(123-08-29) Balls
Summary: A slightly contentious display is witnessed in Oldtown Square.
Date: 29/08/2016
Related: None

Oldtown Square - Oldtown

This is a cobblestone market square, packed with people from all walks of life. Food vendors offer sizzling, toothsome-smelling dishes, and peddlers offering every sort of thing one can possibly buy with coin line the cobbled walkways crying carpets, weapons, wines, scrolls, armor, cloth, tools, cookware, and myriads of cheap trinkets and useful oddments.

There is a general babble of voices as the city folk try to negotiate with the sharp street vendors of Oldtown, and the occasional scuffle as the City Watch snatch up pickpockets and cutpurses from the crowd. The cacophony is made even greater by the constant stream of boys herding small groups of cattle, pigs, sheep and other livestock across the square from the stockyards to the Shambles, and the wagonloads of grains, flour and other foodstuffs rolling out from the stockyards to make their way to other points throughout the city.

There are some worn stone benches here and there, and small grassy swards for the smallfolk to gather upon. In the center of the square stand a set of four heavy wooden pillories, where wrongdoers are frequently held fast for public punishment.

If winter is coming, Oldtown Square hasn't caught the message. It's a veritable crush of people today, bustling and made more humid by the sticky air, the overcast sky heavy with the promise of the city's familiar warm rain. The busy crowd of shoppers, peddlers, and animals being carted from place to place only parts when one of the more respectable folks cuts through — barely.

"Keep your eye on the red, hey?" A woman's voice attempts to snare the attention of passersby. It has a slightly strange flavour; lowborn, her accent could be from any number of slums across Westeros except that it also sounds as though it's been dragged up and down some foreign land for good measure. The source is between a vegetable stall and a vendor of middling to fine fabrics and rugs is some manner of vagabond standing on an upturned crate. It's a good thing she's thin, for it threatens to crack under her weight as it is. She's skillfully juggling five balls at once, one of them sewn with red cloth. There's a bowl balanced on the corner of the crate, but no one has deigned to drop any coins in it.

Two young men emerge from the Pot Shop at the corner of the square and start drifting through the mass of people. One of them is richly glad in greens and goldens and people meet him with respectful bows and smiles. The other looks rather threadbare compared to his companion but it doesn't seem to bother him as he chatters away between spoonfuls of stew from the bowl he is holding.

"Shall we go to the Baths?", he asks as they are nearing that establishment, his voice tinged with hope, "Could do with a massage…" "In a bit, sure.", his noble companion replies, half distractedly, the juggling woman catching his attention. He comes to a halt, so he can watch her while spooning his own stew into his mouth. "Nice jugs.", his friend offers comment on the woman.

A highborn young woman sails through the crowd, dressed in fine skirts and elaborately coifed hair. Someone spent a lot of time getting this one ready this morning… And yet, she looks terminally bored as she passes through the crush of people. She stops at one stall, dispassionately viewing displays of some sort of jewelry, but wanders off without even making eye contact with the merchant. She passes by the stall of fabrics and rugs, her eye skipping over them while she looks supremely unimpressed, and then on she goes. Then, for whatever reason, she stops to watch the juggler, with the same casually disinterested look that she's viewed everything so far. Her eye wanders to the high born fellow and his companion, in particular sweeping over the companion with mild distaste, and then returns to the juggler.

The juggling balls sail one over the other, almost turning into a blur. The red one sails the highest, peaking higher and higher every time round. A few grubby kids have gathered about as well, and the performer winks amiably at them even though they're guaranteed to have empty pockets. This distraction - nor her glance at the others watching - don't seem to have any bearing on the fluid toss of the balls. "Nice beef," she retorts sardonically to the highborn man's threadbare friend.

She tips her head back and the red ball shoots higher still, several feet into the air above. The mustached owner of the nearby vegetables blusters out of his stall just then, shouting, "That's my bleedin' crate, you've had your fun!"

"It was empty," the performer argues calmly, "I'll give you five percent!"

"Five percent of nothin' is still nothin', do you take me for a fool? Get down, you're distractin' me customers!"

"Nah, look at me, I take myself for a fool, you've clearly not been payin' attention," she answers with the same unbothered humour.

Frustrated, the merchant kicks the crate. The performer's worn-out leather boots scramble to balance, she grabs for the red ball as it comes plummeting down, and it goes ricocheting toward the nobles.

The threadbare friend blows the young woman a kiss in reaction, then follows the toss of the ball. His nicer-looking friend meanwhile tries to catch the ball, but it goes past him and he mutters a curse under his breath.

The young noblewoman looks rather more interested as the merchant comes out to berate the juggler. It's hard to say whose side she's on, other than that it's gained her attention. However, when the merchant kicks the crate and the ball goes flying, her eyes darken. There's a brief moment of indecision, and then temper is given the reins. She stalks toward juggler and merchant, head held high and a death glare marring her otherwise pretty features. "Excuse me, but what do you think you're doing?" she demands. "I was watching that!"

The rest of the juggling balls rain into the Sal's waiting hands one-by-one as easily as drops of water from the sky, and she tucks them hurriedly into a pouch at her waist, hooked onto her off-kilter belt. "Shit," she breathes through her teeth. Her eyes go a bit wide as the noblewoman stands up to the merchant, halfway between being impressed and wary of the attention. She hops off the crate, ducking past the bystanders to chase the errant red ball. She doesn't quite meet anyone's eye (except the merchant over her shoulder, to give him a dirty look).

The merchant practically shrinks into himself, frozen. "I, well, well— it's a hustle is all, wouldn't you rather have a look at my vegetables? Some fine carrots today from up the Honeyholt way— "

Enter the performer, who was behind the bystanders and has all of a sudden circled around to be inside the merchant's stall with a handful of beets. "I ain't no hustler," she insists, taking it as a personal insult. She gives the vegetables a quick loop through her hands in a quick juggle, cracking a toothy smile in the noblewoman's direction.

The young noble man's eyes widen at the lady's attack and he chuckles when the performer suddenly emerges inside the stall. "I'd buy two nicely rounded… heads of cabbage from you.", he tells the stranger good-naturedly, "What else can you do except juggling and annoying the local crooks?"

"HEY! I HEARD THAT!", the merchant growls at the young man before turning back to the noble woman in the hope she'll buy something. The threadbare friend remains a little in the background, finishing his stew while watching the show.

Eleanor looks down her nose at the merchant, eyes narrowed in an expression that is positively feline in its intense dislike. "No. I do not care to see your vegetables," she pronounces, calmly. "I don't care a whit for your vegetables. They are as boring as you. And if I should choose to give a few coins to a street performer, it is not a hustle, you ignorant fop. It's fair pay for a moment's diversion." Having said her piece, her attention returns to the juggler, and she gives a mild little smirk, a spark of amusement returning to her eyes that wasn't there before.

The merchant looks chastised, bunching his shoulders up about his reddening ears. Still, his bluster gets the best of him when he looks over at the performer using his vegetables as performance art. "Get your filthy hands off my— " He sputters, looking at the noblewoman like he expects her to take off his head. "A-apologies, my lady— "

Sal winks good-naturedly at the merchant as if they're old friends, which only serves to make his eye twitch. She tosses the beets back into their basket, all of them, not filching a single one even though she likely could have, throwing the last one underhand behind her back as she leaves the cart. "Oh, that's it," she tells the nobleman, "juggling and annoying local crooks, that's me pegged. A simple two-skill woman, that's me, eh?" She smiles again at the the lady then, beaming relatively white teeth out of a face that would otherwise get lost in a crowd. "You've got balls," she boldly compliments Eleanor with full awareness of her pun. Even with her easygoing attitude, she doesn't quite look either of them in the eye.

Loryn pulls a face at the stranger's reply and points his spoon at her. "That's too bad… not enough to put you on a bigger stage. Though if you want more than small-time hustling in the marketplace, I could book you a spot on the small stage."

Meanwhile, threadbare friend Joe approaches the small group, looking towards Eleanor a little admiringly. "Got a coin to spare for me too, lady?"

The noblewoman looks at Sal with a kind of tolerant amusement, and replies, "No, my dear, I have a name. There's a subtle difference." She tosses a dismissive glance toward the merchant, and then looks back to the threadbare friend. Her nose wrinkles slightly, as though she's smelled something slightly off, and she replies, "You've done nothing but mar an otherwise lovely performance with vulgarity. Why should I spare you anything?"

Sal gives the threadbare friend a nose-wrinkled look as well, though it looks utterly more boorish on her face than on that of a lady. Yeah, what she said. Since there are people paying attention to her, she slips a few juggling balls out of the pouch once more and idly tosses them about — just three, this time, but they weave easily in a winding pattern through the air, more than a simple toss. She's clearly practiced. "I said I ain't a hustler," she says with a tense roll of her shoulder that threatens to mar her juggling pattern, as if that one implication dismisses everything else Loryn said. But she manages to glance at him sideways, suspicious. "What sort've stage?" She sounds like she regrets asking, as though she might bolt any second.

"Because I'm cute?" Joe asks Eleanor, making hopeful puppy eyes.

Loryn tries to ignore his friend and focus on Sale. "Proper stage. In-built daily audience with the entire focus on you and not on merchants all around you." He shrugs a little. "Come and ask for me as the Theatre of Whimsical Dreams, if you like. Ask for Loryn Tyrell." No Ser or Lord or anything. He offers Sal a smile, then Eleanor as well, this smile a bit apologetic. "Come Joe, let's go to the Baths!"

Eleanor looks at Joe with hooded eyes. Apparently the puppy eyes aren't doing it for her. Without another word, she turns her attention to Loryn and the juggler. "Mm. I think I shall have to see the performance you have in mind, Loryn Tyrell of the Theatre of Whimsical Dreams." She glances to the juggler, head tilted slightly. "What is your name? And where in the world did you learn to do all of…" she waves a hand to indicate the juggling, "that?"

A theatre such as Loryn's presents an opportunity beyond what most struggling lowborn performers on the street could ever ask for. Too good to be true, even. Maybe that's why Sal stares at Loryn — Loryn Tyrell — like he's grown three heads that are about to eat her alive. It's a wonder her balls stay in the air. She doesn't say a word to him in parting. "Far away from here," she answers Eleanor, or rather doesn't answer Eleanor, focusing on watching her own juggling rather than the lady asking the questions. She throws a ball behind her and twirls deftly to catch it. "Most folks with a name like yours don't ask for mine. Figure I might as well not have one."

"You'll get to see ME on stage!", Joe informs Eleanor brightly when she questions the performances at the Whimsy. Then he's dragged away by Loryn, towards the Lysene Baths. Exit stage left (not pursued by a bear).

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