(122-05-21) Inside the Shaggy Man
Inside the Shaggy Man
Summary: Tellur and Malcolm look for information on the raiders.
Date: Date of play (21/05/122)
Related: http://gobmush.wikidot.com/plot:something-is-rotten-at-winterfell

This tavern is actually an old barge, tied to a pier. It is not in great shape, but still floats and the tavern itself has a frequently patched roof to keep the rain off. People turn up in row boats as well as from the pier. The tavern itself has an old skull on a pike in lieu of a sign, though it is called the "Shaggy Man." Rumor is, that the skull once belonged to a famous Ibbanese pirate, but it's just as likely the head of some more recent criminal stuck up there for effect. It is a sailor's dive, and deeply unsavory. There does seem to be some sort of business going on at night below decks, but the hatch is guarded by a large sullen bouncer and only certain of the row boat traffic is allowed down the ladder. Tonight there is boisterous hurdy gurdy music and the group singing of a particularly filthy shanty within.

Tellur has a quarterstaff with him, recently cut, because the fact is he will be limping on and off for weeks. The horses are back at the tavern he and Malcolm are staying with…but Tellur has his wolf at his heel, and his owl on his shoulder, as extra eyes are very useful. He also has on ragged, blood stained clothes, since they fit the feel, and he has a Malcolm with him - always good, to carry an assassin. Unshaven, and odd, with freshly dyed hair, he does look peculiar, as he says to Malcolm on the way down "I'm going to tame another raven."

Malcolm is himself not looking his best, his shield arm being in a sling and moving stiffly to protect his side, but he is in his leathers, armed, and looking like he'd really enjoy stabbing someone. He too is unshaven, so that his long stripey beard emerges from a bristle of new black stubble. Tellur's comment gets a searching look and then a nod, "I barely knew the old one, but I am sorry for the loss of it. I can only imagine how you must miss having one about." There feet thud hollow on the boards. A man can be seen attempting to take a stringy woman against the barge rail, her skirts pulled up. Both are sloppy drunk and they are not making much headway about it, despite her impatient urging of him. Light spills out through shutters, illuminating stripes on the boards and reflecting in the inky water.

More than anyone can really imagine, from Tellur's expression. Not grim, but briefly, flatly, hollow. "What is left behind," he mutters to himself, and he ignores the lovers in their tryst - were some things different, he might pay attention, but not now. He thumps on the door with his stick and pushes it aside to head into the the tavern, ready immediately to push anyone out of the way who needs it. His owl sways on his shoulder, hissing.

Malcolm gives his shoulder a sympathetic squeeze before dropping his hand and getting in to character. The drinkers and soiled doves give them a look over, but are more interested in drinking or singing or fondling or whatever they happen to be doing. There is a pink haired tyroshi sailor getting his purse lifted as he dandles a lady of the evening on his knee, so their odd choice of hair doesn't stand out as much as one might think. Indeed, it is a mix of sailors and dockworkers up here mostly. It is a plump woman playing the hurdy gurdy, leg exposed nigh the whole way up and hair an improbable bright crimson.

Tellur at least always looks perpetually somewhat irritated, so getting into character is not too much effort. The wolf by his feet, near-full-grown now, is a good guardian for his purse. Indeed, Tellur simply has Dog hold it, which makes all matters more simple. He eyes the sailor with the pink hair, and glances at Malcolm, surprised, then orders two rough ales, and pushes his way into a back table to sit "Snow heard some things here the other night, people tell a lot of stories, Mal. Can ye - you, damn it -" the Seal has worn off on him "See anyone who's of a mind to tell tales?" Tellur himself is listening, inhaling, breathing in.

Malcolm murmurs, "It's a Tyroshi fashion originally, but Braavos do it too these days…. It's a shame neither of us sings…." The 'ye' gets an amused eyebrow raise, and then he's off to mingle, selecting the least alarming looking of the women to dangle coin at. He's soon settled with a mixed group, the woman on his knee and him being all charm, the way he is apt to, trusting Tellur to do his own form of surveillance. The hurdy gurdy player takes a break for a drink and a bite, and the rowdy crowd settles in for serious drinking, dicing, and lechery.

Tellur's section is quieter and further from the taps, but a hatchet faced woman with a lot of suspicious lumps suggesting knives circulated with fill ups of ale, rum, and scrumpy. Here sit the serious drinkers and folks wanting a quiet word with some other man. The result is a mix of hard core drinkers either silent or muttering to themselves, scattered conversations between dangerous looking toughs, and a few bodies kicked under the tables to sleep it off.

Gathering information is not Tellur's strong point. Beasts are his strong point. He simply says to Malcolm, in case anyone overhears and gets curious "So those bodies they've not been finding - is it because they're being stolen, robbed? Is it pirates? Or some bunch of idiots charging around on gods damn horses?" He has a voice that is…not dulcet.

Heads turn and there is a lot of silence. It stretches. And then there is talking, so much talking. Apparently the raids are of prime interest to coastal men such as these and everyone has a rumor or tale of terror. The ones with more foreign sounding accents are mostly asking questions. It is a large man with a bushy beard who thumps his tankard down and booms, "I saw there work, mesel'! "Twas a bit East and north of here. One of those four or five men fishing boats, drifting too far out. We came alongside and the deck were slick with blood. Not a soul was on board though, not even a cat or their catch. A ghost ship, she was…." Men shudder and make various signs according to their various faiths to ward off such for themselves. A man slurs, "Merlings rising from the sea to eat us all and rape our women….."

Tellur says "How can you say it isn't some brigands on board, weighting bodies after they kill?" Despite the fact that he himself _is_ one of the mythical creatures people fear, Tellur has a rather dim view of such things in general. He frowns a bit, then says to Malcolm "Hold it, wasn't there talk of serpents in the water?" He calls out to the man with the beard "No bodies there, so no fish, but did the boat have their effects, their belongings, or had it been robbed?"

Malcolm nods, "The really big serpents are generally in warmer waters, but there are serpents and Krakens, yes." The big man, thinks, "The boat was picked clean, even the nets and spare rope and hooks and the like. Not a scrap of clothes and the only cloth the sail itself. Galley picked clean too of pots and spoons as well as food."

"Sounds like human hands," Tellur says "What would a merrow want with a spoon, anyway? A serpent - or sharks, or so many other things would kill…but I don't think they'd care about anything like that. Come to it, I don't know - does any here? - that _pirates_ would care that much about so many things. It's very odd. That sounds more like someon' tryin' to provision theyselves."

The men voice their agreement of Tellur's good sense. A woman pipes up, "A man was in here, said he saw one of them fishing villages smoking still. They that done it was gone, but some as hid in the forest came out, said 'twas men done it. Some of 'em had filed teeth and all was savage as Direwolves. They had axes and knives and a few swords too, all hairy and wearing furs like Wildlings. They took alkl they could catch, babies too, and the wounded and dead. Robbed what they could carry away on there ships, and burned what was left.

"Metal…they took metal, and all things men with workshops and forges make," Tellur murmurs "Aye, now that's a thing, Mal. " He nods a little, and he says "That's a bad thing - what do the Gentry here abouts mean to do?" He frowns "There are some Wildling types quite a long way North, but Ironmen are usually…well, good with iron."

The woman nods, wide eyed, "Yes! How'd you know? They took metal stuff and food and people and the dead and blankets and the like. Money too, what they found of it…." Mal does indeed look curious and make encouraging sounds. Another woman pipes up, "My sister says, Manderlay's ordered his heir to gather what men he can find aren't already gone West to guard what he can and to do more patrols along the Coast." A man says, "They are doing the same when we were up North along the Karstark Coast. They are trying to get the merchanters to watch out for raider shops. Problem is, there is a lot of coast and a lot of coves a ship might put in to drop raiders and so many's gone West for that glover nonsense or for the Winter Rose Rebellion. It's hard to get enough to do the riding.

Tellur says "I'm from Winterfell - when Wildlings make it over the Wall, they take anything they can't make in their villages - and that's things like forge equipment, or good bridles and tack." He half-stands "Your tanneries here - those butchers. They don't have those further North, they take too many men to run. They'll take things that they can't have another way - otherwise it's too much effort to prise bolts out of boats, eh? Who wants to mess with salt and stink if they don't have to?" He frowns, and then he says "Do they ever come back to hit a place again?"

The drinkers look at each other owl eyed, but none knows the answer to Tellur's question. The hurdy gurdy player suggests, "Bet they know up at the manse. Or maybe the customs house would know." There is much spitting at the mention of customs enforcement.

Tellur grins "Aye, maybe. Should I go wake 'em up in the middle of the night, lads?"

There is much snorting and derision at this suggestion. A small, scarred man eyes the barkeep, "There's some might know more?" The barkeep sighs, "There's some wouldn't want to be disturbed, nor trouble from Winterfell neither.

"I'm not trouble. I'm from the place, but I'm not exactly noble," Tellur says, spreading his arms and turning around. Full of injuries and bloodstains "A free drink and a paid tumble with whatever whore you can track down to the first to truly tell me who I should talk to to learn more about these thieving bastards."

Everybody freezes for a moment, and then a rat face man darts for the door, several others after him. The others sigh and shrug. A man calls, "So which side you on, the Pup or the Rose?"

"The Starks," says Tellur, flatly.

One of the women rolls her eyes, "Ah, but which Stark? You being from up Winterfell way, you must have had a squint at 'em both."

"Lord Carolis serves Lord Cregan - I've seen them both," Tellur acknowledges "Lord Carolis' greatest fear is that Cregan won't sire a lawful son to keep his neck out of the travails of leadership. He prefers to sneak around and have fun."

They all scoff, "Who'd turn down all that power and money if someone gave it to 'em!" Another voice calls, "Bet them up at the new Castle wouldn't say no if someone handed 'em Wardenship!" And another adds, "Or them stark cousins up at the Wolf Manse!"

It is at this point, scars returns with a tall, rather unsteady man in Manderlay guards livery. Scars demands of Tellur, "You got to stand him a few rounds as well as me!" The man blinks confusedly at the sudden shift from the dark outside to the lantern light inside. Getting his bearings the glassy eyed sword nods slowly and exaggeratedly, a smile spreading on his face, "Scrumpy!" Scars agrees, "We both want scrumpy. And a whore." He eyes the guard, "Separate whores. Not the same one." The guard nods again, swaying.

"Same one, but you can choose one who won't stab you," Tellur returns, in the interests of being…well, being Tellur. He notes the livery, and then he claps the man on the shoulder "But why don't you let your friend go first while we sit down and talk, eh?" He still has his staff, Tellur does, needing it to stand upright. A few coins change hands, and Tellur pats the table, between himself and Malcolm.

Scars thinks this over, scratching at his body lice, and nods. "Fine. same one, but sperate scrumpy." The inebriated guard nearly goes over at the shoulder clasp but turns it into a graceless fall into the chair. Scars takes a stringing, but not particularly scabrous woman outside. Scrumpy is thumped down in front of the guard. His speech is slow and slurred, but intelligible to a northern ear, "Wha…Whassit now? The thing?" Mal sends the girl off with a pat and leans in to listen.

"Yes, the thing," Tellur says, entirely reasonably "You said you would tell me, your friend, more about the raids being done on the coastline and on the poor fisherfolk - your suspicions, and those of your generous Lords." And he refills the guard's cup.

Malcolm takes a while to mull that, then says, "Some says Ib..Ibonese, busnot. S'Wil'ings 'ships'r Skags for sure. Th'ishishues' the dead, right?" He waves his hand about in illustration, nearly overturning the cup without noticing. "Ishit to scare or for food, right? Isay eten 'em's what we wannaknow. How…how'd 'ey get shi-ships? Skags have ships, but laspring's Wil'ings mussaadem too, right? So's Wi'lingsorSka-skags." He discovers the cup with some delight and manages to find his mouth with a but of searching, choking as he tries to swallow.

"But what might have them going so far South? The lack of goods in the North, some other thing?" Tellur presses the man, a little "Is there some need for the bastards to come South, given what will happen?"

The man shrugs, "Who knows whathem amimiminals thin? Scummathearth, y'know? Hungry maybe? Or re…re…rebling again? Mebe, mebe someun hired em for slavers? Pento?" He navigates the scrumpy to dock in his mouth despite head and hand having distinctly different sway patterns. "D'they thinall? S'no like us. Menore…raison."

Tellur has lost the man for the moment, now, but he does have his information. He shakes that head a little, and then he says "Mmm." Hired. Maybe. A glance at Malcolm, and he says to the Knight "Let's go. I'm tired of too much chatter." He may as well say 'And I don't fancy the idea of being stabbed while I work out how Skags get ahold of ships faster than these folks'.

Malcolm nods and says softly, "I did think the Wildlings last year were hired and leant boats, but none took make seriously." Mal tosses extra coin to the barkeep for Scars and the Guard, and makes his way towards the door, keeping an eye out for errant knives.

Tellur nods to the man, himself, but his own purse is securely within Dog's jaws. His white owl flaps awkwardly on his shoulder, and as they step out, Tellur leaning heavily on his staff, he rumbles at Malcolm in his low, growling voice "Gods knows, there's a powerful mess building here. I'm half worried the Targs will start taking an interest."

Scars is having his way with the woman, who is howling theatrically in obviously fake pleasure as he thrusts at whatever he fumbled into under her skirts.

Ser Malcolm looks grim as he nods, "And Targ attention is the last thing we need." It is at this point, five men loom out from various bits of shadow.

Tellur just snarls, outright, like the cur he can be. He does not like being startled, and he half-crouches over his injured limb, a hand on Dog's collar.

Malcolm slides out his rapier and a long defensive knife ad waits.

A gravelly voice asks, "Was yer inneres in the raiders, anyways?"

"Because things that cause trouble in the North always come back to bite me in the arse," Tellur says "And I don't intend on getting skinned, gutted and eaten while I'm goin' on a nice trip to see the pleasant snows."

The figure most directly in the way, slim of hip and waist, and broad of shoulder gestures the other men back. "These boats, they're slim and fast and wide o' sail. I'd say about half are heirlooms, the other half in their first or season season afloat."

Tellur eyes that sort, knowing the build to be similar to Malcolm's - and therefore somewhat dangerous "…then someone's funding the bastards," he says "And that's no good for anyone." His hand tightens a little, and then he says "I don't _like_ things like that."

The gravelly voice says, "I don' like pirates or slavers." He gestures again and the men slink away, leaving only him. He says, "Wha's yer name then, Man of Winterfell who asks questions at some risk?"

Tellur glances at Malcolm, but then says "Tellur." He grimaces "Tellur Snow."

Malcolm gives one of his efficiently graceful bows, never taking his eyes off the stranger's silhouette, "Ser Malcolm Storm, Sworn to House Stark. I hate slavers and pirates too."

The stranger nods, long stringy hair shifting, and steps aside, fast as a snake striking, "Then we are on the same side in this. I will remember you."

Tellur does not like those movements - at least, he does not like seeing those movements on anyone other than Malcolm. He tenses, and Dog growls, and Tellur does as well, but then he says "…aye. Good." Unsettled, he places his staff and then limps past them, inhaling suddenly. Most men do not quite have the sense of smell Tellur does, and he trusts his better than his eyes.

The man smells of the sea and wood and tar and dominant man sweat and the faintest kiss of rum. He smells dangerous the way Mal smells dangerous, only where Mal has a darkness underwriting his desire, this man has a white hot knot of anger hat nearly defines him.

Malcolm never takes his eyes from the man as Tellur passes. he follows after, turning to keep the shape in sight as long as possible.

Tellur frowns, rubbing at his face, and remembering the scent so he can try it as much as possible while in Wolf's body later. Never mind. He limps ahead of Malcolm, and he says to him "We're wearing out our welcome here. I've little head for intrigue, Mal. I wonder where all that coin could possibly come from - th' number of folks with access to such who _are not_ Lords is narrowing. Back to bed. My leg hurts."

It's a distinctive scent, with quite a bit of predator in it. Once they are well clear, he steps beside Tellur, but has no spare arm to offer, needing his sword arm free and the other still healing. "I think we can't rule out Lord's Wolfling. It took money to bribe the watch out West, and money for these ships."

Tellur pats Malcolm gently and he hauls them - alas - to check the horses and Grace and Fiona before they can go up to their beds "It's quite a lot of money. The ships are new. The men aren't the cheapest either. They're afield, they're close, they're far away. Everywhere. And people are announcing damned stupid things about the Starks. Almost makes me think I should tell one of the Princes. But…then something that is unofficial and easy, and gets me in with good food would go." He grins, showing his white teeth "Now what did you think of our friend who moved too fast back there?"

Malcolm thinks it over, "I think we ought to let Cat decide the big things like whether to tell outsiders. Lady Hellan nearly ate me for breakfast over the little bit I mentioned to Lord Ormund…. I think that man is a killer, either a swordsman or and axeman."

"Swordsman, I think. He has the same scent you do, in some ways," Tellur says, and he drops the bar for the door - and the window both "Yes, Cat can make those decisions. I think we've got enough information to concern him, Mal."

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