(121-04-07) Gossip Queen
Gossip Queen
Summary: Sera Florent finds the queen of gossip.
Date: 7 April 2014
Related: none

Note that Garvin is not in this scene, but his player is acting as Qarla, a barmaid at the Quill & Tankard.


Quill and Tankard

This is the common room of the Quill and Tankard, that famous Oldtown Inn that has never closed in five hundred years. The building is a noble old half-timber structure with plastered stone between the enormous old black beams. It sits on a small rock of an island at the edge of the Honeywine River, and is accessed by a little footbridge, or by water-taxi.

Rivermen and seamen, smiths and singers, priests and princes, Lords and sellswords, travelers both noble and small, and the novices and acolytes of the Citadel - all come for a taste of the fearsomely strong apple cider that makes this inn so beloved by Oldtown's people. There is a pleasant buzz of chatter, cups and tankards being filled and refilled, and general laughter.

The fire in the hearth allows for a merry glow and a comfortable warmth from Oldtown's breezy, misty cobblestone streets. Benches and tables offer places to sit, and there is a deliciously toothsome smell in the air of food from the back.

Sera has chosen a specific time of day to visit the Quill and Tankard. Usually dressed to the nines, she has decided to hide most of her extravagence behind a blue cloak that fully drapes and covers her dress. The hood is up, pulled to hide her intricate hair style, even as she steps into the establishment. A quick glance around and she makes her way to the furthest table away from usual activity and eyes, keeping her head low and her steps quick but deft. Once a seat is taken, she scans the room, searching for the right person.

One of the barmaids, who'd been leaning over the bar to chat with the barman (and give him a nice few down her tight bodice), lets out a sigh and shuffles over to the table, looking tired and ready for her shift to end. "Welcome to the Quill and Tankard," she drones, as if reciting the speech without thought. "What's your pleasure this evening, milady?"

"Ale, please," is her first response, but upon further scrutiny of the barmaid, Sera smiles and leans forward to rest her chin on her fist. "You look about as tired as how I feel, pray tell me what is your name, and if you are willing to offer me some company while you rest your aching bones. In fact I insist you get yourself something to eat and drink as well, on me. I am new here and would love nothing more than to make a new friend."

The barmaid raises a brow, looking skeptically at Sera for a long moment, then shrugs. "As you will, milady. I'm Qarla, and I'll be back in a moment." With a brief curtsy, she turns back to the bar and asks for two tankards of ale. Soon she's returned and takes a seat, letting out a small groan. "Thank you, milady. Been a long night indeed."

"Ugh, I know! I've been on the road for days and I can barely stand it, I have absolutely no idea how you manage to last for long like this." Taking a sip of her own drink, she watches Qarla with a smile. "So tell me Qarla, what is it like here in Oldtown? This is my first time visiting you know. I heard how the poor Lord is sick and there has been a substitute recently. I guess my timing has been off."

Qarla takes a long draw from the tankard, smacking her lips afterward as she settles into the chair and stretches her legs out. "Which lord do you mean? Milord of Hightower? Aye, he's been suffering under a mysterious malady of late, to be sure. There's some what says Lord Commander Gwayne has likewise been afflicted, though I've heard no official word on that. He's been substituting from time to time, though from what I've heard, there are a few other Hightower lords filling in as well." She pauses for another drink, then grins with a twinkle in her eye. "O' course, no one did as fine a job as Lord Pansy, what with them oatcakes and whatnot. That's all anyone spoke of for days afterward, them free oatcakes being handed out at the foot of the Hightower."

"Lord Commander Gwayne as well?" Sera asks, punctuating her question with a curious blink. "I did not hear that, that's…disturbing." She takes another small sip from her tankard before making sure that Qarla's own is topped up. "Lord Pansy? A Tyrell filled in for Lord Gwayne and gave out oatcakes? I knew I missed out on something! He does sound like quite a character. I heard he was a playwright, and with such a title I am positive its true!"

Qarla can't help but chuckle, her head bobbing a bit. "Aye, he fancies himself a playwright, and a mummer to boot. I saw his first play, The Valiant Squire, it were called, and I never laughed so hard before. The way he strutted around that little boat on the stage in those tight leggings and stuffed codpiece, waving his arms all dramatic-like, it was a sight to behold. Now it weren't no fine lit'rature, like you'd find collecting dust in the Citadel, and the lofty speeches had a few too many fancy words for my taste, but cor, it was funny!" She pauses for another drink, then leans a little on the table's edge. "He's somethin' of a regular in here, you know. Nearly every night, he's in here, buying rounds for the house and shouting out his little motto. When Lord Pansy pays, everyone drinks, he says. Though truth be told, might be truer to say that when Lord Pansy drinks, it's everyone else who pays."

Sera can't help but snicker in response to the stories. "By the gods I have to see one of his plays! Bawdy literature is the best literature," she replies confidently. She then tilts her head as she quirks her eyebrows, a wicked grin curving her lips. "Oh, by the gods I can barely imagine what he could do. Please, tell me!"

Qarla's eyes dart back and forth, as she leans a little closer over the table, lowering her voice. "Well, I'm not one to spread tales, of course, but…You know about his odd…tastes?" She raises one brow significantly.

Her eyes widen as if she had just been exposed to the juiciest gossip, "Oh our Lord has a /taste/!" She giggles and leans forward as well. "Well, considering what he does on stage I wouldn't be surprised if he went towards the more…peculiar side of things. Tell me!"

Qarla's lips curl in a conspiratorial grin. "It's a well known secret that dear Lord Pansy prefers the company of men, if you know what I mean. And he isn't too particular about the sort of man neither. One night, he'll be chatting up some fancy lord, all perfumed and coiffured, and a night or two later, he's hanging all over some burly sellsword with biceps out to here. Though I suppose if I had to describe one attribute they all seem to have in common, it would be…." And her eyes dart to and fro again, voice dropping to a whisper, "…dominant sorts."

"Dominant?" Sera asks, blinking curiously before she narrows her eyes skeptically. "As in…as in he wants them to-…No!" She whispers out the last bit in a hushed tone of awe. "That would explain the burly sellswords…" she nods in complete understanding. "Can you imagine what goes on behind his close doors? Oh if only his walls would speak. Who has dominated our man of men?" She reaches over to top off Qarla's tankard once more.

Qarla nods her thanks, then takes a good, healthy gulp. Sitting back, she returns to a more conversational tone. "Well, there's no proof, of course. I mean, no one's actually caught him in the act, or if they have, they're not talking." She pauses, tapping a finger against her chin. "Though there was that one time with the Pillowcase, though the story of that changes with each telling. But then, no one knows who the Pillowcase was, do they? Because he wore a pillowcase over his head, of course. Aside from that incident though, he's never been caught with his pants down, as it were. And he seems to be turned down more often than men take him up on…whatever it is he's offering. Still, the few times he does manage to leave the tavern with someone, they're always the musclebound, dominant sorts. You know the type of men I mean, the ones who you're sure will leave you bruised and sore…and very satisfied."

"Wait, what?" Sera blurts out in a rather unladylike voice of surprise. "A pillowcase? What happened with the Pillowcase incident? Are…are you saying he makes one of his lovers wear a pillowcase? Why, he must be ugly." She shakes her head in shock before peering back at Qarla, "Where have they seen this Pillowcase man? Is he just as large as his usual type?"

Qarla holds up one finger, as she takes another long drink. "No, now hang on half a mo. Like I said, the Pillowcase story changes with each telling, but the one thing all the tales agree on is that he and Lord Pansy were caught together in bed, at Garden Isle…That's where he lives you know, Garden Isle manse, just across the river. If you go out to the terrace, you can see the lights over there. Anyway, from what I've heard, they were caught one morning, neither one wearing a stitch of clothing, save for the Pillowcase, who of course, had the pillowcase over his head. The rest of him was as naked as the day he was born, all those rippling muscles exposed for all to see." She suddenly grins, eyes gleaming. "And it was huge!"

"Oh no! They weren't!" Sera squeals out in a hushed tone before dissolving into a fit of giggles. "I bet that's another one of his types. A massive weapon to go along with those massive muscles," she replies with a wink. "Oh I must know who this Pillowcase is! A shame that such a blessed creature to fall in the hands of the harder sex. I am positively envious!"

Qarla drinks again, then leans a bit closer. "Don't think there hasn't been plenty of, what do you call it…speculations. When I heard he was supposed to be packing a broadsword in his trousers, first man that came to my mind would be Kai, the lecherous sellsword what's bedded just about every woman what works here, many times over. Now there's a sword you'd find hard to swallow, if you know what I mean. But I've never seen ol' Kai show even the slightest interest in men, not even the more girly ones, like milord Pansy. No, he only sheaths that beast in the fairer sex, I'm sure of it." She shrugs, sitting back again. "Course, some say it was that wildling lump, Gromm, but I don't put no stock in that neither. Just because a man's eight feet tall don't mean his tool's proportional, ya know? Still, his build's right, and the incident with the Pillowcase did happen only a day or two after Lord Pansy had Gromm whipped on the pillory, so who knows? Maybe it was some sorta revenge-punishment, though I doubt Lord Pansy saw it that way."

"I doubt any person would see it that way, if they were into that sort of thing," Sera returns in amusement. "As for Gromm, if he truly is eight feet tall then perhaps that would have been noted as well, there is only so much 'giant' one can ignore in one scenario." She giggles once more before leaning back thoughtfully. "If you do hear more about Pillowcase please let me know! And I will return the favor if I ever find out! As for that Wildling…What did poor old Gromm do to deserve such a whipping anyways?"

Qarla taps her chin again. "Seems to me it's been a few months since there were any Pillowcase sightings. But if I do hear of one, I'll be sure to pass it along. As for Gromm…What did he do again? It was some incident here, but I wasn't working that night. But I believe the story was that Lord Pansy was in his cups, as he often is, and was sniffing around ol' Gromm. Of course, Gromm wasn't having any of it and said so, rather loudly, I suppose. Well, Lord Pansy's protector, Ser Thorn, overheard him and thought it was a grave insult against the family's honor and whatnot. When the Thorn demanded that Gromm apologize and take the knee, ol' Gromm flatly refused. Wildlings call themselves Free Folk, you know, and everyone else is a kneeler to them. Because we kneel to our betters, you understand. Of course, Wildlings don't think they have betters, so naturally, he refused. So Pansy and Thorn had Gromm dragged before Lord Hightower and demanding a whipping. And you know, when the Tyrells want something, they generally get it."

"Ser Thorn? Ser Laurent Tyrell?" Curiouser and curioser. The mention of Tyrells wanting something and getting it causes the Florent woman's shoulders to droop. "Don't I know it," she murmurs with a sigh. Grabbing her tankard, she takes a bigger gulp than before, her cheeks flushing a bit before she places it back down. Her teal colored eyes then fix on Qarla once more. "I suppose Lord Hightower had no other option but to grant it, poor Wildling, they just don't know any better, you know? And yet they have more pride than the King himself." She purses her lips thoughtfully before continuing, "Is he still in bad terms with his Lord?"

Qarla nods her thanks again, taking a long swallow. "Who, Gromm? Can't say that I've seen him and Lord Pansy in the same room since, truth be told. Actually, can't say I've seen Gromm at all, really. Though I suppose if I was dragged from a tavern to be whipped on the pillory, I might avoid that tavern in the future as well. But Lord Pansy, why, he's in here just about every night. Until recently, that is. Oh, he's still here from time to time, but from the way he's always prattling on about it, seems his time's rather occupied writing some new play or other. Although, I did hear just this morning…." Once again, her eyes slide back and forth as she leans forward. "One of the Grey Cloaks was in here after his night shift on the River Gate, and from what he said, Lord Pansy may just have a new conquest."

She bobs her head in understanding over what happened to Gromm and his disappearance, but the news of more juicy gossip has snatched her attention well enough. "Oh! Do tell me! Not another pillowcase I hope? Or perhaps a bedsheet?" Sera snickers softly before she leans forward. "Who is his latest man of the darkest hour?"

Qarla chuckles then, shaking her head. "Oh no, this one's a dandy lord, if ol' Byrt told it right, and closer to Lord Pansy's age. Couldn't say who he was, a newcomer maybe, but from the way Byrt described his ears, has to be one of them Florents. Fine dresser too, all garbed up in satins and samite, pale blond hair flashing in the torchlight. Seems he and Lord Pansy rode out through the gate last night, along with a peck of those Purple Cloaks he's always got with him, and both lords were as drunk as…well, as drunk as Lord Pansy normally gets of an evening. Rode out just before the gates were shut for the night, but then just a few hours later, they were pounding and shouting to be let back in. 'Course, when a Tyrell demands to be let in, ya open the gates, right? And there they were, clothes all mussed, like they'd been taken off and put back on in the dark, still well into their cups. And get this, Lord Pansy could barely sit still in his saddle, all squirming and wincing, like he was sitting on a set of spurs. 'Course, we all know the real reason he's sore down there, don't we?"

As Qarla describes the man, Sera widens her eyes at just how juicy the gossip is. "/No/!" She whispers again in her hushed tone. "Well, considering his adoration for size and domination I could hardly be shocked by such news," Sera contends with a dip of her head to stifle her laughter. "Oh I bet they got it on then, though I suppose any man to be seen in Lord Pansy's company may end up being seen as a pansy himself, or well a top pansy."

Qarla laughs then, her eyes alight. "Not necessarily. Like I said, most of his men are the big, masculine types. Not the sort anyone would think to call pansy. On the other hand, Lord Pansy fits his name perfectly. Always primping, tossing those gorgeous locks of his around. Why, he even adopted a pansy for his sigil! Wears it proudly, for all the world to see. There's something about that you just have to admire, don't you think?"

"What isn't there to admire? The man took something many see as a sign of weakness and turned it into something beautiful, to be admired. He would do well in King's Landing, if he manages the first year. His plays would be positively divine!" Sera grins before shaking her head in amusement, "and oatcakes will only earn him more loyalty from the people, how can it not? I am curious about this other Lord of his, how well known is this? Or is the Grey Cloak a personal friend of yours?"

Qarla gives a small shrug, drinking again. "Who, Byrt? Friendly enough. Not the sort to do much talking, but we have a whaddyacall it, rapport. Every morning after his shift, he comes in to break his fast and tell me all about his dull job. As for Lord Pansy and his fancy friend, I can tell you they weren't drinking here before heading out for their romp in the river. Probably at Garden Isle. You know, they get more mead delivered there from Highgarden than we do, and that's a fact. Eight barrels a week, to our six. That's one family that knows how to do some hard drinking." She stops a moment, tapping her chin. "But that reminds me…They were in here last night, but only long enough to buy four skins of Arbor red. I didn't pay much attention to the other lord, but Lord Pansy was already rather cheerful, so he'd been drinking somewhere."

"Byrt," she murmurs as if to commit it to memory. When Qarla mentions the wines bought, Sera blinks and widens her eyes. "You were serious about his drinking habits. It seems like he would put most drunkards to shame. I am rather impressed," she admits reluctantly. Sera then glances towards the door before looking back at Qarla. "Thank you for such stories, I would never expected such a thing to happen in Oldtown, these remind me of my days at King's Landing, positively thrilling!"

Qarla's eyes light. "Oh, Oldtown can be quite scandalous at times, let me tell you. Why, the Bawdy Bard's one of the oldest brothels in all of Westeros. Just imagine if Lord Pansy turned that playhouse of his into a rival brothel. You think it's been tense around here for the Dornish? Nothing compared to what Jessilyn would do to our Lord Pansy." With a sigh, she finishes off her ale, then pushes herself to her feet. "Well, my shift's almost done, so I need to get to cleaning, or I'll be here all day. It was nice talking to you, milady, and thank you again for the ale. Stop in anytime, I'd be more than happy to do it again."

Jessilyn not fond of rivalries, got it. "Qarla, you've been the highlight of my week. I would come by any time you are on duty." She rises as well, dropping a few coins to cover the cost of their meals and a decent tip. Sera then flashes her another smile as she tugs the hood closer over her brow. "I will see you soon, friend. We must catch up again."

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