(121-02-28) Enticing Ravens and Broken Minds
Enticing Ravens and Broken Minds
Summary: Amadys gets a reprimand, a lesson and a discussion from Thane.
Date: 29/02/2014
Related: Silenced Stag, Taming Dragon

It's a beautiful afternoon - if one happens to be human and outside; but it is appreciated scarcely at all by the great, dark, voluble messenger birds of Oldtown, or their latest handler, and one of the more reluctant ones, the all too high-born and bred Amadys Baratheon. Arrayed in his least favourite habit, those pale grey acolyte's robes, he's still easily annoyed by how readily it gets dirtied on this particular task. At the moment Amadys is pursuing a bird trained to go off to somewhere in the Vale, but presently more closely engaged with stealing its colleagues' grain and evading return to its cage. The acolyte's usually insouciant face has, for some time, worn an expression of weary exasperation which is starting to look fixed.

There is another human presence on the Isle of Ravens, apart from the poor, harried acolyte and the errant bird. Within the walled courtyard at the center of the island, beneath the weirwood tree in meditation, kneels Archmaester Thane. Despite the constant chatter of ravens, he appears completely still and at peace. Even when Amadys's raven defiantly flaps away and lands squarely on Thane's hooded head, the man merely opens his eyes and sighs irritably. Well, until his deep, biting voice lances through the din of raven squawks: "ACOLYTE!"

The handsome stag's presently somewhat sheepish head soon drapes despondently out of a small aperture in the tower overlooking the weirwood grove. His voice is quick to answer, but its timbre, melodious but just a little timid, could hardly be more different. "Just coming, Mae…Archmaester…" Then the head vanishes, to replaced with the sound of a shambling descent before the increasingly haggard looking young man emerges into the grove. "Here, c'mere, Coldwater Burn bird…" He attempts a whistle, without overmuch conviction.

Thane turns his head to look at the approaching Baratheon, the raven still perched proudly on his skull. His steel-grey eyes glares with a bit more than his usual degree of ire. "Trouble, Acolyte?" he growls. He fishes into a pocket of his robe, producing a few grains of dried corn, one of which he offers to the raven on his crown. Among the red leaves above, another raven watches in silent jealousy. Once the feeding bird has had a taste, Thane tosses the remaining corn in his hand to the grass nearby, and the spoiled raven quickly hops down to feast.

Even Amadys has a fair notion of what such a stratagem may be in aid of, and he scoops the gluttonous Coldwater bird up, just in time to stop it celebrating its luck with a victory swoop round the grove. As he looks down at his irked, quorking catch, his eyes superficially near as black as its quills but in fact shone through with an oily dark blue, he does not, for a change, seem to be wholly without curiosity. "Archmaester…was there anything…in…that grain…" Apparently fearing his question was idle or stupid, he lets it trail off, and hovers uncertainly, awaiting more a dismissal than an answer.

Thane takes up the gnarled white staff laying in the grass before him, and leaning upon it he rises to the crackling of his knees. He furrows his brow at Amadys, the lines in his forehead deepening. "Corn," he says plainly. "I suggest you keep a pocketful of it. Ravens are independent creatures. You have to entice them, not break them."

"Ah…I…I suppose I wondered if you'd …dosed…it," Amadys ventures doubtfully, his dark glance drifting from the rebellious bundle in his hands, to the new Archmaester of Valyrian Steel; an implicit, and again not wholly convinced looking, examination of Thane's chaotic unkemptness, compared to his own robes, little loved and kept as clean as possible for all that. "The pocket…I see. But…there is a little breaking required, surely, Archmaester. We all need a little breaking, don't we, now and then? I know I'm often being told so myself…"

Thane smirks at the question of dosing the corn, but declines to comment on it, letting the young man wonder. He draws his hood back, revealing his short-cropped ginger hair. His beard has grown back to its usual scruffy state, no longer as trimmed and presentable as the day he was given the Valyrian steel ring. Stepping within arm's reach of Amadys, he stares for a moment at the acolyte, then shakes his head. "Nonsense. Why would I want a broken maester? Nor do I want a broken raven. Breaking a creature means tearing down its instincts in favor of rote behavior. But…" Thane takes a step back, and with a wide, projected motion, brings his weirwood staff swinging toward Amadys's head.

The Baratheon lad looks as though, for all his respect and caution around the Thricewise, he has some lineaments of an argument left to put forward on the tip of his garrulous tongue…but then the eccentric lately promoted Archmaester appears to confirm all the wildest stories about his unpredictability, as he draws near and appears to initiate some kind of assault. As if uncertain whether his superior is ordering him to be hit or not, Amadys is slow to get out of the way in time, but at the last possible split-second he moves fast enough.

"…I see your point…mayhaps…Maester Thane, and I certainly don't want a broken skull. But…words are tricky, and to break…well, it means different things. We break horses, don't we, to make them serve? And isn't serving…what our order's meant to do?"

The Coldwater bird, unsettled by Amadys's flinch and still furious at its abduction during a banquet, quorks again with a plaintive note and pecks the empty, balmy air most savagely.

Thane smirks, pleased as his staff does not, in fact, connect with the acolyte's head. "How much do you know of the Dothraki? The horselords of Essos do not break their steeds like we do. They live alongside them. They worship them. They eat them. They are ingrained into their culture. But it is my understanding that, while they do train their horses, they do not break them. They use a horse's natural instincts. In fact, they rely greatly upon those instincts; for instance, a horse knows better than a man what water is safe to drink. Do not mistaken training for breaking. A broken raven will be less quick to deviate from its path when an arrow or hawk comes for it. A broken horse learns to trust its rider over its own caution…sometimes to the detriment of its rider. A broken maester learns not to question what he is told, and in my mind, that is no maester at all."

Exploring, maybe, the extent to which Thane's meditations can permit him to get away with a little cheek, Amadys murmurs in a quiet, mock-reasonable undertone, "I'm not so very sure I'd rather be eaten than broken, maester…" Then he shrugs, and admits, "Still, it's worth a try. This bird and I are getting most tired of one another." He releases the Coldwater bird…which, to his mingled relief and admiration, flaps abruptly off and back through the small tower window from which he'd first responded to the Archmaester. "I suppose that supports your thesis, Archmaester. Though I'm still not sure I wouldn't rather have a dozen properly disciplined knights above a whole horde of those horse-lords of yours!"

Thane smirks slightly at the younger man's joke, shrugging. "Again, you're mistaking training for breaking. Though I'm not sure I'd say most knights are broken. In my experience, quite the opposite. I'm no expert on the Dothraki, but what I do know suggests a highly structured and disciplined culture. Your knights might stand a chance if they have enough of their own mind left to adapt when their battle formations are broken, and to choose their field of battle carefully enough."

"Then again," Amadys chips in, pushing his luck a little, "I've known a few knights with little enough mind to begin with. Maesters are called knights of the mind for a reason…plenty of the mailed and plated kind have more use for thumping than thinking." His musical voice gets a little more irritable, as if he has someone in particular in mind, but soon he shrugs and dismisses the subject for the moment. Soon he has adopted another, speaking lower and a little more urgently.

"Talking of minds, though…there was something else I wanted to speak to you about, Maester Thane. I wondered if Lady Visenya Targaryen, the one named for Aegon's queen, came to speak to you…and to your orphan, the one with the drop of dragon? They say she's gone missing now…"

Thane tilts his head slightly, just in time for the raven in the weirwood branches to swoop down and perch on his shoulder. The silent blackbird eyes Amadys curiously, mimicking Thane's own expression. "I've never spoken with Lady Visenya. Why would she come to me or Bryn?"

"She chanced on me on the Honeywine bridge just yonder…looking for books of dragonlore. I suggested she tried finding Archmaester Luckin…", then Amadys pauses, looking for the right words. "Then she told me, Maester. I would have said something earlier…I thought it must be generally known already…she's looking to find and tame the Whoremaster. It was then I said she should find the boy in your care," the Baratheon acolyte admits.

"I think I got her interested in his dragon dreams…but really, I merely hoped you'd…find a way to…unpersuade her. Now it seems she was too impatient even to try you. She's gone after that dragon, Maester Thane. I'd swear to it."

"Then she's a dead woman," Thane says grimly, shaking his head. "I have researched the dragon. 'Whoremaster'," he rolls his eyes, snorting. "There is no record of such a beast. I'd wager she has no idea what she's doing. But I'll speak with Bryn and learn if she came to him. Who else knows of her interest?"

"If anyone can survive such a trial unscathed…a maid of pure Targaryen blood…" Amadys stutters, as if he wants to, but cannot convince himself of what he is starting to say. "As to others - her brother must know, her twin, the one they call the Ladies' Knight, or whatever. I should be surprised were he not upon the road, scanning the ditches for his sister already…"

"The Maiden's Knight," Thane muses aloud, nodding. "They're twins, are they?" He scratches his scruffy chin, eyes Amadys curiously. "Why the great concern over this? Does Lady Visenya mean something to you?"

"I hardly know her, never met her but once, on that bridge, as sundown shifted into a starry dusk," Amadys insists in a seamless blend of protesting too much and proudly displaying his sentiments. "It's just…" He looks up into the blood-red foliage. "She named me her friend, and invoked my ancestor, Lord Orys. I should feel almost…responsible…if anything befell her. Especially aught I could have prevented." His voice is tense and just about theatrical enough to let on that a part of him is enjoying the situation's drama, - and the famous Thricewise's attention.

Thane gives the young would-be maester a skeptical frown. "I see. Then I suggest you try to contact Ser Daevon, if he is still in the city. He seems to be the man with the most power to do something about this. But mind that you tread carefully. That beast came to Oldtown with purpose. I cannot believe it mere accident that it appeared here, and consumed some whore rumored to bear Targaryen blood. No, that suggests to me that it was sent here for her."

"Silken…? She was no more a dragon than I am, rather less, even, if you believe the Orys stories. Nothing but an expensive, and admittedly beautiful, Lysene, body and visage, if ever I saw one," Amadys argues breezily, before blushing deep and adding, "not that I ever did see her, of course, but that's what I, ah, heard, from acquaintances…"

Thane grunts. "Mmmhm. So, you can account for her lineage, then? I saw the dragon take her, myself. There were many of us there, and it could have scooped up in the lot of us. But it targeted her. It only took that Braavosi sailor because he happened to be holding onto the whore, and it still didn't eat him. It's all too convenient. Targaryen or not, it feels to me that she was chosen, which suggests to me that the dragon already has a master."

"The Whoremaster's Master? I don't much like to think about that," the acolyte declares with a barely-suppressed shudder. "It's enough to make me thank the gods for ravens and duties. Well…" His grin is small but rueful; he seems to have shed much of his nervousness around the Archmaester in the course of this conversation. "I suppose I'd better return to 'em…I'll remember, don't trouble yourself, Maester…enticing, not breaking!"

Thane nods sharply. "Good. I'd prefer not to have another of your charges perching on my head. And for the love of all the gods, stop calling it 'Whoremaster'," he growls irritably. "It's a fucking dragon. It deserves more respect than that." Having reestablished his gruff demeanor to his satisfaction, Thane gives Amadys a curt nod, and strides away from the courtyard to renew his research into dragons.

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