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Toward the end of the Holdfast supper, Rhys asked Merivel if he would like to see the far-eyes (OOC: their term for telescope) his great-uncle built, and extended the invitation to stargaze to the others at the table.

Godwyn looked to the others to see if they were going.

Syndra met Godwyn's glance and nodded, her eyes sparkling with what seemed to Godwyn to be an unusual interest in celetial matters.

Rhys led them up the winding stairs in the Maester's Tower to the very top where his great-uncle kept his workroom, accessible only by a trapdoor in the floor. The room was open, with circular stone walls and a wooden floor. Windows were spaced evenly all around, all with heavy shutters closed against the cold night air.

Near one window was a curious device, circles of glass arranged at irregular intervals in a framework of delicate wrought iron that presented the form of a large open cylinder. The Hardys knew this contraption as the far-eyes, though perhaps Edlyn had not seen through it yet.

Most of the room was occupied by a desk and several long tables, two of which were covered with charts. Two more of the long tables held an assortment of glasswork - beakers and alembics and curious devices of copper. On one of the glasswork tables it appeared a second far-eyes was being built, akin to the one by the window.

Against the wall a curving bookcase held more than twenty books - some of which were in the style of one which was open by the charts, its pages half-filled with small, neat handwriting. Near the bookcase were open shelves containing a vast variety of phials and small wooden boxes. Pinned to the top of the shelves were drying herbs.

Rhys walked over to the window near the glass and wrought-iron device and pulled open the shutter. "This window faces due south, so a multitude of interesting astrological phenomena are visible from here. The moon should be up soon, and that's quite impressive to see through the far-eyes."

He turned and regarded the others. "Who can tell me what constellations are visible this time of year? Merivel, you're excused from answering," he smiled.

"Ohh," said Godwyn, "The Ice Dragon is always visible. It is the most important constellation as well, as the Dragon's eye always points the way North and its tail always points South."

"That's right. Very good," Rhys replied to Godwyn, slipping easily into a teaching-role. "Anyone else?"

"I think you can see the Shadowcat," Syndra said, gazing up at the sky to look for it.

Rhys moved closer to her and looked out the window over her shoulder. He pointed toward the west. "It's over there above the stables. It'll set in a few hours."

"You can never see my favourite at this time," said Edlyn sadly. "The Sword of the Dawn. And it''s just a single star, far, far to the south."

"I don't have that link...yet" Merivel replied to Rhys with a smile. "But this is a method of teaching and learning you've picked up from the Citadel, for I know that I have. Showing students that they do not come to a topic without some knowledge."

Rhys grinned at Merivel. "I picked it up from my great-uncle first."

He turned back to Edlyn thoughtfully. "From the Vale you can see the Sword of the Dawn far to the south? I wonder...I wonder if we could figure out how high a tower we'd need to build here at Holdfast so that you can see your star... We'd need to know the declension of the star at the Vale and the distance from the Vale to Holdfast...."

There's a pause, and then Rhys shrugs and smiles apologetically. "Sorry. Probably more of a problem than anyone other than perhaps Merivel would be interested in solving."

Edlyn had already rolled her eyes and murmured, "Sums!" to Godwyn. Anything that did not come with ready access to romance or social advancement seemed to her to be dull.

Godwyn grinned at her.

Merivel chuckled at this. "A tower high enough might not be built. I bet, Rhys, there are stars in Dorne, you can't see here, period. And vice versa?"

He glances over his should back out the window. "Ah, here she is...the moon is up now. Merivel, would you like to look at her through the far-eyes?"

Merivel grinned. "I thought that you'd never ask!" he said as he stepped toward the unfamiliar instrument.

Syndra stepped closer and watched Merivel with interest as he acclimated himself to the instrument. Maester Sewell had explained its use before, but Syndra had only half-listened. Something about this lesson, though, had piqued a sudden interest in learning.

Edlyn watched this from a slight distance, her lips curving into a smile as she saw Syndra's new interest in the stars ...

Then she turned away and began to study the contents of Maester Sewell's herb and potions shelves.

Rhys spent a few moments explaining to Merivel the theory behind the instrument and how to use it, going into a level of detail that the Hardy children would likely find tedious.

Merivel listened to Rhys' explanations of the theory and its use, turning and giving a smile to Syndra after taking a few tries. Tedious or not, Syndra was quite interested in Rhys's explanations, and leaned in to see more closely.

"Perhaps you would like to try?" Merivel asked Syndra, his eyes bright from the recent view of the moon with the glass.

"If you're finished," Syndra replied politely. She advanced to the telescope, brushed her long hair back behind her ear, and looked into the glass as she had seen Merivel do. "Wow," she breathed. "That's really the moon?"

"Amazing, isn't it?" Rhys said, warming up to the subject. "It's its own little world, round like ours, though it appears devoid of life. Why is it there? Why does it circle our own, rather than have its own agenda? What caused the pock-marks on its surface? Are the dark blotches water, like lakes? So many questions, so few answers."

Edlyn was more absorbed in the potions already, but willing to seek instruction - of a kind.

"Which ones are the poisons?" she said in a low undertone to Godwyn.

"Uhhh..." Godwun looked at her with a startled expression. "Best to assume that all are, if you don't know what they do," he said.

"Do either of you want to look through the far-eyes while you're here?" Rhys asked, raising his voice to carry across the room to Godwyn and Edlyn.

"Uh-huh," Godwyn said gratefully, taking the opportunity to stop the uncomfortable thoughts of Edlyn becoming knowledgeable about poisons. He walked over to the far-eyes and peered at it suspiciously. "I just look through this end, right?"

Rhys laughed. " can adjust the focus here..."

Syndra moved to make room for him. She stood next to Rhys as he instructed Godwyn and gazed idly up at the stars out the window.

Edlyn drifted after him across the room, and, as he busied himself with the far-eyes, she directed a warm smile at Merivel.

"The Belmores are an honoured family in the Vale," she said. "You must miss being among them."

Merivel turned from watching Syndra and Godwyn's experimentation with Rhys' wondrous device and smiled to Edlyn.

"I do miss my home, my family and the Vale itself." Merivel agreed. "Its not just the cold up here, I am far away from nearly everyone I know. There aren't any more people of the Vale besides yourself and I, I think, this far north, save maybe at the Wall."

Rhys looked at Merivel sympathetically.

"I know," agreed Edlyn. "And this is summer still ... I dread to think what winter will be like." She gave a little shiver and adjusted the shawl that she was wearing around her shoulders against the chill of the night air.

"That doesn't look like the moon," Godwyn said critically. "It has bumps all over it. The moon is smooth." He took his eye away from the far-eyes and pointed at the moon. "See?" he said triumphantly.

Rhys turned from Merivel and Edlyn back to Godwyn. "And don't the mountains looks smooth from a distance, too? You can't see all the dips and bumps and rocks and crannies until you get much closer. In fact, the closer you get, the more detail you see. The far-eyes just helps up get a little closer than we were."

Syndra turned back from her study of the stars. "So... are the rest of the stars like the moon, only farther away?" she asked Rhys.

"They're all mountains floating over our heads?" Godwyn asked skeptically. "What keeps them up there, then?"

Rhys smiled at Syndra and Godwyn and referred the question to Merivel. "Would you like to answer?"

"One question at a time." Merivel chuckled after a moment. "Even we of the Citadel do not know everything. The glass here, for example," he gestured toward Rhys instrument, "is perhaps unique in the Seven Kingdoms, for I have never heard of its like."

"To the first question." he looked at Syndra. "Perhaps, with an even better glass, Rhys will be able to answer your question. Certainly, without it, the Moon seems a pale, flat ball. The stars, further away, may be like the Moon, only smaller and harder to see. A berry held up close looks like a berry. A berry held several yards away looks like a small pinprick. Perhaps it is too, with the stars."

Syndra listened attentively to his explanation, then smiled a bit smugly when he confirmed that she was correct.

"As for what holds them up there in the first place...I don't think that any man knows the answer to that." Merivel admitted, blushing slightly. "It's a mystery. Things fall to the ground, and yet they do not fall to earth"

Godwyn gazed back up at the moon in the sky uneasily, as if wondering whether the mysterious force holding is up might suddenly cease to do so.

"You've never seen a glass like this?" Syndra asked Merivel, surprised. "Why, I've watched Maester Sewell and Rhys grind glasses for this thing since I was little. I thought every maester had one." She looked up at Rhys with renewed admiration.

"No, really, it's Maester Sewell," Rhys explained, holding his hands up. "He told me that the lenscrafters of Myr are unsurpassed and it's from them that he got the idea for the far-eyes. He's very...inquisitive. And it's amazing how well he retains information. I swear the man knows something about everything."

"Has he thought about bringing a replica to the Citadel, Rhys?" Merivel asked his fellow Maester-in-training.

"There's one there now," Rhys replied, "and he's also trying to push through the creation of a link for glassworking."

"Let me see," said Edlyn suddenly, bending forward so that her face was close to Godwyn's and her soft breath warm upon his cheek. "I want to see too."

Syndra watched the two of them and smiled.

Rhys watched the two of them and raised an eyebrow.

"Sure, Edlyn," Rhys said. "Be careful not to touch the glass with your fingers..."

Godwyn flinched at Edlyn's sudden closeness, and stood abruptly, bumping the far-eye, which began to totter. He flailed at it with one hand, only succeeding in hastening its crash towards the stone floor.

Syndra let out a surprised gasp, but was not close enough to grab for it.

As the far-eyes toppled, Rhys made a grab for a leg but missed. He visibly winced as it hit the floor and both lenses cracked, the smaller one shattering.

Merivel looked on with a look of horror on his face, transfixed by the scene.

"Huh. Everyone be careful of the glass... Godwyn, there's a broom over there..." Rhys's tone was flat.

"Aye," Godwin said, an abashed expression on his face. He started to say something, then sighed and walked over to the broom, bringing it back and beginning to sweep, his cheeks red in the dim light.

Syndra found a stiff piece of parchment to use for a dustpan. She scooched down to help pick up the pieces of shattered glass.

"Here, let me do that," Rhys said to Syndra, taking the parchment from her and leading her hands out of the way. "The glass is deceptively sharp. I'd be upset if you accidently cut yourself." He smiled at her and squeezed a hand briefly before letting it go and attending to the larger pieces of glass. "There's a bucket over by the table there. Would you go get it so I can put the pieces into it?"

"I should get it," said Edlyn. "I'm sorry, Maester Rhys - it was my fault. I must have jogged Godwyn' arm when I bent down." She sounded suitably penitent as she looked at Rhys with wide, guileless blue eyes.

"It was an accident regardless," Rhys replied, finding his wry smile again. "And technically I'm still a Novice. Yes, please go get the bucket."

"I think stargazing is over for the evening," Rhys ventured as he picked up the far-eyes frame and handed it to Godwyn to get out of the way. He turned his attention back to separating out the larger pieces of glass into a pile.

Godwyn took the frame and stood there, holding it in one hand and the broom in the other. He shifted from foot to foot, looking penitent.

"Edlyn?" Merivel asked, turning to look at Edlyn and her movement, but remaining still where he was.

"Put it over here," said Edlyn, indicating a table near another of the windows.

As she moved towards it, she stiffened suddenly, as though she heard something.

"What is it, Edlyn," Syndra asked, eyeing her uneasily

"Edlyn?" Merivel asked, turning to look at Edlyn and her movement, but remaining still where he was.

"People in the courtyard," said Edlyn, moving closer to the shutters. "Horses ... guards." She gave a pretty little pout. "Perhaps Mother has come home again. What a joy."

Godwyn joined her at the window, staring out into the courtyard below.

Syndra dashed to the window as well, as was her habit when she heard activity in the courtyard.

And it was clear that a large party was arriving - the courtyard was beginning to fill with people and torches, and the heavy gates were being opened.

"Lord Hardy's pennant," said Edlyn. "He's coming home ... And Mother, I suppose."

The gates were open, and people were flocking around. Two carriages had drawn inside, and now there came another vehicle.

"A litter?" said Edlyn with a frown. "Has Mother been taken ill?"

But no, Lady Hardy was visible, mounted on a milk white mare, hergolden hair gleaming in the candle light. Ser Ander could be seen crossing the courtyard, and holding out his arms for his sister to dismount into them. Maester Sewell's tall figure could be seen moving towards them - Lady Hardy spoke to him briefly, and then he moved swiftly towards the litter.

"It's not my Mother," said Edlyn. "It's Lord Hardy."

"Uncle Oswain," Syndra breathed, her face paling. She turned and bolted down the stairs. She did not stop until she reached the Maester. Godwyn stood stock still, the blood draining from his face.

Rhys watched Syndra turn and run, noted her pale face, and rose from the floor to look out the window himself.

He turned back to Merivel. "Shall we go pay our respects?" he asked calmly, though there was a note of worry and concern present in his tone.

"We should." Merivel nodded. "It would be impolite not to do so." He regarded Rhys, noting the tone in his voice but not commenting overtly at it.

With a stiff bow to the two scholars Godwyn said, "Your pardon, but I must see to my father. My thanks for an interesting evening, and my deepest apologies for the accident."

Rhys nodded to Godwyn. "We'll follow you down. Edlyn, are you coming?"

He turned and walked down the stairs with a measured pace.

Rhys motioned for Merivel and Edlyn to precede him, then followed them, pulling the trapdoor shut behind him.

Categories: WinterChillsGameLogs, CastleHoldfast

Page last modified on February 19, 2006, at 03:02 PM