|Pretty and Feckless|
|Summary:||What's a poor father to do? Jacsen and Jarod catch up over drinks after the first melee.|
|Date:||24 June 2012|
|Desc in poses|
|20 June 289|
Jarod is spending the day following the melee in his tent. His injuries, while hardly as bad as some on the field were left with, still left him battered. He lays on a cot now, awake and looking uncomfortable and bored. His bare chest is peppered with bruises in varying shades of yellowish, blue and black, and his left wrist is bound in bandages. He idly pokes one bruise on his ribs with his fingertips, then winces. As if the fact that it hurts is surprising.
He's alone just now, Rowenna perhaps off on some errand or other. In addition to knightly gear and the smell of leather and metal there's the odd feminine touch laying about. A red dress hung up on a camp chair to keep it from wrinkling, and the faint scent of cloves and lilac, which certainly isn't his perfume. The interior is messy, but there's an atmosphere of rough comfort. So much as a tent can offer.
In limps Jacsen, who takes one good look at Jarod and presses his lips together. "You look like shit," he offers, crossing to his bedside and looking over his brother's bruising. "This is the one part of the tournament I don't particularly envy you - the aftermath. It's all piss and glory on the field, and then you come out to the tents." He shrugs a shoulder, pulling up a seat - it's not like he hasn't seen wounded men before, and as they go, Jarod's not in that bad a state. "Still think you're going to be able to get up and drink like a champion?"
"Eh, I've had worse from a hangover," Jarod scoffs, unconvincingly, in reply. He makes a pained grunting sound as he sits up, though Jacsen's entrance prompts a grin. "Well, at least one, the morning after I fell off the stable roof. That may've been from the falling itself, of course, but it was hard to tell then what was from one and the other. I still mean to piss away some of my coin on a pint or two. I owe one to Kamron, leastways. Good showing for him. Mallisters'll be pleased."
"So they should be," Jacsen says, grinning in response to Jarod's story. "Terricks are proud, too. We've had quite a good showing at this tournament so far." He pauses and glances at the injured man, his grin growing wistful. "That includes you, brother. Even if you don't ride under our colors anymore, we're hard pressed to not count you amongst our own so easily." He reaches over for a quick clap to the shoulder, bruises and pains be damned. "Justin did better than I ever thought he would for his first tournament as a knight."
Jarod winces, and punches him back. Not terribly hard. It's bro-y violence. And he's laughing as he does it. "Aye. Did all right for myself in the joust. Enough to perhaps pay Lord Riordan back for my gear, at least. I don't want to pile up debts to those people." Still 'those people' with a slight edge, even sworn to Stonebridge as he is. "I wish I'd been riding for the Terricks as well. Wasn't my choice to end my service to Four Eagles." He's quiet a beat after that. Eventually, he tries to fill the lull in the conversation with booze. "Got time for a drink? I've still a fair few bottles of that Ironborn mead left. And beer somewhere, probably, though I've rather gotten a taste for squid piss."
Jacsen makes some middling effort to dodge the punch with no success - he takes it pretty good in the shoulder, but doesn't satisfy Jarod with a grunt or a clinch. 'Those people' is noted with a quick quirk of the brow, but Jacsen puts it out of mind quickly. "One day, you'll come back. Sooner better than later," he reassures his brother. Then, after some consideration, he shrugs and says, "I'll take a drink. Though I'll be damned for squid piss. Don't know how you can tolerate that stuff." He stands up and looks about him for likely places where Jarod might have stashed his booze. "Hope you haven't been getting drunk and putting this on," he says, holding up the red dress with a raised brow.
"Fuck you, I look damn good in red. Though I don't quite have the ankles for it." Jarod chuckles as he makes a vague gesture to another camp chair in the corner. There's a keg on it, and cups scattered nearby. They're clean…enough. "One of Rowenna's. She's been playing lady, while I've been playing at war. Don't figure it's any more real, but she's managing to fake it passing well." He beams fond as he speaks on his unladylike wife. "She's getting me some more willowbark tea from the healers now. Tastes like ass."
"Yeah, and pink's my color," Jacsen retorts, putting the dress down to pour drinks into the indicated cups. "As long as she isn't playing Mystery Knight again. I'd almost begun to suspect, not having seen too much of her around you here." He brings the cup back over to the cotside, handing one to Jarod. "I don't think you've got any right to complain of the taste of ass when you've apparently been drinking plenty of squid piss," he admonishes with a grin, clinking cups.
"I'm cultured world traveller with rarified tastes," Jarod says, all mock-lordling as he takes his cup. "So lay off my piss, dogfucker." The insult is light and fond, in an odd way. As for Rowenna, he shakes his head. "She requested admittance to the lists, but the Mallisters wouldn't have it. Nevermind her armor was a gift from Lord Jason himself." After 'Rowan' crack jousting in Jacsen's own wedding tourney. "I think she could do fair well. In the melee especially. But she's trying to live honest now, and so she cannot. Funny, how you're only ever punished for lying when you try and stop. World seems to reward those who just keep doing it."
"Oh, sure," Jacsen retorts in kind. "Drinking piss makes you rarified just like smacking a stray dog out of my way with my cane makes me a glorious knight." He snorts and takes a drain from the cup after a cautious sniff. "When you stop or get found out, whichever comes first," he says with a shrug. "If you live an honest life, you don't have to keep looking over your shoulder to see who's following you about. Or be afraid to get caught up in your own lies until they carry you away."
"You know any men living an entirely honest life, little brother?" Jarod asks wry. "Apart from our lord father, perhaps." He sounds like he admires it, but can't quite tell whether it's a blessing or curse. So he just drinks. "I'm trying to do better. Not sure how well I'm managing."
Well, it's not exactly as though Jacsen's living an entirely honest life. In fact, he's probably living the worst of them all comparatively - but you wouldn't know it from looking at him. He lies easily and shows no guilt at his own sins. "Well, there are degrees of honesty, I suppose," Jacsen answers. "Ranging from somewhere between 'my whole life is a lie' and 'there maybe some things you don't know about me'." He gestures with his hands on either side of the scale. "Best thing to do when one lie fails is to come clean on all the rest, I suppose."
"Aye, best thing," Jarod agrees. Finishing his drink and passing his cup back to Jacsen. "Save another ale, if you please." He shows no particular remorse about making the cripple play bartender for him. He has…bruises. Big ones. Or something. He guiltlessly lazes. For all that he seems to agree with that, he doesn't offer anymore great truths just now. "Maybe Justin's honest." Which makes him laugh, though it's a rueful sound.
Jacsen doesn't mind playing bartender - it's not like his arms are crippled. He pours another cup for Jarod, not having even finished half of his own. "You laugh, but I get the feeling he is," he admits with a shrug. "At least one of us is." That's close to a confession right there, and it prompts a good drink to go with it. "He's a bit of an odd one, but I think most of that's just getting settled back in at the Roost. He's been gone a long time, after all."
"Aye, I'm not so much joking, it's just funny. In a…non-joke sort of way." Jarod does not attempt to explain further, taking his second drink. This one is sipped at a more moderate pace. "It's not the home he left. So scarred from the reaving as it still is, and with your lady mother gone. Seven keep her soul." The prayer is genuine, for all the strangeness inherent in the bastard's relationship with his father's lady wife. "I don't suppose I made it any easier on him. He's home a day and I'm a…discharged asshole who fucks my squire. Or knights women. Or…all those things. All he carried of the place was what he thought of it as a boy of ten. Tends to paint things even rosier than they really were, so it must be a jolt coming back to what it's become."
"I believe the word you seek is 'ironic', brother," Jacsen says with a dry laugh, which resolves itself into a sigh and a drink. "Just a dysfunctional family, is that what we are?" he asks. "Everything's falling apart at the seams and I've not the hands to hold it together. The family or the Roost, I mean."
"Ironic! That's the word I can never remember." Jarod sounds briefly triumphant about this word discovery. Though he falls serious as Jacsen speaks of the Roost. He sighs heavy, looking down at his cup like there's an answer in it. "Justin wants to help, I think. He's not sure how, but he wants to. And Luci's home now, and Anais…she's really trying. I know she doesn't always…I wish she were more…" But what he wishes about Jacsen's Westerlands bride, he doesn't say it. "…she's trying hard as she can and she could do a great deal for the Roost if she was directed at it better. She still doesn't know the Riverlands, or Terrick lands, well as she thinks she does. But she's trying. She wants to."
"You need to read more, my knightly brother," Jacsen says dryly at Jarod's appalling vocabulary, pointing his cup admonishingly. "Confound your foes with your linguistic swordplay." He finishes off his cup, pours himself another, and tops off Jarod's as well, no matter where his level's sitting. "She's trying," he agrees. "She lacks finesse. And grasps too closely to short-term solutions instead of seeing farther ahead, but she's got the brains for it. It'll come, in time. She'll learn."
"The Roost needs short-term solutions now," Jarod says. "Food to cover the next harvest or two, and seed to plant again. The land's still rich, it was always our family's wealth. Just need to get by until it can be made to grow again." His latest drink is still more than half full, but he's happy for the top-off just the same. "Bitch is to figure how to do that. I wish…I'm sorry I can't be of more help to the Terricks now. Not sure I ever was." He smirks. "I never was much in for books and the like."
"No," Jacsen argues, "We have short-term problems that hold medium-to-long-term opportunities should we seize them well enough. The land will replenish if we're able to hold it. Manpower, well, that will take some time. But I'll not use land or marriage for short-term solutions that leave us empty-handed in the next generation. Even if it means being at an immediate disadvantage, there must be a return on investment." He takes a sip, eyeing Jarod. "You will be, Jarod. At the right time. Your opportunity will come, as we said."
"I'm just not sure what the Roost has to offer now," Jarod says, though it pains him to. "Beyond the good Terrick name, and friendship with Seagard, which might gain good marriages for Justin. Or the other men of the house. Just be careful. Long-term gains aren't worth much if you die in the short and can't enjoy them." As for himself, he shrugs. Looking doubtful, but he doesn't comment on it further. "Things are going better with you and Anais, then?" That makes him grin.
"Land and marriages," Jacsen snorts in response. That's pretty much all they have to offer, besides warm fuzzy friendships. "If we can negotiate right for Justin and Lucienne alone, we can build a decent enough foundation and see our people through for a longer period. Enough time to let me recover my wits and draw up longer plans." Another drink of the booze, and he's starting to slowly relax into it. "And see this Stonebridge matter laid to rest. As much as it can be, anyhow. Where'll you go if it falls, Jarod?" He glances up at his battered brother with a curious look. "Well. Better, yes. Or at least, I think they're going better. But who knows, with women."
"If the Naylands lose it? No fucking clue," Jarod replies, as to where he'll go when Stonebridge falls. He sounds less worried over it than resigned. "I'll not bend knee to the Mire. I think…after this tourney, I figure I can make money with a lance. I hope to come away from this with enough to improve my gear some. Perhaps even a horse, though who knows if I can manage that. Maybe I'll try my luck in tourneys at King's Landing, or the Reach, for a few years. Earn some coin, find a way for Rowenna to fight somewhere with honor. She'll never be happy as a pampered lady. We'll land on our feet, I figure. Stonebridge may not, but we will."
Hm. That doesn't seem to be the answer that Jacsen wanted to hear, but that's the way it is. "Meanwhile, I'll be cooped up at the Roost," he says with a forced chuckle. "Trying to play this game when all the pieces are in the other players' hands. And will be for some time. It makes the game more interesting, you know. Frustrating, and delicate, but interesting."
"Father made it very plain he'll never have me as a sworn knight to Four Eagles again," Jarod says. "The best I can likely do is to work as a hedge knight in this part of the Riverlands, once I've a horse of my own. Which wouldn't be a bad way to spend a handful of years, I don't figure, even if it's not quite the life I want. I would like to visit now and again, though." Jacsen's comparison to a game board draws a grin. "You're well suited to play, little brother. Time people started remembering it. You always were…what's the song say about you?" He clears his throat, and actually sings. "The only real man poor, Lord Jerold's produced, Might be less a leg, But can still rule the Roost."
"I told you to let me worry about that," Jacsen says, waving away Jarod's concerns about Jerold. "You're a knight to the Four Eagles no matter what he said, no matter what he did. And I'll make sure you reclaim that title." The singing makes him laugh and wince at the same time. "Good Gods, not that song, and not you singing it," he says, shaking his head. "What's it say about you, hm? You'll find him out whoring at any odd hour!"
"I took an oath to Stonebridge," Jarod says. Whether he regrets it or not is unclear. "Perhaps I shouldn't have, but I didn't see any other way to serve a respectable House, and I couldn't support myself and Rowenna without proper gear. Besides…it felt the…least wrong thing to do, where the matter of Stonebridge is concerned. Maybe I should've just run away to King's Landing, gotten myself out of the damn mess of it." Which he could, now that he has his cup. He's not making any real plans to, though. The song gets a laugh. "That I'm charming and comely and up to my balls in some pretty young thing, instead of doing my duty. Ha. That part still applies, at lesat."
"Then I'll take Stonebridge as my own so you'll be sworn to me," Jacsen says defiantly. "Else, I'll burn it to the ground so you'll return where you belong. Home." But that's all just variations of a conversation they've had before, so he lets it go with a wave of the cup. "King's Landing? You think they haven't got a damned mess over there, brother? They've got exactly the same ones, just dressed up in finer silks. The difference there is that Rowenna won't be able to so much as think of playing at anything close to a knight, or she'll be shunned by all the Ladies immediately."
Jarod laughs. "I didn't figure on going and playing courtier. We'd hang about the docks with the other low-life bastards and wenches and such, and find glory in fighting pits and as mystery knights and…all that bosh. I don't think she'd mind being shunned by ladies if she could play with the boys again, though of course she can't, really. The world makes cages for you and expects you to be happy in them. And it's unkind to those who try and fly elsewhere."
Jacsen chuckles, taking a drink and shaking his head. "I envy you that life, Jarod, sometimes I really do. But it's one I'll never know, and this is the one I've been given. Despite what my wife thinks, I don't regret my life." He smiles and shrugs helplessly. "I do almost always regret drinking, though," he says, peering at his empty cup and looking to see where Jarod's is sitting. "Especially drinking with you. That's when I know I'm going to be hurting the next day."
"Fuck you, I'm fun!" Jarod says with a laugh. "You and Anais should come to Stonebridge sometime." He grasps for a reason for this. "To negotiate this Nayland…betrothal thing. And get a sense of the situation there for yourself, rather than just what people tell you. And…I don't know. Hang about with me."
"The hells you are," Jacsen says with a grin. "You can't even get your ass out of bed." He pours one last round of refills, leaving the container empty. "Best to visit now before it erupts," he agrees. "I've promised to visit Kingsgrove following the tourney, but I've told Ser Rutger that I'll speak with him once this all's done, so I suppose I owe him a call. If they're even willing to continue on the negotiations. They flatly refused to part with seventy-five percent of the Groves surplus, so Gods only know what they're playing at."
"I've no idea what Lord Rutger is playing at. He's not the sort of man I care to spend much time with," Jarod says, drinking deeply of his cup. "I like Lord Riordan well enough. At least, I did when we were fighting on the Iron Islands together. Not sure what to make of him as a lord, truth be told, but I don't figure he'll ask me to do anything against my conscience. Whatever the rest of his family is playing at. A stop in Kingsgrove seems a good notion. They've still got their noses out of joint for how the Mallisters dealt with them after the Rebellion. Might've dealt with the Terricks different over their harvest if it wasn't for that."
"No… no, they dealt with us fairly, from the way I heard it told," Jacsen says, nodding distantly. Of course, he was out cold when that happened, but he's been caught up since. "But I'm looking to improve relations there. As for Ser Riordan, well. I've heard some rumors on him and Anais." Just the memory of which is apparently enough to get him to take down half a cup in one swig. "She swears to me there's nothing to it, but. Well." He shakes his head. "Not to end on a sour note, but I should be going, brother. We'll drink properly when you're back on your feet, yes?"
"I was with her the whole time she was at the Mire. Nothing improper occurred," Jarod says firmly. If he has any other opinions on Lady Anais and Lord Riordan, he certainly won't voice them to Jacsen. "If the Regent tries anything with her, I'll feed his throat my fist, lord or no. I think she figures she's wrapped him around her finger, and that it might aid in dealings with them. Not the way I'd have gone about it, but perhaps it will." It's partially true. And Jarod's not a bad liar, when he's lying for other people. He nods to Jacsen. "Damn right we will. Safe travels little brother. Good seeing you."