|Trying to Find the Right Questions|
|Summary:||In which Ser Jarod Rivers and Septon Josse discuss recent matters of import, some more than others. Bonus points if you can identify the 'right' question enclosed herein.|
|Related Logs:||All on the Table and those leading up to it, for the letters. Rowan Being Rowan in general, for the other thing.|
|Sept of the Seven — Terrick's Roost|
|The Sept of Terrick's Roost is not a grand spectacle but achieves its power through the feeling of community and peace within. Like any Sept, the mood is generally quiet so people might offer prayers or thoughts without interruption. Along the sides are the seven statues in life-size form of the seven Gods, each in its own particular pose familiar to anyone who knows of them. All but the statue of the Stranger have small offerings lain at their feet or candles lit. At the very head of the Sept is a large window that faces out across the water, the altar rising in front of it. Directly to its front are a few rows of pews and behind that is the standing room for the peasantry. In that area the floor is lain out with a bright seven-pointed star in representation of the Gods.|
|Sat Aug 06, 288|
Ser Jarod Rivers has found his way to the sept today. While that's not strictly speaking an /unusual/ sight, it generally marks some important upcoming event he's looking for luck from the gods for. Or he tags along when one of his family comes to pray. He's alone today, however. Presently kneeling by the altar to the Father, where he's lit a candle. That's not strictly speaking unusual either, though his devotions are more frequently given to the Warrior or the Smith, who he doesn't seem to be troubling today.
Someone is sweeping in the very back of the room, quiet broom bristles making soft brush-scratching sounds on the stone floor. The soothing rhythm is slow, and so regular as to be hypnotic — almost a prayer in its own right. The sounds vanish into the hall and return from a side corridor, coming closer until they stop right near where Jarod kneels.
Jarod finishes his prayer to the Father soft and stands, moving on to the next face in the aspects of the Seven. The Crone this time, which is unusual for him. When he's not doing something that calls for giving prayers to all the Seven, he's a closest worshiper of the Warrior, the Smith and the Father in that order, with occasional words with the Mother and the Stranger. The Crone and the Maiden are rather neglected in his septenary. He doesn't get a chance to kneel, though, the sound of sweeping making him turn his head.
The broom is planted at this last station of Jarod's. Josse's hands are laced around the handle and he gives Jarod a mild shrug and a smirk. "Go on," the septon says, magnanimously. "I'll wait."
"You know any good words for the Crone, Jos?" Jarod asks as he lights a candle. Placing it on the altar and kneeling. "We don't speak much. Figured I could use some wisdom, though. It's a virtue I'm lacking in." He offers the septon a rueful smirk. "Never much felt the absence of it until now, though."
"She's not an easy one to speak to. In truth, it took me a while before I could do it sober." Josse sweeps around behind Jarod's feet, gently pushing the dust along to the collected pile on the other side. "One thing I do know is that the Crone in particular bids us not to speak of answers but to ask the right questions."
"Aye…" Jarod mutters, though he doesn't look /quite/ like he even knows what questions to ask. Nonetheless, candle lit, he kneels and bows his head. He'll be at this for a little while, so Josse can finish his sweeping relatively unmolested.
Josse does so, taking a little while longer to clean under the edges of the other faces and get the entire dust heap out a small side door. Once the broom's put away and his hands cleaned, his steps return slowly back to the altars and the man talking to the Crone.
Jarod lets the candle burn down a little, not praying aloud but he looks to be thinking fairly hard. Finally he rises, with a grunt and faint grimace. He can get around all right, but abrupt changes in position still bother him, and he seems unable to quite figure out how to do things slowly. "She's all yours," he says, stepping out of the spot so Josse can sweep. He doesn't move onto any of the other altars but he does linger, watching the septon.
Josse half-smiles, glancing down at the lightly dusty spot. He's got no broom anymore, his hands just folded behind his back. "It'll keep. It gives the place a little character." He unfolds his hands, scratching gently at his collarbone. There's a fading bruise where his gray robe meets the skin. "Going back home already?"
Jarod shrugs. "I don't think right off. Lots of highlord problems around the castle these days. Needed to get some space from them. They got you set to cleaning for the rest of the day?"
"No, I was just…clearing my head." Josse makes a idle gesture at the back of the sept where he was earlier. "My superior's still in Stonebridge, so I expect I'll spend at least part of the evening sitting on the grass out back, washing some sheets, and drinking. You're welcome to join me if you want, activities in no particular order."
"I'm not helping you with the wash, but the drinking I think I can manage," Jarod says with a boyish half-grin. "Not too much, though. I should keep my wits about me for when I go home tonight."
"Thank you, I so appreciate that." Josse replies with the talent for irony that he's always had. "Do you remember where it is, that spot I used to like? Go on there, I'll be down. And if you don't remember, just wander round for a while and I'll find you before you starve."
Jarod gets a chuckle out of that. "I hope that means you'll bring some food as well as drink. All right. I won't wander into anything embarrassing." And, in typical Jarod Rivers fashion, he will not be at all hard to find. He makes his way out of the sept, toward the back gardens.
The spot Josse referred to is beyond the main gardens, down a path and then circled around behind a small clump of trees whose gnarled braches yearn towards the nearby sea. A spot to sit that — if one is cautious — affords a little bit of privacy from the rest of the sept, probably the only place that truly does so.
Josse's sandals brush through the grass, a small basin of water carried around. Over his shoulder are the few linens he really does mean to wash at some point, and a small burlap sack, all of it getting heaved down together in a small pile. The top of the sack falls open as it tips onto the grass, the large wineskin rolling halfway out. "Grab that, will you? It'd be a shame if it went over that cliff, tempted as we might be to retrieve it."
Jarod does some wandering around, but he does manage to find the spot Josse picks to get his drink on. "Depends on how good the wine is," he says, bending at the knees to retrieve the skin. He opens it, sniffs it, takes a pull from it, and passes it to the septon. "It's nice back here. Quiet."
"It's not what you'd find on your table," Josse replies with a slight smirk. "But it'll do." He settles down on the grass, linens pushed into a more respectable heap and then left well enough alone for now. A soft breeze brushes the tops of the uncut grass. "I feel like I've barely had the chance to speak five words to you since I got back. All the perils of adulthood, sprung up in my absence."
"I have nothing against cheap drink if it's in good company," Jarod says. "Aye. I know what you mean. Between the tournament and the disaster with Jaremy and Lady Isolde's betrothal and the Nayland wedding and this mess with Ser Gedeon, it's been a mad time for my family. Not sure I've done as well by them during it as I should've either. What do you make of the place, anyhow? It much like you remember?"
"From my vantage point?" Josse asks, reaching over to take the wineskin. "Smallfolk, going about their ways. Still trying to make enough coin that their children can eat each night, enough thread to mend tears before the clothes fall off their backs. The baker that I used to steal cakes from as a child is still there. The butcher's daughter died but his son hasn't changed a bit." He pauses, taking a sip of wine. "In a way it's exactly like I remember. Over their heads, they have such little idea of what moves their world along. Some days I'm not certain if that's a blessing or a curse." Blue eyes flicker to Jarod's face. "You truly think you haven't done as well as you might, lately?"
"Well I rather fucked up dealing with Ser Gedeon when he showed me those letters in the first place, didn't I?" Jarod says, reaching for the skin again whenever Josse's done with it. "I was duty-bound to take it to my lord father and I didn't. By the time I even brought the matter to Jaremy, the letters were out of Gedeon's hands. Would've been a different matter if I'd been able to hand Ser Gedeon and them to my father, and Lord Mallister perhaps even, with them still at the tourney. Still a dangerous mess, but at least a different sort of one, and Gedeon might not've gotten that pennyroyal in his wineskin." He adds, softer, "And if that boy they found in the river is that courier Ser Gedeon spoke of…well, that likely wouldn't have happened, either."
Josse hands the skin over. He pulls his gray-clad knees up to his chest, folding his arms on top of them. "Perhaps not. And it makes things more difficult but it can't be changed, can it. Next you offer prayers to the Crone remember that — making a mistake once isn't lacking wisdom. Making a mistake twice…that's when you're fucked." Sitting here talking to Jarod, the septon's vocabulary is much more the way it used to be, though even the easy vulgarity is somehow softened by his voice.
Jarod keeps the skin for another few pulls before passing it back. "It'd still be on me if Ser Gedeon had died. Him, too, though at least it's his life, and everybody's got some say in how they fuck that up for themselves. And on Lady Isolde's more than the pair of us, I figure, as however her household found out about those letters it had to be from her. Not much I can do about how she conducts herself in this, though." There's a certain bitterness in his tone that he doesn't bother to conceal. And traces of disappointment. "I'm better at dealing with matters meant for the Warrior than the Crone, Jos. Far less complicated, and you always know who your enemies are."
"It would be on the person who poisoned him, Jarod," Josse replies, firmly. "I will admit to you, I could have knocked your teeth out for letting Rowan go around with Gedeon without warning him." He clears his throat quietly. "But that is only because it'll be the afterlife before I could get my hands on the real one to blame." A hand reaches out to take the skin back, gently swirling the wine. "The Warrior will have his time. They aren't in opposition. He guides some of us more strongly than others and there's no flaw in that."
"And which one of the Seven guides you most strongly, my friend Septon?" Jarod asks. "Anyhow, I'm sorry you got mixed up in all this, though I'm grateful you did, for the aid you were able to give Gedeon and Rowan if nothing else. And good counsel at my father's table, which I fear sometimes isn't the sharpest from Jaremy and I." He crooks a rueful smirk.
"I bother the Crone more often than the others, but many days I don't know whether I'm really listening to what she has to tell me." Josse chuckles quietly, lifting the skin up to drink and then holding it back over to Jarod. "It's not your fault I'm involved." Though whose fault it is, exactly, he doesn't say. "You and Jaremy have no choice and for that I don't envy you." A slight pause. "Have you thought about what you will say to Lord Rygar?"
Jarod chuckles. "I think I bother the Crone less even than the Maiden, and I have a shaky relationship with the Maiden's virtue. Well, it's all supposed to be seven faces of one, so maybe they all just tell men the same thing in different words." As for Rygar, he shrugs. "I've thought on it, was part of why I wanted words with the Crone, though I'm not sure precisely what questions I should ask. I believe Ser Rygar to be a good knight. But he fights for his family, just as I fight for mine, so what he wants out of this is the opposite of what my lord father wants just by the face of it. Loyalty's a duty above even honor sometimes, so I'm not sure how to approach him to really make any headway with him."
Josse makes an amused snort. "Men and the Maiden. I could write a tome on that relationship." He scratches the left side of his neck with his right hand, listening to Jarod speak of Rygar. "Start by asking yourself what you mean by headway. If you look at this like a tug of war you'll end up negotiating only with brute strength."
Jarod gets another laugh out of Josse about about men and the Maiden. Though his underlying mood is still a serious one. "To the truth, I guess. I'll not claim it'd better for my family than the Naylands if Ser Gedeon's claim about Lady Isolde was true. That said, if there's to be any way forward in this it should at least move on a proper claim. Even if that means Gedeon's letters are a pack of lies and Isolde is Geoffrey Tordane's trueborn daughter. I believe Ser Rygar to be a good knight, and I suppose headway would be someone in the Nayland camp acting sensibly and honorably about this."
Josse nods slightly. "And what would that be, to you? If Ser Rygar were to act 'sensibly and honorably', what exactly would that entail in your eyes?"
"Figuring out the truth from their end, I suppose," Jarod says. "They've got the letters, which is better than we do. They've also got someone in that house - and it still seems like as it's Lady Valda to me, though maybe Jaremy's right, seven knows I have no proof of anything - who's willing to poison and maybe turn to knives over this. I'd like that to stop. I guess at the end of this, I'd like both Isolde and Gedeon to come out of it with their skins intact. Not sure how to manage that, though. I mean…I don't know that I know either of them half so well as I thought I did a month ago, Jos. Not sure I want to know them as they are now. But we were children together, which isn't a thing that's easy to let go of."
"Never walk into a negotiation without knowing every path it may take, Jarod." Josse talks as gently as he always does, but his voice is serious. "He may already know the truth. Know what you want from him, whether he declares it to be truth or not." He remembers the wineskin at that point, glancing around for it. "That Isolde and Gedeon both come away unharmed is a good start, one which I expect Ser Rygar will respect. But you'll need to be cautious if you're going to imply Lady Valda was behind it. There may be very strong implications but without someone's definite proof you're playing with fire and potential insults." He pauses, thinning his lips. "When is your meeting with Ser Rygar supposed to be?"
"Whenever I manage to get up the wind to do it. He's a few more days at the Roost. Wants an audience with my father, which I doubt he'll get. Probably wants one with Jaremy, too, which may well be a disaster." He takes the skin, gulping. "I suppose that's the heart of why I agreed with Gedeon - advised him, even - to take those letters to Isolde. I figured…I don't know. That the best way for them would be to work it out between themselves. Whatever they are, they grew up thinking they were brother and sister." Well, half-brother and half-sister, though he doesn't seem capable of thinking in those terms. "If there was a matter like this between Jaremy and me or one of my other brothers of Lu…I don't know, I figured they'd protect each other better than anyone else." From his tone, he plainly thinks himself wrong now.
"You'll pardon me, but," Josse spreads his hands. "Ser Gedeon going to you first does not speak of wanting to protect Lady Isolde. The moment any Nayland knew he had gone to a Terrick before even speaking to his sister, it became much more than the two of them. He may have meant well but it was politically naive; it looks like his real intention was to stir the issue with the Terricks and only approach Isolde for show. Which may not be the case, but you understand how it could appear." He exhales slowly through his nose. "Lord Rygar will likely not accept Lady Valda's involvement in the poisoning, not unless backed into a wall."
"Gedeon said he thought I'd understand what it meant to him. What his father wanted, wanting it to be his," Jarod mutters. He doesn't look at Josse as he says it. And there's a long beat before he speaks again. "How would you proceed with him, then? Ser Rygar, that is."
"I may not understand your bond, Jarod," Josse admits. If he is a bastard himself - a question he doesn't know the answer to in the first place - he's certainly not a noble one. "But I don't believe Ser Gedeon to be a man bent on conflict." He reaches over for the wineskin, silent for a time as he's asked that question. "In the interest of seeing those involved safe?" He looks down, slowly rubbing his nose. "I would make absolutely sure that I knew the relationship between Ser Rygar and Lady Valda, for that is key. Whether his sense of honor would demand he defend her at all costs or whether he could be convinced to pledge peace without direct admissions of guilt. Then I would have consider what to be prepared to concede, myself." He looks back at Jarod, raising an eyebrow. "But that is, of course, not the same as a strictly political negotiation."
"I suspect what Lady Valda wants it Gedeon Rivers' head in a box, which she'll have to cut through me to get," Jarod says. "What Ser Rygar wants, I'm not sure I know the answer to, save to secure the Naylands' claim to Stonebridge, though I'd like to not believe they'd take what they've no right to. I guess we'll see." He takes the skin the next time it's up for grabs. Looking down at Josse. Then away. Then back at him again. He looks very think-y. And somewhat uncomfortable. "So…umm…I should be getting back but…you mind if I ask you one more thing, mate?"
"Let me know when your negotiation is to be," Josse replies, thoughtfully. "And I shall let you in turn if I have anything further that may help you. I can never guarantee, given confidences, but one never knows what other people may be willing to do to keep peace." Cryptic, perhaps, but it gets left at that. The wineskin's surrended, and eyebrows slightly raised. "Sure you can."
"I…suppose you never do," Jarod says, though he eyes Josse like he's not sure what he means. Though his brain is clearly onto something else altogether now, which makes him drop his gaze from the septon. "All right. Anyway. Look, Jos. I didn't want to ask about this because I figure it's none of my business but…you and Rowan spend a lot of time, together and…well…" Deep breath, and then he just asks it in a rush. "AreyouandRowanbuggeringeachother?"
Silence. Josse's expression doesn't even change, as if Jarod's voice had magically stopped somewhere in the air between them and not reached his ears. The corner of his mouth twitches. Then his entire lower lip. Then the sudden grin practically splits his face and he bursts into a peal of deep laughter that nearly doubles him over, shaking his shoulders. "I might ask the same of you!" There's a painful snort as he tries to regain breath, coughing. "No, simply no. Though I'm flattered you think I have such good taste."
Jarod continues to stare at the toes of his boots, rather redfaced after he's asked it. But, after a moment, he has to start laughing to. "Me? Ha! Seven hells no!" It's awhile before he's no longer laughing enough to speak coherently. Deep breath. "Look, Jos, I don't terribly want to know any details - ever - but you can tell me if you are. I'll lay off with him about the whores. I figured for awhile he was…well, you know…but I figure you got to at least try it with a woman a few times. He's been to Amelia of Seagard, so I figure she's set him straight that girls can be a bit of fun. He didn't talk like somebody who'd just lost his virginity after he got back, though, so…I mean, I won't tell anyone. I haven't told anyone about you, have I, and I'm not so stupid I didn't figure that out years ago."
Josse is smiling, though the expression gradually fades as Jarod keeps talking. By the end of that last sentence it's nearly gone, and something makes his eyes flicker away. "Did you." His fingers absently pluck a stalk of grass and then do nothing with it. "Well then. For once I am the fool."
"I mean…don't get me wrong, mate, it's not like you're prancing around with lace on your sleeves or anything," Jarod says. That's a compliment. In its way. "But when we talk about women you'd never seem to know…well, what you were talking about. Even though you'd go to see Amelia. Which, by the by, seems like a bit of a waste of money if you aren't going to do anything. There are cheaper girls you can spend an hour playing cards with or…whatever you two do. And I figured at first that was just being a septon but after awhile it seemed…likely it wasn't. Anyway. I didn't want to say anything because, you know, we're friends, and I didn't want to make things all weird. And it's not any of my business. Like I keep telling Rowan, everybody has something about themselves they want to keep…to themselves. That's not wrong, and it's not lying. It's just having a piece of yourself you don't want to put on display for the entire world."
"I do it because she doesn't ask why. Not about that, not about anything," Josse replies, bending the blade of grass around his index finger. "Everyone has many things they keep to themselves. Many, many things." The blade breaks over his knuckle, snapping in two, and then he looks at Jarod finally. "Rowan has his…issues. But believe me, I am not one of them."
"All right. That's too bad, in a way. At least you know how to keep that kind of thing to yourself, and Rowan's not exactly short of reasons for people to try and beat on him. I mean, don't get me wrong. There are some knights they say are buggers and they can still kill things all right, so I guess it doesn't make so much difference there, it's just not the sort of thing you want to get around, you know?" Jarod stops talking about this now. "And aye. Everybody's got something. Look. I should get headed back to the castle soon. Thanks for the wine. I'll see you later, aye, and we'll both be in a mood where we can drink more of it?"
Josse's expression through that little speech is hard to read. He visibly untenses a little when Jarod finally leaves it alone, unclenching his hands from a position he hadn't realized they were in. His nails have made slight crescents in his skin, which quickly vanish. "Aye. And there is something I want to ask you about, Jarod…but once you've gotten some of this bigger mess out of the way." That was fairly light, though a brief silence after allows for a more serious tone. "I have faith in you, alright?"
"Ask me now if you like. For tomorrow we may all be poisoned by Freys or stabbed by Royalists or…what-have-you," Jarod says, lingering in case Josse does want to broach that question just now. "As for faith, you've got it in a lot of things there's no proof warrant it. But I appreciate the sentiment."
Josse smiles slightly. "One doesn't need proof to have faith. That's why it's called 'faith'." Duh, Jarod. "I shall wait. Take it my sign that I believe you will last that long."
"Reason to live, then. Every man needs one of them. Fair enough." And with that, Ser Rivers takes his leave.