(123-09-25) Why the Flowers Grow
Why the Flowers Grow
Summary: Gardens are for flowers and important thoughts.
Date: 25/09/2016
Related: None

Lower Garden - The Hightower

Battle Island

The bottom two levels, giving some forty-five feet of height to the tower, are below, and the next tier of the white stone structure looms above. The second tier is narrower than the first, and the roof-space left behind supports this garden. It's a large ring, some twenty-five feet from the wall to the interior of the tower to the battlements at the roof edge. There's a paved walk along those crenellations, but the rest of the space has been floored in rich deep soil.

The garden has two winding paths around the rings, twisting among beds of flowers and blossoming shrubs. They bloom profusely, and in every colour. A few small fountains are nestled amid the plants. The soil is not deep enough for large trees, so there are canopies of colourful fabric to create the shady spots. White stone benches and tables grace the shaded areas. Still, the rich earth is deep enough for small trees, and little plum trees and spreading berry bushes offer their sweets on some months.

There's a games court on the Western side of the ring. The Butterfly Garden is on the South side.

The Flower of Oldtown is particularly true to her nickname on this summery but overcast day with no hint of cooler weather in sight. Her gown is a sunny yellow that makes up for the grey sky, ribbon-embroidered with cheery purple flowers and climbing vines, and she's surrounded by the many blooms of the lofty garden of the Hightower, crouched neatly, skirts wide around her. She holds a small knife in hand for clipping stems, a small, growing stack of flowers at her side in want of a basket, each of a different variety. Marsei is taking tremendous care with each flower; there is a rather tremendously serious look of focus on her face as she chooses the next, as though flower-picking is presently the most important task in all the realm and it is her duty to do it perfectly.

Camillo steps out of the tower with a basket in hand, lined with a cloth so that the weave will not catch and tear delicate stems or blossoms. "My lady," he says as he approaches Marsei. "I thought you might like a basket, if you meant to pick many flowers." Though his beard is neatly trimmed, his hair has gone rather shaggy, longer than he has typically worn it.

So intent is Marsei upon her task of flowers that she's startled by Camillo, craning her neck up at him with a little gasp and a smile that recognizes her own silliness. "Oh, how thoughtful, Camillo. Bless you. You're right. I did think they might tumble out of my arms." No risk of that yet, with her still settled upon this patch of the garden; no risk at all, now that she takes the basket and settles it on her lap, carefully placing her loose bundle of flowers inside. "I always feel a bit badly about picking them," she admits, now that someone is here to hear this idle confession. "I think about how they can't grow anymore after that and then they wither," she says thoughtfully, even as she looks from flower to flower in front of her, trying to decide between two nearly identical blue blossoms, the name of which Dhraegon surely knows but she forgets.

"Nothing can grow forever, my lady," Camillo responds, eyes wandering to one of the blossoms. "I think in some ways it is better to be picked in full bloom and give pleasure to someone than to wither in a winter or from some root sickness."

Marsei smiles at that, finding comfort in Camillo's words. She gently severs stem from stem between knife and thumb and lays the blue flower — the second of the pair was chosen as the most ideal — atop the other choice blooms in the basket. "The rooms of the Hightower will be bursting with flowers if winter comes," she says cheerfully, thinking the concept of an upcoming winter a sort of whimsy, a fiction. She rises, basket in hand, and whisks just past Camillo to resettle a few feet away, in front of vivid, crimson flowers with delicate black centers. The colour of fresh blood and fire. "Anemones," she remembers, giving them a thoughtful look and a more thoughtful frown only to rise again and bend down to pick some happy yellow daisies instead.

"In the country we call them black-eyed farmgirls," Camillo mentions, supplying a colloquial common name. "They come in a few colors, don't they." He watches the lady's fingers on the plants.

The lady gives a short little laugh that falls into a quiet giggle, smiling at the colloquially-named flowers, the frown banished. "I would feel silly calling them black-eyed farmgirls," she says, "it is easier to pronounce though, isn't it! I think there are pink ones in the butterfly garden." She beams into the daisy she's picked before it joins the other flowers in the basket; afterward, Marsei's look of important focus returns, sifting through the daisies' garden neighbours. "I thought I would bring the flowers to the sept along with my prayers."

"Yes," Camillo says. "People out in the country call them by names they recognize easier." He glances to Marsei's face. "The sept will be glad of them, I'm sure, my lady. …Are you still pleased with the butterfly garden?"

"Of course, the butterfly garden is my favourite," Marsei chirps, easily brought out of her focus; the flowers in front of her are beautiful, but don't quite seem to pass muster by whatever scale she's judging them by in her head. She rises once again, looping the basket over her arm and smoothing out the skirt of her gown. "In fact, I think I'll go there next," she decides, only to peer worriedly into the basket. "Unless I already have enough— I want to have enough…" Instinctively, she looks up to Camillo — her worry crystal clear, seeming altogether too high for flower-picking — as if he would somehow have an answer.

Camillo tilts his head slightly at Marsei's expression. "If it is for the sept, my lady, surely whatever you bring will be enough. The Seven are gracious. But…how do you choose a flower, my lady?"

"It's…" Marsei chews briefly upon a rosy lip, examining her flower collection. "I want to choose the loveliest. Without wilting or damage. But it's more than that," she tries to explain — tries to find the words, lifting her delicate brows to expressively and hoping Camillo will grasp her meaning, knowing may sound strange when she says it out loud. "It's a feeling. I want each flower to have a— to have a happy feeling. To feel peace when I look upon them. To be symbols. That is how I know they will speak to the Seven — or at least I… I hope so. Do you think even the Warrior might be pleased by flowers?"

Camillo tilts his head slightly. "Do you want to show the Seven that you are happy? Or do you want to make them happier?" He looks characteristically thoughtful when she asks about the Warrior. Finally, he decides on what to say: "When I was a boy, my uncle died. We threw a few flowers into the grave. His wife said she thought it was sad that you give a man flowers only when he is dead, instead of when he was alive and could have appreciated them." He pauses. "Of course, I suppose the Seven aren't like that. But still…"

Marsei smiles softly; touched by a faint melancholy, liking the story, for all its sadness. "I remember hearing about flowers growing upon a battlefield after the blood had been spilled and the fighting had ended. I like to think … they are a celebration of life rather than a marker of death." Her smile widens a little, realizing, "It is like you said: it is always better to look at them in full bloom. I want… to show the Seven that celebration of life. It is peace that I want to pray for."

Camillo knits his brow slightly. "Peace between whom, my lady? Is there a new threat?"

She curls her elbow up, tight against the basket's handle, making a little fist at the collar of her gown, just beneath her collarbone, where the embroidered flowers fade into beaded petals. She opens her mouth to answer; thoughtfully closes it; begins again once she's gathered her thoughts: "It is better to pray for peace while there is still peace rather than to pray for peace when there is already war. Perhaps if we are good enough in the eyes of the Seven, we will be blessed with peace for the rest of our lives."

Camillo lowers his chin slightly at the wisdom of that remark. "I suppose you are right, my lady," he agrees softly. "It is strange how difficult peace is to find, thou so many say they want it."

Marsei dips her own head in agreement. A few boisterous ladies spill from the door into the garden and she nods slightly along the path to the butterfly garden, preferring to quietly walk and talk peace and the Seven with the servant rather than be gossip with the nobility. "I may not know much about war, or… even remember all of my history lessons… but— when the solution for peace always seems to be to fight to obtain it…" She trails off; perhaps not wanting to disparage those who make such decisions, or wanting to cling to her optimism and prayers of peace.

Camillo walks along with the noblewoman toward the butterfly garden. "I don't know very much about history," Camillo admits. "But…I do know that it is rare for men to choose war by accident. Or with no thought to gains beyond peace."

"I suppose that's true," Marsei says with a wisp of a sigh to her words, knowing they're true, wishing they weren't. She lets her grip on the basket relax, holding it both hands in front of her instead. "I have not yet picked flowers that feel like they could be for the Father," she points out, casting a searching gaze toward the beckoning blossoms of the butterfly garden. "It is hard to imagine my father with flowers. Perhaps green…"

"I suppose the Father's flowers would have to be those that grow in an orderly way," Camillo suggests, then hedges, "Perhaps."

"Oh! That's clever." Marsei hurries straight toward a row of pale blue flowers that grow in rows, each flower having an equal amount of sharp-pointed petals, each flower having an equal amount of little blossoms. "Perhaps these will do. Orderly, everything placed just as should be," she says as she crouches — even in her eagerness, careful to keep the hem of her gown away from the soil — to choose one. "He always seemed just like the Father — mine, that is. I always thought he even looked like the carvings in the sept." Not a far off estimation, really; Otto Hightower shares the beard the Father is often depicted with, and seemed a learned, stern, and powerful man when he returned to the Hightower with the King and Queen for Dhraegon and Marsei's wedding. "What of yours, Camillo?" A surge of curiosity or the relaxed chatter she's grown comfortable with in the presence of the loyal servant; either way, there's wonder in her eyes when she glances from the flowers, a stem in hand poised to drop into the basket, the Father's flowers casting starry shadows on her face.

"I suppose that is natural, my lady, for such a great man," Camillo puts in softly, eyes moving along the rows of pale flowers. "My father, my lady? He was… No, I did not think of him as very like The Father. He was a very ordinary man, my lady. He wanted more than he had."

"Does everyone not want more than they have?" Marsei posits. A gentle smile follows, warm in her eyes; she does not mean, of course, to make light of Camillo's estimation of his father. She drifts toward another section of the garden, but pauses to watch butter-yellow butterflies float around the statue of the woman. "That is how some great men achieve greatness. I suppose, though, when some men reach for greatness, maybe that is what starts wars," she says with wonder in her tone; the lady is thoughtful today. "It is more godly to be humble."

Camillo lifts his eyebrows at the question. "Perhaps we all do, my lady," he allows. "I suppose the only difference is how we behave when wanting." He looks to Lady Marsei's face. "Very few of us behave in a humble or godly way."

It would be easy to describe Marsei as humble, and people have — the modest lady, humble despite her position in life, but she is nevertheless a noblewoman who spends her days surrounded by riches, getting what she wants delivered to her upon a word. She tips her red head back and looks upon the face of the statue that resembles her. "If only we did," she says after a moment of quiet. She turns her head to Camillo and smiles; it had faded, in the pause. "Then there would be peace for certain."

Camillo returns a small, wistful smile to Marsei. "I am never certain of peace, my lady. But it would be wonderful if we could all have it."

Marsei bends near the statue to pick some pink anemones for her basket. On straightening, she selects a flower from the basket, a purple one with dark, understated veins in its thin petals. She offers it to Camillo. "Dhraegon tells me this one is called Honesty," she says. "Would you like to bring it to the sept with me to pray?" There is a sincerity in the lady's soft voice that verges on concern. "For peace. For us all."

Camillo reaches out to take the flower she is offering with a solemn expression. "Yes, my lady," he says. "I would be pleased to."

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