(122-06-25) A Not So Fond Farewell
A Not So Fond Farewell
Summary: Jervis is released from Skyreach.
Date: Date of play (122-06-25 IC)
Related: An Oakheart at Skyreach; Of Bloodoaths and the Blackrood; A Deal Done

As promised, Alaeyna sends her fastest rider to dispatch the ransom letter to Quillian Oakheart. After that, the only thing to do is wait. Jervis is still treated hospitably enough in the ensuing days and weeks, but he is watched closely, warily, at all times. He does not dine with the household or its guests. He is allowed to visit the library, and he is allowed to spend time out of doors for fresh air and exercise, but he is never granted independence or free agency. He's abed in his chambers one night when he wakes to find Alaeyna Fowler sitting on the edge of his bed, just like she had been his first night in Skyreach. "He sent ahead a rider. He arrives tomorrow." And then she leaves him to his anxiety and his stomach ulcers.

When the next day dawns on Skyreach, there's a palpable change in the atmosphere. Anticipation. Morning comes and goes with no sign of their expected visitor. Midday passes. It's high afternoon when at last Jervis is summoned from his chamber and escorted down to the courtyard. Alaeyna Fowler and several members of her household are already assembled in a reception row. One of her men stand aside so that Jervis can take the place next to the Lady of Skyreach. It's a quarter hour at least before the sound of hoofbeats signals an imminent arrival. A scout must have spotted the approach from on high. Before the rider comes into view, Alaeyna tilts her head and looks up at Jervis. "Are you ready to meet the Blackrood?" she asks, infusing Quillian Oakheart's byname with venomous disdain.

"Quill," Jervis says, using not the infamous alias but the man's childhood name, the name he was known as to his brother growing. With days to brood over the upcoming reunion, he has managed an air of calm — one that his stomach no doubt thanks him for, as it's mostly true calm — but he still hasn't worked out the other emotions. Should he be feeling joy at the upcoming union? Anticipation? Wariness? Love? Or should he be worrying about the woman beside him more than thinking on his brother. With eight long years since he's last seen anyone in his family, most of what he seems to feel is conflicted and uncertain.

"You know the brother he was. But you've yet to discover the foul man he's become." Alaeyna does not mince her words, not even now, as they stand side by side awaiting the arrival of the lone rider. When he comes tearing into the courtyard on his horse, he brings his mount to rear before the line of people flanking the Lady Fowler on either side. He does not ride under a banner, and no surprise. The Oakheart flag would not be a welcome sight in these parts. The horseman pulls on his reins and wheels his horse around in a circle, pulling back his cowl and baring a face dirt-stained from the road, a wild beard and a sharp, flinty stare.

"So the Harpy Bitch of Skyreach wants to sell me my own brother," he calls from the saddle, his eyes going to Jervis but then darting around the facade of the fortress and its courtyard, as if in silent search of hidden threats to his person. His voice is gruff and loud, unapologetic in the way he addresses Alaeyna. One of the men in the line, Alaeyna's own brother, spits in the sand.

Jervis is, of course, older than when Quillian last saw him. That last meeting before that last skirmish, where Jervis served as a page running Oakheart messages, he was still only a boy. Just twelve years old. Now he's grown taller, heavier, more muscular, so that he's not the boy he was but now a man of his own right. He gives his brother an uncertain, faint smile and close scrutiny, looking for signs of the young man he knew to be his brother, the one whose shadow he lived his childhood under, the one he looked up to as a child. "Quill," he says, followed by an awkward pause that stretches a beat too long. "It's good to see family again."

"How many men and women of Dorne would gladly give you their last crown to get back the husbands, sons, brothers and fathers you have stolen from them? To say nothing of the mothers, sisters, wives and daughters." Alaeyna is unmoved by the manner in which she is addressed, but the words she offers in response are as sharp as the edge of a blade. She watches the mounted rider with the same wary suspicion as the others.

For his part, the bearded man seems to have no interest in abandoning his horse. He does urge it nearer, the better to study Jervis. There may not be anything at all familiar in him. Ten years is a very long time indeed. "Brother," he says. "Has the Prince of Ashes's concubine treated you well?" His hand goes to his waist, where he wears a purse of coin. It seems heavy. The ransom. He ignores Alaeyna, other than to laugh harshly at her words.

Jervis still thinks of Quillian, despite all the stories, despite all the animosity and vitriol he's heard spewed about him on the lips of just about every Dornishmen, as simply Quill. His big brother. The one who taught him how to hold a sword when his father was too busy. The one who, on rare occasions, let him tag along on hunts and other adventures when he was too young for his mother's permission to do so. The one who let him take his own falls, and take his own punishments, and made him feel all the older for it. The brother of passion and anger, and fierce determination, but of reckless bravado and daring escapades and always that undercurrent of excitement.

"I've been treated well, yes," Jervis says, the words coming out a little stiffer, a little more formal, than he meant. It is, on his part, an awkward reunion in its uncertainty. Quill is still his brother, but he's also a stranger now, separated by years. "I was well-treated here, as I was at the Blackmonts, as a guest of the house. And I received some dozen letters that had been withheld these past few years, from our parents and Elton."

"And my letters?" He asks, indignant, giving Alaeyna an accusatory look. He removes the coin purse from his belt, and throws it at her feet. It lands with a thud and a cloud of dust in the sand, but she does not stoop to retrieve it. She doesn't so much as look at it.

"My master of horse will see to your mount," the Harpy Bitch of Skyreach says. "I would give you bread at my table and allow you and your brother to reacquaint yourselves. There is a room prepared for you, though it isn't the cell you deserve, Blackrood." She flashes her teeth at him in a smile that's cold and humorless.

But he's not having it, if the rough bark of laugh that follows is any indication. "You'll not get me off this horse unless you cut its legs out from under me. The Seven can take your oath of blood. The only hearth of yours I've any interest in is the one between your thighs, and Maelys has already beaten me to it."

Jervis knew that the two had…. history. This is the type of exchange he expected to hear. This is, actually, better than the exchange he expected he hear, though there is still certainly time for the whole thing to devolve rather nicely. He studies the ground for a moment, then his brother. "I'd be ready to leave now. I have a few belongings in my room, but no more than I can carry in a pack." It's true. He doesn't own much: those letters now, a few mementos from over the years, a small it of jewelry, spare clothes, armor, weapons. That's about all he has to his name. While Quillian insults, he has a much milder, a much more conciliatory tone. Quill, after all, may have spent years on the battlefield, but Jervis' own battlefield amongst the Oakhearts required him to adopt a much different tactic. "My lady, my brother has come. The sum has been paid. Is our agreement met, then?"

Between her brother and her sworn swords, the men flanking Alaeyna on either side are spoiling for a fight, and the comment about her hearth doesn't do much to improve the energy that crackles between all those hotblooded Dornishmen. When he refuses to dismount, she exchanges a look with her brother, but a quick one; she barely takes her eyes off the object of her disdain. She's aware of Jervis and what he's saying, but she hardly looks like she hears it, her gaze going hard and stony, eyes narrowing. "Go on, brother, and get your things. I reckon the Harpy's master of horse can find you something to ride in the meantime."

Alaeyna speaks last. She's quiet long enough that Jervis might begin to suspect that she's going to refuse to roll with this turn of events. But finally she lifts a hand and says, "Go." And then to one of her sworn swords, "Accompany him."

By the time Jervis returns, there is an old sandsteed waiting, saddled, for him. By the look of the beast, it's one that Skyreach won't miss much, its best days behind it. The rider holds its reins, waiting for Jervis. By the look on their faces, he and Alaeyna have been doing more verbal sparring in Jervis's absence.

Jervis's quick steps return him in short order, and there is a look of visible relief on his face as he sees that Quill is alive and also not in shackles or anything of the sort. He also checks to make sure there are no dead bodies on the ground about his brother; such things occasionally happen when the Blackrood and Dornishmen are in close proximity, or so he's been given to believe.

"Thank you for your hospitality, my lady," Jervis says, a definite and marked contrast to the conversation she has been keeping with his brother. Jervis, however, believes in formalities and decorum, strained as they may be. Part of that is courtesy of Blackmont rearing. "Perhaps we will see one another again, under better circumstances." With that, he pulls himself onto his borrowed horse with the practiced ease that comes from years spent serving as a squire. He knows how to ride a horse.

Neither the other man nor Alaeyna have such pleasant parting words for each other. As soon as Jervis is in the saddle he's spurring his horse to ride, calling out to Jervis, "Pray to the Seven you never lay eyes on her again," before he steers his mount away from the receiving line and out of the courtyard. It's to Jervis to fall in line and keep up with him, and before he goes Alaeyna tells him, "Pray to the Seven that you live a hundred years but never the day that you become your brother."

Jervis has probably been dreaming about this day for weeks, months, years, the day he finally gets to leave these Dornish lands behind and make the too-long journey back to his homelands. It's new enough that it seems a little surreal to him, and blood oaths or not, he is definitely distrustful of the circumstances. "How is mother?" he asks Quillian as they start off, and thus begins what is sure to be a long series of questions, so long as Quillian's patience lasts at least. Even with the letters, home is like a foreign land, almost a foreign people, and he has a lot of catching up to do.

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