|What Kind of Tree Would You Be?|
|Summary:||In which Ser Rivers and Lady Westerling ponder this question. Also, Ironborn and duels and propriety in the Stonebridge marketplace.|
|Related Logs:||What is Dead Cannot Die for the duel in question.|
|Town Square — Stonebridge|
|The surrounding terrain has several small gullies and streams that feed into the waterfront area just adjacent to the town square, the sails of the boats visible over the tops of the buildings. The square is floored in the same heavy stone that the east docks and castle are constructed of while the buildings are a mix of the stone, wood, and mortar. There are quite a few fish vendors with their fragrant catches for sale among groups of tables which tend to be busy most of the time.|
|Thu Dec 15, 288|
Midday in Stonebridge town, which means the marketplace is fairly crowded with commoner shoppers, merchants, and even nobility down to check out the local wares. Ser Jarod Rivers is there, too. He's leading a sturdy brown horse with a white patch on his nose through the streets - afoot rather than mounted at the moment. He's likely in search of a hitching post. He's whistling to himself. A merry tune today, though it's lost in the general noise of the market unless one is particularly close to him.
Admidst the crowd peeks the glint of blonde hair and a sea green gown as Danae lingers near a merchant's both, whose store is full of middling to fine metal wares. The older gentleman has gone silvered grey beneat his hat, but from the cheerful animation of their conversation, he is no stranger to the Westerling. A hitching post stands just down from the booth, allowing strains of conversation to be overhead. "No, I promise I am fine. However, you let me know if you hear anything. Please?" Danae requests with a small smile for the gentleman's response.
Jarod finds said hitching post, and sets about hitching his brown courser to it. Idly patting the beast's neck as he parks him. The flash of blonde and sea green catches his eye as he does so, and he turns his head properly. To spot the Western woman. He pauses a moment, thoughtful, then approaches her. And the metal wares booth. "M'Lady Westerling." That's how he announces his presence, paired with that flourishing bow that sweeps his swordbelt sash in a way he must practice in the mirror to get just right. "I should thank you for your good repair. My face is not anymore worse than it was before." Indeed, his bruises have healed.
Upon hearing her name, Danae turns towards the sound in a swirl of skirts and long blonde hair to lay eyes upon Jarod Rivers and his graceful bow. It would be quite the shame to miss it. Very dapper and impressive as it is. A warm look of acknowledgement colours her features as she curtsies slightly in greeting, as lady to knight. "Good Ser Rivers, I am glad to see that it is so. It is an excellent face, elsewise I might have had to beg your pardon for my ill treatment of it," she offers gently. "I take that you and Lady Elinor had a uneventful journey back to the Roost?" Turning towards the merchant, she inclines her chin in a slight nod to excuse herself from their earlier conversation and give her full attention to Ser Jarod.
"Your treatment of it was most kindly, m'lady. Better than some others that day, for certain," Jarod replies with a grin. "Aye, the roads were quiet. The journey between Terrick's Roost and Stonebridge is a short one. Though it feels longer since these lands have gone from Terrick to Nayland. Still, clear riding. I'm just down for the day. Wanted to look about, talk up a few people I missed on my last visit. Clear our my head." He eyes the metal wares display, though it's hard to tell how interested he really is. "You shopping for anything in particular here?"
"Hopefully better than those which laid the damage into it in the first," Danae returns with a slighter smile, dipping her chin. "I am glad that you all made it back safely, even with the King's peace and the lengthened distance, as you say, brigands remain." She follows his gaze back to the wares on display and shakes her head gracefully. "Nay, Ser. I am simply visiting Master Eges, he came up the length of the journey with my party. He has kindly offered to take a letter back to my brother when he returns to the Crag."
Jarod lets out a short laugh. "Oh that? Just a bit of nonsense over a girl. I'm fairly sure that's settled now. Or at least, we've progressed past the punching-eachother stage over it. We're both respectable gentlemen, more or less." To her answer about the merchant, he nods. "Bodes well to see more Westerlands merchants in our Riverlands, even if they are in a Nayland marketplace for the moment. How do you find Stonebridge, by the by? I'm told Banefort is more…remote than what our Riverlands offers, though I know little of the Crag."
Danae's mouth quirks up, just at the corners to hint at her amusement. "So long as you are respectable gentlemen /now/, that the fighting is over," she agrees in a calm voice. It is very nearly a tease. Her guard lingers somewhere near by, speaking of respectability, although unobtrusively. "It is well for them to come, as well. I find it pleasant, the landscape is very gentle and its people are highly congenial. The Lady Isolde and her kin have been kind to me during my stay." The note on Banefort draws a small laugh. "Not quite so remote, although our next nearest houses are that of Ashemark and Faircastle to the south. It is far more distanced than the Riverlands."
"Tordane Tower is a pleasant place to spend your days, and the Lady Isolde one of the kinder people I've known in my life," Jarod agrees. "When my lord father held these lands his vassal, I spent a not-few afternoons in the gardens as a boy. Lovely roses. And fine trees, if you're in the mood for climbing. Not that I would suggest the lady indulges in such things, of course. When I was last there it felt much changed, and yet not much changed, if that makes any sense at all." He moves on from the metal wares booth to the next one, which sells leather goods.
"It is indeed. The gardens must be spectacular when they are fully in bloom. I spent the afternoon lost withing them the other day," she replies with low note of pleasure in her tone. "I do not think that I saw the trees that you speak of as note." That will be something to look for. Not that a lady would climb them, of course. Ahem. Her business finished with the metals merchant, Danae moves to walk with him to continue their pleasant conversation without any particular rush. "It must have been a fine place to run through as a child."
"It's near the edge of the gardens, as I recall. Big tree. Good for thinking, if you need a place to get your head in order," Jarod replies, as to that. "At the very least, it'll give you some shade on a hot day in the long summer." He ponders a satchel with some artful stitching in the style of horses on it, but he doesn't seem in the mood to buy. Just browse. "It was. My brothers and sister were close as kin to Lady Isolde and her brothers in those days. Thought we'd all be kin one day, come to it. Funny how things change. Had I known what the world would be today when I was a boy of thirteen…well." He laughs. "I'd have been very confused. Moreso than I am now, at least, which is saying something."
"I shall look for it. A clear head is nothing to put aside, even for a lady," Danae returns, sweeping a tendril of hair back out of her face as the wind tugs it free of its braiding. Her gaze slides over the shown wares, eyes sharply appraising. Nothing of note catches her interest. "The expectations of children rarely hold to the rules that govern adulthood. At thirteen I would have very solemnly said that I wished more than anything to seriously study chigurgony, but here we are." A bittersweet note colours her tone, reminiscences for childhoods passed. "Are you confused, Ser Rivers? You seem too self-possessed to be such, if you'll forgive me for the observation."
"Self-possessed? Do I seem so?" The observation seems to surprise Jarod, just a little, though it makes his grin widen. And his green eyes grow thoughtful. "That's a thing I've never been called before, m'lady. Perhaps I am that today, at that. I'm sort've winding myself up to do a thing I think will not please some, but it is a thing I want. And it satisfies my conscience. Now that I've decided to do it, I feel like I've got my head on a bit straighter than it's been in awhile." Not that he explains this vague thing he's on about. "Medicine, then?" He tilts his head to regard her. "You seem to have made something of a study of it. Or so my face would contest, at least."
Blue eyes regard him plainly, keen and thoughtful as Danae looks over his features and grin before tipping her head in a sharp nod. "Indeed you do. I should hope that whatever thing your lead yourself to, it accomplishes the measure that you hope it might," she says of his task. A conscience is a heavy thing to settle. Jarod's sideways compliment of her ability leads to a smile and another shake of her head, this time in negative. "I am a professional hobbyist, good Ser. It is not suitable for a lady of my position to pursue it as formally as I thought I might, once. The difference of a child and an adult. Is it not? A child's dreams look to what they desire most, while an adults look to what they can do to achieve a portion of that."
"It'll accomplish something, I think," Jarod says wryly, though it's paired with another slight widening of his boyish grin. "We'll see how it plays. And you know, that's always struck me as a strange thing. Suitability. Propriety. And how it seems to shift depending on your company, or on the land you call home. I met a lady from a high family in the Iron Islands recently, and she carries a sword and seems eager to knock blades with every man she meets. The Lady Anais, my goodsister now and a former Banefort, used to find it perfectly suitable to practice at sailing and archery at her home in Banefort, yet such things rankle the Lady of the Roost. In Dorne, perhaps, you'd be held in esteem for being a great healer and knowing how to mix poultices, yet in the Crag it is not a thing for a lady. Turns the head around, all these different things we are supposed to be."
"I suppose there is nor valor or satiation of conscience in inaction." Danae lifts her skirts to step to the side of a muddy bit of street, looking up at Jarod with bemusement. "I should not think that I should like to be in Dorne, even if there was esteem to come with the move," she offers wryly, scanning the crowd for a moment before turning back to him. "Ladies are governed by the rules of propriety, much the way knights choose their codes of honor and follow the writs of their Lords. It is just that ours are far less of an equal measure with their shift, a true lady is expected to hold the standards of the place she inhabits. It does turn the head." She pauses for a moment, raising her brows. "I have heard tale of the Ironborn, but had not realized she was so close. How did you find her? Ah — beyond armed, that is."
"Dorne's not so bad, from what I hear," Jarod says. "Hotter than here, albeit. And there's sand. Lots of sand. But, aye, that's the thing. The code of knighthood does not change from house to house. Not that we all do it perfectly, mind you. But at least we can always tell where we've mucked it up. Speaking of when we were thirteen, when I was that age I thought I'd be a great adventurer. World-traveler. Sands of Dorne, gardens of the Reach, rains of the Stormlands. Summer snows in the North and horse lords and merchant princes of the East. Now I'm one-and-twenty and I've never left the Riverlands, save a jaunt of Lannisport a few years ago in the service of my young lord brother. Our world becomes smaller as we grow, but what there is of it seems to grow more complicated." As to the Ironborn. "She's intriguing, of course, as any exotic new thing is when it comes into your back yard. And I do not find her as off-putting as some. But she is a strange one, and I wonder if her mission here will end as diplomatically as it's begun."
Danae laughs, the sound curling low and soft and almost too quiet to be heard in the bustle of the crowd but for Jarod's nearness, at his assessment of knighthood. "I think you will find, Ser, that a lady always knows when she has 'mucked it up' by the expressions of horror on the faces of those to be her peers. That of course does not mean that they follow their rules perfectly, for there are a great many expectations to be set," she allows. His dreams are listened to fully and without interruption, even aged as they are. "It is the large intrigues that are easy for a man to match his morals to. The wars. The major victories. Things are never as simple the battle of a tourney, no? At one-and-twenty, you still have years ahead to travel should the need call." The assessment of the Ironborn makes her frown slightly, fingers trailing down the delicate chain that hangs at her breast. "One would wonder. So far as I had heard, diplomatic was not…generally in their most formal of skills. What cause did she come in favor of, do you know?"
"I cannot, Lady Danae, ever imagine you inspiring expressions of horror in those you meet." Despite the boyish grin that still remains on Jarod's face, the compliment contains no trace of a joke. "Aye. I suppose I've time to see a larger share of the world if I like. Though I hope never to see war again, and I fit poorly in intrigue. But as for the cause of the Ironborn, that is a long story. And I shall begin with some context. It was…six months ago? Perhaps a little more. That the Lady Isolde Nee Tordane wed Lord Ryker Nayland. And her world and mine both rearranged, albeit hers in larger ways. Mine only by how it affected my lord father, and my brother. But, on the occasion of their wedding there was a tourney here, and that is where our story begins."
"You are too kind, Ser Rivers," Danae replies warmly, tone humming with the refusal a laugh. "I regret to inform you that those trees which saw your feet in your youth would have seen mine as well, in a full dress for court…" Crinkling her nose in amusement, her mouth tweaks up in amusement at her — perhaps younger — self. " Regarding him fully she dips her head in a mild nod, encouraging the story. "If you would please."
Jarod does chuckle at that, not hesitating to laugh, though it's at the joke rather than at her. "I'd have liked to have seen that. But, then, I am occasionally not the soul of propriety. Sounds like you had fun, at least, and there's nothing wrong with that now and again." But as for the story, he goes on. "Many from various corners of the land came to the tourney, including a party of Greyjoys. One Lord Maron Greyjoy got into some trouble. It's a stupid tale, I'll grant you, to have escalated as it did. I guess he was at a tavern and he tangled with a local minstrel woman. Claims she tried to rob him, though he got rougher with her than he should've. Which alas, as both Ironborn man and lord tangling with a common woman, doesn't surprise. A local knight by the name of Ser Kevan Tierney came to the woman's defense. They got into a fight, which got out of hand, and it all ended in Ser Kevan challenging the Greyjoy to a duel to the death over the fate of this woman."
There is a flare of teeth as Danae's mouth curls into a breath grin, before settling into a more gentile smile once again. "It was the sight to be seen, certainly. There are perhaps moments for impropriety, especially if they involve trees," she purports innocently. The tale is the thing though, isn't it? Jarod has her absolute attention in his retelling of it. "And the Lord Greyjoy did not survive the encounter?"
"Agreed! Trees create exceptions to rules. Why, your very proper host, the Lady Isolde, climbed one or two in her day as well. Though if you say I told on her for it, I will deny it." Jarod winks. "The Greyjoy was the loser, but he did not actually take his own part in the duel. He elected to use a champion. One of the Greyjoy's bastards." He uses the term without any particular shame. "'Earning his name,' was what he said. Anyhow, it was the Pyke who dueled Ser Kevan, and the Pyke lost. And did, indeed, not survive the encounter."
"Oh my. I shall have to hold such a secret near to my heart then. It wouldn't do to offend my all to kind host," Danae drawls, placing a hand across where her heart lurks in her breast, all lopsided smile on her mouth. Deny all you will, Ser. There is a nod for the continuation of the story, expression solemn and soft. "I have heard the like. And what came of Greyjoy, for the Ironborn Lady to come this far from their Isles?"
"This is where the tale gets funny, for very little came of it," Jarod replies to that. "Far less than I'd feared or expected, at least. You see, Ser Kevan had been sworn to the Terrick's service before this whole…duel thing. We released him prior to it, for it was not a quarrel we wanted to place the House's honor in. Still. I'd expected the Ironborn would retaliate the death of their Pyke on our coasts. They are eager to avenge far lesser slights if it gets them excuse to pillage and plunder. And yet…nothing. Not for months. Even the smaller raiding parties we tend to get from time to time have been absent from our shores since Stonebridge. And now, months later when the matter was all but forgotten, comes the Lady Harlaw."
"That is strange," Danae murmurs of the raids, prompting more of the story as it comes. "That would be the logical recompense from an Ironborn's beliefs." Then they wind around to the Lady, at least. "What did she come for then? If diplomatic than not a desire for revenge, surely?"
"She says she was sent by the Greyjoys," Jarod replies. "Which may make sense. The Harlaws are the most connected with mainland of any of the Iron Islands families. Her cousin, Ser Harras Harlaw, is one of the only warriors in that land to have taken to the Seven and become a knight sworn." This, to Jarod, is a point very much in their favor. "So she'd serve diplomacy better than most. She claims to be here to negotiate some…recompense for the death of the Pyke. Which I doubt she will get. I saw the fight. The Terricks were only loosely connected with it, and it was a clean quarrel fought after a proper challenge given, whatever the merit of the matter of the woman it was over. She also says she's hear to speak on the prospect of trade, and better relations between her islands and our mainland. Perhaps it's as simple as that. Perhaps not. I find it difficult to trust an Ironborn."
"Indeed?" An Ironborn knight, how curious the world is. It is a point to some extent, although Danae's expression shares little more of her thoughts beyond pleasant interest in the subject. "It seems a curious combination, for one to engender both recompense and trade in the same hand. More so that it should come so long after the event." A slight frown, thoughtful and lightly disbelieving of intention darkens her features as she agrees, "Perhaps as it should be of Ironborn. I should wonder if I will have change to meet her before affairs are settled."
"Whole matter's odd, aye, and it unsettles me some to have it floating around a castle I'm charged with defending," Jarod admits, easy grin moderating closer to a frown. Though his expression doesn't get there, quite. He's more naturally given to smiling. "Meet her? I think you would find that interesting. And perhaps fruitful, she claims she's interested in trade and that might do for your Crag as well as the Roost. Prepare yourself, though. The Lady Harlaw is about a dozen different kinds of improprieties. Though you do not strike me as the sort of lady who's easily shocked, improper as it might be for you to admit it."
Danae's own frown eases after a moment, it settles into something more pensive and warmer by far. "Nay. It is not a tangle that any would wish upon the threshold of their keep, too many twists to it by far. I pray that she might just be interested in trade and indeed —" She pauses to direct a smile in his direction, "That I might speak to her on such should it be." A bright, genuine laugh is started of of her, causing her to press her fingertips to her mouth at his assessment. "Good Ser, I assure you that I am as proper as the delicate roses that line the Tower gardens," she returns smoothly, lifting her neck at a graceful angle.
"Roses are not proper flowers, m'lady," Jarod rejoins to that. Grinning again, though his tone is half-wistful at his own joke. "They're very pretty, I'll grant you that. And easy to get lost in for an afternoon. But they've sharp thorns that'll leave you cut. You strike me as one made for far nicer blooms than those. Something with healing properties, perhaps. Umm…I've really no idea what those might be. I just have poultices applied to me when I break myself, I don't give much thought as to what's in them." Though mention of the Tordane gardens seem to put him in mind of that house again. "Do you think the Lady Isolde and Lord Ryker would mind if I called upon their house while I was in town this day? I know not how long I'll linger, but I'd rather like to see that tree again. And a few other things."
"They are more like a castle then, where the elegance must have its own defenses. A flower for a knight, such as yourself." The rose is a complicated flower. "Perhaps you might, if you have them applied so oft. It would be better for your personal education to know that you might just called me a weed, many of the better ingredients for poultices are," Danae supplies warmly, not offended by the potential if accidental slight. Her fingertips tap at her lower lip, humming lowly in thought as she looks in the direction of the Tower. "I should think not, but I would not dare to speak for my host. I shall leave a message that you would care to call, Ser Rivers. I am headed back in that direction now," she offers, gesturing delicately. "Which I should leave you to your business for this day. Thank you kindly for the story and your fine company."
Jarod snorts at that. "I am no rose." He's firm on that point. "I've never given much though to what kind of floral arrangement I am. If I had to be some plant life I think I'd prefer to bee a tree instead. Oak, maybe. Or birch, perhaps. I could be all right with birch. And you're certainly no weed, m'lady, sorry if I implied it. Perhaps you're a tree instead. Something fruit-bearing and sweet. Maybe an apple." When she says she's returning to the tower, he nods. "I thank you. I'm getting a room at the Crane's Crossing. I'll be in and out this afternoon, but if a message is left there I'll get it before evening falls."
"A tree," Danae repeats, expression softening with the thought into something wholly pleased. "I like that. Thank you for the compliment, Ser. I am sure your roots are strong and firm, however unseen, although you seem more of an oak than a birch to me." She does not explain the /why/ of that reasoning. Instead she slips into a short cursty with the accompaniment of a smile. "Then it shall be done. I will take my leave of your now, good grace on your venture," she wishes, before slipping off into the crowd to head towards the Tower.
"Oak. Huh." Jarod mutters, grinning. He takes that as a compliment, whatever it means. He bows her off, though he'll linger in the market for a bit after she's gone.