|Take My Hand|
|Summary:||Jacsen and Isolde speak after many years of silence. An offer is made and then refused.|
|Date:||10 Nov 2011|
|Related Logs:||Any to do with Gedeon's letters|
|Trees and a Weirwood|
|November 10, 288|
The Riverrun is an impressive place, the most important and well-defended of all the castles of the Riverlands, even those of Seaguard must admire the three towers and their use of the rivers to serve as their defense. Much might be made by some of that fact, though there are those that point out there are far more interesting things about the place. Word amongst the various parties has that the keep has within it one of the last remaining Godswoods in all of the holds that answer to the banner of the Tully fish.
With the warm afternoon air fluttering through the lesser trees that hold court about the massive weirwood, it seems to make little impact upon the blood red leaves that hang from bone white branches, in a form almost too massive to be imagined. Whether he imagines it, or works through thoughts of other things in his mind, Jacsen does seem to stare off in thought at that arboreal representation of the Old Gods. His cane, a straight and slender carved thing, capped on both ends in metal, rests against the same tree that his back is against, a single guard in Terrick livery standing not far from him.
The road had been more than washed away and some level of fluidity and comfort has thus been returned to the newly arrived Lady Nayland. With meetings set out before her, room to breathe is hard to find and Isolde takes what time is her's to escape and try to find room in what is a massive stronghold of the Tullys. The deeply hued colors of emerald frame her well, cinched by an elegant belt of gold set with rough hewn gems of the same color. The simple circlet is of gold, settled over her thick dark hair. Entering the Godswood gives her the air she seeks and at first she thinks she is alone.
Grasping at the layered skirts of her dress, the Lady lets herself relax in the presence of the wood. It is only when she draws closer to the wiierwood that she takes note of another's presence, but who's she is not sure of yet. So she lifts her voice to be heard, coming about to get a better line of sight. "Good day, I hope I am not disturbing.."
Whom she comes upon, unawares, might not be readily apparent, but he does seem possessed enough of self to stir from his place seated against a tree. What she might have mistaken for any courtier about Seaguard, after all there were many such of late, is doubtless dispelled quickly enough. If it is not how Jacsen must reach for a cane rather than rise smoothly, and how he seems to favor one leg against the other as he takes to his feet, then the signet ring of Terrick's Roost upon his right forefinger will do well enough to make note of who he is. Stepping aside from the tree to more properly face the woman, it is then that what was at first a curious bit of guesswork, wondering at the vaguely familiar features, the voice that he couldn't quite seem to place, solidifies. "My Lady of Stonebridge," he offers, crisp, with a light bob of his head.
As the man that was a boy becomes whole for her, she slows to a stop, one hand dropping from her skirts to let them drape where they are. Isolde remembers to breathe almost at once, a moment or two spanning before her lungs fill. Her green eyes meet his and it takes her a moment to more to remember herself. She dips a graceful curtsey before him, "My Lord.." It is said softly before she rises and lets her gaze wander to the cane and his leg and finally to the ring. There is something in her gaze before it is swept away by practiced curtesies. "I am sorry I could not say so sooner, but blessings on your marriage. I am sure the Roost will rise well beneath you and your Lady wife." She offers with a faint smile. Years, long years of tension between the two makes the greeting less of what it could be, but it is sincere by all appearances. "I had heard you were present for the Council, but I had not thought to find you here."
"I have heard that Lady Valda and Ser Rygar have seen fit that you and your new husband should spend time at Hag's Mire, where I cannot think the marriage of any Terrick is viewed with much warmth," Jacsen assures the woman, whom is so unfamiliar to him for someone he should know well, his blue eyes committing the changes the years have wrought upon her to his mind. "Nor was I courteous enough to have wished you well on your own nuptials, so I could hardly be very cross. Do not think much on it." The lame-legged Terrick shifts on his good leg ever so slightly, a subtle motion, but not one completely unnoticed. "I had heard you and your lord husband might attend. I hope the journey was not too arduous."
All courtesies, words and suddenly it hurts and she swallows. Isolde lifts her chin a little and lets none of it show. Her head tilts and she looks to the Weirwood, gathering her response slowly before she motions back to him. "Rest back as you will, please. I am just storry to have interrupted." There is a faint smirk, but it remains for a brief span of time before disappearing. "The Mire…is the Mire, but gladly I am not defined by the place I am resigned to." There is a thin release of breath and she gives him a rather direct look now. "I could not rightly miss this gathering for many reasons..but as for the journey, it was long, tiring and I fear my cousin suffered more than I did."
His lips cannot help but curve at the corners as she describes the Mire without a flattering word. "It's no interruption, my lady, I am but a guest here," Jacsen remarks, a glance sent over his shoulder at the stark, bone-white weirwood with branches that reach so far as to almost loom over both the Lord Terrick and the Lady Nayland. "I am sorry you needed make this journey, for matters such as this," he offers to her, though it is formal. "And how is your cousin now? Better, with the travel over for the moment, I pray? And your lord husband? Has he too accompanied you to Riverrun?"
"Lady Igara is well enough, though her constitution constantly worries me. The ride home will not be easy for her as well.." Home. If she had one after this. Isolde does not show her own worry over the matter at the moment and she merely offers him that soft smile. "My husband has arrived, though I think his part in this will be small. It is a sad thing for him to return to the place of his happier years. He has taken his time to go about and visit those that he left behind when he returned to the Mire." She shifts, taking a few steps closer to the weirwood, gazing at the red leaves before turning towards him once more. "The years have done you well, my Lord. They suit you." She offers and then moves on. "I have news that your Lady Mother has arrived as well at Riverrun, I do hope it would not be too much of me to call on her?" She asks of him, "It has not been so long and distant yet that I have forgotten those that yet remain dear to me." A double meaning?
"You might call upon her, of course my lady." Jacsen's eyes consider her a moment, having even followed up when she glanced to the leaves, rustling above. "And what of you, Lady Isolde? It has been some years since last I laid eyes upon you," he points out needlessly, leaning heavily on the cane that supports him. "Have they treated you well? When last we spoke, I had thought I would call you good sister, and you rightly bent your knee to my lord father. So much has changed."
"I have not changed all that much, just the conditions in which I reside.." Isolde intones evenly and she laughs faintly, short and with no meaning. "Good sister…the Nayland Lords could call me that…if they ever wished it." But there is a coolness to her gaze as she speaks of them and then she adds, "The Mire is by no means Stonebridge, nor is it Four Eagles Tower..but I am well enough, treated decently so." She breathes, clasping her hands before her as she then nods her head to him. "And you? We have not talked in so long and though I see you grown the years we have been silent now…I would rather wish to know how you have been."
His expression is not so inscrutable as it might be, though it still leaves precious few cues to the thoughts that go on behind his blue eyes. "I was fortunate to find a benefactor in Lord Mallister, a man whom has a particular vision for the talents of individuals, and a desire to reward loyalty," Jacsen remarks, for the sake of Isolde's question, "And he offered me a position of no small import in his court once I had…" Perhaps memories of the words Isolde committed to parchment come to mind now, or the responses he was forced to make, while still confined to bed. "… healed. Now, as events have dictated, I turn such to the service of my own family, and my lord father." A wealth is left unsaid there, and he does not quite pretend otherwise. "Perhaps it was best, though, we were silent those years, my lady. It has been… painful for those that loved you at the Roost, this division of your house and ours."
The Mire had taught her a few things and Isolde makes Jacsen a study in a casual way. "Your family has needed your wisdom for a while now. I still pray that your elder brother is safe, wherever he took off to." The regards of pain that the Terrick's bare for the loss of the oaths between Tordane and Terrick she nods her head, gaze leaving his. "Painful for all involved, perhaps for all but my own mother. When I lost my father and brothers…your family became mine. Seeing your sister has…reminded me well of those pains." She lifts her head though and it seems perhaps she does remember well the words she had give him in the form of her letters. "Perhaps you say…but I do not think so. It is not just now that I have regretted what brought about the loss of our correspondence." She pauses and adds. "I have not changed so much, but years bring regrets that are strengthened by wisdom that time brings."
"And had my correspondence still flowed to and from the Stonebridge, my lady? Had the wisdom my family, as you say, so needed been yours as well?" Jacsen wonders, the discomfort his his leg showing just a moment across his features, as he adjusts his posture with the cane some. "Would any of this been different? Because you say that you have not changed, and yet, I can scarce imagine that the girl I grew up with, whom took my family as her own even after that, to wear the name of those whom hate us so strong." His chin lifts a fraction, proud. "I would have thought that girl incapable of betraying us so."
Isolde furrows her brows, his words growing more uncomfortable for her as he continues. "That is what I have done then, in your eyes?" She asks of him, her mood cooling suddenly as she meets his gaze, trying to keep the curtesies that had been there before. "Do not the Terrick's hate the Nayland's just as equally? You are to be the Lord of the Roost once it is your time and my husband is to be the Lord of the Mire. Is it not for us to choose what is to come? Or will we continue again to fall to old unanswered hatred that has kept this land parted." She draws a breath and meets his gaze. "Lord's will quarrel…I would think wisdom finds strength in alliances instead…." She keeps her gaze upon him and looks to his leg before letting her green eyes return to his.
Jacsen frowns as he listens to Isolde. "You think I have not worked for this peace, my lady? For I have, I seek peace, above all else. For I have seen with my own eyes the brutal cost of conflict. I've slain men, and watched them slain, and I would spare the Riverlands from spilling a drop of blood for the sake of this feud." He draws a steadying breath, the emotions that rise in his voice tempered. "But what would you expect of this, my lady? Whatever the reason for the quarrel, whatever its merit, you took from those you claim to have held as family and gave to their foes. Foes that know the hearts of you and your lord husband, and so steal you away to the Mire rather than leave you to rule your own inheritance, because they know if you ruled, there might be peace. How should I reconcile this? Show me, please," he asks, almost imploring of her, "For I can see it no other way."
"I may be a Nayland by name and you may call me as you will.." Isolde says evenly if a bit more softly, a brief show of pain that this conversation brings but she lowers her gaze to gather herself and then continue again with a little more strength. "I have lost and I see the pain the people of Stonebridge carry. You are a Lord, and now the heir to your father where Jaremy once was. I do not doubt you and your understanding of governance or the strength it takes to slay another. I have ever respected you for your wisdom, my Lord. But I am a Lady, and our ways of governing must be fed with a dressing of honey and sweetness…I would show you what you could do if I were a Lord and not a Lady." She intones. "If you so know my heart as they do, my Lord. I would think you know as anything but someone to betray the love and friendship I have so lost in all these dealings." She draws a breath and lifts her own chin now. "Now here, in this place my one strength will possibly be taken from me. I /am/ my father's daughter, whether it is by blood or otherwise. His people are my people and I do not like what is happening to them.." Her gaze darkens and some of her own simmering frustration grows, shown only through the faint idle twitch of her hands. "Would that we had kept writing, my Lord. I realize now that over the years since the death of my father I have slowly lost the Roost, whether by my hand or my mother's. It gives me no great pleasure to know that I have caused this rift between us…but no matter how we speak here…the immediate future will rest with Lord Hoster Tully's decision." She swallows.
He is still, and mostly silent as he listens to the words that flow with such passion from Isolde's lips, blue eyes vibrant and never wavering from her expression. "You do not answer the question I put to you, my lady, for all that I believe you speak truthfully of hurts and the desire to do right by your people. Yet you must understand that to the eyes and heart of a Terrick, your people are ours," Jacsen affirms, without flinching. "All my years, to see the banner of House Tordane fly was as to see my own, as if the blood of the same was in my veins, my lady, and I hold its people in no less esteem. Your Lord Father bent knee to my own out of fealty and friendship, your father's sister married to mine own uncle, and your hand destined to my brother's." He lets out a slow breath, shaking his head faintly. "Now I see those people of Stonebridge chafe and suffer beneath the rule of your Lady Mother and her Nayland dog, and I cannot be content." Jacsen takes a step forward and offers his hand out towards Isolde. "I tell you now," he says, "Take my hand and return with me to the Wheel Tower that Lord Tully has given to us, and ask of my Lady Mother to provide you sanctuary, and for House Terrick as your rightful lieges to provide you and Stonebridge with succor. We will turn to Lord Hoster Tully and he might make all of this right, and you and your lord husband might rule still with knees bent to the Roost. Together we might yet fulfill the dreams of our fathers, and protect our peoples." His brow rises as he watches her, that hand outstretched. "Show me it is not all words, Isolde, and I will believe in you once more."
Grown. Jacsen had always seemed so composed, wise, learned even in his younger years, yet even now Isolde watches the way his hand extends across to her. The need and want is there in her gaze, but her own slender fingers lift but do not breach that gap just yet. There is silence, nothing but the stir of the leaves of the top branches in the Godswood as the woman looks to his hand, closing her eyes finally before she asks something that obviously weighs heavily on her. "I have not been here for all that was said, but what I have been told strikes me. Perhaps you have reason for it, but answer me first if you will." It is not commanding but it is her green eyes that hold that assessing look as she meets his gaze. "I am told that you speak in support of Gedeon's claim to Stonebridge and to the fact I am not of legitmate birth. Is this so? I would have it from you before I believe all that I hear."
"Gedeon's claim to Stonebridge is not at question, my lady," Jacsen reminds her, his hand remaining outstretched yet, something in his eyes asking her to reach out and take his hand into her own. "But you are right that your own is. The interest of all parties, as pledged before Lord Hoster Tully, is to come to the bottom of this issue of legitimacy that is raised in letters that have born reasonable scrutiny and authentication by eyes that know Lord Geoffrey's hand well. But if this last testament produced is true, and it names you heir… then the matter will be settled, my lady. Understand, my lord father has no choice but to pursue this, as everything surrounding Stonebridge in the past few years has been obfuscated, filled with uncertainties… In that I did stand, as his representative, to claim the question merited a clear answer. Never have I declared you are not Lord Geoffrey's daughter by blood, never have I slandered you." He draws a breath. "If you are his heir true, Isolde, then be the heir of Lord Geoffrey Tordane, not the puppet of Naylands and Freys. Take my hand, join with me, and we will see Stonebridge restored to the right and proper rule of your father's intent. You have but to come with me and we together can rewrite this dark chapter between our blood."
"Am I then to believe if I take your hand all this will suddenly be dropped?" Isolde asks of him, there is no anger there, she is just studying, weighing everything. "But if I do not take your hand this all continues….but the real question I want answered, Jacsen…" She hesitates, wondering yet if she herself wants the answer he might give to her. "Do you believe it? This claim?" There is a need there as well. "Your hand is a boone, offered to me in a time I need it most…" She breathes, "But would this only divide and drive the hatred deeper that resides between these houses?"
He draws a firm breath, though he's not yet lost hope that she might take his hand still. "I believe that Stonebridge belongs in friendship and fealty with just and righteous lords, that its people deserve caring and decent rule," Jacsen tells Isolde, sincerity ringing in his voice. "I believe that the path it goes down now, the shadow that has fallen over it will bring nothing but suffering for many years, and the wedge that will drive between it and its kin at the Roost shall grow wider than we could imagine. I do not know what to make of these letters, Isolde, though expedience would bid me simply say I believe them…" His eyes set upon her own, seeking to gaze there directly, into a face that he once knew so well, a face he once in a child's way thought himself to love. "This will not be an easy path, though I promise that the alternative will be no better, and might well be worse. And I promise you that if you can summon the courage to do this with me, to do what is right for your people… I will know better than any letter that you are Geoffrey Tordane's daughter, Isolde. I could not doubt a woman willing to stand so brave and so bold as I watched your father stand. That I swear to you."
"This marriage was not of my make, but it is mine now to help mold. My Lord husband is a good man…would that taking your hand could solve everything but I also fear that if I were to agree with you…things would only grow worse, but in a different way." Perhaps there is fear in her eyes, or she knows something he does not. "Jacsen…" His name is finally said in a way that speaks of lost identities that were once their's. "If I take your hand…I go against my husband who has shown me nothing but kindness in the face of what is understood of most Naylands. I take your hand…I lose what I have with him and I do not ever wish to spend the rest of my life lost without a companion. Jaremy was to be that companion, but I was too young to realize what was happening when it was taken from me." When they all were stolen from her. "Brave? You ask me to be brave? Being brave was the moment I stepped into your father's tent for the last time and sought to work with him then, he sent me away. How now will your hand undo what he feels? I am my father's daughter..in whatever way that it comes to…I will win Stonebridge no matter the way, but my path can't take the one you want me to." She tells him, almost sadly. "Your father would turn me away and nothing will undo the vows I took before the seven…." There is something else, but she doesn't say it, instead she looks to his hand. "You swear to me…but you are not your father…not yet." She shakes her head, watching him. "Parents have a way of undoing all that hope or wish for."
"Lord Rickart, Ser Rygar, Lady Valda. All three will need die before you will ever truly have Stonebridge, Isolde," Jacsen affirms for her without a scrap of doubt in voice or eyes. "And until then they will be ground beneath the petty rivalries and ambitions of House Nayland, and they will suffer. Men, executed for speaking kindly of your half-brother, men beaten and thrown into stockades because they have no wish to drill day after day, preparing for war with their neighbors, their friends, whom for the sake of your husband's feelings you would maintain. If Lord Ryker is a good man, he will understand what you have done here, and in time he will admire you for it. As for Lord Jerold? I do not wear his signet without significance. I speak for him in all matters, and he would never turn against me in such, no matter how he might chafe with pride." One more time his hand is raised up, palm turned skyward, to Isolde. "Please. Do not tell me you love your people, love what what is right, what is just, love my people, love my family, and love yours, and turn your back on them all. Come with me, Isolde."
"But that is not why we are here, we are here to answer for who I am.." Isolde intones and looks to his hand once more. Her hand lifts and takes his lightly, but she doesn't step forward, she is silent for a moment as she is lost to her thoughts. "To walk with you here…is to take the power from my husband in another way. Though there may not be love..we have trust. I must be strong on my own, to win the people through this way…if we even can. The land is Nayland land now, even without me it is so. What will the Lord Tully find to refute that? But perhaps that I am illegtimate." A squeeze of his hand. "As much as I want this gift, I can not take it. What is being done in Stonebridge is not what my father would want, and I know it is past time to make my claim to it." She gives him that faint smile and releases his hand. "Stonebridge and it's people can not be cared for this way…the marriage is binding and House Tordane lives on in blood and no longer in name or lands. I will seek the best route I can to bring this peace we both want." She shakes her head and takes a step back. "I am sorry"
There is ice in those blue eyes when Jacsen lets his hand slip away from hers, his jaw lifting an imperious fraction. "I offer you the love and honor of the Terricks, and for the second time you spurn it in favor of a family you knew by all rights you should never have wed," he draws a measured breath, shaking his head. "You know that Nayland hands upon Stonebridge, a Nayland husband for his daughter, would make your father weep with shame. Whatever your legitimacy, Isolde, you've let others warp and control you, and bring shame to your father's memory. All that he worked for, torn asunder. The foes he kept at bay all his years have had the doors thrown open for them, and given all he ever held dear. If you've a scrap of him in you, if you are his daughter, you cannot deny that. You cannot stand for that. For if you do…" He shakes his head again, watching Isolde.
As he insults her, Isolde lifts her chin to look at him. "I deny nothing of what my father lived for or those he held dear. They are mind to. But you misjudge what my husband and I wish." Her jaw sets a moment, as if he had just stripped a part of her bare. "I do not lie that I was timid once, but I am no fool either. I see what goes on around me, I understand what it is Jacsen…and I did let them…in my grief and loss and the times I spent so far from the Roost. It was not I alone that lost this…remember this. This challenge is late coming…and none of your fault.." Though perhaps once it had been. "The way you offer me…it is too uncertain and might even in the end unsettle what progress I have attempted to make in my return to Stonebridge. Forgive me if I am slow to trust…it has been a lesson hard learned." Her face his grim and her lips press together. "I can not take your hand. Not now."
As if speaking of his hand reminds him of the failure of that gesture, Jacsen's fingers curl into a tight fist at his side. "If you would have me believe you, Isolde, then there are two things I would ask you to do for me," he says then, his manner restrained, eyes crisp and piercing.
Trust had been long stretched apparently between them and time had not healed it. Isolde gives a slow inclination of her head. "Ask it of me then, these things.." But her gaze remains wary.
"Keep what has been said here between us," Jacsen asks of her, "And if you would show your intentions towards peace and good will, see that the punitive tariffs that starve the people of the Roost are eased, and made fairer for them. If you can keep my trust, and show that our people are your concern… I can hold out hope, Isolde, that we might achieve what you say you seek." His brow climbs. "Or is even this too steep?"
"I want nothing else than to relieve the people of these unneeded burdens…I think perhaps that is why I was whisked away as quickly as could be done. But I am of age and there is no reason to have someone speaking for me or for my husband." Isolde looks to him, giving a nod of her head. "It is not too steep to be done…though perhaps it may not be achieved immediately." She gives him that truth at least.
Jacsen dips his chin once, in a succinct motion. "My faith can hold out a little while, Isolde. But only so long."
"Then I hope it keeps til something can be done.." Isolde says and then shifts on her feet, the parting given with as much grace as she can manage. "Perhaps after the decision made on these current matters…you will not have to worry." Her gaze lingers on him and then dips her head, hiding her thoughts. "I will leave you to your thoughts and leave. Till we speak again." She turns to go.
The Terrick Lord's bow is shallow, but offered nonetheless. "Until we speak again, my lady."