Page 159: Polishing Your Lance
Polishing Your Lance
Summary: Literally. This is about jousting. In which Ser Rivers of Terrick and Squire Rowan of Nayland horse around.
Date: 22/12/2011
Related Logs: The recent 'Rowan returns to Roost' logs loosely. None specifically.
Jarod Rowan 
The Green — Terrick's Roost
The Green is a large field of deep green grass, nearly flat, that runs along the base of the towers. The road into town runs along the far edge, hemming it in neatly to a confined area where beyond a line of trees serves as a subtle windbreak. This area is most often used for drilling or practice for the guards but also serves as home for festivals, tournements, and another other gathering that might require the space for a large number of the local residents. A well-trodden path winds around the side of the wall and moves towards the coastline.
Thu Dec 22, 288

Morning in the Roost. The Green is a hub of activity at this time of day, as most of the house men-at-arms do their drills before the full heat of the day has set in. The grassy field is populated with pairs of guardsmen and knights exchanging blows with blunted blades, and a fair few mounted men taking runs with lances at target dummies set up to resemble pikemen. The cavalry drills are more stressed of late than they once were. They also draw more of a crowd from the village to watch the exercises. Mostly young boys with dreams of being cavaliers or young women who want to look at them. Oddly not among the drilling men yet is Ser Jarod Rivers. He was supposedly held up at the house after breakfast for some consultation with Lord Jerold, though the precise import of that is unclear.

All geared up to practice, Squire Rowan takes a glance up the way and rolls a shrug, shouldering his intractable horse as the huge, red beast leans into him, trying — as ever — assert his superiority over all things bipedal. Well, all things not him, really. "Ah, well, doesn't mean we should be layabouts, Dragon. Let's have a run, eh?" The slender young man mounts with grace and ease while Dragon stands there, looking as though this is all beneath him. Visor down, lance up, the squire guides his mount to the end of the practice lists, preparing to take his turn.

Jarod does arrive eventually. At least he's taken the time to gear himself so he can get straight to it, armed and armored and with a supply of fresh-cut lances tied to the saddle behind him. He means to be about cavalry work himself today, it seems. First things first, he dismounts and leads his horse over to the equipment area, to get himself a fresh-cut lance. The better to ride things down with. Eyes tick up to note Rowan and the squire's great red horse, grinning. "Look sharp, Nayland! Time to stop lazing about and get to the work of this day, then." There'll still several guards taking their 'turn' at the targets, as it were. A grizzled older man spears his dummy in the face. Breaks the lance, but if that were a real person one can't argue it would've hurt.

The Nayland flips up his visor, smirking and giving his knight a look that — if it were from a woman — could be considered downright saucy. "I always look sharp, Ser," replies the squire. "It's just one of those things I've learned to live with."

Jarod sticks his tongue out at Rowan in return for the squire's saucy look. Blowing a raspberry. It's decidedly juvenile. Though he's onto actual business by the time he rides up beside her big red horse. The difference in their mounts equalizes their height a bit. Symeon is on the medium-sized end as chargers go, though still bigger than most regular horses tasked to farm or courier work. "How was Ser Gedeon handling your lance drills?" he asked, while the pair of them wait their turn at riding things down.

Rowan lifts a shoulder in a shrug. "We didn't do much of that. The joust isn't Ser Gedeon's strong suit. We concentrated on bladework." He keeps his vision steady and ahead as he watches the other knights drill, tall in the saddle, shoulders set. "So this should be interesting."

"Huh." The sound from Jarod is not-quite-approving, though it doesn't seem aimed at Rowan. His actual commentary is on the professional end of things, though. "That surprises me a bit. Though I suppose he learned very different priorities in fighting in Braavos. Still. The lance is a style of combat that doesn't favor size so much. More down to handle your horse, and your accuracy. And that monster of yours'll be an advantage against the average man-at-horse. It's also how you can make a bit of coin, if you're not sworn to a House or other source of employ directly. Purse is always small in the grand melee at tournaments. Even a mediocre jouster can win more than he loses, which is all it takes to keep yourself fed. Better ones can do quite well."

"I think," says Rowan, "since I had the dumb luck to win a joust already, we were readying me for a melee in the immediate future. So I could make good my deal with my cousin." He scritches up beneath his coif a bit, grimacing at an itch. "Or at least allow me to redeem myself for my last showing."

"Maybe that was it." Jarod still sounds a bit not-quite-approving, but he doesn't seem keen to air his opinion on Gedeon's training techniques. "We'll do dedicated blade work tomorrow, then work out a more mixed schedule that can still get you polished for a grand melee while covering a bit more ground. As it were. Today, I think, focus on things horseback. After me." That's the signal, apparently, that it's his 'turn' at the targets. Jarod clicks his tongue and moves Symeon into position to take a run. Adjusting his posture in the saddle, and sliding his lance into position for spearing purposes.

Rowan flashes a smile, watching fondly as his knight moves into position. The boy's dark eyes are careful, though, and canny, taking the measure of how Jarod holds the lance and shifts his weight. Mental notes. One can learn much by watching, after all.

<FS3> Jarod rolls Animal Handling: Good Success.
<FS3> Jarod rolls Spears: Good Success.

Jarod shows improvement, or at least more polish, in his form with the lance than he tended to when Rowan had occasion to see him do this sort of thing on a semi-daily basis. Perhaps he's been putting in some extra work at it. His lance is tipped low as he rides toward his target, as this isn't tourney jousting properly he's practicing. But the actual act of mounted combat with an opponent afoot. Which isn't a pretty business for a single footman, usually. The dummy certainly doesn't fare too well, as Symeon thunders toward it with a good deal precision. Lance hits its shield square, and hard enough to knock the post holding it out of the ground. So it topples. Jarod skirts his horse quickly about so he doesn't trample it, leaving it for a couple of pages to put back up again while he rides back toward Rowan.

"Woo!" shouts Rowan, pulling off his gauntlets to properly applaud that showing. "Fuck me, Ser! That was well-done." He grins, pulling his gauntlets back on and adding in a quieter voice when Jarod nears, "I remember when you weren't very good at that, at all. You're fantastically improved."

Jarod grins broadly as he pulls alongside Rowan again, sitting rather higher in the saddle at the compliment. "Well, if I do end up on the tourney circuit I'd prefer not to lose all my money inside a month. Besides…the joust always seemed more Jaremy's thing. Felt like I shouldn't be…I don't know." Shrug. He clears his throat. "Anyhow. It's more down to coordination than anything else, and Symeon and me have been men-at-arms together a good long while. I think he likes doing it more." He lays a fond hand on his brown charger's neck. "Give it a go. Angle your shaft to try and hit the chest area, or near the shoulder holding his shield. That has a good chance of knocking a man down and disarming him. Not that this is perfect combat practice, of course. Man ahorse always has the advantage over a single man on foot. Pikemen tend to fight in formation. Equalizes things somewhat. Still, we prepare as we can."

Rowan grins as Jarod preens a big. "It looks good on you, Ser," he says, before listening up for instruction. A smirk tugs his lips sideways. "Right, then. Here goes nothing." He flips down his visor and guides a snorting, impatient Dragon into position. He lowers his lance and makes his charge.

Jarod settles in to watch Rowan at riding target practice, observing close. He's quite curious how the squire's form has come along since they last did this together.

<FS3> Rowan rolls Animal Handling: Good Success.
<FS3> Rowan rolls Spears: Failure.

Dragon? He knows what he's going. He likes this part. The horse surges forward, muscle and speed and spite, teeth bared. Rowan keeps a good seat, one with the impressive beast, angling the shaft as they approach the target —

And FUMBLE! Somehow the squire loses control of the lance completely, dropping the thing even before he gets a change to hit the target. He stops abruptly and Dragon rears back impressively on his hind legs before settling to all fours, then dances round. Rowan puts up his visor, laughing and flushed as the other men laugh and jeer. "Fuck you all," the boy calls merrily. "These hands are meant for more delicate things." And he winks at one of the village girls, just in case his point be missed.

Speaking of that missing point, one of the pages helpfully retrieves the fallen lance, and Rowan returns to position. His grin becomes a grimace of chagrin. "Right. I know. You said 'angle' not 'mangle.'"

Jarod actually does a lot of approvingly nodding as he watches Rowan's approach on that beast of a horse. Not bad, riding-wise. The fumble, however, earns a wince. His eyes narrow thoughtfully, like he's trying to place precisely what went wrong. Though he joins in the laughter at Rowan's theatrics. And gets a kick out of the winking at the village girls. Two of whom promptly start arguing over which one of them, precisely, the pretty young squire winked at.

The 'mangle' play on words earns another chuckle from Jarod as Rowan rides up to join him again. "It's a different sort of job, trying to hit a target lower to the ground than you, than jousting a man also on horseback. Got to be a bit more flexible in your approach than just pointing the lance straight ahead and riding really hard and fast. Still, your form's good. And you kept control of your mount during that little bit of theatrics. Got the coordination with your horse, just need to drill on the accuracy. Take a few more passes at the dummy, until you break your lance." Which, theoretically, implies having hit something with it. "After that, if you like…" His grin curves. "You can have a go at me if you want. In a more proper jousting style. That I figure you'll actually fare better at, as you're more used to it. Besides, Lord Ser Anton said practicing against dummies was bollocks. Just like sparring, got to have a proper rider against you if you want to measure yourself accurately."

"Well, who wouldn't want a go at you, Ser?" grins the squire, a bit wolfishly. But he has a lance to break, first, so down snaps the visor once more and the lad brings his horse 'round, trotting up to the mark. He takes a deep breath, then lets Dragon handle the charging, concentrating more on the lance.

Jarod gets a laugh out of Rowan's remark, though it's perhaps no accident he's not looking at the squire as he barks it off. He turns his mount about, riding farther down the field, where there's an area set up for more formal jousting practice among the knights. It's not so far off that he can't watch, though, which he turns about to do once he's parked his courser.

<FS3> Rowan rolls Animal Handling: Good Success.
<FS3> Rowan rolls Spears: Success.

Letting Dragon have his head proves to be just the thing, giving the slender squire leeway to concentrate entirely on the lance. This pass, he strikes the dummy square and center — nothing so fancy as the shoulder to disarm the wooden brute, but there's no question a hit like that would put any man, ahorse or afoot, straight on his arse. Whooping at his success, the Nayland lad leans down to pat Dragon's neck and murmur a few words of praise — though by the way the beast struts, it scarcely needs any affirmation.

Jarod doesn't whoop, but he does nod in solid satisfaction at that. "Much improved. Give it a month's work, and we'll see if you can do that every time." He sounds like he's very much looking forward to it. "Get a fresh lance and take the spot opposite me." He points down field with his own wooden implement. The little track is set up so they can take a good run at each other. "Let's see how we both do against something less stationary." He winks.

The same, helpful page — a skinny boy and small, probably seeing something of hope in the squire's performance — runs up to supply a new lance. Rowan thanks the boy with a big dazzler of a smile, then rides over to face his knight, as instructed. "I'm even better with a moving target!" boasts the squire, cheerfully. Win or lose, he might as well have fun with it. "Just ask that Frey!" Down comes the visor, however, when banter time if through, and he readies himself.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Jarod=Body+Spears Vs Rowan=Body+Animal Handling
< Jarod: Good Success Rowan: Good Success
< Net Result: DRAW

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Rowan=Body+Spears Vs Jarod=Body+Animal Handling
< Rowan: Good Success Jarod: Great Success
< Net Result: Jarod wins - Solid Victory

"I am no Frey, Lordling Nayland," is Jarod's reply to that, wide grin still on his face as he hunkers down. And they're off. Symeon may not quite have Dragon's size, but he and his knight have been doing this together long enough that they're near-perfectly in synch with one another. So they come on fast, and Jarod's aim is square at Rowan's shield. He tries to keep his own shield raised with his other hand, to catch whatever the squire has for him. It's a more complicated dance than the more down-and-dirty charging at faux-pikemen.

It's a fine pass on the part of both riders, though Jarod's experience and bond with Symeon make him more nimble, able to avoid Rowan's lance while the squire takes Jarod's on the shield. The blow is jarring, but the boy remains expertly ahorse. Once more the sparring pair ride to their places, Rowan giving Dragon's neck another pat of praise.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Jarod=Body+Spears Vs Rowan=Body+Animal Handling
< Jarod: Great Success Rowan: Success
< Net Result: Jarod wins - Crushing Victory

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Rowan=Body+Spears Vs Jarod=Body+Animal Handling
< Rowan: Success Jarod: Good Success
< Net Result: Jarod wins - Solid Victory

Jarod almost pulls his horse to a stop when his lance jars off Rowan, fully expecting that pass to do the squire. But it doesn't. Which makes his grin break into a beaming smile. "Guess it wasn't just luck against the Frey. Second pass!" And back to the starting gate he goes. Though he has to wait for the page to fetch him a fresh lance. He broke his that turn. When they're both in position again…off! For all that Ser Rivers can often come off as favoring brute force, in this he makes an effort at precision. Tilting his lance just a touch, to try and hit Rowan's shield in a way that'll fling her sideways. If it catches the squire hard enough. It's the sort of thing that'll either do precisely what he intends or miss just a little and end up no more than a glancing blow.

Sideways? Flung. It's an expertly landed blow, equal parts power and finesse, and the squire goes flying in an arc, landing square on his back and quite a ways away. Ow. Dragon looks irritated to have been relieved of his rider — it's not like HE can carry the pointy thing — and steps over to have a look at why his person is all sprawled on that ground like that. Rowan, meanwhile, is making he strangulated sounds of someone with the wind knocked from them, desperately trying to get their breath.

"Huh!" Jarod blinks, turning his head in the saddle as that thing he tried pretty much works. The sound's a mix of satisfaction and half-surprise that time. Though any celebrating he does is short-lived. He did just fling his squire around rather hard. He reins Symeon in, dismounting, and going to kneel by the pretty Nayland. "Rowan? Rowan, you all right?" His green eyes are a touch wide with concern.

There's another strangled wheeze but some rapid nodding — just a second. The lad's hands fumble to remove his helmet, finally yanking it off and letting is roll aside. The face beneath is beet red, almost purple, eyes streaming — but the full and expressive mouth is set in a rictus of a grin. It looks pretty terrible, but it's all meant to be reassuring. Honest.

"Anybody… see who was driving… that cart?" the squire finally chokes out, then rattles a grisly bit of laughter. Moment by moment he cab breathe more and more — it's less than a minute from hitting the ground to the first full breath, but of course when one can't breathe, it feels like forever. "Fuck," Rowan laughs less like a corpse, pushing up on his elbows. "Nice trick."

The grin is not reassuring, but Jarod has at least had the wind knocked out of him enough times to recognize that he's done Rowan no permanent damage. He lets out a breath of relief. It's more concern than he ever showed for the knocking around he gave his boy-squire back when he thought Rowan was that, admittedly. Still, he manages not to wince too much. "Used to watch Lord Jason Mallister practice stuff like that." He snorts. "That didn't really resemble the things he did. Getting better though, I guess. C'mon, up up." He straightens on that note, offering a hand down to assist in the upping.

Rowan grabs the hand and hauls himself to his feet, taking a deep breath. Breathing is gooood. Yay, air. "Right, then. Again?" he asks cheerfully. Dragon, bored and ignored, tries to nip the squire's shoulder. Quick as a wink, the Nayland lad has the big brute by the bridle, hauling his head down to look him in the eye. "You remember what happened last time you bit me?" The big horse paws the ground and looks sullen. "Right. Don't be a dick." He gives the horse a friendly shove.

"Again?" Jarod laughs, shaking his head, clasping Rowan's hand as the squire gets to his feet. "Aye. Sure. Let's give it a go. Still some good drilling time left in the day." The scrappy quality was always among his favorite features of Squire Nayland. He goes to get back up on his own rather more patient horse, swinging easily into the saddle. And sending a page to get a couple more fresh lances. Though before properly starting again he says, "Good to have you back, Rowan. I missed you."

"Thank you, Ser," says Rowan, mounting restless Dragon. A big, warm smile is sent Jarod's way. "I missed me, too."