(122-03-09) The Blessing in Disguise
The Blessing in Disguise
Summary: Camillo helps out when Marsei is suddenly determined to nurture a wayward dove plucked from the Maidenday Gardens.
Date: 09/03/2015
Related: Judgments, Jade Sea to Maidenday Gardens

The Hightower Battle Island

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.

A number of Hightower-cloaked men enter and begin to disperse, their task done, heralding the return of one of the tower's nobility to the safety of the tower; a swish and flourish of pink fabric and coppery hair reveals it easily to be Lady Marsei. She's moving quickly, cradling some small object in her arms with enormous care and concern, as one might a child. A pale, feathered child, as the case may be; it's a bird. As has been the case all the way home, she earns a few odd looks, but if any noblewoman were to be spotted fussing over a poor wayward animal or, for that matter, person, it would be the sweet Hightower. She makes for the grand staircase, almost all of her attention on the out-of-place creature.

Camillo is just passing in from the Dining hall with a jug of oil. Likely he's at his task of filling lamps again. He pauses when he sees someone is entering and gets ready to make a bow, but Marsei's posture distracts him, and he approaches, though not excessively close. "My lady, what is it?"

"Camillo!" she exclaims with surprise before she sees him — she hears him. The second she whirls about, both Marsei and a dove are staring at him with pretty, bewildered eyes. One set is beadier than the other. She states the obvious with urgency: "I found a dove!" At the moment, she seems to lack the self-awareness to note how silly all this might look; she's focused on the well-being of the bird, which sits in the nook of her arm quite still, for a wild creature. "It's— well, the poor thing is a bit hurt, I think. I thought I would bring it to the Citadel, to the rookery, as surely the maesters are well-versed in care of birds, but at the last moment, I couldn't bring myself to step inside."

Camillo looks puzzled for a moment, but he reads the situation by Marsei's expression and tone more than what she is actually saying. He darts to set the jug down somewhere that it won't be kicked over, then comes to peek at the bird, this time approaching close. "You would nurse it," he concludes from her distress. "I keep some herbs in my chamber," he says quickly.

"I don't know how to nurse a bird, do you?" Marsei counters with both the utmost seriousness and bafflement, her pure earnestness lending to a rather comical manner, though she doesn't seem to notice that, either. She pets the bird's wing, and it puffs its shimmery neck up, becoming fat with feathers. "You have herbs… for birds…?" she ventures, utterly unsure. This is a new endeavour entirely for the noblewoman, but she cradles that dove with true concern.

Camillo blinks at Marsei's question, almost managing to suppress a raised brow, but not entirely. "I have herbs, my lady. I do not think they are created for one animal or another. Come quickly, we can at least try to ease pain and aid healing." He hurries toward the back staircase that leads to the servants' quarters.

"Are some plants not poisonous to animals? Or poisonous to us and not to the dog or the rat?" Marsei asks as she hurries along after Camillo. The questions sound largely rhetorical, simply an expression of how little knowledge of the varied nature of herbs. She takes small, quick steps, still poised in her rush, and ever careful not to jostle the bird, who is quite likely more confused than any of them. "I found it in the Maidenday Gardens," she says, less hectic. "I saw it first hopping under the statue of the Maiden and it did not fly, and … I found myself following it. I expect the young man who witnessed me plucking it from the bushes thought I was daft, but…" she quiets, "…I could not just leave it there."

"Yes, I suppose," Camillo answers, "But in general I think there is more that sickens us and leaves birds be than the other way round," he says. "If you can think of better means…" He doesn't add, 'then do it' so as to make the statement sound a little softer. The unexpected sight of the noblewoman sends one half-clad servant scuttling back to his room. Camillo leads the way to his room, which he opens with a key. Some servants sleep two to a room, but although Camillo is new, training and recommendation have won him a private room, tiny though it is. There is a wooden frame with a straw mattress on it, and a small table crammed into the space. On the table rest about three texts that look religious, and well worn. "If it was by the statue of the Maiden then it is a good work to help it." There are a few stacked baskets that surely contain herbs, and these Camillo goes to right away. "My lady, set the bird on the table. If you would."

So focused on the animal, Marsei seems to only truly realize that she's in the servant quarters once she notices that door closing in a hurry; she's startled herself, suddenly taking in her surroundings as if she's never seen them before. It wouldn't be beyond reasoning that she hasn't. The same curiosity is given to Camillo's quarters, slowing her journey — such as it is — to the table, but only slightly. She leans down to set the dove down; it protests the change, giving a series of flustered coos until it realizes it can try to hop away. The elegance of the dove is damaged by its awkward attempt. One leg seems stiff. "Do you think so?" Marsei queries optimistically, "a sign, from the Maiden?" She gently corrals the bird with her palms.

There really is just enough room for Camillo, Marsei, and Marsei's dress in the one room. They can get round one another, but that's about it. His quarters are kept very tidy. There is also a stub of candle on a metal disk on the table. That is about all that is immediately apparent, though there may be a thing or two jammed under the bedframe. "It must be," Camillo replies. "Look at it, pure and unstained just like the maiden." Camillo's eyes dart back and forth as he sees the bird try to hop around. "We should put it in something," he realizes. A moment's thought and then he quickly ducks down and goes sprawling under his bed. He probably wouldn't need to crawl halfway under there to reach something beneath, but he sticks his whole head under nevertheless. There is a quiet clacking sort of sound. Then he wriggles backward and comes up with an open wooden box about ten inches by seven, that is even carved prettily on top, which is rather out of keeping with the spartan tone of the rest of his possessions. He sets this down on the table. "Perhaps it would be more still if we sat it in this. Where is it injured?"

The bird has brought about rather deep contemplation in the lady, who watches it with more than concern. It's something greater than a bird now. She appraises the box, curious over its make, but does not ask over it; she simply relocates their tiny patient, gently setting it inside. It attempts to turn around inside, finding itself trapped. Marsei's expression turns slightly guilty, but the dove seems to accept its fate quickly; or else it's simply tired. "Its left leg," she says. "I do not know if that stops the poor thing from taking flight."

Camillo nods thoughtfully. He unstacks some of those baskets and quickly roots through for dried herb. He finds a few items and crushes small bits of the leaves between his fingers. Then he scatters some of these in the box, over the bird, over the bird's beak, and over its leg, anything that might help introduce them into the animal, now or later.

"Is it meant to eat the them?" Marsei asks, clasping her hands together now that the bird is confined. " … I realize now I do not know what doves eat. I suppose I'm a poor mother dove." She finds herself smiling, a whispery chuckle just shy of laughing. She looks about Camillo's quarters again, giving it a better once-over. "…The other servants will think me silly, bustling in here with such an odd task."

"A bit, I hope," Camillo says. "They will eat anything, seeds or bread…" He shakes his head a little. "The others need not know what brings you, if you do not wish it known."

"It's… no worry," Marsei assures, smiling, her gaze gentle— but somewhat faraway. "I would rather be silly than secretive." She touches a corner of the repurposed box thoughtfully, watching the dove. "For some reason…" she hesitates, mouth open, vaguely regretful; the fleeting expression is out-of-place, out-of-sorts. She carries on. "I cannot stop thinking about this dove. Some would surely say that nature was meant to take its course. If I had left it, it would surely have died… become prey. But if I had, if I did nothing," her eyes narrow, stressing her brow just so, "would it not have been the same as killing it myself?"

Camillo looks a bit worriedly at the dove in the box as it pecks at a piece or two experimentally. It doesn't seem to hate the little pieces, so it nibbles up a few. "I would not have thought to be so kind, but you were right to," he says after a pause. "Surely you will be blessed."

"Perhaps," she answers quietly. She seems skeptical of a blessing, despite so clearly feeling that she did the right thing and her optimism earlier when speaking about the Maiden. A smile upon noticing the bird is eating brings her back around. "I will nurture it until it remembers how to fly," she vows. "May I borrow your box?" Marsei looks up to the sparse room, apologetic — the box is, after all, the finest object Camillo seems to own, as far as she can see.

Camillo nods faintly at the request to borrow the box. "Yes, my lady. It might be happiest if you put some cloth or straw in with it. And if you would return it when finished, I would be grateful."

"Of course!" Marsei assures in good cheer and good faith. She lifts the box up near her face with both hands, turned about so that she more or less faces its occupant when she peeks inside. "Will you help me prepare for the ball?" she asks the dove playfully before holding the box tight to her and inching about the tight room toward the door. "You have my gratitude as ever, Camillo. Only the oddest tasks for you, it seems!"

"If you wish, my lady," Camillo says, getting out of her way. "I am looking forward to the event," he tells her.

Marsei can't possibly leave without asking. She smiles expectantly. "Ah, but in what capacity?"

"Surely, my lady, it is too late to have anything made up now?" Camillo suggests, perhaps hoping fate will take the decision away from him.

"There is always something at the ready or easily altered!" Marsei is all too happy to inform Camillo. He won't get away that easily! "As long as you decide by this eve," she says, turning to open the door. She peeks out first before exiting, not wanting to alarm any unsuspecting servants all over again.

Camillo bobs his head. "Yes, my lady," he says. "I shall…think on it and bring word to you tonight. Forgive my tardiness." The bird is probably slumbering by now, soothed by the herbs at least a little.

Pleased easily, she bobs her head in return and gives a merry little wave of her hand before she and the dozy bird vanish down the hall, out of the servants quarters.

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