|Summary:||Ser Jarod goes in search of Lady Liliana. It starts out one way and ends up another.|
|Related Logs:||Stragen wants a new job: Crab Apples. He doesn't really get one: Guardians and Enemies of Virtue.|
|Roof Terrace — Four Eagles Tower|
|This is open to the air except for the rookery at the opposite end of the open walkway. Parapets and crenelations are about.|
|30 Aug 288 AL|
Jarod is wandering the tower in search of one Lady Liliana Camden. Not precisely a common occurrence for the Captain of the Guard, but such is his mission today. His wandering eventually takes him up to the terrace.
It seems Liliana has finally managed to escape the hustle and bustle of the castle proper, stealing away to the terrace for time and quiet enough to continue working on the wedding gift she and Elise, her handmaiden, have been preparing since the betrothal was announced. And so they continue, seated at one of the tables close to the wall, Elise spinning the thread, Liliana holding the spindle.
Quarry spotted. Though Jarod does not immediately approach. He looks left, looks right, as if taking a lay of the land for possible dangers. Or just on-lookers. Finding none, toward the women he heads. "Lady Liliana." The greeting is friendly, paired with an easy, boyish grin and a bow that flourishes his swordbelt sash gallantly as he straightens again. It's probable he practices that - a great deal - in the mirror to get the motion just right. "Mistress Elise. A good day upon you. I hope it's treating you fairly." Though he chatters with both, it's plain Liliana is the focus of his attention. "I was hoping we could talk briefly, my lady, if you've a moment to spare."
Dear Elise erupts into a fit of giggles as she's greeted so gallantly by the Ser, every inch the young woman enamoured of the stories of fabled knights that she is. "Ser Jarod. I'm well," comes just after the giggles. Liliana, for her part, rises, offering a polite curtsey to the Captain of the Guard, before she reclaims her seat, "Of course, Ser Jarod, and I thank you for the courtesy. My days fares as well as it might. I have not yet lost a finger or an eye. What is it that you needed to speak to me about?"
Jarod's grin might crook a little roguishly at Elise. It just might. But that is a matter he'll table for the moment, if he has any ideas about it. Attention is back on Liliana, expression rather more moderate, though still friendly. Her reply gets a chuckle out of him. "Nor have I, my lady, and all four limbs, nose, ears and other vital parts still attached, so I can't make any complaints about the day's treatment of me yet." The banter is easy enough, but he hesitates in getting to the meat of his mission. "My lady…umm." He clears his throat. "Master Stragen's just been to speak with me about some…concerns he had about his service to you. Can you…umm…take a guess as to what he might've said to me?"
Bright red, Elise sees fit to hide her face, sneaking a glance at her lady, before she busies herself with her work. Her lady does not seem so enamoured of the knight. But neither is her mood unpleasant. It simply is what it always is, Liliana's calm, quiet mien, spiced only lightly with her good humour, "Yes, I am certain if it were not so, the word would have been well around the tower." As for Stragen, Liliana lifts her shoulders, "In truth, I have no way of knowing what he might have said to you. He prides himself on his ability to craft his lies. However, if he did go to speak to you, quite likely he went to you to do what I bid him to do. Speak to you about finding some other work to do within the Tower that pleased him better than having to trail around after me as my sworn."
"Yes! That is it, precisely," Jarod says, rather relieved he didn't have to say it himself. In probably more blunt fashion. "Which he can be tasked to simply enough. Can never have enough men to watch the dungeons or the gates or the hall, and my lord father still needs more swords out for the border patrols than we did in better days. If you've need of a body guard around town or what have you, I'll have Master Denmus freed from some of his daily assignments so he can go with you." Denmus is a guardsman of about forty-five years with a merry wife and, as of this spring, his first grandchild.
"Ser Jarod, Stragen Stone is your man, and not mine. He was tasked to be my retainer at your leave. If you wish to assign him elsewhere that is your right, and I will not begrudge you. I am certain Master Denmus will be quite suitable. He has a boisterous family, and has long served the House, or so I recall. I wish Master Stone only the best in his new tasks. Certainly he was not happy in my 'employ', such as it was. And while I wished we could come to an understanding, it was not a situation that would have ended well for either of us." Liliana's tone remains calm and pleasant. She's certainly got her court face on.
"This is all true. Very true. Wonderful. Good. Great. This'll work out well for everyone. Much thanks for your time, my lady, and I'll just be…" Jarod seems happy to have gotten through this without having to say anything unduly embarrassing to himself. He hesitates in actually taking his leave, however. "…my lady. If I could speak plainly for a moment. Meaning no offense, and understanding it's just between us. Seven knows my lord father doesn't know all of my private dealings and is a happier man for it, I'm sure. But. Umm." He does some constructive throat-clearing. "Master Stone seemed concerned you and he were growing more…familiar than was strictly good for either of you. Mind you! He was clear nothing improper had happened but…well…" He flounders for how precisely he wants to go on.
Liliana's shoulders lift, a light shrug, the only evidence, perhaps, of the sadness the courtly mask hides, "I wished only for a friend, Ser Jarod. A true friend. Not a retainer concerned only with parroting back my words and waiting at my whim. Nor someone of the court, more concerned with fighting for position and favour in the eyes of your Lord Father and your family. Nor a lady of the court as concerned with setting herself in best position as in finding ways to diminish the other ladies around her. There are many privileges to being noble born, as I am certain you know. But it comes at a cost. I do not belong even to myself. But to your Lord Father, to mine own, to my Lord Uncle, to be sent here or there, wed or left unwed at their whim. Only a friend with whom I could share my thoughts and dreams and hopes, without fear of retribution or betrayal. I had thought, that perhaps, being that he was not already mired in the intrigues of the noble courts, that Master Stone could be that friend to me. But he made it quite clear to me that he wished no such friendship with me. And he has done as was best for him. And I wish him all happiness. But no, nothing improper occurred between us. And as I told Master Stragen, if anyone feels cause to question that, they may feel free to call the maester. I will submit to his examination."
"None of us belong entirely to ourselves, my lady. We all serve someone in this world, high or low. And just pray we're not badly done by them." Jarod shrugs. "Though nobility, far as I've observed, seems to come with a more gilded cage than I'd prefer for my own lot, so I've never mourned my lack of it much. As to that." Another shrug. "I'm not here to 'examine' you, Lady Liliana, whatever that means. I've no cause to slight anyone's conduct, and this is really none of my business. Whatever it is. I will say, from my own experience, friendship between men and women can become very complicated. Even if they stand as equals in the world, and especially if they do not. Whoever they are, though, I figure they never really stop being men and women."
"I am certain you would know better than I, Ser Jarod. I have no experience such as yours. And there was no 'this' between Master Stone and myself. But I do thank you for your wisdom. I will be certain to remember to keep to my place, and to curtail my desires for things which are not in keeping with my station and my place within your House, lest I bright shame on your name or on your Lord Father's. I am not a woman given to putting my hand twice into the flame, having learned once the pain of burned flesh. You do not have to worry on that count."
Jarod sighs heavily. "I'm making a muck of this, aren't I?" It's muttered more to himself than to her. "It's Master Stone who's worried, my lady. He cares very much for your reputation, and what…whatever might do to damage it. And he's concerned for himself, I've no doubt, as if anyone gets the wrong idea about the pair of you he's done in terms of getting honorable work in service to a good House. Look. Just…assure him you want nothing more from him than simple friendship and I suspect he'll calm down some. I do happen to think men and women can be friends, so long as they remember that it's…complicated." He's blushing a little even talking about it.
"There is no need for me to extend my assurances to him. And, from what you say, it would only do damage to him and not good. He has done as I told him he should. And he is still well-placed in the House. I am of the opinion that it would be best to leave it at that. He has aked to go his way and he has been given leave to. He is quit of me and perhaps well he should be." Liliana's hands, still holding the spindle, finally settle back into her lap, as Elise finishes spinning out the rough homespun thread, "Perhaps men and women can be friends, Ser Jarod, but clearly not that man and this woman, and that is by his own word. He wished nothing to do with me, and I respect him enough to give him what he wished for. You have no cause to feel poorly about having to be the bearer of this news. It was not a true surprise to me."
"Perhaps, my lady," Jarod says with another shrug. "That's likely a good way to look at it, or at least easier for the pair of you. Well. No harm done, in any case. You've still good reputation here, Stragen still has a job, and can still tell me his wild Vale tales and do occasional brute force for me as needed. All's well that ends well." Again, he seems about to leave it at that. And, again, he doesn't. "Are you very lonely here, my lady?"
Liliana hands off the spindle to her handmaiden, Elise wisely staying right out of it, save to prepare more fibers for spinning, "Does it matter, Ser Jarod, whether I am lonely or not? Truly? As you said yourself, we all serve someone in this world, and if the service is sometimes onerous to us, it does not make it any more necessary to perform the duty that has been given to us. Your Lord Father has assured me that I still have a place here. But I think…perhaps that will not be so for much longer. Your House is changing, and I think there will be little place for House Camden here, as the Banefort comes to the Roost. So perhaps this is but a taste of the days which are coming for me. But I have had a good nearly three years here, in your Lord Father's keeping. And when the time comes for me to depart the Roost, I will carry only fond memories of my time here."
"Very plainly matters to you, if I may say, Lady Liliana, if your need of company - I mean nothing improper, mind! - in Master Stone is any indication." Jarod does some more of that shrugging. "Nobody wants to be alone in the world. I don't imagine I'd feel quite right in my own skin at your Tall Oaks, either, though the folk of yours I've met are kindly enough. It's just a very different place, and very far away. Though as the the changing world…I suspect, my lady, that at present Terrick's Roost needs all the friends we can get. The Naylands still nip at our borders and while we hope the alliance with Banefort gains us back some strength, we still need to remake some of the ties that're fraying in the Riverlands. But that's all highlord politics, and rather beyond me."
"And well have I been reminded, by Master Stragen and by yourself, Ser Jarod, that indulging in such things as the need to abate what loneliness I feel is not a welcome thing. It was a hard lesson to learn, but trust that it has and will be taken to heart. Whatever I might feel my needs may be, they have no weight, compared to the needs of this House or my own, and I will not seek to indulge again." Liliana does not take up the spindle again, preferring, for the time being, to fold her hands into the folds of her skirts, though whether to hide them, or to still their slight shaking isn't readily apparent. "Perhaps you would feel the same, if you were to come to Tall Oaks. Our ways are not your ways, and you would be far from your family and those you have known for long years through your life. Certainly my Lord Uncles think kindly of your House. Ever have we been peaceful neighbours to you. I do not imagine there will be a move to change that. What can be done to repair your dealing with the other Houses…that is not my place to say."
"I'd feel very poorly, my lady, if the lesson you took from this is that you couldn't have friends here," Jarod says, tone half-apologetic. "Anyhow. The matters with Stonebridge and the Naylands is what it is, I figure, nothing but time can really change it. One way or the other." He does sound a touch worried. He has not particular skill at hiding his own feelings. "I do worry for my lord father, and particularly my brother Jaremy these days. But all I can really do is serve them as well as I'm able and hope I can do some good by them. What's Tall Oaks like, you don't mind my asking? From your own account. I know something of it, both from reputation and from what your kinsmen said while they were here, but that's not really like hearing it from one who's missed it these years."
"Lessons are not always pleasant ones." But Liliana will say nothing more of it, turning her attention instead to other topics. "Lord Ser Jerold is a good man, and strong. And there is much of him in Lord Jaremy. But I think….your lord brother feels a need to measure himself against his brothers, yourself included, against his Lord Uncle, his Lord Father and not find himself falling short. He has fought no battles, won no wars. You are a knight blooded in battle, and your lord brother Jacsen saw his own fair share of war and spent years in the service of one of the great houses of the kingdoms. I believe, that he is desperate to feel up to the task of being heir to the Roost, and that desperation has made him reckless." An easy shift from the topic of family of one kind to family of another, "It is beautiful land. Warm with the summer in the area that borders yours, dusted with summer snows at the far borders. Rich with game and forest birds. Beautiful as only a forest can be. Cool under the leaves, but welcoming. We have yet a weirwood in our godswood, and our heart tree has long watched over us, though we have always kept a place for the Sept, for those who believe in the Seven. Our maester has the run of a particularly well-disposed rookery, with enough ravens to rival the great houses. Though our isolation makes that a necessity. Our holdings are simply built, but all of our folk are well cared for. We are close, the nobles and the smallfolk, and we all work equally together to sustain ourselves. I am certain you have heard stories, of our rustic ways, but our people want for nothing, and we trade well with the other houses. We even have an inn, which my Lord Uncle Dafydd enjoys visiting…" There's a slight quirk of her lips, at that.
"I believe you're correct, my lady," Jarod says, rather quietly, as to Jaremy. "Though I'm not sure what to *do* about it. In terms of how to approach Jaremy, that is. I don't think any less of him for not fighting in the Rebellion. Jace doesn't either. It's not as if any of us picked to go or not as men on our own terms. Jace and I were squiring with the Mallister forces, to knights who took the field. Jaremy was squired to Uncle Revyn, whose conscience made him stay at home. As for the war itself…" He looks down at his hands rather than at the lady and mutters, "I envy Jaremy that he didn't see all of that. Anyhow. It's over and done now, and I pray we'll never see days like it again." He just listens to her talk of Tall Oaks, looking back up again as she does so. "An inn, eh?" He smirks a touch, but he doesn't press for details about that. "It sounds quiet, which I'll not call a bad thing, given much of the action in these parts these days. I know little of the Old Gods, I'll admit. I was raised, and anointed to knighthood, in the eyes of the Seven. Is that why Tall Oaks keeps so few knights, my lady? Because you pray to the weirwood, and not the aspects?"
"Jaremy is a proud young man, and he has not yet learned that there is more strength in humility than arrogance. When a man believes himself to be right, and that much I do believe, given my conversations with him on the topic of Oldstones, it is hard not to take correction as an attack and attack in return. I recall asking him, why, if he believed such things about the Valentin holdings, he did not go to his Lord Father and share his worries…and he did not have a good answer. Only that he did not have enough proof, as if he believed Lord Ser Jerold would have dismissed him as a child, if he did not bring him ironclad intelligence. I know as well, that he feels keenly the loss of Stonebridge. It was not only a House that was lost, but a woman he well loved. He feels he has failed himself, failed Isolde, and failed his House, and he does not want this business to be yet another failure to heap up on his shoulders. And so he pushes, determined to be vindicated. As determined as he is to make this match with the Banefort succeed. I do not know how to break him of his arrogance, nor how to instill humility. But it must be done, in one way or the other. For his own sake as well as this Houses'." Liliana's expression softens, sympathetic, as she hears the knight dicuss his time in war, "I have never had the sorrow of having to see men so poorly used as those who have gone off to war, though I have seen…things I find dreadful enough. I would not wish to see worse, though I would hope that I would have strength enough to bear it and do my duty to heal and protect as I can. And my heart aches that you must carry those memories with you." There's a thankfulness, perhaps, in her expression as she finds the knight once again changing topics, "Yes, an Inn, with a wonderful selection of vintages." A nod, "That is a great part of it, yes. One may not be knighted except by the oils and the rights of the Seven. If one believes in the Old Gods and keeps the old ways, they may not take the oaths. That is why there are few men knighted in the northern lands. Look, as example, Lord Eddard Stark, Lord Paramount of the North. He is no knight, but he is more skilled and as noble and honourable as any who have taken the oaths. But it is not only that we cannot take the oaths. Our lands…we simply have more need for rangers than knights. Though we do have one…but…I am not quite certain where he is, at this given moment."
"I think he figured if he handled the whole thing himself, it'd prove his worth in some regard," Jarod agrees with that. "None of us fully trust Oldstones, my lady. It's not a matter of favoring them over Jaremy, certainly, but some of the charges Jaremy's leveled against Lord Ser Anton are simply untrue, and seem a grave insult now that they've been aired in front of the King and likely Lord Tully at this point. In my father's counsel, we might've found a quieter way to approach the whole mess. Now…well, it is what it is." He does more heavy-sighing. He just nods when she touches on the war again, but he's more than happy not to discuss it further. "Aye, my lady. Lord Stark is one of the greatest living battle commanders in all the Seven Kingdoms. The North fields impressive cavaliers, whether they are anointed in the ways of the Seven or not. Well. Wherever your knight is, I'm sure he's doing your House good service, for what are we good for if not that?" He grins. "I was just telling Jace I wouldn't mind seeing your Tall Oaks one of these days. Perhaps when Jaremy's marriage to the Lady Banefort has come to a proper conclusion, we can make a journey of it. I haven't been to the Northlands, and the summer snows are a thing I'd like to see in my days."
"Perhaps he did. It would have been a success that he gained on his own merits, without needing the help of his Father or brothers. And greatly has it damaged the reputation of this House." It is no secret that Liliana was tasked with hostessing the King's courier during his time at the tower, "I did what little that I could, to give His Grace's man a favourable impression of our House, but I am only a woman, and a ward, and the actions of an heir…they carry much greater weight." A faint smile touches her lips, "Does any House truly trust the plans and intentions of another House, even if that house is bound to them by oath or marriage? The game of Houses is not a game built on trust. The truth of Oldstones will come out, sooner or later. But if some might say it is blind to trust them, I would say, it is just as blind to distrust them without reason. After word from his Grace, it is an insult not only to Lord Valentin, but to the King himself." Liliana finally frees her hands, coming to her feet, Elise knowing her lady's moods and the schedule of the day, well enough to begin to gather their things, "Knights are also good for entertainments, Ser Jarod. Why else do we hold tournaments, if not to entertain the womenfolk and each other?" Her hands shake out her skirts, smoothing away that wrinkles have creased the silks in her sitting, "We would be glad to welcome you, and I think you would find Tall Oaks to your tastes…at least for a little while. It is only a day's ride, in any case. You could take a sevenday fro your duties and still have most of it to enjoy yourself. The snows will not disappoint you." A smile, warm and pleasant, "But now the day is growing long, and the shade is leaving us. Will you walk us back down to the kitchens? I do believe there are pasties baking today." Never too old to filch a treat from under Cook's watchful eye. "We shall need your sword to guard the door."
"I suppose no House does at that, Lady Liliana," Jarod agrees, rather sadly. "I would've said Terrick and Tordane did at one point. My father and Lord Geoffrey were near as brothers in their day, and Isolde and Gedeon dear to us all growing up. But even that's different now. And different in part, I suppose, because Lord Jerold and Lord Geoffrey promised their children to wed over friendly handshakes rather than a betrothal contract. Which is a poor statement on the world, maybe, but it is as it is." He straightens as she rises to go, dropping another flourishy bow to her and Elise. The entertainment value of it seeming to buoy his mood again. "We're jesters in armor, my lady, at least in happiest of days. I am, at least, and I entertain as I can. Sure, I'll walk with you. And perhaps filch a pastry, while I'm at it." And he'll go with them to do just that.