(121-04-09) Wine and Politics
Wine and Politics
Summary: Mariya and Valerity meet to discuss the Trial of Seven.
Date: 04/09/2014
Related: Much of the Wickham's Nest plot

Quill and Tankard - Hightower And Citadel

It is a summer day. The weather is hot and clear.

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.

!!! Currently at least two City Watchmen are stationed here at all times. They will be quick to arrest those who offer violence to anyone. !!!

After talks with the Dornish contingent, Mariya sent a messenger in order to set up a meeting with Valerity. The suggested meeting place - The Quill and Tankard - is a marvel to Mariya. She had yet to see it and has found a table near a corner where she can observe, which despite the circumstances, she is quite enjoying. Despite warnings from her guard, she has ordered a mug of the strong apple cider, but has not yet managed to take more than a single sip of it. The rumors of its strength were not exaggerated.

Valerity doesn't leave the Dornish princess waiting long, arriving gowned in peacock blue silk with a sheer, Redwyne purple pashmina draped about her arms. Right and Left, her long-suffering and interchangable Hightower guardsmen are with her, taking up a table apart after a quiet word from the lady. She goes to Mariya, smiling soft, and dips a curtsy with her head inclined. "Princess, I was so glad to receive your invitation. Hightower is the lonlier for your absence."

Mariya stands as Valerity enters and she returns the curtsey in kind, giving the lady a warm smile in welcome. "I've missed you as well. It is nice to be back at the Manse, but it was much more convenient to visit while I was merely on a different floor of the Hightower." Gesturing toward the chairs, she sits. "You will have to visit the White Stone Manse some day soon." After a short pause, she adds, "It is good to see you, but I must confess that I did wish to speak with you about a somewhat political matter."

"Politics? Oh, dear…" Valerity's smile persist, but tucks a wry dimple onto her cheek. "Well, I never talk politics without wine. So let's make sure we have some of that." She sweeps her skirts smooth beneath her as she sits, crooking a finger to summon a serving girl. "Arbor Red or Gold?" she asks Mariya. Because really, what other wine is there?

"Oh, but I—" Mariya glances at her mug of apple cider and then answers, "White." It's probably for the best on a hot day. It's also unlikely that she will ever finish such a strong drink. She takes one more sip of the mug and pulls a face. No, she will not be finishing that. She pushes it to the side for her guard and waits for the wine, smiling. "I'll wait, then. I would not wish to upset the balance of politics to wine." Not that she knows what that formula is.

"A carafe of Arbor Gold," Valerity tells the serving girl, sending the young woman on her way. She leans her elbows on the table, studying the princess with a curious, invitational tilt of her head. "Don't worry, I'll catch up. I'd much rather hear what's on your mind."

Once given the go ahead, Mariya nods. "I'm not sure if or what you've heard about Lord Blackmont and his accusations, but he is saying that knights of the Reach attacked the Red Rookery. There will be a Trial of the Seven." She pauses, not wanting to speak too much information at once, and also curious to see Valerity's reaction to the information.

"A little quicker with the wine, please! I'm sure you're not obliged to pick the grapes yourself," Valerity calls — rather unfairly — to hurry the service. She might be needing that drink sooner rather than later. Other than that, however, she barely bats an eyelash. "Mm," she agrees, nodding slightly. "I've heard. There's barely a house that doesn't stand accused, or is accused by association."

"It is the so-called Knights Errant - I think is what Ser Daevon called them - that stand accused." This doesn't seem to be the point of her story, so Mariya moves forward. Her voice has lowered, as she does not wish those not at the table to hear, but she then adds, "But, I believe a Florent is on a list of the accused." There is not much of a question here, but there is certainly some meaning.

Valerity nods… and looks grateful when the wine arrives. She pours a cup for them both, setting one before Mariya before drinking deeply of her own. "Yes," she affirms. "The very same Florent, I'm afraid."

As that is confirmed, Mariya takes her own wine and takes a long sip. "I had feared that was the case." She sighs, then continues, "The Seven will decide his guilt, but my Goodbrother fights for Lord Blackmont. I had hoped he was not, and might possibly recruit him to our side. That, of course, no longer is under discussion. However, Ser Osric means to go to your Uncle to see if he will condemn the massacre. I meant to come to ask whether you might know your Uncle's mind or if his words will fall on deaf ears. But, now I would also ask if you find the Florent a good man. Ser Osric means to give mercy should it be asked, but if any of those men are capable of such cruelty, I fear they will not do the same."

The Redwyne lady takes a breath, lashes sweeping down. "I fear, for the part of my uncle, that his illness has left him a changed man. He might be willing to condemn the action, but words are wind. He won't punish those involved — for indeed, it would mean crossing his liege, House Tyrell, in one part, and condemning his own nephew, a Hightower, in another. Florent, Cockshaw, Oakheart… in the end, it's Tyrell that holds sway over all, not Hightower. He no longer has the strength or the conviction." She drinks again, looking up at the princess. "He is. A good man. But then… they are all good men. It's difficult to believe they're responsible for the things of which I've heard. In truth, the evidence is only circumstantial, however neatly it fits."

As Mariya takes that information into account, she nods resolutely - just once. "Thank you," she tells Valerity sincerely. "I don't know much of the politics here. To be honest, I don't know much about the politics anywhere, but I mean to do what I can to ensure my goodbrother survive the trial. He is a good man and a true knight. If any ask for mercy against his sword, he will give it. He is convinced that these men are in the wrong and are responsible, but he will not kill unless it is his life or theirs." That would include Valerity's Florent. It's a small attempt to reassure her, for all the good it might do. "I would do all that I can to ensure a man such as he returns to my sister." As for the circumstantial evidence, she nods, "If you say he is a good man and do not believe him capable of it, then I will not argue with you."

"It would be an argument to no end, in any case," says Valerity, with a flash of uncommon melancholy. "There truly is no authority that can discover the truth of this but the Seven. I hate that this has to happen, and I fear for all those who'll take the field — including your goodbrother. In truth, I wish harm to none — neither my heart broken, nor yours, princess."

"Yes, I know." Mariya takes a deep drink of her wine and frowns. The princess and the lady are seated at a table near the corner do not seem to be in the midst of a happy discussion. A bottle of wine is opened and poured in glasses in front of them - they talk in soft voices. "I feel the same. I wish it did not come to this - but it seems the only way that the matter can be settled. I can only hope that the knights on either side will yield and will be allowed mercy." Perhaps if everyone yields, no one will be killed. She can hope.

"We can hope," Valerity agrees, as though privy to the narration. She leaves come coins on the table for the wine, downing the contents of her cup and corking the bottle. "Come, Right and Left and I will see you home, Princess. Please give your sister and goodbrother my best wishes."

Following suit with Valerity - she figures this is what one does after talking politics - she finishes the contents of her wine and stands with the Redwyne. "Thank you, I will. Give your family my well wishes, as well. They were quite hospitable while I stayed there."

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