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A Game Of Thrones : THE EXALTED COUNCIL - RP

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Artys Hunter
The Huntsman
Artys nodded, joining Joron and Daeron as they began to walk back to camp. Sensing an awkward atmosphere, Artys decided he should break it. Speaking up he decided the best way to do this would be to explain the backstory of one of the tales of Joron and his adventures.

"Your grace, did Joron ever explain any of the stories that he has of the time went spent adventuring?.
There are quite a few and to be honest most of them are pretty funny to hear"


Artys could see in Daeron's face the tiredness that came from ruling. It was a cruel burden but one borne of necessity. Artys tried to think of anything to help the young king. In his blunt manner, Artys decided on sharing some experience

"It is a massive change is it not your grace?, to find yourself responsible for so many.
Knowing that each decision is weighted and scrutinized for any possible advantage one can find.
I was a 3rd son, not meant to inherit unless by chance that my deeds as a knight saw me gain land.
To lose my brothers and fathers in such quick succession was not easy, taking the seat of Longbow Hall
was even harder. But by surrounding yourself with people you trust makes it easier. Look to your family your grace"


Someone would probably gasp at the familiar tone, but since they were in relative privacy Artys spoke honestly as he always did.

Mentions:
@Bradley3000 - Daeron
@Ferrohcious - Joron

 
Ser Joron Corbray
Kingsguard

In lieu of carrying his helmet for the entirety of the rest of the journey back, Joron took just a moment to return it to his head. This vaguely masked the light shaking of his head that came to meet Lord Hunter's breaking of the silence, and the bold, uninvited nature of his advice. Resting his hand absently upon the pommel of Lady Forlorn, the Kingsguard's thumb traveled over the ruby set and embedded in metal, feeling at it through leather glove in a quiet contemplation. Father and Warrior above, he would've rathered returning back to camp at only the King's side, and not accompanied by his once-friend, and once-...

Joron Corbray glanced past Daeron to where Artys walked, and then back ahead at the camp coming into view through the trees.

"Not only your family, Your Grace," he said, his tone softened with the sound of introspection. "My great-great-uncle stood vigil on the Kingsguard of Daeron Targaryen, second of his name, as I stand with you." As did Lord-Commander Royce, an honorable man that Corbray would be proud to stand aside for the rest of his days. This was not the first profession of his loyalty to the man this night, but it seemed to him it bore repeating should the shy, often uncertain King take Lord Hunter's words in the wrong direction. There were more than simply Princess Visenya that King Daeron could lean upon, and he wondered that Artys had forgotten that the rest of Daeron's family, aside the Arryns, sat on other sides of this war.

It seemed a thing that Artys Hunter would forget.

Artys had forgotten him easily enough.

@Bradley3000
@Nightblade

 
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Ryman Tully

Harrenhal

Each and every time Ryman visited Harren the Black’s castle he felt the power of the old Ironborn king persist despite the years between the two men. The castle of stone and painted black by the black dread, it dominated the landscape for miles, the walls large and intimidating. Ryman repeated constantly that Harrenhal’s walls were equal to Volantis’ legendary Black Walls, both in length and defensive capabilities. It was less of a castle and more of a mountain, with five great towers of eroding stone scraping the sky itself. Larger than most castles, Ryman knew each and every one of them by heart from his many visits to Harrenhal as a boy. The Tower of Ghosts was the most decrepit of Harrenhal’s chief structures, being out of use for decades before Ryman’s birth. It has been formally sealed off, though Lord Tully heard rumor that the castle’s hands often sneak in through the ruinous sept at the base of the castle, drinking and fornicating in the abandoned rooms and beds. The Tower of Dread was not half as worn as the Tower of Ghosts, yet only the bottom third was still in use, having no reason to expand the effort or coin and clean the rest of the tower. Of all the towers, Ryman disliked the Wailing Tower the most. It was a cold place where voices carried from unknown sources. Maester Karl had told Ryman that there were no spirits in the tower - or Harrenhal itself - but the constant sensation of being watched in the Wailing Tower disturbed Ryman enough to never set foot in it again. Beneath it, the cavernous halls that Harren’s men dug out hundreds of years ago housed grain and other agricultural yields. Ryman never traveled there, but heard tell that it expanded out beyond the castle. Harren could feed an army from the stores, Tully was told often enough.

Widow’s Tower, second greatest, had many of its rooms sealed off. This was especially the case on the upper levels, but as far as Ryman saw it, it was the second most occupied of the five chief towers. A bridge connected it to Kingspyre, where the lords of Harrenhal stayed. The tower itself had more room in its top half than all of Riverrun. Being the greatest in height, it was what most were drawn to upon first seeing the castle. The very top of it was in disarray, having collapsed in on itself when the dragons attacked. Despite that, Ryman knew that this tower was more than comfortable for any lord who called it home.


From his seat in Widow’s Tower, Ryman Tully could see the bridge several floors above. It had a thin, stone railing and was wide enough for two horses to race across it. The arched structure was long, Ryman couldn’t accurately say how far it was, but he assumed the length of a small street in King’s Landing. Hoare’s legacy was as great as the reminder that came with it. One must never be too proud to bend the knee. His children all died, as did his line, when Aegon the Conqueror came. A dumb man unable to see his own doom, or maybe he did and refused to accept it. If Tully disconnected himself from the close connection he had to Hoare and the Ironborn, his family being subservient to the islanders in the annals of history, Hoare was almost a tragic figure. His life spent to build the castle and when he finished a new king came and demanded fealty. Ryman wondered what he would do, if put in such a position. Would he yield? Could he and still expect to be lord of his islands? ‘Is that worth losing your children over though?’ No, Ryman was sure that it wasn’t. Not to any decent father.

Ryman’s attention went from the bridge and the other towers to the room he sat in. Cold stone and the chill of the air made Tully anxious to abandon Widow’s Tower. It was a wide hall with a singular table with dust settling on it. Six chairs flanked it at several points with candles hanging from the walls, though none were yet lit despite the Sun shrinking on the horizon. They had an hour and a half of Sun left, Ryman calculated, and here he was. Alone in the meeting room. Alone for the past three hours.

He honestly didn’t know if he should try to find a servant or one of his fellow lords. The tower was so wide, with so many floors he’d need to scale again in order to reach the ground floor, Tully didn’t know if he’d be energetic enough to discuss politics and strategy with the others. ‘They should be here.’ Ryman’s mood was growing poor. ‘Did they forget?’ This was the room Walder Whent took Ryman too whenever they needed to discuss important matters. It’s where the two chatted days ago, when Ryman first arrived with several thousand men at his back. So where was that Bat now? Where was Little Dick Piper or Jon Ryger? ‘I’ll give them till night falls, then I’ll make for my room.’ They’d be sternly reminded of what was the proper course when a Lord called on them on the next sunrise. His fingers tabbed on the wood restlessly, disturbing the dust that settled.

Ryman remained in the room for a further fifteen minutes, periodically rising and checking the hall, hoping to find his vassals approaching. He’d forgive them now if they only showed. Upon his final check, Ryman was heading for his chair at the head of the table when a voice, sweet as honey echoed through the halls."

“Uncle Ryman? Uncle?”

Turning on his heel, Ryman shot forth, throwing the door open and earning himself a loud thud as it struck the stone wall. “Berena?” Ryman responded.

“Uncle Ryman!” The voice was from beyond a turn in the hall. Seconds later, Berena Rivers smiled at him. She had lovely brown-red hair, as if she were always in Autumn. A tall woman with a definite features, Berena ran into her uncle’s arms and embraced him. Ryman didn’t hesitate to return the affection. “It’s been so long! I couldn’t find you when you first arrived.” Her breathing was erratic, the young woman having just climbed that imposing stairway up to find her uncle. “Speaking of-”

“You look fantastic.” Ryman smiled as they separated, Berena taking two steps backwards. “You’ve grown into a true beauty.” The bastard daughter of his late brother, Berena was just twenty now. An infant when Roger Tully died hunting, Ryman had raised her as his first daughter until she was eleven. Following Pia’s suggestion, Berena was sent to Harrenhal, where she would hopefully marry one of Walder’s servants. As of yet, no news of a marriage or child reached Ryman.

Blushing at the compliment, Berena nodded vigorously. “Lady Shirei and Lady Wylla are who I owe. They are kind to me.”

“Come, join me! I have. . Plenty of time, I think. We’ll find another handmaiden, get us some of that infamous river wine!” Ryman said, filled with enthusiasm now that he had someone here. It helped that it was Berena, the child he raised alongside Edmure.

A string of laughter slipped from Berena’s lips as she held her head, looking down at the cold floor instead of at her uncle. “Nuncle.” She started, her teeth flashing at the bearded man’s face. “Lord Whent sent me and others to find you. They’ve been waiting for hours.”

Ryman blinked past his surprise, his jaw opened before shutting tightly. “Hours? I’ve been here!” He pointed into the room. “Where has Lord Walder been?” His tone shifted from joyous to defensive, his posture went from numb to prepared. Berena’s words were punches rolling onto his body. ‘I couldn’t. .’

“The solar, Uncle.” Sensing the shift in her uncle, Berena’s words became sympathetic. “It’s the only room large enough and well supplied.” Ryman’s face remained stone. “I’m sorry Uncle Ryman, someone should’ve told you. It was an honest mistake.”

“The solar.” Ryman nodded, half heartedly. “Yes! Of course. . . The Solar.” His cheeks were redder than a lobster's tail. What a fool he’d been, an utter fool! “Lead the way Berena!” Ryman summoned forth as much energy he could. It would do him little good to be embarrassed of this blunder. “If they ask. .”

“I saw you instructing a group of young squires.” Berena finished, flashing a smile at her uncle. “You wield a sword quite well for an old man.”

“Old, am I?” Ryman growled playfully. Berena’s chestnut eyes widened as Ryman was upon her, pulling his arms around the girl and lifting her into the air as she shouted her protests.

“Stop!” She hollered through laughter.

Ryman grinned. He spun around, watching as Berena’s legs flew through the air like the chain on a morning star. Her laughter rose, the smile on her face wider than a castle’s gate. “Uncle!” She begged to be let down as she made her fourth rotation. As Ryman felt a pain in his back, he relented. One more turn and he pulled her back into a hug, dropping her as the world spun for both of them. Dizzy, Ryman palmed the wall for support. Berena held onto Ryman’s outstretched hand.

“Maybe I’m a little old.”

Berena didn’t respond, her laughter subsiding into occasional chuckles. Her cheeks flushed, the woman nodded twice. “You haven’t played dragon with me in years.”

“You’re big now.” He responded without much forethought.

“Big as you are old.” She shook the comment off.

A comfortable silence permeated Widow’s Tower, all life in it vanishing as niece and uncle smiled at one another. The off-key, shrill cries from the wind finally brought the two to conversation once more.


“We should be off, uncle.” Berena told him. “Lord Walder is waiting.”


“If you’d be kind enough, I’ve proven that this castle distorts my natural sense of direction.”

“Natural.” She replied with twisting lips.

“Natural.” Ryman reinforced.

“Hrmph.” She responded before motioning for Ryman to follow her. Obediently, he did. They trekked up four more flights before stopping closer to the top than Ryman would’ve liked. The air was colder, the stones were frigid. It felt like early winter here. Without wasting time, Berena took her uncle through the floor. More of the rooms were boarded up, some simply locked. Berena and Ryman chatted on idle matters, discussing how things were at Riverrun and the boys. She strayed from commenting on Pia or Meera, but was excited to hear that Edmure was a father now. As they navigated their current floor, a comfortable silence returned, both Lord and servant anxious at what awaited them. The bridge.

His earlier guesses on length were not entirely inaccurate, but he gave too little credit to the thralls that made this fortress. It was big enough to fit three horses and then leave them room on the edges and at least two hundred feet long. The architects were skilled, as the arching bridge lasted both time and dragon flames. When they approached it, Ryman wasn’t too confident in its integrity. The howling wind of some unseen beast hungered for his demise. As Berena began, cautious of the edges, Ryman had no other choice. He began, one foot in front of the other, and felt the air smack into him. They were so high! Impossibly so! Ryman struggled to move, but the beckoning voice from his niece urged him on. If a girl of only two and ten years could do this, surely a sophisticated lord like Ryman could as well? By the time they crossed to the opposite tower, Kingspyre, Ryman was sweating.

“A little. . . Frightening.” Ryman muttered. If Berena heard him, she made no comment back.

They continued for an additional ten minutes, climbing two more flights of stairs. Kingspyre and Widow’s Tower were different at the get-go. Kingspyre had tapestries on the walls, more lanterns hung on the walls with candles lit. Fewer rooms were closed off and the number of servants or guests was staggering. Considering the vast number of soldiers outside the tower, Ryman assumed it wasn’t common to have so many people around here. Likely commoners from Harrentower who were thoroughly inspected before leaving the castle, as to avoid anything being stolen. Ryman gave considerate smiles at them, in which most bowed their heads or curtseyed. They rose one more floor, the highest before one reached the lord’s bedroom. Beyond that, it was ruins. Ruins for floors, where rain collected and birds nested.

“We’re here.” Berena motioned to an imposing iron gate, what most castles would have at their walls Harrenhal sported so far into the tower. She opened the door for her uncle, stepping inside and coughing. “Lord Whent. Lords of the Riverlands.” Respectfully, she addressed them. “Lord Ryman Tully has arrived.”

The table was filled with lords and some famous knights, empty cups of wine in front of many of them on a dark wooden table. Embers flickered into the room from a fireplace on the far wall as shutters adorned the window, keeping the room a comfortable temperature. Ryman nodded, stepping in after his niece introduced him. “I apologize for my absence.” A less than believable excuse was on the verge of being uttered, but Ryman knew better. He gave another nod and stepped for an empty chair. Instead of at the head of the table, this one was on the left hand side of head. On the left of Walder Whent. Opposite of Ryman was Edmure sitting at Walder’s right.

“It’s a pleasure to have your company.” Walder Whent spoke sardonically. He was an older man, several years Ryman’s senior, with dark silver hair and the occasional blond follicle. In his youth, he was a dark blond, now he was a silver bat. Muscular, surprisingly, for a man his age, Walder stood slightly shorter than Ryman at six feet tall with blue eyes staring up at his lord. His face lacked a beard but was dotted with loose hairs. “We grew worried that you were ill. Under your sons instruction we discussed many matters. . It looks as if we may be done, under your approval Ryman.”

“Well, of course Walder.” Ryman gave his characteristic grin, mustache rising as his beard quivered with his chin.

Eyes of a winter's disposition were fixated on Lord Tully. “As it were Ryman.” His tone was flat. Soon after he spoke, the room fell into silence with only the smoldering logs and the northern winds heard. Walder’s expression was still for a moment more before Whent shifted to Ryman’s son. Parchment at Walder’s plate were handed off to the Tully heir. “Ser Edmure will recount the war council.” Walder’s face softened when he addressed Edmure, his cheeks rising in some queer smile as Edmure nodded at Lord Whent’s suggestion. Edmure looked to his father and gave a long stare, as if asking for permission.

The elder Tully waved his child on.

“My lords,” Edmure stood as he addressed them. “Our approximate military strength is sixteen thousand men, soon to be seventeen once Lord Darry’s host is combined with our own. Two thousand of these men are brave knights and another seven hundred are squires, all acting as mounted infantry.” Edmure fell into this minor role naturally, dictating to the lords as if he were born to do it. Beyond initial hesitation, Ryman’s son was comfortable as he spoke. “Beyond that, cavalry will consist of fifteen hundred men-at-arms from a multitude of houses.” A pause, Edmure squinted at the words written by Whent. Ryman was ready to stand and comment on the existing information, but Edmure recovered. “There are six hundred long-bowmen with twelve hundred skilled huntsmen and men-at-arms.” Tully chuckled. “We’ll have to get up close if we want to kill those North men.”


I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Barked Jon Ryger. A red hued man with a hairy face, Ryger was a man younger than Pia but looked beyond Lord Whent’s age. His body was big and his head bald. What he lacked physically Ryger made up with a sharp tongue and an inability to settle for anything but success.


Others japed with Jon but the room grew silent when Edmure’s hand rose. “The rest of our soldiers consist of castle trained men-at-arms and peasant levies, who now are being drilled by an assortment of our houses more prestigious guard. In approximate numbers, we have nine hundred mules and three hundred pack horses for our carts and siege engines.” A smile not dissimilar to Walder’s crossed Edmure’s face. “We have seven trebuchets and ten catapults. Ladders will not be manufactured until we reach Moat Cailin. And in terms of battering rams. .” Edmure looked to Walder. “Lord Whent would be the man to ask about our battering ram.”

Ram. Singular. ‘We have just one?’ That didn’t sound right. It wasn’t difficult to make, to Ryman’s knowledge, but why did they only have one prepared? The room turned to look at Whent. Walder sat back in his chair, a finger rubbing his lower lip as he sat in silence.

“Of course my boy.” Walder sat up, gripping his chalice of wine with enough strength to strangle a man. “We have Torrhen Stark.”

“Torrhen Stark?” Ryman muttered as he recalled the name. The King who Knelt. It was Lord Bryce Stark who ruled the North though, not a Torrhen Stark. Unless Karstark had turned traitor and was a proverbial battering ram via handing them Moat Cailin, Lord Tully didn’t grasp the meaning of the statement.

“Walder’s a mummer.” Little Dick Piper shook his head further down the table. “Very dramatic the first time around. Ya’ can just tell Lord Ryman so we can move on to the undecided matter. Or I can.” Little Dick threatened.

“It’s symbolic. It mustn’t be brought up without its due respect.” Whent retaliated.

“Fuck the due respect. It’s a fuckin’ ram.”

Wine to his lips, Walder disregarded Piper with a mere wave. Winter’s stare hit Ryman soon after. “Torrhen Stark is whatt name I bestowed onto our battering ram. In Harrenhal we had one last vestige of an older culture. A weirwood so big it dwarfed many in the North. Larys and Aenys have overseen its creation the day after Harrenhal’s tragic. . . Tragic. .”

“Murder.” Jon said plainly.

“Assassination.” Piper suggested.

Accident.” Walder found his tongue and finished his statement. “Carved down, melded with thick iron and the toughest lumber in my land, we’ve created a ram that will make the North kneel again.”

“Is it that big?” Tully questioned quizzically.

“Enormous. It will take thirty strong men to effectively wield it, but Torrhen will shatter any gate. Stone, wood or iron. After our campaign in the North, if the child-queen’s city stands, we’ll get a true opponent for Torrhen.”

“If.” Ryman said with a shrinking smile and wavering enthusiasm. “After what happened to Storm’s End, I doubt Jocelyn will resist our noble Regent.” No one took that castle. Of all the monstrous keeps in the Seven Kingdoms, Harrenhal included, only Storm’s End was hailed as the greatest fortress. The Rock was large and intimidating but it was not half as magnificent. Winterfell benefited from a hill, its key advantage, but it was a dwarf of a fortress compared to many others. No, what Baelor did was the impossible. And he did it all without losing a single man. Ryman thanked the gods he listened to Pia. Should he have backed Queen Elaena, the Riverlands would be in turmoil.

“Don’t assume Jocelyn Baratheon is a creature of great intelligence. Nothing but the edge of an axe half stuck in her powdered head will convince that woman to abandon her ambitions.” Coolly, Walder responded. “Please continue Edmure.”

“Our plan of action is to wait at Lord Frey’s keep for five days. Well rested and supplied, we’ll take to the North through the King’s Road. As dangerous as the road will be. . . As Lord Piper has repeated many times, it is the most sure fire route North. The hazards are well known and we’ll act accordingly with heightened night watches. The crannogman do not fight honorably, so our position will be to take villages hostage. Under the threat of ending them entirely, we will negotiate with Reed and the others.”

“A sound plan so far. .”

“Thank you Lord Tully.” Edmure muttered. “At Moat Cailin we will meet our toughest opponents. The Houses we expect to have rallied some form of defenses are the Manderly’s, the Dustin’s, the Stark’s and Hornwoods. Their numbers won’t be to their fullest, given the size of the North. I highly doubt they will expect us to arrive in force too. After taking Moat Cailin our plan is to reinforce the position for twenty days and then head East, to White Harbor. The city will be captured-”

“Or burned.” Jon Ryger interrupted with a dangerous glint in his eyes.

“As it may be, our intention is to pacify the North. Not to butcher.” Walder reminded Jon.

“They’d do no different to us, if we allowed’em. No mercy for the North men.”

“Excuse me, my lords.” Edmure’s eyes burrowed into Jon’s whiskered face. “Once we control White Harbor there will be no need to advance. Hopefully, by that point, either the West or our reinforcements will muster and join us. The North will be in shambles and stuck in lands too miserable to risk our lives over. Negotiations will be fast.”

“I approve.” Ryman stated. “It sounds brilliant.”

“Mired in flaws, is what I’d say.” Little Dick Piper responded to his good-brother. "If I had something to say." Piper's words were laced with malice. “We should defend our lands and do no more. They will break on the Twins and slink back North.”

“Ha!” Jon began to stand. “And what tales will bards sing of us? The men who dared not go North? Maybe those gallant River Lords, cowering in a castle. Nonsense! We march North.”

“Is that all you’re concerned with? Glory at what cost Ryger?”

Jon growled, his face contorting into a deep set scowl. “My concern is the same as yours. You’re too craven to speak up. It does not surprise me Little Dick-”

Richard.” Across the table, both men seemed ready to lunge at the other. “What am I concerned with? Your songs? Keep them.”

“Fool.” Ryger looked at either end of the table. “It is what comes after Baelor sits the Iron chair that concerns me. I intend to be remembered for my deeds. Remembered and rewarded.”

“Self serving wyrm!” Little Dick shouted.

“You tryin’ to earn a cut lip Richard?”

“I’d take that chin of yours before you pulled a blade. All three of them.” Snarled Little Dick.

Ryman could take no more of this. He stood, hands slamming on the table. “Enough!” His voice rose a pitch below screaming. “I will not have this in my presence!” His chest puffed out, his finger pointed at Ryger then Little Dick.

And they continued bickering.

“Better a man filled with swine than shite.”

“Better full of shite than a cuckhold.”

“Do not disobey my father.” Edmure shouted. His eyes were cold and heavy on both men as he looked down at them. “Your lord has commanded your silence and you do not give it. How can we expect to win a war when the two of you cannot cooperate, let alone listen?” Edmure’s ire was then directed at his uncle. “Lord Piper, your concerns are not illegitimate but our path has been decided. We march North. You must ensure the safety of our people by not speaking these doubts to the men.”

Ryman slowly sat down, his smile wide on his features. ‘A natural.’

“There is no glory to be had, Lord Ryger.” The new target fell into his seat, the wood creaking in protest as the large lord’s arse filled it. “Not for any single individual or even house. This is for the Riverlands. For our people as a whole. We will do what no one else has dared to. They will sing of us, but only if our intentions rise above selfish titles.”

“As you were.” Piper said, looking into the fireplace as the wood almost finished burning. Ryger was less eager to speak.

Ryman looked over at Walder Whent and expected to see the lord perturbed by the break down in the council. Instead, he wore a mummer’s grin. Wide, spreading his lips thin and whitening them in the center. Eyes were not set on either disobedient lord but on Edmure. Ryman frowned.

“The final matters of importance. . Who will be left to gather those who have not arrived? A relief force is needed in any event and we’re at half strength at the current.” No one immediately spoke up. Surely, many of them wanted to. They would travel the Riverlands in relative safety for the next month as the remainder of the nobles assembled before them. “Lord Whent.” Edmure’s back faced the rest of the crowd. “You have the people’s trust and respect in these lands. Would you be willing to lead this second army?”

The lord of Harrenhal did not spend his time being silent. Silence was reserved for those too slow to speak and think at the same time. “If Ryman is inclined to support your decision, I find it appealing.”

“I see no reason to reject it.” Ryman mumbled.

All at once, the room was full of noise. Lords and knights stood. “I will take this burden. Before you leave Moat Cailin we’ll be marching to see you. If the Vale has no intentions of stopping us, of course.” Lord Walder bowed his head to the others in his presence. “Rest easy my lords and ser’s. I will see you off on the morrow.”

Soon enough, the room was emptied of the nobility. The mess they made lingered. Spilled over cups, a plate with scraps littered on its surface. The fire’s death rattle sounded pitifully as the wood was consumed, leaving embers to cool. A twilight sky peaked in past the shutters, the day was at its end now and the only thing that was left for Ryman was to find Ryman III and write a letter back to Pia. No doubt she was worried sick about Ryman and he was the very same with her. Pia was always so irritable when he drifted from her company. ‘She is still an unwanted itch when I’m around.’ Ryman thought with a shallow smile. Their relationship wasn’t ideal, they argued plenty and held opposing opinions on all matters of importance and most of trivial thought. Yet, that is what Ryman loved about Pia. She was strong, determined and bull headed. Never would she bow down to Ryman simply because he was older or her husband, no. If she felt she was right she’d argue her case. Not that he was ever a forceful man. Ryman would admit he stirred the pot on occasion, listening to Pia complain or rant. He loved her voice. He loved hearing her so passionate.


Oh how he missed her already. Could Ryman even go an entire war parted from his wife? ‘I dare so I won’t.’


“Ser Edmure, Ryman.” Walder snapped Lord Tully from his thoughts. “Let’s talk further.” It wasn’t a question. A single look at Walder and Ryman understood that. Was the matter serious? Something so private that he could not share it in the presence of the other Riverland lords?"

“Of course. If there is ever anything you need to say to me Walder, I don’t want you to hesitate.”

“Is something the matter Lord Whent?”

Thin and crooked, Walder smiled and shook his head. “Certainly not.” As Walder stepped out of the room two servants entered, having stood outside for the duration of the meeting. One was Berena, who now wore no smile as she eyed cousin and uncle. Her attention was diverted to the duties of her station. Father and son left the room and moved throughout the castle, conversing with its lord on trivial matters. Ryman would attempt to discuss politics but found Walder’s replies to be short and without value. However, Edmure’s inquiries on the war were met with wild conversation that Ryman struggled to nudge into. Eventually he did, commenting on a strategy to take King’s Landing. Walder wanted to storm it first thing, ignoring the North entirely. Much like Jon Ryger, Ryman saw ambition smoldering in Harrenhal’s keeper. Flights of stairs were trampled over as dusk evolved into a blackness of night, fleeting blues and a pitiful orange glare off in the West were the final attempts to ward off the encroaching darkness. Half an hour passed from the solar to their end destination, a balcony hanging over one of several courtyards in Harrenhal.

Torches and campfires were abundant in the courtyard below and for several of the Whent soldiers standing atop the walls. As expected, these men were active even as the hour grew to nil, wandering or finding company, eating food and proving to one another who was strongest. Just in Ryman’s view he could see five hundred men with the knowledge that they had several times that amount stationed in these walls and a few making camp closer to the God’s Eye. Ryman squinted, “Is this were you want to discuss. . Matters Walder?”

Instead of addressing his superior, Lord Whent arched his back forward and grabbed the balconies railing with one hand. The other fell on Edmure’s back. “My lords, can you tell me what it is you see?” Edmure looked at Walder, his eyes uneasy with the contact, Ryman assumed, but neither Tully responded to the touch.

The question made Ryman think. What did he see? Obviously Lord Whent meant something deeper than actual soldiers. Squinting, Ryman focused on a few details. The wide gate, the colorful tent set up by the walls flank, a man dragging a donkey beyond his view. ‘I see us.’ Ryman thought. ‘The Riverlands. The Westerosi. People.’ It was life. Life before death. It was a painting yet to be recorded. Ryman wished he brought his brushes and canvas, this was an image that was desperate for his work. Lord Tully couldn’t say any of this though. Pia had complained about his tirades on art in the past. “I see soldiers. Brave men.” He answered, deciding it was better to give a generic answer than open up to Walder.

“I see what my father sees.” Edmure muttered, pushing away from Lord Whent and edging to the opposite side of the balcony.

Ryman watched as Walder’s face fell for a moment. “It’s beyond that. In the air, in the water. I can see it when they sleep and when they ready the carts, as they jape and when they weep. These men are scared, frightened beyond imagination.”

“The North.” Edmure muttered.

“It’s the North that causes this fear. We tell tales of them, of these green monkeys hanging from trees that steal children from poor farmers. Giants, cannibals and flayers who won’t think twice before tearing a Southron to pieces. Every story these men have ever heard is being replayed in their heads. Could you fight a dragon, Ser Edmure? Even if it were a small beast, after seeing this castle and hearing of the Dance, would you ever willingly attack one?”

Edmure’s response was far from instant, coming half a minute later. “No.” Lowly, Edmure’s head hung.

“These men are told to march into the dragon’s den and steal its gold, expecting to earn little for themselves. I’ve seen their fear and foreseen our future.” Walder clicked his tongue. “Do you know what they say rules the battlefield?” Ryman was prepared to respond immediately, knowing this answer for once. Walder gave him no such opportunity. “Fear. It doesn’t matter how well equipped you are or numerous. If you fear your enemy, they’ve won. Your men will route and fall to bloody axes courtesy of the First Men.”

Ser Edmure shook his head in disbelief. “Why are you telling us this Lord Whent? Should we abandon hope of invading the North? Even fighting them seems to be a losing situation if they will flee.”

Walder’s smile returned. An ugly grin that split his face. “I was hoping for your help Ser Edmure. Tonight we’ll give these men three skins of wine each and serve them the bread in my stores. They’ll eat better today than any other of their existence.”

“You mean to bribe them?” Ryman questioned.

“In a way.” Walder turned from the courtyard, predatory gaze set into the hallway they came from. “We will rouse their courage. No man fights well when they think they are worthless. Feeding them so much will prove the opposite. When this folly of a war is over, we’ll return. I’ll promise each and everyone of them a greater feast then.”

Ryman sniggered. “That’s very kind of you. To show such hospitality to the smallfolk. . I never imagined-”

“You’ll deplete your reserves.” Edmure caught on to what his father did not. “If Harrenhal comes under siege. . You’ll have nothing.”

“It is fortunate that Harrenhal will not greet the enemy. Baelor Tyrell is dominating the Storm Lands and we’re heading North. The West will rise and march East and crash into the Vale knights when they are roused. Harrenhal will be safe, that I am confident of.”

The Tully heir folded his arms over his chest. “If you’re so sure it’ll work.” Edmure muttered doubtfully.

“Never do I devote time to any project unless I am certain of its success.” The vampire strode forward. “Ryman, if you may. .. Alert the other lords, I’ll borrow Edmure and have him help me with this matter personally.”

“I’ am. . .Am preoccupied, sadly.” Ryman shook his head. He had nothing to do but write a letter and check up on his other son. “I’m sorry.”

Walder nodded. “To Wailing Tower my boy.” Edmure disappeared, vanishing in the darkness of the building as few candles were lit in this floor. Lord Walder took an additional step forward before cocking his head back to the lord of Riverrun. “Tomorrow you leave for Darry and I for the West. It occurs to me that Riverrun will not be far from my camp. Is there a message you wish to give to Lady Pia?"

Ryman did not need to think hard on this. “You will.” He confirmed. “Tell her. .” What would Pia like to hear? She hated when he was sentimental, especially in front of others. A small smile graced Ryman’s lips. That was his Pia alright. “I’ll be home before she misses me.”

The Bat of Harrenhal heard those words and disappeared after Edmure. Ryman was left alone on the balcony, twenty feet above the courtyard that was still alive with activity. A dice game started behind a stack of wine barrels, hidden from sight to any passersby. New faces, new sigils, new colors sweeped in and replaced the old. It was Bracken’s men and a few Blackwoods. All alone, Ryman watched the passing of men for another fifteen minutes before leaving. The distant sound of excitement alerted Ryman to the state of Walder’s plan. In the greatest castle of the kingdom, surrounded by thousands of his country men, Ryman felt alone.

Pia Tully

Riverrun
“Do you think Lord Baelor will send for us?” Meera Tully asked, the little blonde girl buzzing with excitement as the news of the recent success in the South made its way North. She sat in the grand hall at Riverrun, where several lords and knights gathered a week prior to greet her lordly husband. Piper’s naked woman and the proud Trout of Riverrun hung from the walls all around them, alongside her husband’s portraits. Smaller pieces of art that Ryman was persistent would be hung on the walls. Riverrun in the Spring, Summer and Fall were closest to the lord’s table. Ryman adored his hobby, starting off as little better than a crippled lamb was at walking, but even Piper couldn’t give him grief over the quality of his work. Most commonly, Ryman painted his castle from varying perspectives. Pia knew he enjoyed the view from the bottom of the castle the most, just across the moat where he could take it all in. Countless hours were spent outside, a big, stupid grin on his face as he brushed the canvas. “For a celebration in Storm’s End?” Meera’s thoughts were concluded. Pia’s eyes were off of Meera, fixated on her plate of salted pork and onions, garlic dangling at the edge as Pia’s fork played with her food.

How she hated pork. It tasted like smoke and ash and there wasn’t enough seasoning in the Summer Isles to make this sow palatable. Her lips twisted into a frown as she stabbed a slice of onion, twisting it on the plate as she smeared its juices around the pork. Why was she even eating this? Surely Tyber knew her opinions on pigs and food drawn from them by now. Was he daft? Did he think Meera or Lysa enjoyed it? Judging from their empty plates, they did, but that wasn’t the point. Pia wasn’t happy. Tyber was her chef. He was supposed to make what she wanted. ‘I’d kill for a clam.’ Pia let her fork drop to the table, chestnut colored eyes peering at the the far end of the table. Wheels of white cheese imported from Pentos and oatbread fitted with Dornish dates. Sliding from her seat, Lady Tully grabbed at the cheese knife and cut herself a considerable slice. After that, she took the loaf of oatbread back to her end of the table. It wasn’t what she’d prefer still, but Pia would be content with her bread and cheese. At least for a few hours.

“I don’t know Meera.” Her good-daughter smiled. Lysa Darry, a kindly woman who was usually very close to Pia, was nothing but an annoyance recently. Since the war started, Lysa’s presence caused Pia to grow anxious. It was a silly fear that Pia wouldn’t admit to herself, but if anything happened to Ryman. . . Lysa becomes defacto Lady of the land. If her kindness had been a ruse, Pia would be sent back to Pinkmaiden not days after any unfortunate news arrived. ‘She’s my daughter.’ Pia always thought. ‘I practically raised her.’

“It’s dangerous with the war still going on.”

Meera seemed shocked at this revelation. “But Lord Baelor won? The guards all said so.”

Lysa’s lips curled into a smile as she held back sweet laughter. “Lord Baelor defeated Elaena’s strongest ally. She’ll capti-give up soon enough. But there’s still Daeron Waters and his Northmen to consider.”

Meera’s nose scrunched up in equal amounts of confusion and repulsion. “I don’t like the Northerners.”

Edmure’s wife couldn’t contain her laughter. “Not many people do.” Lysa paused and drank from her cup of cider. “Don’t be afraid of them though. They aren’t coming south. Not with Edmure and Lord Ryman watching them like hawks.”

“Ryman too!” Meera piped up, speaking on behalf of her other older brother.

“Ryman too.” Lysa agreed. She had another sip of her cider.

“Besides. I’m not afraid of them.” Meera didn’t look up at her mother or good-sister, picking at her bread restlessly. “It’s the Dornish I reeaallly don’t like.”

“The Dornish?” Pia spoke up at the strange statement. Not many people in the Riverlands had reason to dislike the Dornish. Hearing that her daughter took offense to them was equal parts surprising and humorous.

“What’s wrong with the Dornish?” Lysa quickly followed.

Pia saw Meera shrink in her seat as the older women questioned her, naturally assuming she spoke out. “It’s just. . Septa Onella was telling me about them. I don’t like them.” Meera said matter of factly, trying to close the book on the discussion.

“No no, what don’t you like about them? Their food? Society? The wars they waged on the Seven Kingdoms?” Pia took interest in her daughters disdain, her elbows landing flat on the table as she leaned forward.

Meera squirmed in her seat anxiously before grabbing her bread and taking a bite out of it. If she hoped the silence would smother the conversation, she was only fooling herself. The eyes of both women were still on her after she swallowed her fill. “I don’t like them.” She answered simply. “They aren’t nice or noble. They use poison and hide when fighting.”

A hand folded in front of Lysa’s mouth as she laughed, keeping herself from spitting on the table. “You like knightley men? Chivalrous and covered in steel?”

As if the Martell’s sun burned her face, Meera went red in a heartbeat. “I do not! Take that back!” She demanded angrily.

“Mother I do believe it’s time Meera has ‘the talk’.” Lysa shot Pia a wry smile.

“Do you have a crush on someone deary?” Pia questioned, her enjoyment compounded as her daughter folded her arms in frustration. “Is it little lord Steffon?”

“No.” She spoke defiantly.

Then whoooo?” Purred the Darry girl.

“. . It’s-”

“Lady Tully!” A voice cracked at the edge of the hall as a figure rounded a corner. An older man with thinning white hair and a substantial belly, the panting form of Maester Karl was immediately noticed by all. “Lady Tully!” He hollered again, breathing heavily as he stopped feet from the edge of their table.

Sitting back in her chair, Pia’s eyebrow rose as the humor drained from her face. “Maester Karl.” She greeted him coldly. “What is this urgent news?” Lady Tully and Karl shared a terse relationship. Neither quite liked the other, with Karl seeming to scowl at her whenever her back was turned. This divide deepened once Harren was brought, that Ironborn scoundrel that he was, complicated matters. The Grandmaester was kept as a guest but the term prisoner closely aligned with his actual position. Harren demanded to join Daeron in the Vale (or King’s Landing, Pia never told him exactly where the bastard ran off to) and was rebuffed by Pia or distracted by Ryman for the past weeks. Karl, naturally, was opposed to this treatment of his senior. His work ethic suffered greatly since Harren’s arrival. Pia’s eyes traced the laugh lines on Karl’s face, her lips twisting into a knot as she waited for the maester to speak up.

“A letter has arrived. Rikk said it was from Harrenhal.”

Pia paused. Harrenhal? Was it from Walder or Ryman? “Where is it?” She questioned, keeping her voice level as she stared the man down. An ugly little thing, Pia had no desire to keep looking at Karl. It was one of the many reasons why he wasn’t invited to dinner.

“I do not have it. Rikk told me of it, but dared not handle it himself.”

Pia squinted. “You came here without the message? It could contain vital information, your lord may need help and you neglect-”

“I am an old man.” Karl said in a lone timbre. “Old and fat. I cannot get to the Rookery and to you quickly, Lady Pia. Not with Grandmaester Harren’s condition so volatile.” A reaction to picking the wrong mushroom, Harren broke out in hives. Both outside and inside his body, causing horrible coughs and wheezes. Pia avoided Harren for yet another reason.

Pia shook her head and pursed her lips, wanting to yell at the rodent. Her indignation at the cretin staved off by the rumors of a message. Was it Ryman professing his love for her? She would not write him back if that was the case. Edmure or Ryman III were not as likely, both young men would not want to seem childish by writing their mother. It hurt her that they thought like that, but they were going to war. . .One must harden themself for that journey. ‘Was it Walder?’ It couldn’t be. . . Her lover was too cautious to blow their cover via a raven. “Excuse me Lysa, Meera.” Pia stood at the table and stared down the old man on the opposite end. The candle light flickered between them, casting a long and sinister shadow down the length of the table. Pia walked for the hallway adjacent from where Karl came from. “Return to Harren. The old cod can’t die under our roof.” An important and well respected figure like the Grandmaester passing while in her custody would forever blemish House Tully. That was unacceptable.

Karl’s faced the floor as Pia abandoned the hall, her plate practically untouched. The maester did not mince words with Darry or Pia’s daughter, retreating beyond candle light and falling back into the hallway he came from.

A maze of rooms, stairs and pointless hallways, Pia managed to climb her way up from the base floor of her castle to the highest tower in under ten minutes. Considering the state she was in and the encroaching darkness, with twilight breaking on the horizon and a wave of darkness washing over the landscape, she was proud of herself. She held a lantern as she traveled alone, the silence of the castle jarring. Usually, a guest from another House was always present. One of Ryman’s friends or her younger brother. Everyone was off at war. Even the house guards were less numerous, with plenty off with her husband or patrolling the heavily used roads. It wasn’t as if Pia was afraid, this was her castle and she would not be threatened by some would-be assassins or invaders. Her men were present in some capacity and she was more than enough to command them to any victory. Reaching the top of the stairs, Pia paused. She could hear the cawking of those infernal birds just beyond the heavy wooden door. Pushing forward, she entered the dark tower and coughed. A putrid odor of bird shit and dead rat wafted down the hall, eager for escape as Pia shut her eyes. The birds were quiet as they looked at the intruder but as seconds passed the intelligent birds deemed the lady a non-threat and resumed their squawking. Some, however, eyed her and gave low calls as they demanded to be fed.

Pia ignored them. When the smell grew bearable Pia squinted, looking at the first of the cages to see which house it was. With any luck she’d be out of the Rookery in minutes. She shivered as one of the black beasts twisted and flapped its wings at her as Pia neared. “White Harbor.” She muttered. This was the wrong section. A cursory glance at the cage nearest to the last confirmed her suspicions. “And Bear Island.” It was a little strange that the region closest to the entrance was the North, but Pia shrugged it off. Karl was an oddity and being a maester did not inherently grant one intelligence. Dark eyes from the avians followed Pia, sending a cold shiver down her spine as she drifted further into the rookery. Minutes later, she finally left the Northern section as the last house she passed was Barrowton and the Dustin’s. A reluctant sigh, Pia’s hope died when she saw the next label underneath the cage. “Codd! Why are the Ironborn so close to the entrance?” She could understand the North to a certain degree. But the Ironborn?

From the Ironborn, Pia found herself deep in Dorne and her mind drifting to Meera. After Dorne and another two minutes, Pia was deep in the Stormland’s, then the Vale and the West. Lady Tully would grow angry, if this were anything but the rookery. Instead, panic seized her. The constant cawing, the flapping of their wings and hungry eyes. ‘Dirty vultures.’ She wanted to burn the whole tower down. Instantly, Pia knew she made a mistake by coming. It should’ve been Lysa again. Pia only resisted sending Lysa or Rikk due to prying eyes. If Lord Walder had contacted her Pia would not entrust that secret to either of them.

At one of the furthest corners, Pia found the Riverland houses. Sifting through them all while doing her best to ignore the predatory birds, Lady Pia found the desired cage. Deep within the maze of ravens Harrenhal’s cage sat in the center. Smiling as she read the label clearly, Pia hesitated. Opening the cage meant that the raven would be free. Free to attack her. Worse yet, she was expected to touch it. “It should’ve been Lysa.” Piper muttered as despair clouded her heart. The lady of Riverrun touched the cold bars and worked the small lock, pushing it out of the way and letting the cage swing open. The raven’s posture was defensive yet curious as Pia shut one eye and held a hand back, ready to slam the miniature gate shut to prevent the beaked menace from pecking her to oblivion. Fondling the container at its foot, Pia opened it and slid a finger into the narrow tube.

And found nothing.

‘What?’

The sound of flapping wings and a bird’s caw caused Pia to jump back as a white menace landed on Harrenhal’s cage. Without second thought, Pia screeched and slammed the cage shut. A bloody beaked beast, it cocked its head to the side and glared at the woman. Her heart pounding, Lady Tully backed up into a row of other cages and their residents gave angry cries at the disturbance. The white bird continued to eye her expectantly. Seconds passed and Pia calmed. It was a raven. A white raven. What did that mean again? ‘War? Death?’ Pia avoided the Rookery as often as she could, such oddities as this new guest were beyond her understanding.

“You just stay there. . I’ll have that fat arse see to you.” Pia muttered. There was no letter unless Karl’s minion took it. If indeed it came from Walder then Pia would have to arrange for Rikk to vanish.

Any machinations Pia had forming were smashed as a distinctive chime came from the courtyard below. The raven cocked its head irritably at the sudden noise.

“Prisoners escaping!” Distant, low, Pia could make out the cry.

It took her less than five seconds to piece together what happened. Furious at the ruse, Pia dashed for the door, maneuvering around the maze of cages, Lady Pia was upon the door in less than a minute. Her feet slammed into the stone and her hands clasped the handle. Dozens of ravens cried out as Pia practically jumped down the rolling stair case, her feet slipping just once before she grabbed the railing and straightened herself. “You half witted cock.” She cursed. “I’ll have you stuffed full of leeches. You’ll be burned alive.” Karl. Karl that traitor. He lured her away and. . .

A bird’s call stunned Pia.

The white raven was following her, mistaking the rush of excitement in the room for food.

There was no time to shoo it away. Haste was what Pia needed. As the stairs ended, Pia hit a hallway, dark and lonely, Piper hissed. “If that bloated pig touches a hair on Meera’s head. .” As if sensing the message, the bird cawed in agreement. Light was abandoned high above in the Rookery, Pia navigated the darkness by memory. Clouds hid the moon above as the Sun seemed to shrink far in the west. Another low growl and Pia pushed herself forward. Her lungs burned and toes crinkled with every third step. Piper was not physically active in over ten years, the last time she rode a horse instead of using a carriage. She regretted sitting on her arse so often, eating lemon cakes and clams. A younger Pia would’ve been down stairs by now. Another turn in the hall and the sound of her companion behind Pia, she hit smaller stairs and crossed back into the main hall.

It was a bloody mess.

Five men had their intestines opened up haphazardly spread across her room. Pools of shallow blood collected as Pia recognized the faces of four of these men. Their names were lost to memory but she saw them every day, especially now that others were off with Ryman. Pia cursed silently and fully entered the room. There was no sign of either Pia or Lysa, causing a knot to take hold of Pia’s heart. She couldn’t see any evidence of her guards, Pia assumed they were on the trail of her prisoners. Without stopping, Pia rushed into action. From the great hall, Pia descended down a smaller hallway that ended in a minor gate. The gate was open and revealed the courtyard.

Screams echoed into the moonless night. Eyes widening, Tully dashed out into the open courtyard and felt a chilly breeze slap her.

No nightmare could capture her horror.

Dressed in dirty doublets or tunics, fifteen men were scrambled about her courtyard. They were armed with simple axes and spears, with only two individuals holding swords. One was a bloated man with a deep brown beard and fowl temper as he screamed across at the Tully guards. The other was Rhaenys Velaryon. Silver haired and with a scarred face, Pia spotted her in the torch lit night without any issue.

Four bodies littered the ground, none of which were Tully guards. If Pia could feel pleased at such an outcome, she surely didn’t. Twenty three men were in the courtyard and ten were in various positions along the wall, including five that flanked the grubby sword wielding man and the Master of Ships to the late King Aegon. Pia heard her Master-At-Arms shout orders as a pregnant pause overtook both sides, neither willing to leap into the open maw of the other. Be it prisoners, poorly equipped and dirty looking, they were numerous.

“Throw down those arms.” Eddard Keath demanded. “You’ve got no where to run Velaryon.”

He wasn’t wrong. Surrounded, with the castle wall to their back and the staircase leading up to its summit occupied by her guards and their front blocked by the answering soldiers, they were defeated. The only question left asked was in what manner would they go down. Pia collected herself and approached the rear of her guards. A few wary looks given her way passed as they spread apart, giving her a better view of Rhaenys. ‘Ugly wretch.’ Tully thought. A miserable, disgusting little lady with a temperament befitting a bear rather than a woman. No faux smile greeted Rhaenys as Pia paused in the center of her soldier’s formation. Loose enough so that both ladies could speak but if danger arose, Pia could hide behind her men in an instant.

“My lady.” Keath addressed Pia. “You shouldn’t be here.”

“Tell me Ser,” Brown eyes bore into that cyclops. “My daughters. Are they safe?”

“Aye.” There was no hesitation. “We escorted them out at the first sign of trouble.”

“And the damages?” Pia’s voice was a predatory low, almost a soft hum as her eyes narrowed.

“Twelve of ours dead, two servant girls and some old man. We’ve cut down seven of them already and we’ll cut the rest down at your command.”

The news that her daughters were safe was enough for Pia to physically relax, but the ire she felt at this sudden betrayal was not so easily doused. “I’ll speak to Lady Velaryon.” Her knight took two paces to the right, giving Lady Tully her much needed personal space. “Lady Rhaenys.” Greeting the woman with toxic cheerfulness, Pia saw Rhaenys react with a twitch of her right leg. “I’ve not given you a gift yet, you cannot leave with our ancient customs yet concluded. Come back inside and let us talk like sensible women.”

The Master of Ships was less cordial. “Keep away you lying bitch. You’re not keeping us here any longer.”

Resisting the base desire to lower herself to Velaryon’s level, Pia kept herself composed. Or as composed as a woman could be. “You’ve gone daft. Where will you run to? The Westerlands and beg Loren for sanctuary? You’ll find him in agreeance with Ryman and I.” Pia’s lips curved upwards as Rhaenys’ frowned. “I’d almost enjoy seeing you flee East, run directly into my Lord Husband’s army of thirty thousand. They’ll find a use for you.”

It was either bravery or stupidity that drove Lady Velaryon, but she dared to continue speaking to Pia with growing defiance. “You can’t keep me here Pia.” Even from this distance, Tully saw Rhaenys’ lips tremble. “Queen Elaena needs me.”

So she was dedicated beyond rational concern for her life. Pia didn’t dislike that quality. Just not in those who were standing opposed to her. “Princess Elaena is on the verge of collapse. Save yourself the heart ache.”

“You lying whore!” The older bastard spat for her lady.

“Monterys.” The whisper was a sweet tune from Rhaenys’ lips.

Pia glared at the duo. “You will surrender right this minute or I’ll have your men butchered and drag you into my dungeon personally. There you can keep company with your older allies.”

“I-i.” She stuttered. “I’m not going back. I’m not going back.” The cyclops took a step backwards. “Elaena. .”

“Ser Keath.” Pia’s voice rose, making no mistake of what she was to order. “Bring me Lady Velaryon.”

With those simple words, not needing five seconds to speak, entire lives were ended. The Tully soldiers rushed tensed as the escaped prisoners shook with fear or seemed lost to their fate. All but one. The older man with the sword. ‘Monterys.’ The bearded man looked to his front and then to the stairs behind them, where the five men pointed shafts of wood topped with sharp metal down at the fleeing prisoners. A deep bellow erupted from his gut. “You whoresons!” Turning to the stairs, Monterys swung his blade down at the first spear, its wielder losing it in the sudden action. “Defend your lady to your dying breath!” A beast in the flesh, Monterys struck the nearest guard and released him of his intestines. His scream was overshadowed by Monterys continued war cry. The second man on the stairs backed up with great interest in escaping Mad Monterys only to slip and fall victim to a secondary slash. Monterys was not so fortunate with a third, however, and he jabbed the spear at Monterys’ shoulder.

If he took exception to this attack he did not show it. “You good for fuck alls!” The strangers every cry seemed to motivate his men below. “Fight! Fight for your lady! Fight for your lives!” And with a bestial growl the swordsman blinded his enemy, the third Riverrun guard slashed across the eyes and falling to the cobbled stairs in fits of hollers.

Fast and ferocious, Monterys wasn’t acting alone. Eddard Keath and the Tully host descended on the prisoners, finding that their fears were steadily replaced. Defiant wills greeted them as both sides crashed into each other. Pia reflexively back peddled as she saw one of the scrawny men bury the head of his axe in one of her soldiers. Another of Rhaenys’ retainers speared a charging guard, not before Pia’s man sunk his sword’s tip into his throat. They died together in an instant. The screams of these men all but dwarfed as Monterys beckoned them to fight harder from his placement middle of the stairway. Rhaenys was to his rear as this unknown figure continued to climb.

There was nothing Pia could say now to stop this blood bath. She wanted these men dead but seeing the gore first hand threatened to twist her stomach inside out. Her companion was less so deterred, the white raven flew lowly around the fighters, eyes on the corpses that were freshly fallen. “Ser Eddard!’ Pia tried to call to her knight but her voice did not carry.

Eddard was on his second opponent, a skillful and merciless slash ending the Velaryon retainer’s life. Without armor and good rest, these men were doomed to fail. Their last advantage was the encouraging words spewing from that fat man’s mouth. And Ser Eddard was growing closer to the pair with each victim.

Monterys was panting as the fourth guard fell, each side giving each other injuries that were more than glancing. The large man struggled to stand as a new cut adorned his inner thigh, scraping flesh and leaving a section of skin and muscle hanging by precarious strands of skin. “Bastards.” Monterys voice never fell. “Have ye’. . .Lost what lil’ dignaty ya’ had?!” Monterys turned to face the final guard on the wall but he could not move. He could not raise his right hand. The assailant was on him with a short sword drawn, spear long forgotten as this young Tully guard wanted an earnest cut on the man that refused to die.

Blood flew through the air as Rhaenys met the man, her blade digging into his right cheek. The body flopped as the lips twisted into unheard agony. Death was not instant enough. “Get moving.” Rhaenys urged, gripping the noble man tightly and dragging him up the last few steps. They were at the top of the wall and all that stood between them and freedom was a deep moat and a short swim. The treeline wasn’t far and they could escape, flee to some riverbank and steal a horse in the morning. They were so close. .

And then Monterys collapsed. He fell near the wall, his side striking the ground painfully. Any hope Rhaenys had of escaping with her friend shattered. “Get up!” Her voice was shrill, tears threatened to pour down her face as she noticed his injuries. Blood generously drained from his shoulder, twisted flesh dangled from his leg as well. He couldn’t walk yet alone run. He couldn’t swim with that arm. He could barely move as is.

“Get. . Get goin’ lass.” The man shook, his eyes over the edge of the wall. “Ye. . .Can make it. Like tha’ plan.”

“Not without you.” Vainly, Rhaenys bent to his side. Cries from below extinguished in her mind. The battle for her life didn’t matter. Pia Tully didn’t matter. All that mattered was leaving with Monterys. They could get to King’s Landing in days. . Elaena. . She would know what to do. The tears she tried to hold back now rained down her cheeks, a life time of emotional stress now released.

“Go!” Monterys hollered, wincing the whole time as he struggled to move, to push the girl off of him. “GO YE DUMB LIL’. .” Monterys couldn’t bring himself to continue the thought.

Rhaenys was immovable when she put her mind to something. The less than perfect living conditions and natural fears compounded this behavior in her as she remained at Monterys’ side. Even as a phantom glided up the stairs, past the corpses of comrades and sword drowned in the blood of friends. “GO!”

Ser Eddard Keath was quick on his feet, nearing them and pulling his blade back. Rhaenys turned to face the man, sword clutched tightly in both her hands as she fought for the life of her companion. To Monterys, it was painful to watch. Beyond the wounds he sustained minutes ago, seeing the two face off caved his heart in. “No!” The beast forced himself to his feet as Keath lunged.

Rhaenys’ parry was choreographed to the experienced knight and he swiped her sword away before plunging his deep in the girl’s chest. Rhaenys’ eyes widened, her left eye going as white as the right. A painful gasp, her legs buckled as fingers held tightly onto the blade, as if there was some queer hope of survival. “Nnnn. ..” Her voice cracked as her body gave one last spasm. "Ah. . l'enaa."

A guttural scream from Hell flew from Monterys lips. No words could describe how he felt. What he just witnessed. His reason for living for the past ten years was snuffed out in an instant. His charge. His Lady. His friend. Dead where she stood, tears still falling from her eyes as blood dribbled down the murderers lips. Eddard Keath was unprepared for the savage swing from the dying man, hitting his head and slicing down his face. His left eye felt the full sting of the blade as Monterys continued to scream, his body moving with energy it did not possess. In the surprise attack, Keath pulled back from Rhaenys’ body. Sword still in her stomach, the Lady of Driftmark descended into the river with an audible splash.

A cry of pain from Keath signaled Monterys victory, as minor as it was. The slash he sent was the last movement his body could muster. Standing was a challenge that no man before could burden. Monterys glared at Keath, the knight having fallen back as he clutched the right side of his face. The son of a whore and bastard in every definition of the word gave no grim laugh. He felt empty inside. Empty as he fell, losing all sense of weight and gravity. A shadow cast over him as the moon emerged from the cloudy night at long last. The bleeding Keath loomed ahead, borrowing Monterys sword as he glared at the bastard with a heart of molten hatred. Monterys mustered nothing. No sneer. No smile. No grimace. His expression was empty as the sword cut his throat.


Then there was nothing.


The bird gave a last caw as it dropped on the large man’s corpse. He’d been dead for hours now and the winter raven finally picked its target. The tongue went first, Pia noted, the raven having little manners and heading right for the mouth. It was a bloodbath, due in part to Rhaenys’ most loyal of men. Her scowl could hardly be contained. The courtyard was stained red with blood that may never wash out. A total of twenty two men from Driftmark died that evening. Twenty two men and a single woman. Comparatively, Pia lost thirty house guards, two handmaidens and a candle maker. Ser Eddard Keath lost an eye, a knight known for his perilous attitude in tourneys would likely never win another in his lifetime. Pia lost nothing. Nothing but status. Her eyes were fixed on the river, the moonlight illuminating it just enough for Piper to make out ripples in its surface. Karl and Harren were now in the dungeon and Pia had sent out riders to find Rhaenys Velaryon’s corpse. She’d need to contain the story as best she could. . . House Tully slaying a guest in the middle of the night. Could there be any greater shame one could bring on themselves?

The winter raven continued to pick apart Montery’s face, swallowing strips of the face now. Pia looked on as the bloated corpse was devoured. “Noble little bird.” Pia mused, voice distant as she began down the stairs. “You came with me from the Rookery and now you rid me of my enemies. You’re not as bad as the others.”



Notable NPC's
Berena Rivers

Walder Whent

Jon Rygers

Eddard Keath

Monterys



 
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TheTraveller

Not all those who wander are lost
Cyrenna
Mistress of Whispers
"The truth hurts but secrets kill" "


It has been weeks since Cyrenna was appointed yet again as the Mistress of Whisperers. In all honesty, she would thrive more if she decided to abandon her station and go someplace else. Still with her trade, gathering information and dealing with mummers, it will be a far more lucrative business; selling information to the highest bidder, or doing things for the right price. It was just a matter of small guilt that made her stay. Not to mention curiosity. She had to admit, she was not sure that the safest wager in the game of Thrones would be backing Elaena, she has a claim but then so as the other two. But then the dowager queen is a cunning lady. She wanted to know what her play is and if even if Queen Jocelyn failed, Cyrenna has a backup plan she can always follow that guarantees her safety.

She remembered fairly well how she thanked the young Queen silently but what she could remember most as Elaena named the members of her new small council was the expression on everyone faces. She remembered seeing the disgust and anger in Lord Darklyn’s face when the Rose was given a trusted position by the young, uncertain yet still grateful queen. Darklyn tried to hide so hard but like a gambler, there’s a thing or two that gave him away to Cyrenna. She can’t blame him, Rosby was one of his dear friends and seeing that the killer was thanked and not punish, it must be tough. She was certain that if it happened to her, Cyrenna will not hesitate to end the miserable life of the miscreant. The only question is will she poison them or kill them rather slowly. The Martell prince tried to hide his disappointment as well when Darklyn, and not him, was named as the Hand of the Queen. Cyrenna only knew a couple of things about him but she is rather positive that he did not risk backing his niece for nothing. It was a rather stimulating event.

?

Cyrenna’s day was ordinary, or as ordinary as her job can offer. She was in her chambers in the Red Keep and had just visited the busy streets of King’s landing. From her stroll, birds and butterflies flew by, delivering news they think worthy for the Mistress to hear knowing that the mysterious lady is generous to those who are worthy. She even caught a gossip about some low life thug who wants to steal the beloved lizard of Baelish. For its meat or for demanding ransom, Cyrenna did not inquire. It was a petty business but she can’t deny the allure of seeing Baelish’s reaction if his beloved lizard is stolen. It must be priceless.

A knock on the door made her look up from what she was doing. Alyce, a serving girl opened the door with a small smile on her face. “Maester Hallyne is here to see you, my Lady.” She said softly. Cyrenna then nodded curtly, signaling the girl to let the man enter. Alyce then opened the door widely and a man with a balding patch age forty and five beamed at her. He was followed by two servants carrying a crate. Hallyne resides in the Alchemist’ guild though he is far from being an alchemist or a pyromancer or even a Maester as well. True, he’s a man of science, but he’s also the kind of man who would go great lengths in pursuit of his studies. And it was for that certain reason why he was tossed out of the Citadel. Cyrenna found the man begging for scraps in Old Town, so she brought him in King’s Landing when she learned his story and his capabilities. Knowing his potential, she bought him clothes and let people assume the rest. “My friend, what can I do for you?” Cyrenna inquired, stopping whatever she’s doing as soon as she saw the good man. “The cyclone of red scorpions from Dorne already arrive, my lady,” Despite his age, his voice was rather jovial. “… along with this clothes.”

“Leave them there,” Cyrenna pointed out the corner where the men brought the crate. “And wait outside.” The men, along with sweet little Alyce bowed their head and headed out.

“Tell me, Hallyne. How are your experiments?” the mistress said as she knelt down by the crate and opened it gingerly. Inside, like what Hallyne said, are full of well-made dresses and trousers for her troupe along with fabrics, beads and other ornaments and it was the second crate that arrived in weeks. It was one of the few incentives her people get for working with her. She felt the smoothness of silk and counted its fold, fingering the beaded work and the embroidery of the clothes. Her troupe will truly be grateful for this, a batch of great fabrics just waiting to be sewn into a wonderful garb. Finally found what she was looking for, Cyrenna hooked her finger on a loose thread and it revealed a tiny pocket, inside was a rolled parchment which she fished out and slowly opened. It contains news from her sources in the Vale where Daeron seek the Golden Company for help along with the news from the North and a possible chaos that will happen. It also contains the news about an army of Iron Born amassing in the cold shores of Pyke and along with other more information. Satisfied, she folded back the materials and went to her table. Buying clothes and smuggling secrets inside them is an easy means of doing business. Of course, not all her information is hidden inside the textile. Oh, the mistress has a lot of ways. It’s just much more convenient that way. It’s like killing two birds with one arrow.

“It is going well,” Hallyne said, “Though I am not certain as to why you wanted to infuse the Long Farewell with the scorpion venom. Is everything alright, my lady?” he added as he tried to make out what is on her mind.

“Everything is alright, my friend.” Cyrenna said with her signature mysterious smile. “As for the venom, call it curiousity. All in good time, Hallyne. All in good time. ”

“Of course. Oh!” The Maester suddenly exclaimed. “A Velaryon sail has been spotted nearing the port, my Lady. One of the harbor masters wanted me to relay you that message.”

Her eyes involuntarily fleeted to a folded parchment written by a distraught Rhaella Velaryon regarding her cousin, Rhaenys who is the lady of the House. Cyrenna couldn’t care less about what happened to the missing Velaryon girl, but having an ancient family owe you a favor is not something she wanted to miss. Especially if the favor she is to collect is from the new Head of the House if... if they can prove that something terrible happened to Rhaenys.

She closed her books, immediately burned the piece of parchment and handed Hallyne a pouch full of coins. “Take care of the men, have them bring the crate to Maryse, she’ll know what to do and I will deal with our project as soon as I got back.” Nodding curtly, she left the room and headed straight towards the port.

?
Cyrenna easily spotted the Velaryon sail not too far from the harbor. A silver seahorse in the field of teal flying high and mighty against the salty sea air and aboard the vessel was worried girl eager to know what happened to her precious cousin. Family matters are a really tedious business that is why Cyrenna vowed never to interfere with hers. Maybe in due time, if the events called for it but for now, she knew she ought to leave the family affairs in someone else’s hand. The ship finally docked and Cyrenna approached, waiting patiently for her guest. Finally, Rhaenys Velaryon appeared. Her silver hair which is a prominent Valyrian trait is flying freely in the wind. “Lady Velaryon,” Cyrenna greeted the girl with a sweet smile she reserves for appearances in court as soon as her guest was near, “Welcome to King’s Landing. I’m truly sorry that you were brought here by such troubling circumstances, my Lady.” Cyrenna bowed her head humbly, “I assure you that I will do anything in my power to assist you.”

@meraki.
 




Maester Nate
NPC


Maester Nate’s fingers tightened around the quill, as he quenched its thirst for the tar-like black ink. It was soon well wet. The blackness dripping from its tip. It was then that he put the pen to parchment and began. The Scribe’s Hearth was home to him. His favourite part of The Citadel. It was here that he was able to work. Not “work” like another maester would. His work. That of which involved dousing a page in ink letters. His writing...
Well,
His writing would be the subject of some laughter if the others knew of it, especially Ben and Hyle. Nate wrote words that rhymed. Words that fit together. He tried perfecting his prose. He tried to style his sentences so that they’d flow and flow and flow. To those at The Citadel who did not dare spare time for art, Nate’s works were nothing. To him though-
They were everything.

“Maester Nate,”
A call invaded his ears like The Dothraki sacking a small sheep’s village. He was pulled from his prose. Pulled from his little world. His eyes did roll until settling on a small Maester without one link on his chain.
“What is it, boy?” Nate replied, putting his pen down.
“There’s a… visitor. Hightower.”
“Hightower?”
“...Yes.” The boy’s voice was quietly volatile. As if he’d begin to shout at the next moment.
“Where is he?”
“She.”
Nate blinked before repeating, “She.”

Meredyth Hightower was a beaut’. Her hair was golden, her skin was pale and fair. She was picturesque. Nate was certain that many a man she’d met had never forgotten her face. She was that stunning. Or at the least, maybe her prettiness was amplified due to the distinct lack of girls her age at The Citadel. “Lady Hightower.”
He greeted her with a tight smile. He wouldn’t allow her to see his teeth. He hated showing teeth with a smile. He thought it made him look like a buffoon. Though that was only likely his lack of confidence in self-appearance saying such things.
At her side was another knight of the minds. A man who Nate could not name. His chain was crowded with different links, however, so he was clearly above him in both brains and status as Maester. Nate greeted him with an even stiffer lip.
“What brings you to us on this fine Autumn’s afternoon?” He asked Meredyth, his eyes studying her. As if by doing so he’d be able to predict her words. As if she was writable parchment herself and he was his pen.



Veron Greyjoy
Lord Reaper


Veron hated. It was his core emotion. Hatred. He thought the people around him were imbeciles in line to die. Which they were, obviously. He was the one with smarts. He was the best. However, Veron would scarce be able to find a man he hated more than his own brother.
Urrgion Greyjoy.
The simple thought of the name turned Veron to sickness. With each word that left his brother’s lips, he could feel the bile backing up his throat. He could feel the blood inside him come to a boil. I detest him so. Veron always remained in a trance-like calm though. He was a quiet man who never struck out. I am not myself today, however. His mind mulled. I struck out. I struck my son with harsh words and then my wife with hand.
Veron shook his head.
“So, plan to let me into your plan?” Urrigon spoke like an ass whose head had been smashed in with a mace. Veron could feel the hotness. Feel the anger. He so wanted to strike out this time as well. Put his fist against his brother’s face- and pound away.
He did not.
He could not. Someday…

“I have some things swimming around my head.” Veron replied. He chose each word with a caution. He never wanted to give too much information but, likewise, never too little. “A feeling I’m sure you are not too used to, Urrigon.”
Veron would rare strike with sword or fist. But, if he found the time, he would with a snide remark. Before his brother could continue, Veron cleared his throat and raised his voice a sliver. “I’ve pledged us to the bastard. At his back is The North and The Vale. They mean to fight the southron men. And when those southron men are no more- thanks to me- we will be honoured as heroes. As saviours. I am sure Waters will give us great rewards.”
Maybe he’ll even give me land in The South. So I can escape these shit stained rocks.
“But-”
He added.
“We will not be pledged solely to his royal bastard.” Veron looked at Urrigon, and then to Gwyn and his uncle. “I mean to write to the silver bitch who sits the throne. I will offer her our fealty as well. Then, we shall see who gives the best offer. That offer will determine in where our ships sail.”
He had decided. At first, backing a bastard felt right. The Ironborn were bastards. It was fitting. Veron, however, was not a bastard. He was a man of genius. A man of culture. He was no baseborn. In a different life, he’d be crowned King Of The Iron Isles.
So, he decided.
I will write to Elaena as well.
He stood, arms at his side.
I will play two sides until I cannot. See who offers the most. See who offers the best. What can get me further?

“Rogin.”
Veron said to his steward. “Fetch me what I need to write.”
“Of course, m’lord.”
Veron’s stare set on his brother. His fucking fool of a brother. “For now, I will write. To Elaena. To mine men. We will gather here at Pyke, and if no one has an objection, we… will set sail. We will strike fast. Strike strong.”
Like I did my wife.
He looked at his sweet sister. Her brightened eyes. Her supple lips. Her perfect figure. Thinking of her lying on his bed always made him harden. Then, he looked back at Urrigon. Urrigon. Veron took a step forward. His brother was a bit taller than he, but that never mattered to him.
He looked up into his brother’s eyes and spoke with softness,
“And do not go on that blasted ship of yours with our sister again. Do I make myself clear?” Veron assumed that his brother would say something stupid and then deny his order. He always did. Before he could say something, however, Veron backed off.

Because the man he hated most was not worth his time.
I have letters to write.


To the lords of The Iron Islands,

I request your presence at Pyke. Sail for it immediately as the words I wait to tell you involve the war that is about to hit the mainland.

Make sure your fleets are at the ready and your soldiers’ swords are sharpened.

For when you come to my castle and hear my plans, we set off.

Regards,
Lord Veron Greyjoy
To the one true ruler of Westeros.
To Queen Elaena.


I, Lord Veron Greyjoy, the ruler of The Iron Islands, hereby pledge my ships to you. We will not stand in silence as your Kingdoms are torn apart by those who hold greed and evil in their hearts. Please find it to write back to me with your orders.

Say whatever.
And we shall see it done.


Regards,
Lord Veron Greyjoy





 
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Whisker

Two Thousand Club
House Harlaw



"Reap Havoc, Reap Devastation"

--------------
“Hit him!” jeered a voice.

“Kill tha fucker, Dev!” another man urged.

Others rose to join them. Each one was louder than the last. The ebb and crash of the sea, normally booming along the Long Stone Quay, was drowned out temporarily by the roar of a hundred voices, shouting in unison. The skies overhead were ominous, dark, and foreboding. Drizzle fell in a fine mist. Yet not one of the men gathered at the Quay paid the weather any mind. Their eyes were forward facing towards the center part of the dock where two men were facing each other in the mud. Grime and sweat clung to their bodies, and their hair was plastered to their faces in a tangled heap. One was so large he was practically burly, with short, bristly dark hair and a well-trimmed beard. His eyes were as black as basalt, and his lips tugged at the corners to suggest a permanent scowl. The other man could have been his polar opposite; lean, fair, and possessing hair with a blonde-silvery sheen.

It would have been impossible looking at them to tell that the two men were brothers. But they were. And each of them resented that fact in their own way …

“You fuckin’ whoreson,” roared the taller one, face flushed, and fist raised. “I’m goin’ to make you wish them Lannisters had finished you off. Maybe I’ll send them your mug as a gift.”

The slight, blonde one danced aside, narrowly missing a swing aimed for his head by a few spare inches. “Wouldn’t make threats, Dev. You couldn’t hit the broadside of a longboat if it were standin’ still – "

WHAM.

This time the hit connected. The blonde sprawled in the dirt. The crowd cheered. Tankards banged on the railing, and there was a metallic clinking as coins started to change hands. The blonde clutched at his nose. It was bleeding profusely.

“Five silver stags on Devyn!”


“Make it ten!”


With another roar, the taller one lunged at his fallen opponent, the black eyes gleaming in anger. The blonde one saw him coming and rolled in the nick of time to his feet. He caught the charging man, Dev, with an uppercut to the chin. The sound echoed with an audible CRACK just seconds before their bodies collided, the force enough to cause each man to spill over the edge of the walk and into the sea. The excitement of the crowd swelled to a fever pitch.

“What is the meaning of this?”

The voice that interrupted the thong wasn’t loud – it had barely been above a whisper. But at once, every human voice on the Quay seemed to die, as if snatched away by the storm growing overhead.

Lord Sigmund Harlaw of Ten Towers was not what one would call an imposing man. He was of average height, average build, and walked these days supported by a stout metal cane. His hair was long, fine, and straight, with the salt and pepper look of a man approaching an early grey. He wore plain, non-de script iron armor trimmed in wool from the green lands across the sea. On one hip, he bore a long curved seax that gleamed wickedly without a scabbard or sheath to hide it; the other bore the moonstone pommel of Nightfall, the pride and joy of House Harlaw. He stood alone at the edge of the dock watching them all.

The tall one surfaced first from the sea, coughing and sputtering. He sloshed to the shore to flop down on the sand. Seaweed clung to one edge of his mustache. The blonde wasn’t far behind. One hand was still pinched to his nose, but it lowered a fraction of an inch as he spotted the figure who had spoken.

For a long moment, no man on the dock spoke. No man dared to move as the Lord of Harlaw appraised them with equal parts scorn and disappointment. Then he turned to the men at the edge of the sea. His sons.

“Get yourselves cleaned up and back to the Towers. Now.”

“But … Lord Father … He –” Devyn began.

The Lord of Harlaw looked down at him with a withering glance. The words dried up at once. Leaning on his cane, the Lord of Harlaw once more reverted his gaze towards the crowd. Boys. Green boys who had been at port far too long.

“As for the rest of you,” Sigmund began slowly, “Return to your ships. Prepare to weigh anchor and wait for further orders from your Captains. We sail for Pyke at first light.”


@TheFool
@Bradley3000
@Akio


 
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Bradchon

Definitely not evil
King Daeron III Targaryen
King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm

Arty's broke out into his own life story, probably in an attempt to parallel his own. Daeron had to admit the similarities, it was not like either of them chose to be where they are today and if given the choice when his brother was alive Daeron would of rejected anything to do with ruling. He was forced into this position. He was King because of said brothers death and his father specifically anointed him as his successor as no male heirs lived and House Targaryen had to carry on, as it has always carried on. The last of Old Valyria. The single defining claim to his Kingship being the fact he was born with a certain appendage and his niece was not. That was sadly where the parallels ended however. The final line spoken by Lord Hunter knocked him back for just a second "Look to your family your grace." His family. Elaena.

Before he was allowed to slip into that unhelpful train of thought, Joron cut in. His words brought Daeron back from the brink and he gently smiled towards the knight, forgetting they were still with Lord Hunter. Wishing they were not still with Lord Hunter. If they were not he could cuddle with him, something that in the past few hours had skyrocketed to the top of Daerons desires and ambitions. Daeron did not specifically reply to Artys but nodded in his direction before letting out a rather big yawn, an indication of how tired he truly was, before continuing the journey back to camp.

As his tent came into sight he turned to Lord Artys and bowed his head slightly, not something a King should do but something Daeron would. "I wish you a goodnight, my Lord. I hope to see you again in the morning when we ride once more. It is honour to have men such as yourself fighting for my cause and I wish to thank you once more for it." With that, and hoping he did not sound too agitated, he continued walking to his tent a little more eagerly than before, hoping for no more interruptions even from the most important of people. It had been a long day.

As the flap of his tent opened he looked to Ser Joron and hoped he might have the time to steal one last kiss but in the distance he could make out a white cloak. Most likely one of the Cerwyn brothers since Rosby was with Visenya. He sadly did not have the time for such...activities. So with one last smile and a sly wink he looked up to his protector and stated, once more in High Valyrian, "Goodnight, Ser Joron." Before entering his tent with one fluid motion. It had been a really long day.

@Nightblade
@Ferrohcious
 
Aegavar
Aethon
Captain-General of the Windblown
Lord of Rags and The Tattered Knight


It was a silent day despite the hoof beats from the horses and the measured march of the men behind Aegavar, Aethon to the Windblown and the Lord of Rags to most in Essos. A light fog shrouds the surrounding land and the earth was damp as if the rain has graced its surface. A soft breeze caresses the column like a gentle guiding hand. His tattered cloak fluttered in the wind as he and his company made their way towards Braavos to look for another contract to fulfill.

It has been a fortnight since they left the Disputed Lands. It has been a fortnight since they ended their last contract; and it has been some time after their fight against the Company of the Cat. His company's battles against the Cats were extremely bloody but productive for the riches plundered and the victories won far outweighed the cost. There was no issue in recuperating the losses of the company. A great many young men and bastards with the occasional aged man wish to join and make a name for themselves. Maybe even bring home some coin and a few other riches as a sellsword of the Windblown. Despite not being the largest sellsword company like the illustrious Golden Company, they are still a force to be reckoned with. Two thousand strong, two thousand souls trained to fight to the bitter end. He would not trade them for anything and he was grateful to the gods that he was given such a fine company despite the losses.

As his thoughts brought him to times since passed, the company makes their way to the city. At the distance the great Titan of Braavos can be seen. An imposing figure of stone, a work of art and masonry. It really was a wonder that something like this exist in Essos. Aegavar instructed his men to set up camp just before they approach the coast. When the camp was established, he turned to his men and told them that they were free for the day to do as they pleased. He instructed them to report back after a week at most before they head off again. With his instructions given, the men did their own thing. Aegavar, and a number of his close confidants, made their way to the harbors and chartered a ferry to the city proper. He believes that someone within the city would have a contract for him and his instincts tell him that it would take him across the Narrow Sea. He and his companions just need to look for it. Maybe the taverns or the Iron Bank would have it, he wasn't exactly sure. But what he was sure about is that he will be saying his farewells to Essos soon. Before hitting the taverns and the whorehouses, he endeavors to meet with the Iron Bank of Braavos. He was sure there was something there for him and his company...
 

Yarrow

Senior Member
Richard Redwyne
Richard was sailing home with the Redwyne Fleet. He was pissed because a few days ago the lords of the Shield Islands told him that they wouldn’t support him and that they would follow the orders of Baelor Tyrell and support the unborn baby that was his grandchild.
There were now three options for Richard, support Daeron, Elaena or stay on the Arbor. After a long process of thinking he had made his mind up when they saw The Arbor appearing on the horizon. Richard Redwyne was going to support the only true Queen the Seven Kingdoms had at the moment, Elaena Targaryen. Daeron Waters was nothing more than a bastard and the Baratheons, who were supporting Elaena, could turn out to be fantastic trading allies.
Richard started writing some letters in his cabin at the back of the ship. One went to the Queen and the other would go to the Iron Islands, stating that the Redwyne Fleet had left the Shield Islands. When they arrived at the Arbor, he left the ship for the Castle and once he was there he called all his advisors and the maester. He gave the letters to the Maester who would post them right away. Richard looked around the men assembled and started explaining his plans. They would leave half of the ships defending the Arbor under the command of Hilbert Redwyne, his uncle who nodded approvingly. Richard would sail with the other half of the fleet to King’s Landing to wait for orders of the Queen herself.
When the evening started the men where still forging their tactics for the defense of the Arbor and its harbors. A big map of the Islands was spread at a table and two men were drawing on it to explain where the defenses would be. Richard was at the other side of the room talking things trough with his second in command, with who he would sail to King’s Landing. Hopefully the letter would have arrived by them and they would be greeted with open arms. Richard had seen Elaena once, when he was at King’s Landing, but he wasn’t sure that she would recognize him because they hadn’t spoken.
The following morning Richard set sail to King’s Landing.

Queen Elaena Targaryen, the one true ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. I, Richard Redwyne, son of Ryam Redwyne previous master of ships under you grandfather, pledge myself to you. We are now sailing towards King’s Landing to serve as defense for the Capital.

Lord Richard Redwyne

Lord Veron Greyjoy, for your information I have left the Shield Islands and I do not side with Baelor Tyrell. I support the one true Queen. I tried to convince the Lords of the Shield Islands but they decided it would be best to follow the unborn.

Lord Richard Redwyne, son of Ryam

@TheFool
 

Akio

Lord of Naptime
Urrigon Greyjoy


Urrigon couldn't help but roll his eyes when his brother snapped back snarkily, thought he was more annoyed by his brother dancing around the issue. He always had spent to much time on thought and presentation rather than action. Luckily, he didn't do it long, declaring them for Daeron and the North and the Vale. Daeron he supposed wasn't a bad option. There was little in the frozen north to take and Daeron had no friends on this cost so he would not suffer much of a restriction. Besides, Daeron was male and a warrior while Elaena was a Greenlander girl who he had little of and the other not even born yet. He saw little issue in throwing himself behind the bastard prince of Summerhall. He looked at Gwyn, a rough chuckle leaving his lips before he spoke quietly to Gwyn while Veron went on about being heroes or something or another. "It's funny that this prince is the prince of Summerhall and yet he finds all his allies on the other side of the world. Not very good at finding allies is he." He said only half listening to Veron as he joked with his sweet sister.

However, what he heard next caused him to turn his attention back to his droning brother who declared that they wouldn't only support the bastard. He found his brothers looking at him before turning his gaze away from him, Urrigon looking at him with interest. His brother was someone who was careful, and clever when he wanted to be and he couldn't help but laugh as he declared they would play both sides. Well, this was bold of his brother, a feeling he rarely associated with his careful and boring brother. As his cracking laughter echoed with delight in the room he couldn't help but comment. "Well, brother I didn't think you had some fun left within you." He said with a smirk as he met eyes with his brother. Veron called for his man to bring him paper so he may right to unite the Islands and as Urrigon was preparing to go about his way his brother turned towards him and spoke, smoldering rage in his eyes.

When he heard what he said he wanted to laugh once more. Why his brother was certainly feeling bold if he was approaching him about this today. Shifting on his heel he crossed his arms and smirked down at his shorter brother, his amusement clear on his face as he spoke to him just loud enough for him to hear in a half-mocking tone as he stepped forward and grabbed his brother turning away from, leaning close to his ear to speak what no one else could hear. "It's not my fault that our sweet sister likes to have a little adventure and fun in her life. You can't keep her bound to your bed like you hope, she came on my ship of her own free will while you were too busy beating on your wife. So before you tell her not to come with me, ill remind you. I'm not the one you should be telling and you can no more tame that one that you could any Kraken." He said before letting go and pulling back, turning to Gwyn. "Common sweet sister, our brother has letters to write and our time on the ship has made me hungry." He said a laugh still in his voice as he gave his brother a last glance before planning to take her to the kitchens and then perhaps to his chambers. After all, they had made a bet and no one kept him from his sweet sister for long.
 
Visenya Targaryen
Once again, Visenya found herself brushing her hair in a tent, just like she’d done before the council at Harrenhal. Then, she’d been Visenya Waters.
Now, Visenya Targaryen.
All thanks to Daeron.
She smiled at her reflection and lowered her arms, setting two hairpins down again instead of pushing them into her hair. It could hang loose, for now. Sleeping with it braided had rendered it soft and wavy, and it framed her face rather nicely. No need to fuss with it. Besides, she’d hated pins ever since she was a little girl.
But back then, she’d had an aim: emulate Jocelyn.
The thought made her stomach churn now.
No, she was no child anymore. Eighteen years. A woman.
It was still early, she just hadn’t been able to sleep, she could never be comfortable in a tent. She didn’t like them. Visenya had never been fond of being too close to the ground, the cold, the insects. The sunlight was creeping through a gap in the fabric. It felt like hours since she’d risen from bed, but in reality it was probably closer to just one. Still, waiting made time drag on and on, and with nothing to do but comb her hair, Visenya had felt every passing second. Several times she’d been tempted to just leave, he wouldn’t mind, she was sure of it, but she always resisted at the last moment. He needed to rest.
Of course, that rest was about to come to an end.

Naturally, the guards let her through with no questions asked. They knew her. Stopping or delaying Visenya would cause more trouble than letting her pass unopposed.
As she padded into the tent, she moved gracefully. Picked her way across the floor, silent, feline. Truth be told, she wasn’t sure why she was bothering with being quiet: after all, she was going to wake the poor boy up anyway.
Man, now.
But as she delicately picked up the corner of the blanket and slid beneath it, it felt like they were children again. She’d missed it.
“Daeron.” Her voice was soft, somehow a purr and a hiss at the same time. Her hands found his shoulders and shook them. “Daeron Targaryen. Wake up. You know I’ll jump on you if you ignore me.”



Daeron Targaryen
He knew immediately as he awoke from his slumber, feeling rather uncomfortable, that it was Visenya. No one else except for maybe Joron would get away with doing something like this. He smiled widely, trying to hide it from Visenya as he turned away from her, pretending to still be asleep as he did so. In his “sleep" he also just so happened to swing a pillow wildly and accidentally catch his sister with it. Twice.
He then awoke, acting surprised at his transgressions and turned around to look at her. His deep purple eyes looking into hers as if her were a puppy begging for an apology. “Oh! Visenya! I am so sorry! I didn't know you were there. I hope you can forgive me for striking you, your Highness. I know it's a grave crime to touch a Princess of the realm in such away. I BEG for mercy as a simple lowly brother of your majestic self.” As he said this he made sure to roll his eyes in a sarcastic manner. He had missed this, they never got to be with each other as much anymore and there was no one in the world he trusted more than her, there was nothing on this earth that could separate them and he wasn't about to let this war do that when he needed her most.
As the sarcasm dripped from his tongue, he awkwardly moved over minding a certain irritated area and drew her into a big hug before snuggling with her. “Don't worry, the camp won't leave without it's King. I am sure I can get in a couple more hours, I had a long night after all.”


Visenya
The hits from the pillow drew two sharp gasps of indignation from the girl, possibly exaggerated for effect. Visenya was all set to pounce on her brother, but he turned around in the nick of time and saved himself. Instead she folded her arms over her chest, pouted as she ‘considered’ his pleas.
“I really should kill you for that, you know.” She admitted, raising an eyebrow, although the hint of a smile was already beginning to tug at the corners of her mouth. “But as you’re just about my favourite person in this world… You may have a single second chance.” The smile shone through when she was pulled down into the hug, and she shifted her position to get comfortably. Their bodies fit together like puzzle pieces, just like they always had. For a moment, she laid her head against Daeron’s chest, but snapped up, suddenly alert again, when she realised what he could be alluding to. “Long night?” Visenya echoed, visibly interested. “Oh, my dear, you can’t just say that and nothing else. Spill it. For your favourite sister? What happened?”


Daeron
Visenya was always good at getting him to blush and this was no exception, his cheeks were redder than a Red Priestess dancing in a fire. It was obvious she had a feeling of what he meant by it and he knew it would be a fruitless endeavour to not tell her as she would get it out of him one way or another. There was one problem for Daeron though. He was an awkward clutz. When matters of this nature came up it was exemplified ten fold and he couldn't help but default into that state.
“Well, you….know of my preference and you know of my childhood...attraction to a certain member of my Kingsguard. Let's just say that the windmill not far from the camp saw some things last night that I won’t go into and I may or may not be riding towards the back of the troop column today.” A good explanation if ever there was one on this topic, he was proud of the overt discretion he had managed to display. Not that his outward look was anything near pride as his pink face and cheesy grin beamed at his sister as she intently listened. That would have been bad enough had the giggles not hit at the same time as if he were some child.


Visenya
As Daeron started his explanation, Visenya nodded along and made several little prompting noises to keep him from getting discouraged-- nothing would be worse, she decided, than having him trail off or refuse to finish. It’d be torture. Though she tried her best to keep a neutral face, there was no way she could hold back the little smirk that materialised when Daeron mentioned his kingsguard. She’d already put two-and-two together: now, she just wanted the confirmation.
And she got it.
“You little harlot!” Visenya exclaimed, though her bright, excited expression juxtaposed with the so-called insult. Lightly, she slapped his chest. “Honestly, I could not be prouder. Although I was hoping to... beat you to it, so to speak.” During the brief story she’d sat up, but now she laid back down and cuddled up to her brother, mulling this information over for a few moments before tilting her head up. The smirk was still prominent. “Well?” she prompted, looking at him expectantly. “Aren’t you going to divulge anything else? Does last night, you know… mean anything? What is he like? How was it? You can’t stop just yet.” The last question was added on as she joined in with Daeron’s giggling. As if they were children again. She lowered her voice to an exaggerated stage whisper and raised her eyebrows. “Come on, Dae. You haven’t even told me what his cock was like.”


Daeron
He was surprisingly lax with Visenya like always, even as she jokingly called him a harlot he couldn't help but produce a wide smile at his sister. His chest turned slightly red at Visenya’s slap and he let forth a rather exaggerated and playful gasp. For a second he almost forgot what they were talking about before she snapped him back to the topic at hand, obviously she wasn't sated with just that. “Well I didn't expect it to happen! I wasn't trying to beat you. One thing just led to another and y'know.” He wasn't lying, this wasn't something he had planned at all, in fact it was the furthest thing from his mind that night.

Visenya continued with her line of questioning and after each question he tried to interrupt and answer them to no avail. Then the final question came. Daeron who went for a drink at the bedside table at that time, having given up trying to intercede, spat out the water he had happily gulped down and started coughing. “VISENYA! You can't just do that to me! Seven Hells!” He tried to recover the situation and answer her question but every response came out as a stutter and his already red face was now bright pink. She always did this to him, not that he minded, it was one of the reasons he loved her so much. “Yes, it meant a lot ok. There is something about him I can't place my finger on, and no Visenya, I don't mean anything physical before you make that joke. I don't know how to explain it, I was not myself last night. I was consumed with, well, confidence and passion." He hoped that was enough on that front because he truly didn't have an explanation. “As for how it was? It was...ermm… painful? Well at first anyway. It got bett- wait, am I really explaining this to you right now?” He had to question it, “What you do to me is unnatural you know that? It was good, ok? If you expect me to answer that last question then I hope you are ready for me to finally die of embarrassment. We both knew it was going to happen eventually. I just hoped for another decade at least.” He carefully went for his water again, wary of what Visenya would say next.


Visenya
Daeron’s shock only seemed to fuel his sister-- Visenya’s smile was bright and mischievous as she jokingly moved to slap his back, presumably to save him from choking. Then, she settled a fake pout onto her face.
“Sorry, Dae. I suppose I shouldn’t be embarrassing the king, now should I?” she teased.

Thankfully, Visenya seemed able to keep her mouth shut long enough for Daeron to get through his tentative explanation. Though she was prone to over excitement, as she’d grown older she’d learned when to hold her tongue, not that she always managed to do so. Still, the devious smile on her face was enough to hint to her brother that she had a whole host of inappropriate comments ready to fire at him, if she lost her good nature. As if his question was silly, she frowned, “Of course you’re explaining it to me: we tell each other everything, do we not?” What you do to me is unnatural. A smile, a wink from Visenya. “Oh, dear brother,” she began, with a theatrical sigh, “Honestly, the number of times a man has said that to me…”
Satisfied that Daeron had been humiliated enough (at least for the time being), Visenya’s face softened a little and she clasped one of his hands between both of hers.
“I’m glad. That it was good. If it hadn’t been good, I’d have had to… castrate him.” She settled on the threat with another laugh, and squeezed her brother’s hand, “I do love you, Dae. You can tell me whatever it is that’s playing on your mind. I don’t know what I would do if we were apart.”

The sentiment hung in the air between them for a moment or two, before Visenya flushed, embarrassed by her burst of emotion. The mischievous smile returned to her face, and she cocked her head to the side. Clearly, she’d figured out some sort of ultimatum.
“Alright. Because you are my most precious friend and I adore you,” she began, the exaggerations a sign that she was about to mess with him, “I will allow you to choose. Either you answer my last question, or…” a pause, for the sake of cruelty, “You have to say it out loud. That you, Daeron Targaryen, did what you did with who you did it with. Because I’d rather like to hear it.”


Daeron
Every word that Visenya said edged him ever closer to death by embarrassment. It was as if she had rehearsed everything in advance and had somehow acquired mystical knowledge with which she used to know beforehand what had occured the previous night. He would not in a million years answer the question put to him by Visenya. That would mark the end of his brief reign and she would be branded a kinslayer for her actions. He was then left with a single choice, answer the question or answer yet another awkward question. At least there were options?

“FINE! I will go with the second option of this twisted game.” Daeron prepared his words as he lay there with her, or at least he tried to whilst failing miserably. If the Gods had not given him one thing it was the ability to talk in any coherent sense. “I...well.” Torture, pure torture. Seven. Hells. “I had sex.” That was the easy part of this equation, now he had to say who it was with and that was far worse. “With….with...a knight of a certain order whose name is….that of a famous house from the Vale and Gods forgive me for what I am about to say but that house is Corbray. His name is Joron Corbray. THERE, HAPPY? IT WAS AMAZING, OK?” It had taken more effort than anticipated and he felt as if he had just ridden 60 miles but it was done. They now knew what to write on his grave because right now it was 50/50 on whether he was gonna make it past the hour.
 




Leona Bolton
Sister


“I got one, Greg. I got one!”
It was Summer. She and her brother stood, bows strung, in The Wolfswood. They’d been invited to High Point by their Whitehill cousins. Uncle Whitehill proposed a hunt. So, that was what they did. They hunted. Deer and rabbits. Leona had gone hours without a kill, like always. As the sun started setting though- she shot. Her arrow piercing a stag’s neck.
“I told you, sweet sister.” Her brother told her, his hand patting her back. “You’d get your kill. Sooner or later.”

Her eyes blinked.
Winterfell went silent. She’d shot and killed a man. Or at least she only shot him. Aregelle Stark finished the job. “Get the girls.” Leona found herself saying to Alyn. He nodded and ushered the girls off.
Leona looked at the man on the ground. The man she murdered.
Gods.
Her surroundings were soon thrown into chaos. Northman fought Northman. For a moment, she shut her eyes. This isn’t real. Someone grabbed her from behind. This… it can’t be true. She opened them to see that Bulger was pulling her towards the arch. Towards her brother’s men. Or…
Her men.
Gregor…
She felt the tears building. She so wanted to release them, but she could not. Not in-front of her men. Not in-front of the girls. Lyanna and Aregelle had lost their father. She had to remain strong for the two of them. She had to get them out.

And she did.

Moonlight pierced The White Knife, like her bolt had did Ryswell’s throat. She sat her horse. The saddle was uncomfortable. As was the mourning. Gregor. Her heart felt as if it was missing a piece. He was all she had in this life. The man who was more a father to her than there actual one. The details of his death were still murky.
Leona did not know who killed him.
A part of her did not wish to ask such a question. A part of her would have preferred to never know. But those parts had begun to be overshadowed. Insane grief gobbled them up and spat them out. Leona wanted answers. Leona wanted… justice.
She looked back.
Behind her was a train of soldiers and horses. Midst those soldiers though, were two girls. Two girls who she had saved. Two girls who may have had answers.
She brought her horse to a stop.
“M’lady?” Bulger questioned her.
“Continue on.” She said.
She eyed Lyanna.

As the girls approached, on their own horses provided by some Bolton soldiers, Leona gave them a saddened look.
“Lady Lyanna.” She said, a softness to her voice. “Lady Aregelle.”
The girls did not speak back. They, obviously, were in a depression. She could see the red around their eyes. “I need to…”
Leona stopped.
“Forgive me, but… I must know. What exactly happened? You watched the events unfold, no? You... Please, tell me what happened to my brother. Please.”

“You’re aim is getting much better, sweet sister.”
Gregor told her as they dragged the stag’s corpse behind them. Leona smiled with pride. Gregor was smiling back at her, she was sure. “Soon you shall kill them all.” He japed. A giggle escaped her mouth. Now, her horse stood still.
Awaiting the girls’ response.
Soon. I will.
She heard her brother’s words. Clear. Her hands tightened their grip on her mare’s reins. So tight that she felt as if the palms of her hands would begin to bleed and blister. A ferocious need had begun to fill her heart. Blackening it.
A need.
To kill.
To take revenges on those who killed her brother. She did not care how she did it. How she got her vengeance. But she would. She swore to herself right then and there that she would. I swear to The Old Gods.
Her heart was pounding in her chest.
Her throat was dry.
I will kill them.
I will kill their men.
I will kill their women.
I will kill their children.
I will burn their fucking Houses to the ground like they have done mine.

She looked at Lyanna, and then at the river they rode alongside. She felt it. A lone tear pussed out and slithered down her cheek.
I will kill them all.





 
Last edited:
Ashes Like Snow
Willow Stark and Jaremy Reed

It had been a few days since they’d fled the battleground that was once the heart of the North. The entire event still seemed so surreal as they trod through the lighter edges of the forest, the slowly dying light signalling that nightfall was approaching. Other than the sound of hooves, the trip had been quiet, much of their time spent on reflection and simply trying to survive. They’d be stopping for the night soon, another night to camp by firelight in what little refuge they could manage.


They’d avoided the road most of the way thus far, keeping to the shallows of the Wolfswood. While it may have slowed their progress, the horse’s hooves were quieted by the nearly eternal bed of pine needles that cushioned the hard tundra, the heavy scent of pine almost gave weight to the harsh icy air. They were close to the White Knife by now, the glittering surface of its tributary visible between patches of foliage, the occasional glimmer of amber hinting at the presence of cattails and matured reeds while the sky crowned everything with layers of rich purples, pinks, and golds. The sounds of rushing water had been steadily growing louder, hinting at their closing proximity to the river. Willow pulled back on the reins and slipped down off the mare’s back, her eyes like a stormy sea as she looked up into dark pools of brown and black.
“She is going to need proper food soon.” she murmured, running a pale freckled hand down over the horse’s face and then the withers before starting to walk, using the reins to lead her.


“And so will we,”
Jaremy replied as he gazed down over the frost covered hills towards the distant sheen of black water. He stood on the opposite side of the horse with his spear in hand. He had not ridden much since their initial flight from Winterfell. As a crannogman of the Neck, his hands were made for oars instead of reigns. And walking had its uses. The heavy travel pack he had brought with him from the neck hung heavy with strips of dried, white birch bark and bits of deadfall collected along the way. Fire would be easier to achieve that night.


The crannogman glanced across at his companion.
“Take her down to the edge of the forest but no further,” he cautioned, green eyes scanning the distant banks, his brow furrowed beneath his chestnut hair. For three days the Wolfswood had been quiet. Wisps of smoke above the trees. Once, a distant braying of a hound. Otherwise, it had been quiet. But the Lord of the Neck was not so foolish to believe that they were safe. Travelers and refugees would be fleeing just as they were, with lips to tell tales of anyone strange or out of the ordinary. And a lady with hair kissed by fire with fine clothes and horse alongside a crannogman alone in the woods would not be without notice.


Balancing his heavy pack on one shoulder, he started down the crest of the hill. Light-footed, he made his way through a pair of low hanging scrubs, over a cluster of rocks, and down to open flat ground nestled behind a copse of near-fallen pine. He looked around. The area was flat, but near the water, and any fire they made would be hidden from sight by the hills on either side. Throwing down the pack, the crannogman began gathering together the clumps of needles clustering around and set right to work at building them a small fire.



By the night of the first day, Willow had braided her hair back to keep it relatively clean and out of the way, something she loathed to do since it took away what most would consider a security blanket for how often she hid behind that fiery curtain. Since then, she’d only taken it down once and that was to redo the braid since it had lost most of its form. The prospect of water meant the potential to at least wash off. Of course the water would be freezing, but it couldn’t hurt to cleanse a little of the grime off as long as she dried quickly and didn’t actually submerge any part of herself for more than a few moments.


“And so will we.” Lord Reed’s voice came from the other side of the horse. He was right of course, and her stomach reminded her so as she grimaced. While her body hinted at what it needed she didn’t actually feel hungry, not when her mind was too preoccupied with what had happened and what still needed to happen. It hadn’t been a bad dream, something evidenced by the actual nightmares that continued to haunt her, it had been reality and now she had to deal with it. Jaremy’s appearance from around the mare snapped her from her thoughts as she met his glance, even if only briefly. “I’ll be careful.” She tried to sound reassuring, but in truth she was lost out here and almost wholly depended on the Crannogman’s help, something she was certain he was well aware of. “Do you think we should try to get to the river tonight, or should that wait till morning?” Secretly she prayed to make use of it that night but if he pushed it off till morning she wasn’t going to argue about it.


Jaremy grimaced. He looked up from the pine bundle he was gathering together to gaze out over the banks of the White Knife. Cattails and low-lying water reeds obscured most of his vision of the opposing side. Jagged rocks and ledges he could see, sloping up to another hill that disappeared behind some woods. For the most part though, it was flat. Open. Anyone crossing by on a boat would see them if they strayed too close. After a moment, he shook his head.


“It is too much risk,” he said, reaching down all the while to pick up the ash branch he was using as a starter pole. “Should we camp nearby, the flames of our fire will be exposed to anyone traveling down river.”


But they clearly needed food. They had been subsisting for the last few days on a handful of wild berries and some pine nuts he had discovered at the base of a fallen tree. A hot meal, cooked by fire, and some decent rest would probably not go amiss. Particularly by her. Jaremy tilted his head to gaze warily at his companion. For three days, she had ridden with him, and in those three days, he had seen her do little but the basic tasks running required. She steered the horse, ate some, and in the brief snatches Jaremy saw her sleeping, the wolf maid’s body would go rigid and her freckles stood stark against her milk white skin. Nightmares, he knew. They used to haunt him too.


Jaremy grimaced. Pausing in the act of creating an ember for their fire, he stared down at the river below and then back up at the Stark maid, thinking over her words.


“There will likely be fish down there,” the crannogman said finally. “And perhaps some frog and fowl for supper. If you wish, I will accompany you down to the water’s edge, Lady Stark.”

But only for an hour or two and no longer, he thought privately to himself. Though it might appear as if he were relenting, his vigilance to the threat around them had not waned in the slightest.


Willow had already begun to guide the horse closer to the treeline when he replied, the woman pausing but keeping her head close to the mare’s as she listened. His concern was as blatant as her hair was against the deep greens and browns that surrounded them. It was warranted with what they’d escaped mere days ago. She nodded, disappointed in the loss of the option but understanding that they were in danger and that he was only looking out for their best interests and so she started to resume her trek as she assumed that that was the end of the conversation.


“There will likely be fish down there, and perhaps some frog an fowl for supper.” She paused again and turned to face him, her expression betraying her hope as she actually let a small smile slip.


“I would enjoy that.” Food would probably be a good thing for both of them. They would need their strength to get to their destination. “I’ve never had frog before… have you?” Both an admission and a curiosity as she’d heard that the Crannogman did eat frogs among other things. He’d taken care of quite a bit of their immediate needs on the way out and she knew that had he not been with her, had she by some miracle escaped on her own, she would not have made it this far. He’d insisted that they avoid Cerwyn, worried that someone might force her to stay. That Karstark would come for her if anyone mentioned that she’d made it that far. He’d known how to get the pine nuts out of their awful cones and it was him who’d keenly caught sight of the patch of cloudberries. As late as the season was, they were over-ripe and sweeter, the golden-yellow fruits at least being pleasant in flavor. Looking at him now, she couldn’t just see ‘Lord Jaremy Reed of the Crannogs’ or the Lord of Greywater Watch, she saw him as a friend, someone who’d shown respect and care and who had more survival instincts than the supposed wolves her family tended to be compared to.


Jaremy rose, brushing dirt and dust from his knees. “Of course,” he told her at once. “They’re plentiful at the Neck. And not half bad if you know how best to cook them.”


Thinking of the Neck, of home, sent a pang through him. It had been almost three weeks since he had last looked upon Greywater Watch. The bogs had churned with the arrival of boats as skiff, canoe, and skin raft had made their way through the Neck, some arriving as far south as Seagard at his call for council. Hard men, like his uncle, Mern, vigilant and unyielding despite being the gravity of the situation. Many of them had been women. His sister, Isana, of course, and also soothsayers, oracles, and even a greenseer from as far away as the Isle of Faces. The girl had been about his age, he recalled, with blonde hair and eyes the color of the sea. It had been her that served the last stew he’d eaten. There had been frog in it, he remembered. And some strange root that was both very hot but pleasant at the same time.


Shaking off the memory, the Lord of Greywater took his three-pronged spear off the ground, then slowly set off towards the dark, distant waters. He moved in complete silence, for the most part, but when the sound of fast-moving waters grew near, Jaremy inhaled deeply, a pleasurable shudder crossing his shoulders. There was nothing he loved more than the smell of fresh water; the aroma was a mixture of all the best years of his life, with none of the worst. Jaremy opened his eyes again.


“Did your father ever teach you to fish, Lady Stark?”


The question was, perhaps, a bit ill-timed, but Jaremy, as unfamiliar with the society of the big people, was genuinely curious. They had no grey men, maesters they called them, nor the bald septons from the southron lands to teach them the ways of the world at Greywater Watch. It had been his father who taught him everything, who had taught his sister everything. How to breathe mud, run through trees, how to mix fire and water, earth and sky, and all the mysteries of the bogs they called home. Naturally, though he knew they were different than all the others in the North, Jaremy was left to assume that it was the Old Wolf who had instructed his daughters as well.


There was a bit of surprise at the fact that it was true, that those of the swamp did cook and eat frogs. The little hoppy critters tended to be slimy. She remembered a time that Aragelle had come running up to her, calling out that she had something she wanted to give her. ‘Close your eyes!’ Willow should have known it was going to be something awful… the poor little amphibian was terrified and Willow hadn’t been prepared for the slime. Her free hand gripped against her skirt with the memory to subconsciously wipe the ‘slime’ there.


“Did your father ever teach you to fish, Lady Stark?”


The memory faded as she shook her head. “No.” The answer was half-breathed as she lowered her gaze to the hard earth, scuffing her boots over a small pile of deadfall as she followed. Her father was a tender subject, that particular wound far too fresh for her to truly want to discuss it. “My mother did teach me how fish are dried, smoked, and scaled, however.”


“No.”


The single word gave Jaremy pause. It had been softly spoken, barely audible over the crunching of deadfall beneath their boots, but the tone filled him with remorse. He looked away for a moment, saying nothing. Then, as they exited the edge of the woods, he heard her speak up again, as if nothing had ever happened. The crannogman managed a wisp of a smile.


“My mother taught me the same,” he said, his voice wistful, absent. “A long time ago.”

Before Isana was born. Before the Greywater fever had claimed her. Lehna Reed was but a vague memory to him now. When the Lord of Greywater thought of her, he could only remember little things: the warmth of her smile, the softness of her hands, wrinkled with age, the way her hair had smelled like woodsmoke, and perhaps, most of all, the subtle dignity and respect she gave to everyone beneath them. She had put on a brave face up until the very end.


So had his father.


And so, too, must he.


They reached the White Knife not long after. Songs of sparrows, nightingales, and the croaking of frogs filled the air. The river itself burbled pleasantly, the black surface disturbed by wrinkles as it flowed ever onward to the east. It must go on like this for miles, the crannogman thought, watching the rapids flow past. For a moment, he sorely wished he had his boat.


When they grew close to the water's edge and the cover began to thin, he threw out his hand in caution.


“Wait.”


Taking up his spear in both hands, the little crannogman then slid forward into the shadows, disappearing into the reeds before them. He would be absent for maybe five minutes, before he returned, stepping out from the gloom as if he had never disappeared in the first place.


“I saw no signs of patrols along the river, my lady. It should be safe.”


Safe. As if there were anywhere in the Seven Kingdoms that was safe anymore.


But the crannogman let no signs of apprehension show in his face. Instead, he unfastened the dapple-green traveling cloak from around his shoulders, folding it neatly and tucking it beneath the branches of a willow tree that hung low over the water. Then he began sliding off his boots. Though the air was gripped by a bitter mist that made the chill sink into the bone, it seemed that Jaremy was still determined to go in.


“My mother taught me a lot of things. How to mend the holes that often happen in socks, how much food a large group of people need to save up for winter, and that in this world just about anything can happen… while mother liked to focus on the good, I have come to realize that the bad is just as likely.” She paused at the forest’s edge to loop the horse’s lead over a branch and followed him down, smiling a bit as she took note of just how clear the water was, the sinking sun leaving it’s surface glimmering like the scales of the fish they’d been discussing.


She looked on with some confusion as he told her to wait, auburn brows knitting with some trepidation as she watched him disappear into his family’s namesake. Had he seen something? She turned her gaze to the treeline they’d just left, looking for any signs of movement and only really finding the horse and a few birds further down. Her breath caught slightly with her rising nervousness, her heart starting to beat a little faster as she backed towards the ‘wall’ of river grass and reeds, the golden stands of cattails that she’d so admired from afar; he wouldn’t leave her here alone… right?


Her question was almost immediately answered as he stepped back out, startling Willow to the point that she yelped and spun around to face him. Her skin was pale for all of a moment before her freckles began to darken and ‘spread’ with an intense pink, her fear turning to embarrassment. ‘Safe’ he had said and she nodded to show she'd heard him, watching as he started to shed some of the outermost layers of his clothing. “Lord Reed… are you sure that's a good idea?” She couldn't talk much, she'd been fantasizing about using ice water to wash with.


One foot after the other, the worn leather traveling boots came off, and then were placed beneath the cloak, with the laces knotted together to prevent them from getting lost. Jaremy then stood up and glanced in Willow’s direction again. The wolf maiden was standing some meters away, her freckled countenance both strangely pale and apprehensive, yet flushed with an intensity that it was small wonder her cheeks hadn’t caught fire. Her eyes at once seemed large and an almost startling shade of silver-blue in the dim autumn light. Jaremy found himself unable to to turn his gaze away from her. At least, that was the case until he caught himself staring. He dropped his eyes at once.


What is the matter with me?


Clearing his throat, Jaremy reached for his spear leaning against the base of the willow tree and started forward. His feet squished unpleasantly in the muck. He winced openly as he noted how cold it was.


“No,” he admitted finally, his back towards her. “But we need food. Warm food, My Lady. This is the simplest option with night coming on.”


Jaremy reached the reeds in catlike silence, body bending into a crouch, the frogspear extended in front of him with the barb aimed at the rushing waters. Just as he reached the water’s edge, the crannogman paused, and looking back over his shoulder added, “Oh, and Lady Stark? There is no need to call me Lord Reed. Not out here. My name is Jaremy.”


Doubtless, she already knew this. Any maester worth his chain would have taught the Stark children the names of the Lords and their Holdfasts before they could walk. They would have learned their House words, too, and how many vassals they could pledge beneath their banners. But this was altogether different. It was a dropping of formalities … and perhaps a stab, a small one, at some form of familiarity. Of course, there was no doubt that many in the Seven Kingdoms would have frowned on this after only just three days - but Jaremy didn’t care. It felt right somehow, given all they had been through together at Winterfell. And though he wasn’t certain of it, there was a part of him on the inside that was sure she would feel the same.


As soon as his gaze dropped so too did her own, that rise in body heat stifling the chill that had threatened to creep across her form. Had she said something wrong? She looked back up at him after he’d turned, her lips thinning into a small frown with his response while she watched him start towards the water. The fire was going to be even more important that night, especially if he got his pants wet. Food was good, but not at the cost of someone’s life. His stance was odd to her, reminding her of how different they were since the men nearer to her home preferring bows when they hunted.


When he turned around he was greeted by her sea-toned gaze as she studied him, her expression giving way to surprise as he spoke. After a moment, she smiled and nodded. “If I am going to call you Jaremy, then you should call me Willow.” She watched after him for only a moment longer before she walked over to where his cloak and boots remained, her boots joining his with a laughing hiss as the cold greeted her toes. “And if you’re going to get yourself soaked, I may as well join you in that foolish endeavor.” Hitching her skirt up a bit, she started downstream from him, not hesitating to begin pushing through the stand of reeds.


Jaremy didn’t seem to hear her. Not at first. He was in the river, the icy cold water swirling around his knees. The Lord of the Crannogs still held his three-pronged spear at the ready, but the motion was much stiffer now than it had been on land. He didn’t want Willow Stark to know it, but the water was excruciating. Much more so than he was used to. In the Neck, the waters remained constant, stagnant. They did not carry snow down from the mountains to the sea. It was also close to the Riverlands, where the snows were more temperate than the harsh, deadly winters that happened around Winterfell. All the same, he gritted his teeth and remained poised in the water, a determined grey-green silhouette against the dying light of the sun. The crannogman felt more than saw Willow Stark enter the reeds nearby and grimaced. Did the wolf maid think to freeze to death? His lips quirked up at he mentioned of his ‘foolish endeavor’.


“I wouldn’t, Lady – Willow,” he warned, while gritting his teeth to keep them from chattering. Knowing she wouldn’t listen, however, Jaremy let out a small reluctant sigh. “As you wish. Stay close.”


I can barely feel my feet as it is. Let alone run if I have to.


Trying to put it out of his mind, the crannogman cast the water for signs – telltale ripples that would alert him to fish or fowl. He made sure to keep very still, to relax his breathing and blend in with the water around him. And it wasn’t long before he found what he was looking for: a three-ringed swarm of bubbles over towards a nearby fallen logs. At once, he sent his spear lancing downwards into the water, then in a motion almost as quick, retracted it in a flurry of white spray. A trout wiggled on the end of it. With a flicking motion, he sent it flopping towards land where it bounced and wiggled in the grass, succumbing to its death throes. Jaremy watched until it flopped no more, then looked for the she-wolf. It had gone quiet outside the chirping of crickets and bleating of frogs. And after three days of near solitude, Jaremy wasn’t eager to slip back into the quiet. There were things he wanted to know. Questions pertaining to things he had had on his mind during the course of their travels.


“Lady … Willow, was … Winterfell … your first time meeting your father’s bannermen?”


He looked back towards the swirling waters, searching for more game.



Frigid cold waters bit against her legs as she waded in just below her knees, her skirt hitched up around her hips and tied into place so it would at least stay dry. She could feel her teeth chattering, the goosebumps raising along her entire body forcing her breath out in a soft huff. There’d been no doubt that it would be cold and yet here she was, stubbornly freezing herself. Aragelle would be proud at least. She smiled shakily and leaned down with cupped hands to start washing herself off. She’d heard his warning, but she’d heard his recognition that she was likely going to do it anyway, and then she heard the splashing. She was about to ask if he was alright when she heard a little bit of movement and then his question.


“Formally… yes.” She admitted. “I’ve met them before, but I’ve never really spoken with any of them until then… Father usually spoke and when he was away, my mother handled those sorts of things. Theon, I believe has spoken with them a time or two, but after he married Lana, he hasn’t been the same, really… Father thought he was at Winterfell while he was in Harrenhal, but as I told him when I arrived, Theon hadn’t been home in a while. I thought he’d followed father to the Grand Council... Apparently I was wrong.” He’d be able to hear the chill in her voice from the icy waters, her tone breathy and uneven. She made quick work of the wash, focusing on her face, neck, and what she could without stripping fully. It wasn’t long before she retreated from the waters, leaving her skirt up only long enough to clear the river completely before releasing the tie.


“Do you trust any of them?” That was the next question. The most important one. What she spoke of the Old Wolf’s son was noted, of course, but it did not phase Jaremy one way or the other. The young wolf was not at Winterfell. For all they knew, he could be a thousand miles away, swept up in the winds of warfare that seemed to have crossed the land in only a few short days. Theon Stark would be of no help to them. And even he could in some way, it changed nothing as far as the crannogman was concerned. The only Stark who had proven themselves worth following, worth the dedication and thousands of years of blood spilled in their name was Willow Stark. No other had stood up to the Lords of the North. Not Lady Amelia, nor her sisters, nor Bryce, the Old Wolf, or the heir she spoke of had tried to rally them.


Only her.


If I could, I would get down on my knee and swear my allegiance to her now for that, Jaremy Reed thought as he brought his spear up again. But there was a better time and, certainly, a better place for that.


In White Harbor. I’ll do it in White Harbor.


But was that where they should go? Lady Manderly had tried to help them. It had been her that had gotten them out. But so had the Bolton woman. Should they be making for the Dreadfort instead? Where her sisters were surely held? Or should it be south they should be making for. If there was any Lord he trusted outside of his own bannermen, it would be the Lord of Barrows, his uncle by marriage. Ten years ago, he had been one of the few to rally to their call. Jaremy loved him for that. But was it worth dragging him into this mess?


Perhaps I should just go home instead.


Home was a sobering thought. Greywater Watch was leagues away, hidden through a valley of marsh and mist. If there was any place a Stark of Winterfell would be safe, it would be there. Or at least, that would be true if the Riverlands were not marching upon them with thousands of spears, horses, and weapons built and designed for siege.


Jaremy struck out with the spear a few more times. By the end of his ‘hunt’, four silver trout lay up against the shore. He waded out of the frigid waters at a swift, loping gait. Wincing, he paused when he reached the land, bending down to rub some life back into his legs that had gone pale from his time in the mud. He started to reach for his cloak as well but hesitated in the very act of grasping the fabric. Moss green eyes looked to Willow, observing her in her flimsy dress, ripped from the days of travel through the Wolfswood. Jaremy held out the cloak.


“Here. That can’t be very warm.”



‘Do you trust any of them?’ The question echoed in her mind as she started to consider it. Did she? Lady Bolton seemed friendly with my sisters… “I know that I trust you… Lady Manderly tried to help, I think... and so did Lady Bolton, Aragelle and Lyanna seemed to trust her.” She hated that she didn’t really have a better answer, that she didn’t know more about those who were supposed allies. “I was not supposed to be… the one to do things like that.” She frowned, thinking back on how things had been taught. “I was shown how to run a household, not how to… how to discuss war and things of that nature. That was supposed to be Theon’s role…”


The linen of her skirt was used as a ‘towel’ to dry her legs, her face and neck already dry but taut with the cold. “I’m sorry.” She stated quietly as she righted herself and traipsed over to where her boots remained so she could pull them back on. I should have paid more attention. I should have pressed to learn more. In truth she’d normally hid when too many came around, something she regretted now. She heard him coming up out of the water and turned towards him, glancing back at the silver-scaled fishes that lay on the ground, enough for a few days if they rationed well. “I’m not actually… good at cooking.” A soft grimace took her expression with the admission, her eyes flitting to the offered cloak and then up to his face. “You need to be warm, too. I’ll be alright, but we should get the fire started.”

Jaremy paused for a moment, then shrugged inside and wrapped the worn traveling cloak around his shoulders blanket-style. Aloud, he said: “You should take more care, Lady Willow. There is no point if you catch your death out here.” But she was right. A fire would be better. He returned to the bank and gathered up their catch, wrapping it securely in the flaxen net that hung at his waist. When he was finished, he stepped into his boots, laced them, and then nodded towards the top of the hill where he had left their supplies.


“I’ll go get the fire started.”


He needed some to think. To figure out what their options were.


Manderly, Bolton, or his Uncle in the South …


Willow Stark hadn’t told him as much as he had hoped, but Jaremy realized that this was probably for the best. It was better to go with the facts, with what he knew, than anyone else’s judgement. Before he left entirely to tend their needs, he turned to her solemnly.


“And don’t be sorry, Lady Willow. I am ultimately here to serve at your disposal. What happened at Winterfell is not your fault. It does no good to berate yourself over the past now.”



It will only drive you mad.


@Whisker
 
Crow’s Nest
Criston Wylde, Gladden Wylde, Luthor Kellington, Allyria Morrigen

Night had set upon the passes leading from Crow’s Nest, and around these passes sat the camps of thousands of men. Banners flapped in the cool wind striking the mountain, the camp littered with the various coats of houses who had marched. The fire of torches crackled, and the armor of guards shifted whilst they held their posts.

A large drawn map lay strewn across wooden table within the camp’s rather packed command tent, where various men within either sat or stood. From Sunspear on the curved arm of Dorne, from Oldtown and the Roseroad to the Vale of Arryn and ending in the Neck, the too-large map depicted entire Kingdoms of no concern to the Cape Lords and Knights around it. Men gestured and pointed fingers along the interior of Shipbreaker Bay. They listened to each other and they spoke over each other as passionate men are wont to do, and nothing so reliably draws passion from men like these as a threat upon their homes. This, he was coming to learn.

Criston Wylde tended toward listening.

Hours of debate had already occured within the duck cloth walls, and most of it from the mouths of Knights and Lords decades older than he. The castle-forged steel of a knife dipped underneath his fingernails, slowly, scraping out dirt. As the youngest man with a seat at the table, Lord Wylde considered it prudent to listen to the wisdom of his battle-hardened elders. His gaze traveled the map as men spoke over it, and his right foot absently pushed and pulled on Ambrose’s side as the large merle cur lounged underneath the table at his feet. It was a small comfort, that, having a pair of his dogs with him.

But it wasn’t enough.

“Even should Baelor Tyrell retreat from Storm’s End, the likelihood that he’ll march south and past Griffin’s Roost is beyond negligible,” Ser Orivel Mertyns said. A cousin of Lord Mertyns; Criston struggled not to become distracted by the way Orivel only spoke from one side of his mouth. “We’re wasting time in the mountains when we should be-”

“None of us have denied that, Ser Orivel,” snapped Lord Jarman Bolling. “It just doesn’t matter. Without orders from Alexander Baratheon, we are marching nowhere.”

That Storm’s End would stand the coming siege went without question; no man in the room assumed Baelor Tyrell capable of taking a castle with hundred-foot tall, and forty-feet thick walls. Blackhaven and Harvest Hall may have fallen, but Storm’s End would not. The fortress’ curtain wall was impregnable, and so they spoke instead of other, more likely outcomes.

“Lord Wylde and I agree with Lord Bolling. The likelihood of a march on Cape Wrath is not the reason we are here. We must treat a march as a definite if we want to be prepared,” Ser Gladden Wylde reached forward and put both of his hands on the map, shifting some weight to them as his legs begged for mercy. He had been standing next to his Lord nephew for nearly the entire ordeal. He used his fingers to demonstrate his next words, “Tyrell’s army is likely seeking to siege Storm’s End, it’s the most reasonable action to assume from the information we’ve gathered thus far. With Blackhaven under their control and the army marching towards Storm’s End, we could be in the middle of a two front attack. Marching anywhere would be the equivalent of sticking our neck out and waiting to be stabbed,” his tone, especially towards the end, had more than just a hint of distaste that he had to explain such a fact to the men in the room.

“The men of Cape Wrath have the advantage of knowing the terrain and the will to protect their home. If we use these correctly, we can defend Cape Wrath against any attack. If we dare march, we lose both of those advantages and put ourselves in a precarious situation, with hostile armies on both sides and leaving Crow’s Nest vulnerable to siege.”

“We are not unaware of the risks, Ser Gladden.” Lord Spencer Kellington spoke up now, leaning forward on his creaking seat. “But passively staying here like bottled wine will gain us nothing. We must act! After they starve out Storm’s End, what then?”

“Then, we tie up their forces,” a new voice said levelly from Lord Wylde’s other side. Ser Luthor Kellington, Lord Kellington’s brother and the sworn shield of Lord Wylde. Most had forgotten his presence, for he had been as silent as Lord Wylde and not half as prominent. “We are not alone in this fight. As they attack us, they leave themselves open to our allies. As they guard from us, they do not guard from others. Our job is to look as though we might attack.”

“Hardly.” Ser Renly of House Rogers hadn’t spoken much. “They’ll guard from us fine. They’ve got the men.”

“And we’ve the supplies,” countered Lord Bolling. “We’ve got our land in reach. Wagons of food approaching. We could hold this position for weeks. Moons, if we must.”

“As though the Reach is lacking in supplies, in food levies,” Ser Renly snapped right back. “Are you daft, my Lord?”

“Am I daft?”

“Not daft, but not looking at each angle either.” Intoned Ser Brightsand, his arms folded across his chest as he watched them bicker. “What of their supplies if the fields are burned before the harvest?”

Lord Wylde turned the knife over, glancing from dirt he’d picked up to the dornish knight who served as Morrigen’s Captain. “What are you suggesting, Ser?” he asked.

“I’m suggesting we take out the problem before it becomes one.” Brightsand looked to the young lord and relaxed his stance. “I’d also suggest not taking a direct approach and perhaps even a little underhanded warfare.”

“It could be done.” Criston set the blade down on the table, adjusting to a bit of a straighter seat as he glanced at other faces around the table, and then his uncle. “A tight force of a few hundred mounted knights, sent due west through mountains and marches we know better than they. Put their fields to torch, and draw troops back, or out of their castles.” In theory, anything could be done.

Ser Beric Whitehead, who was more interested in battle itself than planning, took but a heartbeat to make the offer. “I would be glad to lead-”

He didn’t finish.

There was a bustle of movement, and the knight’s attention diverted, as did others’ in the tent.

Outside the tent, a pair of horses rode up with haste. There was bustle about the dismounting of the pair of riders, and an outside guard milady’d one of the arrivals. Within, Criston looked toward the door of the tent, and below the table Ambrose let out a great, weighty growl at this would-be intruder.

The guards aside the outside of the tent’s door moved, drawing it open for Lady Allyria Morrigen’s entry.

She looked ghostly, the light dusting of freckles standing out in stark contrast to the near-alabaster of her skin.

“Storm’s End has surrendered.” The young Lady-to-be of only seventeen huffed out a series of breaths, her hands clutching at her skirt as she braced herself, and not without reason. “To Baelor Tyrell.”

WHAT?” Ser Orivel belted.


@Little-Fox
@Fezzes
@Shadowborn Omen
 
Last edited:

Akio

Lord of Naptime
Laena Martell

Laena had never been to Essos, even in all the missions she had ever run for her father had never been sent to this strange land of vibrant scents and bright colors. Dornish men and woman always loved their bright and vibrant colors, not unconsideringly because the lighter colors helped reflect heat. But the people of Essos regarded their colors even more and nearly everyone she saw was wearing vibrant colors and the market she was in was colorful and bright. Beautiful tapestries lined the walls of many stalls and Laenas eager and happy eyes looked around at the many stalls in wonder. She too fit in fairly well, though her complexion was different she was also dressed as richly as any Myrish noble, a vibrant red dress hugging her frame trimmed with gold which hung to her frame tightly with a flared collar that exposed much of her chest without being too immodest and a thin gold necklace with a medium size Saphire Ruby just above her chest. Behind her walked three guards of Sunspear, staying close as they looked at the bustling crowds, their captain not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

"My lady theirs to many people, it's dangerous here." The experienced captain remarked, eyes trying to scan anyone who so much as came within ten of Laena which given how crowded it was remained difficult. She had arrived her some days past and had been staying at the Manse of Nakaro Ormyr, one of the Magisters of Myr who was a trading partner of her father and had offered to host her stay in Myr along with a few house guards and her Maester. However, after setting out a quick letting Laena had insisted in going out and seeing the city she had only briefly seen on her way in and had spent the last hour touring the marketplace and negotiating and praising merchants for their goods, usually buying some tapestry or babble from their shop before moving on. Never the less she hadn't seemed to tire of the market yet. Now she turned to flash a smile at the older captain that split her full lips into a wide happy grin as she skipped closer to the guard. "Just a little bit longer Ruger, I have never left Westeros before so I wish to see a bit more of this beautiful city. It's nothing like we have in Westeros." Her wide grin made it hard for the older man to still caution the young girl and the guard next to him laughed. He was not Westerosi but rather of the Summer Isles, his dark skin clashing with the pale gold of cloth pulled over black leather armor. "You're not gonna be able to convince the little miss Ruger, besides within the middle of Myr, as a guest of a magister. I doubt anyone is just gonna attack us out of the blue." Of the three actually only the captain was Westerosi. The other was a Summer Islander and the last seemed Ghiscari. They were a part of the original 20 Unsullied that Ryden had freed some years ago. Laena had taken 3 of these original Unsullied and two of the men they had trained for her brothers unit and five of the most experienced house guards. Many of them had been with Qoren and her family in Harrenhall though some had come back with her to escort her brother's body and it had been those experienced and loyal men that she had taken with her.

Just thinking about Darron had caused her smile to falter slightly but she soon refocused and turned away from her captain. "It's just for a bit longer, I will have to return soon anyway to wait for lady Rhaenyra." She said cheerfully as she went down the street, though the captain noticed with some relief she was sticking closer now, staying only a few feet in front of him. "It's certainly beautiful here." She said scanning the stalls before running over to one to negotiate for vibrant tapestry depicting a dragon in flight before returning, the tapestry rolled up in her hands rather than just taken to the manse like many other things had been. "Ruger look at this! Isn't it beautiful!" She said unrolling part of the tapestry for him to see, and he couldn't help but sigh in praise. Myrish tapestries were certainly worth the price they paid for them, those made in Westeros were never so vibrant, nor so finely crafted. "It is Princess," he affirmed, giving her a soft look as she beamed happily. "I think ill bring it back for Elaena once I finish my time in Essos. I didn't have a good present before for her last time as things moved so quickly." She mused as she rerolled the tapestry. "Back to the Manse now. I don't want to miss the meeting."

It was a long trek back and Rugar couldn't relax till they got out of the heavy crowds of the market and back being the close walls of the Manse. He couldn't help but glance at the man's Unsullied guards and compare them to the two next to him. He had never seen one of these silent guardians even speak and sometimes he thought he saw marks on them but the other two only gave them a glance. They had not commented, at least not openly, on the presence of other Unsullied despite being Unsullied themselves before Ryden freed them. Few could think about the depth of the training they had gone through. Yet compared to the silent creatures he saw those men had become very different and adapted well to their new home. Laena led them all inside and the other two branched off and only he followed her into the main room where she set aside the tapestry. "Think she'll join us." He said, obviously speaking only of one person while Laena turned her gaze to him, her small smile ever present on her face. "I hope she will. And believing in hope is how I choose to go about things. How it will go otherwise will be hard to tell till she arrives. The Golden Company has been looking for a way back to Westeros for years. It's not impossible of that she had already been watching this war with interest. But I will get her to join us. My family depends on it." She said softly before looking up at him. "Mind getting me some tea Rugar, and the book i was reading. I'm gonna wait here for now." Rugar bowed quickly. "Yes my Lady."

To Lady Rhaenyra, Captain of the Golden Company.

Lady Rhaenyra, I am Laena Martell, Princess of Dorne. I have come to Myr in the hopes of fulfilling negotiations my father, Qoren Martell the Master of Coin has written to you about. I wish to employ your services for the crown in the battlefields of Westeros and facilitate a way home for you and your band of brothers.

I am here to discuss possible details of what our alliance might entail and what we can do for each other. I hope you will hear me out and we will be able to prosper together.

Laena Martell, Princess of Dorne.
 
Lyanna Stark
Normally she would be complaining about her body being sore from riding at this point.
Lyanna Stark only felt numb now.

The horse beneath her was a beautiful, strong creature, and yet she’d barely marvelled at it as she’d mounted it. Even so, it’s warm flesh was a comfort beneath her small hands, and she splayed her fingers across it’s neck for a moment, trying to savour the feeling. As a little girl she’d loved horses. As a not so little girl, she’d loved horses and also the boys who tended to them. Gods, it all seemed to silly now. So… inconsequential.

The time both crawled and sped past at the same time. Lyanna spent it in a haze, a daydream, reliving every moment of the day.
The hunt.
The giggles at spying on the meeting.
The horror.
Father.

She was broken from her daze as she noticed Leona had stopped her horse, and quickly coaxed her own to stop beside the older girl. They shared a look then, two girls united by loss. Lyanna did not feel like a girl anymore. Something that day had made her a woman.
Lyanna didn’t want to tell Leona what had happened. Not just because she didn’t want to relive it, but because she didn’t want to hurt the poor woman any further. Though she did owe Leona both her life, and Aregelle’s.
And if the roles had been reversed, if Leona had watched Bryce die, Lyanna knew she would want the details.

“Karstark.” The venom in Lyanna’s voice surprised her: she did not sound like herself anymore. “Gregor, your brother, he… he killed Umber. Called him a traitor. He didn’t have the time to react, Karstark stabbed him from behind, like a coward.” She paused to steady herself, to stop the emotion seeping into her words and turning them fierce, to prevent the tears from falling. “Leona, I’m so sorry.”

Lyanna clenched her jaw and took a breath as her eyes squeezed shut, and when they fluttered open, they were dry. “He killed your brother, and then he killed my father.”

In all her life, Lyanna had never wanted to harm another person. She’d pulled her sisters’ hair when they were children, she’d play fought her brother, but she’d never wanted anybody to suffer. Until now. Because she realised with a pang that she would never be able to truly rest until the actions taken against Gregor and Bryce had been well and truly paid for, a million times over.

She reached out a hand to lace her fingers through Leona’s.
Her gaze was steely.
There was no quiver in her voice.
Lyanna did not falter.

“He will pay. We will make him pay, Leona, you and I. We’ll make them proud. We’ll avenge them.”

A breath, and then a macabre twist on a childish practise.
She released Leona’s hand and offered her her little finger.
“Promise.”


@TheFool @TheTraveller
 
The Sand Kitten and the Ashen Moon
Anaya Uller and Lucas the Ashen Blade

Dressed in a soft gown of subdued orange, a small Dornish woman darted across an alleyway that intersected with the Street of Silk, heading south towards the northern-most edge of Rhaenys’s Hill. A teal scarf was wrapped around her head to cover her hair and to help hide her identity, but anyone who knew her by sight was likely to recognize her for the Dornish colors of her garb, the color of what skin was still readily exposed, and most specifically - her height.

______________________________________________________________________________


Lucas was on a lovely little stroll through King’s Landing. He wore his normal leathers with his dagger and sword belted to his hip. Today he wore his ashes in an upside down crescent on his face, deciding the need for a new design. The only bit of his wardrobe that he neglected to wear was the tabard that bore the crest and colors of the house that held his contract. Better to keep that off, lest he take an unwanted dagger to the back.

As he strode through the street, a grin stretched across his face as he caught a glimpse of a rather diminutive person darting through the alleyways. Rolling his eyes, he decided to follow. Best not to call her out now, or he might alert whoever she’s trying to run from...and that wouldn’t be fun...well mostly not fun.



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While she still detested Kingslanding, she’d decided to make the best of it by learning as much as she could about it. She’d found a few street urchins and all too eager vendors to explain the layout of the city to her a bit more, a blessing for the girl as she’d decided to make the best of her free time while she still had it. Once lessons began with the Braavosi, she intended to spend as much time as she possibly could devoted to absorbing the rules and mannerisms of the Dance. Of course, Baelish’s warning hadn’t gone unheard either. She was more cautious and took to checking her surroundings more often, specifically looking for any fellow Dornish and doing her best to avoid the guards who would certainly haul her back to the Red Keep if they found her.


Another quick turn down an alleyway squared the street once more, the hillside rising up along her left as she tried to figure out exactly how she’d gotten this far from where she’d began. This city is enormous… I’ve been this way before, I think.. I hope I’m not going in circles. Shit. She stopped abruptly and looked around, mentally scolding herself for not bringing something to mark the corners with… either coal or perhaps chalk if she could find some.



______________________________________________________________________________


Lucas followed the Dornish woman through the winding streets, staying just out of eyesight as she made her way through the winding alleyways of King’s Landing. It’s not that he needed to be stealthy. No one was about to haul him back to the castle anytime soon, but purely for the entertainment of watching her struggle with navigation. All fun must come to an end however. He strode up to the girl, his arms folded and a grin plastered all over that ash covered face. “Are we lost, my friend?” He asked as he approached her. Hopefully he didn’t scare the poor girl out of her wits.


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A whirl of orange and blue fabric was quick to reveal that familiar face, wide green eyes set above a line of red, white markings across her forehead and bits of brown tresses framing her dusky features. A soft huff escaped through her nose as she crossed her arms indignantly, a brow raising. “Of course not. I was just pausing to look at the lovely walls here.” Her tone was drenched in sarcasm and topped with her adrenaline. “So, were you following me or did you just happen to be in the same district?”


______________________________________________________________________________


“Eeeeeh..” he said moving his head side to side as he thought. “Yes.” It was both a non-answer, a true answer, and a smart ass answer all wrapped up in one! And that grin across his face said that he was more than amused with himself. He walked over to where she was and looked at the wall, placing a hand on his chin and stroking the brown hair that grew there. “This is a lovely wall. Very nice masonry. You have a great eye!” He said, his grin growing more. Sighing, he decided to cut the bullshit and turned his slate gray gaze to her and looked around. “So...no guards, no Ryden...either you ditched or they haven’t found you yet. So, what brings you to the city today? Just getting a little air?”

______________________________________________________________________________


His answer did absolutely nothing to reduce her sarcastic mood and her expression said as much. Green hues rolled as he inspected the wall and offered his mockery of a complement and the only reprieve came in the form of a visible wince at the mention of Ryden. She turned and started towards what she hoped was the South-western alley and shrugged. “It’s better than staying in the guest chambers of the Red Keep all day or watching my father meet with other Lords. Besides, I hope to be actually doing something productive with my time soon.” She wasn’t going to touch the subject of the temperamental Dornish prince anytime soon if she didn’t absolutely have to.


______________________________________________________________________________


His antics coming to an end...for now...he started to walk with the little Dornish lady, a slight raise to the eyebrow accompanying the new information. “Productive, huh?” Lucas knew that she wasn’t like many….or really any of the nobles that he had come to know. So the word ‘productive’ coming out of her mouth was likely something with a whole different meaning to it. “Well I suppose something needs to be done with all the free time that you have on your hands while your father tries to toss you at some noble and the Princeling...well I think we both could do with a conversation that didn’t involve him.” And yet he just kept coming up… “So, if it’s productive like you say, I can only imagine that anyone too close to your family or their friends are none too privy to the information. What is it that’s going to be preoccupying your time?”


______________________________________________________________________________


There was a small shudder before she paused and turned to face the mercenary, looking up at him with a bit of a smirk. “I agree… and as for how I’ll be productive… my father doesn’t let me live at the training yard as I did in Dorne, but I think that if I am learning under an instructor he will see reason and perhaps I can spend more time there.” -and in armor rather than these damned dresses. She thought to herself, a small grimace accompanying it. “I might have acquired an opportunity to learn the Braavosi Dance…”



______________________________________________________________________________


Lucas’s eyes went a little wide at that knowledge. “YOU LUCKY SON OF A-” Manners! Lucas sighed and hung his head. He’d had his share of teachers, first hand experience, and a few other perks to further his martial prowess throughout his life. Mix that in with a few dirty tactics here and there and he was a force to be reckoned with. But the chance to learn with A Braavosi...well hey, even frilly ways of fighting can be lethal and well worth the learn. “So…” he said picking up his head and trying to cover the envious gleam in his eye. “If you’re learning, will you be needing a sparring partner? Someone to test these new techniques you’ll be learning?” He asked with a hopeful grin moving in to nudge the little Dornish girl in her side. “Besides, it’ll give you an excuse to try to kick my ass for all of the smart ass comments..” he added. Icing on the fucking cake. “Plus, learning to ‘dance’ together would make such a great bonding experience, don’t you think?”



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She tipped her head slightly as she listened, studying that expression as it shifted from surprise to hope, the nudge only gaining a small grumble. There was a hint of guilt in her features with his exclamation, her gaze drifting towards the other end of the alley. “It was luck that brought me to him…” Luck and boldness really… Dayne had brought her to the inn but it was her who’d wanted to come to the seaside… and then it was her who’d outright asked about possible lessons. She weighed her words carefully before she whispered quietly. “He’s supposed to teach Queen Elaena… I asked about learning the Dance and he seemed at least open to it. So I’m hopeful he doesn’t back out on me… I really want to learn and I think it could help quite a bit.” She wasn’t about to tell him what she meant by that, her expression twisting a bit with the memory of that late night conversation.


‘Should you find yourself in a compromised position, and in need of an avenue of escape -- bereft of options -- remember that you may find me, and remember that I offer to help your problems disappear.’


“You defeated Ryden in that duel… I think you’d make a good sparring partner.” She finally stated quietly as she brought her gaze back up to Lucas. I am not a damsel in distress and I refuse to become one. If Baelish is right and the bastard decides to come after me in the manner implied… I won’t hesitate to separate his balls from his groin or perhaps make him a full eunuch. If he is in fact betrothed to the Queen, then I should be safe.



______________________________________________________________________________


“Defeated is one way of putting it.” He said with a chuckle, thinking back to that day. The Prince was good, there was no doubting that, but oh did it feel so good to knock him down a few pegs. ‘Lowborn’ scum like him isn’t supposed to amount to the type of fighter he’s supposed to be. Lucas was more than happy to prove that theory wrong. His only regret was that more people hadn’t been there to see it. “Cheated would be the word that most of the people in your father’s circle would use, but really it’s all just a load of semantics. They say ‘cheaters never prosper’ but when I look at the tally, ‘honorable’ folk do not exactly fair any better.” He made sure to put emphasis on the word ‘father’, a sort of indicator that he didn’t really see her as belonging to that crowd.

A brow was raised at her saying he’d be a good sparring partner. Hey, maybe this would be his way in. It would definitely be a chance to pick up some new tricks of the trade. Not to mention he’s been wanting to see what this not-so-noble noble was made of. His grin stretched even further as he said “I’ve been waiting for a chance to see what you’re made of. Well, if you’re serious,” he held out his hand for her. “Let’s shake on it, partner. Besides, in a place as toxic as the Keep, I think two sets of eyes watching out would be better than one, yeah?” Not to mention she’d be getting them for free. Most were not so lucky.



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She smirked a bit as he mentioned cheating, remembering the cloud of ash that had been tossed at the Martell. “Whether you cheated or not, you won. In a battle where one’s life is on the line… I do not know that I can agree that ‘honor’ is the best route. Why stand in a line if an arrow is sure to take you down? Why not find the archer and take him by surprise? You save so many that way… sometimes including yourself.”

She shrugged lightly, her gaze once more travelling down to the alley’s entrance, ever watchful for those who might be looking for her. There was a bit of surprise in her expression as he voiced that he’d been waiting for a chance like that her head tipping back a bit so she could look up at him. “Oh?” The way he worded the rest of it drew a bit of suspicion, how much did he know and how could she draw it out of him without letting him know what she knew? Fuck it. “The Keep is rather toxic… though I’m curious whether you mean someone in particular or if you just mean in general.” She hadn’t touched the offer just yet, her hand held in hesitation rather than taking his to shake immediately.



______________________________________________________________________________


Lucas rolled his eyes and shook his head, jabbing a thumb at his chest. “In case you didn’t notice, I’m not exactly a perfect fit when it comes to standing in the presence of nobility. I prefer reality rather than petty squabbles about whose ass gets to sit on the throne.” A rather naive way of looking at things since the one whose ass sits on the throne controls the realm, but still. “Which lord’s boots shall I lick today? Which lady or lord can I foist my offspring upon.” He rolled those slate gray hues. “Not exactly my comfort zone and with as much as you sneak away, I’d venture to say that you more than feel the same.” To be honest, there was nothing nefarious about his desire to see how she fights or even the way he talks about the Keep. He just doesn’t like pompous, foppish people. “And yeah, I’ve been waiting to see if you can handle yourself. The way you tend to ditch your guards, it’s either bravado or skill.” he said as his grin returned. “I wish to see which one. And you never know. It could be a grand time.”


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She started to laugh a bit as he spoke, her teeth glinting lightly between those near mauve lips as she placed her hand in his and gripped, shaking it with a decent amount of strength. “In case you haven’t noticed, I prefer what nobles call the ‘smallfolk’ to those of so-called nobility. More oft than not, there is next to nothing noble about the class as it’s exactly about proposed power and how much they can acquire in time. If my father gets his way, my brother will marry a beautiful woman, a daughter of another Lord, and I will be wed to…” She paused, a small smirk of amusement lingering there. “Well… he hoped I would wed one of the Martell boys, but fate seems to have smiled in my general direction on that at least. Now I just need to see how much I can avoid any gatherings of the Lords while we are trapped here in Kingslanding. As for ditching the guards… consider it a survival skill. I’ve been slipping them since I was a little girl when I’d follow my eldest brother to his weapons training. The teacher got so frustrated that he finally decided to give up and teach me alongside him instead of running me off or making me watch from the sidelines.”

______________________________________________________________________________


Lucas’s grin couldn’t have been wider. He was surprised by the strength in those tiny hands, but returned the shake fully and firmly. “Anaya, I do believe this is the start of a wonderful friendship.” And hey, he meant it. As far as noble children went, he actually liked this one. At the mention of marrying one of the Martell boys he shook his head. “So...your father would rather see you miserable with a tie to a powerful family than happy...I think we’re going to have fun making some snags in that plan.” he said with a light chuckle. “Unfortunately I’m more of a distraction type than a sneaky sort. Being light on my feet is...well there is still much to learn.” He released her hand and folded his arms. “Hell, the only reason I hang around nobles is because they pay the best. Good living unfortunately comes at the price of finding a decent pair of boots to lick for those of us who aren’t born into money.” He said with a shrug.


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Anaya shuddered with the second mention of ‘licking boots’ and silently prayed that he’d never actually had to do such a thing. As he folded his arms she nearly mirrored the gesture but felt a bit awkward in doing so and instead started towards the opposing end of the alley, feeling the need to keep moving. “My father wants what he feels is best for Hellholt. If he married my brother to Laena, there’s a chance he’d become a Martell, especially if something happens to Ryden… or if rumors are true and he’s actually betrothed to Elaena… if that’s correct then technically Laena would be Dorne’s Princess… the inheritor of Sunspear. Our women are permitted to inherit and are well respected… meaning that in that case, my brother would certainly become a Martell rather than she becoming a Uller.” She glanced over her shoulder to see if Lucas were still following and continued, glancing forward again as she adjusted her cover. “You might distract, but with my size and skills… I do well with sneaking. The Dance might just make me that much more… formidable in combat.”


______________________________________________________________________________


Lucas followed once she started walking, not really bothering with the whole ‘cover’ thing. If someone recognized him without the tabard, hey, that was on him. As she spoke, he kept his gaze forward, his mind going back a bit as she spoke, The betrothal to Elaena was something that Baelish had mentioned, and was apparently rumor, but with Anaya mentioning it, that was all the confirmation he needed. “So the Queen is going to possibly marry Ryden...I think I honestly feel bad for her.” he said with a deadpan expression. He wasn’t about to voice his thoughts on wondering how he treats his women, already knowing how he treats the people in his employ. “The dance...I think I know what style you’re talking about now. I think he used it when he was giving me my ‘interview’. More flowing than brutal, right?”


______________________________________________________________________________

She nodded, considering what he’d said about feeling bad for her. “Yes. It’s a very flowing style of battle that is quick and requires someone to be light on their feet… and I think I feel a bit bad for Elaena too. She seems very sweet and soft and while he wasn’t always the way he is now…” she frowned, “I hate to think of what would happen if she caught his temper.” There was a moment to gauge her trust in the sellsword before she spoke again. “I was given a warning… that apparently he has some sort of ‘interest’ in me. If it’s not combat oriented, I want no part of it… it’s a small part of why I want to learn. I’ve seen Braavosi fight a little back in Dorne, and while Ryden knows some of it, I don’t think he actually uses all of what he learned… and the issue with trying to mix techniques of varying styles is that they don’t always work so well together. While I could hope to use a glaive with this, I think that a short sword or even daggers might be preferred.”


______________________________________________________________________________


Lucas blinked at that little tidbit. Seems like these two had a mutual friend if it was the right person she’d gotten that intel from the right source. But, he said nothing about that. No need in dealing his entire hand yet. He shrugged and said “If I were you, I’d just try avoiding him all together. The guy is bad news. Only reason I stay near him is because the money is good. The guy’s done nothing to show me that our relationship should progress further than that of business. And he doesn’t exactly inspire loyalty in the guys he hires.” He looked at her to see if that would get a response. “Loyalty and respect. Two things in this world that can’t be bought. Not by nobles, and not even by kings. And if they act as he does, pfft.” he said rolling his eyes. “Good luck finding men to stay when your back is to the wall.”


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Having grown up in Dorne, in Hellholt especially, one learned much of war whether they were directly a part of it or not. For men and women alike, the use of a blade of sorts was not only permitted, it was encouraged… and had she not been born into nobility, she might very well have become a guard rather than needing to be tailed by one. “You’re right on that… both parts, really. Soldiers follow orders, and as he’s the Prince of Dorne, it’s him they look to. But if he loses their respect in this war, he chances that they won’t protect him ‘as well as they could have’ if faced with that opportunity. My best chance is avoidance until things are settled. Once he’s married though… I should be safe.” She glanced up at him and smirked. “From him, anyways.”


______________________________________________________________________________


Lucas grinned at her and looked around to see what she was looking at. “My friend, I hope that you aren’t insinuating that I am a danger.” he said putting his hand flat against his chest….Of course he was a danger, sure, but just what kind? He let out a light chuckle and shrugged. “Who knows? Maybe marriage will make him mellow...though with that marriage comes power, and with power, yada yada yada and we’re back to square one. Hopefully by that time I’ll either be dead or will have had enough sense to put the bastard behind me and get out while I have the chance.” He looks to her with arms still crossed. “I think you’d agree that sometimes running is the smart solution, yes?”



______________________________________________________________________________


His initial response actually got a bit of a laugh out of her, the little woman stopping before reaching the end of the alley to peek first one way and then the other before turning back towards him, once more glancing past towards the end of the alley they’d come from. Caution seemed written into her person with how much she kept track of who might be near. “Of course you’re a danger. You wield a blade as well as the Prince of Dorne and outmatched him in one on one combat… but, I don’t think you’re the sort to attack without provocation.” She shrugged as she met his gaze briefly and turned back towards their destination, once more ‘checking’ before taking a right…. Hopefully southwest. “Running can be a smart decision, or an incredibly dumb one. It… puts your back to the one you’re trying to escape and in Dorne, that usually means a spear through the back.”



______________________________________________________________________________


Lucas grinned at that response and nodded slowly. “Why your father wants to foist you onto some lord instead of letting you in the field is beyond me.” He didn’t touch that first remark though. Civil as he may be in most situations...if a job calls for it, a job calls for it. Of course that isn’t to say he wasn’t without morals. “So, partner, where are we off to, today? What grand adventure were you on before I interrupted you?”


______________________________________________________________________________


“Because if he doesn’t, then House Uller doesn’t gain a new alliance.” She retorted softly. “Alliances are the lifeblood of nobility, without them the entire upper echelon of society would crumble. Wedding pacts are seen as a sort of… promise between families and Houses that they can somewhat depend on the other, just as vassals depend on liege Lords or in Dorne’s case, their Prince.” She huffed softly, her tone lingering on that of boredom. While she understood politics, she detested them. “I rarely have a specific goal in mind, today I was simply trying to understand this city’s layout a bit better.” Another left turn, this one negotiated far more quickly than the last few.



_____________________________________________________________________________


Lucas shook his head as he listened. He never did fit in with the nobility. Too many odds and ends that just didn’t make sense in his mind. He was never cut out for such a life. “Yeah, that’s just a long winded way of saying ‘Rich people are greedy and will pawn off their kids to get more’.” he said with a bit of a cringe. “If your brothers want to live that lifestyle, hey, let them. You would do much better elsewhere. Leave the fluff and frill to the pansies who enjoy that lifestyle. Like I said, reality is much better.” Lucas the Ashenblade, corrupting the minds of nobles who would lend them his ear since he started working. “Power, riches?” he waves his hand in a dismissive gesture. “Those things fade. This?” he said holding up the hilt of his sword. “This is where reality lies. One can see their very mortality on the edge of a blade. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve faced something like that. Granted there are other ways, but this is the one that pays.” he said with a chuckle.


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He was preaching to the choir on a ceremonial morning as he talked about the life of nobility being shit. She knew that, but she also knew the reasonings given for all of it as well. “Long-winded, but that’s how it’s presented for those of us who had to grow up in it.” She sounded annoyed. “And how would you suggest I get out of this…” She gestured around herself in frustration. “This cage… I have found at least two separate gates and both were heavily guarded. I can’t exactly just… walk out with the excuse that I’m going to get some fresh air, now can I?”



______________________________________________________________________________


“You’re very much right about that. You can’t just stroll through the gate like anyone else. Smuggling you perhaps is an option. Maybe even a disguise.” He said, lowering his voice a bit just in case wandering ears just so happened to be lurking. Even his eyes were on the prowl just to be sure no unwanted listeners were close. “That is if that were something you desired.” He said with a shrug. “Life out there? Gotta say, it’s a lot more interesting. But poor. That’s the trade off.” He wasn’t trying to entice her to leave, but even a blind man could see that she was looking for the door. “If I were you though, I think I’d take up a few lessons with the Braavosi before you start thinking about that though. Better chances of survival.” Not to mention all of the other things she’d have to do to keep herself from being found out and hauled back to King’s Landing.

______________________________________________________________________________


“I agree with at least getting some training in with the Braavosi… but I think you underestimate my dislike of where I am in this society and overestimate my lack of understanding when it comes to what lies outside of gilded walls.” She paused, glancing around before getting closer, closing the gap so she could whisper without worry. “The city is full of people from all over who are seeking to make a few dragons so they can get by, do you think I am deaf to their stories? I don’t mind the idea of being poor, I mind the idea of being sold. And if people try to tell you that being married off isn’t being sold, then you’re not talking to someone in danger of it. Some revel in it… it’s what they dream of. Not me. I don’t want to be given to some nobleman to serve as his bed-warmer just so he can satisfy his cock and field my womb for his heirs.”


______________________________________________________________________________


“Not for lack of understanding. More trying to gauge how often your people were able to keep you in arm’s reach.” He said in response to his underestimation of her knowledge. He’d figured that she would be privy to how the other half lives, given her preference of the ‘smallfolk’. He wasn’t about to touch the bit about some lord tilling her womb for his heirs….nor was he about to ask how someone of her stature would be able to handle bearing a child… “But no,” he continued “You seem to be one of the nobles who doesn’t have their heads up their asses.”

The prospect of the possibility of training with a Braavosi, even indirectly with her as a sparring partner...that part he was hoping for and he was glad that she opted to train instead of heading straight for the door he’d just propped open. “I am curious..” he said, taking advantage of the whispered tone “If you had the chance, and you had someone to make sure no spears were aimed at your back...would you run?”



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Her lips perked into a soft smile as she spoke, tempted to laugh at the image of some of the nobles with their heads exactly where they didn’t belong. His question really shouldn’t have surprised her, but it did, even if just a little. “Yes.” There wasn’t any fear or hesitation there. “I’ve been told for at least three years that a man who nearly killed three of his guards because his brother died is who I should be trying to marry. Him, or his brother. Now… Dorran was a sweetheart, but he lacked a backbone of any sort. Laena is sort of a temperance that neither boy ever really… learned and it’s no wonder that her father sends her on things he couldn’t send his sons on.” Two years as a handmaiden had given her a decent amount of insight on the Martells, even if Ryden wasn’t one to be around often. “Even if he is to marry, that does not clear me of the rest of the Dornish Lords… not even Lord Baelish since he is Prince Qoren’s friend.” Her tone fell significantly towards the end, her gaze finding the ground towards the end of the alley. “We should keep moving.”


______________________________________________________________________________


“Eh…” Lucas had his own thoughts about Lord Baelish...some of them decent, others wary. He was a devil that for now, the situation called for. Still, Lucas didn’t like all of the variables of a situation to be in one area. “Well, then I will make you this offer..” he said as he walked with her, leaning in a little closer, keeping the whispered tone. “You don’t like being here, you don’t like your situation, and I don’t like my employer. I know a thing or two about covering tracks and disappearing.” He looks at her to see the reaction. “You do some lessons with the Braavosi, tell me when you’re ready to go, and we turn into ghosts. After that, it’s up to you. I can show you how to disappear, or you can stick with me. Either way, you’d have your freedom, What do you say?”


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Anaya tipped her head one way and then the other before looking up at him, still walking slowly. “I’ll think about it. I like the idea, but I have to consider family as well… my mother would be devastated.” She didn’t mention that her father would be as well… he would be, but she figured that at least quite a bit of his pain would be in the loss of his ‘investment.’ Lucas was right though, she hated Kingslanding more than she hated being paraded around Sunspear. At least there she’d been able to move more freely though. If he watched her expression carefully, he’d be able to see a few different emotions that traveled with her thoughts: pain… and then a bit of frustration.



______________________________________________________________________________


Lucas watched as she contemplated his offer. He knew that this would be a hard decision for her to make. Hell, him of all people should know about it. Still, part of him would not have felt right if he didn’t at least try. Unlike him, she didn’t choose the life she led. “That’s why I’m leaving it up to you. When life deals you a hand such as yours, it usually only gives you a few chances to change it to your liking. But these things are all up to you. I just thought maybe I should slip you a few cards so to say to help even the odds for you.” Agent of fate he may not be, but a guy who knew how to make themselves disappear he was.



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@Dread-neck
 

Selene Mallister
The Sea Watcher
Selene arrived at the head of her forces to the Twins, fully prepared for a Siege.
After introducing herself to the guard, she was swiftly allowed entry while her men made camp behind the siege defenses.
Climbing down from her horse, her first question was aimed at the Maester.
She inquired about any word from the Riverlands about movements or news in general.


She had asked about movements north of the Twins since it was the only land border The North had with the rest of the Kingdoms.
She expected sooner or later an attack would be launched from there.
Once she received the news, she retired to chambers that had been set aside in order to sit and regather her thoughts.
Pouring out a goblet of wine, she worried about the defenses left at Seagard against the Ironborn.
 

Artys Hunter
The Huntsman

Artys nodded at Daeron, knowing when he was being dismissed.
Giving a slight bow, he turned to leave as Daeron entered his tent. The young king would have to be careful, out in the battlefield or on the march was one thing but he would have to learn to play the part better in the capital.


He found himself thinking of his son and mother back home at Longbow Hall, he wanted nothing more than to take his men and return home.
It was his loyalty to House Arryn more than anything keeping him here.
With a weary sigh, he poured out a Goblet of wine and began to reply to Letters he had received from home.


From reports coming in the majority of the fighting had come from the South with The Reach launching an attack on The Stormlands.
A bold move from the Tyrells if he were being honest, but in the Long term he did not know if it would work.


Mentions:
@Bradley3000 - Daeron
@Ferrohcious - Joron
 

Archon

Friendly Neighborhood Gem-Collector
Jeyne Tarly
The Dornish Marches

The hymn of gentle bird song filled the air with uneasy tranquility, a vast expanse of war as far as the eye could see, flanked by the ironic contrast deep fields of beautiful green and the masterwork tracts of farmer's land, littered with hay and discarded tools. Even from a distance, the farmlands looked deserted and bereft of life, no livestock grazed upon the unchecked growth of grass and matted red-pools formed inelegantly around fly-infested carcasses boiling under the intense glaring of the sun, which beat relentlessly upon the earth with an unfaltering fiery gaze.


"Poor fools." The words swiftly cut through the silence, an uneasy sound in a graveyard where all noise threatens to beckon the dead from their rest. Jeyne could only stare at the massacre, limbs sprawled out across the floor, clothing torn and bloodies, most corpses littered with lacerations intended to inflict suffering over death.

"Bandits love a good war," Ser Quentyn Lyberr stated coldly, deep brown eyes unfazed by the horror. "Nobody to stop them from looting, raping, pillaging as they please."

Plate amour emblazoned in the sunlight, the silver-silhouette ushered no reply, one gauntlet grasped the reigns gently and with a low kick willed movement, the mighty white mare reared back into a hastened gallop, in that moment the image of reality could be mistaken for heroic fiction. Ser Quentyn glanced back, counting 16 Men-At-Arms, well-armed and with determination in their hearts, an orange archer on a green field flowed majestically in the wind.
___________________________________
"Keep it movin'!" A loud creak roared out in protest, the battered ground sported the burdens of war, hoove prints and caravan tracks ate into the ground like starved shadow cat's. Weary eyes peered back at her single banner, proudly facing the sky with regal nobility, before craning her neck back to the War Camp. Hundreds of them, a collage of orange and green shining in the daylight, the sigils of House Peake and House Tarly. Together they inflicted a mesmerizing aura of security and authority,a speck of majesty behind the lines of mud-ridden ditches and spiked wooden palisades.

"A sight to be proud of." Qunetyn stated with less grimness than before, the Knight looked to his right. Hidden eyes bereft of his scrutiny.

"Yes, yes I daresay it is." She gazed back, a sentinel of metal. "An improvement from the earlier massacre." She squeezed her feet against the saddle, Beatrice didn't protest the move, her legs moving into a rhythmic canter. Ser Quentyn moved to keep pace.

"My Lady, please... You cannot shy away from the horrors of war, you came here to fight." Quentyn's words rung out with earnest, but their impact fell upon a shield of naivety.

"I'm fine, Quentyn. Really." She entertained the idea of another reprimand, he knew with great clarity how the title 'My Lady' caused her no small level of discomfort, but he had a talent for using it with the perfect blend of honest respect and playful banter.

"There," Jeyne said, eyes spying the two towering banners beside a war tent that resembled a miniature fortress over a temporary place of rest. Quentyn halted in his tracks to hand out instructions to the Household Guard, leaning forward with a preparation for command. "We'll talk later."

She raised her hand in a waving manner, never turning back, her goal singular and absolute. Wrapped in steel, heavy sabaton's stepped through the flap, bringing her face-to-face with Torman Tarly. Standing at mock-attention for a moment, Jeyne raised both arms, heaving the helmet from her head; a cascade of dark hair rolling down sweat-shined cheeks. She dropped the helmet with an audible clang.

Mischievous eyes, lit up by a devilish smirk, her arm grasped the training blade to the side with graceful elegance, perfect form unveiled into an aggressive stance, the dulled blade facing her brother's neck. "Yield, My Lord."
@Yarrow
 
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TheTraveller

Not all those who wander are lost
Aregelle Stark
"Winter is Coming"


Aregelle didn't notice that their company finally came to a halt next to a river. The pale moonlight glimmered over the waters, casting an illusion like there were a handful of jewels nearby. She actually didn't even notice that she was riding a horse towards safety. A Bolton soldier was in front of her, leading her horse over the side. Aregelle suspected that if it wasn't for him she won't be moving at all. "Is there anything wrong, my lady?" He asked out of a sudden, but then a mortified expression filled his face upon realizing his question and before he could apologize, Aregelle cut him off with a wave of her hand. Normally, if a stupid question was asked, Aregelle will not hold back and put the soldier (or no matter who they and her doing often times lands her in trouble) in his place but the girl was more than tired and not in the mood. Besides, by not mocking him off, Aregelle considered it as a payment for rescuing her.

She offered him a small smile, quietly relaying that he was all forgiven. When the Lady Bolton came by, the soldier went ahead, leaving the girls and giving them as much privacy as they can. Leona’s question was something Aregelle dreaded. It was hard for her to think about what happened, and saying it out loud is not easier too. Thankfully, Lyanna stepped in. What she said was the truth but it was oversimplification. Probably it was all for the better. She wanted to spare Leona the details and just let Lyanna's explanation fuel her pain and sorrow but Aregelle knew that Leona can stomach it. She has the every right to know.

"Lord Bolton is a respectable and smart Northman and I believe he has the best intentions for the North in his mind and in his heart like any true Northmen. Lord Bolton has my support. The Men of Karhold will follow him.” Aregelle finally spoke, easily quoting the traitor. The words tasted like poison but she managed to spew it out clearly but quietly. Her eyes were on the ground but as soon as she looks up and stared at Leona, her eyes is conveys more than anguish and bitterness. "Karstark's words before Umber declared that their allegiance only lies to the King in the North. Your brother saw this as treason and he acted upon duty. He slew Umber in the grounds of high treason and the traitorous Karstark saw his chance... he drove a blade through your brother." Aregelle added softly. "Father tried to avenge Lord Bolton but instead of landing a blow to that craven northerner, he hit one of Karstark's grimy and idiotic looking boys." She remembered the pool of blood everywhere when Ice severed the boy’s hand. Aregelle shook her head as if to clear it from the cruel memory of events. "Karstark... he's a craven. A monster. A kinslayer." Her voice broke and her lips trembled. Her knuckles turned white as she grabs the reign tightly to control the tears threatening to fall in her eyes. "I don't want to wait for the justice that the gods will deliver." Aregelle hissed. "I want to give justice to what happened with father. I want to... to kill every single man that turned their back on their liege lord…. the people who took our home. I don't want to run and I am not a child anymore. I will train hard. Or do what I must. Please. Please. Please, let me help." Aregelle said with conviction. It was more than a request, if Lyanna decided to leave her somewhere just to be safe, as much as she loves her dear sister, she can't just sit idly by. She has to do something. She must do something or die trying.

@ailurophile @Little-Fox
 
Gawen Tyrell

Gawen remembered the day that king Aegon died, he remembered slipping the poison into the cup himself. Gawen remembered the true purpose for why him and his father had split all those years ago. The true purpose for why Gawen had been sent to King’s Landing to sew the seeds for the union of his sister and Prince Jaehaerys. No one had expected Jaehaerys to die so soon.

Now that Melessa was so close to giving birth, Gawen looked at the dowager queen and her granddaughter. He had played his part well, he’d been the gardener who had cared for the sapling and watched as it grew over the years. His long days of serving King Aegon and Prince Jaehaerys were finally at an end, but it seemed like he was still stuck in King’s Landing, in this blood-brick prison, in which no flower could ever achieve it’s inner beauty. There was a time when he was happy. That was when Melessa had joined him in King’s Landing. He had had a father. Now he was all alone. He was trapped with serpents. He was trapped with hags.

‘When does my duty end? When will my duty conclude?’ His eyes were sharpe, sharper than any blade known to Westerosi knights. He knew the answer of course. He had to wait for his father. For Marbrand Lannister, whose scouts were on the horizon. Of course Lucion Marbrand would be on them soon, because of Willam’s inability to listen, and his lack of foresight. Gawen had tried to warn him of his fate if he followed. Of all the frustrations in this job, no frustration was greater than knowing that he had years, possibly, to continue serving this ‘royal’ family as he was separated from his own.

Some days he felt despair at this task unjustly given to him, a burden that he did not deserve but he continued to uphold. Today however, he did not feel the same pit of darkness enveloping him. Instead, there was bleak and grim determination, an acknowledgement of what must be done, an acknowledgement of what only he could do: as the son of Baelor Tyrell. The traitorous letter from the Arbor heralded doom for Highgarden, unless he took drastic action with no delay.

He saw Elaena arrive, troubled with a look of muted sadness on her soft features, a pretty girl that, perhaps in another life, something could come of their friendship. Of course, rising to meet her, was the dowager queen, a woman of cruel intentions, whose love could not even be felt by her husband. Unlike Queen Elaena, Jocelyn Baratheon was a mask of empathy, but he could see the malice lurking within the woman. They embraced each other, each kissing the opposite cheek, exchanging pleasantries, as if the new in the Stormlands and if Redwyne’s betrayal were idle matters that could be discussed over tea.

In a moment, he was quicker than lighting as he drew his sword, with two quick and powerful steps, he sword gave a sinister and cold kiss straight through Jocelyn, the last she would ever have. Gawen Tyrell clasped his hand around Queen Elaena’s back, holding her tightly against her grandmother, as the sword penetrated through the dowager queen and drilled into the unguarded stomach of the woman he loved but could not love.

A sharpe gasp escaped from the other councilors as a shocked gasp escaped Jocelyn’s throat. Elaena looked on, the revelation of what her long time guardian and friend was doing to her, not yet sinking in. Wide violet eyes shivered as her lips folded in on themselves. Qoren Martell finally shouted as the room emptied, the man standing at the door to call the guards. The only sound that escaped Jocelyn now was the churning of Gawen’s blade as her blood dribbled out.

Elaena finally spoke at last, her voice low and delicate, more peaceful than the tune of the morning songbirds, as she reconciled with her fate. She spoke one word. “Why?”

“I’m a rose.” He spoke solemnly, with no joy in his voice, “you may admire me from afar, but if you get too close, the rose will sting you.” In that moment, as blood began to drip from her mouth, Gawen brought his lips to hers, and the world for Elaena began to evaporate.

That last thing she saw as her eyes grew heavy was the tender frown on Gawen’s face as he held her, pushing Jocelyn’s body aside onto the ground.

And that is how they found him, minutes later, holding the woman he loved. There was no escape for Gawen the traitor (as they would call him) he embraced what fate had in store for him, knowing that his sister’s life, and the life of the baby was still protected, and the throne for him was all but assured.

Walder Rivers

The sea was steady, the salt air caressing his beard as he stood atop the front deck, the sun was still rising distantly in the sky, brighter than he had ever seen it before. They were a fleet of fifty ships, all sailing around the coast of Dorne. They had been sailing for five days with the insufferable Richard Redwyne, who seemed to baffle him everyday with such erroneous information that even a boy whore would know. First Richard Redwyne wanted them to sail to the Shield Islands to give them one last chance, before suggesting that they made port at Oldtown. Though Walder Rivers had to remind his lord politely, that Oldtown had a formidable number of ships, and were loyal to a fault to Baelor Tyrell.

So it was, each day after, Redwyne found new ways to irritate the ship and her crew, suggesting that they take a second to bask in the glory of the ocean and go close to an archipelago of shallow islands that would undoubtedly leave the fleet inbedded in the sand coast.

Walder Rivers was forced to wake up earlier than normal each day, even when the sun was still blooming in the distance, thanks to the actions of his lord Redwyne. One morning, not long ago, Richard had taken control of the steering wheel and caused their old flag ship to collide with another unmarked vessel, causing both ships to sink along with the majority of their crew.

“Let me go, this is a mutiny!” The voice of Richard Redwyne cut through the air, ruining the calm atmosphere, Walder Rivers narrowed his eyes, the growing sun getting ever closer, unusually, as he turned his attention back to Richard Redwyne. After his previous actions, Walder Redwyne had deemed it necessary to tie Richard Redwyne up to the mast.

“It’s for your safety and our, Lord Redwyne. Only a few more days to King’s Landing.” Said the bastard of Harrenhal, as the bright light of the sun grew and grew.

“I am a Lord!” retorted Richard of the Arbor, “you cannot treat me this way!”

No reply came from Walder Rivers, his eyes fixed on the object that was certainly not the sun. It eclipsed the sun in brightness several fold, and it was growing.

Walder shouted: “Men, to your stations, men wake up!” Through the thick deck of Richard’s ship made it difficult to rouse the men in time. The panicked screams of Richard Redwyne were loudest of all however.

The unknown object’s glare burned Walder’s skin as it approached, a sound greater than a chorus of men dying, unleashed upon the Arbor’s fleet. There was no chance for survival. Walder shut his eyes as the heat increased, and the object was revealed not to be of the sun, but a stone: white and intimidating.

The meteor crashed into the new flagship of the Arbor’s new flagship, eating all of its inhabitants with no despair. Crushing each of the fifty ships under Richard Redwyne’s command. The impact left no survivor that sailed from the Arbor, practically lighting the Arbor’s fleet on fire as driftwood and torched body parts floated.


Written in collaboration with Fordee and Yarrow
 
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