|Summary:||Taleryth discusses recent events with Merrick. Half the conversation is high-brow at least.|
|Town Square, Stonebridge|
|The surrounding terrain has several small gullies and streams that feed into the waterfront area just adjacent to the town square, the sails of the boats visible over the tops of the buildings. The square is floored in the same heavy stone that the east docks and castle are constructed of while the buildings are a mix of the stone, wood, and mortar. There are quite a few fish vendors with their fragrant catches for sale among groups of tables which tend to be busy most of the time.|
|Sun Mar 03, 290|
Masterless days are ill for maesters, and these last few have transformed Stonebridge's appointed counsellor - normally a fresh-faced and enthusiastic, if rather cautious young fellow - into a harried looking man, his face drawn, and even his soft hazel eyes verging upon the manic. Most drastically, Taleryth - previously perhaps most notable as the cleanest Maester to be found hereabouts - has not quite bothered to change his light grey gown since a raven with ill will and sharp aim smeared one of his sleeves. Perhaps he's been firing off so many ravens lately that he has abandoned an unequal struggle.
As afternoon verges upon evening, it finds him leading a laden mule; Taleryths has been, it seems, spending his upkeep on all manner of things - a heavier grey travelling cloak to overtop his robes, a dirk, smoked fish and black bread. The unmistakable marks of a man at the beginning of a journey, though not, perhaps, quite ready yet to make a definite start.
Merrick has spent the day attempting to beat knowledge into his squire using a variety of 'sticks'. Well, spears, swords and clubs mostly but you get the drift. With the lad now tending to the horses and gear he's intent on making his way back towards the Common House where they're lodging. It also happens to be where the beer and whores are found, but that could theoretically just be coincidence. Ambling across the square in no particular hurry he spots the Maester and gives the man a brief nod, never hurts to keep in the good books of those that now the healing arts after all.
As the generously proportioned fighter passes, the Maester - his total opposite as a physical type, spindly as a willow-wand - reacts at first with wariness that looks instinctive, slowing his mule but backing away against it. Perhaps it's not so skittish, though, to be nervous around strange armed men at such a peculiar time. Consciousness of his own place and theoretical authority seem to sink back into the youth in grey, and he stiffens, frowning.
"Good even, …ser. Your face is unfamiliar to me, I'm afraid, and your…heraldry…likewise." Perhaps 'heraldry' is hardly the right term for the very few inches of indeterminately coloured cloth on the stranger that are not drowned in mail, …but the man's spurs do indicate some kind of knightly station. Then again, you hear some grim tales of 'free lances' in uncertain times. Taleryth certainly has.
Merrick seems faintly amused by the Maester's initial reaction, it's not something he's entirely unused to but it's perhaps been a while since someone cringed back quite so obviously. He does, for a moment, consider walking closer, getting in his face and yelling 'Boo!', just to see what happens but he contents himself with pausing in his progress and turning to face the smaller man. Setting his shoulders square and resting his hands on his belt he eyes him and his attire for a moment before asking, "going somewhere Maester? I know there's been change here but aren't you boys supposed to stick around and serve the place not the people? Or is this a case of you getting the jump on the rats?" As for the comment about heraldry, that just gets a laugh, exactly the kind of crudely amused laugh you'd expect from a man of his appearance. "Heraldry?" he glances down over himself and his armour "pray tell, just what do you see about me that you're classing as that?"
But Taleryth seems to have got over his initial hesitation, and now stands as straight and lofty as he can contrive - not utterly shabby in its effect, for though he lacks all the warrior's bulk, he is in fact fractionally the taller of the pair. He maintains a formal, chilly posture.
"I am preparing for certain eventualities," he now explains sharply, "although, as yet, I have neither obtained, nor requested leave from the Citadel. It is, however, likely that I shall. Forgive me if I correct you, but we do not know that there's been change around here. None of us know anything - a situation which is particularly painful in my trade."
At last Taleryth allows himself a small, rueful smile. "It is as if you, ser, faced one of the bitterer fights of your career so far…without equipment, energy, will or ability. It is frustrating, to be a maester without knowledge. I admit, too, that I know nothing of your heraldry - save the ensign the septons say every anointed knight must carry on his heart. And, more to the point, the somewhat rusty spurs at your heels. You *are* a knight, then, I presume?"
Merrick continues to grin in amusement at the now lofty Maester. "We know that the Naylands are all fucking off back to their swamp and there's a Tully Lord about. You should try talking to him Maester, bet he knows exactly what shit is going on, he's probably causing it." He eyes the other man's attire again, and then the horse before adding, "too late to travel now anyway. Roads are lined with scum these days, skinny little whelp like yourself wouldn't stand a chance. Do yourself a favour and get yourself some protect if you do flee, helps if you want to continue breathing." As Taleryth starts to talk about bitter fights he scoffs slightly, apparently not entirely getting the analogy, "ha! What would you know about the fights of my career? But yes, you presume correctly."
Well, at least the knight's anarchic, scornful smirk seems to be catching, and the Maester smiles - wanly and fixedly, to be sure - in turn, though his eyes remain level and dubious. "I'm not sure Lord Hoster's messenger does know quite what he's doing, in fact, ser. Or, more to the point, why. His words, in the form rumour - and it was just that, and her whorish sister hearsay - brought them to me, contained plenty of maybes, and perhapses, and heretofores. This Tully may be the man with the sword in his hand, but he appears to me, at least, to be wielding it blindfolded."
Shrugging, as he begins to move the mule on - back towards Stone Walk, not out of town for now, - the maester offers in an almost cheeky call, "You offering your own services, ser? Fancy a walk down a warm Reach road and a drop of Oldtown cider at the end of it? It's possible I can pay you in little else…"
Merrick can't help but think that a blindfolded man would be easier to stab, but this time he does at least realise that the comment is not be be taken entirely literally and he just rolls his eyes, "Joy. Just what we need. He deficient in the cock department or just being a typical fucking nob?" He smirks a little at the words 'whorish sister' but then moves onto the more important topic of his services. "I accept payment in coin, beer, whores and food. If you heading out come find me in there," he points to the Common House, "and we can talk rates."
The maester looks pleased that some fraction of his personal assessment about Ser Renold Tully's recent goings-on appears to have trickled through, but he doesn't elaborate further. Indeed, it's as if he not-that-privately thinks he couldn't have summed up the matter better himself. The duo are going in different directions, now, and on the point of parting in the natural waying of things, but Taleryth's nod is surprisingly jovial now.
"In Oldtown we have three of your favoured currencies in abundance, ser, though I repeat, we tend to prefer cider to beer…what name should I ask for, pray? The Knight of the Missing Surcoat? For myself, I am Maester Taleryth, once of Fairmarket, presently of Stonebridge, and, I sincerely hope, soon to be once again of Oldtown."
Merrick can guess which three the Maester means, but the faint smirk he's trying to suppress shows that he reckons they have the fourth as well, or some of them anyway, they just don't want to admit it. "Cider we can negotiate" he confirms with a nod, it's alcohol after all, and often nicely potent. "Well met Maester Taleryth, ask for Ser Merrick, although if you get my little arsewipe of a squire then just beat him around the head until he tells you where I am."