Page 009: Of Leave and Loyalty
Of Leave and Loyalty
Summary: Jarod and Rowan prepare to hit the road. The knight offers the squire an out-not-taken.
Date: Thu Jul 21, 288
Related Logs: The First Shot Fired; Orientation
Jarod Rowan 
Stables - Terrick's Roost
A place with horses in Four Eagles Tower (aka a TP Room).
Thu Jul 21, 288

After the drama by the inn, Jarod is readying himself to ride. He and Revyn shall soon be off to Stonebridge. at his uncle's suggestion and his father's consent. An attempt by his uncle to smooth things over with the Tordane's. Not that Jarod is any sort of diplomat, so one would presume there's the expectation this might not go peacefully. Jarod's in the stables now, checking over his gear while he waits for his squire to see to his horse. Rowan, of course, is also going. Jarod travels not without him.

Still subdued after the encounter with his kinsmen, Rowan finds solace in the rhythm of familiar tasks. He's readied Jarod's horse and gear for riding so many times he could do it in his sleep, but there's no dull distraction in his work, no complacency. He's quick and precise, but checks everything twice, every strap and buckle arranged just so. He walks Symeon and Buttercup, the mare he favors, from their stalls. "Ready, Ser."

"Pack the armor, Rowan, but I'll not ride in it unless it's an issue my uncle wants to press," Jarod says. He does wear his sword at his belt, along with the Terrick sash, but apart from that he's in green tunic and traveling cloak. "I'll not add insult to Lady Isolde's house by busting in like those Nayland curs, if it can be avoided." He adjusts his cloak on his shoulder, casting a look over at his squire. "We should talk, come to it. Before my lord uncle arrives. There's words we need to have on this before it goes further, Rowan." There's a seriousness about the bastard knight that's decidedly unusual. Well, it's been a long and serious day.

"It's already in the saddlebags," Rowan replies. He, himself, is both unarmored and unarmed, though sword and shield are among the gear riding Buttercup's sides. His eyebrows shoot up at Jarod's somber mien, a frown of concern and perplexity following. "Of course. I — what about?" There's a slightly nervous note.

"First off," Jarod begins, after a deep breath. "I want to tell you that you did good today. You stood your ground with us when we faced Ser Rygar and those Tordane knights, and for my part I'm glad there wasn't need to spill any blood over it. But the Naylands are getting bolder. Tell me. What did you make of all that. And be honest. What we say now won't go beyond you and me."

Long, dark lashes veil the lad's eyes for a moment, a frown still creasing his brow. He takes a breath, his expression pensive as he answers, "It's… difficult to say. I mean… I wasn't privy to much of what went on at home, before, and even less so now. I didn't know Uncle Rygar was Old Lady Tordane's lackey, but I suppose anything my kin can do to ingratiate themselves to Stonebridge until Isolde's wed my brother…" He shakes his head, asking suddenly and with frustration, "Gods be good, why is that stupid bint marrying my brother?"

"Lady Valda Tordane…" Jarod's tone is rather cool as he says the lady's name, though carefully (perhaps too much so) respectful. "…was born a Frey, Rowan. And the Naylands are Frey bannerman, and she's doing everything she can now to engineer this marriage between Lady Isolde and some Nayland cur - present company excluded, of course - to add to the holdings of her own family. *If* Lady Isolde weds my brother." He sounds by no means certain of this now. "The Naylands are pushing us, Rowan. They're getting bold, and my thinking is they'll only get bolder yet. My father's marshaling our strength. He seems to think we may need it soon to face the Naylands." A pause. "Your family."

"Isolde could say no," Rowan insists, sounding more than a touch irate and sullen over the whole thing. "She doesn't have to be such a bloody… damsel and wait for people to decide her life for her. She should marry your brother and be done with it. This whole thing is sodding ridiculous." He huffs, then sighs. When Jarod brings up his pedigree, he looks away. Just before he does, there's a brief flash of pain in his expression. "Are you truly asking me where my loyalties lie?" he murmurs.

Jarod shakes his head quickly. "No, it's not that. As I said, you did well today. You've served me very well, Rowan." He means it, too. It's not even accompanied by a back-handed comment about Rowan's masculinity or with a jolly insult. "What I'm saying is this. If someone asked me to raise my hand against my family, fight my lord father and my brother…I don't think I could do it. It's not a choice a man should have to make." He takes another breath. "Your father or your uncle could find you another knight to squire under, Rowan. I'd not hold it against you, if you thought it best to leave my service. I'll release you from it." Though there's a hesitation in his tone as he makes that offer.

Rowan's dark eyes cut to Jarod, incredulous. He blinks a few times, then laughs mirthlessly. "Oh, sweet Seven," he shakes his head, lips wearing a trace of a smile. There's rue and bitter mirth there, among about a hundred other things. "Jarod, my… kinsmen are not good people." There's regret in his tone, not for speaking the words, but for their truth. "I don't know why. And… it's broken my heart all my life, the vein of cold poison that runs through the people I should love. Have always wanted to love." He meets the knight's eyes square. "I was sent to you as an insult — did you know that? The child of least worth. Because I'm not a brutish, strapping lout I was meant to fail. No one in Hag's Mire thought I'd last a week here. I was supposed to be a burden, an imposition, and an embarrassment. As I'd always been to House Nayland." He swallows, lifting his chin and squaring his shoulders. "I could no more raise my hand against your father, or your brother, than you could. They have been kind to me, and fair. And you…" He stops. Breathes. "Ser, your people are my people. And if one day I am made a knight, I will be honored to carry the banner of your house."

Jarod's green eyes meet Rowan's, and he reaches out to place a hand on the younger man's shoulder, clasping it. "And I took you as squire because no other lordling's father could spare one for a bastard knight. But we've made all right with it, haven't we, lad?" He grins, the boyish expression lightening his face a bit. Though there's still more soberness in it than usual. "That's good of you to say, Rowan. But know this. If you wish to return to your family and be spared raising your hand against them, now's likely the best time for it. You've kin at Stonebridge, they'll take you back and I'll say not a word against it. If things get hotter with the Naylands, my lord father shall want you kept close, so if you change your mind later you'll like as not be able to." Even an unwanted Nayland makes a valuable hostage-in-squire's clothing. Not that he can bring himself to put it quite like that.

The boy's smile is faint and melancholy and heartsick. "We're quite a pair," he agrees. At the chance to change his mind, he shakes his head. "I am yours, Ser," he says simply. "Seven willing, I will carry your father's banner. One day your brother's… but I am yours and shall always be."

Jarod claps Rowan's shoulder roughly before releasing it, grinning wider now. "Good lad." He straightens up. "All right, then. You'll like as regret it in a month, but for my part I'll not be sorry to keep you. You skinny, limp-wristed bugger." He winks. "Now, come on. My lord uncle shall want to be off soon, and I'll not keep him. Hope the rain has stopped. Riding in mud has little appeal, and this errand is muddy enough as it is."

"I happen to like the rain," Rowan responds, tossing Jarod an oilskin cloak from the packs. "But Seven forfend you get muddy, Ser — you might wind up temporarily less pretty than your brother. And really, looks is most of what you lot've got on the Naylands — " he smirks, mounting his mare. "Myself excepted, of course."

Jarod catches the cloak, throwing it over his shoulders as he mounts up. "We are damn pretty here, Rowan," he says with a merry laugh. "Perhaps you've Terrick blood in you that you don't know about it. Only takes a few drops to make you *damn* pretty." And with a laugh, he's off.