|Summary:||It's not only Lords and nobles who play politics; in a seedy tavern in Riverrun, the spies and servants also play.|
|Seedy Tavern in Riverrun|
|It's a seedy tavern!|
|5 November, 288|
The dimly lit tavern on the edge of Riverrun is bustling tonight. A lot of peasants who have travelled with their nobles for the council are hanging out here tonight, as are some of the servants and hands of the nobility. The council is happening tonight, so the lessers are out in full force to have their own sort of gathering. Lots of drinking and merriment is happening, as many of these people let their allegiances be a little forgotten on nights such as this.
A group of peasants are dancing, as a young, attractive peasant plays the veille. It's a loud, jovial tune that has folks up and moving their feet. The man is Rafferdy, and he is tapping his foot as he nods his head and runs the bow over the fiddle with quite a bit of speed. The song is nearing the end, but is not quite over yet.
Alise would never get away with sneaking out to a seedy tavern if her lady ever found out, but all the snobby nobles are otherwise occupied tonight. So Alise snuck out, complete with a hood and cape to keep anyone from the Terrick retinue from recognizing her. Once inside the rowdy tavern, she scans the place carefully; eventually she decides on a table with a especially seedy looking fellow, with bad skin, bad teeth, bad hair and possibly bad breath, and approaches him. Why? Who knows?
Belle is among the dancers, being lifted and swung about from partner to partner in a time-honored country favorite called The Wench Toss. Though she's certainly not the only wench being tossed about, it's a vigorous dance that leaves everyone involved flushed and breathless and — for Belle's part — laughing. She she's spun by her partner on the last measure, twirling like an out-of-control top and catching herself with both hands on an occupied table. There, she helps herself to someone else's wine and settles her tab with a kiss, leaving the stunned fellow with neither wine nor wench as she spins back into the crowd of dancers.
The song begins to wrap, and Rafferdy finishes it with a few measures of rapid notes, before stopping. The crowd gives some applause, and he nods, smiling widely, thanking a few close people, before heading towards the bar, instrument in tow. He says something about taking a break, and ends up at the bar ordering some mead. He hefts the mug, taking a drink, and looks around, trying to find a good place to settle.
Without removing her hood, Alise sits down and speaks quietly with the unsavory fellow. Something metallic and shiney is revealed and handed over, which the man examines and appraises. It appears to be haggling that follows. The process is repeated with yet another object, then another. Coins exchange hands, and finally Alise leaves the table to head to the bar, passing by the dancing Belle and almost jumping by the display. Jumpy, yes! Finally reaching the bar, she clasps the edge of the counter and calls for the barkeep. "Give me…" She starts, and sees the mead in Rafferdy's hand. "…same drink he is."
Belle watches Alise pass by her, glancing back at the unsavory fellow, eyes following the young woman to the bar, after. She heads that way herself, twisting up her hair and holding it atop her head, allowing the air to cool the back of her neck. "Beer. Dark and bitter and more fit to eat with a fork than to drink, thank you," she requests of the barkeep. She leans back to get a look beneath Alise's hood, saying casually, "Let me buy you whatever you're having, sweeting. Garand probably robbed you blind — there are much better fences in town."
Rafferdy looks at the two ladies, and he smiles. "It's mead," he offers to Alise, and winks. He looks at Belle and nods greeting. "Enjoying the evening so far?" he asks them.
Alise glances sidelong at Belle, surprised at the dancer's words. "I was… looking for a quick transaction." She pauses to glance back at Garand over one shoulder. "If it costs me a coin or two, I call it money well spent. Still, my mother always taught me, never turn down a free drink." The girl - and yes, that's a girl under that hood. Rafferdy's question draws her attention his way. "I made some coins, and this lady here is offering to buy me a drink. I should think my evening is looking up."
Belle smiles warmly at the girl, placing a silver dragon on the bar. "Your mother sounds like a wise woman — Renald, this is for the pretty thing's mead. And the minstrel's, too." She then turns her attention to Rafferdy, "That was some fine and lively playing, friend. Quite the welcome thing."
Rafferdy smiles at Alise, "Mine too." He looks at Belle, and he leans against the bar a bit more relaxed. "Thanks," he says to Belle, with a nod. He takes another drink, and asks, "You two here with folks for the council?" He looks around the room, "Most everyone else seems to be."
"My mother was a wise woman — when she was sober." Alise replies somewhat bitterly, but that doesn't dull the rosy-cheeked smile on her face. And as the mead is delivered, she takes it eagerly. "My thanks for the mead." The mug is lifted for a long, thirsty sip, followed by a nod to Rafferdy's question. "Are you?"
Taking her black-bodied, cream-headed pint, Belle lifts her glass to her two newly acquired drinking partners. "To the Lord of Stonebridge. Whoever that happens to be." She drinks, settling onto a barstool and leaning back to observe the conversation.
Rafferdy lifts his mug, and grins, "Not a local, but not here for the council. Just playin' where there's folks who dance." He nods, "To the lucky bastard that gets Stonebridge…" He takes a long drink, and sits the mug down on the counter. "Any word on how that all worked out yet? Council started when? Yesterday?"
"Tonight." Alise points out as she takes another long sip. "I believe the nobility are gathered right now, as we smallfolk get drunk and celebrate." She grins, and lifts her mug in a toast to her new companions. "I'll drink to that!"
"To the lucky bastard," Belle agrees, laughing. She drinks again, licking foam from her upper lip. "Wouldn't that be interesting, if it were the bastard? I wonder if there'd be bloodshed. The Naylands and the Terricks have no love lost between them, certainly."
Rafferdy smiles widely at Alise, glancing between her and Belle, a little flirtatiously, "I can think of no one better to get drunk and celebrate with than two beautiful ladies." He shrugs, "The Terricks and Naylands probably dont' even remember what they're fighting about."
Bloodshed? No one's told Alise about bloodshed! That brings about a frown to her brows. "When noble families feud, they don't kill lowly maids, do they?" That, is clearly Alise's immediate concern. She glances from Rafferdy to Belle and back. "If they did, then I picked a most unfortunate time to gain my employment."
"Oh, I think that probably depends wholly on how the lowly maid conducts herself," Belle assures Alise. "Certainly, I've heard that when the Targaryens were ousted, their servants refused to leave their doomed benefactors' sides. Those who remained died as surely as the Mad King did, but it can be argued that such was their choice." She takes another sip of beer. "It's all a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and knowing which way the wind blows. A clever girl might die an old woman in her bed."
<Public> Eckhardt has disconnected.
Rafferdy lsughs, "Indeed," he says to Belle. Looking at Alise, he shrugs, "Keep your head low, and you'll be fine." He then offers his name, "I'm Rafferdy. Rafferdy Veille."
"Another thing my late mother told me, is to be nimble on my feet." Alise murmurs in response to Belle's advice. "And you, master Rafferdy? Are you concerned with the possibility of bloodshed?" The little smile returns. "Or are you content with drinks and a pair of womenfolk in your company?"
"Feet are meant for dancing," Belle opines. "Be nimble in mind, sweeting — and adaptable. Always, always adapt." She turns her attention to Rafferdy, as well. "Veille. Fitting. And do tell, Rafferdy Veille — politics, I would imagine, don't much concern a traveling minstrel. As long as there are places to play."
Rafferdy smiles, "Well, drinks and womenfolk certainly make for merriment." To Belle, he shrugs. "Politics are important as they dictate where the places to play will be." He looks around, "No one would be here if not for the council." He glances between the two of them as another musician across the room begins to play a lyre.
Alise glances from her companions to the new performer, only briefly. "And we would never have met, friends. I am Alise." She offers, only a given name though. "And you are, my generous lady?"
"No lady, at all," answers Belle, all dimples and amusement. "My name is Belle. Belle Beckett." She doesn't seem at all shy about her own identity. "It's lovely to meet you both." She listens a moment to the new performer and tsks. "Horning in on your territory, sweet Rafferdy, and not even as good as you. The nerve."
Rafferdy shrugs, "I have to let the less talented play so people appreciate my work when it's my turn," he offers, with a smirk. "Belle and Anise. A lovelier pair I shall never encounter." He laughs, "So, in the Terrick's versus Nayland war, who are we all rooting for?"
"Mistress Belle, what a lovely name." Alise beams rosily, while her hands wrap around her mug. As for Rafferdy's question… "I am still hoping there will be no 'war', Rafferdy." She finally fully turns, and leans back against the bar. "Wars make me uneasy." She looks down at herself, reminding herself that her maid's gown is well hidden beneath the cloak she wears. "I much prefer that we all be friends, and enjoy each other's company."
"Well, that is a luxury the smallfolk enjoy — at least the women," says Belle, her smile faint now, with its own hint of bitters. "We're not obliged to kill one another over these things. Most of the time." She raises her eyebrows a little at Rafferdy. "But it's not much a concern of traveling minstrels, either, is it, Raff? Unless you're the kind who favors the fife or the drum, you're more or less immune to the horrors of war."
<Public> Josse has disconnected.
"Everything is a concern to traveling minstrels, Belle," Raff notes. "These things influence where I go. Who listens. And what they wish to hear." He shrugs, "And no one is immune to war when it is on their land."
Alise lifts her mug and finishes the mead in a pair of gulps. She seems content to let her two new friends speak of war, but she now studies Rafferdy in silence. His face, specifically.
"You do have a home, then?" asks Belle, canting her head curiously. "I would think a free-spirited vagabond had nothing to fear, when it came to things such as land."
Rafferdy shakes his head, "Actually, no. I don't have a home. But we're all from somewhere. It still hurts to hear of it." He shakes his head, "War is unpleasant." He looks at the musician, and just watches him play a minute.
"A handsome free-spirited vagabond." Alise says suddenly, cheeks rosier than before thanks to the mead, and a smile that looks like a cat that caught the canary. Abruptly, she covers her mouth with a hand. "I mean, a talented minstrel, sir. That you are."
Belle nods, smile once again faint and ironic. "It is. Quite." Alise's loosened tongue brings laughter back to Belle's lips, however, and the places another coin on the bar. "For their next round, Renald." She drinks down the rest of her beer in a series of long, uninterrupted swallows, setting the down with a satisfied sigh. "Enjoy your evening and each other, sweetings." A flash of a grin, kisses blown to both maid and minstrel, and Belle is off.
Before she's gone entirely, however, she stops by the shady table, where Garand the Fence lurks yet. A few words are exchanged and perhaps coin, too, though the angle of her body blocks the view from the bar. Business quickly concluded, Belle Beckett slips out into the night.
Rafferdy watches Belle go, then looks back at Alise. He smiles widely, "I like handsome over talented, Alise." He tilts his head just a little, "Would you like to dance?"
Alise shakes her head to the request, still smiling broadly. "I have never learned to dance. But would you like a walk away from all this… riffraff?" She waves a hand at the rowdy tavern. As for Belle's little detour towards the fence's table? It is to Alise's misfortune that she missed it because of Rafferdy.
Rafferdy smiles once more, "Riffraff? These are my people," he says playfully. He looks over at a large, fat drunk man who is drooling, and he furrows his brow, "Okay, that guy isn't my people." He laughs, and then nods, "I would like that, yes." He extends his hand, "Shall we?"
"My people as well." Alise shrugs a shoulder and grins at the minstrel. "I never claimed I am not riffraff myself." The mug is put down on the bar, freeing her hand to take his. "Will you promise to be proper and gentlemanly?" Alise asks playfully as she allows him to lead the way.
Rafferdy shrugs, "If that's what you want." He leads her towards the door, and laughs, "But if you let me be a riffraff, the evening will be more fun."
Alise's cheeks turn even more rosey at that, but the smile doesn't go away. "Surprise me." She says simply, and heads out the door.