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Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

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  • #31
    Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

    New hope, old feud

    In the following weeks the troops stayed in high alert. It was possible to slightly improve the abilities of the archers, which could used the combat-experience of some of their men during the capturing of the “Bloodrider” and the training they get on land before and after the combat.
    Foreign sailors were kept under surveillance to search for possible infiltrators. Secretly Gard prepared a declaration of an amnesty: Any man of Nardis which leave his chief would be welcomed and his life spared. If he brought Nardis alive or believable witnesses/proofs of his death, he would reward with 100 dragons, and 50 for the death of one of his captains. A pirate ship which changed sides would rewarded with up to 200 dragons for captain and crew, a smaller vessel with the half or a quarter, depending of size etc. But any attempt to foul him would be punished severely, he warned, and he was determined to handle new recruits and possible defectors with care to avoid that possible traitors could sneak in.
    Gard did not publish the declaration yet, waiting for a chance to win Lord Aran as support (he wrote to him, also praising Lord Aran’s daughter for her wisdom, because several of the ideas were her idea) to give the declaration more convincing-power. Most members of his household support the idea, with exception of his mother (who opposed because Meera was supporting it).
    The Bloodrider was prepared for further duty as convoy-ship but it needs time to find men as sailors and officers. Also it seem clear that it would not easy to build even a small fleet or to hire armed freighters. Gard tend more and more towards the idea to create a mixed unit – perhaps two additional small galleys like the captured ship, fast and able to operate in shallow waters, and two greater ships, for example armed cogs or holks, able to give support because they clearly may be a better platform for archers, scorpions etc. This would also reduce the time for creation, because it would be much easier to buy two freighters and to build two more galleys than to form a unit of five more or less identical ships.
    But the pirates weren’t the only problem. Rumours spread about the ability (and willingness) of house Blyth to pay its bills, about the danger of ruin and poverty. Nothing of that was true, in fact the house had several hundred dragons as safety, but the rumours did harm the trade in some way. Since it was not absolutely clear from where these lies come, Gard – and not only he – thought the source might be house Lugus, who, as the Blyths learned later, had a new heir which in the meantime had visited the Twins to find support (but not with much success it seems).
    Paedrig did not very much during this time – the wounds he suffered during the capture of the Bloodrider immobilize him for almost two weeks.
    Eric on the other hand was busy with his task to managing the preparations for the fleet and the recruitment of the men which would be needed, and he had also to manage his own business. The commander of his small personal guard was also involved in the recruiting, since he was one of the few people at Dragonport with experience in real naval warfare. Gard tried to reduce this problem by searching in the archives after information about earlier pirates and sea-battles. He found something, but not much. But he wasn’t absolutely preoccupied with that problem – in addition he started two more or less secret “operations”.

    First, he made contact with his aunt Lady Visennya Buckwell in King’s landing. Since Gard’s Bastard-nephew who was hidden with his mother at Eaglewood was growing and in perhaps two months would reach the age of half a year, the Lord decided that soon he would be healthy enough to send him away into the South together with his mother. There he could grow without any chance to be instrumented as “heir” or propaganda-tool against house Blyth by angering the Dannetts (the father of the bastard, Gard’s brother Viserion, was married to a Dannett-girl which died during her own pregnancy, creating some rumours about the behaviour of her husband) and discrediting the deceased Lord Viserion. Gard reserved 20 dragons for the transport, to “silencing” Septa Jonelle and to guaranty mother and child a living under Visenyas surveillance. He was for now not sure what later should be done with his “nephew” – this would be a problem for the future.
    Second he sends a letter to the Wall, together with a generous gift of 30 dragons. In fact he saw the Nightwatch more as a protection against the wildlings (less against Others, snarks or grumkins), and he was aware that the black brothers had fought small-scale-warfare for thousands of years. He asked if they may send a brother to train the scouts of the border watch in which he was involved in and if not (given the fact they had swear not to intervene) at least sent scripts from their written memories of centuries of counter-guerrilla against foes which have much in common with the clansmen of the Mountains of Moon. Of course it would need time to get answer to this letter…

    Alyanna was also busy, mostly in secret as it was her nature. She went on with her researches about magical phenomenons, spending quite a lot of her money for that and other operations. She learned something about old ritual places, today nothing more than stones with withered runes, carvings and faded pictures nobody of the civilized people could understand, and about a remaining Weirwood and some tales about the children of the forest who used the trees to look through their eyes. There were also some more frightening stories about a specific clan in the mountains, called Shadowcats. Some tales report they were the remnants of people who fled the North during the Long Night, or came to the South as allies or soldiers of the Others. There were also rumours they still were preparing for a coming war either against or in support of the ‘old enemy’, or that they had to watch over some ancient dark secrets. She discussed that with Elen, but got no further information.
    About Maester Roderick, which had searched after information about magic in the late Targaryan-years she learned little new. It seems that his report never reached Oldtown, but that he left for King’s Landing. Perhaps this might be a trace to follow…
    The young lady also spend money to spread (with growing success) poisoned rumours about the Lugus, about their intrigues and acts of brutality against their own kind in past and present, to reducing their chances to ally or intermarry with any of the local families.
    Alyanna also cared for her own future. Realizing that she someday would have to marry she started collecting information and secrets of potential grooms. She hoped, that in this way she could prevent an unwanted marriage and would be able decide, which would be the best candidate for her. She also won a secret ally in her sister in law – for the promise to support Meera in securing her position as “first lady” in Dragonport, with even more influence than Gard’s mother. Alyanna used the chance also to influence Meera’s opinion about Gard in a positive way (other than her easily influenced and seduced brother she did stay a little sceptical towards her sister in law’s loyalty and feelings towards Gard).

    In the meantime news arrive that Tygor Wyl and Iris Dannett would marry soon. Since the celebration should be with some entertainment including a “fighting hunt” – a hunt in a controlled area were dogs and dangerous animals would set free and would be challenged by the hunters.
    It seems that most of the local houses get only information, no invitation (perhaps because of the…colourful…past of the bride), but house Blyth of Dragonport was invited. Following Gard’s order, Eric and Paedrig dealt very well with one part of the present for the couple – collecting some animals for the hunt. Two strong bulls were bought by Eric for a good amount of money, and Paedrig with the help of Loren and Wulf – the two huntsmen of the castle – organized a smaller hunt in which three ferocious boars/sows were captured. Meera and Alyanna collected some jewellery and clothing for the bride. House Blyth would send a greater delegation – Lord Gard, his wife and sister, his uncle, some guards and so on. The old Lady stayed at home to keep an eye on the situation in Dragonport (and secretly because she wants not to be under pressure to show harmony with her daughter in law). Gard ordered the troops being carefully during his (short) absence. The travel was without mayor events, even the animals were transported without problems. After arrival these presents were kept under surveillance by the Dannetts in cages in an old barn.
    Dannett Hall was a smaller fortress than Starbone or Dragonport, defended only by palisade and wall, with an old, dark, strong and perhaps a little bit shabby stone keep. While the event was a lucky one, Adham Dannett still seem not really happy (surely because of his health), and also his sister stays calm.
    Other guests were the Arans – Lord Vickon Aran with his granddaughter Elyssa – and the Faith represented by septa Jonelle from Eaglewood. Eric used this opportunity to renew his contact with the septa which was an important trading-partner of him. Meera had her own agenda towards the Faith and used the coming days to win the septa as an ally in her secred plans to remove Lady Fiana Blyth permanently from power and any influence towards Gard. Although she soon had to realize that Jonelle was a formidable foe, she won some support for the promise to influence Gard in the way Jonelle wishes.
    Also house Falkirk was present at the feast, because they were a long-time ally of the Dannetts – a friendship that has cooled down a little bit since the relations between Dannett and Blyth improved in the last months. The head of house Falkirk, Lord Edwyn, did show swiftly how much he dislikes the Blyth’s by insulting Eric without real reason. His sister Rhaenyra, a silent young girl, did have better manners, but avoided contact with the party (mainly with Alyanna, which was of course present in the circle of the younger noblewomen).

    Gard used the time after arrival to discuss with Lord Aran some matters. While he get some support for his planes of an amnesty for pirate defectors, he was also somehow driven in the corner by Lord Aran and convinced to try to end the old feud with the Falkirks, perhaps – this was Lord Aran’s idea – by an marriage between Alyanna and Edwyn or Torrhen. Gard agreed that he would discuss calming the waves and trying to find an agreement, but was not willing to press things forward for a marriage. After all he suspected the Falkirk’s of having something to do with earlier raids against the lands of the Blyth and the death of his brother – and before he honestly thought about a man as potential groom for his sister he need to trust him in some way. But he surely wanted to find an agreement with the Falkirk’s in the defence against the pirates. Gard also agreed in supporting Lord Arans plan in wedding Elyssa to Adham, although he mentioned potential problems given the fact that he thought the girl was still young and secretly in love with Torrhen Falkirk. He later discussed the matter with his wife, asking for her opinion (after all she was the aunt of Elyssa and daughter of Lord Aran, and he was interested in her advice). Meera was not sure and mentioned, that Adham would perhaps be also a good groom for Alyanna, a marriage which could improve the relations between both houses and lead to Alyanna being lady of house Dannet in a not to distant future, even if that would mean to disturb the plans of house Aran.
    Alyanna in the meantime had mainly conversations with Elyssa, which she knows well from the time of the marriage of her brother. She had not difficulties to find out that Elyssa was a bit afraid of being “on the market” – to be married soon to the Falkirks or Dannetts. Alyanna agrees secretly with that fears (knowing, that she was in a similar situation, but trusting her abilities to manipulate the situation). She for herself had for now no clear “favourite” potential groom…

    The local nobles were not the only guests worth of notice. A visitor from the Twins was awaited, but he arrived late – Lord Edwyn Frey, a pale, unhappy man with no charisma, who was of course welcomed with respect by all. With him and his men a hedge-knight arrives Dannett Hall, named Orwin Kettleblack. Alyanna and Eric noticed that something on this guy worried the bride. Both did know not much about the Kettleblack’s, only that some of them lived around King’s Landing and that the family was unimportant. Alyanna who thought he may know Iris from her time as prostitute at King’s Landing had some suspicions. It would be very strange that such a man by “accident” arrives at just this time. She suspected him of being perhaps instrumented/sent by the Lugus to piss in the celebration-wine, so to speak. So she sent her lady-in-waiting to spy after him, and hired a stable boy to do the same. That brought not much information, but clearly Kettleblack was very interested in learning more about the castle – examining the stables and the palace but also the wall and the gate. This strengthens Alyanna’s worries. She decided to inform her uncle about what she found out, and he had the idea to perhaps drink something with the hedge-knight to search for further information. Both agreed also that Alyanna should talk with Iris to warn her (not only with altruistic reasons, but if the Lugus were behind that all, they were enemies of the Blyth, too).

    Before any further could happen, the situation took a dramatic twist. Suddenly there was yelling and screams outside the castle. Both Gard and Eric (who noticed this first) rushed to the wall. On that way Eric had some worries that it might be an attack by the Lugus or something like this, while Gard cursed himself that he had not speak with the Dannett’s to keep a watchful eye on the cages of the animals – he thought they might be a easy target for any saboteur. When they reached the wall his worries proofed all to true. A huge brown bear hat broken out, peoples flew while the predator seems uncertain to follow them or to feed on a human body which lay on the ground. Gard asked Eric to send half of the Blyth-soldiers outside for help while the other half and his personal guard should protect Eric and the ladies. Than he jumped down from the wall, shouting to distract the bear from possible other prey. This worked all too well and both opponents meet each other. While Gard suffered some serious injuries, he was able to slay the animal with his sword. After the corps was brought away and the situation calmed down a little it became clear that some children from the village had angered the bear by picking him with sticks and throwing stones into his cage, and finally he broke out, killing one boy. While Gard still believed in sabotage and warned about this (and further acts like this), Eric and the Dannetts believe more in an accident.

    Gard was treated by the master of the Dannetts and praised by some men and women, but others like his uncle and wife (which seemed worried) mentioned it would be better if he had send his men ant not – as often – joined the fight as first man. He agreed to some degree to that critic.
    Meanwhile Alyanna joined the young ladies again. She was able to speak secretly with Iris, wanting to warn her about Kettleblack. Iris revealed that she did know Orwin and some of his brothers from her time in the Jade Spring brothel in King’s Landing and had a bad opinion of him. She was worried he might want to blackmail her but did not want to involve her family or groom in that matter. Alyanna asked if she could help and Iris asked for help to bribe Orwin to leave before the marriage and any possible scandal. But she warned it would be too dangerous for a young woman to speak with him alone. She gave Alyanna money and jewellery worth more than 20 dragons. The young Blyth lady decided to ask her uncle for help, giving him a greater sum of money (she decided not to give away the jewellery to have something to charm Iris or remember her how much she owes her). Eric thought he would have time during the feast in the evening and want to make sure that Kettleblack would not return for a second blackmail – so he must persuade or intimidate a reckless warrior…

    The feast was well organized. Erick sent the leader of his personal guard to made first contact with Orwin, lying that he was thinking about hiring him. He was also busy in another way, helping his nephew who was – still injured but present – under pressure from Edwyn Frey. The older man wanted more information about the feud between Blyth and Lugus (who did have some land near the twins) and seemed a little bit concerned about the ambitions of house Aran. Edwyn Frey was also seeking help for a possible marriage between house Frey and house Dannett, offering some financial support for house Blyth's naval project if an agreement could be found. Gard was not very happy with the situation – he had promised lord Aran already some support or thought about a marriage between house Blyth and Dannett, and he did know enough about the possible brides Edwyn Frey mentioned ( Zia, daughter of Tytos Frey, a maid of around thirteen, Amerei Frey called Gatehouse Ami for her freeness in giving her virtues or Tyta Frey called “the maid” because she was still unwed with 28 years) to consider most of them as not very optimal for Adham. He did not say this open (Eric did, what lead to some trouble and a serious warning by Edwyn that Lord Frey would not humour such sayings), but refused to give a positive signal to the Frey. Secretly he thought about revealing all this to lord Aran – after all his liege-lord and father of his wife.
    Alyanna meanwhile was not SO busy, showing perfect manners, keeping an eye on the guests but kept herself a little bit in the background, secretly supporting the appearance of Meera and Elyssa.

    After Edwyn Frey had left, Eric changed his attention towards Orwin Kettleblack, but was unable to manoeuvre him into drunkenness (instead he himself and his personal guard get slightly drunken). But he get far enough to leave the feast for a more secret talk with Kettleblack on the castle wall, although he did know that this was not without danger. But he was confident of his abilities and the alertness of the Dannett watchmen.
    The conversation was not easy given the fact that both men were unwilling to take the first step and speaking clear (and Eric was slightly drunken), but in the end he was able to bribe Orwin to leave Dannett Hall immediately and he got also the name of the man – a merchantman in King’s Landing with connections to the Westlands – who tipped Orwin about the possibility to blackmail Iris. It seems that the suspicion that the Lugus are behind Orwins travel seem right. Sadly on the next morning Eric, who had gone on with drinking after the conversation, could not remember the name of the merchantmen (The player forget the name and also failed in an inPlay knowledge test to remember). Orwin had left during the night, so that this possible problem was gone, perhaps forever.
    Alyanna used the evening to made first carefully contacts with the Falkirks (after all Edwyn Falkirk was one of her potential grooms), but also she was treated with some resentments.

    On the next morning, the fighting hunt started. The main attraction – the bear – was already killed on the day before but there were still some wild boars, dogs, bulls and wolves which fight in several rounds against each other or were killed by hunters. While there were some injuries, no hunter were hurt seriously. Adham Dannett took part in the fights against the will of his father – what lead to some arguments between lord and heir. Gard – still handicapped by the injuries from the day before – did not take part in the fight, but ordered his men to stay alert if someone tries to sabotages the event, but nothing happened.
    After the fighting there was again the possibility of conversation. Gard secretly informed Lord Aran about the plans of the Frey’s and about their suspicions against house Aran. He for himself made clear that he saw his loyalty at first smitten towards his immediate liege-lord and father of his wife. Alyanna did continue in her subtle work to improve the opinion of lord Falkirk towards her – but this project clearly needs more time. Gard and Eric had also some contact with lord Falkirk but he seems to be unwilling to compromise. He had no good opinion about the naval project of Dragonport, about the border guard which was created with the help of house Blyth and was not ready to forget the old feuds. On the other hand Gard was still not trust the Falkirks that they had nothing to do with the raids on his land in the past. Even to mention a common enemy – “Pirron Strife” alias Joren Ripon of Twinwood – did not help, because lord Falkirk began to realize that house Blyth of Dragonport may have very personal reasons to hunt Joren/Pirron (also he did not find out which).

    In the hours after the hunt Gard and Eric finally meet Lord Edwyn Frey. The emissary of the Twins did his best to incite them against lord Aran. They planed to tell him in a polite way that they do not want to support house Frey’s wedding-plans with house Dannett, but want to convince him that it would be also in the interest of the Twins to charge the pirates in the Bite. They had soon to realize that Edwyn was a superior negotiator. Gard decided that they had to cancel the discussion, since he was not willing to take a position against his liege-lord and father of his wife. That left their house in a difficult position. Surely the Frey’s will not support the naval plans with money and they had realized that house Blyth of Dragonport stands loyal to house Aran – if the suspicions against Lord Aran ever result in open or covered conflict, it is very likely that house Blyth will be involved on the weaker side…

    The wedding continued, undisturbed from all this secret whispering and elbow-rubbing. It seems clear, that bride and groom were quiet happy with each other. The wedding itself was a rare moment in which politic and hostility was absent, at least on the surface, and all joined voices to congratulate the couple and drink, dance and eat.

    On the next day the guests broke apart. There was still some trouble inside house Dannett since it becomes clear that Adham planed accompany his sister and brother-in-law (at least for a part of the journey) when they travel to Dorne to claim Tygor Wyl’s birthright by force (with the support of Dannett-soldiers). So any wedding-plan had to come to a halt (it seems so that the old lord Dannett was much more attracted to wed his son with the Twins than the potential groom, but he could not go on with his plans, similar as lord Aran).
    House Aran and Blyth travel home together. Lord Aran was worried about the mistrust and plans of the Twins, but while he was not absolutely satisfied with the support he get from the Blyths he surely trust their loyalty towards him. Both houses said each other farewell in best relations, knowing that they soon will have to discuss important matters in their campaign against the pirates.
    When the Blyth reached their castle, a mysterious “gift” awaited them – a precious dagger, exactly the same type as Eric had got in King’s Landing during his last visit. The weapon was found inside the castle one day before Lord Gard came back. Instead of the glass-flacon with poison the dagger had an anonymous letter inside. It said that instead of the spreading of evil rumours and covered intrigues it might be better to seek peace and harmony. Further hostility would lead only to more suffering on both sides etc…an offering of ceasefire from the Lugus, so much seem clear – but how will house Blyth decide, and how far could the offer be trusted?

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    • #32
      Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

      About true and false kings – Part I

      The first issue with which house Blyth has do deal immediately after the return from Dannett-hall was the informal “offer” from house Lugus. There were some disagreements how the offer/threat to stop the unconventional warfare against each other should be handled. Gard (who certainly did not trust the Lugus but was not interested in continuing a fight while even house Frey had mentioned their desire for peace in this matter) tended to accept the offer but was uncertain if an answer should be sent (perhaps also “anonymous”). However Gards wife Meera (although she also did not trust the Lugus and recommended to stay alert) argued that it would be enough to stop any offensive measures for the moment and wait what will happen. Gards uncle Eric mentioned that it might be a good idea to increase the pressure on the Lugus and continue/intensify the attacks, but could not convince the Lord who did have enough trouble at the gates (the pirates, the Mountain Clans, Joren Rippon…).
      But Gard was very unhappy with the fact that the “message” could be send so easily, and so he reorganized the duty of the castle guards to made similar “surprise visits” more difficult in the future. This included the use of trained dogs, patrol-duty with changing intervals etc. He also ordered Elen to organized preparations for the treatment of greater numbers of wounded, and together with Eric he let the people of Dragonport train to fight fires (if the pirates or the Lugus start one), mollifying the anger about the extra-work with free meat and alcohol (an idea of Eric). In the same time the ranks of the soldiers were reorganized. The head of the personal guard became “commander in chief” in the lord’s absence; the leader of the rider should act as second in command in such a situation. Both officers had to train replacements for them if they got wounded or killed. On the “civilian” level Gard decided that Meera would rule if he was not present, supported by his mother and uncle – for important issues Ablar Townsman and the head of the town garrison also should be heard.

      Meanwhile the captured pirate captain was healthy enough to be interrogated. He was no man who betrayed his “king” lightly, so the interrogation became a nasty and bloody thing. The Lord of Krayenhorn himself did most of the questioning, assisted by some of his guards for the more…physical aspects. Paedrig and Eric also participated – Eric with his rhetoric skills and his cool mind, stopping things before they get out of hand, while Paedrig had a more…active part. None of the three men liked what they had to do (or witness) but it must be done.
      After some days of interrogation/torture Gard had his answers – the position of Nardis hideout, information about his ships and captains and knowledge of the fact, that the pirate-lord had reached an agreement with a tribe of the “seals people”, one of the clans which controlled parts of the coastline north of the Vale. Nardis had even married a daughter of a clan chief. However the hideout was at least 100 miles away from Dragonport at the contested southern coast of the Bite. It would cost more than a week to send troops through the wilderness to this position. And a landing operation would also be dangerous – the preparation for such an operation could not kept secret and house Blyth did have only one small (still damaged and undermanned) warship, while the enemy did have three and a real war-galley…
      It was also unclear if the enemies did not have relocated their camp after the loss of one of their ships.

      Beside this hard duties and strategic calculations there was also time for joyful news – Lady Meera surprised his husband with the message that she was pregnant. Of course the Lord was enthusiastic, but also a little bit nervous because he did knew that pregnancy and birth was always a dangerous time for a woman. He did not had forgotten the death of his brother’s wife in childbed. However with such an able healer like Elen Fairyeyes he was optimistic. He informed his family and the Arans, spending some money to the Seven, and the quick spreading rumours were welcomed by most of the ordinary people, since Meera was quiet popular after the celebration of her marriage.

      Anyway there were also many other things to organize – the captured galley (now named the “Golden Dragon” after the arms of the Blyth) must be repaired; it needed a crew and a captain. For this important duty, Lord Gard hired Valgar Pyke, the captain of one of Ablar Townsman’s ships which had commanded the “Q-Ship” that captured the pirate vessel. Gard also ordered Paedrig and Eric to recruit some of the captured pirates for the crew if possible (but also interrogate and evaluate the potential defectors if they are trustworthy). In the end a dozen of prisoners changed sides (and was accepted as crewmembers), leaving the same number of men for the justice of the Lord.
      Gard wanted to show once and for all that he was not weak and did not fear Nardis – and so the punishment for the remaining prisoners was severe. Three younger pirates were pardoned as recruits for the Night Watch (this was also an act of lenience as celebration of the pregnancy of Lady Meera), the remaining nine pirates and two officers were sentenced to death. The crewmen were hanged, with the participation of the defectors who must in this way proof that they were ready to spill the blood of their former comrades. Both officers were beheaded by the Lord himself. It was the biggest mass execution in Dragonport in decades, a fact which bother Gard. The heads of the two beheaded pirates were dipped into tar and exposed on stakes at the harbour as a warning and to calm the fears of traders, which now had to travel in convoys.
      To further increase the fleet of Dragonport, Gard bought a cog (giving her the name “Mastiff” after the dog on the Aran-arms) and ordered that the ship should be armed and manned. More ships should follow, but recruiting men (and finding officers) did cost some time…

      Meanwhile Lady Meera had a little talk with her husband and sister in law Alyanna, urging them that they should help her to influence her parents to arrange a marriage between her niece Elyssa and Torrhen Falkirk. She had several motives for this – she did know that Elyssa was deep in love with Torrhen (although this feeling was not mutual). This would be also an opportunity to calm the anger of house Fallkirk which felt neglected by house Aran and was alarmed by the increasing power of house Blyth of Dragonport. And finally she mentioned that in such a case Elyssa certainly could not marry Adham Dannet (a project of Meeras father), giving her sister in law Alyanna an opportunity she should not miss – given the fact that Adham was handsome and heir of house Dannett…
      Gard agreed mostly and also decided to offer the Falkirks moment some smaller benefits for their traders on the market of Dragonport, looking forward to ending the conflict between the two houses.

      Also other houses had their own intentions to get their stand in the game of power. Iris Dannett and Tygor Wyl (together with Adham Dannett) left the area – the young couple lead more than 100 men southwards to reclaim Tygor’s birthright, and Adham decided to travel with his sister for a while (perhaps also to evade the urgings of his father and other lords to marry quickly).

      The maester of house Weymouth made a short visit, supposedly as an answer to Lady Alyannas question about magic phenomena in the area, about which he told something. In reality he wanted to contact Lord Gard secretly concerning the attempt of house Aran to wed Lord Arans youngest son to Rhaenyra, the heiress of house Weymouth – a plan Gard did support. House Weymouth was not against this proposal. However, while there were numerous potential grooms for the Weymouth girl her parents wanted good conditions for the marriage. They did know that Gard had good connections to the Arans and also wanted the support of other houses for his new fleet.
      The maester’s offer was simple – Lord Gard should support house Weymouth in their marriage bargain with house Aran (f. e. help to ensure that only the children of Rhaenyra Weymouth could inherit the Weymouth land) and should swear to support house Wymouth if any problems should arose because of the new alliance between Aran and Weymouth. Weymouth would therefore support Gards fleet program with some money…
      Gard was willing to accept this offer.

      To boost his income, keeping in mind how much a fleet would cost, Gard (after an offer of Ser Gawan of Krayenhorn) also decided to invest some money into the horse breeding of Krayenhorn. He lent his courser and Paedrigs sand steed mare to Krayenhorn and some money to the family of Paedrigs mother so that they could by some additional dornish mares and sent them to Krayenhorn to improve their breed – a project which might or might not bring benefit in the future.
      This, Paedrig’s role as courier and his participation in the increased border patrol operation of Krayenhorn/Dragonport-troops gave the young bastard-knight the opportunity to visit Krayenhorn more often. However he noticed that his aunt Anya, Lady of Krayenhorn, more and more tend to evade him during these visits. The young knight got the impression that she had not suddenly started to dislike him, but realized his affection for her and feared that she began to like her two year younger bastard-nephew a little to much…
      However Paedrig was not willing to give up so easily, although his possibilities to meet and impress his secret love were limited for the moment (the GM is not completely certain how he should handle this subplot at the moment, so he delayed the whole thing a little bit. It is a pity…).

      The prepared amnesty for possible traitors and defectors in the rank of the pirates were now published with the support of Lord Aran not only in Dragonport but also far beyond. Secretly, Alyanna and her uncle also spread rumours about already ongoing talks between some of the pirates and Dragonport, rumours which should slowly targeting one certain captain, Sandro Amero, leader of the galley “Seagull”. He was the youngest of the known captains, promoted after both the captain and first officer of the Seagull died during the rebellion which exiled Nardis. He seemed the easiest target for Nardis suspicions about new betrayal, possible weaken his strength. Of course such things need time and money, until the poisoned song of Alyannas little birds might travel to Nardis’ ears… The young lady also stopped her active work against the Lugus (her own decision against the words of her uncle, but she wanted not to overstretch the capabilities of her network). However she kept an passive eye on the Lugus – and on all smugglers and traders which might help the pirates…

      Shortly after the mass execution, Gard accepted Paedrigs idea to send a reconnaissance squad to the supposed hideout of ‘king’ Nardis. The small unit (three soldiers, one of the defected pirates, and Loren, one of the castle hunters, as scout) under Paedrigs command should go ashore some 30 miles away from the supposed position of the pirate harbour. They had order to infiltrate the area of the enemy camp and detect if the pirates were still there and what might be the best way to launch an attack. The scouts went onboard of one of Ablar Townsmans small merchant ships which traded with some of the small (often contested or not very secure) settlements at the northern coast of the Vale. After a half day they arrived their destination and were left behind with the promise to be taken onboard again in seven days.

      While the terrain was rough and the squad marched as stealthy as possible, they needed two days to reach a position nearby the supposed pirate camp. It was clear that sending a larger unit along the coast would be complicated and cost too much time. The best way to attack any position at this rough coast might be landing the troops at (or nearby) the target. But of course with only one real warship at the moment this would be very dangerous if the warships of the pirates intercepted the invasion force.
      During the night, Paedrig, Loren and the defected pirate started the reconnaissance of the camp while the other men stayed behind. It was not an easy task to get closer, because some half tamed dogs were on their way around the settlement. While Paedrig and the ex-pirate returned to the camp of the scout squad, Loren started a close distance reconnaissance and stayed in hiding nearby the ‘harbour’ for the day.

      It became obvious that the pirates had mostly abandoned their camp, leaving behind only remnants of their huts, two abandoned firing positions for scorpions (of course the siege weapons were not longer there), a wrecked cog and a dozen of bodies bound on stakes in the tide-line – perhaps as a ‘welcome’ if Dragonport (or anyone other) did in fact sent any troops.
      The nearby wildling-camp of the so-called ‘seals people’ was not completely abandoned and the clan warriors (male and female) stayed on high alert. They had put big rocks into the water of the natural harbour, making a landing operation pretty tricky – clearly they did await some sort of attack. It was not clear why they did not also left the camp when their civilians were evacuated, but perhaps they and some younger warriors from other villages hoped to gave the hated flatlanders/ironlords some nasty surprises. During the day a small ship arrived, welcomed by the wildlings and a few pirates who also stayed behind. It was no pirate ship but obvious captain Hendrik (most probably a smuggler or half-legal trader) did have good connections with the pirates. But Loren could not hear much of the conversation. During the night he returned to the camp of his comrades.
      Paedrig decided to retreat with the gathered information, deciding that an attempt to kidnap one of the wildlings or pirates would be too dangerous. The way back to their boarding destination was not easy but they get away without any further trouble. A few days later Hakon Traders ship returned just in time and took the scouts back to Dragonport.
      Gard stated that they did their duty well, although he did not see any chance to use the new information for an immediate reprisal action against the pirates. Attacking the wildling camp would need a major military operation without getting much booty and only meagre changes to get the actual position of Nardis.
      However, since the pirates seem to have connections to smugglers or other semi-illegal groups, this was considered as a possibility to look for new traces of Nardis and his new hideout.

      ***********************

      Only a little time later news about a new potential danger arrived via one of Erics merchant contacts, and shortly after were confirmed by Alyannas spies – forged money (looking like normal coins but with much lesser silver or gold than normal stags/dragons) was poured into the financial system of several cities in the Riverlands and the Vale (mostly sea cities). Of course many merchants (and their lords) were nervous because they did fear for their profits, and there was the risk of increased prices, suspicion and even unrest or conflicts between lords which distrust their neighbours. As a trading-port, Dragonport was in danger, too.
      Although Erics contact had asked him to remain silent, he informed his other trading partners and Lord Gard who ordered him and Paedrig to take measures to protect Dragonport against this threat. Together with the commander of the city garrison they tried to sharpen the vigilance of the tax collectors at the gates and in the harbour so that any suspicious money would be reported immediately. Therefore Eric also gathered some examples of the forged money for further investigation and (with the help of Alyannas ‘little birds’) he got more information about a potential suspect for the distribution of the forged coins. However the description of the suspect was a little bit vague – he (if it was only one man) seems to be good in disguising…

      Some of the forged coins were sent to Maester Ornim of Krayenhorn and the old man was able to find out, that money was ‘new-stamped’ so to speak – old coins with lesser gold or silver in it, which get a ‘new face’. Ornim was even able to detect that the criminals did in fact use old coins of the late First Men or early Andals time – leaving the question where they did got such old money. Perhaps someone did have found a hidden treasure, a grave or something like that.
      Together with his expertise Maester Ornim did also sent a rather…strange letter, warning Lord Gard that the next winter might be near and it would be a harsh one. He claimed that he did know this because his astronomy observation of the ‘revolution of the planets’ and the ‘dark spots of the sun’. Gard (and all who did also read this letter) simply did not know the meaning of this explanation, but the lord respected the old man and did not tread the warning lightly.
      Alyanna ordered her ‘little birds’ to be vigilant if they did hear any rumours of a discovery or the appearance of old artefacts on the market, to learning more about the source of the false money, but had little success. Paedrig and Eric decided to take a closer look at the money gathered by the tax collectors of Dragonport whenever possible. Eric also decided that it would be wise to not take immediate action if some forge coins where found; instead suspects should be only observed as long as they stay in Dragonport.

      In the end it was the vigilance of the tax collectors which brought a breakthrough – a significant increase of forged coins was reported, while shortly after Ablar Townsman (the most prominent of the city elders) alarmed Lord Eric that someone had dubbed Ablar with forged coins. He wanted the crime punished (giving a good – and very familiar – description of the scoundrel who had dubbed him) – and he wanted some sort of compensation.
      Eric was not very diplomatic, giving no promises and stating out that the loss was Ablars own fault. If Ablar wanted a business without personal danger he should work as some kind of merchant commissioner for house Blyth…
      The merchant fired back that he did pay significant amount of taxes to be protected by the lord Gard.

      Anyway, while the suspect (who was accompanied by some servants and armed men) had already left Dragonport with Ablars goods, it was time to take action. Paedrig was sent after them, taking three men of the cavalry unit and his half brother Wulf with him.
      In the early evening the suspects came into view – three armed men, the ‘merchantman’ who had dubbed Ablar, and two horse servants.
      Planning to get the suspects alive, Paedrigs unit passed the other group, than suddenly regrouped into a line and Paedrig commanded the suspects to lay down their weapon.
      The reaction was not as desired – the ‘merchantmen’ galloped away, while the other men – even the lightly armed servicemen – get ready to fight (after one of them tried to shoot the fleeing ‘merchantmen’). Wanting the main suspect alive, Paedrig ordered Wulf to shoot only the horse and than lead his men into fight with the enemy ‘guards’. The fight was short, but their opponent did not have any real chance against well armed and armored fighters – three enemies were killed (Paedrig killing their commander), while the two remaining lost their courage and run away – just like the five horses with Ablars goods…

      Paedrig had to capture the fleeing ‘merchantman’, night was already falling – in the end he could bring back only three of the five pack horses, his prisoner and three bodies (but also several amounts of forged money).
      However Lord Gard was quiet pleased. He rewarded the men who captured the criminals and detected the false coins and decided that Ablar would get the captured goods back and could change his forged coins for an appropriated (slightly lesser) sum of real gold and silver coins.

      In the following days the sole survivor was interrogated. This time the questioning went different. The prisoner, a middle aged man named Kevan Masters, had begun to speak immediately after his capture, and he nearly did not stop for the following days. It was easy for Eric, who takes the greatest part in the interrogation, to convince Kevan that only cooperation could safe his life.
      Soon it becomes clear, that Kevan was not the criminal mastermind behind the plot, as Paedrig and Eric first thought. He was a receiver, gambler and pimp who lived in Whitesand, a small community near the wild shore of the Bite northwards of the Mountain of Moon, perhaps 50 miles or so to west from Dragonport. Whitesand was populated with some hundred people, mostly hunters, loggers and diggers which searched after gold and amber – half civilised people who did not follow any official lord. A few months ago, one of Kevan’s girls told him about some strange artefacts one of her clients had found on the shore. Different to nearly all people around him he knows what that was, artefacts from an old Andal or even older grave (perhaps it was not the first tomb he raided…). He searched after the place and discovered a hole in a cliff which leads him into the tomb of an old lord, where he found hundreds of coins. Kevan did not stay there long, because the grave frightens him, but he remembered some arms in the walls which the interrogators could identify. It seems so as if he had found the grave of Harold Strongoak. That was an important local chief either in the last days of the rule of the First Men in the Riverlands or during the early Andal-times. Some rumours say he betrayed Tristifer V after serving his father, the legendary Hammer of Justice, well. Some tales call him brutal, and from foreign blood, but several noble houses claim to be related to him. During his time he controlled a large part of land around, including the southern coast of the bite, and was a strong warden against rival kings in the North.
      Kevan never had the idea of using the money he found for a greater crime. But he was not carefully enough and was caught by the ruling “Big Man” of Whitesand, Burt Snow, who runs in protection racket, prostitution and trade. Snow had the idea of the fraud and forced Kevan to help him. He sent him (with several “guards” who threatened to kill him) to several towns to buy goods, change the false money in real one etc. Dragonport which was close to Whitesand should be not targeted to early, since if any reaction could occur, than from such a “neighbour”. What Snow actually planed with the money was unclear, but until now he had collected several hundred dragons. He even started to thinking about using the gold he “collected” from the local diggers to fuel his criminal business. Kevan was more than happy to be freed, but feared now justice and blamed Snow for everything.

      Eric was very interested in that news. While his nephew was more thinking about punishing Burt and stop the flow of false money, the older man thought about raiding the tomb by himself (or better, send someone who could do that, since it sound dangerous). Burt had tried to do the same, but after loosing two comrades his men were to afraid to work on, and Kevan (who seem to have not give up the hope for a lucky escape and some extra money) convinced him that the tomb was already empty. Because Gard did see the First Men as infidels (although he did not hate people who follow the Old Gods) he was not adamant, but he did not like the idea of tomb-raiding.
      To punish Snow seems not easy – “his” village was located in disputed area, and he had several dozen men who follow him, and also enough money to hire more. Of course the army of Dragonport could easily crush him, but it seems dangerous to send too many men abroad while pirates and perhaps also other enemies might look for a chance. Eric and Peadrig asked Kevan for local rival of Burt – men like he were rarely uncontested, and such rivals might help them – and indeed “Lord Snow” had a long feud with the Sunstones, a family which claimed Whitesand for themselves, but where – since the days of Harren the Black – no longer official part of Westeros’ nobility. That seems the chance to find allies for now and perhaps for the future. So Gard decided to organize an expedition-force of around fifty men under Eric and Paedrig. If the could combine their forces with the Sunstones, they might be able to bring Burt to Justice, stopping the production of forged money – and also increase the influence of Dragonport in the contested area.

      Comment


      • #33
        Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

        Wardens of the Shores – Wardens of the Wilderness

        During the preparations for the punishment-expedition, news arrived Dragonport that Lord Arran was planing a meeting of the local lords which own land at the coast at his castle. The meeting should discuss counter-measures against the pirates, Gard should get a chance to win support for his plans for a local fleet (and it seems that Lord Aran also want to discuss his plans for the marriage of his son Vickon with Lord Weymouth’s only child Rhaenyra). The meeting should be played down a little bit, so Gard decided to travel only with a few soldiers. He prepared a thorough and convincing statement about the pirate threat and the right measures to deal with (including a strong fleet).
        Lord Gard decided to travel together with his wife. On the one hand the couple want to use the opportunity for a meeting between Meera and her family; on the other hand the Lady of Krayenhorn had her own plans. She wanted to convince her family to wed her niece Elyssa to Torrhen Falkirk. This would calm the frictions between house Aran and Falkirk, and Elyssa would be “of the market” by marrying the man she secretly loves – and the way might be free for Alyanna Blyth to wed Adham Dannett, another potential groom for Elyssa. And by supporting her husband she would make herself necessary, underlining her role as a lady which could deal with problems very well.
        Following Lady Meeras urging the pair travelled a day earlier to get more time for convincing Lord and Lady Aran in house Blyth interest.

        Travel was uneventful. Lord and Lady Blyth were welcomed warmly at Castle Starbone although the atmosphere was still a little bit uncertain between Meera, her parents and her niece Elyssa because of the rather…complicated circumstances of Meera’s marriage.
        While Meera was busy with her mother and two year younger niece, Lord Aran and Lord Blyth were dealing with more political themes. Lord Aran mentioned his distrust against Edwyn Frey, who arrived in the area a few weeks ago. Lord Aran did have got the impression that the man was a little bit too busy in elbow rubbing with other lords and feared that Lord Frey did have some doubts about the ambitions of house Aran, an opinion which was supported by Gard, who also distrusted the Frey.
        There were also rumours about conspicuous activities of house Fallkirk in the Borderlands – something was going on with the clans, but it was not clear what it might be.
        Like Gard, Lord Aran has gotten a warning by Maester Ornim that a harsh winter was near – but the older Lord was sceptic about thus ‘nonsense of planet revolution and solar spots’ etc. He joked a little bit about Gard, which had begun with preparations because of that warning and some ominous prophecies. The hunt of both house Blyth of Dragonport and Aran (and probably house Fallkirk too) after Joren Ripon remained fruitless, but the lords were not willing to bury their hostility against the outlaw.
        Until the other lords arrived, Meera was able to win the support of her mother and the septa of Starbone for her plans, and Gard tried to influence Lord Aran. He was – even with the support of his wife – not as successful as she. While Lord Aran seemed to agree that an Aran-Falkirk-marriage would have benefits, the older lord was very successful in minimizing his share of burden for the creation of the planed naval unit.

        Soon after the lords of Weymouth and Falkirk arrived, the main talks started. House Aran did his best to give all guests a warm welcome and the rooms and food were good, so that no one could be insulted. The main discussions were hold in a more private atmosphere between the lords and very few trusted advisors. Of course outside the official meeting talks also went on – Gard influenced the lords of Weymouth and Aran to broker a marriage-deal between both houses in good terms for both (which would bring Gard financial support from house Weymouth), but he had much lesser success in calming lord Falkirks old anger and new envy. The other young lord felt still insulted by the better position house Blyth of Dragonport had reached in the past moths, and he still distrusted the Blyth – as they did not trust him. Edwyn Falkirk used a training fight to let of some of his steam by defeating (and lightly wounding) Gard. But while a real peace between both houses seems impossible, an open confrontation could be avoided. At least he was not a bad winner (and Gard not a bad looser).

        Gard was able to present his arguments for the fleet in front of the other lords very convincing. It was decided, that he should got the title “Warden of the Shores” – a significant increase in his glory and reputation, if he could fulfil this role – and should raise a fleet with the support of the other lords, a fleet he leads but which had the duty to support also the other lords. And while some rights should be protected and should be defined later (the other lords, mainly lord Falkirk, did not want that the fleet could judge their people and hunt for smugglers or recruit men and confiscate goods freely), the ships would very likely have a lot of operational freedom in the local waters. All the coastal-lords promised also (following an idea of Lord Fallkirk) to strengthen the vigilance at the shores, f. e. by using local fisherman etc., and create a line of alarm fires and riding messengers which could spread news of hostile raids in short time. These measures were at least at Blyth-land imposed after the return of lord Gard.
        On the other hand, lord Edwyn Falkirk should become “Warden of the Wilderness”, some kind of coordinator for the defence on the border with the mountain-clans (the boarder guards were build by units from house Aran, Falkirk and Blyth of Krayenhorn). That calmed the injured pride of Lord Falkirk, and he was ready to support the fleet-program. In the end, house Blyth of Dragonport could gathered promises of up to 800 dragons in money and goods for the fleet-program, one half from house Aran, and a quarter from every of the other two houses. Gard was certain he could not await any help from house Frey, but he planed starting to search for other “investors” like the Septrie of Eaglewood. In the end, the meeting was a small but not unimportant success. However he was not certain if you could trust the new “Warden of the Wilderness” but did not articulate his distrust.

        The next morning before the lords travelled home, news arrived castle Starbone, that there were some new incidents in the borderlands. A tradesman and his men were attacked by perhaps between up to a dozen raiders, which killed some of the men and escaped with the booty. Gard thought about interfering, but since both lord Aran and Falkirk seemed not very ambitious to act, he thought it would not be very important. After all, even if he could get some men he had to ride almost a day to reach the area of the attack and very likely the raiders would already be gone. He also was at the moment more concerned about the possibilities of new conflicts with the pirates, his duties as warden of coast etc.

        The farewell at the castle was more (between Arans and Blyth/Weymouth) or less warm (Blyth and Falkirk), and Meera and Gard travelled home together with lord Weymouth, who was invited to stay at night at Dragonport. On the way back, the youngest son of lord Aran, now promised to lord Weymouth’s daughter, joined the party. He wanted to honour his future father-in-law and visit his future bride. Of course both guests where treated very well and warmly. Lord Weymouth was interested in seeing the defence of Dragonport and the first two ships of the naval unit of lord Blyth. He was impressed but also warned to be vigilant. Vickon Aran used his time in Dragonport to buy a present for his bride (and than visit the “Mearmaids Pool” – as long as he yet was not married…).

        In the end, the decision not to react to the incident in the borderlands proofed wrong, since news arrived, that the robbed trader was only one part of a spade of small-scale raids, in which for example Sevenhills, a community in the borderlands which was independent, lost two or three women and some cattle. To make things even worse, some stupid young men vanished while trying to rescue the kidnapped women. If Gard had decided to push lord Aran and Falkirk to action (or one of them would be more willing to show initiative), it might have been possible to prevent some of the attacks, capture the raiders or reclaim some of the booty. Now it was too late. All what could be done was higher alert for the border-guards, because after realizing the scale of the raids, Gard silently feared that this might be some sort of “exercise/test” for the clan warriors or an attempt to win confidence and strengthen their (after several defeats) weakened morale. It was of course also not a good thing if Gard (or one of the other Lords) want to control the contested areas between the ‘civilized land’ and the mountains by winning the local population. Therefore Gard began some planning for a coordinated operation of Falkirk, Aran and both Blyth-houses to teach the clansmen a lesson, so that they do not start to raid more civilized areas again. So the land borders stayed a perhaps not infected but still not cauterized or healed wound, and perhaps severe “operations” or treatment must still be done, before this danger is banned…

        Comment


        • #34
          Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

          About true and false kings – Part II

          ************************************************** ******************
          We had to delay the ongoing of this story for some time, because one of the players (who managed Lord Gards uncle Eric) abandoned the party. A new char must be introduced to fill the gap.
          ************************************************** ************************

          The ‘pool’ of potential commanders/stewards of house Dragonport was increased when Ser John Buckwell arrived with a recommendation by Gard’s aunt, who had married into house Buckwell. Ser John, a veteran of the War of the Usurper (on the loosing side), had served as a mercenary at the contested area of Cracklaw Point for some time. After this (his fight for the wrong cause long forgotten) he returned to Kings Landing and got a position within the Goldcloaks. However he must leave the town again a few years later, because of his participation in a failed attempt to end the corrupt regime of Commander Janos Slynt. John is a normally calm and controlled man, but willing to take a risk if the aim seems worthy. After some rather harsh years, his ambitions are limited and his main aim is to find a respectable position where he can spend the rest of his life. He has some abilities in administration, negotiation and small scale warfare (although he is not as good as Gard). He is a good fighter, but his twisted leg (a ‘souvenir’ from Cracklaw Point) limits his military career. As (sort of) part of the family Lord Gard found him trustworthy enough to give him a role in the administration of Dragonport and as advisor/sub commander of the town garrison.

          Under the command of Ser John Buckwell and Paedrig Rivers (as second in command), up to 50 soldiers (elite guards and archers) were sent with the captured and renamed pirate galley ‘Golden Dragon’ to the small settlement Whitesand, somewhere in the contested area of the southern Bite coast. The expeditionary force should punish Whitesand’s ‘big man’ Burt Snow for spreading forged money. If possible, Burt Snow should be captured or killed, and Whitesand should become a vassal of house Aran – by this securing the flank of the Aran/Blyth-territory and strengthen their alliance. The expedition should also explore the tomb of Harold ‘Strongoak’, the source for the money Burt had ‘new-stamped’ for his criminal plans (that more a private project of Paedrig and Eric, while Gard had his moral problems with raiding a tomb).
          To win support, the landing force should contact Snows enemies, the local ‘noble’ family Sunstone, who tracked their roots back to the days of the small kingdoms of the andals in the Riverlands, and reigned Whitesand before Snow had driven them back to their small castle. To make things even more complicated (and increasing the hostilities between Snow and Sunstone), the noble house accused Burt for kidnapping and raping the oldest daughter of Lady Sunstone 16 years ago (while Burt claimed the girl had followed him by her free will). Anyway Lady Margit Sunstone’s daughter had died after giving birth to a boy – and now Burt claimed the birthright of the Sunstones for his son, ignoring the later marriages of Lady Sunstone and the children which were the offspring’s of these marriages.

          The travel was short but not very comfy, because the small galley was overloaded with men and equipment. After landing the troops, the galley seeks shelter in a nearby bay, while the soldiers began their marsh at the next morning, trying not to be noticed by the locals.
          The soldiers arrived Sunstone castle without problems; but were noticed at Whitesand, alarming Burt Snow. The old lady Margit Sunstone was a little bit sceptical about the intentions of almost 50 soldiers who suddenly appeared at her doorstep without warning or invitation. But she was at least willing to let the officers in for further talks, while the troops camped outside for the moment. Paedrig ordered his men to stay alert – and to behave. Shortly after this a group of Burt's soldiers under Daryo Anerro (Burt’s second in command, a bravosi fighter with some reputation) made a visit, because they also wanted to know the intentions of the ‘visitors’. The situation was unstable but remained peaceful for the moment – however Daryo did his best to spread mistrust against house Sunstone.
          Castle Sunstone was a well-build castle - once upon a time. Erected on a cliff, it’s overlooked Whitesand and the equal named little river. Enemies could reach the walls only on one side without problems. But now the walls had big holes, not very sophisticated ‘repaired’ with wood and crude stones. It was obviously that house Sunstone, after loosing Whitesand, did not have enough money to keep the fortress in shape – or men to retake Whitesand.

          While Paedrig stayed with his men, Ser Buckwell started negotiations with lady Sunstone. Following the orders of his lord he wanted the help of the Sunstones against Burt Snow and (if possible) showing house Sunstone the benefits of ending their isolation and becoming vassals of house Aran. Given the fact that both sides wanted to punish Burt Snow, an agreement in this case was reached quickly. Concerning the long term goals of John and Paedrigs diplomatic mission, only a vague agreement was reached. Buckwell (speaking for his lord) promised good trade conditions, mutual protection, support by house Blyth in the talks between Sunstone and Aran, and even (although this remain vague) perhaps a marriage between high standing officials or members of both houses to strengthen the alliance.
          During the talks it became clear that Lady Sunstone wanted Burt Snow and his son (her illegal grandson) dead – while John Buckwell wanted a little bit more flexibility for potential negotiations with the enemy.
          When the military planning started, Paedrig was re-invited into the talks. The tactical situation was not optimal: house Sunstone could only muster an undermanned scout unit and some infantry men – and must protect their lieges around. Resources and men were limited, so a siege of Whitesand (and also a blunt attack) did not look very promising. Paedrig and John did also not want to risk too much.
          Burt did have a fortified position, could fall back to the fortified inn if the walls of the village might fall (and had enough resources to withstand a siege for some time). He commanded a certain amount of infantry and a unit light cavalry. And if he could mobilize some of the people of Whitesand for his cause, he would gain additional troops – after all he had some money after his last actions...

          Because of all this it was decided to try a political/psychological attempt before starting ‘real’ warfare. Together with some soldiers of house Sunstone, the Dragonport troops marched in perfect order towards the walls of Whitesand, giving a demonstration of discipline, military order and equipment that was mostly unknown in this uncivilized borderland. Ser John and Paedrig were accompanied by Lady Sunstone. Of course the soldiers had order to stay alert for any attack by Burt’s troops and the archers marched with their bows ready to shoot.
          Lady Sunstone (assisted by Ser Buckwell) than promised the ‘good people of Whitesand’ that she and her new allies were only enemies of Burt Snow and want to spare the ‘innocent’ from a potential bloodshed. Anyone who stayed away from arms would be save. After the fall of the ‘tyrant’ Snow, one third of his resources should be given to the people of Whitesand. One gold dragon was promised for each of Burts men who surrendered. 20 gold dragons should go to the men who would kill Burt (10 to the men who killed his second in command).
          These golden incentives were mostly the idea of Ser Buckwell (hoping that he was not too generous with the money of his lord, although Lady Sunstone agreed to participate in the paying).
          Burt Snow, who appeared on the walls meanwhile, did his best to counter these attempts of demoralizing his troops. But Ser John used his presence to challenge him as a coward who did hide behind the walls and the people of Whitesand.

          This did have the desired effect, because Burt challenged Buckwell for a duel. A man-to-man fight should decide if Burt Snow must resign and go into exile (he to the Nightwatch; his son wherever he want, as long as it was far away). If Burt did win, the troops of Dragonstone should leave the area and never come back. Lady Sunstone was not very happy about the conditions of the duel. Ser Buckwell was able to incite Burt so that he decided to fight the duel on his own (instead of sending his second in command) and presented Paedrig as the fighter for house Blyth.
          For the duel the Blyth troops retreated some hundred yards, while the commanders of both site (with a small escort) did meet at the Godswood of Whitesand (a rather unique place, with wooden statues of the Seven standing side by side with a heart tree).
          Burt did wear a breastplate and a heavy warhammer, and with his first hit he hammered Paedrigs shield into pieces. However the young knight countered with a deadly stroke of his sword, wounding his opponent seriously. Burts next attacks were much weaker and not so precise than his first, and he was not able to do any real damage to his opponent, while Paedrigs sword wounded him again. In the end the blade of the young knight found a weak point of Burts armour and (remembering the wishes of his commander and lady Sunstone) Paedrig killed the ‘big man’ of Whitesand.

          However his feelings about this victory were mixed. On the one hand he was of course proud to have killed an (more or less) prominent enemy and by this bringing the operation to a success before more blood was shed. On the other hand he was reflective enough to realize that Burt Snow – by claiming Whitesand for himself and getting on top only by his will and fighting abilities – had much in common with Paedrigs desires and aims.
          Anyway, it was not much time to praise the victor, because suddenly the alarm cry ‘Fire’ could be heard – Burt Snows domicile, the fortified Inn of Whitesand, stood in flames. Ser Buckwell ordered his troops to fight the fire. After the flames had died down, Burt Snows son and his second in command had disappeared with some men and some of Snows gold (the fire was of course only a distraction to cover the retreat). Another part of Burts men also disappeared while others changed the sides and swore their oaths to Lady Sunstone. Lady Margit was reinstalled as ruler of Whitesand and a festival should celebrate her victory - with John Buckwell and Paedrig Rivers as her favourite guests.

          The booty for house Blyth was not very big, because some of Burt Snows treasures were destroyed/'get lost' during the fire. John Buckwell ordered the main part of his troops back to the waiting galley. They should bring the booty to Dragonport while Buckwell, Paedrig and a few men remained at castle Sunstone for the moment (they still had to explore the tomb of Harold Strongoak, where the late Burt Snow has got the coins for his re-stamping operation). While John Buckwell stayed at Sunstone for further diplomatic talks with Lady Margit and her staff, Paedrig explored the area and tried to evaluate the military strength and weak points of the future allies. He noticed that (while house Sunstone was well able to deal with the clans) their ability to withstand a conventional attack or to send troops further abroad was limited. However the wilderness and rough terrain around Whitesand and Sunstone worked as an effective barrier against many potential enemies.
          It was obvious that Lady Margit pictured John and Paedrig as potential grooms for one of her female relatives - even for her two unmarried daughters: Nella, a strong willed and warrior-like woman in her mid twentieth, from Lady Margit marriage with a clan chief; and Brannya, a 16 year old girl from Lady Margits last marriage. For Lady Sunstone Paedrigs bastard heritage was mostly unimportant, given the fact that even her heir had married a bastard girl.
          This would offer Paedrig a promising perspective; however he had already lost his heart (to his two years older aunt Anya). Ser Buckwell on the other hand was more interested but did not want to hasten things (Brannya was only half his age, while Nella seemed a little bit...complicated in some ways, and had already a little daughter).
          Concerning the tomb of Harold Strongoak Lord Gard sent orders to act in accordance with house Sunstone (he was a sceptic about the idea of tomb raiding and certainly did not want to complicate the still fragile relations with the new allies). The Sunstones did not have anything against the idea of ‘exploring’ the ancient grave, but they wanted of course their part of the booty.

          Getting into the tomb was risky, because the only way was to climb down a dangerous cliff were the walls of the tomb had collapsed and created an entrance.
          John decided to stay at saver ground while Paedrig, Nella Sunstone and Aeryn Hunter (one of the Blyth soldiers) tried their luck. Although they used ropes, Nella almost lost her grip and was slightly wounded.
          Exploring the cave tomb was a very unnerving experience for the young warriors. Their torches could only enlighten a small part of their way. There were unknown runes at the walls and frightening realistic statues of guards which seem ready to strike by every moment. And there were also more physical threads to deter any thieve or burglar. Nella was badly wounded by an automatic fired crossbow arrow. This did only heighten the paranoia of the explorers.
          Obviously Harrold Strongoak did intend to travel to the shadow world with all luxuries. There were weapons, food and other goods. A lot was destroyed over the centuries, but at least some items were mostly intact, even after such a long time. And Harold did not want to travel alone – the party found skeletons of hunting birds, war dogs, riding- and warhorses, the slain builders of the tomb, and the body of a young maid, with a beautiful golden mask.
          And at last they stood before Harrold Strongoak himself – his corpse sitting on a throne, still cladded in bronze plate armour, with his crown on his head and a dangerous great sword in his hands. It was a frightening scene, but how mighty and dangerous the dead lord appeared – it was only a mummified corpse without might or power. It was decided to let him his armour and some of his weapons but most of the treasures were taken away before the tomb was sealed again.

          To decide who should take what part of the treasure was not so easy either. Gard was not much interested in the booty (he had still his reservations about grave robbery). For him the treasures of Harrolds tomb were mostly a tool to strengthen the ties between the new allies. In the end the crown of Harrold Strongoak should go to house Aran and the sword to house Sunstone. For house Blyth the booty was mostly some money. Paedrig (as one of the explorers of the grave) got a beautiful scale armour for his warhorse. He also took the remaining precious metals fittings of an old pickling glove with him.

          Back in Dragonport Gard was very pleased with the outcome of the operation. He was very generous to the soldiers and commanders of the expeditionary force. John Buckwell get a castle forged weapon (he decided to took a flail) and a warhorse, while Paedrig get 20 gold dragons (the bounty for Burt Snows head) from Gard and Lady Sunstone.
          With this fresh income, Paedrig decided to buy an additional horse – in a situation of emergency he certainly would need a packhorse to carry the new horse armour to the battle field. The horse was easy to get - a rounsey, of course from the stud farm of Krayenhorn. This was not only an opportunity to support the income of his family, but also (certainly with not so…honourable intentions) to see his ‘aunt’ Anya, the woman he secretly admired and loved. Although this was certainly a bittersweet pleasure for the young knight it was at least an opportunity to hand her over the remade pickling glove (besides riding, hawking was one of lady Anyas favourite sport activities). Lady Anya was very pleased by Paedrigs present. However of course every visit to Krayenhorn and every present for his aunt did increase the possibility that someday someone did notice Paedrigs affection for Anya.
          Last edited by Kajani; 12-15-2016, 03:12 AM.

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          • #35
            Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

            House Sunstone of Whitesand
            Arms: a red-golden sun on blue with a white bordure.

            House Sunstone was raised several centuries ago during the “clash of kings” in the Riverlands by one of the now forgotten minor Andal rulers. From their start they had to fight for control on their soil (a small pocket of civilization on the southern shores of the Bite, between the sea and the Mountains of Moon), an area which never had a real connection by land to the civilized areas. Mining and other natural resources like timber and amber were important for their income in those days. They prospered when they bend their knee and become loyal followers of the House Hoare and the Ironmen during their complete conquering of the Riverlands, but when Harren the Black was burned by the fire of the dragons of Aegon I., their might burned too. Some of their members and several of their soldiers died at Harrenhal. In the following centuries they had to hide in the wilderness, a forgotten house, nearly loosing all their power, mixing their blood with lowborn people and clansmen. Now things have changed since they have regained some power and swear loyalty to house Aran of Starbone and crushed their main enemy with the help of house Blyth of Dragonport. Their lands are poor and small in size, but they are determent to forge their luck. The people in this area are mostly hunters, lumberjacks; or they search after gold and amber. They are much more independent, war-ready and free-minded than most people in the cultivated parts of Westeros (more like the hill-clans in parts of the North or the independent men on Cracklaw Point).

            The present leader of the house is Lady Margit Sunstone, an unchallenged matriarch who rules her family with courage and wit. More than 50 years old, her spirit shows no sign of weakness, while her body slowly lost the strength of previous years. She has still not decided who should follow her as ruler. Some say it may be her only daughter from her second marriage, Nella, a half-blood which father was a smaller clan-chief. She is more a warrior than a lady and leads the scouts who are an important part of Sunstones military might. She is not married yet, but has a small daughter. From Lady Margits third marriage three children has survived and perhaps she see the oldest of them, Harwyn, as favourite heir. He wears the family-greatsword Firebite and is wed to the bastard-daughter of a minor noble from the Fingers. His younger brother Harold and his sister Brannya are still not wed, and Lady Margit may plan to use them to strengthen the ties to other local noble houses.
            Harren, Margits cousin, is a hard-faced warrior and more or less her Master of Arms, Centenar of the newly erected garrison force. He did not share the visions of the Lady about restoring the old might of house Sunstone, but he did not argue in public with her. His son Hal lives as a squire at Dragonport.
            Maester Keith is a man with secrets, a former Targaryan-loyalist who fled after the end of Roberts Rebellion. He see his duties more focussed towards the land and the people, less the ruling house (and in the past he had served Lady Margit’s bitter rival, the local ,big man’ Burt Snow who ruled many of the people who now had to follow the Sunstones), but he is respected by most people. He knows many about the past, about the nature (especially plants) and is as master of ravens.
            Not present anymore but unforgotten is Burt’s son, Willem, half a Sunstone himself (his mother was Lady Margit’s oldest daughter, the only child from her first marriage, who was either kidnapped or run away with Burt Snow). He has fled after his father was killed, but Lady Margit sees him still as a potential danger in the future, although she never had accepted him as her legal grandson.

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            • #36
              Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

              Red waves

              (Note: Since the third player of our group had not much time in the last weeks and months, we decided to play some smaller events which happened during the expedition to Whitesand. We played together with the player of Lord Igen Horn, who had meet Gard some years ago during the Greyjoy-Rebellion).

              A long time had passed since Lord Igen Horn (which house was located some miles inland from the Ironman’s Bay) and Gard Blyth of Dragonport (at this time only a young squire) had meet for the first time during the Greyjoy-Rebellion. Both nobles stayed in loose contact, f. e. if they visited the same important event in the Riverlands, sometimes the houses exchanged messages, but these were rare occasions.
              Since the time of the Ironmen Rebellion, Lord Igen had separated his new house more and more from house Isenband, into which he was born, and had sworn loyalty to the mighty House Mallister, which owns castle Seaguard. It was because of his ties with house Mallister, why Lord Igen had to visit the Twins. House Mallister was once again in discussion about the taxes for goods which pass the Crossroad, and as a gifted diplomat Lord Igen was called to support their claim. It soon becomes clear, that the “late Lord Frey”, which was short before marrying an fifteen year old maid, had decided to let his “guests” wait, before he tries to talk the last penny out of them. The situation at the Twins was not very inspiring. People with eyes to see noticed soon that the peace in the Frey-ranks was fragile at best, and might be broken soon and bloody if Lord Frey would ever die. Ser Patrek Mallister, son and heir of Lord Mallister and leader of the Mallister-delegation in the bargaining with the Frey’s, did his best to amuse himself as good as he could, but loosing more and more patience. They heard news about rising problems with pirates on the Bite, and that some local lords planed to raise a fleet to counter this threat, but the Frey’s seemed not worried at all, nor did they plan to help these lords.

              During that time of growing frustration, Walder Frey (called Black Walder, the much feared second son of Ryman Frey, the oldest son of Ser Stevron Frey, who himself was the oldest son of Lord Walder Frey) contacted Lord Igen. He asked him to do him a favour – and promised he might help bring the case of the Mallister’s forward as reward. Although Lord Igen was sceptic how much substance the promise might have, he realized, that given the poor health/aging of Walder’s father, grandfather and grand-grandfather, Black Walder might be perhaps in the soon future nearer to the high seat of house Frey than it appears at the first look. Walder wanted Lord Igen to act as his messenger and emissary on a mission which would send him to the coast of the Bite. He should bring a letter and a gift to one of the local Lord’s, a man Lord Igen knows from the past – Lord Gard Blyth of Dragonport.
              Walder made it clear that the mission was more or less directed against his older brother Edwyn, who he seems to hate from the bottom of his heart and which he suspected of scheming and plotting.
              After speaking with Ser Patrek Mallister, Lord Igen agreed to do as Walder wanted. He travelled with some men of his personal elite-squad.

              The travel to Dragonport was without problems and after a week of riding, Lord Igen reached Dragonport, where be got a warm welcome. The two nobles had not met each other for more than a year. The message of the Black Walder was more or less intended to feed suspicions against his older brother Edwyn, who – so Black Walder claimed – may have initiated some of the pirate-attacks, to create a modest threat for the trade (and in that way for the wealth of house Frey) so that he could push his fame if he “solved” the problem. Black Walder also claimed that Edwyn might plot against the Arans and perhaps did use the pirates to sabotage Arans politics. Walder warned that Gard and his liege-lord Aran should be careful in choosing their opponents and allies at the Twins, because nobody could know how the things would go in the future. He also sent Dragonport 50 gold dragons as help for their fleet and asked them to show their preparations to Lord Igen. It was very clear that he tried to find future allies in a power struggle for the leadership of house Frey.

              Gard was sceptic how much he could trust Black Walder (although he said that not in open) but he treated Lord Igen with perfect hospitality. He also sent a message to his father in law to coordinate the reaction towards Walder’s offer. In the meantime Gard showed Lord Igen Dragonport, informed him about the pirates and the counter-measures he had taken and show him one ship of his new fleet (the other was not at home, because id had to bring soldiers towards Whitesand).
              Both men had their own agenda – Gard wanted to use the opportunity to win Lord Igen as an ally which could perhaps help him to hire some trained sea-officers or captains (since house Horn’s liege-lords Mallister had a own fleet). Lord Igen was interested in learning more about the Frey-plotting and the sealed message he had brought. Both got what they want in the end, after Lord Igen convinced Gard, that he could be trusted.

              On the third day of the visit, both Lords joined a short trainings- and demonstration-journey of the “Mastiff”, the newest ship of Dragonports small but growing fleet. Crew and officers were still incomplete, but there was enough manpower to bring the cog out of the harbour. It’s seemed as if the work was well-done until now. All things onboard looked right; the ship was already armed with scorpions.

              In some distance from Dragonport, a small vessel was sighted. It appeared to be a fishing-boat in trouble, drifting without a clear direction, the only man on board lay on the ground without motion. Gard feared it might be the victim of a pirate-attack – the raiders had struck such prey occasionally – and ordered that the boat should be boarded. There were no signs of a fight, and the sole sailor was unharmed, but nearly catatonic. He was brought on board and the boat was bound to the Mastiff to carry it home. The survivor, a 14 year old boy named Lares (like the boat and the missing rest of the crew he come from the lands of Dragonport) – was brought under deck to get fresh clothes and some wine in the hope that he might be able to tell more if he recovers a bit. But that proofed to be difficult, because he become nearly hysterical when one of the sailors by accident spilled some wine on him, crying something about blood. Gard and Lord Igen calmed him down, and could get the whole story out of him, although that brought more questions than answers.

              Lares had sailed with three other men to the Isle of Seals, a small island of around two square miles, perhaps a day away from the port. The island was used for seal-hunting in the past, but today the numbers of seals were too small for regular hunting. Some fishermen still visited the island, since it had good fishing-grounds around and a wide bay which fell dry partly during low water, so that fishes which swam in during the tide could be caught easily. While he stayed at the camp, Lares’ comrades had started to do so when suddenly someone or SOMETHING attacked the men in the water. From that point the story became unclear, because Lares stammered something about “red waves” and was unable to say more.

              Not even the sailors had an idea what could have attacked the fishermen. Some thought it might be a shark, a giant sea-turtle, even a poisonous jellyfish, or some human attackers which had hidden in the water. Lares as witness was not very reliable, and deeply traumatized. He told he had fled after the attack began and later used the boat to escape. Gard decided to act immediately, because one of the men might have survived, fleeing on safer ground and was now stranded, surely wounded. He also wanted to know what had killed his subjects. He did not believe that the pirates were behind the events, because until now they had never worked so…subtle.

              When the Isles of Seals was reached, nothing could be sighted from distance, beside some smoke on the other side of the isle. Lord Igen and Gard went on land with some men, searching for traces, but there were no sign of the fishermen beside their abandoned camp. They found a body of a seal, drifting in the water, but the dead animal was mutilated in a way no one of them had ever seen before – and since it seemed clear that human involvement was unlikely, no one had an idea which animal could do this. Since the day was almost over they decided to search the rest of the island the next day. Nobody wanted to search the deeper waters of the bay light-hearted, not before all other possibilities were checked. It was not a very peaceful night (both lords take part as watchmen), since in the morning Lord Igen sighted some…lights…in the bay, on or even IN the water. This frightened the sailors even more, and also the lords were uncertain what that could be.

              The next day they began to search the rest of the island. The Isles of Seals had not much vegetation – meagre grass, bushes, small needle-trees etc. From the hillside which divided the island they could see the source of the smoke they discovered yesterday. Around a dozen people whit two flat boats had landed and were skinning and cutting up some seals.
              It soon becomes clear that this was a small hunting party of the Seals People, a coastal clan – perhaps half a dozen men in fighting age, the rest women and children. They were carefully and did not trust the “kneeing men” (who in vice versa did not trust them), but none of both sides was open hostile. The clansmen leader, Avat son of Raka, was even willing to help Lord Gard to find out what have killed his men – for a reward in wine and cloth, and he wanted a “guest”/hostage as long as he was with the foreigners. Gard was not happy that the Seals People demanded his guest as hostage, and he did not try to convince Lord Igen to do so, but the older Lord take that part voluntarily. After all he felt not really threatened by the clansmen (partly because he nether before had to deal with them) and was very interested in finding out what strange creature was behind the attack.

              On the way to the bay Gard tried to get some information out of the clansman about their probable contacts with Nardis' pirates – but Avat claimed that his tribe did not have such contacts and was not very impressed by Lord Gards warnings about the potential negative effects of the collaboration of other seals peoples with the pirates. Avats people had lived at the coast for thousands of years, and had on various occasions fight, traded and allied with local pirates, smugglers and small lords.
              Avat examined the killed seal and interrogated Lares – than he could tell the lord that the attacker seem to be a “sea daemon” – a giant squid, a creature which could be between five and 15 yards long (or even bigger), with ten tentacles and a deadly beak. Probably a high or storm-tide had washed the squid into the bay, where he now was trapped.
              Meanwhile Igen as the “guest” of the Seals People was treated with caution, but was neither disarmed nor bound. He tried to lighten up the atmosphere, but most of the clan people ignored him (but had their weapons at hand). Only Timar, one of the young men, talked a little bit more with Igen. He mocked Igen, wanted a wrestling contest with Igens sword as price (and later jokingly offered his sister in exchange for the blade), but seemed to be certainly more fascinated than hostile. So when Gard returned he found his guest well, but a little bit pale (after Timar had offered Igen some raw seal liver).

              Now it was up to reunited Lords to decide what to do next. It was possible to let the kraken in the bay or return to Dragonport to come back with reinforcements for the hunt. But that would cost time, and if the squid escaped the presence of such a monster could harm the fishing and even frighten the sailors. Gard felt devoted to his duty to protect or avenge his smallfolk (as they work and paid for him), Lord Igen on the other hand was mostly motivated by the glory such a prey would bring – that could be a story he could tell his grandchildren…
              The lords decided to face the problem immediately. They armed some of the sailors with harpoons they bought from the Seals People, hired Timar as support (who also wanted to proof himself in front of his fellow clansmen and -women) and organized the transport of one of the scorpions from the ship to the shore of the bay. That cost the rest of the day.

              The next morning they used a living seal, captured by the clansmen, to provoke an attack from the giant squid. When the beast surfaced the hunters were ready. Perhaps it was good that they had not much time to think twice after sighting the squid – a giant of more than 7 yards length and some hundred pounds of weight. Gard hit him with a scorpion-bolt, while some of the sailors and Timar throw harpoons so that the squid could not escape into deeper waters of the bay. Lord Igen – shortly after joined by Gard and Timar – attacked the huge predator in direct combat, the older lord and the young clansman with a harpoon while Gard used sword and hand axe. It was a short but bitter fight. At least once Gard was entangled by the tentacles of the squid but could free himself, and in the end the giant was defeated. It was a moment of shared jubilation even for people so distant to each other as the “kneeing” lords and the free warriors of the Seals People.
              Both sides departed peacefully, and Gard used the opportunity to prepare future contacts with the clansmen – perhaps he could hire some of them as mercenaries. It was of course impossibly to win much out of the prey – the flesh was not of great use, and the squid did have not much solid parts which could be rescued from decay. The beak was taken; as was one of the longest arms which might be “survive” in salt, but of course the main win was the death of a predator which had killed several men.

              The voyage home went well, although at Dragonport many were – not very surprisingly – worried that the short training voyage has lasted for more than three days. The news and the prey got the men a good piece of fame, although the news for the families of the fishermen was bitter. And the two lords had restarted their connection by fighting side by side, what might be important in the future.
              Gard gave the squid beak to Lord Igen, a gift which was accepted with many thanks. Lord Igen promised also to ask around if the Mallisters could help Dragonport with some men for their fleet. The farewell went not out without some ominous warnings. When Gard joked, he hoped to see Lord Igen again, but not in war like the first time (during the Greyjoy-Rebellion), Elen Fairyeyes, the healer of Dragonport, which was also present, warned that they both WILL fight one day, but that it was unclear if side by side or against each other, and that Lord Igen might take the squid as a warning for things to come…
              Both men stayed uncertain how serious they should take those words.

              The answer Lord Igen could bring to Twins was a diplomatic but indecisive one – both Gard and his liege-lord were not willing to place themselves in the middle of a Frey family vendetta, even more since the outcome was so unclear. The Black Walder did not take this very good. He was, after all, no man of diplomacy – or, with his words, if he paid a whore, than he had the dammed right to…

              Meanwhile Gard earned not only good words. In rare unity both his mother and his wife were not very happy with his tendency of bringing himself into danger and taking risks a lord maybe should avoid. Gard did not argue much against that (because he in some aspects agree, and he could never forget that his brother was first wounded and later murdered), but stated that he had still his duties and had to act when it was needed, even more if there was not enough time for preparations or more sophisticated reactions. But he promised to take some trained guards with him in the future, so that he must not face dangers with so few help (after all, the help from the sailors was…limited because they were simply too afraid).

              As it emerges some days later it seems so as if Black Walder (or someone else) had secretly already prepared actions – an assassination-attempt against Eddwyn Frey failed while the noble was on Aran-land. That raised some suspicions against Lord Igen Horn at the Twins (where some people noticed that he had visited the area of the assault shortly before) and even more against Lord Aran and his son in law. Gard and Meera discussed the problem under four eyes and decided to suggest Meeras father, he might inform Eddwyn Frey about the actions of Black Walder, putting the blame on him. Gard still had the letter from Walder with his very negative words about the other Frey…in the end, so it was done.
              That might spare the Aran’s and Blyth hostility from Eddwyn (if he did believe them), but on the other hand they had somehow put themselves more on his side in the coming family-struggle, what might be a wise decision – or a fatal one…

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              • #37
                Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                Red waves II

                Given the increasing pressure from all sides and Elens ominous prophecy about a coming war Gard decided to step up also his personal weaponry, ordering a castle forged greatsword and splint armour for himself and scale armour for his horse (together almost 30 gold dragons, but as a lord…). While it takes time to get such sophisticated pieces of craftsmanship, the following events proofed that Gard acted not without reason…

                The first news shortly after Lord Igen left was good. One of the three fishermen which were thought to be killed by the giant squid at Seals Island had actually survived – Gard’s men did not find him because he was taken hostage by some of the Seals People before the arrival of the rescue-team. Later the “Seals” with which the lords had met “bought” the fishermen and sent him back – awaiting some reward of course. Gard’s honoured their wish and sent them some spears, two axes, wine and spirit, happy about the fact, that the first vague (non hostile) contacts with some of the Seals People seem to bear fruits. Lady Meera used the time for a travel towards the Septrie of Eaglewood. She tried to convince Septa Jonelle of supporting Dragonports naval project, but this time she meets an equal or even superior “opponent” in the arts of words. Septa Jonelle was the far better negotiator and in the end Dragonport get not more than (very convincing sounding) promises which must be compensated in a way that the gain for the Blyth’s would be in fact zero – but they felt in dept towards the Septrie…

                Things get worse after that swiftly. Some days had passed since the last events and Dragonport was back to ordinary life. Ships arrived and left, controlled by men of the town-garrison who also collected the taxes. But on one of those ships, a small coastal-freighter, Ganer and Haren, two of the soldiers, noticed that something strange was going one. They remembered that they had seen this ship shortly before, but that the appearance of the ship had changed – as had the crew. Since the garrison was on alert because of the pirates, they decided to alarm their vintenar. But the ship crew noticed their suspicions, and swiftly blades were drawn, and both men escaped only narrowly by jumping into the harbour, crying alarm!
                Chaos break out as the “sailors” started to throw torches and incendiary “bombs” towards all inflammable things in reach. Surely they had originally planed to left their ship in secret and trying to start fire on much more dangerous places simultaneously, probably including onboard of the new ships of Gards navy. Now they had to hurry, since a reaction seems imminent.
                Gard, which noted the alarm in the harbour, collected any available soldier at the castle and rushed towards the town. When he reached, the attackers were already on retreat, and some small fires had broken out. He ordered the citizens and soldiers to fight the flames, and gathered some men to fight against the enemies – pirates, he guessed. The soldiers under his command hit the enemy with one of the scorpions onboard of the “Mastiff” (the “Golden Dragon” was still at Whitesand) but that was not enough to prevent the escape of the attackers, also they were damaged. The young lord organized a coastal ship and some men to chase his foes (the Mastiff, herself a great cog, would need to much time to left harbour since the crew was already incomplete), but while they got very close to the fleeing vessel, the attackers were much more skilled sailors, and neither Gard nor his men had much experience in boarding. They gave up the hunt, also because they could not know if another hostile vessel was waiting nearby, and sailed back.

                At Dragonport, Denys Lumber, the centenary/captain of the town-garrison, had mastered his task to coordinate the “fire-brigade” build from both soldiers and civilians with great success. Damages were minor, injuries few. Gard praised and rewarded both him and the two watchmen who had more or less prevented the planed attack by crying alarm, but also decided that the fire-prevention must be improved further. He ordered that buckets, flame-blankets and other tools should be stored on several locations, and also sand and water, so that future fires could be defeated more quickly. What – so he thought – if the pirates or another attacker would try to start fire with more sophisticated methods or would not be noticed so early? To calm the fears of his subjects he ordered twenty soldiers from the castle to stay at the town, leaving the castle with only a rump-garrison (parts of Dragonports soldiers were often patrolling the countryside, helping the border-patrols in the wilderness or secured the roads). On the other hand, given the high walls and excellent fire positions of the castle, a successful attack was very unlikely. Gard and Lumber discussed that maybe in future, when the fleet of Dragonport would be complete, one ship should stay at home as often as possible – if the Golden Dragon would stayed there, the already manned small galley would had surely better chances to catch or sink the enemies...

                But it takes only hours to make it clear that the pirates weren’t finished with their attacks. Short after sunset one of the newly installed signal-fires was set alight some miles away, very likely at one of the small hamlets on the coast which were governed by Dragonport. A second time on the same day Gard rallied his men. Given the distance and the lack of time he decided to march with the present ten men of the cavalry. He ordered the forces of Dragonport – both at the castle and in the town – to stay on highest possible alert, if that attack was only a trick.

                He and his men did not carry torches or lanterns, so that the attackers could not see them coming. This slowed their march a bit, but if that decision was right or not, no one could ever say. The riders were not detected by the enemies until they had nearly reached their target.
                Obviously a small pirate-galley had indeed attacked a hamlet. Some houses were set alight, and the attackers, a group of around 50 men with medium armour and long battle-axes, were on the way back, carrying prisoners – mainly women – with them. Gard decided against a charge, because he want not slay or trample to death his subjects and pirates alike, instead leading his men so that they cut off the pirates from the water. That gave the pirates time to regroup. On the other hand most of the prisoners escaped, when their captors rallied to defend themselves.
                Because they noticed the riders far too late, the galley could not fire and support the raiders with bows, crossbows or even the light scorpion it has. It was a fight between the landing force and Gard’s men, but that wasn’t a fair fight. Gard proofed far superior in leading his men than his enemy, and he could once again demonstrate the weakness of all raiders against organized heavy cavalry. His riders enveloped their foes and smashed them in short time. Their heavy armours were never breached, and under their lances and hooves their enemies had fallen in short time. Few made it into safety. Then the riders searched for cover, when the galley opened fire, but there were no serious casualties. The pirate galley could do nothing but retreat before reinforcements or even a warship might arrive.

                In the end, victory was achieved, but a bitter one. Several people were slain, some women and girls raped, the houses burned and cattle slaughtered. However no one of the people was taken hostage – no one suffered the hard fate of being sold to a slave-trader, to the clans or misused as camp-whore or forced servant for the pirates themselves.
                And the perpetrators had also paid a high price. Up to 30 raiders had been killed in combat, but no one was captured alive. How much drowned during their retreat, died later because of their wounds or were crippled was unknown. The pirate galley had lost more than half of its crew, perhaps some of the officers, but most probably not the captain (no one of the bodies fits with the description of the known pirate captains).
                Gard ordered that the “captured” armour and weapons (what his men found and looted on their own they must of course not give away) should be separated in three equal parts. One should be sold as reward for the soldiers, one as compensation for the hamlet (which he also supported with some money) the rest would be used for creating of the fleet.

                The rumours about these incidents spread fast, but vague. Some people talked about a victory of house Blyth, others whispered about the destruction of a village and several ships and a victory of the pirates. Gard however had in some aspect proof himself as “warden of shores” and earned some glory. He informed the lords of Weymouth and Falkirk to be carefully if the pirates may strike also against them…
                Perhaps if the truth spreads, some unemployed sailors and young fishermen would rather decide to join the navy of Dragonport instead of filling the ranks of the pirates. The freebooter however had caused damage, pain and death, but had also suffered a heavy blow. They had lost up to 100 men against Dragonport in about two months (of course also because they could never send their whole force against the town and were caught by surprise). Nardis could perhaps fill his ranks with shore-scum and young clansmen, but had lost some trained men he could not easily replace…

                Gard on the other hand had learned that even the best preparations were not good enough in any case, and that he and his men had much to learn about sea-warfare. He decided to improve his abilities over the time, even if that would reduce his possibility for managing the daily management. He also prepared to gave some of his men more mobility to react to imminent and sudden threats, by starting to searching for the possibility to get his archers “on horse” (not as cavalry, but as mobile infantry which marches on mount and dismounted before combat).
                Slowly and secretly, another development took place in the meantime. Meera had only played so far the loyal and lovely wife. However over the past months her intention towards Gard really changed, partly because she was “softened up” by her sister in law Alyanna and because Gard treated her with love and respect. This finally bears results, and Meera began to see Gard in the way as she was playing before (in game terms Gard finally did win a charming intrigue).

                Comment


                • #38
                  Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                  (The following events happened some time after the Greyjoy-Rebellion, and Gard may remember them on a evening in the hall as a more ,innocent' adventure of his youth)

                  Last steps towards knighthood

                  A winter has come and disappeared since the combined forces of the Iron Throne had crushed the pirates from the Iron Isles. It was a harsh time for the people in the northern parts of Westeros, even for those southwards of the Neck. Some men and women - mainly the old, sick or the young - did not survive, and others had lost some of their property. Such events hit the peasants of course much more than their noble lords, but the lord of the small house Krayenhorn and the wife of his son and heir Ser Gawan were among those which health was badly effected, although they had survived the cold time.
                  At Dragonport and Krayenhorn few other things had changed in the ten months since the end of the war. The heir of house Blyth of Dragonport, Ser Viserion, had returned with fame and glory, but his character did not change for good after all the bloodshed he had seen and in some cases also caused. The relationship with his younger brother Gard, still a squire of Ser Gawan, heir of the castle Krayenhorn, had worsen during the war, and showed no sign of improving. Gard himself had become a little bit more quiet and earnest after the brutalities he had seen during the war. Some months after his return, during the winter, he nearly lost his life (and got some scars on his leg and a life-long fear) when he was attacked by some hungry wolves. But as spring came again, such dangers faded away. The mountain clans had used the absence of so many soldiers during the war and the winter shortly after their return for a number of raids, but this danger was slowly contained.

                  The duties for a young squire are many, and even more if he is not only prepared to be a knight some (perhaps close) day, but also may serve his father and brother some day as officer and castellan. He had to learn to deal with administrative matters, bargain with merchants etc. The situation gave him a good opportunity for practice. The winter had costed Krayenhorn several of the horses which were used in breeding (mainly lighter war-horses like Rounsey and Courser), and now it was time to buy some new breeding-mares. It would be the best to buy the horses on a great (horse) market near the Twins, up to 70 leagues away from Krayenhorn. Gard should manage this, with the help of master Edrick, the son of the Master of Horses of Krayenhorn. Many noblemen may find such duties below their honour, but Gard took this task very serious. He tried to inform himself about possible dangers on the road, and made sure that not only he but also Edrick and the young stable-boy who also take part were armed (appropriate to their knowledge and status, of course, which means a simple but effective sidearm for the servants).
                  Rumours about bandits on the road were common in such times, and as soon as possible after the travellers reached the Kingsroad they joined a greater group of traders and other people who live on the road. Gard stayed himself a little bit distanced from the common people, and he kept an eye on Edrick that he spends not too much time (and money) with some of the women. The only mayor event was a hedge knight, Ser Ereg of Twostone, who joined the traders to “protect” them. Gard at first tried to avoid a conflict, but after Ser Ereg stayed they had some “discussions”, during which the older man was indeed intimidated by the young squire – a defeat he surely did not forget.

                  While quiet a lot unfriendly things could be said about the "late lord Walder Frey", he seemed more than able to secure the role of his castle as important travel- and trading-point. The great market here was an opportunity to buy and sell goods and on this occasion horses from great parts of the Riverlands, and many other goods and services too. Perhaps the people had to compensate also the suffering of the winter and war. Not all news at the beer-tents were good (rumours about crushed peasant-rebellions, marauding deserters and bandits etc.), but most people concentrated on having a good time - or earn their living by helping others to enjoy their time. The Frey took the problems serious, their soldiers searched after rebels who might sneak in the cover of so many people.
                  Of course the pleasures and contests (fighting with bare hands, quarterstaffs, shooting etc.) were more centred on the lower parts of the society, the servants of lords, not the lords themselves, who stayed mostly at the Twins if they were present. However, Gard as a squire prefer to stay at the market, warning his subordinates to look after their money (he gave both some additional coins as reward) and to avoid trouble.
                  Gard himself had no wish for distraction, he concentrated on his duty to find the best horse-traders, and he ,forced' Edrick to support him. It seems that two were most famous for the breed of horses he was interested in - the well-known master Harrocs, which horses are said to be sold also towards the riders of the king, and Eddard Troan who was much cheaper, but also had good horses (allthough from not so famous offspring). Gard quickly opted for the second opportunity. After all Krayenhorn did breed not so much horses for lords but for their knights and cavalry - good horses, but not necessary famous ones. Also the horses of master Troan were mainly foxes, a colour which dominated also in the ranks of the Krayenhorn-breed. The young squire learned quickly that master Troan was a able negotiator, but both come to an agreement - 300 SS for every mare or 250 if the young noble would be able to win the riding contest on the market with on of Troan's horses (which would of course increase the fame of his business quiet a lot).

                  Gard spent most of the next day to prepare himself for the race – he tried to become a feeling for Blaze, a young horse he had to ride, learning more about the rules of the contest and his opponents. Of course he was a bit nervous about loosing which would cost money and maybe make him the target of several jokes. But he was determent to do his best.
                  After the start of the race it soon becomes obvious that his horse and the horse from master Harrock had the best chances to win. Both he and his opponent did the best to support the horses, which proved to be superior to all others. The other three riders were left fare behind from the start, including Ser Ereg, who seem to not very happy to be ,defeated' again by Gard. It was a hard race, but in the end Blaze reached the finishing line at first.
                  This clear victory had of course more effect for the owner of the horse than for the young noble (anyway, the reward of 1 dragon was of course welcomed), but since he could proof his worth to house Krayenhorn by paying less for the mares, he was more than satisfied. He kept a cool head during the celebrations for the winners of several contests – which mean he could spare most of the drunken brawl which was a result of the festivities. He bought three good mares from master Troan to a reduced price, perhaps opening a connection between the trader and Krayenhorn. On the next day Gard and the men under his command joined a group of traders which head for more or less the same direction.

                  Of course with the precious horses, already some silver in his pocket and all the rumours about rebels and brigands Gard were still a bit concerned during the way home. Some days along the road the travellers arrived a small hamlet. Gard was not very happy to realize that Ser Ereg of Twostone together with a mercenary had also found shelter in the same inn. He did not trust the hedge knight or his comrade, and so he convinced the traders to order their men to stand vigil during the night (Gard and his men take part in the watch). That proofs to be the right decision – with a lot of luck Gard noticed early enough that Ser Ereg tried to sneak closer to him, his sword drawn. The young squire shouted Alarm! and faced his enemy. Although he was injured himself he was the better fighter and the hedge knight had to flee. In the end he and his comrade escaped, but their plan – to steal the horses of Gard and perhaps also some others – had failed.
                  The rest of the travel was without disruptions. Gard’s knight and the Lord of Krayenhorn were satisfied with the result. Perhaps this influenced their decision to granted Gard full knighthood some weeks later in a small ceremony. The young knight returned to Dragonport, were he faced new duties – as his High Fathers administrator in the town of Dragonport himself, a position he would very likely have to handle one day under the rule of his older brother…

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                    Call of duties, part I

                    The weeks after the fooled pirate-attacks were quiet eventful, while in several cases the concrete reasons of that events were unclear for many people. It seems that the Gentlemen’s-agreement with the Lugus did work at least for now. After house Blyth did not further support a smear-campaign against the Lugus, the hostile rumours which could be traced back to Lugus-land also slowly died down. Same could be said about the stories about Iris Dannett, but that might be also a result of her departure with her new husband Tygor Wyll, brother and more than hundred of the Dannett-soldiers, who had marched southward to support Tygor’s claim to his birthright. Rumours without a clear target tend to be short living. However that could not be said about other poisoned words which now emerged (much less rapid than the “war of gossip” between the houses Lugus and Blyth, as if the source had much less possibilities or was less able on that field). The new rumours were targeting Lady Meera Blyth of Dragonport, speaking about a secret romance between her and Ser Pirron Strife, a knight of her father, just before her marriage. Given the fact that her pregnancy was announced shortly before, the words become even more poisoned.
                    Gard and Meera did not deny the rumours publicly, but showed in the public perfect harmony and trust towards each other (either if that was well played or honestly). Gard’s mother however reacted in another way – here fragile ceasefire with her daughter in law crumbled, and while Gard (and his sister) were able to avoid open confrontations, the relationship between the old and the new lady worsened a lot. Aly’ reacted in her own way to the rumours against her brothers wife. She used her spies to spread rumours by herself – about the harmony between her brother and his wife, and that Pirron (which she and Gard believed was not only cause but also the source of the gossip) was a man without honour, who fled after he was discovered to be a thief, and whisperings that Pirron was never interested in women but tried to have his will with young boys and was outlawed because of that…

                    There were other news, too, which seemed to better by nature. House Aran seemed to be quiet successful in strengthen his influence in the soft way – given the fact that Lord Aran's granddaughter Elyssa was promised to Torrhen Falkirk, and his son Vickon towards Naerys Weymouth. However it seems to be clear that the lords of the crossway would not be so happy about the growing influence of her powerful vassal…
                    In the mountains there seem to be internal struggles in the ranks of the Mist Brothers clan. Ture Strong Hand from the Mist Brothers, son of Torvan, now named “Luckless” after the events of the last months, lost more and more control over his people, and several clansmen tried to challenge his leadership. All that weakened the Mist Brothers, and other clans had begun to push into their territory. The border-patrols of the “flatlanders” were in high alert to avoid possible raids from Mist Brothers and other clansmen, and Gard did his best to keep an eye on the situation, although he knows that he must be careful not to insult the new “Warden of Wilderness”, the young Lord Falkirk, with whom the relations remained fragile.
                    It might be that another event will make things a little bit easier for him and his officers in the future. After all, he finally got answer from the Night Watch to his earlier demands for information and help (demands he supported with some gifts). And while the Brothers could not give him an advisor, they send him excerpts of several of her books and reports, combining centuries of wisdom about small scale warfare against foes which had much in common with the Mountain Clans. It may be proof that this could help the forces of Dragonport in fight such a small scale war. As an additional gift the Brothers send reports about all Blyth (of Dragonport and Krayenhorn) who served in the ranks of the Brotherhood during the last three centuries.

                    Meanwhile the preparations for the new fleet of Dragonport continued, but there was still a lack of skilled officers and captains. But that proofed also as an opportunity, since an offer arrived from Lord Triston Sunderland, liege lord of the Sisters (Gard had contacted him already in the past – for possible help and to avoid confrontations with his ships and men, since he and the houses sworn to him were the main guardians of the Bite). The Lord was willing to support the project with 50 dragons, if William Sunderland, one of his sons, may become captain of an warship, and may also be knighted by Gard some day (Lord Sunderland had seven sons altogether, and was more or less desperate to find good places for them, for example in a house with a still unmarried daughter…). As it later emerged, William was at the moment serving as a junior officer on one of his father's ship's. Gard did not want to agree blindfolded (although he believe in the right of nobles to rule, he was not willing to give the leadership of one of his new and precious ships into hands he did not trust) but send an warm answer to the Sisters.

                    But all that local stuff had to be put aside when a message from Krayenhorn arrived that a raven has come from the South with a letter for Dragonport. It was an invitation for Gard (similar to those others lords got) to join the “Tournament of the (new) Hand” at King’s Landing. And while he might had decided to ignore that (in the present complicated situation), there was also the demand to face Lord Stark because of the events during the last great tournament (all that conflict between Blyth, Lugus and Dannett). Which means that very likely the Lugus would also be there, and if he would not come to speak out against possible damnations from them…
                    This was an “invitation” he could not ignore.
                    Gard decided after a short discussion with his wife that Meera should stay at home. Both seem to like to visit the capital together, but at the moment it seems too risky. Meera was in her third month of pregnancy, and two long travels (either by horse or by ship)... Second, Gard did not trust the Lugus, who very likely had poisoned Adham Lugus during the last tourney. And third, he trusted his wife and her abilities to be a competent ruler during his absence, something he needs very much. Clearly this decision was nothing his mother liked to hear, first because it showed which of both women could influence Gard more easily and also because such a duty would very likely strengthen Meera's status and influence around the castle and town population, if she did not make big mistakes. But the old lady could do nothing against the decision.

                    The party for the travel towards King’s Landing would be consisted by Gard, his uncle Eric (as key-witness of the events during the last tournament) and his sister Alyanna (who had own interests at King's Landing). Some servants and soldiers would also join the voyage, but not Ser Paedrig Rivers. Gard thought that he as the man who maims the late heir of house Lugus during a trial-by-combat might be a likely target and could inflame the conflict further if he was present.
                    They would travel by sea, not by a ship from Dragonport (the warships were still not really fit for such a long journey, they were needed here, too, and the merchant-ships from the small harbour did rarely travel the whole distance). So the party would buy a transport to Gulltown in the Vale, and from there to King's Landing. The departure did not happened without a warning – Elen dreamed about a man with the head of a wolf (instead a human face) in a lordly hall, where streams of blood flow over the ground. If the wolf-men had spilled the blood or it was his and those of his men she could not say. But anyway, it was seen by Gard as a dark omen for the reign of the new hand of the king, that he might cause suffering, or that suffering will come over him...
                    Secretly Gard arranged also a transport to King's Landing for his bastard-nephew, the six month old child of his brother Viserion, now called Robin Stone, and his mother. He decided against a sea-voyage, since on the road the two could easily join on of the several small merchant-groups on the King's Road, and this sort of travel might be safer for a young child than a ship. Also he wanted of course no connection between his voyage and those of his "nephew". Until now his existence was kept secret, and the young lord hoped to secure this status-quo.

                    The small cog "Windfang" was the only vessel which starts from Dragonport soon, directed towards Gulltown with goods from the North. The ship first travelled to Sisterton, a not very impressive harbour on the Sisters harbouring several ships of all kind and size, (but both the town and the castle were not in the best condition), from which house Sunderland rules over the three small islands and its vassals. The nobles stayed in the castle, and had some chat with Lord Triston, but so far no decision was made about his request to promote his (absent) son William with the rank of a captain of the new-build fleet of Dragonport. The next station, Sweetsister and Littlesister, looked even more insecure (the Borells who ruled Sweetsister, which were the family of Gard's mother, had a reputation as shore-robbers and even the old Lady of Dragonport did not trust her relatives). The party decided to stay onboard. The general situation did not improve during the following days. If the ship found a harbour perhaps on the shore of the Fingers, it was small and looked not very trustfully. The weather becomes harder during these days, and the men and women had an uncomfortable ride, not to forget the potential danger from pirates. So all were happy when around six days after they left Sisters (ten after the departure from Dragonport) they reached Gulltown, a town which were much more impressive than even Dragonport, perhaps similar to White Harbour.

                    The time in Gulltown was short, since two days later the two-master "Whale" would set sails towards King's Landing. Gard used the time to look shortly around for additional officers, but was unable to find some, and he wrote home, using the next ship bound towards Dragonport – not only telling his wife how much he miss her and that she should be carefully, but also to ask her if she could search for news about William Sunderland, the potential captain of one of the Blyth ships. He also sent her the amulet he had got years ago during Balon's Rebellion, so that it might protect his wife and her unborn child.
                    Alyanna was also busy. She send a "hired" raven towards King's Landing (the master of Gulltown make quite a business by offering such service for merchantmen), asking her aunt Visennya (who run a secret spy-network there similar to her own in the Riverlands) to look after information about the future actions of the Lugus after their arrival, and to have an eye on Adham Dannett, who very likely would also reach the town soon or late. Of course she promised some reward in gold and information...

                    The travel towards the next major harbour Dragonstone was uneventful, but not without risk. The danger of pirates was small in these waters since Stannis' fleet had a watchful eye on such problems, but the shore of Cracklaw Point was infamous for pillagers who maybe lead ships onto rocks or even try to board them during night. So Gard ordered his men (and take part) in armed watches during night. It might be that this scared potential raiders off, or that the "Whale" had simply luck since nothing dangerous happened. Gard was aware of creating a distant but good relationship with the crew of the “Whale”. The young lord also used the travel to discuss with Eric and Alyanna how they should act in front of Lord Stark when it comes to the events during the last great tournament and what happened later (including the secret raid against the Lugus and the death of the former Lugus heir - not by a Dannett- or Blyth-blade but during the hunt after them). They decided to conceal the raid as good as possible, but not to press the Lugus to hard. After all, neither of both sides had real evidence for their claims.

                    Dragonstone was an impressive castle, and since the harbour and hamlet was small, the castle himself and the fleet were things you could hardly find on any other place in Westeros. The nobles stayed at the castle, a not very friendly place. Gard tried to speak with Stannis (as Master of the Ships he was the most honoured naval commander in Westeros, the man who crushed the Iron Fleet, very likely a man from which he could learn a lot about sea-warfare), but the castellan, a Florent from the family of Stannis wife, convinced him better to speak to the "Onion knight", Ser Davos Seaworth (and as a guest, the young lord decided not to press the servants of Stannis too much), on of Stannis most trusted lieutenants. The two men had a short conversation about the pirates in the Bite, Gard's greatest concern. It became clear that the Navy could not sent help or men (those men who did not fit with Stannis standards often decided to leave the regular duty altogether, and those he trusted he let not go away), Davos allowed that Gard bought some copies of texts about the creation of a fleet and naval warfare which were stocked at Dragonstone. He also told Gard that it might be possible to find potential officers and captains in King's Landing, if he gives some smaller presents to the right people, people Davos’ know. Perhaps it was also the respect with which Gard treated Davos, which made the conversation so easy.
                    On the evening in the hall, the guests could see also Stannis and his closets allies (if there are any), including his high lady and the beautiful but mysterious Lady Melisandre (some claimed she was Stannis whore or the witch of his wife, but Gard and Alyanna did not believe any of that). There seem to be some tensions between the people, but the reasons were unclear. So the guests were impressed, but on the other hand also happy to leave. The rest of the travel went without problems. And so in the end after a travel from altogether more than three weeks (including some days on land) they finally reached the heart of Westeros - King's Landing.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                      Gifts of the Sea


                      When Lord Gard, his sister Alyanna and his uncle Eric departed for Kings Landing (following an invitation for the tourney of Lord Stark, the new hand of the King), time did not stop at Dragonport. The next weeks were very…interesting for those who stayed behind.

                      Soon the situation in Dragonport became strained. While Gard’s wife Meera (supported by Ser John Buckwell, who acted as steward) was more than capable to handle the administration of the liege, the constant bickering between Meera and her mother in law Fiana made the atmosphere frosty and unpleasant. Even before, their relationship was always complicated. But now, with new rumors about Meeras sins and without the presence of Gard, Alyanna and Eric (which – in different ways – often acted as mediators)…
                      The tension was increased because Meera now (with her husband and other attentive members of the household away) did see the chance to intensify her efforts to scare away the old lady (without being too obvious of course).
                      Paedrig was glad that his military duties often sent him away (although he was unhappy that he had not many opportunities to visit Krayenhorn and his secret and unspoken love, Lady Anya). Ser Buckwell had to stay in Dragonport but used his duties to separate himself a little from the two women (however secretly he began to take sides for Lady Meera who seems to be the rising star).

                      A visit of Lady Margit Sunstone (from the house which would become the new vassal of house Arran and thereby ally of house Blyth) resulted in an agreement which favored the Sunstones. Lady Sunstone dominated the negotiations and got very good trade terms, support of house Blyth for her construction projects and even John Buckwells support for her plans of a marriage alliance between the new allies. However this remained a dead poll for the moment (while f. e. John Buckwell was not per se against such a perspective for himself, Paedrig – already in love with a woman he could not have – did his best to stay away from such prospects). Lady Sunstones wish that Hal Sunstone (one of her younger relatives) should become a squire at Dragonport, was granted without problems. Obviously the Lady tried to strengthen the ties with her new allies and wanted ensure Hal a better introduction in lordly duties and the manners of noble society. Hal was a reserved young man with not much knowledge of etiquette or the world abroad. However he was very able with his axe and in the wilderness.

                      Shortly after, a ship arrived Dragonport with some dornish mares on board, bought by Gard as an investment in the stud farm of Krayenhorn. They came from house Gargalen (the family of Paedrigs mother), together with a stable boy and the young dornish noble Sammil of Lemmonplume who should (like Hal) become a squire at Dragonport.
                      Sammil was a lanky young man, not tall but agile and attentive. Like Hal he acted reserved, even shy - but for another reason. He did not come at his free will. During a visit at Sunspear the young man had fallen into bad company, hanging around at the docks and even trying to get on board a ship from the Free Cities. Sending him away should bring some distance to his ‘bad friends’, teach him a lesson, but also broaden his horizon in a more proper way - and reduce the costs for his family (to train and arm a young knight is an expensive task). In contrast to many other dornish, the lords of Lemmonplume did not see any reason to hold on old sentiments or prejudices against the rest of Westeros.

                      Both squires were disappointed that the lord was not at Dragonport, but they were greeted friendly (although they soon realized the strained atmosphere between the young and the old lady). The two young men get a chamber to share and of course also a guided tour through the castle and the city. Paedrig (who acted as guide for Sammil) was very interested to learn more about Dorne, the homeland of his mother.
                      Both squires were impressed by the armour and armament of the Dragonport troops. Together with the warships of house Blyth this was (at least for the two young men) an impressing level of militarization. Both of them were used to lightly armed troops – not the heavy cavalry and infantry they found at Dragonport. Both also noticed the alertness of the troops – but given the history of the last month (problems with the mountain clans, the pirates, house Lugus etc.), there were good causes to be watchful. While Hal was common with such an atmosphere of alertness, Sammil (coming from a rather peaceful area) was a little bit disturbed about the presence of so many potential threats.

                      The next weeks were not pleasant for the young squires. Their military training was conducted by Ser Paedrig Rivers (a demanding teacher) and Lothar Hendrik (commander of the cavalry – and a very strict and even rude instructor). The young men were not beaten, but at least Hednrik was very quick with insults and extra duties (polishing armour, providing the horses etc.). And since both young men had their deficiencies in some aspects of military training (f. e. jousting) there was always a possibility to attract negative attention…
                      The first training fight against each other ended almost in a catastrophe when Hal got an injury and went berserk. Only Sammil quickness and Paedrigs rash action prevented a serious incident.
                      Besides ‘lectures’ in fighting, riding, commanding etc. they also had to learn how to act in noble society (a field in which Hal was very deficient), and how to manage the more boring duties of a lord (logistics, stewardship etc.). This was the task of the septon of Dragonport, sometimes assisted by Ser John Buckwell who lectured the squires about administration and other important but tedious duties. He was a patient but not flippantly teacher.
                      Both young men suffered from homesickness - and Sammil also from the alien cuisine (which was frugal and bad seasoned in his eyes). As often as he could he went to the harbour, looking for ships from abroad. But despite his hopes there was never a ship from the Free Cities…
                      The two young men did not find friends easily at the castle. There were not many young people of their age. Lady Meera was the lady, and Paedrig one of their instructors. Elen, the young healer of the castle, was a little bit scary with her two-coloured eyes and the rumors about her divination. And Blackbird, the young minstrel of the lord Gard, had a very sharp tongue. There were some younger soldiers and servants, but they stayed in distance to the nobles. And while both young men were restrained and had a complicated start with each other, their relationship remained cautious for the moment.

                      Besides training the two squires also participated in short range patrols (but were spared from the more prolonged and dangerous border patrol operations which some of the Dragonport troops conducted in cooperation with the scouts from Krayenhorn and Starbone). But they went along with Paedrig when the dornish mares were brought to Krayenhorn. They were introduced to the lord and the lady of Krayenhorn. While Ser Gawan of Krayenhorn treated them friendly but reserved, Lady Anya was more kindly. Only a few years older than the two squires she still remembered her own first time away from home. The young squires did not notice Paedrigs secret affection towards his aunt Anya.

                      Some days later a fisherman stormed into the castle with beautiful news – a group of whales had stranded at the coast. This offered a great opportunity: sperm oil to use and sell, flesh to eat, whale teeth’s, whalebones... However the situation might become complicated because the whales had stranded at the border between house Blyth and Fallkirk.
                      John Buckwell ordered that every able man should be sent to the stranding area, while a group of riders (including him, Paedrig and the squires) went ahead to secure the stranded treasure.
                      Six whales had stranded, some of them up to 18 yards long (or more). Great bite marks on one of them lead to the disturbing question what kind of beast might have such an enormous maw. A giant shark? A sea serpent? Or even a sea dragon like the great Nagga of ancient tales?
                      Ser John Buckwell did not have much patience with such fears (but stayed out of the water). Whales which were still alive were slaughtered and towed closer to shore if necessary. During flood time this was not without danger, because sharks arrived to feed from the cadavers.
                      Another potential threat also show up soon – Lord Fallkirk with some of his guards, claiming that the whales had stranded on HIS territory (the border line was not accurate enough drawn to say this for sure).
                      John Buckwell started bargaining and soon it became obvious that he was the superior negotiator. However improving the relationship between Fallkirk and Dragonport was more important for him than a short term financial benefit. In the end the negotiations ended with an agreement that every house got three whales - but Dragonport the bigger one. Both sides were more or less happy with this.
                      Some men who had expertise with whaling or similar jobs were used as foremen, while the noble returned home. To take apart and process the whales cost some days – a hard, stinking and bloody work. The odor of the rotten cadavers even attracted the attention of a great mountain-bear which wounded some workers before he was chased away.

                      Only a few days later the two squires got a mission to test their cunning, agility and sneakiness. They should infiltrate the walled city of Dragonport at night and bring two leather bags to the market place without being noticed by the patrolling guards and their dogs.
                      Hals knowledge about hunting helped them to disguise their smell and to camouflage their appearance. Together they climbed over the city wall and sneaked through the poorer (and more…smelling) areas of the little town to the market place where they left the bags and returned to the castle without being noticed - or so they thought.
                      However the next day they were informed by Centenar Lothar Hendrik that they had failed to see one of the garrison archers (Aeryn Hunter, a sharpshooter with some skills) who were positioned on the roof of one of the buildings at the market place.
                      But notwithstanding Paedrig (and even Hendrik) were more or less satisfied with the result. And given the challenge they had faced together, the two young men began to trust each other a little bit more.

                      ***

                      The building of a (small) fleet and the newly introduced convoy system (which meant that some ships had to wait at the harbor for some time) resulted in an increasing number of sailors in Dragonport, with some negative results for the security. Men of the castle garrison were used as part-time support for the town garrison, but problems remained. Ser John Buckwell did his best to work in accordance with the city council. In the case of more serious incidents Lady Meera (as representative of her husband and by this responsible for the judgment of major crimes) acted with caution – being lenient if possible, but hard if necessary. She wanted to ensure her authority as the new lady but without alienating the old families (and – to a lesser extend – the common people). Of course the…frosty situation between the old and the new lady was not optimal, although both were too clever for public quarrels.

                      One day Paedrig (while on a trip through the city) noticed that someone had smuggled an unsigned letter into his pocket. The letter asked for a nightly meeting at one of the more…shady areas of the town. An unknown person wanted to discuss some matters concerning the ‘clemency and justice’ of Lord Gard. Paedrig was not sure what this might mean. He only informed Ser Buckwell (bearing in mind that perhaps someone wanted to denunciate corrupt guards) and went to the meeting alone – only lightly armed and armoured.
                      It turned out that his contact was an old woman named Marinya (apparently a beggar he had passed that day), who acted much more cultivated than her appearance suggested. She informed the young knight that she spoke for Sandro Amero, captain of the ‘Seagull’, one of the ships of the pirate ‘king’ Nardis. Amero wanted to defect with his ship and parts of his crew. It seemed that Gards amnesty promise (and the psychological warfare that was started by Eric, Alyanna and their agents) had brought some results. But the pirate captain wanted a guarantee and money – things which Paedrig could not promise on his own. Therefore Marinya wanted a meeting with someone with higher status and more competences.
                      Before this matter could be discussed, the two were attacked by three well-armed ruffians – obviously someone wanted to quit the talks violently. However the men were no match for Paedrig who killed one and knocked out another in a few second. The third attacker tried to run and almost escaped – but stumbled over a patrol of the city garrison which was alarmed by Paedrigs shouting and the noise of fighting.
                      Marinya came to the conclusion that Dannyl, the local contact of the pirates, had sent the men after her and urged for immediate action. At first she had wanted to hold back her knowledge about this man (who operated under the disguise of a shipyard laborer) for later bargaining - but now the situation had changed. Paedrig ordered two men of the patrol to take care of the captured or killed enemies, while he took the third guard (and an additional patrol he passed by on the way) to the accommodation of Dannyl.
                      The pirate spy lived nearby an inn where he was found with one bodyguard. One of the guards secured the backdoor; Paedrig positioned himself unobtrusively nearby his target - and then the three other guards marched into the room to capture Dannyl. Paedrigs intent to demoralize the suspects with a show of superior force was not successful. Dannyl cried ‘FIRE!!’, creating a panic in the overcrowded tavern, and then tried to run - with Paedrig at his heels.
                      Dannyl and his bodyguard were obtained at the backyard where he lived in a small hutch. Although his attack dog was an unpleasant surprise, the two men were finally captured and some documents secured which revealed the interests of the pirates for the local trade, merchant houses and the fortifications of Dragonport. Only one of the guards had been wounded during the operation by Dannyls bodyguard.
                      The prisoners were sent to castle Dragonport, and Paedrig and Marinya agreed upon a meeting between Ser John Buckwell and the old woman for the next day.

                      Ser Buckwell was very pleased with the outcome of the nightly operation. Some of the secured documents could even be used for trading benefits. He informed Lady Meera about the new situation and then started the interrogation of Dannyl. The already beaten man was maltreated again to ‘soften him up’, but was still a tough opponent. However after some physical and psychological pressure he revealed what he did know: the names and appearance of the couriers which brought his information to Nardis, and some of his informants in Dragonport (one of them even a guard). The description of Nardis couriers were given to the city guards. The sentencing of Dannyl and his men was postponed for the moment to prevent unnecessary attention by other probable pirate spies in the area.

                      The meeting between Marinya and Ser Buckwell (accompanied by Paedrig) took place outside of the city. Both men had disguised their appearance to remain inconspicuous. Marinya wanted a sealed guarantee for captain Amero that he and his men would be pardoned - and a warranty regarding the promised premiums for the defection of a ship and a captain (which would mean more than 200 gold dragons altogether). Ser Buckwell did not bargain, because a quick transaction seemed more worthy than saving some coins.
                      However the defection might become tricky anyway, because Nardis seemed to have not much confidence in his young captain (obviously not without cause - on the other hand this mistrust was a reason for Amero to defect). The would-to-be defector could not trust all of his men and officers and wanted help. Some armed men from Dragonport should assist his defection, going on board under the disguise of smugglers or jobless mercenaries which want to take part in a raid of captain Amero. Ser Buckwell agreed to all ideas and condition and both parties said goodbye for the moment.

                      While Lady Meera welcomed the plan (although she urged that Paedrig should lead the commando troop, not Ser Buckwell who might be a better catch for the pirates if the whole thing went wrong), Lady Fiana was sceptic and warned that the ‘defection’ might be a trap. However Meera (supported by Ser Buckwell) decided to execute the plan, again angering her mother in law. Ser Buckwell did his best to calm the waves.
                      Paedrig selected a dozen of men (mostly from the personal guard) and only a few days later his group departed from Dragonport on board of the Mastiff (one of the two warships of House Blyth). Their cover story was a trip to their new allies at Sunstone. The men were only medium armed and armoured, and of course without any blazons or uniforms. Paedrig had even left his castle forged sword behind because such a weapon might draw too much attention. They should go on land somewhere at the contested shore of the Bite and then wait for the pirate ship while the Mastiff retreated.

                      Ameros ship arrived just in time and the captain (together with Marinya and some of his trusted men) went to shore to prepare the operation. He informed Paedrig that two of his officers were his major concern: Hadred Pyke (an ironmen) and Kalwas (a dark skinned man from the Slaversbay).
                      Paedrigs men boarded, acting as mercenaries. Although disguise was certainly not Paedrigs profession, no one unmasked them till the evening when captain Amero started to take over the ship.
                      Paedrig went with two men after the ironmen officer who had went below deck. However they were not sneaky enough and when the fighting started on deck they found Hadred armed and ready to fight. But he did not have a real chance against the more agile young knight who killed Hadred with relatively ease.
                      Meanwhile Amero's men and the rest of Paedrig's team tried to overwhelm the remaining ‘loyalist’ on deck. They outnumbered their opponents and swiftly gained ground. However when Paedrig arrived on deck he faced a grim situation – Kalwas handling a bottle of Wildfire, obviously with the intention to set the whole ship on fire. Paedrig and his men started an assault to crush the lines of the loyalists and he was able to send the wildfire bottle into the sea. But then he was grabbed by Kalwas and both men went overboard.
                      This was a very dangerous situation for the young knight. The medium armour that had protected him during the fight no threatened to drown him – and his much more lightly armoured opponent did his best to pull him under water.
                      However with all his strength Paedrig managed to get free and grabbed the planks of the ‘Seagull’ until someone pulled him on board. To his luck Amero had won, all ‘loyalists’ were dead or had jumped overboard to swim to the nearby shore (just like Paedrigs opponent Kalwas). The pirates did not show much enthusiasm to catch or shot their former comrades and Paedrig was simply too exhausted to care.
                      The ship returned safely to Dragonport and Lady Meera and Ser Buckwell kept their word – accepting the defection of the pirates and handing over the promised money. Of course the ship should become part of the Dragonport fleet (and by this reducing the costs). However who should man and command the ‘Seagull’? Amero and his crew? Could they be trusted? Lady Meera decided that this question should be left open until her husband returned (or at least was informed by raven).
                      Anyway the operation was a major success, further weakening the ‘pirate king’ which had already lost two ships and many men. Although he might be able to replace his losses by newly recruited men, his allies from the half civilized ‘seals people’ and some captured ships – the quality of his men, vessels and equipment would never be as good as before…

                      Of course house Blyth now also did know the place where Nardis was hiding at the moment. However the place was even more remote than his former base. It seemed impossible to get there by land with a regular military force (at least in time). He could probably relocate his troops in a short time like he did before (the mostly uninhabited southern shore of the bite offered dozens of potential hideouts) and with only one warship operative at the moment (the two others were not ready for battle or undermanned) a landing operation was ruled out as to much a risk.
                      However information about Nardis hiding place was sent to other houses of the area (including the houses which ruled the Sisters and did have a significant number of warships).


                      Concerning Dannyl and his men Lady Meera decided for a mixed approach. Dannyls live was spared, because he might be useful to identify Nardis couriers. His bodyguard was sentenced to death, because he had wounded one of the city guards and Meera wanted to show that she was not weak. With Lord Gard away (who normally carried out executions by sword), Lady Meera decided that Paedrig should behead Dannyls bodyguard. The young knight was not very enthusiastic about this ‘honor’ (although it was not the first time he acted as executioner) but accepted the task without complaining.
                      The two other surviving men which had attacked Paedrig (but were unable to wound him) should be whipped and then sentenced to forced labour - at least until the lord had returned to decide their further fate.
                      Dannyls two informants should be treated relatively kindly. The guard (unknowing about Dannyl’s intentions) got away with a fine and some additional service for the next time. The Lady wanted a good relationship with the commander of the city garrison and also did not want to make the moral weakness of some of the guards TOO popular. Another informant (a shipyard worker) did not have so much luck but got away with the confiscation of his possessions, a whipping and branding.
                      With his booty and the reward from the grateful lady, Paedrig could replace the weapons he had lost when going overboard and even had a dozen gold dragons left. And of course his action gained him a certain amount of fame…

                      A short time later the tension between the old lady and her daughter-in-law escalated in lady Fianas attempt to lure Gards wife in a compromising situation with a forged letter from her supposed lover Ser Pirron Strife (who was in truth Joren Ripon, last heir of a local house almost extinct by house Arran and Fallkirk during Roberts Rebellion).
                      However the old lady misinterpreted Meeras ambition - Gard's wife primary goal was now securing her new position and the fate of her unborn child. For Meera her former lover was now only a threat which she wanted to be eliminated (and she also suspected that the letter might be forged).
                      In the end this resulted in an almost grotesque situation - two groups of guards facing each other. At least no blood was spilled...
                      However after this event the situation became even more tense and escalated in a fierce dispute between the two ladies concerning the question who should be the number one. Although lady Fiana could use the rumors about her daughter-in-law she had again underestimated her opponent who had prepared the battle ground by secretly undermining lady Fianas position during the last month. Meera had even invested some time to working on a promising alternative for lady Fiana (to get a important role in the nearby Septrie Eaglewood) because she calculated that Fianas resistance might be weakened if her opponent had an retreat option so to speak.
                      In the end Meera won the 'fight', making clear that she would never give up the role she had gained, that Gard would side himself always in favour of his wife - and that Fiana had lost her dominant role and must accept this - or leave. And Gards mother decided that she would rather leave...

                      This entire quarrel and intrigues (plus the ongoing thread by the pirates) did not much good for the administration of Dragonport, but backed by John Buckwell (and the wealth holdings of the domain) the young lady was able to gain at least a moderate increase of wealth, strengthening her position even more.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                        Call of duties, part II

                        (Warning, the chronic includes some information from the Game of Thrones computer role-play)

                        The party was warmly welcomed by Lady Visennya Buckwell, the sister of Eric (and of Gard’s and Alyannas father) who lived in King’s Landing since she became a widow many years ago. The beautiful lady in her mid-thirties was part of the noble society of the capital (and secretly an able schemer and spy-master, while of course not one of the really great players in the Game of Thrones). Her hospitality was generous and her staff of servants well trained. Of course Gard arranged a similar generous gift to compensate Visennyas costs during the following days, and he was already open-handed towards his soldiers and his and his aunt’s servants.
                        The first evening was more for chatting – about the news in the area of Dragonport, and what matters and concerns for the people in the heart of Westeros. Of course the latter was much more - and more important. The hasty “retreat” of Lady Lyssa Arryn after the death of her husband did not went unnoticed, and until now there was no new Warden of the West. There were rumours that perhaps the Lannisters were interested, but on the other hand this honour was placed in the hand of house Arryn for centuries. There were other conflicts, too. The King and the Queen had not the best relationship, the visitors learned from Lady Buckwell (who regularly visited the Red Keep and knows a lot of gossip). Stannis Baratheon seems to be not very happy about the fact that Eddard Stark (which family had arrived without her infamous tamed dire-wolves) and not he had become the new hand of the king. There were also rumours that the planed marriage between Sansa Stark and Joeffrey Baratheon was delayed for unknown reasons, and that one or both sides might be interested in other potential partners for their children. And Lord Stark seems not to be very happy with the high amount of money which was spent for the great tourney in his name (it would start three days from now). He seems to be a man who was better prepared to take care for the stags than let the dragons fly (or so some people would call it). But anyway, many knights from all over Westeros (more or less) had come to the capital to take part in the contest, including famous and infamous fighters.

                        There was also news which was from great interest for Dragonport. Orten Lugus was in town, and had placed himself close to those who were part of the “Lannister-party” in the Red Keep, men and women who prosper only because of the protection of the queen (and her fathers and mothers family). He might looking forward to become one of her loyal henchmen, a position which was in the last months more and more taken over by a man called Valar Rivers. Rivers (coming from the noble house Sarwyck) was a man with a quiet fearsome reputation, but the queen might even promised him legitimating and the hand of his half-sister and heiress of the land of his father, a shocking behaviour in the eyes of many nobles including Gard. Perhaps Orten hoped to become his aid and so securing his own position. But he had also some meetings with Lord Stark, about what topic Visennya did not know.
                        Visenny also informed the party that Adham Dannet already has arrived King’s Landing (while his sister and her husband had marched further to the south to claim Tygor Wyl’s birthright on his family’s land and castle on the Boneway). The young noble stayed at the Greentree Inn, perhaps in some ways a strange decision since his sister Iris were forced to work there and in a brothel nearby as companion until some months ago. Visennya asked if he might be invited to join the Dragonporters in her estate – a suggestion Gard preferred at once. He wanted to have an eye on the young man, since he was an ally against the Lugus, might be a target for any reprisal by the Lugus and was already in dept towards Dragonport (and might become Lord in near future). To strengthen the ties with him could only help to avoid that the old struggle between Blyth and Dannett might return. Visennya had also her own interests – together with Alyanna she was thinking about the possibility to manipulate the heir of the Dannetts towards a marriage with Aly. Secretly Aly and Visennya also agreed to further spy on the Lugus. They were both nervous that Orten might be able to get support from the queen, and that he speaks with Ser Gregor Clegane (with which he had some blood-ties) were also bad news. If he planed a new trial by combat there was nearly no man which was more dangerous than the Mountain that Rides…
                        The older woman also warned that the Game of Thrones had become more dangerous in the last months. The daggers seem to be easy drawn, and not only the words become more and more poisoned. Gard, who did not know anything about the secret abilities and activities of his aunt and sister, had already insisted that no one should go outside the house without a bodyguard.

                        The next morning started with a surprise – even before the party decided what to do next, a message arrived from the Master of Coins that Petyr Baelish wanted to talk to Eric Blyth. No one knows the cause, but Gard thought there might be some aspects of taxation with Erics business in the capital. Of course such an invitation could not be ignored and the older man left with a man of his personal guard. Gard and Alyanna followed shortly after, together with Aly’s maid and two of the soldiers from Dragonport. They made a short visit at the Great Sept to burn some candles – for the save arrival and, especially by Gard, for the health of Gard’s wife and unborn child and for success in the coming tourney. The atmosphere was much less sacred than thought, perhaps even much less than on normal days. Just a day before, the head of an unknown woman had be found in the rainbow-pool of the Sept. Such a crime was uncommon even in the capital, and the believers, the members of the Faith and the present members of the Gold Cloaks were nervous. Some self-announced reformers on the outside of the Sept argued against the sins and failures of the organization, and that this crime was a signal from the Seven, but they got little attention, since similar accusations occurred regularly. Nobody seems to have an idea about the motivation of the crime or who the woman was.
                        After that the two young nobles left the “desecrated” Sept in direction of the Red Keep. If becomes soon obvious, that the situation was not the best. There were armed men with the arms of the Starks which worked together with the Gold Cloaks to secure order in the street, but both sides seem not to like each other. At the Red Keep it becomes even more complicated since there were also some men of the Lannisters. There was little harmony between the armed men from the different factions.
                        Since Eric was still in conversation with Lord Baelish, Gard had to face Lord Stark alone. He had some difficulties to realize, that the small girl he saw balancing on the banisters of the tower of the hand was indeed Lady Arya Stark. The young lady behaved and spoke in a way which was not what he had thought about the daughter of one of the mightiest men of Westeros…
                        Lady Alyanna could not take part in the conversation, but were treated with courtesy. She was send to the other young female nobles in the tower and had a nice chat with Lady Sansa Stark and Jeyne Poole. For an able liar as she was it was not very hard to please the young ladies, admiring Sansas beauty and clothing and so on. Of course the young lady was determent to make the best possible appearance in front of the girl who might become queen soon or late.
                        Her brother meanwhile had a harder job. He was able to present the facts about the intrigues of house Lugus (or at least the way in which he saw them), and could avoid to speak about the secret reprisals he and house Dannett had taken against the Lugus (a raid by some riders several months ago). But on the other hand he was convinced by Lord Stark to work in some way as his emissary to strengthen the relations between the area around Dragonport and the North both in diplomatic and economic ways (Gard saw no problems, since Lord Stark was still the husband of Lord Tully’s daughter and in this way very close related to his highest liege-lord, and Dragonport depends on the trade with the North). Lord Stark on the other hand promised to keep a watchful eye on the actions of Orten Lugus. But it becomes obvious that Lord Stark (for unknown reasons) seemed more interested in the poison with which Adham Dannett was nearly assassinated and the way in which it have come to King’s Landing, than in the infighting between Dannett, Blyth and Lugus.

                        When both left, they met Eric Blyth, who after the end of his conversation now had been ordered to speak with the King’s Hand. It seems that the meting with Petyr Baelish did not went to bad. Lord Baelish seems more interested in new ways of investing his money, and to discuss with Eric the possible negative outcome of the noble feuds for the trade.

                        Than Gard and Alyanna separated. The young Lord went to the harbour where he met Master Willem, the man which name he got from Ser Davos Seaworth. For quiet a amount of money the older man was more than willing to search after potential recruits for the fleet of Dragonport (Gard was mainly interested in officers and captains). He was not so stupid to spend the whole money now, but promised Willem several dragons for able recruits if he could find some.
                        After this was done, Gard searched for some gifts for his mother and wife (clothing, jewellery and some miniatures for Meera), and than went to the Greentree Inn, where he invited Adham Dannett to stay at Lady Visennyas home. The younger noble agreed immediately. It becomes soon clear that the heir of house Dannett was in a fragile mood. He was uncertain about his future fate. While he still trained to be an able fighter, his health had never fully recovered from the Tears of Lys. He had noticed that justice for the crimes against him (and his sister) were highly unlikely, and had become bitter and disappointed, even towards Eddard Stark who seem not very interested in meeting him. Gard did his best (and succeeded) to influence the young man so that he might do nothing unexpected like last time when he was there (when he demanded justice in front of the King, disturbing the feast on Joeffreys Name’s day) – like attacking Orten Lugus directly.

                        Alyanna was also busy in the meantime, following one of her little personal projects. She had learned that some decades ago a Maester Roderick Dukis had visited Dragonport and the neighbourhood, searching after information about ancient magic secrets. He had left the area for King’s Landing, where his trace vanished. So the young lady used her charm and money to influence a minor Maester of the permanent Conclave at King’s Landing, to get some information. It becomes clear that Maester Dukis researches were uncomfortable even for his co-Maesters, since he contacted people who were not seen as trustworthy – red priests and other strangers. The aspects of sorcery in which he was interested were dubious at best and dark at worst, so that in the end even the Faith intervened. While he was never official persecuted, after his death his writings and materials were in parts sold to the Faith, to the Alchemists or to other people. Some parts were stored by the Maesters, and Alyannas contact was easily convinced to search the material left after information about the area from which she comes. In addition Alyanna had new traces which she might be able to follow, and so she did in the following days.
                        In fact she was also able to convince a minor Septon named Cal which task it was to watch over and persecute men like Dukis to look after information from Dukis’ writings which the Faith collected. It becomes clear that the Faith even after so many years did bear mistrust against the objects of Dukis’ researches – necromancy, the conjuring of daemons, the Red God and other suspicious things. Dukis must have some sponsors, since he had enough money to pay for his researches and a house in the town, but his collection was shattered after his death. What was perhaps most worrying was the fact that some key elements of the books and other sources he collected and which come in possession of the Faith were stolen a year ago. It could not be found out who was behind the theft, but some nobles seem to have a morbid interest in such sinful “arts”. This together with the head which was found in the Sept some days ago (and a killing of a minor servant of the Sept in the streets) made Septon Cal nervous. He did not trust the Gold Cloaks under Ser Blackwater who had begun to examine the present crimes, but he promised to look in the scripts of Dukis which were still stored after information about Dragonport for these friendly and convincing, pious young lady who paid so much respect and attention towards him and his institution, since her interest was only centred on her home, and who were of course nothing less than really interested in such sinful arts as magic beside some more academic curiosity…
                        Of course this research seems not very fruitful and were more or less a hobby of the young lady, who was not certain how real the subjects were. Visennya warned her, that with such a hobby a lady could damage her reputation quickly (on the other hand there were rumours that even the queen had a meeting with a red priest shortly ago, and of course Stannis and his wife harbour the Red Woman ad Dragonstone). Alyanna promised to be careful and decided to press her researches not too far or fast, laying greater importance to more rational matters like the Lugus and how she should handle Adham Dannett. So she decided to spend more time with him to learn if he might be an acceptable (and easy to manipulate) potential husband… After all he seems handsome, but if she did not grab him, other might do – including her aunt who was thinking about to arrange a marriage between Adham and a young woman from a not too wealthy, not too powerful family which would owe her for that. But the young lady did not make a decision for now.
                        It was also discussed between the two ladies how they could deal with the Lugus. The last scandal which could work against them was too long ago to be useful (in King's Landing, rumours had a short lifespan) and it seems also not easy to find someone in the "party" of the queen who could be bribed or convinced to work against Orten, since for now he seems to be relatively safe. An assassination attempt was out of question as long as he stayed the most time at the Red Keep. But both (especially Alyanna) did not forget this idea, and Alyanna convinced her aunt to start to searching for a possible scapegoat for future attacks, a man who could be used to hire men for actions against Orten (perhaps someone from the Westlands, a man who did not know who paid and ordered him). Of course such an intrigue would need time.

                        Gard used his second day in the town to prepare the fighting in the tourney – the joust, the melee and even shooting (which was seen a little bit peasant-like by some). He hired (together with Adham) a tent for pastimes during the joust, bought some tourney-lances etc. He tried the best to be a good comrade to Adham who sometimes looks a little bit lost. Adham had now a meeting with Lord Stark, too. Both young men discussed also economic aspects for Adhams future role as ruler of the Dannetts (since even now he had a lot to decide while his father was ill, and the wealth of his house was in danger). But he seems glad to have some company by Gard and his beautiful sister who take him serious and spend their time with him. Eric in meantime had own things to do, some for business and some for entertainment (after all he had still some money in the town, was thinking about possible cooperation with the Master of coins – and hired a companion with which he could spend his time).
                        Secretly, Gard also discussed with his aunt the matter of his bastard-nephew Robin. He should arrive King's Landing in some days or weeks (the travel over land was of course slower than over sea). He paid Visennya to take care for both the child and his mother, placing them out of reach. Visennya would act undercover, so that it becomes not too obvious that her relatives have something to do with the two. Perhaps she would look after a suitable husband for Robins mother, to made it even harder to find them. An able spook maybe could find them, but for now this pitiful aspect of Blyth-history (Robin was the illegitimate son of Viserion, Gard's older brother, and the argue between Viserion and his noble wife about the bastard he fathered with his wife's unwilling maid resulted in an fatal accident and the death of both his wife and HER unborn child, a fact which could anger the women's family, the Dannetts, if it ever come to surface) was hidden and buried. Gard was quiet not sure what to do with his "nephew". He was no fried of radical solution (although he sometimes had to take them), but he surely would not accept the bastard being more than member of the common people.

                        On the next day, the last before the start of the tourney of the Hand, Lord Stark send the chief of his personal guard, Jory Cassel, who told Adham that the Hand would speak justice after the tourney. As small compensation for the poisoning of Adham during the last tourney, the Hand sent a gift of 50 dragons and a precious sword. This calmed Adhams anger, but his feelings remained mixed.
                        Gard used the day to look after the horses, did some training lessons for the next day and visited the harbour. It seems that there were already some potential officers and at least one captain, a not very big but loud and energetic man in his mid-thirties named Gabrel, former master of a whaler from White Harbour. He had lost his ship to an iceberg and had to work as first officer, and now was more than willingly to serve Dragonport, if he could get a new ship. He seemed reliable an able in the northern waters (while he had no experience as commander of a warship), and had spend around 20 years on sea. Gard hired him and used him directly to examine the potential officers his local contact had found. The recruits were mostly from Westeros, but some also from the Free Cities or other places. On that day Gard recruited three of them, since he did not want to rush decision and decided to speak to the others on a later occasion.
                        When he came back to Visennya's house, a letter from Dragonport had arrived which informed about the news from home (see "Gifts of Sea") and that all at home (most important for Gard of course his wife) were well.

                        Alyanna was also busy. She visited (together with her uncle Eric who she had convinced to join her) the Guild house of the Alchemists near the Great Sept. The building was a perfect symbol for the fate of the guild - once prospering but now decline or even decay. The behaviour of the Alchemists was no surprise - they tried to sell their products and searched for extra money. It was not difficult for Alyanna to get information about the letters and writings of Maester Dukis which were sold to the Alchemists. The Maester had also searched after the secrets of Wildfire (information, the guild want to be kept secret), but for a small amount of money they were willing to copy his other writings (mainly about dragons). After that Alyanna retuned to the home of her aunt. She arrived in time to see Adham returning after a visit to the Maesters Conclave. He had asked if they had a cure for his weak- and sickness after the poisoning with the Tears of Lys he survived some months ago, but (to little surprise) they could not help him. With good care he might improve his health, but he never would be the man he was before. This was quiet disappointing for the young knight, even after Alyanna did her best (not without calculation) to lighten his mood.

                        On that evening the two young nobles visited a small celebration (together with Lady Visennya) on Rhaeny's Hill, near the old Dragonpit. It was mainly visited by younger nobles of lower and medium status, those who are not important enough to be present at the Red Keep regularly. Visennya used the celebration to meet some of her "little birds", and Alyanna and Adham were a good distraction from such actions. Alyanna noticed that on some point a unknown man with scares on his face argued with the Gold Cloaks who secured the nobles (and he was later beaten and forced to leave), and it seems that the man pointed at her or Adham. But she did not care about that, since she was new in the town. That proved a failure later - when they returned to Visennya's home they found a naked body lying on the street. It was "Scarface", stabbed to death. It becomes clear that he visited Visennya's home in their absence, asking for a meeting with Alyanna.
                        Aly' was furious (but kept her temper under control) - she thought the man might have heard about her researches and had planed to sell her some secrets, secrets which were important for someone to kill him. And she had failed to notice that the man wanted to speak to her...
                        Secretly she bribed her aunt to start an investigation with the help of her network of spies - searching in the "lower" parts of the city. She also bribed some of the Gold Cloaks, so that the crime would be handled with more care and motivation than normal, and that some of the best men of the Watch would look into it. And she warned the men she had visited during her researches that someone was even prepared to kill for Maester Dukis secrets (the only explanation she had since that was the only thing in which she was involved since she reached the town).
                        On the other hand, the time she spend with Adham was not wasted - the young knight asked her after a small sign he could carry to fight in her name, a request she honoured and fulfilled.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                          To new limit(e)s

                          During this events in KL, the story also went on in the area of Dragonport

                          The next major event (the punishment of the captured pirate spies) did not go as it was planned. While the whipping and branding of the delinquents went unproblematic, the also ordered execution of one of them was a disaster. Ser Buckwell had underestimated the reaction of the crowd, and when Paedrigs first stroke did not behead the delinquent quickly, a panic broke out among the spectators. The (pregnant) Lady Meera got unhorsed and only the quick reaction of squire Sammil and Ser Buckwell (and the competence of the healer Elen) prevented a bigger misfortune. However for the next time Buckwells countenance was damaged – visualizing what the reaction of lord Gard might be if his wife did have lost her child…
                          Shortly after this, Lady Margit Sunstone visited Dragonport a second time, on her way back from the Arans. Obviously she has been very successful in bargaining with her new liege lord, getting lenient financial and military duties for the next time and even some support for her fortification and arming plans.
                          Some of the supplies should be ordered in Dragonport – a financial opportunity which Lady Meera used to get a little extra money (Buckwell did notice this but did nothing against it – he wanted a good relationship with the lady). Buckwell favoured Gunnar Groat, one of the ‘newcoomers’ of the city council.

                          Also it was planned that Sunstone should got some workforce from Dragonport (free and forced labourers) for logging and breaking stones. This should be a considerable operation of up to 50 men (workers, prisoners and guards). While Buckwell organized much of the preparations and bargaining, he did not want to stay for some weeks in the wilderness. Ser Paedrig Rivers should take the command, with the squires Hal Sunstone and Sammil as his deputies – a good opportunity for the young men to get some experience (and for Hal to visit his family). This was a promising perspective for Hal and a great adventure for Sammil.
                          Paedrig did his best to get able men – and that the guards, workers and even the forced labourers were adequate clothed and equipped. He also promised the forced labourers that their time in the wilderness would be double counted and that they could keep the new clothes after returning.
                          The former pirate galley Golden Dragon brought the men to Whitesand. While soldiers, workers and forced labourers stayed at the village (the criminals of course in custody), Paedrig, Sammil and Hal went to the castle. It was obviously that house Sunstone had already began to reinforce its fortifications, but there was still much to do.

                          The three young men were welcomed warmly, although the relatively informal behavior of the noble family (f. e. not much difference in the behavior towards bastards) was a little bit surprising for Sammil. The next few days went by with additional preparations for the expedition. Paedrig organized some flatboats for the upstream transport of the men, supervised his troops and the workers, organized the support etc. There was much to do so he had little time for leisure. His two deputies Sammil and Hal did have more free time, although Paedrig incorporated them in the preparations.
                          Hal was delighted to spend some time with his family, although his father Harren always had high demands on him. There were some opportunities to participate in martial exercises and Sammils agility and dornish fencing style earned him some credits (Paedrig did not have much time for such activities). Sammil also tried his best to charm Brannya, Lady Sunstones 16 year old youngest daughter, but was no match for her social skills.
                          The expedition should be accompanied by some Sunstone scouts and Nella, Lady Sunstones oldest unmarried daughter, a strong willed and warrior-like woman in her mid-twentieth. Her men should do reconnaissance and help to build a watchtower nearby the quarry. After some arguments, Paedrig was able to convince Nella that he (although younger) was more able to command the operation.

                          The trip upriver was uneventful – beside the unnerving discovery of a skeleton which was bound to the steep walls of the river. According to Nella this was a warning from a local clan, the Smoke Eagles. But the bones were old and Nella (herself a clan halfblood from a marriage between Lady Sunstone and a Smoke Eagle chief) waived the warning as harmless. However Paedrig used the disturbing scene to frighten the forced labourers, explaining them that a flight would mean certain death even if they could escape. After arriving their destination the troops went on land and the flatboats returned to Whitesand.
                          The camp was set up nearby an old abandoned quarry, with the forced labourers in the middle (to prevent desertion). A watch service was organized and the next day the labour in the quarry and the woods began. The forced labourers mostly worked in the quarry, while the free labourers were used for logging and (partly) to build the watchtower. Nellas Scouts assisted them, secured the area and provided additional food by hunting.
                          Paedrig (assisted by Nelly, Hal and Sammil) did his best to ensure discipline and order. Secretly he also tried to have an eye on Nellas security. As the only woman in a group of 60+ men (many of them soldiers or criminals) there were certainly some dangers even for such an able fighter like her.
                          He also noticed that Nella had likewise a sharp eye on him – but for different reason. Her mother had toyed with the idea of a marriage between Nella and Paedrig. Both candidates were a little bit cautious about this project. Nella wanted to know more about Paedrig (a good fighter was not automatically a good husband). And Paedrig (while such a marriage would be an ascension for him) was already in love with another woman and a little bit sceptic about the idea of marrying an a few years older woman which already had a daughter.
                          From time to time Sammil accompanied Paedrigs half-brother Wulf on his hunting trips. They also searched after salt licks because there was a vague plan for setting up a salt mine in the future. This would offer a good income (most salt in the area was imported or made from salt peat, which meant it was either costly or of bad quality). They found some promising places but also noticed that such salt licks were frequented by local predators and building a salt mine would cost much time and money…

                          While Nellas Scouts and Wulf brought in some additional food, the rations were relatively meagre and the accommodations uncomfortable. Of course the nobles had better food, and Padrig tried to boost the moral by inviting well-chosen members of the soldiers, scouts and working force to the meals.
                          Paedrig, Nella, Sammil and Wulf also went on a hunt after wild mountain cattle, because this prey promised a good addition to the expedition rations. They were successful, killing two young cattle’s, one cow and an old bull (which was killed by Paedrig). This brought flesh for almost a week and boosted the morale of the group.
                          However the hard work, the bad living conditions and later the spotting of some skeletons of unlucky miners, which had died in a rockfall many years ago, tarnished the morale (especially among the forced laborers). But Paedrig did not tolerate any slowdown, even if this meant the use of force.

                          However this strategy was only half successful because one night Sammil detected during his watch shift that something was going on at the forced laborers campsite. He secretly informed Paedrig who gathered the guards and surrounded the prisoners.
                          But three of them were already gone. They had knocked out a guardsman and took his weapon with them. Paedrig let Nella in charge of the camp while he, his half-brother Wulf, squire Sammil and a few scouts went after the escapee.
                          Wulfs hunting dogs were able to track the fleeing near the river Whitesand where they tried to use a bole as improvised boat.
                          One of the escapees was stopped by the dogs and sent to the ground by Paedrig, while Sammil jumped on the floating tree trunk and hindered the two remaining escapees to get ‘on board’. The young squire was lightly injured but able to subdue one of his opponents. The other (like his comrades a former sailor) tried to escape by swimming. He was too fast for Paedrig – but not for Wulfs arrow, which sent his dead body floating downriver.
                          The captured escapees were brought back and whipped the next morning while Paedrig warned the remaining forced laborers that he would not be so lenient the next time.

                          The expeditionary force had to face a much more serious threat only a few days later, when the workers found the nearly completed watchtower severely damaged. The unknown saboteurs had left some skeletons behind, ‘painted’ with fresh blood. This revealed the identity of the saboteurs – they must be members of the local mountain tribe, the Smoke Eagles. According to Nella Sunstone the next step might be an attack.
                          Given the fact that Nella was a half-blood Smoke Eagle (and the chief of the clan her cousin) this aggression came unexpected. Neither she nor Paedrig wanted to retreat. But both know that their force was too small (and some of the laborers not very trustworthy) to risk an open conflict.
                          In the end Nella decided for a direct approach – visiting the next Smoke Eagle camp to get a clarification. Paedrig was a little bit skeptic but in the end decided to accompany her, together with Sammil and a few scouts. The rest of the troops should stay behind under the command of Hal Sunstone. The young squire should build a defense position and retreat to Sunstone if the ambassadors would not be back in three days.

                          The small group was soon surrounded by several Smoke Eagles who acted ambivalent. Some seem to have almost friendly intention towards Nella, while others acted aggressive and hostile. The PCs tried to stay calm in the face of open provocations and threads; however Sammil (although not very war-proved) was more successful than Paedrig in this. The young knight was also a little bit surprised that Nella introduced him as her fiancé (she probably wanted to make clear that she had powerful allies).
                          It soon became obvious that the former clan chief (Nellas cousin) was overthrown short time ago. The new chief, Morak son of Krodan, did not trust ‘flatlanders’. It was also obvious that the clansmen were better armed than they should be.
                          The negotiations with Morak were not easy although a costly gift (Sammil field glasses) eased the situation. In the end Paedrig was only able to ensure that his expedition would get the time to end the quarrying and woodcutting. After that they should leave – without installing the planned watchtower of course. With this compromise the party left the clan camp.

                          The next days were not easy because many of the (free and forced) laborers from Dragonstone were nervous and timid, fearing a clan attack. However the work was finished (and the remaining of the watchtower dismantled so that no material or half-finished fortification was left behind).
                          The transport of the wood and stones to Sunstone was hard work – the expedition had to build rafts and get them past shoals and drift wood. But beside one accident which resulted in some injuries (but no fatalities) they arrived Whitesand unharmed.

                          ***

                          Lady Sunstone was not completely satisfied because her plans for a more elaborate border defense had faced a setback (and the power change among the Smoke Eagles might result in further tensions or even armed conflicts in the future). Paedrig urged that the question how the clansmen had got better weapons should be investigated.
                          The party had to delay their departure for some time. They had some injured who must be healed and Paedrig get a nasty fever (perhaps a result of his several encounters with the Whitewater). However the delay did not mean that the laborers and soldiers had nothing to do. Lady Sunstone also convinced Paedrig that her house could need some additional hands in repairing the quays of Whitesand. And Paedrig's soldiers had to participate in maneuvers and military exercises of the local garrison (he did know that loafing was the enemy of any order and discipline). These exercises did also include the two squires Sammil of Lemmonplume and Hal Sunstone, although they had a little bit more past time than the common men. Paedrig might not be able to give the squires their normal workload of duties but Sammil should learn something about the warfare in the borderlands, and Hal's father Harren, the commander of the Sunstone troops, had high expectations for his son. Paedrig also ordered one of his soldiers, Aeryn Hunter, to act a little bit as bodyguard for Sammil.
                          However the two young men had more past time than normally although their possible activities were limited (given the rather rustic environment): riding, a little bit fishing and hunting, but only a very limited range of books or board games.
                          Sammil explored the castle (which - while not in good shape - offered some opportunities for climbing and acrobatic stunts) and hamlet Whitesand. Some members of the Sunstone family (especially the younger one) were interested in tales about fare lands, about the cities and knights and nobles of Westeros. Even the local Maester (the gods did know how the man ended here) was interested in news from abroad. Sammil also spent as much time as possible with Lady Margit Sunstones youngest daughter Brannya.
                          The beautiful young girl seems to like him, although her questions concerning Ser Paedrig and Ser John Buckwell (according to the plans of her mother potential grooms for Brannya) were a little bit demotivating for Sammil. She even questioned him if Paedrig did like women at all, given his rather restrained behavior towards Brannya and her older sister Nella. In fact Paedrigs relationship with Nella seemed strange. Both valued the others competence, but had shown not much enthusiasm concerning Lady Sunstones plans of a probable marriage. And while such a marriage would be clearly a ascension for Paedrig (who was after all only a bastard) Brannya had begun to wonder…However Sammil could not answer her question.

                          After some days, Harren Sunstone came up with a little bit more ambitious task for the young squire. He should lead the Dragonstone soldiers (mostly from the personal guards, few bowmen) through a prolonged field exercise: a route march with several stations where his soldiers should complete different tasks.
                          Sammil did his best to motivate his men for this idea and even controlled their shoes. He had not much knowledge about the area but did not want to recruit an additional scout (like f. e. Paedrigs half-brother Wulf), fearing that this might let him look incompetent and dependent on support by others.
                          Early the next morning, Sammil and his men were ready to leave, watched by a number of garrison troops and members of house Sunstone (only Hal and Paedrig were absent – Hal, because he might have a role in one of the exercises, and Paedrig was simply too weak).
                          However when Sammil got detailed information about the march route, he realized that the operation would cost at least the whole day – and that he had forgotten to ensure an adequate equipment with provisions and water.
                          Sammil did his best to correct his failure by getting bread and water for his men (with help by Brannya Sunstone), but this cost some time and his march started with some delay.

                          Although Sammils military abilities were limited, he proved himself able to hold his men in formation and motivate them to a rapid marching tempo. He also was capable to follow the marsh instructions of Harren Sunstone and lead his men towards the exercise stations.

                          The first station was commanded by Harren Sunstone himself. While Sammils few archers had to do some target shooting, the remaining soldiers should form a shield wall. Than Harren men took a big tree trunk and tried to break the shield wall. But Sammil’s line stood strong, and the archers also did their part well. Harren was impressed by the discipline of the soldiers.
                          They had a little bit time to relax, eat and drink, and then the marsh went on.
                          Hal Sunstone was the commander of the second exercise station. Again the archers should do target practicing (this time over a bigger distance but with more time for aiming). The other men should cross a dried creek and climbed the opposite bank, while Hals men would counter their efforts with wooden clubs. The archers again did their job very well, but the 'creek crossing' did cost more time than anticipated. Some men got a beating but in the end they were successful. Again they had a little break before the marsh should go on.

                          However a group of Sunstone scouts arrived shortly before the departure of Sammils troop. The scouts had a prisoner with them - a young, scruffy looking man with simple clothing but an excellent great sword. They had captured him on Sunstone land because they did not trust his explanations that he was hunting clan raiders - and because they did not like his arrogant and demanding behavior.
                          Robb, the prisoner, claimed that he was from Sevenhill, a small village in the contested area between the 'civilization' and the Mountains of the Moon. If this was right, he was far away from home. He was the sole survivor of a small group of young men who had tried to rescue some women kidnapped by members of the Brothers of the Mist, a local mountain clan.
                          His hunt had brought him to the borders of the Sunstone territory. According to him, the clans of the mountain had increased their raids into the borderlands during the last month (a claim which was confirmed by other sources), and they were trading captured women, hides and bezoar globes towards the bay area for iron weapons. Sammil and some of the soldiers (who had participated in border patrols) suspected that this trade might be organized by Nardis and his pirates.
                          If other clans (like the Smoke Eagles nearby the Sunstone territory) were also participating in this trade, this might be an explanation for their increased armament.
                          Robb also claimed that he had information about one of these trading caravans and downright demanded that Sammil should send his men after them. After all his men were from Dragonstone and the 'flatland lords' had claimed to secure the borderlands. If their promises and great words were not only hollow shells, they had to do something, etc.
                          Anyway Robb was clever enough to state out that this operation would also bring some booty.
                          His demanding behavior did not make him very sympathetic, but he pushed the right buttons and convinced Sammil who than even persuaded Hal to accompany him (the Sunstone soldiers did know the area and would of course also increase the military power of the operation). Hal sent a messenger towards Whitesand and the two young squires and their men began their march into the wilderness. It might have been wise to wait for instructions or reinforcement but Robb claimed that there was not time for delays. Some of Hals and Sammils men were a little bit cautious about the whole enterprise (and the trustworthiness of their pathfinder)…

                          The troop marched till dawn with only brief breaks and then set up a provisional camp. Their rations were meager to say at best but Robb promised that they would arrive a good ambush point the next day. Aeryn Hunter, Sammils ‘bodyguard’, did his best to sound out Robb (he did not trust the whole thing), but this was not easy. However the young men seem to be sincere in his intentions – probably because a woman he deeply cared for was among the kidnapped.

                          The next day the march went on. The men stayed close together and had a vigilant eye on their surroundings (and some also on Robb), fearing an ambush. However they arrived their destination without any hostile contacts and set up an ambush – hoping that Robbs information were correct and the whole operation was not only a waste of time or worse. Hal and Sammil could imagine what they would face at home if they returned without success…

                          However in the afternoon a column of around 20 men, an ample dozen of tied women and a similar number of pack animals was sighted – obviously the caravan Robb had promised.
                          The plan was to surprise the clansmen, but this did not worked as planned because they detected the ambush and began to form a combat formation.
                          However two arrow volleys thinned out their line and when the close combat began, the formation of the clansmen collapsed after only ten or fifteen minutes – partly also because Aeryn Hunter wounded their commander with an accurate shoot (and killed him with a second during the flight of the clanners). Less than half of the hostile force escaped. The wounded enemies were slaughters by the Dragonport soldiers (this surprised and even shocked Sammil, he had thought that it was common to take prisoners). The bound women were freed, although some of the traumatized seem to be uncertain if their fate had changed for better. Most of them were from the borderlands (and feared the ‘flatlanders’ almost as much as the clans), some were kidnapped from the territory of house Aran or Fallkirk and welcomed their rescuers. Beside them the booty was only moderate – fur, claws and fangs of shadowcats, hides and horns from mountain cattle and goat etc.
                          While the soldiers were almost frenetic about the (relatively) easy victory, Robb did not find what he searched for. There were two women from his village among the liberated, but not Elyra, the girl he loved. As the rescued told him she had vanished shortly after the kidnapping happened – probably abducted by a ‘Shadowcat’ (it was unclear if this meant a predator or a member of notorious local clan which was feared even by other clans). The young men almost went berserk mutilating some of the killed clansmen and frightening the rescued.

                          The column departed from the scene of the bloodshed and set up a camp for the night. The supplies of the clan traders ensured a much better meal than the day before. Following hints of more experienced men (f. e. Aeryn Hunter) Sammil organized watch turns and had an eye on his men so that they did not take advantage of the young women and girls which had come under their control. Thanks to this the evening and night went by uneventful.
                          The next day the party began their way back to Whitesand. In the evening they meet Harren Sunstone who had followed their traces with a number of soldiers as reinforcement. He was pleased with Sammil and Hals performance and they returned to castle Whitesand triumphantly. Especially Sammil got lot of praise.
                          Lady Sunstone was able to claim a certain amount of the booty. Some of the rescued women also stayed at Whitesand while others went with the Dragonstone party. But not everyone might be welcomed at home…
                          Robb left Whitesand towards the Mountain of the Moons, determined to continue the search for his love. However he asked Sammil and Aeryn to take care for the two rescued women from his village.

                          Some days later Paedrig was fit enough for the travel back to Dragonport and the party departed from Whitesend. The short sea voyage was uneventful (but a great adventure for some of the rescued which had never seen such a big ship or the sea) and all returned to Dragonport safely.
                          Like Lady Sunstone, Lady Meera Blyth had expected more from Paedrigs expedition. And while she was pleased that Sammils raid had increased Dragonstones reputation, she made clear that Sammil had taken high risks. Given this and the questionable performance of the execution Paedrig had carried out some weeks ago, his standing was not optimal for the moment. As he had also to compensate Sammil for the loss of his field glass, the whole operation had cost Paedrig some gold dragons but gain him not much glory.

                          The rescued women and Elen, the healer of castle Dragonport (who came from the area of Sevenhill), could give some additional information concerning Robb. He was the son of a former mercenary or deserter (from which Robb inherited his greatsword) who had tried to unify some of the borderland villages against the clans more than twenty years ago. This attempt ended in bloodshed and Robbs father was killed before Robb was born (some rumors even claimed that his real father was a clan warrior who raped Robb's mother after killing her husband).
                          The young man was always an outsider with a tainted heritage, feared for his temper.
                          Elyra, the women he was searching for, also came from Sevenhill – a strong willed young woman which had helped Elen in the treatment of the village people. Elen had hoped that Elyra might inherit the role of the healer after she went to Dragonport and was worried for Eylras fate (and also about the medical care for her former neighbors).

                          The rescued were mostly sent back to their home if this was possible. But at least Jana (a young woman of probably andal heritage from Robbs village) did not want to return to Sevenhill and her husband (a not very respectable member of the village). Instead she convinced Aeryn that he might be her ‘protector’ while she stayed at Dragonport and became the assistant of Elen. Elen agreed to this. However she also wanted (backed by Lady Blyth who did know the borderland ambitions of Lord Gard and saw this as an opportunity to gain popularity) that the next borderland patrol that visited Sevenhill should bring a potential healer apprentice to Dragonport, who should return after some training. While Elen still feel a little bit responsible for her former patients she certainly did not want to give up her position in Dragonstone.

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                          • #43
                            Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                            Given promises

                            During the next market-day some travellers from the castle of the Dannetts visited Dragonport. Since the long-time rival houses had come to slightly better terms in the last months, the trade between them had increased. And while House Dannett was in deep need of more income, Lady Meera of Dragonport also wanted to improve the peaceful relationship between both houses. But not all of the visitors were on there way just for profit. Ferris, the young Maester of house Dannett was among them, together with the old former Hedge Knight Ser Joris Landseer, which the characters from house Blyth met first during their fight against the Fox Knight (Peril at King's Landing).
                            The old knight seem to have found some kind of home in the ranks of the Dannett-soldiers. He told Paedrig in private that he was hired by Tygor Wyl (the Dornish noble who married Iris Dannett) to search after the outlaws who captured, raped and sold Iris into the brothel in King's Landing perhaps a year ago. The small group of criminals, to that time under the leadership of "Dennys the lame" preyed upon easy targets along the Kingsroad east of the Twins.
                            Secretly Wyl had started to search after the men, and the old knight was a useful tool since he did know the road and the people along it all too well. Ser Landseer also had already knowledge of much the background, so that Wyl did not increase the number of people who know more about the shameful and horrific past of his wife (while Iris had left, her family still struggles with the mocking and rumours about Iris' fate).
                            It seems as if the ,old dog' had found a trace - in Market Town, a small and contested community several leagues south of the old hunting grounds of the outlaws he had spotted one of them, who seems to have changed into a more legal business. Every revenge begins with the first strike, and maybe the man could tell more about the fate and whereabouts of his brothers-in-crime, if he was "motivated" enough...

                            There were two major aspects which motivated Paedrig to help Landseer (beside the old "knights have to correct the wrong"). At first he had sworn to Iris to avenge her shortly after he dicovered her true identity, second - if he did so, he might win for himself and for his lord further goodwill from the Dannetts. This may also explain why he got some support from Lady Meera, who allowed him (even with little knowledge about the exact details) to support Maester Ferris and Ser Landseer in their mission (both men would take part in the manhunt). The cover-up was the search after some criminals who had stolen some jewellery from the Dannetts, criminals which description fit with the outlaws. Paedrig was able to mobilize some support, his half-brother Wulf and the archer Aeryn Hunter, and he decided also to take Sammil of Lemmonplume with him (mostly because the young noble want to take part in the adventure, although he did not know all details). The two-week-travel to Market Town were already some kind of contest. Maester Ferris was not very used to longer travels in disguise as a member of a group of sellswords, and while Ser Joris was, he had some attitude to drink to much. However, Paedrig was able to convince him to put the beer and wine aside. The rest of the party did make much lesser problems - both common men were used in long travel and the life on the road, and the young Dornish noble did also complain little. They avoided to pass Lugus-land, but noticed rumours that the Lugus were recruiting additional soldiers, very likely some kind of penalty-company (criminals). It seems that a Knight called Davain Lugus had now the command in Stony Oak, the small strip of Lugus-land in the Riverlands east of the Twins, but his second in command were Jared Lugus (a friend of the late Naton Lugus and by this clearly no friend of the Dannett or Blyth) and the Dornish knight Ser Gennady Shannin (about which the same could be said). There were also rumours about the spread of a dangerous disease further south. Beside of this the party travelled with little problems, aside from the normal disturbances thanks to bad weather, little natural disasters like a damaged bridge and some minor trouble with a hedge knight and his men. The rumours about the disease however prooved right - one day before Market Town they passed the little hamlet of Burned Oak which was sealed off by armend men of House Pyke.

                            Market Town was a small town, but had its own sept, brothel, a lot of merchants and craftsmen - and was ruled not by a noble or his servant, but by a independent mayor. The town paid taxes only to the crown directly, and it was unclear how long this unnatural circumstances may last, before one of the neighbouring houses would make a move to capture the town.
                            It was not difficult to find Joryn Grain, the former outlaw Ser Joris had spotted some weeks ago. It seemed that the once-criminal had changed his life. He worked for a local craftsman and seemed to be short before marrying a local girl and become a member of the citizens of Market Town. However, a further investigation revealed, that he still had half-hearted contact with his former comrades about a young boy who lived on the street. Ser Joris was able to lure the former outlaw in a drinking-contest on a market day, and after that he was easily kidnapped and brought to a secret location where he was beaten up and brutally interrogated. He quickly revealed that Dennys indeed operated from the area of Market Town. He never robbed people inside the area the towns controlled, so the local mayor had a blind eye towards his actions, but attacked travellers some miles outside or raided lonely houses etc. Of the four other men who had captured and raped Iris Dannett one was hanged some months ago, two other and Dennys were still part of the gang, together with four newcomers. Joryn did not know where the outlaws had their camp, but he agreed to lure his former comrades into a trap, sending them wrong information about a precious target - a lone lorry with a good catch of freight to steal and just one guard. Paedring and Sammil decided that this help together with his torture were enough punishment and that he would be released later (Maester Ferris had no clear opinion, while Ser Joris were less forgiving, but the old knight agreed to follow the wish of the majority of nobles - of course the common men had no say).

                            So the trap was set and worked as planned. Inside the cart the rest of the party took cover. When the bandits showed themselves, they met fierce resistance. However while the surpise worked the fight was not easy. Wulf was seriously injured by an arrow, and Paedrig suffered two nasty injuries, too, when he faced Dennys in direct combat. The old outlaw who was modestly equipped (with a boar spear and scale armor) went berserk and nearly killed the young knight. However, with the help of Sammil, who himself killed two outlaws alone, Dennys was finally overpowered and went down, crippled by half a dozen heavy injuries. The two lone survivors of the outlaws were new recruits, who had nothing to do with the horrible fate of Iris Dannett, and so the party showed some mercy. It may played a role that the prisoners showed them the secret camp of the outlaws were they found some weapons and money.

                            One prisoner was send to the Wall, another - the second-in-command of the gang, a able archer called Evan Oak or "the Vintenar" - was recruited for the archers of house Blyth, he and his wife (Dennys daughter) were brought to Dragonport. The civilian followers of the gang were released.
                            The journey back home happened without major problems (maybe because the party again avoided to pass Lugus-land) and when Ferris and Joris departed towards the castle of the Dannetts, they could be sure that the outcome of their operation would be welcomed by Adham Dannett and his father - who now at least for a while also feel some sympathy towards Paedrig and Sammil...

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                            • #44
                              Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                              Call of duties, part III

                              The next morning saw the best of the best of the fighting nobles of Westeros coming together to face each other. The promised rewards for the winners were huge. Two days of contest were planed, the first for the main part of the tourney, the second for buhurt, the “lower contests” and the final rounds of the tourney. Celebrations at the tourney ground were also planed, but not for all – those of the nobles who had a (compared to others) “lower” status had to pay/bribe to take part.
                              Gard was on his feet early. He had decided to start the day with an armed and armoured visit to the Great Sept to pray for success in fight (Ser Adham did not really share this pious behaviour), like many other knights. He also lit a candle to the stranger for those who might be killed during the event – because such activities rarely went without one or two fatal accidents or worse.
                              While the two young knights rode to the tourney-place, Alyanna, Eric and Visennya travelled by litter, together with some bodyguards from Lady Buckwell and Dragonport. There were thousands of peasants and townspeople who wanted to see the elite of Westeros – the men from houses like Royce, Redwyn, Tyrell, Mallister, the infamous Clegane-brothers, and there were also several Freys and…
                              The fighters from the North – nearly none of them were knighted due to their religion – had a much less colourful appearance than those from King’s Landing, the Reach, the Westlands and the Vale of Arryn.
                              Adham Dannett’s foe was a Hedge Knight, but the man was an able fighter. As in his first tourney Adham Dannett was defeated in the first round – this time not by poison (also his weakness might be a factor). He hit the ground hard, was injured and had to be brought away. Of course this was not the result he had hoped for. Alyanna visited the young knight immediately at the tent he and Gard had bought for the time of the tourney to look after his wounds (of course not without calculation), playing the concerned young lady.
                              Gard in the meantime shattered two lances against Jared Frey, son of the second of Walder Frey’s many wives. In the third round Jared, who had until now had ride very “carefully” tried to act aggressive against his foe. But this proved as a failure, and the Frey went down with a devastating hit. Gard was only minor injured. However he had not much time to celebrate since his next foe was waiting – Martin Rivers, a Frey-Bastard, who want to take revenge. Ser Boros Blunt from the Kings guard also seems in some kind interested towards either Gard or Adham, but the older knight did not show what his motives were.
                              Anyway, if he had thought to challenge Gard this was a problem which not occur. Martin Rivers proofed to be a much better knight than his “pure blooded” relative, unhorsing Gard in the first round with a perfect strike and wounding him seriously. Gard took the Frey’s revenge not too hard – he never had thought to stay long in the contest, and he thought that his defeat may calm the thoughts of some Frey, who already did not trust him or his liege-lord, Vickon Aran. Of course he was wounded, but he did not suffer from shame being defeated by a bastard. So the first two rounds were also the last for Adham and Gard, who both had to leave the field to take care for their wounds. Visennya, Eric and Alyanna did stay, watching how important and unimportant men fight and suffer – and in one case (a young knight from the Vale, who had to face the “Mountain that rides”) even die. The most admired men was surely the knight of flowers, Ser Loras Tyrell.
                              The three remaining members of the Blyth family did visit the celebration in the evening, together with Adham which condition was still better than those of Gard (who had to avoid physical activities for at least a week or so). While food and wine were excellent, none of them (perhaps with exception of Eric) were in the mood to enjoy. Lady Visennya had her own agenda to meeting some of her little birds, rivals and friends, Adham was a little bit depressed because of his defeat and Alyanna was concerned because of the wound of her brother. She had an eye on Orten Lugus who had his place in the ranks of the Lannisters, a little bit “above” Dannett/Blyth/Buckwell-visitors. However they were not the only people who did not enjoy the meal. King Robert, who clearly drunk more than he eats had a harsh and loudly argue with his wife who seems to have tried to “order” him not to take part in the buhurt. He hit her brother, bringing him down, while the queen and her entourage left the celebration.

                              Gard also stayed at Lady Buckwell’s house during the second day of the tournament. He was not the only one, quiet a number of knights were seriously injured and could not participate – for example his first enemy, Jarred Frey. Gard’s aunt and uncle visited together with Aly’ and Adham Dannett the final rounds of jousting and the buhurt. Aly’ also tried to learn more about Adhams training-partner Ser Olban Hood, seeing him as a potential recruit for the cavalry of Dragonport (a young men from a family of landed knights who lives in the contested areas of the western Vale). The young knight seems to be harmless, perhaps a bit self-confident and clearly not the sharpest knife in the kitchen.
                              The joust ended with a surprise. First Jaime Lannister was unhorsed after shattering two lances against Sandor Clegane, than Sandor’s brother Gregor was defeated in the first round by Ser Loras Tyrell (mainly because he had problems with his horse). Gregor killed his horse instantly and nearly Ser Loras too, but was fought of by his brother. The Mountain that Rides left the tourney in dark mood, and Ser Loras declared Sandor Clegane has won – being the first time the hero of many…
                              Because of the great “losses” of the day before only several dozen of fighters (mainly from the lower parts of nobility) joined the buhurt (the king did not take part). It was the Red Priest who won, thanks to his infamous burning sword.
                              The tournament was closed by a great celebration, but nearly all of the Lannisters did not visit it – maybe because the argument between king and queen on the day before, maybe also because Jaime Lannister was defeated. Aly and Eric did their best to calm the mood of the Frey’s which were present, since they did know that the relations between their highest liege-lord and Lord Aran (their direct liege-lord and father in law of Gard) had worsen in the last months, a fact that influenced the relations between house Frey and house Blyth too. They had limited success, but of course the Freys who were present were hardly the mover and shaker of the crossway…
                              During the whole time of his visit to Kings Landing Eric was mainly busy with his business-conversations with the Master of Coins, but he could be convinced to help Gard in the further meetings with potential captains for the fleet of Dragonport which should be held one or two days after the tournament. Gard decided also that Alyanna should be present in the following days after a officer of the Gold Cloaks had ask for a meeting concerning the murder case the Blyth were involved. Gard had realized that he was still hampered by his wound and could need additional eyes and ears and a mind which may be not influenced by pain or painkillers.

                              The visitor, Ser Robin Heyford was a young man of Andale origin. His family was once powerful (one of them even served as a "hand" for a Targaryan-king) but that was long gone. Now his house had only of minor influence in an area near to King's Landing. He was a leader of a special group of the Gold Cloaks who had to deal with "major" crimes - those who seem to be important (for influential nobles or rich people) or were especially dangerous or gruesome. Gard told the young officer the truth as far he know it about the man who had tried to contact Alyanna and was murdered shortly after, and also Alyanna shared her information, although she did not trust the guard-officer. Altogether it seems more and more that her researches (and the subjects of the late Maester Dukis studies) were a stone, thrown directly in a hornet-nest. Later her Maester-contact informed her, that he had examined what was left from Dukis' writings in the hand of the Conclave but parts seem to be removed, the lists and the facts did not fit. Some details about the area of Dragonport and around were still there and Aly' was able to get some copies - information about the origin of some of the local tribes like the Seals and Shadow Cats (it was said that the latter had brought with them a dangerous weapon when they fled the Others - or marched in their ranks), some detailed reports about the fallen star which gave castle Starbone its name. It was unclear who had taken the missing material. It seems so that Dukis searched after nearly all kind of magic, including conjuring, necromancy, green dreams and wargs.

                              Gard did not want to stay passive all the time, so he had meeting ad Lady Visennya's home with two new potential captains for his fleet. Ruk One-leg (called so because his lame leg) was a captain of more than 50 years (but still a tough man) who had served in the royal navy before Robert's Rebellion. He had fight for the Targaryans and left the fleet after their defeat. In the following years he had served on (armed) freighters. He was especially competent in the waters between the Vale and the Stepstones. He and Gard quickly come to a agreement (perhaps the wounded noble was not such a hard "opponent" than under other conditions).
                              Erik was not a great support during the search after able "recruits", since the older noble was busy with his own agenda. He seems to be interested to stay in the capital at least for a while, beside other reasons because he seem to have chances to make good deals with the Master of Coins, and even may find a "profitable" bride here. After all he had noticed that his nephew was not in such a desperate need for advice, and the life at Dragonport was still much less comfortable than in bigger cities.
                              The next day Gard had a meeting with the last of the potential captains his contacts had found for him. Ygrit "crooked mouth" was a ironborn woman, in the same age as the young lord. After her ship was damaged on a reef near KL she was deeply indebt towards the harbour administration, since repair and harbour taxes were much higher than she could pay. So she was in need of additional money. Her ship, the "Shark" was a big longboat for a crew of up to 80 men, surely less strong than the ships of the Iron Fleet, but still a dangerous foe. She and Gard quickly came to an agreement. Gard would pay for the repair of the ship and her dept, and she would serve him, together with a part of her old crew. Of course Gard examined the ship after he felt better, and did his best to lower the amount of money he had pay to the harbour administration (not without success).
                              He also got the message that his bastard-nephew secretly had arrived with his mother, and that Visennya managed to take care (and have a eye on) for both from a distance, with the money Gard had sent her.

                              In the meantime Alyanna had little success in her investigation. She was able to confirm to which addresses a great part of Maester Dukis writings and souvenirs were sold, including some to Chataya brothel, some books about Valyria to the Kingslayer (for what reason remained a mystery) and other things to a Bravoosi merchantmen/captain. But she did not get much further with the question why someone was so interested in Dukis researches, that he had stolen some parts and maybe also ordered the death of the man who had tried to contact the Blyth. But the little birds of he aunt were able to identify the victim - Teryk, a "unready" Maester and Servant of many (and often not so noble) masters. Before his death he was connected to thefts and trade with "exotic" and even illegal goods like spice and even poisons. He seem to have teamed up with a bunch of sellswords lately which might to be involved in the killing of some (rather unimportant) people in Kings Landing. Surely they had acted after orders of someone higher in the nobility, but it was not known which people they (and Teryk) had served. However the group seem to have left KL short ago. Lady Visennya did not want to dig to deep, fearing to stir up the water. Ser Heyford did have a elaborate network of informants and someone seem to have set up an observation of Lady Visennyas house, so Alyannas aunt decided to stay on low level. Alyanna passed the gathered information towards Ser Heyford. Shortly after that the investigation was cancelled by highest order - Ser Boros Blunt from King's Guard visited Gard and ordered in harsh words a stop of any further researches (although the not so impressing knight had very likely no clear information why he had to order this). Gard (and secretly Alyanna) did as they were ordered, but the young Lady asked her aunt to hear after whispers on the street. Why the crown intervened was still a miracle.
                              However this was not the only thing Aly was busy with. She also watered her friendship with Adham, who was still in a dark mood because of the frail future of his house (she had still not decided if he was a good prey for her as potential husband) and used the time to visit the Red Keep, where she met Sansa Stark several times (after all the young Lady thought that some kind of friendship with the future queen could be useful).

                              In the meantime Gard began to preparing his travel home. He was getting better every day and was looking forward to a last meeting with Lord Stark, in which the Hand of the King would decide about the tensions between Lugus, Blyth and Dannett. He of course missed his wife, and there was little what hold him at KL. He decided to travel home on land, together with Adham Dannett. The "Shark", the captains and hired officers and crew would follow later. He was asked by Visennya to follow a silent sister who had to bring the body of the late Ser Hugh (the man who was slain by Gregor Clegane in the joust) towards the Vale, bringing her the few things of the young knight which were not sold to pay of his debt. It was a small casket with letters, two books - nothing what seems important (although Alyanna did not trust the innocent explanation).

                              It becomes more and more clear that Eric Blyh planed to stay at least for some time at King's Landing. Gard did not welcomed this decision, but he also not wanted argue with his uncle about his intention. After Erics long absence, Gard never had a close relationship to the older man, who left so much years ago and was exiled by Gard's father.
                              The meeting with Lord Stark went not so good for Adham, since the Lord Hand did want only one thing - peace between the houses. Since the crimes of house Lugus could not be proofed, there was no punishment, and Lord Stark demanded that all sides swear to honour the peace of the King. It was Gard who calmed the mood of the young heir of house Dannett, although that did not bring him Adhams friendship at least for the moment. But the members of Dannett (Adham as heir), Blyth (Gard) and Lugus (Orten as heir) had to swear in the Great Sept, under the eyes of Ser Barristan Selmy as witness of the crown. This was not the result Adham and Gard had hoped for, but they accepted it. Gard and Alyanna had not reached all their goals at KL, but after all they were also not disappointed, and especially Gard was looking forward to be reunited with his pregnant wife.

                              It was quiet a greater group which left KL - the lord of house Blyth and his sister, the heir of house Dannett, more than half a dozen of guards, some servants and Ser Olban Hood, who surely hoped to find a place in one of the houses. There were of course several other people on the Kings Road both coming from or travelling to KL. One or two days away from the capital the party even passed two hundred men of the army of the king, which were trying to build a fortified camp (some kind of training - which did not work very well, and seemed not be loved by the men), but their commander, Ser Lance, was influenced by some new ideas or old writings about such safety measures (but Gard thought that this was much more something for professional soldiers, not for most units in Westeros). It becomes clear more and more after the party travels on that something strange was going on. Rumours (often inconsistent) spread that a member of house Lannister - the kingslayer himself? Lord Tywins brother? - was captured by a lady from the Vale, the Riverlands, the North...nobody know something for sure, but all people were talking about - and there was whispering of growing hostility between Riverrun and Casterly Rock, about first clashes between unknown fighters, and even a small siege or something at a unnamed castle. Of course that made the nobles as nervous as their servants, and both Adham and Gard agreed to stay vigilant.
                              That was a reason why Gard decided to invite another sword to join the party when the circumstances seem to fit - Ser Dawyn "Scar", a hedge knight. He was an elderly man, who lost his tongue during the kidnapping of Aerys II (and so had a good reson to later join the rebellion against the Mad King). Gard had sympathy for the man out of obvious reasons (his house supported the rebellion), although he did not promise to much - he wanted to know more about him and his abilities (and while Ser Dawyn had learned to write to communicate with other people, it had to be seen if he would fit into the ranks of the dragon-riders of house Blyth).

                              Ad day or so later the party again found shelter in a inn. During that night a unknown man sneaked into the chamber in which Aly and her maid were sleeping - he was after the belongings of the late Ser Hugh about which Aly had to take care. He was successful, although Aly noticed him, hitting him from behind with her dagger and throwing him (more or less) out of the window by surprise. But when the watchmen the nobles had placed into the inn reacted it was too late - the thief and his comrades which had waited for him with saddled horses escaped into the darkness. A questioning of the inn owner, guests and guards revealed that a peddler who had shown great interest in the party the evening before might have been part of the thieves' gang.
                              This was of course embarrassing for Alyanna, and for her brother and Adham as well - that the thievery went so well (of course if the man would have worse intentions...). And Aly and Gard had disappointed her aunt, of course.
                              The atmosphere on the street did not change for the better in the coming days. Although it did not become clear what exactly was behind the rumours, much people were nervous about coming trouble between the high houses. In this situation Gard clashed with an old enemy. When the party passed a small bridge, he noticed that one of the two armed men which were standing nearby (it may be that they looked after easy prey) was Ser Ereg of Twostone, a thievish hedge-knight with which Gard had an encounter several years ago. The older man tried to escape immediately when he noticed that Gard did remember him. Gard and the two hedge-knights of the party chased him, but this went wrong with catastrophic consequences. Whily Ser Dawyn and Gard were not fast enough, Ser Olban Hood clashed with the older man, but was wounded critical. Gard, who arrived shortly after tried to help, but he was not skilled enough or the wound was too bad. Ser Olban Hood passed away with the words "But he was only a old man..."
                              This of course was a very sad outcome. Gard felt responsible for the death of the young man, even if Olban was not real part of his entourage. He had only confronted Ser Ereg of Twostone because of the old grudge between Gard and the old hedge knight (although it seems obvious that Twostone had not changed his behaviour and very likely committed several crimes in the past years). The lord take care for a appropriate burial of the young hedge knight, paying for a memorial stone and some prayers and candles in the next sept, and take care of his belongings - if he ever would have the possibility to gave them to the relatives of Ser Olban Hood, he would do so. He also convinced the local Lord (the lord of Lord Harrowayss town near the trident) to raise a bounty on Ser Twostone of 10 dragons (Gards money, of course).

                              It was in this area that the reasons for the rumours become clear. At first Aly found it out by her local spy ("of course" she had at least one in that town) and later it was confirmed in detail at the Crossroad Inn, that the Tyrion "the Dwarf" Lannister was the one who was captured - and that Lady Stark was the one who captured him. This smelled like a lot of trouble, even more since it seems so that some bounty-hunters were already on the street to rescue the Lannister-son. Men, which could not be trusted and which easy could become robbers - or clash with men loyal to the Tully's. Gard and Adham travelled some days together with a guarded merchant treck, and maybe this spared both sides some trouble when a bunch of Lannister-soldiers passed by, but as they came nearer to the lands of house Lugus in the Riverlands (a tower and a small garrison) the lords decided to leave the main road. They do not want to ride through the land of a house which was sworn to house Lannister AND the Freys, trusting the latter would weigh more than the first, since house Lugus may still have the wish for revenge against both Dannett and Blyth.
                              The party found their way between Kings Road and Mountains of the Moon on smaller roads, but could not avoid any trouble. They were not so far away from their own land when they crashed into around a dozen of armed men (the party noticed the strangers and left the road, but were spotted). It seems obvious that this were mercenaries (and pillagers?) who searched after the Dwarf. And they had Ser Ereg Twostone among them (although he was not the leader) who very likely had convinced them that the nobles might know more about the whereabouts of Tyrion Lannister, or were at least a easy pray. Since the party way ready to fight and only a little bit smaller than the mercenaries, the strangers at first seem not very keen to start the fight, but also want not back down. Gard offered them to send a unarmed men to look if he might find a dwarf in the party, but that seem not enough. But his words that a victory over the party might be unlikely (what they maybe not believe) or would at least cost would them dearly (what they DID believe) "calmed" the situation a little bit. After all the mercenaries backed down for a smaller amount of money (their leader seem not the men who would go away for good without that and Gard did not want to risk the life of his sister, himself and Adham Dannett - who clearly preferred a fight - in a area where this might be not the last problems that could occur). So the things ended in an uneasy truce - and Ser Twostone had to flee again as Gard offered his "comrades" five dragons for the head of the hedge-knight (later rumours occur that he had find a new home on Lugus-land)...

                              The last days of travelling after that event went on without major events. The Blyth and Dannetts departed from each other in good mood, but with great worry about the future - the news from the south smells after blood and fire, and Adham had heard that his father was in a even worse condition of health. Gard and his sister arrived Dragonport safely, where they were welcomed by those who stayed at home. There also several advents had happened, there were some new members of the inner circle of the castle, and some major events, so that it take some time to inform the lord and his sisters about all the events and changes which had happened. Gard was impressed how Meera (with some help from others) handled the difficulties (but he did not figure it out in detail why his mother had left the castle - different to his sister). It was no surprise that the lord of house Blyth was overwhelming happy to hold his beloved young (and pregnant) wife in his arms again. The travel to King's Landing had brought some successes for the creation of house Blyth's fleet. Many other things went disappointingly wrong, so that Gard was happy that his sister and he had made it back in good health.
                              But of course he was worried about the future of his house, his people and his unborn child in the coming times, and send immediately message to his liege lord to inform house Aran about the news. Lady Meera suggested it might also be wise to raise the alert level in the harbour, using some of the defected pirates to spy for infiltrators from their former comrades.
                              Some days later the new (and repaired) longboat "Shark" arrived with the hired men and officers. It seems the right time to prepare Dragonport for the coming stormy season, so Gard to decided to speed up the mobilisation of the local "navy", to enforce his houses strength in any way possible and to prepare for anything which might come...

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                              • #45
                                Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                                Through dangerous waters

                                In the first days after the return from King's Landing, Gard and Alyanna had to deal with the changes during their absence. Their mother had left (after losing an intrigue against her daughter-in-law), leaving behind a "not very friendly" letter explaining the reasons of her departure. But while Aly did not trust her brothers wife fully (although she also had no motivation to stay at her mothers side), Gard had chosen who he trust, even more since he feel somehow guilty towards his wife. After the truly difficult start of her marriage he had left her (pregnant) to stay at home in a situation which was not without some serious problems for more than two months to manage the household. She did so (as far as he could say) with success, and was even able to support the defection of an pirate vessel, weakening Nardis' forces further and increase the power of the growing fleet of Dragonport. So his trust in and respect towards his wife became even stronger.
                                Of course for the new people in the household is was also a important event (and in some cases also a change in their daily life) to face the young lord the first time. Gard was not very happy that Paedrig had put the life of Sammil of Lemonplume at risk during the secret mission for the Dannetts, and did say this open. And while Lord Buckwell stay in his old position as administrator of Dragonport, some changes occur for the young squires Sammil and Hal Sunstone. Lord Gard did not only take care for their physical education (riding, fighting etc.), but "forced" them also to read books and manuscripts about war and administration or law, whatever could be found in the (a little bit chaotic and not very rich) archives of castle Dragonport and in the town-administration or what was collected during the last months. He also let them look when he acted as judge over his people and foreigners. Of course the young nobles found all that a little bit boring...
                                They avoided such duties as often as they could.

                                Around a week after the lord had returned - on the first weekly market day after he returned - Maester Ferris from the Dannett-Entourage arrived. He had somehow disturbing news. It seems as if the old lord of his house was in bad condition (sometimes he also seems to have problems to decide which year it was, and his painful past or the old grudge between his house and house Blyth occurred once and than again). The Maester wanted (without much joy about admitting that he was forced to do so) the help of the gifted "mountain-witch"-healer of house Blyth. Gard - after shortly discussing that with his wife and Elen - agreed to send Elen as gesture of goodwill. He also promised to let candles burn and prayers hold in the sept of Dragonport for Lord Dannett (Maester Ferris could not hide completely that he did not believe that this may help anything).

                                In the meantime Sammil (who had tried with some success to spy on all these conversations) decided it would be more "wise" to leave the scene together with his co-squire (and somehow friend) Hal before the lord could notice them and find something boring to do. So they marched to the town, where they both admired the small fleet of warships and the all-day chaos of a busy port.
                                It was the same day when messages arrived (through the arrival of the "Lady Lyssa", a small merchant-ship) that a greater cog has run aground in a distance of around a day of (sea)travel on the wild southern coast of the Bite. Captain Ygrit who had got the news at first was interested in the whole thing (and she did not believe that it might be a trap by the pirates). Gard however decided that it could also be a good moment to test the ships of Dragonport in action (and - different to the daughter of the Iron Isles - he thought that a trap might very well be possible after the several setbacks Nardis' pirates have suffered, as a easy way to have revenge). So after short preparations three warships left Dragonport. Gard decided to take the young squires Sammil and Hal with him (Meera mocked her husband a little bit, saying that he seems in great hurry to leave her again - what let him feel even more guilty towards her) as well as some archers and other soldiers. But he and his wife decided that Dragonport should also stay on high alert if the wrecked ship was a trap not only to lure perhaps some ships into danger, but also let Dragonport poorly defended.
                                After all the three ships performed not perfect but seemed on a good path towards battle-readiness. The "Golden Dragon" had already a crew with some training, and on board of the "Sea Gull" and the "Shark" there was a core of members of their old crew which were able to lead the new recruits (although Gard had cared that no too many of the former pirates of the "Sea Gull" stayed on the same ship). There was some sort of undeclared competition between the three ships, which would take the lead - and the "Shark" of captain Ygrit did win.
                                While the weather was quiet a little bit rough and some new recruits had their problems with the sea, no greater problems occur, and no sign of danger could be detected.

                                When the ships reached their destination it become obvious that the wrecked ship - a cog called "Pigeon" from the Vale, which visited Dragonport quiet regularly - was in trouble. It was nearly washed on the shore and seemed quiet damaged, and it look like as if the problems were far from over. The ship was under missile-attack from some people on the shore which were hiding, very likely clansmen from the Seals People. Guard decided to scare them off in a show of force - a landing-operation of the three warships under his command. He was among the first soldiers who set their feet on land, and with little surprise the clansmen retreated, at least for now - harassing a stranded ship with a demoralized crew was one thing, three (although small) war-galleys with a full force of archers, fighters and even siege weapons something completely different.

                                Shortly after the forces of Dragonport landed, they were able to made contact with the surviving crew members under captain Jon Barnett (there were some fatalities, both during the shipwrecking and during the siege). The captain was of course one the one hand happy since he had little hope to defend his ship against the clansmen much longer when the reinforcements arrived. On the other hand of course he could not be sure how Gard would treat him - what happens to wrecks differ from coast to coast and the Bite had a long history of shore-robbery etc. even by noblemen. However Gard calmed his fear - although he would not help him without compensation, he did not want to exploit the bad luck of the captain and his crew. After short conversation with Barnett and his own captains the decision was made to lift the ship from the shore (instead of removing its goods and burn it) - that may cost some time during which the weather might worsen/reinforcements of the clansmen or pirates could arrive, and the ship clearly would need help. But with three ships as protection and support it seemed possible. There were some trouble between the crew and a passenger, a stranger called Lo Tho, who came from a land far, far away (nobody have any notion from where exactly) and wanted to see Westeros and its wonders, including the huge Wall in the North. The sailors of the 'Pigeon' thought he had brought bad luck to them, but luckily for Lo Tho Gard and Sammil were able to calm the waves. The Lord of Dragonport even invited the stranger to his castle, although some people might wonder if a man would really travel so far just for curiosity as Lo Tho claimed...
                                The clansmen send a small group to demand their share of the cargo - they claimed what was washed on their shore was their own. Gard (who did know the young warrior named Finar from a fight against a kraken in the past) did not agree, but also did not want any trouble. Since the clansmen were few and saw no benefit in open confrontation, at least for now the weapons stay silent.

                                So the people of Dragonport and the crew of the 'Pigeon' begun their work, while also some detachments were placed to protect them for any surprise-attack from the clans. The dead crewmen were buried (however not deep enough - during night the guards could hear how wolves feed on the corpses). On the next day the clansmen showed up in greater numbers. Gard had good arguments behind them - he had far greater numbers of better armed men - but he wasn't interested in a real fight. So he argued more than he threatened, and while the clansmen were not satisfied with the gifts he offered, a uneasy peace could be brokered. Dragonport was still interested in some kind of peace with the Seal People (and vice versa) and maybe also in hiring some of them as mercenaries. There was even some small scale trade between the flatlanders and the clansmen (including the...service of some women) - not without problems and conflicts, but the leaders avoided any real escalation. Gladly no one noticed that young Sammil who was lured by a clan-girl to leave the landing point for a more private place only very narrowly escaped a kidnapping attempt by her and some men by running away (of course he had NO interest that Gard learned anything about this incident).

                                In the end it was possible to lift the 'Pigeon' from the shore. The incident may not have improved the relationship to the Seal people, but also had not worsen it. The journey back started without greater problems, although the weather was not the best. But as the first day passes, a ship closed in which showed no arms and flag. It was a small galley or greater longboat, and while it seems not one of Nardis' remaining ships, both the captains and the lord of Dragonport feared it may be a pirate. During the night the ship indeed made an attempt to close in, possibly to capture the Pigeon, but since the warships were on high alert the encounter ended with a exchange of fire which caused little damage on both sides. The unknown raider escaped into the darkness. In the end the damaged pigeon and the war-galleys reached Dragonport. The benefit for Dragonport was a share of the cargo and maybe also slightly improved relations to the port of the pigeon. The young fleet of Dragonport, while until now not tested in a real battle, had proved that she was more and more ready for action.

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