|Scylla and Charybdis|
|Summary:||With the Greyjoy duel approaching, Jaremy is forced to make a decision.|
|Related Logs:||Water and Iron Equals Rust and Pride and Prejudice|
|Town Square, Stonebridge|
|The surrounding terrain has several small gullies and streams that feed into the waterfront area just adjacent to the town square, the sails of the boats visible over the tops of the buildings. The square is floored in the same heavy stone that the east docks and castle are constructed of while the buildings are a mix of the stone, wood, and mortar. There are quite a few fish vendors with their fragrant catches for sale among groups of tables which tend to be busy most of the time.|
The day of the duel draws near its end, and Jaremy has spent much of the day discussing the events of the tourney with his father Jerold and Lord Jason Mallister. Outside of the events, he has been "walking the room" so-to-speak, getting in face time with the other nobles while busying himself with staying away from the Nayland and Tordane camps. Though as the day draws closer to dark, he's started to feel a dark lump in his stomach. Ser Kevan would need to be found for one last conversation before the duel. With his retinue of two sworn swords, Jaremy weaves around the tents, craning his neck to try to find the newest knight of Terrick's Roost.
Kevan's been dividing his time between the camps and the inn; right now, he's at the former. Already clad in his armor, with his cloak wrapped about his shoulders, he's standing next to where his horse is tied up. His greatsword is, as usual, strapped to the saddle; a hand removes the large blade from its scabbard, and Kevan gives the weapon a look over. A fingertip runs along the blade, drawing a thin line of blood; still plenty sharp.
The large blade is enough to identify the knight, and the sight of it causes Jaremy to turn quickly, heading onto the grass from the main walking path. Stepping around a cookfire, he rests his wrist over his sword, keeping it at his side. "Ser Kevan." He addresses plainly, stepping over to the knight and his horse, Leviathan. "The talk and the rumors are everywhere and I've been unable to break free to get to you. We must talk about this duel before the Grayjoys break from their camp."
Kevan turns, hearing Jaremy's voice behind him. Eyes flick from Jaremy, to Jaremy's sworn, and back to Jaremy again. He pauses, then nods gravely to the young lord, replacing the sword in its sheath. "Aye, m'lord," he intones woodenly, coming away from the horse and falling into step with Terrick and his entourage. "Thought you might." Need to talk about it, he means.
"Right, right…" Jaremy lowers his voice, keeping their conversation as private as it can be. Glancing down the row, in the direction of the Greyjoy camp, Jaremy takes a moment to scout for signs of their passing. Seeing none, he turns back to Ser Kevan. "I've heard the good rumors and the bad about this one, but I've seen this Lady Blackmane myself. You're walking a dangerous line, as I don't believe she's actual nobility, Kevan. Are you sure you know what you're doing?"
Kevan leans in, and his scratchy voice becomes as low as Jaremy's. "M'lord, if she's nobility, then I'm a Dornishman." He isn't, of course. The knight's tone holds a certain bleak frankness, the sound of a man who realizes just how much he's stepped in it. "I know what she is. But I wasn't sure what else to do. That damned drunk Greyjoy was frothing at the mouth, nearabouts… if I'd sent someone for a sheriff, or tried to go myself, she'd have been handless or dead by the time anyone arrived. I wasn't going to give the fat blighter the satisfaction." Some might have expressed concern for the girl as being their prime motivation, but that doesn't seem to be the case with Kevan.
Jaremy watches Kevan closely as he speaks, and his eyes follow the man's expression most intently at his concern for the girl's life and the short time alloted. The young lord nods. "Well…at least you know where you put your heels in." Jaremy replies, his lips flattening in a look of confliction. "They Grayjoys aren't well liked in my eyes either, Ser Kevan, and I actually had the chance to meet this Lady Blackmane before leaving Terrick's Roost. She's a fine entertainer, very pretty girl. Though is she a thief? This is the one detail I can't seem to get an answer on. Are the Greyjoys just being…men of Pyke about this?"
Kevan shrugs. "To that, m'lord, I truly can't say. I'd sooner believe they were, and it wouldn't surprise me if indeed it was so. Men of Pyke, indeed." He snorts, spitting on the ground to show just what he thinks of the men of Pyke. "But as I say… I know what she is. Performer and pickpocket often go hand in hand. She might have tried to rob him, but if she did… I wasn't exactly focusing my attention on what was happening with his pursestrings, if you grasp my meaning." He sighs. "Truth be told, I'd just hoped to provoke him into a brawl. As drunk as he was, he might have forgotten all about the girl after a good fistfight, and it'd not have mattered."
"Fuck, so they may be right in the claim that she was trying to rob them, then." Jaremy growls beneath his breath, shaking his head from side to side. "I told my father this morning that these are men of Pyke, duel in the right or not once it's been called it would be a greater problem to actually halt the duel. It would be like flashing an open wound at a lizard-lion, it would only make matters worse." He looks to his knight, concern falling over his brow. "Are you ready for this, Ser Kevan? I myself shall not stop you from this, but there are many risks involved in it."
"Such were my thoughts as well, m'lord," Kevan says, bobbing his head as Jaremy explains the problem of actually stopping the thing. He grunts. "I know what's at stake, m'lord. My honor, my life — not exactly trifles." He manages a weak smile. "Aye, I can stand with that Greyjoy, or his stinking lackey." He's proud, sure, but not quite arrogant enough to claim an easy victory out of hand. "Then does this mean you and your father don't intend to release me from your service?" Kevan asks a moment later with a twitch to his brow. "I'll not ask it of you, m'lord…" He does keep his promises, when he makes them — and he'd never actually promised Anneke he'd seek his release, after all. But he does at least remember her earlier plea. "… but I have to admit, Terrick might be wiser to wash its hands of the matter."
"We've not talked about releasing you from our service, as you're a good knight, Ser Kevan. We've not lost faith in you, nor have we lost faith in the concept of a Grayjoy picking a fucking fight." Jaremy frowns, again he shakes his head. Brushing the back of his hand over his goatee, he turns the hand over to rub it in deep thought. "You're right, Terrick would be wiser to wash its hands of the matter, but the Grayjoys would simply see that as cowardice. We're dealing with entirely different animals in this one, Kevan. It seems we're no loss for rocks and hard places to choose from, aye?" He pauses. "In the short time I've known you I've come to admire your mind, Kevan, and don't believe you would act foolishly. Tell me your thoughts, though, as clearly you've a few on this matter."
"Thank you, m'lord." Deep down, Kevan is a bit surprised by the Terricks' firm support. A flash of something that almost resembles gratitude flashes in his eyes, though it disappears quickly. "Though in this case, you might be overestimating me." It's a hard thing to admit, and the knight's teeth are clenched as he says it. "I don't know if the Greyjoy came in looking for a fight. Certainly took long enough to get him up off his fat arse." He shakes his head, remembering the torrent of insults it had taken to finally provoke Maron Greyjoy. "But he did come in with… well, the sort of attitude one of you nobles has when you're looking to step on someone. You know, to remind the commons how much better than them you are." Kevan's eyes fall, his tone turning apologetic at the last. It's clear he doesn't seem to include the Terricks in that list of 'you's. "I don't think he was looking for someone who'd stand on an even footing against him."
"Greyjoys seem to think that they have no equal. Though, if the rumors are right there's a chance that Victarion Greyjoy himself might be coming to the duel to fight on behalf of Pyke, the younger brother of Balon Greyjoy himself." Jaremy steps closer, looking up the road while he speaks. It's a light bit of conspiracy, turning back towards the horse to shield their conversation from any lip-readers. "I would not abandon you, Ser Kevan, though before this duel a choice must be made. You're a good man, but as my father's son the decision has been left to me to risk taunting the Kracken as a house, or letting this fight be between two men. I would not make this decision withouth speaking with you first. You have my esteem…and I would not wish you to risk your life for this girl alone."
Kevan snorts. "Then I hope Victarion Greyjoy has a galley with wings, as the set time quickly approaches." He takes a long breath as Jaremy continues. "I would welcome your support, m'lord, but I would not think ill of you if you chose to withhold it. I've some idea, at least, of what I'd be pulling your House into if you kept me on." Political realities aren't a thing Kevan knows much of, but he's not too stupid to see what's laid out in front of him for all to see. "I didn't do it for the girl alone, m'lord," he reminds Jaremy, "… but I suppose whys and why nots hardly matter now."
"Then why did you do it, Kevan?" Jaremy replies quickly, far less a challenge as it is to drill down to the center of the issue. "You spared words to them at the tourney, and I would be a hypocrite to scold you for them. I was rather public with Ser Rygar, but it's well known to me that you have no love for Pyke." He nods towards the dirt, where a drying pool of saliva sits near the grass. "Greyjoy is easy to taunt, and quick to anger, Kevan. Pyke rests to the west of Terrick's Roost and Lord Mallister's seat. Worst case, they would call a war against Terrick. If we're lucky…" Jaremy lifts his shoulder. "You kill whoever this duelist is and collect everything he owns, and the issue is left as fate. I don't know Balon Greyjoy's mind, though I know well of his reputation."
"Why? If you must know, m'lord…" Kevan utters a ragged breath, drawing himself up to his full height. "The Riverlands have suffered Greyjoy arrogance long enough. My home was razed by the ironborn, did you know that? Not long after my twelfth name-day. My parents, my siblings… Twenty years hence, and I still do not know if they lived or if they fell that day." His voice is hushed, but it seethes with long-sublimated anger nonetheless. "And they continue to plague our shores. The raids are occasionally stemmed, but they never stop. The Crown, the Mallisters, even the Lannisters… no one will do what is needed to stop them, and all the krakens do is laugh at their own good fortune — and continue to plunder and murder those that can't defend themselves, instead of seeking a true battle with them that can." A booted foot kicks at the ground, knocking loose several clumps of mud. "When Maron Greyjoy walked in that tavern, I saw that same arrogance plastered on his face. I knew what he wanted. He didn't want to cross swords or trade blows with a worthy opponent, he wanted to hurt someone. I've seen enough of that mix of cruelty and arrogance, and I knew then I couldn't let him take what he had in mind. No more. Someone, somewhere, has to draw the fucking line."
Jaremy quiets, staring at his sworn knight in utter silence long after Kevan's words have finished. For that very moment, it appears that the tourney has aged him, and that something has stirred deep inside the youthful body of his. After what seems like a milennia, the side of his lip tugs in a frown, and his chest rises in a long, slow intake of breath. "First…you kill this man and live, Ser Kevan. That is the first step." He reaches out, placing a hand on the knight's shoulder, squeezing. "Should Balon Grayjoy turn his eyes for revenge to this reason, it must be over a man and not a house, less we commit all of Riverlands to war. You are right, the line must be drawn, but it must be done the right way. I cannot commit House Terrick to risking war far all, not without garnering support first." He frowns. "I am sorry, this is what is necessary for my liege lord, Lord Mallister, and his house and holdings. I must release you from service and take your badge, but know that I pray for your soul. Be strong, Ser Kevan."