(123-06-22) The Run-Around
The Run-Around
Summary: Lars is still pursuing his little mystery. Ida says, huh?
Date: 23/06/2016
Related: What Is 'Let Down'?

The staff of the Golden Maiden Inn are very sorry to disappoint Lord Lars Costayne, but there it is — Mistress Imaldi and the young man in her employ packed up and left the day before, and the only forwarding address they left was the Oldtown branch of the Iron Bank itself.

The street urchin set to watch the bank reported that, yes, strangely enough, several men of Braavosi appearance are in and out of the bank at all hours. Any one of them might be the fellow. Or none of them, of course. Of redheaded ladies, there are none.

His colleague keeping an eye on a certain ship has better luck in time. An olive-skinned man, dressed in garments of black and brown linen and leather which are deemed ‘right funny-looking’, is traced all the way from a conference with the captain all the way north and east along bustling Hightower Street to a house in Appletree Wynd. It is the one called the Luthier’s Manse; though it has no windows upon the wind, as soon as the man put his key in the lock a woman with red hair pulled the door open to greet him.

Of course, it’s a few hours later that Lars is on the scene, his curiosity getting the better of him. He could have sent one of the chaps, it’s true, but on the other hand it’s a lovely evening for a stroll, and he is, if nothing else, an inveterate people watcher, and this is a chance to go in and see exactly where that odd woman is now staying, and perhaps learn something along the way. Impeccably dressed, as ever, with a soft leather bound roll of papers tucked under one arm, he raps smartly on the door previously indicated to him and readies his best smile.

The maid who answers the door is a woman in her early thirties, with a local accent, and an air of reserved competence; hardly has Lars introduced himself than Ida’s voice calls out eagerly from the chamber beyond, “Who is it, please?” And, when the maid turns to repeat the visitor’s name over her shoulder, the answer is a cheerful, “He may come in!”

The little Braavosi woman is wearing a dark purple dress today, not unlike her blue one in its style. Her hair seems to have been arranged with a greater degree of security. She is standing on the far side of the spacious sitting-room which takes up most of the manse’s ground floor, framed by the arched doorway which leads into the garden behind. The windows are open too, letting in the sunshine and birdsong and the scent of green growing things. And she has, wouldn’t you know it, a book in one hand, tucked in against her hip. Was she on her way out? Was she on her way in? She’s turned now, at any rate, toward Lars, smiling.

“What a surprise!” she exclaims.

To which Lars holds his bundle of papers more tightly under his arm and extends both hands to the woman in what might be considered a rather familiar way, were it not Lars and therefore just part of his personality. “It is an absolute pleasure to see you once again,” he insists, every word ringing true. “Had I known you were here I should have brought you a book. You’re well, I trust? I’m so sorry for dropping in on you - business, I’m afraid.”

Ida’s smile suggests that the pleasure is all hers, even as the eyelashes are all his — and she comes swiftly to meet him, taking quick little steps across the polished golden floorboards in her sensible black leather shoes. Her book ends up tucked under her arm, mirroring his papers.

She reaches out both her hands to put them into his — but then her brow furrows and she freezes just as she is, inkstained hands hovering in the air. Reluctant to go back, but uncertain about going forward. “Business?” she inquires doubtfully. “But what business can we have, Lars? Surely if there were such business between us, I would know of it… I have not,” her brow has since relaxed, but now her nose wrinkles, “imported or exported any goods.”

“Or monies,” Lars adds quietly, just to be complete, before continuing. “Oh, no no no, I rather think it might be your fellow that I’m looking for. Giacomo, was it? Slim fellow, about so high, darker skin, black and brown clothes? Nothing untoward, I assure you, I’m just looking for a little information about a ship we have in, and your chap just came ashore from it.” Yes. It. Not her. He might have picked up a few things, but Lars is by no means a sailor.

Ida just looks puzzled. “His name is Jaqero,” she points out, and on that note her hands drop down by her sides. “If you seek information about a ship, why would you not speak with her captain? Passengers don't know very much. Unless,” and she cheers up at once, and laughs aloud, “they are very nosy! But Jaqero is not. He feels sick if he can see the horizon, so he always hides below the deck,” she explains. “He sees very little of anything.”

“My dear, I’m awfully afraid that the poor captain, in all the hustle and bustle of bringing a ship in, might have accidentally forgotten to declare any goods, you see. I’m sure he’s terribly busy, so I really didn’t want to cause any fuss if there really aren’t any goods aboard.” Again that cheerful smile. “So perhaps you might ascertain from your fellow why the devil there’s an empty ship sitting in the harbour, with not a sign of cargo going aboard? One can only assume that the poor captain must be losing money with every day he lingers, if he’s neither brought anything in, nor is taking anything out, hm?”

“… But how could either of us know whether there were any goods on board?” asks Ida reasonably. “Jaqero was in his cabin trying not to be sick — he told me all about it,” she promises, glowing with honesty and good faith, “and I—” She spreads her hands and shrugs, dropping her book in the process. “Oh!” she exclaims, immediately crouching to pick it up, bobbing back up again all concern, turning it over in her hands to be certain there's no damage. “There,” she declares, dusting it with the sleeve of her fine purple gown. “It's not broken. What was I saying?” She blinks inquiringly at him.

Lars looks at her steadily for a long moment before finally breaching a small smile again. “My dear, we already established that this is not the ship you came in on, and even had you done so, I would be asking the same questions. This is, however, the ship from which your fellow was just seen leaving. Do you think you could do me an awfully big favour, and just ask him for me? I’d be most terribly grateful.”

“… Oh, but that's just what I meant to say,” claims Ida, looking pleased to be reminded. “Jaqero was hiding in his cabin and I wasn't there. So I don't think either of us can help you,” she sighs, shaking her head. “I will ask him for you if you like, but I think if he had seen anything unusual he would have told me, wouldn't he?” She sounds now a little concerned. “The captain did not seem like a dishonest man, or I would not have hired him. Perhaps if he seems to have no cargo, it is simply because he has no cargo…?” she suggests timidly, with the air of a novice propounding a theory before a great expert.

“Oh, it’s entirely possible,” Lars agrees amiably, shifting the papers under his arm. “But I’d hardly be carrying out the duties of my office if I didn’t poke my nose in every now and then just to make sure our fine sea captains aren’t in any sort of difficulty. I shan’t keep you any longer, my dear, but I do thank you so much for your hospitality. And if your fellow does think of anything, it would be awfully good of you to send him to see us.”

The Braavosi woman looks bewildered again. “That really is why you came,” she observes uncertainly, cuddling her book. (According to the spine it’s a textbook compiled by a recently deceased Archmaester of Law.) “… I suppose you have many more sea captains to investigate now, and I should have offered you a drink before you finished talking about your business. It would only be silly now,” and she tilts her head and gives him a wondering smile. “We were talking and I forgot.”

“It really is, I’m afraid,” Lars confirms for her, giving a small nod. “Had I known these were your lodgings, I should have allowed myself more time so that we might have had a drink and an hour of your company, but alas.”

“Then I must not keep you from… your work,” declares Ida, with a gleam in her blue-green eyes. She has already delivered herself of certain opinions regarding Lars’s relationship with his work. “Goodbye, Lars. I hope you will find out what you would like to know.”

And, having given him as good a run-around as he's had in ages, she juggles her book from her right hand to her left hand to her right hand again, and opens her front door and holds it for him, despite the maid standing by who would plainly have done just that if her mistress hadn't hurried to get there first.

“Perhaps another time,” she concludes, with a sort of vague optimism.

Lars flashes a warm smile. “I look forward to it. Good evening.”

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