Page 026: What Matters
What Matters
Summary: Ser Rygar Nayland and Ser Jarod Rivers share a drink, swap some war stories, and try to figure out the meaning of it all.
Date: 07/08/288
Related Logs: None
Rygar Jarod 
Terrick's Roost
A table and a flagon of beer can be found here.
Sun August 7, 288

Rygar has made a steady migration throughout the day. First he broke his fast ion the common hall, then made his unhurried way up to the parapet. Then out to observe the household retainers training at arms, then in to the common hall again, always with a Terrick retainer within sight. There he sits, in a small alcove on the noble side of the room, a small repast and flagon set before him.

Jarod spent the day somewhat wandering as well. Watching Rowan bat himself around the practice field, a bit of time spent watching the household swords in training as well. Perhaps he's followed Rygar back to the castle from there. For he pads over toward the Nayland knight. At his feet follows a sleek tomcat, who seems to be Jarod's companion for the day. "Found the wine, I see, Ser," he observes, tone more or less light and conversational.

"It is beer, Ser," Rygar answers, conversational in word, while far from warm in tone. "I have no stomach for the summerwine that seems favored in this hall." The cat is breifly noted, but dismissed from attention promptly thereafter. "How fare you, Ser." Phrased as a query, but not spoken as one.

"Bit sweet, aye, better with meals," Jarod says. "Might I join you? Since I can't properly take part in training, I find myself with far more liberty than I know quite what to do with. I fare all right. And you, Ser? Have you spoken with my brother as of yet?"

Rygar nods sharply to the inquiry, with a motion of one hand to the seat opposite, before shaking his head to the negative. "Very much of your home seems too sweet for my taste, Ser. Your Lord Father continues to refuse audience, now I await word with your brother the Young Lord."

"My father's trying to make a point, I think, Ser," Jarod says, half-apologetic and half-wry. "Or get Jaremy to handle it himself. Which is perhaps still a point, just not one aimed to you." He pours himself some beer. The cat is still haunting his heels, and arches its head at him pointedly. With a snort, Jarod reaches down to scratch the beast between the ears.

"I expected nothing less, and nothing more in coming, Ser," Rygar notes to the half-apologetic explanation. "Tell me: to whom were squired in your youth, Ser? I had believed it to be Ser Revyn Terrick, but know now this could not be the case."

Jarod shakes his head. "No indeed, Ser, my brother Jaremy did for my lord uncle, as was his honor properly. I was sent to our lieges, the Mallisters. A sworn sword in their service, more specific. Name's Ser Vernon Mullard, though I doubt you've heard it. His father was a butcher, and he was a hedge knight before taking up with Lord Jason's men." There's warmth in his voice as he speaks of said hedge knight. "And what of you? If you will forgive an implied slight against your family's liege lords, you don't seem like a sword who was made under a Frey."

"I will forgive the slight, but not overlook it's giving," Rygar answers that last. "I squired to Ser Bannon Erenford until my twenty-second name day. Although- as Ser Bannon stood bannerman to Lord Walder Frey, and the years of my squiring were passed at the Twins- one could correctly say I am a sword who was made under Frey. The Ser wuld be wise to consider that the lot of a lesser son at a greater court, even one of trueborn nobility, is not an easy one." Belatedly, he nods to the mention of Ser Mullard. "I do not know the name, though knowing that he served the Mallisters answers my curiosity. No doubt it was under the Mallister banner you served in the Rebellion."

"I think no man has it as easy in life as other men think they do, Ser," Jarod replies to that, taking a gulp of his beer. "I'm a no great intellect, as I'm sure our maester will be happy to tell you in detail, but I'm smart enough to know I'm luckier than most - and to make few assumptions." For the bit about the Mallisters, he nods. "Aye, Ser, that's how I came to it. I was knighted in the days after the Trident. Not that I gave much of an account of myself, so you'd not recall that, either. Most rebel squires close to of age, with four limbs stil attached, were dubbed after." It's half a joke and half not.

Rygar sniffs sharply once at that last. "The Mallisters fought near to Baratheon himself. In the rebel center," he recalls, slipping into describing the new King's cause as 'rebels' as he speaks. "Opposite His Highness the prince. It is said Lord Jason Mallister cut down three of my namesake's bodyguard by his own hand, before Rhaegar and Robert fought. I have heard of one squire who lacked a hand after the Trident who was dubbed, though I'll not call him undeserving, Ser."

"Daven was his name," Jarod says, as to the hand-poor squire. "Though it wasn't on his sword-arm, which is a small mercy. It can't be said it wasn't earned hard as one can." He takes no outward offense to the use of the term 'rebel,' though mention of Baratheon prompts a shrug. "Lord Jason's accounted a hero of that day, aye, and can tell the tale of King Robert's blow to Prince Rhaegar well. I remember little of it, myself, though that seems the part everyone wants to ask about, when they ask of it."

"I never saw that blow," Rygar notes simply of the hammerstrike that ended one dynasty, and began another. "The Royal left was still hard pressed when the center collapsed. Ser Jonothor Darry of the Kingsguard- a distant kinsman of mine- had was badly wounded in the second rebel charge, dying shortly afterward." A slowly drawn breath. "The left held. Even after the Royal center had broken," he recalls, voice an even mix of bitterness and pride.

"Yes, Ser. Seemed to take everybody some time to figure out just what'd happened. It's funny…" Jarod quickly amends with a shake of his head. "I don't mean funny like a joke, I mean…" He stops trying to pin-point the precise definition of 'funny' he's using, and just moves on. "…I…I'd thought we were losing. Not that I really knew what in seven hells was going on. It all just seemed so…big, with people fighting and dying all around. And then Ser Vernon was shaking me and telling me Prince Rhaegar was dead, and that meant we'd won. It seemed such a huge thing, didn't it? And to come down to two men like that…" He shrugs, like he's not sure quite what he's trying to say. Or quite how to say it.

Rygar nods frowns and motions for Jarod to continue as the younger knight gets caught up defining 'funny'. Tough crowd. "Aye," he states quietly, after. "Prince Rhaegar did his duty as a knight, but not as a Prince. Upon his life turned the fate of the Realm. Later, I was told Lewyn Martell fell on the right wing, and the Dornish withdrew. The left faltered when Ser Jonothor died, but we rallied them. The center held, even when it was said that Ser Barristan had died. But to lose His Highness.." A shake of his head. "Rhaegar was the finest knight of his age. Honorable, chivalrous, and brave. He should not have fought that duel, but had he refused it, he would not have been Rhaegar."

"I figure that's how King Robert wanted it to end as well. Just between the pair of them," Jarod says, a good deal of respect in his tone for the king as well, though none seems lacking for Rhaegar. "Maybe that's how he wanted to settle it from the start. Though I suppose it couldn't have been that simple." He drains some more of his beer. The cat, who he's now ignoring, goes over to butt his head against Rygar's leg in a plea for attention.

Rygar's choice in beers seems a bit sour compared to the sweetness of summerwine, but it does well for thirst. "Seven Kingdoms bled before that duel could take place. Such a generation of knighthood was wiped out that even the scant survivors are paragons," he notes plainly. "Barristan Selmy, for all his deserved fame and skill was the least of the Kingsguard. To say nothing of those departed such as the King's Hand, Lord Connington." he regards Jarod anew, "Was your Ser Vernon at the Battle of the Bells, Ser?"

"He was, aye," Jarod says, tone rather low, and he drinks deeper of his beer. "A bit of it. We were in the reserve to start, but were sent in when the Royals retreated, to try and keep them split. Nasty business, fighting in a town like that." That seems to be all he terribly wants to say about it. "May I ask you something, Ser?" Focus back up on Rygar. "The Naylands didn't send banners anywhere to start. They only joined when it was all over, with the Freys, for King Robert's side." There was not actually a question contained in there. Maybe it's a lead-up to one.

Rygar hmms once at the answer, nodding as he draws a swallow of the beer once Jarod speaks to arriving in the rebel reinforcement. His cold blue regard remains upon Jarod as the Rivers knight makes that leading statement. "That is true. Lord Rickart judged that obedience to his overlord Walder Frey was the proper course of action. The Freys, Charltons, Erenfords, Haighs and Naylands arrived, three thousand strong on the field of the Trident after word of Rhaegar's death reached them. I presume you wonder why I defied my Lord uncle's will." It is not a question.

"That was going to be my question, Ser, yes," Jarod replies. His green eyes, which are anything but cold, rise to meet Rygar's blues.

If Rygar can be imagined to be surprised by anything, that answer is not it. A short nod precedes a draught of the flagon, and a return of his regard to Jarod. "I believed- and still believe- that a vassal must be loyal to the station of rank, not to the individual. Even were every claim made against the King true, it is not our place to betray our vows of loyalty to him. This principle is the core of noble right and social order. If Lords can freely break faith with their king and call it 'just', why should not peasants break faith with their lord, if they account a law unjust? Down that road lies doom and chaos, Ser." He draws a fresh breath. "And though it cost me dearly to do so, I could not abide idleness, when a lawful king were besieged on all sides by traitors, Ser."

"So you followed your conscience, I suppose you could say," Jarod says. If he bristles any at the term 'traitors', it's not apparent. He doesn't seem to know quite what to make of his own part in the rebellion.

"I was sure of my conscience, and obeyed it, Ser. Yes," Rygar affirms with a nod. "Though they cannot ignore the cost, every knight must do so."

"Aye, Ser, though they cannot ignore the cost," Jarod says, with a nod of agreement to the general sentiment. "Do you…do you figure it mattered, Ser?" He exhales, clearly trying rather hard to explain what he means. "That you fought well in the Rebellion. That Squire Daven gave his hand for it, and Lord Mallister was a hero, and Lord Geoffrey Tordane and so many others died for it. That any of us were there at all, if it all came down to just Prince Rhaegar and King Robert?"

"It mattered," Rygar affirms with a nod. "It mattered because every man who fought and bled in the struggle earned his voice in the world which emerged, flawed and fickle though that world may be." A breath is drawn, and exhaled. "Without those men, Robert Baratheon would not have been able to duel Prince Rhaegar. Had the Royalists prevailed at the Battle of the Bells, the old order would have remained. Although the battle ended in a fight between two men, wars are writ in long rolls of men, Ser. Strength now rules Westeros where once before Fealty did. A world ruled by strength is a world that shall need men who were tempered in that war, Ser."

"And you think that's all that's left, a world where strength is all that matters?" Jarod sounds honestly troubled by this idea. "King Robert sits the Iron Throne, and even if the taking it was ugly the land's sworn fealty to him. There's peace now, only under Baratheon instead of Targaryen, and King Robert's children will hold the throne after him, maybe for hundreds of years, like the Targaryens did. Blood and fealty and the will to honor it because everyone in the land wants something to last after they're gone. That still has to count for something."

"There you are wrong, Ser," Rygar answers plainly, with the voice of one who has considered at length before. "Why is Robert Baratheon the King? Because he slew Prince Rhaegar. Because he was the strongest man with the strongest army. Nothing more. He is now sworn liege, and I obey his dictates. But as was proven five years ago: men who obey their oaths do not always prevail." A slow breath drawn in. "The Targaryens ruled for three centuries. The Baratheons will rule until a stronger man with a stronger army opposes them. Bonds of Fealty are longer so strong as once they were, but blood flows as freely as ever it did. The strength that brought Robert to the throne was the strength of arms. That is what rules the land now, Ser."

"If that's true, Ser, then that bodes badly for all of us," Jarod says. "What're we left with, then? To pray those who're strong at least follow what their conscience tells them?"

"We are left with our vows, Ser," Rygar replies. "We are left with the charge to teach others what those vows mean. Our sons, our squires.. even our Lords if they can yet learn. Still," he amends, "You are right in that: it does bode badly."

"I do try and be a good knight, Ser," Jarod says softly. It's said as a sort of promise, perhaps more to himself than Rygar. He's quiet a moment, then his green eyes return to the Nayland knight. "If I ask you to deliver a message to Lady Isolde Nayland for me, would you do it?"

"I am becoming quite common as a messenger," Rygar notes with a wry edge to his cold manner of speech. "You may give me your message, Ser."

"Tell her her brother…half-brother…" The amendment seems sad for Jarod to make, but necessary. "…is under my protection and that I'll see no harm comes to him while this is resolved. Whatever he is. If that still means anything to her. And that…whatever my family does, I have no cause in this except to figure out what the truth is. As I figure everyone deserves that about themselves."

"Whatever else he is," Rygar notes on the question of the Tordane bastard, "Gedeon Rivers is a knight." He does not elaborate upon the comment, instead nodding once. "Lady Isolde will hear your words, Ser." Long, stiff fingered hands close about the flagon before him. "To the honorable dead," he offers in toast, before taking a swallow.

"To the honorable dead, and for remembering them, for their deeds mattered," Jarod toasts, lifting his flagon and downing the last of its contents. "Thank you for the drink, Ser. I wish you good roads back to Stonebridge."