(121-01-04) Links and Drinks
Links and Drinks
Summary: An uncommon acolyte stands Wulfred a drink.
Date: Date of play (04/01/2014)
Related: None

A balmy evening like this one attracts young layabouts as wasps to honey, and one such party is milling about, joking, brawling, and commenting on the many and fine ships in harbour, especially the flamboyant foreign beauty that is the Moondancer. By and large these youthful louts are of a military cast, a mixture of serjeants and lesser Reach lordlings' and knights' gets; but a few of the flashier young merchants who are trying to cut a dash mingle there too, and even the odd robed novice, two or three acolytes and one chained (and sozzled) Maester.

One of the most striking looking of the throng, though, does not at first glance give away his obvious place in any of these categories. A tall man and a slight stripling both, lost between lankiness and immature or just inadequate musculature, he's set apart by the mane of dark hair he wears long, and the fine quality of his garb in black and gold. He wears a genuine and good natured grin too, and laughs at the jibes of others while seeming to conserve his own for some more fitting hour.

One of the unforgotten faces of the docks appears to be walking with a staggered gait. He'll move out of the way of the stevedores, and occasionally bump into the occasional black-toothed doxie. The woman, exhausted from a night's work, gives him a shove which he'll laugh off while trying to retain his balance. "A feel like that's gonna cost you a groat or two," he jokes before turning and further making his way down the street. By pure coincidence does his direction take him near to the revelry taking place.

Whether by his delivery or his deportment, this apparent sot attracts the attention of some of the loiterers with little better to look at, including the dark young man in the elegant costume. The commoner's quip has evidently been overheard, and from the ripple of mirth comes the golden-cloaked youth's voice, melodic, reasonable and only cheerfully mocking. "Don't sell yourself so short, good man!"

Though headed in the direction of the calvacade standing near the docks, Wulfred twists exaggeratedly as if he heard the words east of where he stands. He'll turn again to face the group, continuing his walk while he elevates gloved hands. "I used to be worth a halfpenny until I had a rotten tooth removed. No good did it do, seeing as how these creatures simply want the body and not the smile that I've maintained."

"Miserable taste, the lot of them," the lad commiserates with amused, and perhaps amusing, confidence. "You ought to charge gold. To be sure, your clients would become more discriminating, but you'd have your smile fixed after a couple of tumbles." He delivers his jokes as if sure of a brilliant reception, and indeed that is what he gets from the serjeant, squire and acolyte standing near him, who all guffaw on cue, almost sycophantically. Perhaps the youth is someone; in this city, after all, practically anyone can end up being anything.

"Come along and have some healing refreshment to wash your wassails down?" he goes on genially now. "Maester Permant's buying, to celebrate, or commiserate, his chain, I'm not sure he knows which himself. Poor bastard will be toiling more and bevying less from now on, that's for sure…"

Wulfred's head and eyes move over the crowd that has laughed in time to the other individual's chatter. Seeing an opportunity to coax more laughter from the crowd, he says, "Gold for companionship? I suppose I would have to invest more time in a wash basin if I want to command such coin."

And yet the opportunity for healing refreshment from what appears to be a maester may be too much to pass up. Wulfred takes a few steps closer, eyeing his options in terms of drink before he looks to the unnamed lad. "I know not much of the chains that the maesters put together, save for that they indicate how much smarter they are than everyone else. I'll assume this is his seventieth link, and it makes him an expert on water clocks. Good show and congratulations to Maester Permant, I'll drink to his continuing education while my own rapidly diminishes in a cup."

"Water clocks, maybe, wash basins, conceivably, and companionship…never again," the young roisterer comments of Permant's likely fate. "In theory, anyway, though the Archmaesters only chain up your necks, not your members, when you're done. Otherwise I'd have shown them a clean pair of heels long since."

Though the speaker could not look less like, for instance, the acolyte in his company, eschewing the robes to which the others, from the novices to redfaced Permant himself all cling, he may, as his words imply, share their position; a brilliant shines on one hand, a signet ring in the form of a jet stag's head, but dangling behind it is a singular link of copper.

Wulfred's new though as yet unintroduced acquaintance gestures the commoner to follow as the rest of the party peel off towards a well known dockside oasis. But one of his friends, the serjeant, is not so friendly and gives the man a rough push to hurry him up. "C'mon. That's m'lord Amadys Baratheon what just spoke to yer. Don' keep him waitin'."

"Terribly damning, that," muses Wulfred as he considers the fate of the maester that is buying the drinks. "That is a more popular fact of his kind, that they must give up the pleasures of women both bawdy and bashful for their intellectual pursuits. It's telling, innit? That a man cannot have both woman and profound knowledge? That he must choose between them?" He laughs as he watches the rest of the men move onward.

His eyes skim over the ring once and then return to it, asserting intrinsic and subjective values while the crowd appears to be meandering to the pub. The copper link doesn't mean anything to him, yet, but perhaps the man considers himself a fast learner.
His fast learning is cut short by the push of the serjeant that displaces him a couple feet. Wulfred's heels and toes work together to keep him upright, though his movements suggest that he is a man who may have trouble keeping up for the amount of drink he has had already. "Now, now, there's /no need/ to push. The price for a feel has gone up a gold coin, as his lord Baratheon declared." Internally, he tenses at the thought of upsetting a Baratheon. Recovering quickly, he says, "No need to push. I'm a few drinks ahead as it is, they must catch up to me."

The serjeant's temperament - probably jealousy that Amadys has absorbed yet another common rival for favour into his circle - is soon settled with a surprisingly stern glance from his young lordship's dark blue eyes, and the brawny man at arms relents with a scowl of his own. As for Amadys, the matter is already out of his sightly head as he scornfully responds to Wulfred's paradox. "No man, acolyte, archmaester, knight or lord, will make me choose, my friend. See, we're nearly here now. A portal to wisdom and pleasurable company both…"

Though Wulfred smiles, his internal organs are only now just trying to relax. He'll shake off his nerves, playing it off as some tremens associated with a desire for the drink. He'll run his gloved fingers through his hair as he says, "May you only need to choose how many and for how long, milord." He looks over in the direction of the little landing where the drinking and lewd behavior shall commence. "I knew a toast regarding having the wisdom to know the difference between one and another, but it escapes me. It's a shame that the libations served only inhibit one's memory, rather than enhancing it."

"Not if you find the right libations," Amadys ripostes with a sly grin. "Still, I take your point, and I like your toast. Most fitting. You seem a fellow of some little learning after all; tell me more of yourself, and maybe it'll be of use when I convince the old men up at the Citadel to let me have a drinking link…" He combines his enquiry with a gift, one of the many cups of what appears to be a dark and fortified stripe of wine which Permant's bounty is now distributing within and outside the threshold of the dive.

"Some will say that a man is nothing more than a miserable pile of secrets, milord. Those are the words of the humorless, and I assure you that I've none that are of consequence or import," says the ebullient drunk. He'll casually reach for the cup of precious wine before he says, "My name is Wulfred, and I am a tax collector and exciseman. In the service of some castellan and the slave to a Master of Coin that has never seen my face." He'll sniff the cup before he comments, "Now that's good, innit?" He takes a sip, humming before he takes another sip and licks his lips. "That is indeed better than everything I had this morning," he muses.

He then looks back toward Amadys, expectantly.

"You're not missing much in turn, I assure you," Amadys is quick to cut back. "One of the more corpulent and less amiable of all the Hightowers, is the castellan, as I recall, - and that's saying something. While the Master of Coin…oh, I forget, doubtless one of those rodentine westermen, sniffing about in their mines like jaundiced ironmen." He laughs, no doubt in part at his own jibe but more generally at the gleeful absurdity of life.

"Anyway, I shan't believe your complaints for a moment. I've never known a lean tax-farmer, and rarely a sober one, either. Probably a mercy. If the high lords all knew the truth of their own accounts, I fancy the Night's Watch would starve for flooding recruits…"

Wulfred nearly chokes on his wine, quickly moving it away from his lips and cradling it overhand as he attempts to stifle laughter. He'll take his sleeve and wipe at his mouth for added effect, eyes clenched tightly shut. "Milord," he says between breaths, "if ever there was an acquaintance of mine that heard you describe me as sober they would have told you that I haven't been sober since I left my mum's tit."

He cradles the cup in both hands now, assuring that he will treat it with the care and dignity that it deserves. Maester Permant's vintage is a rare treat. "My boorish jests aside, you asked a simple question and I gave the answer in kind. Smallfolk's honor, milord. I would not waste your time on lies and deceit." He takes another sip of the wine, then clears his throat, "Though if you ever reconsider the chain, there is always my line of work. Although you'll be beset by those with a loose grasp of sums at best."

"Seven, no!" Amadys snorts at that, spilling half an inch or so of the maester's deep wine, largely in Wulfred's direction. "If I must carve out a path from dust and ink, I would take the new worlds in the Citadel's ken over miscounting someone else's coppers any day. As to…disadvantages…why, we shall see, friend Wulfred. You can drag a stag from rutting but you cannot make him…not drink." The other acolyte in Amadys's shadow laughs fawningly again.

As to the scion of Baratheon, he looks thoughtful now. "In any case, smallfolk's honour, eh…a bold conceit, my good man. My lord brother of Storm's End, Lord Swann who tried to make me knight, your own lords of Hightower…such men by and large deny any such thing can exist. If a man without a name boasts of honour before the wrong ears…" He pauses significantly, the blue eyes gleaming as he takes another swig.

Wulfred's brow furrows as he reasons with the idiom that the Baratheon has put together. Several turns of phrase spin about in his head, along with the blood that has been made thin with each additional cup. He inclines his head in a small nod, fingers readjusting about the cup while the man lectures him on the nonexistence of a smallfolk's honor.

"Perhaps honor was the wrong choice of words, milord. Consider it more… of an obligation, yes. An obligation to tell the truth to nobility when asked, as smallfolk are beholden to serving their lords and leadership. Smallfolk's obligation, that. Honor being what it is, perhaps should be left in the care of the landed." He takes another sip, then says, "Would you say that you can end a stag's rut, but you cannot take his cup?"

"I would not say it was the wrong choice, myself," Amadys dissents with quiet amusement. "You savour of dishonour, my friend, you are scented with it most heartily. And without honour, there can be no dishonour." The young Baratheon hears out Wulfred's dutiful reflection on service, smiling sceptically, but does not seem altogether pleased by the jest that concludes it. Probably he prefers having the best lines himself; in any case, this time he merely mutters, "Well, when the time comes, we shall have to see if anyone succeeds in either."

After a vinous yawn, Amadys seems prepared to change the subject. "I have won one link and am soon enough to gain another, I'd wager. Soon I'll have many a fine reason to apportion myself to pleasure and good cheer. Who is worth knowing, do you think, in this charming old city of yours…?"

Wulfred turns his head to tip up the cup of wine he has drunk from, giving Amadys a view of his profile. One eye opens and turns to the man speaking of links and those to be known in the city. He'll bring down the cup and exhale a satisfied sigh. "That is a rather attractive inquiry, milord." He looks down at his cup to see if there is a droplet left. He doesn't hold it out for a refill, opting to casually toss it between his hands.

"I'm going to assume you already know of Lord and Lady Tyrell, so we will skip that part of the divulgence," he begins while casually rolling the cup down one arm. He bounces it off of the inside of his elbow and catches it in his hand, "There are the Lannisters who have come to roost in our fair city, the Lord of Knives Trystan Banefort and his wife Lady Leof Banefort. You also have Lady Vivian Brax, whose home is reputed to be where the sun doesn't shine. Make note should someone ask you to store things in such a location." He then begins to balance his wine cup on two fingers as he continues, "Then you have the Targaryens who have come to our lovely city, most notably Aeron whose presence at the Bawdy Bard is second only to his presence in the beds of the Bawdy Bard." He flips the cup once and then catches it in his hand, "There are also a number of sellswords that have plagued the city. They're worth noting for the purpose of avoiding them, in particular the ones that carry Dothraki weapons and bear no humor in their words." He then looks askance to nothing, darting his eyes away from the group, "Have I left anyone out? I suppose it is good to know me. I was told not to sell myself short."

"Well, I expect I met them at court as a boy, years ago," Amadys claims, perhaps a little too smoothly to be convincing, "but I can scarcely be said to know any of the Roses well. Heard some wounded knight rant about how there was a well dowered daughter here, a Lady Laura or some such, before Maester Varderalk saved his life, at the cost of his jaw." But he falls quiet again willingly enough and listens to Wulfred's account with all the diligence he has seemed hitherto to lack, only interjecting at the mention of Vivian to murmur, "ah, yes, Lady in her own right, I gather," before shrugging into a light laugh at the excise-man's crude jests.

At this point another acolyte approaches, looking apologetic, and bends to whisper something in Amadys's ear. The sometime lordling looks much put out by it. "How irksome. It seems there has been some mistake, and I'm expected back with the bloody ravens, at this time of night. It's been…an education, Wulfred. Stick with old Permant as long as you like, he'll be far too gone to recall whether or not he knows you by now."

With a gracious smile and a rapid inclination of his head, Amadys then swills back the last of his cup, and follows his fellow-student off to some feathery errand or other.

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