Page 331: Open and Shut Minds
Open and Shut Minds
Summary: Accusations fly and negotiations are encouraged at a meeting of Lord Jerold Terrick and his kin.
Date: 15 June 289
Related Logs: Everything ever
Anais Dmitry Inigo Jerold Justin Lucienne Pyrs 
Four Eagles Tower - Throne Room
It's a room with a throne, currently cleared of servants and such.
15 June 289

As his children know, Jerold Terrick has not been at his best in recent days. Long hours seeing to the many and varied pieces of business that make up running the Roost, not to mention worrying over the troubles facing it, have robbed the good lord of sleep, and that plus his insistence on eating even more abstemiously than usual have taken their toll. Not precisely sick a-bed but not well either, he has suffered few distractions and visitors, preferring to address them all at once in occasional family court sessions such as this. As his kin assemble, he sits the throne, seeming greyer at the temples by the day, and watches them. "Come," he says, gesturing, "Please do sit. I would like to begin with the most pressing matter - that of feeding our people… and ourselves. Now that House Groves has given their surplus into the Harpy's grasp," he says, his jaw tightening with the words, "Where do we stand on finding alternatives?"

"The Groveses are willing to discuss next year's harvest, though that won't do us much good now," Anais answers Jerold's concerns. "Lord Kittridge has also indicated they might be willing to make us a loan, since they now have coin in plenty, so that we could buy some of the surpluses from other houses." A ledger sits in front of her, carefully maintained, and she references the numbers every now and then. "Jacsen and I were just speaking with Lord Rutger about s dowry for Lady Roslyn to include a portion of the Groves surplus, the Nayland harvest, and a reduction in tariffs on goods through Stonebridge."

Prompt in her arrival, dressed smartly in her mourning clothes and with her hair in a crown braid, Lucienne takes up her seat and waits for Anais to finish. "The Haighs may provide another avenue," she adds, looking toward her father. "The ladies Ilaria and Briallyn both indicated they'd been blessed with bountiful harvests this year."

Dmitry shows some little restraint in his claim of a seat in court, leaning back in the chair and letting his hand fall across his knee as he watches his uncle through low-lashed dark eyes. "Oh, a portion of the surplus," he says. "Of course. Did they say how much? A third? A fifth? A twelth?"

Justin is here, dressed a bit more nicely though still in black since they are meeting with his father and wearing his new spurs. He has stepped in a bit late, having been out elsewhere. He has taken a seat and listens without making any comment, keeping his own face blank of any readable emotion.

So bid, Inigo joins the others in taking a seat and tips his head towards Anais as she answers Jerold's question. "A portion of the surplus?" He nearly echoes Dmitry in unison and looks over at the other man with brows lifted in mild amusement. "So, part of the surplus and a promise to gouge less with tariffs. Well. Assuming they'll still have Stonebridge in the future." Just saying.

"We're negotiating still," Anais grimaces to Dmitry. "The last figures were forty percent of the Groves surplus and thirty percent of the Mire's Harvest, along with a thirty percent reduction in tariff, with an additional ten percent reduction upon the birth of the first child. I spoke with Lady Briallyn some time ago, and they were asking for land as well at the time," she adds to Lucienne's words. "But if we can get a loan from the Groveses, then perhaps we needn't go that far. It was one thing with the Groves, but I can't see any good of creating an independent Haigh holding on our lands."

Dmitry smiles in a slantwise fashion at Inigo, amused by their stereo. He studies his cuticles briefly. "Let's pay for Groves grain with Nayland gold to the Naylands that we borrow from the Groves," he says, "How very appealing."

Lord Jerold listens in silent consideration, and begins with the last first. "I have no desire to create a new holding on our lands, particularly one sworn to the Twins. If the Haighs would take gold, and House Groves would lend at a reasonable rate, then that would be worth considering. It would be still better to get what we need from the Naylands as dowry. I am not sure I see the point of this match if the dowry does not allow us to feed our people until the next harvest at least," he says, frowning somewhat, "And I too would be wary of taking tariff reductions in place of goods or gold. This matter of Stonebridge is yet undecided, and I would not trust the Harpies to keep to their word on it if they saw gain in breaking it later," he adds darkly. "What of the Haigh girls?" he adds, "Might either of them be an appropriate match for Justin, or," he looks not-too-pointedly at Dmitry, "Another?"

"I believe the Haighs can be bargained with other than for land. They have many daughters," says Lucienne. "The lady Ilaria is pleasant, and comports herself well. I am sure her Lord father would offer a handsome dowry for a marriage to Justin."

Justin is still not saying a word. He sits more or less by himself, the minimal golden and indigo purple threadwork around the edges of his black surcoat gleaming faintly in the light. He pours himself a glass of watered wine and though he's listening, doesn't otherwise look to each of the speakers except upon occation. If he has any opinion at all concerning the various options of his marriage, he's not voicing them.

Anais stares at first Jerold, and then Lucienne. "Lord Jerold, backing out of the negotiations with the Naylands right now would be to make very serious enemies at a time when we need all the friends we can get," she says, tone carefully modulated. "The current arrangement would get us most of the way to the next harvest, and with the gold from the Groves, we could purchase enough to get to the next harvest from someone else. I'd rather have /food/ in hand than gold at this point, since we know how far food will go, but the prices of it are so uncertain and at times inflated that all the gold the Haighs can give might end up purchasing less food than we can get directly from the Naylands."

Dmitry arches his eyebrows and turns out a hand in an idle gesture, significating his own openness to suggestion, but it seems he may have other plans for his own marriage, since when he actually talks, it's to pimp Justin out some more: "If we might buy Justin a younger lady than sweet Roslyn with the Haighs, I believe an alliance with the Groves might potentially earn us at the least something less than usury." He swings a foot, leaning a little further back in his chair and propping his elbow against its back to frame his cheek. "Lady Lucienne's own dowry for a match with Lord Stafford is something that has certainly come up in idle chatter before, Uncle."

"The Naylands are holding tight to a surplus they do not even seem to need…except as leverage against this House," Inigo comments with a slight frown and gestures around the throne room. "Just because the Naylands are being courteous does not mean they are not still enemies, in some fashion. It is not as if you would be backing out of an agreement already made. Sometimes negotiations fall through. And, yes," he tips his chin at Dmitry. "The Lady Roslyn is, after all, a bit past a prime age for marriage."

Lucienne stares right back at Anais. "If the Haighs can offer us more than the Naylands in food and gold for a younger bride, why would we we favour one Frey vassal over another? Do you not think it prudent to at least enquire, my lady?"

Taking a sip from his cup, Justin lowers it and simply says quiet low, "It is prudent to inquire."

"The Naylands bought the surplus for no other purpose than to f … iddle with us," Dmitry says, successfully avoiding profanity in only the nick of time. "Personally I think it worth talking to the Haighs even if only to let them sweat for it a bit while Nayland's lovely daughter counts wrinkles in her looking glass. Perhaps, if anything, her dowry will mysteriously increase when it becomes apparent they are not our only option … and just imagine leaving them stuck having spent a big pile of gold on grain they don't need." His smile is bright in his dark eyes. "It tastes sweet as summerwine on my tongue."

"No, I don't," Anais replies to Lucienne, turning to look around the table. "What happened to the vaunted Terrick honor? People who keep their word. People who can be trusted to be fair and equitable in negotiations. Or is that only when it's convenient and doesn't require you to change the way you think? Isn't getting rid of this generations old enmity worth more than gold? Isn't /security/ for our children, for your grandchildren, Lord Jerold, worth more than coin? Isn't your reputation as an honorable man worth more than that?"

"We have not given our word to anything with the Naylands yet, perhaps my lady could point out the part which is dishonorable?" Lucienne doesn't need to look about the table, keeping her dark eyes fixed instead upon her goodsister.

"Well, if you want to oh-so-honorably bend over for the Naylands, that is your business," Inigo drawls with a particularly dry tone. "But one marriage would not likely be the end of a generations old enmity."

"You do not end a vendetta by deliberately buying what you do not need in order to leverage it against those who most assuredly do," Dmitry says with a light, easy cheer. "House Nayland does not remotely act like a House that wishes to end an enmity, and it is not remotely dishonorable to refuse to immediately drop trou and present."

"Perhaps I simply don't understand Terrick honor, Lady Lucienne," Anais smiles icily to the other woman. "After all, were my brother in the throes of withdrawal from a drug that was interfering with his ability to serve his family, I would not come to him and try to bribe him with more of the drug in order to claim his power for myself. I'd prefer to actually give him a chance to recover from that addiction. So perhaps, Lady Lucienne, you can explain to me about how /your/ honor works."

Anais prompts Justin to speak up, "We haven't given our word to anything concrete yet, Goodsister. Both House Groves and House Nayland are trying, as my cousin points out, to manipulate us in their circle. As we haven't finalized anything as yet, we do nothing dishonorable if we do investigate other options. I'm not even officially courting. Yet Ser Rutger courts Lady Rosanna and I am given to understand that Ser Kittridge has made it plain that his house is yet considering other options. Such is simply business, as Ser Kittridge himself is fond of saying. Therefor, looking into other options in no way impinges upon our honor. It is merely wise, if we could do so with some reasonable haste. /If/ the Haighs have surplus food enough."

Lord Jerold frowns. It is beginning to put new lines on his face, all this frowning he does lately. When he speaks, his tone is firm. "Lady Anais, you offer a great insult that you would question our honor, my honor, in comparison to the Naylands. I have put my name to nothing but to consider their offer, which is more than they deserve already. I have not promised to agree, nor have I promised to accept the match they desire at the price they prefer. It will do no harm to consider our other options at the same time, and if they do not like it, let them back out of negotiations, and show their true purpose in the process. We will not bow to the Hags of the Mire," he says, even firmer still, "If they wish to see this enmity ended it is for them to bend, and show themselves become better than the faithless, godless men I know them to have been." He sits back, coughing a little behind his hand, and says, "So consider all options. Approach the Haighs, see what terms they might like. Continue negotiations with the Naylands. We are not bound to choose just one or the other, after all."

Lucienne lifts her chin, looking down her nose at Anais. "I beg your pardon, my lady. Would you repeat your accusations for the table?"

"You will all keep civil tongues in your heads," Jerold adds, somewhat sharply, looking at Inigo and Dmitry first, most pointedly, and back to Anais and Lucienne as they bicker. "You will all be civil, and comport yourselves like adults, and noble counselors, and Terricks."

Dmitry slouches a little in his seat, although this is as close as he comes to being quelled. "I apologize, Uncle," he says. His smile very slight, he offers with an air of mild confession: "The Naylands have this way of riling my temper."

"Gladly." Anais lifts her chin in turn, addressing the table. "As I'm sure you all know, Jacsen has been trying to deal with the pain that lingers in his leg. Too much Milk of the Poppy was one of the causes for his latest prolonged bout of illness. In an attempt to cure him of that particular addiction, the maester stopped supplying him with it. He was going through withdrawals. It was not pretty, but I was there with him." She doesn't stop as Jerold orders civility, her words still even. "I returned to the room to find that he was miraculously recovered. He informed me that someone had offered him more Milk of the Poppy if he would perform them a great favor, and that his willingness to concede to that bribe frightened him into convincing his page to get him more of the poppy so that he wouldn't be so tempted. He wouldn't tell me who it was, but as I'd been watching the room and had guards there to make certain it wasn't being supplied to him, it was not a difficult matter to narrow down the possible threats. When Lord Justin informed me that Lady Lucienne had tried to take the seal from Jacsen before, I knew the truth. Lord Jerold, your daughter sought to prolong your son's weakness in hopes of claiming your authority for herself. I'm sorry if that isn't particularly civil, but I'm afraid I can claim no responsibility for her shortcomings."

Justin has gone back to idly sipping his wine and listening. His gaze slides from Anais to his sister Lucienne, and after observing her first, a glance to his ailed father. If anything, the only change in his own expression is to faintly frown as he studies Jerold with concern.

Inigo doesn't slouch, but he does sit back in his seat in a more passive manner, with a wide-eyed look of childlike innocence that is probably false given what he was just saying. But he does hold his tongue, even through all of Anais's words, with a mild expression that gives away none of his unspoken thoughts.

Dmitry arches his eyebrows. His gaze slides to Anais, the upswept look of them slowly becoming a pinch between them suggestive of some internal pressure or pain. Actually he looks a little like he is trying not to swallow his own tongue. It is, at the least, an ambiguous expression on his part.

In comparison to this frown, it might seem that Jerold before had been smiling. He holds up a hand to stop Anais from going on, and the others from joining in, his other hand touched briefly to his forehead as he pauses a moment.

Maester Pyrs is seated at a small table as ink stained fingers are scribbling dictations from the topics spoken aloud.

It takes a moment and a deep breath before Lord Jerold lifts his head again. "This is not a matter I wish to hear spoken of again," he says, quiet, sad, but firm. "I am not unaware of Jacsen's troubles, but this will not be a matter of rumor and scandal for this family. I will not allow it. Lucienne has always been most solicitous of her brother's health, and has as much experience tending to him as any. I am sure that whatever she did was done out of concern and sisterly affection, and I will not have it bandied about as impropriety - if indeed she did anything, which does not seem clear to me. But no," he says again, more firmly than before, "This is not a matter for discussion. I will not hear of it again. What have we learned of House Groves' interest in a match between my daughter and Young Lord Stafford. I am told the subject has been broached with them."

OK, /some/ of what his father says makes Justin's dark brows raise, it not being discussed at all, even among the family.

Lucienne sits tall and straight in her chair to wear the accusations that Anais levels at her, her jaw clenching slightly. It is not a frown that turns her mouth, though, rather the beginnings of a smile as she tilts her head, eyes bright to match. "Perhaps my lady goodsister is feeling unwell, my lords. I am sure she did not mean the grave insult offered." She turns to glance at Dmitry, and takes a cleansing breath. "Cous, would you care to inform Lord Jerold?"

Anais stares at Jerold. Just stares. And then she stands. "No." Her voice is firm, and rimed with ice. "You may be willing to risk your son's health for love of the viper at your breast, but I'm not. Lady Lucienne, if I see you near my husband again, I will have my guards beat you from the doors, and to hell with the rumors it causes. I'll have no part of this blind stupidity." And gathering up the ledger, she turns to stalk from the room.

"My guards do not take orders from you, Lady Anais," Jerold says, sounding, if it is possible, even more wearily disappointed than before, "And I will thank you to remember that. Should you choose to try to act with such violence against any member of this family…" he does not finish the sentence, just shaking his head. "I had hoped you might find your place here better than this, gooddaughter."

Dmitry opens his mouth to speak, and then closes it again. It is not often that Dmitry Terrick is speechless, but here: for the ages, may it be recorded. He stares after Anais with a kind of ridiculous blank look on his face. His eyebrows say, 'did she just—.'

Pyrs raises his eyes from the parchment upon Anais' defiance in letting the subject close. "M'lord Jerold, this matter over the Young lord Jacsen may be resolved quickly and quietly without fueling further discord within your household."

Ohhh, awkward. And not the sort that is enjoyable to poke fun at, even if he weren't being civil. Inigo blinks once, eyes gone briefly wider, before he lifts a hand to cover his mouth while clearing his throat. Ahem.

Justin lifts a hand to rub at his own brow as if his head hurt. "Anais…" but it's too late, she's lost her temper with his father. (repose)

"Yours may not," Anais agrees with Jerold. "Which is why my father saw fit to supply me with my own men. I will note, Lord Jerold, that Lord Mallister's representatives here do not find the truth so difficult to believe. Ser Kamron and Lady Muirenn at least respect me enough not to assume I lie when it comes to matters of my husband's health and safety. But I'm afraid it's very difficult to find my place here when you insist upon treating your daughter like she's your dead wife and has any place here." Yes, the Banefort has lost her temper. In the worst way. "We don't ignore ugly truths at the Banefort, Lord Jerold. We face them, and we eliminate the problem." And the last comes with a pointed look at Lucienne.

"Lady Anais, perhaps you should go lie down before you declare war on my Uncle from within his own house," Dmitry says with a pained, studied mildness.

Luci blinks at that threat, taken aback, but her father responds before she can find the words. "My lady," she says, coming to her feet as well. "If you would offer me insult again, I will see it answered. Your accusations are false and baseless, without evidence, and have no place at our family table."

"We are not at the Banefort, Lady Anais," Lord Jerold replies, his rigid calm strained, "I am Lord of Terrick's Roost, and I have said that this matter is not to be discussed, and so it shall not be. I am more sorry than I can say that you and my daughter have not become as close as true sisters, but I will not bear such talk in my home. And I would remind you that your men of the Banefort are here on my sufferance only, as a favor to you and your father and if you would threaten with them, I will see them expelled back to the Westerlands at once. I will do you the courtesy, as I wish a peaceful house, of presuming that you know not what you say. Perhaps you are with child, and it has addled your wits. I suggest you go lie down, and think better of how you choose to speak to your family."

"Lady Lucienne, I'm afraid you can't bribe me with Milk of the Poppy," Anais smiles sharply to the other woman. "So you'll have to find another way if you want to try to threaten me." She looks over those gathered in the hall, chin rising at the suggestions she lie down. "My family speaks the truth, Lord Jerold. That is how we choose to speak to each other. I'm deeply sorry that your family can't do the same." With a last, disgusted look around the room (of which Justin even gets a share this time), she turns on her heel and stalks from the room. She does at least leave off the door-slamming. They're big doors.

Anais leaves, heading towards the Entrance Hall [Entrance Hall].
Anais has left.

"It concerns me greatly that she is questioning my integrity with those of our liege lord's House," Lucienne waits until Anais has left the room to admit. She takes a deep breath, and measure it out as a long, concerned sigh. "I keep no secrets from you all, and have proven my loyalty many a time. Let us move on, if we might?" Pleading, she looks again to Dmitry to prompt his answer from before.

As Anais takes her leave, Jerold says nothing more, simple sighs, and turns aside to look for a servant to fetch him a cup of wine. But having (thankfully in hindsight) requested their depature from the chamber, he finds himself having to rise and pour his own, heavily watered, before returning to his throne. "Now," he says, striving for a tone that says that nothing untoward has just happened at all and mostly accomplishing it, "Maester Pyrs, you had something to say. I have said I will not hear more of this subject and I have meant it, but if it can be put to rest for good and all, I would hear of it."

In the aftermath of Anais's departure, Dmitry clears his throat, and then closes his mouth again over a hummed, "Uhm," that vibrates against his lips as he sorts through his scattered thoughts like what the heck was I talking about, oh right. "Well," he says, and looks up. He slants a sidelong look at the maester, clever enough to hold his tongue for just a few moments more.

Justin has gone back to his silence, rubbing his brow a bit more before he shifts his position in his chair. Instead of finishing off his glass nor refilling it with the watered house wine, he reaches around to pull out a small flask. A measure of that is poured into his cup instead, and the flask stoppered but left on the table. Justin's probably going to want more of it soon enough.

Pyrs stared at the doors Anais had parted through for a short while, long enough to become momentarily distracted until he is addressed by his liege. "It will do the Young Lord no good to have a dependancy on the Milk of the Poppy, should he become injured in some manner the aid will be futile. Should person's not friends of the Roost may take advantage of such a dependancy. I offer to oversee the young lord's recovery by your permission. I am certain my efforts would temper the Lady Anais and debunk assumptions made against the Lady Lucienne."

Inigo rubs at his jaw, finally dropping his hand back to rest on the table some time after Anais has left the room. He doesn't comment on Lucienne's concerns either to agree or disagree, but his brows draw together leaving him looking somewhat troubled by events. He does turn to look in the Maester's direction, listening attentively to what he has to say. "Was…no one overseeing Lord Jacsen's recovery before?" Just a question, not an accusation.

Jerold looks at the maester, and then at Inigo, and back to the maester. "Your supervision would of course be most proper and helpful, Maester Pyrs," he replies, "As I know your proficiency in the healing arts. I would ask that whatever measures be taken, you take care not to upset Lord Jacsen's humors too much. I would have him able to conduct business still, without giving rise to rumors of his condition." He nods. Yes. This is his opinion. Decided. "Nephew Dmitry," he calls him out, "You were to speak of House Groves?" That was all that needed to be said about Milk of the Poppy, right? RIGHT?



For her part, Lady Lucienne pours herself a cup of wine and retakes her seat, casting a grateful look toward Maester Pyrs, complete with small smile. She has nothing further to add at this point.

Dmitry blinks, with a hint of startle about his expression. Then he nods. "Indeed, yes. We've spoken with the Groves and they are amenable to discussing a marriage match, Uncle. Naturally, Lady Lucienne must have a dowry worthy of her." His lashes fall low over his eyes for a beat as he considers his words, and then he lifts them again, taking a blithe path around some internal minefield. "Naturally, it seems the Groves are most interested in dowered lands to accompany a bride for Lord Stafford. The conversation is only just begun, but I believe an alliance with the Groves at this point is well pursued. Especially if we plan to pursue a loan."

Maester Pyrs nods after a brief look is given to Inigo. "The utmost care will be given, I assure you m'lord." As the topics continue the elder man continues scribbling on the parchment.

Sip, sip. Justin listens and nurses along whatever it was he poured into his glass that spiked it a lot stronger. He is managing to relax somewhat, giving Pyrs a faint nod of encouragement. Then his attention quietly goes to Dmitry.

Jerold nods to Pyrs, "Care and discretion are ever our watchwords, Maester Pyrs. I thank you for your diligence on both counts in this matter." He nods again, and then looks to Dmitry, and then around to those others of his household still present. "Have any of you any thoughts on this subject? Have we anything to gain by a match with House Groves at this juncture?"

"I would be pleased to make match with the heir to Kingsgrove, father," Lucienne pipes up, her cup hovering near her chin. "It might facilitate better terms for a loan. If naught else, we should be looking to secure and strengthen the Cape, with ties such as those." And Stafford is an heir. Lucienne fixes her father with a pointed look.

"Lands seem an extremely expensive thing to offer in a dowry," Inigo observes, moving on with the new subject at hand. "Gold, harvests, livestock and such manner of things can be regained, but the land once gone is gone for good. Unless you start a war over it or someone nearby misbehaves badly enough to get theirs taken away and you rewarded. Anyway, that seems a very steep price for some goodwill and better loan rates."

All right, he'll speak up to answer this question since their opinions are sought. Justin shifts to sit up more in his seat, "Not really unless Lucienne can influence that house's future decisions in the near term. Which is questionable. I doubt we can sway them easily from the bed of the Naylands and I think all they want from us is their former land. It is a bad taste in my mouth to take a loan from them if we can get it elsewhere, under the current circumstances, Lord Father." Justin looks to his sister before he adds, "But, it may be worth negotiating and see before any decision is made one way or another."

Offering his opinion, "We may come to an agreement where lands are given part of a dowry however the Roost should receive a portion of returns from goods tendered on that land, be it taxes or harvest." The maester is still scribbling.

"I believed that beginning the conversation, at the least, was of value, Uncle; in the wake of their deal with the Naylands, I thought it best to ensure that our friendship is not off the table. I do not think it stands well for House Terrick to chase every other House into the Naylands' bloody arms." Dmitry's smile is slight and a little wry. "I believe that our enemies as far that transaction lie in the Mire, as it were. As far as the specifics of what we have to offer to the Groves, that is something to negotiate over."

Lucienne turns her frown toward Inigo. "We don't have any harvests, any gold, or any livestock. Lord Stafford is no teenager, and neither will I be for much longer." She looks again toward the Maester, favouring him with another small smile. "As my dear cous suggests, beginning a dialogue between our Houses is at least prudent, even should nothing come of it."

Lord Jerold… well, he has not stopped frowning, precisely, so there is no need to say again that he is, is there? He sips his watered wine, and listens to the advice and opinions offered. "It is true that I would avoid giving away any lands unless we must," he says, "But at the same time, I would wish to avoid driving House Groves further from us. Had we better relations with them this matter of the harvest might never have come to negotiation. And I do not like to hear," he looks to Justin, "That just because they are considering friendship with others, we ought not attempt to win their friendship for ourselves. I do not condone those who might side with the Naylands, but we ought to do what we can to dissuade them from any such course of action." He sips his wine again, and says, "Let these talks with the Groves continue, at least at present. Let us see what might be agreed upon. If we cannot find terms that suit us and them, then nothing will come of it. I do not believe Lord Campbell will judge us harshly for this, should it come to it." At Pyrs' suggestion he nods, "Perhaps this might be a suggestion to offer them. Our lands but with returns due to us, or better the reverse, returns on certain parcels for some length of time." He nods to Lucienne at the last, "At the least, let these talks continue, that we might encourage friendship between our houses and show ourselves open to such a thing, even if nothing come of it."

Pyrs nods as his fingers take a break from inking down a massive wall of words. "Then a provision in the marriage contract should be included, for in the event of some displeasurable acts, the dowyred lands will be returned."

"There is no guarantee that any Lady would be able to influence the decisions of a House, even married to the heir," Inigo says with a glance at the door, perhaps a little pointedly, and ignoring the frown in his direction. "The very fact that you have so little to offer puts them in a position to ask for what would not normally be given. Which is not exactly a strong negotiating position." He looks as if he is going to continue, thinks better of it. Instead, he nods at Jerold and says, "Perhaps there can be some agreement about returns from the lands. Mind you, I do not disagree that friendship with the Groves should not be sought, nor do I believe they are truly in the bed of the Naylands. At any rate, Lord Kittridge did not seem overly fond of Lord Rutger and his sister's…affections for one another. The Groves would be better as allies than as enemies."

As his words are not taken as he intended them, Justin faintly shakes his head and says nothing else. He finishes off his drink and pours a little more.

"We are in agreement, then, my lords: we will continue our dialogue with the Groves and see what comes of it, as well as make some more enquiries within House Haigh, and others of the Riverlands who seem amenable?" Lucienne lowers her cup as she addresses the table. WE CAN GO FORTH AND NEGOTIATE, NAO?

Dmitry lifts his chin, glance sliding from Inigo to whom he tips his head over toward Lucienne for her summation. "That sounds like where we are to me, my lady," he says. His smile flickers. "I imagine we need not trouble Uncle with too many more trifling details until we have more concrete arrangements to deliver?"

Lord Jerold listens and nods solemnly. "I believe that we are," he replise to his daughter, "Though I will remind you all to keep negotiations with the Naylands on this list. I would not have us be the ones to break them, and should there be something to be gained from concord with the Harpy I would hear of it. And as the tourney at Seagard may bring others from further afield, let us not confine outselves to the Riverlands.

"At present, my children and nephews — and Maester Pyrs — I should like us to focus diligently on finding out precisely what may be gained from any and all houses of our acquaintance. Let us entertain all offers, and hear all terms. And then having done so we may see who we like to make agreement with." He nods to Dmitry, "You may find out our options for yourselves, and bring them to Young Lord Jacsen. Despite… certain differences of opinon… I trust you all to decide amongst yourselves upon the best course to suggest to me, or at least narrow it down to two or at most three options. And then bring them to me if you cannot choose and we shall see what suits this house best." He lifts his head, and shifts his hands as if to rise. "If there is nothing more?"

With all the major topics discussed, answered and dictated, the Maester sets the plume into the near empty inkwell. As it seems, Dmitry is the one to lead the discussions with the Groves so Pyrs directs his tongue to the man, "M'lord Dmitry, if I may, should you seek my advisement I would be more than happy to part with any wisdom I can."

"Thank you, Maester," Dmitry answers with cheery courtesy, dark eyebrows lifting. "I am sure that I will be open to your ideas. The concept you mentioned of returns on dowered lands struck me as an excellent possible compromise."

Inigo just nods slowly while scratching idly at his jaw, in quiet agreement with looking into and entertaining all options. "I have nothing to say that need be addressed here, my lord." He flicks a hand in gesture at Pyrs and Dmitry. "Yes, that might be a good compromise with the lands." So agreeable suddenly.

Lucienne bobs her head toward her father, because she is happy to be dismissed. "Just so," is all she says. She'll wait for the Lord of the Roost to rise before doing so herself.

When all else have departed, Jerold turns to his only daughter, regarding her with tired, sad eyes. "Lucienne, my dearest. This enmity between you and Lady Anais pains me deeply. I would have her be a part of this house, of this family, not working against it. I know," he says, lifting a hand as if to forestall a reply, where there seems to be one coming or not, "I know that she can be difficult, I have seen it with my own eyes. But I would have you try to be friends with her, my darling. Do you think there any hope you might mend things? I know it is unfair to ask of you that you should be the one to do so, after all that she has said… but I know that you are above such accountings, also."

Lucienne turns to her the man she has called father all her life, her own eyes wide and dark in more ways than one. He does need stall her first reply, and she holds her tongue at his bidding. She spends that breath on a sigh instead, her lips pressing thin as she considers. "Father," she says, finally. "I have watched her make enemies of all the women in our House, one by one. I have been patient, and I have tried my best not to earn my goodsister's ire. To hear that she spreads these brazen lies about me to all who will listen is distressing, when all I have done my entire life is for the good of my House. But - if you request it, then I will overlook her insults for the love I bear you, and attempt to make common cause with the Lady Anais for the little time I might have left under your roof."

Jerold listens, his expression the same as it has been many times lately, long-suffering, sad, disappointed, etc., etc. "I know," he says, "And I know she has been unfair to you, and I will be sure, my dearest, that these tales she spreads do not come back to harm your prospects. But the only way I can see to be sure they do not continue is to remove her desire to spread them. I know it is much to ask of one who has already done much, but I know that you are always willing to give yourself to your house in whatever way is needed, and this is what it needs at present, my darling. As much as I wish I did not have to ask it of you, I do. Please try to find a way to make peace with her, and work towards friendship. It will do our house so much good. I cannot have us ripping ourselves apart from within while we are assailed from without."

Poor, poor old Jerold. Lucienne rises, shifting her chair back under the table so that she might approach her father and lay a hand upon his weary arm. "Of course," she says simply. "I will… do what it takes. Whatever it takes, that you might rest easier. I love you so very, very much." Slender fingers squeeze reassuringly. "May I have your leave to go, father? I'm sure you have far more pressing things to attend than a spat between your daughters."

Poor old Jerold smiles at his daughter, and nods. "Thank you," he says, covering her hand with his, "I may ever count on your to do what is right and necessary, I know." He smiles again, and pats her hand, saying, "Yes, of course, you have my leave. I do have many things to attend to," he says, with a tight, tired smile, "I wish all were so easily solved. Good night, my Luci," he says, leaning forward to stroke her hair and kiss her forehead, and then send her on her way.