|The Bevins Woman and Other Matters|
|Summary:||Ser Jarod and his father discuss a few things, including the thing they studiously haven't talked about for 20 years.|
|Related Logs:||Kathryna's presence at the Roost. Jaremy's capture by Naylands. Various logs of Jarod being called a good man and spazzing out about it.|
|Reading Room — Terrick's Roost|
|Books and such.|
Ser Jarod Rivers has passed his Stranger Days in perhaps surprising quiet and sobriety. He stayed home on the Night of Mischief for the first time…well, since he was approximately ten years old. And while his trueborn siblings have gone to Stonebridge to enjoy the masked ball, he's decided to just kick around Four Eagles for the night. He has been doing somewhat more moping around the castle in general of late, truth be told. He comes to the reading room that serves as Lord Jerold's study after dinner. He has an appointment, of sorts, ostensibly to discuss matters of castle security. He knocks on the open doorframe, clearing his throat as he enters. "M'Lord?"
Jerold has lit a lamp in order to illuminate his desk as the Lord of the Roost writes a letter. As Jarod clears his throat and speaks, Jerold glances up, wearily acknowledging "Jarod, come in." Taking a pinch of fine powder, he scatters it across the face of the still drying ink, and sets the quill aside, before turning to face his natural son.
Jarod comes in, inclining his head and shoulders to his father in something that functions as both acknowledgement and half-bow, and sits across from him. "I hope I'm not interrupting any important business, m'lord. This shouldn't take long, but I figured there were some matters we should talk on before I took my leave of the Tower on the morrow." He's spent each Remembrance Day since his return from the Trident away from the Terricks. Visiting his mother's grave in the morning, and then misspending his day camping or hunting or just…being off away. Not that they ever talk about this, of course. He just sort of does it with minimal comment to anyone. "After Remembrance Day is out I'll likely be headed down to Stonebridge to meet up with Lucienne. Perhaps see Jaremy while I'm in town. So it may be three days or so before I'm back in Four Eagles proper."
Lord Jerold shakes his head to 'interruption', before affecting a small smile and nodding at Jarod's travel plans to Stonebridge. "Should you see him," the Lord of the Roost states, "Tell Jaremy that he is in my thoughts and prayers." With that said, he awaits the subject of this meeting his Captain of the Guard has requested.
"As he is for us all, my lord father. Aye. I'll tell him," Jarod says with a nod. "I had hoped Ser Rygar would allow him to take the Black, out of respect for the justice and the knighthood. Well. I've learned a bit about the quality about Nayland mercy in these last weeks." He can't keep the touch of bitterness out of his tone. He clears his throat. "There're just a few matters of security that're to my concern of late. Have you spoken with the Ironborn woman, Lady Harlaw?"
"It is a great regret, Jarod, that hopes for justice and respect are misspent on a Nayland," the Lord of the Roost notes with a short sigh. On the latter inquiry, he nods once. "I know that she is here for the declared intent of opening diologue on the subject of the Pyke whom Ser Kevan slew in judicial duel at Stonebridge. We have yet to fully discuss diplomatic matters with her."
"Fear not, m'lord, I have a much better measure of the hearts of the Naylands these days," Jarod replies. "Whole damned lot of them." As for the Ironborn woman. "Strikes me as very odd that it's taken them this long to send someone on that matter. And that they've sent a woman - even a formidable one with the name Harlaw. Frankly, m'lord, I was surprised there were not reprisals on our shores from the Ironborn raiders after the Stonebridge tourney. They've been quiet, though. Quiet in Seagard waters as well, so Lord Jason and now Ser Aeric tell me. When we spoke on it, Lord Mallister said it reminded him of times the Ironborn had been…fighting amongst themselves. Too busy with raiding their own to bother with our mainland rivers. I'm not one to trouble the quiet, but it all feels strange. Ser Aeric's working on getting the docks and war galley into proper order. There anything else you think we should be doing, m'lord? There's a long cape between us and Seagard."
"I do not think for a moment that Lady Harlaw comes with Lord Balon Greyjoy's blessing, JArod," Jerold answers his son. "I must do her the courtesy of presuming that she is in earnest, and that Lord Harlaw wishes to avoid ill will from the Riverlords. His wife is a Lady of Serrey blood, after all," he adds. "It may be that Lord Jason is correct: perhaps the Ironborn squabble amongst themselves, and the Harlaws look to Westeros. Ser Harras keeps the faith of the Seven, and has been anointed with the seven holy oils. It may be that he looks for allies to Westeros." As for the other preparations, "I have prepared a letter to Lord Ser Jason, asking that ravens be sent trained to fly to Lannisport. Should any raids be launched, reprisal upon the Iron Isles will be swift and severe."
Jarod nods to that. "I've requested Lady Anais contact her kin at Banefort to see if they've noted anything odd of the Ironborn in their waters. We'll see what comes of that. For the moment, I'm just trying to keep Lady Kathryna watched. Make sure the areas she roams in beyond her chambers - or places like the courtyard or entry hall - are under guard. Not sure there's more to be done with her for the moment. We'll see how it plays." Onto other business. "Some have come to me about calling up the levies for drills. In response to what our neighbors in Stonebridge do, I figure. What do you make of that thought, m'lord?"
Lord Jerold frowns faintly in thought, nodding once as Jarod states there isnt much else to do. "True. It is as much for her own safety, I suspect. If she objects to the escort, see whether Raffton Howell would consent to serving as that guard." On the subject of levies, he leans back in his chair and muses a moment. "The strength of a House is not in its levies, Jarod. Our smallfolk strongly dislike such musters, we have but few arms to provide, and beside: no levied smallfolk will stand against professional troops. The strength of our house lies in its knights and men at arms." That said, he waits a moment longer. "What think you, my Captain?"
"I think peasants in padded jackets do poorly against knights in horse and armor, m'lord," Jarod agrees. "But it's all about shows of strength, not acts of it. The Naylands are showing the whole region how well their peasants march because they figure it puts the fear of them into the populace. Perhaps it does." A pause, and he adds, "And perhaps, m'lord, it is time we put on a few shows of our own. I'll not suggest calling up all able-bodied men in town, but I was figuring rounding up some of the young men in town who'd not be unwilling to do it for a few hours a week. Duty to the homeland and all that. And public drills of our cavalry as well. It's all a game, but we've the muscle to play. Why not show it off some? We are not meek, we need not play it so."
"The household Guard are yours to drill as you see fit, Ser," Lord Jerold tells his son with a nod. "As for the rest.." he considers. "You have permission to invite volunteers from among our smallfolk to train- once a month to begin, but before you do so, I wonder: how would you arm them?"
"Would pikes and padded jackets be too great an expense for us now, m'lord?" Jarod asks. With true concern. He knows money is tight. "I cannot see it going much beyond that."
"Pikes would be a poor choice, I think," Jerold advises. "In addition to the expense of pikes, which we do not stock in sufficient number to arm levies, a pike line requires greater number, and greater practice to field an effective formation." A shake of his head. "An undisciplined body of pikes is worse than an untrained mob. Perhaps simple spears. Or else instruct the volunteers to bring weapons of their own. Axes and the like," he suggests. After another moment, the lord muses, "You may have use of whatever shields the armory can spare, but I am sorry: we can afford no armor for any levies, Jarod."
"Spears, I think, then," Jarod says. "Best to have all train in a similar fashion. It at least looks vaguely coordinated when they're marching about. Or perhaps a mix of spears and archers. Most men at least possess a hunting bow, so it'd be no additional expense for us, and that'd like be more practical if we ever had to make use of them for anything." As for the armor, he just nods. "Understood, m'lord. We'll make do as we can."
"It is a poor lord who relies on his smallfolk to protect themselves, Ser Jarod," Jerold reflects idly, with a nod. "You swore knightly vows, just as I did: we promised to protect the weak. I admit, it galls me to be seen, rightly or wrongly, as relying on my subjects for protection in any but the most dire of circumstances. We Terricks care for our smallfolk, rather than hazarding their lives in games politic, and they respect us for it."
"Our smallfolk cannot be easy with their neighbors being drilled in the art of war, m'lord, whatever practical use the Naylands' methods might have," Jarod says. "Particularly with how things stand with Stonebridge. Whatever the Naylands intend, they are making a show of digging their heels in and spoiling for a fight, whatever Good King Robert says on the matter of Ser Gedeon Rivers. Shall our people respect us more for sitting back and idly watching them and reflecting on what good, kind men we are?" There's a barb in that question.
"They shall respect us more for protecting their lives and properties, against men who behead and extort their own populace," Jerold answers evenly. "Though the Harpy will screech, ill will is not invasion. Conduct your cavalry maneuvers, Captain. Such displays are always popular. But you will not win the goodwill of the governed by making demands of them. It is a sad fact of fealty that good service is expensive."
"The Harpy seems to be doing more than screeching, m'lord, if I may say," Jarod says, tone more terse than even. He's in a mood. "Oh, they'll not openly break the peace. They've not the balls for that. But they'll make us beggars with their tariffs that take coin from the pockets of our people. They'll make us look weaklings in the eyes of every other House in the Riverlands, with these games of levies and border riders that tease at violence everyone knows we'll never respond to. And they will shortly kill your first-born son - my brother - because they know there'll be no reprisal. If they cannot use him to beggar us further. For we keep the peace, justice and vigilance, and we are good men. I am sure, father, that Lord Rickart and Ser Rygar and all the other harpies would agree that you're a good man. Tell me. Where's it getting you? Where's it getting us?" He's just ranting by the end of that.
"Jarod," is the first weighty word that the Lord of the Roost speaks to end his son's rant. It is spoken clearly and firmly, with the edge that is intended to fix his son's eye with his own. A slow breath is drawn. "My son will die not because of what I will or will not do, but on account of what he himself has done." He takes several moments in mute silence after those words before speaking further, "The lot of a just man is not an easy one, my son. My house might be more rich in coin or renown were I a wicked man, like one of those which beset us. Your life might be easier as the natural son of an ambitious man. Jaremy might be released out of fear were his father a Tywin Lannister, rather than a Jerold Terrick. I know all of this." He draws another slow breath. "But I am not such a man. Imperfect as I am, I must believe that there is justice to be had, in this world, or the next. For all that I have lost, I have loved it better as an honest man, than I could ever love those things I would have kept as a thief."
His own name spoken like that does stop Jarod. He takes, and releases slow, a long breath as he listens to his father speak. "What does that even mean, father?" he asks. Tone less sharp this time, but no apology is offered. He stands. "An honest man. A good man. Those're just words. You know what I'm beginning to think? That when someone calls you a 'good' man, what they are really saying is that you are weak. Too weak, or too fearful of the world or too…just not quite enough to take what you want and damn what anyone thinks of it. And at the end of the day, father, what're you left with? Your own honor? Is that comforting or warm company? Somehow I doubt it."
"I have no doubt that such men intend to call me weak, Jarod," the Lord of the Roost allows with a short nod. "I am left with my honor, yes. And my family, who I believe to be similarly good men and women. I have the trust of men whom I respect, and I have served my Overlord and King well in my lifetime. If the Seven grant us justice in this matter of Geoffrey's legacy, the wrongs done to our land through Stonebridge will be redressed. I have tried very hard to be a true knight and a good father. If that is all that is left to me in the end, I will pray that it is enough in the eves of the Father."
"Aye, I'm told I'm accounted a good man, I'm told a lot of late," Jarod retorts, though he sounds less than pleased about it. "And I don't figure they intend anything different when they say it to me. So. There's that for us. Now, my lord, I'd like to get an early start in the morning. I've business to be about then." Though despite the pseudo-parting words, he doesn't actually move from his standing position, hands leaning against the chair he occupied a few minutes before. He takes a breath and says, rather challengingly, "And have you anything at all, my lord father, to say to me about that?"
"Though you may not think it so now, being accounted so by respectable men is a feat worthy of pride as much as any victory in tournament, or battle," Jerold answers his bastard son's initial gripe. As Jarod announces that intention to depart, and then makes that challenging query, Jerold raises a brow. "What have I to say?" he wonders, briefly incomprehendng.
"While men who are not accounted good by those respectable take what you want. Well. I'll have my pride, at least. And I doubt it will bother those not-so-good men very much at all." Jarod lets out a short breath, regarding his father. He seems to be winding himself up for something. Then, he kind of loses his nerve for it, turning away. "Never mind. Doesn't matter." And he does turn to go. But, before he actually makes much progress, he stops and half-turns back around, arms crossed along his chest. "I go to see my mother tomorrow, m'lord, as I have every year at this time for quite awhile. And I've just…I've always found it strange. That she's buried with the household retainers, rather than a common plot in the village or some such, or in Fairmarket where Master Bevins has gone. That is very odd indeed, don't you think, such a place afforded for a woman whose 'service' was siring your byblow?" Shrug. "I've just always wondered why, m'lord, so I figure I might as well ask now."
"If you intend me to speak of your mother, you will keep a courteous tongue, Jarod. I will not have you speaking so flippantly of her as you have just now of me," Jerold returns, a bit sharply as his bastard is wound up enough to speak so lightly of honor. Though the Lord's manner settles soon enough. He is silent a moment, waiting for his son's response.
"You'll forgive me if I'm out of practice on the subject, my lord father, as I can't recall us speaking overmuch of her at all," Jarod replies sharp in return. Though he sighs a beat later, turning away from his father. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be…discourteous. I just…I don't understand. Why she's laid as such. Anything of her, really. Whenever I tried when I was younger I got the distinct impression it made you ashamed, or something, to speak on it, so I just…stopped. And now I'm thinking, m'lord…that's half of who I am that I've just…put away because it seemed to make people uncomfortable. And I'm not sure where that leaves me with myself."
"Not me," Jerold corrects quietly on the subject of shame. "Never me. But through me it brought shame to others, and for that I have not spoken of your mother. Yet you are correct, it is your right to know of her." A breath drawn and let out, as he regards his son. "She is laid to rest among the household because she was of this household, Jarod. Landra was.." as he searches for the proper way to say it, the aging knight is struck by this being the first time in decades he has spoken her name. "She was raised in these halls, just as I was. Just as you were."
"Father…" There's an apology in Jarod's voice that he doesn't quite get out. But he does go to sit down again, slouching and regarding the older man. "…what was she to you?" It's asked low, like he's half-afraid of hearing the answer. "Whatever it is, can't be so bad as all that. I mean, I know you didn't force her or anything of that kind, you're too good a man for that…" Though the fact that he even says it suggests it's an idea that was touched on before being discarded. He knows the stories of many other Rivers, if not quite his own.
"We were of an age," Jerold begins. "I had known her from childhood. She was a true friend," he states after another moment of silent musing. "Were she of better birth, things might have been different," he notes briefly, before going on. "I had known her for twenty years before ever being betrothed to Evangeline. She was a faithful confidant, and the among the most.." he searches for the words a moment. "The most purely good souls I have ever known. Never let that word be heard as an insult when you are called so," he instructs, levelling a finger on his son, even as a bittersweet smile tugs at his lip.
Jarod lets out something resembling a very soft chuckle, though it's not really a sound of amusement. He drops his eyes for a moment, looking at his hands, then back up at his father. "Friend, m'lord?" His own smile is a half-smirk that flickers off his lips quickly. "Well. So you cared for her, at least, then." It's not quite a question. "For all the good it did the pair of you, I suppose."
"I did," Jerold admits with a nod. "And yes, she were a true friend, a confidante, and I am not speaking as a bashful boy in naming her so," he teases Jarod at the younger man's short-lived half-smirk. "She is buried among this household, because she belongs among this household, though the choice was not a popular one when I made it," the Lord adds, with rueful memory. "I wish that you were older, Jarod," he notes, idly. "Were Landra younger when you were born, perhaps she might not yet be buried, you might not have been deprived of knowing her, and my wife's heart might never have been broken." With a shake of the head, he adds, "'What if' is not a game I have the heart to play, this night."
"I'm not sure what I wish, save that I'd known her a little" Jarod admits soft. "I can't even imagine what my life would've been. I do…I do think on her sometimes, though." It's harder for him to admit than it perhaps should be. "Thank you, father. For…I've just been thinking on it lately and it didn't sit right with me that I was…putting her away to be agreeable to everyone but myself. There's so little I know of her. Could we perhaps…talk on her sometimes, m'lord? Just between ourselves. Doesn't have to be something anyone else thinks on."
Lord Jerold nods once, slowly. "You shouldn't be ashamed, Jarod. She wasn't." To the last he assents with another small nod. "It is not a.. happy story, but as you like. But perhaps once you have returned."
"I don't want to make you unhappy, m'lord. I just…feel like there're some things about myself I need to know…I don't know. Be better with myself." Jarod nods. "Aye. Enough of this for now, I think. Father I…those things I said before…I'm sorry for that. It was disrespectful and I didn't mean them I was just…I don't know. I owe all I am to your kindness, and the fact that you're an honorable man. Don't think I ever forget it."
"You may forget it in the worst of moments, Jarod," the Lord allows with a knowing smile. "But I know you will always remember. Because at heart you too are an honorable man." A brief smile. "We will speak more, later."
Jarod returns the smile with a proper one this time, standing. "Later, then." Though, again, he doesn't quite leave. "There's just one more thing I've been thinking on, my lord father. And I…I don't want this to sound as if I want to…run away, like Jaremy did. I don't. I love you. I love what you've built on these lands. I love what I see Jace capable of building on it after you. And I want to earn my place here, earn a little of what you've given me, I do try and do that. But I…there's so much in this world I've not seen. I've just been thinking on it of late and…I want my life to be here, the middle and end of it, but I am not sure I am ready for this to be…the whole of my life. I was thinking, if you'd give me leave for it…that I might try my hand at the tournament circuit for a couple years. In a year, or perhaps two. I want to see the Stonebridge matter settled, train up a bit and…see some other odds and ends done. But it's…I think I'd be good at it, m'lord. And I think I'd enjoy it. Something I used to dream about doing as a boy but just…didn't. For one reason or another. I know I'd have to give up my position as Captain of the Guard, that's just fine, but if I could come back after I was done still be a knight to you…I would hope there'd be a place for me, m'lord."
Jerold hears out the entire thought process without interruption. "We shall see where the nexy year takes us all, Jarod. If this is still your wish at that time, then I will keep no knight in my household who wishes to go, just as I will never refuse to accept back a son."
Jarod nods to that. "We'll see, then, father. Thank you. And…thanks." He seems to get stuck on articulating more than that. Perhaps it sums a larger part of what he wants to say. "I'll see you in a couple of days." And with that, he takes his leave.