|Summary:||A courier arrives from King's Landing bearing an enlightening letter for the Terricks.|
|Related Logs:||Stuff and things|
|Four Eagles Tower - Throne Room|
|There is a throne. Jerold's throne.|
|26 August 288|
The better part of an hour prior, word had arrived that a rider was approaching the township of Terrick's Roost. While the purpose of this rider has not been announced, Lord Jerold has seen fit to gather his family in the Throne Room to receive this envoy. The typical attendants at court have been dismissed: minimal guards, none of the servants which would typically attend such a gathering of nobility. Lord Jerold Terrick sits waiting in the Four Eagles throne, waiting.
Jaremy appears from the main hallway. Having excused himself from an earlier conversation with Rowan and his sister, Lucienne, he's apparently traveled to his room and traded out his tunic for something more comfortable. Arriving from the direction of the main stairway, he's wearing his sword on his hip and is casting a quieted air about himself. Walking down the center of the room, he lowers his head to his father in a bowing nod, and then takes his typical position…standing at his father's right side.
Jarod strolls into the Throne Room alongside Lord Jacsen. In conversation with his younger half-brother about something-or-other, though it trails off as he makes his way inside. "My lord father," he says with a quick half-bow to Jerold. He's in the typical tunic-and-sword ensemble he wears when doing his duty about the house, for his part. Jaremy is offered a quick nod, and slight grin, before he takes a place a bit down from the throne, standing.
Lucienne comes in behind Jaremy, having approached from a different direction: the courtyard, and that conversation she'd continued. She dips a curtsy to her father - "My Lord, father," - and makes her way to stand behind a seat wordlessly, acknowledging her brothers with a slow bow of her head each.
While his brothers do take their most impressive positions standing here or there, and receive warm smiles from Jacsen, the less able of the Terrick boys makes for a chair after he's offered Jerold a half-bow, and a warmer, "Lord father." He waits to sit until the Lord of the Roost has given him some acknowledgement, but is grateful and as swift to sitting as he might be.In the sparsely populated chamber his chair creaks a touch, but the whole of the room is much quieter for the lack of the constant tap of Jacsen's cane.
Lord Jerold nods to each of his progeny in turn as they enter, too deep into his own thoughts to indulge much in conversation. The throne room entire has the air of a held breath as one of the Terrick Guard reports to Jarod- within earshot of Jerold- that, "M'lord. the courier has arrived, and approaches."
At the mention of the courier, Jaremy cannot help but feel a very vulnerable pang of stress creep up his spine, forcing the hairs on the back of his neck to stand at attention. Carefully, Jaremy allows his mouth to open a shave to take in a slowly gathered breath…slow enough that it's inaudible. He rests his left hand over the hilt of his sword and his other hand behind his back. Gazing to his feet, he shuffles his weight to the other foot, a sign of tension. His eyes raise to the door at the end of the hall, waiting for the message.
"Well." Jarod looks between his father and younger siblings, and to Jaremy last of all. Who he flashes a slightly wider grin, and half-shrug. How bad could this be, really? "Well, show him in with all courtesy. Must've come a long way," he says simply to the guard.
Lucienne's eyes widen a touch; so /that's/ why they've all been called in. She spares a glance for Jaremy, but mostly… she's waiting for someone to give the cue that they can all sit down. Her hands move to the back of the chair she stands behind, claiming it as hers; perhaps they're to wait for this courier to be shown in.
It was not a complete surprise to Jacsen that the messenger had been on approach, given his proximity to Jarod as they both entered the chamber. Still, at that news and after a quick glance towards his lord father and brother, his attention is riveted to where they might all expect the arrival, drawing and releasing a slow breath.
The approaching bootsteps are audible long moments before the messenger is visible. At first sight, the herald much resembles any other noble retainer: he wears a soft leather jerkin to the knees, divided down the center and belted by a broadsword. The man's hair is a shoulder length dark brown, and his beard is well kept. Although carrying the dust of the road on his boots, the envoy took the time that morning to shave and make himself fit for the presence of nobility.
One cause for his good grooming (as well as the reason the family is made to stand) might be spied at the man's left breast: an embroidered shield displaying the crowned stag of the Baratheons. The courier bends his back in a precise bow, awaiting Lord Jerold's acknowledgment before rising.
The word is given in an even voice, "Rise, good master. Rise and deliver the message you have borne us."
Jaremy's eyes settle onto the crowned stag badge on the Baratheon's man's breast. Already standing for the arrival of the king's coat of arms, his eyes fall to the messenger's hands, looking for documents or anything that might be the medium to deliver the message. His neck burns, feeling the eyes on him, and to avoid exploding he simply takes another slow breath, letting this come as it may. This doesn't, however, keep him from clenching his teeth behind his closed lips.
Jarod inclines his head respectfully to the messenger as the man enters. The crest of Baratheon perhaps makes that slight bow of his head a little deeper than a common envoy strictly requires. Well, he is from the king. And Ser Jarod Rivers is nothing if not a dedicated Good King Robert Baratheon fanboy. He's silent now, posture tall and straight, actually trying to look the part of a strong and proper knight.
As the messenger walks within, and Jerold's lack of invitation to sit, Jacsen remains standing and leaning upon the cane that does much to make up for the dearth of mobility his leg allows. When the envoy steps into the chamber and bears the stag of Baratheon upon his breast, it is quite fair to say he attempts to stand all the straighter, as if he were the knight he had hoped to be, like his brothers, rather than the slightly stooped man he has become.
Lucienne, too, remains quiet. Her gaze travels with the messenger, following his every move. She steps out from behind her chair to reveal herself for politeness' sake.
The herald's voice is strong and articulate as he draws open a letter case and reads:
"From King Robert Baratheon, the first of his name, King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, unto Lord Jerold Terrick.
"My Lord: that you have insulted the legitimacy of a noble family through this proxy of your son has stirred my anger. Think you that a House is so much the lesser for having its ass upon a throne for a mere five years that you can cast insult upon its legitimacy? No, Ser! I recall the service of Cyric Valentin and his son under my banners, I do not recall the face of your own son. I will not suffer one who did not bleed with me for the throne to sap the reputation of one who did.
"Further, bickering such as this is fit for the ears of my Lords Paramount, not for Our own attention. That you have sent this inquiry to Us, rather than Lord Tully tells me clearly that this is some sly effort at intrigue, for which I have no patience, Ser. Whatever your designs upon the land of your neighbor, they shall have no sanction from me.
Done by Our hand on the sixteenth of August, Robert."
The letter, with its elaborate seal pressed in wax beside the signature, is then offered to Jerold with another bow.
As the messenger speaks, the color drains out of Jaremy's face as his clenched teeth press against each other. The breath he's taken is exhaled towards the floor as his eyes deaden and focus on the floorspace between his father and the messenger. His hand behind his back clenches into a fist and his eyes slowly close into a delayed blink. There are best case scenarios and there are worst case scenarios…and then there's the anger of the king himself.
Jarod dips his head so he's looking at the floor as that goes on. Better to mutter "Oh fuck" under his breath without it really being noticed. He does this a few times before managing to look back up again. Eyes going to Jaremy, and he can't help a visible wince. OK, that was actually pretty bad.
Lucienne stands tall and prim as the message is read, a slender beacon of propriety. She doesn't wince, nor turn her head, but her eyes slide pointedly to her brother - the one who 'won't be suffered'. His reaction is noted, and she waits.
Jacsen's eyes do not waver from the messenger as his pronouncement of the King's ire is made aloud, whatever his thoughts on the matter will wait for later, when this formality is complete. He does, once the message is passed to Jerold, turn his attention upon his lord and father, awaiting his reply.
For his part, Lord Jerold hears out the angry words delivered unto him by the herald wearing the king's crest with hardly a visible flicker in his expression. He looks to neither side, attention still fixed upon the courier. A hand reaches without shaking to accept the offered letter, nodding once at the sight of the royal seal. "We thank you, herald, for the pains you take in bearing us this word from His Majesty." The words are measured and even in tone, as he inclines his head and motions for Robert's messenger to rise. "Does the king await a reply of me?" the Lord of the Roost asks first. Answered to the negative, Jerold nods again and voices, "Until such a time as duty draws you back, good master, you are the guest of my House and shall be afforded every courtesy." A motion of dismissal is made, to which the herlad bows a third time, backing up two steps before turning and striding from the hall, leaving the letter and brief silence as the only marks of his presence.
Jaremy's brows lower as the utter silence falls into place. The very Stranger himself could likely be heard stepping about. Jaremy continues to stare at the floor, unmoving, dead to the room. Like a statue beside his father he waits.
Jarod offers the departing herald a somewhat sympathetic look as the man scurries off. Couldn't have been fun to have to read that thing to a lord, even if it did carry the words of the king. His eyes are mainly on Jaremy after that. And, still, very full of sympathy.
Lucienne's switched her attention from Jaremy, to her father Jerold. Worried, she looks as though she might be the one about to be scolded to the Seven Hells.
Jacsen lets out a faintly held breath, though the sound is incredibly soft. His eyes only shift to Jaremy for a moment, as the messenger makes his way from Jerold's throne room, before he looks back upon his father.
As the doors are drawn closed behind Robert's herald with an echo, the first words to be spoken from Jerold are, "We have our answer." A long breath is drawn afterward. "My House has earned the ire of our liege Lord, and we have given insult to guests under my roof. I bid you, my children: advise me." throughout the words, his eye has remained fixed on the ominous letter.
Anais arrives from the Entrance Hall.
She's been hovering behind it, beside it, hands on it or near it - and now, Lucienne drops /into/ that seat and heaves a sigh. It's not even a soft sigh. "We must make reparation for the insult, Father," she says rather plainly, because, well… it's fairly obvious.
Jarod looks askance around the room. Hoping someone will talk before him. But Jarod is never particularly shy about talking, so the silence gets to him before perhaps it's wise. "Well…my lord father. We…we got an answer to those question we had about Lord Ser Anton's rightful nobility and Oldstones so…that's good? Isn't it…?" He kind of trails off and tries to make himself smaller, which is an impossible task standing like he is.
Anais was not in the courtyard when the messenger arrived, though someone has apparently let her know. After a few minutes of standing at the doors, she's gathered her courage enough to make a bid at entering, the doors creaking softly.
"There is truth to Lucienne's words," Jacsen remarks, nodding at his sister's obvious answer. "I had hoped that I might make amends between men, on this matter of the man sent to… visit Oldstones uninvited… but if he has inkling of this…" He nods towards the letter in Jerold's hand. "We have sat and questioned his legitimacy whilst the Hags have built a road and offered friendship." The crippled lord finally makes to sink into a seat, invitation or no, and grimaces slightly. "We should consider what can be done to seal a bond between Oldstones and the Roost." He looks up, and towards his only and fair sister, not quite able to say what he thinks it might well come down to.
Jaremy raises his gaze from the stone floor to their faces. Scanning all of them, save for his father's, he shifts his weight onto his other heel and blankets himself in his lowered eyebrows and darker mood. He's made foul of his family. His gaze turns to Jacsen, eyes narrowing at the possibility of his sister being married off to someone he suspects. His mouth opens to fire back…and he stops. He ceases to fight it. The movement from the doorway catches his attention, seeing Anais start to enter. "…cast me out." Jaremy says, looking down to his father. "You've a son still worth his reputation."
Lord Jerold looks up from the letter to regard first Lucienne and next Jarod as they speak. "My daughter is correct. For every wrong there must be recompense. I will not suffer to have Ser Valentin hear of this through others; apology will be offered to him for the slights his family has been offered by us." Jacsen's last words draw his eye, and the Lord of the Roost frowns in thought, looking very weary with that exhale.
Then, only then, does his eye turn to Jaremy, temper flashing at the suggestion, "For once since this debacle began, will you set aside your damned pride? Your arrogance has brought this shame upon us all, and you will not flee it like some damned martyr. You will remain. You will be governed by the judgement of your father and your kin, and as the Seven are my witness you will remember the humility due a knight and a Terrick."
"I didn't say that out of pride, Father." Jaremy replies, too deflated to fight, though the settling of his jaw hints at somewhere inside a desperate need for him to lash back in frustration. "I am telling you that casting me out as a fool and as every bit the arrogant fool the lot of you think I am is exactly one recourse you have to saving face. I acted alone and not in the interests of the house…and I should be made an example of." The words taste like poison on his tongue, though he manages to say them. "I acted out of principals I swore I would never believe in. I sent spies to Oldstones. Allow me my fucking shame and save our house, Father."
"If the man who returned from Oldstones is telling us right, lord father, perhaps there are other favors we could do them, and many," Jarod says to Jerold, talking rather fast. "Trade, perhaps, or masons to craft their walls to proper defensibility and aid in making proper homes for their smallfolk. A serjeant or two to aid in drilling them up a posse for the sheriff, spare pikes and longbows, horses…any number of things." His eyes briefly go to Lucienne, rather wide and startled at how quickly that idea is moving. Though when Jaremy speaks, they flash to his older brother again. He seems taken aback at the very suggestion, and only when his father shoots it down does he untense a notch. Rather quietly to his brother he notes simply, "Stop it, Jaremy. You're family."
"I think not, Jaremy," Jacsen remarks, his father's rebuke of the notion and Jarod's own met with some relief. "If you've brought shame down on yourself, or on your kin… it will not simply be washed away by your dismissal. It is a strong lord and father," Jacsen continues, though his attention shifts to his father as he says this last, "Who could cast out his own son, seeing him as a harm to house and hold… but a far stronger one to see such a son made into something better." Jacsen lets out a slow breath and tells his eldest brother, "You will be made better for this, Jaremy, even if it might not seem as such now. If you can but learn from this sting, and not think to run from it, however noble the intention." There is, though distracted it might be, agreement with Jarod's claims of the support and good faith the Roost could offer Oldstones, the youngest of the brothers eager to find an alternative to sending his sister to that ramshackle holding.
"And what about me?" Anais' voice is soft as Jaremy tries to sacrifice himself in the name of the family, her slender form slipping into the room through the cracked door. "My apologies, my lord," she curtseys to Jerold. "But I heard there was something of import going on." She stays by the door, a hand still on the wood as she looks to the lord of the keep. "Might I stay?"
Lucienne's attention flickers to Jarod as he speaks right on her heels, whatever expression she might have for him replaced instead by a curious glance toward the creaking door. Her curiosity there also saves her from meeting that pointed look of Jacsen's… but the cursing, oh that crass language, draws her back to the goings on inside the room. She frowns at Jaremy, for she daren't criticise her father.
"They are right, Jaremy. There's no need for being dramatic; you should apologise to the Lord Ser Valentin. That will bring you shame enough."
Lord Jerold's eye flashes to the door, motioning for Anais to rise from her curtsey and approach, before his eye passes among those gathered to rest on Jaremy. "The first of the lessons I trust you will learn from this, my son, is that your judgement is imperfect. Here, your father and family are united against your wishes. I trust you will not continue to maintain that yours is the only correct path?"
As Anais' speaks, Jaremy raises his eyes to the ceiling and closes them. All of their words and suggestions reach him with ease. As his father finishes, he bares his teeth to the ceiling, lowering his head back to room height and breathes out a slow, healing breath. "I am not running. I will not run." The words come out forced as he does what he can to keep from really saying how he feels. "I merely…" He trails off, daring to scan their faces and bear the root of their stares. "…I was wrong." He finally admits, shaking his head slowly. Thoroughly disgusted, he stares of to the wall. "You can trust in that, Father."
Jarod looks to Anais and tries to offer her a quick grin. It comes slower than usual, however, and lacks any real cheer. It's not Smiley Time in the throne room. "Do you…?" Back to his father, he trails off like he doesn't terribly want to ask what he's going to ask. But he winds himself up to it eventually. "…do you figure the Tullys know of this already, m'Lord? Or Lord Mallister, for that matter. What're…what're we going to say to them?"
"If aught needs be said to Lord Mallister, I would be ready to say it on our behalf should you bid me, Lord father," Jacsen offers with a slow breath, looking back to the patron of all that are gathered in the throne room, upon whom the weight of so much rests. "Perhaps we should consider repairing this mess quickly, so that should either Seaguard or Riverrun have news of this and think to weigh in, they will see nothing more than a matter settled. While they might be displeased, neither are like to pick at a wound that has already begun to heal over."
Anais moves toward Jaremy once she has permission to be in the room, closing the door quietly behind herself. "The best course would be to find a peace with Lord Valentin," she suggests quietly, even as she reaches for Jaremy's hand. As his future wife, if anyone is allowed to offer him some comfort, it's her. "If they arrive for the wedding to find Lord Valentin laughing with us over it, then they will have no reason for concern."
Jerold hears out all, before nodding to Jace. "The Tullys are like to know, by now. Why they were not consulted first-" rising ire is bit off audible, as Jerold wills his voice back to neutrality. "As you say, Jacsen. Apology must be offered to Ser Anton on my behalf, for the acts of the son reflect upon the Father, in which His Majesty is not mistaken. We will inform our Lords Paramnount and Lords of Mallister at the morrow's first light. I would see the wrongs of this endeavor set on the path to correction before that time. Seek out Ser Anton and see this injury mended."
"Father," begins Lucienne, in a grave tone. She pauses to take a steeling breath, her shoulders rising and falling. "Amongst all the things Lord Ser Anton needs for his holdings is a wife. With the Naylands building a trade road between them, and movings on the Tordane letters… perhaps it would be wise… of you, my Lord, to insert one of our own, there." Though there's probably more she'd like to say on it, this is all she manages right away.
Jaremy's eyes find Anais' as she nears. No doubt, he searches her face for her thoughts, although his are worn rather clearly. He takes her hand, brushing his thumb over her knuckles as he listens to his father speak. He whispers something quietly to Anais before he looks towards his siblings. "At some point Anton will need to hear this from myself." Jaremy offers, eyes falling to his sister. "Lucienne…" He shows his teeth, looking to the floor. It's all he can do to not continue his accusations. "…Father, even if I played this wrong and shamed us there is still plotting going on. If there is treachery at Oldstones we would be…" He closes his eyes, shutting his mouth.
"My own chief concern, Jaremy, goes more to what drove you to do this without asking counsel of any of us. And who had your ear instead of the lot of us," Jarod says. "I don't suppose you were shown any proof or…anything?" Lucienne's input makes him sigh some. He offers his sister a smile that's half-proud, half-sorry.
"We would be far more likely appraised of it, were we in their House ourselves, Jaremy," says Lucienne, her eyes flashing over to her brother as she speaks well out of turn.
"I would see the manner in which the Knight of Oldstones looks upon our House after this, before considering such matters, my daughter," Jerold notes after a long moment to Lucienne. To Jaremy, he notes, "He shall, Jaremy. You are offer your apology to the Ser promptly. Whatever else might be at work, we are in the wrong. This must be mended." As Jarod speaks up, the Lord of the Roost hears out the query and leaves time for the answer.
"We…received documents placing Lord Tordane with the Harlaws at tourney and these letters were designed not to insult any houses but to be a request for information, damn it all." Jaremy curses under his breath. "Aside from dodged questions, possible Ironborn, dead bodies piling up and overzealous stwards, I've no other proof. I was…" He stops himself, brows lowering as he chooses better words. "…following information provided to me."
A ser standing against the wall is certainly quiet. None moreso than Ser Wymund, dressed in his armor with his own sigil worked into a clasp for his cloak. The man watches everything happening, brown eyes scanning all exits, all windows, and even every person that nears Jerold on his throne. If he hears anything being spoken, he shows no reactions to the internal affairs of the Terrick family. He's here for protection. That's all.
Anais shakes her head slightly to Jaremy's whispered words, giving his hand a soft squeeze in reassurance. She watches him as he speaks again, then sighs softly. "Lord Tordane's time with the Harlaws has little to do with Lord Anton. I'm afraid things have gotten…" She shifts then, turning to face Jaremy and reaching to take his other hand, looking up to catch and hold his gaze. "Jaremy, I am going to ask you for a favor, as your future wife. I hope you will grant it to me." She waits a beat, drawing a breath, then speaks quietly. "Please stop talking to Amelia."
"Of course, my Lord." Bright red flushes in her cheeks for the shame of being so presumptuous, and Lucienne dips her head meekly after her father's reply. If she's grateful for the way the conversation flows to allow her a measure of her own silence, it's shown only to her hands in her lap where she looks.
"I fear I don't follow, Jaremy," Jacsen admits, leaning to one side of his chair that he might prop his chin up in his palm. "These documents you received… from whom? What exactly were they saying that made you so suspicious-" He cuts off as Anais speaks and makes her request of him, pleased to let his own questions wait but to put an end to Jaremy and Amelia.
Lord Jerold frowns first at the ambiguity in the words passing before him, and then again at Anais and Jacsen's words to his heir. "I have said before and shall repeat now: Geoffrey's embassy to the Harlaws twenty years past is not the issue before us. As to the rest.." Amelia, letters, suspicions. "Explain," he bids Jaremy.
"The dead bodies I don't place at the feet of the Valentins, Jaremy. Not a one of them so far is going that direction," Jarod says. "If anything, much of the plotting that's leading to murder done in these lands seems aimed against them. Or against Ser Gedeon, at least, and he's in service to them." He seems about to go on but when Jerold asks for someone to 'Explain' he shuts up really quickly.
Jaremy opens his mouth to speak, stopping himself yet again, although this time he brings his free hand to his mouth. Pressing his closed fist to his lips, he finds yet another think he doesn't know exactly how to speak about. By the time his father beckons him to explain, he's committed. There's no smoothing this one out any longer. "I was explained by Amelia Millen that the Lady Isolde was sending word to King's Landing due to internal suspicions at Stonebridge of the validity of Oldstones. I…felt that if her evidence, or any of theirs, was brought to the table it would be subject to scrutiny. That's when I sent independent inquiries." Jaremy squares his jaw, looking to his betrothed. A moment of silence passes over him, and then he gives her an affirmative nod. He will oblige. "For reasons I can't explain, I trusted the source."
Lucienne lifts her head slightly to look at Jacsen, the tiniest of tuggings at the corners of her mouth. All this business about Amelia draws no comment from her, none at all.
That answer from Jaremy darkens Jerold's countenance again. "At what point, my son, did you discover that this whore with unconfirmed and unsupported accusations was the daughter of Rickart Nayland, who had been spying upon us these past years?" Seething, but still restrained, if barely. "Seven above! This baseborn woman has done more to tarnish the good name of Terrick than any Ironborn."
Jaremy's answer seems to draw another question out of Jacsen, but it is held back in the face of Lord Jerold's ire.
Jarod also looks half about to ask a question but, like Jacsen, he keeps his mouth shut for now while Jerold yells some more.
"There has been a great deal of misplaced trust," Anais says quietly, finally turning back to Jerold. "Whether she intends to be a thorn in our sides, or only does so by accident and poor decisions here, she /is/ one. And one that is stuck in a most complicated way right now." She pauses, wetting her lips and looking to the others before turning back to Jerold. "It was my thought that she would be safest - and we would be safest - were she at Banefort."
"I knew that Amelia Millen was Rickart's daughter perhaps two weeks ago, after I visited her when she…" Jaremy pauses again. "…after she fled the Rockcliff. She claims she was ordered through her father to kill me, but when Lady Anais arrived the order changed to her. She claims Jens Howard was killed out of love for the Terricks." Jaremy replies, turning his hand over in Anais', sliding his fingers between hers for a more firm grip. "I agree with Anais on the matter."
"Amelia Millen is very cunning, my lord father, and clearly very cleverly placed by the Naylands to do the work she done," Jarod says. "It's not Jaremy's fault. She managed to gain more trust from the men of his household than was either wise or sane. I had her a fair few times myself, I'll not deny it. Though I will say I don't think I gave up anything vital to her. When I frequent a woman like that I don't exactly go for conversation…" He shifts a look at Lucienne. Oh, his baby sister is here. He turns a shade red. "What I mean is…umm…don't think I was a useful espionage tool, m'Lord." With a visible effort he makes himself stop talking again, though the Banefort idea draws a frown from him.
"What this woman claims I care naught, unless there is proof," Jerold states sharply to Jaremy, giving a 'Jarod, you will stop talking now' look to his natural son as talk of whoring goes on too long. Sharing his next look between Jacsen and Jarod, he prompts, "Investigations had implicated her. Am I to understand that she confesses to the killing?" Anais draws his regard, curiously. "I wonder, my Lady: why you advise such a creature be sent to the Banefort?"
The quiet ser on the wall can't help but smirk faintly as Jarod chews on his foot a little bit. That accomplished, however, Wymund goes back to keeping a careful eye on his charges.
Lucienne just hangs her head again, listening to the claims and the requests and the improper explanations of what goes on behind closed inn doors. Well, she tries to shut out that last one, wincing down at her lap. She lifts her head at the address to Anais, looking that way to see what the Banefort girl has to say.
"The Lady's suggestion is a fine notion," Jacsen opines, though he does not seem by his manner to agree. "And she is a fine credit to her fairer sex, and perhaps it is that which seeks some mercy. But there is the matter of justice, and it cannot be so easily ignored," he points out. "I am one of the first to hesitate at dragging out Amelia to the town square and executing her… a notion I think might spur Anais to suggest the Banefort. Should we hoist up Amelia and hang her for her crimes, it is no difficult thing for Lord Rickart to claim his grief for his natural born daughter, whom we've now executed. And it is no more difficult for him to claim we knew her kinship all along, and took her life in recompense for whatever current slight we are claiming the Naylands have perpetrated, be it Stonebridge, Gedeon's letters, what have you. We'd be painted as aggressors, whatever the truth… and that is no position we wish, I think, to be caught in."
"Yet still, the woman must be dealt with, and justice must be found in some manner," Jacsen says, firmly. "She has admitted to the crimes, both of spying against our House and of murder."
"She confesses to the killing, my lord," Anais answers Jerold with a dip of her chin. "And for that, I would say it would be safest, surest, and easiest to hang her and be done." She draws a deep breath then, her grip on Jaremy's hand tightening as though to caution him against interrupting. As Jacsen explains, she nods to the lord, then looks back to Jerold. "She would be safe for /us/ at the Banefort, my lord. She could be useful. Or if she was not, she could be taken care of more quietly, where none of the Naylands would be likely to hear or find out about it."
Wymund's stance does not alter at all, but his brown eyes move to Jerold's for a moment in silence.
"We cannot always control what others will claim- least of all that treacherous race named Nayland-" Jerold voices after a long moment's thought, in which his eye passes among all those present, even holding a moment upon Ser Wymund, before his words resume. "Yet whatever barbs might be flung at our name, justice must be done. I am thankful for the care you spare for our reputation, Anais," he notes with a slow nod to the Banefort girl. "But no. The Roost is where her crimes were committed, the Roost is where she shed blood and damaged the common peace. It is here she must meet her end." A drawn breath before he pronounces, "Amelia Millen will hang."
"For my part, m'Lord, I'm less concerned than Lord Jacsen about any affection the Naylands might claim for Amelia Millen," Jarod says, talking again, and no longer on about whoring. "She's not acknowledged. She's nothing to them. Less than nothing, if what she tells of what her family's done to her…if there's any truth to that."
Looking all the more troubled by the suggestions for Amelia's treatment, Lucienne purses her lips into a frown. The squinting lines around her eyes uncrease however, as Lord Jerold draws his conclusion, and she nods. Just the once, but a sharp and decisive gesture - her approval, not that it is required. She swallows hard afterward. Hanging. The concept makes her feel a little ill.
"She needs not be something to them for the Naylands to claim it," Jacsen notes in his brother's direction. "If all of this is true, they've sent spies, then assassins, and stolen Stonebridge besides. It would not be much for them to fashion a lie that might well damage our house, given that there is at least half a truth to it. Those are always the most potent falsehoods."
"My lord…" Anais speaks up, then closes her mouth for a moment, looking to Jacsen. "After this letter from the king, do you not think it would be unfortunate for him to next get word from the Naylands that we've torn their long-lost daughter from their bosoms with our suspicions? Even if she confesses in front of the entire village, they'll be able to cast doubt on it. To say that we coerced her, or tortured her into it."
Jaremy's hand gives Anais' a squeeze at his father's proclamation. The muscles in his jaw tighten, eyebrows lowering. He doesn't like the verdict at all. Just as he's about to bark something in protest…he stops himself again. It tastes to him like sealing Amelia's death warrant himself. He shakes his head from side to side, lost to his thoughts as he tries desperately to put them together. Anais kickstarts him. "If the murder was committed in defense of the Roost as a stand against our enemies, and in defense of my bride, then is it truly murder? She was foolish to not bring this to us first, yes, but…perhaps in mercy we may extend her life and learn from her."
"It's justice to hang her, my lord," Jarod says, though there's a tiredness to his tone as he says it. "And to my mind, Jaremy, yes it is. She's a confessed murderer and a confessed spy. Even if there're reasons for one crime, they don't undo the other. But…I'll concede it's more complicated than that. It's just…it's a mess, my lord. For my part I think this woman very dangerous, and I think she's done Jaremy a great deal of harm. But I'll not disagree the Naylands might use this against us, whatever we do."
"I think," Jerold returns to Anais, "That such misfortune as that would be no worse than the loss of confidence among the peasantry by having a murder be seen as unpunished." Jaremy's exortation re-sharpens his father's eye. "Jaremy, make this the second of your lessons: one's honor cannot be compromised. You continue to trust in one who has led you astray and confessed to blackest villainy. There is no justice in poisons, nor knives in the dark. There is justice in truth and law. Both truth and law are with us in this. If the Naylands claim this woman as theirs, they will answer for espionage and murder before Hoster Tully, as the Seven stand witness. If my House suffers for justice, there are worse burdens to bear."
"If she is to hang, as she must eventually," Jacsen asks, "Do we move and do it swiftly? Or should we make pronouncement of her confession and crimes, that there is reasonable time enough for any protests to be made and addressed?"
"Consider the question, my children," Jerold voices to Jacsen's query. "Bring me your thoughts. I find that I have a letter to begin," the Lord of the Roost voices as he rises to take his leave of the discussion.
Finally, Lucienne finds a voice to speak with again, but not before she emits another loud sigh. "The Naylands will seek to use everything we do against us," she says, mostly directed to Jarod. "We do what's right, what's within the law. Let them come after us for that." She rises obediently to bid her father farewell, then returns to her seat.
Anais sighs as Jerold departs, her shoulders slumping slightly, though whether it's with relief or disappointment is hard to tell. "What a /mess/," she murmurs, turning to Jaremy once more to press her brow to his shoulder. It's all she says at the moment, falling silent.
Jacsen rises when his father does, giving the man a proper bow before he glances about at his siblings, and his brother's betrothed. "Lucienne is not wrong in what she says," he remarks, conceding the wisdom in that statement with a tired smile. "If we act with honor, then they must sling mud at /that/, where we have already seen what fruit skullduggery bears. Perhaps it is time we all remembered the words, and find ourselves renewed for it."
Turning slightly into Anais, Jaremy nods his head in response. Much of this is his doing, and thus the burden that rests upon his shoulders is great. Leaning his head to the side until it bumps against hers, he gives it all a few seconds rest before he risks being separated from her. "Right, she's not wrong in what she says and everyone is right that justice is justice. There's just…so many different levels of injustice happening here as well." Jaremy admits, biting the side of his lip. "The Naylands would be fools to claim her."
"If we're to hang her here we'll have to inform the men in Stonebridge promptly, at least of her confession for the murder of Jens Howard," Jarod says, to Jacsen mainly. "Ser Bruce Longbough, their Captain of the Guard who assisted me in investigating, is new to the Nayland service. Recently in from Riverrun. I don't think that he's aware Amelia Millen was used as a Nayland spy, or wasn't when he came here, at least. He may've been informed by now, after we began the search for her." He's still standing, and he strides around to take a place behind Lucienne's chair, leaning his arms on the top of it. He reaches out to try and idly tug at her hair. It's an old childhood annoyance tactic, but the gesture seems more comforting now than anything else. More for himself than Lu, really. "Vigilant and Just. Aye. Well, I pray we can still be that, at least."
"I still feel a fool," Anais shakes her head quietly to the talk of hanging Amelia. "How do we explain it all without sounding like fools? She admits to killing him /in defense/ of my life. Whether or not she lies, it doesn't make us look good to phrase it that way, either."
"So she claims," Jacsen remarks, taking Anais' words in and shaking his head somewhat. "Her claim is just that, what might she not claim for some sort of clemency? No, had she thought such a risk, it would have been right for her to come to Jarod or one of his men to reveal the plot… she chose to take the law into her own hands, and for that there must be consequences. It will be seen that our Lord Jerold's justice is fair. If she is to be publicly executed, I think this the only course we have before us. The narrow path of the truth, unfettered by stories of conspiracy that we cannot show to be fact."
"She admits to killing him. Does it matter so much whyfor?" Lucienne tolerates Jarod tugging at her hair with only the mildest of changes in her expression - it /is/ comforting. She takes another deep breath. "It isn't a pleasant thing, and I'm sure Miss Millen has been many things to many people, but… she was the hand of Master Howard's demise. For the Naylands to speak other than relief at the resolution of that matter… why would they? Admit to spying?"
Reaching to the back of his neck, Jaremy rubs heavily, tilting his head back towards the ceiling. Still hand in hand with Anais, he considers all of their words. "We don't have much more recourse than to follow law and decorum. Vigilant and Just indeed. If we can't hold to our family motto then we've lost far more than some face." He taps his foot against the stone floor, lowering his gaze to pan over their faces. "You are all right. I've been led farther than where I should have travelled on these issues, and now is the time for repair. May something like this never, ever happen again. I've put many things at risk stretching out too far, and I promise you as brother and husband-to-be, that I understand where this went astray."
"Lady Anais, she says Jens Howard was her…handler," Jarod says. "The man who forced her to serve the Naylands…as she did for all these years. She hated him. Had to, being so ill-used. The murder she did to him…even if it is true what she says about the threat to you, I don't think that was the singular reason she did it. Maybe that's why she didn't bring this to us. I don't know. People get twisted up inside. Sometimes they don't even understand their own reasons for doing things. Anyhow, my lady. If you're blaming yourself for her death…I wouldn't. She made a lot of choices that led her to this. People are their deeds, in the end, whatever they claim made them to them." He sounds more sad than anything else as he speaks on this. He does look up from his childish yanking at Lucienne's hair, to Jaremy. "We're all in this together, my fair lord brother. We'll fix it. It'll be all right."
"And you'd hang her for killing someone who pushed her into whoring? Someone who took delight in her- her-" Anais starts to grow animated, turning toward Jarod, then quickly stops herself, looking away. "I can't condemn her for that, if she speaks the truth, Jarod," she shakes her head. "I can't say I wouldn't do the same - and sooner - to someone who sought to push me into the life of a whore and keep me there. If she lies, then so be it. But this is one thing on which I am inclined to believe her. And it is the part of this entire mess that I find no room in my heart for- for judgement."
"This is already done, our Lord has spoken," Jacsen insists as he shifts some on his feet. "I do not wish to see cold in this, but I would rather turn my thoughts to questions with less obvious answers. Lord Anton Valentin chief amongst them. I will contact him at the first opportunity and have words… he shall understand from me the weight of our apology, but I shall leave that to you, Jaremy, to deliver." Jarod, and then Lucienne, are given a look of assurance. "I shall speak to him of amends, and if it is right, I shall even see to what we might do to bind Oldstones to the Roost, though I suspect the asking shall be steep." He adds, "And there are many things to offer such a man, before the finest prize of the Roost." He glances about, before asking, "Is there else any of you need of me? My leg hurts fiercely, I should like to go and rest it."
"Aye, I feel the same way as you about it, Anais." Jaremy admits, gritting his teeth. "I've little sway with my father as of current and despite my feelings for Amelia's problems I could only condemn her more. You're right. I'd do the same thing. She'd been sitting at that farmhouse awaiting her fate and all she had to do was just warn us, face us, and perhaps this wouldn't be happening to her." He sighs. "She sobbed when she admitted to me she was a Nayland. That she's a thing she's hated and how we treated her like something other than a whore and other than a Nayland." He squeezes Anais's hand once more. "I will correct this with Anton by apology, yes Jacsen." Jaremy nods. "Sleep well tonight, brother."
"She had a choice, my lady." Jarod focuses on Anais now, his own voice a touch animated. "All of us have choices every day in what our life is, even if we tell ourselves we don't. The Naylands had no power over her. No real power, save what she gave them. By wanting…I don't know what in seven hells she wanted, really. If my blood had done by me how she was done, I'd not have wanted their acknowledgement. Who wants to be part of something that would make you that? I'd have just started running, as far away as I could, fast as I could, and never looked back." He shrugs. "She did what she did. Pity her for the whys of it if you want. I do, if there's a shred of truth to any of it. Doesn't change what she made of her life." He looks down then, seeming half-embarrassed to have gone on like that, and shrugs. "I'll have to think on how to put all this to the men in Stonebridge. Apart from this…aye. I'm tired."
"What do you think she wanted?" Anais asks indignantly of Jarod. "Maybe a measure of the love you've been lucky enough to receive from your family. She's /human/, whatever she's done." She reaches up to press a hand to her brow, shaking her head. "I'm sorry, Jarod. I'm…on edge, and I'm not being fair right now. Be well, Jacsen," she murmurs. "You're right. Best we deal with Oldstones. Though I'm afraid it may be a long haul."
Jacsen holds a glance upon Anais and Jaremy for a moment longer, though he says nothing. "Please find me, should you wish to talk," he tells the lot of them, once he's turned from the sight of his brother and his brother's betrothed, and begins his slower departure from the throne room, the tap of his cane on the floor marking every other step he takes.
Also at the end of her tether on the matter, Lucienne rises from her seat. "What will we advise our lord father on this matter, then? Are we in agreement that justice for Master Howard should be enacted swiftly and publicly?" She pointedly says nothing on the exchange between Anais and Jarod.
"I'm sorry, too, my lady," Jarod mutters, not looking at Anais as she asks all of that. To Lucienne, "It's the only thing to be done, to my mind. Good night, everyone. I'll see you on the morrow." And he heads out of the throne room, on that note. Long strides taking him past Jacsen easily. He doesn't bother to moderate his pace to keep it in step with his crippled half-brother. He just wants to get gone.
Jaremy looks to Lucienne, frowning. "I…want to wait until the morning to speak of it any further. She's a human, aye, with a life and dreams that are like not to be fulfilled at this point, Lu. I can't answer that right now, and can only say our lord father has spoken, and it's his decision, like it or not." He grudges, brushing a hand through his long hair, sending it spilling down the back of his head in long, straight waves. "Damn…"
"Damn, indeed," Anais murmurs, finally releasing Jaremy's hand to step away. Quiet, she moves to drop into the nearest chair, drawing her knees up toward her chest and wrapping her arms around them. There she falls into silence, resting her cheek against her knees to try to work through things.
"As you wish, my lord brother," says Lucienne, dipping into a more formal curtsy - clearly she doesn't agree. "I… Jaremy." The looks she fixes upon her brother is meant to say more than her words can, beseeching and concerned. "I just hope… this is bad enough, my brother. What must be done, must be done."
Trailing Anais with his eyes, he watches her pile into a chair. Unable to wrap his arms around her just yet, he steps over to Lucienne and reaches out for her arm. Placing his hand on her shoulder, he frowns and tries to catch her eyes. "What must be done is done, yes…I understand. Seven, Lu, we'll be fine, okay? I promise." He reaches for her cheek, trying to console her. "I will make this right and not one step back, though I'm not happy…there are things out of my control." He lets her go, folding his arms behind her back. "I love you, Lu. I'm sorry it came to this."
"On the up side," Anais murmurs, shifting just enough to offer a faint smile toward Lucienne, "At least you know he's really a noble, and he really was interested in you. And he's still attractive. So it wouldn't be a complete loss. And it isn't so terribly far from the Roost. And perhaps you and he could stay here while there is building going on." She's trying her best to be optimistic about what she can, even if she's looking a little green around the gills herself.
Of course, Lucienne reacts to his touch with her own; she grips the forearm belonging to that hand on her shoulder, firmly. "I know you hold her dear, Jaremy." She speaks of Amelia, her head shaking. "But she's done you so wrong. There's nothing else for it." The touch to her cheek brings a delicate, intimate smile. "Don't be sorry. You'll come out of this a far stronger Lord than ever you could have been without it, brother." Her head turns at Anais' voice, her smile still intact, if a little weaker. "I could come to better fates, but I could come to far worse. It wouldn't be without cost to our treasury, but… I'm sure we could find benefit, not least of all the reparation needed."
"There was a point with her, Lu, something I could never truly explain, that she did something for me. I never could have guessed. Clearly Jarod never guessed. Even if she did lead me astray, I blame myself for that more than her, because I do believe she loves our family enough to kill a man." Letting Lucienne go, he moves to sit in the chair next to Anais. He places his arm on her armrest, leaning a bit into her chair, offering her his closeness. "We have a tourney in less than a month. We'll have the stage set to make this right, even more right than it was before."
"Maybe he won't actually be bothered by it," Anais murmurs, though she doesn't sound as though she expects that to be true. "Maybe he'll find it all a very silly misunderstanding." She draws a deep breath, loosening her grip around her knees to rest a hand on Jaremy's forearm. "And maybe things will get difficult," she allows with a soft sigh. She reaches for his hand, turning it over to trace her finger along the lines in his palm. It's a small contact, but she seems to take some comfort in it.
The loft of Lucienne's brows suggest she's not convinced either, but she draws them down to accompany another weak smile for Anais. She sighs again. "Treat it simply, justly, and hopefully things will work out the same. If I might take your leave? After we've all had some time for thinking, and some doing, it may be more productive to speak again on the morrow?"
"Alright, Lu, you never need my permission. I need to speak alone with you at some point, if you get the chance. Come by my room sometime after breakfast? I might sleep in a little bit in the morning." Jaremy admits, nodding to his sister as his fingertips slowly waver like grass in the wind at Anais' tickling touch. He lowers his gaze to watch her trace his palm, speaking gently to her. "I'm stuck with you." He says to her, turning to look to her face. "Do you want to talk about this…or do you want to think of other things?"
Anais glances up from Jaremy's hand with a faint smile for Lucienne, rueful. "Sleep well, Lucienne," she murmurs, only to turn her eye back to Jaremy's palm in silence for a few moments longer. "Quite stuck," she agrees, tracing her fingertip down the veins in his wrist. "If this didn't free you, I'm afraid nothing short of death will." She shakes her head to his question, the slight touch bringing some peace to her features. "I think we've come to our conclusions on this, Jaremy. We must smooth things over with Ser Anton, and hang Amelia. I don't…really want to talk about it anymore."
"I'll make the time," assures Jaremy's sister, a nod accompanying her smile. It's warm, if tired. And on that note Lucienne departs, making haste for the stairs that lead to her chambers.
Palm upturned, he gazes lazily at her hand. Playfully, he brings his fingers in to try to trap hers. When he succeeds at first, he lets go of her easily, threatening to do it once more. It's an unsaid game, affectionate and without rules. "When the docks are built we should go to sea, sail around the cape. We'll be wed by then, have some of the men bring a cushion on board and we could enjoy the waves." He smiles wanly, speaking quietly to her. "Or go to the cove together…or have one morning with breakfast brought in and no guests."
"Stop it," Anais chides with a subdued laugh, swatting at his hand when he captures her fingers. "I'm getting to know your hand." Idly, she rubs her thumb over the heel of his hand, tracing the outline of callus there. "Since I'm going to take it, after all." A small smile touches her lips at his suggestions, gentle. "Why not all of them?" she replies, looking up through her lashes at him. "We'll sail around the cape, and take breakfast in bed, then spend a night on the cove before we come back to the keep. And for a few days, perhaps we won't need to worry about things."
"Okay okay I'll stop it." Jaremy laughs softly, letting his palm go dead once more. "You just hit these spots and it tickles, it's hard to keep it still, Anais." His hand is weathered from years at the reins of a horse or the weapons he's carried and trained with. A deep line crosses his palm, showing her how his hand collapses upon itself when he clenches his fist. "We will, and we will often. This…is going to clear up. We are working together as one mind and I am placing all of my paranoias on the shelf because I have an opportunity to make you happy. We will deal with these other things, but if even once…twice a day it has to be, you deserve my undivided. Like this."
Anais looks up with a small smile, though it's more genuine than the others. "This…is nice," she says after a moment, brushing a crooked finger over a small cut on his hand. "Just thinking about this for a minute. Letting just this hand be the world for a few minutes." She closes her eyes, releasing a slow breath and lowering one leg to let it hang from the chair. "Something small to focus on. Too much thinking, too hard, and we start to run in circles, chasing our own tails."
"Too much time being lords and ladies and not enough time being betrothed would-be lovebirds, aye…" Jaremy replies, bringing one of his fingers to tap against hers. It's not the 'trap' he tried earlier, but it is a bratty move, teasing her inspection. "I think above everything when the wedding is complete, Anais…" He chuckles softly. "…I'd just be happy to be able to put my arms around you without screams rushing up all over the place in protest. It's maddening that I've put you through so much stress, yet the things I can do to limit it are so few."
Anais wrinkles her nose at the mention of screams, resting her head against the back of the chair. Apparently content with her inspection, she turns her hand over, palm up, to give him a turn. "I'll be as glad myself," she admits. "There's…Well. You know how it is. Expectations when you're /home/ are different from when you go elsewhere. Home is…easier. I can go to the shore. I can run with my brothers. I'm glad Cayt is here," she admits. "There's a difference between brothers and sisters. And when you're feeling like the whole world is rocking under you, brother hugs are more reassuring than sister hair-brushing."
"I think…my brothers and I have always somewhat competed. Being the one that never went to the war was something that's separated us where we never thought we would be…" Jaremy replies, starting with the fingertip of his index finger pressed against hers. Slowly, he trails his fingertip down the inside of her finger, feeling his way for the pure tactile sensation, only troubling his eyes with the experience to give him something to focus on. "…I think we're only learning how to tie in together, and as time passes Caytiv and you, Seven, you're already becoming a part of it. I'm close with Jarod but Lu…Lu's my confessor. She has a way of things that lets me speak when I need to." He continues sliding his finger over hers until he meets her palm, still investigating. "I'm glad your father sent you to that tourney still, Anais."
Anais' hand is soft, made so with various oils and lotions, though there's a strength beneath the silk of her skin. If the skin is soft, there's still the occasional line of callus, from rein and bow. "Jarod's…" She pauses a moment, considering her words. "Jarod is very male," she decides eventually. "And he sees things that way, always. Simple, and straightforward, and reluctant to admit when his feelings have been hurt. Lucienne is sweet, and smarter than she lets on. And Jacsen…Jacsen is a valuable asset. Though I'm not sure he hears it often enough, or believes it when he does. Your family will be my family, Jaremy. It's important for me to be a part of that."
"Aye, that is them, isn't it? Jacsen…has been living in a different place, and he comes bearing the mindset that he's learned under the care of our lord Jason Mallister. He's smart. When all of this has settled I've learned that my family, even you, and I all have different things we're good at. He and I had a talk about how we cannot be divided, and how together we can stand against anything. I believe that. And they see you, and Seven I hope you haven't had to deal with them begging for you to try to influence me…" He chuckles again, bringing his other fingertips to her palm to trace out across her palm in a star-like pattern. "…but if they did, it's worked, and I'm the better for it."
"Nobody's asked me to influence you," Anais shakes her head, smile quirking as she watches his hand on hers. "Though I won't say they haven't given the impression that they might hope I will. But then, I've not been the most retiring woman either, have I?" she observes, wry humor in her voice. "I hope you won't blame me, Jaremy. I know I may…overstep myself sometimes. But I only do it when I feel I must, when it's all I can do to see a winning outcome for all of us."
"For all of us, that's the key phrase, Anais. I trust that's your vision. No, the truth is that somewhere deep inside I've been doing everything to try to prove to everywhere that I'm something. Years of practice overshadowing few years of application, mostly dealing with the smallfolk that are already pre-equipped with a prediliction to adhere to my word." Splaying out his fingers, he presses his fingertips to hers, knuckles flexing softly until he brings his palm to lay flat against hers. "Someday we will be old, and you'll tell our daughter should we have one about this time. It'll be something that you're proud of doing, and something that I'll still respect your doing. Retiring woman or not, Anais, you're a good one. I dare imagine Gwyneth would have begged to go home by now."
"Rightfully, it should have been Elinor," Anais admits with a low laugh. "And she likely would have moved on to Ser Anton by now. You'll prove yourself in the tournament well enough," she says with certainty. "And then we'll have a wedding, and things will only get better." She curves her fingers up, giving his hand a squeeze before uncurling to stand. "I should get back to the rooms," she sighs. "There will be another long day tomorrow, I think."
"I'll walk you." Jaremy replies, eager to get every last of her moments before he, too, has to go to bed. The color has returned to his face since the shaming he received from the king's messenger, and it's easy for him to find himself tired and ready for a night's sleep. "And then one day will turn into a month, and a month with turn into a year, and things will continue to get better. Though, it will be nice to ride in the tourney again, even more to know you'll be watching." He smiles softly, taking her arm as he moves to disappear into the next hallway. "I'll leave a note with the cook for us to take breakfast together, you and I, on the terrace. You, me, and a pair of eyes." He muses.