Page 229: Unexpected Niceties
Unexpected Niceties
Summary: Hardwicke is nice to Jarod for a few.
Date: March 2, 2012
Related Logs: Ironborn and Belle — stuff.
Hardwicke Jarod 
Harlaw Isle — Wilderness
The labyrinthine fortress of Grey Garden sprawls atop a bare, rocky hillock commanding the south-eastern quarter of Harlaw Isle. The countryside is largely bare, with thin soil over weather-worn rock.
March 2, 289

Army Camp

Spreading out from the central field, dozens of pavilions have been pitched over the rocky soil in front of Grey Garden. Ranging from the small field tents of free lances to the sprawling high peaked canopies of the greater houses, with silk banners fluttering proudly from their center stakes, a riot of heraldic splendour seizes the eye. Beyond this noble inner ring are the campsites of the common folk who have journeyed over the water to answer their lords' call to arms. Some have tents, but many others simply gather around one of the dozens of campfires which dot the field at night.

(OOC note: Anyone with a few ranks of Heraldry would recognize the banners of the Freys, Charltons, Erenfords, Haighs, Naylands- both Mire Naylands and Stonebridge Naylands- with the banners of Mallister, Groves, Terrick and Flint rather heavily outnumbered.)

The Terrick area of the camp is not so grand as some, but Hardwicke doesn't seem to notice. He's sitting near one of the campfires as twilight begins to fall, the light on the horizon turning a dull brownish grey. A faded letter is open on his knee, the creases well-worn, and he reads by what's left of the escaping light as he chews on a piece of dried meat.

Jarod strides back from the main section of camp into Terrick-ville, clanking as he goes. As men in armor tend to do. He approaches one of the campfires. The one which Hardwicke's seated at, as it happens. He tries not to interrupt the older knight, focused on his letter as he is, but he does more armored clanking as he sits, so he's not exactly a subtle, quiet presence.

Hardwicke glances over rather inevitably, but Jarod's presence doesn't seem to bother him especially. "Rivers," he greets the younger knight. He folds the letter up with slow care, but what's visible of its script before it disappears is brightly feminine.

"Ser Blayne." Jarod offers Hardwicke an easy grin, not bothered by his presence either. He does flick a look at the letter, though not enough to have any appearance of trying to read it. The girly script, however, is noted. "Missive from your wife?" His grin widens some.

"From some time ago," Hardwicke says, a bit dismissively. "She's hardly writing me across the cape, is she?" He pockets the letter away in an inside pocket.

"Of course, Ser. Still, her words must be good to read over here, all the same." Jarod plucks up a piece of dried meat for himself, chewing on it. It takes some work. It seems tougher for his teeth than the rations at Seagard. Perhaps it's just the same meat, more aged. "I wonder if it'll be possible for us to write back to Westeros while we're camped here. Feels like we will be for the long, way we're digging in to siege this place."

"It'd require messengers to cross the seas," Hardwicke says, his tone clearly doubtful. "Ravens are not for my letters home to my wife." Looking over at Jarod, he asks in a wry, rumbling voice, "Keen to write someone back home, Rivers?"

"I was thinking more something like, they might let us send letters back if they ever shipped in more supplies from the mainland," Jarod says. "We've subdued the countryside from the beaches to here well enough, and these isles don't have much in the way of natural life to live on. Never imagined land so unhospitable, at least not that folk tried to live on." As for himself, he shrugs. "Aye, certainly. I'd like to send word back to my lord father and brothers and sister that we're all right, and those friends in the Roost and Stonebridge who aren't with the armies." The wryness in Hardwicke's voice gets a slightly puzzled look. "What do you mean 'someone back home'?"

"You mentioned a girl you're keen on," Hardwicke reminds him. "Didn't know if she was so keen on you." He chews on another piece of dried meat and says, "Fair point. If we garner supplies, there will certainly be crossings enough for missives."

"Oh, aye, her. We've written each other a bit," Jarod says with a grin. It's a rather doofy expression. "We're keen on each other, I think we've figured out. I probably should've asked her to be mine proper while I was still back on Riverlands soil. Figured when this was all done'd be a better time to do it." Some of the doofiness leaves his face. "I guess I figured we'd be able to break them off within months, like we did from the Roost, and Seagard, and the Westermen did on their shores. It's all different here."

"Aye," Hardwicke murmurs, studying Jarod a moment. Then he looks back to the fire. "Belle said I didn't have to, but I wanted to marry her before I left. There was no telling when I'd be back. But I'm glad you managed an understanding with yours." He hesitates a moment, then allows a small, private sort of smile to touch his lips. "She's with child, you know. Belle."

"I'm very glad myself, Ser. Thank you." Jarod does not seem to expect much else in the way of conversation with Hardwicke, so the actual piece of unsolicited personal information makes him blink in surprise. Then grin again, all wide and bright. He reaches over, to clap Hardwicke's shoulder. "Seven fucking hells, Ser Blayne! I mean. Congratulations. That's grand. When's she figure she'll have it?"

"Gods, who knows." The humor that lightens Hardwicke's expression, a slice of brightness taken on a dismal rock, is a rare thing indeed. With particularly self-aware blandness, he says, "No earlier than nine months from our wedding night, I'm sure."

Jarod stares at Hardwicke, in more surprise. Humor from the grumpy visage is, indeed, very strange. The staring lasts longer than he's probably aware, before he catches himself and blinks again. "Certainly, Ser. Of course. Anyhow." Intrigued by this newfound light conversation, he goes with the subject. "What do you figure you'll name it? When your son's born? Or your daughter, I guess it might be."

"What're you staring at, Rivers?" Hardwicke grouches in a rather predictable return to form. He scowls at his companion, though it doesn't completely derail the conversation. "Daena, if it's a girl," he says. "For my mother. And for a boy—" He hesitates a moment before sharing, "Jason."

Jarod nods some to himself at the grouching from Hardwicke, his view of the universe safely restored. The last draws a low "Ah" from him, followed by a firm nod. "Lord Patrek'll be honored, Ser. He holds you and your wife in high esteem. Lord Ser Jason was a great man. Finest knight I ever knew, whatever girlhood dreams Jaremy used to have of Ser Barristan Selmy." He chuckles some at his attempt at a joke, but the humor is muted. "I wish he was here. Him and Lord Jerold, though he needed to be at the Roost. For himself as well as it, I figure."

"He was," Hardwicke agrees quietly of Jarod's estimation of the late Lord Ser Jason. Again, his gaze flickers over, looking him up and down with a quick glance. "Aye, well." He turns over the last scrap of dried meat between his fingers. "They're not. Wishing won't change it."

"I know, Ser," Jarod replies gravely. "Just been thinking on it. Lord Blackwood put Ser Martyn Mallister in charge of the men here, at least. That does us better than many men in the camp. Ser Martyn seems a decent sort, and he's Lord Jason's kin. Didn't seem to please the Frey men, though."

"Whoever he picked was going to displease someone," Hardwicke says in a tone of dismissal. "Ser Martyn's better than some. Young for my tastes."

"Aye, Ser. Better than some might be best we can hope for. Maybe having him clearly dubbed for command will settle things some. Unify all the men in the army again. Our landing here, and what followed, felt a very ill beginning to all this." Jarod tries to take another bite of his jerky, chewing long and thoughtfully. Not that there's any other way to chew the jerky except long.

"Ill, perhaps, but not too surprising." Hardwicke sighs a long, thin breath, then reaches a hand up to scrub at his hair with an air of resuming tension after that brief moment of lightness.

"You expected such, Ser?" Jarod plainly did not, from his tone. He's ever an emotive bastard. He shrugs. "I suppose I should've. I thought, after we'd all fought together on our own soil…but it feels different now. I've gotten to thinking on a talk I had with Ser Kittridge of the Groves men back at Seagard. He said any invasion'd be just about vengeance. I disagreed. I don't know now, though."

"It'll be about vengeance for some," Hardwicke says, watching the fire. "Most, maybe. We're all still men. We're just as much of bastards as they are." He jerks his chin in the direction of the castle. "Don't expect too much of anyone here, Rivers."

"Some more than others," Jarod mutters with a wry half-grin. Though the smile flickers away quick. He watches the fire as well, quiet for a beat. "I think on what they did to the Roost, and part of me figures they deserve it. But then…I don't want to do to these people the same as Maron Greyjoy did to us. I don't want that to be me."

"War's fought a lot of different ways," Hardwicke says. "You want to fight it different than them, fight it your way. Not much more for men like us to do."

"Never fought a war like this before, Ser. Suppose I'm wondering how I will be driven to fight it when I'm put to it, given all they did to our home. But, aye, suppose you're right. And there'll be no knowing it until we're in it." Jarod looks away from the fire. Off into the dimming light, toward the Grey Garden in the distance. "Though I don't get the feeling we'll be put to much but throwing rocks at their walls for awhile yet. Must admit I envy the men who rode to the Ten Towers. Never fought on this side of a siege before, but I've read of ones that stretch for months. Lord Stannis Baratheon was still holding off the siege of Storm's End when the rest of the Rebellion was over and done."

"War has a way of showing men who they truly are." Hardwicke's gaze sweeps back over toward Grey Garden as well, considering those walls with displeasure.

"I hope we're all better men away from war than we are in it," Jarod mutters. "It looks different than the Roost. Bigger. Harder to defend a place like that, though. The Roost you could hold with…thirty good men, maybe, long as your stores held out. The way that Groves engineer described the Grey Garden, it's built like a damn puzzle. Need at least three hundred soldiers to cover all its nooks. Though they've got that, with all the smallfolk packed in with their proper men-at-arms."

"Whichever way we do it, the army will bleed," Hardwicke murmurs. "Profusely."

"I came prepared to bleed, Ser, I've no fear of that. I'll admit, part of me'd prefer to bleed fast and get it done with, rather than sit out here trying to wear them down. Advantage is always with the defenders in a siege." Jarod shrugs. "Not much we can do about that either, I suppose, save try and find weaknesses in their walls and pound until they fall. Or come out and fight."

"I mean our numbers, Rivers. The losses from any sort of attack would be brutal." Hardwicke strokes his fingers along his beard, grown a bit unkempt in their time on the islands.

Jarod has been trying to keep himself clean-shaven. His features don't wear a beard particularly well. Though he can't manage it every day, and he does have some stubble that he can idly scratch at, just now. To Hardwicke's words on that, he nods. "Aye. Well. We don't seem close to being ordered to assault it now, at least. If we do…we'll see how it plays. Not much more we can do but try and bleed them more."

"Aye," Hardwicke says in murmured agreement. He releases a slow, long breath before beginning to stir. "I have to see to some of the men," he says by way of preliminary farewell as he stands.

Jarod nods to Hardwicke. "I'll see you later, Ser. If you've time later, perhaps you should write something for your wife. Never know if you'll get a chance to send it back."

Hardwicke's smile is faint as it is wont to be, and brief on top of that, but it is there. "Perhaps," he says, before he tips his head in turn and turns to go.