THE St. Louis Speakeasy
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Hey kid.
 Post subject: Re: Lion Rampant
PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:17 am GMT 
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Location: Probably a lab. Wishing I was in bed.
Custom Title: Hey kid.
A kiss, a pledge, a ring so worn its crest was a shadow of what it once was.

In the wake of the somber splendour, servants - their backs bent over brooms - swept up all traces of leftover finery. Hairs from fur and long, oiled tresses mixed with dust still damp from perfume in little funeral pyres. Every trace of the ceremony melted away. All, of course, but the man at its centre.

Even then, his presence had barely more weight than a ghost's. Neither the Wall, nor this merchant's house would move for Johann Stark. Perhaps more hands found their way to hilts in his shadow - but even then. They were a sea and a decade away from the bloody legend that had brought him here. Braavos had its own myths and spectres to entertain them.

His room was situated in the corridor adjacent to the Prince's, and opposite the one held by the Jetherys' wary guard. Not that this seemed to encourage any relationship, bar a cursory nod in the mornings.

The schedule was set, like a well oiled clock. At which the centre was Kathmar Falmari, who held a sedentary and powerful position at the centre of the many-layered halls. Rather than move himself, his officers and advisers constantly eddied and pooled around him like one of his own laden caravans.

The clock's lesser hand was the Prince. He would rise early at the Maester's behest. Every morning, with a cup of untouched sweet tea, we would sit before an old woman with fingers as gnarled as tree twigs to endure powder and paste, and silk woven so tight into his hair he'd miss his breaths when she adjusted them. Dull-eyed with morning sleepiness, the Maester, his guard- and now Stark would watch, without being spoken to, without even being acknowledged. Then, he would unsteadily rise and make his way to Falmari's chambers. Breakfast too was an observed affair; the man eating, spooling honey onto flat cakes and popping fruit after fruit into his plump mouth. Sitting by his side, the boy would stare listlessly at his plate. Occasionally he would offer vague answers when direct questions were put to him. It happened rarely. The same courtesy was never extended to Johann.

Then came his education. He was a poor scholar. Restless and inattentive, the heir to Westeros spent most of his ink doodling, most of his words reshaping same curt offering of - I don't know. Rather than look at his books, he'd prefer to stare out of the window at the strip of blue silk sea. He mangled the names of Westerosi houses, spearing their words with a sharp, black sense of humour. Some days the muscles in his hands and arms would twitch and flicker; his fingers become foreign, tremulous things that refused to obey command and couldn't hold a quill. If it alarmed Johann, the effect had long since been lost on the other two men. The boy himself would simply look on at his mutinous limbs with a sort of dead-eyed mirth as they twitched and spasmed.

Sometimes towards the start of the morning some theorem, or problem, or snippet of history would set a flicker of curiosity in his eyes. Maester unheeded he would bend closer to it, eyes narrowed and face so close he was almost kissing the paper. For a few minutes he would struggle, mouth moving to give voice to his thoughts, hands feverishly writing out the answer or some thoughts and then-- Then-- the pen would stutter, his stream of thought interrupted and, eyes wide, would seek some inspiration from the ceiling, the backs of his hands. Then, accidentally he might meet a set of eyes- the Maester's, the guard's, Johann's- and with a curse fling down the pen and send his chair clattering to the floor.

"I've had enough."

Once the words were uttered, no measure of sweet, flattering words from the Maester could lure him back. As the Prince stalked back to his bedroom, Johann would be able to catch that rare glimpse of the Maester's resignation, and the faint roll of disgust in the eyes of his guard.

Those brief moments of eye contact were the only contact Stark and the boy he was sworn to shared.

If the days were long and monotonous, so too were the nights. It was on his second that Han would first hear the footsteps; stumbling and hurried. As he opened the door to his room he would be met with the sight of the Prince's blue-eyed guard, already leaning outside his own and watching. He stayed Johann with an idle hand, and remarked, bored - 'You'll get used to it.'

In the dim light came a glimpse of the phantom; pale, one hand clapped to his mouth and the other to his stomach. Only for a moment; and then he disappeared in the direction of the latrine. Four, five times between sunset and sunrise. Then, in the morning at the chime of first light, an old woman's gnarled fingers would powder away the dark circles and little traces of blood around his mouth. The Maester's crooked hand would rest over his own, and the rheumatic little eyes grow wet with pity and quiet desperation. And then his master would rise and make the long walk to the breakfast he never ate, trailing the three men like footprints in the sand.

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