|Summary:||Punching, hugging and a family reunion. Followed by a whole lot of disapproval.|
|Related Logs:||Life's a Strange Journey|
|Crane's Crossing Inn — Stonebridge|
|While Crane's Crossing is technically an Inn, it caters to the traveling nobility almost exclusively. The floors around the hearth are finely crafted stonework, as are the slate blocks that the firepit is constructed of. The rest of the floor is done in stained oak that matches the few long tables and the chairs. The rest of the main room is furnished with plush couches and seating to entice visitors to delay their leave. A full service kitchen provides food of all kinds as well as high quality ales and wines. Also available are several women to provide hospitality to the lonely or those in need, the quality of them to be beaten by but a few in the Riverlands. A hallway near the kitchen leads off to the rear of the building and several up-scale rooms.|
|Sat Apr 28, 289|
For the second time today, the Regent of Stonebridge makes his way to the Crane's Crossing with a single guard. This morning, he had done so with anger in his eyes, and a curled fist for Jarod Half-Eagle. This evening, though certainly seeming much more subdued then Riordan typically is, his mood seems to have improved, as he seeks out not Jarod, but Jarod's new wife - Riordan's wayward younger sister. As he enters the tavern, the Nayland knight indicates for his single guardsman to busy himself nearby, while Riordan himself will inquire as to the whereabouts of Rowenna from the innkeeper.
Rowenna is dining alone in the common room, poking at the remains of an early supper, her back to a corner in the habit of the armed and paranoid. She glances up just as Riordan enters, eyes narrowing a touch at the sight. She doesn't look pleased. She steps up behind him as he stops to inquire about her, tapping him on the shoulder — and then launching a fist at his face as he turns.
It's likely not surprising that Riordan did not know her at first. Aside from her knighting, or rather, Rowan's knighting, he has not seen his sister in years. So he is utterly unsuspecting when he turns around, and finds a fist impacting with his back. His head cracking back a bit, the Regent seems either dazed, or surprised, blinking at his kinswoman. His guard, meanwhile, began moving towards them at the ruckus… but hesitates when he sees that it is a woman assaulting his lord.
The pugnacious younger Nayland shoots Riordan's guard a look like she'd love him to make a move, then turns her glare upon her brother. "That," she says, poking his chest, "was a love tap. Probably won't even mark your stupid face." That done, she folds her arms. "No more hitting my husband."
"I never doubted your love for me, sister," Riordan says rather wryly, running a thumb along his bottom lip and coming up with a thin smear of blood. The slight split in his lip seems to be the extent of the damage though, and will likely not mar his boyish face much, if any. Very much unlike the punch he gave Jarod earlier. He studies her for a moment, before opening his arms to her. "It seems to me that if you are paying me back for this morning, you owe me a hug, too, since I also embraced your husband as brother."
Rowenna laughs, then flings herself into her brother's arms, embracing him fiercely — though with a bit more bro-y back-pounding than striclty becomes a lady. "Hello, Rio. And thanks for that."
Grunting at this new, though certainly more welcome impact, Riordan grins into his little sister's hair as he hugs her just as fiercely. "Of course, Enna. Whatever fine mess you two have managed, and it is a fine mess, you are family. And now so is he." When the hug his done, Riordan keeps his hand on his sister's shoulders, looking her over. Studying her, perhaps, so as to make sure he never mistakes her for a boy again. Or perhaps just glad to see her. "Besides, I haven't forgotten how he saved my life. Bastard despoiler of my sister or no, that still means something," he adds, with a wink and an impish grin. Leave it to Riordan to make a joke about something so recently happened.
"Yes, well, I think he respects you the more for hitting him, bloody weirdo," Rowenna says with a smirk as she's inspected. She looks an awful lot like Rowan did — or like she did when she was calling herself Rowan. Just with the modest suggestion of breasts beneath her gown. Then again, she did make an uncommonly pretty boy. "Just… let's not do it again, now that we're all even up, eh? I like him pretty." She leans up to kiss her brother's cheek. "Come have supper with me? I was brooding myself right out of a appetite before you arrived. The distraction would be pleasant."
"I will endevour to restrain myself in the future," Riordan pledges, solemnly, the talk with his sister bringing some of the old sparkle back to his eyes. "I would like that," he then agrees, to the offer of dinner, after returning the kiss on his cheek with one to his sister's forehead. "I don't think I've actually eaten today. I've had much to brood on myself, of late."
"Mm. Heavy hangs the head that wears the crown, even if it's only temporary," says Rowenna, sweeping her skirts out of the way so she can drop into her corner chair. "Or something like that. Something particular bothering you? Besides the upcoming duel," which is obviously bothering everyone, to an extent. "I could break some kneecaps for you."
"Something like that," Riordan agrees with a wry grin as he sits down near Rowenna. "Everything in particular, truthfully. Nothing that I need burden you with, though. Some of it is things that are in my hands as Regent, others are simply in the hands of the Gods. And the rest… the rest will hopefully work itself out in time." He does, however, offer a smile at the offer. "That is too kind of you, sister. I shall keep the offer in mind, should it become necessary," he says, with a wink.
Rowenna gestures a serving girl over to the table. "Take my brother's order for supper, will you?" she asks, then goes on to Riordan, "I jest, of course. 'Thug' isn't really a line of work I'm interested in, even for you, sweet brother. I suppose I've just grown accustomed to a regular bit of healthy, good-natured violence to take the edge off." She plops her chin into her hand. "It's harder to come by with tits."
"I hope you haven't been with the Terricks long enough to truly think that of me, sister," Riordan says, quirking a brow at her words. "Even if I were someone who used thugs, and that would certainly be a new accusation for me, I would not employ my own blood, or indeed any of noble blood to do such." He turns to the serving girl then, ordering some bread and meat and a bear that, if not as bitter as the stuff of the Mire, is close enough to remind a Nayland of home. "Though I did offer your Ser of a husband service with me, assuming I retain control of Stonebridge, of course." Riordan snorts at Rowenna's quip about fighting with tits, his trademark lopsided grin in light evidence on his face. "I can't suppose I'd ever given it much thought, but no, I do not suppose it would be easy with such."
She dismisses any idea she might have had about him with a 'pfft' and a roll of her eyes. "Please. Whatever love I bear the Terricks, and I do, I'm quite capable of making up my own mind. Ask Jarod, he'll tell you." His beer order makes her smile, and she takes a draught from her own mug. "You know, I've grown into a taste for the Mire brews, I discovered when the Old Man called. Couldn't stand the stuff when I was younger, but I rather like it now." Nodding about the job offer, she affirms, "He told me. Said you had something in mind for him that wouldn't put him at odds with his family."
"Oh, I am aware. As is Father, now, much to his chagrin," Riordan says with a wry chuckle. Nodding to Rowenna's comment about the beer, as his own is served and he takes a draught, "I missed the stuff so much on the Islands. I took a fair liking to the honeyed stuff we got from Harlaw, but it wasn't the same." For some reason, this line of thinking causes a slight downturn of his lips and a furrow to his brow, but it quickly clears as he turns back to the subject of his sister's husband. "Well, I told him if he swore service to me, I would never order him to do anything in regards to his birth family. I might ask, especially as I might have need of his services with delivering them supplies and clearing out the bandits, should I remain in power long enough to see those tasks done. But I would not order him when it comes to the Terricks, in any manner."
Rowenna sighs, resting both elbows on the table. "Problem is, that won't assure his family — or at least his father — very much at all. In service to you, even if he's not acting directly against Terrick's Roost, he's strengthening the enemy." She frowns. "Does anyone even actually know what the fuck the matter is between Jerold and the Old Man? It seems to me a lot of us are suffering for something that is really just their problem."
"Well, the Lord Terrick only has himself to blame for turning out his son. He can't expect a true knight, and even with Jarod's mistakes he is still one, to simply wallow away his days in drink in a tavern, or on the road as a hedge knight." Riordan shakes his head, though whether at Terrick's folly or simply the mistreatment of a knight is uncertain. At Rowenna's question, though, Riordan actually lets out a small laugh. "Do you know, the Lady Anais asked me the very same question when we dined together last week? All I know for sure is that it has been around even before our Lord Father was born. And that as a young man, he attempted broker a truce and friendship. But whatever Terrick did to rebuff him, well… you know how he is, now, in regards to them."
"Be that as it may," says Rowenna, frowning thoughtfully, "Jarod loves his father. He doesn't want to stick a thumb in his eye. Hard enough the poor boy's Jarod Nayland, now." She blows out a rueful breath and takes another drink. "Honestly, I never thought the Old Man would have me back in a million years. Much less be proud of me." Dark lashes sweep down, following her fingertip as she traces the grain of the table. "I wonder if he'd have married me, if we'd known." Such thoughts being maudlin and irrelevant, however, she's quick to shake them off. "Annie's smart," she says, the mention of her goodsister bringing a smile to her lips. "I've always liked her." She lifts her gaze to Riordan. "It might not matter as much now, you know. There's a new generation coming into power. We don't have to carry forward the mistakes of our fathers."
"Which is likely why your husband told me he could not bring himself to swear to the Mire. He feels that Stonebridge is a different matter, however." Riordan offers Rowenna a shrug, however, adding, "Regardless, all I can do is make the offer. It is up to him. But I had an idea for a position, back when I thought you… or rather, Rowan, would possibly be returning to us. So it is his if he wants it, should I be around to provide it to him." Alot depends on the outcome of the duel. "The Lady Anais is, at that," he then says, a small fond smile on his lips at the memory of their brief acquaintance. "She's certainly more pleasant to deal with then most of that lot." He does nod his head, then, at his sister's words of peace. "Perhaps." Despite the words, it isn't said with much in the way of conviction. "If Jarod were Terrick's legitimate son, I'd have faith in the thought," he explains. "But even with Lady Anais whispering in the cripple's ear, and he and Rutger getting along by most accounts, it is not certain." He pauses, and almost seems about to go silent, before he adds, "You and your husband certainly didn't help matters in that regard." It isn't said as an accusation, simply an observance.
At the mention of her own part in the strained Nayland-Terrick relations, Rowenna only rolls her eyes again — and makes a somewhat vulgar gesture that alludes to a young man's favorite pastime. Having expressed herself thus, she leans back in her chair and levels a look at her brother. "So this position you'd planned for me, back when you thought I had a cock," says Rowenna dryly, drinking again as she composes her thoughts. "I'm no longer fit for it, now?"
"It rather requires one to be a knight, or at the least a man, unforunately," Riordan says in answer to her question, choosing to ignore her first response, other then a simple lift of his brows. "However, if you and Ser Jarod choose to remain, I will of course find you a position. And don't worry, you would have final approval. I somehow doubt being a lady-in-waiting to Lady Isolde would overplease you much."
For some reason, Riordan begins to smile, but then stops. As if at first thinking she was joking, before not. "You're serious?" he asks, incredulously. "I was there, sister. It was Rowan Nayland who was bid to rise a knight, not Rowenna. And even if, by some miracle, that technicality still let you have the title of Ser? It was obtained in the most false of manners. You made your own family bear false witness! What you did goes against everything knighthood stands for. You acted with selfish desire, with no thought to how your actions would effect others, and you decieved all those who love you." As he speaks, anger enters Riordan's gaze, and though he keeps his voice from rising for now, it is clear this line of conversation is not pleasing to the Regent. "No septon or lord will ever acknowledge you with that honorific, if they wish to keep their own honor in tact." His words, though held at a reasonable tone, still crack like a whip. "And as for your matter of gender, it is not irrelevant, as much as anyone might wish it were otherwise." These words are said a little softer, but the anger is still there. "I admit, it was shame you were not born a son. You've the soul and spirit of a warrior. The Warrior, in fact. But that does not change what is."
"Actually, Ser Jarod was selective with his words — he never said the name Rowan Nayland. You heard what you wanted to hear, just as you saw what you wanted to see. And don't give me false witness," Rowenna fires back, bristling. "That you happened to be there doesn't mean you bore false witness. Not as our family did to steal Stonebridge from the Terricks — though no one has a problem with that. All men lie. Lies told as a squire and a child should be rights be less damning than those told once a knight's oaths are taken — yet all around us are Sers and Lords lying for whatever they feel is the greater good. Well this — " she jabs a finger at the tabletop, " — is the greater good to me. Proof to the world that being born a girl doesn't mean you're nothing but a brood mare. They know it in Dorne — fuck, they know it on the Iron bloody Islands. If only one girl ever hears of Rowenna Nayland and how she liberated Seagard, put down the Greyjoy rebellion shoulder to shoulder with her brothers… that is a greater good. Not a selfish ambition, but a legacy."
Riordan just looks silently at Rowenna for a long moment, the anger still very evident in his eyes. Still, however, though it laces his words, his tone never rises above that of normal speaking. "You're more a Nayland then you know. Reaching beyond your grasp. The problem with all of it, sister, is that all may sound very noble. And I'm sure you believe it, having told yourself it a hundred times over. But you did this for yourself and yourself alone. If you wanted to set an example, you would have taken the harder path. Becoming a warrior while always doing so as Rowenna Nayland. But know. Gaining title and prestige was more important to you." He takes a breath, his eyes boring into hers. "The fact is, you lied to kin and friend alike. You lied to all those who, by rights, should have oaths of truth from you. You dismiss your family for being liars and cheats, and yet you are the biggest of them all. You ceased to be a child long ago, and we both know it. A boy becomes a man before knighthood, unless he somehow manages to be knighted when he is fourteen, and a girl becomes a woman during her first moonblooding. So do not sit there and hide behind the falsity of your childhood." He pauses long enough to drain the rest of his tankard of beer, and rises, his meal untouched. "You are family, and so shall always have my love, whatever your sins, sister Rowenna. But I do not respect you or your actions. Anything you have done that was good and true is painted by your deceit and betrayel."
"If gaining title and prestige were so important to me, brother, why would I have ever told anyone the truth?" Rowenna answers back, eyes narrowing with hurt and her own simmering anger. "Do you think I couldn't have kept up the charade? If I'd married Igara Frey, she'd likely have kept my secret — it would have protected her from ever having to suffer the touch of a man, a thing which the poor girl hates. I will admit, and readily, that when I left the Mire and began this deception — as a child — I did so for two reasons: to protect Rowan from the abuse and misery he'd suffer as a squire, and to protect myself from the abuse and misery I'd have suffered as Rowenna Frey. Yes, there was selfishness in that. But no longer. I hide behind nothing and I fear nothing — all that I have said to you is true."
"Ah, so it must be a coincidence that you coming out happened after you were knighted, then. Nevermind your marraige to Ser Rivers. Very convenient, that. Saves you from having to do your duty to this family like the rest of us." Riordan notes this with a shake of his head, sheer disbelief on his features. "No, how could you be selfish any longer, with a record of events like that?" Rowenna's brother lets out a derisive snort. "I daresay even King Bob would have nothing but duty ahead of him after getting all that out of his system." He falls silent, looking down at her for a last moment, before simply saying, "Good evening, sister." And, with that, he turns to take his leave from her.
"Oh, sweet Seven, poor you. Knight and regent and the Old Man's favorite — your duty to the family is so hard." Rowenna rolls her eyes and stands, allowing him his leave and moving to take her own.
Riordan actually stiffens at Rowenna's words, as if a whip had gone across his back. He turns, slowly, towards her. Rather then anger in his eyes, though, is something that has been there all along, hiding behind his temper. Sadness. And perhaps a hint of jealousy. "If only I could be selfish as you, I would trade it all in a heartbeat. You are not the only one in this family to know love, sister." His words are quiet, no hint of his wrath even lingering in his tone. And then, he simply turns, heading for the door, his escort moving to follow a moment after.