(120-12-14) Northern Exposure
Northern Exposure
Summary: A handful of Northerners' paths cross at the Quill and Tankard.
Date: 120-12-14

"I will behave myself," says Eonn, a bit regretfully. He's sitting across from Maera, drinking strong cider. There's a cat standing on his lap, looking over the table at the woman.

"Unless he was waiting for the boy to reach here before leaving himself he should be here any day. So, we'll see what happens." Maera gives Eonn a meaningful look, "It may be that you will not have to behave yourself."

"Murder is supposed to cost extra," says Eonn, starting to smile.

Maera smiles over her tankard, "And here I thought we were friends, Eonn of the Rills."

A maester coming into the Quill and Tankard isn't an unusual sight. But the particular maester darkened the doorstep doesn't cut the usual figure, either. Rugged, weathered, and scruffy all around, the tall man carries a twisted white staff carved with a small face near the top. Upon his shoulder sits a large black raven, pecking at a loose thread in his grey robes. He makes a disapproving sound at the bird, who pays him little heed. At a nearby table, a middle-aged, balding maester leans to his drinking companion, gesturing and murmuring, "By the Seven, that's Thane Thricewise. Returned to Oldtown, has he? No good will come of this. Mark my words." Thane gives his fellow maesters a nod as he passes, but makes no indication whether he heard the man's words. He locates an empty table beside the one occupied by Maera and Eonn, settling in and looking up to catch a barwench's eye.

"Business is business," says Eonn, amused. "As much as I'd rather it wasn't." He swallows more cider. The cat on his lap looks at the raven with a nervous twitch of its tail. It crouches and flattens its ears to its skull. Ravens cannot be trusted. The man glances over at the other Maesters, and then to the newcomer.

"Of course." Maera says with a slight curving upwards of her lips followed by a faint roll of the eyes. She toys with the rim of her Tankard with a finger as she glances over at the rather rugged looking maester with a raven on his shoulder, and gives him a stiff little nod.

"Pint of mead," Thane says flatly to the barwench, "And bread crusts for my friend." He tilts his head toward the raven, catching the glances from the nearby table. He nods their direction. "I've only just come into port. Trouble you for recent news in the region?"

"I only just arrived a few weeks ago myself." Maera says with a shrug of her shoulder. She picks up her tankard to have another hearty swallow of the cider. "No real news. Or, at least, nothing of true importance."

Thane nods in thanks, but as he begins to turn away, his eyes are drawn to the brooch on Maera's cloak. "The black bear of House Mormont," he comments. "You're rather far south, my lady."

Eonn smiles a little at that. He leans back and watches, stroking the cat to calm it, while it stares nervously at the raven.

"Aye, I suppose I am." Maera gives Thane a thoughtful look, "Many forget that we dwell on our icy little island."

Thane nods his thanks to the barwench as his pint is brought to him. "I spent some time on Bear Island some years ago, in a fishing village on the northern side. Stalwart people there. Good, dependable Northmen."

"Truly?" Maera gives Thane an intrigued look, "How long ago? I'm suprised we did not know you were there. Our island is small, and strangers are usually noted."

Thane furrows his brow pensively, searching his memory. "It would have been…five years ago, now. Well, five years and as many months, at least. I cannot say for certain if your house knew of my presence or not. But my stay was relatively brief. Less than two weeks."

Eonn stays quiet, watching. He drinks more cider, seeming contented enough.

"I do not recall, but my late Lord father was Lord of the island then, so it may be that I was simply uninformed." Maera raises a hand to get the attention of the serving wench. "You are of the North yourself."

"Aye," Thane nods. "Before this life chose me. I've just sailed from White Harbor, in fact. I'm Maester Thane. Thricewise, some call me. May I have the honor of your name, m'lady?"

"Lady Maera Mormont." Maera lifts the tankard to her lips when it is filled again. "Did you serve the Manderlys in some capacity?"

Thane dips his head respectfully to Lady Mormont, lifting his pint to her before taking a heavy quaff. "No, nothing like that," he chuckles. "Not in this life, at any rate. It was simply a place to catch a ship." He rubs his scruffy chin, considering for a moment.. "I'd come from Castle Black, actually. I'd enlisted the help of some rangers of the Night's Watch for an expedition Beyond the Wall."

Eonn looks a little surprised at that, and curious. It's almost as if he might say something. But he just watches Thane's face. Smallfolk.

"You went beyond the Wall?" Maera asks with no small measure of astonishment. "Whatever for?"

"Not for my health, that much I can say for certain." Thane chuckles darkly into another heavy swallow of mead. "I had it on good authority that I was needed there. Just as I was needed on Bear Island five years ago. I've learned to trust my sources." His eyes turn to Eonn, perhaps angling for a change of subject. "I've not met your friend. Apologies, man. I've interrupted."

"Wouldn't you want to see?" asks Eonn, quietly.

Maera opens her mouth to speak before she looks to Eonn, "Maybe a bit. But, I've seen too many lean hungry looks from Wildlings who come to trade or raid us. If there is anything beyond the wall save for hunger and cold they guard it well." She nods her head towards Eonn, "Eonn of the Rills. My employee." A pause, "I've sailed along the shores beyond the wall, and looked at the land from atop the Wall, but go over it?" She shakes her head softly before asking, "You knew you were needed there?"

Thane nods grimly. "I did. There were things I needed to know. For what, I'm not yet certain. But I've paid dearly enough for the knowledge that I must believe it was for a purpose. What of you, m'lady? What brings you to Oldtown, so far from home?"

"I would want to go beyond," says Eonn softly. "To look." He falls silent again.

"Oh, curiousity I suppose." Maera gives Thane a thin little smile to go along with her lie. She looks to Eonn, "Why?"

Thane gives Maera a skeptical smirk, but quickly hides it behind his tankard. "Why, indeed. There isn't much to look at until you've traveled too far for mere sight-seeing."

"Are you sure?" says Eonn. "I would guess that it depends on what you think is worth looking at."

"And what do you think is worth looking at?" Maera puts the rim of her tankard to her lips.

Thane fingers his weirwood staff, feeding a bit of stale bread crust to the raven on his shoulder.

"Many things," replies Eonn. "I would like to see this far Northern country."

"It is not so hard to get over the Wall." Maera says with a little shrug. "People act as if the Wall keeps everything out, but they forget that all it takes is a boat."

"It's not so different from the lands you'd find elsewhere in the North," Thane says. "Not just beyond the Wall, anyhow. As I said, you must travel further in to truly see what a different world it is."

Eonn nods to Maera. "I thought the same."

Maera nods her head to Thane in agreement. "The terrain just beyond the Wall is similar to Bear Island. Lots of Pine. Some weirwood."

"Weirwood," says Eonn, slowly. He smiles, as if liking the taste of the word.

"My father had thought to cut some of ours down. Sell it for the wood. Weirwood is costly." Maera says with a little shrug, "But it upset the smallfolk too much. They said it would offend the Old Gods."

"They weren't wrong," Thane insists. "I'm glad that your father reconsidered."

"It is not wise," says Eonn, nodding.

"My father was always a cynic." Maera smiles softly, "It was my brother Randyll who talked him out of it."

"There are other ways to find money," says Eonn. "And wiser. It is not wise to hinder or steal from gods."

"What of the both of you?" Thane inquires. "Do you pray to the Old Gods?"

Maera nods her head once, but makes no remark.

Eonn smiles wisely, and nods.

Thane sits back with a satisfied smirk, nodding and lifting his tankard to both of them before emptying it.

"Did you find what you were looking for?" Maera asks Thane. "Beyond the Wall."

Eonn looks to Thane, curious.

The raven looks to Thane as well, as if waiting for an answer. Or possibly just to pluck a hair from his chin. "Ow," he grumbles at the bird. "I did. Rather, I found what it was I was supposed to find. I didn't really know what I was looking for."

Maera watches Thane's face, "Then how did you know to go?"

Eonn smiles at that. He's fallen silent again.

Thane looks over his shoulder at the maesters that took notice of his arrival, wearing an impish smirk when he looks back to Maera. "I saw it in a dream," he says plainly.

Maera's brow furrows. She says, somewhat flippantly, "What? Like a green dream?"

Eonn is silent.

Thane lifts his brow, impressed at Maera's knowledge, and nods. He says nothing, simply watching her curiously for a reaction.

"The Free Folk tell stories of such things." Maera says softly. "What happened, then? You have to finish the story."

Thane shakes his head. "I mean no disrespect, my lady. But some things must remain mysteries. I am not certain I could fully express what I experienced, anyhow."

Maera nods her head once in acceptance. She takes another swig of the cider.

Eonn gives Thane an oddly approving sort of look.

"Besides," Thane continues, "I'm not certain the story is over. The very night of my return to Castle Black, I dreamed of Oldtown. So…here I am."

"How…interesting." Maera will comment quietly.

Eonn looks at Thane long and thoughtfully. "What was the dream?" he asks, slowly.

Thane nods, waving to the barwench for a refill. "Something stronger this time. Ale." He arches an eyebrow at Eonn. "Simply the Citadel, with me in its shadow. It…had the feeling of an incomplete dream. That happens, sometimes. One dream leads to another, which leads to another, and so on."

"You are a maester." Maera points out, "Perhaps the dream meant nothing?"

Eonn says quietly, "I would not discount such things."

Thane tilts his head forward. "I have long since learned to recognize the difference between mere wanderings of the sleeping mind, and true Green Dreams." His hand goes to the maester's collar around his neck, lifting up a brightly polished link with wavy patterns in the metal — Valyrian steel. "Do you know what this means?"

"That it's rather expensive?" Maera quips.

Eonn gives Maera a skeptical look.

Thane smirks, chortling at Maera's quip. "It means I have achieved mastery in the study of magic and mysticism, with a particular focus on the Old Gods and the children of the forest. Believe me when I say this dream of the Citadel had meaning. I was called here, just as I was called Beyond the Wall."

"Our own maester was interested in such things. He taught us to speak the Old Tongue instead of High Valyrian like most maesters teach." Maera shrugs, "It was much more useful than High Valyrian at any rate. But the children of the forest were wiped out long ago, were they not?"

Eonn listens, quiet. He folds his hands on the table.

"Wiped out…or simply no longer where we can see them. But whatever their fate, their legacy lives on. The weirwoods, the greensight, and so on." Thane lifts a handful of stale bread pieces when the raven at his shoulder nips at his ear. "I'm glad to know that you had a maester willing to teach you such things. There are few of us that regard the Old Gods with reverence anymore."

Isador comes in from the street.

"Save for the Manderlys almost all the Nothern Houses will worship in front of a weirwood." Maera points out. "It is the houses with Andal influence who do not remember the Old Gods."

Eonn is sitting at a table with Maera. Thane is at the next one over, and the three seem to be engaged in conversation over ale and strong cider. Eonn says, "To their cost they forget." He has a cat on his lap, which is staring nervously at Thane's raven.

"True, m'lady," Thane concedes. "But maesters rarely come from the houses we are assigned to serve. Such mixed loyalties are deliberately avoided. So, I'm pleased that House Mormont benefited from a maester with respect for the old ways. I'm sure I'd like to meet him, if I am ever taken to Bear Island again. This time I'll be certain to present myself to your family."

"You would be welcomed." Maera reassures, "And we would give you any assistance we could." A pause, and she glances to Eonn, "Just because the Seven are not my gods does not mean I think they do not exist."

"That," says Eonn, "Is not at all what I said."

Isador glides into the tavern silently taking a seat near the conversation quite randomly. Heads turn as she enters - the red haired witch did not slouch in the looks department. But things settle down soon enough and the woman orders a flask of wine. She opens up a parcel that contains a detailed and beautiful stained wooden carving of each of the seven.

Thane intercedes on Eonn's behalf. "I think what your man is saying is that the Old Gods are inextricably linked to the North, and it is folly for Northmen to forget that, whether or not they pay homage to the Seven as well."

Maera nods her head once, but makes no remark. She glances to Isador curiously.

"No god is safely forgotten," says Eonn, softly. He looks over at Isador as well, or rather, at her carvings.

Isador inspects all of her figurines and their quality. Soon she is joined by a young septa who after a brief conversation passes her some coins for the assembled wooden religious figures. Isador smiles at the retreating priest and goes back to her drink.

"True enough." Maera will say softly as she watches the exchange of figurines, her eyes lingering thoughtfully on the Septa before she says, "I never understood the need for Septas. Are mothers not enough?"

Eonn shakes his head. "Not everyone's mother is a priestess," he says, quiet. Then he looks to Isador, "You have created these icons?" he asks.

Thane's steely gaze follows Maera's and Eonn's eyes to the red-haired woman, briefly glimpsing the septa as she leaves.

"Aye swordsman," says the redhead, "I am a wood carver by trade amongst other things. Someone has to make what the sept and other s demand. Commissioned work pays the bills." She smiles winsomely at the assembled crowd.

Maera says nothing. She drinks from her tankard.

"Have you others?" asks Eonn, looking at Isador's face now.

Thane keeps his silence as well, occupying himself with feeding the raven on his shoulder.

Isador smiles winsomely at the swordsman, "I do not at the moment but I can make more in a very short period of time. What is your preferred wood?"

"I do not prefer one," says Eonn. "I only wish to. Look." He has another swallow from his tankard without taking his eyes off the woodcarver.

Thane's eyes flicker down to a pendant around Maera's neck, arching his eyebrow curiously.

"You'd have to come to my home or my stall then I am afraid master swordsman. I do not have any more on hand." She seems winsome enough.

Maera looks between Eonn and the redhaired woman briefly before she has another swallow of cider.

Eonn nods. He is silent, and looks back to Maera.

Thane looks back to Maera. "I didn't thank you properly for the welcome you offered to Bear Island. You have my gratitude. I hope I have occasion to one day take advantage of your hospitality."

Suddenly conscious of the Maester Isador moves a hawk skull pendant from outside of her dress nesting it her hidded cleavage. The gesture is innocuous enough. Suspicious only to those who take notice of such trivialities. "Ah the lady who was in conflict with an Ironborn on the docks the other day?" Isador inquires of Maura.

Eonn settles back and pets the cat on his lap. He watches Maera.

"It is no trouble. We do not often have visitors, and would be glad to extend our hospitality." Maera gives Isador a brief look, "What of it?"

Thane nods gratefully to Maera, again following her gaze to Isador. "Ironborn troubles, m'lady? Do tell."

"He seemed a troublesome chap. Has he surfaced again if you don't mind my asking my Lady?" Why she would be interested still presents a mystery.

Eonn stays quiet again, now.

Maera shrugs her shoulder once. "No idea." She looks back to Thane, "It is of no actual concern. Just a rude man."

"Ah," says Thane as he takes another heavy drink of ale. "We get all types in Oldtown. More ruffians than I'd like. But that seems to be the nature of most port cities."

"My apologies for meddling then my Lady. I hope your injured guard was okay." It was Isador who proferred help to the guard but she was wearing a veil at the time. Her accent might be recognisable however.

Eonn raises his eyebrows a bit at Isador's comment.

"He lost a tooth not a leg." Maera will comment somewhat gruffly before she finishes off the cider in her Tankard.

"Same old Oldtown," Thane chuckles quietly into his pint. "Well, my lady, Eonn, miss," he nods to each in turn, "I should be getting around to showing my ugly face at the Citadel at last. Thank you for a welcome I'll remember fondly." He pushes himself to his feet, leaning on the white walking staff. The raven on his shoulder flaps its wings in protest as its perch suddenly moves.

"He did at that my Lady," Isador says congenially. "I am Isador by the way - I live out past the tourney fields on the black crown road," she says mainly for Eonn's benefit. She nods politely to Thane as the Maester takes off.

Eonn nods to Thane, a bit slowly.

"Do take care of yourself, Maester." Maera says to the departing Thane. She gives Isador a bit of a cold look. "In the market for some wooden carvings, Eonn?"

Thane gives Maera a proper bow of respect once he is standing. Then, pulling his hood up over his head, he drops a few coins on the table to pay for his drinks, and makes his way out of the tavern.

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