House Slagathor - Song of Ice and Fire

RP between sessions

It is during the first day of the Meeting of the Raven Five, during the grand feast. The boar was delightfully tender and juicy, a testament to Desa Snow’s cooking. The Bard and his flower-flute musicians are doing a grand time entertaining almost everyone in the Grand Hall, where the tapestries of House Slagathor’s victories oversee the affair. There is much talking and much boasting, but perhaps the loudest is Clifford, talking to Joakim of the Hills of House Highsun. Noticing you, Leo, he leaves, and walks toward you with an eager confidence, his glass of ale almost fully drank.

“Brother, tomorrow is going to be fun day!” Clifford boasts as he slams his arm around your shoulder. “It’s a good thing you’re already engaged, because all the ladies will look at me after tomorrow.” He has a big smile and a big laugh as his eyes look around the room. “Let’s be honest, other than you and me, there’s no one we can’t beat here,” he says, perhaps a bit louder than he should…

Leo says out loud, “Clifford, brother, it’s true that all the ladies will look to you, but to others as well. You have to work hard for them all to catch your eye.” He smiles at him. “Also, I have seen how well Marlin of House Redwood handles a spear in battle. I think he will give you a run for your money.” Leo nudges Clifford. “Also, we have Tristan Bloodhand; he is a seasoned fighter as well. It will be good for me to have someone like him to test my skill on.” Leo continues, "There will be many strong contenders tomorrow, Clifford, but it will be all in good fun.” He kindly jests, "Don’t forget Marcus will be contending as well. The ladies may see him more then you. You got your work cut out for you.”

“Please, brother— compared to the two of us, the rest are nothing.” He drinks the rest of his ale in one gulp, and asks the Maid Shandra for another, only his third. “That man Marlin is a poor rider – you or I can eliminate him in one pass. Tristan is a lover, not a fighter; I doubt his wife has let him ride in years. And Marcus? Hey, he used to be good in his prime, but my spear outclasses his hammer any day of the month. His time is past, just like yours.” Clifford smiles and gives a hearty laugh as he receives his third, watered-down ale. He looks at it with a dismissive look. “You get drunk one too many times, and they give you the poor stuff after your first mug. Oh well. But you and I? We’ve killed mountain man lords. Beating nobles is much easier than that!” You notice his eyes being temporarily diverted as Jessica Bloodhand walks by, looking pained as Lord Donnell Crowmore makes small talk with her.

Leo says, “Me, past my prime? Really, brother, I am only a few years older than you.” Leo continues, "We will see who participates in the competition tomorrow. Martin may surprise you, and with that comment Tristan’s wife may let him fight to show you what for. " Leo says in a quieter voice, "For drink, we can get some of the harder stuff later on this evening. The other Lords are still around, but once they wander off to bed we can really get the party going. {I know full well that isn’t going to happen because how the game ended before, but pretending it isn’t.}. Leo says in a normal voice, “Did you hear that Donnell Crowmore is going to be a father soon? That’s why Lady Crowmore isn’t here. Maybe you can go and talk to Lord Crowmore with Jessica; I bet he will be able to tell her the story about how you saved him and Lady Crowmore from the Mountain Men.”

( Yeah, Clifford is like 16, so he’s just being an ass (: )

“You’re right, brother— I did sort of save everyone.” Clifford grins at your comment about the Crowmores as he drinks his ale. His clothes are of a good quality, likely picked out by Geena, who picked out many of the younger siblings’ clothes for the evening.

Looking around to ensure that your father or Maester Meera is not around, he continues, “And you bet we’ll drink the hard stuff later. Man, we should ask Rebekka… I bet she knows where Father keeps his key for the alcohol cabinet. Where is she, anyways? Shouldn’t she be pretending to be a servant?” He looks around and does not spot her. Clifford merely shrugs. “Ah, I’ll ask her later. Anyways, brother, don’t let Sonya tire you out too much!” He hits your back with a good force as he finishes his glass.

“So when we fight in the final round, what do you want bet?”

Leo’s proposed bet is thus: the loser will have to eat their least favorite meal for two weeks. If Clifford loses, I think he hates fish, and if Leo loses he would have to eat nothing but Brussels sprouts for two weeks.

Clifford leans in towards you, as he whispers in your ear, “Oh no, nothing like that. Next time we go to a city, if I win, you buy me a new saddle. If you win, I’ll buy you a new shield.” Adding as a jest, he mutters, “Or a woman.” And he laughs for a bit, then walks away towards Jessica Bloodhand without waiting to hear your response.

(End Scene)

The Infirmary is cold but well-lit, as the caw of ravens can be heard in the distance. They’ve been fed already, but once, seven years ago, they tricked someone into feeding them a second dinner, and so they yell away, knowing that tonight would be their night, when they would win the battle and gain a second meal. In the room there are but two: our usual Maester Meera, in her robes and chain; and Elza (The Unknown), traveling with House Highsun. Elza wears similar robes as Meera – the cloth and style are the same, but the colors are slightly off, and there is a bit more room for maneuverability. There was no chain. Elza’s black hair almost blends into her dark robes.

Elza grabs one of the books you brought down to her for review, Meera. She seems genuinely interested as her blue eyes flow through the pages. “This is quite interesting, Maester Meera. Of course, the usage of some dander seeds, paprika and jasmine does much of the same, but that recipe takes four hours to boil, and this one does not,” she says as she reviews a potion to cure a rare type of mountain fever. “Must be nice to be by the ports; you must be able to get the occasional book. Not so much in the mountains.” Elza looks at Meera with a quiet warmth, a small smile forming as her eyes dart around the rest of the chamber…

Maester Meera returns the smile as she plucks another book down from the shelf. She flips through some pages with a practiced hand before turning the book around for Elza to see. “This one is yet another alternative remedy for the Red Fever. More effective, but the ingredients can be harder to procure. You must maintain an herb garden, yes? I will send you with a few of the more unusual seeds you may be lacking. It was a bountiful autumn.” Her eyes stray to the rows of boxes on her highest shelves where she stores her precious seeds during the winter months. Not for the first time, she was grateful that Marla was now old and dextrous enough to help her harvest and sort the seeds. It was a lot of work for one person alone.

She sets the book on a nearby table, takes a seat, and pulls over a pad of paper and a quill to jot down what Elza has mentioned about alternative remedies so far. As she scribbles, she says, “This is an alternative remedy I have never encountered. An ingenious solution, if the faster ingredients are not at hand. Did you find this in a book or discover it yourself? I understand that much of your studies came from books, but some of the remedies you’ve spoken of involve ingredients that I never saw mentioned at the Citadel.”

Elza nods as she reviews the book you set down. “In my travels, I met more than a few town herbalists and doctors. Each of them have their own knowledge, their own treasure. Maesters often believe that only chained teachers and books have anything useful to say. But the common folk also have their ways. Not that books aren’t useful.” She says this as she copies a page on a blank page of vellum. “I… appreciate your kindness, Meera. And I’m surprised. Most of you kind…do not think of me in the same light.”

“I have never been one to turn down an opportunity to learn.” Meera takes a moment to finish her notes before setting down her quill and looking at Elza again with a serious, rather severe expression. “I am surprised that so many maesters have given you the cold shoulder. Those I hold dear would never be so callous. It is my belief that there are never enough healers in this world. Those who wish to follow such a path must be nourished, encouraged, supported— maester or no, if what you’ve learned saves even one life, then yours is a life well-spent and no mistake.”

Her face softens a bit as she gazes at the girl. “Tell me, how is it that you have no chain? I find it hard to believe that the Citadel would turn you away so, hard as it may be to be taken seriously as a woman there.”

Elza smiles a fake smile, a smile with no teeth and little to hide. “Most Maesters do not see a healer. They see someone who wishes ill. They see someone who wishes to tarnish their name and reputation.” Her voice is agitated, as she breathes a bit harder, her hand clenching the table as she stops writing on the sheep skin scroll. “I have no chain because they made it clear they wished for me to have no chain. I began lessons, but in a matter of days I knew it was not what it ought to be. I —” And then she sighs loudly, closing her eyes, and breathes loudly. “— ought not to be such a rude guest. Besides, it was many years ago, and Lord Highsun treats me well. I presume Lord Slagathor values your counsel greatly as well?” she says, trying to change the topic as she stands up and slowly heads towards the stairs where the ravens caw.

“I believe he does. Fortunately, Lord Slagathor is a wise man even without my counsel.” Meera decides not to press her too much yet and simply follows towards the rookery. She plucks up a box with some treats for the ravens while she’s at it, intending to give them something special to keep them happy in a stranger’s presence.

With a twinkle to her eye, Meera says, “It is unfortunate you do not have the resources of the Citadel at your disposal, but surely there are benefits to your situation as well. You are not bound by a maester’s vows. Perhaps you have a husband back at your castle? Family?”

Elza chuckles at your question, as she brushes her hair with her hand. “Jealous, eh?” She laughs softly as she approaches you, eager to follow to the rookery. “Sorry, I shouldn’t jest like that. But no, no husband for myself. Mind you, there are many men willing to jump into bed with me, but none worth keeping in it,” she says with a confident bluster, her head upright, with a slight grin. “I do have a child, Lana, a five-year-old girl, full of freckles and questions. She gets into trouble all the time but has the sweetest smile.”

It’s all Meera can do to keep from doing a double-take. “You surprise me! You seem so like a maester in every other respect that I didn’t imagine you with child. But if she is anything like her mother, I am sure your Lana is perfectly bright and charming.”

The maester leads the way up the winding steps to her rookery. Opening the heavy door with one of her many keys, she steps into the room and gazes around at her birds with some measure of affection softening her stern features. “I do not regret pursuing my studies, but at times I do regret not having children of my own. Still, I certainly have my hands full with Lord Arthur’s brood. Little Lilly is but four years of age and hardly leaves my side. And she has many half-brothers and sisters to keep her company. I hope your Lana is not lonely if Lord Highsun has no bastards.”

“Oh, there are many children to teach, and my dear Lana is just one of them, even if she’s a bit brighter than some of the others,” Elza chuckles as she slowly goes up the stairs. “For indeed, Lord Highsun would never have any bastards. Just as Lord Slagathor would never not have his men dress like Lizard-Lions. Sorry, alligators, isn’t it?”

As you near the top, you can feel a cold wind blustering from the outside, penetrating the wooden shutters you have for windows, as the ravens grow excited. “Once I knew I would not be a maester, I realize that I did not have to follow all of their ideals. And some are a bit more fun to ignore than others. That’s not to say the maesters do not have some virtues. The ravens they keep healthy are a service to all. But it is good. Shame that the maesters are so resistant to change, isn’t it?”

“It is the difficulty of an established institution. Those who hold the most power are the old men who resist new ideas. Yet the rest of us can do a lot of good in our own way nevertheless. Such as recognizing the qualities of a good maester, even in those who are not chained,” Meera says with a faint smile. She gestures around at the assembled ravens, perched around the tower and starting to caw, before opening one of the shutters for light. “Have you had much occasion to work with ravens? I have trained all of these myself, for better or worse,” she adds with a rueful expression, petting one of her birds with a scarred finger.

“It’s one of my talents that has only been developed poorly. Quite poorly,” Elza the unknown mutters. The ravens do not care for her, though as you are here they behave. Mostly. Poe caws aggressively at the other… maester.

“I traveled with a handful of other potential candidates to Oldtown. We took the east-west highway to the Eyrie and from there went to the kingsroad, took that south, and then headed west, with a variety of diversions, of course. Arnold of the Finger Isles was great with the horses and birds, probably because of his northern mother; he was so good it was if he could talk with them. So the rest of us suffered as a result. I can obviously take a message, though.”

Her eyes linger in the memories before giving a small smile. “Those were interesting times…”

Maester Meera takes Elza’s hand and places a few nuts on her palm. “Watch how they react now. They know you have what they want. In any time but winter, I would give them more fruit, worms, and grains, but nuts are easier during these cold months. I will write you a list of what my birds will and won’t eat, and what it toxic to them, such as mushrooms and onions. Above all, you must treat them well consistently. They are clever and will remember you; if you ever mistreat them, they will hold it against you now and forever. Try and approach one, and we will see how they like you when you have a treat for them.”

Meera keeps a hand on Poe, trying to calm him as she watches what Elza will do next. She adds conversationally, “Where were you born, if I may ask? It seems you are native to the Vale, as I am.”

Elza approaches Edgar, the raven for House Highsun, cautiously, like a child fearful of a bite from a dog. Poe, the Raven of the Royces, angrily stares – and then, realizing it’s being ignored, poops in disgust. Zazo, the raven of Oldtown, goes to sleep – it needs not any of this absurdity. Elza puts out her hand, with a nut in her palm, as she approaches. Edgar goes right over and takes it in a flash, before retreating. Elza gives a small smile. “Well, that wasn’t too bad.”

As she takes another nut to feed Edgar, she responds to your query. “I was born in a small town outside Cat’s Widow (the castle of Highsun), in a valley with an iron mine. Every year, Lord Highsun has a festival to celebrate their arrival to the Vale, and the Highsuns give the young ones chances to prove themselves. I won a competition of poetry as a child and impressed the family, and so, like others, I was brought to live in the castle. Lord Rogar was young back then. They had a maester too, Maester Wells. He taught a small group, and then when I was 13, he nominated me to become a maester, and I took my journey then. Came back few years later, and Lord Highsun felt in his wisdom that I perhaps had some as well, and continues to employ me.”

She pauses as Edgar eats another nut. “Do you have your own festival? Ours will probably feature a snowman contest this year.”

“Oh, we certainly have a festival of our own here. The Slagathors only oversee a relatively small population, so during the festival all are invited into the castle courtyard when the weather is cold, or to the cliffs outside the walls if weather permits. Most prefer the years the festival can be held outside the walls, for it is during those years that all are encouraged to make and bring kites. Most choose to make animal-shaped kites. Dragons and alligators dominate, as you might expect, though I have yet to see a flying alligator myself,” Meera says with a small smirk.

The maester continues petting Poe despite his protest and murmurs comforting words to him. While he’s distracted with a nut, she attaches a short message to his leg— informing Lord Royce of the rumors surrounding Daario Shett’s disappearance, as Lord Arthur requested. She gently carries Poe to the open window and holds him out on her arm until he chooses to take wing.

“You must be close to the Highsuns after all this time,” Meera says quietly while Poe finishes his nut. “Would you mind telling me— what led to the Highsuns collaborating with mountain men? I wish to understand. It has clearly caused a rift between the Highsuns and the rest of the Raven Five. Perhaps with open discussion of what’s happened in the past we may find a way to move past it.”

“Well, I doubt there’s any kite of any animal that can actually fly. They’re much too boring, after all.” Elza murmurs as she stares at Edgar the Raven. Poe squawks loudly as he flies high into the night sky, heading towards the moon, alone, the nut in his mouth. This distracts Elza, who lets Edgar’s mouth get a bit too close to her hand. He bites, expecting a treat, only grabbing untasty flesh instead. “Ow!” Elza yells as she takes a few steps back, bumping into you, nearly sending both of you to the ground. “Damn it…” she mutters as she shakes her hand; the bite did not penetrate the skin, though it left a beginner’s mark on her, as your teachers in Oldtown would say.

Turning around to face you, Elza says, “What’s with the raven-sending, anyways? You Slagathors plotting with someone as well?” She smiles, as the second question was said in a joking tone. She continues, dropping the jovial tone, “No, but no House talks to us now. I imagine it will either take several seasons or a good war to prove Lord Highsun’s desire. A desire that I imagine is similar to Lord Slagathor’s reason for calling the Raven Five here.”

Meera staggers a bit but finds her footing in time to steady Elza with a hand on both shoulders. "Now, now. One mustn’t ever take the ravens for granted, or they will get your attention one way or another. Especially Edgar here, in your case— he is the raven trained to visit House Highsun, after all. You two must have met before, so he expects more of you than from a stranger.

“Tell me, what does Lord Highsun desire? I hope it is indeed aligned with Lord Slagathor. My lord wishes for nothing but a strengthened alliance between the Raven Five families so that the Five may stand strong against their mutual enemies.”

“Alliances against mutual enemies. That’s what the Raven Five is supposed to be about,” Elza says coolly as she takes a step back. “And that’s what House Highsun believes in too. We have to work together with our neighbors to protect ourselves.” She breathes loudly, and cool air comes out of her mouth. She sighs before continuing.

“You’ve heard the rumors about the King. I’m not a historian, but whenever you have a King like him, history says war is coming. I don’t when, but I can feel it.” She begins to walk back down the stairs. “Still, I don’t want to take up all your time. And I’m sure there’s something else I can teach you. You’ve taught me much tonight.”

Maester Meera nods and closes the shutter before following Elza back down to the infirmary. There’s a slight frown on her face after the mention of war, but she sets the matter aside for now. If a war is declared, it will not be declared by her or Lord Arthur, so there is nothing she can do.

“Never mind about taking up my time. No one is bleeding, and it’s pointless trying to bring the children to class when we have guests in the castle,” she chuckles. “I hope to spend more time with you before these meetings are done. We certainly do have much to teach each other. And please don’t believe I am the only reasonable maester in Westeros— Maester Tywinna and Maester Patrick are both good friends of mine here in the Vale, and I know they would not turn you away if you went to them for help or advice.”

Meera settles into her chair and gestures for Elza to sit as well. “Now, what is this other thing you would like to teach me, hmm?”

“I’m surprised that you hold Maester Tywinna in good regards,” Elza the Unknown replies as she reaches the bottom of the stairs. “I heard that she spent much time in Gulltown with Maester Esteva, and Esteva is well-known for her….charming personality” she says, the last part sarcastically. “Though I guess you shouldn’t make someone guilty by association.” She looks around your quarters, before finding a small kettle, and begins preparing an herbal tea to warm the two of you from the cold tower from whence you came.

Meera blinks slowly at her. “Well, yes. I find Tywinna and Esteva quite charming, in truth. I have not yet spent extensive amounts of time with either, but they are reasonable and reliable people. What grievance do you have with Esteva?”

“Oh, let’s not bring up such things…” Elza says, as she gives you a cup of strong mint tea. “Let’s not ruin the evening like that. Let’s just enjoy each other’s company and learn some things, all right?” She gives a warm smile as she clanks her cup on yours. The two of you spend much of the evening discussing different affairs of the land and other areas of interest….

(End Scene)



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