(122-05-31) Away from the Stranger
Away from the Stranger
Summary: Marsei's plan to fulfill Camillo's request regarding the Fossoways brews quietly, but not without questions.
Date: 31/05/2015
Related: Finding Fossoways, Delicate Dungeons, Sacred Geometry, A Song of Dragons

Level 3 - The Hightower Battle Island

Even a single tier of the great white stone tower is grand enough for any palace, and this floor is one is the grandest of all. The third level houses the Hightower family themselves. It has many suites of private rooms, as well as suites with multiple bedchambers, each enough to serve as a noble house in themselves. The open part of the level includes shared parlours with large windows that light the tower's interior. The floor is polished stone in three colours, red-orange and white and grey, laid in a pattern of chevrons. The grand gracious staircases are accessible from near the center of the tower.

Up on the third level of the Hightower, Lady Marsei has stolen away a few moments from responsibilities — or, rather, ladylike leisures. She's an unmistakable figure, small and delicate in the grand space, standing with her elegant poise and a favoured blue dress by the vast parlour window with a view of the gardens. She's not alone, but it seems she's about to be any second. She's engaged in quiet and tense conversation with the visiting Fossoway, Lady Jana. She looks of an age with Marsei, perhaps younger by a few seasons; she has a sweet face of her own, in her own round-faced, appropriately apple-cheeked way.

Marsei has been busy entertaining the guests for days, as best she could, but they have all seemed slightly on edge ever since the party in the garden. As they speak, Jana suffers some manner of wordless outburst and clutches at her skirts to better hurry upstairs. Marsei follows but a step before halting.

Could Camillo be eavesdropping on them from the hall? It's quite possible. If not, it's a coincidence that he should just be coming into sight in the hall, glancing at Marsei as she does not follow Jana right away.

The words that now hang in the air are vague ones; troubles that built up and now teeter, precarious. While Marsei doesn't follow her Fossoway friend, her gaze does, as long as it can, imploring and wistful. It's distraught the second she looks away — with the sharpness of guilt — and that's when she notices Camillo. She turns to face the window. "Camillo," she says quietly, altogether more neutral than every expression that came before. "Have you been about long?"

"No, my lady," Camillo answers, pretending he does not sense the tacit question of whether he was eavesdropping. "I am only passing now."

What distress she might have been in earlier seems utterly absent from her fair face, but pleasantries do not exactly grace it, either. Her expression is perfectly smooth. She simply stares out the window without moving. "Well, you shan't pass by straight away," Marsei says kindly, "After all, you must be wondering," she goes on with a bit of apology. "…with so much happening, I regret I haven't told you what Jana has discovered about Lord Istor's imprisonment."

"I am wondering," Camillo admits, that desire to know showing nakedly in his face. His voice is quiet, eyes open, even his mouth a little slack, dying to know. "Did she tell you anything? I didn't know whether…"

Marsei refrains from answering straight away, despite this; she's distracted, as it turns out, and for a moment she just keeps looking out that window. When she turns her head toward Camillo and sees his face, she smiles immediately, coming to life as if to make up for her out-of-place pause, the apology in her expression overwhelming her whole demeanour. "His mother visits him," she says, eager to start out on this tenuously positive note.

Camillo seems to take time processing this piece of information, so judiciously doled out. "His mother," he repeats. "No one else?"

"…His brother, sometimes." But this is not spoken as the good news Marsei thought the first shred of information to be. "It seems there are some who are apt to do him wrong… but as far as Jana can gather, it's as she discovered first. That he is as well as he can be. That's something," she encourages, her cheeks lifting, upbeat, even as her gaze already starts to drift down into the uneasy realm of dark, lonely cells in her imaginings.

"His mother is aging," Camillo says. He furrows his brow while doing some mental math. "She was never as strong in her health as she might be…." He looks to Marsei's face. "And have you asked, yet?"

At first beginning to show sympathy toward Istor's mother, Marsei gives Camillo a look, clear in her gaze, that is helpless one second and determined the next, a feat to begin with, nevermind at a servant. "If it were that simple," she tells him, looking out the window again and lifting her dimpled chin a touch higher. "And who is it I should ask." It sounds plainly rhetorical, more know-how behind her words than the words alone.

"The mother," Camillo says, brows pulling determinedly down. "She's the one who cares, isn't she? Couldn't she intercede with the rest?"

Marsei is quiet for a short spell before looking over one narrow shoulder to the staircase that Lady Jana ascended so quickly earlier. "Perhaps I shall visit the Fossoways," she says softly. An uncertainty clings to her words, as if somehow doubting she is wanted there.

Camillo glances at the staircase, too. "I'm sorry it's so much trouble for you. But a man such as that cannot rot every day in a dungeon, surely. It is injustice."

"It is not so much trouble at all really," Marsei is quick to reassure, or at least her intent to do so beams through, even though it doesn't quite line up to her usual sunshine. "… although Lady Jana does wonder at my inquiries. Even her charity has limits when it comes to someone seen as… such a— a traitor." She turns to face Camillo, serious, though not overbearing— granted, she may not be capable of such a stance. "I must ask you something, Camillo."

Camillo presses his lips together firmly at Marsei's words, but he nods once when she states her intent to ask a question. "What is that, my lady?"

"Do you, in some way, mean for Lord Istor to see more than one day of sunlight?" Marsei clasps her hands in front of her where the hang in front of her blue gown and regards Camillo ever-so-closely. It is a curious, expectant stare, pure and free of judgment, regardless of the implications of her question.

Camillo returns Marsei's stare quite evenly, with none of his usual looking aside or dropping his gaze. It's such an unusual thing for him to return a noble's gaze for any length of time that the effect is somehow strange, perhaps even unnerving. He's quiet a moment or two, then replies, "My lady, if I could free him under my own power, then very like I would. But to ask you to bring him here and then to help him escape would be to injure you, and that much I cannot do. You asked me to be loyal to you. If you were not yourself, perhaps I would betray you. But it would take a beast to break his word with you."

Marsei meets Camillo's gaze, its unnerving effect seeming to boost her curiosity, brightening her own steady regard. She begins to smile slowly, seeming touched by the words, her eyes softening nearly to moisture. "You honour me," she replies. "I am grateful for your honesty, Camillo. And for your loyalty." She's the one to look away — up the grand staircase once more, thoughtful, with a purpose she doesn't quite fulfill, given she remains where she stands.

"I used to pray for the Stranger to make me an animal," Camillo confesses quietly. "But I don't, now." He follows Marsei's gaze. "Am I delaying you?"

Shaking her head no, Marsei is drawn to look back at Camillo. Worry and fascination frame her gaze for his confession; both are subdued until she explains her look upstairs, "It has been a trying visit for my guests, and if I am to visit them in their home…" Her former home. "I should like them to be happy in mine." But now her attention re-focuses on Camillo, the slightest tension of her brows marking her interest, firming her to ask, "Why did you stop?"

This, at any rate, makes Camillo's gaze waver. "Some things are worth being a man for, yet," he says. "I…have learned from you, and your practices of faith and compassion."

Marsei brings her hand to her collar, again touched; there is an instant, a flash, where she appears pained to carry such a mantle. Ultimately, she smiles benevolently, beaming a reserved joy onto Camillo. "I am so very glad to hear that," she tells him, earnest as ever — no, more, only quieter. "I only hope I can live up to your vision of me."

Camillo seems somewhat embarrassed at all this. "You needn't…do anything," he says. "I know you are a woman, not a god. If I thought that you were perfect, I would hardly find that inspiring. How could a perfect person ever be challenged by anything?"

Marsei smiles to agree. Where Camillo is slightly embarrassed, she is modest. She dips her red head. "That is the truth," she says, humbled all the same, but her tone has lightened. "May the Seven continue to guide us both."

Footsteps that have been gradually shuffling down from on high — a familiar sound in the grand tower — slow on this very level, revealing themselves to belong to Siva, who approaches only far enough to pass on, "Lady Jana asks for you, my lady."

Giving a relieved smile, Marsei says, more conversational than in-command, "Perhaps she has forgotten her quarrel. Will you arrange a tray of her favourite things in her chambers? I will come up."

Camillo ducks his head. "I should leave you to her," he says. "I hope you are certain—that I won't betray you."

"It was never a question of that," Marsei replies with certainty once Siva is hurrying up the many steps. "Not really, not truly. We will all go to great lengths for what we believe … and you believe in justice for Lord Istor." She smiles, a buoying expression. "I do believe you," she tells him, "for you are loyal and I think— good, as good as you want to be." She leaves him with that smile, a hurry in her step as she makes for the staircase.

Camillo squints just slightly at that reply, maybe worreid by the implications of moral choice on his part, as glad as he is to hear that he is trusted. He nods. "Thank you, my lady." And thn he seems to be headed back about his business.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License