|Summary:||Anais welcomes Jarod back to the Roost, and is reminded of what matters in the Riverlands.|
|Entrance Hall - Four Eagles Tower|
|The Entrance Hall is more than two dozen feet high with ornate columns hefting the fresco ceiling above all. Plush seating is arranged around one side for visiting nobility while the other has less comfortable slab stone or wood benches for the peasantry. Alcoves dot the walls for more private discussions and sworn Guards patrol this hall at all times and especially during court. Several hallways and doorways lead off to different areas of the castle with a spiral staircase carved neatly into one corner that winds its way up.|
|April 17, 289|
Until just a few moments ago, Anais was overseeing the transport of some goods and supplies into the threadbare kitchens and cellars. A delivery from Seagard has arrived along with Muirenn and a contingent of Seagard folk, and she'd like to get it all tucked away before Lord Jerold has a chance to object to charity. As of this moment, however, she's leaning against the stair bannister…dozing. She doesn't even seem to be in danger of falling down. That's skill right there.
Jarod has spent a good deal of time closeted with his father and Jacsen upon his return from the Roost. Time he wasn't off doing…whatever in seven hells he does when he disappears to random corners of the tower. He's about now, however, and sort of…just walking it. Slowly. Occasionally stopping to linger on a particular spot or other. He's a contemplative bastard today. Though there's a smile on his face, whatever it is he's thinking about it. He passes the stairs. And comes upon Anais. Dozing. For a second he just watches her, too. And then - gently, but there's only so gently you can do some things - he tries to pick her up. And carry her to a seat in the alcove, if she doesn't just start kicking him.
Anais is a light sleeper. Indeed, it seems since her arrival at the Roost that she sleeps only rarely, and is often found wandering the halls in the dark of the night, or visiting the guards on watch in the early hours of the morning. And at that first touch, she starts with a decidedly undignified squawk, arms flailing as she jumps directly into the bannister. "/Ow/," she curses blearily, brows furrowing as she frowns at the bannister. "Where did you-" And then it registers that that is indeed a bannister, and she turns to see Jarod, cheeks flushing. "You, ah. You didn't see that, did you?" Apparently she hasn't connected her waking up with Jarod, either.
Jarod winces, apologetically, though there's also the glint in his eyes as if he's trying not to laugh. "Sorry, Anais." He studies her a moment before saying, "Saw nothing of anything, m'lady. Would you like to go sit down somewhere? We've had no time to talk, really, since the armies got home." Plus, the sitting.
Anais smiles sheepishly back at Jarod, shifting her weight from foot to foot and twisting until there's a soft pop somewhere at the small of her back. "That sounds like a lovely idea," she agrees with a soft laugh, reaching out to take his arm for the first few, stiff steps. "I imagine you're tired enough of talking, between Jacsen and your lord father, though. It's been busy with everyone returning. And supplies coming with them," she adds, turning to look at where the last of them are being shuttled to the cellars. "Which is an unspeakable relief, because I was just having these terrible stomach aches with wanting everyone home to help and not knowing how I could feed everyone and- And I'm babbling again. It's like other people show up and I suddenly lose my head, I swear."
"I've not talked to the people I love in many months, Anais, I'm happy to be back with them," Jarod says, escorting her on his arm to an alcove. He'll wait for her to sit, before he does himself. There's a contentment about him that's new. It's a wistful, even a touch sad, but he seems to have found a comfort in his own skin. "Ser Hardwicke and myself can manage the settlement of supplies. Or perhaps some of the returned men from our levies. A couple of our serjeants have a fine head for logistics. We all managed for ourselves on Harlaw and the Pyke, m'lady, we can do the work. And we've come home to do it." He's not offended, precisely, but he sounds rather forceful about the half-demand to be asked. "Have the shipments from Harlaw arrived yet, come to it?"
Anais smiles crookedly back at Jarod, reaching up to tuck a flyaway curl behind her ear. "Are you calling me a tyrant, Jarod?" she asks, teasing. "No, you're right. I don't have to do everything. You just may have to pry the ledgers out of my hands. I'm beginning to think they're becoming permanently attached. Harlaw." She pauses, looking up as she tries to remember. "I don't believe they've arrived yet, but I did receive word that they were en route and requesting escort. There have been reports of bandits between here and Stonebridge, and no one is sure yet who they are or how they're moving. Torsten was-" She stops, clasping her hands together and tilting her head as she organizes her thoughts. "My brother Torsten arrived not long ago. He's just started helping to train some of the smallfolk for a militia of sorts. I didn't know when our fighting men would be back, and I didn't want them to feel as though they were being left out to the wolves again, you see. Now that you're back, I'm sure you and Ser Blayne will want to take over. Ser Kamron Mallister just arrived with Lady Muirenn and offered to help as well. Maybe you could take some of the smallfolk with you, do a little hunting on the way, let them get a feel for the sort of duty they might take?"
"I was figuring our levy men would be a good foundation for that sort of thing, actually," Jarod says. "Though if you'll forgive me, Anais. Aye. I'm sure your brother is capable, but he should at least work under one of our men when doing it. Either Ser Hardwicke or, if he's busy with the guard, Ser Hollister is who I'd recommend. I could, certainly. If I've…" He takes a long breath, letting it out slow. "I'll be rather occupied tonight and later…well. I'll do as I can. The knights of the Roost and Seagard are capable men, I'm sure they'll see it in hand. I'll see to the settlement of incoming supplies for you today, though."
"No, I agree," Anais shakes her head to Jarod. "They should be trained by men of the Roost. It's only that I only had so many men, and Torsten needed something to do, and…" She trails off, sighing softly. "It doesn't have to be you personally, of course. Now that our fighting men are back, everything should go much more smoothly. We can actually focus on moving forward instead of just surviving." She reaches forward to take his hand, her grip tight. "Please," she smiles faintly. "Tell me what you want to do, what you think is most important, and we'll make sure that's what you can do. It's only that I've been making due on straw and wishes, I've half forgotten what it means to have a choice."
"I've just got something I need to take care of, personal matter," Jarod says, smiling as he does. Though there's still that wistful hint about his mood. "Lord Jerold and I will have to figure out what to do with myself once we've had a bit of time to talk more. The shipments from Harlaw should help. I got our share of the conquerer's coin from the isle in what was left in the Harlaw stores. It's not much, but it's something. And stone. For the rebuilding. I figure it should get the sept finished, at least, and perhaps more places besides. Might not be a bad notion to consider rebuilding the town in stone rather than timber, if we can find the supplies cheap. You met Lady Danae Westerling?"
"I'm not sure the sept is where I'd start, but I suspect I'll be overruled on that," Anais sighs, though there's a small smile to soften the words as well. "And rebuilding in stone would be wise. Though it might be wiser to save the stone to finish the docks if the tariffs from Stonebridge continue as they are. It won't matter how many buildings we have if we can't keep the people who live in them supplied with food and their businesses with trade. Have you heard anything about a ruling on Stonebridge?" she asks, looking back up to him.
Jarod watches Anais long, when she speaks on the sept. "Why do you say that, m'lady, about the sept?" He plainly has words of his own on it, but he waits to see how she'll reply. As for the food, he nods. "The ransom from the Harlaws should help us some with the purchasing of goods. I took Ser Harras as my captive on the Pyke, and he's Lord Rogr's only remaining son. It'd have been a boon to our coffers in better time. As it is, it'll get us a few months of food, I think, prices as they are. Still, something." He shakes his head on Stonebridge. "Not yet, though I think the Mallisters and Terricks - and Ser Gedeon - made a favorable impression before Good King Robert. I'd presume he'll decide soon, now that peace is made. Stonebridge would ease things much for us, far as money and trade is concerned at least."
"It would," Anais agrees on the subject of Stonebridge, grimacing slightly at the question of the sept. "Why do I think I'll be overruled, or why would I choose to restore something other than the sept first? I'd start with docks or the village. The seven have thousands of septs, and no corporeal need for any of them. While we have a thousand smallfolk without shelter from wind or rain with nowhere else to go. But Lord Jerold is a pious man, I think, and unlikely to share my thoughts on the matter."
"I was thinking we should reach out to the Tullys, before Good King Robert's decision comes down," Jarod says. "Or perhaps ask the Mallisters to do so on our behalf. The Naylands…their words are to reach beyond their grasp, Anais. They will not let go easily of what they hold. Even if we have the king's word on our side, a representative from Riverrun to speak for the Lord Paramount, whatever's decided, might help keep things orderly. Ask for one as a witness to the king's law, if we want to sound neutral and proper about it. But if things go our way, we'd be fools to think they'll let go as clean as we did. Best we're ready." As for the rebuilding. He shakes his head. "It's not purely piety, Anais. The docks were an expense for us to construct even in better times. An expense we thought worth it, but we aren't a sea port yet. And it will take a good deal of gold to make us one. The Roost is farm country, and rich country at that. That's always been where our wealth lies. I understands things are different in Banefort, but the Roost won't become that over night. Perhaps it even shouldn't be. Our lands are different, richer, despite what the Ironborn have done to them. If you would have my counsel, my lady, it would be use the stone to shore up the town. The sept, our homes and market, what have you. And use our strength now that it's returned to get the countryside back in fit shape for farming again. If we work at it we can have…one lean year, one very hard and very lean year where we need to break our backs to make it safe and fit to grow again. But the next we can have a good harvest, and then another, and then perhaps build our sea port proper."
Anais catches the inside of her cheek between her teeth, numbers racing through her head. "You may be right," she finally says, sighing softly. "I'm not…accustomed to lands that need not rely entirely upon trade for sustenance. Without trade, the Banefort starves. Most of the Westerlands starve, honestly." She shifts in her chair, leaning into one corner and propping an elbow on the arm, dropping her chin onto one hand. "Stonebridge…I just- The thought of losing Stonebridge and not having a port just ties my insides in knots. I'm terrified of being cut off. Like the siege, even if there's no one at the walls."
"It was we who sold our food to the Riverlands last year, and you saw how decent our stores were stocked before the siege," Jarod says. "These lands aren't Banefort, Anais. But they have strengths your home doesn't. I pray Stonebridge is ours again soon. But we aren't as cut off as all that. We have allies down the coast. Kingsgrove and Seagard, though it'll be work to make our lands safe for folk to travel those directions again. Have you met with the Groves, speaking of? Their fields are more inland than ours, and were spared a good deal of the reaving. Lord Jerold mentioned they might still have foodstuffs, and no need to go through Frey tariffs. If they still do. Grain's better than gold in these lands right now."
"I met them briefly, yes." Anais smiles faintly back to Jarod, rubbing a hand over her brow. "Thank you," she adds quietly. "I…It's hard, sometimes. Adjusting. And Jacsen's been so busy, and with the trade trouble and the money, his leg…I just can't burden him with these things."
"You could burden my lord father with them," Jarod suggests, a little gently. "He's…he loves this place, Anais. It's what he's about. It's what he's built, in life, and he knows it in and out. That's why me and Luci and Lady Evangeline - Seven keep her soul - were so hard up to get him back here after the siege of Seagard was broken. I can see how he's relied on you these months, the way you were when we all rode in. You can do all right with this place if you work together on it, I figure. Though I do think you were wrong before. In what you said. About the sept. And the way you called him pious. I…" He trails off, like he's not quite sure what he wants to say. "You don't believe in the Seven, do you?" There's no particular judgment in the question. Though it's soft, and gently curious. And a little leading.
Anais's brows furrow slightly at the question, uncertain. "I believe," she says slowly, though it's the same way that people say they believe there are lands beyond the Wall where there's always snow. "I just…don't think I can expect them to fix my problems. And I don't think Lord Jerold likes me very much," she adds, more quietly. "He doesn't seem to want to talk to me, or…anything. And he's lost so much in the last few months. I almost wonder if he doesn't just associate me with that."
"He's not a man who shows what he feels easy. Or who'll flatter you with words he doesn't mean. Some people take that to mean he's cold or grim. It isn't personal. He's a very kind man, under all that. And very good." Jarod looks down at his hands for a moment, looking half-sorry. He clears his throat. "He's seen the work you've done to keep the Roost going. That speaks better than pretty words. I think…my lord father is a man who's been unhappy in many things in his life. Not just these last months. And perhaps the Seven gave him comfort but I think they also gave him some kind of…hope that people could be better. That he could be better. I think that's what a lot of people who really believe get out of them. That's why the Ironborn tore down the sept, it was no threat to them. They wanted to destroy the heart of the town. They succeeded, too, for some folk. And I think putting it back whole would, I don't know, help restore get a little of that back. It doesn't have to be just a room with seven faces. The old sept had a garden, very lovely, and it grew herbs. Could grow vegetables as well. You could build it with a hall for a big kitchen, and rooms to house some of those who've lost their homes, until they could rebuild their own again. I guess that's what I wanted to give him, when I bargained for the rocks of the Grey Garden. But if it would have better use elsewhere, m'lady, I won't object."
"We need a hall, and rooms," Anais allows, chewing on her lower lip. "If they happen to be attached to a sept and it brings people peace, then all the better. Though for the future, I'd rather extra rooms and halls be on the inn, where we'll get tax revenue from it, rather than the sept." She drops her brow to her hand, eyes closing as she tries to work it through. "I'm sorry. I understand what you're saying. And you're probably right. I'm just afraid, and I should know better than to make decisions out of a place of fear."
"It's funny, but I'm not afraid at all," Jarod says, chuckling soft to himself, like he finds it funny. "Because what in Seven hells difference will it make, eh?" He regards her again, cracking a grin. It's not quite as boyish as it once was, though it still comes easy enough. "It'll be awful and it'll be hard, but it'll be worth it because the lands are good and we'll make ourselves stronger than our enemies ever feared. Because we have to or we'll die, and then it also won't matter." Despite the grim sentiment, his eyes are bright. "I love this place, Anais. Sweet Seven, I love it so much. And when I think on what I want my life to be, I want nothing more than for my sons and - Mother fuck me - perhaps my daughters, to know it as the strong and good place I have."
Anais looks up at the tone of Jarod's voice, a faint smile finding its way across her features at the change in him. "Sons and daughters, hmmm?" she murmurs, a glimmer of humor in the words. "You didn't go and get some girl pregnant did you?" She doesn't wait for an answer, shaking her head and leaning back in her chair, brushing a hand over her stomach. "I wish had that sort of connection here. I guess it just feels like I've spent so much time on the edge of a knife here, from crisis to crisis, to build it. I'd like to, though," she murmurs, vehement. "Gods, but I'd like to."
Jarod snorts a laugh as to pregnant girls. "Fuck no. I've just…been thinking lately, about a lot of things I want. Trying to figure out how many of those I can actually have. We'll see how it plays." He stands, smiling at her. "I want you to, too. And I hope…I wish I could make things less hard on you, Anais. I'm just…I'm not sure I can." He sounds like he's apologizing. "If you see my lord father before I do, tell him…tell him I've gone to town for the evening, and likely a good part of tomorrow morn, too. I think I might go find myself a girl." He grins, though it's a wistful sort of smile now. "Well, maybe don't tell him that last part. I'll see to sending out an escort for that shipment from Harlaw before I depart."
"Go," Anais smiles swiftly, waving a hand at him. "Relax. Celebrate. Share that love with some lucky girl." She glances toward the kitchens, then pushes up from her own chair, wincing at another pop from her legs. "I'm going to see if I can get a little more sleep. In bed, even."
"Heh. I'll see about doing that," Jarod replies, ruefully. "Wish me luck!" He squares his shoulders and takes a deep breath. "Get some sleep. I'll see you…when I see you, Anais." And off he marches.