(121-01-05) The Hunter and The Stag
The Hunter and The Stag
Summary: A Scion of House Baratheon meets a bastard of house Tarly at the Bawdy Bard
Date: 05/01/121
Related: None

It is one of those warm, wet nights in Oldtown, when the smell of fish and salt are strong in the air. A slow, steady drizzle outside has made the cobbles shine in the light of the lamps and driven most decent folk to bed. A few decent folk, and a lot more who would decidedly not fall into that category, have instead found themselves here at the Bawdy Bard. The east side of the establishment, reserved for the port's less fortunate souls, is alive with noise and smoke, laughter and bellowed curses. Barmaids wind their way through the chaos, the younger smacking at hands that grab at their backsides, while the older, more experienced maids endure the grouping with a distant, world-weary look.

As the door opens, a young fellow, barely a man, enters, his blond locks pressed to his face with the rain. In one hand, he holds a string of dead animals, rabbit mostly, by the look of it. Spots of blood still mar their soft, wet coats. Holding the string of corpses before him, Redrick picks his way in the direction of the kitchens.

The young butcher in question may not be an especially noticeable sight, but it seems he has attracted some attention…and unlikely as that may seem, from the more salubrious side of the establishment, too. A knot of rowdy, moneyed youths are lounging at the fringes of the well-appointed west; there are squires and men-at-arms among them, flamboyant young city burgesses' sons, the odd Citadel acolyte and those who look to be pure pleasure-seeker through and through. It's one of these last, a dark and elegant young man enfolded in a cloak of ostentatious yellow, who gestures casually towards the newcomer and drawls out his verdict.

"So good to see an Oldtown boy earning his keep, or his tricks, so honestly, eh, my lads?"

Redrick freezes at the sound of the voice, much like a forest animal might at the sound of a snapping twig. His shoulders hunch-upward defensively and he is absolutely rigid for a long moment. While it passes, he keeps his eyes decidedly averted from the group at the table.

Then, perhaps deciding that flight is a better option than freezing, he lurches into movement again. Unfortunately for Redrick, the way to the kitchen has been suddenly blocked by a large group of men who has placed some tables together to make room for their mates. The only other path available to him carries him even closer to the young man in the yellow cloak. A spot of blood drips from one the rabbit corpses to land wetly on the floor near Amady's feet as he moves to pass.

Amadys' interest in the muscular stripling and his rough and ready cargo was only fleeting; indeed, his interest in anything much about him seems to be little more that that - unless it be the golden wine in his cup, or the movement of the succession of wenches bringing more such cups, the better to display another kind of bounty altogether.

But the lad's curiously…feral reaction to his meaningless jest, rather as if he were one of the rabbits himself rather than their slayer, piques the well-dressed youth's attention once again.

"Not an Oldtown boy after all, perhaps," he observes, "nor even a city boy, I think…" He looks idly about his circle of companions, several of whom laughed at his first sally but none of whom seem inclined to pay the composition any more notice. Then he returns the intense dark-blue of his surveillance to that strange boy again. "We of the Citadel are inured to more than jots of blood. We of the House Baratheon, too, at that. Come here, lad. What are you asking of the girls here for your booty? And, at that, what would you ask of my friends and myself?"

The young hunter is caught as surely as any of his prey.

It is one thing to ignore a lordling when he is talking to his mates, and another altogether when given an order and asked a question directly. A red flush suffuses Redrick's face, and he turns slowly to face the Baratheon lad, dipping into a bow. It is a rustic effort, nothing courtly about it, as brutal and efficient a show of submission as a tree might offer to a terrible wind. "Good evening, m'lord."

Glancing to the string of rabbits, he frowns, perhaps fearing a trap. "I usually ask a half groat per, m'lord. They're um…rabbits, m'lord. No use to a nobleman like yourself, though. I'd hate to bother you with them."

"City rabbits?" Amadys Baratheon asks in that light, carefree, musical drawl, the same one that landed the young hunter in all this bother. And there follows, as inevitably as larksong after dawn, the laughter of his companions, mirth even the uncourtly boy might surmise is the sycophancy of hangers-on. But as the Baratheon himself, his smile, though thin, is not exactly unkind. "Anyway, you're quite right about that. I'd sooner dine on hare if it came to it. You get a lot of hares?" he goes on playfully. "Maybe even…venison, from time to time?"

Redrick flushes a deeper shade of red at the laughter, but otherwise keeps his composure. "Not city rabbits, m'lord. Caught in the wild outside of Oldtown." Then, with a note of urgency in his voice, he hurries to add, "And not on Hightower lands, m'lord. Only on the public lands. I'm no poacher."

The question about venison makes him blink, and for the first time he lifts his gaze to meet Amadys', something akin to pride flashing in their depths. For a moment he seems not at all like one of the smallfolk. "I can get venison, m'lord. There's nothing lives in the wild I can't hunt." Abruptly aware of his surroundings once more, the moment of grandeur flickers and fades and he is a peasant hunter once more.

"A bold assertion," the young Baratheon replies, narrowing his dark, cold blue eyes a little, lounging back on his seat, and taking another gulp from his wine, an act that puts his signet ring on view, decorated with a tiny and elaborate stag of jet. Behind the ring something humbler and wider dangles, a loop of simple copper.

"Especially to make to the face of a Stag of Storm's End. You have a trusty look to you, boy, but you must know most deer are taken at a lord's bidding…or in breach of their rights. Have a care. I've taken a shine to you, and should hate to see you swing. You ought to get rid of your prizes, and then, what'd you say to a cup of wine…?"

The hunter's eyes snap away from the lord's, the picture of humility. "Of course, m'lord. Forgive my presumption," Redrick stammers out. "I meant no offense." At Amadys' suggestion, his eyes return to the rabbits. "Yes, m'lord." Unwilling to risk further delay, he hurries from the group in the direction of the kitchens.

He is not gone long. Wearing a coin purse that is slightly heavier than when he entered, he returns to the din of the main room with a half-crust of bread also clutched close to his chest. Some tell-tale crumbs on his jerkin hint that he has already indulged in some of this extra bounty. Back before the Baratheon, he bows. "If your lordship will forgive me, I generally sit on the other side of the room." He glances east, then back.

"Well, tonight you shan't," the young nobleman informs his latest acquaintance airily. His friends are looking at him peculiarly, as if wondering what mad caprice he can be indulging, but he pays them, it seems, no mind. "Though perhaps some other eve I should drink there myself. It might be amusing. Even educative." He shrugs, and makes a sign to one of the girls to bring another cup.

After another gulp at his own, he offers his unberinged left hand. "Amadys Baratheon am I, boy, an acolyte in various studies here, though sworn to nothing and to no one. These are…well, you'd only forget their names, so one thing at a time; I'd have yours. But he came here looking for company. You ever had a girl here?" he enquires, rather in the same tone as his query about the venison. By now the wine has arrived, a deep, dark, rough red, rather than Amadys's vessel of light gold.

"It is an honor to meet you, Lord Amadys Baratheon," Redrick says, sounding not entirely sincere. Sincere or not, however, he seems to be relaxing since the earlier moments of their encounter. He now appears wary rather than threatened. "I am Redrick Flowers from Horn Hill." He briefly risks sharing his gaze with the others present, though they are quickly back on Amadys.

The question about the women here only earns him a quick shake of his head. Some hint of color returns to his cheeks as well. "No, m'lord. I haven't spent much time here in the city. And I'm sure they would rather be spending time with someone like your lordship than a simple woodsman." The arrival of the wine makes him bow his head once more. "Thank you, m'lord." And then, bold as brass, he risks a question. "What will your next ring be, m'lord," he asks, nodding to the simple ring of copper.

"A bastard from Horn Hill, by the Maiden," Amadys exclaims, in simple surprise at first which settles into an ambiguous, but deepening frown. "Horn Hill…Tarlish or something, aren't they? Anyway, I recall the arms. A strolling huntsman. Well, well. What did I tell you, lads? We've unearthed something special here." The blue eyes flash, but Amadys laughs now, unlike his acquaintances, full-throated, jovial and apparently sincere, sincerer, perhaps, indeed, than his impromptu guest.

"You should ask one, you know," Amadys needles on, "one of the girls. You aren't bad looking, they might spare you a free tumble at first, and even if they don't…you're moving up in the world. You've powerful friends like us. You can…draw on credit."

But he seems more than a little taken aback by the bastard's sudden question. "What's it to you, my flowery friend? Do you even know what the copper link means?"

Redrick opens his mouth to protest as Amadys announces his heritage, much more accurately than he would have liked. His eyes shoot this way and that wildly, as if seeking an exit from the place, and then, through a supreme effort of will, he forces himself to settle down. A long, slow steadying breath is taken. "Tarly, m'lord. Though I'm just a bastard." Insincere, indeed.

The idea that Amadys might be his friend seems to alarm him once more. He takes a sip of the deep red wine, a trickle of the liquid escaping the side of his mouth to slide down in the direction of his chin. Then, wiping it from his face with the back of one hand, he says, "I would not borrow on your lordship's honor. Only give payment in full." There is a note of stubborn pride in his voice. It carries over when he continues talking about the ring. "There was a maester at Horn Hill, m'lord. I think he had a copper link, but I don't know what it was for. Each one is for something different. Maybe the copper one is for mending things," he hazards.

"Now, now," the young Stormlander laughs with the same air of irresponsible mockery, "don't get skittish with me, young, ah, Redrick. I don't care where you came from, nor am I about to truss you up and drag you back there. I fancy I'm not too welcome at the board of my eldest brother of Storm's End, myself; he pays me a retainer to retain me alright, safe and sound here, far away from home and from him, forging a bloody chain." Amadys recuperates from this impassioned little confession, his quick and breathless speech and just possibly, too, certain ambiguous thoughts he had rather put aside, almost draining his cup (though it's soon refilled by a friend).

After pausing to breathe and savour, he hears the Tarly bastard out, and smiles slowly before he replies. "Aye, in a sense, if truth and lies are things to be mended. Copper is for History, in which I make bold to say I am the Citadel's rising stag." His fellow revelers guffaw again, but the other acolytes laugh loudest, with sly expressions that just about suggest their skepticism at this vaunting claim.

The impassioned story from Amadys, no matter how unintentional, leaves Redrick looking more at ease than anything else that has passed between them. It brings a curious look to his eyes, and that look is mingled with something else. Perhaps gratitude. The young hunter takes another sip of wine.

"I would imagine History is a worthy subject, m'lord," he offers quietly and, it would appear, sincerely. "There is much to be learned from the past." This makes him quiet for a moment. Then, with an abrupt clearing of his throat he says, "Perhaps if you wish to study medicine, I can find you herbs in the forest. Or provide animal carcasses for examination. I am always looking for a means of making coin, m'lord."
"I don't know about worthy, but it's rarely so dull as several of the others," Amadys answers, "especially if…properly handled." That, too, makes the acolytes among his comrades smile knowingly.

Redrick's not-entirely-unselfinterested proposal provokes a smirk from Amadys himself.

"I study healing, aye, as we all must while my many noble kinsmen insist on maiming each other. But herbs we have aplenty, and the cadavers of beasts of prey and field, aye, them too. Tell me where I could find human corpses freshly splayed, and that'd be quite another question. They're usually poxy foul or plague rigid by the time they reach our tables." The adjectives are probably a mere figure of speech. Probably.

"Anyway, I like to spend coin myself, but I could think of more amusing things to buy than foliage and rabbits. Several of them, indeed, are here tonight." He gives a sun-blessed, chestnut-headed serving-wench a none-too-subtle look, and she smiles back readily; Amadys Baratheon is a tempting specimen himself, and well known to be in funds besides.

"Yes, of course, m'lord," Redrick says, sagging a bit in disappointment. He takes the cup of wine gingerly in his hand and gives it a long look, perhaps committing it to memory for savoring on longer, colder nights than this. Then, he drains the last of it. "I hope you enjoy your purchases, m'lord," he murmurs. Placing the empty cup on the table, he takes a careful step back and bows low, offering Amadys the opportunity to ignore or dismiss him.

"Most discreet, Flowers," the Baratheon jeers - but without any real venom. "I shall remember you, and see that you keep me in mind too. You'll need to come and find me if you change your mind and seek an introduction to any of these fine damsels, anyway. Now, gentlemen…" It is the acknowledged signal, and the little party, most of whom have finished their wine or cider also, scatter to settle arrangements with their preferred objects. "We'd best be careful," Amadys jests, "lest more noble bastards are made tonight, now we've been reminded how fierce and fell they can be!"

Then he leads the way, seeking out the tanned girl, nut-brown of hair and complexion, who had smiled at him before, and sauntering off with his hand in hers, an idyllic pair, of sorts.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License