(121-03-27) Inquiry
Summary: In which Aevander asks Kevyn about investigating Wickham's Nest. Better late than never.
Date: March 27, 2014
Related: Plot: Wickham's Nest

The Starry Sept is rarely without visitors in a city the size of Oldtown, though now that the sun's going down it's emptying out a little. One of those coming out of it is young squire Kevyn Cockshaw. He's dressed in traveling clothes, a dusty cloak, shirt and trousers colored in dark browns and greens. He has the look of one not long off a horse, though he's apparently had time to wash his face and hands. And light a few candles before the visages of the Seven.

Aevander is good enough at asking the right people, and the fact that Kevyn's recently returned from travels meant he was more noticed then he might have been. So when the squire steps out of the Starry Sept, there's a Targaryen dressed in black and munching on an apple waiting for him. "Kevyn Cockshaw," he greets, pushing away from the building and walking towards the other young man, "A moment of your time, if you please."

The sound of his name stops the squire, and makes him half-turn in the direction of that voice. His eyes widen when he sees who it was who said it. He hastily sketches a quick bow. "Ser Aevander. Your grace. Umm…" He hesitates, but he's not about to say not to a Targaryen. "I was just heading home. Well, back. Been living at the Quill with my ser since we came to the city. Place still doesn't feel like home, proper, but it's comfortable enough. Anyhow. Umm. Of course. You can have a moment, that is."

Aevander's patient, taking another bite of apple, crunching and swallowing as Kevyn works his way through his words. Violet eyes regard the other man, and he nods. "An inn rarely feels like a home, no matter how long one stays. You and Ser Viggo were traveling the last few days? With a collection of other knights, as rumor tells it." Crunch. Munch much. "Funny, though. Everyone seems to know you left and you returned. No one much knows where you were, though."

"We were hunting, Ser," Kevyn answers, promptly. And in a highly rehearsed sort of way, but if nothing else he's well rehearsed. "Up near Old Oak. The Oakheart lands. Ser Quillian invited us, my cousins and I, and some others. Take our minds off the recent troubles."

Kevyn chuckles, and gives the Targaryen a slightly forced smile. "The critters're gone, Ser. Eaten, that is. My cousin Ser Haywood downed a fine buck, though. Made good venison. Ser Quillian said he'd have his men mount the antlers for us and send them to the city. Takes time to make a proper trophy, though."

"Mmm," Aevander replies with a lift of his brows. "How courteous of Ser Quillian. And here I thought the man only knew how to make keepsakes of human remains." Bite. Munch crunch crunch. He tosses the apple core into the street and wipes his hand on a kerchief he draws out of his pocket. "Actually, though, it was the trip before this one I wanted to speak with you about."

Kevyn can't help but shudder when Aevander speaks of Quillian making trophies out of people. He eyes the apple, looking a touch paler. He does not look as if he'd want a bite. "He does have that reputation, Ser. He's a fine hunter, though. Trip before?" He now looks genuinely puzzled. "I've not been hunting for some time before this, Ser. Last time I went before this was with my brother and some of our father's men, nearly six months past." He frowns. "Rather lost my taste for it for a bit."

"Ah. No," Aevander amends, tucking the handkerchief back into his pocket. "I mean the last trip you took out of Oldtown. The one to investigate Wickham's Nest."

"Oh." Kevyn's expression hardens. "Ser Viggo's told the story thrice or more now, Ser, and I with him. It changes little. What more would you know? We heard of the raid on the Nest and Ser Viggo rode to see what he could see of it, along with our good cousin, Lady Alys, and some other knights who Ser Viggo considered friends. By the time we got there, the Silent Sisters had already attended to the bodies as well as they could, Seven's mercy keep them. Was little we could do but look at what'd been left."

"Then I hope you won't mind discussing it one more time, yet," Aevander replies. "Shall we sit somewhere?" He gestures towards one of the benches outside of the sept. "I'd like to hear again what you found that convinced you, Ser Viggo and the others that it was the Blackmonts behind the attack."

Kevyn hesitates a beat, but he finally nods at the offer to sit, heading over to a bench not far from the sept. "If this is all right?" he asks, before sitting. "As to that, Ser. Most of the dead were Cockshaw folk. But Ser Tyraxeus did discover the body of one of the men who'd been a raider. He must've been. He had one of our own arrows in him, so our folk had at least put up that much of a fight. He was Dornish. You could tell by the look of him. And dressed in castle-forged maile. He wasn't wearing proper heraldry, but there was a mark upon his helm that Ser Tyraxeus recognized. Belongs to the armory smiths, at Castle Blackmont."

Aevander follows Kevyn over to the other bench, settling into a sit and listening in silence. Then he draws in a small breath, his head canting. "Forgive me, squire Kevyn, but from what Ser Abram told me, this man was found down in a well, quite dead. Is that correct?"

Kevyn nods to that. "That was the way of it, Ser. As near as we can figure, that's why his body wasn't taken. He must've fallen into it when he died, so his fellows couldn't find him."

Aevander nods again. "Then… how is it that you were able to discern a body, days dead and soaking in water, was anything more than human? Besides the marking on his helm, how could you mark him as Dorne from bloated and contorted features? I imagine even his coloring must have been wretched, by that point."

Kevyn swallows at the memory of that, shrugging. "He looked darker than a Reach man to me, Ser, hair and eyes as well as skin. But, as you say, he was quite bloated and…well. Not in a fit state. Not that we'd have known him for a Blackmont at all, was it not for the maker's mark upon his arms. Was that that my family took most strongly, not the look of the man himself."

"I see," Aevander replies with a small nod. "Please, continue. What further proof did you find, besides this man and his maker's mark?"

"That was the main of it, Ser," Kevyn replies. "And…forgive me, but I don't understand why your kin and Lord Hightower don't seem to believe it was the Dornish who'd done this. Our lands are along the border. We've had raids like this before, though not so vicious or with so many dead in as long as I can remember. My father's in charge of some of the patrols and…it's not peaceful country. We don't figure the Martells knew of it or anything but…" He trails off and shrugs.

"Because your lands are along the border, and though there have been raids, nothing so vicious with so many dead has ever happened in my memory, either. Which means this was a strange occurrence. Which means we cannot simply assume. Now," Aevander draws in a soft breath, "There was a weapon found, too, was there not? And some proof of a woman? Tell me of those."

Kevyn nods to that. "Aye, Ser, the dead man had a dagger. Had the same stamp on it as his helm, that marked it as from the Blackmont smithy, we figured out. As for the woman…" This does trouble him. "…proof of one, aye, that's the best way to put it. The raid had come during dinner, the table still set, and there were signs this woman had been seated as my cousin's…guest of honor." Shrug. "He was a good man, Ser, but one who enjoyed certain…pleasures. It wouldn't have been surprising. Troubles me that we haven't found any trace of her any…" He clears his throat. "…anywhere. I mean, if she were highborn, you'd think her family would be asking after her by now."

"A stamped dagger. That was your Blackmont weapon? A dagger?" Aevander's brows lift. "What signs, then, of this woman? How do you know she sat near Eryk Cockshaw?"

Kevyn nods. "It was what was left on him, apart from his armor. Aye, she was sat near Lord Eryk. Ser Viggo has a better head for that sort of etiquette than I, and it was he who figured out there was a woman there in a place such as that. Much as one could."

"And this earring I heard tell of?" Aevander asks. "Where was that found and by whom?"

Kevyn furrows his brow as he strains to recall that. Aevander is getting into details the squire wasn't directly involved in the ferreting of. "An earring, Ser, aye, I believe that was it. If you'll forgive me, I was trying to track the raiders, and I didn't look inside the lodge until…well, until later. As I said before, this tale's been told several times around Oldtown. There's naught in it that's changed, and you've heard it perhaps better than I can repeat it. If I may ask, Ser…we've been given little help from the king in this matter, or your relatives in Oldtown. What's your interest in it now?"

"I am trying to decide in what way I and my family here in Oldtown might offer our help," Aevander replies. "But letters take time to send and to receive, and I was waiting for one, before I began pursuing these events. But, from what you tell, I do hope this hunt of yours has gotten some of the fury out of your knight. I suspect more now that he is wrong in accusing the Blackmonts."

Kevyn frowns slight. It's a long moment before he speaks. "What makes you suspect so, Ser?"

"A helm and a dagger," Aevander replies, "not marked as Blackmont's. Only stamped with the mark of the craftsman that made them." He regards Kevyn. "A small weapon and a sturdy helm seem rather just the thing a warrior would pluck off the dead body of an enemy to keep for himself, if they happened to be better than his own, wouldn't you say?"

Kevyn shrugs to that. He looks unconvinced. "I'd say you look for reasons it might not've been a Blackmont, Ser." The prospect that it wasn't plainly troubles him, but he just as plainly sees no alternative. "The Hightowers will look for any reason to keep courting the Dornish princess, seems to me, and she would rather her vassals be innocent in this. As for you and your good kin…I thank you for your concern, and I'm sure my cousins would be glad of anything you could offer us now. But we've no enemies I can think of, outside the tensions on our borders. I wish we'd found more of the woman taken from the Nest but…" A shrug. "She's gone, and though I pray she escaped serious harm, I can't imagine she's well."

"If she existed at all," Aevander agrees with a small nod. "This attack was so violent, I cannot help but feel it was personal, somehow, to whoever orchestrated it. That it was not Dorne and The Reach but two men at odds over something. Something of great importance to at least one of them." He sighs, stretching his legs. "Well, I thank you for your time, squire, and your answers. If any other recollections occur to you, I hope you will inform me of them."

Kevyn can't help but nod in agreement with that. "Personal, Ser. Aye. That's the truth. And you're right, had a feeling of vengeance about it, not just a raid to steal from us." He stays seated on that bench, inclining his head to Aevander. "I thank you for your interest in the matter, if nothing else. Ser Viggo's still at the Quill, and simple to find most days, should you wish to speak to him. Though we may be moving to a proper house in the city, given how things are. And I doubt we'll be leaving it anytime soon. May as well put down more roots in it."

"Indeed," Aevander agrees. "It's not such a bad town to be rooted in, I'm finding. Perhaps I will find Ser Viggo and have a word, once he's washed away the dust of the road and had a rest." He stands, idly brushing street dust from his own trousers. "A fine day to you, Kevyn Cockshaw."

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