(122-02-06) A Hint of Poison
A Hint of Poison
Summary: Camillo brings a concern to Lady Marsei.
Date: 06-07/02/2015
Related: Whispering Dragons

Lady Marsei's Chambers - The Hightower

Lady Marsei's loyal handmaiden has just left on an errand, and the lady herself seems half aflight, as if about to depart her chambers herself. She's holding a selection of flowers in a rainbow of colours, stems tied neatly with a ribbon. She's not burdened in the slightest by the fact that she has a guest, however; she's been pleasantly insistent that he stay right where he is, inside. "Decoration ideas, for the Dolphin Festival," she cheerfully explains unbidden, admiring the arrangement, "What better colour palette to choose from than from the gardens? How are you today, Camillo?"

Camillo is perhaps a little nervous to come to see Marsei without being summoned, and he looks at all the colorful flowers and ribbon as if he were somewhat wary of it, or did not understand it. Then he looks at the floor. "My lady, I suppose I am well. I hope you are."

"I'm kept busy, and that is suiting me well," she answers cheerfully, pausing her carefree touching of flower petals to consider and nod assuredly to herself, as if re-affirming to herself more than Camillo that she is, indeed, well. As she really looks at Camillo in clearer detail, she prompts, "Do you suppose, or are you?" She gives a soft partial laugh at her own query, good-naturedly apologetic. "I'm so sorry. I sound like my old septa. I couldn't stand when she said such things."

"By my own standards, I am well," Camillo answers, whatever that means. "But I have a small dilemma, I suppose, or concern."

Although Marsei surely couldn't know precisely what the servant's standards for wellness are, she smiles knowingly as though she does; as though she has her own standards, and at least sympathizes with the concept. She goes back to fussing over her flowers for an instant, gingerly moving a blue flower behind a violet one, but her attention is not lost; she looks to Camillo with concern for his concerns. "What is that?" she encourages lightly.

Camillo occasionally glances at Marsei and her pretty flowers, but her question and sympathetic look only make him look at the floor. "The Princess Visenya came to me to ask a favor. She made it sound as if she thought I were some poisoner."

"A wh— ?" Surprised, Marsei quells further confusion from springing from her lips. She lowers her flowers until they loll upside-down at her side. Thankfully, her ribbon saves them from tumbling to the floor. Her head tilts and her face stills in a way that refines all of her features. "Did you say a poisoner?" All of her focus is on Camillo, now, and her voice goes down a notch, serious. "Tell me what she said … exactly."

"She told me that some fellow was troubling her, and…implied that she would like me to provide a solution to that because she understood I had 'certain knowledge,'" he says, frowning. "I said I did not know what she meant and in the end she said she did not need some mortal solution. But…I was troubled. A man of my station only has his good name. What would lead her to believe I had such knowledge?"

The more Camillo explains, the more vividly distraught the lady's eyes become. She lifts the back of her hand, flowers and all, to her forehead to cool the thoughts spinning in her head. "I … am … perplexed as you are," she admits. "I just met her in her gardens today. She never spoke of such vile things. I…" She turns and strolls a few paces, and for a moment seems apt to sitting down in the nearest chair, but only holds the carved wood of its back. When she turns, her fair face has wrenched into further distress; all of these notions flying around seem to wound her. "Do you think she suspects I am a poisoner, and that we are in league?"

Camillo lifts his eyebrows. "Certainly not," he says, seeming confused by the connection. "If she did, surely she would have approached you directly rather than stoop to contact me," he says. "Perhaps…I took her meaning wrongly. But how should she know of my small learning about plants at all? Could the Maester have told her?"

Marsei takes a deep breath in and raises her chin, gaining ground over her emotions, formulating opinions. "Perhaps…" She's unconvinced. "Princess Visenya is a smart woman. It may be she simply noted your cooperation in identifying the flowers upon the wall. Still, that is a large leap to make to … poison." She looks down. The bundle of flowers is suddenly uncomfortable in her grasp. "There are … rumours about me," she's loathe to say, doing so gently, hardly above a whisper. "It may be that she was trying to discover their legitimacy, through you."

"About you, my lady?" Camillo asks, looking all the more surprised. "How terrible. I cannot believe any such thing." He frowns deeply. "I thought she was your friend, my lady."

"The circumstances of my husband's death." Marsei bows her head under the weight of such circumstances — and the rumours. It's not a weight she carries well on her small shoulders; she's fragile underneath it. "People wonder. And they talk." She looks up, directly at Camillo, earnest, insistent, stepping toward him. Before she says what she was so clearly about to, she's caught up in regarding him with some troubled curiosity. She snaps out of it. "I will set things right with Princess Visenya, and with you."

Camillo is perhaps pretending he never heard such rumors, though given how servants gossip, that does seem unlikely. He doesn't go so far as to say directly that he never heard such a thing. "People can be very unfair," he says, looking up as Marsei steps closer. He shakes his head. "No, no my lady, I don't think that would be wise. They say a bell cannot be unrung, and if she has such suspicions of me, then to say anything at all would be to implicate yourself. I told her I would bring her spice from the kitchens and no more."

Light comes back to Marsei's face in small, tenuous increments. "You are wise, aren't you." An accolade, but a marked observation much more than a mere compliment. She smiles, certain. "You're correct, of course. I will set it right — it will just take time. To interpret all the echoes of the bell now that it's been rung. Thank you coming to me, Camillo."

"Not wise, perhaps, my lady, but…I have had the experience of some years." He frowns thoughtfully. "I will listen closely to hear if anyone maligns your name. But in truth I have never heard anyone in Oldtown speak ill of you." He is quiet a moment longer, but does not offer to go just yet.

Marsei's smile warms, bolstered upon hearing her name remains good, at least by Camillo's ears. She gives him a lively, decisive bob of her chin, and turns to jesting, "Look at us, defending our good names!" The joking tone wavers and thins as she looks down at her flowers. "What a silly place the world is."

"It is a very strange place," Camillo affirms. "I never dreamed how it would be when I was a boy." He lingers a moment longer, then ventures, "Are the other Fossoways cold toward you now?"

"Not anymore," Marsei admits, tensing, for she knows she has implied they were, once. "And Lord Owen has only shown me kindness … in his way. Although I wonder…" She shakes her head, either dismissing the notion of carrying on or burdening Camillo with her thoughts, saying only, quietly, "I just become unreasonably worried, sometimes."

"Worried about what, my lady?" Camillo asks gently, not looking directly at her face but listening attentively all the same.

"What they think, is all. What they keep hidden. I am a widow, and childless." That worry indeed etches the lady's face; not in lines or wrinkles, but in shadows and expressive eyes pointed at the floor. "Those leaps they make." She lifts her flowers, remembering their purpose, but brushing a thumb through the spray of colour with less festive enthusiasm than before. "I'm nearly rambling now, I did not mean to."

"I do not mind, my lady," Camillo says, glancing up to see her face. "Although I think I may have dampened your spirits. Forgive me that. I was glad to see you bright and happy after the discoveries the other night."

"It is not you that's dampened my spirits," Marsei assures, although it is a rather forlorn statement in itself, uncommonly sad. When she looks to Camillo, her rosy smile comes back around, doing a much better job at appearing reassuring. "I do look forward to the Dolphin Festival," she says, and while it is a pointed effort to turn toward good cheer, it's no less sincere. "But there's no lack of excitement in the Hightower these days. Who knows what we shall find next, hm?" The quietest of shuffles outside her chamber door alerts her to a presence she seems to guess straight away, calling out lightly, "A moment, Siva!"

Camillo looks over his shoulder at the sound. "I've overstayed, forgive me," he says. "Thank you for receiving me, my lady." He makes her a bow and moves to depart.

"Nonsense," Marsei dismisses congenially, "you'll see me out."

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