Ysabel and her servant Jayne will be accompanying Ser Tiberius the Tall back to Gulltown. Unbeknownst to anyone but Ser Tiberius, he has been assigned by Marcus Felix to make sure the family’s Valyrian steel blade goes with them. He has been instructed not to touch the blade at all costs because it is cursed. Ser Tiberius has gloves and a scabbard to hold the sword if he’s able to acquire it.
Ser Tiberius goes to where it’s being held and finds one guard watching it. He talks the guard into leaving. Before leaving, the guard mentions something about murders. Ser Tiberius enters to find numerous family tombs and skeletons scattered about and a lone sword buried in a stone slab. He carefully switches it with a different sword and smuggles the Valyrian steel onto the ship among his belongings.
The sail to Gulltown is uneventful. Randall Grafton is on the dock waiting and dryly welcomes yet more Slagathors to his city. He accuses us of getting into other lords’ business and stealing lands. Ser Tiberius speaks up more than a knight should and draws Randall’s dislike. Ysabel dismissively pays the docking fee and we head to the house Geena and Marcus Felix have rented for their stay.
A fence has been erected along the border between Grafton and Shett lands. For the last few weeks, anyone whose house happens to be on Shett lands has had to pay heavy fees and bribes to travel between the two properties, to such an extent that most who lived on Shett lands have now moved.
The house Geena rented is very nice and probably very expensive. As the traveling party arrives, they see a delivery person from the Crone’s Scones dropping off a box of baked goods. Geena greets her sister warmly and starts shooting orders at Jayne and Tiberius at once. Jayne gets to work making her famous coffee for Geena’s twenty or so tea party guests.
Ysabel can tell most of what’s being said at the party is useless prattle, but Geena assures her you have to listen to a lot of useless babble to find what’s really important. Ysabel is a little under the weather from the voyage and thrown off from being out of her element, so she doesn’t pay much attention today. Ser Tiberius chats with the ladies’ drivers/bodyguards. They’re happy their pay has been going up because they have less competition, even with all of the Shett servants being put out of work. By the looks of it, someone is hiring a lot of men, especially those who are better fighters, leaving those who are better at riding to escort the ladies.
Jayne hears from the kitchen servants that prices have been stable despite the increased trade from Essos; maybe someone or some House is buying up large quantities of grain and other goods for some reason, which keeps the prices up. Jayne also hears that Marq Grafton is back from being away on a business trip and he’s been noticeably busy with something. He hasn’t been making the social rounds and is only spotted here and there at the port. He’s been letting Gerald handle many of the affairs he doesn’t have time for. Marq hasn’t even been attending his family’s soirees; he’s obviously preparing something. People say it might be related to Harrenhal, but then again, it might not….
The tea party eventually clears out and leaves Ysabel, Geena, Ser Tiberius, Jayne, and soon Marcus Felix alone. Ysabel tells her brother she’s here to help him with the meeting with the Graftons. Marcus Felix has heard a decision will be made tomorrow night regarding what to do with the Slagathors. They’ve heard that we wish to make amends with them; Marcus has been explaining how our first loyalty had to be to our liege lord. We know the Graftons have done some deal with Braavos, and perhaps with other parties as well. It’s also worth noting that a large number of nobles from across Westeros attended Jeremy Grafton’s wedding despite him being only the third son. Perhaps those nobles had some other reason for being there.
Obviously, we won’t be invited to the meeting where the Graftons decide what to do about us. We’ve only been invited to have dessert with them afterwards to hear the results. Marcus has heard there will be nine advisers to help Lord Marq decide what to do. If we could convince enough of these advisers that we’re on their side, they might tell us what we need to know and even recommend a reconciliation.
Marcus Felix asks Ser Tiberius to bring out the sword, saying he trusts everyone in this room. He says no one is to touch the blade. Ysabel guesses that Marcus Felix intends to use it as a bargaining chip. He says he was considering giving it to the Graftons, though he would certainly tell them its downsides. Ser Tiberius is puzzled as to why we would give up such a powerful weapon. Marcus has the sword taken down to a vault under the house for safekeeping in case we decide to use it.
Possible members of this advising council are Randall, Viktor, Jeremy, Gerald (heir), Zara, Lady Maywell Hathaway (merchants), Lord Robert Fulton (navy), Lord Zachary Zant (army), and Maester Targon. Geena assures us she’s already spent plenty of time with Kale, who is close to her in age, and he and his little sister will have no say in the decision. She’s also rather troubled by rumors that Lord Arthur is trying to marry her off, but Ysabel tells her she’ll have to speak to their father directly about that.
Geena suspects that Lady Zara Grafton (Marq’s wife) doesn’t do well in crowds. She doesn’t do many social events and is more likely to be found with her children or doing charity work with the sept. We suggest having Geena invite Lady Zara, Lady Fulton, Lady Hathaway, and young Zina Zant for tea or dessert to discuss charity work, trying to get on their good sides. Ysabel intends to speak with Viktor and possibly with Gerald (or Lady Zara if Geena doesn’t). The Slagathors have made a social call to Jeremy and his wife Kinara before, so that might be an in. Ysabel may also try to talk up Jayne’s skills as an Essosi cook to the Graftons to try and get her into their good graces.
Ser Tiberius can look into where all of these fighting men have been hired off to. Jayne will deliver a recipe for altitude sickness remedies from Maester Meera to Maester Targon and use it as an excuse to speak with him. With luck, she will also find an opportunity to speak with Jeremy. As for Marcus Felix, he can focus his efforts on winning over Lord Zant and Lord Fulton by whatever means.
Jayne finds the maester tower without much trouble and talks her way past the guards to see Maester Targon with her letter. She runs into an assistant, the same one Meera talked to last time (who luckily seems to have retained his job). Young Bernard is quite friendly, especially when she says she’s from Maester Meera. They briefly discuss maesters and whether or not people have souls. Bernard arranges for Jayne to come back and meet with Targon around 9pm tonight, after dinner.
Ysabel heads to the theater district to try and find Viktor surreptitiously. She finds him at Sawyer’s Golden Gallery, one of Gulltown’s many stages. One of the guards proudly gives her the tour. Viktor notices her and wraps up some business he’s doing in order to greet her. They walk through the sets backstage as they talk. Viktor comments that Geena has been making quite a name for her in social circles lately. His brothers were quite disappointed by the results of the dispute at the Eyrie, to say the least.
Ysabel wastes no time in bringing up tomorrow’s meeting. Viktor understands why the Slagathors had to do what they had to do, though he wishes Lord Arthur would have pledged his family to the Graftons when he married Lady Allison. Viktor would like to see the families reconciled. He’s long since recovered from his grief and he believes Marq has as well, but it seems like Randall will never forgive. Viktor thinks Marq is conflicted; he’s impressed by the skill our family has been showing, but Lady Allison was killed while ostensibly under Lord Arthur’s protection. Viktor recognizes that Ysabel and Marcus Felix are not their father, however, and deserve to be regarded for their own merit. Gerald cared deeply for Lady Allison, who used to bring home many gifts, and is close to Randall. He’s more interested in growing infrastructure than military matters; he wants to see Gulltown become the jewel of Westeros. Ysabel hopes that Kale and little Allison will get to grow in peace and in good relations between our families. Jeremy is indifferent or perhaps even favorable towards us. He comments that Randall loves the theater. Ysabel checks the upcoming shows and sees there will be one about the Blackfyre betrayal.
Tiberius makes for the military district to look into the suspicious lack of fighting men. He finds a bar frequented by soldier types called the Char Bar. He joins a poker game with an Essosi merchant named Avi, a Grafton sailor named Justine, and a former merchant named Billy who has since joined the Grafton navy. Justine wins the first hand. The four banter and argue back and forth, then Justine wins the second hand after Billy unwisely raises by a lot on a bad hand. Tiberius claims to be looking for some employment of the sword-and-shield variety. Billy offers to introduce him to a friend named Terri who might be looking for men, though he says the Graftons themselves are hiring basically anyone who can hold a sword these days. He says rumor is the Graftons are sending a small fleet to Harrenhal.
Billy’s luck turns around with the third hand. In a better mood, he says the Hathaways are said to be looking to hire, in particular Lady Maywell’s younger brother. He offers to put in a word for Tiberius with the Hathaways. Tiberius wins the next hand and tries to keep Billy talking. Billy says Randall’s wife is just a peasant and even his kids don’t respect him, so no one likes dealing with him. Avi mainly keeps to herself, enjoys her charred chicken, and acts generally creepy. Tiberius wins big with the last hand and ends with some contacts and leads to pursue.
Jayne goes down to the docks before dinner to speak with the merchants, in particular those from Essos, to try and find out where those missing goods are going. She hears from a merchant named Zexgon (French accent) that some warehouses that were burned down by the Targaryens back in the day are finally being rebuilt and filled with supplies. The Graftons have been skimming a certain percentage of goods from everything that comes in and sending it to these warehouses, and the other noble houses in Gulltown are following suit. Zexgon doesn’t know why they’re stockpiling. Their warehouses are full of foodstuffs and raw materials like various metals. They’ve been stockpiling since the start of the spring, though there are rumors they started even as far back as Jeremy’s wedding. Jayne can see smoke coming from some of the distant warehouses are though they’re smelting the metal for something.
Ysabel convinces Geena to go with Lady Maywell Hathaway and Zina Zant to a show at the Gallery tonight. They sit together in Box 7 while Ysabel, Jeremy, and Kinara sit in Box 3 (Box 5, as always, is left empty). Betrayal of the Blackfyre is the show. Ysabel introduces Jayne to Jeremy and Kinara. The Essosi lady wonders whether Jayne or her own servant makes the better Essosi coffee and Jayne agrees to a coffee and cook-off tomorrow. Kinara’s servant, Lupita, stares daggers at Jayne the whole time. Kinara is interested to hear that Jayne came through Braavos on her way to Westeros aboard (The Fair Lady?). The servants are dismissed before the show begins. Ysabel and her noble company discuss the arts; Kinara wants her husband to build a bigger theater to match the ones she saw in Braavos. Jeremy invites Ysabel to invest in a joint theater in the future. Ysabel works out the details and agrees to invest in a large new theater, which wins Jeremy’s support for the Slagathors and may even help sway Randall (spent 1 Influence to build theater).
Marcus Felix dines with the Fultons that night. He asks Ser Tiberius to get Rina Fulton to put in a good word for us with her father. She was a woman of the sea until tragedy struck, stealing her husband and child, and she hasn’t been the same since. Tiberius goes for a walk to hopefully run into Rina. He finds her in a park built around ancient trees, among the few that still remain in the city. She’s walking with a pair of bodyguards. Tiberius approaches her as though he’s just running into her and they introduce themselves. He convinces her to let him join her on her walk. They walk around the park a few times while Tiberius seduces her and convinces her that the Slagathors are allies.
Jayne goes to meet with Maester Targon at 9pm as arranged. She’s shown up to his office. Targon looks over the papers she’s brought, asks her to thank Maester Meera for the formulas, and gives her a copy of an old design for an improved cast in exchange. The maester invites her to stay for dinner and asks her who she would say the most trusted Slagathor servants are. Jayne tells him he could trust Chadwick, with whom she has worked extensively at the docks, but says she doesn’t know many other servants well enough to say, including when he asks about “Mary”.
Jayne makes a cup of Essosi tea for Targon, who is apparently a fan, and they discuss various Essosi foods and drinks. Targon has his assistant fetch snails for their dinner when Jayne says they were one of her favorites. She brings up the guard downstairs with the missing eye who seems to be in pain. Targon brushes it off at first, but when Jayne comments that it would be better to have a guard with no distractions he says she can tell the guard to come up and see him for treatment when she leaves.
The two have a good talk about various things like the difficulty of finding good help, the duties of a maester’s assistant, the trouble of balancing education with motivation, and so on. Jayne speaks of the SWORD program at the Teeth and says it is heartening to see that Targon gets along so well with the Slagathors. Targon asks her why there are so many Slagathors in Gulltown these days. Jayne says it’s not her place to keep track of the many members of that family, so Targon says it’s not his place as a maester to hold any animosity towards a family (and he claims he never has).
Jayne tells him some trivial stories about the Slagathors to help endear them to him and speaks of times they’ve proven trustworthy, like when they showed their loyalty to their liege lord during the last fiasco. She can tell that Targon respects the Slagathors and views them as a family on the rise, but he’s not sure if they can be trusted to help the Graftons when push comes to shove and he’s wary of their intentions. Jayne opts to spend the evening helping him research a project to make a good impression.
The next morning, Marcus Felix reports he’s doing well with Lord Fulton. If he spends the rest of the day on it, he might be able to convince the Fultons (maybe even the Zants as well). Geena went to a party at Maywell’s place after the play and got her support. As for the charity initive with Zara, Geena plans to push for a way to fund the Silent Sisters better so they can properly bury even those who can’t pay, which may win us Zara’s support when she proposes it today. We decide to invite the Zants to Jayne and Lupita’s cook-off and make it a jovial, friendly competition.
The cook-off turns into a grand affair at the Zant household, which has a large area for performances. While Lupita focuses on an intimidating style, Jayne aims to be more graceful, putting on an exotic performance. The key ingredient is truffles and must pair well with port. The judges are Lord Zant, Jeremy Grafton, and Kinara.
Appetizer: Carpaccio with sunchokes and truffles (Fulton loves this)
Main Course: Tonkatsu with truffle sauce
Dessert: candied truffles in saffron ice cream (very creative, goes over quite well)
Appetizer: stuffed truffles (Jeremy loves this)
Main Course: steak with truffle sauce
Dessert: chilled ice with a little truffle sauce
Everyone agrees that Jayne’s dance-like performance is lovely, but Lupita is more intimidating and has a certain aura that can’t be ignored. However, when it comes to food, Jayne’s dishes just barely win out over the competition. All of the spectators are entertained and well-fed. Jayne makes nice with Lupita afterwards; they share recipes, realize their mutual respect for each other, and become friends.
Over dessert, Ysabel speaks with the Zants and wins them over with a little help from Jeremy, who brings up the great new theater the Slagathors are going to help him build. Viktor attends the competition as well, just for fun, and has a good time.
Randall: (no one has spoken with him, but he might soften towards us due to the theater deal)
Gerald: (no one has spoken with him, very serious guy)
Zara: (MAYBE SUPPORT if Geena is successful)
Lord Fulton: (MAYBE SUPPORT if Marcus Felix is successful)
Lady Hathaway: SUPPORT
Lord Zant: SUPPORT
Maester Targon: (MAYBE SUPPORT if Ysabel wins an Intrigue combat)