Checking the Bedcount
After talking to Merivel, Rhys decided to go check on Syndra to see if she was actually in bed and not sneaking around in the woods in the dead of night.
He knocked quietly on her bedroom door, then opened it up and checked inside.
There was a shape in the bed ... as Rhys advanced, the occupant sat up and blinked at him in the moonlight.
"Syndra?" said Edlyn. "Where have you be ... Rhys?"
The last word was almost a squeak, and Edlyn clutched the blankets to her.
Rhys straightened and stepped backwards back to the doorway. "Sorry, Edlyn...Syndra isn't here? She was having problems sleeping and I sent tea for her to drink and I was just checking to see she was all right."
Edlyn relaxed, but only a little. "There was some sort of drink here that smelled lemony," she said doubtfully. "But Syndra hadn't touched it. I was looking for Mama - and I couldn't find her, and then I was looking for Syndra and I couldn't find her. So I came to bed."
Her could see her face was worried. "What do you think has happened to her?"
"Shhh, I'm sure she's fine," he said soothingly. No sense in getting Edlyn worked up when there was probably nothing to worry about at all. The girl tended to be high-strung as it was. "I'll go look for her. You go back to sleep, all right? Sorry for waking you."
Rhys closed the door, muttered a Dornish expletive, then backtracked down the hallway toward Godwyn and Kenrith's room.
[This is well after midnight, would be my guess, maybe two in the morning? Godwyn or Kenrith, would either of you be in your bedroom?]
OOC: Godwyn is looking for Ser Anders.
Kenrith - up to him.
Do you cross the courtyard to get there?
In the darkness he became aware of someone standing in the shadows, close to the wall of the castle immediately above the dungeons.
Rhys paused, then headed in that direction, wondering if the figure was Syndra.
He heard a male voice speak quietly, and then saw, from slightly further away, Syndra emerging from the darkness as she walked towards him, hastily brushing dirt off her cloak. She was clearly trying to look as casual as possible.
Rhys hurried toward her. "Syndra...what're you doing out here?" he asked in a loud whisper. "What's going on?"
Syndra had already decided she couldn't lie to Rhys. He always saw through it. Omission would be the better path. After motioning to Mal to stay, she turned to Rhys. "It's gonna sound crazy," she began, "but I saw someone... out the window." She paused. It did sound crazy, now that she spoke it out loud. She continued almost apologetically. "A tall, slender woman... in a cape. She was pale and something about her... reminded me of... my mother." Syndra winced, aware of how strange this sounded.
Hallucinating? Rhys glanced around to give himself a few seconds to think, then his gaze came back to Syndra's face. "Tell me what happened. Everything since I last saw you. Please," he said, wanting to keep her talking. The more she talked, the better he could ascertain what this was, whether a hallucination or break with reality on her part due to the events of the day, or an actual vision, or something else entirely.
Syndra pulled her cloak tighter around her and nodded toward the door. She looked weary. "I'll tell you on the way in. It's getting chilly." She turned to the sellsword. "Mal, come in with us, please." To Rhys, she clarified, "As a witness."
Rhys glanced at the man curiously, pretty sure he'd ridden in with Kenrith earlier but not completely certain, wondering what he was doing out here in the dead of night himself. He started to ask, but Syndra preempted him.
She began walking toward the door at a leisurely pace so she could talk. "It probably wasn't anything more than a woman in a cape. I'm sure my mind was making more out of it than it was. I'll admit I've thought about Mama more than once today and I was dozing just before. Anyway, I felt like I had to follow her, so I came outside. She went out the postern gate. I followed as far as the foresters' cottages, but she had a head start. When she went into the woods, I didn't dare go any farther and came back. I was looking around the castle wall where I saw her, to see if I could see footprints or... I don't know... something to tell who she might have been."
"Did you find anything?" Rhys asked.
Syndra shook her head, discouraged. "No." She lowered her voice then in an attempt to make it difficult for Mal to hear. "But while I was over there, the sellsword tried to talk to me. He must've heard me rustling around outside the window. Mostly it was just the usual protests of innocence, but he said something that made me wonder about something else... and it's a question you might be able to answer." Rhys had heard Syndra's plotting voice before. This was it.
Rhys looked at her partly askance, wondering what he was about to get himself into and whether it would be a better idea to just turn away and go back to the tower. He was in enough trouble as it was, and that tone of Syndra's only promised more.
Then he smiled at her. He wasn't going to leave, and he knew it, damn whatever trouble he'd get himself into. He couldn't resist those eyes. "What's the question?"
"Does Maester Sewell keep records or journals of some sort about people he's treated over the years?" she asked hopefully.
"Of course. Such notes are very important. Why?"
Syndra looked relieved and frightened at the same time. She worried at her lip before answering his question. "I need to find a name. I need to know the name of the Bolton boy that... died here with the summer fever." Syndra paled. Rhys knew, having gone through it with her, that what she was asking was the equivalent of reopening the door to the worst nightmare of her life. But she pressed on. "It could be a key to voiding this marriage contract." She looked up at him, both fear and determination in her eyes.
Rhys blinked. "And you got this idea from talking to the sellsword? Syndra, I will gladly look through my uncle's notes for you, but you've got to tell me what's going on."
Syndra winced apologetically. "I can't yet. If the wrong name comes up, it won't make any difference and we can put it to rest. But if it's the right one..." she smiled up at him, "I promise I'll tell you everything."
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Rhys asked, concern in his voice. "Rehashing all those memories...and the day has been difficult enough for you..."
Syndra's eyes widened in surprise, and she blushed inexplicably. "Oh. I thought... I... that you weren't supposed to be with..." She smiled shyly and looked down to compose herself. When she looked back up, she was smiling. "I mean, I thought you might look it up and tell me in the morning. I wasn't thinking to go... um, up in the tower with you." The sparkle in her eyes, though, showed that she was pleased with the idea - except for those bloody restrictions.
Rhys grinned at Syndra, though whether at her blush or her stumbling words or the sparkle in her eyes afterwards wasn't certain. Perhaps all three. "You hand me a pretty riddle--and it's apparently connected somehow to one of the men in the murder I'm helping to investigate--and then you expect me to go to sleep before it's answered? Really, I thought you knew me better than that!"
Syndra giggled. "Yes, but I also promised you that I would go to bed like a good girl," she reminded him mischievously.
"Yes, your cup of tea was apparently untouched," Rhys chided her.
"No one ever brought it!" she defended herself. "At least not before I dozed off. Afterwards, I was in a bit of a hurry. But anyway, am I now to break that promise beyond repair by going to your tower with you? And who will chaperone?" Behind the teasing, he could hear the concern in that last question. She did not want him getting in more trouble on her account.
"Frankly, if we continue this tonight while people are still asleep we'll be able to talk and move freely. I could wait until tomorrow, but I'd have to send a note rather than see you, and then there'd be no convenient way to talk about the rest of this. And you did promise to explain this to me." He looked at her askance again, then nodded at their current escort. "We can keep him as chaperone, if he doesn't mind, since he's already here."
Syndra glanced back at Mal, following at a distance, and smiled, like an employer might to a dutiful employee just before assigning a more difficult task.
Rhys paused and lowered his voice. "Who is he, anyway?"
"Um, I don't know, exactly," she said softly, a little embarrassed about that fact. "His name is Mal and I think he arrived with Kenrith. He happened to be outside when I was looking around."
"And he just attached himself to you?"
Syndra shrugged. "There was no one else to talk to, I suppose. Then when you showed up, I kind of drafted him so you wouldn't get in trouble for talking to me alone," she said quietly. "I know nothing about him, so we should be careful what we say."
Rhys glanced back at Mal and smiled too at the man, then turned back to Syndra. "He'll do as a chaperone, I think, but I'm not comfortable leaving him alone with you. Shall we take him to my uncle's tower for a bit of late night investigation?"
Syndra grinned hugely, despite the bleariness in her eyes. She turned back to Mal. "Mal, we need you to come with us while we look into a matter regarding the murder. I am certain that Ser Godfrey will be appreciative when I tell him how faithfully you have served us this evening."
Mal nodded - although he did not seem too bothered about Ser Godfrey's opinion - perhaps because he currently looked to Ser Kenrith and - ultimately - to Riverrun.
She looked back to Rhys as they turned toward the maesters' tower. She couldn't seem to stop smiling. "Let us investigate," she said.
"Let's," Rhys agreed, and led the two of them back to the tower. He stuck to the shadows, even though most were asleep and the Hold quiet. Once inside the tower, Rhys continued on up the stairs to the workroom, indicating Syndra and Mal should follow.
The Tower was deserted; there was no sign that Sewell had been there since Rhys had left.
Once in the workroom, Rhys crossed over to his uncle's records and started looking for the name of the Bolton boy that died from the summer fever all those years ago.
Syndra, in the meantime, invited Mal to make himself comfortable and, with Rhys's permission, offered him a glass of wine. Once the chaperone was settled, Syndra joined Rhys at the books.
She stood at his side, too excited to sit. She studied the dusty old pages intently, catching whatever names and information she could skim before he turned each page.
The pages were hard to make out - not least because Sewell had an extremely crabbed hand.
It was also rather rapidly apparent that he wrote in a cypher of what - to Rhys - appeared to be his own devising. Perhaps not a cypher, but a special shorthand, suitable for rapid note taking. Such skills were taught at Oldtown, but Sewell's system seemed to utilise characters that were not a part of any system that Rhys was familiar with.
"What is that?" Syndra asked Rhys, confused. She squinted at the pages to try to make sense of the writing, but it was no use.
"A shorthand, I think, to help him write more quickly. They taught me such things at Oldtown. This, however, is not what they taught me at Oldtown. He's devised his own." Rhys smiled with fond affection for his uncle. Of course he devised his own. "I should get him to teach me what these extra characters are, but in the meantime we'll just have to ask him."