|Summary:||When they fail, there's always punching.|
|Related Logs:||Water and Iron Equals Rust; Whose Duel Is It, Anyway?|
|Crane's Crossing Inn — Stonebridge|
|While Crane's Crossing is technically an Inn, it caters to the traveling nobility almost exclusively. The floors around the heart are finely crafted stonework, as is the slate blocks that the firepit is constructed of. The rest of the floor is done in stained oak that matches the few long tables and the chairs. The rest of the main room is furnished with plush couches and seating to entice visitors to delay their leave. A full service kitchen provides food of all kinds as well as high quality ales and wines. Also available are several women to provide hospitality to the lonely or those in need, the quality of them to be beaten by but a few in the Riverlands. A hallway near the kitchen leads off to the rear of the building and several up-scale rooms.|
Kevan is a newly wealthy man, ever since his defeat of Ser Harras at the tilt. He's got himself a room at the Crane's Crossing, a high-class establishment he normally wouldn't be able to afford. Sitting in a chair in the corner, he's leaning back against the wall, feet up and a lyre in his hands, a lyre that is not his own. There's a pair of empty wineskins laying not far from his seat, and he's doing a rather terrible job of strumming the instrument as he sings a tune.
"The Dornishman's wife was as fair as the sun,
and her kisses were warmer than spring.
But the Dornishman's blade was made of black steel,
and its kiss a terrible thing."
While he may not have a feel for the instrument, he seems at least able to carry a tune.
Jarod hasn't competed in the tourney events yet (the joust is not his particular cup of wine) but he's been far from idle. He's bounced around camp practicing for the melee, drinking and swapping old stories with his friends in the Mallister encampment, and just generally making a nuisance of himself. He looks on a slightly more dedicated mission as he barrels through the door of the inn, however. He's been moving at running speed again. Panting, he takes a look around the place. And spots Kevan. And heads in that direction. He plops down in a chair near the hedge knight without being invited, panting, "Wine, please, love," to a passing serving girl. He doesn't even take time to ogle her. Business today.
"The Dornishman's wife would sing as she bathed,
in a voice that was sweet as a peach,
But the Dornishman's blade had a song of its own,
and a bite sharp and cold as a leech."
It's Eyrian's lyre that Kevan is plucking badly, though it's doubtful anyone here will recognize it. But promise to see to her things he did, and so he is… though his ham-handed attempt to actually play the thing probably isn't what she had in mind. "Ahh, Ser Jarod," he calls out insouciantly as he recognizes the man heading for him. He doesn't seem drunk, but there's a certain languor in his tone and his movements that only come with a bit of drink. "Shall I play for you a song, ser?" And he continues:
"As he lay on the ground with the darkness around,
and the taste of his blood on his tongue,
His brothers knelt by him and prayed him a prayer,
and he smiled and he laughed and he sung…"
"Tale's what I came for, so play it however you like. Just give me a moment. I need a drink." And Jarod does gulp his wine when it's delivered. More for hydration than alcohol immediately. He idly wipes his chin with his sleeve after he's downed it. He's neglected to shave for several days, to the point where it's clear he's actively trying to cultivate the semi-beard he's sporting. So far, it's a pretty unfortunate look on him. He's also wearing something new on his wrist, a lock of chestnut hair tied with a golden ribbon. "Heard you got into some business last night, mate. Different versions don't tell it the same, but the words 'minstrel girl,' 'Ironborn prince' and 'duel to the death' came up fair often."
"Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done,
the Dornishman's taken my life,
But what does it matter, for all men must die,
and I've tasted the Dornishman's wife!"
At first, Kevan doesn't respond, as he lazily sings the last stanza of the song. After a moment, he sighs, putting aside the lyre, and nods. "Didn't know who the fat blighter was at the time, and if I had… oh, hell, fuck that. I probably wouldn't have treated him any differently, the arrogant rustborn prick." He sighs, looking longingly at Jarod's drink for a moment but not ordering a fresh one for himself. "And no, afore you ask, I wasn't trying to cut off a piece. I met the girl on my way from the tilt. She offered to write a song about my victory over Ser Harras. That was the limit of the dealings I'd intended to have with her." Not that she wasn't a looker, but Kevan's keeping that much to himself.
"You ever had a Dornish girl?" Jarod asks, curious about this. But he gives his head a slight shake. Stay on point. Right. "Anyway, doesn't look like that's the extent of the dealings with this girl you ended up having. Hope she's got great tits, at least, Ser Kevan. Fuck that, you'd better have gotten a look at them, because if you've agreed to die for her without even getting to see her tits, that seems a very poor bargain to me." More wine is gulped.
"Gods take you for a fool, Jarod Rivers, I didn't do it for the woman," Kevan snarls quietly, leaning forward with his eyes ablaze. "Just because you think with your prick doesn't mean everyone else does the same." He sighs, deflating slightly. "That damned Greyjoy came swaggering in here, throwing himself about and offering insult to anyone he spoke to. Didn't aim to let him have the satisfaction. And, godsdamnit, the wench still owed me a song." He trails off, eyes wandering as silence fills the conversation. After a long moment of almost-apologetic quiet, he speaks again, eyebrow curled suggestively as he speaks a single word: "Once."
"Seven hells, everybody's mad at me today," Jarod grouses, doing more wine-gulping. "Dunno why. None of this is *my* fault. I'm trying to be helpful." The cup is handed back to the serving girl when she passes again. He needs a refill. "All right. The Ironmen are assholes. Fair enough, can't say I would've minded the chance to leave a few bruises on one. You should've just broken a chair over the blighter's jaw, though, if you don't mind my saying so. How'd it go from that salt-swiller being an asshole at a bar to a duel to the *death*?" The bit about the Dornish girl - once - makes him perk up. He's about to ask. But, yeah, stay on point.
Another sigh escapes Kevan's lips. "The girl got a bit friendly, then suddenly there was some commotion about her being a thief. That Greyjoy son of a whore stopped insulting me and started talking about cutting off her hand right there." A foot taps restlessly against the floor. "Truth be told, I was trying to provoke him into starting a brawl and forgetting the matter right there. Didn't figure it'd be that hard, he smelled as if he'd snorted down half a winery before he'd even stepped one foot inside. But I'll give him this much, he didn't ruffle easily." There's a shrug from the hedge knight. "To be honest, I didn't know what else to do. It had gone too far by then to just back down, and I wasn't going to let the fat lech just take her hand like that. So I might have tried to give him the impression she was a lady, and then… challenged him." Kevan snorts, looking from side to side for a moment before continuing. "You've heard the Lady Blackmane stories that've been floating about since the tourney started, aye? Well, it's this girl they were describing. I just… embellished things a bit, is all." A pause "Truth be told, she probably did try to rob him, though I didn't quite see myself. But what's done is done, and what shall be, shall be."
"We've got to figure out a way to fix this, mate," Jarod says, starting to drain his second wine glass good again when it's delivered. Because that's clearly the key to thinking a way out of this situation. "Because the way I see it, this ends one of two ways if you lot go into this duel. One, Greyjoy kills you. Hope I don't have to point out the obvious downside of that one. Two, you kill him, and because you're a sworn sword to my father and they're mean sons of bitches, Balon Greyjoy decides to rain down bloody and awful revenge on you and my family, and as much as I don't mind the prospect of getting to fight an Ironborn or two, that could get fairly ugly. You don't expect this trial by combat'll be honored, even if you do manage to beat him? It'll never pass, if she was pretending nobility. The girl's in a nasty situation however this goes, and so're you."
"Fix this?" Kevan laughs. It's not a nice sound. "And how, wise ser, would you suggest doing that? I seem to recall labeling Malon Greyjoy, among other things, a craven, a fool, and a eunuch. You think he'll just let those insults pass, do you?" He shakes his head. "The girl was pretending nothing of the sort. Those were strictly my words, and I think I made them suitably non-specific." At the mention of family and revenge, Kevan meets Jarod's eye. "Truly, I never meant to bring trouble to you or your family, and I would not fault your father or your brother if they released me from my oath. But…" He shakes his head. "I think worse would come if I didn't follow through. I do have some honor, ser, and I won't throw it away for the sake of some arrogant ironborn prick." Kevan's expression turns arch at Jarod's last. "And you think I don't know that?" Apparently referring to both Eyrian's situation and the intent, likely or not, of the Greyjoys. "Perhaps I'll need some friends of my own there, then, to keep the squids honest." Cue meaningful look.
"I've got an idea," Jarod says, after another gulp of mine. He takes a deep breath before launching into it. "You *are* a sworn sword to my lord father now, and as such you've obligations to our House that take precedence over…well, an Ironborn being a prick to a girl with nice tits in a bar. My father could stop the challenge from going forward, citing that. Plus, this is a tourney. Nobody's supposed to come here looking to die. Let alone an Iron Islands prince."
Drink. "The Greyjoys look to lose face if this goes forward far more than you, fighting with a knight at a peaceful tourney over a nothing slight. It's not real justice anyhow, not the proper sort. This shouldn't have fallen on you. If Greyjoy had trouble with this woman and hadn't been a barbarian asshole who just wanted to slap some poor girl about, he should've taken it to the sheriff or to Lady Isolde Tordane herself, and let them sort it out. That's where it should end up, to my mind, if the challenge can be withdrawn. Look, I know my family's had some trouble on Tordane land of late, but most of the knights and the sheriff and the like are Lord Geoffrey's old men. They're honest folk with a want to keep justice on their own lands. And Lady Isolde's a fine woman, she won't just let this girl be thrown to the Ironborn if she can stop it. And like as she should be able to, she's the Lady of Stonebridge. It's her rule here, no matter what others're working so hard to tell her."
"Aye, so they do," Kevan nods in reply to the point about Greyjoy's face. "So let them be the ones to worry about getting their fat little prince out of the hole he dug himself." He shakes his head. "You're right, it shouldn't have fallen on me, but it did, and I have no qualms about standing for it. Aye, your father could have a stop put to it, if he wants to spit on what honor I have." Honor isn't the be all, end all for the lowborn knight, but pride is, and he's speaking now as much of his pride as he is of his honor. He leans forward once more. "Lady Isolde is indeed a fine lady, from all I've heard. But I'm also hearing it's that conniving bitch Valda that still pulls the strings in Stonebridge. I don't trust Frey justice, and I don't trust Greyjoy honor. No, the duel will go on. It must."
"Forget Lady Valda," Jarod says. Softly. With no small touch of unease. Like she really *might* appear and eat his soul. He clears his throat. "Lady Valda's a Frey to her toenails and I doubt the men in this country see her as anything but. That's the truth of it. The knights and goodmen here don't owe her any true loyalty. If they follow her commands it's out of the respect they hold her dead husband in. They're sworn to the Tordanes, in blood and steel. And Lady Isolde's the last real Tordane alive. They'll listen to her commands, not her mother's. If she has the will to start giving them. I think she does." Hopes it, from his tone. "Honor? You're defending a thief - who's right likely guilty - against a bully lordling jackass who just wants to make sport of killing something. You or her, probably don't much matter which. There's no honor come out of this whole mess, Ser Kevan. It's a poor cause to get killed over, and a poorer one to bring down the wrath of the Greyjoys on the Riverlands for." He lets out a long breath. "Look, I know what you're thinking. You've committed to a fight, and seven hells you can't back down from a fight now, aye? I understand that. I'd feel the same, were it me. But the Greyjoys'll make this bigger than a personal quarrel, you know it, and you'd lose any protection we might be able to give this minstrel girl if this goes forward. Is ruining the peace here for everybody else worth your bloody pride?"
"Unfortunately, I can't say I've reason to share your faith in the young Lady Isolde," Kevan states in reply, his voice cool. There's another long, awkward silence; Kevan stares up at the ceiling for a moment before he's able to focus once more. "I'm no f— well, scratch that. I may indeed be a fool, aye, but I'm not blind. I knew well enough what she was, who she was. I'll not leave a single soul in the kraken's grip like that, not if I have the means to prevent it. You and I both know what they are." The contempt drips from his tone as he speaks of the ironborn. "I'll not lose my honor and self-respect just to court goodwill with a few wretched squids. I'm sorry." There's a pained expression on his face as he considers the situation. "Don't you understand? I can't."
Up until this point, a lot of the stuff coming from Jarod was surprisingly well-reasoned and moderate for a young man who seems to dedicate most of this thoughts to tits, swords and ale. He finishes his wine, frowning, as if considering what more to say. But, finally, he shrugs. And stands. "Can't? Won't, more like. You know what I think, Ser Tierney. I think you wouldn't know the meaning of honor if it spit on you. I think you're an old, dried-up mercenary who somehow bought himself a knighthood, and is too stupid to know what to do with it. Oh, and I think you left whatever wits you had between the legs of that Dornish girl the last time you had your head down there. And you know what else I think? I think that kraken'll have done with you in under five minutes, and I'd put silver on it. Fuck it, bet *I* could have done with you right here and now." He leans forward to give the man a shove. But he doesn't draw his sword, of course. He's looking for a fight of the non-steel variety.
"And you're a damn fool of a bastard, Jarod Rivers, if you're going to throw away whatever honor you have after a man who supposedly has none," Kevan sneers. Scoffing derisively, his eyes flash when Jarod pushes him. "You don't fucking know me, bastard boy. One shared battle doesn't make us brothers, and you wouldn't know what to do with me if we faced each other over open steel. Now walk away from this table before you get a piece of what's coming to Malon Greyjoy." He stands straight, blue eyes glittering and hands clenched at his sides, still speaking quietly even in the face of Jarod's outburst.
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Jarod=Unarmed Vs Kevan=Unarmed
< Jarod: Good Success Kevan: Success
< Net Result: Jarod wins - Marginal Victory
"What's wrong, Tierney? You afraid of a little castle-forged bastard?" Jarod makes to shove him again. "Afraid to hit me? All right. I'll take one for free, then." And then does bring his right fist back and aims a punch at the man's chin. He's working very hard to pick this fight, so he might as well go all in about it.
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Kevan=Unarmed Vs Jarod=Unarmed
< Kevan: Good Success Jarod: Success
< Net Result: Kevan wins - Solid Victory
Kev didn't see that one coming. Jarod's fist cracks against his jaw; it isn't quite enough to send him to the ground, but it does knock him back into the wall, blinking in surprise. For a moment, he stands there, staring in disbelief at Jarod, but only for a moment, as he suddenly lunges at the younger man. He's quick for a man his size; a pair of calloused hands grab Jarod by the front of his tunic, turn, and slam him back into the wall. "Why, bastard?" he hisses in a mixture of pain, anger, and confusion. "What the hell is this to you, anyway? I ought to know that much, if this is how you want to make it." He punctuates his words with a little shove here and there.
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Jarod=Unarmed Vs Kevan=Unarmed
< Jarod: Good Success Kevan: Great Success
< Net Result: Kevan wins - Solid Victory
"I don't like your face, that's what," Jarod replies cheekily, grunting out a curse as he's shoved back into the wall. He juts up a knee to try and kick the man - in the balls, he's plainly not much for virtue when it comes to barfights - but he can't get clear of the man's bigger frame enough to manage it, and he ends up off-balance.
Kevan's been in a bar fight or ten of his own, and Jarod's next move is only too obvious; Kevan crowds the younger man, not allowing him the space to bring up that knee for a clean shot. Jarod's reply is met with a smack across the face from the angry hedge knight. "Enough cheek," he barks, his voice a rasping hiss. "Out with it, and quick, Stranger take you." For the moment, he stands locked in place, arms continuing to pin Jarod against the wall, but he doesn't strike the younger man again. Yet, at least.
<FS3> Opposed Roll — Jarod=Unarmed Vs Kevan=Unarmed
< Jarod: Good Success Kevan: Great Success
< Net Result: Kevan wins - Marginal Victory
Jarod makes an effort to shove himself clear of the big man, but he stays pinned. At the barking, he cracks a grin. A cheeky one, it must be said. "Seven hells, you're a fucking aurochs," he grunts. "At least let a man get a clear shot at you. No sport in this." He winces as he makes another unsuccessful shove from the wall. That slam is going to bruise in the morning. "Look. Talking to you wasn't doing much good, and you had the look of a man who needed to hit something. Figured this might make a better argument."
His eyes still narrow, Kevan continues scowling at the man, until he finally gets an explanation coupled with the cheek. Slowly, the scowl fades. "Sport's for the tourney field, boy," he says. Kevan thumps Jarod against the wall one last time, but this time it isn't intended to hurt; finally, he lets the younger man go and turn away. "Look, I don't need you to tell me I'm fucked no matter how this thing goes." He slumps back down into a chair, raising an eyebrow in Jarod's direction. "Your willingness to let me rough up that pretty face of yours is touching, but hitting you doesn't solve my problems," Kevan remarks, a hint of cheek creeping into his own tone. Maybe the bastard's rubbing off on him. "I'm fucked either way," he repeats himself, "so I'll thank you to let me take the way that lets me keep what honor I do have."
"Ugh," Jarod groans, straightening with a wince and idly poking at his ribs once Kevan's let him go. He seems to be checking for breaks. After a moment, he shrugs. Nothing is obviously punctured. They attracted a crowd during the short-lived little punch up, but it disperses once Kevan sits again. Exhaling in a rush, Jarod falls into a chair across from him. Grinning. "Nothing you could do that'd make me less pretty than you, so I figured it was worth a try." He looks about for his wineglass to perhaps beckon for another serving. And finds it on the floor. Broken now. "Fuck. They'll want me to pay for that, I guess. Anyhow. Look, Ser Kevan, like I said before, there's no honor to be won in this quarrel, and I think you know that. This is no knightly fight. It'll just give the Greyjoys a reason to make trouble in the Riverlands, any way it goes, over some nonsense. But anyhow. I've said my peace. I think there's a way out of this for you that'll save your honor and help your girl, but I'll not do anymore than this to stop a man from going into a fight he picked. Just… giveit some thought. You know where my family's camped." He seems prepared to leave on that note.
"Well, if I truly have no honor, it's not something as needs worrying over, now is it?" It's said in a deadpan, but Jarod's earlier words were close enough to the realm of truth to sting, even if Kevan is doing a decent enough job of not showing it. He does look vaguely interested, though, when Jarod mentions an alternative. "Aye, then, I'll mull it over. I promise nothing more than that, and nothing less either." He pauses long enough to pick up his own long-empty and now broken drinking horn from the floor, before a finger jabs in Jarod's direction. "One last thing. If you're smart, you won't try that method of persuasion again." With that, he turns, ending his half of the conversation there as he grabs his things, his eye directed towards the door exiting the common area and leading to his room.
"I only said that to make you hit me," Jarod replies to Kevan with another of those cheeky, boyish grins. "Worked, too." He actually says it like he's proud of himself. "And I've never been accused of being over smart, so I'll not take your advice. Now, where's that barmaid? If I make her chase me down to pay for the glass, she'll be cross with me." He cranes his neck over his shoulder, looking about for her.