(121-05-20) Opportunity Knocks
Opportunity Knocks
Summary: Eomer decides to help young, wide-eyed Delwyn reunite with his long lost family. For purely altruistic reasons, of course.
Date: May 20, 2014
Related: none

Tooth and Nail — Oldtown

This squalid winesink never closes — somebody broke the front door, probably with an ax, years ago. It doesn't latch, and it'd not even a complete door. Bad weather can leak in through its broken edges. There are a few battered tables, and stools and benches or just empty barrels to sit on. The furniture, such as it is, doesn't match and is probably mostly stolen. It doesn't last long in here. The place has a dirt floor strewn with straw and rushes. They don't appear to have been changed for decades and they emit a dank smell.

The drink is cheap, the food cheaper, and the whores may be cheapest of all.

For a penny one can sleep, or do any other thing, on the second floor. It's drier up there. However, it is all one room and there are neither beds nor a limit to how many 'guests' are sold lodging there each night.

This is the kind of place Delwyn can afford. Barely. A room for the night, maybe two, and a bowl of whatever is in the pot. Another penny to ask someone to find this Eomer person. So Delwyn waits, not sure if his penny will be wasted or if the man will really come. He stares at the bowl on the table in front of him, and he pokes at it with a crust of bread.

For a penny, someone can find Eomer, who was frequenting a place miiildly classier than the Tooth and Nail. Hey, we all fall on hard times. He steps into the place, immediately notable for his superior quality of clothes and his full set of teeth. The lad that brought him gestures towards Delwyn, and Eomer glances in that direction, brows lifting, before heading over to the blond chap.

Delwyn looks up, and he smiles hopefully. For smallfolk, he's rather healthy himself. If he knew any better, he'd say it's breeding. There are of course a few bedbug bites, hands rough from a lifetime of working with them. Some things are unavoidable. However, compared to many of the patrons here, he's practically aglow. "Are you him?" he says, and his accent is pure Riverlander. "The man they said could help me?"

"Well, I'm Eomer," he so named replies, squinting a little as he peers at Delwyn. "Who, um… who might you be, then?"

Delwyn rises from his seat and brushes crumbs off his shirt. "I'm Delwyn," he says. "The weaver. A weaver, sorry. I, ah, hello!" His attention strays to Alis as she comes in, and he blinks a few times, then looks back to Eomer. "I heard you could help me."

Eomer's brows flip for that 'oi!' but after this much time in the undercity, he doesn't bother looking over his shoulder. He looks, instead, at Delwyn, blinking slowly. "It's… possible," he offers. "What is it you need help with, Delwyn the weaver?"

Delwyn gestures for Eomer to sit before he takes his own eat again. He pats down a messenger's pouch on his belt. The belt looks new at least, and rather fancy. He extracts a piece of paper. Just the one. The rest are elsewhere. "I was hoping you could…" He clears his throat, and he half-mumbles the words, "…readthisforme."

Oh. Sitting. Eomer looks at the options and chooses one of the upturned barrels with only a bit of a shudder. He accepts the piece of parchment, silently looking the thing over before speaking anything aloud. Best to know what's being said and all.

<FS3> Delwyn rolls Heraldry: Good Success.

Delwyn watches Eomer intently. He bristles with energy, but he's patient. One might get the impression he could sit there perked up and curious all day. The piece of paper he's handed over has seen better days. Worse days, actually. It was on fire at some point in its life, but most of it is intact. The paper that has survived is worn yellow and dry with age. "There is more," he says after a moment. "Upstairs." He gestures to a corner of the paper that has burned away. "That's House Tarth. The white crescent on blue. It's faded, but you can see it."

Eomer looks over the paper, handling it gently to keep the poor, bettered thing from falling apart entirely. He squints at the white and blue spot, considering it. "Yes… it looks like it well could be." Then he falls quiet to actually read the letter to himself.

What can be read of it is from a man to his beloved telling her he has secured transport for her off the island. Of course he must remain, and he is going to save their boy. When it's safe, he will send for her. It goes on to say to have faith, that she is the love of his life, and she mustn't give up hope. The rest is burned away save for that snippet of blue and white and a bare glimpse of pink, so terribly faded. There is a sweeping line from the quill of what must have been an elaborate signature. Delwyn watches, alert but with enough self-control not to fidget.

"Hmmmm," Eomer hums, glancing from the letter to Delwyn. "It's… a love letter of sorts. From a man to a woman he loved dearly. Where did you get this?"

Delwyn's brow furrows, and then he smiles, a broad and guileless grin. Gods help the poor man if he should ever try to gamble. "It was my mother's. There was a fire, and when I was cleaning out the house, it was under the floorboards. She must have hidden it there when I was little."

"Really?" Eomer replies, brows lifting as he considers the letter again. "And you have more of them, you say? More besides this one? None still sealed, I wouldn't imagine, or with the wax stamp still in place?"

Delwyn nods toward the stairs. "Up in my room," he says. "There's one with the wax seal you can see all right if you put the two ends together. It looks like the star on the pink bit of the Tarth shield." Okay, so he knows a little bit of heraldry. Just not the 'words' part. Or that the head of House Tarth is sometimes referred to as the Evenstar.

"Yes, because…" Eomer puffs a small breath and shakes his head. "Nevermind. May I see them? We'd better go somewhere more private to talk. Perhaps the Quill and Tankard? You can get a room with just you in it, there."

Delwyn gets to his feet, pauses, then scoffs down the last of whatever has congealed in the bowl before he puts it down and wipes his mouth on his sleeve. Hey, who can afford to waste food at this social strata? "Sure, let's go on up," he says. To his room, trusting this stranger not to shiv him for the letters and the few pennies he has. The room is barely bigger than a closet. It holds a narrow bed stuffed with straw, probably crawling with bugs, and a barrel to serve as a nightstand with a candlestick on it sans candle. "Maid must've nicked it," he says with a sheepish laugh. He's not so guileless he didn't hide his rucksack under the mattress, so lumpy who would notice? He's flatted it down a bit, too. Drawing it out, he sits down on the bed with enough room for Eomer to join him, if he dares. "She also had a pin," he says. "I'm probably striving too high, but I think I might be a bastard."

"No, no, no," Eomer says as soon as he realizes Delwyn wants to do this here. "No, my young friend. We are reviewing those documents in a place where I don't have to check for fleas. Take your things and lets get out of here before you contract a disease."

Delwyn looks at Eomer with perfect confusion. "Mylord, I don't have anywhere else to go." He rises to his feet, though, clutching the rucksack out of a useless sense of what to do with his hands. "This is all I've got." He quickly adds, "And some coin. Not much, but I'll give you what I have if you can help me."

"Don't be silly, my boy, no need to discuss money, now. We'll go to the Quill and Tankard, I have friends there." No. "They'll get you situated in respectable lodgings as a favor to me." No. "What was your mother's name, lad?"

Delwyn bites his lower lip and one can see he's openly considering the implications. The man has no gambling face. "I don't know how I'll be able to repay you," he says. "Even if I am a bastard, if my father doesn't acknowledge me, it won't mean much." He looks at his sad little bed, considers, then errs on the side of not sleeping on that thing. "Aelyna," he says. "She died in the fire that destroyed the house. But she always told me my father was a tinker who moved on after he had her."

"Don't worry about payment, now," Eomer encourages, backing out of the closet of a room and then, just as quickly, the horrible inn itself. "Aelyna," he repeats. "And how old are you, Delwyn?"

"Eighteen," Delwyn says. Should one pay attention to their Stormlands history, he's about the right age if it wasn't Lady Gwyneth who died, and if she'd been pregnant. Who else could it have been, though? They found her body. If Lord Tarth had a piece on the side, though… Delwyn follows. "Do you think it's possible, my lord? I don't want to get my hopes up." But from his bright eyes and that broad grin, he already is. There is some serious dimpling going on with that grin.

"I think it's possible," Eomer agrees, with careful emphasis on the word, "but let's not jump to any conclusions. Ugh, I need a shower just stepping into the festering pustule of an inn." He brushes imaginaries parasites off his sleeves as they walk. "Just keep a calm head, lad. I won't be able to say anything for sure until I've seen more of those letters."

"Eighteen," Delwyn says. Should one pay attention to their Stormlands history, he's about the right age if it wasn't Lady Gwyneth who died, and if she'd been pregnant. Who else could it have been, though? They found her body. If Lord Tarth had a piece on the side, though… Delwyn follows. "Do you think it's possible, my lord? I don't want to get my hopes up." But from his bright eyes and that broad grin, he already is. There is some serious dimpling going on with that grin.

"I think it's possible," Eomer agrees, with careful emphasis on the word, "but let's not jump to any conclusions. Ugh, I need a shower just stepping into the festering pustule of an inn." He brushes imaginaries parasites off his sleeves as they walk. "Just keep a calm head, lad. I won't be able to say anything for sure until I've seen more of those letters."

Delwyn nods, and his hair flips back and forth. He does look a bit self-conscious though at Eomer's assessment of the inn. It's what he could afford. He lowers his gaze, and he follows with a, "Yes, my lord." He starts to say something else, quiets himself, and instead says, "I can't thank you enough for helping me."

"Think nothing of it," Eomer assures as they make their way out of the city's underbelly and towards a more proper inn. "Ask anybody, they'll tell you I often come to the aid of those in need. Altruism's good for the soul. What brought you to the Reach and Oldtown, then, if you think you belong to House Tarth?"

"The transport I was able to get," Delwyn said. "It was a trader going to Lannisport. I had no money to pay my way to the Stormlands, but there was a ship heading to Oldtown. They let me work, scrubbing floors and such, to pay my way. I figured I would find out the truth while I'm here, if I can, then work until I saved up for passage to Tarth. It's a long way to go and more means than I've got to show up and find out these are fake or that they say nothing."

Eomer 'mmms' softly and nods. "You didn't grow up in the Stormlands, then? Where where you born…" He squints a little, working through the travel Delwyn described. "…Riverlands?"

Delwyn nods quickly and says, "Aye, my lord." He does sound like a Riverlander, more or less. "A little town not far from Riverrun. "It's in the middle of nowhere. No one goes there, and they almost never leave. My mother was a Stormlander though."

"Was she? Did she tell you much of them? Ah, here we are." Eomer breathes a sigh of relief as the reach the Quill and he steps inside. "Hello, Walthem, I've a guest for you. No need to thank me, just put it right on the tab, there's a good lad," the lord calls as he ferries Delwyn up the steps of the establishment. Walthem looks more gawp-jawed and flustered than delighted, but they're up the stairs and into a much cleaner, larger room before the man's sputterings can become anything more. "There, then," Eomer breathes with a smile. "Isn't that better?"

"I'm willing to work," Delwyn tells Walthem over his shoulder as he follows Eomer up the stairs. Once inside the room, he looks around, wide-eyed. "How many people will I be sharing it with?" he asks. "It's really nice." He wanders, looking around at things. He pokes the mattress with a fingertip. Not only does it look comfortable, nothing comes skittering out of it. He scratches at the back of his neck and grimaces. Maybe something already skittered onto him just from being in that old room.

"No, no, you don't share these rooms, this one is just yours," Eomer assures with a fond 'isn't-that-the-cutest-thing' sort of smile for Delwyn's question. "Are you hungry? Thirsty? I can have some proper food and drink brought up."

Delwyn blinks a few times, and he looks disbelieving. He looks around again. "Are you sure?" Then a delighted little laugh escapes. "All of this? Are you sure there's no way I can pay you back? I'll work for you, my lord. I'm a fair tailor but not too proud to say no to scullery." He gingerly takes a seat on a chair, and he sets the satchel on the table it rests beside. "I could eat," he says. "I'm not sure what they had at the other place was food."

"I am quite sure it was not. Anyhow, if you wish to begin a life as a noble, you'll have to learn how to live like one." Eomer opens the door to wave over one of the staff and place an order for wine and food. Whatever dinner specialty is available. "There, it'll be ready, soon. May I have a look at the rest of your letters while we wait?"

"Oh, my lord, I'm not a noble." He shakes his head, and his hair swishes side to side with the gesture. The thick curls could use a comb. And a trim. Definitely a wash. "But if I am a Tarth bastard, I'd like to look presentable when I come to petition my father for recognition." He hesitates a moment, and then he opens up the rucksack and carefully removes a flat, squarish bundle wrapped in soft kid leather, which he unfolds. Within are about a dozen sheets of paper in various states of having been singed and a pin, burnished gold, in the shape of the starburst in Tarth's heraldry. It survived the fire just fine, thankfully. "This is all of it," Delwyn says. "I could sell the in for money to travel, but I'd rather not. I think it belonged to her."

"Hmm," Eomer murmurs, considering the pin. "It's good you didn't." He looks through the letters if Delwyn will hand them over, skimming them for names and general content. "Which one had the broken crest? Keep that in good order, that'll be important."

Delwyn offers over the letters, though not all at once. The reluctance doesn't speak to any particular suspicion above and beyond what one would expect. He just looks so unwilling to let them go even for a little while. The first letter is in someone else's hand from the one Delwyn handed over first. The note is short and sweet, 'It is not safe to return, and I regret to inform you that your Lord Husband is dead. All is chaos here. I can hear them at the door. After you read this, destroy it and flee the Stormlands. Your faithful servant, Elwin Storm.'

Eomer's brows shoot high as he reads this first note, but only calmly hands it back and waits for a second. "Interesting," he muses. "Advice to your mother from a friend."

Delwyn grins. "Really?" he says with the delight of a child, or at least a very honest and happy man. "What was the advice?" He offers over more papers. Unfortunately, there is so much fire damage that only snippets can be made out. It's different handwriting from the other two. In one corner there is a partial date, September 1-? Eleventh? Twelfth? The year is obliterated. 'My love, I write to you to keep me sane in these dark days. Even though I know you'll never read these words, I want so much to tell you what you've missed since you've been gone. There is life within me. I felt the first kick last night….' In another bit, '…know how they do it, living within such small means. I'm afraid I'm useless as a cook and have had to scrub dishes to feed us.' It's a lonely, grieving widow's letter to her dead husband, never to be sent. Delwyn next offers over the letter with the seal. If one puts the two bits together, one can make out the familiar starburst pattern. The letter itself is from Lord Tarth letting the recipient know that he has arrived safely back at home.

"Oh, um, travel advice. Bad winds, she should move before the storm comes," Eomer replies for the advice. The second letter he makes out what he can and then shakes his head. "Not sure," he replies, "Too damaged to make much out." He returns the time and holds a hand out for the next.

Delwyn's lips purse. He doesn't hide the disappointment on his features when the long cluster of papers turn out to be a bust. The letter with the intact seal is offered over, and the last bundle. This one is pay dirt as far as things like incriminating evidence is concerned. It is written by Elwin Storm, who claims he is half-brother to the Evenstar, and these words will be his last account, as he is to be executed for treason in the morning. His 'treason' was refusing to lie with 'the usurper's' wife to get her with a child he can claim is his own. Elwin Storm writes from a prison cell with ink that was smuggled in.
In the missive, he says that Lord and Lady Tarth are mourned as dead, and that he knows the body of Tarth's wife was not her own. He doesn't know where it came from, but it was mutilated beyond recognition, and he feels it's no accident. Lord Tarth's brother has adopted his nephew to raise as his own, but he fears for the boy's safety should the new Lord Tarth finally be able to procreate and get a child of his own line. Or, as his own predicament shows, can get someone who looks enough like him to do the job for him.
The letter has its scathing bits. Elwin Storm is understandably bitter about the way things have turned out. He's sent along the murdered Lord Tarth's brooch in case she ever hast he means to challenge the new one's rule. The letter ends with the words, 'These are dark days, my lady, and though they may seem unending, even Winter, at some point, must give way to Spring.'

Eomer reads this last missive, chewing on his bottom lip. He's quiet for a long moment after, gently replacing the bundle of letters and rubbing a hand over his mouth. "Well, that last one cinched it. You, my boy, are surely Tarth blood."

Delwyn lets out his breath with a laugh, and he claps his hands over his mouth. He then rises his feet, knocking the chair over as he does. "I knew it! I knew it in my bones all along. My da had to be someone important." What child in his predicament doesn't think that? When there's no food on the table and the neighbors look at him and just shake their heads. "I'll get to work immediately so I can save the money I need to get passage. Should I take a ship or go overland? I've never been to Tarth. I don't even know what it's like." He laughs again.

"Oh, now, waaaaait just one minute, there, lad. You've a great deal ahead of you before you go romping off to Tarth. If you want to be accepted by your family, you're going to have to prove to them you know how nobility should behave, dress, speak." There's a knock at the door. "Eat." Eomer returns the last letter and stands to open the door and collect the tray which holds wine and a succulent herb-braised chicken with fingerling potatoes, buttered broccoli and spiced corn.

Delwyn whistles as he sees the food. "All this?" he says. "All of this is for me?" He picks up the chair and parks himself in it. His eating leaves so much to be desired. He eats with his fingers, and he chews with his mouth open or at least with no effort to close it. He eats a bit like a dog that's missed a meal or two along the way, scoffing the fine food down. The wine he tosses back like ale. "I suppose that'll impressive them enough to accept me? Do you think?"

"It's likely," Eomer muses, "quite likely. Oh, but we have our work cut out of us." He tsks softly and shakes his head as the boy inhales his food like a wee, toe-headed cyclone.

Food goes in da mouf! "Yes?" he says around a mouthful of broccoli, which he washes down with a gulp of wine. "I don't know anything about being a noble," he admits. Munch munch munch. "I know you say things like my lord and my lady, and you address a knight a Ser. You live in big houses and eat good things. I imagine it must be nice." There's no resentment in his voice as he says the words, either. Just, you know, living in a big house with good food does sound like a sweet gig.

"Well…" Eomer allows, "it is rather nice. But there's a great deal you'll need to learn. No father is going to claim you if he's afraid he'll be embarrassed by you. Which means for now, you must stay here in Oldtown and I shall have to arrange to have you taught how to behave in fine company."

Delwyn blinks a few times, and his enthusiasm simmers down a few notches. He looks down at himself, wipes his hand on the back of his sleeve, and says, "You're right. I can show up looking like this." He pushes his empty plate away and takes another nerve-calming guzzle of wine. He's had more than enough and then some. "Erf. I'm a little light-headed, Ser Eomer. Is that right? Is it Ser?" He shakes his head as if to clear it, then smiles the lazy smile of someone who has had too much good food and alcohol too quickly. "I will learn. Wait. Yes." For now, though, he will probably need a lie down and most definitely a bath.

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