(123-02-25) To Civilise A Savage
To Civilise A Savage
Summary: Princess Vhaerys Targaryen discovers an infestation of savages in the curtains of the Dragon Door Manse; she studies the matter and determines what seem to her appropriate steps to be taken…
Date: 25/02/2016
Related: None

Those who approach the sitting room are bound to hear the dulcet somber tones of a viola de gamba. The lap instrument is like a violin but bigger and played with a bow, the song is deeper than other viola and carries a hefty resonance.

There is a nest composed of many pillows in a large circle in the middle of the sitting room. The various pieces of furniture have been moved aside to make room for the impromptu performance space. The song clips off the moment the entrance archway is approached.

The great double doors leading from Starry Street into the great hall of the Dragon Door Manse open and close upon a party of persons who seem to have among them many feet but only one voice: that of a woman speaking confidently (and with a certain archness) in a tongue like but unlike High Valyrian.

Now and again she pauses as though to listen to an answer, but whomever does the answering must surely be doing so in a whisper, for as the footsteps echo in several directions and the woman's voice (surely with such intonations a princess's voice) comes nearer to the archway leading into the sitting-room, not a word can be heard that doesn't come from her tongue…

She proves to be a Targaryen indeed, an elder member of that house, resplendent in a draped gown of the sheerest, most shimmering golden sandsilk over some other more substantial cloth, the two layers stitched together and secured at each shoulder with a golden brooch in which a multitude of tiny rubies form a three-headed dragon. In her train, a pair of dragonseed handmaidens in gowns as Valyrian as her own, in modest white linen — though it doesn't seem that either of them, as they dutifully scatter to arrange cushions and pour wine for her pleasure, is the target of the stream of scattered remarks she continues to utter. Her violet eyes are fixed upon a point in space which seems to move about the chamber, until it is anchored by the placement of a second goblet of wine upon a black-marble-topped end table adjacent to a chair conversationally across from her own.

Have rumours enough circulated to allow any occupant the circle of pillows may hitherto have had, to identify Princess Vhaerys Targaryen, as she chats amiably enough with a prince visible to her eyes alone…? So far she may be of the opinion that the viola player has stepped out into the garden; but now, as she sips her wine, her cool and considering gaze has begun to wander.

The pillows are scattered with various books that have all manner of things written in them yet at the moment most of the pages have been turned to handwritten sheets of music. There are two small stuffed birds sparrows perch on one of the pillows as well and in the center of the nest is the abadnoned instrument. The room seems suddenly oddly empty but a demure series of sneezes from the curtain tells the true tale of the missing viola player. A set of soft red slippers can be seen peeking out from the bottom of the curtain.

Whatever Vhaerys is saying in that peculiar made-up tongue trails off as sneezing draws her eyes to a curtain previously unconsidered. She pauses, exchanging a glance with thin air; offers another remark, rather wry in its texture; and with an imperious gesture of a ruby-bedecked hand commands one of her hovering dragonseed girls to lift away that suspicious drapery.

This is done (the girls know Vhaerys's methods) smoothly, stealthily, above all suddenly. The viola player may discern the final soft servantly footsteps approaching her hideaway — but scarcely before with a sweep of cloth she is exposed to the cold scrutiny of an elder princess who dislikes eavesdroppers.

Xavia looks upon her elder cousin with a petulant teenage glower. Her eyes are haunting, to be sure, they tick to and fro with an otherwordly case of Nystagmus. Her pale violet eyes shiver in their socket and the young woman crosses her arms over her chest with a mild sneer written on her unapologetic features. There is a paranoia written in her gaze that never reaches the deadpan of her voice, "Olly olly oxen free." The young woman remarks moodily before she sidestepped around the handmaidens and went to retrieve her things from her pillow pile. "Are you going to lecture me like Rhaegor did when he caught me hiding?"

"That all depends. Has no one," demands Vhaerys, segueing into High Valyrian, "besides myself and Rhaegor taken up the matter of your appalling lack of manners? Or is it willfulness rather than ignorance that prompts your absolute dearth of common civility? Bolting away," she drawls scornfuly, "hiding yourself behind curtains to eavesdrop on your elders — if our daughter behaved so, she'd not be lolling about on cushions playing music, she'd be locked in her chamber without amusements and without supper."

Xavia continues to collect her things in silence as her cousin squaks at her in High Valyrian. She carefully places the instrument back in its case and clasps it shut before quietly collecting up in her books into a neat pile. "Are you finished?" Xavia says once the lecture is complete. She doesn't respond in High Valyrian and she doesn't bother to clarify that the squaking need be repeated. She goes to pick up her toy sparrows and she clips them onto the handle of her viola case smartly, finally looking back at Vhaerys. "May I go? This is clearly a waste of both of our time." The precocious words coming out of that smiling mirthless young face are so flippant they begged to be smacked.

Vhaerys's eyes follow the young princess about her business and gradually narrow as she is addressed not only disrespectfully, but in the common tongue, a second time. Inconceivable. "You may not go," she persists, in the ancestral language of their house. "Nor do I take kindly to the sound of that debased tongue being spoken in this manse. Have you an accent so poor you hesitate to speak before us?" she drawls, raising an eyebrow.

"I don't speak High Valyrian." Xavia explained with a flat inflection and a little shake of her head, she still has no apology for her tone or demeanor. Her strange eyes still shake in their sockets as if they refused to focus on any one thing, it makes her a trying conversation partner and hardly one with any beauty. She glances to the door but her strange gaze soon avert floorward… trailing off to the edge of the room. A bad habit from years of being told to turn her awful gaze away when speaking to people, usually by her own father.

Now that does astonish Vhaerys. "… You have been brought up, then," she utters slowly in the common tongue, "a savage in more ways than one. Uneducated, as well as bereft of the social graces and of any idea of courtesy to your elders. What is your name, child?" she demands, her gaze fixed upon Xavia's face in arrogant curiosity. "Who are your parents? Who is it permits you to go wandering through the world as a disgrace to your lineage?"

That causes Xavia's features to take on a hard edge. She set down her viola case and books again before she took a few determined steps forward. She looks her cousin the face and her gaze is readily apparent now at this distance, "I am Princess Xavia Targaryen, Daughter of Xaviar and the late Xandra. Who are you?" There is a pause and Xavia narrows her eyes, "The writer. Aren't you? I've seen you around the manor. I read all your books. You are a twin, like me." She blinks at the woman and her bold curiosity could be called savage.

The writer, yes, yes; Vhaerys nods dismissively. Of course the girl has read her books. Everyone in House Targaryen has read her books, it is only to be expected. "We are twins, yes," she acknowledges with a casual wave of her hand which may be dismissing the subject, or then again be including the empty chair across from her; "and I am sufficiently acquainted with your father to be bemused by what he has let loose upon us. You don't speak your proper tongue — if you have read my books you can only have done so in translation! — you eavesdrop upon your elders, you're singularly surly… And neither a child," she observes, tilting her head, "nor a woman. Very curious. Why are you in Oldtown," and she persists in trying to meet Xavia's eyes, for it must be said they fascinate her; "and why do you hide behind curtains?"

"I don't care for these tired interludes where elders lecture me on the proper way to talk to them. I hide so as to be left in peace, I meant not to eavesdrop but only to put myself out of conversations way… Sorry to offend." Her voice remains the usual metered monotone, "I managed to sabotage every attempt my father made to wed me off after my brother passed away. When he grew tired of the game he sent me to Oldtown to join the Faith. I may become a septa one day… but I haven't commited to anything yet."

To that Vhaerys lifts a weary eyebrow. "Has it not occurred to you, child, that if you were to speak a few simple, civil words to your elders, you would avoid the occasion for the lecture, the lecture itself, and any need to adopt undignified postures of concealment behind draperies which it does appear are not being cleaned with adequate frequency—?" This a reference to the sneezing. "A few simple, civil words — to introduce yourself and to excuse yourself — and I should have let you go in peace, for if this is a fair sample of your conversation it is not a pleasure I'd care to pursue with any vigour," she explains in sardonic mood. "Learn to employ such courtesies and you shall find yourself subject to far fewer unwanted 'interludes'. Your present methods of escape only draw notice to you. What is it," she changes course abruptly, "the maesters say of your eyes?"

"They have never seen anything like it, my brother had it as well…" She shrugs and she doesn't bother to respond to two thirds of that lecture. "I used to be better at, the hiding… when I was smaller. I suppose I have outgrown the habit." There is a sadness to the girl as she goes to again collect her things after being told how awful she behaved. "But wisdom comes with age, doesn't it?"

Another sip of her wine; and Vhaerys sets down that jewel-encrusted goblet and rises in a waft of golden silk and expensive scent. She is a tall woman, and lean; and with the predatory grace of a Targaryen princess trained for war she stalks straight up to Xavia, looking more and more closely into those agile eyes. She makes a low 'hmm' sound behind her closed lips.

"Nor have I," she remarks, "seen anything like it… Do you hide from maesters also?" There's a glint in her eyes at the suggestion. "Is that why you have been absent from so many of the lessons proper to a princess?"

"I hide from the world." Xavia said softly, honestly and with a supreme amount of conviction. "I don't care for much of it. I haven't for some time." So jaded and so young, she is probably suffering from some sort of chemical imbalance thanks to her stellar lineage. She has her books and her viola case in her arms again as if she meant to leave very soon.

"There is no reason you ought to care for the world at large," asserts Vhaerys, who lives chiefly in a smaller one of her own devising; "but as long as you bear our name, as long as you have not yet renounced it to enter religion, you have a duty to uphold it. I will spare you my personal maester for an hour each morning to instruct you in High Valyrian and the rudiments of etiquette," she decrees; "until such a time as you are either fit to appear before others as a Targaryen, or you are a Targaryen no more."

"Oh Maiden's Mercy." Xavia utters, "I will teach myself, give me six weeks and I will perfect my High Valyrian but I don't want any tutors. Please. I am familiar with the tongue, at least rudimentally. I just need to get fluent." Xavia stands tall and she squares her shoulder as she looks to the door. "Excuse me." And she's just off.

With one hand on her hip and one eyebrow again arched, Vhaerys watches her go — electing not to pursue her in the moment, and yet already scheming. She turns to Vhaeron and remarks drily, "I don't think she likes you laughing."

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