|The Root Of The Evil|
|Summary:||Anais seeks the truth of the Terrick-Nayland feud from Lord Jerold.|
|Related Logs:||None in particular|
|Reading Room — Four Eagles Tower|
|A TP Room that totally looks like the reading room.|
|April 23, 289|
Just the day before, Anais returned from her sojourn to Stonebridge. Just in time to hear about Jarod and Rowan, stop by their room at the inn, and meet Justin returning from a patrol on her way back into the keep. The past several days have been a rush of settling people back into spaces that have been unused, or only just rebuilt, re-balancing ledgers to reflect a small influx of supplies and a great influx of people. And with so much shifting, she's finally come to seek out Lord Jerold wherever he hides. She's weary, dark shadows under her eyes, but the past few months have settled steel into her spine, keeping her back straight as she searches.
Lord Jerold is walking through the corridors of Four Eagles Tower, between the throne room and his private study, speaking with the castle seneschal, and being trailed by a scribe and herald, both of whom are occupied in keeping notes. "Set aside the necessary supplies for two dozen me, and prepare a note to Ser Wake expressingh my regret that we cannot allocate more, for at least another fortnight."
Anais closes her eyes at the directions, not quite wincing. But any disbursement of supplies seems to bring that response anymore. She quickens her steps, drawing closer, before raising her voice to call out softly. "Lord Jerold." As she reaches the group, she offers a small smile to the scribe and herald also trailing the lord, dipping her chin in tacit apology for the interruption. "Lord Jerold, might you have a few moments for discussion? In private, perhaps?"
"Lady Anais," the Lord of the Roost greets his good-daughter with a wan smile, and short bow of the head. "I had intended to take my ease for a moment in the reading room. No doubt these good gentlemen with me could afford an old man words with his good-daughter?" he wonders aloud, met by the expected bows and withdrawals from his aides.
"Thank you, gentlemen," Anais murmurs to the aides as they depart, falling in with the Lord on the way to the reading room. "I met with Lord Justin just last night," she says as they walk, looking over with a small smile. "He seemed well. Has he come to see you yet?"
"Justin has not yet seen me," Jerold relates. "It is very good to know he has returned, and I anticipate words with him very soon." JErold, true to protocol, keeps his feet until Anais has seated herself, and then settles into his favorite chair beside the lead-paned window.
Anais sinks gratefully into the chair when she sits, though her back remains straight as she smoothes her hands over her skirts. The fine garb that came with her for the wedding in Terrick colors has been packed away again, her old Banefort gowns of black and grey converted to mourning garb. "I think he'll be grateful for the opportunity to help, from what I've seen," she murmurs, then draws a deep breath, bracing herself as she chooses her next words. "My lord, I think there are things we need to discuss," she says slowly. "Subjects…I've not broached out of respect for you and yours, but which are clearly going to come to bear in the next few months."
Jerold inclines his head to the request, "My Lady, I invite you to speak your mind, and I shall answer with all candor." Resting a hand on each arm of the chair and relaxing against the back of said seat, he settles his weary regard upon the Terrick in-law.
"Thank you, my lord." Anais folds her hands carefully in her lap, pressing her lips together for a moment before she speaks. "I went to Stonebridge," she explains. "To see what the state of things was. To try to speak with people and arrange for the possibility of trade. It's…a popular place, since the war. While I was there, I had some chances to speak with Lord Riordan." She shifts, setting her hands on the arms of her chair, one finger tapping at the wood to betray her agitation. "Lord Riordan is not Ser Rygar. Apparently, he has some understanding of how to play nicely, rather than with raw power. He greeted me, welcomed me, and treated me as an honored guest. And then he offered to send us food." There's a pause, a breath. "And then I came home and found out that Rowan isn't Rowan after all, which probably means that isn't going to come, but that's beside the point for the moment."
Lord Jerold nods slowly to word of the trip, in the manner of one who already knew. "Ser Riordan is by all accounts a fine knight," he allows, choosing the knightly title over the lordly one. "Whatever offers he has made, it must be remembered, my good-daughter, that he is a Nayland, and first in his father's affections. There is no gift had from the harpy's hands that is given freely, though it pleases me to hear that he is able to manage the courtesies befitting a man of noble blood." He does not immediately comment on the subject of Rowan.
"I don't disagree," Anais sighs softly. "But it was publicly offered, and to refuse would have been seen as either foolish, mistrusting, or overly proud. We were winning the war of appearances while they refused to take the field. Now…As I said, though, it's likely a moot point by now." Her fingers tap, and she catches the inside of her cheek between her teeth, considering the lord. "My lord, would you tell me where this feud comes from?" she finally asks. "If I'm to inherit this war, I'd like to know what I'm fighting for."
Jerold again gives a slow nod to Anais's logic of acceptance, and the method of it's offering, and a second slow time at the comment that it is likely all for naught, now. To the last, he draws a long, steady breath. "It all comes to this, my Lady: Rickart Nayland and those of his line are Godless men. They are without faith, and have never kept faith. With good fortune, there will be a Nayland born whose word may be trusted, but in all my years, I have yet to encounter one."
Anais is quiet for a moment, looking back at Jerold with an inscrutable expression. "All right," she says slowly. "That's…not exactly a laudable characteristic. But unless I miss my guess, my lord, there is something more personal in all of this. Honor and faith are- They are things that matter regardless of the person in whom they reside. But this feud has the heat and intensity of something personal. What did Rickart Nayland do to you and yours, my lord?"
"To a man of Rickart Nayland's nature, such truths are quite personal," Jerold states steadily. "What he has done is long in the past, what he continues to do is to my present occupation." A slowly drawn breath and he notes further, "In my youth, I too was a proud man, and the words between us were those of young men. I have released my ire, but the Nayland never has, and never shall."
Once more, Anais hesitates, a faint furrow creasing her brow. "I'm- Forgive me, my lord. I know not what sort of words were exchanged, or why. But whatever they were, whatever failings are Lord Rickart's, is it not the province of a godly man to seek peace, even among his enemies? Is it not for the better of the Cape as a whole that we should come to terms with the harpies and see peace here, rather than endless, sniping conflict?"
"Peace has ever been my desire, good-daughter," Jerold voices back with an earnest calm audible in his words. "If Ser Riordan is amenable to such a peace, I welcome it, even as I suspect that his father shall rein in such efforts as a rider would rein in a spirited young steed."
"It would help to outmaneuver him, I think," Anais says slowly, "If I knew how he felt he were slighted. It would help to make peace, if…Well, if I knew where he hurt." She reaches up to tuck a curl behind her ear, eyes closing for a breath longer than necessary, almost a second of rest. "Please."
Jerold's eye hardens, albeit briefly, at Anais insistance. Drawing a slow breath, be does speak further, "He tried to take my child, good-daughter. When the seven have blessed you with babes of your own, the pain of such intended injury will be most clear to you, but the great whoremonger of the Mire sought to steal my own flesh and blood from me."
Anais's brows furrow deeper at that explanation, head tilting in confusion. "An ill deed without question, my lord," she murmurs. "But…how? Children aren't exactly something one fails to notice is missing, and harder still to claim as one's own or hide. Why would he do such a thing?"
"Because he believes himself entitled to all within his grasp, good-daughter. And to much that lies beyond his grasp, as well," Jerold answers plainly. "I suggest, Lady Anais, that you continue to treat with the harpies, but remain ever wary. Theirs is a cult of greed, swathed in the disguise of honor."
"Ever wary, of course," Anais agrees quietly. "One more question, my lord, if you'll forgive me." She frowns slightly, head tilting. "If he tried to steal your child, and failed, whatever did you say to /him/ that he's still upset about so many years later?"
"Only the truth, Lady Anais," Jerold answers at first. "That he was a Godless man, without faith or the ability to keep faith."
Anais, for whatever reason, does not seem entirely convinced by that answer. But she doesn't press the lord any further, instead settling back in her chair a bit. "I visited Jarod and Rowan, too," she says more quietly. "Jarod sends his regards. And his affection. Somewhere beneath a good deal of self-loathing at the moment."
"I thank you for bringing me this word, good-daughter," Jerold answers with a weary exhale, prevented by some sense of propriety from returning the sentiment aloud. He still manages a wan smile at the mention of Jarod's dramatic self-loathing. "Are there any further matters for which you have need of me, Lady Anais?"
"No, my lord," Anais says quietly, though she seems loathe to leave the chair, taking her time about arranging her skirts. "Nothing more." It's an effort of will that sees her standing once more, tilting her head to ease the muscles in her neck. "I'll be at the kitchens if anyone needs me."
"Thank you, my Lady," Jerold offers in parting, as Anais declares her intended destination as being the center of supply and storage of the still-damaged House.