a few seconds after. "Games like this aren't my forte' but let me think about this for a little bit. In the meantime there's still Master Raffton. If you'd like me there I will come, though I don't know if he's the type that doesn't like strangers."
"Guess we'll figure out what type he is," Jarod says. "Wouldn't hurt to have you there, I don't figure. Might put the fear of the Seven into him. Though if he's the sort who might have part in doing a septon, that wouldn't much matter. Anything else, Jos?"
"On this? No." Josse spreads his hands, looking up from the edge of the cup. "Clear as mud, same as it started." A thin smile at Jarod and he slides the unopened book off the table, dumping it into his satchel. "Shall I leave you be?"
"Should finish my letter before it gets too late in the afternoon, I guess," Jarod says. Not that he shoos the septon yet. A boyish grin breaks over his face. "You talk with Rowenna lately?"
Oh God. Josse straightens back up, returning elbows to their comfortable position on the desk. "Have I? Oh, I suppose…three nights ago? Have you?" The pointed question and way his brow makes a smirkish arch can totally guess the answer to his own question.
"I have, aye." Jarod just grins more as he says it. "We decided to kind of…umm…I guess you could say we're sort of seeing each other. In the err…well, you know what I mean."
"Oh…for fuck's sake thank God." Josse's head makes a loud thud straight into his folded forearms. His muffled voice filters up through his sleeves. "And how many times have you broken up so far?"
Jarod just starts laughing at Josse's reaction. "Oh come off it! And none! I mean, she got mad at me for no good reason, but that's just Rowenna Nayland's natural inclination, so I don't figure it's anything serious. I bought her some candy. I think she'll like that."
"Come off it?" Josse's head comes back up and he jabs a finger in the other's direction. "I've been listening to this pining for almost five years, Jarod. Do you realize the depths of my pain?" Despite the words the septon looks pleased as punch, much as he struggles to look stern. Utter fail. He sniffs and scratches his hairline, shaking his head. "Candy, right. What was she mad over?"
"A person trying to tell her a reasonable thing. The usual," Jarod says with a wounded sort of shrug. "All I said to her was that we needed to be careful if we were going to fool around here - as that'd just be another thing that'd make things harder for her to hide. And I wanted to make sure she knew what to do about moon tea and the like, as I don't terribly want to be a father. That's all! I don't know why she got snippy about it."
Josse's closed hand rests against his temple, pulling up the skin at the corner of his eye. "Might I take a wild guess?" Which he's going to do regardless of Jarod's permission, obviously. "You told her you'd take care of everything, right?"
"Well I can't take care of *everything*, can I?" Jarod says. "That's not really physically possible. But I said I'd make sure the components and stuff were paid for. I mean, that's the right thing to do, isn't it?" He offers Josse a somewhat defense 'What!?' look. "I realize it wasn't the sweetest thing to say to a girl the morning after you sleep with her, but I figured it was best to be upfront about it, you know?"
"It was the right thing. It was also the stupidest thing, when it comes to her," Josse replies without malice. "Listen. She takes care of herself. She's been doing it for years. And now she's got to adjust a little bit…you're a good man, you look out for people. You care for people. She's not used to that, and the way she's lived she's had to be in control of everything for herself. You upsetting that is like telling her she isn't good enough to handle it herself." He makes a slight motion with his hand here to tell Jarod not to interrupt, if the impulse was there. "I'm not saying she didn't overreact. All I'm saying is for you to try and understand why. You know?"
"Well that's just stupid!" Jarod exclaims in exasperation. "And that's insane. That wasn't what I was saying at all. She's so *weird*. It's like she hears things through this…this filter that makes what I say as offensive as possible, just so she can get mad at me. I tell her not to make any big, weird romantic gestures because it'll just end up getting her found out and ruined, she acts like I don't like her! I tell her I'll help out with something that's half my responsibility, and she takes it as a insult? How is that not insane?"
Josse smiles. He's trying so hard not to look amused, and for the most part it's working — just the smiles break out every now and again. This one does have a touch of sympathy at least. "But there's something about it you like, isn't there. I know there is." He folds his hands under his chin. "If I give you some advice would you try it out…just for a day or two?"
"Well…yes, I'd not be doing this if I didn't like her," Jarod says. "I mean, of course. Obviously. And, sure. All right. What?"
"Give her her candy and make nice. And next time," Josse's chin pushes down on his hands, both brows raising, "Instead of telling her how you're going to help her? Ask her how you can."
"Well I was already planning to do that. I got the candy, didn't I? I don't think this is a big deal," Jarod says. Though he frowns at the next part. "So what? I'm not supposed to look out for her? Jos, that's what you do if you care for someone. And if she's going to get all weird about her womanly-whatever being oppressed or what-not…seven hells, I look out for you, don't I? And my brothers, and my new squire…seven hells, I looked out for her as well as I could when she was my squire. Should I just let her run off a cliff - which she's got a habit of trying to do - and act like I think it's all right? It's not. She takes a lot of risks that are rash, and I don't want her to get hurt because she doesn't stop and *think*."
"That's not what I said," Josse tilts his head slightly. "I didn't say don't look out for her. I said give her control. When I see her doing something ridiculous I don't hesitate to say something. But I paint the picture and then I stop. She may be rash but she isn't stupid, and if she knows the person talking to her respects her, she listens. Especially…" He keeps his eyes on Jarod. "…if the one listening to her lets her find her own solution. That's what you do by saying 'What can I do to help you?'. You don't abandon her. You get her thoughts, you make suggestions, you help her refine a good way. But you don't control her, because you'll lose her."
"She said I think too much," Jarod says, dryly. "First person who's ever said that to me, I think. But…Jos, I can't be made to think that's a bad thing. I like to try and get my head around something - and someone - before I figure on how I'm going to act on it. If you don't, you just end up making a mess, and hurting people. And I don't want to hurt Rowenna. But she *is* rash, Jos. And she doesn't think sometimes. She just…does. And when I was keeping away from her, I could tell myself her escapades weren't my fault but now…if she comes by any harm to herself by us being together - because this will make it harder for her a little to keep what she is from getting known - I wouldn't forgive myself. It *is* my responsibility. Half of it, at least. And she doesn't try and talk things through with me, most of the time. She just…*does*. She *does* and expects me to react like I think it was brilliant and grand when it just scares me."
"Then put it to her in terms of yourself," Josse answers. "Do you think she doesn't know how much risk she puts herself in? Of course she does. Telling her what she already knows will shut her right off from you; you're telling her really that you don't think she's smart enough to handle herself. What she doesn't realize sometimes is how it affects people around her. And she does care about that, she just…doesn't see it all the time. So, if you want to talk about how rash she is tell her that it scares you. You." His brows raise again, indicating the man across the desk. "Let her see herself in your eyes. Sometimes when we love people we have to stop trying to make them feel vulnerable and instead show ourselves to be."
"I'm not trying to make her feel vulnerable I'm just trying to make her see sense." Jarod huffs a sigh, slouching in his chair. "And I didn't say anything about love. I wish you and Jace and everyone would stop putting words in my mouth. I said I care about her. That's all. I don't know where it's going. It'll probably end in disaster, no matter how careful I try and be. But…it's nice for now, is all. And aye. Fine. I'll try it your way. Though it'd help if she actually listened when I talked to her and didn't just go off at me for trying to control her or insult her or whatever rot I'm supposedly doing."
"Semantics," Josse says, as to the word love. "And yes, it would help if she listened. I'm not saying she's got the right of way here, Jarod…believe me. The problem with anything like this is that things go both ways, and if she isn't careful she is going to be the one with the loss. She may very well throw this away and that would be awful, but…you know. But right now I have you in front of me and so I'm talking to you. Just try it, is all I'm asking. You can't solve it in one swoop and there's got to be a tangible first step somewhere. When you want to help her, ask more than you tell. Just try that once." One finger lofts, making the point. "And when she inevitably shows up at my door for whatever reason, I will do my best to help clean the wax out of her ears."
"All right, all right. I don't *try* to piss her off, you know. I don't really understand why she thinks she likes me so much if I irritate her so badly. But aye. I'll try it. Don't believe her when she tells you I'm not trying it, either. Inevitably." Jarod snorts. "Anyhow. I really should finish my letter. Get it off before it eats up the rest of my day. We'll deal with Raffton Howell and…seven hells knows what else. As we can."
"Jarod," Josse says, smiling with the right side of his mouth, "If I could ever accuse you of anything, 'not trying' would never be among them." He lets his shoulders roll back with few quiet cracks and picks up his satchel strap, standing up.
Jarod gets a chuckle out of that. "I'll take that as a compliment. See you later, Jos."
"Indeed." Josse slings the strap over his head. His left hand flashes out and snatches up Jarod's nicely-full flagon, and his index finger jabs the air towards Jarod's head. "Five years." Flagon is clearly going with septon, as he turns on his heel. "God." And unless stopped, out the door he goes.