(122-07-26) Owl vs. Raven
Owl vs. Raven
Summary: Tellur's Owl Stalks a Raven and catches a Maester.
Date: Date of play (26/07/122)
Related: http://gobmush.wikidot.com/plot:something-is-rotten-at-winterfell
Players:
Tellur..

The Maester's ravens flies south. It is a rather a long trip to both the Iron Islands and to the reach. The ravens eventually part ways. Which does the Owl follow?"

The owl flicks its wings up and veers off, following the black raven across the sea. This is not exactly the sort of flight an owl likes - but neither is open water good for ravens. Tellur, at least, is a very good navigator.

Luckily for both birds involved it it straight to a near Island they go, the Nearest big Island to the mainland in fact. There the Raven heads for the familiar ravencote on a large fortress, weary and glad for meat it needn't catch itself. The banners are easy for bird vision to pick out, black as sin with a pale scythe.

House…Harlaw? Tellur is reasonably decent at Heraldry, though he cannot for the life of him recall much else about the powerful house. The owl, exhausted, sweeps towards the stables instead, to roost up near where grain is collected for horses. Tellur shuffles h…er wings and groans a little, and then grooms feathers lightly, resting.

Judging from the landscape it is a rocky place, likely good for mining and goats, but little else. There is not much in the way of horses. Where would they run? There are some donkeys in the stable keeping the few in residence company and there are kennels and mews nearby. The few horses are small and sturdy of leg, practically ponies, and obviously bred for hills and mountains. There are mice though. Wary and scrawny as the barn cats stalking them through the straw.

Well, a barn cat will do just as well as a mouse, if it _has_ to. The fact is that Tellur can be remarkably violent when he must be, and is smart enough also to look around where rats might come to scraps set out for pigs. If he can, he will find something to eat, something decent - even if it means opening a catch and glutting himself on raven chicks. _Something_. But assuming he can find food, and that he can rest himself for a while? It will be time to examine the layout of the entire place. Do people come to take messages from ravens?

Food and rest are easy enough to come by. The Raven cote is up in a tower. Of course. This castle is large and well manned, this island being one of the richer ones. It's up on a cliff and well defended. Wit lots of space to call in the shepherds and miners and fisher folk in time of siege or Winter. there are good grain stores within the walls, spread out against fire and accident. Below is a good ship yard and harbor, with fine longships and smaller fishing boats tied up or out in view of the walls. There is much bustle and they look prosperous here, though the misery of the thralls is palpable. Up in the Dovecote, a young man with Harlow livery is tending to the newly arrived raven.

Tellur is quiet. She can afford to listen, with her impressive hearing, and she can watch the man, fixing his features in her mind. She examines the castle in detail, and listens to the young man as he moves about - and as he leaves. Shadowing him _inside_ a castle is just about impossible, but there are windows, and she is able to sense things a human could not. Sadly, in this form, Tellur lacks that impressive sense of smell.

It takes some effort and back tracking, but the lad does end up in the chamber of an older gentlemen, soberly dressed in dark colors and the style of the house. The clothes are not flashy, but expensive and well made. He has rings. He is also square built and solid. He may be past his prime, but he's not the sort one would want to come up against in a fight. He looks like he would fight hard and dirty.

Tellur does not know enough about the House to make a guess, but the lack of keys at the waist is enough that he knows this man must be seneschel or Lord. He roosts outside the chamber, listening, intently, a pale smudge on the brick.

The Lad hands over several raven messages and goes on his way. the older man brings the paper over to the window where the light is better to read.

Too tempting. The owl, perched there just above the outside, leans down slightly to attempt to look as well.

The first is in the Maester's shaky writing. Likely the man was deep in his cups. "All has come to naught. Rose and Pup cooperating. Rebellion dead or dying. Raiders killed or captured. What do I do?"

The second seems a report on Maester politics in the citadel, complete with the death by dragon of a Maester.

That message is a certainty of guilt, and Tellur leans back up a little, his eyes focusing briefly on the horizon. He silently ruffles his feathers, then considers. If the man below starts writing - and those ears _will_ hear it - he will risk looking back down. Otherwise he is quiet, perched there. Ransacking the room for more notes has to wait until people are gone.

The man sits, staring out his window to the North east a long while, then settle at his desk to write.

Tellur sits down on little owl feet, but _when_ he hears the pen scratching away, he risks ducking his head briefly down to look. Only when he hears the man doing something does he want to read.

The man writes, "Take poison or flee. I wash my hands of you and your failure." On another slip he writes, "Have you any interesting Acolytes?"

Oh, _that_ one will be interesting to intercept. Tellur ruffles his feathers, rather wickedly to himself, and then he tilts his head. Another message? They cannot _both_ be going to the same place! He can wait. Wait until…but something occurs to him. Something sharp. He should, he should…it is far too tempting…with a frustrated, soft noise, Tellur waits, to see what the man does.

The man steps out into the corridor, leaving his room unguarded.

What Tellur _wants_ to do is intercept that raven with the message to his Maester, and kill it, and drop the corpse _on_ the man, on his damn desk. He wants to watch it, wants to see the Maester's reaction to the Strange coming for him. But this is too…it is far too tempting. As the man leaves, Tellur flutters down to look around intently, in case there are old messages left somewhere, in case there is anything of import or interest amongst the books.

Except for the new new messages, all is locked away. The only books in the room are an old Preconquest history and one of those bloodline books that people use to pick out eligible bachelors for their daughters who are well born but not too related.

This man is likely too intelligent to leave proof of conspiracies just lying around. Tellur wings up lightly to the top of the Ravencote, to land there and wait.

In due course, the man appears and preps the ravens himself, releasing them with his own hands.

The owl lifts up into the air again, a little way away from them. For a moment or two, Tellur follows the raven he suspects is heading towards the South, rather than Winterfell - to confirm his suspicions. But once he is certain - for the Citadel has acolytes - he follows the one heading 'home'.

One goes South and East, the other north and east. It is a long exhausting trip to Winterfell.

Tellur does not play fair, at all - he strikes to kill the raven heading for the Maester. At the very least, he could _really_ do with the meal - and that message.

The raven is wary and surprisingly dodgy.

Tellur curses, within his own mind. He cannot outdistance the bird. He _has_ to be able to attack it. He lifts up higher, deciding to drive it down, towards the trees where it's comparatively longer wings will be problematic.

The raven is torn apart as savage claws rip through it. Tellur gulps down gobbets of the corvid's meat, and then pauses. Ahh. He has? A better idea. A _much_ better idea. He picks the message up in his claws, pressing them around his leg, and then hops to find a tree branch to rest on. The owl can be sent back home, slowly, comfortably, without pushing it. Elsewhere? Tellur, the _real_ Tellur, sits up and yawns, rubbing his eyes. He has a raven message to compose.

It is going to say: Meet me or I wash my hands of you and your failure. And Tellur is going to set up a place and time, and write that too…

***

It is late June in the Sheepshead Hills. Hornwood is a nice mid point between Winterfell and the site of the raider Battle. It is a bit out of the way for the Iron Islander, but maybe the Maester assumes he went east to talk to allies there and was on his way back to the Saltspear. In any case, the terrified and now alcoholic elderly Maester has made his way to Hornwood Castle on mule back, under the guise of being a confidential Stark courier. There he is, trembling hands and all, huddled on mule back as the beast treads tiredly up the twisty road to the castle village.

Tellur is waiting, on his mount, with his two fresh bay horses, behind in a clearing. At his feet are the dogs - Glory, other hounds he has from Cregan. Dog lurks in the bushes, his hackles raised, an invisible blur of fur under leaves. Tellur has his cloak pulled up tight, his hood down, and he wears his armour underneath. Most of him is nothing more than shadows under the rough fabric, as he steps his horse into the road, and waits.

The Maester has his eyes barely open, as his hangover is particularly bad and he has been caught short without strong drink. The mule notices Tellur and his horse first and gives a happy whinny! It is a Winterfell mule after all and Tellur is Bringer of horse Treats. The beast picks up her pase, which is what alerts the Maester to an event possibly more pressing than his shakes.

The problem with putting together a detailed plan that shows exactly how grim and terrifying you are is that basically every animal in Winterfell has reason to believe Tellur is one of the children of Heaven, sent directly to them. Inwardly, Tellur sighs, and he waves his arm to the Maester. He did say in the note that the meeting would be here. He gestures towards the rabbit-run, a little dip heading off towards a pleasant dell, where undoubtedly others have camped before. The hood of his cloak is low, still.

The mule immediately tries to go where Tellur wants, but the Maester is jolted enough in the process that he takes a better look at the hooded figure, "Wh… Tellur? What are you doing here, Son?" He looks worse than he did a month or two ago. He's the look of a man bent on drinking himself to death, shriveled and red nosed and shaky, the yellows of his eyes bloodshot.

Tellur stares at the Maester for a good few seconds. The animal inside wants to kill. What the man did to him is beyond the bounds of law, or humanity. But after a long moment he says "…saving your life," in a curt voice. Back to the way he used to speak, with so little emotion. What did Tybalt say about letting the face become a mask?

The Maester can't seem to get his hungover brain up to speed with events, "My.. My life? What… what's going on, Son. Have you a flask about you?" His once excellent mind is not what it was, but he's not entirely lost his powers of observation, "Is all well with you, Tellur? How… how is Lord Carolis? Is he with you?"

Tellur is vaguely appalled by this, and he says "I…do. Come with me. Off the main road." And this is not how he imagined it would go in his head at all. He sighs, almost wearily "Of course all is not well with me, nor will it _ever_ be, given your hand, Maester. But for the love you once bore me, I've come to get you out of Winterfell before you get yourself killed - or stop your own heart with drink. Lord Carolis is very well. He is not with me. No men are with me."

The Measter sighs, and closing his eyes against the spears of sun tormenting him, trustingly lets the mule follow Tellur, "You always were a good lad, Tellur. It's good I can count on you. My… my hand? Always did what was best for you and Lord Carolis, you know. I never had sons, but I lack none with all you youngsters to raise." he does open his eyes again in some alarm, "get myself killed? What do you mean, Lad? Who would kill a Maester? And there's nothing wrong with a drink now and then. That odd lad Lord Carolis sent north with the peculiar hair brought me some lovely brandy as a gift, and he did so enjoy the old stories….Just a sip from your flask would set me right…." There is pure desperation in that last.

The glade does not look like a killing zone. There are extra horses. There is also a dog pack, rising, and Tellur's wolf comes over. He thoughtlessly caresses the creature's head, then he says "The drink has made you lose your mind. When you told your conspirator that the plan had failed, he sent this back for you." He turns, offering the little metal case and the message inside "Oh, that's Ser Malcolm. He's very nice. He's given me gifts as well. The House of Winterfell can _always_ count on me. And you. You are going to serve us. You are going to serve Lord Carolis, Maester, because that is what you taught me - make sure Lord Carolis gets what he needs."

The Maester is watching Tellur with the wolf and his face hardens, "Are you going to feed me to that… that wolf? You've gone mad! I have no conspirator. I don't know what you are talking about. Why don't we go to an Inn and talk this out like sensible people."

Tellur says irritably "Will you read that message? It took me quite an effort to get it down from the North!" He then fondles Dog's ears "Of course not. I don't feed _people_ to _animals_. That's something a…_Bolton_ would do."

The Maester takes the message, his hands so shakey from the DTs that it's a bit of a struggle. After a pause, he drops it, sagging in his saddle, the picture of defeat. "Have you come to kill me, Son? I'd… I'd have made a Maester of you if your blood weren't tainted. I did… love you. Almost as much as I love young Carolis. Do what you will with me, just let me have a last drink. i'm starting to see mice…." He takes a breath, "How can I know what you will do, now the taint has come out? There are stories of atrocities before the wargs were all killed by the Starks."

Tellur is quiet, then after a moment he says, frustrated "No! I _want_ to! What you _did to me was unconscionable_! It was _wrong_. You have _damaged_ me so grievously, I will never recover - you _made_ me what I am. But I am _not_ a murderer - I've killed bandits, and wicked men, and I will again, but I don't murder. I don't want you dead - I want you to…" He waves a hand, a bit frantically "I want you to _apologize_ for what you did to me - do you know how alone I was?! Wouldn't _you_ have sought sanctuary as a raven to escape that?!"

The Maester stares at him, blinking slowly. He says with deep sorrow, "I wish you'd never been gored, Son. If you hadn't, than I wouldn't have learned that monsters were real and I wouldn't have had to hurt you. Ignorance would have been so much kinder to us both. I could have groomed you to follow after me and be Lord Carolis' advisor when he took his rightful place. I coud have happily worked on my book and left you both to rule…. But I can't unsee what I saw and knowing… knowing you a mionster out of legend I could not love you as I had. Carolis was the best of the lot, but you… you could have been me if you hadn't been flawed and that is the real tragedy."

Tellur's hands open and close and he lifts his head. His eyes are feral, burning bright, the strange colour of them intent, he looks at the man and he says "…_you_ made me into a monster! _You_ did. Without your…work I'd be nothing but Tellur, the dog-trainer! Look at what you've done to me! Did you enjoy what you did? Did you - did it…suit some urge, did…" He runs his fingers through his hair "Did you use me? I can't remember it - I've only read your damn notes!"

The Maester points at Tellur, accusing. He straightens and a hint of his old commanding presence settles around me, "See! You are nothing but a beast now! The Tellur I raised is gone!" And then he sags again, nothing but despair in his face and voice, "How could I enjoy the destruction of a lad I raised myself to be my… my replacement? I wanted to give you the world! How was I to know you were some abomination out of the age of legends? I want my Tellur back! The bright eyed lad who was good with ravens, not some ravening beast apt to tear men's flesh from bones! I couldn't have you near my Carolis! Corrupting him with your foul animal lusts and endangering his body and Soul! My Carolis needed to be perfect and your taint… Who knows if it is contagious?" his expression twists into pure disgust and existential horror at Tellur.

Tellur growls. The noise is sudden, low, and serious, and he snaps "_Your_ Carolis doesn't exist. He is the Carolis of _House Winterfell_ and he is his own man. Like his brother, Lord _Cregan_ is his own man. Winterfell will stand no matter what happens, regardless of the actions of lesser men! I've never done what you said. I _serve the North_. And I _continue_. Whatever you have planned, it's done now - your man in the Iron Isles wants you _dead_. Follow me and live, or be dragged, I do not care which! We go South, to await the return of the man who is _both_ our Masters." And he adds, bitterly "I had hoped you would at least apologise for what you've done to me. It was an idiot's dream. We're going South."

The Maester sags, "I… I will follow you. just… just keep me in drink for pity's sake. I… see things if you don't. It doesn't matter what happens to me now. I'm dead either way. We both know the Pup will behead me."

Tellur eyes the man, and he says "You can have something now, for your hands are shaking. But I've herbal lore - that you taught me - on how to heal this for part of it. It does matter. And you don't know that." He shrugs "Lord Cregan is not a fan of such conspiracies - but he does like a serious gesture. Let's let the Rose speak with you first. He's man. Not what I am." He offers the Maester a skin, and then hesitates. And he is quiet, surrounded by his beasts, before he says "…are…you. Proud of me?"

The Maester's head is lowered, "I would be judged by the Winter Rose. That is fitting." Spotting the skin, he grabs it in shaking hands and quickly drinks as much of it as Tellur will let him with a desperation that speaks to his level of addiction. "I… I have not been sober more than an hour in over a year, Son. I can't… I can't go on with…. We'll need more…." And then he is staring at Tellur with a baleful expression, "Son, you are stronger and cleverer than I could ever have imagined and you did it in defiance of all of us. Of course I am."

The smile that spreads across Tellur's face is equal parts shy pride and utter animal cunning "I wish…" The noise trails away, and he finally says "…he'll never judge you the way you do yourself. Up on the Bay, 'father'. She's got a gentle gait that won't cut you with your gout. We'll go south, to the warmer lands. Old Town is calling us, and with it, the Weirwood Manse." He never thought he would miss the heat, but he does. Tellur assists the Maester in mounting, if he must, and his pack congregates around his feet "You may see Ser Malcolm again there. Tell him I'm a Warg, if you want. No one will believe you."

The Maester is shaky, and not much of a rider. He will also cling to that skin like it is a floating log and he a drowning man. "You wish what… There is good brandy in the South…."

Tellur sighs "It does not matter. It is the wish of a child. I'm not a child. But you should never have done what you did. What am I to do with all these fathers?" His true, if neglectful one, the Maester, Tybalt… Tellur finally says "I may sleep, but not all the pack will. We're heading South, Maester. I'll make sure you have decent brandy." And South they go…

The Maester laughs a bitter, bitter laugh, "Where would I go. I am carrion meat…."

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