|Summary:||Ser Jarod and Lady Isemay discuss the relocation of some of the Roost refugees, along with some other odds and ends.|
|Related Logs:||Of Ships, Refugees and Oaths|
|Entrace Hall — Four Eagles Tower|
|Towers, knights, ladies.|
|Feb 11, 289|
Four Eagles Tower is never precisely quiet. In more peaceful days it was home to bustling traffic, the comings and goings of trade in the region, merchants and neighboring nobility enjoying the market as a stopping place. The Ironborn invasion left the town ravaged and burned, however, and the activity is now a more harried bustling to rebuild. Unlike the town itself, however. Four Eagles Tower stands more or less as it did in better days, fully intact, even if the mood is more somber than a few months back. The constant pace of servants, retainers and nobility inside still keeps it from getting boring, at least. Ser Jarod Rivers is part of the flow of activity today. He's just now making his way down the stairs, chatting animatedly with one of the guardsmen about something-or-other. *re*
Others have come to the keep as well, for varied reasons, and one of them is a tiny quiet thing that has come with a man-at-arms and a driver in the small cart, to bring things from the heart of Terrick lands back to their outskirts. The lady Isemay Darant stands to one side, speaking with a craftsman of some nature - a carpenter, perhaps, by the brawny shoulders and fine hands. She nods once, and takes a few coins from a purse hanging from her girdle, pressing them into his hands. "Whatever you have that would suit, and can be made ready to take in two days. There will be more custom from our house if they suit."
Jarod spots Isemay farther down the hall, and he takes his leave of the guardsmen, who goes off to attend whatever something-or-other accounts for his duties today. Ser Rivers, for his part, offers the visitor to their house a chipper, "Lady Darant." Accompanied by one of those flourishy bows he favors, at least where ladies are concerned. "Welcome to the Roost. Such as it is in these days."
The lady nods politely, caught off-guard in this territory not her own; she provides a polite curtsy, not quite one for her betters, but that ambiguous politeness that she has settled with as regards Ser Jarod. "Ser Jarod, well met. I can see why my goodfather had the children and I packed off to Stonebridge, and then back to the hall once things settled. It is good to see the Roost still stands…" She trails off, ducking her head slightly, looking to the walls and then up to the ornate ceiling. "And in its glory — for it could have fared much worse." She tilts her head, a moment of brazen curiosity almost ill-befitting her - if she were not a mother, a creature bent on interrogation. "How did you fare, amidst all the fighting?"
Jarod is grateful for any politeness from his betters, ambiguous and otherwise. "It stands, m'lady, is not so tall as it once did. Well. We shall rebuild. Four Eagles, at least is still strong and whole." Her curiosity draws a grin from him. "Seagard as hard, I'll not lie. The Ironborn were not easily dislodged from the city. The Army of the Cape managed, though, and I'm proud to say I was some small part of that, and I made it through unscathed in any permanent way. The River coasts are free of the squids now. The Roost, Seagard, all of it. And if we've our way they'll pay a heavy price for trying our shores."
Nodding firmly, the lady seems satisfied, but her eyes are still a little wider than they might else be, and her shoulders back as if to steel herself. "As well they should. Keep to their islands," Isemay sniffs, "and be turned back until they take the Seven for true, and bend on knee to King Robert and stop with their pretentious behaviour. King of the Sea Wind or such nonsense. Lord Reaper. Bah." She shakes her head, annoyance flitting across her face. "And your kin, and the Lady Lucienne? All fared well, I hope?"
"Good King Robert and our armies leaders plan an invasion of their Islands now, to lay them low and teach them regret for their treachery," Jarod says. "But we've a little liberty until we're called to that, so I'm home for now. Lady Lucienne is well. She and I will likely spend some more time at your fine house in the days to come, if you don't mind us troubling your hospitality again. Our business in Stonebridge is far from done. Speaking of, if you've a moment, there's something of that I wished to talk with you about. Would you care to sit?" He gestures toward one of the alcoves along the hall. "I can have a servant fetch you something to eat and drink as well, if you're in need of refreshment."
"I am here," Isemay admits, "to give custom to the Terrick smallfolk, and to make sure the hall is not quite so poor a place as when you visited. I will not have it said that the house of my kin is only a step above a hovel." Pride vies for humbleness in her voice, for she is a small thing in a great house. "If you have time for me, amongst the things you are set to do… I would not be amiss to sitting," the woman confesses after a few moments, and moves slowly towards the alcove he gestured to. "If you call for something for yourself, ser, then - and only then - shall I drink."
"Your house has been nothing but gracious and comfortable for us, I assure you. My lady sister and I have enjoyed our time there very much," Jarod says. "Between you and myself, I find I'm eager to return to it. Not that it's not fine being back home but…I don't know, I feel a bit freer to breathe there, if you know what I mean. You're never quite not…whatever you were as a child in the house you grew up in." He shrugs, motioning over a servant as he approaches the alcove. He'll wait for Isemay to sit before plopping down himself. "Summerwine for the lady and myself, if you please. And…was it fish the cook was working over today? A couple plates of the day's catch." The servant hustles off to fetch all that.
Isemay smooths her skirts self-consciously, looking down at her hands for a few moments. "No, you're not. When you marry out, especially as a maiden, it's… all of that is left behind, forgotten. Even widowed, Darant is my name now, that Hall is my home. The children to raise, the accounts to do to ensure the taxes are paid, that the smallfolk are fruitful enough they never take to theft…" She trails off, and proffers a slight smile. "You and your lady sister are welcome there as long as you wish to, and any… visitors that come, are welcome. Though I am thinking I must find a man to take up horse-breeding, to get sandsteeds from Dorne, to make travel easier. And more ravens for the maester, with the way messages seem to fly!" She laughs softly, shaking her head and blushing a bit at her forwardness.
"What was your House before you wed into the Darants?" Jarod asks, as if suddenly struck that he doesn't know. He clears his throat. "If you don't mind the question, I mean." The bit about steeds, and ravens, gets a chuckle from him. "Speaking seriously, our maester might be able to assist you with the ravens. As for our business in Stonebridge, Lady Lucienne and I were hoping your lands might offer some aid to our folk still living there. Many of our smallfolk fled the Roost when the Ironmen came and found shelter in Stonebridge lands. But…well, you saw the town as you were riding in. There's little for them to come back to at present, it pains me to say, and we can't care for all of them properly as we rebuild."
Isemay bites her lower lip, and for a few moments she looks younger by far than her years - which are not so many. Finally, she proffers a haunted, slight smile to Jarod. "My birth-house is not of note now," she advises, "and should it become relevant, fear not - I will ply my blood ties as needed. But they are neither ironmen nor Naylands, nor some foreign blood. I am a Darant now, a vassal to House Terrick and House Mallister and House Tully, and King Robert, and that… is all that I think needs saying." She looks back down at her hands for a few moments before lifting her head.
"I have come with a cart and plans to take back what I could - and the cart is new, so it will hold up to more travels. Be it ravens in a matter of weeks, or new smallfolk who might wish to resettle for a time, tilling fields or building houses, and the like. As long as they will swear to hold to the peace, and my goodfather's rule while they are on our lands. I take pride in seeing our smallfolk profit and live well, and if there are more who would come… that will be fine for all."
Jarod bows his head a touch, almost looking abashed for having asked. "Of course, m'lady. I quite understand." The wine and two plates of fish are delivered, and he murmurs a thanks to the servant before picking up his glass and sipping. "This isn't so fine as the wine from your lands, I fear, but it should do us well enough for the afternoon. But, aye, our hope was some smallfolk could be resettled on your land. I know not how many you have room for. There are a couple hundred in Stonebridge, and we'd not want to overwhelm. So, perhaps you and Lady Lucienne could work out numbers in terms of how many you could take, and we could get them seen to. They could certainly work your lands. Our smallfolk have ever been good farmers. There may also be some skilled trandsmen among those who need a new home, and I suspect they'd like the chance to put down roots closer to trade in Stonebridge. If this is agreeable…" He grins, a decidedly boyish expression. "…that'd be most helpful, m'lady, thank you."
Isemay looks at the plate of fish, and then takes the wine; unconscious motions follow, the one well-trained in wine, a sniff, a critical eye to it, a swirl in the cup, the barest taste of the summerwine. She goes through the motions without realising it, then another flush crosses her face. "My apologies, ser. A habit I was taught early, and it has become habit to ensure that the wines we sell have not gone poorly. This is not bad, merely different. What Darant gives is nothing like the Arbor - no, not even the sour Dornish reds." A conciliatory smile curves her lips. "You needn't apologise, ser. I merely find that… it is best not to speak of something one can never go back to, and as much as I love my children dearly, it sometimes hurts to think of what I've lost." One hand touches her gown over one breast, as if to touch her heart.
"The smallfolk will be little problem, I think. I will send a raven, if I may bother your maester, to my goodfather and ask how many he thinks the lands can manage, amongst the villages. If you find your craftsmen and your farmers, and see how many groups there are, we may be able to settle at least half a hundred, or look at clearing some lands and even establishing another small village." A critical look on the woman's face, and her fingers wriggle as if she wishes a quill and parchment. "In fact, redistribution of things might also make a fine point for the Naylands, if we establish something closer to the disputed border. Even a small village."
"Certainly, m'lady, our birds are at your disposal," Jarod replies, as to the raven. Talk of the village widens his grin, and makes him blink. The idea clearly hadn't occurred to him, but it appeals. "I fear you'd have to bear the cost of such an endeavor largely on your own coffers, at least for this year and probably the next. The Roost treasury is mostly dedicated to buying food, to stave off the risk of famine, since the fields nearer to the coast were ravaged so. But if it was something you were able to undertake, it would make a point to the Naylands. If nothing else, expanding the farming down there with the smallfolk that've been displaced would help us greatly. Perhaps you can discuss it with Lady Evangeline, and Young Lord Jacsen, while you're visiting our house. I fear my father, Lord Jerold, remains in Seagard, or he'd pay you a proper greeting."
Isemay nods, considering, tapping one finger to her lips. "My good-father has been gracious enough to tell me he finds me good with coin, and our coffers can bear it, I think, if it would be as fruitful as I think it might be. We might ask for a break in taxes on the new lands for a pair of years, as it will not be profitable in truth until it has time to grow, but it would help support the smallfolk, take the stress off of other lands, and eventually bring in more coin over the seasons." Her eyes spark with interest, an administrator in her native environment, before she takes an eating dagger to begin to segment the fresh fish into more manageable pieces.
"A bird, then, I think, and I will see how much I am permitted to negotiate on my goodfather's behalf, and whose schedules will allow me to make these arrangements. If there is, in particular, any families who have feuded with others and been causing trouble for a village… take half that feuding party, and bring them to the new village where they cannot continue. Add a garrison, perhaps," she adds with a nod to this, "and it would give you an opportunity to try any of your green soldiers as well, and seasoning for those who may not be going to the islands."
"I don't want to put words into the mouth of my lord father or lordly half-brother, but I think we could certainly discuss breaks on taxes. In truth we'll need food this year and next far more than coin, so they might not even see it as a concession," Jarod says. "My lady…" He lets out a low whistle as her plans extend quickly. "…I'm grateful this might be an opportunity for you, as well as a way for us to have our people seen to while they remain on Terrick lands."
Isemay sips again from the summerwine, looking like a shadowcat who has found a herd of ambling, clueless ewes with no ram in sight. "Food, seasoning for green soldiers - or the old ones you must get rid of before they become a risk. Parcel an old man out with a few hides of land and take in a fresh one you can train, rather than one like as not to die on the voyage. You are a clever man, Ser Jarod - look to your own interests in this. Old men to man a garrison or to farm, who can raise arms against bandits or invading Naylands. I will speak with my goodfather, and with the Young Lord Jacsen and Lady Evangeline. The smallfolk, and… ah." She laughs again, shaking her head. "To think I'd only come to give custom to the carpenters and masons!"
Jarod's grin crooks some when Isemay calls him a clever man. He half-looks as if he's about to argue. "Not so clever by half as you. m'lady, I don't think. But you're kind to say so. Anyhow, yes, please, stay as long as you like, and make use of our ravens however you will. I'll ask that one of the guest suites be prepared for you. We're rich in company at this moment. Ser Gedeon Rivers, the man disputing Lady Isolde's claim to Stonebridge, is with us as well. But we've more than room enough for the pair of you. If one can't provide for your friends, after all, what good are they?"
The woman flushes again, shaking her head. "I give credit where it is due, ser, and count myself lucky to be considered a vassal of this house - a friend is more than I would hope for." She stabs a piece of flaky fish with her dagger, popping it into her mouth. "Might I ask your view on the matter with Ser Gedeon? I have not yet had the chance to meet him, and I would like to know your thoughts on it, such as it is."
"My thoughts on Ser Gedeon…" Jarod just kind of repeats that, like he's mulling it. Not only choosing his words carefully, though that does seem a part of it. But trying to figure out what his thoughts are. "I'm afraid that's a subject on which I can't be unbiased, m'lady. Ser Gedeon and I were close friends as boys and…well. We've much in common." Bastards and all. "He carries letters that a septon have verified to be his lord father, Geoffrey Tordane's hand, disputing Lady Isolde's legitimacy and asking that Ser Gedeon hold Stonebridge. The Naylands cannot disprove his claims. What I think is that they deserve to be heard. They were at Riverrun, and now they're being considered by Good King Robert. I trust our king to decide the truth of them."
Isemay nods, lifting the wine to her nose and smelling it again as she listens to him speak. "If you weren't unbiased, ser, I'd take back the things about you being clever and think you a fool. Just as I know I could not keep my feelings from influencing a decision around children, mothers, and the like. We have hearts - it is what makes us true people, versus those soulless things from legend, roaming beyond the Wall." She seems to file his words away into her mind, pursing her lips. "And then we can hope that the Darant lands do not find themselves a battlefield," she adds, considering the wine absentmindedly. "I would venture you yourself have thought of coming into lands one day, through a fine dowered bride or a grant from your father, yes?"
"I've been told I'm overly driven by sentiment," Jarod says. Though it doesn't seem to bother him. "I figure, though, it's better than being too cold. Not sure what that makes a man." As for lands, he shakes his head. "Not I, m'lady. Even if my lord father wanted to, he could leave me nothing of his. I've four trueborn half-brothers, a fine lady sister, and more cousins than I can count. There's no need for him to think of me inheriting, thank the Seven. I'd rather be rich in good family. As for marriage, if I do take a wife, I've always figured it'd be some fine common girl who saw wedding a knight as good for her prospects. Or…" He smiles grows a touch wistful. "…if I'm fortunate, someone I take only for love. But, few are so fortunate as that. In any case, I've always figured my service to my father's house'd be done through my sword, and whatever other tasks he might have for me. I've been well done by the Terricks, and I owe them much already without wanting for more."
Isemay nods, pursing her lips and sipping the wine again. "That is the voice of sentiment I hear," she confesses with a smile, "though I understand it well myself. No matter the man my husband was, I love my children dearly, and would have put up with him for many years for more of them." She shrugs a little. "No doubt you'll find yourself a bride, particularly if you do yourself even greater honours with these ironmen - they may well be beating at the doors to get to you." She feigns a worried look at Jarod. "Will I need to appoint more guardsmen, to keep them in line? Or shall we have them paraded, mares for the stallion to pick from?" There is, strangeness of strangenesses, a solemn look on her face—but her eyes glitter with mischief.
"I confess I didn't know your husband. I was involved very little in the political side of Lord Jerold's dealings until recently. Your children seem a fine boy and girl, whoever they came by." Jarod asks no more after her late husband. As for his brides, he just takes a moment to laugh, and blush some. "Ha! Unlikely. At present I'm working on not driving women to slap me. I think I'm getting better. Though I know not when I'll wed, and perhaps it won't be anytime soon." He sounds, perhaps, a little regretful of that. "No need to worry about it, really, it's not as if I need to give my lord father any heirs. So I've some freedom to live that part of my life as I choose."
"You mentioned my son possibly serving as a page," Isemay says thoughtfully, and then does her best to pin Jarod with a Look. "Might you be amenable to testing him out, as much as one might consider, while you are at the Hall? Less work for you to find someone to run about, and I do not know if you have a squire—so he could at leats help in that capacity. I will not stand my ruffians to have idle hands!" She grins briefly, before schooling her features into something more polite. "He'll no doubt follow the Warrior, and I would rather ensure he doesn't do it in a foolish fashion. Girls are ever so much easier to raise than boys," she adds with a long-suffering sigh, exaggerated. "And I would think, ser, that your squire would likely rather be beating up someone else at the pells than running messages if you need it."
"Testing him? Like, in riding and fencing with wooden swords and the like, and getting him to assist with my horse and such?" Jarod actually beams. "M'Lady, I'd be honored. I've a squire, yes, though he's near eighteen and quite close to his own knighting. There are several little tasks I'm sure he wouldn't mind having taken off his hands, particularly while we're staying at your fine estate again. You truly think girls are easier than boys?" He chuckles. "Lady Evangeline said something not dissimilar to me a few days ago. She's presently expecting another child of Lord Jerold's. I don't know. I don't think men are as difficult as all that."
"Oh, that sort of thing. Making him roll chainmail in barrels of sand around the yard, that sort of thing." Isemay raises a small hand, gestures flippantly. "Whatever it is you might find useful. I cannot abide idleness when there is work to be done, and if it would free your squire up, and keep Meical out of putting frogs in the septa's bed or spiders in mine…" A shudder at the mere mention makes her shoulders ripple and she cannot keep the distaste from her face. "I realise it is terribly forward of me to ask, particularly when you are not kin and are a busy man who has other things, but I would be in your service and debt if you find the time on occasion, when you are free. He is sometimes spoiled by the men-at-arms, and someone who he might find daunting for a time… you might knock some sense into his head." She spares another slight smile. "I will make it clear to him that your word should be as law to him, unless it countermand orders from his grandfather or myself. Gods know you might find yourself playing in the kennel with the bitch's pups, if you're not careful!"
"As to difficulties… ah. Girls are more obedient, or should be. Cerene is, and Meical… is much his father's son, which makes me think I shall lose my hair before I am five-and-twenty. I know all men wish for boys, but oh… I bore two, and one girl - and even though I know the trials a girl can be, I think they would be easier to raise than the drain of boys!"
"No, no, no, not forward at all, m'lady. As I said, I'd consider it an honor you'd think me any sort of example for your lordling son. I'll do my best to find a task or dozen to occupy him when next we visit you." Jarod's boyish grin seems near to splitting his face. "And I think I understand your meaning. I was rather less of a headache for the good folks here after I started busying myself as a page. Boys at least are the same sort of trial no matter what age they are. Girls seem to become more confusing as they grow up."
A soft laugh comes from the lady again, and she shakes her head. "Ah, not more confusing… more, perhaps, that we are taught the role for our sex, and it is everything opposite a man should be. We should ever be quiet, not outspoken; we should ever submit, it is the men who should lead. Our work is inside the home, and he to do everything else. It makes for… an interesting upbringing." A wry smile again. "'Tis easier for one to understand one's own, I feel." Isemay sets the wine down, considering for a few moments. "As long as you do not encourage Meical to run off to fight in the Islands as a page. I am not… ready for him to vanish on me quite yet." She glances up at him through dark lashes, that mother's protectiveness coming out. "He may beat anyone with sticks as much as he'd like, and I will send him to the Roost - or Seagard, or elsewhere - but not so far away… not yet."
"I think six is a bit young to start taking on reavers. Wait until he's ten, at least," Jarod replies. Then quickly adds, "Joking, I promise. Aye. I think it's good to squire elsewhere. I did my time in that service at Seagard, and I think it was good for me to be away from my lord father's house. Learn to be my own…something. But no reason to go away so much when you're starting as a page. You're still only a boy, after all. And that does seem a great deal to learn as you grow, m'lady. Though I suppose it's more that way for nobleborn women, given the role you're expected to play in a lord's house. And the example you're expected to be. Less expectations on that score on the baseborn. Perhaps another reason I'm not sorry I'll never hold a plot of land. I'm not sure how well I'd do with all that's expected of my half-brothers."
"Clearly," Isemay says, "you do well enough, trusted to the care of your lady sister, and your father's household. Not all naturally born children are trusted thus - often looked at as a threat. Who can forget the tale, the Blackfyre Rebellion?" She shakes her head. "You do well enough, ser, a fine example for those born on both sides of the sheets, as far as I can see. You prefer the soldiering to the farming or the sept… Ah, gods. I couldn't imagine you a septon, even a begging brother. I considered becoming a septa, once. I'm rather glad I didn't… but it is good you have a calling that you enjoy, rather than one put on you."
Jarod snorts. "I don't think I'd do well as a septon, no. I revere the Seven - moreso as I see more of the world, I find, of which I'm glad. For many men it goes the other way. But I don't think I'm a good enough man to follow all those rules. I work hard enough at those the knighthood commands of men. I do enjoy the life of a knight, at the end of the day. It's not for everyone, but it's a decent way to be, I think. I hope it's of some service to Lord Jerold. I suppose it's different in some families, where a lord doesn't have so many trueborn children. My father can afford to be good to me, and his lady wife could afford to be tolerant of his being good to me, as they had plenty of their own."
Curiosity again flickers in her eyes and Isemay tilts her head slightly, a strand of hair absentmindedly tucked behind one ear. "Are you the jousting sort? Have you ridden in tourneys, or is that not the side of knighthood that you enjoy? There are… different sorts of knights, I've found, and I cannot tell," she says with the slightest flush, "whether you are the sort who would make your life in tourneys as so many of the Reachknights do, or if you would give them all up for a proper battle."
"Tourneys are just games," Jarod says. "Though I've ridden in a few here in the Riverlands, and I do enjoy them. It's a chance to test your skills at arms without truly meaning to do anyone permanent ill, or have it done to you. And to make a bit of coin, especially if you're good at the joust. It's something of an ambition of mine to make a proper go at the tourney circuit some day, actually. Knock around the Crownlands and the Reach for a year or two, see how I do. But it's not really the work of a swordsman. I hope after this business with the Ironborn is done that I'll never see true war again. But if my lord father has need of me in that fashion…well, that's my duty, more than the fun side of it."
Her head bobs a few times as he speaks. "There is a difference between a joust for pleasure, and the work of a knight," she admits after a few moments. "Once this is done, you may well have time to go seek more of a name for yourself - there will no doubt be loot in the islands with all the raiding they do, and you will come home with pay and your share. Enough to cover the ransom of a horse and of your armour if you lose once or twice… and likely you'll do well enough to make it few and far between, those losses." She smiles slightly. "Put the ironmen down, burn their ships and they'll find little to fight nor why. Ah, gods. I would hope we do not see true war in our lifetimes after this, and in truth I'd prefer this be short and brief, no war but a handful of battles." Isemay shakes her head, the smile turning inward, then vanishing. "Too much work for the silent sisters. Gods, if only we didn't need them - nor you knights, and there was peace."
"We'll see how it plays," Jarod says, as to what his fortunes will be after the war. "I suspect, with the Roost so in need, anything the Terrick men win will mostly be given over to rebuilding and purchase of food. As it should. What I earn I think I shall mostly have to earn just on my own, and I may not have opportunity to do such things as the tourney circuit for some time. Still…I think I could make a living with my blade, were I driven to leave this house for whatever reason." He says it as if it's a thing he's given a good deal of thought to. As for that last, he raises his near-empty wine glass. "From your lips to the Seven's ears, m'lady. To a future of peace." And he properly empties it on that note.
Isemay nods again, and sighs. "I think I had best let you get back to your work, Ser Jarod - I won't have it be said that I kept you from your duties here, when you have much more to do than talk with some lord's good-daughter about villages and smallfolk." She bites slightly on the inside of her lips, looking down at the wine glass, considering. "I have enjoyed the conversation, regardless, but will not keep you from the more important affairs," she finally says as she looks up. "I think I will hunt down some other craftsmen, to see about getting further furniture that I have justification for, now that there are proper nobles visiting the Hall," she adds. "And then I shall badger your maester for one of his birds."
"Pleasure was all mine, m'lady," Jarod says, standing and offering her another of those flourishing bows by means of farewell. "And I thank you for your offer to give a new home to some of our displaced smallfolk. If it's amenable to your goodfather, it'll be of great help to us." And off he goes.