Page 272: Theology On An Empty Stomach
Theology on an Empty Stomach
Summary: Gedeon Rivers and Marsden Streem discuss religion over alcohol.
Date: 17/04/289
Related Logs: None, directly. All of the Iron Islands stuff, indirectly.
Marsden Gedeon 
Timber Hall — Oldstones
Unofficially dubbed the 'Phoenix Hall', for the large Valentin banner which faces the double doors upon entry, several smallers rooms branch off of the central hall. Built around the centuries-old sepulchre of Tristifer IV, plank floors and fresh rushes are underfoot, while woodsmoke from the hearths, and clusters if hanging dried flowers drown out the stench of outside. Occasionally, the squawk of a caged raven will reach the ear from a side room.
17 April 289

The ride here was hard, and long, but there is something to be said for finally coming home. Even if it is a new home. His pony stored, as well as his gear- Marsden has had time to get settled, cleaned up and explore the meagre, but comfortable holdings here at the Oldstones. Now with the night burning on as the wax dripped down from the candles can attest, the septon finds himself relatively alone in the main eating and meeting hall.

Camped out at a lone bench and table. A flagon before him, and a cup in his hand Marsden is content to drink on and whistle to himself, cheerily enough.

It's quiet in the hall, and though there was laughing, eating and drinking earlier as those returning home caught up with neighbors on what they missed by being gone, most of the men have since returned to their tents or little huts to wash and sleep. Gedeon slipped out earlier to do much the same, plus wash his healing wounds from the last battle, but now that nigt is stretching its way across the hours, he drifts back into the hall, brows lifting a little as he hears Marsden's tune. "Are you humming?" he asks with a chuckle.

Marsden turns his head at the sounds of Gedeon's words. Apparently he didn't catch the footsteps, but the voice is one he knows well enough. "Gedeon my son." a grin there before he's nodding to the bench opposite his own. "Indeed I am. Ain't no sin in it that I know of." he comments with a sniff before the ale in the wooden mug is drained down-and he is pouring himself some more. "Besides, I don't want to bother the Ravens, fuckin' birds they are. Bloody thing would be a cacophony of a hymn an-I don't know how many men here are faithful." a grin there. "Drink with me, an tell me where I can find a whore with good red hair."

"No, I'm someone else's bastard," Gedeon corrects with a quick smile as he drops onto the bench across from Marsden, "Yours was potentially drowned in a sack." He hasn't a mug, but it seems the flagon will serve well enough. This he lifts to take a quick swallow. "Most here are faithful. They came from other parts of the Riverlands to build something here, and the Riverlands are faithful, so…" he shrugs.

"So mind my manners more than my morals." Marsden states with a faint grin. "And pity you're not my boy. I'd know what to do with you." and he watches as the Ser seems apt to choose what is left in the Flagon, instead of fishing a mug from somewhere. "Have some." he states with a raise of his mug and another sip. "Alas about mine, should it ever show up. I'll be sure to introduce you. I'm sure you can give it an account of my deeds." a snort there. "Glad to be home?"

"Manners present morals. Or, at least, imply them," Gedeon replies. "You never once tried to find out? What happened to… well. It's not my business, it's yours. But whatever it is you'd think to do with me," he laughs, "I'll remind you I have a perfectly respectable sword arm." The blond lad exhales softly, looking around the hall. "Yes," he murmurs. "Very glad."

Marsden looks back towards Gedeon. "I did not, because I am a horrible man, or I was at least. And because I escaped with my life intact despite receiving forty lash." the septon states. A grin remains there on his face before he nods into his cup. "Mmm, that I do know-that's why I use a spear. Better reach." A wink is half cocked before he chuckles. " I don't know. Try and raise you with some love of the Gods-make sure you could read." A nod there. "Other than that, nothing different that what we're doing now."

"Well, my actual father managed the reading part, and we all dutifully went to the Sept to honor each holiday, so he did his best with the other," Gedeon points out, resting his chin on his palm. "Better reach with a spear, less maneuverability."

" Did you? And here I thought you had no love of the Gods, Ser Rivers." he quips before he is tilting his head. "Why did you stop- please understand that despite my love of fucking and killing- I still do love that calling I was poured into. Somewhat." rubbing the side of his nose, he chuckles "Tell that to the Greyjoys I killed-after all the Dornishmen can do the dance of blades with a spear. If all you do is poke with it, you are using your spear poorly." there's a meaning in that. And given the grin on Marsden's face, it should be blatant and as plain as the robes he wears.

"I don't," Gedeon replies, "but as I said, it wasn't his doing. Lord Geoffrey was a properly devout follower of the seven, and he tried to pass that faith onto his children. Not his fault it didn't take." His brows arch upwards for Marsden's joke. "Braavosi can do a better dance with a blade," he points out, smirking faintly for Marsden's joke. "Sorry, you asked about whores earlier. Stonebridge is the closest town with clean ones. Or Fairmarket if you go in that direction."

"Ah, and why didn't it keep?" Marsden asks, with a raised brow. yes he will keep pressing, because it's on his mind now. A brief smile, before he nods. "Indeed the braavosi are skilled with the blade. I would watch that fight-mind you I have seen a Braavosi duel another once before. It was as if I was watching a mummer's dance. All timed and perfect." another sip of beer before he is snorting. " Of course, thank you Ser."

"Tell me, instead, why it did keep, for you," Gedeon counters, lifting the flagon again and pausing for another swallow. "You were flogged, your love or… your lover or whatever she was, taken from you, your child gone or killed. And yet, here you are, speaking of the gods as if you know them well. Why? Where did such faith come from?"

Marsden bows his head. "Of course, I can do that." he adds with a faint grin, which dies down. "I have kept them, because I have felt them- I have seen the justice of the Father and the forgiveness and compassion of the Mother." he says before his hand comes down. "I will admit, had I stayed on my Holy path I probably wouldn't be here-whatever. I also wouldn't have ruined a woman, and have the life of my scion added to the debt of this world." A glance back towards Gedeon, and he drains down a little more ale.

"I could lie to you and tell you I've seen the sea parted at the stepstones, or The warrior come down and take over a man as an avatar. I could dazzle you with all that- but if I were to be truthful. I've seen signs of the seven through my own life. Mainly of those-I've seen the stranger's work." A tilt there. "And when his hand passed over me- Hell I should be dead." and there he looks back towards Gedeon, serious there. "And I heard him whisper in my ear. 'Not your time.' "

a shake of his head. "Everyone thinks that, the Seven give em luck or grant them boon rewards. I say fuck that Gedeon." Marsden adds. "They don't do that for nobles or for the common man like us." and he scratches his jaw. "But they do give us chances, and they do give justice. In their eyes-not ours."

"Well, I have never seen the Father's justice or the Mother's compassion, and if I have seen my share of death, it needs no other name or character for me to fear and respect it," Gedeon answers, his gaze on the man who was once a septon. "What I have seen, that shook my own world or the greater world, were deeds of men. Good or ill, wise or foolish. Just men, septon. Just our own hearts and wills and drives that guide us, not the ephemeral hands of some incomprehensible forces that shape us with wisdom we cannot possibly comprehend. There is wonder enough in that for me, I need no illusion of deities."

"I bet you've seen it, but not recognized it. What do you think gave Robert the victory at the Trident? Sure you can say a bloody host of men, and a war hammer. But there was wrong done on the seven kingdoms by the dragons. And the dragons fell." A slight nod at that before he is drinking more ale down. "The Seven may not guide our hands like puppets, young Ser, for I believe we all have our own will- our freedom to do right and to do wrong. And given that freedom- man will always choose not with his heart, but his greed." A glance to Gedeon. "But just because men are right bastards, does not mean that the Seven's will cannot be worked through them. No matter how heinous the act."

Gedeon snorts softly, shaking his head. "I loathe that argument. 'Of course you have seen it, you just didn't know'. It's too easy, Streem, it's too simple to say 'of course the gods are among us, it's only your closed mind that keeps your eyes closed, too'. Perhaps the faithful are the ones deceived, believing in fictions that make the absurdities of the world more bearable because something, somewhere makes them so, rather than arbitrary choice and a moment's luck. Robert had the victory of the Trident because of his skill with his hammer and Prince Rhaegar's ill fortune. Because his generals had superior tactics than the royal host's. Men are most assuredly right bastards, and if the seven do exist and made us that way, fuck them sideways and I'd rather they didn't."

Marsden grins. "Oh, not a fan of the most simple, yet true explanation. Alright then, let us plow the field, my son." the septon allows. "But note, I did not say you were blind to it-just unwise to it. Never did I say your heart was hard, or you too filthy in sin to recognize grace." A chuckle there before he is popping his knuckles slow. "You've heard the holy word on when the Craftsman was told to make us perfect, have you not?"

"It was after the first man an woman were birthed of the mother and father. All that. Well men bein' wicked as they were wouldn't work. So the smith he says he'll make a man of iron who will praise em all the day long. Till the fields, kill the others. The warrior is fine with this, as is everyone but the Mother." a roll of his hand as he starts on the next set of knuckles. "Welp turns out that this man they make is too perfect that he becomes broken as well, and they have to scrap it all together..So the Father hold Court of the first of men again and looks at em for all their flaws and finds we should all be given to the Stranger. But it's the mother that stands in this- and says even though we ain't perfect. We do have one aspect of them that even the metal man couldn't. We have love."

A sip. "An' Love is what is is all about. The Warrior never says murder a man for a fucking goat- but he says defend the weak and helpless. The Father doesn't accept money an kills an innocent man. He says be fair to all, even the poor. And th' mother. she says love. Love unconditionally, even your neighbor, because we so loved you-we gave you that bloody chance." And there the septon falls silent. "An love, if I say so, is the most illogical thing there." a beat "You ever feel love?"

"Such an explanation is only simple and true if you already believe it. Otherwise, it offers nothing," Gedeon replies, flicking his finger through the thin pool of water gathering at the base of the flagon. "No?" he asks with a laugh for his being too filthy and sinful, "How kind of you."

He quiets to listen to the tale the septon spins, though by the end of it, he groans, folding his arms and letting his head fall down into them. "Oh, love," he mutters disdainfully. "Love. Spare me, please, as if that word is meant to be some great, sweeping payment for everything shit in the world. 'Ah, but at least there is love'. Well that runs in short supply too, in my experience, and even when it doesn't, it sours or falls short or simply isn't worth what it takes from you. You want to know why the Warrior and the Father and the Mother all tout love so sweetly? Because we like to do that, and we concocted them. If the perfect man couldn't love, perhaps that ought to be the lesson." For Marsden's last question, Gedeon's shoulders lift and fall in a small shrug. "I know enough of love to avoid it henceforth."

"Oh come off it, Love is not the payment, it's what you're supposed to strive for, if you're not too busy shitting on everyone and fucking them in their ass while they shit on you." Marsden reports with a finger pointed back. "Oi, he was the perfect man save he wasn't man now was he? He was metal. He was a thing, he did not have a soul, and he did not have choice. Just a dead bloody thing." a grin there. "But that don't fit do it? Oi, If folks actually followed what the seven said as opposed to praying and then going back to the shitting and ass fucking-then I think we would have a much better life than we do."

A tilt of his head. "You know enough of it, or you know lust-which is it?"

"Your analogies are atrocious," Gedeon points out for all that shitting and fucking, lifting his head to squint over at Marsden, "and if the point of the metal man was that he wasn't a man, that the gods fucked it up, you should have said so, instead of 'oh, but his poor metal heart couldn't love so the gods decided despite our frail bodies and twisted little minds, we were best after all'." As for his own experiences on love, or lust, he has no comment. Or perhaps he simply didn't hear.

"Of course they are, they get people to listen don't they? Besides." Marsden says with a half grin. "You want me to talk to you like a lamb or a lion?" A snort and there's a shake of his head. "There's nothing about poor metal hearts. He never had the capacity-The metal man's idea of compassion was a dagger to the throat. Justice skewed so." a shrug. " The point of the story is we aren't supposed to be bloody perfect. But we are supposed to love. Leave perfection to the seven, but strive your best." A sniff there as he lowers his head down on the tamble to look at Gedeon, better. "Ah, did I find a touchy subject?"

"Hardly," Gedeon replies, "and it's a poor story, if that's the point. If the metal man's idea of compassion wasn't compassion, then he he wasn't perfect, and it sounds as if the gods can't manage it any better than we can, if that's the best they could come up with. No," he shakes his head, "I don't believe it. It's just us, in this world, for good or for ill."

"Then why not answer?" Marsden asks, before he is shaking his head. "I wasn't the one who penned that down as the smith guided my hand, but I know it's in there along with other stories of the smith. The book of the Mother probably has better choices, but what can you do?" Marsden states with a faint chuckle. "Also part of the bargain is having the relationship. And I'm not talking about going up to the sept, but actually reading the texts if you can-which most cannot, or at least praying." A rub of his chin before he looks back towards Gedeon "You'd probably like the Tome of the Father. He's a rather pragmatic chap."

"Because I don't want to veer into 'tell me the tales of your life' when we're having a far more interesting discussion on theology," Gedeon replies. "Anyhow, I think I've probably read a bit from all of the books at some point or another. I can't say any of them particularly grabbed me."

"Fine." he states with a chuckle. "We can get into that when you're Lord Tordane all an proper then." And the septon reaches down to rapt his knuckles on the wooden table. "Well they don't have hands, an if you're lookin' for flaws you'll find em. We're not blessed with the wisdom and forethought of the crone, nor are our hands perfect in making anything like the Smith-whether it is fine metal, stone or jewel. In this case-paper." And he looks to his cup, a frown showing as he turns it over- empty to let the backwash stain the wood beneath.

"But, as to it- the Father sees all, and he weighs. You see some folks like to believe that Justice in blind- not so. Justice knows you're secret acts and weighs them with the evidence put out there. Good and bad. Sure the father understands Grey, and he understands sometimes a truly heinous act may be needed to ensure good will happen. That's why he is the all perfect judge." A pause "With our current situation. Would you want someone to make the decision based off of feeling, or knowing who is right for it?"

"Oh, can we?" Gedeon asks dryly, brows lifting in a manner that suggests he disagrees with the plan of delving into his past at any point. He sighs softly. "I do not do as I do with a thought to who will judge me when I'm dead and gone,"he replies with a small shake of his head. "I'm not looking for justification or forgiveness or absolution. I've made choices, I'll make more, and I know they are not the same as others would make. I know what I am, and I'll live as I wish."

Marsden raises a brow "I share most readily with you, Ser. So that you know what you have in your employ. That, and I'd rather you know before some totted up knight or sellsword says something." A sniff and there's a shake of his head "I am not talking about while you are dead and gone. Ser. I am talking about here and now. Because you are moving your piece into the game, rather rapidly. And either you will take the ground or you will lose." Marsden says a bit more seriously. "If you're going to be a Lord, it's not just what will get you there, but the reputation and power you have. You come across as petty or worse an no man will support you beyond your ally right now. And even then, they'll wain." And there is holds. "You know how quick support on the Stepstones goes, don't you?"

"Are you giving me a lecture on image, Master Streem?" Gedeon asks with a quirk of a pale brow. "If I become Lord of Stonebridge, I've no intention of behaving in a way that makes me seem petty, irreverent or dishonorable. You have shared with me, as I have shared with you." Even if the sharing wasn't exactly his. "I should think you'd know enough of me by now to have decided whether to stay on or seek greener pastures."

"I'm giving you a lecture in caution-amongst with everything else." Marsden states "It's fine enough that the she knight know your business. And why she sought to warn me, I'll not ever know, other than she thinks you to be led. Which you an I know the rights of that answer." Marsden tries to abort that line of going. "I was going to tie it all in in a round about way to the Father, if you weren't so quick to stave off like you caught a snag in the bogs." Not to be ruffled the septon presses on." Either way. The point of that was to be, don't go half cocked. Not for your eternal judgement, but whatever." a snort.

"I seem to be the worst septon out there. Look at that luck." a grin, but it is weak. "Look, Gedeon. I will never claim to know the inner most mysteries of the Seven. And any Septon who says they do, there is one surefire way to come to their bosom and boon, beyond showing love is a liar and a fat crook." a scratch of his chin. "You know why I know there are a seven? Because men are indeed utter shits, and we live in a world that's had dragons an all sorts of shit. You cannot tell me there's not something perfect and better and expect me to believe it."

"I expect she wanted you to know what you'd be getting into, joining on with me," Gedeon murmurs with a faint sigh as he gives his head a small shake. "She's very fond of deciding she knows best and then doing whatever the fuck she likes." He hand lifts in a small, dismissive flick, banishing the thought, or perhaps, simply, thoughts of Rowan. "I'm not going off half-cocked. But I don't see why there should be anything better out there, if none of it ever touches the world we live in, or so ephemerally that nothing actually changes from it. What should it matter? It's the same as if they didn't exist at all."

"I spect I could tell knowing what I know of our Lord Anton." reputations and all. People talk, and to survive long in the disputed lands is a badge of honor onto itself. "I've gathered that." Marsden says with a half smile there. And then he is easing off the topic there, as if he found some wound or scrape, he's not going to scratch at. "I believe it does though touch our world. Otherwise all we'd experience is pain and we'd not see much. You get glimpses, but you have to be looking for it. If you're looking for a way to disprove-what are you going to find?"

"And if you're looking for a way to prove, you'll find proof, even if it isn't there. Either way, the bias informs the result. But I resent…" Gedeon quiets a moment to consider before he speaks on, "I resent the implication that everything wretched is of blood and bone and mud and everything good is of sun and stars and the inexplicable divine. I prefer to think it's all ours, septon. Greatness and misery, happiness, cowardice, pragmatism, hope. It's just… us. Just what we are."

Marsden grins "Resent all you like Gedeon, but I'd say what is wretched is not just of blood and bone, or else we'd been wiped clean of this world long time ago. There is evil that holds and sways men's hearts and desires. But that evil comes from something greater in the cold and dark." And eyes slide to the flagon for a moment. "And not all that is good in our world is all of the Seven. We being childs of em have the ability to make it. And give it." And the septon eases back for a second, stretching his legs out under the table. "Us should be proof enough there are Seven out there. How could we have such traits if they weren't the influence?"

"Because we do. Because we are. Because that's how it is," Gedeon answers with a shrug. "Evil, I think, is more relative than we like to imagine it to be."

"Ah. So it can be, but I think that with evil and all the concepts off, it can be relative and otherworldly at the same time. If it's just relative, what is to keep me from fucking and murdering other men's wives?" Marsden asks with a brow raised. "Besides, a sword."

"Sword's a powerful motivator," Gedeon replies, "or the fear of one. And I don't think it's as simple as 'I want, I take'. There are costs, balances. Everything puts unexpected elements in motion, and the prize isn't always worth the cost. A house guard may covet his lord's wife, but if he covets his earnings and life more, he won't act. No sword required."

"Indeed it is, keepin' one's neck is often a fine powerful motivator." Marsden adds, before he is nodding a grin showing. "Balances and justice you'd say, Aye? Hm." It'd be too easy for Marsden to claim a victory there, but he does let that sit before he is looking back "Does that make it relative?" A half lean in. "Or do we have just some natrual pre built in borders we know are there?"

"Human balances and human justice," Gedeon amends. "There's nothing divine about it. And it's relative. One man might swallow down his desire and go on with his work. Another might burn so hotly he'll risk everything for the touch and taste of the woman he wants, and he'll act. For him, the cost, or the potential cost, is worth it. Relative."

"But The first of men came from somewhere, Ser gedeon as did their concept of Justice. And after them the others as well. We did not merely break out of the sea and gasp on land wriggling about till our bodies changed into some form than another. We came from somewhere, as did our faith. Truth be based in it." A chuckle there. "Aye some man might, and some men will burn in their desire. But that's where free will comes in. Not whether or not something is evil or not."

"And what of those who follow the old gods? Or the Dothraki who follow…whatever horse god they follow? Or those of the free cities that believe in something else?" Gedeon asks. "If you're so determined that there should be gods, whose are the right ones?"

"I believe that them that follow the Old Ones, follow the Seven before they knew what they were. As for them that follow the drowned god, or the horse fucking god. Then they are heathens. Of course." Marsden does know how he sounds, if the grin that crowns is any indication. "As for the right ones? I think that is something someone has to find out for themselves. Either by engaging the Seven, or the horse fucker..Whatever and seeing what holds true."

"Then by that argument, if you find that none of them hold true, there must be no gods," Gedeon answers, the grin returned as he reaches for the flagon for another swallow. So, ha!

"No." Marsden is quick to offer, before he is reaching out for the flagon, so that he may drink after Gedeon. Apparently sharing a drink doesn't bother him, much. "It means you haven't looked hard enough."

"Oh. Of course," Gedeon replies, handing the flagon over, "because any conclusion that leads to the thoughts there aren't any is wrong, in your eyes."

"I wouldn't say wrong. I would just say, not thought out." Marsden offers with an chuckle before he is taking a sip from the flagon. And then another. "I just think it's too easy to give up on the Seven then trying to find them, really. And please do not take that as an affront, Ser."

"I don't. I think it's too easy to believe in them and place all the mysteries at their door," Gedeon says. "Whatever it is, well, it's just the gods."

Marsden chuckles. "See, you do believe in them." A wink there before his hands slide up and rub over his bald pate for a moment. "Do you know when you stopped believing in them? Or was this a gradual realization on your part?" A curious question to add, but the septon tries.

"I'm not sure I ever did, really," Gedeon sighs softly, "though I thought I did, as a child. Or, at least, I understood I was supposed to. I honored the holidays, prayed, confessed, all the things you're told to do. But it always felt… I did it because I was bid to, not because I felt anything inside a sept. I suppose, after I left Westeros, I just let myself stop pretending."

Marsden nods for a moment. "Then Ser, at least while you have me as your boon, may I be allowed to try and impart some of my thoughts on you. You do not have to keep them, nor would I force you to make them your own. But, I would hope that you'd look at em at least." And there he nudges the flagon closer to the knight. "You don't nor won't have to pretend around me."

"If you like," Gedeon says with a small put-upon sigh, "but I would not start expecting a conversion, were I you. Especially if I'm not obliged to pretend." He accepts the drink, turning the flagon slowly rather than picking it up again.

"I would." Marsden quips before he chuckles. "Oh I don't expect a conversion. Not right now." and there a toothy grin is given over as he rises up. One hand moves to pat the other man's shoulder. "I am a realist, after all." A laugh, and he is off to find a place to bed.