|The Trouble With Whores|
|Summary:||In which the trials and tribulations of one Amelia Millen get a little clearer. Also, Irys Hill makes a cameo at the Roost.|
|Related Logs:||Vigilance and Justice|
|Courtyard — Four Eagles Tower|
|The Courtyard of Four Eagles Tower is floored with a fine grey stone that match the color and tone of the interior structure of the castle's yard. Plants have been potted and placed around the entrances to add some color, the greenery accompanied by several trellises of flowers that climb the support columns. The most prominent structure in the area is the set of large slab steps that lead up to the great oak doors of the Great Hall. Several hallways and accesses lead off into different sections of Four Eagles which makes this the hub of noble activity when court is not being held.|
|Sun Aug 21, 288|
Caytiv comes around the other side of the barrel, sliding the blunt in with the rest of them and then setting his hands on the edge of it, leaning there with his shoulders shrugged and elbows straight, looking across to where Jaremy draws water. "If I had the first notion what to ask I'd be a fair sight ahead of where I'm at, I reckon," he answers with a crooked little smile of self-derision. "But if all is well enough I will not pry— I'd only do the wrong thing, anyhow. But if you need aught done, or said, or asked, ay? You know well I serve you, Lord Ser. I only wish I served you well."
Early in the afternoon yesterday, a small group of Banefort retainers, including handmaidens and guards, rode out for the village with Anais and Gwyneth, who apparently had decided to spend a night in the town. As morning waxes later, that little group makes its way back to the tower, with varying degrees of alertness. Those who counted the departing might notice the group is short two guards, but who pays attention to those sorts of things? Anais looks weary as she rides in, dark shadows beneath her eyes suggesting another sleepless night for the Banefort lady already known for haunting the walks in the wee hours of the morning. Gwyneth, on the other hand, is simply energized by her jaunt through the outside world, babbling to one of the handmaids about the handsome young gentleman who wanted to dance with her last night.
Jarod strolls out of the tower and into the courtyard proper. Look around. Quarry spotted. He makes his way toward Jaremy. And Caytiv, by association. One hand raises in a quick wave. "Cayt. Jaremy. How's the day keeping you so far, my fair lord brother?" The greeting lacks the jolly casualness that usually marks Jarod. Though if he's got further questions he doesn't ask them right away, the appearance of the Baneforts getting his attention. His eyes narrow a touch at the group. Perhaps he's counting in his head.
"I get the sense at what you're saying. Aye, Caytiv, I've been a bit distant and rushing off myself at odd hours, and there's much that's going on that if you were closer to me, as close as you should be, you'd know." Jaremy replies quietly, pouring some of the water over his head. Shaking his eyes clear, he reaches for the buckles at his training armor. "I've been a bit brash lately, and it's caused quite a stir with Oldstones and my father. My brother. The Naylands…" He blinks, realizing the list has gotten so long. Tugging the armor free, he lets it fall to the floor as he douses himself with the water, barely hearing the approaching entourage. "Well, Jarod I…" He pauses, turning to count the horses as well.
Caytiv remains with hands planted there on the barrel, knuckles whitening a little bit with a re-adjustment of his grip as his ignorance of current events is called out. But before he can ask after details of how all this anger has been stirred up, Ser Jarod's arriving, and then the both of them are looking over yonder, causing Cayt to stand and turn to look, as well. If the train looks shorter coming home than it did going out— well, he makes sure he isn't missing a sister in the bargain, but as for the rest of the train, who knows what errand they might be on? He brightens up with a little smile for Annie and Gwyn, at least.
Leaving Gwyneth and the handmaids to their chatter, Anais dismounts smoothly, passing her reins to one guard before starting toward the little group at the water barrel. Another guard and a very quiet handmaid follow her. She moves a little stiffly once she's on the ground, as though the ride from the village to the tower were a long one. "Yes," she smiles faintly first to Jarod when she reaches them, keeping her voice low. "There are two not here. I'm afraid I need to speak with both of you." There's a brief smile for Cayt as well. "I trust Cayt to hear it, but I'll leave that decision to you."
Jarod is still walking around in a leather jerkin, but apart from that, no armor. He's been running about more than usual in the last days, which has cut his time in the training yards down significantly. "If you got a moment later, could we talk private?" he asks Jaremy, almost shyly. "Got some things I figure I should've brought up with you awhile ago but…" He shrugs. Tabling whatever, to greet the Baneforts. Quick bow to Anais and Gwyneth. "My ladies. Hope you had an enjoyable evening…" Not that he gets much further with any questions. Ominous. Though he just nods short to Anais when she brings up the guards. "Was wondering, my lady. Glad I don't have to ask." As for Caytiv, he shrugs. "He's your squire, Jaremy. No more trusted attendant a knight can have than that, I figure, but it's up to you."
"Yeah, I noticed the count a bit less myself." Jaremy replies, locking eyes with Anais to judge her facial expression. Knowing well the level of business she's at, he nods his head and clamps a hand down on Caytiv's shoulder. "He's my squire and your brother, Anais, aye…he's a trusted man, though let's take the conversation a little closer to the wall of the yard?" He turns, leaving his bucket in the rain barrel. Peeling his wet hair from his face, he plucks at the front of his shirt to free it from being stuck to his body. "If this doesn't cover what you need, Jarod, yeah…let's take a moment to talk later. I've been meaning to ask you a few things myself."
Irys arrives from the Portcullis.
Ask and you shall receive, isn't that always the way. And though Cayt's preiefly stricken with a sense of panic jolting through his chest that he may make himself look the fool in the midst of serious conversation, he bucks up, still armoured, and lifts a hand to grasp Jaremy's upper arm just above the elbow in a gesture of masculine solidarity and support, jerking his chin downward in a stalwart nod. If he'll just be quiet and pay attention, he can get through this and come out the better for it.
Irys walks in, dressed more modestly than one might usually find her. There is a guard with her, apparently serving as an escort, and the little blonde woman waits patiently to the side, a folded piece of parchment in her hands.
Anais reaches over to give Cayt's arm a brief squeeze, drawing a deep breath and twisting a faint smile toward the Terrick men. "Inside might be better," she murmurs, though as she turns for the doors, she catches sight of the waiting woman at the entrance, brows rising. "Good morning," she calls over with a polite smile. "Was there something we could help you with?"
"Or take it inside. Lots of ears in the yard, and I'm getting the feeling this is something in the way of a delicate matter," Jarod says to Jaremy. For his part, he looks a mix of puzzled and concerned. On that note, the new arrival to the tower is blinked at. "Case in point." He steps out to deal with that, though there's some haste to his manner. "Mistress." He offers Irys a respectful inclination of his head. "Good day. What's your business at the Tower?"
"Oh…" Jaremy replies, realizing that the degree of information incoming is likely more severe than finding a private corner. He turns on his heel and follows after Anais towards the waiting Irys. "Fair enough, there's more than a few places. Let's go to one of the sitting rooms off to the side." Jaremy says to them as he walks, grabbing his sword belt containing his live-steel sword from off of a post. He starts to strap it on as he waits for Irys' reply.
Irys can't help but grin a little when she is called 'Mistress'. "I do hope my Lords and Ladies will pardon the intrustion," she says with a thick Westerland accent and a very graceful courtesy. "But my name is Irys Hill. I understand that a Master Stragen is a sworn sword here?" She extends the parchment. "Could I leave this for him? 'Tis naught but a momento from our King's Landing days."
Caytiv gives his sister a smile, heartfelt, though he tries to restrain it to some modicum of seriousness, and not sling his arm about her, as he normally might. He's still in maile, after all, and a snuggle in maile might be… pinchy. He's ready to move along when their departure trips over a buxom wee letter-wielding blondie, and she'll have his attention well and fixed for a moment. As long as the rest of the group's held up on it, he may as well have himself a look, why not?
Anais' brows rise at the mention of Stragen, and if there's a ghost of a smile across her lips between that and Caytiv's willingness to stop, at least it lightens the shadows beneath her eyes. "I'll be sure to see it to him," she answers Irys with a swift smile, stepping forward to take the letter. "Should I tell him anything else, or is it all in the letter?"
"Sworn sword is a term typically applied to dubbed knights, Mistress, but Master Stone is a retainer whose sword is in service to this house, aye, and I'll not quibble over word-choice," Jarod replies to Irys. "Aye, he'll get it. Unopened, if that's your concern." A little side look at Anais. "I don't see any reason to pry into the men's private business normally. I'm called Ser Jarod Rivers, by the by. I'm Captain of the Guard here. Can I tell him who brought it?" Roundabout way of asking her name, that.
Swordbelt secured, Jaremy comes to a stop and looks down to the folded piece of parchment, making no assumptions as to what's inside as its folded and he is unable to see it. He does, however, lift a brow at the mention of Stragen and his time with this girl in King's Landing. "My…our frog barbarian's definitely well traveled." Jaremy says to Jarod, nudging him with his elbow as he rests his thumbs in his swordbelt, waiting for the caravan to resume its travels.
Irys smiles a little more at Caytiv when she catches him looking at her. But as Anais and Jerod both step up, she includes them in the smile as well. "As I said before, Ser," she murmurs in that smoky contralto voice of hers. "My name is Irys Hill. I've recently arrived in town and taken up residence and work at the Rockcliff Inn." She gives the folded parchment to Anais. "It's not a letter, milady. Just a picture a street artist drew of us down at the docks." She takes a step back. Despite the linen cloak she wears, it's obvious to see the lower cut of her gown, and the lack of sleeves. ..All the better to advertise her 'wares'. "Thank you for your help." And she curtsies once more, making sure to give the men an extra smile.
Caytiv is so caught, but, to be fair, was never exactly trying to disguise the eyeing-up he was giving the lassie, ending up eventually in the general vicinity of her face to catch the smile given his direction and to toss a crooked one back at her. But there's stuff that's got to be done, or spoken of, or whispered (Cayt knows not what), and so he turns his attention aside to Jaremy, making sure he won't go off without him.
"I'll let him know," Anais nods to Irys with a small smile, tucking the parchment into a safe place. There's another amused smile toward Caytiv, and she shakes her head, turning back toward the hall.
"Well-traveled and in occasional fair company," Jarod asides to Jaremy, boyish grin alighting on his face. Irys' wares are certainly noted, and receive more than a passing look, though he manages not to leer or stare. "Well, welcome to the Roost, Mistress Hill." He offers her another respectful inclination of his head for the curtsy. And watches her walk away. It takes him a second to get his head back to business, though he does it. "Well. Inside, then."
Irys speaks up, hesitant for the first time. "Masters?" she says softly. "If I may be permitted one last thing?"
Jaremy was just about to follow behind the rest of the group, but Irys' call for one more request stops him. Off-balance, he finds himself planting into Anais' back. It wouldn't be a problem, but he's sweaty and wet from the yard and covered in water from the rain barrel. It should be fine, however, seeing as how she's just come off of the road. Murmuring an apology to her, he takes a step back and lifts an eyebrow to Irys, awaiting her request.
Caytiv doesn't get quite so off-balance, shifting his weight forward to start to head after Jaremy, but easily shifting back to center and turning to look back to Irys, brows raised in casual, patient expectation. When Annie's giving him her look of amusement, though, the brows straighten into a severe line, and he tips his head to the side in a silent gesture inicating the monosyllable: Wut?
Anais luckily still has a light travelling cloak over her shoulders, and that garment seems to be well used to sweat and wet. She seems a little startled by the bump from Jaremy, though, looking over her shoulder with a curious arch of her brow, just in time to catch Cayt's serious look. Pressing her lips together against a laugh, she just shakes her head.
Jarod just waits for whatever is Irys final request. Gives him an excuse to glance her direction again, so he doesn't complalin.
The little Westerman whore takes a deep breath. "Thank you. It's just that… Master Stragen takes his duty seriously. I know he has expressed some concern for the reputation of the Lady he's attending… I'd appreciate it if you'd see to it that his past association with a woman of my profession doesn't negatively impact him or his charge." She smiles. "He's a good man, and you are lucky to have his service. I simply don't wish to be a problem for anyone in the Keep." She curtsies a last time and then turns to depart. For real this time.
Jaremy looks down to Anais as she glances back over to him. He merely shrugs. That's what she gets. Letting out a chuckle of his own, he tries to pull back some of the wet hair from his face as he nods to Irys. "I…" He glances sidelong to Jarod. "…yes, we are lucky to have him, definitely." Having learned a new skill named 'keeping it short', Jaremy takes the initiative and steps past them all, heading inside.
Caytiv is going to get grumpy here in a second if Annie keeps sniggering at him. Brow clouded, he notes his Knight going on ahead, and, having been well distracted from the substance of Irys' request by the consternation over his sister's smiling, he just looks the curvy blonde over one more time as she professes her desire not to be a problem, having missed hearing anything that sounded like it'd be a problem, to him. But propriety isn't topmost on his list of Concepts He Gets, anyhow, so he just nods non-committally and heads off to follow the Lord Ser inside.
"No trouble, Miss Hill," Anais assures with an easy smile, then turns to continue inside.
"Men associate with who they like on their personal time, Mistress. I don't hold having a bit of personal enjoyment makes a man unfit for his duties, so long as they do it within the law and everybody involved's having fun." Jarod glances between Jaremy and Anais with a half-sheepish look. "Least I…hope not. Anyway. You and Master Stone are two free people and how you keep company is your business. Lady Liliana is in a rather different position, as a noblewoman, but I don't think anyone really thinks anything improper has passed between them. She just wasn't as good about keeping her lady attendants with her as she should've been. She understands better now. Matter's settled, so far as I'm concerned." Another nod to Irys as she turns to go again. And then he'll head in as well.
Caytiv will probably recognize the handmaid Anais keeps with her. Nina is a sober girl about the same age as Anais, with a quiet demeanor in public and a fierce willingness to follow Anais into whatever she can get into. Certainly the most trusted of the women she must keep around her. Once they've cleared the courtyard, Anais lead the way to a disused storeroom, saying something about supplies for the wedding when a servant passes. Only when they're inside does she move to sit on the edge of a barrel, looking among the men, as Nina stays near the door.
"Amelia is in custody," she says first, settling her gaze on Jarod. "That's where my other two men are. She's at an abandoned farmstead several hours away, and plans on coming to turn herself in for the murder of Master Howard on Thursday. She'll meet you at the junction of the main road and the path that leads to the farmstead." She holds up a hand, a cautious motion toward the captain of the guard. "I went with several men, as you can see. I'm sorry I didn't bring you. I almost did. But there are so many deep feelings involved in this debacle when it comes to you, and Jaremy, and Amelia, and I needed there to be clear, unbiased heads on at least one side."
Jarod blinks at that. It takes him aback, but he rolls with the information rather than emoting whatever he might want to, to hear that coming from Anais. "Do you trust the men there to keep her firmly under guard, my lady? Because it strikes me that Mistress Millen is fairly skilled at talking herself out of trouble. But, aye. I'll be glad to lay hands on her before the boys in the Stonebridge guard do. Not that I don't trust Ser Longbough's good conduct, but if there was truly a Nayland spy involved - and I think you were right on that score during our talk yesterday, my lady - makes things simpler if we can get a handle on what she claims about that before anything else." As for the last, he frowns at her. "I have no deep feelings for Amelia Millen, my lady, I just want the truth of this. And it cuts me some that you think I'd let the fact that she was a pretty skirt get in the way of my thinking on this, and justice done. But it's done now. I'll request you not do such again, though I've no real control over that. You got men at arms to handle it well enough, so I'll not dwell on it with you. How'd you know where to find her?" He looks toward Jaremy. This might be a subject on which he dwells.
Caytiv lets the others in, keeping an eye down the corridor for anything out of place before he steps in, himself, and closes the door, angling a boot-heel beneath the crack of the door to stick it budge-free against intrusion, taking up a post there with arms folded behind his back, head tilted to the side, listening with mouth just slightly open as he pieces together what he might of the issues at hand.
"I told her where." Jaremy replies, making sure the door to the small room is secured behind them all. He raises his hands, expecting his brother to explode. "Now…before you say anything I should tell you all that I realize I've been very, very foolish as of late and on Anais has given me a piece of advice I intend to follow. I'm going to keep out of the main of the picture. A mess has been caused and that doesn't change that I believe what I believe, but fresh eyes and ears have a way of seeing things differently." Jaremy crosses the room, moving to sit on the edge of a table. "Amelia's been in contact with me for most of the while since leaving Terrick's Roost."
Anais shakes her head slightly to Jarod. "I've no doubt that you'll see justice done, especially because she's something of a friend of the family," she explains. "I wanted there to be time to think a few things over, though. She told me some things that may or may not be true, and I think we needed time to consider them. Had you come, you would have had to take her into custody then, which might have been dangerous. I knew if you came, you wouldn't be able to leave without her." She falls silent for Jaremy's explanation, then looks to Jarod once more.
"According to Amelia, she's been working for her father since she was fifteen. He told her to keep whoring, to feed him information, and to do as he said, and eventually he would acknowledge her and bring her home. It's…a powerful incentive for a woman alone in the world. One who never knew a father." She takes a deep breath, looking down to order her words. "Master Howard was her…handler. He gave her her orders. Conveyed what was needed. Which explains why he had been in Terrick's Roost before. In the last few years, though, Amelia came to care for the Terrick family. It's amazing what a little decency can do for a wounded soul. Master Howard was initially here to tell her to kill Jaremy. When Jacsen came home, though, and it was clear that killing Jaremy wouldn't end the alliance with my family, he changed the target. Or whoever was giving /him/ orders changed the target. Amelia thinks it Ser Rygar, though she has no proof, obviously. The Naylands are not so stupid as to put these sorts of orders to paper. Rather than kill Jaremy, she was to kill me."
"She killed him instead. That wasn't her only reason, of course. He'd kept her whoring, kept pushing her away from any other life. As I told you, Ser Jarod, there are ways to force a woman beyond using your fists."
Jarod stares at Jaremy and does indeed, for a moment, look like he's going to explode. Shoulders tense, green eyes flash, and his hands clench into fists. It's all very 'I'm gonna hit something really hard, and that something is gonna to be your face.' But after some prolonged staring at Jaremy, he just pivots on his heel and strides away. Beginning to pace, hand still clenched at his side. He looks like he's briskly walking off a *lot* of suddenly pent-up energy. It also gives him an excuse not to meet his brother's eyes. "You handle this as you see fit, my fair lord brother. I am but a sworn sword of House Terrick and I serve at the Young Lord's pleasure." Deep breath. "You and me will talk on this more in private, if you've a moment for it later, Jaremy. Anyway. My advice, m'lord and m'lady, is just to get it dealt with. Get Amelia in custody here at the tower quick, see what she's got to say for herself, then sort out how justice should be done." The rest of it he just absorbs, pacing slowing. "Fuck me to seven hells…" is his only immediate reaction as he pieces it all together.
Caytiv hardly knows what to do with this story he's hearing. It's like something out of a great epic, but seven times as complicated. At least he seems to be following it, as the look in his eye is less glazed-over and dull and more… subtly freaked and kind of on edge. But he keeps his post, arms folded behind him, back straight, eyes ticcing toward his sister and narrowing a little.
"Oh fuck come on, Jarod don't give me that m'lord shit." Jaremy retorts, annoyed in the style of common sibling argument. "I knew as much of the threat against Anais, but for all she's fed me that's been true or not I wasn't about to give her location out to see her neck stretched over trying to protect us. I meant no insult to you. You know as well as I do that when she's brought back…" Jaremy pauses, his brain exploding at the information that Anais is not only Rickart's daughter but that she's been a Nayland spy all along. He lofts his eyebrows and exhales, trying to wrap himself around the concept. "…I…" He shakes his head, pushing off of the table to pace, but stops as he sees his brother doing it. Feeling foolish, he goes back to his lean. "If she comes back to Terrick's Roost claiming she was a spy but reformed, then Father's going to have her killed, Jarod. There's no around that."
Anais is quiet as she watches Jarod pace. No doubt Lord Banefort's rages are far more terrifying things. She's patient, waiting for things to sink in, before she speaks again. "Amelia is ready to turn herself in," she agrees quietly. "She is done with what she set out to do. But she is understandably worried about what might happen to her if the Naylands took her at this point. If we take her in, we must hang her before they can demand her return for their justice." Though her voice is even, it doesn't sound as though it's something she wants to do.
"Or," she continues softly, "We can see real justice done. There is nothing just about hanging a woman who killed an evil man in defense of herself and this family. And Amelia Millen is a valuable asset. You don't find people who trust you so implicitly, who are so willing to do anything for you, at every crossroads. She told me where she hid Master Howard's money. It would not be a difficult matter to take it and plant it on a dead woman's body. Slice a wrist, make it look as though her inexperience with the knife caused her to slit her own wrist while killing Master Howard. We would need the septon, though," she adds, looking between the brothers. "I've a sense he'd know if someone bled to death or if the wound came after."
Jarod is all about business now. He keeps pacing, as if better able to keep focused while he's in some kind of motion. "Keeping her in the wind's dangerous, as things run. At least here at the Tower we've some control over how she's dealt with. Longer she's out of our hands, better chances of men loyal to the Naylands to catch her, and then we can't get any hope of honest answers on why she did it, as they'll like hang her immediately. And she may know more about what'll do harm to this family, if any of that's true. What she told you may've been true, Lady Anais, and that's a lot of dangerous roads with the Naylands we've got to cross. Or it may've been a pack of lies to twist strings around our hearts and make what she done look less like black murder. I'm making no judgments until I have words with Mistress Millen herself, and see some proof of it beyond what she's got to say." He still doesn't look at Jaremy, but he does say, "Had I all known about all this before, might have we could've gotten ahead of it before Lord Ryker's men were so involved. But it is what it is now, I guess."
Anais' plan does make him stop, green eyes snapping to her. "I'm not sure what you think of my father, my lady, but he's not the sort to just hang women from treetops on a whim. But…aye. If she was spying, whyever she did murder, that's a hanging crime in and of itself. As for her value…she was spying on us. How can you think to put any trust in her? How much did she carry to the Naylands before she had this change of heart? And she's telling a lot of wild stories that could, at the least, cause us great embarrassment if they aren't true. At worst, we could make enemies and insults to those the Naylands want to set us against." He lets out a long breath. Then just looks to Jaremy. "I serve at my fair lord brother's pleasure." There's less sting in his tone this time. "For my part, my advice is this. I'm not keen to instantly take her part in this. Seven knows what she is, or what game she's on. But…if she's secure waiting some days until we know better won't do more harm than's been done."
And now people are being hanged or crime scenes are being created, and Cayt watches Annie with a certain wariness, as if he'd never been quite aware his sister might come up with ideas like those, and is somehow startled to find it out. But still he keeps his peace, attention turning to Jarod as he gives advice on the topic, even if his eyes linger on Annie.
"Jarod I had my theories but when Howard turned up dead at the Rockcliff all I had were suspicions. I knew where Amelia was, but she'd left and gone there before the murder. All I knew was that she was in town when it happened. I didn't say anything because I wanted to see if a suspect was found. When there was none and Ser Ryker left I escorted him and stopped by her hiding place for the evening to talk. That is why I arrived in the early evening that night. She's done some foolish things for what she thought was best, Jarod, but she's also been very good to us. I thought to give her the benefit of doubt until I could learn more. That's…when she admitted to me she was Rickart's daughter." Jaremy replies, running a hand through his quickly drying hair. He looks to his squire and then decides to finally step free of the table, moving past Caytiv on his way to Anais. A flat-lipped frown is offered to the lad, knowing well he's getting a taste of Jaremy's private life.
"Amelia was daring enough to slap me in the face in front of everyone at the Rockcliff because she feared I wasn't strong enough to face the future. She knew this was coming, and I'm inclined to believe her. If what she says is true then she could be the key to averting war and I'd not see her murdered like some whore by a father that forced her into a life that disgraced her." He comes to a stop before Anais, looking into her eyes, reading her. He reaches for her hand, looking over his shoulder to his brother. "What if she came clean, confessed to specifics, Jarod?"
Anais sighs softly at Jarod's response. "That's why I went without you, Jarod," she confesses in a low tone. "But yes. She is secure. They're good men, and discreet. And they'll not be easily fooled. Not that I think she's inclined to try anything right now." She takes Jaremy's hand easily enough, though he may not like what he sees in her eyes any more than Caytiv does. There's gentleness, yes. But there's a cold, quiet practicality as well.
"I think your father will hang a confessed murderer, Ser Jarod," she adds quietly. "And Amelia will confess. And cruel and heartless as you may think a swift hanging, I tell you it will be a mercy compared to what will happen if the Naylands even get a chance to demand we hand her over to them."
"Amelia *embarrassed* you in front of a common room full of our smallfolk, Jaremy, hitting you and then goading a sworn knight to strike a woman half your size like that. Not that I'll call you wrong, she pushed you to it and you had no other real recourse as a lordling but…I'm just saying, you're looking at all she does in the rosiest light. There are other ways to view it, and yours may not be the truth of it." Jarod sighs heavily, coming to lean against a wall, arms crossed over his chest. "I'm less inclined to believe her. All this is so…twisted up, and she's done so much that's black, even if she's telling the truth now. But we'll see. If she can point us to proof on much of this, all well and good. If nothing else, we need a complete account, to see how the Naylands might've moved against us. Or are moving now." As to the last, he meets Jaremy's eyes. "If this is all being engineered by the Naylands, it's bigger than just justice done for one murder, and not so simple. You've got to give Jace a complete account of this, Jaremy. See what he figures on the matter. He's brighter than either of us, especially when it comes to politics." He does not actually speak on going directly to their father. As for Jaremy's last question. "I serve at my fair lord brother's pleasure. We should…we should talk on a couple things just between us before I'll say any more on that."
Caytiv is giving his best impersonation of someone who is not completely in over his head, at this point, wondering inwardly whether anyone can survive such machinations for long, looking to Jaremy, briefly, just to give a nod of his head to indicate he's still somehow engaged in listening, but his eyes remain for his sister, to the greatest exptent.
"Jarod, she told me that's why she did it specifically to see if I could be pushed to it. It's not entirely something I've found myself proud of. Is there some…" Here it comes. "…thing that's been put in the wine around here to give you the impression that I'm a damned fool? That I'm willing to believe that everything that comes across my table is exactly how it's been told to me? Come off it, Jarod, you and I ceased being twelve years of age many years ago. You are my rock, Jarod. We should discuss whatever may to bring us closer as brothers but I assure you I'm not so easy to provoke. What Anais' says is true, however, if the Naylands get to her first then we fail her, and although her loss will go unnoticed by many, I assure you, she's doing her misguided best to protect us and Anais." He squeezes Anais' hand, releasing it to lean against the table again. "She, like the matter of this letter from King's Landing, is an element I think needs to be supported until it can't be any longer."
As Jaremy and Jarod square off, Anais slips off of the barrel she's claimed for herself, letting out a slow breath. "I should leave you two to this," she says quietly, pausing to lean up and press a kiss to Jaremy's cheek. "There is more going on here than I can contribute to. Ser Jarod, my men have Amelia, and she plans to turn herself in on Thursday. That much, we can be certain of." Nina moves for the door as Anais does, and the Banefort lady looks up to her younger brother for a moment, apology mingled with a need for support in her eyes.
"That'll do for now, my lady," Jarod agrees with Anais, as to her men and Amelia. "It'll keep until then. We'll see what Lord Jacsen makes of all this, as I don't particularly want to go to her armed only with my own wits - they aren't my sharpest instrument -" He smirks. It's a proper joke, so perhaps he's come down a little. "…but I'll not press it go farther than that until Thursday's past. Just please…hold off on finding corpses and inventing crime scenes until then, all right?" A look to Caytiv and he says, "I'll see you later, lad. Still owe you a sparring match." To Jaremy he says nothing for the moment, just watching him.
Brothers arguing is something a little bit more accessible to the mountain lad, and when Annie approaches him, he pulls his eyes back to hers, hesitant, just a moment, but unable to keep his soul steel again those needful eyes, pulling an arm from behind his back to draw around her wait and pull her to him, resting his cheek on her hair in a manner that would surely be unseemly if they weren't related. He lets her go, though, to get out of the way of the door when people start to file out, "Ay, Ser," spoken numb-lipped after Jarod.
Leaning heavily into the kiss to his cheek, Jaremy brushes his hand over hers until he feels her finally pull away from him. His gaze trails after her, coming to a stop on his squire. It seems the conversation with his brother isn't going to wait. "I'll fill you in more later, Caytiv, unless you wish to tell him what you know, Anais." Realizing there's little chance to hang onto the group, he turns to face his brother. "Come out with it then, Jarod. Get it all out. Enough with the deferring to your lord brother on this one. Let's hear it."
Anais lets out a brief breath of relief at that embrace from Caytiv, her own arms tight around his waist for a moment. The roller coaster of politics and emotion and the sleepless night from riding back and forth are no doubt catching up with the young woman. There's a nod to Jarod when Jaremy lets him loose, and she and her handmaid slip out into the hall.
Jarod keeps watching Jaremy, just waiting until they're alone before saying anything more. There's no longer anger in his eyes. But, then, he gets mad quickly and never stays that way for long. Instead, he looks almost sympathetic. "Are you in love with Amelia Millen?"
"What?" Jaremy blinks, suddenly finding the question asked not the one that he expected. His eyebrows furrow, as he slowly starts to shake his head. "No. No I'm not. I love her, but with the same part of myself that I love you, Jacsen, and Lu." He sighs. "She…offered herself to me at the tourney, I feel as if she wanted to be kept at the Tower, somewhere to the side. I couldn't allow that."
"All right. If you say so." Whether or not Jarod entirely believes that is unclear, but he seems to think Jaremy believes it, so he doesn't argue. "But you figure she's in love with you." It's not really a question. "Some lords do that, you know. Keep a mistress. I mean, in the tower would've been a bit much but…it's a thing men do." Precisely what he thinks of that is unclear. He's the product of a lordling and a household servant, after all, whatever else his mother may've been. It's never really something he asks Lord Jerold for details about. Not ones he shares with his siblings, at least.
"Right, and after fucking up as bad as I did with Isolde I'm not about to piss on whatever it is that I can with whatever match it was Father was going to set me with." Jaremy replies, taking care to not sound stand-offish. The fight he was expecting hasn't come, and therefore he's keeping it light. "Anais is a wonderful girl, but I believe in honors that some men don't. I don't want to make another foolish mistake, or let my infidelity ruin something that could have been great, you know? Seven, Amelia's a good girl, but it just wouldn't be possible."
"Your virtue's true, my fair lord brother," Jarod says with a faint smile. Though, once again, the nick-name is teasing rather than pointed. The 'honors some men don't' bit makes him look down at his boots for a second and mutter, "Aye." Though he looks up again quick enough. Green eyes following his brother's darker ones. "Look, I won't say I'm not pissed off at so much of this you've tried to handle alone. Much of it relates to the security of this house, and you should know I'd try and help you however I could, Jaremy. But…well, I've done some real stupid things over girls before, so this is about the only reason for all of it I can properly understand. Granted, my stupidity doesn't has epic consequences like this might, but I am but a common man. And…it is what it is. So you're an idiot. So am I. I forgive you." He's quiet for a beat. "You know…I was talking on the subject of lordship and knighthood a bit recently with…with a knight I respect, at least in terms of those things. Will you give me a minute just to kind of talk as I think it wraps around this? It might make sense of it. Might not. I don't know."
"No, no not at all. I want you to get this out, Jarod. I love you. You're my brother and…I need you to understand something." Jaremy reaches out to clap his brother where his neck and shoulder meet. "Remember how you'd always laugh at me when I had to travel for long, boring dinners? I saw you happy, Jarod, happy to not be involved with my shit. And Father? Seven, I've fucked so much up with him and his view of me since the day Rygar came to the Roost. I was knocked off of one foot and I've been trying to get on my feet since. So we've both been fools about women. We're the two…" Jaremy chuckles weakly. "…I was trying to do it all myself."
"We spoke of the duties of lordship, and the duties of knighthood, and how when someone's both those things they can be in conflict sometimes," Jarod says. "Now let's start with me. I'm just a knight. My duty to this land extends to an oath I've made to father, and my love for the lot of you, but at the end of the day I could pick up and become a hedge knight elsewhere if you or father asked me to do something I truly couldn't. I don't figure you either would, but I've ability to do it. Now, just for me, my take on what should be done with Amelia is this. She's both a confessed murderer and a confessed spy, and whatever she's been doing recently, she did inform on our family to the Naylands for at least some time. So my conscience says she should hang. And I could do it without regret, brother. Sadness, I'll not say I wouldn't feel that, but no regret."
He starts pacing again, taking long pauses, as he tends to when he's trying to put ideas he feels particularly strongly about into words that're half-way coherent. "Now our father, as knight and lord he'd see her hang, too, if he knew the whole of this. Because his duty is clear. But on top of the justice of it, he's lord of this land, and he has to see that justice is done - however harsh it might seem or however it touches one we might care for - because if he doesn't than the people lose faith in his rule. And they lose faith in the idea that if wrongs are done on this land, whoever you are, you can have some hope they'll be put right. And, whoever you are, you'll be punished for them. So he'd do it without regret, and likely little sadness. And then there's you…"
He stops, turning to face Jaremy again. "You're knight and lord both, so you've got to look at both what's good for the future of this land after you and Amelia and me and everyone else is gone, and you've got to look to your own conscience. Which, I think, Jaremy, tells you different than mine tells me. And maybe that's in part because you have more in your heart for Amelia than I do. But I won't say that's wrong. I've kept my tongue on matters that would've hurt women I held dear, and even if I come by ill for it, I won't say I could've in good conscience done different by them. So, when I say I serve at your pleasure on this, my fair lord brother, I mean it. I won't push you to have anything done to Amelia you can't live with at the end of the day. Because I don't figure I've any right to do that, whatever I think of her and what she's done."
"Jarod…" Jaremy lets go of his brother's neck, moving back to lean against the table. His eyes cast to the window in the room, tongue pressed against his teeth as he tries to find the right words for what he's got to say. "…you're right. I do have more in my heart for Amelia than you do, or perhaps that I should. Perhaps as chaste as I've been you've learned to disconnect in ways that I can't, but Amelia's painted for me in grave detail what he life is like. Jarod…when I lost Isolde…she found a way for her and I to have a night together. If she were truly working for the Naylands, she would not have done so."
Jarod isn't surprised by that, and it makes his raise his own hand to clasp his brother's shoulder. "Jaremy…for some people, bedding someone and loving them aren't the same thing at all. Trust me. I speak from personal experience. But I'll not claim I know what's between you and Amelia Millen. I'm just saying…your heart's open to the world, my fair lord brother. Or at least the parts of it that seem lovely and true and fair. It's what makes me love you as I do. You figure everyone who seems like that deserves a place in it. I…I really hope you're right about Amelia and I'm wrong, because I figure she might hurt you very much when the dust settles on all this."
"If she lied to me about Isolde sending a raven to King's Landing about the validity of Oldstones, and that rider comes back bearing some sort of mark of shame that's going to make Father look like a fool, then I'm just as fucked as she is…" Now it's Jaremy's turn to pace, speaking as he makes a circuit of the room, trying to think his way through this. "You're right that Amelia does love me, and I believe it. She told me she wished that my children would be hers and in as much I believe it. I will admit…I should have been smarter and quieter, and I've made my own bed on this issue." He stops by the window, looking outside. "But the truth is that I also was dishonorable to Isolde when I spent that night with her, and my honor was pissed on again when I sent that rider to investigate Oldstones. I'm not entirely what you make me out to be, Jarod. I'm learning that, and it's been a rude experience."
"I'll tell you what I think of you," Jarod says, coming to lean by the window as well. "I think you've been an idiot about a lot of this, but I think I understand why, even if that doesn't make you in the right on some of it. I think you've done some things I would've told you to do different, had you taken me into your counsel sooner, and I hope you will next time. Not saying they would've been any better, though. It'll be what it is, though, and we'll survive it. At the end of the day, what I think is that you're my big brother and you're a good man, though you'll never be perfect. Hard as you try, it's just not going to happen. Well, neither will I. I love you and forgive you for it and hope you do the same for me."
"After that fucking tournament…all of that taunting from Ser Rygar…" Jaremy shakes his head. "Father had to explain to Lord Mallister just why we were losing Stonebridge, and it burned as I felt the eyes into my back every day I was there. To make matters worse…the taunting about losing the girl I love, Jarod. It isn't pride, and it hasn't been revenge that's been on my mind about this. I haven't consulted anyone because I was already made to look a fool, and my honor questioned by the Tordanes and Naylands left me…" He turns away from the window, pressing his back against the wall with folded arms. "…I'm going to be lord of this place someday, Jarod, and I've never wanted it. Every move I make leaves me dragged further into the bog and nothing is working right. These people, you, Amelia, the smallfolk, all of them are looking to me as their one day lord and I've got to be right. Seven, if Amelia's right about those letters, scores of lives are at risk."
"You won't be lord of it alone, you know," Jarod says. "Father isn't, and that's why he manages it as well as he does. It's too big for any one man to be. That's why you've got sworn swords, and advisers, and a maester and all the rest of us. And you've got your family. You always will, you know. I figure that's the strength of the land, whoever rules it. All the parts that make it up. That make it work." He shrugs. "I think it was pride, a bit of it. But I can understand that, too. How could you not want to do something grand and victorious to prove yourself, after everything? I'm just saying…Jace and Lu and I are here and you can always trsut us. Anais is here, and she's got as fine a head on her shoulders as any woman I've met. When I say I serve at your pleasure, my fair lord brother, I do mean it, more than I figure you understand. We all *want* to serve you, because we love you and we love what the Terricks are."
Jaremy quiets for a long time, eyes lifting from the floor to his brother's face. Not quite willing to admit pride being his main motivator as of late, he doesn't fight against it either. "You're right. You really are, and that's why I'm taking a step back, because both you, father, and Anais are right in suggesting that I stop trying to be the Sheriff of Westeros…" He points a finger to his brother. "…but I do believe that I'm right about Oldstones. I don't think they're to be trusted, and soon enough we'll have proof. I could have strangled that steward for what she did." He grunts, deflating slowly. "Well, either way, we'll know soon enough. I've caused enough issue, Jarod, this may not go well for me."
"Soon enough, we'll have something," Jarod says. He doesn't speak on the matter of Oldstones further than that. "And whatever comes of it, like I said, what I think of you won't change. Now, I do want to talk on this matter of Amelia Millen with Jace before we see her Thursday next. And maybe Lucienne as well. She's not as delicate as she'd like folks to think, I don't figure. And they're both smarter than us so…there's that." He smirks in a rueful sort of way.
"Yes, we should, though I think that Jacsen's opinion of me remains very, very low since he's returned. I wouldn't be surprised if our Lord Father has noticed this." Taking in a deep breath, he stretches his arms over his head as he moves towards the door, speaking in low, conspiratorial tones. "Now that father has another son, likely a smarter one, at the Roost, I'll be interested to see how he responds if that letter comes back to show me wrong. I've staked a lot, Jarod. If that day comes…I will be grateful for your love and care, because I'll likely lose it from many."
"I don't think that's true at all, where Jace is concerned," Jarod says. "I'm sure he's gotten an earful at Seagard from Lord Mallister about the loss of Stonebridge. And Jason Mallister…well, if you think father's scary when he's angry, you'd not want to be within miles of the Mallister keep. It's a hell of a thing to see. But Jace just wants to serve you, and serve this land, because he loves you. He and I aren't so different, at least not so far as that's concerned. Now, he'll likely think you've fucked up, but all he wants is to help you fix it. To be made use of by his fair lord brother. Just like I do.."
"When the letter comes we'll deal with it as we can, but until then I'm going to tend to my betrothed, just as father requested. Now's the time for me to learn how to not act until the time is right, and hopefully I've not caused more damage than good." He stops near the door, looking down his shoulder towards Jarod. "It is good to have brother back, though, isn't it? We're all a family now, all of us. We've all grown so much…" A wry smile tugs at the corner of his mouth. "…it's strange to look around and realize we're all men grown now. It's like we blinked."
Jarod grins, that easy, boyish expression that makes him look even younger than his one-and-twenty years. Though it doesn't lighten his eyes so much as it usually does. "Jace said much the same to me the other night. We're whole again. And it's the same in so many ways, and yet it's different, because we're not boys anymore." And that, he can't help but sound a little sad over. "You know…" He pauses, like he hesitating on asking what comes next. But he does get to it eventually. "…I never quite understood why you never tried to join the Kingsguard. After you got your knighthood. I mean, I don't think Jace wants the title but he could certainly manage it, and father would've let that happen, I think, if you'd have insisted. And Isolde Tordane…" He trails off. "…I always figured she'd end up married to somebody else anyway. Maybe Jace. Maybe…somebody else entirely. Not Ryker Fucking Nayland but…I mean, it seems like you realized too late for it to be what stopped you that you loved her. So…why didn't you?"
Jaremy chews quietly at the edge of his lip, eyes casting towards the room's wall where he can take a moment to remember the day that he made the decision. "There was a moment, back then, when I told Father that I wanted to join the kingsguard. I stood before mother and him and told them I wanted a white cloak, and he…was so disappointed in me." He takes a deep breath, sighing slowly in his brother's direction as eye contact is reestablished. "The trouble he'd gone to for the promise of Isolde and I to each other…he plans for the family…his view of what's been meant to come of the Roost. I'd always viewed my knighthood as service. He asked me, what of service to family?" His head tilts, making his point apparent. "I stayed, and over the years I married myself to the land and the smallfolk and to the plans that Father had, but I never married Isolde. It's hard to feel that all of this isn't my doing due to my inaction."
"Duty, then." Jarod nods. "Well, that's a better reason than most. Well. If what's in those letters is true - and I've no idea if it is or not - not marrying her might've saved us all some trouble. So who in seven hells knows. Anyhow. We should get out of here before Lady Anais thinks I've killed you and starts making eyes at Jace. I got a few matters to settle with the guard before the day's out, and Amelia Millen isn't going anywhere. For better or worse."
"Alright, she isn't going anywhere, especially with Anais' guards on her. There's no way they'd be loyal to Nayland, they're all on Terrick land, and we can get further into this after the issue of these damned letters is resolved." He yanks open the door, holding it open for his brother. "I'm going to try to track down Anais and try to spend a little proper time with her. Something's changed in her, and I'll know what it is."
"Good luck with that," Jarod says, clapping Jaremy on the shoulder once more. On that note, off he goes.