|Dredging the Depths|
|Summary:||A maester and a midwife have a second difference of opinion by a riverside.|
|Related Logs:||Rival Practices|
|Downstream Landing, Stonebridge|
|The East Docks of Stonebridge are known for their structurally sound contruction. The primary planking is assembled out of heavier woods and reinforced at all the main points with the same stone used in contruction of the castle. Ships with a draft short enough to reach this far inland are not always small so the berthings are built wide with the docks themselves running more than one hundred feet over the water. The waterfront area is full of unloaded cargo waiting for transportation either into Stonebridge proper or to head outbound on one of the vessels. At the end is a set of stone steps that lead down to the underdock area.|
|2nd October, 289|
The recent war was short and not especially sharp, despite expectations, but it has left much work to be done in resuscitating the precarious commerce in the town of Stonebridge. Probably it's some thought or other relating to this process that has led Maester Taleryth so far from his Tower on this occasion. A trio of Nayland guards, one with the wiry look of an experienced waterman, one a burly meathead, one with a spark of initiative that might be required for command, but none of them so armoured or liveried as to kick up a fuss, stay within a half-dozen of paces of the young scholar, as he scans that murky water, foetid with ash now, parched of vital industry, and considers its recovery, plunged deeper in thought than any riverfish is in mud.
Dania is leading both her pack mule and her horse when she comes by the waterman and the guards. She brings her horse and mule to a halt and she just watches them. She is dressed in a brown linen gown and a pale blue apron dress. She is still too thin. Her blue eyes comes to rest on the Scholar and she smiles. "What ya looking for Maester Taleryth."
Too thin, perhaps, too tall, more noticeably. "Afternoon, Mistress Dorsey," Taleryth acknowledges her wearily, for he apparently has just about enough grace not to pretend to have forgotten her name, if little more. "And how do you know I…oh, curse it, what does it matter? What does anyone look for, mistress? I'm looking for money, staring into this choked morass, and trying to envisage a way to dredge gold from its depths.”
“Metaphorically," he adds hastily, "I'm not an alchemist, or a pyromancer, or a plain lunatic. Somehow, the Steward has to get this stream trading again. I've an idea the answer is something to do with tariffs, but the whole question is too boring, and yet too important, to give me much pleasure in its contemplation."
"Tariffs would bring money in, I thought they still charged tariffs to the caravans moving down the road as well. There is also the case of you cannot squeeze blood from a stone. You gave your name to Garion, before I left." She reminds him. "Still no drinking?" She asks him. "Fishing also brings money in." She adds. Peers over into the water as she continues to hold her horse. "Still sore about our first meeting?" She asks him with a warm impish smile. "Still fighting the good fight?"
"They would not," the maester replies simply, spinning away from the water and marching a few paces off with a sweep past the guards, treading with care so as to preserve the eerie immaculacy of his pale grey robe even amid the waterside sludge. "Tariffs fill lordly mouths when times are good. After a war is the moment to *lift* them, if our masters can be persuaded to surrender rights they so often regard as inalienable, for the sake of more wholesome, thriving trade…" He laughs with a grim intonation, "If. Still, let us see. The Steward is a sensible man. I suppose he, or at least his witch-wife, have already bidden you over to supper, Mistress Dorsey," he adds with light satire; indeed, Dania Dorsey's claims to extensive noble patronage have obviously managed to niggle in the back of his mind…
"No, why would they I do not break bread with them I only treat those that need it here in Stonebridge and they are usually of common heritage." Dania gives him a and odd look. "You are a funny little man my dear Maester." She smiles. "Care to break bread with me." She pauses and shrugs her shoulders. "If you want to. I do not bite." She tells him. Despite the smile there is weariness about her. One that goes bone deep. She moves to lean against her gelding's shoulder as she looks at him. "Are you going to have dinner with them?"
Shooting back a queer look, Taleryth shrugs before remarking, "That's funny: a couple of days back the new Steward called me a fussy little man, now I'm a funny one. Back at the Citadel I was Taleryth Lanklimbs, and now it seems my current acting lord and a local midwife are competing to sneer down at me from a height…ah, but perhaps we who wear the chain of service are always apt to be regarded as small…"
Her queries seem to puzzle him, "Of course I am going to sup with the Steward and his Lady, or at least hang about while they eat; I usually dine separately in the Rookery, in point of fact, but what if one of the family were to be taken ill, or, perish the thought, poisoned? My presence is required, while my post lasts…" But his indignant explanation is already trailing away, as he floats a little closer. "Mistress Dorsey, your conversation has always been unconventional, but now it's bordering on vagary…are you…" He's struggling to keep concern wholly separate from his face and posture, "…in health?"
"If I am in health or not in health would you truly care?" Dania asks him. "My dear man, anything that comes out of mouth you will take offense to. But you are a funny little man. Many men are smaller than me," she points out. "As for the Rookery, that makes sense to me. I know your office and your station and your learning requires you to keep a distance, but there is no harm in speaking and talking shop so to speak." She smiles as she says this and the weariness is forcefully pushed aside. "They will need your presence, I am certain they will be facing a torrent of issues especially with what I have been hearing with the rumors." She smiles again. "So I will ask again would you like to break bread with me and talk of healing and theory? If not I do understand. But, also showing concern for a patient is not a bad thing, touch is not a bad thing. It brings healing. Holding a hand and offering that much comfort when you can even when there is naught you can do will not harm your standing. It will make it all the better."
"I'm not a brute," Taleryth dissents with a fleeting frown, "and besides, as you must have noticed, I have ample pride in what I try to do. It's a noble calling, and it would be pretty ignoble of me to let you collapse by some noxious riverside, when your symptoms were becoming increasingly manifest - and with you being a healer of sorts yourself, too. I'd never live it down, and some ill natured rumourmonger would probably think to claim I'd been poisoning off the competition. So if you are ailing, mistress, I would rather be told!"
Hearing her out further, he can't seem to resist a quick laugh, but it is soon over in a businesslike way. "I don't know whether I'm going to be touching you all that soon, Mistress Dorsey, unless you confess to needing my help and oblige me to inspect you…and I am bound to return to the Tower forthwith and try and hash together some kind of report on the river-trade. But, in principle, another time, I would enjoy a proper talk by all means, if your wasting disease has not, by then, fully devoured you…contrary to your earlier implication, I do sometimes have a tipple, and can, on high days and holidays, be tracked to the Crane. For now - unless you need my services, of course - I must, however, bid you good day…"
"I will keep in touch with letters then and will see you soon. I need someone to converse with who speaks the same language as I do." Dania says to him as she bows her head. "I have just come from the Roost. It is why I am tired my dear. Go and may the gods bless you if you believe in them." She tells him. "I will see you again." She adds.