|Page 120: Unfortunate Realities|
|Summary:||Lords Terrick and Tully discuss the great matter of Stonebridge|
|Related Logs:||All Riverrun logs.|
|Lord Hoster Tully's Sitting Room|
|A well appointed sitting room.|
|12 Eleventhmonth 288 AL|
The Lord of Riverrun has barely emerges from the chambers of his own wing of the sandstone fortress for the past several days. It is known that he has seen and spoken with Rutger and Isolde Nayland in seperate meetings, before at last word comes that the Lord Paramount wishes to speak with Jacsen Terrick. Lord Tully awaits in his sitting room, behind a desk, with the weighty letters spread before him.
The Lord Tully is not made to wait overlong on Jacsen, though it might be longer than he is used to waiting upon hale, and hearty men. Still, he is shown into the sitting room, leaning strongly upon his cane, for all that it seems a natural motion for the young man. "My Lord," he offers, with respect, as he comes to a halt and bows his head and shoulders deeply for the King's Lord Paramount of the Riverlands.
"Ah, Young Terrick. Come in, come in. Rest yourself." A look aside and word to his servant summons a vessel of "Wine," before he motions to all of the men within the room- guards, servants, and scribes alike- "Leave us." The first servant deposits a clay pitcher, and a pair of goblets on the table before bowing once and withdrawing along with all the others.
A small smile favors Jacsen's mouth. "Thank you, milord," he says, turning aside to find a seat that he might lower himself into, using the cane to leverage himself in a mostly graceful motion. There is a grateful look that crosses his face, if for but a second, when he comes to a rest. "And for the fine accommodations you've provided for my Lady Mother, my siblings, myself and my wife. My memories of Riverrun and the trip east are a vague blur of motion and mass of men, for all that the subject bringing us was unpleasant, I cannot say the travel or the destination lacked for its own value."
It is kind of you to say, Young Terrick," Hoster answers with a wan smile as the last of his retainers filter out, drawing the sitting room door shut behind them. "If you would indulge me, and pour us both a measure of wine, I would thank you, Lord Jacsen. That last trip of which you spoke has robbed my hand of much strength, and- as much as it might be tempting, I would not see all these letters spoiled," he motions with distaste to the occupants of his desktop.
It's not an altogether unfamiliar thing what he is asked, as Lord Mallister has doubtless asked it of him even after he was no longer a squire meant for such tasks, a small price to pay for the entrance into such private counsels. "No need for thanks, my lord," Jacsen assures Hoster Tully, as he sits forward that he might reach the clay jug, slowly pouring a measure into each of the cups there. There is understanding in his expression when the man explains how the war left him, though his eyes cannot mask their interest in the letters.
Hoster Tully is not so feeble of wit as to miss Jacsen's glance, and he gives a rueful smile, "Look, look as you like, Young Terrick. I am sick of the sight of them." He accepts the goblet from Jacsen with a nod of thanks, and raises it to his lips for a swallow.
Jacsen offers a grateful nod to the Tully, and leans forward to procure one of the letters upon the desk. With the cup of wine poised near his mouth, his eyes scan over the words writ between a Lord and his Lady Wife, not quite fit for the eyes of others. He takes a slow sip, and reads it a second time. "This is the one that Ser Rygar presented to you at Council, my lord?" He asks, his eyes lifting towards Hoster again.
"It is," Hoster grunts with a nod. "I have told the Naylands twice that the truth of its seal has not yet been conclusively proven, yet my scribes are in assent: the seal is genuine, the hand is Ser Geoffrey's. Damnation, even the parchement and ink are aged appropriately. If it is false, it seems the work of the Smith, himself."
He breathes through his nose as he considers that, though Jacsen's expression is well-schooled. "And what of the rest of them, my lord? The letters were stolen away before Lord Mallister dispatched me from Seaguard, to see what I could make of the various missteps my brother had made. I've never had the opportunity to examine them myself."
The Lord of Riverrun motions to the others, "Look, look to your heart's content. This one here, with the fragments of green wax coloring the page, but no stamp, is the letter in which Geoffrey names Isolde a bastard, and states that he wishes Gedeon to succeed him. would you believe that my scribes believe this to be in Geoffrey Tordane's hand as well?"
As is perhaps appropriate, he takes another slow sip of wine. "Possible, perhaps, that Lord Geoffrey's mind was changed before the end met him, I…" He heaves a small sigh. "I did not have the honor of his company before he died. I cannot say much as to his state of mind." Jacsen sets down the last testament, and looks to another of the documents that Hoster has arrayed upon his desk. "If they are both his hand, and the testimony of Lord Anton Valentin supports the original seal… It would seem they are equal enough, and at conflict with one another."
"That they are at conflict with each other, is certain. But one is stamped and sealed and the other is not. Though I fondly remember Cyric Valentin, and have not seen any ill of the present Knight of Oldstones, his word will not conjure a seal. The whole host of bloody Naylands could swear otherwise, and then it would turn into a challenge," Hoster recites wearily. "I do not wish this business to turn bloody, my Young Terrick, or I fear we shall have war again."
"Truth be told, my lord, I could not swear to the origins of this bad blood betwixt my father and Lord Rickart Nayland, and I would see no blood spilt on its account," Jacsen tells the Lord Paramount. "Though I think blood already has, be it blood of no worth to great lords. Septon Amery, before he could ever find breath to speak to more than his junior Septon Josse on the letters, met his end. And there are others, less noteworthy…" he shakes his head, and sets the letter down. "Still. This last testament names Isolde, and makes clear Lord Geoffrey's will that she be wed to my eldest brother. Can they shout so loud that it might not be followed, when their very stake in this entire issue is predicated on the breaking that very same will?"
"I have brought that very same issue before the Naylands, Young Terrick," Hoster nods with a snap of his fingers to Jacsen's last. "And I have been told in reply that Valda Tordane did seek to secure the marriage of Isolde to Jaremy Terrick, and that the match was deferred. The rest of it- a tournament that never happened, largesse to the smallfolk- it is nothing," he notes with a dismissive wave of one hand. "But I must know, my Young Lord: Did Jaremy or your Lord father ever defer such a match? If they did not, there is precedent for challenging the marriage of Isolde Tordane to Ryker Nayland."
Jacsen's index finger taps lightly at the wine cup he holds. "To my knowledge, my lord, neither my lord father nor my brother deferred such a match," he shares with an earnest manner. "Though you might know that I was in Seaguard at the time. Still, I can affirm that my father would never have done such, the betrayal he felt at Isolde's match elsewhere was too palpable, and Lord Jerold too good and honorable a man to have cast aside the marriage only to feign such concern now. And if my brother, in some air headed pursuit of dreams of the Kingsguard, said something to the effect… It was never his choice, as it was never Isolde's. Her father's will was clear, as was mine." He lets out a breath. "One need look no further than the wholly unusual, near inappropriate span of time betwixt the announcement of Isolde and Ryker's match and their wedding, to see that they knew they were acting against the rule of both Houses."
Lord Hoster hears out Jacsen's reply with a pair of short nods. "Excellent. I will wish to hear your Lord father's confirmation of this, and proceedings might be undertaken to challenge the Tordane/Nayland union. Though you may be wrong in one thing, my Young Terrick: if your brother were of age, and still deferred, it would sink the proceedings- you must make very certain of that." A slow breath drawn as he steals another sip of wine, before going on. "That would leave Isolde as legitimate, but I wonder, Young Terrick.." he interjects as a thought strikes, "What marriage would your family offer if it were?" A short shake of his head and the Lord Paramount moves on, "Would your Lady mother have knowledge of such events, I wonder?"
That he misjudges the legalities of a certain point of order is accepted with a succinct nod. "Pardon me, my lord. I will do all I might to be certain of such things… I reckon that if my Lady mother knows nothing, Ser Jarod Rivers, our half-brother might well know. He and Jaremy were close as brothers could be in those years," he tells Hoster. "As to the prospect of a marriage? I've toyed with some notions there… but I am not quite satisfied with any of them yet, truth be told." He downs a necessary sip of wine. "Still. I am not convinced of this testament, with all the respect due to those wiser eyes that have considered it genuine. That it has the seal is hardly noteworthy, it did come, after all, from Lady Valda's hands, and is not the seal in her possession? And if they had such a document, why has no one in all the Seven Kingdoms heard even the faintest rumor of it until my Lord Tully's Council? The egregious lack of judgment in keeping it secret aside, it seems every bit as convenient as it could be."
"Be cautious, Young Terrick," Hoster Tully counsels as Jacsen speaks on. "Such talk in public could provoke a challenge. Naming noble men liars tends to have a prickly effect," he sniffs with a rueful shake of the head. "As for the rest, my Young Lord, I advise you find a suitable position within what I have shared. If you refute the new Testament, you support Gedeon Rivers against Nayland claims which- even if false, cannot be easily proven so. If you accept Isolde's legitimacy and seek to annul her marriage, you risk naming Rivers and his Valentin knight as liars." A rasping drawn breath as Hoster draws in a swallow of wine. "I have advised Rutger Nayland to seek you out in search of a compromise. I recommend you see what can be gained by that before reaching a decision on how to proceed. But be very cautious, Young Terrick: your brother did you no favors in drawing the ire and eye of King Robert toward the perceived ambitions of your family toward Stonebridge. We must avoid any breach of the peace."
Jacsen tips his chin at the elder man's words. "I speak of neither in public, and will refrain from doing so as my lord counsels," he assures. The finality in the Lord Paramount's words do settle some on the Terrick, and a quiet breath follows, and another nod. "I only begin to understand how impossible this must be to have put before you, my lord, and for that I am sorry. Please know that my Lord father pursues this matter out of more than personal pride, and more even than his love for Geoffrey Tordane." He drains the remainder of his cup and sets it down before he finishes, ordering his thoughts. "He does this for love of his duty, and his love of honor, his love of dignity, and his loyalty to Seaguard and Riverrun. He does not fail to recall, as I am certain my lord has not, that when the time came to follow Good King Robert and lay low the Mad King, that the swords of House Nayland and their lieges remained sheathed and hung over their mantels rather than turned to the just cause, the rightful call of our Lord Tully. I might speak such things only in your private counsel, my lord, but I believe it wholly, that to leave Isolde Tordane and Ryker Nayland to rule Stonebridge, and one day make it part of the Mire, is to let traitors profit off of the death of two fine men that shed their lives for the same justice the Freys and the Naylands spat upon. And it shall not end with Stonebridge, but shall reach for Oldstones, and one day the Roost, until those that would march at my Lord Tully's words will find themselves surrounded on all sides, as worried for their neighbors as for reavers come from the Iron Isles." He bows his head a fraction, the rising passion in his voice tempering. "Perhaps I have said too much, my lord, or perhaps my youth betrays my vision of such things. But I would rather you schooled my thought than I chance being so blind as my brother, my lord."
"Not all of them," Hoster notes with bitterness as Jacsen claims that the 'swords of Nayland stood idle'. "There is a very good reason I sent out all other ears than my own before we began, Young Terrick," Hoster notes with a wan smile as Jacsen makes his emotional but distinctly unfit-for-public appeal. "So that ou fully understand my state, young Lord, let me explain," he speaks on, afterward. "However convenient and suspect this Testament may be, I have been presented a document which appears genuine to every investigation, and which establishes Isolde as Ser Geoffrey's heir. If I disregard that testament without very good cause, what manner of precedent will I be setting? Every noble inheritance in my domain which slights one child, or angers another will have legal recourse to be challenged. A most dire precedent to set, Young Terrick." He draws a weary breath. "That grasping house will continue to reach and reach, and reach. But the right of law must be with me before I step upon their wrists. My one solace in this ruin is that it is only your neighbors whom Lord Jerold needs guard against. The Ironborn are a faded power, any significant action against your father by those pirates would be met with overwhelming reprisals." The lord settles back heavily in his seat, shifting weight, and speaking on. "I do not disagree with you, Young Lord. But neither can I safely pluck away Stonebridge, and make it a gift for your good Father's leal service. Unless this Testament can be proven false, or the word of Valda Tordane disproven, then that nest of harpies have broken no law."
His request for forgiveness at the omission of the Nayland blade that did take up is murmured, but sincere all the same. Jacsen listens to the elder man's words, quite soaks them in, for whatever the outcome of this he will surely learn from a man such as Lord Hoster but a handful of times in all his years. "I hear you my lord, I do loudly and clearly. You cannot act without circumstance providing you adequate reason…" He leans forward and taps upon the parchment that contains the seal of House Tordane, and with it, the hopes of both sides in the conflict over Stonebridge. "Men are known to make mistakes, even the best amongst us, even scribes. They are men in service to my lord, and as all my lord's servants must, they work for the easement of your state, the betterment of your lot, the richness of your happiness. If they were to be reminded of their duty, and asked again to consider the documents, in that light?" His eyes duck a mere fraction. "It would be their duty to find that which best pleases and serves their lord, and for their lord to consider their findings and interpret it through law." It does not seem the Terrick is completely at ease with what his words might be taken to imply, though such interpretation is meant for Hoster and not himself, yet in that unease he manages to find measured delivery. "I shall speak with Lord Rutger Nayland, my lord, and see of what mind the man finds himself. Might I seek your counsel again, before this matter is done?"'
"All men make mistakes, Young Terrick," Hoster Tully states deliberately on the heels of Jacsen's half-spoken suggestion, the one that Jerold's heir seems ill at ease with discussing. "And the most fortunate men live long enough to learn from their mistakes." His cloudy blue eyes hold Jacsen's own stare intently for a moment as he muses quietly, before another wan smile is affected. "Speak with the Nayland, and see what you may wring from him. I do invite you to speak with me again after you do so, Lord Jacsen, for once those words are had, my decision must be made."
He bows his head to that. "My lord," Jacsen affirms, reaching out to take his cane in hand. "I thank you for your wisdom, and your candor. I will do all I might to ensure it is not put to waste."