(121-11-02) A Hightower and a Hero

Oldtown Square

This is a small cobblestone market square, packed with people from all walks of life in Oldtown. Food vendors offer sizzling, toothsome-smelling dishes, and peddlers offering every sort of thing one can possibly buy with coin line the cobbled walkways, with carpets, weapons, wines, scrolls, armor, cloth, tools, cookware, and myriads of cheap trinkets sure to please.

There is a general babble of voices and chatter as the city folk try to negotiate with the sharp street vendors of Oldtown, and the occasional scuffle as the City Watch snatch up pickpockets and cutpurses from the crowd.

There are some worn stone benches here and there, and grassy swards for the smallfolk to gather upon. In the center of the square stand a set of four heavy wooden pillories, where wrongdoers are frequently held fast for public punishment.

Oldtown is a city fallen ill, and though the sickness has proven capable of transcending the boundaries of the social hierarchy, the few noblemen and women visiting the square have taken the precaution of traveling with their guards. The lowborn, after all, view them with some scorn; the rich can afford to explore remedies the poor cannot, for want of means and resources. It lends a subdued, vaguely hostile air to the marketplace, which usually bustles with a brisk trade.

A tall blonde woman in a pretty samite gown is visiting the stall of a vendor of herbs, barks, oils, extracts and other oddities, whose origins vary from local to wildly exotic and impossible to procure. She is trailed by an armed man wearing the colors of House Hightower, whose watchful eye travels her vicinity warily.

Camillo carries a beaten satchel with him as he walks into the square from Old Street. He stops when he sees a group of ill beggards on the edge of the square, and passes one of them some herbs from a smaller pouch he takes from the satchel. He exchanges a word or two with them, and looks over his shoulder at the herb vendor's stall.

Lynesse speaks with the merchant in High Valyrian. He is an Essosi trader, and his wares are as diverse as his prices are high, thanks to the desperate demand the spreading sickness has inspired. Even items she knows to lack any proper medicinal property command a small fortune. But the language of bartering is universal, and anyone looking on would be able to deduce it's what she's doing. The objects of her current attention are a basket of clippings from an exotic flowered plant and a jar of the thick, tuberous roots of another.

Camillo moves on from the group of beggars. Although he doesn't want to interrupt another's business dealings, his curiosity drives him closer to the herb seller's. He doesn't intrude, but he comes close enough to get a look at the plants.
<FS3> Camillo rolls Herbalism: Failure.

Though they speak in the musical tones of High Valyrian, it's clear that Lynesse's efforts to barter are being met with stern resolution. The vendor knows the advantage of setting the price is on his side, and will not bend even for a beautiful noblewoman. Camillo's approach is marked by her sworn sword, who narrows his gaze but does not interfere, for the moment; his poise implies that he may do just that if the man draws any nearer to his charge. Lynesse is absorbed in her trade, and pays him no mind.
<FS3> Camillo rolls Alertness: Good Success.

Camillo notices the gaze from the guard and stops at more than a respectful distance so as not to put the man any more on guard. Though he does dare to address the lady. "Excuse me, my lady," he says. "If I may…be so bold. Will you tell me the name of those plants?" he asks, nodding at the vegetation on the counter.

The trader has begun to pluck her desired purchases from the table, a sign that they are near accord on the price she will pay. He produces a small wooden crate with slotted compartments, and begins to pack it with the jar of roots, adding a second glass jar of shiny black berries. They have a further brief exchange, and then finally it seems they have made their agreement. She motions for her guard to produce the purse of stags that will pay the price.

Lynesse casts a curious eye in Camillo's direction when he hazards to address her, and she is pleasant, but succint, in her reply. "I know not the names in their proper tongue. They are plants that grow only in the Forest of Qohor." She demurs from naming the berries.
<FS3> Camillo rolls Herbalism: Good Success.

Camillo inclines his head gratefully. "In Qohor, you say," he repeats, to remember better. "Though I may never see it again, will you tell me what it does?" His eyes obviously fall on the berries, but he looks back to Lynesse's face rather than inquire too deeply.
<FS3> Lynesse rolls Deception: Great Success.

Lynesse's face is a mask of pleasant neutrality, and her expression does not so much as flicker when he studies it. "Indeed," she confirms, rather than presume to undertake to give him a lesson in geography, as well as herbology. Instead, what she tells him is, "It is my hope that in concert, the roots will serve to settle the stomach and the leaves of the plant to relieve aching in the chest."

Her guard has paid the vendor, and the vendor has finished packing the crate. Lynesse regards Camillo with a look of mild interest, as if attempting to discern the nature of his inquiry.

Camillo nods once, pausing to give the combination some thought. "A remedy for this plague?" he wonders, thinking to add, "If I may be so bold as to ask, my lady."

Lynesse glances about herself at the question, like she's trying to ensure few will overhear her answer, given the demand for relief of what ails a growing percentage of the population. "As the Mother is merciful, such is my sincerest hope." Her guard clears his throat. Though he would not presume to instruct his charge, it's evident he mislikes her companion in conversation.

"Then may the Seven grant you success," Camillo says, glancing at the guard and taking a step back. "Forgive me," he says. "I have been impertinent, my lady. I'll leave you be."

Lynesse smiles politely, and does not comment on his impertinence; her manners would not countenance it. "And may they grant us both our continued good health," she says in reply, glancing at her guard before taking her leave of the stall, the vendor, and Camillo. The sworn sword falls in behind her, tasked with transporting the crate containing her purchases and safeguarding it, as well as her.

Camillo makes a quick bow and remains where he is so not to cause the guards further consternation, but he keeps an eye on the lady with the poison in tow.

It would seem the lady's anxiety was warranted. In announcing her intentions with her purchases, even as discreetly as she had attempted to, she had attracted unwanted attention. As she and her guard traveled their way through the market square, heading in the southerly direction of the Hightower, a shadowy figure tailed them from a distance, nigh imperceptibly, until his opportunity struck. The guard, who transported the crate beneath the crook of one arm, had cause to employ his sword arm in halting the overly enthusastic approach a commoner seemed to make toward his charge. The distraction was the opening the would-be bandit sought, and he sped toward the guard with eyes for the crate.
<FS3> Camillo rolls Stealth: Good Success.

Camillo sees the figure and closes the distance between himself and the noblewoman's group with speed while remaining unobtrusive. He comes right up behind the footpad, a dagger filling his hand.
<FS3> Lynesse rolls Alertness: Good Success.

Lynesse realizes that her guard has halted, having drifted a bit ahead of him when he paused to deal with the commoner. She turns to investigate what has waylaid him, just barely in time to see him succeed in casting off the commoner, at the expense of leaving himself vulnerable to being set upon by the thief. In the confusion of the commotion, she proves useless in alerting her guard, and the guard himself has yet to realize his predicament.

Camillo sets the point of the dagger against the thief's back, just to the left of his spine, between two ribs. "Be still," he advises, letting the point prick the fellow but not pushing yet.

It stalls the thief, and it gives the guard the moment he needs to reorient himself to the present threat. Caught between the point of Camillo's blade and the tip of the guard's sword, drawn with alacrity and swung toward the thief in a slashing arc, the thief has no choice but to abandon his target and plead, instead, for the mercy of the men.

Lynesse's stunned silence gives way to purpose, and she tells a young boy, "Go and fetch an officer of the City Watch and you'll have a silver stag." The boy tears off at record pace.

Camillo neither pursues the attack nor steps back, but looks up to meet the guard's eyes. "Keep him alive until the watch arrives?" he asks.

The guard, furious for having been shown up by the commoner, dismisses Camillo with a curt, "That will be all. The matter is in hand." Across the square, the boy comes back into view, with a pair of watchmen in tow. Within moments, the thief has been remanded to them, and the guard has agreed to return to give them his full accounting of the events once he has shown the lady home.

But while her guard parlays with the watchmen, Lynesse beckons Camillo to her with a discreet gesture.

Camillo tucks his blade back into its sheath and steps away from the miscreant, lowering his head slightly to show he meant no offense. But then he sees the noblewoman's gesture and approaches her. "My lady."

While the guard is preoccupied, Lynesse seizes the chance to speak with Camillo. "What is your name?" she inquires, remarkably unphased by the turn of events for a lady of noble breeding, prone as they are by reputation to fits of fainting.

"Camillo, my lady," the bearded man replies, quiet and respectful. He himself seems rather calm for just having pulled a knife on a thief and apprehended him.

"Produce yourself at the Hightower on the morning and I shall have a reward for you, Camillo," she pledges, the sideways gaze she casts at her guard implying his performance has less than impressed her this afternoon. "You may give my name when you call. Lynesse Hightower."

"Yes, my lady," Camillo replies, making her a deep bow. "You honor me. I only thought…your cargo is precious, if it might bear a cure."

"Indeed, it might. I am grateful for your good service here today. Until we meet again, Camillo." Lynesse is rejoined by her guard, who seems undeniably irate that Camillo still lingers, and that his charge has borne witness to his own failing. She spares Camillo a parting smile, and once the boy who fetched the watch has had his silver stag, she resumes her travel to the Hightower, her sworn sword on high alert.

Camillo stands up again when Lynesse turns on his way. He returns the guard's look, but does not seem to fear it particularly.

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