Page 183: Staying and Going
Staying and Going
Summary: Hardwicke welcomes Jarod back, Caytiv has a request, and Anais makes plans.
Date: January 16, 2012
Related Logs: The host of breaking the siege on the Roost logs.
Hardwicke Jarod Anais Caytiv Muirenn 
Courtyard — Four Eagles Tower
The Courtyard of Four Eagles Tower is floored with a fine grey stone that match the color and tone of the interior structure of the castle's yard. Plants have been potted and placed around the entrances to add some color, the greenery accompanied by several trellises of flowers that climb the support columns. The most prominent structure in the area is the set of large slab steps that lead up to the great oak doors of the Great Hall. Several hallways and accesses lead off into different sections of Four Eagles which makes this the hub of noble activity when court is not being held.
January 16, 289

After a few hours out in the village, coordinating, observing, doing general rebuild-the-town duties, Hardwicke returns back to the castle. Delylah has been newly deposited with a stableboy, and the Captain sweeps back out of the stables, pulling off his gloves as he goes and tucking them into his belt.

Jarod awoke early and headed to town himself, though he was there and back before Hardwicke. He is the in the courtyard now, talking with a couple of guardsmen who aren't presently on duty. They're the ones who notice Hardwicke before he does, though once his eye goes that direction, Jarod offers an inclination of his head to the Captain of the Guard. "Ser Blayne."

Last night Anais received confirmation of her sister's death at Tall Oaks, along with a letter if rumor is correct. This morning, however, she rose as she always dose, bright and early, and set once more to trying to appropriately ration the supplies remaining in the keep. She also seems to have taken on the task of keeping Lord Rickart Nayland happy and well-flattered, which likely explains why she's rubbing at her jaw as she comes out of the castle. Smile until it hurts, and keep smiling until it stops.

"Rivers." Hardwicke is in a decent enough mood — or just too tired to care — to move forward and offer his arm for a clasp. "Little time yesterday to welcome you home." He glances at Anais as she slips out from the courtyard and jerks his chin. "Lady Anais."

Jarod has a more pale and tired look about him than could be called usual for the young knight. Though times were rather less heavy when he departed Terrick's Roost for Stonebridge, and 'the usual' is a much different matter. He shows the smallest flicker of surprise at the offered hand, but he reaches out to clasp Hardwicke's, grip warm and firm. "You look to be in one piece, Ser. That is for the good." That done, his attention goes in the direction of Hardwicke's greeting. "Anais. You look…like your jaw's about to lock up."

"Ah, Ser Hardwicke," Anais greets the knight, turning her steps to move toward the man. "I was meaning to ask you something. I just…What was it?" Her lips quirk faintly at Jarod's observation, rueful. "I've spent the morning catering to our esteemed visitor, Lord Nayland," she explains. "It's funny, it /is/ possible to smile until it hurts. Gods, I feel like a carved marionette."

"Yes, my lady?" Hardwicke asks, brows lifting as he looks for completion to her thought. His lips twist into a wry sort of skewed expression, his hand falling away from Jarod's after a firm (manlee) clasp. "I just came across Ser Rygar down in the village. Difficult family."

Jarod shifts his eyes back toward the castle. "Where is Lord Rickart at present?" he asks. A bit warily. As if worried the Harpy Lord might trail her out of the castle at any moment. "And has he mentioned how much longer he'll be trying Lord Jerold's hospitality?" He snorts something resembling a laugh. "Emphasis on 'trying' where my lord father and that one are concerned, I suspect." He makes a faint "Huh" sound at mention of Ser Rygar. And snort-laughs again at the observation about the Naylands. "I've met one who's nothing but pleasant. Lord Rafferdy. The rest…aye, can be a somewhat trying collection of people. What was Ser Rygar up to in town?"

"Not long, I think. Just long enough to be an irritation to Lord Jerold. He doesn't want to miss out on Seagard and the glory to be had there, but I think he wants to make sure Lord Jerold feels appropriately lessened by his presence first," Anais muses wearily, waving a hand. "Anyhow. I'll certainly survive. At least he's not executing anyone on the lawn. Ah." She snaps her fingers, turning back to Hardwicke. "That was it. Lord Anders Flint had offered to have his men forage and share the results with the keep. I wonder if you could arrange a…partnering between the smallfolk left from the village and his soldiers. That way our people can check on outlying territories and make sure resources are respected, be reassured that the land is at least relatively safe, and the soldiers won't waste time looking for things in all the wrong places. Mutually beneficial."

"What everyone else has been doing there, I imagine." Hardwicke shakes his head. "We inquired as to the state of our men, as well as what numbers could reasonably be spared to join the march to Seagard." His lips thin slightly before Anais' question draws him back to her. He tips his chin. "As you say, my lady." The three of them stand in the courtyard amongst the other bustle, clearly in conversation.

"Perhaps the Late Lord Frey shall finally summon the rest of his levies for that march," Jarod says, though he doesn't sound particularly confident. "We shall see how it plays. If there's a march to Seagard I intend to be a party to it, though I know not how many men Lord Jerold will be able to spare, given the state of the town." A shadow crosses his face, though there's more anger than sadness in his green eyes. Anger is easier. "Spent this morning just walking the streets of it, like there might be pieces of it the Ironborn didn't touch. Didn't find many."

"They were here for over two weeks," Anais shakes her head to Jarod. "It was…Well. We'll rebuild," she says simply. "I'm more concerned about /how/ we'll rebuild, with what, and whether or not it will be cost-efficient to do so in a way that's better suited to defense than the current arrangement. And the smallfolk. Gods." She draws a deep breath, looking around the courtyard. "We'll need them more than ever, but they'll have less reason than ever to have faith in us after that…occupation.'

Caytiv has been spending the time he's saved with Rowan taking over half of his duties as Jarod's squire largely in the town, working in his Banefort greys at the rough manual labor needed to clear out the burnt debris of building after building and uncover what might be able to be recovered by their onetime inhabitants. And so when he returns to the tower his arms, face, neck and hair rather match the greys of his household colors, for the lad is rather smudged over with soot and ash— a child may be forgiven for thinking some manner of goblin is invading the courtyard.

"He will spare some," Hardwicke says with quiet certainty. "I doubt your lord father will watch the backs of this host ride off without his own men in their midst." He watches Anais, his expression dark with silent agreement, before Caytiv's approach catches his glance.

"The people will have more faith in Lord Jerold than you might think as a newcomer to these lands, Anais," Jarod says. "If he can give them good labor and food and shelter, they will return and lend their hands to the rebuilding. I'd stake my life upon it. Question strikes me is whether or not we can give them a home to return to right off. But, aye. We will rebuild." He says it like he's making a promise to himself. "And the Pretender Prince Maron Greyjoy shall have his head placed on these very walls, if I have anything to do with it. To Hardwicke, he nods. "Aye. Lord Jerold shall do his duty as best he's able. He ever does." Gaze follows Hardwicke's to Caytiv, and he raises a hand to offer a hello to the squire. "Cayt. Afternoon! You look as if you've been up to good labor."

"The shelter is the tricky part," Anais points out to Jarod, though she seems glad enough for the distraction of Caytiv's arrival, smile quirking at the sight of her brother. "You look like you need to go dunk your head," she adds to Jarod's observation. Her smile fades suddenly, though, and she catches her lower lip between her teeth. "I need to talk to you, when you get the chance," she adds more quietly.

"Ser," Cayt nods his head in deference to the knight, though Annie's addition to the observation does make him smile. "Ye always fuss so, Annie, t' wash a-hind mine ears, ay?" he teases her. "Thar's work t' git done, ay, an' it's no clean work, ei'er," he adds, turning his head aside to hock up a grey-tinged loogie and spit it on the ground in a manner not only uncouth, but utterly unconcerned with its lack of refinement. He nods to Annie, then, as she indicates their need to talk, "An' I with ye, Ser," he notes, to Jarod, "If I may, so." He seems ready to talk here, now, but he waits for word from his Ser to do so.

Hardwicke watches Caytiv's manner with a blandly unimpressed gaze, not horrified or disgusted by his uncouthness, but rather just dryly annoyed. "He's right," he says of Jarod's note rather than comment on his squire. "Lord Jerold is well-loved by his people."

Jarod nods to Anais. "Aye, shall be the tricky part at that, with all the homes destroyed. Well. We will rebuild." He'll just keep repeating it until they figure out precisely how. Caytiv gets another nod, the younger knight seemingly more fond of the boy's uncouth manner than anything else. The rather high-strung Ser Rivers is ever one for lively company, though. "Certainly, I'm between duties at present. What's doing, Cayt?"

Caytiv grunts along with a rough nod to Jarod's assertion that the Roost will be rebuilt. Cayt seems willing, on his end, to rebuild it with his own two hands, if need be. Those two hands rub on his riding trousers, though those are as smudged with soot as his hands are, and the effort toward cleanliness comes to very little. "I reckon ye would go ride on for Seagard, ser," he opens up, giving a brief pause for Jarod to contradict him, if need be. "By your leave, ser, I would ask ye t' be let t' stay here, 'fin ye go. I must look to mine Annie an' mine kin here, Ser— to have heard of the attack once, by the Stone Bridge, and not to've been here t' see t' their safety— it wore me rough enough. To hear such news — or worse — an' not to be here in their guard, Ser, once more…" he trails off, shaking his head. "There's work here t' be done, an' plenty on it, an' ye an' Rowan ride well enough as two, besides."

Anais blinks at Caytiv's request, chewing on her lower lip as she looks to Jarod, then Hardwicke. "You know you don't have to, Cayt,' she offers quietly. "I've still got Derek and Kincaid here, not to mention the forces of the Roost. And the walls, which served quite well. If it's what you want…Well, that's another thing. But I don't want you to feel like you /have/ to for my sake."

Hardwicke's brows arch as he listens to Caytiv in a manner that is not so entirely unamenable to the idea. "We will still need men to stay," he tells Anais quietly. "We won't have the entire force of the Roost here."

"I will ride to Seagard with the Terrick men," Jarod affirms gravely, without hesitation. "For if we do not break the Ironborn's grip on the seas the Roost shall not remain freed from them for long." He watches Caytiv as the boy speaks, nodding again. With more than some measure of understanding. "A squire's place is with his knight. That's the duty of it. But you've also a duty to your family and I…Ser Hardwicke is correct. My lord father - and your lady sister - shall need men here to defend the keep when the others ride. I would assent to this."

Caytiv looks to Annie as she tries to talk him out of it, eyes warm but sorrowful, then to Jarod again when Hardwicke speaks up in favor of the proposition. "They will not touch one blade of grass on these lands while I am still able to take up my spear, Ser," he pledges to Jarod with more intensity than a boy his age should be able to muster. "I thank ye."

Reluctant as Anais may be, there's something of gratitude in her eyes when she looks from Caytiv to Jarod and back again. She mouths a 'thank you' to the knight, but remains silent for the moment.

"A very pretty promise," Hardwicke says a bit dryly to Caytiv's pledge, but makes no further comment past that.

Jarod crooks a slight half-smile to Anais, nodding in some measure of understanding. The intensity about Caytiv doesn't surprise him, though it does seem to make him a little sad. He extends a hand to the Hill, for clasping purposes. "You bore up well at Alderbrook, lad. You will bear up well for your lady sister here. I've no doubt of it."

Caytiv steps forward, clasping Jarod's hand with his own and setting a level gaze into his eyes, as the height disparity between them is not what it was. He doesn't say anything— anything he might say would only be muddled with his rough mountain manner of speech, in any case— but after a long moment he brings up his other hand to touch Jarod at the outside of his forearm, tempering the intensity of the grasp with the tenderness of someone who has ridden and served and drunk and laughed with Jarod for a while, now. "An' when ye return we'll have cleaned up th' lot of the mess left, an' be ready to build in earnest. Th' Roost will not lie low long, Jarod," he says, voice low.

Anais turns a faint smile on Hardwicke's grumbled words. "I rather like the sentiment, all the same," she murmurs to the captain. "From his lips to the ears of the Gods."

"As you wish, my lady," Hardwicke says with a stiff frown. He is a killjoy.

Jarod is not a killjoy, however, and he grasps Caytiv in a rough bear hug before releasing the younger man. "Aye. Eagles soar, that is what they do, and this place shall fly again as well. For the rebuilding, I will put my hands to whatever work I'm able." He looks to Hardwicke then. "Ser, we shall not march to Seagard straight off, and my duties in Stonebridge are rather on-hold, I think, while this threat lasts. Can I assist you with the guard in some manner? I'm still familiar with the duties that go into it, I'd like to think, and any work you can give me I would see done."

When Jarod turns to Hardwicke, Cayt, too, looks to the man, giving him a brief nod of thanks for speaking up for him when it counted, even if he subsequently brought murder to the land of joy, whatever joy there might be in the midst of all of this death and destruction. His eyes, then, turn to Annie, "Come, Annie, an' walk with me," he asks of his sister. They were to talk, weren't they?

Hardwicke gives Jarod a considering look, but hard feelings over certain positions are not so lasting that he denies help. "Aye, Ser," he says. "Between the talk of foraging, the rebuilding, and our usual duties, I could use another hand in coordinating affairs. I haven't figured out yet how to be everywhere at once." He hesitates a moment, looking uncharacteristically and a bit boyishly self-conscious, and then says to Anais, "A brief word, my lady, before you go? If I might."

"If you'll excuse me, Ser Hardwicke, Ser Jarod," Anais murmurs politely, dipping her chin to each before moving to Cayt's side. "Stables?" she suggests, reaching out as though to wrap an arm around her brother before remembering his current state and drawing her arm back with a wry smile.

Wait, Hardwicke wants to talk to her? Anais does pause for a moment, brows rising slightly. "Of course, Ser Hardwicke."

"Aye, Ser, we can meet up later and discuss what I can take on for you," Jarod says to Hardwicke. "Thank you, Ser." What precisely he's thanking him for, he doesn't voice. He looks between the knight and Anais. "I can leave the pair of you, if you require privacy. I'm sure there's somewhere I can put myself to use."

Hardwicke shakes his head to Jarod's offer. "No need, Ser." Despite his words, he seems slightly discomforted to broach whatever subject is on his mind. Finally, he says to Anais, "You — spoke of planning my wedding party, my lady. When the siege was broken." His gaze flickers briefly to Jarod. Oh you don't know this part do you. "Naturally, now is not the time for such affairs, as — much as I appreciate the sentiment. But, considering my likely departure to Seagard, I thought it best that Belle and I — wed quietly. I don't wish to leave her with that left undone." He swallows and lifts his chin slightly. "I just wished to tell you, considering that you had — spoken generously on the subject before." He shifts his weight. Awkwardly. (He is bad at saying thank you.)

Anais' brows rise further, and a slow smile spreads at Hardwicke's words - genuine, no less. "Now is absolutely the time for such affairs, Ser Hardwicke," she says firmly. "Maybe not anything fancy, or impressive, but I think it would be good to remind people that more than just the buildings will be rebuilt. We'll just find a septon and have a nice, simple ceremony for you both." Her smile deepens just a bit. "Thank you for reminding me."

Jarod blinks, staring at Hardwicke. Wedding? He will need a moment to process this in his brain.

Hardwicke actually colors a touch, caught helplessly in the particular machinations of planning females. "My lady, I assure you that's not necessary, I only meant—" He shuts his mouth. He shuts his mouth and just lets it happen.

"I promise, it won't be ostentatious," Anais assures Hardwicke. "Just a small celebration of the fact that life here continues. Why don't you send Miss Belle to me when you see her again?" she suggests with a small smile. "We'll work out something appropriate." And before he can further object, she's hurrying off after Caytiv. Meddling woman.

"Who's…wedding…what…?" Jarod appears to be thinking outloud at a moment when his brain is not actually doing any real productive thinking. He turns his blinking to Hardwicke. "You're having a wedding? Why? I mean…to a woman? I mean…?" He does not actually attempt to further clarify what he means, as it can't possibly get better from there.

Hardwicke sighs out a slow breath as Anais takes firm hold of his nuptials. "As you say, my lady," he says, resigned. He watches her go with a somewhat dour expression before glancing back at Jarod with a scowl. "Yes, Rivers, to a woman. What of it?"

"I mean, of course you'd marry a woman, I'm just…wow. Married." And after Jarod has wrestled this fact into his brain, his face breaks into a wide grin. "Who is she, Ser?"

Gathering rustling skirts so she does not trip, Muirenn lifts them a few inches and moves carefully down the stairs. The redhead hums softly to herself as she moves through the courtyard. A basket swings on her arm.

"Cybelle Beckett," Hardwicke says, continuing his general trend of resignation. "Belle. I'm sure you will see her around the castle. She has been doing her best to help where she can."

"The little blonde with the nice…" But Jarod stops himself from further complimenting Belle's features. Whatever they are. "I…huh." He takes a moment to just reflect on this. And then. "Congratulations, Ser." And he tries to hug Hardwicke, Seven help him.

The glare that Hardwicke levels on Jarod should certainly be further incentive to cut off that first train of thought. "Yes, she does have blonde hair." He scowls most distinctly when Jarod hugs him, enduring it in a long-suffering fashion.

Followed by one of her maidservants and a man at arms wearing Mallister colors, Muirenn crosses the courtyard and outside towards the village.

Jarod claps Hardwicke's shoulders before releasing him, still beaming. Whatever suffering the gesture inflicted on the man. "That's grand. And…is she first in your heart, Ser? And you in hers?"

"Yes, yes," Hardwicke mumbles with another scowl, looking off at some bustle or other rather than Jarod's face when forced to admit things like actual feelings. "All of that."

"Huh." Jarod takes a moment to process that as well. "You're a very lucky man, Ser. I'll…umm…leave you to it." And he will leave Hardwicke and his feelings alone, on that note.

Hardwicke rumbles a low, exasperated note in his chest, but then tips his head with a sigh. "Aye, I suppose I am." He jerks his chin in something of a farewell when his predecessor looks to leave.