(124-05-25) Glory and Spice
Glory and Spice
Summary: And everything nice, which Camillo is when he pays a visit to the Fossoway stableboy, Chass.
Date: May 25/2017
Related: Fossoway Folly Plot

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.

The visiting stableboy wears a long face, his shaggy hair plastered to his forehead like so much wet straw in the drizzling weather. There are scarce few horses in the Hightower stables that actually belong to Fossoways, all of which he has already tended to this morning. The young man is left with little to do but mill about and wait to be told what to do whilst awkwardly trying to stay out of the way of the people who actually work on the grounds. He kicks a wet bale of hay and sits on it, plucking loose horsehair out of a brush.

Camillo appears with a tacked horse, reins in hand. He leads it into a stall, then sets about untacking it, loosening the girth and pulling off the saddle. He looks over his shoulder at the stableboy. "Morning," he says. "Would you bring a comb?"

Chass immediately gets to his feet; just as immediately, he appears uncertain, eyeing Camillo rather sideways, not certain if he should recognize the man but also not quite wanting to look at him directly. Even though the stableboy realizes the servant is not one of the nobles, he is of the Hightower. "Uhh," he voices, which evidently translates to 'yes', as he scurries to approach, comb in hand.

Camillo nods approvingly, perching the saddle on the wall of the stall. He moves forward to remove the mare's bridle. "Would you give her a comb on the neck?" he asks. "What's your name? Her name is Spice."

"It's… um, Chass," he replies slowly, as though not convinced talking is a good idea. "Are you sure you don't want one've the regular lads?" He sniffs and wipes his nose hurriedly with his sleeve before he reaches out to lay a calming, acquainting hand on Spice's neck. "I mean— I can, it ain't a problem," he assures, placing comb to horse.

"I expect you can brush a horse," Camillo says, giving the boy an amused look. "She's a gentle one, the children ride 'er. She'll not put teeth to you. Likes a brushing." He takes the bridle to hang it carefully on a hook. "You're down from Cider Hall, ain't you? Heard there's a touch of sickness in the house. You've not got it?"

Chass gives an acknowledging dip of his head and a shrug while he brushes the mare. "I can't hardly tell," he says, puncuated by another sniff. "There's always somethin' goin' around." The young man is gentle with the animal, and thorough.

Camillo gives Chass a tilted smile. "I think I've even caught a cold off a horse before," he says. "Spice isn't sick, though, she's a strong one." He picks up a tool off the wall and goes toward the back of the horse, patting one of her legs to get her to pick it up so he can clean out her hoof. "The other servants are wondering who among your masters gives the best tips," he says in a jocular tone.

Chass glances at Camillo, watching him work at the horse's hoof. "Uhh…" He pulls his mouth a bit taut, hard-pressed to think of a good tipper; he looks pained for a split second, as though he bit his tongue. "Roberd I guess, but he … he ain't really— he don't come by often," he manages. It's hard to tell if the moisture on his forehead is rainwater dripping from his hair, or sweat. A lovely bay mare nearby — a Fossoway horse, her gleaming mane braided rather like a lady's — bangs about in her stall just then, sassing poor Spice. Chass pauses combing briefly to slip the bay a piece of dried fruit. "You're all right, Glory, don't be mean." Reminded, he adds, "Lady Jana is very generous."

"I think the bigger men don't like to ride as much," Camillo says in a casually joking tone as he flicks mud out of the horse's hoof. "'Sall right, though, I don't think the horses like it much, either." He lets out a laugh, then walks to clean the horse's front hoof on the same side, though he pauses to nudge Spice's head away from the side of the stall Glory's on. Spice is even-tempered enough to let the matter pass at that, then gives her hoof for cleaning. "Lady Jana seems in a peculiar mood," he says. "Nerves about wedding, is it?"

Chass smiles a little bit when Camillo laughs; perhaps he is made at more at ease, though the expression itself doesn't stick. He moves from one side of Spice to the other. "I couldn't rightly say," he admits. "I understand the moods've horses, not women. She always seems happy when she rides Glory. But she doesn't ride every morning here like at Cider Hall."

"No one understand the moods of women, lad," Camillo says, "Not even women. Now, I'm sure nobody'd mind if she'd ride the horse, though nobles do have their duties when they'e a-visiting, I know." He crosses in front of the horse to get at her next hoof. "Beautiful mare, is that Glory. You do her mane?"

"I'd be skittish riding alone here too I think, across that big bridge through the city." Chass gives a wide-eyed look the way of the bridge, which rapidly turns to embarrassment at being so wide-eyed, and he comes around the front of the horse to brush down her nose, her neck now sleekly groomed. "Nah," he says of Glory. "Lady Jana did. She tried to teach me once but I got it all tangled."

"First time in the city?" Camillo asks. "Do you like it better up at the hall? Got a girl up that way?" he asks in a friendly teasing tone, moving back to the horse's last hoof.

"Huh— oh, no, it's just… I mean, yeah, I've never been up this way. I've always been around the fork of the Mander. I like it here, it's just that everythin' is so, uhh— " Chass pauses to look outside the stable. The first thing he sees — the first thing anyone sees in these parts — is the Hightower, and so he finishes the most urbane way he knows how: "…big."

Camillo gives a quick nod. "A body gets used to it," he claims. "Your ma and pa back up that way?"

"Ma still is." Chass runs his hand through a few snares in Spice's mane. "How is she with her hindquarters bein' brushed?" He peeks at Camillo from around the large animal.

"If you work from the back to the front, she doesn't mind so much," he says. "Course if you surprise her from the back, she might kick. And you always keep your body off to the side. But you know that, eh?" He flashes a smile at Chass. "You know, with everyone staying a few extra days, we ought to see if they'd let us have a servants' to-do. Would you come if they did? Meet some of the pretty Oldtown girls from the house?"

Chass goes about brushing the mare as indicated; he's a natural, or at least well-trained, and good thing, too, because if the horse kicked, she would kick Camillo right about now. His eyes go a bit wide again, swimming with thoughts, none of them particularly deep. All borne of nerves, both from uncertainty, even fear, and, of course, the notion of pretty Oldtown girls. Fear might play a role in that too, granted. "I uh, I don't rightly know if I'd be allowed inside, but if it's just in the — in the servant's quarters — I guess there'd be no harm in it…"

Camillo finishes with that last hoof and goes back up to the horse's front. He pats her neck gently. "Well, they may not want to have one, anyway, but perhaps I can talk someone into something informal, eh?" He smiles. "You're a good lad, ain't you? Hope they pay you well, you're worth more than some of the layabouts we have here."

"Sounds nice, I hope they ain't too sick," Chass says with another small smile. He's just about finished combing the mare, kick-free. He bobs his head. "The Fossoways are good to me by 'n' large. How— how is it at the Hightower?" He's better at answering questions than asking them, but he can't help but look hesitantly curious at Camillo and the big mysterious tower.

Camillo smiles at the lad. "They're very good people," he says. "Even gave me time off when my dad died to go and see the proper rites done, and gave me a coin for offering. I thought that was more'n kind."

"Oh, that … is very kind," Chass says quietly, on the verge of sounding disappointed. He steps away from the mare and hangs his head; job done, he focuses on his feet.

"And Lady Marsei, she will listen to a servant's troubles and always give a kind word or a helping hand," Camillo adds. "I've never seen a noble so devout at the sept as her, you may believe it." He goes and hangs the hoof pick back on the wall. "You're a good lad to help me," he says, digging in his pocket for a low-denomination coin appropriate to compensate a little help on an easy job, passing it over to Chass. "Don't catch cold, now."

Chass drags big guilty eyes up to Camillo, only to rapidly look at his feet again, absolutely aware of how poorly he's disguised his own expression. "You didn't need to— " But he takes the coin anyway, holding it tight. "Thank you, um…" But not having caught the fellow's name, he trails off.

Camillo claps the lad on the shoulder. "Kay," he says, and flashes a smile. And with that he's on his way out.

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