(124-05-10) Cautious Collusion
Cautious Collusion
Summary: Camillo and Marsei consider Roberd.
Date: May 11, 2017
Related: Safeguard, Behind Hidden Walls, Demons, [http://gobmush.wikidot.com/log:124-05-20-rotten-apples-at-the-lizard-lion-tourney Rotten Apples at the Lizard Lion Tourney, Fossoway scenes

Battle Island - Oldtown

Battle Island sets in the Whispering Sound near to the mouth of the Honeywine. It has no banks nor beaches, only great basalt cliffs that tower a hundred feet or more above the water, depending on weather and tide. The only easy access is a wide arched bridge of white stone leading to the harbourside terminus of Hightower Street. It is guarded day and night by knights loyal to House Hightower.

The island is dominated by the Hightower itself, a stepped tower over seven hundred feet tall made of bright white stone. Its top tier houses a great beacon fire, visible for miles out to sea.

Except at the site where there are mule-powered pulleys to lift the wood for the beacon fires off the ships that bring it, there are little walls around the island's edges. They're white stone, and low, just enough to keep House Hightower's smallest members from venturing over the cliffs. Aside from the stable and one small guardhouse, the island is dedicated to gardens with flowers of many colours, fruit trees, pretty paths of white cobblestones, white fountains, and white stone pavilions.

Marsei slipped away early to visit the Starry Sept, earlier than usual, for she is playing host to the kindly Matthias Fossoway this morning, whose schedule, even as his hair grows whiter by the year, runs earlier than the sun. Between last evening and this morning, it has been difficult — at least, from Marsei's perspective — to tell if people's hearts and minds have changed after the dinner. Veiled conversations and not-so-veiled accusations are not exactly rare events at noble tables; it is the topic that is rare, that anyone should think anything ill of the Flower of Oldtown. Mostly, it is Dhraegon who is whispered about even before the sun rose: how strikingly he resembled the Old King rather than the Old Prince, how loyal he is to his wife and how sudden his show of power. A true Targaryen.

The sun is new in the sky when Marsei and Matthias return, a silvery glow behind heavy clouds. Golden shards of sunlight manage to break through as they step onto Battle Island, chatting and laughing as though all is well in the world. As it ought to be. Marsei is rosy-cheeked from the walk in the brisk morning air, though her complexion is still pale compared to the elder Fossoway's red cheeks, suitably round and red as apples. "… not the same without you," he's telling her as they approach the Hightower, though his good-hearted smile has not faded, nor has hers. "I can't say what's gotten into Jana this past while, but I think that Ser Jesper will be good for her, even though sometimes I think that boy is as hollow as a drainage pipe, bless his heart."

"Matthias," Marsei pretends to scold the man for his candor through a gentle laugh.

"Have we passed the stables? I'm all turned around!" Matthias halts and looks this way and that. "Of course I would lose track, talking to you! Until later, my lady. Don't let your heart fall to worry, dear." Upon Marsei's grateful smile, Matthias takes his leave, cutting across the cobblestone paths to where the guests' horses are being kept. Marsei is in no hurry to go inside, it seems; she lingers, warming her hands in the bell sleeves of her dress while she pensively watches people criss-cross the grounds of the Hightower.

Camillo has a talent for appearing for a word just when someone else has left the scene, and perhaps this talent is not entirely left up to chance. He appears from around an outbuilding, inclining his head toward Marsei as he steps into view. "My lady," he says softly. And only that, to begin with.

Marsei smiles upon seeing Camillo, though she only glances at him in acknowledgment — of his presence, of what they both know has transpired — keeping her stare out around the walled island mostly unbroken. If a smile could be a sigh, that was it. "If only everyone were like Matthias Fossoway," she says wistfully, watching the old man from afar. He literally whistles while he walks.

"He seems kindly," Camillo replies softly, only glancing at the venerable nobleman. "And so Roberd made his appearance after all," he says.

"So he did," Marsei confirms reluctantly. "He was even more unkind than I expected." Upon an uncomfortable shift of her shoulder, she crosses her arms, keeping her hands tucked warmly in her sleeves. "No, that isn't true," she concedes to herself. "Unkindness disguised as humour has always been his way. It feels strange though, doesn't it…? That he decided all of a sudden to appear on the Fossoways' heels."

"I expected him to be smarter," Camillo says in a soft, disappointed tone. "But his brazenness may be a form of self-protection." He narrows his eyes thoughtfully at the last comment. "Perhaps he was delayed in obtaining some sort of information."

Both insights cause Marsei to press her lips together in circumspect agreement. "He enjoys pushing people, I think. To study them. How they react to him." She sighs outwardly a bit, narrowing her gaze. "What I do not understand is what well of information he could possibly be lifting from," she says, a quiet desperation to understand evident through her soft voice. She idly watches a young common man — ostensibly in a vistor's service, if not theirs — leap up from loitering beneath a fruit tree and scurry toward the horses like someone has lit a fire beneath him. She follows his path with her eyes, impassively trying to place him.

Camillo watches the boy, too, perhaps less idly. "Then," Camillo says softly, "It is important that he should be seen to do this to other people as well. The festival would present a find opportunity…"

Marsei has already given up on trying to identify the young man, who looks as familiar as one of any number of servants of any number of houses glimpsed in passing. She makes a soft 'hmm', looking to Camillo. "Do you have a thought?" she asks, her tone as agreeing as it is curious. "Though in my experience … he does not need much provocation."

"Only, my lady, that he should be given as much drink as he will take and induced to encounter as many of the city's powerful and dangerous as possible," Camillo says.

She nods at this, slow and uncertain at first but quickly more distinct. "If only the Dragon Door was as full of dragons as it once was." Human dragons, presumably; as hateful as Roberd is, Marsei does not want to witness him being reduced to ash by creatures even more frightening than lizard lions. "Then again… perhaps angering one Targaryen is too many. I have never seen Dhraegon so…" What begins as awe trails off before she finds the words to finish, staring off in memory of Dhraegon's ire. She remembers herself a beat later. "There is no one in the Reach as powerful as the Tyrells," she states. "No trip to Oldtown during festival time is complete without a visit to the Whimsy."

Camillo nods slowly. "Perhaps if Ser Loryn were built up to him, he might take the bait to go after him. Particularly…" he says slowly, thinking it out as he goes, "Particularly if Ser Loryn should put Lord Haemon to shame in the tournament fighting, and Roberd should think he might profit with his patron by cutting Ser Loryn back down to size."

"That does seem like Roberd… and it would certainly show everyone his character," Marsei replies, lowering her brows as she imagines the possibilities play out.

"I can sore one leg of Lord Haemon's horse," Camillo says. "Lightly enough that it won't be obvious, but it won't run true in the ring. If they discover it afterwards, it will lead them to think it was done my Ser Loryn or a supporter of his, that would throw more fuel on."

"Will the horse be all right?" Marsei asks straight away, looking to Camillo wide eyes and instant worry for the poor animal's theoretical injury. Once she has fully thought the idea through, concern strikes her features, not just for the horse. " …I would never want anything to shine poorly on Loryn, or on any of the Tyrells…"

"Unless it takes a fall," Camillo answers honestly. "As for Ser Loryn, he will be innocent. His skill is well-known, here, and Ser Haemon is no one in particular to the people here. I expect accusations against him will look like sour grapes."

Her fears assuaged — less so over the horse, but she manages to set it aside for the moment — Marsei nods. She still does not look for long at Camillo; to those working the grounds this early, they do not look at all as though they are in collusion at all. "While any accusations against Loryn would look like ill will against our liegelords," she says, and can only hope Roberd his rife enough with that ill will to go around.

Camillo nods once, his bearing otherwise that of the patient servant, viewed from a distance. "We will set a servant to be sure that Haemon and Roberd never find their glasses dry. And I think anyhow that Haemon will not like to lose to a man of Ser Loryn's…bearing."

"Now to hope Loryn is in a fighting mood," Marsei says with a small smile, thinking of her Tyrell cousin, boy-faced and charming. It is a strange sentence from a lady who does not enjoy the violence of tournaments; her usual hope is that no one gets too hurt on the field. Sure enough, she frowns slightly by contrast, clearly wishing none of this were necessary in the first place. "Oh… speaking of never-ending cups — Dhraegon had rather a lot to drink last evening. I'm certain he will be fast asleep for hours yet, but I should go check to see he's all right." She turns, giving Camillo an affirming nod as she does, making for the Hightower entrance.

Camillo looks thoughtful. "Have you any pull with his wife, Lady Miranda? Perhaps if she were to let him know that his performance in the tournament is important…" He lowers his head respectfully as she indicates her intention to leave. "My lady."

Marsei smiles back over her shoulder at Camillo. "I am due to catch up with Lady Miranda," she says easily, as if they were simply speaking of her desire to meet up with the new Tyrell over cake. She's soon taken in by the enormous tower, where people — residents and guests alike — are beginning to stir for the day.

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