(122-06-25) What the Owl Saw
What the Owl Saw
Summary: Tellur spies on the infamous Maester of Winterfell.
Date: Date of play (25/06/122) (This scene would have really been from a month ago).
Related: http://gobmush.wikidot.com/plot:something-is-rotten-at-winterfell

It is night, of course, that being the time owls fly. there are the familiar towers of Winterfell, and there is the light in the Maester's window.

The owl has flown by night, by parts, for quite a long time, as Tellur has been unwilling to release his OtherSoul anywhere she could not find a decent meal and a safe place to sleep. Even now, her wings are heavy and tired. She swoops up, and Tellur's mind is a glittering complex presence in the seat of her spirit as she roosts above the arrow slits.

The Maester's study is a mess of books and papers. The old man is deep in his studies it seems, the quill moving as he copies a phrase from some old book. He has grow red about the cheeks and nose in the last year and a half, blood vessel burst under skin. Indeed a goblet of brandy is close to hand as he works, and the candles flicker in the breeze through the arrow slits, making him hunch.

There are mice here. In the room! Making soft crinkling noises!

Not for the first time Tellur regrets the inability to slide his mind into that of a rat or some other less obvious creature. At least the owl is quite quiet, its hearing preternaturally perfect. Her head swivels from one side to the other, and she waits, patiently. Waits for the man to leave, or waits for him to doze. The mice are, sadly, terribly tempting.

Scritch scritch, goes the quill tip on the parchment. Crinkle crinkle go the mice. Look! There is one scurrying over to the comfy chair where a plate with forgotten snacks lie abandoned on the floor! The old man takes a large gulp of his Brandy and pushes the book and his notes away, rubbing his face.

The window is an arrow slit, open to the night air at this time of year.

The candles are in lanterns for safety and concentrated around the desk where the Old Man works. Most of the room is in shadows or dark.

The moment the man is distracted by his alcohol, those silent wings move and the barn owl hops up to the high, dark rafters to push herself in behind a solid beam. She is above him, her eyes on the mice, before they flick down to the text.

The thing he was working on was some sort of treatise on Northern folk belief. he is writing about the battle against the Warg King and the debate as to whether the Winter King killed his daughters or married him to his sons. But he is finished that now. He pulls a collection of thin scraps used for raven messages and after another long drink begins to write. His hand is not as steady as it was when he taught the young Starks their letters. He is shrunken into himself just generally. He pauses, searching for the words he wants.

A second mouse… And a third!!! break cover! They scurry to join the first mouse at her feast! They are plump things, frequenters of the Old Man's forgotten snacks, in a room from which cats are banished in the Shadow cat's absence.

The owl moves from one foot to the other, and Tellur wrestles for control, for a long moment. And then he is reading about the Warg King, with a puzzled, almost blind curiosity. He knows enough now to wonder if any of those legends are true, if there is any reality to any of what he once knew. At least in this shape, his eyesight is sharp. So he reads over the old man's shoulder.

The old man has some very old birth and death listing, very bare bones, also out on the table. It is all so and so wife of so and so gave birth to a babe who died eight days later with the mother, or So and so was born to so and so wife of such and such. It is clearly the chronicle of some old Maester, the dates all given in reference to so long ago Winter King's reign, and so one would need to know how long ago that King was to figure out the year in modern tallys. Some of the mother's names have a Wildling look to them, and the Maester is arguing that these are the stolen Brides, all sisters to each other. The old man begins to write a raven message, "I fear the heir is wresting back control of his army."

The owl's muscles ache, and Tellur curses himself quietly for pushing her so far. She can turn her head while barely paying attention, so he just has her watch…and watch…the work the old man is doing is painfully fascinating. This could very well be almost something about his own background, and there is a pang. He has barely seen his mother in years now. The animal's wings are shuffled, and the raven message is mentally stored. Yes. The heir is. But which raven will be assigned such a curious note?

The mice are munching away, so plump and tasty. More noses poking out.

After another pause to drink, he writes, "I fear my letters raising them will have drawn notice, though neither LC or C have sent orders. I check the ravens first. What next? Your Servant." He sets the pen in it's stand and sits back, expression one of bleak despair. He finishes the goblet and pour another tot with hands that struggle to line up caraf with goblet. Then with extreme care he forces clumsy hands to ready the note. Out he staggers with it, presumably to take it up to the Raven tower, leaving the door wide open. sated, the first few mice scurry for cover, but more are out to forage now. So many plump little dinners. most of the top layer of the desk research is Winter King history, old annals, and books of myth, likely for the Warg research.

The owl spreads her wings…and Tellur closes them again. No. Not right now. Because _while_ those mice are perfect (they have been eating _raisins_ notes the owl in an injured tone), so is this chance. Tellur still has bewildered, uncertain sympathy for the man who treated him, who kept him alive while hoping he would die. He hesitantly hops down, to peer at the warg research for a moment. But then he is moving out of the window, to the raven tower. Those wings are _tired_, but he must force the issue.

It takes the Old Man a long time. The brandy hit hard as he stood up, as strong drink is prone to do and he has aged visibly since Tellur last saw him. There is more than enough time to reach the raven Tower, where the birds all sleep in their cages. It's not hard to find a good shadowed perch to watch. The Old man does come. Eventually. Unsteady sandalled feet can be heard on the stair and eventually the old man himself sways into view, bleary eyed and trying hard to look dignified. It takes him some time to figure out which cage is the right one, and even longer to get the latch open and to tie the note to the leg of a grumpy bird not wanting to be wakened. he wanders off, the cage door open so the bird might fly free come morning, none the wiser. A person raised at Winterfell would know that batch of cages are for birds that fly regularly between Winterfell and the Iron Islands, though to which Island, only a Raven tender would know.

The Iron Islands are going to have to be enough. The old man is slow. _Very_ slow. So Tellur falls out of the ravencote, and then he is winging his way back to the Maester's room. He barrels in through the window with wings spread, and he begins to attempt to look through the papers - trying to search for who might be writing to the old man.

Mice scatter in terror before the winged god of death. Ser Malcolm searched these papers for a fortnight with human hands and eyes. There are new raven messages, ordering the slandering of Cregan and the raising of the army of the Rose, in a strong hand and an impatient tone. There is now a rather alarming account of his experiments on Tellur during his long recovery. There are notes on the youngest Stark brother's intellectual development, not quite as glowing as his references to Carolis, but in a similar vein. It is clear from his notes that he strongly suspects Tellur of Skinchanging, though that doesn't go into his treatise.

_What_. Tellur is frozen by the comments on himself. His talons open and close, and he is hesitant. It is harsh to expect an owl to carry such an account all the way back. Tellur flickers through, trying to look for more recent items, his wings half-spread, his feathers ruffled. He wants to kill the mice now. Or something else. Is there _any_ love for Tellur at all from the man he once wanted to emulate? Now frantic, he looks through the items. Malcolm or Carolis would be quiet and cunning. Tellur is violent.

Deeper down can be found his notes on younger Tellur, likely here for reference as he rights about Wargs. There is no doubt that Carolis was Maester's pet. So often did the old man write of his intelligence and malleability. He had come to view Carolis as a sort of son he never had. Rikkon, Cregan, and Andolin were of no interest and the sister, now deceased only interesting as far as she might influence some future husband. Tellur… Tellur he was fond of, though it is a bit more as he might have been fond of a pet. The boy was trainable, and brighter than he let on. The Maester spoke of training him to help with the ravens, of perhaps sending him south to be trained at the citadel so he might be an assistant with tasks like healing the sick and tending Ravens. Tellur was no clever Carolis to be groomed into the perfect loyal tool of a lord Stark, but Tellur might make another sort of tool. All that changed when he saw the boy with the bird, his research into northern folklore had him suspicious of the lad. His corruption of Lord Carolis was not to be tolerated and a Warg is too dangerous thing to have around a conspiracy of this size. His fondness for the boy cooled, and he determined that the lad must be severed from his affections and those of his most precious protege. He thought the injury by the boar was a sign from the seven that all his plans were blessed and that the take over of the north was willed by them. Only the lad would not die. Only his father insisted he be treated, and so he experimented on him. It was a close thing. When he realized that likely the lad was an abomination he very nearly did smother him, but he couldn't quite out of the old lingering fondness.

Tellur has very uncertain memories of his long, long time healing. The owl is quiet, and then after a moment the delicate claws stretch, and close. He wants to know what was done. He knows enough of healing to realize that there is only a little one can do with herbs, with drugs, before the body gives out. The papers are strewn about and Tellur flicks up, looking to see what the man did, what he told him, or fed him, or watched for. Then in frustration he growls. Part of the worst of this is that the Maester is still trying to _be_ a Maester. Do his research. Write his papers. Tellur gives a low noise, another growl. From the owl mouth it comes up as a choked garbled noise. Tellur wants to know! What was done to him! Despite the fact that the man must be returning, he is clawing through, trying to find details.

Lists of drugs and surgeries tried. Lists of poultices. Minute descriptions of Tellur's odd traces, careful notes of his utterances under drugs. Deliberate pain inflicted to see if Tellur would go into a trance. There are his notes on Andolin, the deliberate tortures inflicted when he was injured to see if he would do that funny things with his eyes, the over drugging to get him to talk. Andolin, being expendable was an excellent test subject to try what was learned with Tellur, but he never went into the trance and he had not seen the murderers of lord Stark, so he was eventually allowed to heal and live.

Mice creep out in search of food again.

The uneven slap of sandalled feet can be heard, with long random pauses on the stairs.

The mice are creeping out, and the place has been ransacked by wings and feathers. Tellur has only one way to cover his tracks. He wings back up, after reading the sickening material, and then comes down, attempting to strike a mouse! Claws are fully stretched out, and the wings are arced over himself as he seeks out the plump morsel. That he intends to devour after a great deal of flapping around - as if, indeed, an owl had flown in after the little beasts.

The mice are slow, fat, and used to having the run of the place. The bones are crunchy.

The Maester pauses in the doorway, clutching the frame for balance and taking in the disaster owlishly, unable to quite grasp what has happened through the descending fog of the brandy.

Tellur flaps across the desk, allowing the mouse he is tearing apart to get plenty of blood everywhere. And then he hauls it off to the back of the Maester's chair to hold it in one claw, tearing the head off and starting to eat. As the Maester arrives in the doorway, he heaves up and very obviously flaps into the bookcase - attempting to pull the blow even as he slides to the floor. For all the world, this is a panicked bird trying to escape.

The magnitude of the disaster and it's cause finally penetrates. He lurches at the bird waving his arms and bellowing incoherently.

At the waving, the owl staggers around, spits half a (fat) mouse onto the ground, and then blunders out the window. There it is left, left while Tellur fumes quietly, until he can feed the owl properly, and find her somewhere safe to roost. He wants to return to Malcolm - _now_. But he waits, waits until he can give his faithful half-soul a decent meal.

It's early Summer at Winterfell. Mice like places grain is grown and stored and there are plenty of places to perch and rest on the castle and in the forest.

The Warg makes sure his beast-soul is properly provisioned, and then allowed to roost, high up in the grain barn where anyone who sees her will only welcome her. She must rest before he spends his nights drawing her slowly southward once more. But once all of _that_ is done? Tellur allows himself to wake up, in his bed, in the tower. He flails around for a moment or two, shaking the feeling of wings from his fingers.

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