An Incident At Clearwater
Breakfast at Clearwater was usually a decorous meal. Many people had been hard at work for several hours before they broke their fast, but the meal itself was a chance to gather and plan out the rest of the day. When no visitors came - and visitors of rank rarely came to Clearwater - the Lord would be joined at the High Table by his Steward, his Master of Arms (and his daughter) and the sellsword Niko who - for some reason - had captured the fickle fascination of the Lord's delicate son, Ranulf - a skinny, under-sized boy of eight.
This morning he had joined them at the High Table, and was questioning Niko in his high, rather querulous voice.
"So do each of those bells in your hair mean a man you have killed? Or when you kill a man do you take all =his= bells too? So that if you kill a man who's killed twenty men, you get to wear twenty-one bells all at once?"
There was a disturbance at the doorway, and Septa Aloise hurried in, ringing her hands.
"My Lord you must come at once. Master ... Steward ... you must =all= come at once. Oh, that the Maester was here!"
For Merivel was still at Holdfast.
"Aerin," said Ser Tomas, "stay here with Ranulf."
And he rose to follow his Lord and the Septa.
Derron, somewhat wary but usually direct, said as he rose and followed, "What is the matter? And where are we going?" He carried the remains of his bread in one hand, trying to finish it as they strode hastily through the manor.
Aerin sat back in her chair, resigned to watching the lord's son while the other went to see what the emergency was.
With an almost apologetic look to the young lord, Niko responded, "I'll answer you later," as he followed the others. He wasn't really sure if he would be needed- he hoped he wouldn't. But better safe than sorry, he thought as he left.