Page 053: The Replacements
The Replacements
Summary: Rowan learns she's been replaced. Jarod thinks he has, too.
Date: 05/09/2011
Related Logs: Several, but I'm feeling lazy.
Jarod Rowan 
Stables & Kennels, Four Eagles Tower, Terrick's Roost
The Tower's Main Stables are nestled into the corner of the courtyard near the portcullis to facilitate quick, easy exits when required. The rear of the structure is backed right against the interior wall of the castle with the heavy wooden roofing gently sloped down towards the slate out front, the floor of the stables kept to dirt. Thick wooden beams are plunged into the ground and serve as a base for the walls between each stall. Hay serves as most of the flooring in the area with a large stack of it off to the side. Each stall has a thick layer on the ground to serve as bedding, with most of the space dedicated to horses though a few have pens of dogs and hounds. An enclosed structure at the end serves as dry storage for riding equipment and saddles.
4th of Ninthmonth, 288 AL

Jarod wanders into the stables. He swings by the stall of his own horse first, his sturdy brown courser Symeon. He's got an apple for the beast, which he gives to him along with a warm pat on the nose, though spoiling his charger does not appear to be his primary mission here. He takes a look around the place, scanning it for something. Or someone.

Rowan comes trotting down the stairs from the rooms above, cramming the last of a cold meat pie into her mouth — meals on the go, as usual. It appears she hasn't taken her assignment to a slightly more laissez faire knight as an excuse to be idle. She mmmphs at the sight of Jarod, about to speak with her mouth bulging full but stopping herself at the last instant. Chew. Swallow. The better to not spray him with bits of masticated sausage. "G'morrow! I was actually going to come looking for you. Visiting Symeon?" she asks, noting the apple.

"Got to remind him he loves me, or he's like to forget," Jarod replies with a quick grin, petting his horse's neck, then just leaning against the door of his stall. "But no, that's just an incidental. I was looking for you, actually. You had chance to meet with young Veris Kallan yet?"

"Veris Kallan? No." She tilts her head, curious. "Should I?"

"Likely not, come to it, I suppose. He'll be boarding here with some of the other retainers, but I figure he found less dull things to do with last night than unpack." Jarod shrugs. "He's to squire to me. We just got it arranged yesterday. Didn't know if he'd made introductions yet."

"Oh." Rowan frowns and crosses her arms, looking away and blowing out a breath. It takes her a moment. Finally, she sighs and lifts her shoulders in a shrug, nodding. "Well. I'm sure he's a fine lad, if you've taken him on. S'he going to help in the stables and kennels, too?" The question is a practical one, despite sounding a little territorial — a thing she can't quite help. She knows, however, someone will have to take over when she's gone.

Jarod looks rather resigned at Rowan's territorial tone and he braces himself ever-so-slightly, though he remains practical enough. "Aye. I figure it'll be good experience. He'll need to see to Symeon anyhow, and the hands here are used to being able to put mine to duties as they require. Got him bedding with a couple of the stable men here for now, which'll be a good way for him to get to know the household. So you'll likely pass paths. I'd appreciate it, Rowan, if you could show him the ropes a bit, how I liked things done. If you don't want to, that's all right. He'll pick it up in time."

"No — I mean, yes," Rowan smirks faintly. "Yes, of course I'll show him around. If he's going to be the new me, he has some big boots to fill, doesn't he?" Another smirk, and she sticks out one of her — comparatively small — feet to demonstrate. Well, they might be a little on the large for a woman. But certainly those boots could be filled by most squires her age and then some. She shrugs again. "Had to happen eventually. I'm sorry you've had to go without, these past weeks. Certainly can't have been convenient."

"He does, aye." Jarod isn't hoking. "And he's not the new 'you.' He's my new squire. Every knight needs one. I wish it was still you, but it couldn't be anymore. I don't think, given the way things were going, it could've been much longer even if you hadn't told me what you told me when you did. Seemed like headed for disaster anyhow. At least this way you had somewhere to land that'd do right by you."

Rowan only looks a bit sad, nodding as he speaks. "I know, Jarod," she reassures him. "I know." She lowers her lashes, sighing. "I'm not upset. Not — you know. And I'll treat him well. I promise."

"Thanks for that." Jarod watches her, hand still idly resting on the neck of his brown charger. "You'll like him, I think. His last knight was a free lance, I think, so he's used to more rustic service. He's common-born. Father was ravens-keeper. I knew his elder brother, Kile, a little. He was sworn to the Terricks when my father's banners were called for the Rebellion, for Good King Robert's men. Died on the fields." He doesn't dwell on talking about the war. But, then, he never does. "I guess young Veris had had some difficulties with his previous knight and got himself dismissed. Had to do with drink, he tells me. Says he's learned lessons from it. Most common boys who're given the chance to squire and fuck it up don't get second tries but…" He shrugs. "…I'll give him a go. See how he does. "

Thumbs hooked in her belt, Rowan glances from the toes of her boots to Jarod and back again as he speaks, listening. She has the faraway look of someone for whom words create pictures, as though rookeries and battlefields, late nights carousing and wretchedly hung-over tourneys flash through her mind's eye. "You always did like an underdog," she finally says, smiling. "I'm sure he'll make it count, the chance you're giving him."

She takes a breath and looks a little uneasy. "Listen, there's something I should tell you. It's not a big deal, but — I just think you should know?" She glances around to make sure they're alone. It's going to be one of Those Things.

Jarod braces himself again. "All right." He just waits.

She glances around again and coughs, rubbing the back of her neck. "Imight'vekissedyourbrotheralittle," she mutters.

"Yeah." Jarod just says it shortly, not looking at her. "Yeah. He mentioned that. You don't have to tell me anything. It's none of my business, and Jace and I are square. Thing of it is, Rowenna, there's nothing we could do to each other that we couldn't forgive. We're brothers. That's just how it is. He'll always be square with me. And he's the best of us, and can take care of you in ways I'll never be able to so…I'm happy for you. But I don't want to talk to you about it, and I've no right to say anything on it anyhow, so if you'll pardon me you can just spare me the story. I've got work to do anyhow." And he makes to take his leave of the stables, on that note.

"No!" Rowan says, looking stung and angry. "You're not fucking pardoned, come back here." She grabs his arm. "What the fuck, Jarod? I — I thought you'd probably be unhappy with me, considering that I'm scandal and poison and leaving — but 'I'm happy for you, have a nice life'? Are you completely off your nut?"

Jarod just keeps walking, shoulders very tense, though his pace is quick. This is not a conversation he's going to have right now.

And Rowan is not going to not have it. She darts in front of him and gives him a shove, glaring. She's spoiling for a fight, even if it's fisticuffs. "You don't want me, but no one else can have me?" she growls, voice low. "Is that how this works?"

"He's my brother, Rowenna." There's a world of hurt in that word, as Jarod turns, though no real anger. And he's not yelling. His tone is very quiet, in fact. "I guessed you were fucking Gedeon Rivers but I didn't care, really. Well, fuck me, I cared. Idiot that I am. But I didn't take you when I could've and it's not like I don't know some women need to blow off steam just as much as men sometimes, so it's not on me to object. I think it's a poor idea, as it'll lead to people thinking more ill of both you and him than I figure you deserve when everything comes out, but it's not for me to tell you who you can go to bed with. And it's not like I haven't made worse mistakes. And you can marry any lordling you like, when the time comes for you to go and do that but…that was a thing I never figured you'd do. I figured…I don't know. Anyway. It's your life and I've no say over it. Jace and me will be all right."

Rowan shuts her eyes and takes a breath, raking her hands back through her hair. "Fuck," she sighs. "Jarod, I can't marry a lordling and I certainly can't have your brother. He's meant for great things — amazing things — and I would only bring him shame. We've become close and of course I adore him, he is your brother, but… it was just a kiss. One kiss. He and I both know better."

"You could, maybe, you know. He's not an heir, and he can do what he will, to a point. He'd probably think it smart, making a match with a Nayland girl, and he'd not be wrong. Except he might not, because of me." Jarod shrugs. "I couldn't, save a few kisses, when I had an opportunity that wasn't so different. Though I figure you imagine me and my brother's girl had quite the torrid fucking affair, you're wrong, and if you think like that than you have no idea of what exists between Jaremy and Jace and me. I don't like myself very much for even that, and it wasn't about her, it was about me, and about how I was twisted up inside about the things Jaremy had and I didn't. So I understand that, on his end. Just because you're jealous of somebody doesn't mean you don't love them. We'll get beyond it. Not like I don't wish I was him in some respects. Anyway. He's a better man than me, so I figure he stopped it even before it got real stupid. That's good. Now if you'll excuse me, Rowenna, I'm not mad at you and I've got no cause to be anything, really. But I am, so I don't want to talk right now."

She couldn't look more shocked and stung if he'd struck her. "I never — !" She just stares for a moment. "I never, ever thought you'd — with Isolde?" Her eyes fill with tears, suddenly. "I thought you loved her, but I never thought you'd have done anything about it. Fuck you for thinking I would." She swallows hard. "He didn't stop it — I stopped it — Seven smite me, how is it you can claim to care about me and think so little of me at the same time? I'm not some dim girl who's just playing at war until a man makes her a better offer. I can't be what Jack needs and deserves and be myself. Even if he just kept me as a mistress, his reputation could never bear the scandal. Fine!" She throws her hands up. "You've been dying for something to prove that I never loved you, anyways. I don't really know you, I'm a stupid girl, I've made you into something you're not — let this be your proof. You'd find it elsewhere if not here. I am sick to death of having my heart torn to pieces by you, Jarod Rivers. Just — AUGH!" She stalks past him, back to the kennels, and lets him go. Almost. She turns on her heel and shouts, "So's your fucking face!" then whips around again and resumes her stalking retreat.

"I didn't love her. Not in that way," Jarod says. He sounds, perhaps, a little sad about it, but it seems true enough. "Anyway. Go find yourself someone who won't tear it to pieces, then. I'm sick of having mine torn by you, too." That's his parting shot, not even a comment about her face. He strides off, on that note.