Page 123: The Horse And The Cart
The Horse And The Cart
Summary: Jacsen Terrick and Gedeon Rivers bring further thoughts to Lord Tully. Things are reconsidered.
Date: 15/11/288
Related Logs: Everything Riverrun
Hoster Jacsen Gedeon 
Hoster Tully's Sitting Room — Riverrun
Nice ornate room with officious people and furniture.
15 November 288

Riverrun has not gotten quieter, nor more pacific as the days have passed. Hoster Tully has emerged for a walk every other day, and has taken dinner among his guests, but otherwise keeps to his private chambers or sits in the gardens. Presently, however, the Lord of Riverrun is in his private sitting room, with a window behind him that (were tapers and lanterns not lit) would give a lovely view of the Red Fork glittering by reflected starlight. Retainers wait against the walls, as the Lord Paramount's guests are shown in.

As ever, the Terrick lord leans heavy upon his cane as he steps into Hoster Tully's sitting room, much as he did several nights before, save for the addition of the blonde Gedeon Rivers at his side. "My lord," Jacsen offers, along with a bow of head and shoulders as appropriate for the Lord Paramount. "Thank you once more for your audience…"

Ser Gedeon walks with significantly more ease than his companion, though he manages to find a step that allows him to keep pace with the Young Lord without appearing to be lagging or stepping oddly. As he comes into the room and approaches Hoster Tully, he, like Jacsen, offers a respectful bow. "My lord. I, too, must thank you for allowing me to join in this discussion."

"Young Lord Jacsen and Ser Gedeon, very good, very good," Hoster voices with a wan smile. He motions them to rise from the bows with a motion of his hand and word, "Sit. Both of you, take your rest. There is drink should you wish it." To Gedeon he adds, "In this matter, Ser, it is the man without a House caught between two who has the most to lose, hmm?" Glancing between the two again, he notes, "Tell me, Young Terrick: how rests my domain?"

Jacsen waits until he's taken a seat before he thinks to answer that question. "My lord… Things are much as they were when last we spoke," he admits, glancing over at Gedeon before he resumes his words with Hoster Tully. "There is an observation that Ser Gedeon made to me, my lord, one that I believe will reconcile this matter of two documents, both with the genuine hand of Lord Tordane upon them."

Gedeon settles into one of the offered seats, and his lips quirk a little wryly for Lord Tully's observation. "Just so, my lord," he agrees before quieting so that Jacsen may speak. He offers a second nod as the Terrick says his piece. "I do not think, my lord, the matter is one of contradiction so much as of chronology."

Hoster hears out the start of Jacsen's words with a weary exhale, though the latter speech draws his cloudy ble regard back to Gedeon, and then back to Jacsen. "Is there?" he wonders, skeptically. A 'carry on' motion is made, as the Lord of Riverrun settles back in his cushioned chair.

Jacsen is attentive of Gedeon as the Lord Paramount encourages him to continue. If there is doubt in the Young Lord over the words he expects to hear, none of it is seen for Hoster's sake.

Given invitation to speak further, Gedeon fetches the rolled copies of the documents from his belt, opening them so that the text may be easily surveyed. It is the testament brought by the Naylands that is on top. "As your scribes have found both documents to be right and authentic, my lord, we must then accept that both were written by my father's hand. But this testament," he taps the copy of the 'will' gently, "was clearly written before Geonis fell in battle, and it seems evident from the text that Lord Geoffrey had little real expectation that his trueborn son would not survive. Even as he mentions it, here, this last paragraph has him winning a tilt at a tournament. But, perhaps more pressing to the day's conflict, there is nothing in here that contradicts the letter he wrote next. Isolde is not named heir, should Geonis fall. Stonebridge is not even mentioned. In point of fact, his request that she wed Jaremy Terrick is only to offer her what happiness the union might provide."

Hoster Tully raises a brow as Gedeon lays out his case, expression relaxed from his ready wan smile into a more unreadable studiousness, until a long moment after Gedeon has spoken. "A minor point, but an important one, Ser: my scribes have not found ready fault with either document. I have never stated that they are both believed authentic." His belly and shoulders rise with a drawn breath. "Do I understand correctly, Ser, that you theorize that Ser Geoffrey Tordane wrote his letter to you after the death in battle of Geonis, his son and heir?" There is a subtle weight to the question as he asks it.

It is Jacsen now that lapses into a prolonged silence, moving to lean forward and pour himself a small measure of wine into a cup, and otherwise little more.

"Forgive me, then, my lord, that I misspoke," Gedeon replies with a small nod for the correction. He draws in a soft breath and, meeting the other man's faded blue eyes with his own, bright and clear as sky, the Tordane bastard speaks further. "Yes, my lord. That is my belief. That it was after Geonis was lost that he wrote the letter I carried; once what he had not felt to be truly possible had somehow come to pass."

"I see," Hoster Tully muses, fingertips tapping together as he regards Gedeon throughout the answer. "As I was not present at the Trident, and you were close to your father as he expired, I am glad you have been able to correct my own misconception, Ser: I had been under the mistaken impression that Ser Geoffrey followed his son into death quite closely." The familiar wan smile re-emerges. "I am sure that the others who attended Ser Geoffrey in his last moments will confirm this, Ser. At least that he was alone with you for a time, yes? Of course they shall."

"Yes, my lord," Gedeon agrees, his own features somber and solemn for this darkest of memories, "though I fear…" he draws in a soft breath, hesitant, "Wayland Frey would have been the only other man present during those hours. I do not wish to suggest it, as he was much loved by Lord Geoffrey, but it's possible his own recollections may be somewhat…influenced by these proceedings. Geonis and Geoffrey fell on the same day, but not the same hour."

"Hmm," Hoster Tully muses with a slow nod. "That may be sadly true, Ser. One would hope that Ser Wayland would be above reproach, but alas that some knights do not keep their vows so well as others." He looks back to Jacsen at that. "So, my young Terrick: what think you of how this matter ought to proceed?"

He leans forward to set down the cup of wine, itself hardly touched in the moments where he listened to the Lord Tully and Ser Gedeon speak between themselves, seeming to consider his words over a protracted silence. "You know my thoughts on the Naylands, and what they reach for, my lord. You spoke to me of two concerns, of the legal precedent your ruling might make, and your concern that the peace shall be broken…" Jacsen straightens in his seat and glances over at Gedeon. "If my Lord Tully is willing to, in the end, name both documents as genuine, I find Ser Gedeon's words to be correct in this. There is no provision made at all for Isolde's inheritance of Stonebridge in the last testament, despite an acknowledgement of the possibility of Lord Geonis' fall at the Trident. It would permit the marriage between Ryker and Isolde to stand… and it does seem sensible. Lord Geoffrey knew even then that my Lord Uncle and his wife had little hope of children, and with Geonis dead would wish to see to it that there was a viable replacement to carry on the Tordane line… one of the few reasons Royal Assent might be granted to a request of legitimacy, and so makes more reasonable the invoking of it. It leaves the Lady Valda free of slander to her name by virtue of this inditement, though her willingness to disregard her husband's will will shame her all the same. There are nuances, of course, and those I might spend time researching for my lord to ensure his decision is as protected as it might be, but I think few Lords will chafe at the idea of the protection of their ability to adapt their final will to the circumstances that present themselves." He draws a careful breath. "I would address the second of my lord's concerns, if he has no questions as to my first answer?"

The Lord Paramount exhales slowly, once again tapping his fingertips together as Jacsen speaks. "I will hear your answer to the second, before giving comment to your first, Young Lord. Speak on the subject of peace in my domain, and how this plan will ensure it."

Gedeon remains quietly, turning his own attention to Jacsen to see what he will reply.

"It is no great secret that even with Stonebridge added to their compliment, the forces of Terrick's Roost outnumber the Nayland forces by no small number, and have only the one holding to concern themselves with at present. Further, there is little doubt that should the Naylands think to raise arms against us, Seaguard would not hesitate to interject. Given even further the thought, even if it is only that, that the Lord Paramount himself should think to intervene with arms? The Nayland host could not withstand such an assault, and they quite certainly know it," Jacsen tells Lord Hoster. "Recall the Harpy's words and realize that this is simply an example of reaching… and like any reaching grasp it is extended and exposed. They count upon your worry of a break in the peace so recently won, and our willingness to abide by your desires to keep it, my lord. So far, they have risked nothing, and this furthers their boldness… should they lose Stonebridge, it is little to slip back into their swamp, and begin to plot anew. What they cannot chance is acting against the will of the Lord Paramount of the Riverlands, no matter how justified they might think, for that is a weight they cannot overcome. There is no victory for them in breaking your peace, once the matter is settled, and a display of strength is made. They are like their masters, my lord, fit for scheming and keen to take advantage when they see it… but loathe to face a foe outright, to test steel against steel. Should my lord see fit to do this, you will have called the Nayland's bluff, and watch them slither back from whence they came. They could love you no less than they already do, and Stonebridge would see in you a valiant protector."

"Nayland boldness has indeed grown unchecked. Aided, I might add, by your predecessor's foolishness, Young Lord," Hoster Tully grunts as he shifts his weight, expression frowning. "For all the art of your words, young Terrick, you know not the bitter and blind pride that poisons the hearts of such men. The Late Lord Walder still broods over every slight, real or imagined, and Lord Rickart Nayland is not so patient as his overlord." As that is said, he yet draws a steady breath in through his nose, and regards Gedeon briefly, before looking back to Jacsen. "You do not lack for boldness, Lord Jacsen, I grant you that. I shall grant you this much further, both of you:" he shifts his weight again, leaning slightly forward. "Be prepared that this verdict, if it is given, will be challenged, and you must stand ready to answer it. Whether a trial by combat, or with better weight of law than you have brought before me today."

Gedeon has been silent for a time, but certainly attentive. He listens as Jacsen gives his words and then when Hoster Tully offers his reply. It is only after, that he speaks again. "My lord, for my part, I accept that such a ruling, were it given, would be contested by those who stand to lose what they have gained by underhanded means. I would be prepared to meet what challenge is next offered, be it on a field of honor or in another council of law."

Jacsen nods to Gedeon's words. "Mallister and Terrick stand ready to meet whatever challenge is put to the Lord Paramount's decision, if indeed such is the verdict you choose to render. Give me leave to your library, my lord, and I shall not rest until I have successfully put myself to the task of drawing all precedent I might on such matters."

"Well said, young Ser, well said," Hoster Tully commends Gedeon, before speaking on. "Your first challenge is to find a gentleman of quality who can support your recollection that Geoffrey and Geonis Tordane did not die in the same charge of Rhaegar Targaryen's knights. I thank you for your words and good council, Ser Gedeon," in dismissal. His eye goes next to Jacsen, "You shall have leave of my library, but not of myself, just yet. Remain a moment, my Lord."

So dismissed, the blond knight eases back from his chair. "My lord," he says with a parting bow to Hoster Tully, "Lord Jacsen," and another for the young lord of the Roost. Collecting up his copies of the documents from the table, he makes his way back to the doors to quietly step out.

"The rest of you, leave me," Hoster Tully instructs his retainers with a small dismissive motion of his fingers. Once the bows have been given and the doors closed, he regards Jacsen with a cloudy, but still canny eye. "You answer will not go beyond myself, Young Lord. Not to your father, nor even my dear friend Jason. But tell me: does it matter to you whether Ser Gedeon is being truthful? What if.. pure theory: his letter were false, but no man would ever prove it?"

A nod is offered to Gedeon as he makes his way from the sitting room, but his attention does not linger long. Jacsen's eyes snap back to Hoster Tully, and only leave his features when he leans back into his seat to consider the question put to him. It is a moment of soul-searching, perhaps, or merely just a clever mind going over the words to best present what he thinks his lord might wish to hear. It is difficult to tell. "I am a Terrick, my lord, and since I have ever been old enough to know, I have known that Vigiliance and Justice were more than words, but the stuff of Terrick blood. I cannot divorce myself from their pursuit." He leans forward in his seat, reaching to move aside his wine cup, so there are fewer impediments between himself and the Lord Paramount. "I've watched my father and my elder brother succeed in truly embodying one of those words, but not the other. Terrick's Roost has been just, but it has not been vigilant. Should it have lived up to its name, perhaps we would not be sitting here now… or perhaps this was inevitable." He looks sheepish then, as if he realizes he is rambling on. "To better answer your question, my lord… it does matter to me. I shall never wear the Ser I sought so dearly, but I still value my honor, my dignity, my vigilance, my just nature. But I have learned my lessons well… what is just is not always found in the letter of the law, but in the execution of it. This is something the Rebellion has taught us all. It does matter to me, my lord, if Ser Gedeon is being truthful. But I am not certain it matters enough."

"Hmm," Hoster Tully sniffs in a low chuckle at that last amendment to Jacsen's reply. "Then you had best become certain, young Terrick. One way or the other, because if this proceeds, your conscience may not survive what is to follow." A goblet of wine is raised and tasted. "the smallfolk have a saying: a man must be wary of which cart he hitches his horse to. While the horse pulls, the carter steers." A slow exhale follows. "I have no doubt that Ser Gedeon will find someone to defend his claims against Wayland Frey's word. Perhaps it will even seem legitimate, if we are fortunate." He shrugs, not dwelling on the possibility. "But consider well, Young Terrick: if you begin to dirty your hands you cannot relent. Because I promise you: there is a hatred in your foes that will never sleep, and will never forgive. Proceed in this and I suspect your father's foes will become your own." The goblet is drained.

Jacsen listens closely to every word that Hoster Tully sees fit to deliver, and dips his chin in a succinct nod of acknowledgment. "Then ever shall vigilance be my comfort and my drive," he tells the Lord Paramount of the Riverlands. "And might my conscience forgive me for what it is I might need do. There are causes greater than the comfort with which I sleep at night, my lord. I shall comport myself to that truth."

"So be it," Hoster Tully speaks, with a tone of finality in his voice. "Once Ser Gedeon has located his witness, I shall re-convene the court. Be prepared to answer Lord Rutger, who- if he has any wit- will have strenuous objection prepared. I wish your family luck of Stonebridge, Lord Jacsen, and my congratulations on your first diplomacy," he bids with a nod, before sitting back in his chair with a wan smile. "I will truly mourn the black day your father passes, Young Terrick. He is a rare man."

As smooth as any man in his condition might, Jacsen rises from his seat. "I shall prepare," he assures, before adding a respectful bow of his features and a voiced thanks for the congratulations Hoster gives him. It's the last that gives Jacsen any pause, as if he thinks to read deeper into the words. "So shall we all, my lord. But there shall be many long years yet that Lord Jerold rules the Roost, if the Seven be kind." If there is nothing else, he will take his leave of the private sitting room.