(121-05-01) The Shadow of the Sept
The Shadow of the Sept
Summary: Fulk talks with Saskia of the gods and their unworthy servants in this life…
Date: (01/05/2014)
Related: Fulk & Saskia, The Joust of Maidens

Starry Street

It's eventide, and a warm and clement one, in one of the most discreet and beauteous quarters of Oldtown. Outside the first lintel and threshold of the Dragon Door Manse, a few Targaryen men-at-arms and guards idle, passing around a wineskin and joshing each other in temperate tones. Leaning against the sandstone, somewhat to one side, is the oldest of them, Ser Fulk, Princess Visenya's sworn knight, his mostly grizzled head bare, his gnarled sword-hand un-mailed, idly tracing the fine design of dragons and stars on a costly looking new sword-belt.

The door to the Lion manse opens and out steps Saskia, looking very thoughtful. A large black dog walks close to her side, head lowered with the occasional sniff to the ground when something catches his nose's attention. With her head still lost in the clouds, Saskia makes her way down the street, passing by a group of young, well-dressed boys who look about twelve or thirteen; highborn. A few of them seem to recognize her and they immediately start to jeer and taunt her. "Oh look!" A blond boy calls out, "There goes the knight with no cock! Your balls are too high up on your chest, my lady love! When are they going to drop?!" The other boys cackle before adding in, shouting how she is probably a man or how she should just kill herself since she belongs neither here nor there.

As for Saskia herself, she does well to ignore them, though Squid the dog takes a moment to turn and growl when one of the kids throws a rock in their direction. "Hush," murmurs the woman as tugs on the dog's ear lightly. "Leave'em." With that she continues down the street, not yet catching sight of Ser Fulk amidst his men.

But the older man has noticed both her, and her waggish little persecutors. Parting company from the other Targaryen guards with a stiff nod, he calls out to the children, "Y'mothers would blush to hear you speak words y'barely understand. Y'disgrace yer noble breeding. I knew peasant lads out east with more courtesy than you lot. Scram inside, or yer sires and dams will hear the worst o' it."

He shrugs at that, and lopes over to pat the tall dog, proportionate to its mistress, on the head. "So that's been the way of it, lately, Miz? Neither tourneys nor gold can buy yer respect. At first."

Hearing Fulk yell at the highborns is enough to stop Saskia in her tracks. She stars at the older men as the boys begin to scramble. A Knight with spurs? Oh hell yea they won't stick around. She looks over her shoulders and smirks at their disappearing backs before turning back to Fulk. "You really don't fear anythin', do you?" Squid is stiff when Fulk pats him on the head, but he seems to get his que from Saskia and calms down when she does, falling into an automatic sit since it seems like they aren't going anywhere. "I have the gold, I joined a tourney, but Ser Fulk I never had respect. You learn to brush it off." She smirks lightly in the direction of the boys but it quickly melts as she looks back to Fulk. "I wanted to speak to you."

Fulk's lined face gets a deal more so as he chuckles. "That's puttin' it a bit strong…min' if I just call yer Saskia? Titles n' styles seem a somewhat vexin' point at present, eh? I fear plenty. I saw m'princess go right that close up to that big yellow dragon, the one they call't Whoremaster in the winesinks, and all but win the thing over, n' I was damn scared. I don' mind sayin' that smart-lance Dornishman didn' exactly fill m'heart wi' glee…before you settled him…twice. I've lived a long time. I know fear well. Fear's a drinking associate, like. We respec' each other."

He shrugs. "Figured you might. Walk wi' me back towards Dragon Door. Pretty comical the way the Targaryens and the Sept are jammed up close and cosy like this, but right now I'd sooner loiter closer to the princes than the gods. Or rather their lackeys." A definite sneer enters his last words.

"At least you respect it, unlike most who gloat they laugh in its face," Saskia returns with a snort. "Fear makes you live another day. People give too much power to pride." When he offers a walk towards the manse, Saskia bobs her head in agreement, urging the dog as she moves to follow Fulk. "Better to keep an eye on them, smart move on the Hightowers part." She pauses briefly then decides to surge onwards as she asks, "what made you swear an oath to the princess? Was it the way she faced the dragon? I hear an oath is a heavy burden and one with unbreakable chains, so why chain yourself?"

Looking mildly taken aback, but not uninterested, to be embarking on this particular conversation, Ser Fulk makes a vague, moderating gesture. "Weeell…there are oaths and oaths…princesses n' princesses…n' rest assured, a'think mine 've lined up pretty luckily of late. If I were not the princess's man…I should not be here, for a start." He doesn't, quite, elaborate on the sense of that yet. "'Tany rate. The Princess is high-hearted…affectionate…impulsive…quick to anger and sorrow and sweetness and loyalty…and wi'out o'er much regard for the letter o' the law. When trouble comes," and he smirks merrily, as if it hasn't come already, "she's bound to be more of a shield than a chain to me."

"Mm, you have a point there I hadn't considered," Sera murmurs thoughtfully. "What you say makes sense." She falls silent once more as another thought weighs heavily on her mind. Finally, with a sidelong glance towards Fulk, Saskia finally voices it. "There is another matter I wish to discuss. While I am grateful for all that you have done for me, Ser Fulk, you know as well as I do that you should recant the knighthood. No one would take it seriously either way and your spurs are far more effective on you than off you."

"A verra pious conception o' yours," Ser Fulk answers with an uneasy but still light-hearted grin, "and not one I hadn' expected. But the way I see it, you got the wrong end o' the stick."

He pauses in their promenade and leans up against the Targaryen manse again, in an exaggeratedly leisurely fashion, raising a foot in the air.

"Quite apart from the fact I may've thrown a tourney to put a Whate'er before yer name…don't y'see the spurs are still upon me? And a septon can't preach 'em off. On the contrary, he said, as I heard it, if I submitted then he'd strip me, demand penance, and leave me out in the cold till I'd 'proved m'self worthy', or summat. Happens I think 'm worthy already. If…when…a'defy that old ranter, I'm a knight o' the royal house. Y'know, the House that, if y'pardon me, fucks its sisters whate'er the Faith says about it. I don't see 'em managin' to touch me."

She can't help but grin at his words. "You do enjoy causing not a ripple but a wave." Saskia stops by the manse as well, resting a shoulder against the wall while she crosses her arms, facing Fulk. Squid moves over towards one of the walls and begins to sniff before lifting a leg to piss. Saskia watches him absent-mindedly as she continues. "I would still rather you keep what reputation you can. Princess Visenya was not exactly happy with words said about her and there is no need to add fire to the mix, y'know?" She exales before shaking her head. "Titles mean nothing to me. I knew I was never going to be a Knight and even if I was no one would give two shits about it or give it its due. Recant, it won't change anything for me but it will keep your status and the Princess'."

"The Princess will see me right," Fulk replies with granitic stubborness, a bearded lower lip thrust forth, "sooner than the maniacs, hypocrites and lick-spittles over yonder," he puts his head to one side towards the sept, "ever will. Y'don't know them like I do, m'…Saskia. Y'have to fight them every inch, ev'ry way you can, or they crush you. Like they crushed…no more of that," he cuts himself short suddenly. "The safest way a'can keep my spurs is to do nought, I'm sure of it, of old. I'm sorry for the catcalls thrown after yer, that's all. If anyone higher 'n six inches tall tries that kinda thing, let me know, and we'll discipline the braggart together…"

"Catcalls were hardly the worst I have received since I started with Ser Sol, he had done much for me but he had also to endure much in doing so." She murmurs those words with a small, faint smile of fondness. "You do remind me of him. I can't force ya, I understand takin' it back is just as bad since it means you have to back down. Just sayin' you after consider if its worth it, grateful as I am for receivin' it." She glances down the street were the boys were hanging out earlier. "You're right, I didn't deal with'em much growin' up…I avoided the highborns because I figured they were trouble." Now is a different story it seems. "What of Princess Elionys? Heard much of her?"

"The highborns are good and bad, like most men and women," Fulk points out sagely, "n' the Maesters o' the Citadel are better than most. But those of the Faith…they preach pure selflessness and devotion, and they've strayed from that ever more as the years go by." It seems this is a subject upon which Ser Fulk is not moved even in the slightest to mirth, and, by the same token, he seems to care deeply about it. No doubt there is a tale here bound up with the Seven-Pointed Star, transfixed by a bleeding dagger, upon his surcoat.

As to the other Princess, he shrugs. "Y'can't expect dragons to all live t'gether in perfec' harmony, and gossip has it that my Princess and that Elionys don' get on. But several others say she's kindly enough. Fast friends to Ser Aevander, the head o' the family hereabouts, and to that Blackwood we both tangled with, a 'think."

"Makes me glad my family was small," she mutters though there is a little grin. She turns to lean her shoulders back against the wall as she watches the street, reaching up to swipe her black hair away from her face and eyes. "A shield," she repeats thoughtfully before sliding her eyes back towards Fulk. "You seem to have had a run-in with the Septons before, you certainly seem to speak with experience at least. What's the story behind that one?"

Ser Fulk looks cagey, and almost angered, though not necessarily at Saskia…mayhaps at the world in general…even the gods. "Y'say Stormbrew raised you up. A knight, and a true'un in his way. Well, I wasn' raised by a knight. I was taught m'letters, some herbcraft, a prayer or two, by my uncle, a septon. A good septon, a damn good one. And they let him die for it. The Most Devout Artorian call't me decadent, might be a heretic. They named my old uncle a heretic too, n' they hanged him for't."

Saskia blinks at that, pushing away from the wall to stand straighter as she looks at Fulk. "They called him a heretic for teachin' ya to read and a little side lessons? Or was there another reason? Fuck." She pauses before peering at him. "And hey, at least ya can read," she offers with a little grin.

Fulk can't help but laugh at that, if somewhat bleakly. "Wasn' quite so infamous as that back then, m'dear, no! His kindness was no crime. Not to me, 'tany rate. But it may well be," and now his smile fades again, "that his superiors had noticed he was too well liked by half. Respecc'ed throughout the village. Looked to by all. Not afraid to speak his mind. Our old knight liked him well enough, true…but the nearby lords, they didn'…and the Most Devout hardly took it well when he spoke the truth. That the Faith is sick, has long been sick, n' needs to be renewed, root n' branch, like a garden grown outta hand. That within the spun crystal o' the Starry Sept, a corrupt fruit has long syne begun to fester." And by now, indeed, Ser Fulk does not sound unlike a septon himself…or a radical roadside preacher, anyway…

She falls silent at first, just listening as she watches him intently. Pressing her lips into a thin line, she drags her ice blue eyes away as she leans back against the wall. Crossing her arms once more, she continues with a more somber tone. "I saw a red priestess out by the docks. She was makin' fire out of nothin'. Claimed she followed the lord of the light or somethin'. It was a mighty demonstration." A snort escapes from her at that. "I've never been one who thought about the gods, who or what they are, all I knew was how to cuss their various parts. Everyone's got their proofs and their miracles, but no one seems to know shit about'em either."

The old hedge knight…for he's still all too obviously a hedge knight at heart…casts a soft, sad, almost pitying look directly upon Saskia's solemn face. "N' I could understand that well, Saskia. But once you've known a truly godly man…you know to recognise the false'uns. How to resist 'em, too, with every breath in yer. I may know little of the life hereafter, but I'm indeed damned if I can' do more, much more, to aid the life today of innocent, virtuous, Seven-fearin' folk than his Most Devotedhood Artorian or his ilk."

Her eyebrows quirk upwards at that before she actually laughs. "Of all the things I have considered when it came to you, Ser Fulk, piety or spirituality was not one of them. You surprise me." She then pushes off the wall once more as she stretches her arms high above her head, slipping up to her tiptoes and arching her back to crack it in more than a few places. "Aaah, but nevermind all this god talk. It is enough to drive many insane. Only certainty in life is death, and even then I have heard of others who have conquered it. Drink! Drink is a certainty in life."

"Well, it is on m'shield, if y'look hard enough," Ser Fulk teases, if in a slightly muted tone compared to his recent, fervid enthusiasm. "But aye. That we can agree on. Let's a find a nice friendly establishment where you couldna smell incense for ale." And, with an amused, almost shy little grimace of a smile, he offers an arm to the 'lady-knight'!

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