|Summary:||Ser Jarod and his squire spar — with swords, and with words, contesting Rowan's woefully persistent virginity.|
|The Green — Terrick's Roost|
|The Green is a large field of deep green grass, nearly flat, that runs along the base of the towers. The road into town runs along the far edge, hemming it in neatly to a confined area where beyond a line of trees serves as a subtle windbreak. This area is most often used for drilling or practice for the guards but also serves as home for festivals, tournements, and another other gathering that might require the space for a large number of the local residents. A well-trodden path winds around the side of the wall and moves towards the coastline.|
It's a beautiful afternoon on the green, late shadows slanting across the practice yard, a cool breeze relieving the heat. Up from the town and into the yard, a gangly boy comes running, a sword bound in cloth held securely in his arms. He pauses at the edge of the yard, catching his breath, flopping dark curls back from his face, even darker eyes scanning for his knight. Target acquired, the lad's delicate face lights up with a smile, and he strides over to present Ser Jarod with the newly sharpened blade — that with which he was sent hence less than two hours past. No ale on the boy's breath. Certainly no rouge on his collar, or perfume clinging to his clothing. Mission: Get Rowan Fucked has once again failed. But the boy seems to be oblivious that any such mission was in effect, presenting the sword proudly and looking pleased with his work. "Oi! Got your sword back. Made sure the smith got it done first thing he could. It'll cleave an eyelash in twain now, I'll warrant."
Jarod is standing on the edge of the green, talking and chuckling with a couple of the guardsman from the castle. He's telling a story (or perhaps a dirty joke, it's unclear) that, from the middle snippets Rowan catches on approach, involves a Westerlands girl, a mule, and a septon. "…so the girl says, 'I never knew you could do that with a candle, goodsir,' and…" And then he's interrupted by Rowan. "Oh. Rowan. You're back." He plainly wasn't expected him this early. And, after giving the boy a look-over, appears rather disappointed. "Oh. Grand. Figured you'd take longer in town, though. You've leave to have a bit of fun now and again, you know."
Rowan grimaces as Jarod pulls up short of the punchline. "Gods be good, did I interrupt another of your homilies? I'm sure the moral lesson therein would have enriched us all. Such a pious knight I'm blessed to serve." He smirks and goes to one knee, unbinding and unwrapping the blade, then rising to present it properly. "I do have fun, Ser! All the time. Just in wee small blink-and-you'll-miss it increments."
"It's pious as anything. Septon marries the mule. True love triumphant," Jarod smirks back. As for the latter, he just sighs. "I must do a lot of blinking, then. I don't know what I'm going to do with you, Rowan. I truly don't." He takes the blade and hefts it, deftly curving through the air in a few idle practice swings. "Well, you don't fuck up my equipment, at least. This looks good. Gear up. I want to test this out. I need the practice. And I know you've got the energy for it." That last statement is accompanied by a heavy sigh, of course.
Rowan nods. "You do. Do a lot of blinking." He squints at his knight. "Makes you look a little dim. Been meaning to tell you." There's a quick dart to the side, just in case his ear's in for a clouting. At the approval of the blade, he laughs. "Well, Ser, at least there's one thing I don't fuck you can be glad of. Right! Gearing!" He takes off running to do as he's bid.
Jarod gets a laugh out of that. "Look at that. Cheeky little bugger, isn't he? Deplorable manners." Of which he approves, of course. "Well, at least I'm having some sort of positive impact." He takes to the center of the field to continue his fencing match with the air. Strokes long and almost lazy as he warms up hsi muscles for the work. The fluid way he handles it makes the blade look almost light, though Rowan could attest that's very much not the case. "Hurry it up. I'll want you to set up the dummies for lancing practice after we're through with blades today. My fair lord brother'll be taking a crack at them later. Could use a turn at them myself, likely."
Speedy as he is biddable (and cheeky), Rowan comes trotting back to the field, armed and armored. It's not the best stuff, a squire's practice gear, but over many, many moons and countless hours drilling, the boy's learned to move in it well enough. A far cry from when he started, tipped on his back like a turtle and flailing, unable to right himself. "Are you going to enter the joust and the melee both, Ser?" he asks, loosening up with a few swings of his own.
"Grand melee for certain. That's where the real men are made," Jarod says with a broad and rather boyish grin. "Chance to knock the heads with the best warriors in the Seven Kingdoms, and we'll not likely get it again soon in the Riverlands. As for the joust…may well. May not. Still thinking on it. One bad turn and you can fuck up your armor or your ankle, and the melee gets damned dangerous if you're not at your best. Besides, I expect the purse'll go to Jaremy if any of us take it. He's a better rider. If Father lets him come out to play, that is."
"Oh is it, now?" asks the squire, cheek back in a flash, tone and dimples. "S'that mean if I win the squire's melee you'll stop trying to throw me to the whores?" One fine eyebrow is arched in inquiry, a smirk shaping his lips. He continues moving, going through sword forms and stances that serve both to limber and drill memory into the muscles. "Your honored father has t'let him out every so often, doesn't he? The people aren't going t'love Jaremy just 'cause he's pretty — world worked like that, I'd have not a problem or a care. They'll love him if he's grand, though. They've got to see him do grand things."
"Certainly not. It just means I'll stop feeling obliged to give you coin for it for awhile," Jarod replies, pausing in his own little warm-up routine to observe Rowan. "You're an odd bird, Nayland. Damned odd. You need to stop fretting and get it done with. Everything'll seem easier afterwards. Girls don't have teeth and claws between their legs, you know. Well, I've heard some rumors about Eastern girls, but fortunately we haven't got any of the clawed variety here."
Despite the ongoing commentary on Rowan's sad, sad virginity, he is watching the lad closely. Try that defensive position we practiced last time, sword high, parallel to the ground. Keep it a little above your head. That's how you *keep* your head attached to you, converse as the thought might be. How's the weight feel?" As he waits for an answer he adds, "Tourney isn't real war, but those won't be blunted blades. Shit happens if you get careless, or somebody gets more bloodthirsty than is strictly sporting. Lord and Lady Terrick are just trying to preserve their heir from any accidents of stupidity." Another grin. "That is the beauty of expendibility, my young Nayland. I, on the other hand, get to be as stupid as I like."
Obediently, Rowan turns and raises his blade high, twisting his body to bring it 'round again. "Girls from the east Kingdoms, or farther out?" he asks, pausing in speaking for just a moment to breathe through another repetition of the motion. "Might want to save those for last, if they're in the Eight." He snorts faintly. "Is it so odd to want to be in love? To want it to be special?" He points his sword at Jarod, peering down the blade at him. "I might save it for marriage, just to spite you." Practicing the next defensive set, he goes on, "Lord Jaremy's not the careless type. You ask me, he's a bit timid — not that he lacks courage, mind. Just he thinks too sodding much." He stops, suddenly, and shoots Jarod a look. "You're expendable like Robert Baratheon's got tits, my slightly-less-young Ser. Hate t'rain on the rakehell parade." As for the weight of the blade, he lets his form do the talking. Slender those arms might be, but they're all muscle. If there's one thing the boy's never stinted on, it's drills.
"I don't think you run the risk of jaws-in-nethers until you cross the Narrow Sea," Jarod replies. "Won't need one of them to make the eight. Though I've heard some interesting stories about Dornish girls." He sounds more intrigued than daunted. "Oh seven hells, not this again. Yes, it's odd. You are odd. And you'll die a virgin if you keep up that Florian and Jonquil sighing-poet buggery. And trust me, *that* would be a tragedy. Besides, you aren't a maiden. Best to know what in seven hells you're doing before you have to do it to a wife. It's like anything else. You'll be awful the first time, so you damn well better keep practicing until it gets fun." He brings his blade down, rather slow, on Rowan's defense. He's testing the younger man's position rather than actually trying to break it. "Tilt it just a hair more. Your grip's fine, just roll your wrists."
As for the latter, he laughs. "You're mistaken. My good lord father's political fortunes wouldn't suffer a wit if I got my head knocked off. Can always make more bastards, after all, if he's wanting of another. But aye. Time for Jaremy to just be a man about it and tell Father he's riding. It'll do him good."
"If I've got a wife, then it won't matter a whit if I'm bad at it, will it? Can practice on her for the rest of our lives." Odd. And stubborn as seven hells. He rolls his wrists and gives a good shove, breaking the blade lock and spinning away. "If only the world's worth were determined by your father's fortunes. But it isn't." He rounds on the knight, arcing a broad sweep toward Jarod's side.
"Such a lack of appreciation for my attempts to fasion you into something useful," Jarod sighs, pivoting lightly to catch Rowan's sweep, and answer it with a downward swing at his right leg. It's an attempt to trip the squire. Or at least make him jump. "Your parents out looking for your one true love to marry you off to, then? I somehow doubt it."
"Knights are useful," retorts Rowan. Caught off-guard, he jumps at the last possible second and stumbles backwards, barely keeping his feet for the awkward landing. Recovering, he readies his blade, gaze shifting from Jarod's eyes to his arm, determined to be ready for the next gambit. "I thought that's what you were fashioning me into." He breathes out a mirthless laugh. "I somehow doubt it, too. Got any idea how many older siblings I've got? And I'm the runt. He couldn't marry me off if I'd a fucking dowry."
Jarod waits for Rowan to recover, rather than pressing him further. "Yes, well, you manage the martial bits passably enough," he says. There was a compliment lurking in there. Somewhere. "But I've got far more wisdom about the ways of the world to impart than that, my good squire. Wasted on you, mournfully, but a man's got to try. "You're lucky I'm so tolerant. Knight I squired for was the one who broke me nose. Said I was too pretty." He laughs. "Ser Vernon would've had you through ten whores and growing a proper beard after a year. I feel like I'm disappointing him terribly."
Rowan pauses for a moment, frowning. He tilts his head, studying Jarod pensively. "It's actually disappointing to you? That I'm not — I haven't — " He sweeps his blade out to the side in a vague gesture. "You know."
"Oh, seven hells, don't get all odd about it," Jarod sighs. "I *do* think you'd be happier if you just got it over with. You, my young lord Nayland, are *not* expendable, and you'll likely end up married to some blotchy Frey girl or some rich Westerlands widow who'll fill your parents coffers some. Might as well try a hand at a few things you want before you're locked up with something you're obligated to. Defend low and right. That'll keep me from tripping you." He tries to do just that again, close to precisely as how he did it before, so see it Rowan does any better at stumbling over it. "I don't figure anybody ends up with a grand love like the songs, anyhow. So, you might as well have as much fun with it as you can."
"I'm not odd," Rowan snaps, testily. "You're the one who talks about love and fucking like he doesn't know the sodding difference. I think that's ODD." His sword snaps down and to the right, ringing out against Jarod's blade. He always moves quicker when he's not thinking of it, and right now he's in a fit of pique. "Neither is it odd that I should care what you think. You're my mentor, after all. And my friend." He feints left, then drives for Jarod's middle. "Only one I've got, save my sister."
Jarod grins as Rowan's speed picks up, and he has to parry quick and jump to avoid that strike at his middle. "That's more like it. You fight better when you're pissed off. Ser Vernon said I did the same. Keeps you from over-thinking things." He stays on defense now, as if curious to see what Rowan will throw at him. "And I know the difference, my young Nayland, I assure you. You don't, though." Not a comment he explains. "Well, you'll figure it out. Why'd your sister run off, anyhow? Impending marriage to something blotchy?"
The knight jumps and the squire pursues, pressing the advantage, keeping their blades locked. "You think I can't know what love is 'cause I've never fucked?" Rowan snorts. "I think you can't know love because all you do is fuck. You should come up for air, some time." Two hands on the pommel, he levers and twists his blade in an attempt to disarm Jarod. "That's exactly why," he says of his sister.
"Good on her, then," Jarod replies. Though as he actually has to defend with more attention, he chats slightly less. He turns and swings his blade to meet Rowan's attack hard, locking them and trying to push the younger man back. "At least your sister was smart enough to realize she wasn't getting a minstril's song out of life. Fifteen's earlier than most of us learn it. At least I enjoy myself as I can."
"She's getting precisely a minstrel's song out of life," Rowan argues. "She's doing what she always dreamed." In a contest of size and sheer strength between the two, there's no contest at all. For a moment, fueled with lingering ire, Rowan leans in with all his slender might, holding ground, beading sweat — nearly nose-to-nose with Jarod. And there's an odd moment, just then. Even odder than Rowan's usual oddness — a moment where the his long lashes lower in a manner unmistakably feminine. Or do they? It's just a fleeting instant, and then the deadlock breaks and the squire stumbles back. He ducks under Jarod's arm to come 'round behind him, taking a swipe at
Jarod blinks a lot, so whatever fleeting instant there might be passes him by. He enjoys whacking things with his sword too much to really dwell on such things, anyway. "I was talking in the more poetic sense. But, aye, good for her. Takes balls to see what you want in life and take it. Poetically speaking." He does press the advantage this time, catching the swipe in the side with his armor without trying to deflect it, though it makes him grunt. That'll bruise some. But he uses the moment to swing his sword at the squire's passing arm. Not hard enough to sprain if it connects, quite, but the aim is to jar his sword-hand.
There's a hiss through gritted teeth as Jarod's blow connects, giving easily as good as he got, bruise for bruise. Rowan falls back a step to give himself time to work the numb pinpricks out of his arm. "Fucking gangrenous balls of a syphilitic goat, that stung. And yes. Rowenna has balls." There's a faint smirk. "More'n I do." He comes again, arcing a blow at that same side. "I'd be going harder on you, but I don't want to damage you too much for the games," the squire jests, panting a bit.
"Appreciate your charity, my kindly and gentle-hearted friend. Forgive me if I don't return it," Jarod replies, not giving Rowan time to recover this time. He meets teh arc with his own blade, pushing again, and now actively trying to knock the sword out of the squire's hand. "I've time to heal before the games. It's my good lord uncle I'm practicing for. He wants to have a go at me in the yard in a bit. He seems to think I said something offensive." Imagine that.
"You? Something offensive?" Imagine that, indeed. Rowan laughs even as he backpedals, switching stances with well-trained rapidity as he blocks blow after blow. It doesn't keep him from being pressed further and further back, however. He dances swiftly and with grace to keep his sword free, but the dancing costs him breath. And bit by bit, he flags. It takes only a moment's hesitation for his blade to be caught and locked with Jarod's, and the lad knows what's coming even before the blade's pried from his grasp. "Fuck!" Breathing hard, he watches his sword arc through the air and come to rest stuck upright in the dirt, far too far away. "Fuck," he says again, sighing and bending knee. "You have vanquished me, Ser Jarod, and proven yourself the mightier, et cetera, et cetera…" he flashes a grin up at the knight. "Spare my life?"
"Won't be anyone to polish my armor if I kill you today, Nayland. Alright, alright, I'll spare you." Jarod sheaths his sword, breathing deep, left sweaty and winded from all the pivoting about in heavy armor. "Your technique's coming along just fine, and foot-work's sharp. Sharper than most your age. That'll help. But your still going to get that skinny ass as yours tossed sooner or later by bigger men if you get up against them in something like the squire's melee. Not much we can do about that. Try not to throw yourself straight at them. Feint. Deflect. Try to trip them. Take a few groin shots. Not like the armor won't stpp them, but bloke's going to instinctively be rather scared of that. At least they'll under-estimate you. And that, my squire, is highly useful. If you want to compete in the melee at all. No better way to break yourself stupidly than that." Which is half the reason he's looking forward to it, likely. "I'd concentrate on preparing for the joust when it comes to the tourney. And the archery competition. Brute strength isn't going to matter so much there, and those I fancy you've got a shot at taking."
Still grinning, Rowan pulls himself to his feet, armor weighing more heavily as adrenaline ebbs and muscles begin to protest their exhaustion. He listens attentively to Jarod's instruction, nodding at the pointers given. At the cautions about the melee, the squire's expression settles into a crooked, quietly determined smile. "I guess that's why they've got the melee last, eh?" He shakes his head. "I want it all. All three. I'm smaller than the other squires, but I'm faster, I'm smarter, and I want it more than they ever could. Surely that's a reason for the Seven to smile on my efforts."
"If the Seven have ever reached down and helped me direct when someone was swinging a sword at my head, I've never noticed it," Jarod quips. "Pray the Seven, that's all well and good, but it's your own hand and your own weapons'll that'll have to do the work. We'll work on technique more tomorrow, if you're set on it. For now, get those dummies set up for jousting practice." He'll take a breather to lounge on the green while Rowan's at that.