(123-05-28) An Ounce of Planning
An Ounce of Planning
Summary: Ser Malcolm Storm pops into Esme's shop in search of an ounce of planning; they're briefly distracted by discussion of a mutual… acquaintance.
Date: 28/05/2016
Related: Warrior vs. Crone

Behind the counter of the red and yellow grocery shop in Oldtown Square an earnest conference is underway over a large ledger placed between a tiny old woman in a red and blue and yellow striped dress and a tall young girl in grey.

"… There, you see?" declares Esme, tapping with her finger upon a column of fingers. "That's Katla's hand, and by now she ought to know better." The bell over the door tinkles; she looks up with brows furrowed and expression dark, until blessed recognition dawns. Her hands rush to straighten, unnecessarily, her apron. "Ser Malcolm!" she declares, every cloud clearing away before the sunshine of his presence. He must be used to that, with women. "What can I do for you, dearie? More o' those sausages, eh?" she asks helpfully, abandoning her shop girl to the accounts and bustling round the counter.

Malcolm's hair and beard are fresh dyed and trimmed, the smell of it lingering even though it was likely not done today. He gives her a sunny smile, "I can always use more sausages, Mistress Esme, but I'm here more in a party planning capacity."

Hands on her hips Esme beams up at him, as though he's just said something particularly clever. "Oh, I see," she declares. "What would you be wantin', then, for this party o' yours? Or for the Starks, is it?"

Malcolm nods, "It's for my Lord carolis. we've nigh a month, and I'm not sure how hard some of the things will be to find, plus I'll need to add things to the regular order for the baking and the like."

"I reckon I can find almost anythin', given a month or near enough," says Esme encouragingly. She nods to him. "Have you got a list, then? Or d'you just want to tell me? Talia," and this is over her shoulder to the shop girl, "pop in next door and wrap up a pound of the little spicy sausages for Ser Malcolm, there's a good girl." She smiles and turns straight away to her customer; the girl in grey is already on her way through the connecting door.

Malcolm steps up to the counter, "Well, to start with, how much honey can you get us? My Lord has a fondness for a sort of chewy nutty thing they make up North with boiled honey. And we'll be needing as many types of strong cheese as we can get the week of, and if you can get in the clear Northern liquor that scrambles a man's head before he notices, I'd love a case or two of that…."

Esme draws in a breath between her teeth. "Fearful stuff, I hear," she declares; "I'll find you a case of it, right enough, or two if the gods happen to send me two. I've been dealin' in a surprisin' amount of liquor lately, for all I don't drink the stuff m'self; it seems to be fate." She gives a shrug, a wry smile. "I'll send word to the farmers I buy my best cheese from that I'll be needin' extra that week, shouldn't be any trouble there. And honey… the question ain't how much I can get, but how much d'you need?" she asks frankly. "I reckon I know the fellow to ask, Beesbury man, but I wouldn't like to end up with too much on my hands. Why don't you ask your cook f'r an exact quantity? She'll know how much she wants for how many batches she intends to make…"

Malcolm nods, "Absolutely dreadful, but the Northerners like it. I'm not much of a drinker myself, alchohol being the enemy of the sword, but one likes to drink one's Lord's health on his Nameday. I'll send a girl along with numbers for the extra honey, flower, meat, and the like. We'll likely be hunting for game all week trying to get enough birds and venisen, but we'll be needing beef, pork, and chicken as well, given the size of the feast and number of guests two years ago…. Last year we were on campaigne and there was no celebration proper."

"Ah, well, namedays are special," agrees Esme. "And I appreciate you comin' in to give me early warnin', so I can start to look about." She nods. "I can sometimes get a few birds of the kind you've had from me before, or a bit of good fresh venison," she adds in an undertone, leaning in nearer, "though it ain't a sure thing, mind, it's just… as and when, y'know." Then she clears her throat and says firmly, "I'll get everythin' I can for you, and what I can't manage I'll let you know in time to make other arrangements — so don't you worry about a thing, eh?" Not that it's remotely likely, mind you. She'll just make the other arrangements herself and pass on a small mark-up.

Malcolm says, "Namedays are special. To be honest, I should have come by weeks ago, but I've put the men on a new training regemine and I've been preoccupied with that…." He seems confused for a momment by her change in volume and then remembers that poaching is more of a thing hereabouts. He drops his voice, "Well, if you have good fresh game the day before or the day of, I'll take whatever you have. Except boar…."

"Right you are," chuckles Esme. "No boar." Her arms relax, one hand loose by her side and the other rising to the modestly high collar of her dress. She hooks out her necklace with a fingertip, quickly, just long enough to show him a polished silver dolphin, a glittering sapphire. "I've been wearin' it more'n I thought," she confesses then. "Though I'll tell you, for all the trouble you took, it turns out there ain't a woman whose honour'll go unquestioned wearin' a thing like that. Somebody called me a thief lately," she chuckles.

Malcolm flashes her a bright smile, "I'm glad it brings you pleasure and if anyone gives you trouble over it, send them to me. I'd be happy to put them straight." He drops his voice, "Your kindness hasn't been forgotten."

"That's good of you to say, ser." All of it, as Esme's grandmotherly smile makes clear. "… I reckon I did put him straight," she admits, "not that he liked that from me, o' course. He was swearin' a blue streak up and down the Sept — I didn't care for that, not at all, but what can you do with folk like that?" Her lips twist, but she attempts just to shrug it all away. "Ser Laurent Tyrell," she adds. "Ever fight him? I don't remember it happenin', but I don't get to all the tourneys. Just when it's convenient."

Malcolm's eyebrows go up, "Ser Laurent is back in town? I've not seen him since… I think it was ser daevon's duel with the Dornishman. I don't think we ever faced off in a tourney, but we did joust on battle Island bridge once as part of the Festival of Chivalry. He unseated me." Though his tone stays light and afiable, there is something hard about his eyes as he says this next, "He nearly killed a Princess once she was down, but his lady wife got him to leave the field."

"Once she was down?" echoes Esme, lips thinning, eyes fixed on his. The two of them had a frank discussion once regarding the correct form of chivalry with which to treat ladies who take up arms. This was no part of it.

But before she can unburden herself of the further opinions suggested by her incredulous tone, a bell tinkles to announce the return of her shop girl, carrying a parcel of sausages. Esme's attention veers sideways. "… Ah, there we are," she declares; "will you carry 'em or shall I send 'em round? Yes, he's back in the city," she confirms, "and got some funny ideas about justice. Still," her hand strays near her neck again, patting her necklace through the colourful striped linen of her dress, "all's well that ends well, I daresay."

Malcolm nods, unable to hide the disapproval, "He kept pounding her. Lord Carolis and I were able to get her up on Motley and carry her home to her Manse and she survived." he clams up at the jingle of the returning shop girl, all sunny smiles and courtesy again. "Thank you Mistress esme and Mistress… I'm sorry, I don't think I got your name? I'll be happy to carry them home myself." He nods, "Thank does sound like Ser Laurent, yes. I should pop around and visit his brother, I suppose." He tries very hard to keep the threat and interest from his tone and very nearly succeeds. Only a very observant person would be able to catch the undertone. His dark eyes study Esme, "All is well then?"

The shop girl hands over the parcel of sausages; "Talia, ser," she answers with a small smile, a lowering of her eyes, a bob of a curtsey.

A very observant person meanwhile is studying Ser Malcolm in return. "All's well enough," she says slowly, lowering her hand again from her necklace. Her demeanour is perhaps a touch subdued, but calm enough. "He ain't a customer of mine no more; I wrote next day to his steward tellin' him he'd best go elsewhere. I don't mind what he says to me — I've got a good thick skin, at my time of life — but I don't care to feed men as speak so of the gods in the gods' own house." She sniffs. "Was there anythin' else, ser?"

Malcolm gives Talia a polite head bob back as he takes his sausages, "Thank you Talia." He turns back to Esme, "Please don't hold ser Laurent against Ser Loryn. I know he's got nuptials coming up. The brothers are not at all alike." he having knighted Ser Loryn with his own hands.

"Ooh, I know that well enough," Esme assures him, smiling. "And I still sell to Garden Isle, mind you — and to the lads from the Whimsy when they pop in — just not to Little Bellhorn Holdfast." She winks.

Malcolm grins, "Sounds fair to me. If there is more trouble about the necklace, do feel free to drop my name. He knows it."

"… You're a very fine man, Ser Malcolm, and no mistake," says Esme firmly. "And you've my true gratitude for the necklace. I'd never thought to have such a thing, and I've scarce ever been so startled as when you put it in my hands — but somehow or another it came at just the right time," she adds, more softly, whilst her shop girl affects close attention to the open ledger. "Funny how things work out." One corner of her mouth lifts into a whimsical half-smile. "I hope you'll see yours into the right hands soon too, eh?"

Malcolm is no slouch on the observing either. His expression softens, "Then I am glad of it. That it's done you good."

"Mm. Well." And Esme ducks her head, looking a trifle embarrassed by having said so much; she chuckles as though the spot on the floor she's looking at amuses her, perhaps by its extraordinary cleanliness, and then lifts her head and says in a more ordinary way, "I'll see about that cheese right away. And anythin' else you and the Starks need, you just let me know."

Malcolm bobs his own head politely to Esme, "I'll send a girl 'round with a full list from the cook. Good day to you both."

"Seven blessings, dearie," Esme calls after him.

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