(123-06-26) Hightower Hospitality
Hightower Hospitality
Summary: Lady Olenna Roxton arrives in Oldtown, to stay at the Hightower; Camillo, on his masters' behalf, endeavours to see that she has all she requires. Warning: new character, first scene, terrible, &c.
Date: 26/06/2016
Related: None

In the few hours since Lady Roxton's wheelhouse (an ancient conveyance, its paint smartened up) rolled across the bridge to Battle Island and she herself was led by the hand up the Hightower's interminable stairs, her suite of chambers has been the scene of a minor revolution.

Most pieces of furniture in the sitting-room have had their positions slightly adjusted in relation to the other pieces, and the smaller ones especially crowded into out of the way corners; the heavy oaken dining-table however has been moved only a few inches from its usual place, and one woman in maid's garb is leaning upon the end of it and wiping her forehead with a handkerchief as the other, some handful of years her senior, opens the door to Camillo.

Meanwhile in a chair placed near the fire a woman in a blue gown, with dark hair braided and looped at the back of her neck, sits with a drop spindle spinning ceaselessly in the air before her, transforming fine undyed wool into even finer undyed yarn. She neither looks at her work, nor at Camillo: her grey-blue eyes seem to be gazing vacantly at nothing at all.

Camillo has a very consistent, unobtrusive servant's knock, and once the door is opened for him, he nods at the woman with her hand on the latch. "Good day," he says softly. "My name is Camillo. I'm one of the senior servants here. We haven't yet had the opportunity to talk about Lady Roxton's needs. So I came by to see whether there are any special requests for the room, or anything else we can help with during Lady Roxton's stay."

The maid glances back over her shoulder, not in fear or apprehension but habitual concern for her lady's appearance; she turns to Camillo again and opens the door further. "I'm Sallei," she answers, softly too, in the sort of accent belonging to the better sort of servant from further north in the Reach. Smallfolk, overlaid with habits picked up from the nobility she serves. "Her ladyship's handmaiden. It's very kind of you to…" She falters. "That is, we are used to looking after her, and we wouldn't like to put you to any trouble," she murmurs first of all. "But perhaps…" Another glance over her shoulder at the table which has so stubbornly resisted the women's efforts.

Lady Roxton's spindle turns, and turns. "Who is it?" she calls, with a mild curiosity which yet fails to draw her glance toward the door.

"A Hightower servant, your ladyship," Sallei answers, still holding the door but this time pitching her voice to be heard across the room. "He has come to see if there is anything special you might require during your visit here."

A pause, and then the lady laughs over her spinning. A weary sound. "If only it were so simple as asking," she remarks, as though to herself. "But perhaps help with the table, if there are men to spare at this hour…?"

"But that's what we are here for," Camillo softly assures, though his eyes drift toward the noblewoman at her spinning when he hears her voice. "My lady, forgive my intrusion," he says loudly enough for her to hear this time. "Of course we have men to spare."

"Thank you," the lady answers; and this time she does turn her head toward the sound of his voice — though the angle isn't quite right, though her eyes don't focus on his face. "I'm sure Sallei will tell you the rest," she says apologetically, "that… that when the chambers are cleaned, everything should be put back exactly, that my food must be cut up for me, that when it is cold I cannot light a fire… I am," she gives him a small, resigned smile, "a great deal of trouble, but it is trouble for my own women, I hope, and not for those who serve my… very gracious hosts," she concludes.

"We light fires for all the guests unless their own servants prefer to do it, my lady," Camillo replies. "The other matters can be seen to easily. You must ring should you need anything at any hour. Please don't hesitate, my lady."

The maids look on; Lady Roxton, Olenna to give her the name she's more comfortable with, is still more or less looking toward Camillo, with that hesitant, reluctant, uncertain smile upon her lips. Her fingers are always deftly moving, drawing out the unspun wool wrapped about her wrist, twisting and pinching. "Thank you for your courtesy, goodman. May I ask… do many nobles of the Reach stay at the Hightower, when they are visiting Oldtown? Has the Hightower many guests at the moment, or only a few?"

"We were rather full with the most recent wedding, my lady," Camillo answers, perhaps diplomatically, "But now we have a little more room to spare. Of course the family is happy to host any lord or lady of their acquaintance. They are a hospitable family."

Olenna must laugh at that, and she does. A soft, breathy little laugh — and then she catches herself and deliberately sobers her expression. "I'm afraid I am not… acquainted with the Hightowers," she apologises. "With any of the Hightowers. I am thankful indeed that they are so hospitable, or so susceptible at any rate to my maester's entreaties — I hope you do not think that I pry, goodman," she adds, struck suddenly by a worry which passes visibly across her features, even as her gaze wavers unknowing between Camillo's left ear and her maid's hand on the door. "I am only trying to imagine," she explains awkwardly, "what it is like, here. Sallei is good at describing things to me, but she has not seen very much, yet."

"I am sure you will be soon," Camillo replies without /too/ much hesitation. "My Lady Marsei is sociable and kind." He tilts his head at the lady's explanation. "I hope that you shall be comfortable here, my lady. I cannot say I know what it is to be a noble in this place, but I know that both the family and the servants wish people to enjoy their time."

Again Olenna says, "Thank you," and she goes on without the least idea that Camillo is standing in the corridor. All she knows is that the door is still open. "May I ask, what are the places where visitors may not go? Are any of the gardens, for instance, private to the Hightower family?"

A gesture of Sallei's hand invites Camillo to come inside. She knows where he is, and this politeness also falls within her domain.

"I am sure, my lady, that the family would be pleased for you to enjoy their gardens," he replies. "Of course private chambers are best kept out of without invitation, and it is best that people of quality not stray into the servants' quarters, kitchens, and other such staff rooms. But otherwise I think there are very few forbidden places, my lady."

The lady nods as he speaks. "I would not wish to abuse such hospitality," she promises him. "Of course most of the world is wasted on me," this she utters with a shrug, as though it were inarguable fact, "but I do like the way things smell in gardens, and the sunshine… I'm sure I shall enjoy the gardens here very much, if you're sure it's all right…" There's still a hint of a query in her voice. Then another question outright: "Is there a library, here in the tower? My maester told me he had heard of it, but he was not certain."

"You may hear birdsong in our gardens as well," Camillo offers. "Prince Dhraegon has seen to it that it should attract birds as well. If you meet him…you must be prepared, for he is quite…innocently friendly, and I am sure he will be pleased if you like his garden. You will know him by his distinctive laugh, I think, and because he is quite large." He dips his head at the question of a library, though it's a rather pointless gesture. "There is, my lady," he says, mentioning the floor it is on. "And of course you can borrow anything you like there and have it brought to your rooms. If your servants are otherwise engaged, I can always dispatch someone literate to read for you, my lady."

Olenna's expression relaxes, and a more confident smile touches her lips, when she's promised so many pleasures all in one breath. "I would like that very much. The books we have at the Ring, I have heard so many times before… it would be wonderful to know something new. Of course we should be very careful with anything we borrowed," she assures him. "Might Sallei go to the library and choose for me, or is it better if… I go myself?" she asks hesitantly, uncertain what liberties are permitted visiting servants.

Camillo nods his head once, again pointlessly. "I am sure you will find something that pleases your ear, my lady," he promises. "And I think it will be all right for Sallei to go," he says, with a nod at that servant. "I will be sure the other servants know of who she is."

There's more of a point to the nod Olenna gives him in return, without knowing that it is in return, without ever quite meeting his eye. "Thank you," she says simply, but very sincerely. "I don't know anyone in Oldtown, yet," she admits, "but may I ask— if I were to have any visitors, what is the custom? Sallei said there were a great many guards at the bridge, questioning everyone who would cross. Would it be more convenient if I went out, to see people?"

"If you have people you would like to see, my lady, we can give their names to the guards," he says. "If they are noble, the guards will know most of them by…by sight. Though if you wish to go out visiting," he continues, "That is also fine, I'm certain."

"It's all right, you can say it," Olenna assures him pleasantly. Her lips quirk into something not unlike a smile, which fades as she speaks again. "Everybody does. I say it myself, sometimes. It's a part of the language… I can't expect everybody always to be watching what they say in front of me, can I? … There, you see," she points out. "Watching. It isn't on purpose." And, having run out of wool, she catches hold of her spindle with a sure hand and wraps the last couple of feet of delicate, loosely-twisted yarn around the rest, deftly tucking in the end. She must have been sitting there as she was for an hour or two, to spin such a length of yarn. "Thank you for explaining. As I said, I don't know anyone yet, but perhaps in time I might… Is it to you that we ought to give the names, or to the guards directly?"

She doesn't seem to know what to do with her spindle now, as though some arrangement she has at home simply isn't present here — Sallei darts forward to relieve her of it, murmuring, "Let me, your ladyship."

Camillo looks a little sheepish at having his stumble noticed, though it was excused so graciously. "Thank you, my lady," he murmurs. "You may give the names to me, my lady, there is no need to trouble yourself with the guards."

And no matter how sheepish he looks, in this chamber only other servants can see him — and they appear nothing but sympathetic and well-disposed.

"Thank you, goodman, for answering my questions so kindly. I seem to have so many today… And please don't worry what you say in front of me… to lack sight is an inconvenience, to be sure," claims Olenna with an effort at lightness, "but I don't need so much pity as that." Her hands are idle now in her lap, one wrist draped over the either, without any adornments but a golden signet ring engraved with her house's sigil. "Perhaps Sallei would rather speak with you alone, where I am not listening," she suggests. "About… help with the table, and anything else she thinks you ought to know."

"… Your ladyship," agrees Sallei respectfully. She's perhaps putting on a little bit of a show for the Hightower man. Standing up straighter, too.

Camillo inclines his head to Sallei. "Yes, my lady," he replies to Olenna. "I will go over any further details with her. Thank you for speaking with me today."

No longer making a pretense of looking at Camillo as he speaks, Olenna rises from her chair and takes one slow careful step around the arm of it and three more slow careful steps forward. She reaches out to rest her hand upon the corner of the sofa. This, of course, is why everything has been moved — but she doesn't quite trust it yet, on her first day in this foreign chamber. Sallei of course ducks out of her way. "Then I will leave you to your talk. Thank you, goodman, for coming so soon to see that all was well with me… I'm sure it shall be, here." She sets off toward a half-remembered doorway — but her direction is off by a few degrees, and Sallei must step in to lead her by the hand as far as that door and then to close it after her.

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