|Spit Rather Than Swallow|
|Summary:||Rowenna and Jarod Nayland/Rivers/Something take a side trip to Stonebridge for the upcoming duel extravaganza. Ser Rygar disapproves of everything.|
|Related Logs:||The Stonebridge saga, especially Answered as a Knight|
|A cradle of contention!|
|Fri Apr 27, 289|
Ser Jarod (nee Rivers?) has come to Stonebridge, in the company of his wife, she who is Rowenna Nayland. With the duel approaching in mere days, they weren't about to miss the show. And probably had many other motivations and concerns that made them want to witness it. Though Jarod claimed while leaving the Mire that he wished a private word with Ser Gedeon, he rode past (or asked Rowenna to ride past, as he is leery of trying to take the reins of her temperamental charger) Gedeon's pavilion and into town proper. "We can likely find cheap lodgings down by the waterfront," he says to her as he sits, riding behind her, as they enter into town in the later afternoon. Without the (admittedly increasingly meager) treasury of Four Eagles to draw on for his pay, he's hesitant to waste silver on a place like Crane's Crossing.
"Good enough," says Rowenna, guiding Dragon down along the water. "It's been a while since I was in a bar fight, anyhow — and never in a dress. It'll be good practice." The busy crowd along the wharf parts for the big horse and its riders, though eyes follow. "So long as the bed's sturdy, I'm sure we'll be fine."
As near as the ominous duel draws, there are some in Stonebridge for whome this day is business as usual. One of these diligent folk is the distinct person of Ser Rygar, who can be seen passing through the town square toward the waterfront. Speaking with the dour knight is a commoner, likely one of the dockmasters, if the constant chatter about tariffs, tolls, and such is any indication. As the big warhorse and its masters draw the eyes of several, Rygar's is among them. A brief word dismisses the dockmaster, who withdraws with a bow.
Jarod snorts a laugh into Rowenna's neck. "Sure we will." It's an easy rejoinder, though he's cracked few jokes himself since suggesting they should set out for the town across the Stone Bridge. Which is about all he's said about what passed between he and his wife the night before they left on this little jaunt to watch at least one person die. Already distracted, his eyes scan the faces of the folk in the square they pass. Inevitably, they fall on Rygar. He does not call out himself to the Nayland man, but he nudges Rowenna to get her attention in that direction.
Rowenna makes a vague and inquiring sound at the nudge, though she sits up straighter when she spies her cousin. There's a moment of hesitation before she takes a breath and steels herself for the inevitable Disapproval. She gives Jarod's knee a squeeze, dismounts, and goes to greet her kin. "Cousin," she says, solemn but unflinching. For the moment, at least. The flinching will probably come.
"Lady," is Rygar's initial word of acknowledgement. "You ride from the east," he observes plainly, noting the facing of their horse. "What word do you bring," he prompts at last, words chosen and arranged in a questioning manner, but the tone lacking any curious inflection.
Jarod speaks not to Rygar immediately himself, as his question was to the lady. He does regard the knight, straightening his posture some in the saddle.
"None but my own," says Rowenna, "though I'm certain my father and family with you well." She frowns. "For my part, I wish you wouldn't do this."
"Do you," Rygar sniffs flatly. "To where are you bound, lady?" he prompts, before giving any further answer. "I shall see you through the square and you may explain precisely which of my actions has met with your disapproval," he notes sharply in response to Rowenna's words and wishes.
Jarod dismounts, as the horse has drawn to a stop. Perhaps tiring of looking down at Rygar. "We seek lodgings for the night and morrow, Ser. My own wish is to see this done, whatever comes of it."
"We mean to take a modest room on the water," says Rowenna. "Perhaps you can recommend a place? And no one's speaking of disapproval, cousin," the sword-girded lady goes on, taking the reins to lead Dragon. "Only that is seems a shame you should risk dying over someone stealing what we stole in the first place. There's no righteous stance, here."
Rygar takes a moment to regard Jarod, before answering Rowenna. "I recall your disregard for the rights of either house in Stonebridge, Ser." Then his cold eye turns back upon his cousin, as he begins leading the pair and their horse toward the Crane. "There is one element of knighthood that you have clearly never learned, lady. For one's vows or oaths to be of worth, a knight must be honest. Truth is the highest service of knighthood, and had you truly learned anything from me in your youth, you would know that there is justice in truth. Gedeon Rivers is a liar and a traitor. Regardless of whether or not you approve of the Nayland claim, my words are true and in naming him so, my cause is righteous. I would be a poor knight indeed if I cared so little for truth that I loved my own life better than what is right." A short sniff. "A room may be arranged that is fit for a noble. I would not have it said of Stonebridge that the Naylands are lacking in courtesy."
"I am sorry if I gave offense when we spoke before Alderbrook, Ser Nayland," Jarod says. "I intended none. It seems I give much I do not always intend. We will thank you for the room, it is graciously offered."
"There are plenty of liars and traitors in the world, cousin. We cannot duel them all, and therefore must choose our battles," say Rowenna, simply. "However much I admire your integrity, I still wish you hadn't chosen this one."
"More is the pity," Rygar answers curtly to Rowan's statement that the world is full of liars and not all can be duelled. "Yet I can duel this one. If you are content to wish away a just contest simply because one cannot unmake all wickedness then you have learned even less from me than I had hoped." Jarod's apology is met with a sidelong look and short nod. "You did, Ser. To abandon truth is to abandon justice. Such resignation ill becomes a knight."
"I have worn many things that become me ill in my life, Ser. I am trying to shed them," Jarod says. "Along with my spurs, it seems. It strikes me lately that honest men are harshly dealt with, and the world loves those who lie to it prettily. That is a poor world, though. Perhaps enough honest men could change it."
Rowenna glances at Rygar. "You mistake me, cousin. Of all the liars and traitors we meet in a lifetime, you have chosen this one. There must be some scale by which you measure their iniquity, to decide which are worthy of calling out and which to pass over. I wonder why Gedeon Tordane is so more more offensive than the others."
"I shall answer you after you answer me, lady: do you believe the bastard's letters to be legitimate?" Rygar wonders evenly. "Do not insult me with an avoidance, I know that in your heart you believe one way or the other. The Pretender has used deceit and fraud to deprive my House of its future prosperity. He deprives my children of their future, and slanders faithful folk for naught but his own advancement. All that he required to prevail in this outrage if for honest men to sit idle."
Jarod looks up at Rowenna at that question posed by Rygar. He's curious about it himself, perhaps. And keeps quiet until for her answer.
Rowenna keeps her voice low, but doesn't look away. "My beliefs are irrelevant. You believe he lies — but at the same time you know our claim is predicated on a lie, as well. That there was no proof of Lord Geoffrey's wishes for Isolde to marry Jaremy, all while Valda his away his last letter to her. What a face. Yet you are so outraged by the liar lying about the lying liars — and that seems unfortunately selective."
"Ser Gedeon was poisoned in Stonebridge after he was known to have had possessed those letters, Ser. And the boy who delivered him that poison died. And a septon who called those letters true died as well." Jarod simply lays out the facts he can't quite shake, simpler things than the broader question of the letters. "Only Ser Gedeon and Lady Valda know the truth, and neither of them are sources any man can honestly say they trust. The gods can judge them true or false on the morrow. Perhaps it's the best we'll ever do."
"You wrong me, lady," Rygar states coldly to Rowenna. "And you are a blind fool, Ser," to Jarod. "There is ample precedent for the terms of a will to be forgone. There is none ever to live who can truly say that a forgery deserves to make a nobleman out of a liar. Had any in the Terrick camp the will to know truth rather than greedy vengeance, they could readily have learned, as I have: that Geoffrey Tordane were near insensate for the hour in which he clung to life after taking his mortal wound. He could not have penned the letter that the bastard Pretender has produced." To Rowenna, "Isolde's marriage were legitimate. Gedeon Rivers is not. This is truth. It is not so fair or well spoken as the Pretender's lies, and for that it seems even my cousin will not support me." A short snort. "So be it."
"So we exploited the letter of the law with a lie, while with a lie your Pretender subverted the law entire. You ascribe far more evil to the latter than I do. To me, a lie is a lie is a lie. But as a liar, that's probably easy for me to say." Rowenna shakes her head. "You are my family, cousin. I can't support you in this, but neither can I support the man who might slay my kinsman. I won't be at the duel — either outcome is a tragedy I cannot bear to watch. The gods will choose the victor, and I will live with their decision, as I must in all things."
"That truth would have been best presented at Riverrun, along with he who was witness to it. Or at King's Landing. There was time. It was not done, and so it cannot be judged," Jarod replies to that. Though he doesn't really call it untrue, looking at Rowenna long before he turns his eyes back to Rygar. He doesn't really answer anything she says. "Ser…" He trails off and sort of collects his thoughts, like he's not quite sure what he wants to say. "…do you think there could ever be an accord between Lord Jerold's house and Lord Rickart's, if the Naylands keep Stonebridge? Would the Mire ever stop trying to put the Roost on its knees, either to itself or the Twins? My lord father's ambitions to regain it, I figure, would be done with Ser Gedeon's death. So I think it might be on our part."
"Then you are a coward, as well as a liar, lady," Rygar answers in his habitual stony manner to Rowenna's words. From her he looks again to Jarod, "Clearly my truths were not sweet enough for Hoster Tully, nor was blood spilled sufficient to overcome Mallister friendship in the eyes of the King. I do not have it in me to swallow such slights meekly, and I hold only scorn for those who would bend in my stead." As for the latter, "Before the King's decision, I had advised against sending charity to the Roost," he shares, oddly. "I am not a charitable man. Lord Rickart, swayed by the pleas of Riordan and Roland, had agreed to send a gesture of good faith to Lord Jerold. From the moment Stonebridge came to us through Isolde's marriage, there has been nothing of deceit in my house, but so poisoned are you both with hate and suspicion that you shall not see it as such." A short sniff follows. "Would that I had the talent or the stomach for sweet lies, it might not have come to this."
Rowenna shakes her head. "I'm sorry you feel that way, cousin," is her only reply, gaze lowered at last. She looks to Jarod, as well. She's done.
"I do not hate you, Ser. And I love she who wears your House's name enough to take it for my own, should Lord Rickart allow." Jarod looks briefly up at the Nayland lady. His green eyes are warm, though his expression is one of some sadness. "I cannot wish for your victory, Ser. Call it sentiment if you like. I am very flawed in that manner, and I know not how to be otherwise. But I understand what you do, I think. Can't fault a man for wanting to build something, for that which he loves. I would say a prayer for your sons, that they may find peace with whatever the outcome is, if you would not be offended by such from me."
"Console yourself for that weakness however you wish, Ser," Rygar advises Jarod with at talk of sentiment with scorn, but not ire. "Prayers for my sons are but words, and words are wind. It is the deeds of men that speak louder than any wind." A slow shake of his head, "I will not surrender a just cause or deny that justice still exist to be had, as so many others are willing to do. If the pair of you may rest content in such a void, you are welcome to do so."
Rowenna reaches for Jarod's hand as he speaks, her expression mirroring his, tender and sad. Fingers interlace and hold fast, her other hand still on Dragon's reins. "I regret that we disappoint you so, cousin… though I am not sure there is anything in the world of men that could match the perfection your ideals demand." She bows her head to Ser Rygar. "Seven look kindly on you."
"I do not rest content in it, Ser," Jarod says, for his part, looking straight ahead rather than at either of them. Though he takes Rowenna's hand, lacing her slimmer fingers in his larger ones. "And part of me wonders, though I would not say it in the Mire or back in the Roost…if it might not be better if you won for my family, in the long. Just have it finished clean, once and for all. Burn the wound so it stops festering. Start over. Build something that's at least new. Anyhow. I would miss you, Ser. You are a true knight, and there are few enough in this world that it'd be a shame to lose another."
"I would like to return words of respect to you both," Rygar voices back after a moment's silence. "But find that I cannot. May you both grow better and braver than you are today, and when you taste surrender, spit rather than swallow." A curt word to one of the peasantry at the door of the Crane to run within and "See a room prepared, fit for a Nayland." He does not offer coin for the payment of such to Rowenna or Jarod, instead passing it to the smallfolk, directly.
"A fine benediction, thank you, cousin," says Rowenna. She hands Dragon off to the hostler, bows her head to Rygar, and gives Jarod's hand a squeeze, releasing it to precede him inside.
"Ever a chipper fellow, your cousin," Jarod mutters wry as he makes his way into the Crane, holding the door for Rowenna, then closing it after him. "Well. This is finer than the waterfront, at least." Fit for a Nayland or not, he's not going to turn down free board. "If you want to go back to the Mire, don't worry about the horse. The walk back's not that long, and I'll not be in any hurry."
"No," says Rowenna, softly. She looks back at the door a moment, then turns to look up at her husband. "No. I can't watch, but… I'll want to know as soon as it's done."
"Fair enough." Jarod is not particularly eager to linger in the common room, and heads up to claim their space that's fit for a Nayland. Holding the door open for his wife again, when he reaches it. "And before you ask - again - I've no intention of hitting Gedeon. We were friends once, whatever in seven hells we are now. I feel like I owe him…something. Not sure what."
Rowenna chuckles, leaning up to kiss him softly. "I never doubt your intentions," she tells him, kissing him again before resting against his chest and closing her eyes. "I'm exhausted."
Jarod tries to nip at her ear before she rests her head out of nipping range. Smiling some, whatever he might still be stewing on, from their words with Rygar earlier. "Feels good being back in this town. Always did like it here. Anyhow. My intentions, such as they are, are to go see Ser Gedeon tonight. If I'm back late, don't worry. There aren't any bogs here for your kin to lose me in."