(122-01-28) The Treasure Hunters' Lord
The Treasure Hunters' Lord
Summary: After the astounding discovery earlier that evening, Marsei goes to her brother, Lord Hightower.
Date: 01/02/2015
Related: The Treasure Hunters

Paramount's Suites - 3 - The Hightower Oldtown

This luxurious set of suites is home to the Lord Hightower and his immediate family. The polished stone floors are covered in plush Myrish carpets in silver, white, and red. The main room includes a several scattered seating areas with velvet-cushioned chairs and couches surrounding low tables with their tops inlaid with silver and semi-precious stones. A grand white stone fireplace dominates the inner wall. The outer has tall arched windows that offer one of the finest views in the city — they face Southwest, allowing one to see the cliffs along the edge of the Whispering Sound, and to gaze further out to sea.

Six different large bedchambers are accessible from here, as well as a private dining hall that will seat fifteen. At the far end, past the bedchambers, there's a bathing room with two marble tubs.

Evening sees a visitor to Ormund's chambers — not unusual to have a relative come knocking, perhaps, but the urgency with which Lady Marsei comes calling is another story. Although the high levels of the mighty tower might as well be a different realm than the ground floor, word of something bizarre occurring in the grand hall has been travelling up and down. Marsei is given questioning looks by men in the Hightower service as she calls at Ormund's door — literally, shouting, though her soft voice gentles even that. "Ormund! Ormund! Are you about? Are you awake! Ormund!" Fortunately, she sounds more excited than distraught. It's a markedly different mood than her frequent good cheer, however; a near-fevered excitement, a kind of childlike giddiness that rather matches the flush in her face and the slight dishevelment of her sapphire gown, which is marred with dust at the hem. She clutches a small object wrapped in cloth to her chest.

Ormund doesn't keep servants about in here, not at night. He answers the door himself, saying, "Shhh, Lionyl sleeps," and gestures her in. He's still dressed, clearly he hasn't gone to bed himself yet.

"Apologies, brother," Marsei replies quickly, rushed but sincere. She catches her breath, as if she ran all the way here. The tiniest limp in her walk as she slips inside, half-hidden beneath the flow of her gown, might put that in question. "Young Lionyl would love to hear the grand story I have to tell, but I don't wish to wake him." Her eyes gleam; her arms tighten around her mysterious burden. She whirls about once she's taken several steps to regard Ormund excitedly. "It sounds a story, a tale I would have heard read when I was small. Do you recall some days ago when I mentioned the maester dressed as a servant? It — oh, it's going to sound so silly when I say it aloud."

Ormund sighs a bit, raising his eyebrows at her. "Come, have a glass of wine," he says, heading back to the window, where he was sitting having his own glass. He stops to get a goblet from a sideboard as he goes.

Marsei hurries along, taking a seat across from the spot he had claimed with his goblet from earlier. She grips one arm of the chair eagerly, more intent on Ormund than any glass of wine being poured. "I admit I got rather swept up in the conspiracy … it began as concern for the Sept, the … maesters … their strange behaviour. It kept me— occupied." Something that has been needed, for the widow. "I knew there was more beneath the surface, but could not bring you baseless conspiracies, so I have been keeping apprised of it. It has blossomed, brother, it is far beyond that. Far beyond the architecture the maester was looking for in our home. It was a code, built into the finials so many years ago."

Marsei places the bundle on the table, smoothing the cloth over it. The shape beneath is wavy. Her voice hushes. "Do you remember the old tales of tunnels beneath the Hightower? Like the crypt, but beyond…" She parts the cloth, revealing the unmistakable gleam of Valyrian steel, engraved delicately with the shapes of dragons. "They opened."

Ormund pours wine, watching her. He says, "Conspriracy?" as he listens. "And which finials?" He stops, a bit startled at the sight of the steel. It's not unfamiliar to him, of course, the family has a sword of the stuff. "Where did this come from? Tunnels beneath our house?" Silly to call this great tower a 'house.'

"Yes!" She all but bounces in her seat. "Under our feet our whole lives! High on the wall in the grand receiving hall was a language of flowers, decoded by the servant Camillo and Maester Leandro, who as I understand— " Marsei's brows near each other; perhaps she does not, in fact, fully understand, "— is not in league with the other maesters on this matter. They— there's— a passageway opened. In the floor. It must be ancient, half filled with rock and bones of the dead. The labyrinth led us to this." Her fingers run along the edge of the panpipes reverently.

Ormund reaches to take the pipe, sliding it out from under her fingers if she allows it. "Show me," he says.

The instrument slips easily out from beneath the gentle touch of her fingertips. Marsei smiles, full of awe. She's quick to stand, eager to lead the way to the tunnel if that is what her brother wants — and wincing, briefly, forgetting her minor injury. It's immediately forgotten. "There's something else."

"What's that?" asks Ormund, leaving the pipes but taking his glass of wine.

"Princess Visenya accompanied me into the tunnels," Marsei explains as she moves for the door, spoken as normally, in this context, as if she'd said accompanied me to breakfast; it's what she says next that boasts gravity, "She said … it is from the Freehold. There was a boy with Maester Leandro; a young novice, from the Citadel. He said…" She's unsure of this part; at least, of stating it. "It's… magic. He dreamt of it. And of dragons."

Ormund nods. "We know that the lowest tier of the tower, the black stone, is… ancient," he says. "Perhaps older than the First Men." He sips wine as he comes along with her. "So. Likely they are right."

"I wonder why it was hidden there, and … placed by whose hand? Our ancestors?" And whose hand does it belong in now? These thoughts mark the journey down the grand staircase.

As they reach the grand receiving hall, Marsei comes to a drifting halt. It's utterly familiar to every Hightower in every way except one: the trap door now gaping open in a section of the floor. It's easily wide enough to climb down inside. Two guards are posted at the spot, dutiful but no doubt as confused as they were when Marsei placed them there earlier. She indicates the floral finials on the far wall, pointing with her gaze rather than her hand. "No one but those who entered know what was discovered here," she tells Ormund quietly.

Ormund makes a bit of a grimacey face and says, "I think it had best stay that way. Has someone recorded the code?" He moves to go down the stairs, fearless, still drinking wine. The guards get a nod of acknowledgement as he goes past.

Ormund pauses, looking down the hole when he realizes there's no staircase. "Somebody bring me a lantern," he declares.

In agreement, she follows and pauses just behind her lord brother's elbow. One of the guards meets an already scurrying servant halfway to obtain a lantern and hand it to Ormund. Marsei stands upon one tiptoe to peek once again into the depths, a bit dubious about the notion of climbing down into the dark again. "It's— it's confusing down there. Twisting and confounding," she warns Ormund, but looking upon his brave countenance, doubts that will matter. "I believe I recall the way…"

Ormund raises his eyebrows at Marsei, "And a piece of chalk," he says to the servant who brought him the lantern.

As chalk is fetched, Marsei looks over her narrow shoulder, her gaze sweeping around the hall slowly — wishfully. None of her conspirators materialize to play guide; she did order the hall cleared… "Are you certain you wish to explore now, brother?" she ventures, her earlier giddy excitement rather wavering, but nevertheless steps closer to the edge.

"Of course," says Ormund, heading down the ladder with the chalk and his wine in one hand and the lantern in the other. He's not a clumsy man, and actually manages this with decent grace. "Who went before?"

Of course. And so Marsei steels herself like a facsimile of her brother, with an added silent prayer, waits for her turn. "Myself, Princess Visenya and a young girl Kelinyx, Maester Leandro, the novice Bryn, Camillo, who's one of our servants, and a woman named Peri." When Ormund is down, she faces the ladder much more gingerly. She knows what to expect, this time, and how to wield her skirts, but it is nevertheless a careful and somewhat precarious descent. One of her ankles, in its rare moment of shadowy visibility, shows a wrapped injury. The damp scent of lichen and other cold underground smells surround the Hightowers as they stand within the beginning of the ancient labyrinth. Marsei lifts her arm to indicate the northeast, opposite the way that's strewn with fragments of bone.

Ormund pauses to inspect things, holding out the lantern to do so. He hands Marsei the chalk. "Mark our way back, then," he tells her. "As we go along."

"A wise idea, brother." Marsei is happy for the task, setting chalk to old stone as they depart the safety of the very first section. "Watch your step. And— stay to the left, up ahead." Every so often, she marks their spot. It's a comforting feeling to press solid chalk to solid wall and leave evidence of their short travels, yet the sound it creates is an ominous hiss. "How will ownership of the pipes be decided?" she asks Ormund, "It is ours— is it not? There must be a reason it was hidden under the Hightower."

"What's there?" asks Ormund, curiously. He seems quite confident. This is /his/ tower, darn it. Well, sort of. He does move over to the left, though.

"I'd rather not step there and find out by accident," Marsei replies gently, taking her own advice while carefully holding her gown just above earth level. "Maester Leandro was adept at knowing where not to place one's feet. There's a beautiful chamber ahead— that's where the instrument was hidden. Stored away in the floor, locked with a code of flowers too."

Ormund glances to Marsei to know just which way to go. He enters the chamber and holds the lamp aloft to look about.

An elaborate battle unfolds around them in a twenty foot circle, laid out in relief carvings. It's old and worn, half eaten away by time, its design antequated. People, sea monsters… dragons.

Marsei moves freer now that she's in this space, looking around in wonder all over again. She stops in front of a slab on the ground, beside which is a slanted space a few feet deep. "It was in here. Right here. It came away right under my feet when those," she turns to seek out finials on the wall, "were pressed upon in the right order." Kraken, Man, Boat, Merrow, Dragon. "Oh, you should have heard Visenya play the pipes," she says, awed, wistful. She can nearly still hear the haunting melody echo around the chamber. "What will you do with them?"

Ormund stops and looks at Marsei, intently. "She played them?" he asks.

Marsei is caught a touch off-guard by his intensity, returning his regard inquisitively. "Yes — beautifully. But as beautiful as it was to me, it had more of an effect on her… and Bryn. He too is blood of the dragon."

"What happened?" asks Lord Ormund, still intense.

"She said she felt…" Marsei hesitates before going on in a hush, "power."

"Of what sort, did she say?"

Slowly, considering, Marsei shakes her head, her hair flickering orange and deep red in the lantern light. "She did however suggest Prince Rhaegor would have more knowledge."

Ormund nods gravely. "It seems I've many people to talk to," he says. "We'll go up again." He doesn't, though, not yet. He uses his lantern to look around the room once more.

Marsei is in no hurry. She watches her brother examine the old chamber, a smile upon her face. It's only after a moment of silence that she says, "I'd be glad to lend help, where you deem it fitting. Princess Visenya is a new friend, but lovely, and I feel she, at least, will consider my words and hear my inquiries."

Ormund nods, and turns to leave the room. "Best ask her, then. But I think, if it is at all possible under the circumstances, that we had best keep this quiet."

Marsei nods her dimpled chin in both acquiescence and agreement. "I worry, though," she

Once at the top of the ladder, Ormund hands off the lamp and his empty wine-glass and says, "Send for this Maester Leandro," before saying, "Thank you," to his sister.

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