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Sites of Interest
Midnight in the Kitchens of Good and Evil
IC Date: Day 17 of Month 3, 158 AC.
RL Date: December 16, 2006.
Participants: Belissa Caron, Dagur Saltcliffe, called the Iron Serpent, Irena Marbrand, Jonn Lannister and Serion Uller.
Locations: Red Keep: Kitchens

Summary: Irena Marbrand's menu planning for a small gathering in the morrow is rudely interrupted; and yet, the mundane activity of midnight grazing continues despite confrontations, cold words, and hot-headed blows.

The kitchens of the Red Keep are always busy, although at this time of night they are not quiet as bustling as during the day, a fact which Irena Marbrand appears to be taken advantage of, as she talks to a women who much be nearly three times her size, even if she is not much taller. In Irena’s hands is a small wax tablet, which she glances at or writes notes upon as she talks to the cook.

A septa, who must be in charge of the young lady, sits perched on a nearby stool.

At this time of night, the kitchen’s business is taken up primarily by preparation: preparing the dough for the morning’s bread, preparing the garnish for the morning’s breakfast, preparing the fire for the morning’s food. In the kitchen, everything is forward-looking: always preparing.

It is appropriate, then, that the young man who slips in through the door in the northeastern wall is also forward-looking—or, at least, facing forward. He raises his head, sniffing lightly at the air, and with the gentle swishing of silken robes of Dornish make, turns his steps directly toward a patch of onions hanging from the beams.

But pauses in his steps at the sound of a noblewoman’s voice.

“I do not have any preference when it comes to type of fruit that will be in the tart, although I would much appreciate some custard with it,” Irena is more friendly in her tone as she discusses a menu with a cook than many other noblewomen would be, even if the conversation is rather onsided, with the cook nodding and providing answers only when asked direct questions. So engrossed she does not notice Serion entering the Kitchens, and neither does the septa, who in all honesty, looks rather bored.

“Tarts?”

It is a light tenor with a distinctly Dornish accent that asks—and one touched also with curiousity. Serion turns toward the lady and the cook, head cocking aside, but his eyes—rich, chocolate eyes—seem to stare beyond her.

“I don’t…smell tarts. At least, none with custard.”

Irena is startled and nearly jumps at the unexpected question. When her reply comes, after the moment it takes her to recover, it is polite, “I was discussing a menu for tomorrow, so no, there aren’t any tarts yet.”

“I should begin my preparations, Lady Irena,” says the cook before curtsying somewhat awkwardly because of her size. She seems suddenly very interested in making a hurried exit.

The septa on the other hand, goes directly from looking bored to glaring as she notices the Dornishman. It’s difficult to tell though, how much is for Serion, and how much is for her charge.

The cook’s hurried exit brings a dark smile to Serion’s thin lips, though he does not watch her go. And the Septa’s glare? It is lost on him.

“Ah. A shame. Tarts are so much more pleasant in the present. /Much/ more pleasant.”

A pause, and he brightens: “Is it to be a fine menu?”

“I cannot help but agree with at, especially after spending so much time talking about food. Supper seems to have happened much longer ago than I know it did.” Irena sounds rather amused, although she shakes her head at the question, “It’s not. I am sorely lacking in experience planning such things, so I felt it best to start with something small and relatively simple. The cooks probably would have be very displeased had I asked for something too impressive, as they are rather indulging me.”

The cook at least, goes right to her work, beginning with the dough for the tarts.

“Why do you do it, then?”

What is it? A few more steps carry Serion beneath the beam that holds the onions, and a long-fingered hand reaches up to pluck one down. He pauses there a moment, waiting…waiting…but no audible chastisment ensues, and so—he takes a bite.

“Plan a…a…menu, I mean—don’t you have people as do that for you?”

At this hour—nearing the night’s middle—the business of the kitchens has slowed, but not ceased: preparations for tomorrow continue. And they find Irena with a tablet in her hand speaking to the young Uller who hasn’t so much as the good grace to look ashamed for his pilfered snack.

Foiled! Snack pilfering is already underway! Belissa is still dressed and coifed, despite the hour, and the scrape of her shoe against the floor as she slides to a halt within the kitchen doorway may possibly betray her presence. The young Caron lady hesitates, poised between stepping in and retreating, but it’s the unrepentent growl from her stomach that decides her action and causes her to enter more fully into the room. Quick eyes pick out the Dorne, as well as the Lady, and she gives a slightly embarassed smile by way of greeting. “Sorry to interrupt.”

A faint look of confusion crosses Irena’s face before she begins to explain, “Someone could do it for me, yes, but how would I know if they were doing a good job or a bad job, if I’d never done it myself?”

The onion stealing itself gains no comment from the slight lady, although her question after he bites into it is cut short by Belissa’s arrival. A polite cursty seems almost a reflex, “No reason to apologize.”

Belissa has a grumpy, rotund Septa and two guards trudging doggedly behind her, though they trail her by a very short distance since she walks faster than the septa. Poor Septa.

“No apologies,” agrees Serion readily enough, turning toward Belissa as she makes them, and bending his lean form into a shallow bow. “All the better, perhaps—you can tell the pretty young lady whether her menu is too simple. Me? I couldn’t say properly.”

He pauses, thin lips twisting darkly. “I only ever eat the tarts.”

For a moment the spectre of a shape seems to appear at the entrance, but in a flash it has disappeared.

A polite cough, the sound of a boot stepping on the back of a chair—

And Jonn Lannister stands behind Irena’s septa, glowering down at her.

Belissa bobs a quick little curtsey in response, then turns a curious gaze towards Irena’s menu planning. “It would depend on the type of event she was planning, I would imagine. Some things stand up to a simpler menu better than others, after all.” She offers a smile. Her septa turns her resigned step to entering the kitchen, the guards having already placed themselves somewhere handy, but the cough turns the septa around in time to see Jonn towering over her. The round little woman curtsies her greetings and toddles out of the way to take a seat somewhere near Irena’s septa. Belissa’s head turns at the interaction, blue eyes not mistaking the mark of Lanister on Jonn’s form. She gives a polite curtsey to him, as well.

Septa Mayre goes from glaring to a look of a fear and she glances up to see who touched her hair and notices Ser Jonn. She’s on her feet faster than one would think possible and nearly falls down as she’s curtsies.

“Yes, if you had input, it would be appreciated. It’s only for some of the people who came to King’s Landing with me and myself, so simplicity I think, is more than…” The commotion caused by her septa draws her attention as her voice drifts off to silence.

If one alone in the kitchen’s growing crowd does not respond to the Lannister’s appearance, it is Serion. A bite of onion crunches in his mouth; the vegetable’s pungent aroma spreads, and a nearby scullery maid rubs a sooty finger under her eye to wipe away a tear.

And he? A look of wry bemusement writ across his features, his eyes remain focused somewhere beyond Belissa. “Is more than…?” he prompts Irena to continue.

“Once again,” Jonn says quietly, his glower diminishing not in the least as the Septa demonstrates proper courtesy, “you have put my young cousin’s welfare in jeopardy.”

“Unacceptable,” he pronounces with a ring of finality.

Belissa is saying, to Irena, “For a close gathering of friends and family, I would likely keep the menu simple with a couple of known favorites amongst the entree, but then one or two special things to be served with the dessert - things that could be lingered over with drinks and good conversation…,” but she trails off as she witnesses the confrontation between the Lannister and the other lady’s septa, her cheerful demeanor dampening somewhat.

“It would be more than appropriate.” Irena finishes her sentence absently, and nods in agreement with Belissa. It is very obvious her attention is elsewhere, especially after she curtsies and beings to move, more than a touch hesitantly, in the direction of Jonn and her septa.

The fear in the septa’s face slowly changes to anger, although her voice, when she gather her voice to speak, is icily polite, “I am sure you know unacceptable behavior when you see it, Ser Jonn, but am I to drag Irena from every conversation she participates in? She seems to enjoy speaking to unacceptable people.”

“Do my ears deceive me?”

Around a bite of onion, Serion’s words are less than grand—but their effect is not diminished, and he swallows. “Or do I hear a lion’s mewling?”

And still, he does not look toward the Lannister, but keeps his dark eyes—darker, in the kitchen’s light—hovering near Irena.

Any punishment Ser Jonn had in mind for the erstwhile septa is quickly ignored. Instead, he asks of her: “Will you be so kind as to run back to the Lannister Manse—” and as he says this, his eyes, like magnesium held up to an open flame, remain fixed on the Uller youth, “—and fetch my sword?”

Belissa’s fingers pluck absently at a string on her sleeve, more from the need to make some movement than because she’s nervous. She casts a brief look towards her septa, who definitely looks like she regrets this late night snack attack even more than she already did. The Caron guards aren’t looking all that particularly happy either, for that matter. Belissa remains quiet, unobtrusive - or as unobtrusive as one who isn’t particularly good at standing still can be. It doesn’t take an extensive knowledge of etiquette to know that this is not the most opportune moment for introductions.
The Lannister’s request is so unexpected that it takes the takes the Septa a moment to nod and hurry out of the kitchens, confusion is evident on the older woman’s features, but she’s deal with the order to the best of her abilities, despite her dislike of Ser Jonn.

“A sword… why?” Irena asks softly, as she edges farther away from her former partners in conversation and closer to her cousin.

“Don’t bother.” Serion turns finally toward Jonn, his silken robes catching the hearth’s light in their own bright gold—and past him, toward the door. After another bite of onion, he lets it roll from his fingers and drop with a crack to the floor. “My appetite is gone—something in the smell has turned my stomach.”

Timing, clearly, is everything. Liane steps into the kitchens just in time to hear Jonn’s mention of swords and see both him and Serion in the same room. “Isn’t a sword a bit much for cutting apples, Ser Jonn?” she asks with a forced smile as she enters. “Or peeling potatoes, for that matter?” A dark look is cast towards Serion, though she doesn’t lay into him yet. Yet.

Belissa takes a few steps back and to one side, not blocking anyone’s route either to or from the exit. Her gaze flickers around the kitchen, looking for a likely piece of fruit or some such. The Caron lady shifts her stance again, nothing really coming to the forefront of her notice. Though possibly, the looking around is likely just to give her an excuse to not stare at the brewing confrontation.

“...cook will serve me my innards for supper!”

The despairing wail rings suddenly in the kitchen as the heavy doors are pushed open again behind Liane; a rotund man in grease-stained clothes hops anxiously back through it, arms outstretched to block the path of a taller, black-clad man.

“It’s just a capon or six, man. She can have coin to buy twice that if she wants. Now, out of my way”—there is an edge of impatience to his voice. He steps around the shorter man, only to have him skip back and block his path again: “But…”

And before anything else can be said, the black-clad man simply grasps his arms, lifts him entirely, sets him aside and strides into the kitchen.

The Lannister takes several steps further into the kitchen, bringing him closer to Serion. “I wonder,” he begins, looking around at the assembled company—his eyes narrowing as he notices the arrival of the black-clad man—“at your ignorance, Uller.”

Another step and he whispers something.

Jonn whispers to Serion, “If not for me, more of your cousins would have perished.”

Once he has whispered thus, he steps past Serion, searching the kitchen for something.

Belissa gives a startled motion as the black-clad man makes his entrance into the already tense kitchen. Her gaze goes towards that door in time to see him lift the servant bodily and thus she misses the whispered exchange between Jonn and Serion.

With her septa now absent and her question unanswered Irena does not quiet seem to know what to do, especially when she notices the commotion by the entrance to the kitchens. She glances briefly in that direction before her gaze goes over Serion and Jonn once again.

Liane’s forced jests draw the younger Uller’s lips into a dark, forced smile of his own—but Ser Jonn’s wipe it clean. He cants his head, narrowing an eye fiercely…

“Don’t think I’m fool enough to believe you, Lannister.”

But the crowded kitchen has become small: he turns his feet toward the door and heads toward it with slow steps—directly toward the Ironman.

Liane’s eyes narrow on Jonn’s whispered words to her brother, distrustful, but seems willing enough to let Serion leave. Safer that way, after all. Until he steps into Dagur’s path. “Serion, wait,” she calls towards her brother, turning quickly to try to catch his sleeve and tug him away from the Ironman. A brief, apologetic look is cast towards Dagur even as she’s moving towards her brother, but nothing is said in explanation.

Belissa, at quite a loss, looks back towards Irena and offers up, quietly, “I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help with your menu planning. I hope that your dinner goes off well.” She tucks a few strands of hair, which have escaped her pins, behind her ear.

A hollow laugh escapes the Lannister as he finds an apple.

He tosses it into the air and catches it. “Believe what you will—” he begins, shrugging his shoulders once. His eyes come to rest on Dagur and he tenses, the apple squeezed by his hand.

Liane’s look, her brother’s approach, even Jonn’s presence—they all go unnoticed. For even as Dagur steps in, the rotund man catches his arm. And at that, the ironman stops and half-turns; gone is the mild impatience of a moment earlier. This is something else altogether.

“Leave off.”

That is all he says—but whatever the little man sees in his face, it is enough to make him hastily release his arm and stumble back.

Still looking at him, Dagur steps forward—and into Serion.

Wince, smirk, crunch—eyes, lips, apple.

With this reaction, Jonn turns away to look for something to go with the apple.

Whatever the little man sees—Serion does not. He pauses briefly at his sister’s words, turns his head toward her with a quizzical look, a cocked brow—

—and steps into the collision. A hand snakes out to clutch at the front of Dagur’s tunic, the other forms a fist to swing at his face.

“Damn you, Lannister!” he growls.

“I am sure it will be fine,” says Irena, although she cannot quiet keep her nervousness from her voice. She then adds, as she backs away further into the kitchen and away from the commotion at the door, “This was not on my list of possible problems though.”

“Serion!” Liane tries to snatch at her brother’s swinging arm before it can reach Dagur, trying to lock elbows with the one arm as her hand at his back tries to jerk him back away, not noticing that Serion actually has hold of Dagur. This…could get awkward. “That’s not Jonn Lannister!”

Septa Damiane is on her feet faster than one might expect from a woman her size and is hurrying across the room towards her charge, Belissa. The Caron guards likewise move to be nearer to the Caron lady. Belissa’s exclamation, “Oh dear—” is barely out, likely lost amidst the louder commotion.

Even as he slams into the Dornishman, the Iron Serpent begins to turn—and then the fist comes flying at his face and it becomes clear why he is named as he is.

Swift as is his namesake he jerks aside, off-balance though he is; even so, the blow scrapes past his jaw hard enough to snap his head to one side.

He steadies himself then, the front of his tunic bunched in Serion’s fist, a thin smear of blood at the side of his mouth.

He looks down at the youth’s hand—and then, again: “Leave off.”

Whatever the little man saw, Liane and her brother are given a glimpse now—hard, hard eyes that promise steel and blood.

Serion’s fist is already in full swing when Liane reaches for it—already in motion, it stays in motion, and he does not pull the punch. Only after it collides with the Ironman’s jaw does he let go the tunic and stagger back a pace, a second—hopefully, into his sister’s waiting, balancing hand.

“It’s not?” he asks, brow furrowing—and the voice confirms. His breath comes short and ragged in his gaunt chest, and he grunt. “Oh. It’s not. My…apologies, ser—most sincere.” Indeed. They /almost/ sound it.

In the meanwhile, Jonn Lannister has crouched before an open pantry, grunting as he rummages through.

“No,” he says, tossing an empty clay jar behind him. It crashes to the floor. “I hope they don’t expect us to eat this,” he says, tossing out a rotting leg of lamb.

“Ah,” he says, little more than a triumphal exhalation, clutching something in his hand. He stands, turns, and stares at the scene with mouth open.

“We are so sorry, Ser Dagur,” Liane says wearily, looking harried as she continues to pull her brother back a few steps even after the punch is thrown. “I-” She starts, then stops, dragging her free hand through her hair. “Serion, it’s time for you to go back to the tower,” she finally growls to her brother, trying to direct him towards the door with a very firm touch. There will be time for patching things up later. Hopefully. For now, it’s just time to remove the danger.

There is no reply to either apology from the ironman and the set of his lean features does not soften. Instead, he steps after Liane even as she pulls her brother away and a hand shoots out at the Dornishman’s face…

...for the the sword-callused fingers to take him none too gently by the jaw and turn his face to the light.

Irena stops backing away when she gets what she feels to be a safe distance from the group at the door, which actually is about as far as she can go, seeing as there is a wall behind her. After a moment of pause and thought she edges along the wall in the direction of the pantry Ser Jonn was raiding. When she says something very quietly, hoping her voice doesn’t carry. “... is ... it? ... ... at all?”

Belissa pulls in a breath an holds it, pressing a closed fist against her lips. She edges back, herself, but her goal is a place where she won’t get hit by debris from Jonn /or/ get caught up in the mess at the door. Her guards are increasingly unhappy that the only way out is blocked by the confrontation.

Jonn’s eyes sweep to his cousin now, “I told them—” he juts his chin toward Liane and Serion, “—that the boy needed to still his tongue.”

He shrugs helplessly. “But when does anyone ever listen to me?”

“I was on my way back,” Serion bites off the words to his sister, short and sharp. With clenched jaw he jerks away to escape her grasp and—perhaps—regain something of his dignity along with his balance.

And that’s all he has obtained when a hand brushes his chin. A desert snake’s reflexes jerk it away, but the Serpent’s strength is greater: he does not struggle, merely fumes as the knight jerks his chin about, and his face up to the light.

“Ser Dagur, please.” Liane’s voice is strained, pleading mingling with a snap of demand in her tone as she moves to step as much between the two as she can with Dagur’s hand at her brother’s jaw. She reaches a hand towards the Ironman’s wrist, a feather light touch as she tries to catch his gaze. “He’s leaving. He meant no harm to you. Please.”

For a long moment, the Iron Serpent ignores Liane’s entreaty; he stares at her brother’s eyes, his fingers gripping hard enough to sink deep into the flesh.

And then he grunts and steps away, releasing Serion. With a brief glance at her and without another word said, he turns away—and his gaze falls on Jonn.

“Lannister,” he echoes the Dornishman’s accusal with a sardonic twist to his mouth. He wipes his bloodied lips with a thumb: “I do believe I have been insulted.”

“Not nearly often enough,” Irena seems to about to say something else, but the change of Dagur’s attention from Serion to the cousin she stands near Irena fails silent and stands very still.

Silent, seething still, the Dornish youth lifts a hand to his jaw the moment the Ironman releases it—then lets it drop. He reaches out instead for his sister’s shoulder and, for once, he says nothing.

He needs not. A dark smirk speaks for him.

“Thank you,” Liane whispers quietly when Dagur looks to her, though she wastes no time now, slipping an arm around Serion’s waist and leading him quickly out of the kitchens before he can get in any more trouble.

The Lannister laughs, seeming genuinely amused. He takes a bite from his new find.

He wipes the juice from his lips in a mockery of Dagur’s own gesture. “Then kill him,” he says at last, looking with a lazy eye to Liane and Serion. “I can’t abide someone who thinks you’re me.”

Belissa’s gaze turns towards Jonn as the Ironman says the name ‘Lannister.’ The quips don’t seem to be getting any less tense either. She gives Irena an apologetic look and begins to edge her way towards the exit, septa and guards more than happy to encourage that movement.

Serion resists his sister’s efforts to expel him from the kitchen—for a moment, at least, with a tightening grip on her shoulder. “A moment,” he whispers. “Then we’ll go—I swear it.”

Stepping to the table, the ironman roots around in the baskets of provender kept there, “What, and have good King Daeron be forsworn? I’ll bear an insult of two for his sake.”

He emerges with a brace of capons—and a wineskin which he tosses to the Lannister: “Suckle on that. It’ll keep you from insulting the other half of King’s Landing.”

The rotund man has given up all attempts to restrain him, but he winces as the ironman rescues a third capon and then a fourth. That seems to be enough for he rolls them up in a cloth.

“In a moment you’re likely to do something so stupid you won’t be /able/ to go,” Liane snaps at her brother in a low voice, her arm tightening around his waist. “We’re leaving /now/.” She starts to push, just a little, but it’s clear that she’s unwilling to let the incipient fight start with her trying to physically remove her brother from the kitchens.

A sigh. A frown. “Very well,” says the younger Uller, and with his sister—his very insistant sister—leaves the kitchens.

Belissa’s escape is held up as she waits for enough room to open up at the exit for her (and two guards and her round septa) to slip out. Once the opening is there, however, she takes it.

Jonn catches the wineskin, removes the stopper, and inhales deeply.

With a gag and a cough, he tosses it behind him and over his shoulder.

“No thanks,” he says to Dagur, smiling, “I really can’t afford any more bastards this year.”

Staying still has kept Irena out of things so far, so she just remains where she is, although she does give the door a somewhat longing look.

“Not all the gold Lord Lannister shits…”

Tying the corners of the cloth, the ironman takes the bundle and steps away from the table. He pauses then, studying the golden-haired man; there is true curioisity in that appraisal: “A Lion of Casterly Rock and you sold it for wine and a wager.”

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