|Telling By Proxy|
|Summary:||Jarod fills Jacsen in on the latest twist and turns in the Amelia Millen affair. A lot of wine is consumed.|
|Related Logs:||The Trouble With Whores|
|Jarod's Chamber — Four Eagles Tower|
|The bar is open.|
|Sun Aug 21, 288|
Jarod has actually spent most of this day in the castle, which is a first since the time the hunt for Amelia of Seagard began. He's even discarded the leather jerkin he'd taken to wearing, though he of course still carries his sword at his hip. His main order of business today was, apparently, tracking down Lord Jacsen Terrick and impressing upon him that he had something Very Very Important to discuss with him. The exact subject of his Important Thing was, as with any occasion when Ser River is trying to be cryptic, lacking any subtlety and something which transparently has him sort of freaked out. So it's on this note that Jarod is leading Jacsen back to his chambers. Armed with some strongwine he's nipped from the kitchens. This was also apparently important to discussing The Important Thing.
Fortunately, Jacsen is patient, or at least good at seeming such, and indulges his brother's concern as the pair make their way to his chambers, strongwine and Important Things in hand. The pace is a bit reduced, given his hobbled gait, but he does not make Jarod wait too long to get inside, and to the matter of this conversation. "Alright, Jarod…" he says, as the door is closed behind them, and he makes a beeline for a chair.
"So…all right," Jarod says, pouring rather large cups for himself and Jacsen in turn. "Sit down. On the bed, if you want to stretch out. This might take awhile." His cat is working over a saucer of milk in one corner. He kind of spoils the creature, really. "So…all right. Umm. Jaremy really should be the one telling you this but he had to spend some quality repairing time with Lady Anais, and I figure that might take awhile so…I'll just tell you. I figure I'll need to explain my reasoning, anyway. I do have a reasoning for not taking this right to father." Well, this is promising.
"Oh, Seven…" Jacsen shakes his head quietly as his brother leads with that, and takes the advice of sprawling out on the bed rather than cramming himself into a seat. His leg is gingerly lifted and laid out, while his other knee is drawn closer, the lord's back against the head of his brother's bed. "There's a lot Jaremy should be telling me, but isn't," he remarks somewhat ruefully, taking the cup of wine offered by the Guard Captain. "I'll add this to the list."
"He's going to tell you. I'm just…a telling-you proxy," Jarod says. "You can beat him around the ears for it later. I'm sure much discussion will follow, and there's a little time to figure out how in seven hells we're going to handle it before it's got to be handled." He hands Jacsen the winecup, pulling up a chair for himself and sprawling in it. "So. Good news first. Amelia Millen is in custody." Pause. "She's being held by some Banefort soldiers in a farmstead not far from here. Lady Anais' people found her last night." Pause. "After Jaremy had told Anais where she was hiding, which he apparently knew for awhile." Another pause. "And he didn't figure to share this information with me. Didn't hear it until Anais told me herself this morning, after she'd spoken with the Roost's favorite whore last night."
There is a quiet pause that follows that rather remarkable bit of news that Jarod drops on Jacsen. It's followed by a notable response, if notable for how rarely he uses such expletives. "Fuck." He lets out a breath, and hoists up his wine cup to Jarod as if to say 'bottoms up' and takes a very long swallow of its contents. "Knew for awhile, I assume, means 'knew while he sat in Father's council and said nothing'?"
"Yes, seems so," Jarod says, raising his own cup and gulping in that 'toast.' "When he told me I almost hit him. Maybe I should've. Would've felt good. Well. Guess there's time to do that later, too. Anyway, aye, I guess he's known since a little after Jens Howard turned up murdered and me and the Stonebridge man started looking into it. Says he wasn't aware of any plans Amelia might have to do the man in before that, so I guess I believe him when he says there wasn't time to tell me before the whole investigation got rolling and we roused a good portion of the guardsman in this part of the Riverlands searching for her."
"What the hells was he thinking?" Jacsen wonders aloud, resting his head against Jarod's headboard, holding his wine in both hands over his lap. "After everything, this business with the castellan from Oldstones, and now…" He closes his eyes and draws a steadying breath, his rarely seen ire set to overflow. "He'd be lucky if a hit is all our lordly father gives him. And how Anais is involved…" He opens his eyes again and looks over at his brother, some sympathy in his eyes. "I take it you've thought some about how you plan to handle this?"
Jarod takes another gulp, shrugging as to the question about what Jaremy was thinking. "Not sure he was, really. And I…yes, I've thought on it." The way he says it implies there is no actual 'plan' as of yet, just some really, really hard Ser Rivers' Thinking. "Lady Anais says Amelia plans to turn herself in no later than Thursday next. Needs time to wind herself up to it, I think, and I do want words with her before…anything. I figure you should be part of that. Because, if she confirms what Anais told me she confessed to, is when we'll string her up in the spot in the town square. She didn't just murder Jens Howard cold-blooded in his bed after fucking him, though I guess she admits it. She was…she was I guess a bit more in with the Naylands than just an unacknowledged bastard daughter. Anais says she admits to have been operating as a spy here for the Naylands. On us." Gulp. "Since she was fifteen. Jens Howard was her handler. That's why he came to the Roost on those two occasions I mentioned last night, and likely more we didn't take notice of."
It was a rhetorical question, that bit about Jaremy's thinking; its clear as day that Jascen believes his eldest brother was doing little to no thinking while all of this went on. He does listen to Jarod, holding his tongue until his brother has explained the whole of it. "I would not wait for this woman to fancy herself ready to turn herself in, Jar," Jacsen cautions, shaking his head. "She is clearly not stupid, and if she has a desire to be dead, she could like as not inflict it upon herself before waiting on us to string her up for all the Roost to see… and truth be told, I am not convinced her death would be of the most benefit to us, yet." He lifts his cup, staring into the contents a moment before draining a sip. "I'll accompany you to speak with her, under whatever pretense you'd like… but I recommend you plan to bring her back with us, in chains. A few Banefort men will only do her so well if the Naylands think to try and end her before she can spill too many secrets."
"She's under guard and Lady Banefort and her men, at least, have enough sense not to let her go," Jarod says. "And they can watch her enough that she doesn't do herself an injury before we get a run at her. In a way, maybe it's better than locking her up in the tower. Father'd have obligations if he knew she was here. Even more than we do, and I'm aware that I'm putting off some of my higher ones by not riding out to take her in right this night. At least this way, we know where she is, and we've got her in hand before the Stonebridge men do. Once she's back here she's dead, either sooner or later and…I'm not sure Jaremy's up to living with himself if that happens." Pause. Gulp. "She's in love with him, Jace. He claims he doesn't love her back but…I don't know. They were real close over the years. He never really treated her like a man treats a whore. I swear, he'd go to her and spend more time talking and listening to her sing than fucking. Though he did admit she'd offered herself to him more recent, though he says he didn't have her. At the tournament, after it became clear he'd lost Isolde Tordane. She…Amelia that is…I guess she talked about wanting to bear his children and to be…with him. As a mistress, I guess, kept in the tower or somewhere else where they could be together often. He said no but…no reason for her to assume he would've. Some lordlings do that." Jarod's own mother was a household servant, though it's never been quite clear the extent her relationship with Lord Jerold Terrick beyond that. If Jarod has ever asked for details - and he's always seemed almost willfully ignorant to ask about the 'other side' of his family - he's never shared them with his half-siblings.
Jacsen breathes through his nose, shaking his head lightly. "She /claims/ she is in love with him," he corrects, "And what else is she wont to say? She is a whore, a murderer, and a spy, caught far too late in the web she has spun. Perhaps it is cold of me, to care not for his feelings in this, but I swear I do not Jarod. Is it this whore that had ensnared him so, and led him astray from pursuing his rightful claim to Isolde and the Stonebridge? I do not find that hard to imagine, that among her other myriad duties, this Amelia was tasked to do so." He swallows another gulp of the strongwine and adds, "No matter our duties to honor and justice, we've a duty to learn from her all we can, and make good on what we can learn. String her up in the town square and the Naylands know for a certain that she is done, and likely given up what she knows. Keep alive the tale that she is escaped and gone, and they cannot be certain."
"Could be." Jarod says so very quietly, on the subject of how much influence Amelia might've had on putting off Jaremy's much-delayed wedding to Isolde Tordane. "And, aye. I agree on that. This isn't a fuck-and-rob job. This is political, in a way that could make a lot of trouble between us and the Naylands, however it's handled. If we've got her, and they don't know we've got her, does seem the best route to go at least for awhile. You think father'll see it that way?" His first cup is gone. He pours himself another. "Jaremy's convinced Amelia turned on the Naylands, and turned on them yeras ago. That she's only been trying to help him, at great risk to herself, and that everything she's done - up to the murder of Master Howard, who she claimed was out to kill Lady Anais - was to his good. Me…I think more as you do. She's a murderer and a spy, whatever else she is, and I could hang her tonight, call it justice done, and sleep in good conscience. Jaremy doesn't, though. And I…Jace I've done some stupid things lately for women I have perhaps too much affection for." He shrugs. "It's idiotic. But I'm not sure if, were I in his place, I wouldn't also be trying to protect her."
"And that is the problem, my dear brother," Jacsen rejoinders, his tone gentler for all that he is set to speak words his expression admits he'd rather not. "You could hang her tonight, call it justice done, and sleep in good conscience… he protects Amelia, lies about Amelia, because he loves her, and he believes she would not betray him. Both of you are thinking and acting, so it seems, in terms of what you think suits you best. While yours is leagues closer to forgivable than our brother's, it seems to me all the same. We need for all of us to start thinking not about ourselves, and the piece we are of the Terrick whole, but instead start thinking of what is best for that whole. What is best is not carrying on with a damned whore and losing Isolde Tordane to the Naylands, nor is it lying to our lord father. What is best is not-" He stops himself short, and shakes his head. "I think you get what I mean."
"Not what?" Jarod asks softly, curious as to what part of that was cut off. "But…aye, I see what you mean. And you aren't wrong. I figured you'd see this in…bigger terms than Jaremy or I were really able. How would you go at it?"
"The word of a whore, no matter how much weight our brother might put on it, means less than a breeze in a storm once the Naylands deny it, and deny it they shall," Jacsen assures his brother, leaning over to hold out his cup for a refill, much needed tonight. "And to even make the accusation without worthy evidence to stand against that makes us seem the fools… It would be easily called a lie, blamed on our soreness of losing Stonebridge, the murder Amelia guilty of said to be just another sign of our inability to keep order and the peace. It would be disastrous, I think." He settles back with a refreshed cup of wine but doesn't pay it much attention just yet. "She can be exploited, should she be left alive, and this exploitation is something we can turn to our advantage. I would need the details from her to know quite how to best make use of her," he says, "But there is room here to protect the Terrick name while sending a message to the Naylands that we are better prepared, and more cunning, than they seem to think."
Jarod is happy to play bartender for Jacsen. He tops his own cup off, while he's wielding the flagon. He nods along with that. "She seems eager enough to provide details to all who ask, if what she told Lady Anais is any indication. The truth of them…well, I'll confess I've no idea. She offers little proof to go with her wild tales, though she seems able to make both Jaremy and Lady Anais believe in her. How much that means, I don't know."
He nods once at that, and admits, "Right now? Of Jaremy's opinion on this I think little… but the Lady Anais strikes me as too canny by half to be simply drawn in by this Amelia's lies. Especially given the relationship she has with Anais' own betrothed. It might be something she has to accept," Jacsen points out, "But she needn't like it. I expect that would be enough to make her more critical than not in examining Amelia's claims. Still…" he drains another sip, "I'll not be satisfied until I've spoken with the woman myself."
"I'm of the same opinion on that, in terms of speaking with Amelia myself. Preferably when Jaremy and even Lady Anais aren't around to leap to her defense like gallant saviors of her whore-and-spy virtue." Jarod snorts. "I'll admit, Jace, I've been going over how much access she had to the men of this house…not just Jaremy. She was a favorite of Uncle Revyn's, and likely of more of the men who serve this tower. I'll not deny I had her a time or several myself, though I can at least say honestly I do not go to a whore for conversation. So, while she might've learned some *embarrassing* things about me, I can at least take some solace they aren't of the political nature."
"It is the unfortunate truth of being raised by and to be men of such honorable manner," Jacsen tells his brother with something of a rueful expression. "We leave ourselves vulnerable to this sort of subterfuge, something I'm certain many less virtuous houses practice, especially those set in such opposition as the Naylands are to our own. While I could suggest any number of things, mostly underhanded, that would vouchsafe one against such, the easiest is to simply do as you've done, and recognize that if the woman in your bed is not your lady wife, you'd best keep your damned thoughts and heart to yourself."
"I can promise you, I don't share thoughts with the women I take to bed," Jarod says with a rueful laugh. It's mostly self-mocking. "As for my heart…well, I've learned my lesson on that score lately." Muttered with another note of self-mockery, and a little bit of bitterness. Drink.
He smirks a touch at that, about the rim of his cup of wine. It's too knowing, by half, and swallowed along with a mouthful of wine. "So. I had occasion to speak with the man we'd sent to Oldstones," Jacsen tells his brother. "It's set a few things about Oldstones in clearer relief for me, and made me wonder at some of what our brother had to say during Council with father." His lips twist slightly in distaste as he notes, "Not that I wish to further lament my eldest brother this eve, but it is not an insignificant error."
Jarod gives Jacsen a narrow look, though it's not particularly penetrating for being half-drunk. "What?" he demands. Though as for Oldstones, he snorts. "Jaremy's messenger? Or spy or…whatever. What'd he have to say for that place, anyway? I'll not deny I'm curious, what with all the tales Jaremy's heard about them, not to mention their interest in Lucienne, and Rowan getting ready to ship off there." Drink. Twice.
"The place is barely worth being called a hold. They've a wall, yes, but it's all timber cut by the handful of hardscrabble men that make up Oldstones' smallfolk, the lot of them fit only to feed and shelter themselves," Jacsen remarks. "The walls are functional, but lack the eye of one dedicated to such craft, and the majority of it is shored by stone from the ruins that give the place it's name. Half the men live in tents, or straw huts, and the closest to a hall the place can claim is its timber mill." He turns the wine over from one hand to another before he continues. "He wasn't wrong about this matter of a road being built from the Mire to Oldstones, though. About twenty men, our sworn counted, all of them building a rudimentary trade path that winds along the Blue Fork. But this talk of Ironmen… Jarod, there was not a single one to be found. They were men of the Mire, all twenty, that did this work on the road, and the smallfolk that have put work into Oldstones are Rivermen as sure as anything."
"Lord Ser Anton admitted to me that Ser Rygar Nayland came courting him for future fealty, when Ser Rygar was staying in this house briefly," Jarod says. "He's no reason to deny it, I suppose. Oldstones owes us no vassalage. Our friendship in hosting them is based in boyhood ties you, me and Jaremy share with Ser Gedeon. And perhaps some chance of what Ser Gedeon might mean to Stonebridge, though that's not much to base any hope on. But the Mire has as much to offer as we do. And presently they're offering it, while we send retainers to skulk around their walls, and offend their fair-faced messengers."
"It was a foolish decision," Jacsen remarks, "And while their Castellan has some lessons to learn, it was poor on Jaremy's part to treat her so. Neither should a lord be seen to be so mutable in his manner or opinion, so easily undermined by the words of a mere woman who serves as Castellan to a few rough men and bloody straw huts, Jarod. It is such an embarrassment I had need hear of it from the Camden woman, and my defenses of our brother could barely stand. Truth be told, I agreed with her assessment." He snorts, shaking his head, and settles for another long sip of wine. "Father needs take Jaremy in hand, and soon, Jarod. Else this will not end well for the Roost."
"For what it's worth, I think the epic disaster this is shaping up to be is making Jaremy see he's gone about…a lot of things the wrong way," Jarod says. "He admitted as much to me after I confronted him about his not-telling us about knowing where Amelia Millen was hiding. I think he felt, after the loss of Stonebridge and…well, other things. I guess he felt like, if he could handle it all himself, if he could outsmart our enemies and uncover this dark plot against us, it'd go a long way toward proving he *could* take the Roost in hand. I told him he was wrong and I think…I think he's at a point where he admits he needs us. And Anais, and the rest of the household. I guess that's why I'm feeling less hard on him about this than I did a few hours ago. I mean…I can't say I don't understand some of why he did it, in a way."
Jacsen tilts back his head and drains the rest of his cup, leaning over and offering the spent vessel to his brother, not seeming eager for another fill. "I might be moved to feel the same, once I've seen, heard it for myself," he decides, his mood clear in its lack of charity to the eldest Terrick sibling. "Maybe I'll feel differently on the morrow, when my head is not full of wine and my leg does not ache so. Right now, Jarod, I can only think of all that I set aside in Seaguard that I might ride home for the sake of my kin, only to have our brother leave us to scurry while he hid the truth. Whatever his reformed thinking, I admit that stings." He lets out a breath, and looks at his empty cup, wherever it's ended up. "I also admit I am a bit drunk, Jar. Sleepy, besides."
Jarod actually chuckles a little at that, but it's a drunk laugh rather than tickled by anything particularly amusing. "Me too. Well. I'm kind of drunk. And sleepy. And it did sting, but it stings less now after…the drinking. You can stay here tonight if you don't want to move. I don't want to move. And I think I'll have another cup, so I get even sleepier." He pours himself one, on that note.
"Well… if we're done talking about anything important, I'll take another…" Jacsen says, waving lamely at the discarded cup of his. "Think I'll just stay here, if it's all the same." He leans back against the headboard and chuckles at something or another. "When we're sober, remind me I want to talk to you about something. Definitely better left for being sober."
"Well *that's* not promising," Jarod snorts with a laugh, happily refilling Jacsen's cup ever-so-shortly after it was returned, and handing it back to his brother. They'll easily finish the flagon tonight. That done, he slouches down in his chair and languidly sips at his latest drink. "Will you give a general gist of the subject you want to talk to me sober about, at least, so I can prepare? Is it bigger than a bread box? Smaller than a bear? If I guess right after twenty questions will you tell me?"
He snorts with laughter, shaking his head. "When I'm sober," Jacsen repeats, pointing an accusing finger at Jarod, "And not a moment before. Oh, and since we're on the topic of drink… I told Ged we'd get together with him for some fun. Drink, song, probably women… a break from all these politics and the like. Timing might need to change, I don't know, but you figure it out. I haven't gone carousing in the Roost," … or elsewhere, for that matter, "… for a long while."
"Well of course you haven't, little brother, it's not fun without me," Jarod says lazily. "If it hadn't been for me, you'd probably have spent all your squirehood in Seagard a sober virgin. And then where would you be, then? Nowhere, that's where, so you're welcome. And fuck yes, we're doing this. It is being fucking done. The Roost isn't so varied a place to carous as the docks of Seagard, admittedly, but we'll make it awesome. Whenever…whenever it works." That date vaguely made, he settles back in his chair to drink the remainder of his wine. He'll be snoring there soon enough.