(121-05-11) Hideaway
Summary: Malena finds Samael in one of his 'thinking spots'.
Date: May 11, 2014
Related: None

Beacon - The Hightower — Battle Island

At the top of the narrow upper stairway, there's a trap-door. It is not flat against the roof, but at an angle so it can shed water into a groove to run off the edge of the tower. In good weather, it's kept open. A second low structure houses the lift that brings firewood up from the stockpile up at the top of the wider tiers well below. It also serves as a shelter for the tenders in wind and poor weather. Two men are always up here, unloading wood and feeding the fire when necessary.

The great fire dwarfs the structures, the men, and the little waist-high iron railing around the edge of the tower top. The beacon burns in cage of its own, the bars huge and heavy pillars of stone, with a conical roof over it to stop the rain from dampening the flames. It is kept constantly blazing, a bright bonfire some twenty feet tall, fed by logs and oil and wind.

The view is staggering. This is the tallest man-made structure in the world, and up here one stands eight hundred feet above the soil of Battle Island. The city is laid out below, stretching to the North, curving around the mouth of the Honeywine and seeming small compared to the distance of countryside one can see from here. The Whispering Sound opens to the South, widening into the sea.

It's a hot and cloudy day, so sitting beside a giant fire is probably not the wisest thing Samael has ever done. But the view is astounding, the sound of the pair of guards tossing wood onto the fire has a pleasant, dependable rhythm as does the click-clack of the lift that brings fresh firewood to the beacon to replenish what has been used. It's a place Samael has come to think ever since he was large enough to make the climb all the way up those many steps, and when one cannot find him anywhere else, the beacon is a pretty good bet.

Just now, the youngest of Lord Otto's brothers sits with his back against the low railing and his ever-present notebook open. He's sketching in it with charcoal, copying a piece of dried herb he holds in his other hand.

Years ago, it might have been that Malena wouldn't know where to find him when he vanished, but at some point this hiding place was discovered, and now it's among the first places she looks when he can't be found in the more normal haunts. A familiar blonde head appears through the trapdoor first, twisting around to catch a glimpse of the man leaning against the railing, and only then does she make her way all the way up. She doesn't offer up a greeting, but instead just approaches and settles against the railing beside him.

It takes a few minutes for Samael's focus to wane enough that he becomes aware of company. And then his vividly blue eyes blink slowly, his head lifts and he sets his charcoal into his lap, reaching a hand back to rub at the nape of his neck and the crick he put there by sitting so for too long. The motion smears smudgy charcoal fingerprints over his skin. Finally, he looks over at his companion and offers his wife a small smile. "It can't be dinner, yet, it's too bright, even with the cloud cover. Is there something else I've forgotten?"

Malena waits, accustom to this period in which his brain has to catch up to his surroundings, gaze on the fire and the men that tend it in the meantime. "It's not. Not yet," she replies, finally turning her head to look over at him. "You've been up here for a while," she points out, as though that explains why she's looking for him.

"Oh, have I?" Samael asks, looking past the fire and up to the sky as if the clouds might offer some sort of time for him to read. "It seemed a good afternoon to further my notes on the local flora."

"Yes," Malena replies as she folds her arms across her chest. "Your daughter was trying to find you, but I think she gave up and is now on a pony out by the stables." She leans in closer to look down at the book, but the truth is she hasn't much interest in it, it's just a thing to do when she isn't sure what else to say.

"Oh," Samael replies softly. "Well. I'll make it up to her later, then." He blinks down at his nearly finished sketch as Malena does. "It's an herb," he explains. "Good for stomach aches as a tincture or tea, but too strong and it causes painful cramping. I'd like to determine if the same element of the plant is both remedy and toxin. If not, it may be the beneficial component can be separated and purified."

"I'm sure she'll be glad of it," Malena replies as she straightens and turns to look off at the fantastic view behind him. "Ah," another glances down at the sketch. "I'm sure that you'll work out how to do that," a vague leading gesture is made. "Somehow."

"Somehow," Samael agrees, his tone wry for the difficulty of the task he's set himself. "Are you glad to be home, Malena?"

"Yes." Malena leans forward, resting her elbows on the rail as her gaze goes back to the breathtaking view of the city. "It's nice to be in a place where I can understand everything that's being said to me."

"Funny," Samael muses with a quiet chuckle, "I'm not sure I've ever found such a place. It is beautiful, though, isn't it. Oldtown. At least from this high up."

"You only need listen," Malena points out with a mild pursing of her lips. "Without your nose being in a book at the same time. It helps with the hearing," or at least the paying attention. Not that there is truly any venom behind the words, it's an old thing pointed out many times over the years, and now it just sounds a bit tired.

"I don't know how I'd find the time," Samael replies, completely sincerely.

"I'm sure we could come up with something," Malena's reply is dry, but as before, it's without much oomph. "Could you not hold off on your studies for a short while?" she asks. "We've only just got here, and I could use your help in seeing everything settled. I'm sure we've friends who will want to pay a visit."

There is a wince from Samael at the word settled and a larger one at friends, but he exhales softly, bowing his head. "If you wish it, Malena," he allows softly.

It is the wince, both of them, and the sigh that grates at Malena in a way that few things can, that frustrates her so very often. "You could try to be sociable on occasion, Samael. You could try." Fingers curl in against the rail, gripping tight to it, tight enough for her knuckles to go pale beneath the force. "But if it's too much of an effort to do even that much, don't concern yourself with it, I will see to it as usual."

"I do try," Samael argues, though his voice remains soft. "I'm just not very good at such things. Just… let me have until dinner. When the sun goes down, I'll put my work away for a few days. All right?"

Malena opens her mouth to reply, to lob back the same old fight that's been a fight since almost the day they married. Today, she doesn't, and instead exhales. "Fine, until dinner tonight. I'm going to hold you to that, Samael," she warns, which could mean any number of things will happen if he doesn't keep to his part of the deal. It's probably best not to think too deeply about it.

It's a shame 'not thinking deeply' is one of those things at which Samael is rather bad. Still, he offers his wife a small nod of agreement to this new deal. "I'll see you tonight, then."

It is a shame, but either it's not something Malena considered, or it's something she did consider, and that's why she said it. With her, sometimes it can be hard to tell. Especially for Samael. "Very well," she says, pushing away from the rail. "I'll see you at dinner." With that, she turns to make her way back down from this high spot in the tower.

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