|In the House of Black and White|
|Summary:||Eonn, Bryn, and Malcolm visit the House of Black and White in Braavos.|
"There is the House of Black and White." It's grey, windowless, black roofed. Unless the rest of the temples, there's no bridge to get there, so the sandolo will have to do.
Malcolm says, "I should like to light a candle, Fruncle, and I can help row them back if needs be. I've no wanting of their water. I've much to do yet."
Eonn smiles at Bryn. "It is the first. It is the oldest house in Braavos," he says. "But you will not see so many people there, I do not think. And it is quiet. I like quiet."
Bryn smiles again as well, as he continues to propel the boat towards the House. "Me too. Quiet is really nice sometimes. Like at the library of the Citadel." He continues to row as Eonn taught him.
Malcolm studies the House as they grow closer, expression thoughtful, serious as he was in the Sept, or more so if possible.
It has a little dock, around the front, which does not face the rest of the isles and the temples. There really are just no windows in the grey stone of the building at all. Just the steps leading up to the twin doors, black and white.
As they arrive at the dock, Bryn, with the habit his sailing lessons during the voyage ingrained in him, moves to tie off the boat. "It must be pretty dark inside, too." He looks very curious, though, as he gets out of the boat.
You say, "I have never been inside. I have always been curious, but I wasn't sure…""
Eonn steps on to the little dock, perhaps more a stone jetty. He offers his hand to Malcolm. "I think that might be the usual. But some come to pray. Knock on the door, you know the words."
Malcolm takes the offered hand, "Thank you, Fruncle." The formality of his tone lifts once he's up the stairs and getting a good look at the door, "Oh! It's Weirwood!" He lightly runs his hand over the design. After a moment, he goes solemn and knocks, "Valar morghulis."
Weirwood, white as bleached bone, the other door ebony and black as dragon bone, the carved face that each share a half of hardly there, stylized. Eonn offers a hand to help Daevon out of the boat before he joins Malcolm. The door opens, the white side as it happens, and a slim young man, short and sandy-blonde, green-eyed, replies. "Valar dohaeris." His robe matches the doors, black on one side and white on the other.
Bryn follows, once Daevon is out of the boat, Malcolm over to the doors. He's very curious, but quiet, looking between Malcolm and the robed figure. He does glance to Eonn, though, as the thought occurs that he maybe he is supposed to say it too. Looking for hint.
Malcolm ducks his head respectfully, his expression oddly shy. His Braavosi is smooth and idiomatic, having been learned in childhood from a native, though there is a bit of Stormlands in his accent, just enough to be charming, but not enough to give trouble. «Might we light a candle?»
The man stands aside. His robes have the sides reversed to the doors, black on his left and white on his right. He says nothing. It's dim inside, a short entry-hall. There's a rack of candles there, in fact, wooden cubbies along the wall. At the corner where the hall opens out into a wide and high room, another coin box, a tall and heavy thing of old brass tarnished nearly black except around the slot of its lid, where hands often brush the metal and bring up its shine. It's rather a big slot, you could fit a good deal more than a coin in there, though not the length of any but a child's arm. There's nothing to say what one ought to pay for a candle, though. And the candles themselves are perhaps offerings — while some of them are the simple, short, plain ones that are probably the usual temple candles, and are indeed the same as the ones the Sept Beyond the Sea had, those ones are packed in neat rows, but others are not. Random ones, all colors, all heights, a few of this type here, a few there, a few that have been burned before but most new, are stacked in other cubbies, mixed.
Bryn looks around with fascination, taking in everything that he can see once again. He does turn back, looking over the candles and smiles as he sees the variety. This, apparently, appeals to him. He doesn't say anything, though, unsure if he should, but when it becomes clear they can choose a candle he chooses a shorter red one.
Malcolm bows again and goes to study the candles. He selects a simple one, unburned and drops twice what he did for the candle in the Sept. His clever eyes take in all they can, though his head stays lowered, much as he does when dealing with Princes and Princesses of uncertain temperament.
Eonn smiles faintly and briefly as he passes the robed priest. He slips another little square iron coin to Bryn, but does not take a candle himself. Behind them, the priest closes the door. It's brighter in the room ahead, now, yellow with candle-light. There's the sound of dripping water, but other than that the odd hard silence of a large stone room where people are not making noise. Inside, there's a boy in a plain white shift sort of robe, sweeping the stone floor. He's dwarfed by the many statues that loom in the dim warm light.
Bryn smiles thanks to Eonn, and he drops the coin into the box. Then he follows inside. He looks around with open curiosity, but he doesn't say a word. The reason for the quiet may be different, but he's used to places where people aren't allowed to talk. He gives a smile to the other boy, but soon turns his attention to the statues, looking at each of them.
Malcolm thinks for a bit, studying the statues. Lip curling up faintly in memory of a certain mask worn by a certain person for the Feast of the Stranger before the Plague, he seeks out the ion of Night, knowing full well that all statues are as one here, and here he stops in an attitude of prayer.
The Stranger is there. And a seated, goat-headed man with an altar before him, his stone hand-hooves on its surface. A regal, tall, straight-figured man with the head of a maned lion, its face fierce and impassive, the whole thing carved in deep black stone. A maiden with single-lidded eyes, in white marble, her slim form clothed in a gown that the sculptor has somehow managed to make appear almost translucent. She looks like the one on Eonn's sword-pommel, which he isn't wearing, or the little statue that he has in Daevon's room. There's one of a woman carrying a bowl and real water drips slowly from her eyes and down her face to drop into the container. One of a little child, though the statue is larger than a grown man. One of a traveler, cloaked and hooded, carrying a staff. Lit candles stand around their feet. There's a pool in the middle of the room, still as a mirror, reflecting a little of the firelight.
Eonn watches Malcolm approach the lion-headed man statue. He smiles, softly, and quite sweetly.
Bryn stops to look at the child statue, his curiosity obvious. Perhaps it's the fact that it's the closest one he can relate to, still feeling more a child than he often likes to act. But that's the statue he chooses. He glances to Malcolm, and imitates him, taking a pose of prayer as he lights the candle. Though, in the silence, it's hard to hide the intake of breath as the tiny fire ignites.
Eonn follows Bryn, his soft-soled boots quiet on the stone, though it's hard to move silently in this strange hush-of-echoes space. "This one they call Bakkalon, the Pale Child," he tells Bryn in a whisper. The child, by his shape, is years younger than Bryn, barely out of toddlerhood, but he bears a sword.
Malcolm is silent and still and there is a look on his face suggesting sincere mediation or prayer. This is something he is taking as seriously as any devote widow in the Sept back home.
And elderly woman comes in, without knocking, and that robed doorman-priest seems to have just disappeared somehow. The woman takes a candle to the Weeping Woman. The boy sweeping the floor keeps sweeping until he looks into one of the dark little cubbies that line the room, hidden by the statues and the warm gloom, then leans his broom against the wall and patters off on quick bare feet.
Bryn whispers, "They're all different phases of the Stranger, right? I like this one… Bakkalon." He speaks in his quietest whisper, not wanting to disturb anybody. He goes silent after the question, looking to the elderly woman and then to the boy that just ran out.
A shift in the candlelit glint of his eyes suggests an awareness of motion around him.
"The Stranger is one of the faces," whispers Eonn. "As is the Pale Child, and all the others. This House is the Temple of the Many-Faced God."
Bryn nods, in understanding. He watches where the boy went for a few moments, and then his glance moves around again, towards the cubby that he had looked into.
There's a figure in there, someone sleeping or something.
Malcolm rises quietly and comes to stand before the statue of the Maiden in white marble with the single lidded eyes, studying her with the same bowed headed seriousness that characterizes him in this place. He glances briefly that way, but having some idea of what else goes on in this Hose, does not pry further into cubbies.
Bryn, on the other hand, doesn't know those things. He frowns, as he sees the unmoving figure, standing up and starting to quietly make his way over to the cubby.
Eonn doesn't make any attempt to stop the boy, but he murmurs after Bryn, "It's all right." Then he goes to sit down on the white stone edge of the pool.
Malcolm softly asks, "Tell me about this one?" He too, lts Bryn discover on his own.
"The pool?" asks Eonn softly. "Or the lion?"
Malcolm gestures at the full sized image of the one he recognizes from Eonn's hilt.
Bryn glances up to Eonn, but he has to continue. So he steps over closer to the cubby, but then stops as he realizes why the figure isn't moving. Realizing it's too late for medicine, he turns to walk back to Eonn. Whispering, he asks, "People come here to die?" He seems calm and accepting of the idea, more than might be expected. Of course, both Eonn and Malcolm know him very well.
"That is the Moon-Pale Maiden," replies Eonn softly. "She is gentle, yes. Her voice is soft."
In the cubby, Bryn could see that it's a man, thin, quite still, dead with one eye half open, but otherwise lying on his side as if in sleep.
Eonn nods to Bryn, gently. "They do," he whispers.
The sweeper boy returns, with the robed priest, and they move to that cubby, quiet and unhurried.
Malcolm studies the statue, his voice a reverent whisper, "She…suits." His tone is kind as he tells Bryn, "They say it is gentle and painless, here."
Bryn glances back towards the priest and sweeper, then looks to Malcolm and nods, giving a small smile. "Good. Sometimes, that's better." He absently reaches up, touching his silver link through his shirt.
"Here," says Eonn gently, "It is always kind." He looks at the still water of the pool whose edge he is sitting on, then back to the cubby, his eyes gentle, as the man in the robe and the sweeper boy lift the corpse out of the cubby. The man takes his his shoulders, the boy his feet. They carry him away, past the Weeping Woman, into the darkness. There must be a door back there.
Malcolm agrees firmly, "Sometimes it is better. For you and I though, not Today… Shall we go back to the boat?"