|The Price of Secrets|
|Summary:||Ser Gedeon Rivers shares with the squire Rowan Nayland the completely, utterly and totally true account of his adventures in Braavos.|
|Related Logs:||Squires Melee, Grand Melee At Stonebridge|
|Stonebridge Training Field (TP Room)|
|A big field full of grass and sweaty knights.|
|31 July 288|
The earliest part of the morning held some bitter disappointments for the young knight sworn to house Valentin. A strange and painful meeting atop a gravesite up until now unseen. Painful words exchanged and a 'treasure' lost, at least for the moment. It's the kind of morning that makes a man want to whack something bloody. Fortunately for Gedeon, that's an option he has, and the rest of the morning has been spent on the training fields, sparring and sweating and collecting a few fewer bruises than he doles out. When the sun has made its way fully overhead, he stops, worn and breathless. Walking over to the edge of the training field, he peels out of his maile and lets it thump to the ground. After fetching himself a large mug of water, he thumps down beside it.
"Ah, balls…" A slender shadow falls across the spent young knight, the backlit figure standing over him dressed in a brigandine surcoat and wearing a rather fine sword. "It appears I've arrived late." The lad flashes a smile, dark curls dancing as he drops into a quick crouch across from Gedeon. It has perhaps happened, on occasion, that the young knight of Oldstones has been called 'pretty.' This boy rather redefines the term. One could stick him in a dress and he'd pass for a woman; the lighting wouldn't even need to be dimmed. "I've been wanting a crack at you, Oldstones." Not that they've been introduced, but apparently Gedeon's reputation precedes him. Or something.
"Well, don't dangle yours over me, lad, have a seat," Gedeon chuckles, still a bit out of breath, for that first muttered epithet. He offers the rather… well… lovely squire an easy smile as that pretty face and those bobbing curls come into view. "A crack at me?" he asks with another laugh. "A squire wants to take me on… should I be flattered or insulted?"
"Oh, flattered!" assures the squire, grinning. "I'm not just any squire, you know. I took prize at the squire melee — knocked the Crakehall piglet on his arse in two. Finished with the Mallister boy. That makes me the best squire." Boast, boast, boast. He turns and drops onto his arse beside Gedeon, stretching out one long, slender leg and drawing up the other. "That was my Edmure Tully impression. How was it?" He raises his eyebrows.
Gedeon offers a whistle, low and impressed for Rowan's superior squiredom. "Well done, then, lad. Though to do a proper Tully, I think one must needs be wider. You must serve Ser Jarod Rivers, then, if you won the squire's melee. Your knight proved himself worthy of such an accomplished squire, yesterday, even if it did cost him a rib or two. Lord Valentin is a powerful opponent, and Ser Rivers held his own."
The lad actually blushes, shaking his head a touch. "T'was as much luck as skill," he demurs, the humility seeming far more sincere. "But I suppose that can be said of many things." The smile that follows at the mention of Ser Jarod, however — that shows some pride. "Aye, I do. Rowan Nayland. And you're Ser Gedeon," he offers his hand in greeting. "A pleasure to meet you."
"It always is," Gedeon agrees, reaching out to clasp Rowan' hand. "There's no shame in having a little luck, no one gets far without her. Just don't brag about her overmuch. She startles easily. Well met, Rowan Nayland. Ser Gedeon, it is. Gedeon Rivers."
"Ah, another Rivers!" exclaims Rowan, grasp firm and forthright, despite the delicate hands. "Good! The Riverlands makes fine bastards, in my experience. And I never brag," he decries, cheerfully. "I've seen many times the woe and arse-kicking that rains down on the strutting and cocksure. Especially when one is low-ish in the pecking order, as squires are. I hate the taste of crow." He squints at the young knight. "So I hear you honed your blade in Braavos, where you fought with swords thin as needles and walked on water. Is it true?"
"And do you have a great deal of experience with bastards from the other regions?" Gedeon teases with a smirk. For his exploits, his pale brows lift. "Of course it's true. First you learn to walk on water. Then fire. Then the very air, though the high monks of the Braavosian order keep that one a very closely guarded secret. You have to survive three trials and bring them a blood sacrifice to learn that one."
Rowan makes a faint, dismissive sound. Pfft. "Details," he brushes the matter of Otherwhere Bastards aside, dimples on his cheeks. At the description of Gedeon's initiations, he gasps. "It is just as I've heard, then!" He leans in a little, conspiratorial. "Tell me, then — when you sign the oath that you will never divulge these secrets, are you obliged to promise your first-born son? Or your very soul?"
The Oldstones knight leans a little closer to hear Rowan's whispers, and he sucks in a soft breath, shaking his head. "Oh, it's far worse than that," he replies, his voice dipping a little lower. "They've no need for sons and the Braavosi say that souls are mostly a burden. No, what they're after are your three best memories. Leave nothing but an empty spot where they used to live."
There's a quick bubble of laughter when the squire learns the Braavosi opinion of the soul. He looks delightfully scandalized. Dark eyes go very wide indeed to hear of the actual price. "How dreadful!" the lad whispers, sounding as though he's actually considering his own memories, and what he might be forced to remit. "Did you strike such a terrible bargain?"
"Mmm, well, it is a pretty handy thing, to walk on air," Gedeon muses, scratching thoughtfully at his jaw as he recalls his adventure in those wild and barbaric lands, "but then again, it isn't much use, if you can't recall what you're walking for. So, we compromised. I gave them one memory. They taught me how to walk on mist. It's not quite the same, but it serves."
Rowan scrunches his nose, squinting as he considers this. "That seems a fair bargain, I suppose. Depending on the memory you had to lose, and if you had a great many good memories to choose from. Did you?" He tilts his head. "That is to say, do you have a lot of good memories left over?"
"Enough," Gedeon answers, his smile softening a little, "and, as ever, the hope of making more. There is always that, about memories. They do keep coming, will you or nil you. But enough of my adventures, ser squire. It's your turn. Tell me one of yours."
"True enough," says the squire, looking satisfied with Gedeon's philosophy. He returns the smile, then laughs and ducks his head at the request that follows. "Gods be good, Ser, my life's a sodding bore compared to all that. That's a squire's lot, you know. Duty and diligence while you knights get all the fun. It's my sister who's the daring one," says Rowan. "Rowenna. She ran off with mummers when they engaged her to a Frey. Lives in King's Landing now. I'm sure she has tales of adventure and scandal that would blister ears of the Ironborn."
"Knights were squires once, dutiful and diligent and tired and bruised more often than not. And one day you'll be a knight with your own squire trailing after. But mummers. Well. Though I dare say marrying a Frey probably would have taken more courage," Gedeon pauses and that playful smile reappears, "if fewer wits."
Rowan snorts mirthfully. "Hah. Well." The lad shakes his head. "They say she's disgraced — she's a Rivers now, too, by the way. Can't claim the Nayland name anymore. But she's happier for it. We write all the time." He brushes the dark curls from his eyes. "She has a lot more courage than anyone gives her credit for." He smiles brightly. "And besides, she's a smashing success. The play she wrote with her lover's being performed for the King and Queen themselves." He gives the young knight's boot a nudge with his own. "Come, now. Think you're recovered enough to show me a Braavosi trick or two?" He wiggles his eyebrows, then offers, "I'll give you my best memory."
Gedeon tips his head back, his expression one of serious and scholarly contemplation as he considers this offer. "Very well, young Rowan Nayland, proud brother of the smashing and successful Rowenna Rivers… I accept. One Braavosi trick for one memory. But," he holds a hand up, fingers lightly curled save for the index finger which points upwards, "payment, first."
Grinning, Rowan shakes his head. "Ah, but you see, I haven't collected a lot of really good memories, yet. Wouldn't you much prefer I owe you a truly interesting, fascinating, scintillating memory later, than a prosaic and mundane memory now?" He tilts his head, eyebrows aloft. "I leave the decision to you. I live by my honor, of course, so you need not fear being short-changed."
"But those that live by the sword never know where their feet will take them. What if it's years before we meet again? Besides, I have more than one Braavosi trick. Perhaps I can tempt you to buy another one, later," Gedeon replies, unable to keep from smiling as he speaks. "I'll hear a humble squire's memory for a trick that befits his current skill and station. It's the wiser trade."
"Ahhh, you drive a hard bargain… but you know your worth, it seems. Very well," assents Rowan, gazing above the banners of the camp in the near distance, rifling through thoughts. "I would say… my most precious memory is the night I left Hag's Mire for Terrick's Roost." He turns his dark eyes on Gedeon once more, the faint tilt of his lips indicating that the memory is bittersweet. "It's also one of my saddest. That same night, Rowenna fled to King's Landing. We went together as far as we could, and parted where the road forced it so." He sighs softly, lashes lowering in recollection, shadowing his cheekbones. "She was frightened, of course, and cried a bit — Gods be good, I near cried — but she was also so brave, and so full of hope. It was a rare thing to see her like that — looking to the future with some trepidation, but also joy. And painful as it was to leave her, I was going to live my dream, that night. To become a squire. And in time be knighted. Away from the grim ambition of our family." He raises his eyes again. "So there you have it. Joy and sorrow, fear and delight, tears and smiles… hello and goodbye. That's my best memory."
Gedeon considers a moment before he nods solemnly. "It's a worthy one," he allows at length, "and I'll keep it safe for you. Perhaps one day, you'll find a way to win it back. Now, on your feet, ser squire. Let us see if I can match its worth." The blond Rivers pushes to a stand, reaching for his maile again to slide it on once more. He takes up his sword and heads back onto the field to wait for Rowan to join him there.