(121-03-19) The Queen of Sundown
The Queen of Sundown
Summary: Amadys and Daevon meet by chance during a musical contest at the Quill and Tankard. They have an intriguing and private conversation, and a song is born.
Date: (19/03/2014)
Related: Silenced Stag, Taming Dragon etc

A gentle afternoon folds its way into an evening balmy but not very clear, a misty, blood stained light of dusk trickling through the casement windows of the Quill and Tankard. Within, things are alternately raucous, melodic, and strangely calm. A passing freeharper has initiated a light musical contest, and passing performers rise up, trill their turn and die down, one after another, whether amid disdainful hooting, impressed intakes of breath, or jovial cheers.

Among the others, drinking with a couple of other acolytes and a singer out of employ, is Amadys Baratheon, turning over in his hands a mandolin of pale, gilt adorned wood that looks to have been a recent purchase.

Daevon enters the tavern, dressed in his good noble clothes. He looks around and while his eyes first rest upon the harper's it's Amadys that draws his attention. He strides over, flashing a smile. "Lord Amadys, a pleasure to see you here."

The mandolin is perhaps not the only thing notable about young Baratheon at the moment. Normally he'd be leading the revels already, at the very least at the front of the throng, adjudging and mocking the singers; his quieter, more distant air this night is reflected in a paler than ever complexion, and bright, slightly too bright eyes.

"The Maidens' Knight among us," he teases, but somehow the jest lacks vim, though his friends laugh just the same. In any case, Amadys rises and leaves them for a moment, drifting over to Ser Daevon with a sheepish grin for relatively private conversation. He even leaves the instrument aside; his comrade the singer claims it instead.

"Ser Daevon," the acolyte murmurs with slightly fierce intensity, "I hear both your, and your sister's, journeyings met with unlooked for success? I was sorry not to join you myself, vows or no vows, duties or whatever else, but you left in such a hurry! Would you tell me more of the adventure? I've lately been laid down with a touch of fever, and missed, I fear, all too much excitement. And surely our friends over there would like to set the tale to song…"

"Are you recovering?" Daevon asks. At Amadys' words his smile is bright, brilliant in fact. "Oh friend, that is music to my ears and most certainly what I was wishing to hear when I came here. I am no storyteller, but if you wish I shall tell the tale in the hope that someone else can bring it to life in the hearts of others. But first, a drink." He settles down at a table, lemon water brought out to him.

"Gods know, as to that," Amadys snorts. "It's embarrassing, more than anything else, when we of the Citadel take ill; we're expect to know what ails us, what to do about it…and if we fail and die, well then, we've failed the sharpest of examinations. Besides, we Baratheons like to think we have enough blood of yours," he gestures offhand to the Targaryen knight, "to shrug off such things. Embarrassing, as I say. I should say the worst is behind, though, so don't let me bore you about it…"

Awaiting a more exciting tale, the Baratheon cannot quite help frowning a little contemptuously at the lemon water. Convalescent or not, he's still on the best and darkest of reds.

Daevon just laughs off the frowning. He's used to it. He'll start on his own story. He's not a natural storyteller. "As we all know, the dragon flew over the city a few months ago, and plucked a whore and her customer from an alley, devouring her and letting him drop to the sea. No one did anything about it, but the threat of the dragon loomed over us. So my sister took it upon herself to seek out the dragon, regardless of the dangers to her own person as a woman of noble birth, used to luxuries travelling the road. She was kind on her travels, gifting her beautiful dress to a young bride to be, in exchange for plainer attire. Using her wits she overcame many obstacles, and tracked the dragon to its lair. There she braved the lair, gathered up the eggs, and then leapt upon the dragon's back. The dragon's been stealing livestock, killing farmers, torching farms. But she engaged in a battle of wills with the beast, as it flew back to Oldtown, intent on doing the same to us. She prevented it from harming any, then leapt from its back into the sea so that she might assure all she was alive and well. She has since arranged to have the dragon fed so that it will no longer feel the need to ravage the countryside."

"A pretty narrative. It only lacks scansion and music," the acolyte comments before taking a large and fresh gulp. "Fortunately I'm sure some of my acquaintances over there were listening hard, and I've a mind to try the matter myself. Do you play, Ser Daevon? Some of your line have won as much fame with the harp as the blade, but mayhaps you yourself are made to be sung of, not to sing?" The Baratheon's sharp, fair, faintly unhealthy features wear a teasing grin.

"Please," Daevon says. "I would be honoured if you were to write a song of her, and my sister too would be undoubtedly flattered. You should visit with her, hear the tale from her own lips. I am sure she would welcome your charming company. She is rather sad that she has done all this, and she returned to derision and lies. When the truth of the matter is that she is as brave as any knight and accomplished what we did not." He smiles. "We set out twice looking for her, in the hopes of rescuing her, but she was never in need of rescue. When the dragon went for us, it was Visenya upon its back which directed it away, not towards us. We arrived just in time to see her fly off." He shakes his head, laughing. "I'm told that I sing terribly, and I could not carry a tune in a bucket. I've litle time for such lessons in instruments, although I do enjoy listening to such."

"I fear I offered Lady Visenya but little assistance when I had my chance, though it was for lack of knowledge, not willingness," Amadys admits with a shrug. "But aye. I should be mightily pleased to see her again, whole and victorious. And what," he goes on innocently, "of this, ah, derision, and these lies, you mention? Who would dare to mutter such calumnies? I don't suppose they can be anything to do with your other sister, ser? Maester Gyldayn let slip there had been some trouble between them, over an unlikely sounding betrothal…" Invalid or not, he's definitely smirking now, and drinking, fairly hard, too.

"I would not like to speculate," Daevon says. "I do not think we need to worry about anyone being betrothed to Lord Garvin though. It's a pity that you're training to be a maester, Lord Amadys." He blinks at how that came out and then flushes, laughing. "Not that I meant it that way."

Now Daevon has definitely got Amadys's attention! "…Oh?" The acolyte finishes his cup and signals frenetically to a serving-girl for another. "…in what way did you mean it, may I ask, ser, then? Even the lightest jest tends to have a crumb of earth to weigh it down. I do not see why your sister…half way to a Dragonlord…or lady?…by your account…should waste her beautiful glances on such as I am. But while I occupy myself at the Citadel for the present by my brother's word, I am unsure of my eventual destiny. Like your sister, I might have said, even…but it seems she has now found hers."

"Oh, no that is the way I may have meant it," Daevon says. "You are a Baratheon, for all that you have something of a reputation." He nods. "Yes, one day she will ride dragons. But she's still a woman. She sees all these suitors flocking to her sister, desiring Cerys, never her. Visenya is beautiful, is she not?"

"My dear brother, when he condescends to write, - by his Maester's hand, I might add, for he wields a quill as well as I swing a blade - generally complains that I have no reputation," Amadys answers, his voice full of humour but his glance in earnest and more. "Tell me of this reputation I have garnered by accident. Perchance it will amuse the Lord of Storm's End!"

With a sigh that sounds almost resigned, the acolyte leans back in his seat and accepts the new cup the attendant wench has just brought. "I can expect no wealth, save what my brother skims my way. No land, that goes without saying. I fight like a fawn, and in truth I know my thoughts too are duller than most of my peers here…though I would not admit as much to those fools drinking at my pleasure over yonder. Mayhaps I should have been a singer, Ser Daevon, but as it is, I lack the training and discipline even for that. I can please a woman. Even, perhaps, a princess in all but title. But I am scarce fit to do aught else but please her."

Daevon smiles. "You have a reputation for being intelligent and charming, if rather overly fond of your wine." He smiles. "And if you can charm her, and please her, and that is what she wants, then I cannot see the issue."

"Gods, you'd drink a tankard of red if you were going to face Archmaester Hermagenis's haemoncular principles at dawn," Amadys ripostes casually, but after another gulp his eyes narrow in concentration. "Did your sister speak of me to you, ser? Do you make these delightful proposals at her suggestion? Did you get your by-name for arranging trysts as well as feats of valour? We're supposed to ask questions in my all-but-Order; forgive me if I seem overinquisitive…"

Daevon laughs. "I took up the sword so I would not have to do such things." He laughs and shakes his head. "No. No, and most certainly no. And don't tell my brother I'm even speaking to you, for he'd think such matters inappropriate. Visenya's never been the desired one. Cerys has suitors flock to her, Visenya's been, well it was arranged for us to wed. I do not wish to wed her and she felt she had no other choice. My sister will likely throw things at me if she discovers I'm speaking of such things with you. In fact, likely best forget I've said anything at all. I'm sad that she is so lonely at times."

Amadys, who has a higher opinion of himself than his last few speeches might suggest, looks a little disappointed that the initiative behind this curious conversation was not the romantical maiden's, the queenly figure he encountered on the Honeywine bridge at sundown, but he adjusts to the bruise to his pride with another swig of wine. "Well. Then this shall be good practice for my trade, too, if I ever swear to keep the secrets of some lord. I shall guard yours with a discretion as sound, ser…and in the meantime, I had better start thinking of that song. A shame the beast your sister tamed has been cursed with a name so hard to rhyme!"

"Change the name," Daevon says. "Change it to something more majestic and easier to rhyme. Truth be told, the name is hardly one befitting such a creature, nor is it at all accurate. As well to call it cow-eater, or goat-grabber, for its inclinations are as much to eat those." He then adds. "Visenya does not speak to me about such things as courtship, nor men. Only that they are all fools for their pursuit of Cerys. I do appreciate your discretion."

"Well, I heard Luckin say there is a wild dragon on the royal isle called Sheepstealer, by the common smallfolk," Amadys points out, "and in the matter of song-weaving, the opinion of the smallfolk is not to be despised. Nine out of ten of this crowd, and even, I'd say, the part paying keenest attention, are the lowest of the townsmen. The dregs of the world love music, for what else do they have? But I can understand your sister may not want to go down the chroniclers as merely a tamer of…panders," he finishes politely, before refreshing his already vermillion tongue.

Daevon shakes his head. "I do not despise anyone, least of all them and their names. Nor would I call them the dregs. I spent many a night where a song was all we had to warm us on the road. I've seen how it brings people together, in merriment and grief."

"Some of us rather enjoy the dregs," Amadys needles, his old mischievous spirit reasserting itself a little now the serious matter of Visenya seems past, and he drains his cup to illustrate the point. Then he seems distracted by a sound from the makeshift stage, a few cleared tables, where his acquaintance the singer is trying out Amadys's new mandolin. The reaction seems lukewarm. "D'y'hear that…reckon I could do better, ser?"

Daevon smiles. "I reckon that you could," he agrees. "In fact I would love to hear you play something."

That - and the wine inside him - are all the cue Amadys needs. He's a strangely imposing figure in his lanky way as he rises, his gold-and-grey satin and miniver cloak billowing behind him, and no one stays him, several even slip out of his way, as he strides up to the 'dais', waves his singer friend away, and takes over.

The lyric he tries out is evidently a new composition, in tune and in words. It has a wavering, mournful refrain about 'the Queen of Sundown', and a good many stanzas on the dying light under Honeywine bridge. Hardly the most eventful of songs, with moving enough sentiments but no witticisms in its wordplay, its success will depend entirely on the acolyte's ability to get the requisite plangent emotion into his voice and the plucking of his elegant new instrument.

<FS3> Amadys rolls Poetry: Good Success.
<FS3> Amadys rolls Singing: Failure.
<FS3> Amadys rolls Music: Good Success.

"A fine song, m'lord!" the singer who has just been displaced makes himself heard, among an equally mixed but much rowdier reception, "…but it deserves a far better singer. Gimme back that shiny lute o' yours!"

"Mandolin," Amadys corrects wearily, but hardly anyone hears, and he has soon agreed to the surrender and leapt back down.

The professional, indeed, with more discipline in him and less drink, makes a superb display of young Baratheon's heartfelt and fresh composition - which its author himself would have butchered. 'The Queen of Sundown' will pass into tavern repertoires all over Oldtown…though not as a production of Amadys the Acolyte's!

Daevon listens to the song with avid interest. "You're a prodigy," he says to Amadys. "That song was beautiful. It is clear where your skills lie."

"Aye, my lord of Targaryen. In other men's mouths," Amadys responds with a clearly discernible annoyance. "Still, there will be better days, and worse. I've had enough of these parakeets, but…please render my congratulations and affection to the Lady Visenya. Tell her I shall wait upon her pleasure as soon as I've wriggled out of my own bloody duty. Maybe not in those exact words!" He grins uneasily, bows shortly, and stalks out of the tavern, without retrieving his instrument or bidding the other acolytes farewell.

"You've been ill," Daevon says. "Your voice will recover and you will sing far better than any." He nods at Amadys. "I shall. It has been such a pleasure."

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