(122-06-06) Red Water
Red Water
Summary: Rowdy sailors at the Quill and Tankard bring rumours of a dark business.
Date: 06/06/2015
Related: Plot: Reddest Blood

Quill and Tankard — Hightower And Citadel

This is the common room of the Quill and Tankard, that famous Oldtown Inn that has never closed in five hundred years. The building is a noble old half-timber structure with plastered stone between the enormous old black beams. It sits on a small rock of an island at the edge of the Honeywine River, and is accessed by a little footbridge, or by water-taxi.
Rivermen and seamen, smiths and singers, priests and princes, Lords and sellswords, travelers both noble and small, and the novices and acolytes of the Citadel - all come for a taste of the fearsomely strong apple cider that makes this inn so beloved by Oldtown's people. There is a pleasant buzz of chatter, cups and tankards being filled and refilled, and general laughter.

The fire in the hearth allows for a merry glow and a comfortable warmth from Oldtown's breezy, misty cobblestone streets. Benches and tables offer places to sit, and there is a deliciously toothsome smell in the air of food from the back.

"Anovver tankard for me friends! Two tankers! Three if theys willin' to drink 'em!" An increasingly slurred, rasping but enthusiastic voice calls through the famous old inn. The man's voice is already pulverized; he speaks and spits around a single, brown tooth jutting out from the top of his gums. Some know him as Zarin "One-Tooth", an unimaginatively named sailor from right here in Oldtown. He gives a slam to the table that's felt thousands of hands before. This pair of hands is one of many amidst a rambunctious group of sailors who are well-settled in the Quill and Tankard, taking over a corner near the grand hearth to dry their soaked garb and cold bones. They're a mixed bunch, not pleasant expression among them, even in their celebrations; they're all wrought with poorly healed scars, seaworn faces, and aging, dragging eyes.

"Not if you can't pay, they're not," complains the nearby barmaid, turning about to serve paying customers in the bustling inn.

Considerably prettier than Zarin "One-Tooth", but a sailor yet; is the half-faced Egil Pyke. The Iron Islander lurches into the Quill and Tankard, looking around for a moment with his one good eyes as he moves to an unoccupied table near the center of the establishment, sneering mildly as he passes the boisterous bunch of boatmen.

"He's got one on me." Ser Leonte hails from amid the unsavory faces near the fire. A sailor liked a good fire, it wasn't something ya got much of at sea- if yer lucky. The towering fellow rises to his feet and Ser Leonte Locke of Oldcastle is an intimidating broadly built six foot four. He does not even wear metal armor but his leather garb is still fearsome in its own right. The crossed keys over his heart call tribute to his House. To the barmaid. "He's got another three on me if there's any new stories left in 'em." The gruff looking fellow laughs boldly. His own face marred with scars and the trappings of sea life are painted in such hardened lines around his eyes crystalline eyes. "If ya ken love, today before I get any older." A wink for the bar maid.

The barmaid gives Leonte a skeptical looking, rolling her eyes. "Your fate's your own, ser," she says, hurrying along to fetch the tankards. Zarin "One-Tooth" is unfortunately distracted from this act of kindness or bribery entirely by pointing a crooked finger at Egil Pyke. "Look, there's a fellow sailor if I ever … saw did one," announces the slurring sailor.

The droopy-faced sailor at Zarin's left is stuck on eyeballing the man from the North. "You'll get stories, can't say as you'll like them," he tells Leonte. He squints, and his whole wrinkly face nearly seems to suck inward on itself. "Ain't I know you from somewhere?"

Camillo is quietly posted in one corner of the place with a mug from which he drinks rather sparingly. However, the management doesn't hurry him along—perhaps because he is quiet and keeps to himself. But he looks up from his mug every so often.

Egil looks over as the sailor points to him and raises a solitary eyebrow to the man before he leans back in his chair, eyeing the little servant Camillo at the bar and he says, uncharacteristically loudly, "Camillo? That you, boy? Come."

"Don't venture to tell me what I like old man, if I wanted yer opinions I'd ask for those and not tales." Ser Leonte probably heard a story or two out of Zarin's mouth over the years. He had a habit of bartering tales and telling from the more well read and aged among Oldtown. He was easily the tallest man in the room and now on his feet the fact draws attention his way almost inadvertantly. Ser Leonte speaks with a subtle bass voice, an endearing monotone which only found inflection in precisely placed sarcasm, "My name is Ser Leonte Locke of Oldcastle." He was known as the Bastion of The Bite a naval fleet master from the North with a colorful reputation. As he sat back down. "Now get on with it before you run out of time for telling." Stubborn does not understand how to take No for an answer. "My coin is good and the ale runs plentiful here." Assured softly to no one at all really…

Camillo lifts his gaze to regard Egil for a longish moment, then shifts off his stool and moves in the Iron Islander's direction, his own tankard in hand. He doesn't say anything, glancing at the sailors on his way.

"How do you fare, young servant?" Egil asks, sliding a chair out for Camillo with his foot. His arms cross in front of his chest and he watches the man approach. "A Ser, huh? Drinking with we common rabble? Surely you aim to tarnish your family's reputation."

Camillo bobs his head at Egil's question, quietly taking his seat. "Well, thank you for asking," he replies. "And yourself?" When Egil remarks on Leonte's standing, Camillo looks his way again.

"Now I remember," the sailor on Zarin's left says getting spiteful and salty despite Leonte's considerable intimidation just by existing, "you're the noble goes sellin' oysters my hard-workin' son could've sold to make coin instead."

Zarin himself, who'd dazed out gazing around for that barmaid through the crowd, snaps back to attention and stabs his cohort with a bony elbow. The other sailor slinks down in his chair, looking up at Leonte and suddenly, clearly feeling rather short and shriveled.
"Egh," Zarin spits. "Never fault a man who's buyin' the drink." He slaps his hands on the table again, and this time all manner of rubble falls out of them, evidence of a desperate attempt to dig coin out of pouches and crevices for the barmaid before Leonte stepped in. Sea glass, lint, stones, a ceramic coin featuring the image of a carved blade. "A story you want, mate? Zarin One-Tooth Redwater, Scourge of the Sea, has plenty o' stories!"

"That's a bit much," the droopy-faced sailor remarks.

"Not warranted, in particular," the motted fellow on his right adds. "Whose water are you turning red?"

"Any alliance we once had with the Boltons took care of that years before I was born…" Ser Leonte gruffs with a softly amused laugh from across the room at Egil. "I'm a man of the North. Do you think I give two barn owl hoots wot uppity Nobles 'round The Reach think of my manners?" Ser Leonte shakes his and and his squire Fregrick wanders over to him from somewhere else in the room. He often remained out of master's eyeshot. The tow headed doughy boy of thirteen years give Leonte an apple before wandering off again. No words pass between the blue eyed pair. Ser Leonte takes a distracted bite from his apple before the byplay with the bar maid draws his focus. He gives Freg money to pay her, asking as he, "What's that then?" From his seat, chewing and talking all at the same time.

"A Northern Noble. Long way from home, aren't you?" Egil asks, standing up from his chair and patting Camillo on the head. "Shall we compare titles, then, ey?" Egil raises his eyebrows to the snaggle-toothed sailor. "For I am the fiendishly handsome, though not all complete, The Serpent Who Sails, The Bloody Bastard of Volmark; Egil Pyke!" Egil flips over his and Camillo's table and laughs, obviously a tad bit inebriated. Seems like someone was pre-gaming.

Camillo probably does not especially enjoy being patted on the head, but he doesn't object either, simply watching Egil as he stays put. He doesn't have any titles to compete with, but he /does/ manage to snag his tankard from the table /just/ before Egil flips the thing over.

"Egh!" Zarin hacks again dismissively, waving his hand at Egil. His sailor friends all erupt into boisterous laughter, one nearly tipping their chair, all loudly agreeing that the Pyke has the far superior title.

The barmaid heavily plants tankards down for the crew, giving them a good suspicious eyeing, no doubt hoping their table doesn't suffer the same fate. She's quick to turn away, but she looks back, her eye drawn to the scattered trash in front of Zarin. Her eyes have latched onto the odd ceramic coin. "You should put that thing away, you know what's good for you," she advises with a tone of superstition. Her glance about seems out of concern for her place of work, not for the crusty sailor.

"I am as much at home on a deck below crossed keys and purple sails as I ever was in the North." Ser Leonte remarks in response to Egil's claiming to be a Pyke. "As I said Ser Leonte Locke, third in line for the seat of Locke and Fleet Master of the Oldcastle brigade…some twenty five ships." The navy man muses, "I've been called The Bastion of The Bite. There is little that stands between a Locke and that which he desires. For every lock, a Key. After all." The family words meaning just that, a Locke could open any door he pleased and close those he saw fit just as swiftly for others. The bigger man doesn't even bother taking his feet again as he inclined his tankard to the drunken Pyke. Ser Leonte's reputation stands unbeated, those who knew his name may hear rumors he'd never lost a fight(especially at sea.) Rumors, surely.

All the tension at Zarin's table does draw Leonte to his feet and he wanders over to see what the fuss was about.

Egil grins at Leonte for a moment and looks him over, "Surely a man after my own spirit." He slaps the Northman on the back heartily and looks down to Camillo, gesturingto the table, "Look what you've done."

Camillo looks at the coin, given the barmaid's reaction. He looks from the upset table to Egil. There's a beat before he acknowledges in soft deadpan, "I don't know my own strength."

In glaring opposition to the barmaid's advice, Zarin plucks the coin between two rigid fingernails and lifts it up in the air. Higher still, when he staggers from his seat. "This coin's the bringer of death," he declares, rising his voice. As his voice sounds like a hissing donkey rolling down a rocky hill, some of the dramatic effect is lost. Yet there's a conviction behind it that stills his drunken eye and firms his sea-worn brow. "Who next should it strike down?"

As the Iron Islander claps him on the back Ser Leonte's eyes cut sideways to the drunken Egil but he only offers a wane smile to the man. The commotion with the coin is too much to ignore in favor of drunken Ironborns. The cautious expression on The North man's bearded visage is one of curious feral longing. He inclines his chin pointedly at Zarin and tosses the barmaid copper. "More if ya mind yer job and look away." He did not look her way when he addressed her, a bad habit of his, that eye contact stuff. "Come now, speak not in riddles. How's a coin to strike down a man?"

Egil looks over at the impending coin kerfuffle and slips his thumbs through the loops of his swordbelt, watching the prickly old sailor. A glance is given to Camillo and he gestures for the man to come watch the goings on.

Camillo keeps one eye on the coin, shifting off his stool and moving away from his lack-of-a-table in that direction. However, he doesn't let the coin entirely consume his attention, as usual letting his gaze flick away here and there. It could, after all, be an easy ruse to occupy attention while someone is trying to do something else unnoticed.

The barmaid takes the copper and looks down, stepping away, but can't quite seem to bring herself to depart.

Zarin looks at each and every face he can spy gathered in front of him. His sailing comrades have stopped laughing, going too quiet for their ilk. "From 'ere to the ports've Essos these coins mean death to the enemy of those who lay 'em at the steps of a Red Temple."

Without lifting her head, the barmaid sheepishly shuffles forward and tries to give Leonte his coin back. "Apologies, ser, you can have yer copper back. I saw the creature who were handing out those evil coins and it weren't natural." She in a hurry to be away from it.

Ser Leonte just looks down at the girl. He won't take that coin back. He doesn't even acknowledge her in a breath as he looks back to Zarin. "Not natural? Death to my enemies?" He laughs deeply and more loud than before as he drew deeply on the tankard in his hand and finished. "I bring plenty of natural death to my own enemies, One Tooth, but I'm not here for seedy coins just stories… The Quill is wrought them usually." Ser Leonte takes a half step away from the old man and the cursed talisman. "Who does the killing?"

"Not sure if I put too much stock into tales like that. The Drowned God is the only one I've known deliver death to my foes. And life back to me," Egil replies to the man, looking over the trinket.

Zarin has no answer for Leonte except to say spitefully, "Maybe I'll lay a coin at those steps 'n' say your name, Ser Locke 'n' Key, 'n' you'll be findin' out." He flips the coin to show its other side, but it spills out of his clumsy fingers and falls onto the table, rolling until it stops near the edge, falling to reveal a carving of a flame.
One of the sailors, the mottled fellow, balding, quieter than some, just sits there staring at it. He's gone pale, all but the splotches on his head.

"Does it kill the name you say, or your true enemy?" Camillo ventures to wonder. "Not everyone knows his real enemy."

"Aye, you can keep your Drowned God." Ser Leonte abides softly to Egil. There is a cautious reverance still; the seeming of man raised with the Old Gods but respectful of the powers of the sea. A stubborn pious zeal in the way muttered those words to the Pyke from the side of his mouth. He turns back to Zarin with a broad sneer, "All challengers are always welcome, One Tooth but once yours is bested don't think my memory frail. I won't need a coin to find you and your Oyster scented son." The Knight welcomes the low born insight. "Good question, lad." To Camillo.

"And perhaps I'll take your head with a swing of my arm," Egil says in response to the sailor's threat towards Leonte. The Iron Islander crosses his arms and raises an eyebrow to the older man, watching with contempt as the coin tumbles around.

Zarin is discomfited. He does not quite appear cowed (he might be too drunk for something sensible like that in the face of Leonte and Egil), but he does seem to accept that arguing will do him no good. No one seems to have the answer to Camillo's question; the sailors bat their silence around uncomfortably.

It's the quietest sailor who speaks, finally, low and somber. "I can't say how it works," he says. "I can't say if it's work of gods or men or monsters. My brother, Elmar, found one of them coins a month back, heard the rumours. He was in a feud with our other brother. Derrin. Nothing serious… you know how brothers are. As a joke, he laid the coin on those steps. Derrin vanished, after that. Missed our boat out. Wasn't like him. Wasn't 'til we came back to port we found his head come ashore."

Camillo glances at Leonte, but if he takes exception to being called 'lad' at the age of forty by a drunken knight, he doesn't mention it. His eyes then follow where the coin falls, but he makes no move.

Ser Leonte turns to listen to the tale of Elmar with a single lofted brow… In all his love tales he remained a skeptical sort of oaf. "Jokes that end in heads washed ashore are those I want no part of-" He turns back so swiftly for a man his size that the mere gesture from the once slow moving giant is intimidating in its own right. He draws no weapon but the empty tankard comes around with the swift about face and stops mere robin's breath from the old sailor's face. If he flinched or dropped the coin that is when Leonte snaps it up rather effortlessly. "No part at all." He tosses it in the air and catches it before stepping casually away from Zarin and examining his catch.

Camillo's eyelids flicker just slightly when Leonte makes that move to put the fear into the old sailor. Disapproval? Noting tactics? Hard to tell. His mouth never changes.

Zarin lurches and stumbles back into his seat. He makes an ill-advised grab for the coin, but it's too late; it's more secure in Leonte's grasp than it ever was in his. As the knight turns away, the sailor sticks his tongue around one side of his single tooth at him.

The coin in Leonte's possession is nothing unusual, but for its symbology. The art is plain, the craftsmanship simple. It could have been made anywhere.

Meanwhile, the grieving sailor cares not that Leonte has the coin. He drinks heavily of his ale. The rest of the sailors look back and forth to one other, wondering where their celebrations have gone. One of them raises their tankard until it sloshes and shouts, "To Derrin!" Just like that, their rambunctious mood is returned.

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