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A Quick Pop Into Town

(Continued from The Search: Derron and Merivel)

"Thank you, Binnder." Merivel said with a nod. "With things as they are, it would be a relief to Mariam and I both."

Soon the wagon was ready to go ...

Merivel nodded to the two men that Binnder had selected to travel with himself and Mariam, and he took a place beside her in the wagon as dust behind them left a trail to mark their passage from the Septa's house, toward the village.

"What precisely do you need?" Merivel asked. "I might do for restocking some of my own supplies, if possible. I've been practicing a fearsome amount of my art." his fingers reached for his chain to stroke the gold link. "as of late. And have been in need of it for my own account."

"Most herbs I gather rather than buy," said Mariam. "And it would be good to go to the edge of the marshes once we are there. I am sure I will show you some plants that are new to your ken ... at least in fresh form, though you may know the dried. But mostly we shall buy staples like flour and beer for my small stock will soon be exhausted.""I am relatively new to the North." Merivel agreed with a nod. "Most of my formative knowledge of herbology comes from the Vale, as well as from my time down South at the Citadel in Oldtown. So I may recognize the dried and preserved forms but I look forward to seeing the fresh ones and learning about their uses and specifics. The properties can change significantly from a fresh to a dried form. Much as plums and prunes, and grapes and raisins are different."

"Grapes I know," said Mariam, "and raisins too - and prunes are a useful purgative if the case is mild.. But let's draw up here - for this mede is own where I cull a few simples, and I'll show you some of the herbs I use most often, and we can draw comparisons."

"Agreed." Merivel said with a nod. He waited for the wagon to slow and looked at the men that Derron had sent with them. "We won't tarry too long. And you will keep watch, yes?" he enquired.

(OOC - you can describe that - and the next part of the journey, if you like)

With the guards in agreement, Merivel disembarked the cart with Mariam and headed into the mede with Mariam. They were soon deep in discussion on the minutae of the uses of Northern herbs.

"I've seen this one." Merivel said as they came across one of the plants that Mariam had come to point out. "Dried, dessicated, at the Citadel. We reconstitute it with boiling hot water to make a thin sort of broth. I've never seen it fresh."

"I learned that it was only viable when fresh." Mariam countered. "And it is immersed in water, hot and then cold, and a tincture made."

"I wonder." Merivel said. "a comparison of the effects, fresh and dried, might be made. Like I was saying on the cart..."

The discussion delved back into other herbs, as they continued to explore the mede.

It was an hour or so before they were ready to continue - and both had profiited from the other's learning.

With samples of herbs to replenish Mariam's stock, and herbs to add to Merivel's, they were back on the cart. Merivel started to resume the conversation about what they had shared, but a sidelong glance at a bored looking guard, and instead gave an apologetic look to Mariam.

The remainder of the trip, as the buildings of Marshend came within sight and slowly grew within vision, was instead remained quiet. The sound of hoofbeats and the squeak of wagon wheels were all the conversation that Mariam, Merivel and the guards needed for the remainder of the trip.

"Marshend at last." Merivel finally said, as they reached the village.

"And a guard on the road," said Mariam, pointing towards the improvised gate that blocked their way, tended by a couple in the livery of the Laughing Knives. "I mislike that."

"I've dealt with the Knives before. In Holdfast." Merivel said. "The fact that they are guarding the way into Marshend is not a good sign. It is fortunate we have some muscle of our own, if it comes to it. And that we have some rank to pull on them if they want to try and stop us."

Still, Merivel tensed as the gate approached.

The Knives, in fact, looked astonished to see Merivel.

"Maester Merivel?" said one. "Word in Holdfast was that you'd been killed by Wildings."

The astonishment, rather than possible hostility and wariness that Merivel expected out of the Laughing Knives caused the Maester to smile inside. After a moment, he nodded his head and let the inner smile show slightly.

"Reports of my death were somewhat exaggerated; however I did have a difficult and perilous journey in reaching here." Merivel admitted. "Were it not for some luck, those reports would be accurate."

"Still, I've made it here alive, thankfully, and I've been doing a little convalescing at the Septa's house and now we need some supplies. Especially before I proceed to leave on the last leg of my journey to Clearwater."

He paused and then added. "What occurs in Marshend that you stand athwart the road like this, good men?" Merivel asked.

"The village has been attacked - and many lawless men in these parts," explained the villager. "Master Hardy has brought these men to help us guard the ways. He and Gabriel will see all right between them."

"Master Hardy you say?" Merivel furrowed his eyebrows. "Would it not be more the buisness of the Lord of Clearwater? How did the Hardys come to be summoned here?" Merivel asked. He looked to the Septa for his next question and returned his gaze to the villagefolk.

"Do you know of this Gabriel?"

"He's the innkeep here," said Mariam. "A good man, and steady. Much to be relied on."

The village man nodded his affirmation.

"For all his inn has burnt down," he added cheerfully and then went on, at Mariam's exclamation of dismay, "Nay, Septa, he come rightabout again. The other inn lacks a keeper since we got rid of Barley Bill for dealing with the mercenaries. His beer was always sour anyway, while Gabriel brews beer sweet as a nut."

The Septa was looking rather shocked by all this news.

Merivel put a comforting hand on the Septa's shoulder and looked at the village man. "Even if Gabriel now keeps Bill's inn, it is a hard thing, without cheer or mirth, that a man lose his holdings. How did Gabriel's inn come to such a fiery end?"

"And still, I humbly ask," Merivel added. "why the Hardys, and not the Lord of Clearwater, have the business of seeing to order here?"

The Septa shook her head. "The Lords argue over who claims the town. And while they argue, both sides claim taxes ... and give precious little in return."

"Things are changing," said the villager. "There's a young Hardy here now - he's clearing the sellswords from the marshes."

Merivel gave a nod to the Septa and then looked at the villager. "Oh?" he said, looking alert and interested. "Which one?"

The villager shrugged, but the Knife beside him replied readily enough, "Master Godwyn. Ser Corryn left us in hos charge."

The Septa looked at the sellsword and then at Merivel, clearly concerned.

"I...see" Merivel said neutrally, keeping his emotions a mask. "Thank you for the information. It is good to know who is in charge, is it not?"

"Will you let us pass now into the village?" Merivel added, prompting.

"Certainly," said the villager - and he and the guard set to pulling their flimsy barricade out of the way. Mariam took advantage of the lull to lean forward and ask, in a low voice, "Do you know this Hardy? What is he like?"

Merivel held up a finger until the cart had passed the villagers, and the two of them were no longer within easy earshot, even given the lowered voices.

He spoke in the same low tones that Mariam used in short sentences

"Lord Oswain’s second son, by his first wife. Very good with a sword. Very protective of all things Hardy. Very much a Northerner."

"And it was clear to me that he very much dislikes the Boltons." Merivel added. "Godwyn is a dangerous man to anger, cross or earn the enmity of. I don't think,though, that I've done any of those. He might even be pleased to see, safely." Merivel added.

Now they could see more clearly the group gathered before the inn.

"Keary!" said Mariam. She sounded alarmed. "There must be trouble ... drive closer, please - and quickly!"

Merivel leaned forward to look at the group.

"Right." Merivel said at Mariam's urging.

Merivel urged the horses of the cart to pick up speed, to carry himself, Mariam and the guards toward the scene waiting for them at the front of the inn.

They drew up just as Keary was examining Josslyn ...

Page last modified on February 14, 2008, at 12:11 PM