(123-06-18) Is Winter Coming?
Is Winter Coming?
Summary: Lord Carolis Stark tries to warn the Hightower that Winter is Coming.
Date: Date of play (18/06/123)
Related: None

Things in the North have become more stable, and none too soon as the cold starts to descend. In a way, the weather has made it possible for Carolis to leave the lands of House Stark and their bannermen, on the grounds that there is only so much trouble one can get up to when one is doing battle with the cold. His armies have been set to protecting the villages from pillagers while helping them gather and store supplies. He has kept his promise to the savages whose children he orphaned, and they have been sent supplies: grains, salted meat, materials to bolster their homes against the chill. It's all in its most raw state. Easier and faster to send that in volume than a trickle of finished products.

The truth is he's not Lord Stark, and in the end, he is the one who can afford to leave. What Cregan does, who he chooses as Regent should he too come south, that is out of Carolis' hands, and he's all too glad to walk away from it. Besides, he's got another mission now. The white ravens haven't come to tell the Houses of Westeros that Winter is coming. Carolis knows the Maesters are guided by astronomy, but he also knows that, despite what the stars say, the ice and snow will have their way.

The ride from Winterfell was long and hard. He stopped along the way to inform people it's time to put in stores for the coming cold. Whether they are willing to listen to the Stark or not, he's done due diligence. All the way to Oldtown, and he stops only for a bath and to dress himself in his best finery to come see Lord Ormund. Who is indisposed, so he shall see whoever will speak to him.

What with one thing and another Ormund is not available, but an Elder Hightower, one of his father's generation, once a famed tourney champion and now a balding advisor with some interest in accounting is available. He's a tall man run to fat with the red nose of an older man who celebrates a little more often than he likely should, this same nose crooked from old breaks. He also sports a rather rakish scar from a blow that just missed taking his eye. Right now he is looking over a ledger and sipping mulled wine. He eyes the young Stark with a measuring glance, but his smile is welcoming enough, "This wine is quite good. Shall I order you a cup?"

Carolis's features remain ever youthful, though there's something more mature in the way the young man carries himself. He has led battles, killed men, and put some of them to death with his own sword as they knelt in the snow. He has had to make decisions without the safety of an older brother's authority to bail him out if they went awry. And they didn't. Perhaps that's why he holds his chin high. He no longer has to guess at his worth. He knows it well.

Snow and ice, the Starks, known to be formidable and forbidding. Most of them bear craggy scowls and a predator's gaze that says 'stay away.' The are curt, taciturn, and humorless. This one? This one is smooth as black ice and pristine as the morning after a snowstorm. The Blue Winter Rose, they call him, and he does have a fey way about him. They also say he led an army against Skagos and Wildlings and beat them back.

He stands poised for a moment, head tilted as he looks toward the wine. "Yes, please," he says, and the ice melts a little as he manages a small smile. He's been out of civilized society for too long. Wine in the company of a Hightower should fix that.

The Elder Hightower's gaze continues to assess the young Stark as he sends for another cup. It is a good arbor red with cloves and the like. "I've not seen a stark in the lists, though much is said of your brother's sword and your leadership this year past. Is it not one of you men who keeps winning the dolphin Tourney?" His face says little beyond the sociable smile. His eyes are sharp enough and he does seem sober this afternoon. "Is there more trouble in the North or is this about the fees for your ships." He taps the ledger under his hand.

Carolis remains standing, though there's little evidence of looming. At his height, he doesn't need to. "I wouldn't be surprised," he says of the tourney. He takes the wine and closes his eyes as he takes in the bouquet. It's all coming back to him, everything about the South he had come to appreciate. He savors that first sip. Then he says, "I'm afraid it's something more unsettling than ships fees, Lord. The Maesters have not read Winter's arrival in the stars, yet in the North, it is already starting to overtake us."

The Elder Hightower thinks this over, sipping his wine, "Are you sure it's not just Summer snow? I saw such in my youth when I road North in my youth. How many Winters hve you seen?"

"Enough to know the way it tastes in the air," Carolis says, "and the disquiet that blankets the land on nights when the wind howls as it tears through the forests and mountains and towns, leaving snow half a man deep in its wake. T'will be two men deep come the worst part of it." He's stops himself from lecturing on how questionable it is to put one's faith solely in Maesters, all things considered. "I'm not saying there are dire forces at work, merely that the summer snows have grown more severe and frequent, and up North we know it in our bones and blood."

There is that measuring gaze again. He has been to war himself, for all most of his glory was won in the lists and he has a dueler's way of weighing a man, "Do not… take offense, Lord Carolis, but I must ask if the opinion is your alone or that of your Brother and other Northern Lords." He knows the reputation of both brothers in war, but also their youth and the declaration of Coming Winter is a serious thing. "If we are to… preempt the Maesters we need more than one man's word, even the word of a House as illustrious and honorable as yours…. It IS a shame your brother doesn't fight in the Melee….."

Carolis takes another drink, and he lets out a breath, exhaling slowly through his nostrils. "No offense taken," he says, his tone smooth. It ''is'' serious. Frustrating as it is to have to convince people, he isn't entirely surprised that he must. "I do not speak for my brother," he says, "but I am confident he too has seen the signs. North of Winterfell, we've been shoring up supplies and helping our villages prepare. Our bannermen south of us are beginning to follow suit." He spreads his hands. "I bring you the knowledge I have, Your Lordship, and the recommendation that the Maesters at least consider it in their calculations, and that it cannot hurt to begin preparations."

The old Knight thinks this over, "I will bring it to young Ormund and see what might be done. We've been… having trouble with the Maesters of late. I do not know how seriously they would take any recommendation of ours, but something may be done nevertheless. Thank you for bringing it to us, Lord Carolis…. I don't suppose you joust at all? There is talk of an old style contest, as in my great grandfather's day and I should like to see how you and you brother fight…." He sounds genuinely wistful rather than challenging. He is a man who clearly wishes he could ride out himself.

Carolis's lips quirk. 'Young' Ormund. Carolis supposes he must be a babe in swaddling to the old man. "Trouble with the Maesters seems to be going around," he replies. He inclines his head then. "I'm sorry, milord, I am an archer. I believe my brother could unseat a man with little trouble, but he's indisposed. I've a retainer I could ask after. He is a Knight."

The Hightower Knight sighs, disappointed at the lack of Stark interest for the proposed war games. "That Knight… Was he the one named young Marsei the Queen of Love and Beauty, and her being just wed to another man?" His eyebrows go up and he studies Carolis as if hoping for all the gossip. Then another thought crosses his mind, "Wait, are you and your brother the 'strong swimmers' in that scandalous ballad they are always singing in the taverns lately?"

"That sounds about right," Carolis says blandly, when the knight is described. Then he sighs quietly and pinches the bridge of his nose. Quietly, with dignity, he says, "I am unfamiliar with the song of which you speak, Milord. I've been away for some time, and I've only just come back."

The elder Hightower grins, "Oh, it's quite amusing. It's a whole list of father's for that Princess Visenya's baby. Let's see if I can remember how your verse goes…." He hums a bit and the Seven help us all he sings the verse accusing the stark brothers and the bawdy and scurrilous chorus. He warms considerably to Carolis as he sings. After he adds teasingly, "And you only an archer…."

Carolis again sighs quietly. See how he gathers his dignity about him in the way he draws himself up and looks delicately pained. "I was not aware the princess was with child," he says. Yes, because that's what this is about. Not him being in a song about… things. "I shall have to ask my men if they know the origins of this piece." He already knows. Or suspects. He turns his back for ONE moment…

The Elder Hightower gives him a wink, "Oh, you needn't be modest. I was popular with the Ladies my self and more than a few wenches back in the day…. She may have had it by now and half the important people in the city are off at the Naming ceremony in Dorne. There's to be a Tourney too…." He sighs, "But I'm to miss it, being stuck here instead. Those Dornish can be devilish in a fight, I miss a good skirmish. You ever crossed spears with a Dornishman? Which reminds me…." He sings the verse about Prince Alaryn maybe having helped Prince Torren in the task of impregnating the Princess, "Quite a catchy tune isn't it?"

Carolis is too Stark for his cheeks to color. Instead, he stands taller still, his head held a titch higher. Crossed spears with a… "I would have saved a few skirmishes for you up North had I known, Milord," he says with a small, perfectly polite smile. "As for the song, trust me, I cannot wait to hear every verse and its origins."

The Elder Hightower takes the words at face value, "I'd have loved to be there with you, Lad. The Battle of the Bay sounded like a fine thing and I've never fought savages in earnest, only Dornish and outlaws. If you want to here the song in earnest or that other one with the tentacles, best to dress down so they don't know who you are. They'll be singing it all over what with the baby and all."

Song with the tentacles… A small grimace furrows Carolis' features. "How I've missed the liveliness of Oldtown and its diversions," he says. "Yet glad enough for the battle to be over. It was a long campaign. My men fought well, and once more is the North reminded my brother is no callow youth." Nor Carolis a fainting flower. But hey, when life gives you an army, make war.

The Elder Hightower nods and gives him a manly thump on the shoulder, "I know war is know game, Lad, and even at this distance, much good was said of you and your brother's conduct…. I'm sure the rumors they ate the dead were false though, and I'm glad of that. War is grim enough without people adding ghost ships and cannibal monsters from North of the Wall eating whole villages… If you like, I'll go up to the Fist with you and stand you a round so we can see if they'll sing the songs about the Princess…."

Carolis holds up under the thump. Familial necessity, developing an immunity to those. "I would like that," he says with a faint smile, letting slip a small bit of warmth. "They do, though," he says. "Eat the dead. The Skagosi file their teeth to points for rending flesh. I don't know about the ghost ship for certain, but I can tell you they will not let a single scrap of meat go to waste." He finishes his wine with elegant manners.

The Old Man's eyes go wide in shock, "I… did not credit it. Surely you aren't teasing an old man about such things. That's… vile. I hope you scowered their Island clean!"

Carolis shakes his head and says, "I would not lie about what my men faced in the North nor speak false of their glory." He says nothing of his political gamble with the island. He's well aware his approach of ''not'' murdering everyone in sight isn't a popular one. He gestures for the old man to lead the way. He could use a stronger drink in a less formal place.

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