|Summary:||In which men gossip, over beasts.|
|Upstream Landing, Stonebridge|
|The waters here are more adequately described as a stream or tributary and thus the boats moored here are of the smaller variety. Two or three dozen of them with sails and even small dinghies and rowboats are tied up along the wooden docks. Sailing farther downstream takes one to Seagard while upstream to the north leads to the Green Fork and The Twins.|
|Tue Jul 24, 289|
"Gods be damn it all ta…," whatever it was, it never finished and a bright spot of cornsilk white darted away from the boat, chasing something small and grey through a sea of legs and pressing bodies. Poor thing'd been half dead when she found it, but the cat was determined to nurse the mutt back to health. Probably one cast off, from a bitch who'd naught enough tits ta feed a litter, wouldn't be the first time. But she'd felt sorry for it, right enough, and had been dragging it around for the past week. So that it was comin' along almost as nicely as she was. "Scuse me, beggin' ya. Heyheyhey, here Stupid! Commer ye daft wee bugger, I've gotcha nice rat tail!" And indeed, the waif of a blond was waving one around in her hand, too.
Jarod approaches the landing afoot, and wearing no armor save the sword at his side, though the crane-and-harpy sash his belt is tied with marks him plainly enough as a sworn of Tordane Tower. His destination seems one of the rowboats tied at one of the docks, though he's distracted by the calls coming from the girl. About the rat tail. "Huh," he mutters to himself. He doesn't approach her just yet, though he does turn his head in that direction.
"Spend less time on that' bloody fuckin' mutt, an' more o'yer time on me mules, girl!" Growled a hard looking man from the press. He wore a leather jerkin over some coarse spun clothes that had seen a whole lot of better days, his cloak freying and cakes of mud sticking to his pants. There was a worn old sworn on his hip, and one of the mules had a covered bow and a holster with black fletched arrows in it. There'd been a while since he'd washed his hair, so it clung to his scalp in greasy locks, while his beard was bristling and unkept. "Fuckin' mules," he cursed, trying his best to cajole the stubborn animals along. They had some trade goods on them. Not particularly high quailty stuff, nothing to attract a noble, just your petty tinkerings.
Jarod heads toward the mules, and their guides, nonetheless. Perhaps less attracted to the trinkets than out of plain curiosity. "A good day upon you!" he calls, raising a hand to offer a friendly wave. "You need a hand getting all of that to market? Your beasts look on the temperamental side."
Gerry's eyes were the kind who'd gone and have their humanity scrubbed out of them over long years of seeing and doing things men shouldn't have to do. They looked at Jerod for a second, a long one, eying up the stranger with inherit suspicion, taking in his clothes and his weapon and the heraldry on him. With Gerry straight posture and head held high, he obviously had some pride, but that didn't stop him from immediately cuffing his forhead and going: "M'Lord." Then clearing his voice a little. "Thank ye fer the offerin', m'lord, but as ye say, them's fuckin' mean beasts. Beggin' yer pardon fer me language. Wouldn't want ye te get dragged down an' have them fine clothes o'yers dirtied. Or ye chest caved in by a kick. Kickin' is what them foul beasts love the most." He cracked a half a grin, revealing some white teeth amidst all that dirt and filthy beard.
Jarod waves off the honorific attached to him. "I'm no lord, good man. Was born a Rivers." He gives the bastard name with an easy grin. "Though I'm called Ser Jarod the Half-Eagle these days. My clothes aren't so fine as all that. Mind if I ask what brings you to these parts? Always good to see new trade coming in."
"Pa says there's trade to be had," replies the long legged creature who'd strolled up on Jarod's right, and in her slender arms there fights a wriggling mutt who's eagerly chompin' on the rats tail she'd baited it with. She's not as terribly dirty as the old man seems to be either, unless one looks at her feet, in which case…those boots are covered in mud that goes higher and looks like it ought to be ruinin' the dress that she's wearin' an doesn't. Like as not, because she'd the damn thing shoved in her britches when they'd waded through the slop. "I'm the cat," she offers a lil grin, before jerkin' a thumb towards Gerry, "An that's Pa."
"Heh. Lordlin' or a bastard o'one, hard te tell a difference," Gerry admitted with a bit less guardedness once Jarod had cleared up his initial mistake. "I'll take yer help, then, an' be thankful fer it." With a grunt he wiped clean his filthy hand on the front of his jerkin, which was only moderately less filthy itself, and then offered Jarod his arm for a friendly greeting grip. There was a smile on his lips when the blonde introduced him, to which he nodded before expanding a little on it: "Geremy Taken, tho' I go by jus' Gerry. Me brat, lil Catryn. Tho' she's got it in her mind tha' she's a kitten true. We're here, well, like she sayin', trade." His eyes swept the surroundings. "In me humble experience, once there's men with swords gone through a land torchin' an' stealin' an' reavin', well. People be o'need o'new things te replace the old."
Jarod rolls up his sleeves, to do some mule work. He pats the beast on the nose first, apparently trying to establish some sort of good will. Hopefully he doesn't get bitten. "Gerry and Cat, then. Well, welcome to Stonebridge parts. There's trade to be had in the marketplace, sure as. The town's tucked at a crossroads between the Twins and Seagard, so best of times it's not short of traffic." Whether these are the best of times or not is unclear, from the way he says it. Though he does add, "Didn't get much hurt from the Ironborn reavers here, when they came to the coast. They mainly hit up ways of the Roost." He bows his head slight. "And laid siege to Seagard, though the Mallister inlands didn't take it so hard."
"Thankie fer helpin' 'im," the cat rumbled, watching with sharp blue eyes, like the sky on a clear day. "Those ignorant thangs try ta flatten' my feet on tha best o'days an do, on tha worst. Hate 'em." And the look she shared with the bullheaded things said as much as the girl rocked forward on the balls of her feet an depositied the mutt on the ground again, content in the belief that she'd bribed it for at least the next hour into followin'. "S'good though, gettin' spared tha worst o'it. Means there'll still be folk have somethin' t'want somethin' with."
They were mean spirited mules alright, and it didn't help that Gerry wasn't all that good at handling them, either. His expression transformed into an irritable frown as he started set about taking one of them to task and bringing it the direction he wanted it to go. It followed, but only reluctantly, and only after a stream of curses: "Stranger take ye, fuckin' devil. GO!" The mule tried to kick him, missed, then just gave him the evil eye. Gerry gave it an evil eye back.
"Aye? Good t'know. So how come yer the half eagle, iffen ye don't mind me askin'?"
Jarod gives up trying to make nice with the mule, and just settles in to pulling and brute force. He grunts as he strains to get one of them moving. "Because I could never manage the feathers," is his first quip of an answer to Gerry. Though he amends seriously, "My lordly father is Jerold Terrick, of Four Eagles Tower. So I'm part eagle but not, quite. In trueborn terms, anyhow, my mother was common-born." After another grunt, aimed at the mules, he nods to Catryn. "Aye. The common folk've held up well in this town, though times're strange now. Where'd you get that pup of yours?" He adds, with another grin. "Never seen a cat with a dog."
Of a mind to be of some help, the girl slips round towards the back of the mules, one hand fistin' in her skirt, hikin' it clear to her knee, though there was no flash of skin on display, on a well polished bit of cane, that stopped just short of her knee and stayed press to her calf by way of a tiny loop of leather. Thick, flexable and with nothing but the best intentions, she brought it down across first one rump and then another, offering the Rivers a very cheshire smile, "S'cause y'aint never seen a cat like me." There's clean teeth in that smile too, just like her Pa's. "Damn thang'll end up dead though, it dun learn t'feed itself. Yon't know anybod as can use one, d'ye? Found it ah week ago, half dead'n marred in mud." With a faint frown she queried, "Whutcho mean, times's strange?"
"Don't know the shields the local lords use, or who they be aside from the Mallisters," Gerry confessed. "Originally from down Fairmarket ways, tho' be a goodly time since I was anywhere in these parts last, truth be told. I'll learn 'em as I go, I figure. Always good te know when's a man aughta jump outta the road an' into the mud, 'cause someone important be comin' atchu." He'd an easy laugh, for all his it didnt quite reach his eyes. The kind that filled the air and had a way of infecting those around him. With all three of them at an effort, the mules were on their way, grudgingly, but on their way. "Hah. Y'know, when I got the idea o'turnin' merchantman, it was after listenin' te some fool trader tellin' me wha' an easy fuckin' livin' it was." He spat on the ground. "God damned liar, he was."
"Fairmarket, truly?" That widens Jarod's grin. "I've kin in Fairmarket. My mother's father, though I've only seen him there the once. Does accounts for a merchant company there. Owns a piece of it now, far as I recall. Should write to him, come to it. Been seven hells of a year. Much to tell." Once the mules begin to move he leads them less forcefully, but he still nudges his particular beast along. Lest it stall again. As for Catryn's question, he shrugs. "Times're always strange I guess, in one way or another. Particularly after the war with the reavers. Still sorting out how Stonebridge is fixed, as the lands around it settle." And if there's more to it than that, he doesn't talk on it. "The Naylands hold fealty of the township. That's how I've oaths to now." Said with a touch fo wryness. "You do business on Mallister lands? I squired in Seagard, when I was younger and not yet a knight. For one of Lord Mallister's common sworn."
The cat don't say a whole lot, much as she ambles along there behind; not close enough to kick, but close enough to apply a good swat if needed. For all the girl looks fragile as spun glass, there's a caged sort of enegry to her that suggests she's not as helpless as she looks. "Naylands? Like a horse nay's?" Comes the question, tongue peekin' between her teeth across dry lips. Lips that twist into a wry grin, for the mutt that comes nippin' at the beasties heels. That'll help 'em keep a move on. Or short her a mutt, one.
Gerry listened attentivly as Jarod spoke, his head bobbing along to show he was paying attention. Occasionally he'd cuss at the mules, but in a quiet grumble rather than the yelling he'd given them before. "Naw. Got drunk with some Mallister sworn once, an' remember their colours, that's all," Gerry said with a cheeky smirk. "Back when I lived by me sword, 'fore I gone peaceful like, an' merchantman." His eyes flicked back in Cat's direction, watching her and the damnable dog with a snort. "Fuckin' charity. Ye know tha' fuckin' beast'll grow big as a fuckin' mule, an' we'll starve te feed the thing." He rolled his eyes, aimed a kick at it, but didn't really put enough effort in to hit.
Yeah. Gerry looked real peaceful.
Jarod actually makes a "Neeeeigh" sound, when Catryn compares the lords of the land to a horse. He laughs. "Harpies are their sigil. Their seat's a swamp just to the east. So horse is kinder than most would say about them." He speaks such of his lords casually enough, though there's no real disparagement in his tone. "Mallisters are good men to drink with. Good to fight with, too. Was with their lot during Robert's Rebellion. Seven hells of a batch of fights, that. You work by your sword during the Rebellion, Master Gerry? Or during the mess with the Ironborn, for that matter." The comments about the dog just earn a shrug. "Might hunt for his meat. And rip the throats out of bandits if they trouble your wagons, he gets big enough. Earn their keep, hounds do."
The girl's laughter split the air easy when Jarod neighed, her cheeks rosey with the smile that she wore. She mighta felt a little bad too, if she'd keened they were his lords, but what's done is done. "Harpies?" Her head cocked to the side and she ventured closer, with a little jump to her step, to better avoid the puppy when it came all paws flailin' in avoidance of Ger's kick. "Fancy hobnob women? They're sigil's to hide behind skirts?" Lawd, her mouth. But she just, she doesn't know. "He'll have t'earn his keep," she remarks of the dog, considering it with a frown. "Y'want it?" Cat eyed Jarod up with the question, tossin' a bit o'blond hair over her shoulder as her head cocked to the side.
"Poor at gamblin' makes a man good in my eye, so aye, Mallister men I like," Gerry said with a wink. Then Cat started on her little tidbit about harpies, and causing her poor father to throw his head back and laugh a loud one, his lean chest rattling with coughing humor. "Aw, shit, girl." His hand came for her, then, to cuff her over the back of her head unless she made quick and ducked beneath it. "Dontchu go talkin' 'bout the local fuckin' lords like that, girl. Ye'll end up in the fuckin' stockade, with children throwin' shit at ye, an' me there with 'em te make sure ye learn yer fuckin' lesson." Still, he was having trouble not laughing, and there was the sense that no matter the sharpness of rebuke, like the crack of a whip, he'd enjoyed her words. "Uh. Aye, I got hired by Ser Dunliner, said iffen I did him a good job, he'd see 'bout givin' me a proper place at his men's table. Fuckin' cunt had shit fer honor. Dumped me an' me girl on Pyke, he did, with a pittance an' told me he'd no need fer more mouths te feed, now it was peacetime again. HAd te make our own way to Lannisport. That's when I sold me loot, an' bought me mules."
"Didn't fight in Robert's Rebellion, tho'. Had me hire in Tyrosh at the time." He added.
"Harpies are monsters. Winged demon-women with feathers and talons and…things," Jarod says. "Quite fearsome, really. The Pyke?" He lets out a low whistle, and takes a second look at Catlyn. "Hard place, and hard fighting done there. I was with the Terrick forces, in the Cape of Eagles army. Led 'em, along with Ser Hardicke Blayne, one of Lord Terrick's sworn." How he went from Terrick to Nayland so quick isn't a tale he tells. "Should've had the Greyjoy fuckers' head, for what they did to the Riverlands. And the West and Northern parts. At least there's peace now. Sorry your lord was an ass. Too many like that. They'll be happy to let men bleed for them, but stingy to pay them after it's done."
The cat's eyes went big as saucers when Jarod spun his tale, looking for all the world like someone buyin' into the nightmarish fairy tale. One that came to a resounding end, when her head bounced forward from the jarring of Ger's cuffing. Too distracted to dodge. Too smart to argue too, because she knew he wouldn't lyin' about throwin' shit at either. But she did give Jarod a look for the one he'd just given her. Head held up high and proud, back ramrod straight. "Peace," said the girl and looked for a moment as if she were about to spit on the notion and then thought better of it, having considered her company. "We eat a damn sight better when he works an wins," came her excuse.
"Betchu the Targaryans would've roasted them," Gerry muttered beneath his breath, when Jarod mentioned the leniency that Robert had shown the remaining Greyjoys. He flicked a glance at his kid's words, nodding somewhat grugdingly. "Aye, truth te tha'. Peace makes fer starvin' times when a man's best talents lie with hsi sword an' his bow. Unless he's got a lord's generosity te keep his stomach full. Which I ain't got, so here I am."
"Aye, would've likely," Jarod agrees about the Targaryens. And there might be a touch of regret in his voice, for the lack of roasting. "I'm not for being cruel when there's no need, but traitors belong just one place. With their heads on pikes. Just pray they stay off the coasts now. And if they don't, they'll find our swords more ready than they were when they came the first time. But this is unpleasant talk, good man. We're both alive and whole and in a town where there's decent opportunity. For my part, I'd best be getting on. Watch your mules. They're tough brutes."
Catryn slipped up to claim Jarod's place, when he mentioned travelin' on. A low word against the beasts ear, a moment where…a betting man could have sworn that she'd bitten it and then, right as you please, it bellowed at her and with intent to bite if she wasn't quick enough. "S'been a pleasure," she offered, for all that it sounded like she'd poured a good bit of effort into turnin' her words out nice and neat and in a row.
"Seen a few heads on pike in me time," Gerry said casually. "Iffen ye ask me, better is the crow's cage, an' let the fuckers hang an' live until 'em starve te death. Then te the birds with 'em. Sends a proper message, it does. Who fuckin' wants te end up like birdshit, eh?" With a grunt he bobbed his head at his social better, bastard though Jarod might be. "Aye, tha' I will. Thanks fer ye help, good Ser. Iffen I see ye again, I'll remember yer kindness." He gave his mule another slap, then looked at Cat. "How aboutchu go runnin' along an' find us a cheap ass fuckin' place te sleep an' stable, eh?"
"For Balon Greyjoy, I'd agree," Jarod says. He inclines his head to Gerry and the cat, respectful. Arguable better or no. "Pleasure's all mine, Miss. Master. Good luck in the trades." And with that, he strides off.