(123-01-17) Study Hall
Study Hall
Summary: When Desmond comes to the Hightower to use the library, he and the Lady Marsei wind up having something of a confrontation.
Date: 17/01/2016
Related: Many Faces, Cloistered with the Crone, A Sign from the Gods

Desmond Snow makes his way through the magnificent Hightower. He's wearing his finest clothes - silks done up in the Targaryen colors, beneath a rather nice leather vest. His famed — or oft-mocked — longsword Giantsblade hangs at his hip.

Despite his fine clothing and his armament, the Northman seems to be somewhat ill-at-ease. At least, he's constantly looking around as though seeking someone. And, failing to spot the person immediately, he squares his shoulders and advances on the Library.

Two Hightower guardsmen, resplendent in bright white and grey, stand watch, as ever, by the entrance to the respected library. They men are as still as empty suits of armour until they notice Desmond — and it does not take much to notice Desmond. One of them holds his hand up, a silent slow, or perhaps even halt.

A cluster of courtly noblewomen turn the corner in the opposite direction of the Snow Giant, coming toward him from down the length of a corridor; a small group, but all swishing with voluminous, trailing dresses, leaning in to talk to one another in soft tones, their inner sanctum can scarcely be glimpsed.

Desmond seems rather puzzled as he slows, gazing at the two men. As yet, his features show no sign of anger — he doesn't appear to realize that he's being fended off. "Morning, lads," he tells the guards equably. "Is something amiss? Or someone using the Library?"

As the cluster of women approaches, he breaks off to make a gallant attempt at a bow. One might refer to it as an attempt because, despite how often he practices, the man seems rather ill-suited to the gesture.

Mixed reactions spring up amongst the ladies; a few are surprised, others intrigued and smile, others appear wary of the Snow Giant. A pair of sea-coloured eyes among them, framed by red waves; Marsei all but hides in the center of the group of women.

"Mornin'," the Hightower guard speaks up; he has a friendly enough appeal, but he's no-nonsense, true to his job. "No entrance, ser, not for you."

"No entrance.. for.. me?" Desmond stares down at the guard, a baffled expression on his face. The bafflement fades to anger, and then to outright embarrassment, looking from the guard to the collection of women.

"I see," he mutters, turning back to stare at the guard. And then he steps closer, dropping his voice, speaking in a conspiratorial tone. "Look, mate, they say why not?"

"By strict order of…" The guard gives pause and glances aside to the other man in Hightower garb as if attempting to get it just right.

"By strict order of Lord Ormund," the other guard provides readily and simply, stern. The explanation ends there.

The noblewomen drift past Desmond, whispering in their own tones of conspiracy — all but Marsei, in the middle. "Were you not meeting somebody in the library, Lady Marsei?" one of them says too loud for her liking after they're notably well beyond its entrance. Instead of thanking her for this reminder, Marsei attempts to gently dissuade the notion rather than be separated from the herd.

And now Desmond's features lock down, his brows lower. His temper is evident; the man's ruddy features grow ruddier still, reddening from the back of his neck all the way up to his scalp. Newly formed eyebrows — still rather sparse — attempt to form a scowl.

"I see," he says, very soft. His hands clench and unclench. "Well, then. Very little I can do about that." Still soft, but the livid anger carries through, despite his efforts to conceal it. He simply lacks a poker face.

He turns away from the guards right as the indiscreet noblewoman betrays Marsei's presence, and he locks eyes with the noblewoman in the center of her friends. Just for a moment, stark pain is evident on his features. But he finally regains his composure, enough to bow.

The meeting of their eyes is a fleeting thing; Marsei, perhaps regretting looking over her shoulder in curiosity (or concern over Desmond's reaction at being turned away from the library), looks at the floor. "Ser Desmond," she says quietly. It is enough of a pause that her companions depart from her side with friendly words and cheerful goodbyes, leaving her standing alone in the corridor, holding fair hands in front of her rose-pink skirts. She lifts her head just enough to glance after them; for an instant, she appears the tiniest deer, separated from the herd, left to fend for itself. But that would make Desmond the predator. The lady looks up guiltily, but cannot quite seem to make it all the way up to his eyes.

"Lady Marsei." Desmond forces a smile. It lacks his usual flair for amicability, however - there is nothing at all friendly about his eyes, though Marsei fails to see. Instead, the man stands there, awkwardly, looking rather betrayed. He takes a slow breath in. "I been banned from the library." His voice is more guttural, more Northern. "I suppose that settles the thing I been asking for your help on."

"My brother would prefer to keep the library to those … living and staying in the Hightower, and suggests the Citadel," Marsei says slowly, uncomfortable. "I wish I did not have to be the bearer of this news," she says earnestly, saddened; for herself or for Desmond is unclear; apology does colour her words, though, even when she still does not quite look the man in the eye. "I'm afraid he does not want you searching," she glances over her shoulder, making certain that the other ladies are far down the corridor, "searching the labyrinth."

Desmond nods faintly, his lips pressing together for a moment. "I see," he says after awhile. "Well. That's that, then." The man struggles for an even tone, but he fails. They crackle with subdued anger and hurt. "I — I won't intrude on you any further." He exhales slowly. "Don't suppose it's worth asking, is it, Lady, whether you spoke on my behalf?"

"I spoke of the historical significance-the Umbers," Marsei begins, aiming toward optimism, so typically natural for her; so unsteady, when she tries to continue. She twines her fingers together only to break one hand free from the other and swipe it beneath her right eye. "I spoke to him honestly, as I saw it, and you, Desmond, at the time, and I… I wish that I could help you," she says, painfully sincere, "But I-I cannot be your champion in this." The lady takes off at a start suddenly toward him - past him, for the guarded library.

Shoulders sagging, Desmond stands there in the Hallway. His features grow a touch heavier, as though some light has gone out within. "No," he says lowly, to the woman's retreating back. "I don't suppose I have many champions." And then, more to himself, lower but perhaps still audible, "Jumped-up false-oath-swearing, sellsword bastard that you think me." He gazes around, his features still flushed and red. "Lady Marsei? Couldn't you have just sent word? Or was this just too much fun?"

Marsei pauses to turn in front of the now blank-faced guards. "I am having no fun at all, Ser Desmond," she says in a mere wisp of a voice, sounding far more broken than entertained. The sweet-faced lady looks despairingly upon the knight — if he is false, at least she has used the name bestowed upon him by the king. "Nor is Septa Leire," she says with a sudden and knowing voice, a pang of heart-rending honesty. Marsei summons the strength to stare at him more solidly though her eyes are as watery as their hue. "Whom I beg you give air, once she arises from her days of endless prayer. I am beseeching the Mother, ser, so that I may learn to forgive you for our differences but — but please do bid me time as well." Having said so much, Marsei retreats between the guards into the sanctuary of the library.

Desmond stares after the woman, his jaw dropping. But he has no rejoinder and, this time, it is Desmond who wipes his eyes as he turns away. He retreats from the Hightower like a whipped dog.

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