Page 024: On Strength
On Strength
Summary: Anais visits Amelia in the dungeons.
Date: 05/August/2011
Related Logs: You Are Weak
Amelia Anais 
Dungeon — Four Eagles Tower
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 5, 288

As word travels that the Terrick's favorite whore got into some trouble, the word of where she is currently housed has as well. Dungeons are not, by definition, pleasant places. Nor are they prisons. So for someone to be kept down here for any length of time is odd. Thus, the woman is alone down here in the very bottom of the rocky land, a hundred feet or more below the first floor of the castle above. Anais would be led by a single guard down to the place where she is kept. The walks is dark and completely unlit but for the torch the guard has. Arriving at the cell, Amelia is being housed behind a heavy steel door in complete darkness, the damp and wretched stink of the dungeon nearly overpowering for those with a weaker stomach — all per the orders of Jaremy. The guard looks to Anais and steps to the side as he reaches for the locked latch. The torch, this far underground, is their only illumination. "I'll wait here, Lady Anais."

Anais carries with her a basket over one elbow, one that's been checked for things like weapons, of course. Mostly, however, it smells like fresh-baked bread and bacon. The smells don't necessarily mingle so well with the smell of damp, rot, and dungeon, but they're preferable. "Thank you," Anais nods to the guard as he reaches for the latch. One might wonder what the dungeons in the Banefort are like, that she keeps such comfortable composure in the depths of Terrick's Roost.

When the door is opened, the latches scream against the rust and it would probably wake the slumber of the gods for its intensity. Inside, the torch illuminates the body of a woman who is hiding her face from the light beneath her arm. She's still in her dress that she was arrested in, but by now its infinitely sullied and is ruined beyond hope. Mice scurry into holes in the corners. With one ankle chained directly to the wall, she cannot go far. With her head tucked down it is hard to understand her, but it sounds like she might be asking who it is that is coming in.

Anais presses her lips together at the state of the woman in the cells, casting a brief, accusing look at the no-doubt innocent guard. "It's Anais, Amelia," she answers in a gentle tone, walking toward the other woman to crouch next to her, reaching a hand for what looks like a shoulder. "I've brought some food and water. And questions," she admits, a faint smile touching one corner of her lips.

"Anais," she repeats, sighing. Relief. Amelia isn't ruined personally by the experience. She's just disoriented. "So I'm not dead, Lady Anais." She was nearly unconscious when they brought her in. Complete darkness? Sleep coming and going? The next question is probably not hard to understand. "What day is it? What time?" Her right eye finally peeks out against the light, squinting up to Anais' form. "All are welcome, my Ladyship. Thank you for your kindness."

"You've only been in overnight," Anais answers reassuringly, setting down the basket in a reasonably clean space. "It's late morning." She pulls out the waterskin first, offering it over to the other woman. "There's enough in there to splash your face, if you like." She looks around herself at the dungeon and the floor, still crouching in an attempt not to get /too/ filthy. "Really, Amelia, if you just wanted to spend a night at the tower, I'm sure we could have found you better accomodations."

"Feels like a day. At least," she breathes. Her eyes still squint against the light but the rest of her face becomes visible as she reaches for the waterskin. There's a nasty red and blue bruise on her left cheek. The outline of knuckles are plain, as is the slight swelling. The hit didn't break her face but it looks like it hurts. She doesn't clean at first. She drinks for the most part. The skin is nearly emptied before the last little drops are used to wet her hands and clean them. Its digustingly filty down here and where there are mice, there is more disgusting elements. While she wipes her hands on one of the few clean spots of her dress, the undamages part of her face manages a smile. "I've stayed a night or three before, m'Lady. I just had not had the royal treatment. This is far nicer than I expected."

Anais tsks softly when she sees the bruise, reaching a hand out before catching herself. "Well, I hope you accomplished whatever you were trying to accomplish," she murmurs. "You've certainly paid well enough for it." She pulls a handkerchief from the basket next, offering it over before reaching in to draw out a loaf of bread, partially hollowed out to hold bacon and drippings. The top was replaced, so everything is still warm. Not exactly standard dungeon fare. "I heard there was some sort of altercation. I heard that Jaremy was involved. I also didn't notice anything unusual about the way he acted afterwards. No…crippling guilt. No mooning."

Amelia's smile is weak out the unbruised side. "Oh, I do not dare suspect I have paid for it fully yet. But I will not know until I talk to Young Lord Jaremy." She spies the bread and bacon, though and her eyes go wide. This is not what she expected. A hand goes for the bread first and she tears off a small nibble, eating it quickly. She's hungry, for sure. "Yes, m'Lady. I attacked Ser Jaremy at the Rockcliff." Something like more relief comes to her. "If he felt no guilt then I may have been successful. I was attempting impart a lesson."

"I wish you'd said something to me," Anais says quietly, folding her arms over her knees as she remains crouched, her gaze steady. "I'm not complaining," she adds quickly. "I suspect it was the sort of lesson that he needed to learn. And an opportunity he wasn't likely to create or take advantage of on his own. But there are many ways to learn every lesson, Amelia. And they don't always have to hurt the teacher or the student." She falls silent for another moment, just watching the other woman. "Would you mind telling me what it was about? I can guess, but I'd rather hear it from you."

Amelia shakes her head. "M'Lady, you're a proper woman of nobility. You have a husband to be to satisfy and create something with. He and I have a history. I would not ask you to.. dance with him.. as I do." She takes another nibble of bread, chewing slowly. The words are heard but she does not directly comment to them right away. "Jaremy is an admirable man. I would wish to have his hand as you do. But he is many things to many people.. and many will not tell him that he is weak." She keeps her voice between them, even in the echoing confines of the dungeon. "He will not reach out to harm someone if he can avoid it. Honor is a great thing, but when one is blinded by it enough that they cannot tell the sunrise from the sunset in a land of grey, there is trouble for their people. I was trying to show him that some people will never quit trying ot harm him and eventually he has to strike hard." She sniffs against the cold. "He was not listening. He has not listened on this point in the years I have known him."

"I thought as much," Anais sighs, pushing up and smoothing a hand over her skirts as she paces the confines of the cell. "Amelia…" She keeps her hands folded at her waist, the better to avoid touching any of the filth that coats the walls and floors. "For the next two months, I must step carefully. I must walk a narrow line. I must prove that I can be a partner to Jaremy, an aid, without coming across as a threat, or a harridan. I must play the sweet, naive girl to our enemies, but support our allies with every weapon that is mine." Her grip tightens, knuckles whitening with the force. "It is a /delicate/ thing, Amelia. I know you understand that."

Amelia tears off another nibble nd is careful inserting between her lips. That bruise probably hurts when she chews. She still squints against the faint, distant glow of the light. So bright. But she does her best to follow Anais as she paces. "Yes, m'Lady. Which is why I take these things upon myself. I would swear myself to the house if it would not disgrace them. I serve them how I must, often without them needing to know, Lady Anais." Or perhaps wanting to know depending on just who it is.

"And what do you think Jaremy will learn from punishing you for your crime?" Anais asks in a measured tone, still pacing slowly. "What is the punishment for striking a lord in the Riverlands, by the way? Is it loss of the hand that did the striking? A lashing? Stocks? As Jaremy watches the punishment you have forced him to order, do you think he will grow harder? Fiercer? Or do you think he will hate both you and himself, and shy from such things in the future? Are you teaching him to strike down those who strike at him? Or are you teaching him that it hurts?" Her voice never wavers from a steady, almost academic tone, her eyes fixed on the walls around her.

Amelia shakes her head. "This is not passive aggression on my part, m'Lady. My motivations of instruction were with the act. I fully accept my punishments. They hurt. And they will hurt. But I have been beaten before." Whores are not exactly a group of people that anyone cares about protecting. In general. "Savagely." Especially. "I would prefer Jaremy not see what must happen, but someone who strikes a Lord could be hung. I risk much. But I believe it will not come to that. Or, I should say that I hope it does not. If it does, the lesson may sink in deeper butthat is not my intention." She slows her speech, a clean hand holding to the beaten side of her jaw for a moment to ease the ache. "I wanted to show him that he cannot rely on his honor to protect himself, and therefore his people. People will hit him anyway. Especially those people across the river." Naylands. "He must be willing to use force — and I do not mean physical or war. That is not a game for me. I have been there and back and know better. He must enforce the laws of this land without preference. To do anything else is madness, m'Lady." If she's to be believed, Amelia is probably going to be lashed several times because she wanted to teach Jaremy to not take shit from anyone. Ow.

"Hanging," Anais repeats, drawing a deep breath. "Amelia…I am going to say something unkind, and I hope you will forgive me, because I do think you are an asset to this family." She turns back to the other woman, then crouches to better meet her eye. "You cannot demonstrate strength against a whore. You of all people should know that the man who must show his strength against a whore is the /weakest/ of men. You demonstrate strength against the strong. You demonstrate strength in overcoming adversity. You demonstrate strength in stolen marches, in battle, in alliance. But even hanging a whore is not impressive. Do you understand, Amelia?" Her gaze is steady, forceful. "You will make a fool of him."

Amelia listens, finishing the bread and reaching for the bacon. Again, little bits are bit off at a time though she meets the Lady's eyes when she kneels. "No, but he can demonstrate strength against a friend and someone he cares about. I am more than my place in society, m'Lady. If the family wishes me to be no more, I will do that. I told Ser Jaremy I was thinking of leaving the Roost forever. It is not out of guilt. It is because I do not believe I can be of anymore use to the family. And I cannot bare to sit by and watch some things happen. If he cannot strike an insolent whore, let alone a friend.. how would you expect your husband-to-be to march against his enemies until they are swinging at his face and kicking his shins, m'Lady? I mean no disrespect, but I weep. I have risked everything, including my life, just to give these people happiness, let alone success. Watching some things happen tears me apart."

Anais falls silent for a long moment, pressing a hand to her mouth. "I'm sure the Lannisters don't have these problems," she mumbles under her breath. "Or if they do, they're doing a much better job of dealing with them, because I'm under the impression they don't have them." She drops her hand then, looking to the ceiling as if for inspiration. "Amelia, I am going to suggest that Jaremy leave the execution of this justice to someone else. You and the family know that you are more than just a whore to them. But by your own admission, you have tried not to advertise such, which means that to the people we need to impress, you are just another whore." She pushes up once more, pressing her lips together. "A lord who must attend personally to an insolent whore is a weak lord with nothing more important to occupy his time. And that is the last thing Jaremy can be right now. What do you think he will have to do now, if the Naylands should press the question of their earlier warrant for your arrest?"

"My Lady, I do not advertise as such but it is also not a secret as to who I am to the family. I cater myself to the needs of nobility almost exclusively. If they have visiting nobility in need of something, I am often the one they call upon. The town knows this. Some in town respect me. Some do not. But one thing that no soul may question is my integrity and dedication to protecting those secrets I keep. Everyone in this town and the nobility of the Mallisters are aware of this keenly." That last name is said to a point, but it is not a snub. Its an allowed expression of how well she is known for what she does — faaar beyond simple carnal needs. She nibbles once more at the bacon and sighs. "Hand me over? I told him to do that when I was taken to custody. As it is, I've already spoken with Lady Valda about the writ of arrest. The matter is settled. But I would appreciate that staying between us, Lady Anais."

"Amelia!" For the first time, Anais' reserve cracks, enough to draw a glance from the guard outside. "Do you not see what handing you over to the Naylands would look like for Jaremy? It would look like he was rolling over for them. And now that you've /hit/ him, in /public/, he has no grounds on which to refuse them in order to protect you. And if you think Lady Valda is captaining that ship…" She trails off, taking a deep breath and smoothing her hands over her skirt. "I wish you had spoken to me first," she circles back to the beginning of the conversation, quiet. "I thought perhaps we might be allies in guiding Jaremy to his full strength, rather than working at cross purposes."

Amelia dips her head at the scolding, settling the rest of the bacon back on the basket. Its the reaction of any servant or commoner. Hands fold in the dark and she nods. "Jaremy should not have protected me in the first place. The law is the law, m'Lady. Lady Valda does not frighten me. She is weak and desperate. Desperation is easy to manipulate. I can handle that situation on my own, but as I said, it is resolved. I do not have any fear of it." It is probably very obvious that Amelia is not telling her something. And with a woman who gives up no secrets.. "We are working the same destination, Lady Anais. I regret any view otherwise. But my path does not bond me to setting the tone for a marriage or the rest of my life with him. One day this game will end and I will be gone. I have come to terms with that recently. I can act in many ways you cannot, though. Guide my hand, my Lady, and I shall do as you require, when required."

Anais sighs, her shoulders slumping somewhat. "I don't know, Amelia. At no point did my mother tell me what I ought to do in this situation." Once more she crouches before the other woman, reaching for her hand. "Thank you, Amelia. If for nothing else, I thank you for your good intentions. I…have to talk to Jaremy. We have to decide how to handle this. I am going to take you at your word that you are at peace with whatever must be done, because I think we both agree that the end result must be an improvement in Jaremy's image. Are we agreed?"

The whore shakes her head, holding her gaze down. "Our mothers prepared us as best they could for the lives we would have, m'Lady. But until we are here, it is all supposition. Nothing is clean and easy." She does not look up until her hand is taken. "I will take my beatings. I may cry. I may scream. But I know that it is for the family I serve, my Lady. If you seek an improvement to his image, I will help. I seek an improvement to the man. That new man may forge his own image." Heavy boots can be heard coming down the corridor, low voices talking. A new torchliht joins.

"Just give me a little warning next time, hmm?" Anais murmurs, summoning up a faint smile. "We should be working together." At the sound of boots, she sighs softly, giving the other woman's hand a squeeze. "And I'll see what I can do to at least speed things along. Honestly, this place is disgusting," she grimaces as she rises once more.

"I tend to think on my feet, my Lady. But I will do my best." She bows her head to Anais. The hand is squeezed and she shakes her head. "Please. I must be punished. If you wish to see me taken care of somehow, just stop in with a hello. It soars the spirit, my lovely Lady." The voices grow steadily closer until they are outside the cell and stop. They're speaking about Amelia, that much is clear. One of the men looks into the cell and the whore nods to him, her attention on what is now happening. The sworn guard looks to Anais and motions her out. "Lady Anais, it is time." Another pair of guards step in and move to Amelia, whose face suddenly turns to stone as her breath quickens. Time, indeed. One of the guards has a Cat O Nine Tails on his belt. She is to be flogged. "Young Lord Jaremy has requested she be punished for her actions. We are here to bring her for this punishment." They work at her ankle cuff and lift her to her feet. She's silent and looks more pale in the low light, but her jaw is set and head held a little higher. As she said, Amelia will endure this without protest.

Anais's brows rise as the men arrive, head tilting slightly to one side in thought. Yet there is some relief in her sigh, even as she reaches to give the other woman's shoulder a brief squeeze. "Of course," she nods to the guards, stepping aside to make space for them. There is a moment where uncertainty flickers across her features, hard to discern in the torchlight. "If you've no orders to the contrary," she continues as she moves to step out, chin rising and an arch note in her voice, "Please see her to my rooms when you're finished. We've not yet finished our…discussion, and I really can't abide the stench here." There's an implied threat in the words, and she doesn't really wait for an answer, simply ascending the stairs back to the light.