(123-04-04) The Good, The Bad, and the Confused
The Good, The Bad, and the Confused
Summary: After Camillo puts forth a request, he and Lady Marsei talk about the Faith and a little bit about what it is to be human.
Date: 04/04/2016
Related: None

Library - The Hightower
Battle Island

This expansive room serves as the library for House Hightower and their guests. While its book collection does not compare to what the Citadel might offer, the space is entirely admirable, and well suited so socialization as well as study.

Tall shelves line the walls. The ends of the wooden bookcases are carved with the Hightower sigil, an image of the very tower that holds this room. They are painted, and the flames of the beacon-fire covered with bright gold leaf. While the carvings are largely the same, the paint-jobs are each different, some showing the tower at night, some at dawn, some in rain, and so forth.

The shelves nearest the door hold, not books, but games of various sorts, most in wooden boxes. There are several large round tables to facilitate play, surrounded by chairs plushly padded with silk, some in silver and some in red.

Further back, the bookshelves are not pressed against the walls but arranged in stacks that divide up the space into small, semi-private areas. Hidden there are more tables, these ones small, as well as single chairs and plush couches.

The room is windowless, but kept well-lit by many lamps.

The Lady Marsei — who has been slightly elusive, if not reclusive — is easy to find this morning, were anyone to search: not because her handmaidens usually, if not always, know her whereabouts at any given time when she's not in their company, but for the fact that she sits in plain sight just beyond the doors of the great Hightower library. Donned in gentle pink silks in her common flowing, elegant, and cheerful style, she's situated at one of the round tables meant for games. At the edge of her plush seat, she leans quite intently over said table rather than sitting primly — even her elbows are pressed on its surface — to account for the table's size and that player across from her on the other side of a cyvasse board cannot be more than a minuscule eight years old. A shy servant's boy, he is both in and out of his element, happy and eager to play the game yet oddly displaced from the servant's quarters or whatever duties of his own he might have. The game is coming upon its end, and Marsei laughs delightedly and talks softly with the child as she moves a piece across the board.

Camillo doesn't usually come to the library much, especially since Desmond and Leire got into their situation, but here he is, and not even to clean. He cautiously enters and almost ducks right back out again when he sees a noble is present, but realizing that it is Marsei, he dares to approach. He looks at the boy, who probably shouldn't be here just now, but he doesn't speak up with any scolding just now.

After a small pause to study the board thoroughly, the boy makes his move, eliciting a clap of Marsei's hands. Her delight becomes two-fold when she realizes the source of the movement out of the corner of her eye is Camillo. She's all smiles, but for now her expression toward him is a quick one; the rest of her smile is reserved for the boy. "See? You've won!" she announces before rising from her seat and stepping around to crouch near him. "You're just as smart as them, don't forget," she tells the boy, insistent in her sincerity. "Smarter, I bet." She gives him a few more words in hushed tones — encouragement, by the tone — before sending him on his way. He quite nearly collides with Camillo, looking briefly panicked, before running down the hall.

"Hello Camillo," Marsei says pleasantly as she rises, folding her hands in front of her, still smiling. "I brought him here — I hope it did not cause a fuss?" she both explains and asks, not wanting the boy to get into any trouble. "I came upon him and some other boys who had called him stupid for not playing a game by their rules, and, well, after they'd gone I thought I would show him that they were wrong."

Camillo shakes his head at Marsei. "Of course not, my lady. If you wish him to be here, then of course it is all right. There are always extra boys to send on errands." When he's sure the boy is a good distance gone, he adds, "It is a kindness in you, my lady, to look after the feelings even of hallboys." Not that he seems surprised.

"He seems a sweet boy, and I just thought he should know he is worthwhile," Marsei explains further; kindness, but to her it seems as simple as logic. "Children can be so cruel sometimes." A reflective sadness crosses her face, thinking on it — and perhaps beyond the boy and his bullies — but her smile is not marred for long. She looks on Camillo with interested expectancy, since he did approach.

Camillo looks thoughtful about this idea of telling children they are worthwhile, but then he realizes Marsei is waiting for him to say something. "Oh. I…er…hoped you might help me with something," he says. "Choosing a book. About the Faith. To…improve my understanding."

Curiosity fills the lady's face as well as delight; the same look of joy that was elicitied from the game of cyvasse with the child. She even raises and straightens her folded hands as though she might clap them, but simply presses them together. "Of course, I'd be glad to," she answers more somberly than her expression, although, of course, no less sincere. "There is always more to learn." She turns, aiming to lead the way down an aisle, between the ends of the shelves carved like the mighty Hightower itself. "The books on the Faith are down here."

Camillo follows Marsei's lead at a respectful remove and nods softly. "I have only the one book," he says, probably the Seven-Pointed Star. "So if you can help me find something that I could…understand…"

The books pertaining to the Faith are not far away; they are well-loved, and fill the shelves. There's a small table and chairs tucked at the back of the aisle for those who wish to sit and contemplate the holy pages. Marsei murmurs a thoughtful "hmmmmm" under her breath as she walks along, touching the spines of the old books with her fingertips. "There's the Book of Holy Prayers… the small grey one with the silver," she says, yet to find it but looking ahead for its likeness. "But it is only prayers — which are important, of course, and lovely, I like to keep mine close. But for learning…" She pauses to turn and study the rows of books and, for all her enthusiasm, looks ever-so-slightly uncertain when faced with the multitude. They run the gamut from such holy prayer books to copies of the Seven Pointed-Star and scholarly works and titles dedicates to various aspects of the Seven. "Is there … something in particular you wish to better understand? A certain facet of our Faith?" She turns a gentler smile on Camillo. "I think it's admirable that you want to."

Camillo looks curiously over Marsei's shoulder as she goes over the title. He looks very serious when she asks if there's some facet that he wants to understand. "I'm not sure," he admits. "But…about good and bad." Which doesn't narrow it down terribly much, necessarily.

Marsei looks back to the books pensively, although it's not their titles she takes in; it's Camillo's words, his intent, vague as it might sound. "I think…" she starts, stepping toward the shelf to reach for a book only to reconsider and withdraw her hand. "I think it's almost all about good and bad. The teachings of the Faith. Light and dark. All the facets of it in life. And yet…" Her smile is small, now, as pensive as her gaze on the books — and empathetic. Perhaps she understands some of Camillo's plight. "It can be the hardest to interpret, can't it. Sometimes." She decides upon a rather hefty tome, the cover of which has been dyed dark green. "I grew up studying this one; I still go back to it when I need to remember. It is the Seven-Pointed Star, but an ancient high septon has gone through and written his interpretations and notes after every section. It is a copy of one in the Citadel, I think." After studying its cover for a moment, she looks back at the rest of the array. "Or is it this one— " She nearly jogs down the rest of the aisle, placing the book on the table in order to lift a similarly sized book of a nearly identical colour off the shelf.

Camillo nods thoughtfully. "It's just…it is hard to understand. Good and bad and if there is bad why there is bad or if there isn't why things seem bad or…" He trails off, looking a little alarmed to have made a lady jog. "I don't…mean to make you hurry for me, Lady Marsei."

"Oh!" Marsei, who had been intent on studying the second book's cover and listening to Camillo, whirls about. "I hadn't meant to hurry," she apologizes right back, albeit with a bright smile. She plucks yet another book off the shelf; this one smaller, the grey with silver binding — The Book of Holy Prayers she'd mentioned previously. She sits down with all the books at the table. Her smile fades into something more serious as she considers them and their all-important contents. "From what I understand of the teachings… there must be a good and a bad, or else all things would be chaos," she says slowly, soft and quiet. "It… is difficult to accept that there is a reason for darkness, and sometimes I wish there was none at all, but I suppose the Stranger teaches us to see it. Without darkness, there would be no need for light; for … the Crone's latern to shine and give us wisdom to know the world, or for the Father's justice or the Mother's protection. Without bad, we would have no good to fight for in the spirit of the Warrior."

Camillo eyes the fancy bindings on these books while he listens to Marsei's interpretation of metaphysics. "I talked to someone who thinks there is no bad and that people are like animals who do what they're made for. I don't know what to make of it," he admits. "And then I talked to someone else who thinks every person has one Purpose and we have to find it. I don't know about that, either."

"I confess I don't know about that either," Marsei admits, folding her hands over the book of prayers and fidgeting slightly in thought. "A purpose, I mean. It's a nice thought, but it is a frightening one, too. What if one never knows their purpose? I asked… I asked a septa once," she says quieter still, but shakes her head, uncertain and not wishing to dwell on the answer she did or didn't receive. "But I think we are different in some ways than animals." Her brows draw together, her consideration so intent on the subject that her smooth forehead nearly wrinkles as she tries to find clear words. "If a dog gets cross and bites someone, it is not the dog's fault. Not really. It was simply being a dog. But if a person gets cross and hurts someone … well, they're responsible. Animals don't have responsibilities. Maybe they don't have a conscience like we do, an idea of right and wrong. I don't know if we can change how we are, but saying there is no bad … is like saying we're not responsible for what we've done." By now her gaze has turned down. She opens each green book, staring at the written words as though comparing one set to the other.

"I don't know how animals think," Camillo admits softly. "I used to…" He stops short, then continues, "Envy them, somehow. Animals. Because they just…do what they must. But…I guess responsibility is important. And when people don't come to it soon enough, they're wrong for it," he works round to agreeing.

"Me too," Marsei replies, easily finding common ground with Camillo despite their vastly different upbringings. "I still wonder, sometimes, what it would be like to change places with my dove or one of the animals in the garden or in the stables." She smiles at the thought, more childlike imagination than philosophy for a moment before thought settles in again. A glance down at the books. "I— " Even that small syllable begins like a confession, before it's cut short. She closes the books, stacks them, and slides them toward the other side of the table, closer to Camillo. "I don't remember which is which," she says, a sort of confession as well, slightly hurried and discomfited by that fact but going beyond it quickly, eager to help: "Please, you may borrow all of them. I think you will find them helpful, the way the words are explained. The prayer book too. It is a comfort to speak the words and feel closer to the Seven."

Camillo looks like he might ask Marsei something, but then he hesitates too long and there's something else. "Borrow them?" he repeats. "Is it…really all right if I take them out of the library, my lady?"

"I know how well you take care of cherished items, Camillo," Marsei says with full confidence, slowly rising to stand. "But it is up to you. You may keep them here, or return them after reading every day, if you feel worried." She offers one of her gentle, encouraging smiles. "And if you wish to read them with me some time I would not mind. I should like to be reacquainted with the study."

"I am sure there are many things I will not understand," Camillo says, when Marsei invites that they might read together. "Perhaps when I find them, I can ask you to explain them to me. I know enough to read simple things, but I do not have the education of septons and great people. Sometimes it is hard to understand things that you can't picture," he says. "But…I think perhaps you can help me. If you will." He bobs his head and gathers up a couple of the books. "Thank you, my lady. You are always so kind."

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