(122-01-23) A Maester Without Chains
A Maester Without Chains
Summary: Marsei and Camillo team up to try to unravel a mystery when they discover someone out of place in the Hightower.
Date: 23/01/2015
Related: Citadel and Sept plot

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.

In the Hightower's grand receiving hall, Lady Marsei clasps the hands of an elder lady whom she scarcely recall. She's slightly overbearing, yet Marsei welcomed — and now sees off — with kindness and gratitude. "Thank you most dearly for the visit. I shall see you again soon and… perhaps your son as well," she says, putting on a brave face for that last part. As her visitor takes her leave, disappearing through the great main doors, Marsei's face falls, and she sighs quietly to herself. Maybe she should stop taking visitors again after all.

The departure of a guest is often a good time to come in and do some tidying. Camillo enters with a rag in hand, perhaps not realizing that Marsei has remained here, because she is quiet and still. He hesitates a few steps in when he spots her. "Forgive me, my lady, I thought the room was empty." He makes an apologetic bow.

A bald pated man in servant's dress slips in unobtrusively and starts polishing fixtures, presumably under the same assumptions that Camillo was making. except, though he is familiar, he is not one of the Hightower servants, if one pays attention to these things. His hands are stained with what looks suspiciously like ink.

Marsei's arms had just begun to wrap around her small frame and palest lavender dress as if catching a chill, although there's not much of a draft in the hall today. When her head lifts to Camillo, her expression, at least, has warmed ever-so-slightly. "Camillo," she greets softly, with soft surprise to match. "It is no worry. I was just…" Leaving, but noticing the secondary servant has given her a different sort of chill. She watches him and his ink-stained fingers a brief moment before she steps closer to Camillo. "That is no servant of ours," she says in a the quietest of voices. "Hello," she calls out to the other with distinct question in her tone.

Camillo glances at the other servant, pauses, then approaches Marsei, which is perhaps a bit unusual, particularly as a moment ago he seemed ready to withdraw again. He nods once at Marsei's statement and murmurs back to her, "It is a Maester, lady. I have seen him at the sept of late."

The not really a servants pretends not to think he is being addressed and hunches, trying to look unobtrusive.

A maester, posing as a servant? Marsei is quite clearly discomfited, though she contains it partly; it's a subtle stress laying on her shoulders, pulling her mouth, worrying her eyes. She looks to the doors, as if to call the guards, but is yet undecided. She looks from Camillo to the undercover maester and back and several times before striding purposefully toward the bald-pated man. "Please, stop what you're doing." It sounds more like a well-meaning suggestion than a command, coming from the softspoken lady, yet there's a certain power in her carefully formed words. Noble words. Noble power. "I would like a word."

Camillo notes Marsei's glance to the doors. Rather than call the guards, he quietly goes to shut the door nearest the 'servant.' Just to preclude any sudden escapes before their time. He doesn't appear to be watching the pair, but of course he's very aware of what is going on.

The disguised Maester is studying the carvings and floral finials in the hall as he polishes. He turns, feigning startlement at being addressed, then bows, eyes on the ground, "Yes, My Lady." he shuffles forward, doing a mediocre imitation of a humble servant. he does look alarmed at Camillo's closing the door.

Marsei's head dips an inch or two in some effort to obtain better sights upon the man's eyes, but only insofar as not to mar her posture. "I know I have been some time away, but I know you are not a servant of Hightower," she states — just gentle enough to be stated as fact rather than accusation it is. It's her searching, wondering, wary eyes that narrow. "Why do you hide your chains, maester?"

Camillo doesn't apply any locks, so no one is truly being imprisoned, it's just that escape will take that much longer and be that much more awkward. He smoothly crosses the room to shut the other two doors in the same manner.

The Maester's violet eyes flicker, tracking Camillo. He has the look of a man torn between dignity and the desire to bolt. He tenses, then deliberate relaxes his shoulders. His head comes up, showing that likely he was a heartbreaker in his youth, though now his skin sags, softening the bolder bonestructure of his lost youth. His tone is courtly, his accent suitable to the highest houses in the land. "I have served the Citadel boy and man for forty four years, but I have never seen the wonders of the Hightower. My curiosity and desire to look upon this architectural wonder overcame my prudence, My lady. I am sorry for it."

Although Marsei is perfectly amenable to listening — curious for every word — the maester's explanation leaves her wanting. She smiles — as if all is forgiven — but it turns fast to a concerned frown. She glances to find Camillo before looking again upon the aging man. "Good maester," that's to be determined, "scholars such as yourself are more than welcome here. We even have a library, though it is nothing compared to that of the Citadel. Surely you would have been granted access to the Hightower if you had asked through proper channels," she explains pleasantly. "… if one of the guards or … daresay my brothers Lord Hightower or Gwayne, Lord Commander of the City Watch, were to know of your deception, however… they may think it suspicious…"

Camillo comes to stand just behind and slightly to the side of Marsei in case she should require any assistance. He keeps quiet, for now, surely curious about what the Maester's reply may be.

The Measter says, "Then best we not tell them. i'm sure this small indiscretion has done no harm." There is a haughtiness about him and an expectation that people will do what he says that comes from decades of ordering novices and acolytes about.

"I mean no disrespect, Maester, nor do I wish to see you punished…" Marsei — no novice or acolyte — presses her lips together a moment. "I wish I believed you fully, but there is something more at stake, I know there is," she says more insistently, even hopefully. She quiets her voice a touch. "What concern do you have with the Hightower? Do you search for something?"

"I believe I know what he has come for, my lady," Camillo says softly. "But not why."

The voilet eyed Maester looks between them both. "My business is entirely private and of no concern to any but a few at the Citadel. There is at present a dispute about the age and Architectural style of the hightower. I wanted merely to survey the arches and decorative touches for myself.
Dhraegon pages Daevon, Marsei, and Camillo: Marsei and Camillo have caught a Maester sneaking about the hightower.

Marsei's opinion of this second explanation is rather inscrutable— then she smiles at Camillo, a sudden expression in the midst of the line of questions and answers, full of eager wonder. "What have you learned, Camillo? Was it architecture?" She turns the look on the maester. "Do you see? I'm certain we can all come to an understanding."

"Then there is a similar question about the sept?" Camillo wonders quietly. He inclines his head toward Marsei. "My lady, you and I were close to making a discovery at the sept. We noticed a certain kind of decoration at the base of the statues there, and you will find that what the Maester was just inspecting is of a very similar type. With a similar pattern." He goes to point out one of these.

Five strips of the motif are high on the wall in this chamber, with a flower finial at each vertice. It is five different flowers and close inspection will show little variants and mistakes in the motif's design, just as at the sept. The Maester's pale cheeks redden, though more with fury and frustration than embarrassment.

Marsei steps around the maester with a hand outstretched, keen to touch the carvings. Her fingertips drift delicately ovre the designs curiously. She must have stared at them thousands of times, flaws and all. Her head tilts up, up, up. The thought of there being some hidden meaning woven into the pattern fills the lady with a youthful curiousity, even though it looks to her like the same shapes she's known since she was a child. Her awe-filled smile is tempered when she turns back to see the man's red face. She looks truly sympathetic, but goes on, "Does it not concern my family that there is something of important in our architecture? It is important, is it not? To take such measures. Here and at the sept."

Camillo folds his hands and tucks his chin slightly, saying nothing but perhaps silently putting his own weight (for what it is) behind Marsei's remarks.

The Maester makes a dismissive sound, "It's just a simple argument between academics. Could anything really important to anyone outside the Citadel have stayed quiet so long? There is hope the shape of the lintels will be evidence as to period and the race of the builders, that is all. A triffle."

There is a moment where Marsei seems to hold her ground — prepared to press more, backed by Camillo. Ultimately, however, she appears utterly disappointed. It's unclear whether or not it's because there's no deep mystery or that she believes there is one and the maester is a steel trap on the matter. She sighs thoughtfully. "I suppose I must leave you to your scholarly pursuits… I have always admired them," she acquiesces tentatively, glancing again to Camillo and back before smiling benevolently at the violet-eyed man. "What is your name?"

"I think it may be important to the septons," Camillo mentions. But he keeps his peace beyond that, letting Marsei have the lead.

The Maester's eyes flick, "I'm Maester Praeton. No one of importance, really."

"Even though I cannot see your chains, Maester Praeton, I believe all maesters are of importance to the realm!" Marsei imparts cordially, her brand of cheer intact even as she keeps a close eye on him. "You— you may … go," she says, and for all of her nobility, this manner of dismissal seems a bit uncommon on her tongue. Besides which, she's reluctant to see him off. "If you wish to return, please do so honestly." This time when she looks to Camillo, it's with a small nod and directing glance to the maester: see him out. All the way out.

Camillo frowns a little, but he steps forward. "May I see you out, Maester Praeton?" he asks politely.

The Maester bows and strides quickly towards the door, glad to be fleeing, if irritated he hadn't time or privacy to make sketches. he raises his white eyebrows at Camillo, "If you must."

Camillo bows to the Maester and shows him to the door, letting him out and closing the door behind him. Then he returns to Marsei with a solemn manner. "That was not the correct name he gave, my lady."

Marsei — having waited while peering up at the decor — turns with a whirl of red hair to stare big-eyed at Camillo. "Do you know his true name? How deceptive! I had a mind to keep him, but I feared he would not give us the answers we wanted if backed into a corner."

"I do not, but it can be found out without much trouble, I think," Camillo says. "I noticed he had particularly striking eyes." He looks over toward the door through which he departed. "I agree. That is why I did not confront him about his name. Another false one would be as easy to provide."

"Violet. The blood of old Valyria," Marsei agrees, her own gaze following to the door as well. The receiving hall is empty, yet her voice hushes all the same. "Do you think there could possibly be something malevolent at work, Camillo? Surely not— the Citadel…" Her brows worry together.

Camillo looks to the floor. "I do not know, my lady, but my concerns are grave."

"While I hope your concern is unfounded after all, I … find myself believing you." Marsei's head tips in Camillo's direction, subtly insistent. "I worry on it. I have an odd feeling every time I see a maester as late, and every time I step foot in the Starry Sept." She looks away, conflicted on the reason for the latter; she focuses back in. "If you know more — or discover more — on this matter, Camillo, please, feel free to impart your concerns to me."

"I will, my lady," Camillo promises. "But I'm afraid I have not learned as much as I could. I believe there is a code, but I cannot break it. My learning is too small or my mind too weak."

Marsei nods a slow, pleased affirmation when Camillo agrees, then starts to frown. "How strange." The frown vanishes before it finds real life. "It is a bit exciting, though, isn't it? Secret codes, ancient history." She swipes a reddish curl from the side of her face and rests a fingernail on her lip, contemplative. "I'd rather concern myself with a mystery than suggestions of marriage." Perhaps getting the feeling she has suddenly over-shared, she smiles dismissively. "The maester— his identity," she encourages, "you're best equipped to discover it."

"I wonder," Camillo says softly. "I would perhaps find it less frustrating if I knew what was at stake…" He glances to her when she mentions marriage, but pretends he has not heard, moving to the next matter. "Yes, my lady. I will do so."

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