|Summary:||Bruce interviews Amelia|
|Date:||29 AUG 2011|
|Related Logs:||Too much to list. Everything Amelia and Jens being murdered.|
|The heavy iron door that opens, leading down to the dungeon is the first sign that this is not a welcoming location within the Eagles Tower. The stairs go deep underground to a hallway that extends out in a straight line, the depths enough to conceal cries and screams among the torchlit pathways of dirt and stone. Off the main hall are several rooms that lead to their own areas. One such offshoot has a pair of ten foot wells with flat walls for prisoner storage while two more have caged cells. The last area is one large room with shackle bars bolted to the walls and some hanging from the ceiling. In the center is an open area where prisoners can be flayed and punished as needed.|
|August 29th, 288|
Into the afternoon, the dungeon is a much cooler (and darker) place than that of the approaching evening outside. Guards lead Ser Bruce down into the interior where the prisoner is kept waiting. "She knows someone is coming, Ser Bruce. We had her shackled in case you want the door opened." The guard leads him further in with a torch, walking down a hallway lined with cells. "At no time is the prisoner to be touched. If she makes a move, I ask that you step back and allow us to take care of her. So far she's been docile. She doesn't talk much. She cries every now and again but she doesn't wail. We aren't anticipating any problems. But we haven't told her who is coming. What you two have to discuss is up to you." A few more steps, his whispered words fade down the corridor and they come up to a locked cell. The iron door is thick but there is a large vision slit built in and left open. A torch on the opposing wall allows light to filter into the room. "Amelia," the guard addresses. "The visitor is here. I bid you stand if you are not already." Inside, the woman's voice can be heard. Its quiet. There's life there but its resigned. "Aye, Edward. I'm standing." Inside, the woman known as Amelia Millen, is standing in the center of the cell and facing the vision slats. She's dirty from the filth of the cell but she does not appear abused or any worse for wear, the shackles around both her ankles and wrists.
The sound of hobnailed boots and the jingle of mail armour can be heard as Ser Bruce Longbough of Stonebridge walks down the hallway of Four Eagles Tower's dungeons. His shield and his helmet have been discarded elsewhere - but he still remains an imposing, short, stocky figure in most of his battle raiments. He nods at the guard's advice, removing his sword belt and handing the thick, encumbered leather strap to him. Then he proceeds to enter the cell itself. The expression he wears is guarded and neutral, but his normally sleepy looking blue eyes are hard set. As they adjust to the darkness, he greets Amelia in a level voice. "Good morning, Misress Millen." Yes, it's not morning, this much he knows. Still, he says it.
"Step back and face the wall," the guard instructs before the cell is opened. She does as she is told. The guard goes in first to check her hands before nodding to Bruce and instructing her to turn. She follows the directions and looks up to the new arrival, the guard standing stonefaced just behind and to the left of Bruce. Amelia squints up at the man as her eyes adjust to his face. The time of day reference seems to throw her for a moment, blinks coming rapidly. Oh. "Good morning." Its just a simple reply, cautious in its tone as she tries to identify the man. She does not bother trying to hide her efforts at recognition.
"I'm Ser Bruce Longbough. I'm an envoy of Lord Ryker Nayland, of Stonebridge. His future Captain of the Guard. And I've met you before, Amelia, or at least seen you, during the Rebellion. But that's not what I came to talk to you about today, these aren't pleasantries as much as we might like them to be. I've come to talk to you about what you did, a few weeks back, in the Rockcliffe Tavern." Bruce has crossed his arms over his mail shirt, and though a frown tugs down at his lips for just a moment they quickly right themselves back into a thin, neutral line. "I want to hear your account of what happened that night. The whole thing, if you please."
As soon as she hears the name of who Bruce is hear representing, her eyes go wide. Color slowly drains from the woman as her jaw trembles. Does she even hear him? Her eyes look blank except for explicit fear until they flick to the guard. Finding her breath, the womans hands shake, rattling the shackles just slightly and she edges back through uneasy steps. Her heart looks to have gone from calm to pounding in nothing flat. Her eyes dart back to Bruce. "No. Ser Jarod promised I'd be hung. No." She's nearly panicked. The guard doesn't do anything or say anything, simply watching her reaction with an impassive face.
Bruce seems rather confused at the whole spectacle. His eyebrows slowly creep up, and a look of surprise takes its place on his features. "Huh? Well, aye, that's the plan, I think. I don't know when you're to be hanged, but it's at some point in the near future. But Lord Ryker wants to know what happened, and what you did exactly, and why you did it. Lass, I didn't know the man you killed. I'm here doing a job for m'lord, and that's that. I'm not angry, but justice has to be served. I think you understand that, aye? Lord Jerold is going to serve it, and that's that, and there ain't anything else to do about it than tell the truth and make peace with the Gods before you go to join them."
Amelia stares back at the man, fear still dominating the expression on her face. But as he explains that Lord Jerold will be exacting a hanging, she seems to settle. After he finishes, the woman stares at him from her place backed against the wall. At least she's stopped edging into a corner. Her eyes stare at the guard as if seeking guidance but he does nothing. The same neutral expression sits on his face. Meanwhile wheels some to be turning again behind her eyes and she looks back at the man from Stonebridge. "I killed him for his money. I was hiding due to another matter and needed coin for food. I came into his room, offered myself cheaply, and cut his throat with my own dagger. I took his coin and slipped out of town." She says it quickly, nearly breathlessly. Something akin to defiance finds her face as her chin lifts, voice becoming strong and more clipped. Like that of a noble.
"A simple explanation." Bruce considers, nodding as he listens to it. He reaches to pull his gloves off of his hands and tuck them into a trouser pocket, under the skirt of his mail hauberk. Then one of the hands comes up to stroke at his stubbly chin. "And told to me very quickly. Ya see, I don't deny that ya didn't take the money cause ya needed it. Fleeing authorities can be an expensive business, and smugglers cost quite a pretty penny. Or stag, in this case, I'm told. But… I know ya didn't just come into the room randomly and offer yourself cheaply. I know cause you told a friend of yours to get a room for you, next door, before hand. It was a little bit more planned than a bit of slash and grab. And you know what else I know, Miss Amelia?" Bruce's eyes twinkle at that, in the dim firelight. "I know that you're no common whore. You're a nobleman's whore. You wouldn't have looked twice at me before The Battle of the Bells, before I was a knight. Probably not after, either. Your type don't just kill for money."
As he speaks, Amelia's eyes narrow. The fire and resistance is back. There is ironclad srength behind those hazel eyes. He's struck a nerve, but it only seems to have hardened her resolve. She knows something, too, and more than what he's explicitly told her. But amelia takes a breath and lofts her brow. "I'd heard he had coin. I had to spend coin to get coin. There is nothing more to it than that. I'm sorry you do not see it so simply, but it is true. And, as a point of fact, Ser Bruce, I have bedded many a knight. Even guards. I provide services to House Terrick, but owuld accept coin from commoners who wished to part ways with it. But I am selective. I have, on many occassions, bedded Ser Jarod who holds your same rank within House Terrick. It is not personal, I just preferred to take coin from someone that I did not have ties to. I'd hoped to get away with it and get out of town but, alas, I could not find anyone quickly enough to provide me safe passage. I heard about a reward of a dragon for my capture and as you may expect thought it more wise to stay hidden in a place I thought secure."
Bruce looks as if he's going to move forward and give Amelia a smack, but he relents after a single step. His arms are at his side, fists clenched. Now, he too is getting irritated, most likely fed by his perceiving Amelia's defiance in the face of him. He frowns. "You're lying to me. I know you knew Jens Howard well. I know this wasn't the first time you met him, that you'd been meeting him for years. You may try to play the greed card with me, but I know, Amelia of Seagard, that it's bollocks. You're not so greedy as to slash a Nayland guard's throat, on Terrick land, simply for coin. Not especially when you weren't near as discreet as you'd have been if you'd planned it well. No, maybe you thought of doing this the night or two nights before, but you didn't just want to slash Jens Howard's throat for coin. You made mistakes, mistakes that aren't made when you're calculating. You made passionate mistakes."
"Oh really? You know I had been meeting Jens for years, Ser Bruce Longbough?" She does not look like she believes him. "I'm quite interested to know who told you that string of lies." The guard is glancing between them, looking like he's getting ready to shove one out and put the other's face into the stone flooring. Amelia pays him no mind. "If you think I am lying then prove me wrong with this evidence. I cut the man's throat. I tried to clean up his cod well, cleaned myself off, took his coin, and left. As I said, I had other things to hide from. You have your confession. I apologize if it is not what you were hoping for with a complex string of lies and deceit. Perhaps I should web a winding, fictional tale of betrayal to take back to your masters? Would you prefer that?"
"No. But I want the truth. I've heard story from Ser Jarod, already, and I know it's not the one you just told me. Either you were lying to him, or lying to me. Considering the esteem you hold him in, and likely considering the lack of esteem you've for me or whom I represent, Mistress, then I would judge it is me you are mistelling truth to. I know Jens Howard, according to you, was the one who pushed you into your present business. Tell me what else, Mistress, and your death is much more likely to be a clean one." Bruce bares his teeth at the woman, his eyebrows knitting and eyes narrowing.
Amelia holds her eyes on him. Her jaw cements in place. Its several looong seconds that pass with the tension nearly thick enough in the air to cut. "Fine. Yes. The asshole pushed me into my business. But you would not believe me if you heard the truth, but I will give it to you anyway." She takes a breath, looking like she might like to kill Bruce as well. "He grabbed me when I was young, just after my mother had died. Fifteen. Years. Old. Days after my mother's murder. Right after the funeral he told me that he had a way that he could show me how to make coin and have a life that could one day make me very rich. I would have no want for anything. He told me that my mother, a whore, was not someone who should be ashamed of. Rather I should love, respect, and aspire to be like her. She had catered to the nobility of Seagard much the same was I do with the Terricks. He knew, somehow, that I was schooled in nobility. I suspect the godsdamned teacher my mother had been sleeping with for my education told him. So he took me under the guise of mentoring and showed me the ways. I hated it, but the money came in. He demanded more. Then the rebellion started and he insisted I travel with them as part of my way in and I became close with the Mallister sworn. He would find me now and again and demand all my coin. I hated him for it. But I loved the people." She looks quite angry, her fists balled. "He then directed me to the Terricks since I seemed to have a weak heart, as he put it. So I came here. He demanded more and more coin. Why do you think I did not care for it? I despise coin. All it has ever gotten me is nine years of sex and it grew to be rape when I wanted to leave. He threatened to kill me if I left. It came to a head just after the tournament in Stonebridge and he told me that if I did not fall into line, he would find a way either find a way to ruin me from the Terricks or just take me in the night and beat me. The son of a bitch said he would drop me in the Town Square of Oldtown stark naked and personally pay for a group of the worst sailors to have their way with me for a week." Her jaw trembles, shackled hands lifting to point at him. "You, Ser Bruce, you fucking right I killed him out of passion. And I would do it again. I bask in the memory of watching his blood empty his throat while I held my hand over his mouth, shoving his head back into the pillows."
"You've more stones than most men I know." Bruce answers, simply. He folds his hands in front of him, observing Amelia critically, silently for a minute or two. Then he speaks. "I wouldn't have painted Master Howard to be a pimp of the lowest degree, but then, I did not know the man. That will be looked in to. I may not be the brightest man in the Seven Kingdoms, Mistress Amelia, but I'm nothing if not thorough. Very thorough. Everything you told me will be checked, rechecked, and rechecked again. And that, lass, will determine whether you go to the gallows directly from your cell, or if there's something else in store for you. Best hope you didn't spin any to me. You won't like it. I'm not a cruel bastard, but I'm not the one calling the shots here. So, in essence, I don't control whether you die nicely or not. That, that's somebody else's doing." He motions upstairs.
There is bitter anger on her face and it trickles coldly into her voice. "I'm sure you are a fine servant of the Nayland name, Ser Bruce. But in time you will learn that your masters have dispicable sides they show in ways you'd not see to their public face. There is no self control. I slept with one or two of those sworn before I refused to do it again. I pray that maybe one day you can bring discipline to a house such as that." Those shackled hands finally drop and the guard moves over to her to place a hand out and urge her back. She does so, keeping her eyes locked on Bruce while the edge seems to fade slowly. "I lived nine years a whore hoping that one day my promises might come true. That I would be saved and could buy myself into a life where I might never be touched by a man again." Her voice is softening a touch, the woman settling into her own memories. "The Terricks showed me a kindness. They loved me. Its a chance I could not have again if I were ruined to them. They are my brothers and sisters in my heart, even if they turn their back on me. I welcome death." She's quiet by now, her eyes having softened. The honesty is there. "I have nothing left. No hopes. My dreams were lies. All I wanted was to be accepted. To not die a whore and have that be my legacy. Well.." She sighs. "I have no chance. Fact check how you will. I've done injustices I can never fix or right. The family bids me pay for my crime. Death will bring me peace, I pray."
Bruce listens to Amelia with the anger having been flushed out his system earlier. He is cool, once more, gaze measured, hands loosely at his side. "I hope to the Gods that it does, Amelia of Seagard. Gods preserve you, then. I may see you again, or I may not." With that said, he turns around and motions to the guard to unlock the door.
"Go with the Seven, Ser Bruce. I pray for your soul in that house. Remember who you are. Hopefully you are not the evil that has invaded so many of their hearts. I am sorry for my harsh words." She dips her head to him. "Goodbye." The guard keeps his eyes on Amelia for a second after the request before stepping back and opening the door without taking his eyes off the prisoner who seems as still as a statue. In the hallway one of the guards moves off, his footfalls walking off towards the staircase up and out. The door to Amelia's cell opens and the guard stands inside until Bruce is out, the man backing out and locking the door behind him.
Bruce appears to be brooding on what Amelia said. He looks contemplative, lips pursed, as he retrieves his swordbelt from Edward, the guard. Without another word he moves down the hallway and back into the Keep itself, not sparing a look back.