(121-05-24) Sigils and Ghost Ships
Sigils and Ghost Ships
Summary: Riderch visits Samael, and the two men consider the case of The Everfull Cup.
Date: May 24, 2014
Related: none, directly

The Hightower — Battle Island

The great tower is all of white stone, ancient and beautiful. This lowest tier is quite wide and grand enough for any palace. There are two stories of this widest and lowest one. The tower has a narrower tier above, and a circular balcony-garden on the roof-space left unoccupied.

The ground floor is dominated by this grand receiving hall, and the great main doors lead directly to it. High windows let in light that reflects off the white stone walls and makes the space airy and bright. It is here that the Lord of Hightower holds his local court, from a large chair on a tall wooden dais. Both chair and dais are carved with images of the tower itself, and with dolphins and sea-dragons. They are inlaid with stones of white and grey, and decorated with silver-leaf. There's space for the Lord's councillors to sit alongside him, but visitors seeking audience must stand.

Past this grand hall there is a wide gracious stone stairway allowing access to the higher levels. Hidden behind the wall behind it and to and on one side, ramps allow wagon-loads of firewood for the beacon to be hauled up.

It's a warm day, so the large stone tower actually does an appreciable job of keeping the inside comfortably cool, despite the mugginess outside. Lord Samael Hightower is resting at one of the desks in the parlor, writing in one of the small notebooks he perpetually has on his person, a bit of ink smudging his fingers and one cuff.

It's one of those days where you have to dust off the old grime, and avoid the clothing with copious winestains and chicken grease. Fortunately, Riderch Blackwood has understood this principle. It's not the first time he's loitered around the Hightower but today he has not waited long.

He's clad in a fine linen belted tunic befitting a meeting with the local court. His bootsteps echo against the stone as he approaches, in a grand effect.

Samael lifts his head as he hears those bootsteps and then one of the servants announces 'Ser Riderch Blackwood, my lord." He sets the quill down, wipes his hands and stands with a nod. "Ser Riderch, welcome. Please come in. What may I do for you?"

It is a warm day, and Riderch is without his ridiculous cloak for once. He reaches for an article about his shoulders that isn't actually there, and it looks just a bit off, for a second. He pauses a moment as he studies Samael in the distance.

"Lord Hightower? Thank you for receiving me. I received a message indicating someone here wished for me to provide a statement on the — merchant ship that was found and hauled in? Although I imagine anyone who currently has it impounded would know as much as I would." His lips take on a rueful expression, implying exactly what he is saying. He's a good sport about it though, "But I'll help any way I am able in this matter."

"Ah, yes, of course!" Samael replies, his blue eyes brightening as Riderch mentions the ship. "Princess Elionys and some of the women of the house have spoken with little Pate, and we've learned what he could from the boy. Understandably, he has difficulty recounting the subject. I'd like to hear what you observed upon finding it, as well. And, there is the matter of that symbol etched here and there on the planks…"

The lips on Ser Riderch's face twitch a bit, as his smile becomes a bit more lopsided as Samael recounts the status of the boy and his current situation. "He — well, he seemed afraid of armed men to the point of panic. I saw the boy coming at Ser Prospero Storm with a blade he could barely lift, screaming the whole time. Under better circumstances it would have been funny and I hope the little man's recovering." But the smile just fades. "The Princess told me. Red shields. Blood-red shields. Like they were painted as such. I'm not so well-versed in heraldry that I can go through the names of anyone who would carry them offhand, but I suppose if you're a band of murderous pirates you may not be in a book."

He waves his left hand a little bit dismissively. "It's a shame, too. Our minds first went to list off a list of Ironmen families. Other than the Greyjoys, of course. Ones that might not have good sense." His eyes drift a little bit to and fro, it's no secret that there are Iron Islanders present in this court here and there. "Of course, the Mallister men were happy to still present that as a continued possibility." Smile fights its way back in some small motion. "I would too, but I don't — we don't know what we were dealing with. Did you do a full account of the cargo? Because it looked like there were valuables in that ship that were just flat-out ignored. And why? The dead looked dead for several days' time. And then there was this mark. This strange thing written in blood on the deck. And on the hull walls in the cabin." He starts tracing a fingertip through the air as if half-remembering it.

"No I… I doubt it's Ironborn," Samael muses with a small shake of his head, fingers rubbing against his mouth. "The sigil was… mmm…" his eyes narrow as he thinks on how to describe it. "It's supposed to be High Valyrian, I think. It's sort of similar to High Valyrian. Or, rather, it's similar to High Valyrian if the person who wrote it hasn't actually seen or written much High Valyrian. I don't think an Ironborn band would be trying to emulate anything Valyrian. And the fact that the sigil was such a poor quality, and that sigils are an Andal tradition, suggests whoever leads this group of men is not very well educated. He's just cobbling bits and pieces of myths together to suit whatever he thinks he's doing." He nods. "You're right, ser, that little of value was actually taken, though nearly everything was ransacked. So either they were searching for something they did not find or they only wished to make the attack seem related to theft. I have several men going over the recovered goods and comparing them to the manifest to pinpint what, precisely, was actually taken. So far, it seems only a bit of food and a few practical items."

"This is simultaneously too strange and too debased for them." Riderch nods his head in agreement, almost immediately, and Samael might be able to detect a /twinge/ of reluctance in admitting this. He does the bulk of the listening now as he stands, ever-so-often fingering his chin with an idle scratch.

"The symbol sort of — I can actually see that, now that you describe it in such a way. Your eyes tend to play tricks on you when things seem dangerous, and I'll admit it was not something I wanted to stare at for too long. But I suppose were this some sort of 'penmanship…'" Musing aloud, he takes a few steps idly before he realizes what he is doing and comes to a complete stop.' "Sometimes all a history is is a cobbled-together series of myths and tales, Lord." He offers. He's a fanciful soul, if not always helpful with said fancy. The bemused smile he shoots the man fades though as he sighs and tears his attention to the more practical and immediate sides. "I know about the cargo, though! We looked up and down on that ship for anyone else who might have been there. Survived. A dead perpetrator, something? The thing was barely guarded though." This is the opinion of someone who probably listens to Mallisters in all things seafaring. "What I think? There's one goal here. Spread fear. But who? There've been other issues with shipping too, of late, all along the western coast. But so far, no hard evidence of an enemy's hand."

"Perhaps this is the first, then," Samael replies. "We know where they were headed and we know the men were dead a few days before you found them. I want to speak with a couple of the maesters of the citadel and see if we can't determine, with tides and timeframes as we have them, where this ship was attacked. That should show us an area to send a ship or two to explore for ourselves. Perhaps the Mallisters might wish to assist in this venture as well."

"It may be. The Citadel would likely be my first destination for all of this." Riderch offers, wearily. A great sigh puffs in his chest and is released in a sharp exhale. The offer of further action does perk him up a little. "I cannot speak for my cousin's house, Lord Hightower. But I'll relay this to him. And, hmm, related parties." He's choosing these words carefully here as he tries to avoid overly saying anything about Justyn's mantles of responsibility. But then there's this!

"Unofficially I can state that I suspect they'd be more than willing, though. My family, theirs, and a few others recently lost a great trading cog that departed Seagard several months ago. And apparently even they found a ship from what I heard, although this was not looted and there were supposedly no bodies aboard. My own mother is going to be travelling those sea-lanes as we speak, so you can understand I am concerned as anyone in House Costayne's halls, or yours, My Lord." He scraches his chin again, as the man demonstrates a consistent idle habit.

"Excellent, thank you, Ser Riderch, for playing ambassador to the Mallisters in this matter. I am sure the voice or a relative will be heard more keenly than any other," Samael replies with an approving nod. He frowns faintly as another cog, minus crew, is mentioned. "I was in Essos when that happened, I've only heard snips of it. The crew was… gone… they say?"

"Well, gratitude is appreciated, My Lord, but in truth, I am not sure it would take much to motivate them. Their entire seat of power in the west stems from a singular purpose — to motivate I — pirates." Another shifty-eyed glance about the court to take stock of who's who. Particularly if one of Greyjoy or Volmark's men are about, it wouldn't take much to guess. "into not being pirates. With fire and steel if necessary." Blackwood's teeth flash merrily, which does everything to indicate to Samael that he shares this certain passion. "My own family has a history of them too, but I'm sure we're not here to rattle on about who did what to whom over the centuries." Nope.

On to the other matter though. "I heard it second-hand from some gossiping sailors, gossiping with my squire. It was just sitting there. Having sailed out of Lannisport and bound for here. And nothing was touched, no blood, violence, they were just gone. It ended adrift up there. You hear stories of things going wrong on the shore sometimes. Sometimes the land seems haunted…" He trails off, unsure. It does sound like he comes across as a bit of a crazy man here. "Well, that's probably not relevant either."

"Intriguing," Samael muses, his fingers tapping against his chin. "It went completely the opposite direction? Hmm… quite intriguing." He falls silent, swirling in his own thoughts a moment before he says, "I'll visit the citadel this afternoon. I'll send word or letter with what I learn, and when we have a location, we can direct a few ships there. If we disguise one as a small, unarmed merchant vessel, perhaps we'll lure these brigands out of their crevice again."

"She did. It was up to chance that she was even found there, and it was apparently just found by fishermen. Intriguing is one way to put it." The teeth of a slightly-feral grin flash again as Riderch's mind is snapped back to the present, and considers the reality of the situation. "Once we find their pattern, load the vessel with enough armed men to burn down a hold?" He snaps his fingers. "I assure you, if you wish my assistance in this, I'd be more than happy to lend my own arm. Especially if my mother is at sea at that point. I'd turn the sea bloody red myself." It's a ridiculous boast. But it's also presented as a promise.

"Please do — I wish you luck at the Citadel and I would welcome all requests. I can't really accomplish the business I'm attending to without this matter being resolved."

Samael nods, "More or less," he agrees, "though captives would be preferable to a wholesale slaughter. These people have some plan in mind. You don't instill fear unless you plan to use it. Then, when I know more, you shall be informed. Thank you, very much, Ser Riderch, for visiting and speaking with me."

"Point taken." Riderch says, after a second or two of presumably careful reflection. "Forgive that little outburst. I sometimes have a tendency to react to certain things in a certain way. This sounds a little more — prudent, what you are suggesting." It's a slight apology that was probably not needed, but he offers it a simple nicety, bowing his head.

"Thank you for taking the time to do so, my Lord. Hopefully this is the beginning of a very successful endeavour for both of us." His smile returns as he looks about the chamber. "If you will excuse me. Good Fortune, My Lord." And with that, he wheels about on his bootheels and wordlessly makes his way towards the exit of this place.

And indeed, Ser Riderch Blackwood departs, but not before passing through the House Hightower's sitting room, where he surveys the fine array of refreshments. There is some kind of spice cake that gets palmed. Whatever, they're for guests, right?

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