Page 258: Promises, Promises
Promises, Promises
Summary: Ser Jarod and Squire Rowan knock each other around a bit and reflect on what awaits them on the Pyke and after, including the possible lordship of Ser Gedeon Who Would Be Tordane.
Date: 03/04/2012
Related Logs: Future Prospects mostly, probably others
Jarod Rowan 
Harlaw Isle
Somewhere in the Grey Garden.
April 3rd 289 A.L.

While the Army of the Cape is still camped in and around the Grey Garden, there's an air of expectancy now that they won't be rooted much longer. The spoils have near been finished divided - heavily in favor of the Freys and their underlings. The rest of the island has fallen or is all-but-fallen to the rest of the Riverlands forces. And there's word of the mounting invasion of the Pyke, which everybody wants a piece of. Still, it's just slightly more urgent hurrying-up-and-waiting, and Ser Jarod Rivers is still restless to be gone.

He's burning off some energy as the afternoon shadows lengthen with some sparring practice. Blunted blade brought to a reasonably secluded little patch of open field on the outskirts of the camp. There's still that pensive look seemingly etched onto his face. "No rain today, at least," he says, trying for a middling optimistic note. "Seems like the only things that break up monotony on this rock make it worse."

His squire and his lady, Rowan Nayland, the girl-in-boy-guise, stretches and twists, limbering up for the mock battle. She favors a thinner blade, though also blunted for practice — a weapon of razor cuts and viper stabs. "The rain's not so bad," she opines, smiling encouragingly at her knight. "You used to like playing in the mud!"

"That's River mud. Entirely superior substance," Jarod says, and he does crack a slight grin. "Soil here's all rock. No fun at all." He stretches, doing a few swipes at the air with his blunted longsword to get the feel of the rhythms. These drills are more for practice than instruction now, and have been since she returned from Oldstones. As fighters, they're built to be very different sorts of blades. "You should get yourself a proper shield, when we're back on good Riverlands soil and you've some silver to spare. Or at least some extra chest plating." He winks.

Rowan snorts mirthfully. "I mean to get a chestplate custom made, in fact. I think it'll probably give Tym Rivers a laugh — and I doubt he'll mind the commission." She measures him with her slender blade, eyes dancing, dimples deep. "Let's have some fun."

"Not sure I care for the idea of Tym Rivers pounding something on account of your chest," Jarod says with a snort, though his grin crooks up as her blade takes the measure of him. He assumes a defensive posture, for his part. Guard high, long blade held horizontal, to act as a shield itself since he's got both hands busy on the sword. "Let's see how quick you fake Braavosi are."

"'Fake Braavosi' — you wound me, Ser," declares the squire, dancing in for a quick, thrusting strike. "I am only what I appear to be — the very soul of honesty and virtue." And she says it with a straight face, too. Mostly.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Jarod=Blades Vs Rowan=Blades
< Jarod: Good Success Rowan: Good Success
< Net Result: DRAW

Jarod has to take a step back to defend. His sword work is straight and to the point, little dancing involved. He does manage the block, but he can't quite step out of it to press any sort of attack of his own. Her words keep that grin on his face, but don't get a laugh. "You're better for those than most in this world, I figure. Least you're honest with yourself most of the time. Still a skinny little bugger, though."

"I like to think of it as built for speed," says the skinny bugger, grinning right back, twisting her body to make a quick swipe at his cheek — more a move to keep the opponent off-balance than to wound. "And stamina."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Jarod=Blades Vs Rowan=Blades
< Jarod: Success Rowan: Great Success
< Net Result: Rowan wins - Solid Victory

"Oh, I got stamina, Lordling Nayland!" Jarod says, grunting and swinging his blade around to try and catch her skinny midsection. It misses, and causes him to lower his guard, so her swipe catches his cheek. "Fuck!" That stings. Though deeper to his pride than his pretty face, blunted as the blade is. He jumps back, giving his head a shake to try and clear the stinging. "Oh, you'll pay for that…"

She crooks a finger at him, running her tongue over her teeth. "Promises, promises. Going to turn me over your knee?" She waits, ready to move, watching his eyes.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Jarod=Blades Vs Rowan=Blades
< Jarod: Great Success Rowan: Great Success
< Net Result: DRAW

"Might. Wouldn't want to spoil the surprise," Jarod says, before thrusting forth. It's his somewhat typical 'run at your opponent really hard and try to knock them harder than they can knock you' strategy. Which is more effective when one's not anticipating it, so it wouldn't exactly be hard to deflect. Or hit him as hard in return, since he's not taking advantage of the reach his long blade gives him. "What fuck was that called, anyway?" Maybe he means the technical term for the cheek-swipe.

The faux-Braavosi opts for something else entirely — being of the 'best defense is not being there' school. She feints as though she's going to take that big opening in his guard — and along with it, his blow — then spins aside and takes a swipe at the back of his knees. "Two for Flinching," she tells him, laughing — if a little breathy — in her banter.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Jarod=Blades Vs Rowan=Blades
< Jarod: Good Success Rowan: Good Success
< Net Result: Jarod wins - Marginal Victory

Jarod is getting rather breathy himself, though he's not complaining. Green eyes are sharp as they try to follow her movements. Not so much to mirror them with his blade - he's not built for spinning about like that - but to anticipate and hammer any potential openings. "Clever. Real clever. Jokes on you if you maim me, though. What would you do if I wasn't so damn pretty?" He dodges the swipe at his knees, trying to catch her elbow while she's got her arms low.

"I'm so much prettier, I sincerely doubt I'd notice," Rowan quips, pulling her arm in — perhaps in hopes of avoiding that strike — and attempting to hook his leg with her own. Apparently, she means to get muddy. "A little scar or two might make you look less a girl."

"Ser Vernon did say to me, back when I was squiring for him, that my life'd be much easier once I messed my face up a bit," Jarod says ruefully. He doesn't move fast enough to dodge the hook of her leg. So, instead, he lets himself fall. Heavily. And tries to pull her down with him. "Apparently, he felt it got me trouble."

The squire lets herself fall, abandoning the blade for a bit of old fashioned grappling. She endeavors to entangle their legs, so she can leverage herself on top. "So you've told me! Best of intentions, I'm sure — I shudder to think how much more trouble you might have gotten into, without that tiny crook in your nose."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Jarod=Blades Vs Rowan=Blades
< Jarod: Good Success Rowan: Good Success
< Net Result: Rowan wins - Marginal Victory

"He did his best with me, though I'm sure I was a very frustrating squire," Jarod says with a laugh, also dropping his practice blade for more hand-to-hand tangling. He makes an attempt to knee her between her legs. Perhaps forgetting it's not quite as effective with her as it might be with another opponent. Or just having some sort of obscure joke. It's hard to tell. She ends up on top, in any case.

She laughs in triumph, astride him, leaning low to murmur — half a purr — "Isn't it wonderful how the Stranger visits on us what we visit on others?" Ser Jarod certainly got his comeuppance in the difficult squire department. She grinds her hips lasciviously against him, then pushes off him with a groan. "Seven, Jarod," she laments, "you have to knight me so we can fuck. This is ridiculous." Her groaning is good-natured enough, however. She certainly knows she's not suffering alone.

Jarod throws his head back, much as he can, and just laughs. And pants. Red-faced, and not entirely from swinging his sword around. "Reaffirms my belief in the Seven, how utterly much They fucked with me in the squire department," he snorts. He sits up when she pushes off him, looking not a little sorry. "You figure I'm being an idiot about all that, don't you?" It's a question he's probably asked himself several times, and he more sounds like he's reflecting on it than anything else.

Sprawled on her back, just as flushed — and for all the same reasons — she simply shakes her head. "No. Actually. I don't. I think you're being — " she smirks as she searches for a word. "Principled." Smiling as she pushes up on her elbows, she shrugs. "Occasionally I wish you were slightly less principled, but that's just my cunt talking."

"Maybe it won't even matter. I just…I want to do this…right." Precisely what, Jarod expound on. He doesn't even look like he understands it himself, entirely. And on a completely different note he says, "Did you know Jace was in love with Miss Avinashi?"

"Sweetie," Rowan says, sitting up and stretching her arms above her head until her back cracks, "your brother's in love with every woman who's remotely unavailable but not seriously disfigured."

That gets a rueful laugh out of Jarod. Though he can't quite disagree. "The boys of House Terrick are fickle and…something, something, something. It'll be our doom one of these days. Anyhow. He told me before I left for the Isles. Never did fuck her, though. So I guess that still puts me ahead, so far as making the eight is concerned." Ahem. "I promised him I'd look for her on the Pyke. Not even sure how I'd go about that, but I mean to. Mean to look for Maron Greyjoy anyhow, so I figure they might be in the same direction." Smile fades as he reflects on that Greyjoy, and he gets to his feet with a grunt.

"I figure if we occupy Pyke, Ashi'll find us. She's smart," says Rowan, climbing to her feet as well. "I don't think they'd have killed her." She has no illusions about what the Dornish girl's likely been subjected to, however, in lieu of death. She blows out a breath, following the change of subject with a sharp glance at Jarod. "Do you mean to call him out? Revenge for your uncle?"

"Don't know if there'll be opportunity for it. At Seagard, every swinging dick of a nobleman tried to get a piece of the first Iron lord they saw carrying Valyrian steel." Though that's sort of an evasion of the question. After a pause Jarod amends, "Aye, if our paths cross. Maron Greyjoy ravaged the Roost, seems proper to make him pay for it and know he's paying."

"Bullshit," says Rowan, frowning. "He knows what he's paying for, even now. The man's not dim-witted. And I can tell you, he'll not give two shits whether the person who takes off his head shouts, 'For the Roost' 'For the Mire' 'For the Twins' 'For Ser Revyn' 'For Lord Mallister' — he won't. Care. This is war, it sucks, let's get it the fuck over with and go home, Jarod. No grand gestures, no theatrics, no heroics."

Jarod says little throughout all that, save a soft, "All right" at the end of it. How deeply he's absorbed it is questionable, but he's not keen to argue on it. "I do want to go home." More reassuring on that. "There's a good deal of work to do. Even if I'm not sure where I'll be able to put myself to it yet. But I figure, with the state the countryside is in, there's some part of my father's service I can put myself to use in. Lady Evangeline willed Middlemarch to Luci. I suppose she'll be trying to make something of that when the war's settled. And if King Robert decides in Ser Gedeon's favor…well, even Stonebridge'll be ours again."

Rowan eyes him a moment, not trusting such an easy victory… but nodding at length. "There's a lot of work to do," she agrees, softly, stepping forward to frame his face in her hands, stroking her thumbs over his cheekbones. "There's a lot to live for."

"Huh…" Jarod's response to the touch to his jaw is that soft, thoughtful mutter. He still doesn't quite meet her eyes, but he nods. "Aye. There's a good deal of work to do back on the coast. These next years'll be hard. Though if we do gain Stonebridge back…well. That'll ease things a little." He focuses on her a little more easily after that, looking thoughtful. "Rowan…what sort of lord do you think Ser Gedeon will be? If things do go his way in King's Landing."

She frowns slightly, studying him as he ponders and avoids her eyes. The question of Gedeon Rivers — she just shakes her head, as though the question were immaterial. "He's extremely intelligent. He has everything to gain if the people of Stonebridge love him, and he knows this. He'll be good to them — and fair. Perhaps even better than his father was."

"He has everything to gain." Jarod repeats it, not terribly reassured. He mulls that, frowning some. "Not so sure that's the making of a just lord, or a fair one. Sometimes what's better for the land, those you rule or those you're bannerman to, isn't necessarily what's good for yourself in the short. I sometimes think he's wanted it for so long he's no idea what he'll actually do with it if he gets it." His brow furrows, like he's trying to figure something difficult out in his brain. As it does. "I had the strangest conversation with him the other day. He…" More frowning, like he's working out something he finds very strange and somewhat uncomfortable. "…he asked me if I might come work for him, if he does gain Stonebridge."

"Whatever his motives, Gedeon Rivers will act in ways that are good for Stonebridge. He will do all the things a good man would do, and the people will prosper. He's cunning and he's patient and he sees the whole board." Rowan's assessment of the Other Rivers is flat and factual. "You won't be working for a good man, but you'll be working… for a man who may, potentially, do a great deal of good. How much does motive matter to you? How far can you justify quesitonable means for good ends?" She sighs. "If he's smart — and he is — he'll keep you ignorant of anything unsavory he has done or has to do. You'll never know the difference."

"Matters a good deal to me, you know it would," Jarod replies to that. "You think I could serve a man who made me blind to what he did, so long as he wasn't asking me to do…what the fuck he'd want done myself?" He shakes his head. "You couldn't serve him any longer. And I guess I've made a peace with myself not to ask you why." Though it's plainly not an easy peace. "But I'd never seen you as you were when you came back to the Roost, after leaving Oldstones. And I do wonder why, and if he'd do whatever it was you couldn't stand any longer in Tordane Tower."

"Gods, I hope not," murmurs Rowan, closing her eyes a moment as though truly in prayer. "I…" She takes a breath, reflecting, thinking deeply. "I don't think he will. It cost him… and he wasn't expecting that. I think he'll be more careful. And… as a result, a better man. Even if it's for the wrong reasons."

Jarod is silent for a long beat. Just watching Rowan, green eyes no more reassured than they were a moment ago. "I don't figure you become a better man for the wrong reasons. But maybe you become a more cautious one, if you fucked up something bad enough, and you fake it with more care. Still not sure that's something I want any part of. Can't deny I'd like my lord father to have a voice in his hall if he does swear to the Roost, though. I don't trust him, but he knows that, and he asked me anyhow. Thought I might make him a decent castellan, of all things." He snorts, though he doesn't seem entirely put off by the idea.

Rowan studies the stones beneath her boots, lashes lowered. "He loved Geoffrey," she says, breaking it down to simplest terms. "I believe that's why he wants Stonebridge, and I believe that's why he'll be good to it. It… really is the best possible reason to want to be a lord." She glances up at Jarod, apologetic. "But the ends justify the means, with him. That's probably more common among men than either of us would like to think. The ends will be good. It's the means you might not be able to live with." She pauses. "I couldn't."

"I think Stonebridge is the one thing in this world he is actually, honestly about," Jarod says. Not quite explaining what that means, though it seems important to him. "Every man's got it. That's his. I think that's about the only thing that might make him treat it decent once he holds it, but I can't say I'm sure he'll do better with it than your family will, and I don't figure you can, either. But, if he's shit, most lords're shit. So he likely won't be any worse. For my part…guess it's just nice knowing I've got options. Whatever happens on the Pyke and afterward."

The girl squire shrugs, nodding. "You would make a good castellan. For what it's worth." She frowns. "I'm sorry."

"It's what my mother's family did, work like that," Jarod says. Thoughtful. "It's more…it's a thing that calls for more than just hitting things with a sword. Never been called to that kind of thing before, save by Lord Jerold, with the whole Stonebridge ambassador matter. Not sure how well I did at it, but I…guess I enjoyed doing it more than I figured I would. Was surprised Ser Gedeon mentioned something like it." He shrugs. As if trying to lighten his shoulders. "You got nothing to be sorry for. Not sure it's what I want, anyhow, not now. I feel like it might be better for me when I'm one-and-thirty. Bit more ready to settle. Being a household knight's just fine right now. Roots you less to one place. The world is large. I still wouldn't mind seeing a bit of it, if I'm able. There's so much work to be done back home, in just about every corner of it."

"The world will always be out there. I'd like to see some of it, too," Rowan says, thumbing a fleck of mud from his cheek. Not that she's not plenty muddy, herself. "But home needs us now." She hesitates a moment, then suggests, "It's not… an entirely awful idea. You as Gedeon's castellan. I mean, besides that you'd be good at it. You… might be good for him." She shrugs again, somewhat troubled still. "He… doesn't have much of a moral compass. You might be able to be that for him."

Jarod's cheek curve as he grins, when she thumbs that mud off his cheek. "I would want to go home…" He mutters it thoughtfully. "It's funny. I came to resent the place in ways these last years. How parts of it seemed to weigh on me. Was always home, though. Was always a good place, never really appreciated how good until I saw what the Ironborn had done to it." As for being Gedeon's moral compass, he snorts. "Sounds like a pretty shit job, that. I don't know. Like I was saying, I'm just trying to get in my head what my options are. I've more of them than I figured I might, which isn't a bad thing at all."

She leans up to kiss him, fingers stroking the hair at the nape of his neck. "Home is a good place," she agrees softly. "And I can't wait to see it again. And rebuild it. With you." As for his options, she adds, "Just let me know how I can help, and I will."

"Is that really what you want?" Jarod asks it soft, green eyes regarding her in a thoughtful sort of way.

"Go home? Rebuild?" Rowan asks, squinting at him a little, then smiling warm and wide. "Yes, actually. I think I'm a bit more domestic than people give me credit for." Then, more to the point, "With you?" She trails the back of her fingers down his jaw. "It's not home without you."

"It's just…that's what I want, too." Jarod makes a "Huh" sound as he marvels at this.

Rowan nods, head tipped back to watch him marvel. "It took us a little while. That's all."

Jarod can't help but laugh at that. "Just a little while at that. Ha." He turns to pick up his blunted blade. Any attempt at drilling long done. "We should head back to camp proper. We're supposed to get marching orders soon, now that the Gardens' fallen and all the spoils're divided. To the Pyke, m'dear. And nothing after that but home."