|The Joke and the Honeywine|
|Summary:||Jarod and Riordan meet in the gardens to have a discussion. Love, duty, oaths, and honor are all discussed, as is a great deal more.|
|Related Logs:||So. Damn. Much.|
|Gardens - Tordane Tower|
|The rose garden of House Tordane is about three hundred square feet and hemmed in by walls about eye level to keep out the attention of wildlife. Bees hum about the area and around the stone archway which has seen the flowers grow up over and nearly encase in solid vine. The scent is sweet, mixing with the air coming off the water to produce an atmosphere some might find extremely calming. Stone benches have been chiseled out and placed along the path for visitors to relax on.|
|Sat May 05, 289|
Jarod came to Tordane Tower a hour an change ago, seeking the Regent of Stonebridge, but the man himself was occupied with something-or-other. So he's elected to kill some time in the rose gardens. He sits there now, on an old stump overgrown with moss. He's plucked a flower, a long-stemmed red rose, and he idly turns it between his fingers. Brow furrowed thoughtful. Though there are likely guards nearby he's got the immediate area to himself, and is soaking up the solitude while it lasts. He's dressed reasonably well. Freshly shaved and in a black doublet with gold thread embroidery on the collar and cuffs. It might be taken for mourning garb, but those colors are also the ones of his 'bastard' black and gold-winged heraldry, which he wore so often on the Iron Islands.
Still with the flush of this morning's practice in his skin, although having taken a moment to clean up, Riordan now makes his way to the Garden to greet his visitor. He is dressed in a fresh doublet of pale green, trimmed with darker green, and wears his harpy-and-crane chain of office. "Ser Jarod," the Regent greets with a fair ammount of cheer. His mood seems to be coming back to close to his normal, an easy half-smile for the Half-Eagle finding purchase on his lips as he greets his goodbrother. "I apologize for not coming sooner. I was off watching your Missus thrash one of my guards." There's a wry light in his eyes as he says this last, and it is likely unclear whether he approves or disapproves of the fact.
"My Lord Regent." The greeting is formal, and Jarod rises to bow. He does it with style, if perhaps not the swishy flourish he performs for with the ladies. So this appears to be an official errand. Though he stops, blinks, and laughs at the first thing Riordan says. From the grin he, at least, approves. "Hell of a sword arm on her, hasn't she? Hope she didn't hurt the fellow too bad. Rowenna's never quite lost a need to prove herself. Though I figure she'll need that, so can't really fault it in her."
"No, not too bad at all I'd say - except the man's pride. He yielded far too quickly - I think he decided that he liked his odds far better in losing to a Lady, then risking her injury," Riordan says, offering a wry chuckle in return. "I can't say it best pleased my Lady Sister, but she was overall rather understanding of it." He offers a markedly lighter bow of his own, and also stiffer - the wincing gives away the fact that it is likely due to soreness of some kind, rather then from any real intent on the Regent's part. "So, I take it from your dress and manner you've more then pleasantries to discuss this morning?" he asks, raising an eyebrow in curiousity to the man, as he folds his hands behind his back and studies Jarod.
"People under-estimate her. Always have, even back when they thought her a boy." Jarod's smile suddenly gets very hide. "First time I saw her - when I thought she was Rowan Nayland - she was fourteen and being bullied by a bunch of other lads for being skinny and being a Nayland. Got her ass beat pretty good, but she gave them back bruises in kind. That was when I figured we'd do all right as knight and squire." He tilts his head at the regent, not answering his question right away. "You know your father did that as a slight, right? Squired Rowan Nayland to Jerold Terrick's bastard son. Not to me, but to who he thought was your brother. Any other lordling should've gotten a place with my brother Jaremy, or one of our other noble knights."
"Most Naylands tend to be underestimated," Riordan notes, with a chuckle and a nod at Jarod's comment. "At least individually. As a whole, that's when our reputations get ahead of us." He waxes thoughtful at Jarod's further comments, not pressing the issue of his own unanswered question for the moment. "Oh, of course it was a slight. But you've no idea who my father is if you think that was all there was to it. My father has a temper, similiar to mine own - but he rarely does anything rash." The Regent's expression turns briefly wry as he adds, "A trait I'd also like to say I share, but recent events would count against my word, I think." Unfolding his hands momentarily, he gestures absently to brush away the thought. "The fact is though, my father likely meant it as a challenge. Rowan… at least the real Rowan… well, I expect my sister has told you about him. It is my belief that my father gave him to you to shame him into action. To bend him close enough to breaking so as to make the boy reveal his true Nayland mettle, and become one of the best of us." Another chuckle sounds from the Nayland Regent as he adds, "Of course, now we all know that it turned out like none of us expected."
"I don't think I'd have gotten on so well with the real Rowan," Jarod says with a chuckle. "He might well have broken at the Roost. Wasn't easy for Rowenna those first few years, and she was very suited to a squire's tasks. We both made good on it, I think. At least, we were good for each other, in that fashion. I hope we'll be good for each other in this one as well." He sits back down on the stump again, still fingering his rose. "My meaning is…your sister's felt the slights aimed at her brother from your family. Rowenna's loyalty is a fierce thing, but I think in her life it's been made to grow more out of love and the love she's given that out of blood. And it's sometimes blinder than it should be, as it's very hard to fault those you both love and commit yourself to. Even when they deserve it. I'm glad she's mending things some with her kin now, though. And I hope things might grow easier between her family and mine, as she still holds the Terricks very close. As do I, of course. Won't deny it."
"My family, at least the majority of the men, have always had a certain view on how to support one another, to make eachother grow and learn," Riordan says, quietly. Not in defense of his family, but simply by way of explanation. "It's a harsh world Ser Jarod, as we've both been witness to of late, I think. The simple fact is, it's not right or fair, this world of ours - and so coddling ill prepares someone for what they must eventually face." He pauses, as if thinking how best to explain. "You'll have heard the rumors, I've no doubt, about the Lady Danae and myself? There are few in my family who have not given me grief over the issue, holding me responsable for our current troubles. As well they should. And the fact is, their mixture of support and tough love, though not always pleasant, is what I need to survive this." Riordan looks to his goodbrother, sharing with him a look of understanding. "I think you'll agree with me, when I say that being torn between your heart and your duty is not a pleasant feeling. Without their support and their slights… I might break in two from it all. And there is simply too much weight on my shoulders for that to be allowed to happen." Perhaps it is surprising for the Regent to speak to the bastard son of his family's enemy with such candor… but Jarod is, by Riordan's own admission, now also family.
"The heart wants what it wants, my lord, and what it wants is rarely sensible." Jarod doesn't seem surprised, precisely. He cracks a half-smile, but it's a rueful one. And his green eyes are curious as he regards the other knight. "Is it true? That you lay with Lady Danae. I've heard many rumors, not sure what to make of any of them. Or what to make of the woman herself. Less sure of that with every passing day."
"Aye, I laid with her," Riordan says, for once saying the words without bitterness, nor said by rote. They are simply said, for they are truth. "The rest is hogswallow, of course, as most rumors are. But that bit is the truth." He studies the other man for a moment, then turns, studying the roses as he continues to speak. His words are calm, and casual, even if they speak of heady and important things. "What isn't said is how much I love her. Or how much she loved me, at least at the time. Just a week and a day since, if you can believe, and yet it seems longer." He shakes his head, commenting, "As to the Lady herself, I'm not sure I can even give my opinion anymore. I thought I knew her well, but it is almost like the Bastard's ghost has altered her in its passing." He doesn't seem to consider, or simply doesn't bother to care about speaking of Gedeon so in front of Jarod, who not only knew him well, but is a bastard himself. In truth, though, the name is said more by habit then any real thought.
"Well, then…cheers." And without any ado, Jarod unhooks a wineskin from his belt and tosses it at Riordan. It's an easy catch, if one is half-paying attention. Inside is honeywine - Ironborn mead. "Might've got yourself a Rivers!" He shrugs. "Don't mean to laugh at you, my lord, I truly don't but…fuck, it's all a joke, isn't it? All of it." If he takes offense at the words about Gedeon, or bastards, it's not apparent. Or perhaps it's all part of the joke he sees. "You know what I think love is, my lord?"
Riordan, rather then getting mad, actually turns back to Jarod - in time to catch the wineskin no less - and actually lets loose a large and hearty laugh. Giving him a large grin, the Regent will sip from it. Oddly, the taste of honeywine (which he and Jarod once shared together on Pyke and both enjoyed) causes him surprise. At first, he looks about to spit it out, but then he swallows. And if anything, he laughs again, and all the harder. So much so that it is a full moment before he can get out words. "Ah… Ser Jarod… Seven Hells, but I think I needed that, you Gods damned bastard." He continues to give his goodbrother that incredibally infectous, lopsided grin of his. "Do you know, I truly just realized that little nugget of truth yesterday? Everything truly is. The Gods are the one's telling it, and we are all of us, each and every one of us, the punchline." Riordan pauses to take a few more swigs of the honeywine. He seems to almost have a love-hate reaction to the stuff, now. But drink of it he does, before passing it back. "Tell me, Ser Jarod? What do you think it is, love?"
"I didn't get many spoils that didn't go straight to the Terrick treasury," Jarod says wry, at the face Riordan makes when he tastes the drink. "Got several bottles of mead, though. Kind of developed a liking for squid piss on the Isles. It's sweet, but not so saccharine as summerwine. More of a kick, too." The other man's grin makes him grin back wide, green eyes bright. He still smiles as he goes to answer the last question, though these words are given straight. "It's handing someone a knife and taking off your armor. Down to your skin, until you're naked. And letting them put that knife against one of your veins, and trusting they won't cut you mortal."
"You were actually the one to introduce me to the stuff," Riordan says with a nod at Jarod's explanation to the wine. "I actually enjoyed the stuff myself - for all my love of Mire beer, bitter stuff that it is, I've always had a bit of a sweet tooth. If not as much as my sister." Riordan seems about to continue speaking on a different subject, before he stops, and then adds, "The other one, not the one you married. Your Lady Wife is more partial to Mire brew then Roslyn is." Because, you know, knowing the tastes of your in-laws is important stuff! "Anyhow, after I got a taste for the stuff, I actually managed to find several of my own that were taken from Harlaw." The exact details of this mysterious 'acquisition' isn't gone into detail. "But after Danae… Lady Danae, that is… well." He grunts to himself, saying, "I took us a bottle, introduced her to the stuff, that day, a week and a day ago. Now all I can taste is her lips when I drink the stuff. In my rage I fear I broke all the bottles I had left." He grins, again, at the joke of it all.
Riordan then falls silent, considering Jarod's thoughts on love. He lets out a small chuckle, and nods to his goodbrother. "You know, you're not wrong. But there's more then that. The knife's coated with a poison, you see. Even the slightest contact with the skin infects whomever it touches. And drives them utterly, and truly mad." Then, his expression turns more mellow, as he asks Jarod, curiously, "How'd you do it?"
Jarod shakes his head. "I don't think it's poison, my lord. Or anyone who'd ever loved would be dead. For even the best lovers cut each other, no matter how gentle they try to be. And when it's done, all you're left with is to figure out if the wound is mortal or not, and if it's worth getting cut again. Or just to stop the bleeding and put your armor back on. Not sure whether there's a way to tell if it was worth it or not." He cants his head to one side. "How'd I do what?"
"How did you choose love over duty?" Riordan asks, simply. "How were you able to hold true to one ideal, and not try and grasp both at the same time?" It's not a challenge or an insult. Riordan truly seems to want to know the answer.
"Rowenna and I weren't always good to each other," Jarod admits. "We've each other's cuts still on us if you look in the right places. There was a time when I thought I could…compromise. Both my duty to my father and my love for her, and somehow find something in the middle. It just made me a man I didn't like very much, though, and I was being poor to both of them. And I saw what my life would be like if I kept being that and…it wasn't even about her, for I thought she was gone from me entirely then. But I found it…empty and agreeable and cowardly and not something that'd be worth much to anyone, let alone myself. And when I had another chance…" He pauses for a moment, like he's not even sure himself how to say what's all in his head. "…when I was a boy, I used to go diving off the cliffs on the coast. You do it in the wrong place, of course, you'll break your neck on the rocks below. But you do it right, in a place where it's deep enough to catch you, and it's like flying. Not many things that make you feel so alive. Your sister's another of them for me. I did it because I couldn't abide not doing it, and I figured however she cut me, she wouldn't bleed me out this time. And it might make me…better, in the end, having the courage to do it honest and open and before the world. I don't yet know if it won't be the ruin of both of us, my lord, but I hope we'll make good on it. Both of us."
Riordan regards Jarod in silence for a long moment, considering. There is almost a brief look of envy in his expression as he shakes his head, before a rueful smile takes hold. "Sad that not all of us, fools though we are to be caught between two such forces, were given such a second chance. I never had time to truly realize what I was doing, never given the chance to even make the decision, before…" Again, he gestures with his hand, waving the thought away. "Bah, it's done. For what it's worth though, now knowing what I do… I almost regret punching you." He pauses, and a boyish grin alights on his lips. "Almost," he emphasizes. Then he observes, "You never told me what it was you came here to talk about."
"All my brothers've punched my, my lord, no harm done," Jarod says with an easy grin. "Makes me feel like proper family. Though you're in a different spot. I'm a bastard and Rowenna, however good her father's been to her, was never going to get a proper marriage out of the Naylands with how she's chosen to live. We don't matter, and that gives us a bit of freedom to fuck up our own lives. If I were a proper Terrick I don't know how I'd have handled the whole mess, truth be told. I am nothing if not a lucky bastard." As to that last. "I came for twofold reasons. First to visit your cousin Ser Rygar, if he'll see me. We are not friends precisely but I respect the man. Second, to ask where things stand in Stonebridge. I expected a pronouncement from Lord Tully's man that the Naylands firmly retained the town, but nothing's come yet."
"Aye. For all that I think we're rather similiar, Ser Jarod, it's funny how matters of birth effect so much," Riordan observes, rather wryly, before turning to more serious matters. "I'd say that I'm sure that Ser Rygar would enjoy speaking with you, but we both know I'd be lying. He'll still recieve you though, I've little doubt." And then, things turn to the serious matter. "As to that, well. I am not sure there will be any such pronouncement for some time, at least unless Lady Danae's marriage is annulled, or barring that, until it can be confirmed she is with child." That last part may come out just slightly bitter, though given his admitted relations with the Lady in question, it is likely little wonder why. "But, the fact is, there are several ways this will end, but I have good reason to believe that all those endings belong to House Nayland. And it is not just familial pride that makes me speak such." Still, he doesn't go into specifics. "Is this interest related to the offer I made you?" Riordan then asks curiously.
Jarod frowns. "The challenge was a judicial duel. Ser Gedeon's death rendered judgment on his claim, and found it invalid in the eyes of the law, and the eyes of the gods. Lady Danae should not have any claim to press. It all just needs to fucking end." The frustration in his tone is palpable, and perhaps carrying an edge he doesn't mean to show. He nods to Riordan. "Aye. The way things stand, my lord, I think it'd actually be cleaner for the Terricks if your family retained Stonebridge. With Gedeon Tordane we might've built something that we'd have profited by in this town, but that's gone, and his Westerwoman just brings strife for all so far as I can see. I just…I want it to be over. And I was wondering how that offer still stands."
"Well, if Lords Blackwood and Tully can get off their high ground long enough to see sense, perhaps they will agree with that little fact and it'll be over sooner rather then not," Riordan says, shaking his head lightly. "The true fact, though, is that inheritance law has always been murky when it comes to anyone set up as heir other then a direct son. It's why my Lord Father was so keen on having so many. You won't find this shit happening to my House, on that you've my word. If we're lucky, it'll get sorted sooner rather then late. For a second there, when Rygar was declared victor, I thought we were that lucky." Riordan snorts to himself, before saying, "But you're not wrong. My house has had Stonebridge for a year. If people could just stop focusing on our thrice-damned name long enough to look at what we've done, they'd see that we should be left alone to see Stonebridge prosper. In the year we've been here, crime has dropped, revenue has risen, and noone has gone hungry. We lost little in the way of civilians to the Iron Born, and we've more then a fair chance to see stability brought to the whole gods damned area!" Riordan takes a long breath through his nose. Though not truly angry, there is a tiny bit of annoyance at it all. And then he turns to that last subject. "Aye, it still stands."
"You lost little to the Ironborn because you can't attack the inland Riverlands without the coasts falling first, my lord. No way to hit Stonebridge with more than a small force before the Roost or Seagard fall," Jarod says. Though the point is more leading than defensive. "That's the thing. We just weaken each other if we pick over each other's borders. But we get off each other's throats some, we might make us all stronger. The Naylands are in the better position now, bled as the Roost is from the war, but they're still the lesser of the Frey banners, and Seagard has far more favor from Riverrun than the Twins ever will. I want…I would like to be a part of building something…better and braver here. If I can. I must ask, my lord, if there'd be a place for Rowenna here as well. To serve your land. Were she willing and able."
"That's true enough," Riordan agrees easily in regards to Jarod's first point. He listens to the rest of the points as well, and gives a single nod. Though it is perhaps unclear if it is agreement, or acknowledgment that it indicates. "I've already told her there would be," Riordan says, in regards to her sister. His tone is open, honest, both with his previous words, and the ones to come. "Though I will tell you as I told her, Ser. I love my sister dearly. And I respect her abilities. But I do not accept the title of knight that she tries to wear. I will never acknowledge her as such, and I will not give her a position as such. I will of course endeavour to… accept some of her excentricities, and should you accept my offer, we can put our heads together and figure out the right position for her." He pauses, and though his tone does indicate that he is also serious as he speaks further, his next words are accompanied by a wry smile. "And despite my acceptance of many of her uniquire trappings, on occassions called for it, I will also expect her to dress according to her position and gender. You may like watching my sister's ass in her man pants, Ser, but I can not say I'm of a like mind in this."
"I know few men will think anything of her knighthood, my lord. That's a battle she's got to fight herself, and come to some accord with the world as best she can," Jarod says. "I don't think she expects to be called 'Ser.' But she's built for the Warrior's path. It's just what's in her. She'd likely be happier if she wasn't, but I've had to live with it long enough to know there's no changing it. As for her trousers, sparring and riding in a dress is what's ridiculous. She's not masquerading anymore, she's being practical. And I think she'll have an easier time finding acceptance as a sword if men can't look up her skirt every time she jumps." He smirks. "I don't think she'd truly mind putting on a dress when the occasion doesn't demand something with more utility, though. Does it really matter, my lord, how she dresses?"
"It's only ridiculous because our society was not built around women warriors, Ser. But that's neither here nor there, and nore is it a debate I'm willing to get into. The exact times it is called for will of course depend on the position she ends up taking with me, should you both agree. But when it is expected, she will dress appropriately. Beyond that, I've never cared to dictate what my siblings wear - for which I am sure Rafferdy is thankful - and I don't intend to now." Riordan pauses, considering Jarod for a moment before asking, "So, that all being said, what is your answer?"
"There are houses in the North where women are trained in blades as men are, and of course there's Dorne," Jarod says. "I've even seen a few women with the mercenary companies, though…that's a nasty sort of life. Rowenna could find that sort of employment, if she set her mind to it, but that's not what she would be. She wants to serve with honor, and if you can both come to some compromise, she could both serve you well." He shrugs. "Took a year for the idea to settle in my head. Jars the brain, I won't deny. But that's for the pair of you to work out. My answer is, I have to talk to my wife. And see if I can find a way to make my lord father understand. The way we parted he can't really forbid it, but I'd not feel right bending the knee to a Nayland house, without warning him first. But if can manage to all that…I think I could find a place in your house, my lord. That we both might be better for. The next time I come here I'll give you a proper answer. Need to…see how a few things line up first."
"Aye, well, there is those places, and there is proper society. I'm not sure that the rest of Westeros is ready for such a thing, Ser Jarod." Riordan raises a hand though, showing that there is a 'but' attached to that statement. "But you are right in that I will be willing to find a compromise of sorts. As I stated, I am willing to accept some of her eccentricities. I can't promise that it will be solved overnight, nor that there will not be lots of yelling involved. But if she is willing, then we shall make it work. Whatever curses and jokes that the gods have placed on the pair of us, Rowenna and I, we are siblings. Family. And that is more important then aught else." That last is his creedo, and the only thing left to Riordan that matters, and it tells in his tone. Then, the Regent nods his head to Jarod. "Very well. I will look forward to your answer. And know that I will understand if you end up refusing… but I do hope you do not, Ser Jarod. You've saved my life once, and I wouldnt mind having you around to give you the oppurtunity to do it more. But more then that… more then that, I like you, Ser. And I know you would serve me well and honorably." He pauses, then, and adds, "If you're going to the Roost at some point, would you mind letting your Lady Goodsister know that I have not forgotten my promise to her, and that it has only been delayed, not reneged on?"
"I try very hard to live with honor, my lord," Jarod says, standing. "I could give better-sounding reasons for it, but the truth is I try because I don't think my father could forgive me if I didn't. The rest, even being a Nayland, I don't think he really hates me for." A shadow of a smile flickers across his face at Riordan's words about the Roost. "If things go as I pray they will, my lord, perhaps we can ride there together someday in not too long. But, aye. I shall tell her if I see her first."
"Well, unless my father decides to adopt you, or you turn into a woman and my sister into a man, you at least don't have to 'dishonor' your father with our name," Riordan points out, adding with a chuckle, "I can't decide which option is more likely." He shakes his head, then, adding, "I think those are the only two ways for you to get our name. I admit your situation is unique enough that I'm not sure who quite knows the rules, except for perhaps a Maester." At Jarod's words about the Roost, Riordan laughs rather wryly. "Don't be so hasty to voice that hope, just yet. I only got my father to agree to my support to House Terrick by my assurance that I would see it embarressed your Lord Father and cut at his pride. I don't apologize for it, because the way I saw it, pride can't feed hungry families, and Nayland bread can. And it's likely why the Lady Anais agreed. But I won't force you on being a part of that, because as I said, when it comes to your fraternal family, even should you swear to me, I will give you no orders."
"Rivers isn't a name, my lord, just a placeholder for those who can't hold a true one," Jarod says. "Had I married a common woman I'd have taken her name for my own. If Rowenna's keeping hers it's a bit more complicated, I expect. I'll gain no lordship from this, nor will my children, though I figure they might be Naylands in name. In the end, I think it's likelier than anything I'll remain a Rivers for my own part. Or fashion something else entirely." The bit about what the Nayland promise carried makes him frown, though his expression is more thoughtful than offended. "Pride can feed no one. Petty grudges can't hold this town, either. Honor can, though, if it comes with the will to keep one's promises. I hope we can all be better and braver in the days to come, my lord, and that we shall speak again soon." He bows. "I shall go see if I can look in on your cousin now, by your leave."
"I've always held family more important then honor, myself, Ser Jarod, though that does not mean I discount honor, either. It's why I would be honest with you about such, even though the truth might not best please you. I'd rather you know who I am and then decide, rather then the other way around." Not a defense of Riordan's actions or words, but simply an explanation for them. The Regent then nods his head, saying, "You have it, of course." He pauses, before adding, "And Ser Jarod? Thank you. And not just for the consideration of your oath, but everything else. Especially the sharing of our joke, and the honeywine." Riordan gives the bastard knight a wink and a brotherly pat on the shoulder, and then moves off through the garden.
Jarod clasps Riordan's hand firm before departing the garden himself, off to chat with far less approving Naylands.