(120-12-15) A Dark Past and a Dire Warning
A Dark Past and a Dire Warning
Summary: Maera, Eonn, and Thane meet to discuss her history, and the future.
Date: 120-12-15

Maera leads the Maester and the sellsword the short walk to the modest Manse on Appletree Wynd. She'll retrieve a jug of wine and three wooden goblets before taking them to her table and filling them. She says without looking up, "Do have a seat, maester." The wooden goblets filled, she'll push them towards the two men before saying, "I am not here just out of curiousity."

Eonn sets the cat down on the bench beside the table, and takes the wooden goblet offered him. He stays standing. The cat, predictably, jumps up onto that table.

Thane rests his staff against the table, taking the offered seat. With a gulp of the wine, he nods, "Mmhm. Forgive me if I'm not shocked, m'lady. I imagine you're going to tell me what you are here for?"

Maera has a sip of the coffee before sitting it down on the table, "I'm trying to hunt down my brother's killer." She tells Thane. "Alas, I believe I've hit a brick wall in my search.

Eonn drinks a little wine. He looks at Maera, raising his brows a bit.

Thane lifts his brow. "My condolences," he says bluntly. "You believe I can help to find this killer?"

"I don't know." Maera admits. "But, I assume you were travelling North to go to the Wall around the same time that my brother's killer was going south." A pause, "Did you by chance hear rumor of a fleeing Northman possessing a Valyrian dagger?"

Eonn listens. He watches Thane's face.

Thane takes the information in with quiet consideration. But he shakes his head. "I was greatly focused on my own quest. I've learned not to pry into other travelers' business. On the open road, that can easily get you killed." He pauses, furrowing his brow. "But…it may be nothing. But it was about two years ago that I was welcomed to Winterfell to rest and share news. Another traveler mentioned running afoul of a Northman fleeing Bear Island — dark-haired fellow. No mention of a dagger, though. They has some sort of altercation, though apparently they both came away unscathed. Said the man was making for White Harbor. But surely if that were the case, he'd have come through Winterfell. So I cannot say if he ever reached his destination. But it may be nothing, m'lady. The chances that it is the same man are slim, at best."

Maera takes another swallow of the wine. "I know not what the man looks like. I just have an overly common name, and I do not know if the man still goes by that name." She lets out a small sigh, and rubs a hand across her forehead. She looks to Eonn, "What do you think?"

"I think it is by chance that a traveller would have seen him, if at all," says Eonn. "I think these rumours of his flight mean very little. Who would hear such a rumour and yet see the man and know him for the same man?"

Thane shrugs and nods in agreement with Eonn. "It seems unlikely. But then, my dreams have been known to take me places that would otherwise seem like wild coincidence. Still, if that were my purpose there, likely I would have learned something more useful."

Maera nods her head once. She has another swallow of the wine before saying, "The blood maegi, as she calls herself, she says she can help me."

Eonn sighs gently. He sits down at the table. "Very likely she can," he says, quiet.

Thane furrows his brow. "Tread carefully, m'lady. Blood magic is as dangerous a form of magic as once will find. The price you would pay for it will be greater than you could ever anticipate."

Maera looks to Eonn again, "Is this why you seem so troubled by the idea?"

"What?" asks Eonn. "Because blood magic is dangerous? Or is it some other 'this' you speak of?"

Thane arches an eyebrow, curious at this new wrinkle.

Maera stares down at the wine in her hands, "I don't know, Eonn. You tell me. You both know more of it than I have. I assume it involves blood in some way. My blood or her blood? What will happen?"

"Oh, ordinarily," says Eonn. "She will prick your finger, taste your blood, and tell you your fortune. Maybe a true telling, maybe only a story to make it worth the price to you." He shrugs. "But, my Lady, maegi and warlocks, they are not known for being honest about the price of things."

Thane nods in agreement with Eonn. "I've not met many maegi," he admits. "But I have studied them. The one thing most every source and experience agrees upon is that maegi cannot be trusted. Some believe that they serve dark masters. They are said to even lay with these demons. I would caution you greatly against accepting her arts, my lady."

Eonn laughs softly.

Maera gulps down wine. Her head will turn to look at Eonn as he laughs. "What is it?"

"Some may say it, but I expect that these witches lie with men, same as other women," he says, "And serve themselves, as other women usually do."

Thane chuckles. "I am merely passing on the tales of others. But do not discount the stories simply because they sound fantastic. There are stranger and darker things in the world than ever we shall experience."

Maera remains quiet as if she were in her own thoughts. She stares down at her cup, and swirls the dark red wine in her glass, "I cannot think of anything she could actually trick out of me, or why."

Eonn looks at Maera. "That is, I think, a reason to consider yourself at risk of trickery. Do you wish to try, anyway?"

"You have my advice, if it means anything, Lady Mormont." Maester Thane empties his cup, pinching his lips as he sets it down heavily.

"I don't know." Maera says, "What other options do I have?"

"Whatever you wish," says Eonn. "Perhaps no better and no worse. Or perhaps the woman is the best way to come to know. But My Lady is not without secrets that a witch might learn from tasting her blood."

"Lady Mormont," Thane leans forward. "It has occurred to me that you might be the reason I was brought back to Oldtown. I cannot know for certain, but if it is so, then the more I know, the more likely my dreams may lead me further on this path. Is there anything else you can tell me? About your brother, the circumstances of his death, and so on."

Maera looks up from the wine and into Thane's face, "He was stabbed in the back two years ago. We had no lead as to what happened until his accomplice came forward. One of our smallfolk servants named Lyla." She lets out a small sigh, "And she told us in a haze of fever. She'd taken ill after birthing a babe, and in her fever she said she'd distracted Humfrey while the murderer, a man she called Rulf, stabbed him in the back. When asked what this Rulf looked like she babled on about how he looked like every man and no man." She shakes her head softly. "I don't understand. My brother was seven and ten, and a second son."

Eonn shifts on the bench, and says very softly, "That witch does not know all she thinks she knows, and we know something she fears." He starts to take off his vambraces, relaxing. The cat comes and tries to rub against his face. He ignores it.

Thane's hard eyes widen under a heavy brow. "Like every man and no man? Is that exactly what she said?" There is a demanding tone in his voice.

"Yes." Maera says to Thane. "But, she was taken by fever. It could mean nothing."

Eonn is quiet, looking at Thane. He puts his vambraces aside and pushes his sleeves up a bit, revealing that blurry dog tattooed on the inside of his left wrist.

Thane scowls, sharing a look with his raven. "Or she was poisoned. Lady Mormont, have you ever heard of the Faceless M-…" He pauses, and suddenly reaches to grip Eonn by the arm, staring intently at the tattoo. "What is this?" he demands again.

"It is a mark from a sellsword company he was in while in Essos…" Maera says, repeating the line she had been told before in regards to the tattoo.

Eonn's arm tenses when he's gripped, but he relaxes a moment later, and he doesn't try to pull away. The mark looks oddly blurry. The sellsword nods at what Maera says, and replies, "Yes. It is only an old stain."

Thane release Eonn's arm, nodding as he withdraws his hand. "I've seen it before." He looks to each of their faces in turn. "In my dreams. Several times, it has appeared, ever since my return from the Lands Beyond the Wall."

"Mayhaps." Maera says softly, "You are here for Eonn, Maester, and not I." She lets out an exhale, and picks up her cup before saying, "The witch mentioned the Faceless Men yesterday. I was always lead to believe that they are just skilled assasins, but she claims they are more."

"I do not think that is a good dream," says Eonn.

Thane's eyes linger on the tattoo a moment longer. "I do not yet know what kind of dream it is. But…we shall see if it comes to me again." He looks to Maera, nodding. "The witch is not wrong. The Faceless Men possess a unique magic of their own. If a Faceless Man was sent for your brother, then this girl you speak of…perhaps she saw him change his face, and he drugged her for it. Did she die?"

"She died." Maera confirms. She stares at Thane, "…Change face? I do not understand."

Eonn looks at Thane, curious. He doesn't cover the tattoo. He's left handed and it shows when he raises his cup.

Thane grips his staff, fingering the grooves in the white wood. "It is said that the Faceless Men are so named because they can change their faces. Of course, it would be in the guild's interest to spread misinformation, and believe me, there is plenty. But my field of study is magic, and this is the knowledge I have repeatedly come to about them. So, what this girl said, it could be simply feverish rambling. But it could also mean she saw something man was not meant to see, and was killed for it. Killed in a way that would look like an accident. What doesn't add up is the sloppy way your brother was killed. If it was a Faceless Man, there was a reason for making his death so obvious. As you can imagine, they have no great need for making their presence known."

"Old Gods save me…." Maera whispers to herself. "It was revealed shortly after my other brother was killed in a Wildling raid, but…if this man was able to change his face, he could have killed my brother and made it look like the result of raiding, could he not have?"

Eonn sips wine, slowly.

Thane nods grimly. "It's plausible. Still, we cannot know for certain it was a Faceless Man. Tell me, what led you to Oldtown in search of this killer?"

Maera shrugs, "Because she said this is where he was going, and because it was my brother, I had to at least try and find his killer."

Eonn remains quiet. He looks from one face to the other. The cat bumps its head against his hand.

Thane scratches his scruffy chin thoughtfully. "She knew where he was headed? Then this is either no Faceless Man, or he wanted you to come here. I cannot imagine a true assassin making such an amateurish mistake."

Maera shakes her head softly, "Why would he want me to come here? Why not kill me on the Island with my brothers?"

Eonn seems curious about that himself. He looks to Thane.

Thane rises from his chair and begins to pace. "I don't know that he wants you dead. If it was a Faceless Man, and I do mean if, then there must have been some purpose in the sloppy killing of your brother. That could be related to the reason to bring you here. But then, I'm still not entirely convinced it was a Faceless Man. The ravings of a feverish girl are hardly evidence." He pauses, sighing. "There are too many variables. I will meditate on the matter. Sometimes the right path of thought can lead me to a Green Dream, if I am meant to help you. But I cannot promise anything, m'lady."

"No, I understand." Maera says as she rises from the table to pace about the room in a quiet, agitated manner. She takes another swallow of the wine, "What if my sisters on the Island still are not safe? I don't understand any of this."

Eonn is now the only non-restless person in the room. He says, "An assassin, of any sort, has an employer, and an employer generally has a reason."

"I wish I could offer greater insight," Thane says with a frown. "But my expertise stops at the legends of their powers."

Maera nods her head to Eonn, "That is the key, is it not?"

Eonn nods. "If it was not done for mere impulse," he says, "Yes. If the man who killed him killed him for his own reasons, stupid ones by any reasoning, then following him is all you might do. But if he was hired to do this thing? There are other things to think of."

"I would suggest looking into your brother's associations," Thane muses. "It may be that he become involved with somebody he shouldn't have. There may be still be clues you have not yet uncovered."

"I must think on who would gain most from our brother's death. Besides for me and my sister's." Maera glances between Eonn and Thane, "Goodnight, maester. Eonn will see you out once you've finished your wine and are ready to go." That said, the somewhat bewildered lady moves to go up the stairs.

Eonn watches the lady head up the stairs. He smiles a little. It's a touch sad.

Eonn looks back to the Maester. He studies the man thoughtfully.

Thane bows to the Lady Mormont as she departs, then turn slowly to face Eonn. His eyes go rather obviously to the man's forearm, where he saw the tattoo. "The mercenary company. What was it called?"

Eonn turns his arm over, to let the man look. He says, "They weren't mercenaries, they were brigands. Thieves of the worst sort."

Thane nods. "A man can change the course of his life," he muses. "But they had a mark. Had they no name?"

Eonn says, in some Low Valyrian dialect that's as near Lysani as it is Braavosi, and equally understandable and grammatically ugly to both: "Black Dogs."

Thane nods, rolling the name around on the tip of his tongue. "How long have you been associated with the Mormont family, Eonn?"

"Not long after the Lady came here, she hired me to assist her," replies Eonn. "I did not come from Bear Island with her, if this is what you mean."

Thane nods. "That is what I mean. I had to explore the possibility that this was related to your former comrades. But it seems there may be some other reason I've seen the black dog in my dreams. Whether or not I was sent here for Lady Mormont, I don't know. But you…you I seem to have some connection to that I don't yet understand."

Eonn looks at the dog on the inside of his wrist. That's his dominant hand, his sword-hand, with the snarling beast racing towards where he'd be gripping a blade. He regards the image rather sorrowfully, and says, "I do not know if these Black Dogs still live. They were not clever, and I did not stay with them long; I wanted to live. I think it is bad that you should dream of this sign, it is not a kindly thing." He looks away from the thing and back at Thane. "They pricked it deep in my skin with a set of needles, and rubbed soot to blacken it. They would kill a man who would not join them, and they would give this mark to any man who did join them."

"To ensure you would always be tied to them? A poor way to ensure loyalty…but perhaps effective to an extent." Thane leans on his staff, rocking back and forth as his mind wanders in thought. "Now that I have seen what my dreams led me to, I may soon experience more that will lead me toward the meaning of it all. But we shall see. For now, I'll return to the Citadel. I have little doubt I'll see you and the Lady soon."

Eonn nods. "Do you wish I should carry you on my mare?" he asks.

Thane chuckles, making his way toward the door. "Thank you, but I'll walk. My feet have taken me far in this world. They can take me a bit further."

Eonn nods. "As you prefer, Maester," he says. He pours himself another glass of wine.

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