|Where the Rivers All Run Dry|
|Summary:||On the eve of what would become known as the Battle of the Trident, the Rivers boys share a drink and song. And say good-bye, though they don't know it.|
|Related Logs:||The Rivers Boys for where it all began. Here's where it ends. Many Rivers to Cross and all that follows for…something else entirely.|
|The Riverlands — Not Far from the Trident|
|The Night Before the World Changed, 283|
It full dark, now, and the host of knights, men at arms and levies pushing towards the Trident stopped and made camp some hours ago. There are fires crackling now, tents up, men eating and strategizing (and a few who have taken one of the camp-following women to bed). Geoffrey Tordane is speaking over something with the newly knighted Geonis. Gedeon, a couple years away from knighthood, yet, is sitting by one of the fires, looking over his father's armor for any dents or loose bits. H's singing, quietly, lips moving as he works.
Squire Jarod Rivers is still more than a good year shy of when one would usually be knighted, in times of peace, though men have come to it younger than he. And some will on the morrow. Tonight, however, he remains a squire, wandering about after dark. He's not bothering the camp followers tonight. His evening walk has taken him from where the Mallister men are camped to the area not far off, where his vassals have pitched their tents. It took him to Lord Jerold Terrick's tent, specifically, but even at this late hour he found his father in counsel with some of his men-at-arms. So now he's just…wandering around. He's come into his full height and the months of war have put more muscle on him, but he's still more lanky spear than sturdy broadsword. He's also been trying to grow a beard. Perhaps to make himself look older. It's come in patchy, and his face is poorly-suited for even decent facial hair. Still, he's made an effort. He skirts past the fire where Lord Tordane and his trueborn son sit without being noticed, though he slows when he spots Gedeon. "My Kinsman in Stonebridge. Hullo." The greeting's a little hesitant. He's been a bit unsettled in his own skin since the Battle of the Bells. But it's accompanied by a broad grin as he stumbles upon his friend.
If Jarod is a spear, then perhaps Gedeon is a dagger. Smaller, lighter with more edges and fewer places to grip. As Jarod approaches, the words of the song can be heard as the boy murmurs and polishes. "…no Stranger's ghost can haunt me. If I rock up on the waves, then…" he pauses, frowning, "then…" A soft sigh and a shake of his head. "Fuck," he mutters before glancing over at the other Rivers and offering the taller boy a more restrained smile. "Hello, Rivers," he greets. "Do you know you've brambles on your face?"
Jarod picks up the song directly. He's a handy one for knowing drinking and marching tunes. He sings it in that baritone of his that's ever eager for a song or a laugh, though he tries not to be too loud about it and he plops down next to Gedeon. He doesn't bother to ask for an invitation. He never has. He seems to figure it's implied.
"If I rock upon the waves
Then no corpse can lie upon me
It's coming up three, boys
Keeps coming up three, boys
Let them go down in the mud
Where the rivers all run dry!"
The comment about his beard gets a wounded look. "It's coming in. These things take time to cultivate. Like you can grow one." He chuckles, all in good fun.
The blonder, smaller squire listens as Jarod sings, perhaps intending to try and absorb the words of the songs simply by holding still and watching them sung. "I can't grow one," Gedeon says when Jarod stops singing, "Neither can you. And if you die tomorrow, they'll find you with a splotchy beard all over your face. Someone would have to shave your corpse."
"It's not that bad," Jarod argues. "Besides, easier than shaving in the morning. The way the…err…army's moving and all." He folds his hand in his lap, to keep them from doing any shaking. Perhaps he hasn't shaved since the Battle of the Bells out of more than just an urge to look manly. He looks more into the fire than Gedeon, falling a little thoughtful once there's a pause in the singing and joking about their respective inability to beard-up. "Ser Vernon says Prince Rhaegar himself'll be leading the Mad King's men tomorrow. That it'll be the biggest battle Lord Baratheon's fought since all this started." He does not sound particularly excited. He would've, a few months ago. Not now.
Gedeon nods slowly. "There's over thirty thousand men marching for Lord Baratheon, and I heard my father say the men fighting with Prince Rhaegar number even greater." He's quiet for a little bit, working on the armor a little longer, but not really. "You suppose a pair of bastard squires like us will see a day after tomorrow?"
"Don't know," Jarod answers, soft and honest, still looking into the fire. "Hope so." He's quiet a long beat. "I want to go home, Gedeon."
"Yeah," Gedeon murmurs softly, hands stilling on the armor too large and too fine for a lad like him. "So do I."
"We'll go home together. Promises," Jarod says firmly. "After we, y'know, live through the morrow." He looks up and over, almost shyly, at the Tordane bastard. "I…thought it'd be different than all this. I thought it'd be like the songs. It's not, though. I can't stop thinking about that boy I killed at Stoney Sept. Ser Vernon said I might have to do it again tomorrow. You…you had to kill anybody? One of the Mad King's men, I mean."
Gedeon shakes his head. "Hadn't been called up until now," he murmurs, "So this'll be the first time." He draws in a slow breath, squaring his shoulders. "What was it like? Killing somebody?"
"Easier than it should be," Jarod replies, almost whispering it. "You think…a person, y'know? There's so much to them. But I just hit him really hard and my sword cut through his padded jacket and he fell down and died. And he's done, that's all it took." He sounds both amazed and horrified by it. "I felt like I was frozen. Then I was sick. And I still dream about it. That part's…not easy."
"Guess, in the end, nightmares are better'n being the one dead on the ground," Gedeon says, "if those are the only choices."
"Aye. That's so." It's hard to believe Jarod was smiling and singing a moment ago. But he's always been good at artifice, in his own way. When it comes to shoving down any sort of negative, or occasionally just serious, feelings. He's looking back into the flames now. "You got anything to drink?"
"Water," Gedeon offers, though it's clear enough he understands that's not what was being asked. "Think there might be some strongwine in my father's tent, though. Ought to put the armor away, anyhow. I think it's more polish'n metal, now." The boy stands, carrying the heavy thing off into the darkness and returning, shortly, with a skin which he offers to Jarod.
"Thanks for that," Jarod mutters, taking the waterskin and taking a quick drink from it while he waits for Gedeon. It's eagerly exchanged for the wine, with he takes a longer pull on. He swallows with a gulp, but the taste no longer makes him make a face as it once did when they were boys. Younger boys, at least. "It must be good, squiring for you father. I don't know the man who's doing for Lord Jerold. Was going to go try and say good night to him, but he's busy. Maybe I'll catch him in the morning before we have to march."
"It's good," Gedeon agrees, accepting the wine and taking a swallow of his own, "Least we'll all know what happens to the others. Protect each other, best we can. You and you knight'll do that too, but… see your father before the march." The skin is offered back.
"I will," Jarod says, firmly, like he's promising himself. He takes another drink. "I'll be with Jace, at least, though I don't know if Ser Vernon'll end up fighting right next to Lord Mallister. Still, we're brothers. We'll look out for each other. We'll all look out for each other. Maybe we can all meet up, in the Center line. Fight like brothers together, the three of us. That's how I pictured it'd be, when I thought Jaremy'd come fight, too. The three of us together, all of us becoming knights, and him getting his white cloak. I mean, Jaremy's not here, but it's almost the same. We'll be brothers soon when Iz marries…somebody. Jace, probably, or one of my younger brothers." He sounds, just a little, sad on that. But he's always been fonder of the young Lady Tordane than a bastard boy properly should be.
"She'll marry Jaremy," Gedeon says firmly. "We've both seen him spar, he's good. But he's not good enough for that. I'd be glad to fight beside you, though, Jarod. It'd be good, all of us together."
"I used to beat him more often than not, and after seeing all this I think I'm pretty shit. So…maybe you've a point," Jarod allows. He drinks and passes. "But, aye. I'll be glad to fight next to you, too, Gedeon. We'll keep each other alive. And then, when this is over, we'll get to go home. I think the Roost is the only place I want to see right now."
"Wouldn't mind being up in my tree in the garden and staring at the stars instead of here," Gedeon admits as he accepts the skin and has a swallow of wine. "Guess we'll just have to make it through and get back to the places we miss."
"Or on the beach. In one of those caves by the shore, or up on the cliffs," Jarod says. "Aye. Guess so." He shifts some, not quite standing but preparing to. "Maybe I'll go try and sleep. If I'm up early enough maybe I can catch my lord father before he's off. I…thanks for the drink, Gedeon."
Accepting the skin back, Gedeon nods, but it seems he's not quite ready to lose the company yet. He clears his throat and begins,
"If I should fall from warrior's grace
Where no Septon can relieve me
If I'm buried 'neath a stone
But the Seven won't receive me…"
Jarod laughs, a relieved sound, like he really needed to laugh just then, and picks up the tune gladly.
"Let me go, boys!
Let me go, boys!
Let me go down in the mud
Where the rivers all run dry…"
He stands as he lets that last note trail off, offering Gedeon one of those bright grins he can summon up at a moment's notice. "Sleep some, Tordane's Rivers. I'll see you on the morrow."
Though he won't, as things turn out, Jarod too lost in the chaos of the Rebel host to even catch sight of young Gedeon Rivers or the Tordanes. He heard about the death of the Lord of Stonebridge and his young lord son much like he did the death of Prince Rhaegar, like it was a story. And by the time he emerged from the following chaos of being knighted, sitting vigil by his now-crippled brother, and then getting really drunk…he couldn't find Gedeon Rivers. And he went home without his friend.