|The Best Man I know|
|Summary:||In the wee small hours of the morning, Rowan celebrates his latest misfortune… Jarod remains oblivious, so they talk about his problems, instead.|
|Related Logs:||Minus the Whores This Time; all poisoning related logs|
|Stables and Kennels, Terrick's Roost|
|The Tower's Main Stables are nestled into the corner of the courtyard near the portcullis to facilitate quick, easy exits when required. The rear of the structure is backed right against the interior wall of the castle with the heavy wooden roofing gently sloped down towards the slate out front, the floor of the stables kept to dirt. Thick wooden beams are plunged into the ground and serve as a base for the walls between each stall. Hay serves as most of the flooring in the area with a large stack of it off to the side. Each stall has a thick layer on the ground to serve as bedding, with most of the space dedicated to horses though a few have pens of dogs and hounds. An enclosed structure at the end serves as dry storage for riding equipment and saddles.|
|6th day of Eighthmonth, 288 AL|
Jarod has been searching for Rowan since he got loosed from whatever counsel or other Lord Jerold and Jaremy were holding with the Knight of Oldstones and other various folk. His first stop was the stables, of course. He's frowning thoughtfully, as he has wont to do lately, and he's spending more time looking at his boots than he tends to.
Rowan, as it happens, is not difficult to find. One would have to be deaf to miss him. From the kennels comes an appalling racket — but a rather joyful one, if you're a dog. There's a lot of excited barking and yapping, and the hollow, syncopated thunk-thud-thunk of a ball being tossed off the walls. Each toss is followed by the scratchy scramble of claws on stone. At least one of the beasts is howling — no. No, wait. That's not a dog…
And they were humping on the stairway!
They were fucking in the hall!
They shook the sodding rafters,
Knocked the plaster off the wall!
O, he knew that she was pious,
She was so often on her knees,
And the holy writ was by her bed
So by the book she pleased!
THAT is singing. Sort of. In the most drunken, can't-carry-a-tune-in-a-bucket sort of way.
The singing gets a smile out of Jarod. Makes the squire easier to find at least. With a chuckle, he adds his own baritone to the last, "~So by the book she pleased!~" line. He's likely heard it rendered worse, so the over all awfulness of the noise doesn't bother him. "Good eve, Rowan."
Rowan, surrounded by a good half-dozen hounds, wheels around at the last, coughing and laughing. "Oi! Sorry. Did we wake you?" As though he and his barking retinue might actually be heard by anyone in the house proper. The Master of Hounds, on the other hand, must be very tolerant indeed… or out for the evening. He smiles sheepishly. One of the dogs, all of them sitting very prettily and wagging their docked behinds, yaps sharply, causing the boy to abruptly remember the ball in his hand. "Right! Sorry, Bekkah!" He throws the ball again, and the beasts go charging after it. "Want to join me in a drink, Jar? I'm celebrating." And juuuuuust a little tipsy.
"Uh…all right," Jarod says. He's never one to turn down free booze, after all. Nor can he with a straight face reprimand his squire for this sort of behavior, so he goes to get a cup or pull or whatever Rowan is providing. "Just be up by mid-morn tomorrow. I'd like you to start running some drills with Caytiv Hill, if Jaremy's amenable to it. Figure you lot and can beat on eachother and we'll see what he's made of. And what you're made of. Don't get cocky, even if you have won the squire's melee. I've got a long way to go before I've made a proper man out of you."
"Splendid! Bloody splendid!" Rowan beams, wobbling his way over to a nearby work table. It's whiskey he's pouring tonight, and generously, too. "I'm the tiniest bit put off wine, you know," he explains as the bottle goes glug-glug-glug. "Oh, speaking of that — Amelia sends her warm regards." He winks at Jarod. Lasciviously. "Says you're one of the 'big dogs.'" He raises his cup. "Cheers, my boon friend! Cheers."
"Aye. Amelia. I still don't understand what in seven hells is going on with that," Jarod says, taking the cup and toasting. "Cheers to…something." Unsure of what he's toasting or not, he drinks anyway. "Have to speak to Jaremy about it on the morrow, I suppose. If I'm still here. We'll see." Despite his less-than-jolly mood, he just sips the whiskey rather than chugging it. Ser Rivers is in a thoughtful place tonight. "You feeling alright now? That was a hard bit you went through." He eyes Rowan over as he asks it, concern evident.
"Pish," Rowan waves a hand at Jarod, as though batting his words out of the air. "I'm tougher than I look, Rivers! I'm up and about before Ser Princess, aren't I? And I had the lion's share of that wretched brew." Mmm. Brew. He drinks. Then, blinking, he squints at Jarod. "Still here? Why wouldn't you be. Where're we going?"
The hollow thunk of a ball hitting the floor near his boots draws the squires fickle attention downward. There sits a big, lovely brindle female, panting expectantly. When the human she's waiting on doesn't oblige her immediately, she lifts a big paw and bats at his leg repeatedly. Hello? Some service down here, please. "My lady," drawls Rowan, grinning. He stoops to retrieve the ball and throw it again, watching as she joins the pack in chasing it down. "I named her after my grandmother," he comments, fondly. "She's my favorite bitch."
"I got some things I figure I need to settle up with my lord father out of how I handled the whole matter with Ser Gedeon," Jarod says with a shrug, looking off into the distance and sipping on his drink. "Don't worry on it, lad. We'll talk about it if there's anything we need to talk about." He's worried on it, plainly, but he also doesn't seem keen to discuss it. He blinks at the dog and, again, can't help but laugh. "Well, she looks like a Nayland to me. No offense, Rowan. We've already said you're pretty enough to be an honorary Terrick. Wait a moment?" He blinks, something just now occurring to him. "You've been to see Amelia, then? I mean, I don't mean here, mind you."
Rowan throws his head back and laughs. "And Jarod joins our conversation, already in progress." He nods, still grinning foolishly, raising his glass to Jarod once more. "Yes, my beloved mentor, I spent an evening with pretty Amy. I figured since I won myself such a fine blade at Stonebridge, I could afford to spend a little of that coin you're always giving me for whores." He smirks and drinks again, wiping his mouth on his sleeve and belching. "Nngh. I still hold this stuff tastes like horse liniment. They say it's an acquired taste. I mean to work very diligently at acquiring it."
"This stuff is not for taste, Rowan, it's for getting yourself fucked as quickly as possible," Jarod says. And he's nursing his with no real point toward doing so. "Summerwine's the best if you're looking for something sweet, though I can understand being put off it for a bit. But. So!" He blinks at his squire. "So Fair Amelia plucked your squire-head?" He laughs, giving Rowan a clap on the shoulder. "Well, see? That wasn't so bad, was it? I figured she'd be nice to you, which is important. First time can get a bit…dodgy. Don't worry, lad. Eventually you get better."
"Hah!" Rowan grins and gives Jarod's shoulder an amiable shove. "I did just fine, thank you." He pulls out the stopper and pours himself more booze. "All three times." Drink! Woo. He looks suitably smug. "So never mind my deflowering, Rivers, old fellow — there's nothing I can tell you about fair Amy you don't already know a dozen times over. What's bothering you?" He hops himself up to sit on the table, legs aswing. "And before you start griping about how you don't have to tell me all your secrets, allow me to remind you that I'm just drunk enough to bop you in the nose. And you've still a broken side, so I can take you." Then, a bit more seriously, if not soberly, he adds, "But sooth, it troubles me to see you so troubled. Come, I'll find out anyhow. If you're going off somewhere, so'm I."
Jarod snorts. "No you didn't." He disbelieves Rowan was particularly effective, thrice. "That's good bragging, lad, but you'll want to work on it to make it a bit more believable. Anyhow. Look. Amelia's discreet and fun, so I figure she showed you women aren't to be afraid of. Which it was about time for. It's just something you got to get done. I think I blinked and missed my first time. I got Lyla Carrity up in the hayloft off Rockcliff when I was fourteen. I was just leaving to squire with the Mallisters and saying goodbye and all that, so I got her to dance with me, and kiss me and…well, figured I'd push my luck and it just sort've…happened." The memory makes him laugh, and still go a bit wide-eyed. "She was a little older than me and not a maiden, but that's alright. At least one of us knew what the hell they were doing. Anyway." Another sip. "I don't have to tell you my secrets, Rowan. But I owe you this one. I was hoping we'd have this talk when you were sober but…well, this is easier on me, so this'll work. I figure I owe you an apology, lad. Well, that doesn't even begin to say it, but got to start somewhere."
Rowan sighs, rolls his eyes, and hauls off like he's going to toss a haymaker at Jarod's face. But snorts and smirks, shaking his head. "You know the reason it upsets me when you say that is because it's insultingly obvious and patronizing, right?" He drinks, still wearing a faint smile. "But I have a feeling that's not what you're apologizing for." He blinks and squints hard at the knight. "Sod, what are you apologizing for. You give Amelia the clap?" He glances pensively down at his little squire.
"And yet you ask me questions that give me reasons to keep saying it," Jarod says to Rowan. "I don't know what the hell you'd ask me if I were the least bit complicated, lad. I mean, you're odd, let's just face that, but that's alright. I mean, I'll still try and make a man of you, but if there're some things you don't want me to know I figure I don't need to know them. And Amelia's clean as a whistle. You think I'd send you to a girl who wasn't? What kind of mentor do you think I am?" It's all rattled lightly, though finally he has to get serious again. He sighs. "Well I almost got you killed, didn't I? With that pennyroyal in Ser Gedeon's wineskin. I figure that's something that requires an apology, at the very least." All traces of joking are gone now.
"Iiiiiiiiii don't follow," Rowan drawls out, after giving Jarod a long, long moment's hairy eyeball. "YOU didn't poison the wine." He make a face, wrinkling his nose. "And it's not like you somehow convolutedly blame yourself just so you can sulk. That's more your brother. What ails you, man?"
"I did, though, after a fashion," Jarod says. Convolutely blaming himself. He doesn't look at Rowan, but his green eyes are somber as he works it out. "At least, if I'd done what I should've done, what my duty called me to do, it would've not happened. Gedeon Rivers came to my tent with those letters of his after the melee. Before he'd shown the to Lady Isolde, before anybody. I could've dragged him to my lord father right then and there. It was my duty to, as a Terrick and sworn sword in my father's service. I didn't, though. Seven hells, I told Gedeon to take those letters to his sister. Half-sister. Not even that if what's in them is true." No small amount of bitterness in his tone there. "If it would've gone that way, neither the Naylands or Lady Valda or whoever decided to become a poisoner would've laid eyes on those letters or tried to kill Ser Gedeon. And you'd not have drunk half a skin of pennyroyal. And, if there's any connection between that boy they fished out of the river down from Stonebridge and Gedeon's courier who brought him that laced skin…" He can't even finish that thought, but this is the part that most weighs on him, clearly.
"Ah, Gods, of course they'd kill the boy…" Rowan whispers to himself, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Fuck." He bows his head for a moment, as though in silent prayer. Then, taking a deep breath, "Right, then. I'm going to put this plainly: Stop it." He looks steadily at Jarod. Remarkably steady, for all he's had to drink. "I am quite serious. You've done nothing that requires my forgiveness, or anyone's — save your own, it seems. You made a mistake, but everyone does, Jarod. Everyone does. Even your lord father. Even mine. We're all mortal, foolish things. Heart over head, the vast majority of the time. You didn't want to cause Iz more pain than absolutely necessary — and there's no way you could have known that she…" He glances at the bottle, clearly considering a refill, but finally puts his cup aside. "You couldn't have known." He tilts his head, craning himself around like a monkey until he can peer up into Jarod's downcast eyes. "You couldn't. Have known."
"Fuck. Aye." Jarod finishes his whiskey in a gulp, though he doesn't request another. Eyes swiveling to focus on Rowan. Mainly he just looks disappointed and rather sad. "And you can't say 'everyone makes mistakes, nothing to be done about it, oh well' on this, Rowan. My duty was clear. I told Gedeon myself what I should've been doing, while I was speaking to him, I just…didn't do it. If I had taken him to my father…well, maybe people still would've gotten hurt, in different ways, but at least it'd have been done as my duty directed it. Not against it, or against my family. As to that…" He shrugs. "Who in seven hells knows how a person'll react to something like that. I didn't. I did figure…not sure what I figured, really. And it's Isolde who carries a healthier portion of the burden for the blame of what happened to you both, and maybe to that boy, than I do. Gedeon does too, though I blame him less. At least it was his own skin he risked, couldn't have known it'd be anybody elses, and it's his life in those letters. If I'd had them to present to my father and brother and not just a bunk of half-wine-soaked memories of how they looked…well, things'd be much different for us now, wouldn't they?"
Rowan shakes his head. "You're wrong again," he says. "I can say that. Just did. Will again." He shrugs. "You want censure other than your own, you'll get it from your father. You want absolution? See Josse. Me?" He tilts his head, gazing a beat at Jarod with those dark eyes of his, shadowed with those long, long lashes that look so ridiculous on a boy. "I'm on your side. That's my duty. I'm your cheering section, the one that's got your back. And though you may vex me sore enough a times, Jarod Rivers, you are the best man I know." He says it plain, unvarnished and sincere. "If I could choose to be any man, it'd be you."
Jarod gets a grin out of that, though it's accompanied by a snort. He reaches out to lay his hand on Rowan's head, and muss his hair. "You're kind to say it, lad. Naive as anything, but kind. And you're at least honest, which I figure it better than most in this world. Maybe it won't go so badly. Won't put those letters back in Gedeon's hands or do any good for that poor courier boy, though. Anyhow. Thanks for the drink. Don't have too much more. This stuff kicks like a bitch in the morning." And he seems quite ready to take his leave, on that note.
Rowan shrugs up a shoulder, hunching and wrinkling his nose as his hair's ruffled. "Oi!" He sighs, sliding down off the table. "Right. I'm for bed, myself." He watches Jarod go a moment, then calls after him. "Jarod?"
Jarod does manage to summon a quip, at last. "Look on the bright side, lad. If I get you killed tomorrow, at least you won't die a virgin. But, aye, what?" He pauses.
Rowan draws a breath to speak — but whatever it is sticks in his throat. He flashes a quick, awkward smile. "Any time. G'night, Ser." He takes his bottle and, ducking his head, goes out to the yard, whistling for the dogs.