|What The Horses Hear|
|Summary:||Conversations both friendly and unfriendly, public and private, take place in the stables at Terrick's Roost. Featuring a cast of most of the people currently resident at the Roost.|
|Related Logs:||Logs regarding the letters|
|Stables and Kennels — Four Eagles Tower|
|The Tower's Main Stables are nestled into the corner of the courtyard near the portcullis to facilitate quick, easy exits when required. The rear of the structure is backed right against the interior wall of the castle with the heavy wooden roofing gently sloped down towards the slate out front, the floor of the stables kept to dirt. Thick wooden beams are plunged into the ground and serve as a base for the walls between each stall. Hay serves as most of the flooring in the area with a large stack of it off to the side. Each stall has a thick layer on the ground to serve as bedding, with most of the space dedicated to horses though a few have pens of dogs and hounds. An enclosed structure at the end serves as dry storage for riding equipment and saddles.|
|August 12, 288|
Compilation of three mostly distinct scenes. Please add any missing pieces!
If Cayt had ever complained of having too little to do around the place, that has certainly been remedied by the removal of the industrious Rowan from the picture. All suddenly, doesn't it seem like all the work he might have ever wanted is there at his fingertips. Now he has no cause for complaint, but the pre-dawn hours have found him running the hounds at the hour at which hounds like best to be run, and the sun rose to troughs cleaned and refilled, balestands filled to overflowing, and the would-be squire off to his own exercises and morning drills. Now he's heading back into the stables, carrying the last of the training equipment with him on his back, leaning forward with the aspect of a beast of burden as he moves for the storeroom.
Josse was a very familiar face around Four Eagles two years ago, before his departure into the wilds on practicum or pilgrimage or whatever official name the sept gave to his long trip north. It could be any number of people he's been here to see, whether assisting in prayers or with learning mathematics or just sitting in silence. A shortcut through the stables — something he hasn't done since coming back and something he didn't expect to have changed in two years. But a path he used to take now has a rather large hole in it, which his foot firmly plants in. The whole gray ensemble, plus bag and books and everything else, tumbles with a whoomf, the sound of something breaking coming from inside that poor bag. "Damn it."
As the castle fills with more and more visitors, and each of them more flammable than the last, Anais has taken brief refuge in a morning ride. Even that, though, is carefully guarded and groomed, with one of her finer riding gowns, gloves, and an escort of Banefort guards, lest anyone see the group and take exception. She returns now, only the faint darkening at her mount's haunches evidence of something slightly more active than a sedate walk through the fields.
Anais hands her mount's reins off to one of the guards when they reaches the stables, though she seems reluctant to venture back out of them, glancing toward the courtyard from well within. Sighing, she braces herself. "I suppose…" And then there's a fall, and she turns to face the source, smile quirking. "I'll help a man of the Faith." The Seven provide! Tugging off her gloves, she starts toward the downed septon.
Caytiv eases down the training dummy back agains the wall, squatting with legs at a broad, squaring stance to set it down without banging it against the wall. Poor thing's seen enough abuse today already. He stands, and, in the cool of the storeroom shade, finds himself in a crossbreeze, peeling his sweat-soaked shirt on overhead and using some dry portion of it to mop the sweat off of his face and neck and even try to dry his hair a little. Then there's a clatter from outside, and he swats the shirt on up over a handy beam, letting it hang there and dry out a little as he pokes his head out of the storeroom doorway, peering one way, then the other, "Ay," he calls out, coming on out to follow along after his sister, "You alright, there?"
As if this weren't embarassing enough. Josse sucks his teeth quietly at the sound of a woman's voice, rolling over and dragging his foot out of the pit it landed in. A streak of brown discolors his gray robes, and from the smell of it it isn't plain dirt: "Shit," he grouches way under his breath. He clears his throat, giving Caytiv a thin smile. "Prides and falls, you know." Getting up isn't the hard part, but his bag's still on the ground with a large book lying half out of it, and whatever shattered inside probably isn't pretty right now. "My Lady please, you needn't trouble yourself."
"No trouble at all," Anais assures, leaning down to take a careful look at the bag. "Ah, you won't want to let this get damaged," she murmurs, reaching for one corner of the book with one hand and the bag with the other. "Too expensive." She winces a bit at the brown stain, looking over her shoulder toward Caytiv. "Do you have a relatively clean damp cloth anywhere, Cayt? The septon seems to be having a bit of a day."
"Ay," Cayt answers, letting his sister see to the picking up of the book and bag while he reaches down to offer the Septon a hand up. "I reckon I could scare up a clean tunic if y'd like, ay, mate? A hearty smell a' horseshite's enough for a bloke to be used to without it bein' all right under his nose," he offers with a crooked grin.
Josse accepts the help to his feet, glancing down at the streak with a smirk. "I suppose I wouldn't mind if you did…I wouldn't wish to offend. The nose is at least as sensitive as spirit, if not more." The book Anais has picked up is a somewhat dense tome entitled 'Arithmetica and Mechanics'. Some smell is coming from the bag that isn't terribly unpleasant — chamomile oil or something of the sort. It's better than horseshit, anyway. "It's…Lady Anais, do I say it correctly?"
Anais looks up from the book at the sound of her name, blinking once. "It is," she answers, a sheepish smile touching one corner of her lips. "Ah-nay. Which is why I could only marry the Terricks. Could you imagine being Anais Nayland? Ah-nay-nay." She laughs, carefully drawing the book from the bag and swiping a finger across a bit of the liquid. "It would be dreadful. You seem to have broken something in here. Are /you/ all right?" she asks, glancing back to the septon with a little more concern.
Caytiv gives a rough snort of laughter, prompted probably more by the smirk from the Septon than by his witticism. Still, he gives the fellow a steadying clap on the shoulder as if to tell the guy he'll be fine, then looks to his Annie. "Oh, is -that- the reason why," he teases her briskly, and then shifts past the pair of them to gain the ladder up to the barracks to go track down some clean clothes. Maybe more than one pair.
"That would be…well. Ah-nay-m to remember." Josse doesn't even pretend the pun had any merit, humor bone dry. "Thank you…" He calls to Caytiv as the young man goes past him, blue eyes flickering back to Anais. "Oh I'm fine, my Lady, believe me. What is the uh…" Squire? Stablehand? King in disguise? "…young man's name?"
Pun or no, Anais laughs, the corners of her eyes crinkling with mirth. "That's /terrible/," she informs the septon, giving the book a gentle shake to let some of the liquid drip off. "And that's Caytiv Hill," she adds, looking after the squire with a wry smile. "Who is also terrible in his own way. My half-brother, squiring with Lord Jaremy now."
Caytiv hardly uses the allotment of livery he's been allocated since his recognition as a Banefort bastard. On the passes, changes of clothes were only an encumbrance, and the fresh smell of the herds and flocks kept personal body odor from being much of a concern. And so he's raided his supply for one of the simple grey undershirts he wears below the Colors when he would attend to escorting the lasses about or other semi-official business. For himself, he still sees work to do, and so he's put on a light, sleeveless top to facilitate the labor. "Ay, or will be, soon, I hope. Still haven't had word from the Lord Ser," he comes up to the other two, interrupting himself, "Take your shirt, mate?" he offers, before continuing, "But I reckon't as long as Rowan's cut out I may's well pick up what's to be done."
"Master Hill," Josse nods to Caytiv as he comes back. He gives the book Anais holds a slightly dirty look, as if it were the tome's own fault that it went and got wet. "If you'd hold that for just a second more, my Lady, and I'll relieve you of it promptly." First he has to figure out how to change without just stripping in front of a noblewoman — which is bound to get awkward. "Ah, the young Lord. Is he feeling any better these days?" The question seems to go between the two, one brow raised. "I can't tell you how many candles were lit at the sept for him."
"He's just made it out of his bed, apparently," Anais informs Caytiv on the matter of Jaremy. "So as soon as he takes care of the Camdens, the Naylands, the Valentins, and his father, I'm sure he'll be around to officially abuse you," she teases, pausing to turn her back on Josse. "He seems to be recovering, Septon," she adds, letting the book drip off to the side. "For which I am grateful."
Josse and Caytiv are in the process of changing into cleaner clothes, while Anais stands in the aisle of the stable with a heft tome held between her fingers and to the side, dripping something that smells like chamomile. She's dressed in fine riding clothes, but seems to have just returned, rather than preparing to leave, to judge by the few wrinkles in her skirts.
"Ay, is that all? Well, good he's out of bed, at any rate. Did you go on an' help the Lord Ser up, Annie?" Cayt asks of his sister, just in a fresh sleeveless top, but still smelling of a morning's work in the stable followed by long drills with Ser Revyn. Cayt doesn't seem overly inclined toward bathing, or else he thinks that scrubbing off the sweat with a cloth is the same as a shower. He's got a grey shirt in hand for the Septon when he's ready, and he stands by to take the shirt smeared with shite away with him to wash off somewhere.
"I spoke with him last night. Jaremy seems to refuse to let a bit of illness ruffle his spirit. It is good to see." That's Ryker's voice as he wanders down the stalls, the man's voice holding just a smidge of smile to it. It lacks any arrogance or swagger that some might expect, though he seems to be dressed well, a small satchel held at his side. He might even mean those words about the Young Lord. There is a smiled nod to Anais. "Lady Banefort. Apologies we were not able to be properly introduced yesterday. Congratulations on the announcement." He then dips his head to Josse: "Septon. Good to see you again." A third greeting to the unknown Caytiv, "Afternoon."
Josse has some of the horseshit on the sleeve of his drab grab robe as well, but he can fix this. He shrugs off the upper half of the robe, turning the sleeves inside-out and tying them behind him — and then the pungent shirt, shucking out of that once Anais has so politely averted her eyes. That's tossed to Caytiv. "Well, I am glad to hear it. Nothing worse than a bedridden lord; I swear you'd think boredom killed with more fury than any fever." He smirks, tugging the new shirt down over his head. It ruffles his black hair up into unruliness, and this unkempt face is what he has to present as another Lord walks in. Great. "My Lord Ryker." The head that bows politely to the man has cowlicks aplenty.
"Not in the way you're suggesting," Anais smirks at Caytiv, her cheeks flushing swiftly when Ryker steps into the stables. "Lord Nayland," she greets swiftly, taking her skirts with her free hand to sweep a polite, graceful curtsey and very pointedly /not/ looking behind herself. "Thank you. And congratulations on your own wedding, as well. I'm afraid I didn't get a chance to offer them during the tournament. I hope you and the Lady Isolde are growing accustomed to each other?" She's doing her best to pretend she's in a completely normal situation here.
Caytiv has handled more horseshite than that before, and so he doesn't even wrinkle his nose to the shirt tossed his way, but he grabs it in one hand and tosses back the other shirt with the other hand in an easy trade-off. "Oh, what way's that, then, ay, Annie?" Cayt mocks at innocence before turning to look over the new guy for a moment. "Ay, lord," he answers back once his sister's made clear who it is he's looking at.
ryker shakes his head easily to Anais. "Think nothing of it. Thank you, regardless. As for Isolde? Things are well. I usually like to let her answer that for herself because I'm not sure people believe me when I say it. One might think people had something against my family." He smirks to the Lady and moves down several more stalls to the horse he had come into town on and sets the satchel down beside him, kneeling. While he goes about opening the leather case he lifts his head to looks towards Josse and Caytiv. "New volunteer for the Sept, Josse?"
One of Josse's brows quirks a little bit, at some point before Ryker speaks to him. When the question does come, his second brow joins the first in mild amusement. "My Lord?" Blues flicker towards Caytiv and back, and he smiles wryly. "Ah, no. If I may? Master Caytiv Hill, my Lady Anais' — you can turn around now, my Lady — half-brother. And while I could certainly use his expertise in getting me out of…certain stable products…at the sept, I believe he is otherwise engaged."
"I can't imagine," Anais murmurs to Ryker's mention of his family, though there's something uncomfortable in her smile. "I do apologize for that. I know it may not be my place yet, but I could have wished for at least a more polite welcome." As Ryker moves down the aisle, she keeps her eyes ahead, giving Josse plenty of time to change. It's only when the septon gives her the go ahead that she turns around once more, pulling a handkerchief out of her sleeve to start wiping at the book. "He's to squire for Lord Jaremy," she notes for Ryker, glancing up from the book with a swift smile. "And to keep me from getting homesick once the rest of the Banefort contingent goes home, I think."
Caytiv slings the shite-stained shirt over his shoulder without really worrying whether any of it's getting on him, reaching out with his arm to offer it to Ryker in greeting as they're introduced. He's got quite the stature for a lad his age, and a grip to match. A gruff, rustic look like the human equivalent of a dog sizing up another dog is broken by a bright smile as he looks aside to Annie, then back to Ryker, "Ay, I'll keep our wee Annie out of trouble when her sisters fly away home, ay. Fair met, Lord."
"Well that would make me the fool then, would it not Septon?" Ryker smiles to Josse's assertion and he looks to Caytiv. "My apologies, Master Hill." And Anais clears it up. "And congratulations seem in order for you as well. It would appear you have quite an interesting period of your life ahead." With the arm outstretched, Ryker looks to it. Lords are not generally accustomed to shaking hands with shit-clad people who lack the titles 'Lord' or 'Ser'. He shakes it anyway. "Well met." He then angles his attention back towards the Lady and nods. "It is just how these things work sometimes. I imagine that at some point in the future we'll trade barbs as well and we might think back to this discussion and wonder what we were thinking. Politics is business. As Jaremy and I have agreed, we will very likely never be friends. But we do not have to slit each other's throats, either. I have my plans and designs, he has his own. It is not personal between your betrothed and the family in Stonebridge." He removes an apple from the satchel and a dagged from the sheath to slice it in half in his hand, eyes drifting to his horse as it steps closer, nostrils flaring at a familiar scent. Nomnomnomapple.
Anais's lips quirk, wry amusement in her smile. "If we started to have the discussion you and Ser Jarod were having and word got back to my mother and father, I might have to spend the next few weeks not sitting down, I think," she says ruefully to Ryker. "If they couldn't be here to do it themselves, I'm sure they'd manage to deputize someone." Carefully she blots at the liquid on the book, trying to salvage what she can.
To a mountain-ranging shepherd, shit is just a fact of life, and courtly manners still a little hazy. But the conversation seems to spark some manner of insight as to the dispute between the two lands and its nature, something that, again, had never been clearly set out for him. "So what's all Stonebridge got as is like to make men fret to cut one-other's throats about it, ay? Good grazing lands, good water?" he wonders.
Ryker chuckles, flattening his hand as he offers the apple up to the horse. It is promptly devoured. "Lady Banefort, it is an art worth practicing. I'm still learning. I hadn't much chance for it in Riverrun. Besides, I don't think your brother will send word to your mother and father." He quarters the rest of the apple and offers up single pieces now. The question posed by Caytiv gets another smile and a glance to Anais before looking to the new squire. "Much of the land is flood prone so farming, from what I understand, is difficult — but highly profitable when it is possible. Thus, the land tends to lean itself towards livestock or fishing. But the primary concern, especially for the Terricks, is river access. The Nayland family now controls the downriver flow of trade unless the Terricks want to rely solely on moving goods by land — which is far more expensive. The concern is that the Lord of Stonebridge will tax the Terrick family into ruin by stemming trade and cutting them off from their leige Lords, the Mallisters, in Seagard. There are other nuances involving marriages and supposed promises that I either cannot comment on or can do nothing about. You have the crux of it, though."
"The flip side of the argument, of course, is that raising taxes for the Terricks would mean raising taxes for everyone. And while the Mallisters, Freys, and Tullys could perhaps bear the cost without much concern, the smallfolk who move goods would also suffer for it. And when one route of access is blocked, others have a habit of springing up to compensate," Anais explains to Caytiv, glancing briefly to Ryker as she does. "Just like a river moves around a dam. The real concern would be if the Naylands were to close the river entirely to us. Which would be…silly, don't you think, Lord Ryker?"
"Sounds like the Mallisters would have more to lose, there, than the Terricks, ay," Cayt is, of course, no financial genius, but it seems so to him. "To not be able to get their goods in from up here, I mean. Fucked proper would be damming up the river on t'other side, I reckon." Cayt pauses in his commentary and narrows a gaze toward Ryker, "I don't reckon I know well what the good would be in ruining the place, either. Have you some quarrel?"
"There are a lot of ways taxation can be enforced and manipulated. Especially when the one who controls it is the one with an axe to grind. Personally I prefer to be in better moods than sour ones. I do not believe my father, however, is happy unless someone is making him mad — particularly the Terricks." Ryker rolls his eyes just a little, mugging at the horse as if it understands his sympathies. Maybe it does. But only as long as Ryker continues feeding it apples.. an end of the bargain he continues. "Close the river entirely to the Terricks? I could think of a lot of reasons that could happen. Some are not just possible, but likely given certain scenarios. I have no such desire to see that, though. It would be more profitable just to tax." He gives the horse a shitty smirk before glancing at Anais and then to Caytiv. "But again.. I am not back in the heart of the Riverlands to fight. I've no cause to see the Mallisters suffer, either. We could impose heavy restrictions tomorrow if we liked. There is just no point. Why be provocative when peace is better for business?"
Josse hasn't said much the past few minutes and continues to be silent — perhaps not because he has no opinion on noble matters but because he's smart enough to know what's the right time and right place. The discussion keeps the septon's interest though, arms folded and blue eyes flickering from speaker to speaker.
"Exactly," Anais agrees with Ryker's final words. "Peace is infinitely more profitable." Having cleaned the book's cover, she shifts it to open a few of the pages, blotting carefully at what remains on them. "To be honest, I can see little profit in pursuing this…vendetta. And I suspect Jaremy is of the same mind. The question is where the seated lords stand," she admits with a faint, rueful smile. "Speaking of which…" She pats at the book again, then offers it and the handherchief to Josse. "I think I've done as much as I can for this, I'm afraid."
"Where the seated lords stand, Annie? That'll be a riddle long in the reckoning," Cayt lets loose of the notion of pursuing the question of the nature of this vendetta further in favor of such jestive comment, and looks back to the silent Septon, himself, "I'll get your shirt to be washed, ay, mate? Where'll I have it took, after?"
"My Lady, there is not a single book in the lands not jealous of your care right now." Josse reaches over to take the dense mathematical text. He can't help a slight smile at Caytiv's first comment. "The sept, Master Hill, or if I am here again I shall gladly pick it up. Thank you."
"Well, to be candid, Lady Banefort, pursuing the 'vendetta' is not in the Terrick's best interest. Asserting perceived authority is a measure of population appeasement. It gives the people hope. Forgetting bad ties and trading for peace is a way to perceive that control by taking the reins to stop something you can effect." Ryker tilts his head side to side and offers the last of the apple to his horse. "The question is whether or not the other half of the 'vendetta' is interested, especially when one could make the argument that they have the upper hand. The pursuance of peace could be considered surrendor of a great advantage." He reaches up with one hand to stroke the horse's jaw, his dagger being wiped upon his pants before being reinserted. "There will always be areas where cooperation is the best path, such as a common enemy." There is a pointed glance to Anais and then back to his horse. "Likewise, there will be others where adversarial will pay more."
"As long and sharp as yours," Anais sings softly, twisting a faint smile as she hands the book back to Josse. "Well, at least it smells better than your robes, Septon," she chuckles in regard to the book. "I don't think it will be too damaged. Anyhow." She flicks her fingers, looking back to Ryker with a small smile. "Personally, I find the whole affair fascinating. I can't imagine Lord Lannister simply sitting by and watching his bannermen pick at each other for long. But I suppose Lord Tully might surprise me."
Josse tilts his head, listening to Anais. Abruptly though, he blinks and straightens his shoulders. "I'd completely forgotten to leave something. My Lord, my Lady, Master Hill. Excuse me a minute…" Must be something important, willing to walk around Four Eagles looking like he does. No doubt he'll take this less populated exit on the way out again, and perhaps remember not to trip this time.
As untoward as it might be to leave his sister Annie with a gentleman, all by themselves, Cayt sure doesn't give it another thought. He knows Annie can stick up for herself, and trusts her not to pull a Gwynny and try to grapple him with her thighs first thing they're alone together. "Right, mate," is for Josse, and he swats his sister one on the rump with the cleaner of his two hands by way of a friendly farewell. "Better go get this to the laundry room, ay. Later, Annie luv. Lord."
"Bah. The Lannisters do not concern us. I suspect the Tullys may have more to say. But as long as Lord Tully collects his taxes I doubt he will care what we do. Events like open warfare disrupt tax flow and weaken the state, the latter of which is another reason that glancing swords is not in anyone's interest." Ryker pats the horse twice before kneeling for the satchel and taking it up with him. Watching the two depart, "Well met, Caytiv," and leaving both of the nobles more or less alone except for the guards that keep eye from the ends of the stables. "If you would grant me a moment for some quiet words, Lady Banefort? I carry no ill intent with them." He's been quite polite so far, despite the discussion. More or less. The man makes no approach towards Anais, though, likely in attempt not to be threatening.
"Cayt!" Anais yelps at that swat, hands moving quickly to her bottom and cheeks turning pink. She sighs, fondly exasperated, and smooths a hand over her skirts before looking to Ryker. "My lord, I am not worried about words of ill intent," she replies, smile flickering across her features. "Women are much better at making those cut." With a nod to the guard at the entrance, reassuring, she moves toward the horse's stall, reaching a hand inside before looking to Ryker. "I am listening," she replies simply, patient.'
"Ohhhh you speak truthes, Lady Banefort. My first wife was an absolute pitviper. I swear she could underhand a verbal slap with the same precision that a professional swordsman might aim for a heart in calm circumstance." Ryker is obviously proud of that fact, his face holding a big smile for a few moments. But as she approaches his expression falls more even. The man leans against the stall door with a hip. "Given your attachment to Jaremy as you are, I believe that it is pertinent that I mention my meeting with him last night. What I said earlier and have said is true. I wish him no ill health. An enemy that I know and can have civilized agreements with is far better than an unknown enemy. I hope you can appreciate what I am saying and not saying about the relationship that Jaremy and I are establishing."
"Sometimes they're the only weapons we have," Anais smiles faintly at his description of his wife. "And we have ample opportunity to practice." She clicks her tongue softly at the horse, holding out her hand. "And must it be as an enemy?" she asks, looking over with an arch of her brow. "It seems to me that Lord Rickart has…few friends. I cannot imagine that you are looking forward to inheriting that legacy."
The horse sniffs, nostrils billowing as it searches for more apple. Finding her hand, the animals chin rests in the palm, expecting a scratch most likely. "For now, it must be that way yes. As jaremy will tell you, our hands are tied as sons of our fathers. Standing to inherit what we do, we act to the will of our parents. I have explained to Isolde that we will have to do things we do not like from time to time. However, that also means that we have the ability to maintain trust of home and family. When my father passes, as heir, I can create whatever legacy I like for the children I will have. Creating inroads of trust now are good ways to signal potential change in the future. These things take many years. For now, we remain enemies because our fathers do. In time this could change. But I will not dismiss the idea outright based upon unexplained hatreds my father holds. That is why I spoke to Jaremy last night of the possible threat to your future home that these Valentin men pose." How convenient that he'd try to make an enemy to the Terricks of a new ally of theirs… right?
Anais is quick to oblige the horse with a scratch, reaching up with her other hand to brush her palm against his cheek. "No more treats for you," she murmurs, smile curving at one corner of her lips before she looks back to Ryker, sea-blue eyes far more serious than the smile on her lips. "The Oldstones knights are…a mystery," she allows, cautious. "Though I think it might be premature to name them a threat. At least to us. Still," she adds, lips twisting as she looks back to the horse. "There is hardly any guarantee that they would be any more friendly to us than Nayland currently stands, and we would cement Nayland enmity by continuing to pursue this matter of Isolde." A pause, pensive, and she looks back to Ryker with a narrowed gaze. "Were there really no questions at the time of her birth? It's the one piece of this that simply doesn't fit."
"It is absolutely my belief that this house poses a threat to you. What Jaremy chooses to share of our discussion is his own, but we have an agreement about them. I need my brother protected and he will not listen to me." His concern is serious enough to actually as Jaremy to protect his brother. Ryker probably is not screwing around. "Exactly, there are no guarantees with these people. They have no liege Lords. They are a completely unknown quantity from a place that, last I'd heard, was not much of a castle or location. And I will be very up front in telling you right now that if I, not my father, consider them serious enough to come here and speak to Jaremy and yourself personally, then it is not apart of some game." So that is why he is here. Its not really Igara. "I can think of better ways to act in sabotage of a relationship. And if these men are tied to this matter of Isolde, as you mentioned, then they are guilty of conspiracy to overthrow nobility. They could be put to death. If they are willing to risk that, my Lady, then you had better believe they will not hesitate to commit larger crimes that could get them killed also." Ryker pauses to let that sink in. "Not only were there ever questions about, here is a better question: Why would Valda expend all that effort and pain in maneuvering her daughter when she could have simply outted her daughter at any time and traded Stonebridge for her own gain? Too much does not fit with the logic of their claims."
Anais shakes her head, wrinkling her nose briefly. "Lady Valda would gain nothing by outing her daughter, Lord Ryker. Stonebridge would have reverted to its rightful lieges, the Terricks. Can you imagine?" she arches a brow, looking over at the lord. "I was an adultress. Oh, well, Lady Valda, since that's the case, please, /rule/ this lordship that you have no blood claim to. Or if you like, dispose of it as pleases you. No hard feelings about the cuckolding your dead husband." With no frame of reference on which to imitate Hoster Tully, it's a rather pompous tone that bears little resemblance to the man. But the doubt is clear. "And whether or not the letters are real," she continues wearily, if in her own voice, "Gedeon /is/ Lord Tordane's acknowledged son. Which colors things. I am cautious, my lord. But I am not yet ready to believe the Oldstones knight to be /active/ threats. Which does not mean I am not looking into it. I am."
Ryker shakes his head slowly. "No. Bastards cannot, under any circumstances, inherit land from their noble parent. Even if acknowledged and there is a signed and sealed letter wishing it so. King's Law decrees that. With no children and Lady Valda being born of noble birth, the property of Stonebridge would have transferred to her and she would have been free to do with it as she pleased. Her hypothetical status as an adultress would have mattered none at all due to her birth, except to publicly shame her. We know this to be fact because if it does happen and Isolde were somehow proven bastard, the land would be reverted to Valda's control." Ryker lifts a finger cautiously, the man taking his time with this. "And if Lord Tordane thought that he had no heirs, as he would have knowing that his son could not inherit Stonebridge, he could not have risked going to war and left everything to his conniving wife. There is no logic. By leaving an heir, a natural noble as Isolde, that leaves the family hope of control and a future. Not a death."
"You're mad," Anais shakes her head, stepping away from the stall. "No lord in his right mind would leave the lands in the hands of an admitted adultress. And /any/ lord has the right to strip his vassals of lands and titles for behavior unbecoming. And any lord who wasn't willing to do so publically should at least have the good sense to have the matter taken care of in another manner. Besides, leaving the land to Lady Valda would be a stopgap measure at best. It isn't as though she's going to bear any more heirs. So what would Lord Tully do? Wed her to some boy child in hopes that she'll die and leave /him/ heir, so that he can remarry and get heirs on some other woman?"
Ryker and Anais appear to be discussing matters of inheritance and nobility, though there are Banefort guards at each entrance for the sake of propriety. "It's ridiculously and needlessly complicated, and if your entire defense of this is predicated on the dangers of Lady Valda inheriting Stonebridge, it's simply-" She stops, sighing sharply. "Honestly, if I tried to pull that and my father was on his /deathbed/ he'd find the time to horsewhip me, whether it was in his best interest or not. Seven only know what's going through Walder Frey's mind."
Ryker leans against the stall, the man's face looking completely impassive while Anais speaks her mind to the entire idea. There is no offense, there is no arrogant anger brewing. The waits until she stops at the end and nods to her. "Lady Banefort, you just made the entire argument to me about why this whole situation makes no sense, from any angle, and casts all of it into suspicion. Think about what you just told me." His voice is as calm as a light morning's breeze, all of his patience intact.
Anton enters, stepping past those Banefort retainers with a nod, a great roan destrier accompanying him. He strokes the horse's nose as he passes the reins off to a stableboy, giving the big beast a pat on its flank as it is led off. Only then does he turn to note the presence of others, and incline his head in polite greeting. "Lady Anais," he says, "Lord Ryker. I hope the day finds you both well."
"I-" Anais turns to look back at Ryker, brows furrowed. "It casts nothing about the truth of the claims Lord Geoffrey made and Ser Gedeon is making into doubt," she says slowly. "None of this has any bearing on that. It only has bearing on your absolute certainty that this move with Isolde has been won. It isn't whether Terrick's Roost could /win/ this sort of case. It's whether there's more to be won by it than would be lost in fighting it. Whether the ill feeling caused by bringing all of this up would cost more than taxes on Stonebridge could ever-" And then there are hoofbeats at the entrance, and Anais quickly quiets herself, cheeks bright with high feeling.
Anais turns away from the entry for a moment, drawing a slow breath and tucking a piece of hair behind her ear to compose herself before turning back to Anton with a sunny smile. "Lord Valentin," she greets. "A good afternoon to you, as well."
"Lady Banefort, we have just met. We do not have the benefit of context. I would invite you to discuss the matter with Jaremy. If you would prefer to continue with me, I'm sure we can find someplace more private." As calm as ever, Ryker will not rise to the words. But the Lord of Stonebridge watches Anton enter, the expression on his face changing none. But his eyes follow the man as he moves. "Good day." It almost sounds like he is excusing himself rather than returning a greeting. It might even be just that. He rises from his lean, slinging the riding satchel over his shoulder and appearing as though he's to depart.
"Thank you," Anton replies to Anais, returning her smile. He aims it next at Ryker, one brow shifting upwards slightly as he asks mildly, "On your way out, Lord Ryker? That's a shame. I thought you might wish to speak about your brother. I should offer my apologies that you found out as you did, so publically, and assure you that we are honored by your brother's oath, and look forward to teaching him as best we can."
Anais nods to Ryker, though she doesn't quite look at him when she does. "I'm afraid I must think on it, Lord Ryker," she murmurs politely. "But I…will send word to you." She pauses a moment, then finally looks back to the Nayland lord. "Thank you." As he rides away, she draws a deep breath, looking back to Anton with a small smile. "I hope the afternoon finds you well, Lord Anton?" she asks, absently rubbing her fingers together to clear away horse grime.
Anton nods politely as Ryker takes his leave, and looks back to Anais, nodding, "It does, thank you. I've yet to see much of the vaunted Terrick's Roost countryside, but we rode to the town and back. A new mount," he explains, "We are still getting to know one another." He pauses a moment, and then says, "I hope I didn't interrupt? I could not help overhearing as I entered, and I gather you were speaking of Ser Gedeon and his letters."
Anais grimaces faintly, shaking her head. "More the legal standing of a disgraced woman," she answers, summoning up a small smile. "Not being a woman himself, I think Ser Ryker has a…slightly more forgiving view of the likely consequences than I. It's all very muddy, though," she sighs, wiggling a hand from side to side. "Which I suppose is suitable for the Riverlands. A new mount?" she asks, looking to the horse, then. "Is it the one you won at the tournament?" She walks closer to the horse then, half-circling it to get a better look.
"Ah," Anton replies, nodding in understanding, "I see. Does he? It is," he nods, "Quite muddy. And growing moreso by the day." He smiles faintly and adds, "I think at present everyone involved has some interest, whether on their own behalf or on the behalf of another, and we all see what we wish to see. So we none of us see quite the same thing, and, as you say… mud." He spreads his hands, and then shrugs a little, turning back to look at the horse and nod, "He is that one, yes."
"He's lovely," Anais murmurs, glancing up from the horse with a small smile. "A worthy prize for a match well-fought. And where do you fit into it all, Ser Anton?" she asks, brows rising slightly. "I remember hearing tales of Oldstones from ages ago, but I can't say the same for the present day. And I hear that you've trained in Braavos, and fought across the sea. Where does that make your home?"
"He is," Anton nods, setting a hand on the horse's shoulder, looking at it for a moment, "I haven't settled on a name, yet," he admits, "I like to get acquainted a bit first, find something that suits. We will see who he ends up." He glances back at Anais, and smiles, shrugging, "Oldstones is my home now, whatever it has been in the past. My father and I won the right to it for ourselves and our sons and I would see that realized. It is not much, now, but hopefully it will be a bit more when the Stranger takes me."
"If all pretty girls were like fish in the sea…" Someone's in a cheerful mood, what with the enthusiastic (if not precisely tuneful) singing. "I'd be a minnow and let them eat me! Roll your leg over, oh! Roll your let over! Roll your — " And in strolls Rowan Nayland, just hitting the rollicking chorus around a mouthful of the apple he's eating. He stops short, inhaling a bit of apple as he notes the company he's just strolled into. He coughs and wheezes, turning beet red before he finally manages to expel the bit of fruit. "Uhm. My lady. My lord." He glances about for a hole to crawl into.
"It is a holding with quite a history, no matter how far back it might be," Anais smiles crookedly. "Have you grand plans for it?" she asks, in much the same tone as she might ask another girl what dress she planned to sew for her wedding. "A great castle, perhaps, or armies of…Is there a weapon the people of Oldstones favor? Armies of those? Or…" She trails off as Rowan's singing starts to trickle into the stables, pressing her lips together against the smile that tries to break free. "That was quite a…lay, you were singing there," she observes at the greeting, humor sparking in her eyes no matter how she tries to control her features.
"That it is," Anton agrees with Anais, nodding, "The last real King of the Rivers and Hills is buried there, Tristifer the fourth. I'm told he was called The Hammer of Justice, so naturally it will be armies of men wielding hammers," he says, smiling, "And perhaps the castle will be shaped like one, too? The chance of my having the coin for a castle is about as likely. I—" he too trails off as Rowan enters singing, wincing faintly. "Quite a racket," he calls it, "Couldn't you have listened in on your sisters' singing lessons a time or two growing up, lad?"
"S'Jarod's fault," claims the boy, still quite pink. He glances down at the half-eaten apple in his hand, then tosses it quickly into one of the stalls. "He taught me every vulgar thing I know. And a few I'm still trying to figure out what they even are." There are dimples on his cheeks as he concludes, with rueful affection, maligning his erstwhile Ser. Anton's suggestion makes him laugh, shaking his head of dark curls. "Alas, my lord, she did try. But I fear my appalling lack of ability was beyond even her considerable power to correct."
"No doubt Cayt will be happy to fill you in on anything you missed," Anais rolls her eyes good-naturedly to Rowan. "He's already missing you, I think. The work here seems to have multiplied. You've taken on an excellent squire, Ser Anton," she nods to the knight, stepping back from her inspection of his horse to make a little more space. "Perhaps one day you or Ser Gedeon will make a knight of him. Though I'm afraid we've just decided you'll have to learn to use a hammer, Rowan. Perhaps King Robert will be so flattered by your troops of hammer-men he'll help you to build your hammer castle."
"So I am told," Anton replies to Anais, "A squire of excellent potential, I would say," he goes on, glancing at Rowan for a moment, "But whether he will live up to it… that we'll see. And yes, the hammer will set things back a bit, I suppose," he nods, "But it must be done, if there's any hope of the king's aid, as you suggest. Hammers for all."
"Wut?" Hey, look, Cayt's back from his, ah— visit to the laundry. Having gone thither with only a shirt, he evidently found a couple other articles of clothing in need of removing. And sure happy to oblige, he has dallied there a while before making his return to the barn just in time to hear his sis evoke his name. "Ay, Rowan," he remarks in surprise, reaching out to clap the guy hard on the shoulder, a sportive and good-natured but rough gesture, for all that.
Rowan flushes at the lady's praise, looking down at his boots and toeing the flagstones. Anton's good assessment makes him blink, startled, and he looks up at the knight of Oldstones. Then the caveat comes, and the lad bites the corner of his bottom lip with a pensive wince. "Potential sounds so nice until you bring in the whole living up to it part," he sighs. Then, looking dubious, "You mean for me to take up the warhammer, my lord?" Then comes Cayt, and all pensiveness and hammers are forgotten. He grins and returns the clap on the shoulder, giving the other lad a rough shake for good measure. "Oi! Look what the wenches chased in!"
"Warhammers," Anais nods sagely to Rowan, though she can't keep a straight face when Caytiv returns. "Lord Anton, I'm not sure if you've had occasion yet to meet my half-brother here. This is Caytiv Hill, who'll be squiring for Jaremy soon. Cayt, this is Lord Ser Anton Valentin, Lord of Oldstones. One of our many visitors at the moment. Honestly, it's a wonder the castle can host us all."
"Preferably two warhammers, Nayland," Anton replies to Rowan with a straight face, "But we will start you on one at a time." Caytiv's arrival is observed, and when Anais introduces him, he nods, "A pleasure to meet you, Master Hill. I would apologize for taking Lord Rowan here away, but I am sure you will find no shortage of teachers her at the Roost. It is a wonder," he agrees with Anais at the last, "I half expect the Tullys or Lord Frey or someone to turn up tomorrow, just to round out the pile."
"Well!" says Rowan, cheerfully enough, "I expect that's a Braavosi trick, then. I'll learn it along with how to walk on water and shoot fireballs out of my ar — " He bites off the syllable and looks apologetically at the lady present, hunching his shoulders. " — ms. Arms." Eyeshift. "It makes sense if you don't think about it."
Caytiv gives a laugh as Rowan roughs at him, encouraged to rough right back around, wound up and energetic in the aftermath of the romp in the cellar. But he peels back before it comes to actual blows, "Ay, Rowan," he cocks a grin, "I reckon some a' these lasses were the sorts to never stop pulling their kitty's tail 'til it ran right off on 'em." He turns that smile on the Lord, next, and steps up to offer him an arm extended in greeting. "Fair met, Lord. Rowan's a sly lad, and quick. He'll do you well, ay."
"Mmm. Arms." Anais deadpans, a faint smile at one corner of her lips. "You know, there was a singer once who came through the Banefort who told us that in the swamps, there were balls of gas that could just spontaneously combust. Witchflame, he called it. Fireballs. Right out of the arms of the swamp. /Caytiv/," she groans at her brother's words, pressing a hand to her cheek even as it starts to turn a lovely shade of pink.
Anais, Anton, Rowan, and Caytiv are currently occupying the stables, though there's a Banefort guard at each entrance as well. Everyone appears to be in good spirits, though.
A soft, nearly rhythmic tapping on the ground precedes Jacsen Terrick, a result of the cane that he leans upon every few steps in the slow pace he takes into the stables. The Banefort guard at the entrance he favors earns a momentary glance, and a pleasant enough nod, though it seems the collection of people chatting further within are his destination.
"I am not sly!" Rowan protests in a huff, his voice cracking at just that unfortunate moment. He clears his throat, dropping his voice a wholly unnatural octave. "Why does everyone — ?" Screeching halt. He blinks. "Oh." He ducks his head, rubbing the back of his neck. "You meant clever." He sighs, lamenting, "Fails me at the worst times, cleverness does." He looks up at the sound of that odd, tapping gait, head atilt as he takes in the approaching figure. Clearly unable to place the fellow, he glances at the others for some clue.
Anton lifts a brow at Anais, replying, "Indeed? I've yet to see anything like that in the mires, but I will have to keep my eyes out for it." Caytiv he looks at for a moment before offering, "If you're going to live in a noble house, lad, you'll want to learn to keep that sort of thing to yourself in company. And Lord Rowan, that reminds me," he goes on, "I spoke with Ser Jarod, earlier, he wished you to know you may keep your room here until we depart for Oldstones. He was quite insistent, so I accepted his hospitality on your behalf." He looks back to Anais then, but is distracted by Jacsen's entrance, greeting the young man, "Good evening."
From the flurry of activity in the courtyard, another pair of bodies arrive, one of them ringing in his arrival to the sound of the spurs he earned as a knight. Jaremy Terrick leads his sister past the guards at the front of the stables, wrist hanging slightly over the hilt of his sword. First leaning in to see who has assembled, he steps to the back of the group and makes a beeline for Jacsen. A heavy hand plants onto the man's shoulder, words accentuated with a broad grin. "I heard there was a long lost Terrick son around these parts, pray tell you could help me find him?"
Caytiv scrunches his brows together and looks askance at Rowan, an odd look as the lad grows defensive at the compliment, then laughing aloud, himself, when he understands what Rowan understood by it. "Ha! Nay, Lord," he returns to Anton, "I did not mean to say that Rowan does fancy lads. I've wrassled 'im down enough I'd a' been able to feel the poke, that be the case," he assures the man. "My pardon for the mishapful language," he adds with a bow. Presumably he meant 'your pardon.'
Anais looks toward the entrance at the sound of the cane, pausing to consider the man who follows it for a moment. Uncertain of who /this/ new face may be, she casts a sidelong glance to the others in the stable, searching for clues. Clues that are promptly provided by Jaremy's arrival. Curious, she flashes a brief smile toward her erstwhile companions. "Excuse me?" she murmurs, taking a few steps toward the siblings. A little evesdropping is okay, right?
Leaning slightly on his cane, the man offers Anton a small smile and a simple, "Good eve to you." It's the unexpected hand upon Jacsen's shoulder that causes the man to tense a fraction, though he never turns to face the interloper. "Oh, Seven," he rejoinders to the question put to him, "I pray not. I dare not think even the Roost could handle another of Jarold Terrick's bold, boisterous sons." Those that can see his face can see his lips turn upward in a warm expression. "I was told you were abed, dear brother." He turns then, and seeks to embrace the heir to Terrick's Roost.
Indeed, just a step behind being called 'at Jaremy's side' comes Lucienne, following toward their newly rejoined brother. She hovers back to allow the two to greet each other, and whilst they do, sends a glance about the assembled, registering faces and names present.
"Oh, did he now?" Rowan drawls upon being informed of Ser Jarod's insistent hospitality. "How thoughtful." Dry. As. A. Bone, that tone of his. Caytiv's gibe about the 'poke' makes the dark-haired squire bark a laugh, though, and he slings an arm around his fair-haired counterpart, attempting to deliver a vigorous scrubbing of his knuckles to that blonde pate. "Mayhaps you're just not my type, Hill," he grins.
Speak of thoughtful knights and they shall appear. Jarod strolls into the general bustle in the courtyard as well. A rather annoyed look about him, quite different from the…well, bold and boisterous way he generally goes about his duties. Though given the abundance of guests (some less invited than others) in the castle at present, he's got more duties upon him as captain of the guard than is probably standard. His destination is his own horse's stall, though the crowd makes him pause. "Hullo, hullo all around and good day my lords, ladies and all other comers, just so I don't have to say it several times."
"I was, but I got better. I just left the bed yesterday and I've been running all over the keep trying to make up for lost strength." Jaremy replies to Jacsen, wrapping his arms around his brother in a tight, back-slapping hug. Pulling back, he keeps one hand on his brother's shoulder. "Damn, Jace, look at you, you at me, damned look at Jarod. Next thing you know they'll be pulling the cobwebs off of us all. The damned years pass, aye?" Spying Anais approaching and the sudden sight of Rowan, he gives the once Terrick-allied squire an almost rushed, concerned look as he runs his hand through the hair near his forehead. "You'll have to sit beside my betrothed and I at table. Seven, Jace, it's as if there isn't much time. Have you met Lady Anais, my betrothed, or her brother Caytiv Hill, my squire or…Seven…we have guests all of this is going to take a day at the least." So many people, so little time.
"Unlikely," Cayt isn't afraid to mock-strut a little, "You seen me, ay? Ach!" he yelps good-naturedly into the noogies thus applied, but vengeance will have to be delayed— look! It's Jaremy. "Lord ser!" he calls, "Lookin' right lively," he nods his head in rustic approval of the fact, then looking to the newest Terrick to be made introduction to him.
"I'm half tempted to create a roster of people in residence," Anais says on the tail of Jaremy's words, approaching with a warm smile. "One with names, ranks, relations, and a general description." Jarod and Lucienne each get a friendly nod, though she's considering Jacsen in particular. "I'd heard there were more than just two of you, but I've hardly had time to ask for the details."
There is a smile for Lucienne after Jacsen embraces his long-missed elder brother. "Pass they do, Jar. But none pass so far as to make this anything but a joyous reunion," he assures Jaremy, before he turns to spy on all the rest that he's yet to properly meet. "Ah, so. This is the Banefort lady I've heard so much about." Anais is the recipient of the weight of attention his intent blue eyes can muster, the smile beneath them warmer and less intense. "And more beautiful in person than I would have thought. My brother is a most fortunate man." Caytiv is given the respect of a nod, and that same smile, though the weight of attention is left on Jaremy's betrothed.
"And matters of import to note. We could have copies made, and distributed to all upon arrival so that no man might slight another by accident," murmurs Lucienne rather amusedly to Anais, shifting back another step to allow for introductions. After a pause for politeness, she peers surreptitiously toward where her horse is stalled, likely the reason for her appearance here.
"Oh, fuck me," mutters Rowan, disengaging from his rough-housing with Cayt at the sound of Jarod's cheerful greeting. He darts a quick glance at his former knight, and — reasonably sure he hasn't been noted — ducks into an empty stall. He hunkers down in the clean straw like a skinny gargoyle, reasonably hidden, and waits for Jarod to go away again.
"If you're up for getting back in the yard, Jaremy, I need a sparring partner later," Jarod says to his brother. The eldest one. "I'm in a mood to hit something. And tell his fine and dandy lordship Ryker Nayland the next time he gets in the mood for a day trip, give us a raven's warning first, and some idea of when he'll be leaving. I had to cancel leave indefinitely while he's trying our hospitality, and the guards are less-than-pleased about it. Ah, I see you two found each other." Jacsen and Jaremy's reunion, such as it is, does earn a warm look from him. Gargoyle Rowan is, lucky ex-squire, not noticed in the crowd.
Anton glances sidelong at Rowan's disappearing act, but says nothing, instead observing the crowd of Terricks. He waits patiently for a few minutes, through Anais's introduction and then through Caytiv's, and finally clears his throat politely. "I apologize for intruding on a family reunion of sorts," he says, "But as one of those other guests it seems rude to depart without first introducing myself, in the absence of the ladies' helpful information sheet. Lord Anton Valentin, of Oldstones. I will give you a moment to memorize my features and then leave you to yourselves," he says, offering a crooked bit of a smile.
Caytiv lifts a brow as Rowan ducks away, edging slightly in the other direction lest the lad have been in earnest in his request. But thereafter the odd behavior is disregarded in favor of watching the Terrick gathering with an easy gaze.
Anais's lips quirk at the compliment from Jacsen. "My lord is too kind," she replies with a low laugh, catching her skirts for a swift, graceful curtsey. "I believe Lord Ryker is out at the moment," she adds for Jarod. "Though he didn't seem to be going home just yet." She sighs to Lucienne then, shaking her head. "At least it's a test run for the wedding?" she suggests.
"Yes, Caytiv, come over please…" Jaremy waves his squire over to him as he leans back towards Jarod. "Alright, soon brother, I'm to meet with Lord Camden in a few moments and then we've also guests of the Valentins. There are a thousand places that I'm needed, but if it's the middle of the night I give you my word that you, me, and my squire will fight in the yard. I've missed that as well, the damn lad must be thinking that being my squire means a lot of waiting." Leaning back towards Jacsen, Lucienne, and Anais, he clears his throat. "Anais, Jacsen or Jace as many of us call him. You're right, before long we'll all have to wear tunics with our names on the front to keep us in record. Just remember I'm the attractive one, Jacsen is the intelligent one, and Jarod is the brute one…" He laughs quietly, trying his best to round the group towards the Valentins, playing host for the moment. "Ser Anton…please, have you met everyone in attendance?"
Jaremy turns, extending his hands towards the proper people.
"This is my most radiant betrothed, Lady Anais Banefort and her brother and my squire, Caytiv Hill. This is my brother, Jacsen Terrick, my beautiful sister Lucienne, and I do believe you've met under fierce terms my brother Ser Jarod Rivers." He finishes, offering a forearm to shake with the large, foreign knight.
"Everyone except your brother," Anton informs Jaremy with a smile for the introductions, glancing around at each face before nodding politely to the newest of them, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Lord Jacsen. You are lately returned home, I take it?"
Jacsen tips his chin in an affirmative motion. "That is the truth of it, Ser Anton… Valentin, is it not?" He shifts slightly, still leaning noticeably on the cane his right hand caps. "I am only a day removed from the road, and at Seagard before that." His brows lift along with his lips amusedly. "I think, of late, I'd be more the stranger about these parts than any of the rest of you." His attention darts about the rest of the non-Terricks in the stables, before he adds, "It's a pleasure to meet you all. Surely it speaks well of my kin's hospitality that you are all here." True enough, as the Nyland isn't present.
"A fine test," agrees Lucienne with Anais, her attention returned from the flurry of movement near the stalls. She stands proper straight for the introductions, however necessary or un they may be. Her eyes zone in on Anton, sliding briefly to her lame brother as she follows the flow of conversation before drawing back again.
Caytiv is summoned. Some part of him must expect this to be a trap or some manner of hazing, for the briefly suspicious look that crosses his eyes, but he squares his shoulders a moment after and goes to face it, approaching as bidden with a rustic, "Ay, Lord Ser." At the sideways apology, "I reckon you've had some dozen things at your attention, and our sweet Annie not least of them. Amn't cross, Jarod an' Rowan been putting good use to me, ay."
"You we at least invited, Lord Valentin," Jarod says wryly to Anton. "And I'm mending from the fun we had during the melee at Stonebridge - good little fight, though it ended better for you than me - so you're not in particularly poor graces with me." Anais' words earn a chuckle, and a quick grin. "That will be a much happier occasion, my lady, so I won't begrudge a crowd. I'm also sure we can count on some reinforcements from Banefort to keep things down to a dull roar. Or, well, a fun roar. I'm hoping to have the opportunity to do a good deal of celebrating my fair lord brother's extremely long-awaited matrimony. I'm already trying to think of a good toast. It may include rhyming. Don't fret, I'll keep it clean in front of the ladies. Though we *must* have an evening with the lads before you're properly wed, Jaremy. To see you off from the life of a Riverlands bachelor into the lovely embrace of the Westerlands." Mention of Rowan makes him frown, but it's not remarked upon.
"And I should leave before you start discussing /that/ party, I suspect," Anais smiles ruefully to Jarod, shaking her head. "If you find you've need of inspiration for rhyming entirely inappropriate to the ears of gentle ladies, I'm sure Cayt will be glad to help," she adds with a wink for her brother.
Anton nods, "It does speak very well of it, your family's hospitality has been most generous. My companions and I are very grateful to have had the invitation." To Jarod he chuckles and nods, "I was at that, which is more than can be said for some. But your house receives them as graciously as possible, despite their lack of gratitude, and I must commend you for that. I would apologize, too, for your injuries, but I'm fair certain you brought them on yourself when you decided to give up swordplay for grappling."
No, really, the lame one is Jacsen - physically speaking. There may be an extra shine of affection in those brown eyes of Lucienne's when they alight on him, too. Jarod's mention of a speech that may or may not rhyme draws the slightest narrowing of her eyes, and a good-natured thinning of her smile; the wordless equivalent of a polite 'Gods, save us'. The same expression is turned momentarily upon the Banefort's bastard, before she declares to his sister, "I don't think our dearest Jarod needs any help in that vein, thankyou Lady."
"Good good, then you've few people left to meet, Ser Anton. I've a need to speak with you soon, though tonight would be a poor time, perhaps after dinner we could sit and talk over some drink? I must apologize but being out of that bed has resulted in a good deal of duty over such short time, that I fear I've been a bad host." Jaremy steps back squaring away to their conversation. Looking to Anais, he can't help but blush and widen his eyes in her direction as Jarod brings up the idea of one night down in Terrick's Roost before the wedding. "Right. Jarod. Damn, man…" Jaremy laughs, nudging his bastard born brother. "…I would be honored to have you give a toast at the feast, of course, I would also be honored if Ser Anton and his retinue from Oldstones were in attendance as well. Please consider this a personal invitation. There will also be a tourney. You've a title to uphold." He again speaks to Ser Anton, doing his best to stem the flow of the conversation.
"Caytiv…" Jaremy whips his head to his squire. "…tonight we are going to spar in the yard with Jarod. Bring your gear and eat as much as possible at dinner. I've an idea for you…it should be a learning experience."
Hazing. He knew it. Cayt's eyes narrow, but his smile broadens the meanwhile, and he's ready to step up to whatever sort of vomit-inducing abuse he'll be put to tonight. "Ay, Lord Ser," he tells Jaremy gamely.
The banter between Jarod and Jaremy is followed by the flow of Jacsen's gaze, flitting from one bastard brother to a highborn one. "Surely my lady will understand," he requests in Anais' direction, as the talk of a raucous night for Jaremy's benefit makes the rounds. "Best to get it out of his system before you both speak the words, hmm?" The foreign knight is not forgotten, though the cane-wielding Terrick waits for a polite pause to interject, "I should like to share a drink or three while you remain, Ser. Perhaps you will repay a measure of Terrick generosity by sating a measure of curiosity?"
Jacsen cannot help but spare Lucienne a glance as well, asking, "Are you off somewhere as well, Enne?"
"Aye, Cayt, I think I can manage those rhymes myself," Jarod says with a smile to Lucienne that's all of boyish innocence. And entirely lacking in sincerity. Anton's words earn a chuckle that's more self-deprecating. "It seemed like a good idea at the time. Still, wrestling in armor may not be a sport I'd entirely recommend. At least, my ribs recommend I don't attempt it again." A shrug in Jacsen's direction and he explains, "Ser Anton and I were the last two contenders in the grand melee at the Stonebridge tourney. I tried to pin him and sort of…ended up falling on him. Which *was* pinning, after a fashion. And precisely! On last hurrah so he's easier for you to keep in line, my lady. I promise it'll all be in good fun and I will guard his virtue for you personally. More virtue for him, less for me, after all, so it's to the benefit all around."
Anais smiles all too sweetly back at Jacsen. "I would not dare question my lord husband's decisions regarding how he spends his time," she assures him with her very best innocent lash-flutter. "No doubt I will be spending that same evening deep in prayer with my sisters, pondering how I may best serve him in the future." She almost manages to do it with a straight face. Almost.
Anton dips a nod to Jaremy, replying, "I am honored by the invitiation, Lord Jaremy. We would be delighted to attend, of course. And naturally, Lord Jacsen," he replies, "I would be happy to. As I said, your family has been very kind, and in a moment of some need, as well. Sharing a few drinks in return hardly sounds like repayment at all," he says, lips quirking with good humor once again. It is carried over to Jarod, with whom he laughs, nodding, "It was effective enough, I'll grant you, though your uncle is the heavier. I think each bruise must have given him an extra ten pounds or something, as difficult as he was to shake off."
Jaremy's cheeks and ears flare so red that he can barely keep his face from sneering. What in the seven are they doing? His mouth slips open and to avoid looking slack-jawed he lets loose a toothy smile, which he pans across all of their faces. "There will be no difficulty being kept in line. I look forward to this wedding very much so, and perhaps my betrothed speaks true. A night of prayer as well for us, brothers." Shifting his eyes, he steps back from the conversation, effectively securing his escape. "Very well then. Ser Anton we'll have a drink after dinner and all of you, please come to table this evening ready for a nice meal. Rumor has it our cook is preparing pheasant. Until then, I bid you all a good day." Two steps backwards he takes, lowers his head in a nod, and turns to leave before any more talk of his virtue can reach his ears.
Is that the suggestion of a threat in the glance Lucienne turns upon Anais? Prayer and anointing and hairbraiding and /tea/, for certain. It's gone barely a moment after coming to fruition, though, as she's addressed by dear Jacsen, to whom her eyes follow. "Oh, me? You read me well, dear brother. I had hoped to sneak a ride in before dinner, if I might -" She dips a shallow curtsy as Jaremy speaks of his leave and bids them for the meal, "- Though perhaps I've need of the afternoon for different cause, now." Hairbraiding. And tea, maybe. She manages to sound only slightly disappointed.
Anais shakes her head fondly at the siblings, taking a step back as well. "And I've a meeting with your lord father to get to," she apologizes around, pausing to look down at herself with a sigh. The riding dress is fine, but it's clearly been ridden in. "And I should clean up and change first. If you'll all excuse me?" she asks, sharing a smile around the group.
"Uh, yeah, we can do that, too," Jarod says to Jaremy, though he's less enthusiastic about a night of prayers than he was a night of hurrah'ing, waving his eldest brother off to important lordly business. An inclination of his head to Lucienne and Anais both. "I just came down to see to my charger, Symeon, come to it. Since Rowan left my service the horse's daily care's in the hands of the pages so…I'm going to redo what I suspect they've done wrong."
"We should be loathe to let you go, but I cannot begrudge you the fresh breeze of the afternoon on horseback, Enne," her notedly lame brother remarks. And to the Captain of the Guard he turns next. "Fret not, Jar," the second of Lord Terrick's legitimate sons insists, a quirk of a smile working across his mouth. "We've some time still to make him come 'round. That, or learn some prayers." Jacsen seems grateful for Anton's easy acceptance, though Anais steals his attention with her announcement. "I suspect we will have much more time to become acquainted, my lady, and I much look forward to the balance of it."
"Ay, Ser Jarod," Cayt speaks up in the wake of Jarod's comment on the horse. "By your leave I'd come and watch you at it. Your tack is diff'rently appointed than I've e'er seen, and should like to see it put to rights in the hands of one as knows it well." In the mountains, a rope bridle often does for the younger riders, and nothing at all for the older ones.
"Soon, Lord Jacsen," Anais agrees with a dip of her chin and an easy smile. "Lady Lucienne, Lord Anton, Ser Jarod." And then a grin. "Cayt. I hope all of you are well, and I shall look forward to seeing you at dinner." She turns then, and the Banefort guards fall back in with her as she heads back toward the castle proper.
Anton nods politely to those taking their leave, and then says to those that remain, "I should be off as well, there are a few bits of business to attend to before dinner. But I look forward to seeing you all there and speaking after. It was nice to meet you, Lord Jacsen. Until later."
"Lady Anais," farewells the other lady present with another shallow curtsy, and again, "Lord Valentin." She's a smile at the ready for Jacsen. "Well, if you wouldn't begrudge me, dear brother…" One hand moves in a fluid gesture toward the stalls to indicate she'll take her leave on her horse, then. And to Jarod, and possibly by extenion Caytiv, "Sounds as though you've need of a new squire, brother."
Jarod proceeds to the stall where his horse is kept, idly nodding permission to Caytiv for the boy to follow. Symeon, as he's called, is a sturdy brown courser. Not so flashy an example of horseflesh as Jaremy's destrier, but he's a solid charger who's obviously been well cared for, and muscled in a way that suggests to a keen eye he's got some good speed in him. "Easy, boy," Jarod mutters, laying a hand on the horse's neck before kneeling to check his shoes and the like. To Jacsen he explains, "I have recently been relieved of my squire, and I've yet to find a new one that suits me. Rowan Nayland had his…quirks, but he was an excellent hand with Symeon. I think my horse is cross at me for depriving him of his favored keeper." He sounds rather grumbling about the deprivation himself, come to it. He looks up to offer Anton and Anais an absent nod as they depart. "Aye…" he mutters a little sourly when Lucienne observes he needs a new squire.
"I'll see you over dinner, I suspect," Jacsen remarks to his sister, offering her a warm expression as she makes her way to her horse. Jarod and the squire Caytiv are watched as they make way towards Symeon's stall. He eventually follows, his pace slowed considerably by the need to balance his steps with the cane, it's cadence of tap, tap, tap serving as an audible cue to his closer approach. "Relieved of your squire, brother? The Nayland boy, Rowan, was he not?"
Caytiv keeps to a corner, out of the way, where he can watch Jarod with the tack, keeping a keen eye on how it is rightly done up, but neither saying anything nor getting underfoot, his full attention on taking the steps and pieces to heart. It'll be a duty of his, after all.
"The Nayland boy, aye," Jarod replies, busying himself squinting at Symeon's shoe. "I released him from my service. He's got an ambition to join the Kingsguard and, while I've taken him far enough that I think he'll be fit for the knighthood in a year, we agreed he'd be better-served for true refinement under Lord Ser Anton's men. He's smaller, and my fighting style isn't really suited for how he'll need to learn to handle himself against larger opponents. Besides…the way things're getting between us and the Naylands, didn't seem fair to keep him on with our House. Could've ended up having to raise arms against his kin, worse comes to worst, and nobody should be asked to do that."
Jacsen frowns a touch as he listens to his brother's tale, and nods his head a fraction. "I suppose it was the tender thing to do," he agrees, finding a place where he can lean against a support beam, taking some of the strain off his right, lame, leg. His eyes fall upon the Westerman squire, a look more appraising than warm or fond, though it passes swift as it comes on. "Perhaps not the choice I'd have made, given all that has happened and yet might, but I'll not fault your good heart, Jarod."
Caytiv gives no comment on Rowan or his ambitions, for all he seemed willing to talk on the subject just a while ago. Now engaged in dissecting the tack with his eyes, he doesn't even note the appraisal from Jacsen, but squats down along the wall to look to the underside of the tack, as well.
"I'm rarely doing a thing that'll get me praised for my wisdom, I figured that out long ago," Jarod says dryly, easing the horse's leg down and straightening back up into a standing position. "Hence why we needed you home. But it's for the best in the long run, I figure. You settling in all right? This is a mad time for a homecoming. Probably even madder than you'd expected even with the current situation. How was Seagard when you left it? Apart from Lord Mallister's entirely understandable displeasure at the Roost, of course." He crooks a very rueful grin.
Jacsen shakes his head with something of a rueful expression. "Busy, full of people… but in a fashion not quite like I've found upon my return home," he shares with his brother, perhaps having decided that Caytiv is trustworthy enough to speak with some freedom. "But it was good, I've managed to make myself more than passingly useful to our Lord Mallister, despite myself…" It's then that one of the men in the Terrick's service enters the stables, making a beeline for the newly returned Lord Jacsen.
"A message for you from Seagard, my lord…"
"Forgive me brother? It seems that the mere mention has drawn Seagard's attention, and I should see what word has come," Jacsen asks of Jarod, his smile apologetic. "But I believe I shall see you both over dinner, before your nighttime adventures…"