(122-03-11) The Hour of the Rooster
The Hour of the Rooster
Summary: After the ball, it means… coming home. Or waking up in front of it.
Date: 11/03/2015
Related: The Wild, Wild Life

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.

Morning is dawning, and anybody who is anybody is hung over. Hung way over in most cases. And for once, Camillo is no exception. Rather than bustling about the place getting things done, he is sprawled, inexplicably, not far from the Hightower doors, apparently asleep despite the rising sun. He seems to have lost most of his costume along the way (though modesty is quite retained by a simple undershirt), the one remaining piece being the chicken pants, which are somewhat muddied and would not make his costume of last night identifiable to anyone except perhaps Marsei. A kitchen girl is on her way out the door to fetch firewood when she sees Camillo — shaved face and all — sprawled there, and titters, disappearing back into the house. Soon after, a much larger matron, probably a cook from the kitchen, bustles out with a large bucket of washing-water. This she splashes over Camillo. "NO TIME FOR LAYING ABOUT!" she announces loudly as Camillo gasps awake, flailing a bit in his disorientation.

As Camillo unknowingly approached his abrupt wake-up call, figures have been approaching over the bridge. At this time of day, Lady Marsei is more likely to be leaving the Hightower than entering it; she's not very likely to even be doing that. Whatever accompaniment she had left her before the harbourfront gave way to water, and her small red-haired figure now travels the path accross the island to home amidst a small procession of handmaidens in black dresses, most of whom look as though they have risen from the grave. As for the lady herself, she is a much plainer picture than the night before: the extravagant costume dress is nowhere to be seen, replaced by a blue dress that is utterly undecorated by contrast. Part of her hair is pinned back, but half-heartedly, mostly falling in soft, random curls; in the morning light, it's lost its fiery hue.

She quite nearly bypasses Camillo as he flails, soaked. It would be easy to mistake him as a layabout servant she doesn't especially recognize. It's only a glimpse of what costume remains that slows her step, and only after she's passed; even then, she hesitates. Is it? She turns around, investigating closer.

"Wait! Stay!" Camillo splutters in his confusion, but surely he's not talking to the cook, who's already left to go draw another bucket of water. So it's impossible to tell who he /does/ think that he's talking to, but after a moment more, he starts to gather his wits and lurch to his feet. Between the shaven face, he looks a good deal younger, and much less tough, than he ordinarily might. His eyes take over his face without that bushy beard, and his mouth, too, looks too large.

Even though she gets a good look at him, Marsei questions whether or not it is, in fact, Camillo all over again. She waves the handmaids inside and they pass by in a slow-moving throng; meanwhile, she leans ever-so-slightly down to squint at the out-of-place servant. "It is you!" Her surprise is obvious. Her voice, though theoretically chipper, lacks a bit of its energy, the same way her face lacks a bit of its glow. "I can barely recognize you," she says, perplexed by one thing then the other, "What are you doing out here?"

Camillo is just leaning one hand against the stone of the tower and wringing out the hem of his shirt with the other when Marsei addresses him. His head jerks up. Apparently he wasn't the least aware of her presence. "I…Er. My Lady. I…was brought here. Last night. By a kind soul."

"Oh!" It's a simple enough realization, bearing no judgment, all things considered; even now, Marsei squints not in inquiry, but as a stray ray of light, filtered as it is through the clouds above, hits her eye too harshly and readily reminds her that the night before still leaves a mark. "That's fortunate," she says optimistically, becoming more tentative as she goes on, "Did you… enjoy yourself, then?"

Camillo squints a little, too, ruffling a hand through his hair to dislodge excess water before standing up more properly in the noblewoman's presence. "Apparently," he says. "I apologize if I bring your house dishonor. The drink was…" He hesitates to say 'drugged.'

Marsei's smile starts off reassuring, but fades somewhat nervously, resembling a gentle, cautious wince more than anything. "I… did not quite realize the effect it would have," she admits with some apparent guilt, "Visenya told me, of course, that it was special, but it seemed so harmless and pretty…" Her brows lift with worry, propelling her curiosity — or perhaps the other way around — over what became of Camillo. "I hope it was harmless— ?"

Camillo opens his hands. "I am not dead," he assures Marsei, even if that's not what she meant. "But were you well, through the night?" he wants to know.

"Yes, until daybreak," Marsei is quick to reply, smiling in solidarity for the varying levels of drearier after-effects they surely both must experience. "You were quite transformed," she says, studying Camillo's face as if she hasn't seen it before (not far from the truth) and thinks it peculiar. Clearly, she thinks him still transformed. "Will you tell me…" She begins, steps aside as one armoured man or another tromps out of the Hightower on a mission, and carries on more quietly, inquisitive, "what it was like to be such a different person?"

Camillo looks away from Marsei when she notes his transformation. "Very tiring, my lady," he responds after a pause. But it sounds honest enough. "If you would speak, my lady, may we do so inside? I would be away from sunlight and other people both."

From her innocently expectant expression, she may have been expecting some revelation, but when it does not arrive, she smiles at Camillo's answer; this smile does not look so different from the last. "Of course," she answers, setting toward the Hightower straight away, in some hurry, as a matter of fact. "But I shan't keep you long."

Camillo follows the noblewoman. "I am afraid I may not return the costume to you in the condition in which I received it," he says, and he sounds genuinely regretful about it.

"It is only fabric and feathers," Marsei says lightly, unconcerned, but not dismissive — in a way, her look back at Camillo thanks him for his regret. The massive Hightower soon swallows them up, and while it shields them from sunlight, it isn't exactly absent people. It's bustling with morning chores and business.

"If it cannot be fully recovered I will make payment," Camillo promises. He probably gets a few glares from servants who are picking up his slack while he chit-chats with nobility. "I hope I did not prove embarrassment. I thought the best way to evade detection was to be very unlike myself."

"It was part of the gift and it filled its role. I have no urgent need of a rooster, make no payment," Marsei assures — orders, technically, yet her kind voice does not differentiate. As she strolls through the grand hall, she looks toward the staircase and immediately appears more tired for even considering the mountainous amount of steps. "You needn't worry on any account. It was well done, and your secret's safe with me!"

"Your costume was very beautiful, my lady," Camillo mentions. "It seemed many others thought so, too." He's quiet a moment, then thinks to ask, "How is the bird?"

Although she no doubt heard compliments on her dress throughout the night from all walks of life, the lady's ducked down head and smile are still humble, polite, and sincere. "Thank you." Her gaze once again travels to the grand staircase. "Dozing, last I saw; I've had someone care for it while I was away. I admit I am rather eager to check on the poor thing." But less eager to climb the stairs. "With the flock of birds at the ball, I could not help but think of it."

Camillo lets out a long breath that is half a laugh. "Did you know there would be so many?" he wonders.

"Beautiful birds are a popular choice — but such a group of them! And having found each other," Marsei replies, Camillo's half a laugh carrying through to her voice in the form of amusement. "And the Dornish sun." Thought of Lord Sun widens her eyes slightly; she abstains easily from further comment on that particular guest.

"Who was that?" Camillo wonders, though the tone is rhetorical enough to spare Marsei answer if she wishes. "He seemed unknown to all."

"A mystery," Marsei admits, fleetingly distracted by trying to unravel it then and there without luck. "It was the night for mystery; costumes bring out the secret mummer in some."

"I suppose I am not the only one," Camillo acknowledges, nodding. "But I hope the mysterious among us only added interest to your party."

Marsei just smiles, agreeing; it's tinged with some detracting thought or distraction, only just enough to bring out the tiredness in her usually bright features. "You should return to your duties," she encourages gently, timed to a harried servant passing by, "and me to my dove."

Camillo hesitates at being dismissed, perhaps worried that he has said something amiss, but soon he nods. "Yes, my lady. I hope it strengthens. Good day to you."

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