(124-05-10) Sinister Intent
Sinister Intent
Summary: Separately, Marsei and Camillo are party to Roberd's words.
Date: May 11, 2017
Related: Follows Cautious Collusion

Marsei ascends the tower to return to her chambers; first, she means to check in on Dhraegon, who is bound to be feeling the effects of drink from the night before, as she said. Lady Jana and Ser Jesper are on their way down as she is on her way up, and they pass each other slowly on the grand staircase. The latter is more talkative than he was at dinner, going on and on with boyish enthusiasm about the new sword he had forged in Bandallon which he means to use at the Lizard Lion Tournament. There is a fleeting moment in which Marsei and Jana lock eyes, familiar in the shared knowledge that Jana doesn’t care an ounce about tourneys and swords; they both start to smile only to temper the expression regretfully, sentiment torn asunder.

Marsei still watches Jana over her shoulder after the other lady has turned her head back to the naive young knight, and as a result, she misses Roberd Flowers stepping off the landing several steps ahead of her. His shuffling gait and groaning breath draw her attention long before they collide, yet even at a distance — she beneath him, he high above her — the result is the same: they both stop suddenly. Marsei does quell her startle, however, and ducks her head in greeting and apology, stepping aside to continue her path higher. Roberd has adopted a firm glower this morn, and his skin is red as though scrubbed too hard with hot water. “I’ve my eye on you, little flower,” he says with a grimace as he takes reluctant steps down the stairs with the curse of knowing that he’ll just have to climb the damn things again later.

“Are you quite well this morning, Roberd…?” Marsei queries politely, and to her credit, there is concern – at least curiosity easily posed as such — in her voice, noting his irritated skin and struggle upon the stairs.

He simply grunts, giving her a look as if she knows, to which she is only open-eyed and innocuous. Has she been unjustly blamed for his health, now, too? Her question goes otherwise ignored. A cluster of ladies emerges just then from the same landing to descend the stairs behind Roberd, and he bursts into easygoing laughter, as if he shares nothing but a joke with Marsei. “Well, Seven keep you,” he tells her heartily in parting, and only she can hear the jagged sarcasm in the happy words.

She is left unsettled, unable to shake the ill feeling that the man leaves in his wake.

* * *

Sooner or later, Roberd Flowers comes shuffling out of the Hightower. His strides are less long and powerful than they were when he first arrived, but once he gets walking out in the open air, away from the godsforsaken stairs, he limbers up — inasmuch as he's able. He sticks a hand on his back with his elbow jutting out and goes on a stroll. It's leisurely until it's not; when an early riser from the Hightower takes a horse out across the bridge, Roberd takes a turn from gardens and trees and heads for the stable area.

The young man tending the guests' mounts is on his game now and no longer loitering. Seeing Roberd, he almost drops the brush he was holding and stands straight as a rod.

Camillo may be wary of being spotted by Haemon, but if that lord is accounted for, he is at more liberty to tail the bastard who most likely does not know his face. A bit of tail work is not of particular difficulty for Camillo, so it is not very difficult for him to get within earshot of the stable without making himself too visible.

"Chass," Roberd addresses the stableboy, who is in the middle of a growth spurt, not quite looking the part of a grown man. Nervous and sweaty, he certainly hasn't gotten the demeanour of a man down, but for a servant cowing in the presence of his better (even a bastard), it suits him well enough. "Keep your wits about you, boy. It's a beautiful day!"

The stableboy looks out of the stable to the decidedly cloudy sky, but says, "Y- yes."

"How are you enjoying your excursion, hmm?"

"I-it's very nice I guess, it's very differen' than Cider Hall. The Hightower's a lot bigger than I expected," Chass replies, unsure of how he's supposed to answer at any given time, as if there's a right way and a wrong way.

"Mmm," Roberd grunts, casting a narrow-eyed glance at the mighty tower. Maybe it was the wrong answer. Although he doesn't seem to notice Camillo whatsoever, he claps a heavy hand on Chass's scrawny shoulder and ushers him between two tethered horses, lowering his voice.

Camillo creeps as close as he can while staying out of sight to see whether he can make out anything of what Roberd is saying to the boy.

Roberd's voice is muffled behind the structure and beneath the shuffle and heavy breathing and chomping of horses, but Camillo can make most of it out. "… 'ber what's on the line. Stop acting like you're about to piss yourself every time someone comes 'round the corner. You haven't done anything wrong, boy. Eh?"

"Yes, I mean no, I mean you're right, I'm sorry, it's jus'— I s'pose now we're here I ain't sure what the point— "

Roberd mimics the stableboy's nervous fumbling in a grumbling voice and snorts. "None of that. It's not your job to worry about the point. It's my job. I'm going to do my job, and you're going to do your job, which is to shut up until it's time to tell the truth. Then you get the other half. Easy and done, quit fluttering about."

"Yes," Chass replies, trying to sound more certain.

Camillo keeps very still, barely breathing so that he can hear clearly. And so that he won't be found out.

Matthias is on his way back, riding in from Oldtown proper, hoofbeats getting closer.

"Good. Good. Remember boy, glory in truth. Hahaha!" There's a double slap of a hand upon a back, an awkward stumble of feet lighter than Roberd's, and one of the horses whickers softly in protest at the ruckus. "And maybe it's best you keep out of sight."

"Uhh," Chass hems, guilty for having already meandered around the grounds.

"Especially from— "

The Fossoway uncle blusters cheerfully into the quiet conversation. "Good morning! Good morning! A fine day!" Matthias shouts. Roberd falls easily into boisterous smalltalk; Chass skitters out of the way to tend to the horse; and just like that, the meeting is over.

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