(123-01-03) Truth and Succour
Truth and Succour
Summary: One would hardly expect a lady of gentle birth not to pay a call upon her wounded nephew-by-marriage, bearing fruit, brandy, and encouragement.
Date: 03-05/01/2015
Related: The duel between Ser Manfryd and Ser Daevon; and this conversation between Lady Hastwyck and Ser Desmond Snow.

Rumours say the Scorpion was carried in and never came back out after that duel with Daevon. Some say he's dead. Some say he escaped in the night and left before anyone was the wiser - riding off into the sunset. Some say he's still there - recently visited by the Snow Giant and given a book and then the Prince Dhraegon to whom shared cakes and peary with! Even more recently the Prince Rhaegor who was rumored to tell the Scorpion to leave town!

So many truths and mistruths. It is the way of the world.

On one of the ranks of narrow beds that are clean and evenly spaced, the citadel holds the form of the Scorpion. While there are small folk around and getting treatment, he's been spared sleeping right next to any of them and set the furthest back in the room - an illusion of noble privacy. Two beds on either side are held in reserve and there's likely some sort of security presence that keeps do-gooders from trying to finish the job Daevon started. He's on his side with his back to the entrance of the infirmary. He's wearing a loose shirt and pants, with a blanket half thrown off him. Any bandages are hidden underneath the shirt.

His gear has been stored neatly at the end of his bed in a trunk, save for the spear which has been removed for obvious reasons. He looks to be breathing evenly, at least, not dead as some rumours had likely said. If one got close there was a book clutched in his hands - only a keen eye could see the title from underneath spread fingers. And there's the evidence of cake left in a basket at the side of his cot.

How many times, by now, has Lady Hastwyck changed her mind about whether she ought to be here? Twice as often as she's changed her garments, certainly, before the fateful hour of the afternoon at which she settled upon one of her newest and, to her way of thinking, most fetching gowns, an interpretation of King's Landing style rendered less formal and vastly more clinging by Dornish sandsilk in a shade of red richer and darker even than the hue of her curly hair. That's what she is, isn't it — neither fish nor fowl — and how better to show herself honestly before she's so much as spoken a word?

The guardsman and the maid who accompany her forth from the Hightower on all her excursions fall away as, her intricately-arranged and pearl-bestrewn coiffure held high, she crosses the no-man's-land between the realm of the smallfolk and what she has been told is the bed of Ser Manfryd Qorgyle. It's far too late to hesitate now — why, she'd be seen hesitating! — no, she's simply going to have to pay her call, with the small woven basket on her arm (carried this far by her servant) held subtly to the fore of her as though it might serve as a shield against Dornish temperament.

She rustles to a halt at the foot of the empty bed next to his and calls in a low, gentle voice: "Ser Manfryd…? I don't disturb you, I hope." And if he's sleeping, or he prefers it to be thought that he is, how simple not to hear such a tentative feminine interruption.

Manfryd wasn’t sleeping. And he was more than curious by the nature of a feminine voice this time coming to his bed side. What was going on out in the world that visitors continued to drop in? After days of nothing, in the last forty eight hours - no, under forty eight hours - there had been three. This was the fourth? His face turned in a roll toward his shoulder, dark eyes rising over the broadness of his shoulder to regard the face of a woman he doesn’t immediately recall. There is no hint of recognition on his face for her approach, though the way his eyes have a despondant nature to them, that shouldn’t strike her as odd. His head rolls back down, gaze dropping from her, offering, a simple, emotionless: “Yes. And no.”

The heavy-lidded, grey-green eyes of Joyeuse Hastwyck regard him in turn, first in hopeful expectancy and then contributing their part to a rueful smile. Still, she takes his words as invitation enough and flutters along the narrow aisle between the beds, proffering her basket. “I've brought you fruit from the succession-houses at the Hightower — peaches, cherries, grapes, and a pear I thought looked just perfectly ripe — and,” she lowers her voice, “a little flask of brandy-wine hidden beneath, in case they weren't letting you drink. Maesters can be so unreasonable about little things like that. Should you like me to put it anywhere in particular?”

And, at a more ordinary pitch, as she perches herself upon the edge of the empty bed, smoothing her skirts with a ruby-laden hand, she confides: “I was in two minds about whether I ought to come… but then, I thought that by now you might be well enough to find it a little tedious in here.” She smiles sympathetically. “Are you, then? Well enough to find your confinement a dull one, I hope? The first sign of true healing, in a Dornishman… It's all right, you know; I might not have known you either, after so long, if we’d only met in the street or somewhere or another. I'm called Lady Hastwyck now, but before that I was married to your uncle, Darion Qorgyle.”

Though he didn’t mouth an invitation, he doesn’t prevent the woman from invading his personal space, his eyes following her as she proffers that basket of fruit. He barely nods his head toward the table where the other basket of cakes was, “There. You can leave it there…” he wasn’t particularly reaching for any of the offered gifts and this one like the rest may sit there for some time. Should anyone blame him for not trusting such things brought in after the rumours have labelled him a heinous individual?

Manfryd keeps his lips pursed as the woman goes on about confinement, clearly there is nothing in his eyes that says he should follow the purposes of why she was here - that he was lost when it came to her perch on the bed and why she should be speaking to him. Blank stare.

Only the name of his uncle brings recognition. Slight as it was. He was likely fairly young the last time he saw her. In either case he murmurs, “You needn’t have gone out of your way to come here…”

His lady visitor's cheerful spirit bears up well under the wan and uninterested nature of the reception she receives; she continues to look upon Ser Manfryd with frank concern, searching his eyes not only for recognition but for evidence of how he must be feeling, to look at her like that. In fact her attitude suggests, quite without intending it, that in her own mind there remains some link, however tenuous, between the two of them.

"Why, it could hardly be considered out of my way," she argues gently. "And I know you haven't much kin here in Oldtown, and so I thought perhaps just for the time being I might suffice… Is there anything I might do to aid you, Ser Manfryd, or anything I might bring you here to help pass your idleness?"

The woman hardly knows who he has become, perhaps had a glimpse of who had been when he was younger - and by rumors alone what sort of man he was or could be. A vile disgusting man who would rape people! Yet here, there was no such hint of the anger, the recklessness, the criminal wrath. He looked devoid of emotion, only a way in which a man who had lost everything might so look. Rock fucking bottom. He slides a shoulder up against the bed as he props himself back up against the wall the cot was set against, to better speak with the woman - his one time aunt by marriage apparently. She would know his father was not a particularly nice man himself, with an edge to him that was cruel and it's likely that his father never supported the marriage to Joyeuse and that bias was continued down through his children. Yet, even that fire seems well and quenched. His reply, rather monotone, "No… there is not…"

For a brief span of time Lady Joy only looks at him, her hands clasped in her red sandsilk lap, her eyes thoughtful. "You look as though you're ready to give up and ride home," she murmurs at last with a small sigh, "and I suppose I've felt that way myself a time or two, when my name was upon too many lips. But I hope when you've regained your strength you'll find yourself able to— to persevere, and to see your name cleared. Not for your father, perhaps," her lips twist drily, for she does remember Ser Farqis Qorgyle, "or my husband, Seven keep him, for he's past caring; but for your own self."

"Home would be the last place I go if the Prince dismisses me from his services over the matter," which in Manfryd's tone, he fully suspected would happen. The Qorgyle pulls his arm over his bandaged abdomen, narrowing his eyes slightly at the mention of his father. His father would be the last one he wanted to see, by the expression that turns up on Manfryd's face just then.

"For an act of which you are innocent, and which sparked a great public furore only because someone else couldn't keep his temper long enough to take his absurd accusations to the prince behind closed doors, as would any civilised man, any man who wished for peace—?" And Lady Hastwyck's full lips are narrowed by a quick pressing-together. Far from laughing away the possibilities which have so clouded Ser Manfryd's visage, she regards them with the seriousness which is their due, turning them over and over again, shaking once her elegant head, thinking aloud in a low voice just for her nephew's ears. "Would the prince do such a thing? I don't know him myself — only to flirt with, once upon a time, I shouldn't think he'd recall me any better than you did when I came in just now… But when House Targaryen produces princes so intemperate, with so little regard for justice, we must trust in House Martell to do better. At least to believe the word of a loyal sword, over that of an unknown boy who spreads slander without showing his face. Whatever the political climate may be, whatever concessions the dragons might seize this opportunity to force from Dorne," she sighs wearily at that, "if you speak the truth to Prince Torren he must know it to be so, and honour it."

Manfryd sits up at the woman’s sentiments, a slow snaking movement to prop himself up, as if something she had said made sense to him, connected, and had his eyes opening with amazement. “A man who wished for peace would have kept this quiet, yes—” he evaluates the weight in that, as if it sparks a sliver of hope that he wasn’t completely buggered.

As for the Prince’s power in all this, Manfryd shakes his head and shrugs his shoulders, “It wouldn’t be about what the Prince does, but what influence his wife has in swaying him, for it is her brother that has levied these charges against me. I can only hope our Prince sees reason and does not cast me from his side. Not over this. Not when it is one man’s word against the other.”

The accusation of ‘boy’ has Manfryd jolt, quick to amend. “He was not a boy. If it -is- the one I suspect it being that has accused me of actions unproven to the Prince Targareyn, then he is not a boy. A full grown man instead, lacking the courage to accuse me directly.” His eyes slide down, grunting, “I can only suspect it would be him, as my usual partners have…” he looks up, “ample bosoms.” Suggesting it was a rare thing indeed for the Qorgyle to seek pleasure in the same sex. There is a nod at the last, a fire rekindled, not unlike when Rhaegor visited, “The Prince will hear me out. He must.”

Ah, she has his attention—! And that's a little Qorgyle fire at last, heightening the resemblance so difficult to see in a man lying broken upon his bed and seeking not even to rise from it before time. Lady Joy beams at him for the length of a breath, realises that's too much, and strives to moderate her sudden cheer as she answers him. Not difficult when the reliability of Oldtown gossip has been brought once more into question. Really, what can one depend upon?

“I heard him spoken of as a lad, a boy — not a man,” she sighs. “Just why you must speak for yourself, and not be convicted in the minds of those who count in our world by such confused talk filtering into the world through those who have already no love for you,” she suggests. “Convenient, isn't it, that they've a tool against you just now? I don't say necessarily that they don't believe in the tale they relate — but how natural a way for that faceless friend of theirs to curry favour, and how little they must have questioned any ill they heard of you…” Slowly, her head shakes. “I can't consider Prince Daevon and his men neutral parties,” she admits, almost regretfully. “I had a little theory of my own of how this got so far out of hand — I know now I was almost exactly right…”

She tilts her head as though reviewing it again in her mind’s eye, but elects for reasons of her own not to initiate her nephew into its mysteries. “It's an affair of tempers and prejudices,” she concludes, “and of Westerosi ignorance of Dornish ways, and of a man’s name tainted with no real proof. But a Prince of Dorne surely knows his own man enough — and if only you speak the truth, Ser Manfryd, and keep on speaking it, people of good heart and good conscience will know it to be so. There may even,” she lifts her eyes to the heavens and lets out another little sigh, “be enough of us. Should you like me to speak with Princess Visenya? I'm certain Lady Lara would; but I have one advantage over her.”

“Then such must be corrected-” Manfryd grunts at the distinction that Daevon and his lackies were using agaisnt the truth. He glances at her for the nature of this tool they’ve discovered to use against him, “Why would they be honourable and just? To be as such, they would have had to come seek my end of it before the duel. They did not. The truth is what they made it to be. And it appears they believe the truth is vouched from their voices; the louder they cry, the more it must be true.” He sighs, “If I didn’t lose… The duel gave them credence and it lends weight to their declarations. But that is all it is. Their word of truth against mine.”

“What theories?” He asks.

At the matter of speaking to Visenya, he grunts, “It is likely she has already decided me guilty as well. Westorsi are known for such - just look at the events of the Red Rookery.” He scowls at the nature of that event, “She is like her brother. She has no love for me and will judge me guilty the moment she can. She would love to see my head off my shoulders.” A sigh as he shakes his head, “You can try to do as you might, but there will likely be no change to the course already set.”

The lady appears to have come, upon the heels of her own speech, to a decision: she rises to her full height of five and a half feet, her sandsilks clinging immodestly and her head held high. “If your Prince and his bride have made up their minds, so be it; but if I can find some means of swaying them, I shall… I refuse to let that duel decide it,” she insists with sudden passion; “it isn't right.” Her eyes looking into Ser Manfryd’s plead with him, at least, to agree. “I know how you Dornishmen feel about your spears,” an eyebrow quirks; well, there's simply no other way of putting it, “but a man in scale armour with a spear, against a man in full plate and armed with a broadsword… No one would even bet on the outcome of such a match! How can it be considered a true duel, a true contest of one knight’s strength against another, when one had such plain advantages? And came moreover, as you say, not to listen fairly and to seek the truth, but with his mind made up. Oh—!”

And she lets out a cross little noise. “I wish I might sit them all in a row and explain that, just because one doesn't happen to like a man, that doesn't make him guilty of the foulest crimes. A truly just man isn't just only to his friends, after all. He must show the same justice to those he doesn't care for, or none of it means a thing! … I'll take my leave,” and she laughs softly at herself, deflating, “for I don't suppose the maesters would approve of their patient being stirred up so far; but are you certain there's nothing else I might do for you?” she asks gently. Well, and what if it's been so many years? Her daughter is his cousin, Qorgyles both; they’ll always be bound by her blood.

“Yes - you are correct -” Manfryd tells her sharply, “The duel should have had both of us cast aside armor and take up shields and similar weapons. But I fight with a spear and he fights with a sword!” He grunts, “He pressed me into it as I was trying to get terms from him - as well from the nature of his accusations! There was no time to decide what was fair or not.” A beat, “But then the same can be said about my duel with Aelyn Targaryen, so do not use that in effort to sway anyone - it will not work.”

He was sounding to draw on a temper. He’s about to say something more perhaps, when the woman announces her leave and that leaves him delivering a sharp nod. “I appreciate your visit,” and then adds, “No, not unless you can turn back time.”


The temper isn’t for her; Lady Joy knows that. She gives him a last deliberately fond smile.

“Oh, if only I could…!” Her eyes lift to the ceiling and the heavens beyond, and fall regretfully to Ser Manfryd’s face. “I’ll come again in a couple of days’ time, shall I? … And don’t forget what’s underneath the fruit.”

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