|Summary:||Anais and Jacsen meet to discuss the various questions before the Terrick household and search for answers.|
|Related Logs:||Amelia logs.|
|Roof Terrace — Four Eagles Tower|
|This is open to the air except for the rookery at the opposite end of the open walkway. Parapets and crenellations are about.|
|August 22, 288|
After her return yesterday morning, Anais retired to the guest suites the Banefort ladies have been occupying and retired to her bed with what potential visitors were told was a headache. This morning, though, seemed to find her in good health, and she ventured out into the Tower once more. Still, there is only so much that can be dealt with at any given time, and matters only seem to grow more complicated. Which perhaps explains why a message was sent to Lord Jacsen, requesting his presence on the roof.
He is not so long in answering the message, not so long as he has every right to be, which is either a sign of Jacsen Terrick's boredom or the fact that he knows somewhat of the events that have begun to unfurl. "Lady Anais," he calls, as he nears her, leaning heavily on his cane with each other step he takes, "I am grateful to know that your headache has subsided enough that you might walk about…"
Anais smiles faintly to the lord, having taken up a place in one of the crenellations, while her guard and handmaid chat quietly a short distance away. "Subsided, perhaps," she agrees. "Though I'm afraid the cause doesn't seem to have improved. Both Jarod and Jaremy said they wanted to speak with you." The Banefort lady wastes no time in beating around the bush, or working up to the topic. "I assume they told you everything they knew?"
"I've spoken only with Jarod," Jacsen offers, his attention only fully committed to the woman once he's found a perch to seat himself upon. There's little of the usual good cheer in his expression, the topic at hand one that surely tests his limits. "I believe he's told me everything, but I've no way in which to be sure. I'll admit, my depth of confidence in relying on one's word is, of late, sorely lacking."
"There's a great deal of interpretation going on," Anais agrees quietly, her hands folded in her skirts as she leans back against the wall. "And I'm not sure how much of it is correct. But you, I think, are as much removed from this as I am. Or more. And I think that right now, that is what is needed." Drawing a deep breath, she looks over to the lord. "So what did Jarod tell you, then?"
Fingertips rap lightly against the crowning cap of his cane, an errant look sent over his shoulder and across the expanse beyond the Roost. "What you might expect. That Jaremy kept his knowledge of Amelia of Seaguard's whereabouts from him, from myself, from our Lord Father. That Jaremy is quite certain the woman is telling true, that she was once and for a long while spy for the Naylands, handled by this Howard that she murdered. That she was meant to have killed Jaremy at some point lately, but could not for the love she bore him." He looks back at Anais, his lips forming a thin line. "That is the most damning of it, at least."
Anais grimaces, shaking her head slightly. "Too many iterations already. What Amelia said to me was that Howard was her handler, and that the initial Nayland plan was to murder Jaremy. They never asked it of her, though, because you returned, and they decided they'd rather kill me than risk that you and I might wed," she notes, a brief, dry smile touching one corner of her lips. "This is, of course, what Amelia told me. That, and that she was in love with Jaremy. If she lied, she is a very good actress. But acting aside…" She falls silent a moment. "I need to consider every angle, and every possible truth. Would you help me?"
"Always too distant from the source, but that shall soon be rectified. I mean to take Jarod's side and pay your guest a visit," Jacsen remarks, his eyes considering the woman beside him as he listens to her speak. He himself is not immune to that dry smile that ghosts across her expression, though his is a touch more rueful. It's her request that has him nodding, and making a gesture in the air before him. "Of course, of course. I'm all ears, Lady Anais."
"The things we know for certain," Anais begins, ticking off on her fingers. "Master Howard was killed. He had been seen around Terricks Roost fairly often, and not always as someone's escort. Amelia was renting the room next to him on the night he was killed. She told me where she hid his money, so it should not be difficult to prove that she killed him. I believe that we can take that Amelia killed Master Howard as a given." She draws a breath, a faint line furrowing her brow as she thinks. "The Naylands are not our friends. Barring action on the part of the King, however, Stonebridge is theirs. They all seem /absolutely/ certain that their grip on Stonebridge is secure, and so have no reason to feel threatened by Ser Gedeon or his letters."
Jacsen sets his cane aside within arm's reach that he might fold his arms over his middle, listening attentively to the lady of the westerlands as she puts together the sum of recent events with a precision befitting a bannerhouse of Tywin Lannister. "So far it all seems rather factual," he concedes, though there is not much to be pleased about in the recounting that Anais offers.
Anais nods slowly, working her way to the next step. "Amelia, Jaremy, and oddly enough, Lord Ryker, have doubts about Ser Anton and Oldstones. Ser Jarod recognizes him as Ser Anton, though. As the man who was at the Trident. So if he is not Anton Valentin, then he has been playing a charade since before the Trident. The Naylands are cutting a trade path to Oldstones." She reaches up to rub a hand at her brow, pensive. "So there are several distinct questions at hand. There is the question of Stonebridge. That is being dealt with by inquiries to King's Landing. Either the King grants audience or approval, or he does not, and that is finished. There is the question of Oldstones. How far is Ser Anton willing to go in order to improve his holdings, and can we offer him more than the Naylands can? And there is the question of Amelia. Why did she kill Master Howard, and what does anyone stand to gain from it?"
He considers the questions she commits to breath, and rounds them beginning first with her last. "Amelia's current circumstance could be the product of a few realities, in my mind," Jacsen points out. "First, she could be telling the truth. Her love for Jaremy is real and true, and she could abide betraying him only so far, thinking it better to kill Master Howard than go through with the orders he brought for her," he supposes, "Or second, it could be part of a ruse meant to draw her inexplicably further into Jaremy's favor, leaving her the opportunity to unfurl whatever plot the Naylands have hatched. While I think it more likely she is telling more or less the truth, I am not putting it past her to be more deceptive," he admits. "If my suspicions are correct, she had more than a passing role in ensuring Jaremy dallied in doing his duty by Isolde, allowing the Naylands to sweep in and win Valda over to their thinking."
Anais tilts her head slightly, considering that possibility. "It isn't impossible," she says after a moment. "Though I don't think it's fair to place the blame fully on her for that," she adds with a brief, pointed glance toward Jacsen. "From what I can see of /Jaremy/, who is not skilled at hiding his emotions, he was in love with the Tordane woman, and had every intention of marrying her eventually. I think he did that to himself, Jacsen." As she thinks, she absently chews on the side of one thumb, a thumb that looks to have gotten a great deal of abuse lately. "Do the Naylands stand to gain anything substantive by killing their own man in the Roost?" she asks, arching a brow over at him. "It was my first thought, when I heard what had happened."
"Did we sufficiently bungle it, they might well have used it as a mark against our rule, but I doubt that was their main consideration. I think in the end it benefits them little, and his death is something of Amelia's plot and not theirs. Unless they thought to tie up loose ends," Jacsen supposes, "Knowing we'd do the same with Amelia, neatly ensuring there were none left breathing to link the Naylands to some plot on your life."
Anais nods once, drawing a breath. "Which is why I am inclined to believe that Amelia is telling the truth about why she killed Master Howard," she says slowly. "The only person who had anything to gain from his death was Amelia. What did she stand to gain from his death? Either freedom, or the trust of this family. Since she is willing to turn herself in, I think freedom is not the answer. The answer is the trust of this family. So the final question, then, is what she would hope to do with the trust of this family. And that…is something we have very little evidence to work from."
Jacsen dips his chin once at that observation on Anais' part. He looks ill at ease with the conclusion, but it's clear from his expression his thoughts tend towards a similar bent. "Which is why, as I've explained to Jarod… she cannot face the noose, no matter her crimes. Not until we've been able to establish a better idea of her motives, and her plans."
"Which is why I didn't take Jarod, in the first place," Anais grimaces, a brief note of apology in her expression. "I knew if he found her, he'd feel he needed to bring her in /then/. And we need time to work things out." Absently, she lowers her thumb, rubbing at the skin. "The question, then, is what we are willing to risk to find out. If we bring her in and hold her, we can wait to see what the Naylands do. But then we are forced to react to them. And an attempt by the Naylands to either claim or kill her doesn't give us a certain answer about whether they sent her. They could want to kill her for killing their man, or because she has secrets to share with us, or any other reason." She rubs a hand at her brow then, shaking her head slightly. "It makes me sick to say it, Jacsen, but the only sure thing, the only truly safe thing, /is/ to hang her. She is no threat, we enact justice, it is finished. Unless…" She raises both hands to her face then, a breath rushing out. "Unless Lord Rickart chooses to acknowledge her /then/, in order to paint us as aggressors. Oh, Hells."
There is a look of subtle appreciation in Jacsen's eyes as he listens to Anais, that last realization on her part only earning a grim look from the Terrick lord beyond that hint of approval that her mind and his seem to be of one in this. "Justice and Virtue are fine and good," he explains, "But they are vulnerable to those whom wield them not at all." His arms unfold and he rakes a hand through his hair. "If she is let to die at our hands, in public, we open ourselves to a wide mess of accusations. We cannot even rightly lie and say that we did not know of her kinship to him. Cast a single true stone at the tale of her crime, and Lord Rickart's lies could easily do the rest." He shakes his head lightly. "No, if Amelia dies in our custody, I do not think any can come to know of it."
"Shit." It certainly isn't ladylike to curse, but at the moment, Anais finds it justified. "Shit. What a trap. What a /trap/." For all the frustration it may cause here, there's still rueful admiration in her voice. "Well." She looks to Jacsen then, catching her lower lip between her teeth. "Your brothers and mine didn't much care for the idea, but if we need time…People die every day. We find a woman, we slit a wrist, we plant the coin from Master Howard's room on the body. Put it about that this is the woman. Jarod himself has already said it looked like the woman didn't know what she was doing with a knife. Say she managed to cut her own wrist in the act, and must have bled out wherever we find her. Then we deal with Amelia at our own pace."
That suggestion does not win Anais a warm expression from her future kin, nor does he seem particularly pleased with the notion. Such noted, Jacsen does not motion any disagreement with what she says. "I am not certain that either of them would agree with it, my lady, they hold our words too close to their hearts," the lame-legged lord explains. "That said… it is not the worst option we have before us. We mute the threat of Amelia's heritage, and we keep the Naylands uncertain as to what we know, whom we have, and what we intend to do about it."
"I didn't mean to kill someone innocent," Anais rolls her eyes slightly. "I meant that people die all the time, and it shouldn't be too difficult to find someone who's already dead. The complication with that, of course, being that then you need the septon in on it, because I'm sure he'll be able to tell if she died of the wound or if it was made after she was already dead." Rubbing a hand at her brow, she sighs. "I don't know what else to do. But whatever we do, it has to be…outside of their game. Because they've already fixed that game."
"To fool the Septon, we might well leave the body to rot a few days," Jacsen suggests, folding one arm across his middle and propping his chin up with the other hand. "Few men could make much of the timeliness of the wounds once the flesh has begun to turn. It should serve as enough to satisfy the curious, and leave us open to decide our next move."
"True," Anais agrees quietly. "And after so long, the body would likely be in a state of decay anyhow. Which just leaves choosing a likely place." Uncomfortable, she crosses a hand over her stomach, shifting where she stands. "These were not the sort of decisions I expected to be making during my betrothal period, Lord Jacsen," she confides quietly.
He frowns at that, and shakes his head lightly. "You've my sympathies for that, my lady, and apologies besides." Jacsen leans forward, and puts a hand upon her arm. It's a light gesture, one meant to reassure. "I can see to the arrangements from here, and you needn't dwell on such matters any longer, hmm?" He lets out a slow breath. "I swear, Anais… this is not the usual manner of House Terrick, nor the Roost. And when we have all emerged from the other side of this storm… You shall be glad for my brother, and come to love this place."
"Right now, I am glad for you," Anais admits with a low laugh, reaching to take Jacsen's hand for a brief, grateful squeeze. "Jarod and Jaremy are good men with kind hearts. But sometimes ruling means more than that. They are- /We/ are lucky to have you, Jacsen." She's silent for a moment, then looks down, shaking her head slightly. "Have we solved all of the problems we can solve, then?" she asks with forced humor.
He summons a quiet smile at her squeeze, and lets out a small breath. "As you said, my lady. The matter of Stonebridge is left to the King to decide, and as of now we can do little to influence it," Jacsen says, "Yet the matter of Oldstones still remains to be addressed. Be that as it may…" His hand lightly slips from its perch on her arm, and resumes one on the crown of his cane, "It can wait for another eve, I think."
"I think it may have to," Anais agrees, rubbing a hand at the back of her neck. "I don't know that there's anything to be done about Oldstones save try to be friendly to them right now. Even if there /were/ Ironborn there, they're as much a part of the Seven Kingdoms as anyone else, in the King's eyes. It would be no different than if smallfolk from here chose to move to Oldstones to help grow the place."
"We shall see. I am tasked with getting to know the Lord Anton Valentin better, and smoothing over any feathers my brother might have ruffled with the Castellan," Jacsen remarks, as he begins to rise from his seat, the protracted movement rendering him silent for a heartbeat or two. "We shall see what I am able to make of the man, and what overtures might be reasonable." Leaning on his cane, he pauses a moment before adding, "There were no Ironborn, were you aware of that? I don't rightly know where the notion came from when Jaremy spoke of it to our father, but it is untrue from all the account I have managed to collect."
"If I had to guess?" Anais arches a brow, even as she offers a light hand to Jacsen's elbow as he rises. "Amelia. She never said as much to me, but she implied there was some greater scheme underway before she was going to go to King's Landing. There were things said and not said, though. And it's always assumptions that are dangerous."
He snorts with faint laughter at that name, and while he does not shrug away her assistance, per se, he neither allows her to give more than perfunctory assistance. "Amelia, of course. Is there aught she cannot make people believe?" Jacsen wonders, likely rhetorically. He straightens, and sets a look upon Anais again. "I mean what I said, Anais. This will all pass in time, and you will be scarcely able to think of parting from the Roost, or my lord brother. He is a good man, and this a good place. Time and effort will make that clear once more."
Anais' lips quirk at the mention of parting from the Roost. "I have absolutely no intention of departing the Roost, Lord Jacsen," she assures, shaking her head. "When I left the Banefort, I determined that I was not going back. Not because I don't love my home, but because it was time I find a home of my own. And I am not known for giving up."
"A quality you will find sorely tested, I think." Jacsen reaches for one of the Banefort woman's hands, and if she allows him to take it, he will indeed put a kiss to the back of her palm. "Try to find some rest, and distraction from all of this thought. Do something you enjoy, and take pleasure in that, at least for a little while." His lips quirk. "And then we shall speak of Oldstones, Stonebridge, and whatever else manages to rear its head betwixt now and then, hmm?"
"Mmmm," Anais muses, her hand light in his for the proper kiss. "Perhaps Lucienne will come swimming with me again. Us, and an entire squadron of guards, and roughly every handmaiden in the castle, of course," she adds with a brief smirk. "Thank you, Lord Jacsen. May you fare well in what must be done."