(121-11-16) Strangers meeting on a foreign shore
Strangers meeting on a foreign shore
Summary: When a Braavosi Lady meets a Dornishman…
Date: 16/11/2014
Related: http://gobmush.wikidot.com/log:212-11-17-strangers-meet-again

The plague has closed down nearby Oldtown with nobody allowed into or out of the city for the time being. The smaller ports of Three Towers and Blackcrown are trying to accommodate traders, merchants and other travellers being stuck or, if they are bound for Highgarden, send the off to other ports. The taverns of Three Towers are doing a brisk trade but the atmosphere is edgy as every day being stuck means a day less of trade and income. Cabin fever abounds. Yet, on this afternoon people are not yet drunk enough to stir trouble. Sailors and merchants sit in the sunshine in front of taverns to play dice and drink. Others are trying to find horses to make their way inland somehow if the port of Oldtown is denied to them. In front of a rather small but colourful tavern bearing a Dornish sun on its withered board, sit a small bunch of fairly swarthy types in what the schooled eye would recognize as cheap and plain Dornish garb. They don't drink or dice though, they just sit sullenly and watch people disembark from a newly arrived ship.

And such people, and such a ship. It hails from Braavos, if the pouring out of sailors and others from its depths give any indication. But then, in Three Towers they're likely used to the influx of foreigners. Like most ships, they didn't intend to dock here, and the resulting confusion is mayhem for the sailors and a headache for the dock workers. At least it's a headache they're getting used to by now.
Among them, flanked on all sides by guards, is one that stands out even among those disembarking. She is a dark-skinned woman, Summer Islander perhaps, dressed in a whispy, fine gown of maroon and trimmed in heavy gold knotted embroidery. It is bare at the shoulders but gatheres at a gold brooch at the elbow before the dagged end trails down. A matching gold circlet rests upon her wirey black curls, and she carries herself with a high-headed pride of the wealthy and powerful.
But she is stopped, with her guards and a maid, at the end of the dock. Her voice is thick with a Braavosi accent.
"Yes, sir. I understand that I cannot go into Old Town. But I am on official business, and an exception must be made." So goes the conversation.

Four pairs of dark Dornish eyes come to rest upon the exotic beauty just disembarking, before exchanging meaningful glances. Some words are exchanged quietly, then one of them pushes himself to his feet to approach the newly arrived woman. He's not very tall, but looks strong and athletic underneath his plain sailors' garb. Jet-black hair is held black by a simply brown piece of cloth wrapped around his head though one strand has escaped and falls almost into his eyes, giving him a slightly rakish appearance. For now he just lingers, eyes watching, ears listening to the exchange while he smirks slightly, knowing the woman's pleading to be let into Oldtown is in vain.

Sable Derossi lets eyes do what they will do, for if she even knows about being considered by strangers for her little 'scene' she does not give it any visable mind. She continues to speak, her voice clear and her words coming slow and deliberate. "I do understand your position. I am sympathetic to your instruction, good man. But I am entirely expected." The dock manager speaks up again, loudly as such a man is used to being, though respectful. Back and forth it goes.
"This ship is supposed to go to Old Town. Good man, what is it that the individuals upon this ship are supposed to do if you shall not permit is to our destination? Goods were meant to be delivered, business to be conducted." The dock manager is becoming even further exasperated.

"Excuse me, I couldn't help overhearing.", the Dornishman finally cuts in, his voice warm and smooth like honey, his eyes directly looking at Sable as if the dock manager doesn't exist, "While you pointlessly argue your case, other passengers from your ship will be snapping up what little accommodation is to be had in Three Towers. So you might want to hurry, Mylady." He does a lazy half-turn, watching a small group of people head straight for the nearby "Crown and Anchor Inn"

The dock manager is all too happy for this stranger to step in. Rich ladies and their senses of entitlement … well, given everything, the dock manager likely has a lot else going on. He is happy to shuffle off and start bellowing at workers. Sable, in the meantime, tilts her head just slightly at the man before her, considering. She doesn't fear his gaze but rather meets it, equally. "Is it so pointless an argument, good man?" Sable asks, her lips tilting into a slight unhappy line. "I have business there, you see." All the same, she follows the Dornishman's gaze toward the Crown and Anchor Inn. The sight is enough for Sable to do a half-turn of her own to one of her men, and speak quickly in Braavosi. It flows much more easily than her common words. Both the guard and the woman then look back to the man before them. "Good man, were I to send for a place to stay, where might I send to?""

"Unless you're in the business of seeking premature death, I would consider it a pointless argument, yes.", Elyas replies thoughtfully, "I trust you have been informed that Oldtown is dealing with an outbreak of the plague. No one is allowed in or out to prevent the disease from spreading." He lets that sink in, smirking a bit when she suddenly adresses her servant. While he doesn't speak Braavosi, he can guess what this is about. "No offense, my lady, but you look like you afford pleasant accommodation. I would recommend the Sea View Lodge… half a mile away from the smell of the port…" He points vaguely into one direction. "I hear it's popular among travelling nobles and sea captains wishing to avoid the rabble. And since a party departed for Highgarden on horseback yesterday, they may actually have a room or two available."

"Premature death. Is it so serious as all of that? We have been told it is a plague, yes. But it has been some time, yes, good man? It is not anticipated to continue very much longer?" The words are part-question, part-statement. The guard to whom she had been speaking takes a little nudge of a step forward. It's enough to cause Sable to turn her head to him again, and speak in Braavosi. Her eyes flit to Elyas again, watching him as she speaks. Some words can be understood. "Sea View," for example. Two guards shuffle off, and the remaining two nudge their charge a bit to thte side of the dock as a large peice of furniture is shuffled off a boat. Sable watches it, chewing a little on her lower lip in concern as it goes by. Ah, the problems of the wealthy!
A thought occurs. "Highgarden … is open?"

"Plague tends to be serious, yes.", Elyas confirms dryly, "I do not know how much longer it will take, but with so many people kicking their heels here in Three Towers and across the bay in Blackcrown, I'm sure news of Oldtown opening its port again will be made known as soon as possible… although I assume the locals would be quite pleased to keep fleecing the stranded a while longer.", he adds in that same deadpan tone. His lip only twitches a bit when he sees the furniture being unloaded. "Yours, Mylady?", he wonders.

When her last question comes, he merely shrugs. "I think it is, yes. Some parties have gone there and not come back. Although of course that could merely mean they have been killed along the road."

"I…" Sable begins to speak. For the first time in their conversation, her polite and cool facade breaks as a smile creeps across her lips. "Plague is serious everywhere, good man. I understand this. I only wished to understand how serious it is now, this plague, in Old Town." She lifts her eyes once more as the furniture is set to a cart, rather heavily, and it causes the dark-skinned woman a little flinch.
"Yes, it is mine. I do not travel very much, and never so far from home. I am from Braavos," She adds, matter-of-factly, as though it were not obvious. "And I have never been beyond my continent. I beg to ask, good man, is the road to Highgarden unsafe? I have heard it is a place of great beauty. Westerosi in my city sometimes have said it is the most beautiful thing to behold of all things."

"My good woman -", Elyas begins, apparently imitating her tone and form of address with only the faintest trace of sarcasm, "I have no set foot into Oldtown myself, so I could not tell you how bad it is. When the wind blows from the north, you can sometimes catch a whiff of the fires that are lit to dispose of the bodies. And the fires seem to be burning long and bright."

He does consider her second question a while, but then laughs. "Clearly, Mylady, you have been informed wrong. While Highgarden is probably fairly pleasant, the most beautiful thing in Westeros is the Dornish desert. A stark and unrivalled beauty. AS for safety? I would not know either, since I have no desire to travel to Highgarden. But richly dressed strangers loaded with money bags clearly provide a welcome target for the local riff-raff." He pauses to look back towards the harbourfront and the taverns. "Why don't we continue this pleasant conversation under a shady awning, Mylady?", he suggests.

When the question is asked about the shady awning, Sable takes a little half-step forward. Another guard places a hand on her shoulder - perhaps an unusual gesture. But a few Braavosi phrases turned settles that, and Sable steps forward again. Perhaps very unusual, she moves a hand toward the Dornishman, as if to accept an unoffered escort and slip her hand along his. "It is a very good idea, the shade. I ought to have realized that you were Dornish. But I really must ask after the beauty of this desert. There are deserts on my home continent and I must confess, good man, and I do not hope you find such words unkindly, but they are as ugly as a drowned snake."

Despite his rather scruffy appearance it seems that the young Dornishman has had some proper education and breeding, for he smoothly accepts the lady's hand and leads her off the dock to a tavern that looks just a tad cleaner than the others - and less crowded. One glare by him is enough to send two elderly men scurrying away, abandoning their table under the shady awning for them. He waits until the lady is seated and the tavern wench has gone off with an order for two cups of cold wine, before he settles down himself. "I do not know about your deserts.", he admits, "But the golden sands of Dorne are perfection, as are its cities built of sandstone and its gardens where fountains and canals water orchards of fruit and palm trees… you should visit Dorne, you know. Especially since it's half-way between here and Braavos anyway. You will find the Dornish a most hospitable welcoming people… and eager to trade.", he adds pointedly.

"Our deserts are bare and harsh and angry," Sable says, her skirts whispering smoothly as she moves. "They are a terror. But the Dornish deserts I shall see, upon your recommendation. It is my desire to visit your land as soon as business permits. Perhaps I shall be permitted to sooner, if Old Town is closed to me. But I may ask - do you believe I am a merchant, good man? Or is it that you are a merchant of your own, a tradesman?" She asks, curiously. Her dark eyes turn away from Elyas when the wine arrives, and she lifts it in a toast to him. When the wine at last touches her lips, a smile creeps across them, one that might be considered almost girlish in nature.

"If you are not a merchant, eager to sell potentially perishable goods from Braavos to Oldtown, what would be your hurry to get there?", Elyas wonders softly, "If you are just a bored rich lady on a pleasure cruise, why not travel along the southern coast, visit beautiful Dorne or perhaps the Westerlands?" He seems glad for the pause when the wine arrives as it gives him a chance to dodge her question. Instead he lifts his cup and looks into her eyes. "Here's to beauty, in whichever form it crosses one's path…"

"All the beauty in the world," Sable says with a more relaxed smile. "There are merchants upon my ship. It makes more sense to provide transportation as I was coming to see your Westeros for my own purposes." She sips her wine again and sets it down, though her fingers curl around the cup in an idle gesture. "As it is my ship, I would be unkind to them not to assist in their business. But theirs is not my business." She glances up to the man, curiously. "I am Sable Derossi, good man, and I am here on behalf of the Iron Bank of Braavos. To see to their business in Westeros." She smiles a little wider. "Might you be one of those who does business with the Iron Bank? If so, it would be quite forntuate for me to find you with my first step upon your lands."

"A pleasure to meet you, Miss Derossi of the Iron Bank of Braavos.", Elyas smiles and inclines his head, since he can't bow while sitting down. "I am afraid I am just a poor sailor stranded upon a foreign shore. I don't have a stag to my name, so I'd be poor custom for the Iron Bank. But I'm sure you'll find many well-filled coffers among the maesters of Oldtown. Noble Families from all over Westeros fill them generously so that the maesters will take care of their misbegotten offspring and give them -some- purpose in life." While he tries to keep his voice level, a sensitive person would detect a trace of bitterness in his little speech.

"A sailor with no name?" Sable asks, more comfortable now. A little smile creeps across her features. "Perhaps you are not so ill-suited to the Iron Bank. Most seem to come to us when they have empty coffers." She says with a little chuckle.
From inside the tavern there is a bit of music, and Sable turns her head to see. For a few moments, she brings her hands up to clap to the beat as do some other patrons, but then she lets her hands fall and returns her eyes to Elyas. "Do you wish to go to Old Town then, good man? Is that why you came to speak to me on the docks? I do not think most sailors would have done the same, but you did."

Elyas heaves a little playful sigh. "If I tell you that my name is Elyas, will you stop calling me good man? I am not a very good man, I'm afraid." He looks into his wine cup, twirling the cup gently to stir the liquid inside, apparently pondering something. "I did wish to go to Oldtown, yes. And no, I did not expect to be taken aboard your vessel since I knew you'd be stuck here. I merely did not wish a beautiful lady to make a spectacle of herself on the docks. You'd only be attracting all the wrong kinds of attention, you know…" Again he gives her a slightly too long look before sipping his wine.

Another chuckle from the Braavosi - she is not quite so stiff as she was upon first meeting. "The wrong kind of attention such as you, Elyas?" She asks, taking another sip of her own wine. "You have just said that you are not, perhaps, such a good man. Perhaps it is you I should avoid." Just to be sure, she glances at her guards nearby - they're seated, but they're watching and aware. "Did I make such a spectacle, as you say? I have met many Westerosi in my life, though my letters are more fluent than my words. I did not think Westerosi behaviors to be too different from Braavosi ones."

Elyas takes his time to respond, but then he seems mostly occupied with trying to hide a little smile. "Well, Ma'am… are you telling me that Braavosi men are blind to beauty then? Here, men definitely notice a beautiful woman on her own… a RICH beautiful woman. Guards or not -" His eyes cross over to where they're sitting, perhaps to hint that he knows they're there and watching, "You are exposed and vulnerable. That golden thing in your hair is probably worth more than a dockhand here makes in a year…", he points out, looking at the circlet.

Sable reaches up to touch her wild curls and the circlet there. "Braavosi men are no more blind than Westerosi. But in a country such as this, what is a shiny bit of gold to great Ladies? I daresay that is more interesting to any eye." The Braavosi muses, letting a finger curl in her hair to tuck it all back in place before finishing her cup of wine. "And I come bearing no sigils, no great family bloodlines, little of any interest in this land. In that, I do not think I should have been anything of a spectacle."

"The question is not what your shiny bit of gold is to great Ladies but to the many poor lurking around.", Elyas warns, his voice a little lower now. Then he shrugs. "But what is it to? I merely try to be hospitable to strangers in a strange land. Which… I am myself, in some way, after all. Braavos is rather nice though, I'll let you have that. All those canals and bridges and things…"

"But not quite warm enough for a Dornishman, I daresay." Sable says with a smile. "Forgive me if I seem unkind or ungrateful, Elyas." She casts her eyes down a little. "I do not mean to be so, nor to appear so. I am grateful that you spoke up and assisted me. Gold in my hair or not, I was in need and appreciate that being recognized. May I ask, Elyas, what you will do if Old Town is still closed to you and you cannot make your way there? Shall you remain here?"

Elyas accepts her words with a little smile, that disappears into pursed lips at her question. "I suppose that… if we're kept waiting here much longer, we'll lose patience. Then we'll just steal a ship here and be on our merry way instead of waiting for Old Town to open up.", he explains as casually as if he's explaining his choice of desserts.

Though the common tongue is not natural to Sable, she is able to understand it well enough. And among the words that Elyas just offered, there is only one that catches her ear. She is sipping her cup as she listens, but flits her eyes open to peer at him over the rim as the word catches her. A single brow creeps up curiously, and she gently returns the cup to the table. "Steal?" She asks, softly so as not to be overheard, and with a tone of invitation for him to expand upon the word.

"Steal, as in sneaking aboard at night, throw the crew overboard, cut the ropes and be off into the wide ocean, yes.", Elyas confirms dryly, his eyes sparkling as he seems keen to see her reaction. Though he adds for good measure: "My good lady, not everyone has coffers full of gold to buy whatever they like. But don't worry, your ship's too big for our purposes, so it's quite safe."

"You are a pirate," Sable says, and this time the statement is not a question. She at least has the good sense to speak softly on the matter. With a shake of her head, Sable leans back and nods to a serving girl, tapping the rim of her cup. Yes, do keep that coming. "It is no wonder you are interested in the contents of my hold, then." She says, and her brows lift a little higher when he says he won't be stealing her ship. "I should hope not. While I am glad to hear it is unsuitable for your purposes, I should hope that our acquaitence now would afford to me some courtesy such as my ship's safety by your hands."

"Ah, you hurt me, Mylady.", Elyas exclaims, placing a hand on his heart, "Pirate is such a harsh word. I prefer to think of myself as a poor shipwrecked sailor in need of a vessel. If you feel charity-minded, you could donate to a good cause and I'll BUY a new boat, how about that?", he suggests with a bright smile. When the serving girl appears with a jug for re-filling, he holds out his own cup as well. Hoping that the foreign lady has twigged by now who'll foot the bill.

"I do not speak your tongue very well, Elyas," Sable says, swirling the wine in her cup before answering. "Those are a great many words for someone as slow of tongue as I am. Pirate, I daresay, shall have to suffice for me. I hope it is not too offensive for your ears to hear it." She smiles again a little. "And I am a banker, good man. I do not feel terribly charitable but in a few situations. But I think an investment would not be of great interest to you either - from my childhood, I recall pirates are those who desire to be beholden to no man in no circumstance. So even such an investment, I think, would not suite such a man."

"Oh yes, I have heard of bankers' … charity. Isn't that why your establishment is called the Iron Bank? Because that's what its staff's hearts are made of?", Elyas asks, looking amused, "And you are right, I would not like to be holden to a man… although being beholden to a lovely woman may be something altogether different. In fact it is an enticing prospect. You and me, doing business together. It may be more rewarding than trying to flog Braavosi cupboards to the Maesters of Oldtown? Your Common is perfect, by the way.", he can't resist adding.

"Ah! Now the flattery begins. We truly must be entering negotiations." Sable says, sitting back in the chair and opening her arms. "Look at me truly, Elyas, at my eyes. Am I truly made of Iron? Iron are our vaults, and our rules, but they are not unkind things. But…" She leans forward, letting her arms fold on the table before her. "If we are truly in negotiations, then let us be so. You are a stranger to me, Elyas. I do not know you from any other stranger. Though you are keen-eyed to have spied me and thought to aid me when I first arrived, cleverness does not make a good investment. Who are you, good man, and what is it you do in your life? What have you done, to become the man you are in the place you are in?"

"Oh lady.", Elyas sighs, "Do you really demand the full boring story of a dull life on the first date? Here's my suggestion… your servants will hopefully have secured you a chamber at the Sea View Lodge by now… so why don't you see if the place meets your expectations, rest a little and refresh? Then you are welcome to invite me to dinner and I shall you the not-so-exciting story of Elyas the Seafarer, mhm?", he suggests and takes a deep gulp from his replenished cup, "For now, let me just say that we were on our way to some business when a storm in the Whispering Sound sank our ship before we could find shelter at the shore. Some good brave men lost their lives… a few made it to Three Towers. Including yours truly."

"I demand nothing, good man. In Braavos, nothing is demanded but would be given." She nods to him at his suggestion, and sits up straight. "But you are right, for I have been in Westeros but for a few hours now, and it all is quite a thing to behold. Perhaps I shall see you again, Elyas Seafarer." She smiles at that, seeming to be her farewell, and moves to rise. The guards rise too, ready to escort her where she needs to be escorted to.

"I would hope so, Sable Derossi.", Elyas replies, though he doesn't bother to get up when she does. "Welcome to Westeros!" He lifts his wine cup in a mock toast, then lets her go to enjoy the rest of his wine.

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