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Rhys watched Limosa and Syndra leave, his expression thoughtful, then turned back to Merivel. "I'll wager that child has seen trauma in her life. I'll fetch a raven to take with you on your journey."

Merivel nodded. "There is a story there, to the girl." Merivel agreed. "A story that might haunt those who hear it."

"Let us go fetch the raven." Merivel added.

Rhys nodded, snagged a last hunk of bread, then rose from the table. He led Merivel out into the courtyard and to his uncle's tower.

They passed the Laughing Knives on the way, flying the Manderly colors. Rhys looked for Ser Corryn but did not see him.

Once in the tower, Rhys walked up the stairs to the workroom. From there, he pulled down a trap door in the ceiling and raucous caws and flappings greeted them. "Our rookery," he grinned at Merivel as he climbed the ladder attached to the door. "Come on up."

Merivel grasped the rung of the ladder and began climbing sure-footedly, smiling as the familiar sound of the birds became louder with every rung upwards.

Once both of them were safely inside, Merivel's eyes looked about the room, inspecting it. "Funny that I never thought to have you show this to me in the time I've been here." Merivel said with a smile. He walked over to one of the pent up ravens. "You, I recognize, my friend. You're one of Rhys' favorites." he said, gently extending a finger toward the bright-eyed bird.

The raven cawed at Merivel, looked him up and down, then hopped to his finger. He cawed again and nudged at Merivel's hand, obviously looking for a handout.

"That's Basil," Rhys said. "He's opportunistic. There's some corn over there..." Rhys pointed to a bag near Merivel as he looked around the rookery. His eye spied the cage he was seeking and he walked toward it. "I'm going to send Sage with you, for he's the fastest raven here. If there are no problems along the way you can just send him back when you get to Clearwater."

Rhys inspected the cage as he talked, then helped a raven into it.

"I'll send Sage back with a message that I arrived safely regardless." Merivel agreed, moving toward the bag with an easy air and taking out a handful of the corn to offer it to Basil. "Hey now, greedy, you're going to get it." he gently admonished Basil as Basil took it almost too handily from Merivel's grasp. With the corn soon taken, he turned back to Rhys and the cage.

"Good fortune that our bad feelings about this are all for naught. That is what I truly need. And..." he regarded Rhys and smiled. "the hopes that your own troubles will soon resolve, so that my journey back to Clearwater will be untroubled by your fate."

"I'm afraid in some ways they're just beginning," Rhys replied softly. Then he forced a smile back. "Come on. I'll bring Sage to the courtyard for you."

Rhys tossed Merivel the birdseed before descending back down the ladder to the workroom, the birdcage in hand.

After a last look around the rookery, Merivel headed down behind Rhys.

Before exiting the tower, Rhys slipped inside the room where he and Merivel first talked. He fished through the cabinet there, pushing aside a bottle or two until he found the one he wanted, then pulled out a brownish bottle and handed it to Merivel.

"Dornish summer wine, from my cousin Hex," Rhys explained. "You hesitated to drink last night while we talked--not sure why but perhaps having to do with your Dreaming?--so I'm sending a bottle back with you to imbibe at your leisure. Strong, heady stuff it is, like bottled sunshine. I hope you enjoy it."

"In all truth, my friend, I was trying to avoid overindulgence." Merivel explained with a smile. "A hazard of our profession. But I thank you for the gift."

"A wise precaution," Rhys agreed.

He led Merivel out of the tower and back into the sunshine of the courtyard. "You have last minute preparations to make, so I'll take my leave of you now," Rhys said, handing Merivel Sage's cage. "Good journey, and may it be a safe one as well."

And in the courtyard they saw the tableau.

Ser Anders, with Ser Kenrith at his side, was watching as Eryk Bolton spoke with a dark haired youth who bore a passing resemblance to him. Rhys recognised him as the leader of the sellswords from the previous night - Evan Tamm. Ser Herys was watching at a distance frowning at the sight of Kenrith. An armed escort of four surrounded Evan Tamm and Eryk Bolton.

Ser Anders looked up, nodded a greeting, and beckoned Merivel across.

Merivel hesitated a moment, nodded to Rhys, and crossed toward Ser Anders.

Kenrith turned and delivered a nodding almost-a-bow to Merivel. He was still watching the Eryk/Evan confrontation out of one eye.

Ser Anders was dividing his attention too, it seemed, between Evan and Eryk, and Merivel.

Merivel for his part resisted with obvious restraint the urge to turn to see the confrontation, keeping his attention on the men before him.

"I must see to the hall, Maester, but good day to you. My thanks for your help in caring with my father. Two additional Hardy men have been added. My appologies for any delay this may cause," Kenrith said before sketching a bow.

"You have my thanks in this matter." Merivel replied with a smile, and turned toward Ser Anders.

Kenrith headed off in the direction of the great hall to make sure it was ready for the trial... and what might follow.

"And now it is time to go at last." Merivel said with a heavy sigh to Ser Anders, dangling the cage with the raven gently from his hand.

"Indeed," said Ser Anders. "And now I think we are ready to proceed. Maester Merivel, will you accompany me to the guardhouse? I must see our prisoner safely bestowed before I detail your escort to Clearwater."

He smiled pleasantly. "How many accompanied you from Clearwater? I cannot quite recall ... "

He gestured to the escort; one of the guards moved closer to Evan and gave a nod. "Move on, lad. That door near the gate - that's where we're headed."

Ser Anders watched as the guards escorted Evan within but - as yet - made no move to follow; he seemed to be waiting for Merivel.

Page last modified on May 13, 2006, at 11:09 AM