(121-01-18) What's Your Poison
What's Your Poison
Summary: Eonn and Maera visit Thane to prepare their poison for their quarry.
Date: 121-01-18
Related: Plotting

Umbral Tower, The Citadel

This is one of the older structures at the Citadel, a small tower five stories tall. The upper floor is of little use, for part of the roof has broken in. The mortar of the round walls is crumbling a bit, but there are no gaps. The place has tiny windows, cheaply glazed with rippled glass to let in what little light there is — it's not much, for the little tower is perpetually in the shadow of the newer, taller, spires and domes of the Citadel.

The first two floors are used as storage, and are filled with crates of old books, laboratory equipment, robes too ill-used to be wanted but not worn enough to throw away, oddments, stale spices and reagents, and rough ingots of the various metals used in forging Maester's chains.

The third floor appears to be occupied. It's got a narrow bed, a desk, and a small clothes press. The books might even be in some semblance of order. Also, it appears that somebody has cleaned the windows.

Somebody bangs on the door below, now. It's night.

A raven flaps above, settling on a protruding stone in the tower wall. It gazes down at the somebody below with unnerving silence.

It takes a few minutes, and possibly a few more bangs, before the door creaks open, revealing a bleary-eyed and irritable Maester Thane. "This had better be life or death," he grumbles.

Eonn is down there. Shocking. He's carrying a rough cloth bag. There's a cat at his feet, twining around his ankles.

Eonn is at the base of the tower, banging on the door when Thane opens it. Eonn is carrying a rough cloth bag. There's a cat at his feet, twining around his ankles.

Maera stands behind Eonn, her arms crossed tightly over her chest.

Thane rubs his eyes, and with a sigh he swings the door wide open, gesturing invitingly. "Come," he says brusquely, making for the stairs. "Secure the door behind you."

Eonn glances back at Maera. They seem to have changed roles for the night. He steps in, and says, "Have you oil for a burner?" The man passed through these stockpiles of stored equipment and junk, what, once, but he still seems to have a good idea where to find a burner, and boiling flasks. He starts going through the stuff to collect these things.

Maera glances out into the courtyard before she closes the door behind her, and bars it with the wood that Thane uses for privacy. She heads up the stairs where Thane's living and work space are, and steps off to the side to let the men work.

"Aye, of course. In my chambers." Thane watches Eonn for a moment before continuing up the stairs. There is a certain benefit to living above a storeroom. Supplies aplenty. As he passes Maera, he gives her a respectful nod, truly acknowledging her for the first time. "M'lady."

"And spirits of wine?" asks Eonn.

"Maester." Maera returns with a little nod of her head before she asks, "May I be of use in some way?"

Thane nods. Once reaching his quarters, he unlocks the large cabinet where he keeps his various herbs, chemicals, and other ingredients. For a moment, it looks as if he is reading for the bottle he and Maera drank from one night. But he reaches beyond it for another, similar bottle, setting it aside on his work table for Eonn. "You'll have to ask your man there, m'lady. He still hasn't told me what this is about. I hope it has something to do with our plan to bring down the long-armed man."

Eonn nods at the bottle. He's got an armload of stuff, now. "Come, will you carry that, and the oil, and a striker, up to the top for me, we don't really want to breathe this if we can help it. Your broken roof won't be kind in the winter, but it's a useful thing now." He starts up the last set of stairs.

Maera moves past Thane to pick up the oil, and the striker as indicated. She follows Eonn up to the forth floor.

Once on the top floor, Eonn starts kicking aside the debris, leaves, and pigeon shit in the patch of floor just under the break in the roof. There he sets down his bag, the burners, and the flasks he's collected from below.

Thane brings up the spirits of wine. He gives the ruined room a chortle. "Some say this chamber is where the Valyrian Steel Archmaester lived long ago. If you believe the stories, the roof was caved in due to one of his experiments. The one that took his life and led to him haunting this tower."

"Ghosts." Maera says with a little upturn of her lips and a shake of her head as she sits the striker and oil down on the floor near Eonn. "If only ghosts were the worst there was."

Eonn takes off his swordbelt so he can sit cross-legged on the floor. He arranges the burners in a neat little row, saying, "Oh. Also, water, please," before he starts to fill them with the oil. "What this is about, Maester," he tells Thane, "Is me making poison, and this haunted room being an excellent place to do so. Beside, I thought it might interest you."

Thane sets down the spirits of wine before Eonn, smirking up at Maera. "You believe in ghosts, m'lady?" He chuckles, nodding to the sellsword as he takes a seat opposite him. "I suspected as much. Tell me what I can do. These hands have mixed many a volatile elixir in the past."

Maera's head turns to give Thane a critical look, "You don't?" She kneels down on the dusty floor, close enough to watch the men work without being in the way.

Eonn strikes one of the oil burners into flame, adjusts it, sets the flask of water on it. Then he opens his rough cloth bag and takes out little oilcloth packets of herbs, and a couple of jars. He hands one of those packets to Thane and says, "Heat the spirits of wine, only a finger's-width deep in this flask. Don't let it boil. Don't let it get so hot you cannot touch it, nor so cool it is comfortable to touch. When it is at such temperature, crumble these petals in. A very little at a time."

"I believe in a great many things that others would scoff at, m'lady," Thane says softly, less teasing this time. "But I have never encountered credible evidence to support the notion of the spirits of the dead wandering the world. Some might be able to contact them, such as a skill maegi. But there is a difference between reaching through the veil between worlds, and a spectre existing unbodily in the physical realm." He follows Eonn's instructions with relative ease. Though not a poisoner, the basic techniques are the same as concocting medicines.

"Speaking of incredible things." Maera says as she watches the men work, "Have you learned anything about our friend?"

Eonn plays about with the burners, then settles back to watch the water.

"Not exactly," Thane shakes his head. "But I have looked into the Warlocks of Qarth. It is said that they can change their appearance. Possibly more profoundly than the Faceless Men. It seems possible that a warlock could make himself into the thing you faced in the swamp. They can also…how to put this? They can step through the cracks in the world, might be one way to describe it. They can vanish from one place, and appear in another, seemingly in an instant."

"Well, isn't that lovely news?" Maera mutters in a way that suggests she does not find it so lovely. "How do I hit a man who can step through cracks in the world?"

"Hit him before he steps," says Eonn, somewhat distractedly. He's opening a little bottle of something.

"Indeed. They are still human…mostly. They are not omniscient. You can surprise him. You can simply be faster." Thane adjusts the burner heating the wine, just slightly.

"How humans can do much things I'll never understand." Maera scowls slightly.

Eonn looks over at Maera, "Hmm?" he says, questioning.

Thane gives Maera the same curious look. "You don't understand how it's possible? Or how a person could allow themselves to follow such a path?"

"How it's possible." Maera clarifies, "I won't put depravity past anyone." A pause, "And why come for the candle now? They must have known that the Glover's had it."

"It is, mmm, a skill," says Eonn. "Not much different from any other. Though the warlocks, they say it is Shade of the Evening that allows them this power. I suspect it gives them the power to think as one must think to learn the skill." Then, to Thane, "This is salt." He means the stuff he has in the little bottle. Big crystals of salt. He starts to pour them into the water as it boils.

Thane nods to Eonn, noting the amount he puts into the mixture. "I'm not so certain that the warlocks knew the Glovers had it. Perhaps it was used, and that alerted them to its power. Or perhaps it was somehow hidden from their sight before it was moved. If the Glovers had an inkling of what the candle is, they may have also known some method of enshrouding it." He pauses, his mind going back. "Lady Erena…who was she before she was a Glover?"

Maera's eyes roll upwards as she thinks, "I want to say Corbray?" There's a pause as she thinks. "Aye. Corbray. I recall a ring she always wears. A raven clutching a heart."

Eonn looks up, capping the phial of salt. He settles back to watch the flames of his burners and says, "Have you ever used one before, Maester?"

Thane nods, stroking his chin. "Not particularly suspicious. Nevermind, it may not be important. Still, your question is sound. Why are they acting now? Have I ever used what, Eonn? A glass candle?"

Eonn nods. "Yes. Have you ever used a dragonglass candle. Managed to light one."

Thane shakes his head. "Not successfully. But the last time I tried, I was merely an acolyte. I've not made the attempt with the one we have now. I've considered it. But the Valyrian wizards of old could once use these candles to communicate over vast distances. Some would say from here to Valyria itself. If the warlocks have their own candle, that may be how they became aware of this one, if someone tried to use it. Hence my hesitation in attempting to use it myself. But in time, we may wish to try. We could possibly learn as much as our enemy does."

"That," says Eonn, adjusting a burner a bit, "Is why I don't want that candle lit."

"But why murder so many afterwords?" Maera asks. "Killing us wouldn't have made finding the candle easier. And, if he truly meant to kill us he would have used something more potent." She falls silent a moment before saying, "…No. He wanted to make a statement."

"Perhaps so. But another thought has occurred to me, and I pray that I'm wrong." Thane gives them a grim frown. "Some magic requires a heavy price. Fuel, if you will. Life itself is one such fuel. It is possible that death on such a scale was intended to be part of some ritual on the warlock's part."

"Oh, fuck," says Eonn quietly.

Maera nods once. "How many died, again?"

"Three from your party, and potentially many more from Glover's," Thane recounts the death toll. "Even one life is enough to feed powerful magic. I dread to think of what kind of spell could be created with such a large sacrifice. Has Archmaester Luckin permitted you to speak with Cressen Glover yet?"

"No." Maera says. There is another pregnant pause, "Is there another Valyrian steel archmaester besides for the one who died in this tower? I do not want to insult your abilities, maester. But, we may need another expert's opinion."

Thane shakes his head. "There is none. So few of us study magic. Unlike other disciplines, like medicine or economics, it isn't a position that is always filled. I don't know another maester as well-versed on the subject as I am."

Eonn continues his cooking. When his salt-water starts to boil, he starts adding herbs to it from his little oilskin packets. The smell is sweet.

"That is unfortunate." Maera says softly. "Still, we must press onwards." She glances to Eonn's back, "What will this do?"

"It will make him sleep, if you hit him with it," says Eonn. "Immediately, if you cut him and get it in the wound. Slowly, if he merely touches it. Which is why we don't want to touch it."

Thane begins to crumble the dried petals into the heated spirits. "So, I take it that an arrow will deliver it sufficiently?"

"If I do not prick one of his veins and kill him." Maera notes dryly. "If he is a man he could still bleed out on us."

Eonn nods. "An arrow. If you do not kill him with it, yes." He smiles a bit. "If you kill him with it, it will not much matter if he is asleep. But if you hit him at all, he will, I believe, stop stepping through cracks in the world. Or anything else. For a time. The trouble is, what do you intend to do with him once you've got him?"

"That is why I should be there," Thane mumbles as he tends the concoction. "To keep you and him alive if need be."

"Well, obviously we question him. The problem we have is this." Maera says, "How do we hold a man captive who can step through cracks in the world? Do we keep him asleep until his night of the shade or whatever you call it fades away?"

"As My Lady says," says Eonn, crumbling another herb into his boiling concoction.

"There is little magic in the world that can be performed by will alone," Thane says, briefly glancing to the hole in the roof, where his raven companion has perched on a broken rafter. "I don't know how the warlocks move that way. But I suspect they can be bound like any other man. I'll continue my research, but the House of the Undying has guarded its secrets well."

"I feel as if we don't know enough to go on, but the longer we take the colder the trail will be." Maera says softly.

"I think it was cold to begin with," says Eonn. Then, "We could, I think, keep him addled. With your sweetsleep."

Thane nods. "I think that will be the best option. We don't want to give him the opportunity to work a spell on it. Perhaps I can even find some method of neutralizing the Shade of the Evening he has ingested. Again, this is all assuming that the man we hunt is a warlock."

"And that we can find him again," says Eonn, grimly. He looks over at Thane's concoction. "Hold that to the light for me, for a moment.

Maera says nothing. She frowns, and stares at the fire.

Thane does as Eonn asks, nodding. "We leave as soon as possible, then. Are there others you would wish to bring along?"

Eonn looks at the flask Thane holds up. "Let it cool," he says. "Swirl it about while it does so."

"I can think of no one else I trust." Maera says softly, "It is better if we are mistaken for hunters, I think. He may recognize Eonn and I, so Eonn will do…his thing." She doesn't elaborate on what his thing is, "And I shall disguise myself as a man. I think it would be best if you left your robes at home, maester."

Thane nods as he swirls the cooling spirits. "Mmhm. I can do that. But I cannot leave my chain. It will need to be concealed somehow. A hood and mantle should serve."

Eonn nods silently. He watches his own flask boil gently.

"A hood and mantle, then." Maera says with a little nod of her head.

Thane nods. "Then I am at your disposal. There is something else I'd like to discuss with you, m'lady, if we have nothing else on the subject of our quarry."

"Let me have that, then," says Eonn, reaching for the flask Thane is swirling.

Maera's head turns slightly, "What is it?"

Thane hands over the flask to Eonn. "It's the boy. Bryn. I met with him and Lady Banefort just recently, to discuss his future and give him more information about the Citadel." He sighs, shaking his head. "Lady Banefort means well, but she will ultimately do him harm. Bryn needs an environment that will nurture his natural gifts, but she would spoil him with sweet treats and expensive gifts in an effort to buy his love. So, it is your council I seek, on how to break her hold on the boy."

Eonn swirls the flask. He stays quiet, occasionally touching the glass to see how it's cooling.

"Slap her?" Maera suggests with a shrug. "I have no idea. I loathe that woman. You could try speaking to Lord Banefort, but that man is a simpering fool who does as his wife pleases."

"I fear Lord Banefort likely doesn't care for me," Thane scowls. "One evening at the Quill, he, the witch, and some Essosi woman helped themselves to my table and took issue with the fact that I disliked that. He's an idiot."

Maera purses her lips, "Aeron Targaryen may be the key. He acknowledges that Bryn is blood of the dragon, and would want what is best for the boy."

Eonn looks up at the mention of Banefort's idiocy. He makes a little hrumph noise of assent.

Thane nods thoughtfully. "Hm. Even Lady Banefort mentioned Aeron Targaryen. A good suggestion. I'll be certain to make time to see the man. How does he feel about the Baneforts?"

"He is friendly with them." Maera says, "But he holds me in higher esteem, I believe."

"Who wouldn't?" says Eonn absently. Then, more loudly, "You may wish to step away." He starts to pour the blue-black liquid that Thane made into his boiling salt-water, which is now stained yellow-green with herb.

Thane rises to his feet, backing away from the brewing poison. "Then I should focus primarily on the need for a novice to maintain discipline without luxury and great distraction."

Maera stands fluidly, and takes several steps back. "The boy would live at the citadel if he were a novice, yes?"

The stuff steams. Not much, but enough. It smells. Quite pleasant, really. But Eonn turns his face away from it as he works.

Thane nods. "Yes. But he and the Lady were very concerned about whether he'd be allowed to visit. Which he would, but he couldn't simply leave the Citadel whenever he liked. Not at his age. My hope is to reassure him that I will be here to look after him. It isn't often I meet a young person with a mind so well suited for advanced thinking. So much the better that this could also save him from the life that's been handed to him, without being jaded by the life being offered by Lady Banefort."

"She will forget him." Maera says, "Once she whelps for Banefort."

Eonn says nothing. He starts to stir the concoction with a slim wooden stick.

"For Bryn's sake, we can only hope so." Thane sighs, turning his attention fully to the brew.

"It will be a cruel awakening for the boy." Maera says softly. She puts a hand over her mouth to prevent breathing in the pleasant smelling fumes.

"I think if Aeron Targaryen advises the boy that becoming a servant to Baneforts is no life for him," says Eonn, "The lad will understand. It cannot last; even if they do forget him once they've had their own infant, they will not offer him any position of note, nor opportunity, once he reaches manhood. And that is not so very far away, now." His brew smells minty and cinnamony both.

"You know that, and I know that, and likely Lord Aeron will know that," Thane says. "But right now, it seems as if even Lady Banefort believes that she will forever treat him as a son. So I wouldn't be surprised if Bryn believes it, too."

"Then we must hope that Aeron can convince him." Maera says. She takes a little sniff of the pretty smelling air before clamping her hand over her nose.

Eonn sits quietly, and stirs, his face turned away from the brew. He seems sort of sleepy.

Maera glances to Eonn before saying to Thane, "Let's go downstairs and see if we can't learn more on this…thing, maester? I have not read in a while, but I might be of some use there." That said, she and Thane go down the steps, leaving Eonn to his task.

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