(122-06-05) Exiled and Returned
Exiled and Returned
Summary: A pair of Hightower siblings encounter one another after some years far apart.
Date: 05/06/2015
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.

It's mid morning and a small crowd has gathered outside the Hightower to watch a small display of martial prowerse. A beautiful mysterious woman in light leather armor and a red haired man that only a few would recognise as Ser Culler Hightower are having a duel with practice blades. The hook that has everyone so interested? Well apart from the fact that one of the combatants is a lovely female both are using two swords - an amazing display of ambidexterity from both. The woman also appears to have the upper hand.

One of the residents of the grand Hightower has just returned from an outing and has made her way from the bridge. She's dismissed her guards on ahead already, walking solitary along the path. A blue cloth protects her head, giving her a hooded silhouette, hiding all but a few curls of red hair — red hair that's very nearly a match for that of Ser Culler Hightower. The rest of the lady's attire is far less muted: it's all flowing sleeves and long skirts, layers upon layers that never grow heavy, always airy, the colour of a mid-morning sky brighter than the one currently hanging over Oldtown. She might walk right on by the fight of blades, typical men and their martial displays, but something catches her eye as out-of-place— it's hard to say which, first; Culler or the warrior woman. She halts, slowly, uncertainly, just catching glimpses through the gathered crowd.

Culler has a turn of luck and manages to knock a sword out of the warrior woman's hand but it appears that he was lured into a ruse as the female sweeps her foot under his and knocks him onto his back. The rest of the fight is short as she scores a faux killing blow with the blunted sword then helps Culler up. "Drat it again Jax!" Culler says to the silent warrior woman. "I'll get you next time," he jovially wraps one arm around the beautiful woman's shoulder in a friendly manner. He notices his sister and ambles on over, "Hello - you look familiar?" he says - it's hard to tell if he really doesn't recognise her or if he is joking.

It's easier to tell that she isn't sure whether he is or not. Marsei gently pulls the cloth down from her head, revealing one of her favoured intricately winding braids across the top and the rest of her hair, and eliminating the shadow from her stare at Culler. It is a stare now. She's the very picture of a lady of the South, all beauty and poise. Whatever trials she's seen in the intervening years, she's kept her youthfulness, as her similarly aged brother has kept his, yet at the moment, she looks for all the world like a lost lamb, glancing one way and then the next — to the Hightower — as if expecting someone to appear and shepherd her in the right direction. "You look nearly the same as last I saw you," she ventures, still uncertain, but pleasant.

"Well hello little sister - it has been years." He performs an elaborate bow. Indicating the beautiful woman next to him he says, "This is Jaq'lin or as she prefers to be called Jax. My best friend whom I met when I was working as a sellsword in Myr. Good to see the years have been kind to you sister." Jax for her part remains silent but performs a polite curtsey. Difficult because she is wearing pants rather than a dress.

Marsei's gaze is a little too still and wide-eyed for a few moments, just the kind of quiet stun a lady protected by polite society would indeed respond to things like "sellsword in Myr" said so casually, not to mention some kind of warrior goddess curtseying in trousers. In Marsei's case, however, she seems to recover quickly after all, giving her wayward brother a small but gracious smile and "Jax" a kinder one still. "You are impressive with the blades, Jax," she tells the woman before turning her small smile again on Culler. "And I was … glad to know you are well, brother." What her words or gestures may lack in breadth they make up for in sincerity.

Jax offers a small smile at for the lady's remark. "You are too kind my lady," she says in an Essosian accent that doesn't come from any one place. "Jax is the best swordfighter I have ever seen. Hard to believe I saved her the first time we met." He smiles at his sister, "So you're getting married I hear?"

Marsei smiles wonderingly between Culler and Jax. What stories they must have from Essos. For now, her curiosity is kept in check. "Difficult news to miss, when my betrothal party ended by way of dragons on the Hightower," she says, both sheepish and sweetly humoured. "Yes, I am to wed again."

"Whose the bunny… I mean lucky fellow," Culler quips with a smile - he probably knows already but he is playing coy as he usually does. A glance to Jax sends the quiet woman's eyes rolling.

Marsei follows that glance of Culler's to Jax rather astutely, but is sure to not let it linger, looking back to her brother with just the faintest, fleeting hint of uncomfortableness. She smooths down the front of her gown at the hips; it doesn't need it, but the subtle gesture seems to serve to remind her in some small way of her poise before she states, dimpled chin level, "Prince Dhraegon Targaryen."

"Ah moving up in the world. I haven't heard much about the Prince save for the notion that he has lived a rather sheltered life thus far. Perhaps as a woman of the world who has been wed before you can brush aside some of the cloisters for him?" Difficult to tell whether he is teasing or not. "So you know Otto actually sent for me? That is why I am back - rare that you get a request from the Hand of the King. Even if you're me. Especially if you are me. Did you know why they sent me away?"

Marsei's smile seems nearly perpetual, for it remains gentle and polite; the expression tenses ever-so-slightly at Culler's tease (or not) about Prince Dhraegon, and perhaps her cheeks turn the slightest bit rosy, but perhaps it's a trick of the light. As some armoured men head along the path to the Hightower, she steps further out of their way, though by all rights it should be them who move around her; it brings her closer to Culler as they talk. And to Jax, who she glances at briefly before telling her brother carefully, "Yes, mostly…" Her smile finally falters and she looks to Culler with concern. "… but I am not certain I fully understand your return."

"Ser Brenton of Millsworth wrote a letter explaining that my experiences in Essos had changed me for the better. That I was ready to come home. I think perhaps he was sick of Essos - and that was part of the motivation. But I guess I have 'grown'. I have my own company of mercenaries. Twenty in all here in Westeros. I used to have more - a couple of hundred - but I could not bring them all over with me. At least Jax came with me." He exchanges a smile with the beautiful warrior woman.

"A hundred," Marsei repeats, either impressed or frightened by the thought; the line is thin. But when she goes on, her voice is truly commending. "You must have grown to be a remarkable leader." Worry yet etches at her, though; it doesn't mar her light eyebrows, but it's there in her gaze, searching over Culler and his Essosi gear. "And… what now, then, that you and your company have come home? Do as Father and Ormund say?" From another mouth, it might sound bitter — from Marsei's, it's nothing but sweet. Hopeful, even, true to the belief that what Father and Ormund say ought to be the right thing, after all.

"Well it's Ormund's city - I do have my own way of going about things. Did you hear that his official seal got stolen by some self aggrandising thief?" Culler says. "I actually ran into her the other day - though I did not know anything about the incident. She gave me a letter for Ormund which I decided to add to Otto's letter. She actually penned a forged letter in Ormund's hand addressed to himself. I was bewildered and wanted to know why he was writing letters to himself…"

"Ormund has everything under control," Marsei says gently, assured, more bewildered by Culler than Culler is by that whole business. His sister is more eager to move on from it. "I think… you should do well by him— listen to what he says," she suggests. She turns a smile on him that could easily be said to be fond. "I am glad you have returned, Culler," she says, a touch wistful, "I hope you will find a place here at home again."

"I'll try and repair things with him. It could take some time however. And I am a happy go lucky rogue with his own band of miscreants - the sort that aren't trusted." Looking at Jax he observes, "Even if some of them outshine many of the ladies of court with the fairness of their form and countenance." Jax apparently used to this form of flirtatious roughhousing gives Culler a punch on the arm. "I'm glad to be here Sister - I think…" Culler says with a lopsided smile.

Marsei smiles to the warrior woman, agreeing politely right up until things turn to punching. She looks away and up to the Hightower. "I should go in," she explains, and for a moment, it she seems torn in two directions again; as if she might give her once wayward brother some manner of better goodbye than this. Ultimately, she gives him one of her smiles made of sunshine — it's quick and the gone as she turns to hurry in.

"As you would have it then sister," Culler says bowing and wrapping an arm around his arm punching best friend. "Another bout Jax?" Culler asks.

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