(122-02-19) Weathering the Times
Weathering the Times
Summary: As preparations for the Dolphin Festival are underway, brother and sister Gwayne and Marsei find time to talk about recent events.
Date: 19/02/2015
Related: None

Battle Island Oldtown

Battle Island sets in the Whispering Sound near to the mouth of the Honeywine. It has no banks nor beaches, only great basalt cliffs that tower a hundred feet or more above the water, depending on weather and tide. The only easy access is a wide arched bridge of white stone leading to the harbourside terminus of Hightower Street. It is guarded day and night by knights loyal to House Hightower.

The island is dominated by the Hightower itself, a stepped tower over eight hundred feet tall made of bright white stone. Its top tier houses a great beacon fire, visible for miles out to sea.

Except at the site where there are mule-powered pulleys to lift the wood for the beacon fires off the ships that bring it, there are little walls around the island's edges. They're white stone, and low, just enough to keep House Hightower's smallest members from venturing over the cliffs. Aside from the stable and one small guardhouse, the island is dedicated to gardens with flowers of many colours, fruit trees, pretty paths of white cobblestones, white fountains, and white stone pavilions.

The mighty Hightower is a hub of bustling activity in preparation for the Dolphin Festival, which begins tomorrow and will include Lord Ormund Hightower's wedding. Battle Island itself may not be the destination, but it's more decorated than usual in honour of the citywide festivities, and even the carts that servants wheel out of the Hightower along the white cobblestones are filled with cheer in the form of flowers and banners and everything in-between. Lady Marsei's always loved the Dolphin Festival; it's no wonder she's outside speaking to a member of the household, making sure everything is running smoothly. She's doing so with nothing but benevolent cheer; no one will find a taskmaster in the sweet lady. She's midway through an excited hand gesture when rain begins to pour from the warm Oldtown skies, threatening her finery, and she ducks hurriedly under a pavilion in a flurry of reddish hair and soft pink fabrics.

With the festival to begin soon and his brothers wedding on the morrow there is much for an officer of the city watch to do. Especially if he is a Hightower. Fitted in black breeches, boots and silver cloak Gwayne strides forth now, his cuirass shining brightly in the morning sun. Pulling the hood of his cloak up when the rain begins to fall he then spots his sister making for the pavilion, he follows her. Once underneath its protection from the soaking skies he approaches. IF she allows he will give her a loving peck on the cheek followed by, "Sweet sister. How fare you this day?" There is a bit of concern in his eyes though he most likely hides it well. "I know of all the folks in the city none are looking forward to the arrival of sea friends as much as you." He is smiling now as he looks down to her and pulls his hood back down, his sandy hair darkened by moisture it has gathered.

"Oh!" Marsei is briefly startled, not quite noticing Gwayne until he's afoot, but the little jump she gives lends well to raising herself on her toes to peck her brother no the opposite cheek. "Hello, Gwayne!" The widow seems in good spirits, beaming at her brother; but her head does tip down under the acknowledgment of his concern, whether she notices it or not. "I do love the Dolphin Festival — it's nice to having something to look forward to. And all the more important, with Ormund and Lynesse marrying." The latter bit is said with a distantly stunned tone; it wasn't long ago that match came as rather a surprise.

He smiles as he listens to her, seemingly in good spirits and that does lift his own. "Yes, I wonder if these storms will slow their arrival." He ponders before moving on, his own odd look at the mentioning of the wedding. "Yes….I do hope our cousin makes Ormund happy." Glancing about to make sure his words are not carried off by any unwanted ears he adds, "I dare say he must have some hooks in father. Being Lord in the hand's absence…Surely he could have made a more oppurtunistic match." He shrugs though. "But surely it is not for me to say."

A thoughtful frown tempts Marsei's smiling face, particularly when Gwayne speaks of opportunistic matches, but the more benign expression wins out. "Lynesse showed him great kindnesses when he was ill," she remarks with some wonder, yet rather neutrally all the same; she's in support of all her family, including the ones getting married. "Maybe it will strengthen our House," she says, erring on the side of optimism. Suddenly, "Do you think you'll get married, Gwayne— ?"

He nods along at her comments, a thoughtful look overtaking his face. "I do not see it weakening our house. But it certainly does nothing to strengthen it either." His eyes subconsciously scan their surroundings, ever on duty this one it would seem. When she asks of his own marriage he smiles. "Oh, I am sure father will doubtless turn his thoughts to me. Though he hasn't seemed to yet. Hand is a busy position though. In fact, come to think of it it may be up to me to land a beneficial marriage for the family." He laughs but it is very short lived. "Though my duties keep me anchored here. One could hypothesize that perhaps that ship has sailed." Taking a deep breath now he adds, "I suppose anything could happen though." He doesn't sound hopeful.

Marsei looks on in understanding; though she's no man of the city watch, that ever empathetic gaze of hers might as well place her momentarily in Gwayne's shoes. "Would you want a wife?" she asks with a pang of curiosity which her expression then turns gently apologetic for. She balances a thin line between her good spirits and thoughtful mood. "It's been one wedding after another since I came back home," she says, as if to explain, "and more on the horizon."

Gwayne smirks, "No, I would like a husband. Some soft faced boy to lie with." He is obviously being sarcastic and a bit crass. Laughing lightly now he says, "I would like whatever would strengthen our house. I am of an age now where it would become more difficult though I think. I am but a second son. Though one could hope father is pulling some strings in King's landing." His gaze falls down to her now, a bit more piercing and he ventures cautiously as to her own feelings. "But what of you? You've suffered a grievous misfortune. I could never imagine the pain it has caused you. For that I am truley sorry, sister." A few moments pass and he adds, "I'd not known the man was so depressed to do such a thing. It came as quite a surprise."

Gwayne's sarcastic jest sets his sister into a bit of a quiet fluster, her eyes widening at him and her breath catching, seeming on the verge of speaknig some shock or offense— ultimately she smiles fondly but pointedly at him. Oh, brother. She's nods along with more serious thought, even as his more piercing gaze marks the turn of the subject on to her, but she looks down.

"Nor I," she answers, voice lowered— yet still with the high and soft quality natural in it. She's compelled further down, sitting on the small bench that's tucked nearby under the pavilion's protection. The persistent patters down on the roof above the siblings, sounding hollow. "But he … had his moods, I suppose."

Gwayne seems to regret his inquiry, perhaps too soon for such talk. He will sit next to her and take her hands in his if she allows, "Forgive me. I should not have waded into such waters. I am sure the hurt is fresh." It takes a moment but he finds some words. "Let us not think on such things now, what with such joyous occasions on the horizon." His eyes are cast out now, observing the various men setting up this and that, ever aware of his surroundings and compelled by duty.

Her hands are easily taken, warm but lifeless in their stillness. "It is not so fresh that new arrangements shan't be made," she says, forlorn compared to her usual positive nature. "At least, perhaps." Marsei comes to life, squeezing Gwayne's hand lightly and looking up with a determinedly fortified smile. "But you're right, brother. It is the festival and Ormund and Lynesse we should turn our thoughts to. Their wedding will be beautiful — and surely blessed by the Mother."

He smiles now to her, her uplifted nature lending a bit to him. "I could not agree more, Sweetling." He squeezes back now and asks, "Tell me, what plans do you have for the day? I must make some rounds later and make sure that all is in place as far as the city watch is concerned. The festivities surely bring every manner of pickpocket and cutthroat to the surface in such large crowds. But, I am not so pressed that I could not take a meal with you or perhaps peruse the city streets a bit." He is smiling and adds, "If the rain were to let up a bit at least."

Uplifted all the more herself by Gwayne, they seem to boulster one another's mood. Marsei's smile widens. "I should like to lend my aid to some preparations here, and… I had considered visiting the Targaryen manse," she answers and looks briefly away, just as briefly conflicted; gone in a heartbeat in favour of warm words. "But I am otherwise not so pressed either. A walk sounds lovely. I so rarely travel anywhere but the Sept of late. I'd feel better doing so by your side."

"Oh? The Targaryen manse? What lies there?" He inquires. "Well, in any case I could escort you. I see none of your maids or guards about so it would not only be my pleasure but my duty as well." He says happily to her with a smile. He will stand now and offer his arm to her as he peers out at the weather, a slight frown forming for the briefest of seconds. "I am sure they can manage around here for a bit without you." He winks at her and will begin there journey to wherever they decide to venture if she is still willing.

Marsei looks about the grounds, watching the people move this way and that before turning her gaze toward the bridge. "I thought I might visit Princess Visenya, a new friend," she says, smiling up at Gwayne. "For now, however, I'd be most content with a walk with my brother." She rests a light hand on his elbow and moves to step out of the pavilion, first peeking upward between drips of water trailing off its roof. The rain comes to a tentative pause, but the skies appear particularly tempestuous and the wind off the sea especially gusty. She's fully aware they may get caught in a storm, but heads out with Gwayne all the same, deciding, "It will be an adventure."

Marsei looks about the grounds, watching the people move this way and that before turning her gaze toward the bridge. "I thought I might visit Princess Visenya, a new friend," she says, smiling up at Gwayne. "For now, however, I'd be most content with a walk with my brother." She rests a light hand on his elbow and moves to step out of the pavilion, first peeking upward between drips of water trailing off its roof. The rain comes to a tentative pause, but the skies appear particularly tempestuous and the wind off the sea especially gusty. She's fully aware they may get caught in a storm, but heads out with Gwayne all the same, deciding, "It will be an adventure."

"Ahhh. Very good. And a good friend to have at that." He says jovially. "I myself am not familiar with her but surely it never hurts to have fire and blood upon your side." He adds casually. He returns the smile. "Well, let us be off then." He would take her arm in his and begin. "Seems we have a brief respite from the weather. We should take advantage." And off they go.

Marsei smiles over mention of her Targaryen friend, fire, and blood, but goes silent; though it is a sudden silence, it turns pleasant over the journey off Battle Island, across the arched bridge. She watches the lapping waves in the Sound and, eventually, has polite, kind words of greeting for the alert Hightower guards (who are perhaps even more alert due to the presence of the Lord Commander of the City Watch). All in all, she strolls as calmly as if it were in fact a calm day.

* * *

Harbourfront Oldtown

The Honeywine River widens into the Whispering Sound here, and on to the sea. The tranquil blue waters of the Whispering Sound are plied by large ocean-going ships from all over the world, in every color and sort imaginable. River-boats from the Honeywine's course, skiffs, dinghies, and the grand warships that protect the Oldtown Harbour - all travel these waters.

This is where many of Oldtown's newest arrivals first catch a glimpse of the ancient city of stone. It sprawls along the Sound, straddling the Honeywine, a multitude of wooden bridges, grey stone manses, docks, cranes, canals, towers, walls, flights of stone stairs, and squat stone buildings stretch to the North as far as the eye can see.

Dominating the harbour is the Hightower, a massive white stone tower some eight hundred feet tall, its top aflame with an enormous beacon fire. It is both castle and lighthouse, and a staggering wonder to behold. It stands out on Battle Island, a sheer-cliffed rock that sits out in the sound, just beyond the river's mouth. There's a bridge leading to it, guarded by knights sworn to House Hightower. Hightower Street leads North from the foot of the bridge.

As they pass the men give salute to the Hightower officer and they receive terse nods in return. With his sister upon his arm they continue over the bridge and to the Harbourfront. There are numerous ships about, more lavish than usual and more than a few foreign ones no doubt in town for the festival and some surely for the wedding as well. As they make their way he says, "IT seems we will shake the rain for a bit. Hopefully it slows down for the coming days. We could use the dry weather." He looks back to the Hightower now, looming in the distance. "It is surely a site is it not? Such grand architecture is not known anywhere else in the seven kingdoms."

"I grew so accustomed to its grandness," Marsei replies, turning her head over one narrow shoulder to stare up at the tallest structure in the realm. Their home. "Yet it's always breathtaking to look upon from afar. Especially when I've been away. It is something to be proud of, isn't it." She smiles fondly at the ancient feat of architecture, full of reflective awe as she adds, "…And still holds secrets."

"It truly is." He agrees. "Aye." He says on the secrets, not letting on too much what he may or may not know. "Though I should think some should be more closely guarded." He raises an eyebrow and looks sideways to his sister, perhaps gauging just exactly how much she knows. "I'd like to place extra surveillance there especially with so many coming to the city. It is so much easier for one to sneak about with so much going on. I've meant to have a word with ORmund but he is ever busy with his wedding on the morrow…Perhaps I will take it upon myself to bring a few trusted men in." He lets that hang as he turns now to continue their stroll.

Marsei's gaze up at Gwayne holds as much cleverness as it does benevolence. She smiles at his suggestion. "I cannot imagine Ormund would disagree," she replies, her way of agreeing. She's distracted by studying the ships in the harbour for a moment, fascinated by the new and more colourful arrivals. "Do you think it would be too bold to place additional watch around the Starry Sept as well…?" she asks her brother then — and though it is phrased as a curious question rather than a request, she has clear purpose. Worry marks her eyes — without stressing her fair skin. She wraps one arm about herself as she strolls. "I was all but accosted by a group of maesters a few eves past. I told Ormund; I did not want to worry you… but ever since, I've feared being interrogated every time I pray."

Nodding at her agreement he holds their pace as they make their way through the Harbourfront. He raises a brow now at her request. "Should that be necessary? IF it is your own privacy you are worried about I could assign a few men to your retinue. To justify stationing additional men there may take some convincing. Our numbers are stretched quite thin with so much hustle and bustle right now. Though, a few well placed words with the Maesters will surely go along way I should think." He pats her arm as if to say he will see it done. "They should stay to the Citadel. A good place for those bookish types." His words carry a bit of an edge to them now.

Marsei seems content enough with that, her smile warm and grateful. "I will feel at ease with whatever you think is best, brother," she assures him in turn. She frowns in thought afterward, but the expression does not stick. "I have liked most maesters… so full of wisdom and stories to tell! … at least when they tell them freely." She dismisses them with a rise of her chin and points one small hand to one of the brightly festooned ships in the harbour in town for the festivities. "Where is that one from?" she asks with the confidence that goes along with believing Gwayne has the answers.

His grip remains firm yet gentle in its own way upon her arm. "OH sure, some of them are not so bad but I find the lot of them to be bold in their pursuits. Too much for my liking." his words grow warmer now as he examines the ship. "I would say that one is from Pentos, based upon the complexion of the crew. Though it may harbor from any one of the free cities truth be told." Their walk continues now through the busy streets and he says, "Oh, look at that one! No doubt from the summer isles." The sails are brightly colored and the dark skinned crew members mark it for hailing most likely just from where he said. They seem in a hurry as they unload cargo and already shouts of merchants are flooding the streets.

"Oh! It's beautiful. The colours are must all be so vivid in the Summer Isles!" Marsei is easily awed, quick to take joy in beautiful things; even after all she's been through, this aspect of her seems unstoppable. "Do you think I could say hello to them— " Her steps hurry as if to run off toward the ship away from Gwayne's hold, not unlike a carefree child running after whatever catches her interest, but she does think better of it once she gets a closer look at some of the crew and calms her steps. They might not want the complication of the noblewoman's enthusiastic good graces. " — oh… perhaps not. I will get a chance to greet all of the visitors throughout the festival."

His grip loosens a bit but she does not flee so he still holds on to her. "Perhaps while they are not so busy. Anyways, I am sure your grace and beauty would be lost amongst them. Your company excels what they deserve. Savages most I would think." He sounds a bit protective. "Have you any plans to board a ship tomorrow, for the feeding and such of the dolphins? I am quite sure I will be busy but I would inquire to your plans if I may. Surely I will gain some leisure time if not only for the ceremonies of our brother and cousin."

Marsei only smiles unfazed by Gwayne's comments about the ship's crew, content to allow him his protectiveness and be protected. She strolls along, past the ship, looking up at the overcast but blessedly, if tentatively, peaceful sky. "I will board the ship and feed the dolphins, and toss fish to the smallfolk." As is tradition, and one she enjoys. "Yes, I hope the city behaves and allows you time to enjoy the day. You deserve that. You do work so hard."

"Yes well, our commander is lax at best in his duties. Between us I should hope to take his position. I am less than pleased with his performance." He sounds a bit angry but it fades. "But yes, I should be able to slip away at times. At least, I hope so." He takes a deep breath, again scanning their surroundings as they make their way along. Though his colors and hers, along with the watch uniform do quite a bit in clearing the way for the siblings.

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