|Strategy on the Steps|
|Summary:||Lucienne comes across two of her brothers discussing plans regarding the delicate matter of Stonebridge, and pondering the motivations of certain men.|
|Related Logs:||None directly related, but many ancillary ones…|
|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.|
As is often his wont in the midst of a hot afternoon, Jacsen has fled the interior of Four Eagles Tower to the relative cool that can be found with the breeze that manages to work itself through the vegetation put here or there, the rare time it thinks to cross his brow. He's seated on one of the great slabs of stone that serve as steps up to the Tower's proper entrance, a small leather folio and its contents in his hands. By the way the dampness has beaded on the side of his wine cup, he has been here for a time already.
Jarod has been metting with Terrick riders back from the latest of the ongoing border patrols near Stonebridge. He seems to have freed himself of them now, however, as he strides out of the castle's interior. He's whistling to himself as he goes, a marching cadence he seems to be trying to turn into a jaunty drinking song. Jacsen is spotted, and that's the direction he heads in. "Reordering the world to your specifications?" he asks his half-brother with a quick, warm grin.
"Would that I could, brother," Jacsen remarks with a short laugh, shaking his head as he looks up at his approaching sibling. "But no. I'm reading over a draft of a letter to Lord Mallister, on the topic of Stonebridge and Gedeon Rivers' claim to it. It's the first step on advocating with the Tullys themselves, something we've no chance of without Seaguard at our backs." He quirks a brow. "And what malfeasance are you up to today, good Jarod?"
"Can I sit?" Jarod asks, though he does so before waiting for an affirmative to the invitation. If there's any difference in his manner than usual - following their conversation about 'Rowan' on the roof - he's perhaps a little more sheepish. "How do you think he'll go forward with the idea? The Stonebridge venture, that is. It's a chance to reclaim the land - a Terrick vassal's a banner for the Mallisters, ultimately." As for his own malfeasance, he chuckles. "None for myself, though our neighbors might be preparing for some. I should get word to father and Jaremy today as well, though it likely won't be a matter for full counsel. It's nothign too drastic, or that we didn't expect."
"Well I'd be appreciative if you shared it with me as well," Jacsen tells his brother, though he doesn't seem too concerned. The request to sit is met with an immediate nod, and a gesture to the spot beside him. "You don't need to ask," he points out, closing his folio and focusing his attention on Jarod. "I'm not sure, about Lord Mallister, to be honest. It's a banner for the Mallisters, certainly, but everything the Naylands touch seems to have the habit of being covered in their shit," see Oldstones, Gedeon's letters for examples, "And he might think it wiser to let it go than put his hands on something he'd not wish to hold." He lifts a shoulder. "A lot will come down to perceptions, I think."
"Just showing my manners, my wise lord brother. I'm more or less housebroken, you know," Jarod replies with a chuckle. Though he'll not bother to ask again. "Aye, I'd like your view on it as well before I bring it to father. But, what Lord Jason Mallister thinks is likely of more import, so we can talk on that first. Even if he is resigned to the loss, the man has great concern for justice. And…that's justice, isn't it? Seeing that Gedeon's cause is heard at Riverrun, and perhaps King's Landing. Even if it doesn't win us Stonebridge back, even if it goes to that phantom ice bitch Lady Valda Tordane nee Frey…" His tone's a touch more emotive on the subject than he perhaps means to show. "…it was what Lord Geoffrey wanted, and if Gedeon truly *is* his last living scrap of blood…it's *wrong* to just let Lord Ryker Nayland pretend he can be lord of the place. He's no claim to it if any of that's true."
He nods once, and says, "That's what I mean about how it is presented. Which is why I'm giving so much thought to what I send him… it's an easily twisted situation, you know?" Jacsen explains, drawing up his good knee and setting his hands atop it. "It's just as easy to cast the matter as a farce given how thin the case in Gedeon's favor. Notes, some five years old, with a broken seal, written in the hand of a dead Lord Geoffrey? The question he will ask, as I am sure everyone else will… why did Gedeon wait until now? And it's a fair question," he insists. "I've yet to hear an answer that puts me completely at ease. Finding father at the Trident and seeing it done then would have been easily accomplished, and it is not as if Ged can claim he did not know of the good favor between his father and our own. Also, we need paint Lady Valda as an adulteress in all of this, which whatever the truth will not sit well with the Late Lord Walder Frey."
"Well a septon who was willing to say the letters were likely not forgeries is dead, so there's that," Jarod says, tone dark as he thinks on it. "Septon Josse's going over Amery's journal, and speaking with those around the sept itself to see if he had any strange callers the day he died, or if anyone heard anything. I'll go poke around there myself if he doesn't have any luck, but I'm not sure how keen that sort will be to talk, even if it's a matter of law. Jos nearly didn't to our lord father, even knowing what he knows."
To that last, Jarod nods. "Aye. I've thought it over several times myself - for years, long before I knew of these letters. Gedeon could've come home and entered our lord father's service. Finished his squiring here. Lord Jerold certainly would've found him a place. It's never sat right with me, that he didn't go to see his lord father and brother laid to rest. Or that he left Stonebridge and Lady Isolde under Valda's clawed thumb." He holds his hand up in an imitation of claws. Smirking. "Well, she is one, isn't she? If what's in those letters is true. Little pretense to try and protect the Lady Nee Frey's honor, if Gedeon's claim is to go anywhere at all."
He shakes his head. "There's no honor for her in this, and so no honor for House Frey. Even if he couldn't pick her out of the litter, and something tells me that Lady Valda is one of the few he might know by sight, Lord Walder will not waste the opportunity to feel offended," Jacsen remarks, shaking his head. "There must be either refutable proof of her indiscretion, or Lord Hoster Tully must be so utterly convinced that he can brush aside Lord Walder's protests. Where this should be a matter of justice, I think it will be a matter of politics just as much, Jar."
"Aye. That's the world, little brother," Jarod agrees, as to politics not justice likely deciding this. Not that he doesn't sound decidedly unhappy about it. "Why *do* you think Gedeon didn't come back with those letters? Or come back at all, even if he did need some time to figure out what to do with him. I used to figure he'd just wanted to get as far away as he could from Lady Valda's house. I don't know what his life was like there, not the details of it, but I can imagine how she treated him and…" He lets out a long breath. "I'd not have been a bastard in Valda Tordane's home for all the gold in the West. But with those letters, father would've protected him, certainly."
Jacsen shakes his head. "I don't know, Jar, I don't… He claims it was because of what happened, how the Naylands and Lady Valda stole Stonebridge from its rightful allegiance to Terrick's Roost…" He lets out a frustrated breath. "But why the sudden wish to see everyone done right by, after ignoring it for so many years? Perhaps it was at Lord Anton's urging, figuring he would do well to have a Lord of Stonebridge as his former squire, and boon companion…" He still does not look terribly convinced, and adds, "I'd call it a lie but for the Septon's words that it was Lord Geoffrey's writing on the letters, Jar. But I need to see them myself, put them before father and let him see. I'll aim for Lord Mallister's support in demanding the documents be returned. They might deny a Terrick, but perhaps the weight of Seaguard will result in a different answer."
"I only saw them briefly, and I can't speak for Lord Geoffrey's hand," Jarod says, frowning. As he ever does, when he reflects on his little private audience with Gedeon's letters. "With Septon Amery dead they'll need to be gone over by a proper cipher again anyhow. It's all so strange. But perhaps it is as simple as he says. If Jaremy had become Lord of Stonebridge and married Isolde - which is how it should've been - then things would've been how Lord Geoffrey wanted them, whoever Isolde's father was. And then our hand would've ruled there, and perhaps Gedeon could've come home and never said a word, and we'd all have been one big happy family." He smirks. That didn't happen. "Or he could've kept on with Lord Ser Anton and made whatever life he choose for himself. Naylands made it a different matter, though."
"That is the only notion that makes much sense of things," Jacsen agrees, dipping his chin, "And I hope it explains away everything in due time. It /is/, after all, in our interest to see Gedeon's claim acknowledged, and restore Stonebridge to him and thereby to our father. But the evidence is tenuous, and you're right, a new cipher will be required… should we ever manage to even get the documents in hand."
"Aye, should we ever," Jarod mutters. He clears his throat. And dovetails the conversation in another direction. "Speaking of Stonebridge. Latest reports say our neighbors have been busy. Their levies are engaged in drills by the border. Nothing that'd breach the peace, though they seem to want to make a show of the fact that it's being done. They must know we're watching. Scouts say a few of their men have wandered across the border a few times during the course of it, but so far not to any purpose. It's easy enough to cross over in places without knowing you're doing it, and they've wandered back quick enough. Ones we've spotted, at least."
Jacsen listens attentively as his brother pivots their discussion, taking in the news of Stonebridge and its men with a sober nod. "Such obvious posturing… you'd think the whole lot of them had forgotten already whom they stood side by side with at the Trident," he remarks, his mouth finding the words almost distasteful. "I've thought of going there, you know? There, or the Mire proper. It would have been easier before father gave me a formal position here, travel under Seaguard's banner… But I suppose there is no point in hoping to talk sense, or reason, to such folk."
"Nayland orders, would be my guess. Show us who rules the place now. Make it clear the new order has arrived." Jarod is seated on the steps with Jacsen. The pair are talking, though the conversation doesn't seem to be terribly private. "I wouldn't mind going either, I'll admit. Ser Bruce is supposed to have himself set up as their Captain of the Guard soon, so I think if we don't make asses or ourselves we'd not run into any troubles from his men. I've not been down that way since the tournament for Lady Isolde's wedding. If nothing else, it might serve as a show that Terrick men still consider it free country to travel in, so long as the borders remain open."
"Then perhaps we'll both go, if the chance arises, and father is keen to permit," Jacsen supposes, though he'll not quite hold his breath on their ability to take such a trip away from the Roost anytime too soon. "I wonder though, Nayland orders… but it's Tordane men that follow them through. Must be some with sympathies still to our cause, and no love for the Naylands or Lady Valda besides."
It's from the stables that Lucienne arrives, her cheeks still a little flushed and her hair windswept - clearly she's been out for a ride. That it has set her in high spirits is no mystery, her smile firmly set in place as she converses with a different handmaiden than her usual Hattie. This one's leaner, taller, and far less clumsy, and also gesturing to the lady's brothers upon the step as they approach. "Jarod, Jace," greets their sister cheerily.
"Perhaps Jaremy should go with us," Jarod says. "He was keen to go to Stonebridge before the whole mess with the Millen woman really hit. We can make a journey of it. The Terricks brothers, on the road, high adventure and all that." He grins and it's said a little wryly, though it's plainly not a joke. As to the orders, "Everybody serve somebody in this world. I'm not sure what choice they'd have." If he has any other thoughts, though, they're tabled so he can greet Lucienne. "Little Luci." He grins. "And how're you this fine day?" Her maid earns a nod of his head, and quick, boyish grin, as well. "Mistress."
Whatever Jacsen's thoughts on that, he sets them aside so that he can turn a warm expression upon Lucienne and her unfamiliar maid, not so boyish as Jarod's, but pleasant in its own fashion. "Dear Enne," he says warmly, giving the maid a curt nod. "Mistress. How has the afternoon air treated you both?" Though it's been forgotten for a time, he does seem to remember now the dew-covered cup of wine near him, which he reaches for to take a small sip from.
"What choice who'd have?" Lucienne's interest is piqued, her brows shooting up. "Better after a spell with Ticker," she adds in reply with a mildly guilty grin of her own. "You two seem in a fine mood. Am I interrupting some secret boys business?" Her nose wrinkles, betraying her opinion on that, and her handmaiden bobs a quick curtsy to the men before ducking behind her lady. Shy one, she is.
"The soldiers of Tordane Tower, and their new Nayland masters," is Jarod's reply to Lucienne. "Just got some word from the border scouts we've had out. It's nothing alarming, though I'll get it to father and Jaremy prompt. Seems the levies down there have been doing exercises along the border. Just posturing, we figure, as they seem to want to be seen doing it, and I can't imagine they don't know we've eyes out. Border patrols say a few marchers have wandered across the line onto Terrick land a few times, but hard to tell if they mean to or not. That's wilderness in lots of places, border gets fuzzy, and they've not made trouble or gone far in."
Jacsen nods along with his brother's explanation, taking another small sip before he sets his wine cup back onto the stone step that serves as his and Jarod's seat. "Even if it is minor, it's troubling, and it will take precious resources to keep an eye on that we'd be better not expending," he remarks, shaking his head. "Who has command, there, Jarod? Do you know?" Another smile, this one wordless, for the presence of their sister, though his attention is heaviest on Jarod now.
Lucienne's smile wanes a little at the news, but she seems rather desperate not to let go of it completely, so it's mostly in her eyes that the sentiment fades. "Is that right," she says quietly, burying her hands in her skirts to save from wringing them together. Jacsen's observation and subsequent question earn a nod, her smile tugging a little for his, before she shifts back to Jarod for the answer.
"Of the troops? Ser Bruce is taking should be in some charge of them, as I understand matters, though I'm not sure how active he is with that sort of thing day-to-day," Jarod replies. "They get their marching orders from the Tower ultimately, though. So Lord Ryker, I figure, or perhaps Ser Rygar or Lady Valda."
"I'm just grateful that one like Ser Bruce has at least some intermediary influence between the likes of Lady Valda and the men themselves," Jacsen explains, looking between both his siblings, "As it would not do to win Gedeon his birthright, only to find him betrayed or conspired against by the men he inherits. I can have some trust in the likes of Ser Bruce, a trust I'd never put in one like Valda Tordane nee Frey."
Her hands clutching fistfuls of fabric draws the hem of Lucienne's skirt just off the ground, and her brows knit down. That smile is all but gone now, replaced with something akin to a light scowl. "I've not met this Ser Bruce," she admits, and though there's probably far more she'd like to roll off her tongue, she leaves it at that.
"Here here to that," Jarod agrees, as to any sort of intermediary between the fighting me and Lady Valda. "Well. We'll see what comes of it." He stands then. "Ser Bruce is a good man. Captain of the Guard - or soon to be it - down in Stonebridge now. He came up to investigate the matter of Jens Howard's murder with me. Solid sort, though I wish he served a better than Lord Ryker. Anyhow. I'll see you both about. I should go talk on this with father, see if he wants anything further out of the patrols. I'd not recommend much, precisely. If it's posturing, jut a waste of energy to posture back, though we'll keep an eye on it."
Jacsen reaches to his side and fetches his wine cup, lifting it to Jarod in a motion of salute. "Be well, brother. I'll come find you soon, and maybe we can sketch out some plans for a visit to Stonebridge, if even such is possible…" He smiles a bit, and tosses his head back for a long sip of wine.
"I'd heard that," says Lucienne of the opinions Jarod gives on Ser Bruce, her smile surfacing again. "May the afternoon be kind to you, Jarod," she adds as farewell.