|Reading Room Colloqium|
|Summary:||Everybody shows up in the Library. Topics from tea to Dornish history to women's rights to current prisoners get discussed.|
|Related Logs:||None, directly|
|Reading Room — Four Eagles Tower|
|The room has a large glass window and seat that looks out partially over the cove, in daylight hours the sun provides illumination to the room. Other stools and chairs linger in small groups as shelves along the walls are littered with scrolls, books, letters and documents. The contents are a modest collection of local records, histories, and literature offered to both the family and guests of Four Eagles Tower.|
|28 August 288|
Leading Avinashi through the corridors and past the family's chambers, Lucienne arrives at the reading room. "Be warned," she says as she creaks the door open to enter, "It's not as organised as we'd like it to be." Inside the room, there's a faint musty smell that emanates from the various tomes and scrolls contained upon the shelves and in scattered boxes, and the midday sun streams in through the large glass window. "And this is the library," she announces softly, loathe to disturb the room's peaceful ambience.
Avinashi follows closely after her hostess, peering into the dusty room and noting the somewhat haphazard way that books and scrolls line the shelves and fill the boxes. "I see," she murmurs softly. "Where might you suggest we begin to look for the books you are after, my lady? Or," her lips twitch upward into a tiny smile, "shall I begin on one side and you the other?"
Peaceful ambience, promptly shattered in the back of the room. A dull crash, thud, footfall, and an exasperated exhale. "Who the hell puts things like that upside down?" Josse's voice talks for its own benefit, the sound of his steps roaming.
Lucienne clears her throat, a little louder this time for Josse. "Septon?" Is that you? She offers an apologetic look to Avinashi re: the language, and gestures to one of the shelves. Probably as good a place to start as any.
The food taster looks towards the direction of those grumbled words, chuckling warmly. "Somebody with a cruel sense of humor, I would wager," is the answer she offers before setting down the little bowl of berries she carries to walk towards the indicated shelf and begin perusing the titles there.
Silence. "Uh." The voice clears its throat, taking on a comically false deep timber and a stilted accent. "No. No! Of course not! I shall go fetch him, my Lady." And then within a few seconds Josse is sliding out from between book stacks, complete innocence on that expression. "Lady Lucienne, Miss Ruhi. How are you."
The vibrant collection of individuals in the reading room seem destined for at least one more, if the familiar sound of Jacsen's cane upon the floor is any indication. It's not entirely swift in coming, though it never is, and he misses much of the exchange betwixt the Septon and the two women come to visit the man in his dusty, almost scholastic lair.
"Why…" Lucienne draws out the syllable confusedly, "Thank… you. That was quick. Does the day find you well, Septon Josse?" She takes a olite few steps toward the man before continuing. "Miss Avinashi and I were just coming to see if there were any books that might help us determine a salve or liniment to help my fair lord brother with his sore muscles."
Avinashi peers over her shoulder as Josse appears after being so summoned, and though she has no comment on the matter of such 'deception', her bemused expression perhaps says it all. She lifts her head a little for the familiar tap-tap upon the stairs, but rather than announce her Lord's arrival, her smile only softens a little as she asks, "Would you assist us in our search, good Septon?"
"Very well, thank you." Josse smiles a little at the two women, reaching over to clear off the desk that he'd been using to pile up some old scrolls. The diagrams on them are various drawings of human hands from different angles, with the bones inside sketched in. "Liniment? Oh, that's quite easy. Please, have a seat and I'll see if I can't find that book. There's a good recipe with a camphor base if you have access to that, Miss Ruhi. Or…" He pauses with his arms full of stuff, glancing around. "Another with goldenseal and cayenne. Just have to be cautious with that, some people lick things they aren't supposed to." Dry, that. The sound of Jacsen's cane tapping in hasn't quite hit him yet.
"Ah, but look at the fine collection we have here," comes the maimed Lord's voice as he steps into the reading room, his cane's tapping muffled most graciously by the thick carpets that help keep the room quiet. "It seems I'm not the only one who thought the Septon's company a wise course of action…" Jacsen's smile is small, but warm all the same, as he ventures further into the room.
There's more puzzlement from Lucienne at that last comment of Josse's, but she shakes her head to clear it. Cheer is evident in her expression at the sound of her brother's voice, and she turns a grin over her shoulder to greet him: "Jace!" She scurries on a quick detour to plant a kiss on his cheek. "How did you go with…?"
Avinashi turns more properly when Jacsen announces himself, offering him a courteous bowing of her head and a soft "my lord." To Josse she answers, "I could get camphor, but much of the common liniments have been tried with unimpressive success. I begin to wonder if something more unique may be necessary." She steps aside so that Josse might direct her to the proper scrolls.
"Lord Jacsen." Josse's attention pulls back towards the doorway at the entrance of another. "Come in, come in." He shuffles backwards so he can deposit his armload of studying scrolls in a neat pile. "All questing today, it seems like. For company or otherwise." He scratches his nose with his dusty hand, looking back at Avinashi. "Ah, okay. The goldenseal and cayenne, also too mundane?" This thrown out as he heads for one of the shelves he's managed to actually get in order. "I've rarely seen a pain that could survive the touch of pepper."
Jacsen's cheek warms to the kiss from his sister, as does his smile. "Enne, my dear," he murmurs, before turning a similar expression on to Avinashi. "It is still so unusual to see you here, but I must say I am rather pleased for it." His sister's question is not missed, though it sees his elated expression fall. "My thanks for your steadfast hospitality, Josse," he notes towards the Septon before he answers to Lucienne, "It went about as one could expect. Neither exceedingly well, nor poor, it will hang much on our eldest of brothers. But I am hopeful, dear, I am hopeful."
"The Septon and Miss Avinashi and I were just discussing your need for a liniment," Lucienne tells her brother sweetly. For his reponse to her question, there is just a nod - a rather grave one. She migrates toward a shelf and extends a hand to brush at the spines of a few books absently.
If Avinashi is aware there is discussion of more than liniments occuring, she offers no sign, instead ducking her head for Jacsen's praise. "Thank you, my lord. I hope you may continue to be so." Looking back at the Septon, she holds her hand out. "May I see it, your cayenne and goldenseal? I cannot say if that has been tried yet, before."
Josse certainly heard the bits of Lucienne and Jacsen's discussion; he's within earshot. But discrete as he is he gives no indication of whether or not he understands. "Aye, it's…hm." His blue eyes tilt up, searching the rows. "No. Wait…this one." He slides out a small bound tome with his fingertips, brushing off the cover and handing it triumphantly over. "It's the fifth recipe, if I remember right." By then he seems to judge it safe to look back at the two nobles. "Should I have some tea brought up?"
"I'll not complain for some refreshments," Jacsen tells the Septon, walking back over to some seating with his usual slow step. "But you all really do not need to trouble yourself so on my account… I mean to say, I am honored by the effort," he explains, "But I know we've all so much on our minds of late." He drops lightly into a seat, and lets out a huff of breath. "Well. If you find anything new, I'd be interested to pursue it."
So many polite people in the room today! Lu's lost in her thoughts for a long moment, but the mention of refreshments draws her out of her reverie. "Please, I can see to some tea," she says, bobbing a little curtsy. "That way you and Miss Avinashi might consult on the recipe, Septon."
A bit absorbed in the prospect of new recipes, Avinashi accepts the scroll, nodding a little as she opens it and begins to read. Her brows lower a bit as she considers. "You have much to concern yourself with, my lord," she says to Jacsen even as her gaze remains of the scroll. "I have much less. Allow me to put some of my energies into this question." She lifts her head to smile at Lucienne for her offer. "Thank you, my lady." Then to Josse she asks, "This is a warming agent, yes? To heat the area and ease pain through warmth?"
"My lady's far too kind," Josse says, almost apologetically. But then Avi is asking questions and that's forgotten, his head tilting a little bit to see the page she's on. "Aye, that's exactly what it is. Capsaicin will do the same and quicker, but it's harder to get around here. But anyway, then the goldenseal takes down swelling at the same time, you see." He looks up and at Jacsen, nodding slightly. "The body itself sometimes takes on the aches and pains of the mind, did you know that?" He gestures to the man's leg. "I hope you didn't fall?"
"Not of late," Jacsen assures the Septon with a slight shake of his head, setting his cane across his legs as he takes a seat. That answer seems easier given than a response to that more curious question, to which the Terrick lord says, "I should hope that mind is firm enough that I needn't worry of such mental infirmities, Josse. Else I am of even less use to the lot of you."
Lucienne nods graciously, and files out of the room to fetch tea. A short while later, it's her maiden Hattie that returns with the refreshments on a tray, and an apology for Lady Lucienne has been caught in the kitchens to discuss an urgent matter with the cook.
There is another slow nod for this information as Avinashi begins to slowly roll the scroll shut again. "May I keep this to draw a copy, Septon?" Looking over at Jacsen, she asks, "My lord, I believe you have tried heating your knee in the past, is that so? Was is an effective means of relief?"
The door is gallantly opened and held for Lucienne's maid, who is then followed in by Rowan, a book tucked beneath his arm. He pauses just inside, listening, then pokes his head around a shelf to view those attending the little tea party. "Oi! Jack! Josse! And — " Now who is that? The slender squire's dark eyes study Avinashi with an open curiosity that is, perhaps, just shy of gawping before he remembers his manners and bows. "Uhm. Sorry?" He's clearly uncertain not only of the exotic creature's identity, but her rank and status as well.
Josse chuckles at Jacsen. "I would never suggest such a thing. Only that sometimes when so much is happening, we unwittingly cause other pains. The one who grinds his teeth when stressed and causes a headache…you know. I'm just talking to myself." This is offered as a blithe apology. Avi gets a nod, twice. "By all means. Copy whatever you like off that shelf. They're little good if they only live in here." He settles onto the edge of a seat just as Rowan comes in. "Rowan, come in. Please. This is Lord Jacsen's guest."
It's clear that the reaction from Rowan amuses Jacsen, though he keeps the amusement mild. "Ah, hello Rowan," the Terrick greets, clearly glad to move from talk of ailments of the mind, and their ravages upon the flesh. "Forgive me should I not rise, but allow me to present to you Avinashi Ruhi, of Dorne, late of Seaguard. My good and faithful retainer these past few years," he remarks. "Avinashi, this would be Lord Squire Rowan Nayland, formerly in service to my brother Ser Jerod Rivers, and now in service to my good and dear friend Ser Gedeon Rivers."
The food taster is quiet as one more figure pops through the door after Hattie, though it's the tea she watches as it's set down before Hattie departs again. There is a twitch of one brow as Josse terms her a 'guest', but then she looks over to Rowan, offering the lad a smile and a curtsy. "A pleasure, my lord," she says in her warm, accented voice.
"Certainly no need to rise for me, m'lord," Rowan assures Jacsen, stepping around the shelf and joining the small group at Josse's behest. He blinks at Avinashi when Jacsen mentions her origin, casting a look of combined amusement and alarm at both the Terrick lord and the septon. He clears his throat and inclines his head politely to the woman. "The pleasure is mine, Miss." He hesitates, looking mirthful and curious. "Have you met — ah — the rest of the family?"
Josse smirks slightly at Rowan's expression, but just shakes his head. Don't say it, Rowan, don't say it. He glances at the tea, nodding gratefully to the servant before she leaves. The conversation swirls around him until he looks back at Avinashi, "What might you tell us about this tea, Miss Ruhi? Anything of interest?" A little curiosity about the herbalist's discerning tastes.
"Lucienne, yes, and while Jaremy might have had a glance, he did not have time for much more than that…" Jacsen offers in answer to Rowan's inquiry, claiming the tea offered to him and blowing lightly across its surface. "Have you had a chance to meet my brothers properly as of yet, Avinashi?" he wonders, glancing in the Dornish woman's direction.
"Indeed I have," Avinashi says of the tribe of Terricks. "I have had the pleasure of meeting the Lady Lucienne, of course, as well as Lord Jaremy, though only for brief moments. And your other brother as well, Ser Jarod. He, in particular seemed most desirous of becoming familiar with my," after only the slightest of pauses, "homeland." She steps over to the tea, leaning in a little to close her eyes and inhale the aroma. "A black tea," she says, "with rose hips and a little chamomile I should think." The teapot is lifted, as is one of the small cups, and she pours a mouthful of amber liquid from one to the other. "If I may," she requests, before she does, taking a small taste. "The leaves will have come from the Neck, and the chamomile grown close to The Green Fork. But the rose hips," she has another small taste. "I cannot be perfectly certain, but I would guess them to be local." She pauses and then nods a little. "Also," and here that small smile appears again, "it is not poisoned."
COUGH. Cough cough cough! Familiar with her homeland. Rowan has a sudden and inexplicable paroxysm of the esophagus, or something. He thumps his chest and steps over to the tea service, taking up a cup. "Excellent," he wheezes, red in the face. "Let's have some."
Josse's eyes flicker upwards at Rowan's coughing. "Fantastic idea." He doesn't quite reach for a cup himself though, listening to the full of Avi's explanation with a slightly raised brow. The very end makes the right side of his mouth quirk. "Very interesting." A glance at Jacsen, impressed, then back at Avinashi. "Is it a common…study? In Dorne, I mean?"
Jacsen's smile is one of some pride in the talents of his Avinashi, to whom he raises his cup in light salute. "I think you've the right of it," he remarks, skipping all that pointed lack of commentary on his brother's interest, "At the least, my poor skill in such can corroborate your thought that it is not poisoned…" His lips quirk and he imbibes a long, slow sip.
Into the Reading Room strolls Ser Jarod Rivers. That's a rare occurrence. He seems to be in search of something, which may explain his presence. Someone, rather, as he quite directly zeroes in on Jacsen. "Jace. Hullo. I've been in search of you. Do you know if Jaremy's spoken to Lord Ser Anton yet? I heard from Lu that he was…" Oh, other people. He grins at Josse, offering him a friendly "Jos." Rowan gets somewhat more wary, "Rowan." And there's also Avinashi. Jarod promptly bows, extra-low, which allows him to flourish in an extra-theatrical way as he comes up again. There's a wave of his arm involved that he probably had to practice quite a lot. "Mistress Avinashi. I'm very glad to see you're making yourself at home in our home. Were you talking about Dorne?"
Oh, sweet Gods. At Jarod's entrance, Rowan's cup simply overflows. He makes a faint, stifled sound, taking a seat and a long, long swallow of tea. It might burn is tongue a little, but at least that keeps him from giggling. "Jarod," he returns gravely, aping Jarod's wariness with deep dimples on his cheeks.
The taster pours herself a proper cup, now that it's been named as safe, and she looks over at Josse, canting her head a little. "Is which a common study, Septon? Herbs, do you mean, or poisons?" And then she is obliged, for Jarod's very deep and flourished bow, to offer an excessively low curtsy to compensate, and though there is no flourish, she does manage not to spill the tea. "And hello again, Ser. We…" with another glance to Josse, Avinashi decides, "I suspect we were about to, indeed."
"Oh," Josse replies to Avinashi. "I suppose I mean herbs, though…through no fault of their own the two spheres tend to cross at frequent enough junctions." He looks up and smiles warmly at the newcomer. "Jarod. I seem to have hijacked the conversation along that route, yes." He has the grace to sound a little embarassed about that. "I'm sure we don't have to get into it if Miss Ruhi isn't inclined."
Despite the wide array of company, Jacsen does at least offer one answer to the questions his brother has. "I've not seen our lord brother," is all the detail he ventures, gesturing to one of the chairs near him. "Come, sit, share in a cup of tea if you've the taste for it." The Septon's words draw his attention, and the result is a thoughtful glance turned on Avinashi. "Would you care to entertain us all with some talk of your home? It's been some time since I've indulged my own curiousity on the subject," he confesses.
"I should be cross with you, little brother, you've clearly been holding out on me about your time in Seagard," Jarod says with a quick grin, coming to sit for tea. Whatever matter prompted him to hunt Jacsen in this somewhat unfamiliar place of literacy, he doesn't launch into it right away, for he doesn't bring up whatever Jaremy-related matter is on his mind right away. "I suspect I can develop a taste, so long as it's in good company. Don't un-hijack it on my account. I admit I've always been fascinated by the stories of your homeland, Mistress. I've never had the pleasure of speaking to a native of the Sand's lands before."
"Of course, my lord. I should be honored to speak of my home to you and your family." She pulls out a chair from the table on which the tea service sits, lowering herself down and indulging in a small swallow before speaking further. "To answer your question, Septon, I do not imagine the study of herbs in Dorne is any more or less common than their study, elsewhere. Among my people, I was apprenticed to a healer woman. A Marahama Lagane Vale." The last of the words seem to slide more easily off her tongue than the rest. "She knew much of herbs and plants, what to take to keep you well, what to avoid to prevent sickness. Much of this, she taught to me."
Rowan rolls his eyes ever so slightly at Jarod, then rests his elbow on the arm of his chair and props his chin on his fist. The cup of tea his held lightly balanced on his knee, though his hand remains to steady it. It's sipped occasionally as he listens to Avinashi speak.
Josse is likewise quiet to hear what else Avinashi might say, though he nods to her reply. The tea's gone completely forgotten, his cup steaming away in a most lonely fashion on the desk.
Jacsen is less spellbound by the Septon and the Knight, though like as not they are both captured in the telling for different reasons, but the Lord Terrick is still very interested in what the Dornish woman has to say, sipping from his tea every once in a while. While he'd smirked at his brother's light reprimand, he didn't quite respond.
Jarod notes Rowan's eyeroll, rolling his eyes back at the squire, just a little. He looks half-tempted to stick his tongue out but, after a glance at Jacsen, he refrains. Best behavior. He sits up and drinks on his tea, making a low "Hmm" sound at the taste of it. He doesn't seem to dislike it. For his part, he's properly spellbound. "And you brought your skills to the Riverlands, Mistress Avinashi? A long journey to make, if I might say."
"Truly, it was that," Avinashi agrees, though she does not expound on that journey or the reasons behind it. She has another sip of tea before she continues, "The whole of Dorne is not the same in climate or in people. The men of the coast have different ways and customs than those who live in the sands of our deserts. And the ones in the mountains have become so pale and tall that you would scarce know them for Dornishmen. And then there are the people of the river, my people." She smiles soft and warm. "We remember, still, the old ways, the forgotten gods, the secrets most have lost to the blood of the Andals. So to be here, among rivers once more, is so familiar and so strange all at once."
Rowan snerks lightly into a sip of tea as Jarod eye-rolls back at him. Then his gaze settles on Avi, head tilted slightly as he listens to the tales of Dorne. His eyebrows lift a little — he seems surprised at the variety she describes, but just as fascinated as the rest.
Things feel enough like the third degree when Josse's let loose on people by himself, let alone with three other curious souls around. His silence is deferential to his betters for the time being, though if there were even a hundred questions shining in blue eyes, they're in his.
Jacsen does glance in Josse's direction as they listen to Avinashi speak of the land of Dorne, his lips quirking at the innumerable questions he sees waiting in the Septon's eyes. He lifts his tea for a slight sip, before he says, "Strange, that so few realize that difference. Who rules in Dorne, then? What sort of Dornishmen are in the blood of the Martells?"
"From the river people to the Riverlands. How poetic a journey," Jarod says, drinking more tea. He doesn't precisely sip it, now that it's reasonably cool, taking longer drinks and soon requiring a second cup. While he can't help but rather stare at Avinashi, his attention is more the dreamily rapt sort than anything overly interrogative. He just leans back to listen to her answer to Jacsen's political query.
"Ah, well," Avinashi muses, still smiling gently, "that will all depends on who you ask. They have much of the Andal blood in them, the House Martell was in Dorne even before the Rhoynish came, though they were struggling then, by no means a great house. Dorne had no great houses, then, only little ones fighting, fighting, always fighting. And then came the great Queen Nymeria and her ten thousand, and she wed the Prince of House Martell and they made Dorne unified. So, you might say their blood is strongest of all. They have never yet been conquered. Not even by the Targaryens."
Rowan perks up at the mention of Nymeria, looking keenly interested. "Miss Avinashi, was Nymeria very unusual among women, do you think?" He shakes his head, amending quickly, "I mean — she was, of course. But I mean to ask… being a woman and a warrior. There's talk of women who take up the sword in Dorne, even today. Are they well-regarded, as Nymeria was?"
Josse chooses that moment to pick up his teacup and finally have a sip, despite the lukewarm temperature. His blue eyes look at Rowan over the rim and then quite nonchalantly back at Avi.
Save for the casual flick of Jacsen's gaze, in Rowan's direction, he is rather muted and patience on the answer to that particular question.
"When I was a boy I always enjoyed the tales of Warrior Queen Nymeria," Jarod says, scooting forward a little, enthusiasm turning decidedly boyish as that topic comes up. "And her ten thousand ships. Struck me as more interesting than the maidens that inhabited most of the songs. I must confess, Mistress, that they made me very curious to meet a Dornish woman. To see if they were as fascinating as the stories told about them. So far, if I may be so bold, you at least don't disappoint." Though Rowan's question earns a frown and a decidedly tight-jawed look passed between Josse and Jacsen.
There is a soft chuckle for Jarod's boyish delight and Avinashi has another sip of tea before setting down the cup and saucer. "I am afraid, Ser Jarod, I have done no conquering in my life and no leading of armies, but if Nymeria is the standard to which you shall hold all Dornish women, I fear none may ever meet such lofty expectations. But if I, at least, have caused no disappointment, I am satisfied I have done my people well." She looks, then, to Rowan, considering the question. "Much of that depends on the woman and why she was called to do such a thing. Women must serve as mothers and wives, even in Dorne. And yet, Dornish Law will always rule in Dorne, and by Dornish Law, every first child inherits, be they son or daughter. And for that, I think, women there may have more freedoms than your women, here, who are granted no such right."
There's a very mild sound of amusement from Josse at Jarod's assertion about not being disappointed. Though he notes the tight-jawed look there's no comment on it, for the tea's quite interesting for a little while as Avinashi answers that round of questions. It's finally abandoned again, once his mind catches up to his tastebuds.
"But it sounds as though it does happen, that women are so called," Rowan responds. He glances at Jarod, looking for a moment as though he might stick out his tongue, but he doesn't. "Such a thing is completely unheard of, in these parts. Even those who admire Nymeria think that a woman seeking to emulate her would have to be completely deranged. And without question doomed to fail."
Jacsen offers a thin smile at the conversation cycling around Avinashi and her answers to questions of Nymeria and Dorne. "Such a curiousity," he agrees, offhandedly, and looks to the Septon. "Josse? I could swear I saw questions in your eyes a few moments before… perhaps if you ask them, Avinashi would be so kind as to entertain one or two?" He looks to the Dornish woman and offers a lop-sided smile. "We knew this would happen, I think, did we not? In the Riverlands, outside of a handful ever spotted at Riverrun, I think we see nothing of Dorne. It makes for such strong curiousity, and you are kind to indulge it."
"They are not knights, however." Jarod's correction to Rowan's question is a little firmer than he might've meant it to be. And he hastily amends to Avinashi. "Forgive me, Mistress, if I am mistaken, but the vows of knighthood in Dorne remain as much a fraternity as they are in the Riverlands. Though I confess I know not if your lands field as many dubbed cavaliers as places such as the Reach, or even our own lands. In the North, for example, there are few men who've taken vows because they keep the Old Gods rather than pray to the Seven. Yet none would deny Lord Eddard Stark is one of the greatest living battle commanders in all the Seven Kingdoms, Ser or no. So I do not mean it as a slight toward your warriors in the far, far south, merely a curiosity for one such as myself. Rowan's statement, as he and I have spoken on before, is not entirely true. I have encountered a woman or two in the mercenary companies - though to my eyes it seems an awful way for a woman to live. And there are tales of some Houses in the more remote North who train their girls in the use of weapons for their own defense, small as the garrisons are in some of those places. Have you found the men of the Riverlands so awful and limiting, or is the world indeed more complicated than our young squire perhaps understands?" Though he looks ever-so-slightly abashed at going on so after Jacsen tries to redirect the conversation.
"I don't wish to interrupt such an intriguing argument, my Lord," Josse remarks to Jacsen, if just a hair drily. "I am in no rush. More tea?"
"If a woman can own nothing, what right has she to defend land? If she can claim nothing, what right has she to find honor as a man does? This seems much to be the mind of these lands beyond my home," Avinashi says after a moment's thoughtful pause. "But in Dorne, a woman may rule as any man does, if birth makes it so, and while they do not seek the knighthood, some women have learned to take up weapons to protect and defend their homes. Do I find the Riverlands limiting? In many ways, I do. These ways are not my ways, but what traveler can come so far and expect anything to be the same? Nothing is simple and nothing is clear and I would not imagine that a woman who fancied herself a knight could be well-received in the Riverlands. But, Ser Jarod, I do not think that Nymeria, whom you do so admire, followed what was done. To shape an army, to change a nation, requires vision and deterimition and turning your ears away from the many voices that will and must tell you 'no'. To live by the sword, by the code of the knight is a choice that some men take up with pride and some with dread. But to say no woman dreams of such and no woman could ever do such… history will show us, I suppose, if you were right."
"Not all of the men of the Riverlands are so awful and limiting," Rowan notes dryly, addressing Jarod more or less directly. "Some of us are rather open-minded and unthreatened by strong women." He turns an admiring and approving smile on Avinashi, continuing to the Dornish woman, "Which creates a world that's more complicated, I fear, than Ser Jarod understands. Or is comfortable in." He drains his tea and puts aside his cup. "But please forgive me, the hour grows late, and there are things I must attend before I rest. It was an exquisite pleasure to meet you, Miss."
Jacsen drains his cup and rather holds his silence as the commentary seems destined to go on, though Josse is given something of a perturbed look.
"Rowan is very free in attributing opinions and feelings to me which I do not actually hold, Mistress," Jarod says, shifting a hard look to Rowan, before turning back to Avinashi. "I hope you will allow me to speak for myself and judge me limiting or not on my own merits. Or non-merits, as they are. I think the world is limiting to all who walk in it, in some regard. Some places and to some people more than others, I'll not deny. It's a debate we've had before, and we always seem to get back to making the same points at each other, so I'll not bore you with it. Indeed, history will see. For my part, I do not make the world, I merely try to live in it. And if you find this house limiting, it shall not be for my part. I'd be most interested in learning more of the cavaliers of Dorne, man or woman, ten thousand ships or no. But I think the septon is in want of more practical conversation, so I'll give you over to him, and forgive my limitations."
Josse's expression has that slightly tuned-out look of a parent waiting for his children to stop fighting over a toy. There's a subtle and uncharacteristic stitch of irritation that flickers towards Rowan, though it's quickly shrouded. He clears his throat quietly. "I don't mind. But hour being what it is I wanted to first see if Miss Ruhi would like me send for that cayenne, before the streets get dark."
"Ah, me," Avinashi sighs, the Lady's lament sounding oddly in her mouth, "I see I have stepped into an argument that has begun long before me and shall go on long after me, and so I must apologize. I meant no insult to you, Ser Jarod, nor to you, Lord Rowan." She glances towards the squire as he prepares to depart. "I do ask that we not speak on such things further, if they shall call up such distress. I ask your forgiveness, too, my Lord Jacsen, for causing such trouble." She directs her attention to the Septon with a nod. "Yes, thank you. I should like to see if the mixture will be of help, though I would prefer to purchase the cayenne myself, if such must needs be bought. I should become familiar with the market and what things do pass through it."
Rowan rises and executes a flourish bow that's nearly identical to the one dispensed by Jarod, earlier — if not quite so low. "No apologies are necessary, Miss. You are perfection, but there is no force in the world that can keep cats and dogs from fighting." He nods to the other men, shooting Jarod a veiled and childishly irritable look, as though he'd like to flick the knight's ear on his way by. But he doesn't, rather making his exit with no further disruption.
"Good eve, Lord Rowan," Jacsen intones as his brother's once-squire takes his leave of the reading room, something of an errant and irritated look tossed his brother's way. It's muted, greatly so, but it does not fail to convey his ill-humor. "You've no need to apologize, Avinashi. We blame not the knife, but the hand that twists it, whether it a matter of ideology or physicality. We find fault with the hands that wield it so." He sets his tea cup aside, and waves a hand. "But let us move on, and not dwell on spats of philosophy?" His look includes Jarod in its sweep.
"It's for me to apologize, Mistress, for involving you in that. If we're interested in such things, perhaps you can speak to us about them separately sometime, so it won't just degenerate into us talking over you at each other. Rowan." The departing squire is offered a short nod of his head. And he offers an abashed shrug to Jacsen. "That was an uncomfortable tangent. Sorry, Jace. I'd not make a friend of yours feel uncomfortable in our house."
As Rowan exits, another man enters, in Banefort livery. "Ser Rivers?" he inquires of the Captain of the Guard.
The sight of Banefort crests seems to sober Josse slightly, and he glances at Jacsen as though he'd remembered something just then. Instead of speaking he sips his tea, and immediately makes quite the face once realizing it's now stone cold. Ugh. "Ah, yes. There's an herbalist right by the sept, actually. I need to pick up a few things in the morning; I can walk you there if you like." He lifts the useless teacup to Jarod to signal a goodbye and then puts it down. Far away, where he won't pick it up again.
Jacsen's brow lifts in mute curiousity when the Banefort man arrives, seeking the attention of his knightly brother. "Duty calls, Jarod?" he wonders, and just that.
"Thank you," Avinashi says to Josse, "I should find that very agreeable, indeed." And then, like the others in the room, she looks to the guard. For the moment, she gets to be one of the watchers, rather than the watched.
"Looks like," Jarod says, rising and going to speak to the Banefort man. Though, after a moment's consultation, he looks back up at Jacsen. "Nayland men at Rockcliff, he says. Up from Stonebridge likely, to see about our Mistress Millen and her stabby tendencies."
Josse nods once to Avinashi, offering the woman a half smile. He glances at Jarod and then at Jacsen, the slight raise of a brow seeming to ask 'Do you need to go?'.
Jacsen lets out a slow breath through his nose as he matches his brother's gaze. "Have you an answer to satisfy that inquiry?" he wonders, brow still quite prominently raised.
Avinashi is silent, simply sitting quietly and listening as the men speak as discreetly as they might.
"That we have her in custody. That she's confessed to the murder of Jens Howard. That our lord father has heard the facts and deems she'll hang. That much is simple, at least to my mind. She killed their man and they're as interested in justice for it as we are," Jarod says. "It's how to handle the business of her confessions to spying - for the Naylands - that makes me feel like I've got to tip-toe on eggshells. Which I do very poorly. Any thoughts?"
"Are they aware of that…detail at the moment?" Nobody was talking to Josse, sure, but it's a point the septon seems to think is worth having clear.
"If they are not," Jacsen comments, his gaze shifting towards the Septon, "I should think it wise to offer them no inkling of it. And even if they were… it would be difficult for them to bring it up on their own, given the poor light it casts on their Lord." His hands, on the arms of the chair, drum an almost silent beat, as he thinks. "They may wish to see her. And at some point, I think, we should let them. But if we do so, it must not be alone, nor must they be allowed within reach of her. Who knows what foolishness she might attempt. They might think to ask to take her to Stonebridge, or the Mire, as it was their man she slew. Remain steadfast on father's insistence that the Justice of the Roost is firm, something of the like, and that she must face her crimes here."
"Unclear, honestly," Jarod replies to Josse. "Ser Bruce Longbough did not seem, to my mind, aware of it when we worked together on the investigation. But he is very new to the Nayland service. I understand Lord Ryker knew him at Riverrun, and he is only recently released from the Tullys to serve the new Lord of Stonebridge. So he may not've had time to be informed of Jens Howard's precise work for the family, or his previous contacts with Amelia Millen. What he's been told since he left…I don't know. I got the feeling from talking to Lord Ryker that Howard was more usually in the work of his cousin Ser Rygar. Perhaps the left hand knows not what the right hand does. Though that may not've stayed such since Howard was killed, and Amelia implicated in it." To Jacsen, he nods. "Terrick justice for a crime done on Terrick lands, I can see no real right they'd have to press for more than that. If they do see her…I'm not sure how much she'd tell them. Perhaps whatever we wanted her to. She still claims much love for this family, though how much we trust that is an open question."
"These men, they are at the Rockcliff in town, is that right?" Avinashi asks quietly, "and this Miss Millen, she is here? At Four Eagles?" She glances around for a moment of confirmation before she says, "If Ser Jarod is to go to the Rockcliff to inform these Nayland men and they wish to come here, that allows a window of time. My Lord Jacsen, if Miss Millen is as loyal to this house as she would claim, you would have time to speak with her now and tell her what you may wish for her to say. Let the meeting with the Nayland men be her proving grounds."
"She is a very…splitting force. From what I observed of her," Josse comments in his quiet voice. He turns his head, looking at Avinashi. "Proving grounds to what end on her part, exactly? The sentence would be the same from Lord Jerold no matter what she says, unless she were to wrap a plea for mercy up in it." And he sounds doubtful that would change anything either. "Perhaps she is so desperate as to believe doing what you wish ont he steps of death would elevate her in your eyes, though you'd have to convince her of that. Somehow."
"What is your measure of this man, new to the Nayland service?" Jacsen wonders of his brother, after listening to the thoughts put forward by Septon and Dornish woman. "It may not be such a disaster to let her speak as she might to him, to make whatever wild claims she has in her to make… If he is a decent man, it is like to sow discord in his heart. And if the Lord of Stonebridge knows not what his cousin does? Perhaps that discord might strike even further." The fingers of his right hand still drum their silent beat, a clear sign as any that the Terrick lord has not made up his mind in this matter, as to what he might think as best.
"My measure is I wish he did not work for Lord Ryker Nayland, and was free to serve us, for father would be lucky to have such as him," Jarod replies to Jacsen. "He's a common knight. Raised from a levy commander during the Rebellion. Got dubbed after the Battle of the Bells, which was as hard and nasty a ground to earn your Ser on as any, and if he came out of that with his honor intact he must be of some good quality. And he does strike me as very decent, and very interested in justice. We drank together and told old war stories, and I like him." And Jarod is nothing if not reluctant to be untruthful to whatever new best friend he's made this week.
"When death becomes your shadow, the truest desires are felt the most keenly," Avinashi murmurs. "She cannot be given a reprieve, and she will know that. But perhaps, there is something else she might long for, some wish that might be granted before her end, if she will but do as she is bidden. If it is what you wish, to give her such instructions." She studies Jacsen, her golden gaze thoughtful. "Yes, that could well be. If not all of the Naylands know what she was, and some might protest, the truth could be a far more useful weapon."
"This Ser does not have the authority to order her turned over, correct?" Josse asks Jarod. "He is dispatched only to bring information back to Lord Ryker?" He gently scratches at his hairline. "If she doesn't want to be handed back to the Naylands I rather doubt she would say on her own that she was a spy. She's smart enough to know that the Naylands knowing that we know she's a spy would create more trouble. Are you willing to take the risk that you can spin it in a way that would have this Ser Bruce in your sympathies?" This is not rhetorical; he asks the half-brothers quite honestly.
Jacsen takes in the suggestions and observations of those about, and the drum of his fingers, once so constant, becomes still. "Despite what we have to offer her, I think it a fool's errand to trust Amelia to do anything we might seek to mould her to do," he says, looking to his brother as if to gauge his agreement with that statement. "We've the law on our side, her crime was committed here, and her justice is to be dispensed here. We are all bound by the words of our Lord, and I for one would see us follow through on them. I say let this Ser Bruce speak with Amelia if he wishes, and go with him when he does. Insert yourself as necessary, and ensure that he is not caught up in the bizarre webs this woman attempts to spin, however recklessly. Do right by him, for it seems he is a decent man, and even were he not, we must remain so. If she tells the whole of the truth, he will either need to consider his masters, or will brush it aside as the ravings of a woman keen to save her own life. We must merely let it be she who does the telling, and not us, for if we speak it we give it the ring of truth, and now is far too premature."
Jarod exchanges a look with Jacsen as Avinashi speaks. He's impressed. And the smile he offers his brother is, for a moment, happier than the conversation probably warrants. Though if he has more opinions to offer on the Dornish woman, he at least has the self-restraint to table them until later. "Ser Bruce, I think, is loyal to Lord Ryker. Whatever else he may be. We all of us serve somebody in this world, and just pray we're not too ill-used by them. He and you and me, little brother, much as anyone else." That idea brings him back down to a nice, level melancholy. He nods to Jacsen. "Play it straight as we can. Aye. That's the cleanest way. I wouldn't mind hearing what she tells him herself, without our prompting. If there's lies or wild tales in it, that might separate or expose them."
Avinashi only nods a little as a decision seems to be reached and her thoughts are no longer needed. He returns to letting her attention drift to each man as they speak in turn. The only thing she offers further, and this to Jacsen, "If I may be of assistance in any way, my lord, you have but to ask."
"Remember that what someone says while being observed may not be the same as what they say if they believe they aren't," Josse points out quietly. Clergy, perhaps better than most, know this fact to be true. He starts to stand up, though not to clean up the tea. "Jarod, before you go can I just…." He motions to the door, for a quieter word.
Jacsen's agreement with the Septon, offered by way of a nod, gives way to a smoother expression as he takes pains to stand. "No need, Josse, Jarod. I should like to speak with Avinashi of a few matters, you both can remain and speak as you need." He pivots on his cane slightly, to better face his brother. "I am here, should you need of me, Jarod." And to Avinashi he asks, "Will you be so kind as to walk with me?" Her status as his retainer and the coin he might pay her seems, in no way, to diminish the courtesy he pays her also.
"All right, Jos," Jarod says. "I'll see you later, Jace. Mistress Avinashi." He offer her a little half-bow, not nearly so theatrical as his previous efforts in her direction. "It has been, again, a distinct pleasure. I'd say I was less of an ass usually but…my little brother would just call me a liar. I assure you, I mean no harm by it."
"Of course, my lord," the Dornish woman says, playing her part of the courtesy for all coin and standing makes his request an order. She stands gracefully, leaving the tea behind and picking up the little roll of paper Josse has given her. "Good Septon, Ser Jarod, until we speak again. It was, as it has been before, a joy to bask in your company." Each are offered a deep nod before she falls into step besides Jacsen. It is a pace long perfected that somehow manages to be natural and yet no faster than the Lordling and his cane.
"Good night my Lord, Miss." Josse's about to point out the liniment recipes when she scoops it up. Perfect. He waits until the heavy door's swung mostly shut before looking back at the remaining company. "I won't keep you, I don't doubt this will be a long night. But has Amelia given you reason to believe that she knows about Rowan?"
"Yes, she has," Jarod replies, simply and shortly. "And Rowan knows Amelia's her half-sister, or at least knows Amelia believes so."
"Okay." Josse nods once. "It was something Amelia had said to me when she was jailed the first time…I should have thought more of it, but it didn't click in my head back then. I wanted to be sure you'd known."
"Jos, if you could speak to Rowan about…Seven, about everything, I think that'd be good," Jarod says. "She seems to be doing everything she can *not* to keep…what she is, to herself. If she keeps this up, it's going to become very difficult for Ser Gedeon and Lord Ser Anton to justify the trust they've placed in her and the place they've given her, and she'll find it very hard exposed in the world. She may think she's prepared for it, but I think we both know she isn't. She can't come back to the Terricks. Not really. If she tried, both Jace and I would be obliged to tell our father what she is, and with all the disgraces Lord Jerold has managed lately I can't see how he'd be able to shield her. If he even wished it."
Josse exhales quietly. "I know. I wanted to have a talk with her anyway about what she pulled in here. Might as well hit the bundle." He squints an eye, scratching at the corner of it. "Listen, you should be off. I will come see you in the morning…we have Amery still to talk about too, but I want a few more of your thoughts first before I go to Rowan. If you're willing."
"Always willing and able, my good holy man," Jarod replies. "I'll see you later." And off he goes.