Lady Lanncaster’s silver hair fell down the sides of her face as she leaned over the small records book her and Jance were reviewing. She quickly tied her hair up with itself, instead of with pin or cloth, and continued their conversation.
“Bilim is a good man, but it will be good to have you back on the ledgers. I’m not sure this is even written in a known language,” she said smiling as she looked up at him with her deep purple eyes.
She was beautiful and half the men were in love with her, Jance included, but they respected her and Lord Toten too much to let it become anything more than passing fancy and late night dreaming. Jance smiled back, “Well my lady, I will do my very best to square everything away. Winter is coming, so I’d been mostly focusing on the food stores before. . .well, you know.” He still had trouble thinking about it.
Jance had been sure that Renly was going to have him killed that day, but the gods had been with him and his life was spared, though his honor and dignity were drug through the dirt on the long ride north in the Stormlands, tied up with the very men he had fought to keep out of Rockfall the day before. Jance was not sorry ‘King’ Renly had met a bad end.
When Jance had been brought out to be whipped he had expected one hundred lashes and had received one. The lashes the men took filled Jance with pride knowing they cared for their lost Captain so, but the lashes Ser Robrik took filled him with humility, for the knight in all his eccentricities was one of the most honorable men in the Seven Kingdoms, and he did not lightly give his respect to the undeserving. The man had trained Jance since boyhood next to his Lord and it seemed the old man cared as much for Jance as he for him. The lash Lady Gabriella took filled him with duty. The second that leather bit into her back Jance had sworn his life to her, and Jance Morgan was not a man to waver in his duty.
“That’s good Jance, keep up what you have been doing. This castle is as safe in your hands as it is in Toten’s,” she said ignoring his stumbling. She had a way about her where she would ignore the embarrassing mishaps people so often made and make them feel like they never happened at all. She had shown the ability not a few hours before when Ser Loras pulled steel screaming of killing and she had made a very real threat towards him, then the very next thing out of her mouth were words of friendship and care. It was a quality many great leaders had throughout history. Though the woman was more than just a fine leader.
Robrik had told Jance of what happened in the Vale, and frankly the stories frightened him. This small woman had in her the ability to slay many men twice her size in the span of a heartbeat. She was dangerous and wonderful and frightening and beautiful. She was a woman you respected, not because of her position, but because she demanded it.
“Well Jance, I have much to do, so I’ll leave you to it.” She said heading for the door. “Oh, one other thing,” she said grabbing his arm lightly, causing his heart to beat faster at her touch, “watch the new maester. I mislike the man. If he becomes too much trouble, perhaps he can find himself away from Rockfall, one way or another.” The way she said it as she walked out of the room gave Jance a chill. Lord Toten was a lucky man, but just the same Jance didn’t envy him.
The next day Jance watched his Lady ride off toward Highgarden as he stayed behind in Rockfall with his duty. Jance was used to being left behind. Lord Toten had quickly surpassed him in martial prowess in their early teens. Lady Lena had left for her new husband and crushed what remained of his boyhood heart. Even Lord Natan had left him, though through no fault of his, gods rest him. Jance was always left behind. Though, instead of sorrow it filled the young man with purpose. His Lord’s castle was his to guard. His Lord and Lady’s children were his to protect, along with all the servants and small folk and men. Jance was the rock in the river for Rockfall, and everyone was much the better because of it.
As he walked back toward the main hall he passed by the stables and thought back to the wedding they had had almost two years ago. The Dornish with their dark skin and hot food and strangeness had turned the castle upside down in so many ways, but Jance had been the most changed. The night before the wedding Arianne Martell had found Jance near the stables in the night and before long the two were locked in passion. Jance remembered being horrified and aroused all at the same time, her dark breasts pressed against his skin and her warm mouth over his. He kept saying they couldn’t because she was a highborn lady and Arianne had just laughed about how she had fucked many men of far less status that Jance Morgan, but few with such robust good looks. The Dornish were a very different people, but the taste of Arianne Martell had been on his lips for many days after their tryst in the stables, and he still thought fondly of her.
Jance wondered what Arianne was doing right then, hoping that she was somewhere pleasant and good.
Many leagues away in Sunspear Arianne Martell was preparing to sail for Rockfall in order to have a very important discussion with Jance Morgan. She hoped he was wise enough to know that sometimes a man must go against his duty to keep those he loves safe.