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Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

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  • #46
    Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

    Facing War - Part I

    In the following weeks it became more and more obvious that the situation in the mountains and borderlands had gone for many from bad to worse. The split in the ranks of the Brothers of the Mist encouraged other clans - including the infamous and mysterious "Shadowcats" - to increase the pressure onto them and even to widen their raids into the half-civilized borderlands. Maybe also the mostly peaceful Seals People could be involved, at least by selling weapons they got from the pirates of Nardis to other clans. The once fragile peace in the borderlands seem to be broken - and in parts the victories of house Blyth of Dragonport against the Brothers of the Mist were to blame. However, some (or at least house Dragonport) also stated that the Brothers with their raids under their once ambitious leader Ture Strong Hand (now called Ture Luckless) against house Blyth had violated this fragile peace first, and that the meddling of unknown actors and the pirates of Nardis who both sold weapons to the Mist Brothers and others had an great impact, too. The pirates themselves may have suffered some setbacks, but were not beaten yet. News arrived of a successful raid against Fallkirk-land, in which some goods and cattle was stolen, houses torched, peasants murdered and their women raped. House Fallkirk was quick to complain about the lack of action by the new "warden of the shore".

    Gard did his best to speed the creation of his new fleet up, but it still needed some time. The increase in numbers of soldiers, mostly foreigners, did also cause some problems in Dragonport, since the town was only partly prepared to deal with so much new inhabitants. As ever in such circumstances some trouble between the old inhabitants and the newcomers occurred. Place and goods were becoming rare and costly etc. Some of the "natives" saw good opportunities in their new neighbours, other only potential problems (and even the members of the city council were divided in their opinion, depending on their personal position and possibilities). There were some scuffles between the crews of merchant-ships and those of the fleet and so on. Gard ordered the garrison to keep an eye on the situation and even invested a few hundred dragons of his houses' wealth to raise new buildings, ware houses etc. and in this smooth the problems a little bit.

    How quickly the situation could escalate for the common people became obvious, when Jana, a former prisoner of the Brothers of the Mist, who now lived with Aeryn Hunter and worked as an assistant of the castles healer Elen Fairyeye, was attacked by some locals when she visited the town. She was beaten and cursed as "foreign whore", “half clanner” etc. Some men from the garrison saved here, but after her earlier suffering at the hands of the clans she was traumatized by the fact that also her new home seemed to be no safe haven. Aeryn try to help her with words (also he did know that this was not enough) and later teaching her a little bit how to defend herself, encourage her to find more friends in the ranks of the local women. He also was able to convince (partly by arguments, partly by bribes) the local authorities to punish the incident. The culprits were caught and severely flogged in public - also as a warning to all who may think about disturbing the public order and peace in the future, a lesson which seems to have worked.

    Despite these social problems the four ships of the Blyth-Navy were becoming more and more a unit, although the captains and crews still lacked routine in cooperation. Some of the captains like the Iron(wo)men Ygrit "crooked mouth" and the (other) former pirate Sandro Amero were outsiders. The unit was not yet fully equipped and missed one ship to full strength. Gard had to look where he could get it, since his own shipyards were not really made to build great cogs or war-galleys. In the end he bought a smaller galley at the Sisters to complete his fleet, what took some time.
    There were also some problems with at least one of the officers - rumours about drinking problems etc. but after some words with the lord the situation seemed to be solved (at least for now).

    Dragonport also need a new centenar for the archers, and lord Gard found an able candidate in Adam "Hawkeye", a men in his mid-30s from the borderlands who served in the ranks of the armed forces of Krayenhorn and Dragonport for the last one and half a dozen years. But only future could tell how well he would fit in his new duties. In general there were some transfers of men and officers between several units, since the fleet needed skilled men, too. So some men could improve their position, including Aeryn who was successful in convincing and bribing his vintenar to make him his second in command of a 20-men-sub-unit of the archers.

    What also maybe could cause some problems in the future - the old lord of house Dannett was becoming more and more frail, and even the care of Elen, the healer of house Blyth, who was sent to him as gesture of goodwill some time ago, could not help him. It seemed as if the Stranger was waiting right behind the door to take him away. His heir Adham was sickly and weak too after nearly be poisoned to death by the Lugus' in King's Landing.
    Other news were less worrying - it seemed that the next round on the local marriage-market was working as planned. Ser Vickon Aran should be send to house Weymouth (and later marry lord Weymouth's only daughter and heir) while Elyssa Aran should soon be promised to Torrhen Fallkirk, younger brother of the young (and until now heirless) lord of that house.

    Meanwhile the greater political picture darkened further. The capture of Tyrion "the Imp" Lannister had caused much tension. Several great houses were calling their banner-men to arms. Lord Stark was wounded at King's Landing by the Kingslayer, who left the capital in haste on the brink of being outlawed. The situation than quickly worsened.

    The North mobilized its troops, as did the Lannisters and the Tullys, too (although no formal call to the arms from Hoster Tully had arrived at Dragonport). Maybe even in the Vale the first calls to the arms were heard. Shortly after, a message arrived which changed everything - Robert Baratheon, king of the Andals and First Men, first of his name, has died in result of a hunting accident. His son and heir Joffrey was immediately crowned, and Ned Stark was arrested (the news of that events arrived soon via the ravens of several local Maesters). This made the rumours about mobilisations in the North even more threatening. Was another Great Rebellion coming like the one against the Mad King? And how would house Tully act? The news were not spread freely under the ranks of the common people but soon the secret would be no longer one.
    There were first rumours of bloodshed in the southwest of Westeros, deep in the Riverlands. All that proofed to be poison for the trade, which had quiet some impact on the fortunes of a house like Blyth of Dragonport (from now on all fortune-roll-results of the house had to be modified by -3 - maybe more in the future). However at least for the moment the able leadership of lord Gard (or the clever investments and wealth holdings of his ancestors) still resulted in some financial benefits.

    A letter from Visennya Buckwell from King's Landing brought a confirmation that the first blood was wasted in the Riverlands. The local lords were getting more and more nervous, wondering from which side new threats may occur - from the North or the Westlands or even both. As if the local problems were not worrying enough, some of them may swear!
    In this situation lord Aran ordered his vassals to rally to a great meeting at his castle Starbone. It seemed obvious what the topic would be - the deepening crisis of the Seven Kingdoms and the consequences which that may have.

    Meanwhile the newest strange guest at Dragonport, Lo Tho, the traveller from Yi Ti, had somehow found a place in the castle. Both lady Meera and Alyanna were interested in learning more about his country, and he himself was interested in knowledge about local history and legends. Gard supported his actions a little bit, giving him the possibility to travel on his land and to the neighbouring lords. However not everyone was happy with him, many common people saw the stranger as some kind of magician or worse. But most rumours about him were more mockery (many people believed that he was a eunuch, so his meetings with the ladies were not suspicious). Aly somehow enjoyed the time with him, since he was much more cultural advanced and knows a lot of things - nothing she could find at Dragonport very often. She also spoke about him about her "magic studies" in the past and helped him in his researches in the chaotic library of Dragonport. She DID sense that something was strange with him, but she saw no danger, and even improved his opinion towards here.

    Before the meeting of the lords, Gard's mother send a letter to him that she and Septa Jonelle of Eaglewood would like to see him (and maybe Aly) soon. He decided to take just four of his soldiers with him. During the journey it became obvious that the situation at Eaglewood was not the best. Why the area was fertile and the people well fed, the peasant levies were at high alert. It seemed as if the locals had have problems with some bandits, likely some of the men who claimed to search after Tyrion Lannister. But it also seemed as if the problem was already solved, at least for the moment.
    At Eaglewood Gard first had a...complicated...conversation with his mother. She lived under very good conditions, had her own maid and has risen to be one of the top advisors of Septa Jonelle, mainly in economical questions. But she was not really happy here (quiet the opposite). She claimed that her son did not listen to her anymore, that with Eric's departure he lost a good advisor and may trust people far too much who are not worth it. Of course that was directed towards Gards wife Meera. She tried to incite him against his wife, but this was a "fight" (intrigue) she lost quickly. Her son convinced her that he still honoured her and that his decisions were right. The tearful defeat of the old lady was maybe not complete - she may never love her daughter-in-law - but at least for now she seemed to accept the situation. Beside that she had some smaller wishes and questions and was of course deeply worried about the future of her house. With war on the horizon and the trade already affected she had good reason to be concerned.

    During the meal at the evening which the nobles hold together with the brothers and sisters of the Septrie, a messenger arrived. It seemed as if there was some trouble with a small group of prisoners inside the septrie. The levies of the Septrie had arrested some of the bounty hunters who had harmed the common people (they killed or mortally wounded three men, injured others and brutally raped two women before they were forced to flee, captured or killed). Now the people wanted "justice" and they wanted it NOW (ignoring the fact that septa Jonelle just had no right to pit and gallows - major crimes had to be reported to lord Aran). Both Jonelle and Gard calmed the commoners a little bit and the young lord agreed to take the prisoners with him. It seemed safer to lock them up at Dragonport and than bring them to Starbone. He promised to advocate for a harsh punishment, but made clear that the last word would spoken by the high lord of Starbone.

    On the next day he and septa Jonelle had some additional conversation. She wanted to increase the quality of the armed forces of the Septrie (until now a unit of trained scouts who in public were sworn to lord Aran, and two trained and good equipped peasant levies). Now Jonelle wanted to replace the peasants with a regular garrison-force (legally this one would also be said to be under the leadership of house Aran, to avoid problems with the old banishment of the Armed Faith). She needed some support (men for training, weapons, armor, perhaps some low-rank-officers) and help to convince lord Aran. She also wanted Gard's support in convincing both the Aran's and house Sunstone that the Septrie could go forward in their try to "enlighten" the realm of the Sunstones and the borderlands with the "true faith" of the Seven. Gard agreed to support both goals, and demanded some support for the trade between the Septrie and Dragonport in return - a promise he got.
    The way back home went on without problems, and Gard, his men and four additional soldiers from the Septrie kept a watchful eye on the prisoners, who were than thrown in the "dungeon" of castle Dragonport.

    Gard decided to take his sister Alyanna with him on the visit to Starbone some days later, but not his wife, who was now in the seventh month of pregnancy. With the two Blyth, Paedrig Rivers as part of the guards and teacher for the two present squires Sammil of Lemmonplume and Hal Sunstone plus some servants the party was quiet huge (since they had also to take the prisoners with them). Lord Aran had ordered that none of his guests should come with more than 20 people, but even with that limitation is was obvious that Starbone would be packed with guests of noble and common birth.
    Altogether it was the greatest gathering since the marriage of Gard (or even greater).
    Beside the Aran family there were Ser Adham Dannett as heir of his house, since his father was to weak to come (Adham seemed concerned, and arrived with only little entourage), Lord Weymouth of Whitecrane, Lord Edwyn Fallkirk and his brother Torrhen, Septa Jonelle together with Gard's and Aly's mother, the landed knight Ser Gawan Blyth of Krayenhorn with his wife Anya, Harren Sunstone, master of arms of the newest (landed) house in the area, and also some foreign guests, mainly Edwyn Frey from the Twins and William Sunderland, a lesser one of the seven sons of Lord Triston Sunderland of the Sisters.

    While the Arans had organized quiet a good show of hospitality and the main topic of the conversation was the difficult situation in the Seven Kingdoms, the elbow-rubbing below the surface started nearly from the first moment of the meeting. Nobody did know how many backdoor-deals the nobles tried to secure, but at least Gard and his sister were very busy. William Sunderland seemed highly interested in gaining Gard's and even more Aly's attention. Edwyn Frey used a private conversation to convince Gard that he might be open for a possible marriage between William and Aly, or at least give up thoughts of marrying her right now to another man. It was obvious for the Blyth-siblings what the Frey had in mind, although that was never said openly. The lords of the Twins surely feared that Aly may marry Adham Dannett, a groom they wanted for one of their own daughters. Gard was not per se against such an idea of a better connection with the isles in the Bite and Edwyn Frey was a very convincing opponent. Gard's mother herself was a Borrell of Sweetsister, so the connection with the Sisters were only logical, and he was not sure if his sister would be a good bride for Adham Dannett and vice versa, since the past of the two houses were difficult, to say it carefully. Ser Adham also had a frail health and any women who marry him may soon become a widow. And additional - such a marriage would surely anger both house Frey and maybe also house Aran. But he clearly did not want to agree before he did know A LOT more about William. But he agreed to take him as squire, where be could become a knight one day, and as a potential captain of one of his ships. On the other hand he warned Adham secretly some weeks later, that the Frey may looking forward to "catch" him and bring him and one of their girls before a septon by all ways possible. Adham did not react very fond to this idea – he seemed to despise Edwyn Frey, and maybe other Freys, too.

    William, who presented a precious silver-necklace with black pearls as gift to Aly, also wanted to make an impression. However, he was no match for the cunning young lady, who easily kept him at distance without insulting him. Aly was not sure what to think about him as a groom. He seemed not to have any dark secrets, bad character or something. The strangely sort of finger-webbing between his three middle fingers was nothing alien to her, since he may have got it from intermarriage between his family and the Borrells in the past. Aly, herself a half-Borrell (while without this birthmark), was surely not really worried about that.

    After an impressing show of force by the armed forces of Starbone at the next morning, the real discussions started - the lords gathered in a small council.
    The problems in the borderlands were the first topic; however none of the lords saw the need for immediate action. As long as the clans harmed each other and the half-civilized people in the uncontrolled areas at worst, they did not want to intervene. Yes there WERE rumours that beside the pirates of Nardis also other factions from the lowlands were involved, but there was no proof. Gard was a little bit more concerned, given the fact that maybe soon the mobile defence of the civilized lands - the cavalry of the houses Aran, Blyth of Krayenhorn and Blyth of Dragonport - would leave the area. But since he was already hampered by the creation of his new fleet and the fight against the pirates he had not much resources left. He suggested it may be wise to support moderate clansmen or borderland-people, including a small group of fighters around a young warrior called Robb who searched after kidnapped women.

    This discussion ended with no results and quickly turned into one about the sea-borders. The Fallkirks at least blamed Gard for not doing enough against the pirates (he argued that his fleet did need time to be completed and that his men in the last months had captured one pirate-galley, killed perhaps one third of the crew of another and that his house convinced a third galley to defect - much more than ANY other house could claim). However it seemed that Nardis was not the only problem. Piracy in general was on the rise, and that would surely worsen if a great war would start. But when Gard asked if someone would support his idea of a landing-operation against Nardis' hideout when his fleet would be ready, NONE of the lords really wanted to promise him any real support for now. House Fallkirk did not like the Blyth, house Weymouth was carefully before risking its troops and house Sunstone had little soldiers at the moment. And last but not least, Edwyn Frey had no interest in delaying any call to the arms of the local houses by such operations... It seemed to risky and costly and house Frey had much more serious thinks to worry about - or so they claim. So Gard had to declare this idea as dead from the start (although he secretly decided to calculate if there may be another possibility to go further in the future).

    After that and a short break the main business started with a speech of Edwyn Frey. He declared that all of the Seven Kingdoms were calling to the arms, that the army of the North stood near the border of the Riverlands and that the forces of house Lannister may already crossed that borders. In this serious and dangerous situation it was necessary to be ready and prepared, without making any stupid move which may cause all out war. And so Lord Walder Frey had given the order to his banner-houses to muster their forces in the next four weeks. This mean, every house had to provide at least two, every landed knight at least one unit of 100 men infantry or 20 riders.
    Of course - given the current situation - this announcement came with little surprise. There were old documents which listed what units which house had to send, but they were a little bit outdated. However, the Freys gave no clear order were to march and against whom. The local forces should be gathered and for the moment have a watchful eye to ANY incursion, may it be from the north or south, Stark or Lannister. Their main focus should be towards the North, and they should shadow any greater northern force. Of course lord Aran was a little bit sceptic. The local houses were able to create a fighting force of maybe 1.000 men or so (of course no one would send all of his men) - hardly enough to do serious damage to a real army. The lords were frustrated with these unclear orders. So the evening after the meeting was not a very pleasant one.

    Ser Gawan had a secret conversation with Gard the same evening. He asked the younger man to lend him at least 400 gold dragons which he needed to raise an additional unit (light cavalry). By sending more men than he needed to do, he wanted to secure the goodwill of the Arans (and the Freys) to get a free hand to decide who should become his heir. Given the fact that he still had no child and that there were no other legitimate Blyth of Krayenhorn (only bastards like Paedrig Rivers) he was concerned what may happen if he died. Gard thought he should maybe look for someone who are the right person and adopt him. In this way he could at least control who would become the next ruler of Krayenhorn. But Gard did know that that was not a very good alternative. However, he could not help the man who knighted him with THAT problem. But he could lend him some money. The stables of Krayenhorn would be the guarantee that house Blyth of Dragonport would get the gold back. Since Gard thought he owed the man a lot who had showed him to be a knight and had not abandoned him after he was exiled by his brother Viserion around a year ago, he not only agreed but later even offered additional 200 dragons to improve the equipment of the new unit. He also demanded not much of a fee for the credit and agreed that he would send some of his officers to help in the process of recruiting and training, and gave Krayenhorn primary access to the market of Dragonport to collect the weapons and armor they needed. But he and Aly later noticed that this all might be a reason while the situation between Gawan and his wife was not the best - maybe Anya thought that Gawan invested far too much into the armed forces. She may feared her husband could risk his house to go bankrupt if they could not repay their debts, and seem not go well with Gawans whish to ask her relative Adham Dannett for money, too...

    There was also a short discussion with Lord Vickon Aran. It was at first about the fate of the captured bounty hunters (lord Aran wanted to execute only one or two of them, the rest may be of some use if they were pardoned) and Gard used the conversation to support Septa Jonelles wish to increase the garrison of Eaglewood. Lord Aran also discussed questions who should lead which part of the mobilized forces. Gard promised to send one unit of heavy cavalry, one unit of archers who were mounted (no real riding archers, but able to move tactically and strategically much quicker than men on foot) and also a (green and new to muster) support unit. Since he controlled the greatest settlement in the region, it would be much easier for him to provide the necessary healers, craftsmen etc., and an army of perhaps 1.000 men surely need a supply-unit. Lord Aran wanted to split the gathered forces in two tactical elements. One would be the cavalry and mounted archers, the other the foot-soldiers. He mentioned his plan that his son Ser Vickon Aran would lead the cavalry. He asked Gard for a good second in command (since Vickon Aran was young and had little experience) - surely thinking that the young lord would be interested in the position. But Gard revealed he was not sure if he would join the army. After all he was the warden of shores (a title he got from lord Aran himself) and with the imminent threat of the pirates who threaten not only his realm but also several of the others, it may be better if he stay to deal with that threat. Secretly he was also not very interested in taking part in his second great war in a lifetime (the first was the Greyjoy-rebellion), and even less since his wife was highly pregnant and in some weeks could give birth to the couple’s first child (if everything went fine). Lord Aran was surely disappointed with that lack of ambition, but kept Gard's idea in mind, that maybe Ser Gawan might be a able cavalry-commander (however, both men understand each other wrong - since Gard meant that Gawan should got the job as commander of the WHOLE cavalry, Lord Aran decided that he should be the second in command for Vickon).

    The third day of the meeting had at least some more happy elements. Elyssa Aran was promised to Torrhen Fallkirk (it was obvious that the bride was more happy with that than the groom). This may be a reason while lord Aran postponed the planned execution of at least one of the prisoners Gard brought in (it would be a bad omen).

    The lords than met a last time. There were some small scale discussions, Gard for example mentioned it may be wise to hold a great hunt (may it be on land or sea) to got some supply. His house at least was well prepared for such an event, since they had bought salt in great numbers several months ago. Some of his neighbours seem to be interested, although not all believe that the next winter may be near. And it was hard to say if such a major operation could be arranged given the fact that in the coming weeks they all would be very busy - lords, soldiers and peasants alike. Also Lord Fallkirk mocked, that Gard seem more concerned with “fighting” deer, than any REAL enemy.
    Lord Aran ordered that in three weeks the lords should met again, and one week after that the expeditionary-forces should be ready. The next meeting would also answer the question who would command the units. He also made it public that his protection for Eaglewood (aka the secret soldiers of the Faith) would be improved with a new garrison-unit. After that the lords departed, and until Dragonport it was quiet a impressive travelling-party, the lords of the houses Weymouth, Aran, Blyth of Dragonport and Blyth of Krayenhorn with the leading septa of Eaglewood and all their entourage, plus William Sunderland who should become a squire and officer/captain of the fleet of Dragonport - surely all together more than 60 people. However the mood of most of the men and women was serious and concerned.

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    • #47
      Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

      Facing War - Part II

      In the next weeks everyone seemed busy. Of course the news - until now reserved for the elite who had access to maesters and their raven-transported messages - could not longer stay hidden. Prices of many goods went up as the houses were preparing for war, units were mustered and improved. Dragonport may not be THE centre of those actions, but it was ONE centre. Lord Gard sent some officers and men to Eaglewood to train the best recruits from the local peasant-levies for the new garrison-unit. He also ordered the commander of his cavalry to Krayenhorn to help lord Gawan to recruit his light cavalry, and he had to mobilize a support unit of his own, wanted his archers to become mounted and had still the build-up of his fleet going on. It was only his talent for numbers and management which helped him that none of that resulted in too much additional costs.
      Gard decided that Paedrig should handle the job of training the archers to mount and dismount etc. And while the young knight surely was an able teacher, he did not work smoothly together with the new centenar of the archers. At least their conflict did not go completely out of control. Other disagreements surely did. William Sunderland had his own issues, mainly with captain Gabrel, a former whaler who saw him just as a protégé of his heritage and father. William also ordered to flog one of his officers for neglect and drinking during service. Gard gave him - in private - some open words that while he as a captain was the highest men on board of his ship outside the port, judge and lord of his men, INSIDE the port it was the duty of "admiral" Ruk "One-leg" or Gard himself do decide about such punishment. The only thing that saved William from a more public warning shot was the fact that the officer indeed was guilty - it was just the man Gard had warned because of his misbehaviours in the past. The lord offered him two options - to be thrown out of the fleet or to be degraded in rank and serve for rehabilitation. The man did choose the second option.
      The young lord decided during this time that he could hardly avoid marching into war himself. He would had liked to do stay at home, but that might not only alienate him from Lord Aran (who still owed him much for his cover-up of the scandal with Meera), but more worrying, it would surely anger house Frey. And while the "late lord Frey" was famous for sitting and waiting until it was clear with which side he should went on, he surely did not appreciate such a tactic when it comes to HIS banner houses when HE calls them...

      However, the young squires of house Dragonport would stay at home, Gard ordered. He surely did not want to risk Sammil of Lemmonplume in a war his Dornish country had little to do with, William Sunderland should stay with the fleet, and Hal...well the Sunstone's were adamant that he should not join the troops. They may be not the only one with that wish, because Hal and Alys maid and part-time spy Myriah, bastard daughter of the commander of the city garrison, become maybe a little bit more than close together...

      More and more it became obvious how the expeditionary-force would look like. Eaglewood and Sunsone would not take part (the Sunstones lacked reliable units for now, but would support the defence of the borders at home with their scouts, knowledge and connections with the clans). House Aran would send two trained units of cavalry, one of infantry, Blyth of Krayenhorn one trained unit cavalry and green light cavalry, Blyth of Dragonport one trained unit of cavalry and one unit "mounted" archers plus one green support. House Fallkirk would join the army with one trained unit of archers and one of infantry, house Weymouth would send two units of trained archers, the Dannett's would send one trained unit of cavalry, one of (mounted) archers. Altogether the mobile forces would be 100 armored and 20 light riders strong plus 200 mounted archers, the infantry would contain 200 men of the line and 300 archers plus 100 men support-specialists. Surely not very impressive compared with the armies of the great houses, and all local lords hold quiet certain numbers of men in reserve. But they could hardly be blamed for that, confronted with both pirates AND possible clan-incursions at home...

      A short but harsh storm leads to further problems, since there was some damage in the town and harbour of Dragonport. Gard ordered his soldiers to help to deal with damage, so the worst problems could be dealt with.

      It was a long waited but still somehow sad new who arrived also during those events - the old lord Dannett finally had passed away after long illness. Gard offered his condolences but no one of his house was invited to the burial, as it was the last wish of the late lord Dannett (in the last days of his life he fall back into the old mistrust if not hatred towards his old rivals in Dragonport, a feeling his heir seem not so share any more). Healer Elen returned to Dragonport. The relationship between her and lady Alyanna and lord Gard stayed a little bit strange. Both respected her service, but were uncertain how they should tread her ominous future warnings concerning coming threats, blood, fire and ice she gave from time to time, sometimes even herself not remembering what she had said, let aside what it MEAN.

      During that time and until the order to march out came, Paedrg Rivers used every possible excuse to visit Krayenhorn, mainly to meet his two years older aunt Anya. The young women did try to avoid him at least half-hearted; surely sensing the potential danger in their...relationship. But in the end she was not very successful (although their conversations were full of frustration on both sides, because both were not happy with the situation). Their feelings towards each other reached a dangerous point, although nothing more serious happened than words and (during their last meeting) some kisses. While Ser Gawan (who did not like his bastard-nephew Paedrig anyway) seems not aware, it may only be a matter of time until someone would put the clues together...

      Paedrig was not the only one dealing in matters of the heart, but others acted more open (and less successful). William Sunderland tried to court Alyanna, but he had no chance against the beautiful but cunning and calculating noblewoman. She manipulated him, holding him still on arms length away. She also mentioned with some hidden amusement that Lo Tho seemed not to like William very much, very likely because of his obvious courting of Aly. However the young lady had also serious things to do. After she realized that she had no real chance to find a skilled assassin who could kill the leader of the pirates (they were to remote and to much closed from foreigners), she started to search after mercenaries she could use to cause some kind of small scale distraction for the local clans, mainly by secretly supporting this borderland-warrior Robb who fought the mountain-clans with his small bunch of outcasts. If mercenaries and borderlanders kill clansmen and vice versa, this would be much better than if soldiers of the houses would have to fight, she thought. She also tried to strengthen her local spy-network and recruited the minstrel called Blackbird who stayed at Dragonport. The young women would be able to visit most noble castles in the area without suspicion, making her a good courier for Alys local little birds. Together with Lady Meera she also began to search after an able replacement if the commander of the personal guard and master of arms of Dragonport should be killed/wounded or die (Lothar Hendriks, who would stay at Dragonport, was already an elderly man, and most other able officers would march away).

      During the next meeting of the lords the signals of war were much more prominent. House Aran had gathered most of its forces, and any of the peasants were concerned about the future.
      It may have been some kind of relief that there were no bad news from the frontier towards the mountains - but that may also just be the result of the fact that
      a) the clans just had not time to react to the new situation or
      b) the withdrawal of most cavalry-patrols blindfolded the flatlander-lords a little bit.
      There were also no news of pirates raids against targets on the shore, however some freighters were attacked, either by Nardis' ships or by other pirates. Harren Sunstone reported that it seemed as if the clan of the Seals People was not completely happy with his new Pirates-"friends", at least not all of them (while Nardis had allied himself with some of them by marrying the daughter of a local chief and supply them with booty and weapons, some other chiefs may be jealous towards those who stand next to him or fear to become victims of revenge-attacks of the local houses). But that were for now only whispers - but some who may have potential...
      Gard suggested that it may be wise to cooperate greater fishing-operations in the future with operations of his fleet, which should protect them. In this way any attacks and kidnappings of fishermen could be avoided. However, he was well aware that the main problem was that Dragonport had just four or five warships and a lot of shore and sea to protect.

      Both house Dannett and Krayenhorn demanded an additional week time for the mobilization of their troops. That lead to some banter, mainly from lord Fallkirk, but Gard was able to mollify the situation a bit, and the majority agreed to gave the two lords another week. In the end the decision was made that lord Vickon Aran would lead the whole army, but would stay with the infantry. Gard would be his second in command (not much to the liking of lord Fallkirk) while Ser Vickon Aran would lead the cavalry and mounted archers, Gawan Blyth of Krayenhorn as his second in command. Adham Dannett who would also join the army would stand on rank three, but seem to accept that. He was calm, sad after the death of his father, but somehow also relived. It seems that both Sunstone and Fallkirk had at least a mild interest in supporting further operation against the pirates, but surely it would not possible to go along with that for the great mobilization (the fleet of Dragonport was still not ready).

      After the lords travelled home for last preparations, Gard and his group had an ominous encounter. The passed along a man with old clothes and a severed face who stood beside the road. He was not speaking or moving, but something about him was…strange. Later some men remembered he had dark, lifeless eyes, other said they were pale and blue or maybe they were burning from inside... Elen Fairyeye also had some bad visions, that the army may march in the wrong direction and that the real threat was coming from the North. Together with some strange rumours about the Targaryans there were a lot of speculations in the air. However lord Gard did not gave much about such things. The threats he saw were much more real and near - the clansmen, pirates and a hostile army, may it be from the North or Southwest...
      At least he was able to finish the creation of his fleet; a tool he hoped would protect his home. Other things he planed like a further improvement of the armour of his garrison who would stay at home had not yet finished, but were under way.

      In this situation news arrived that the army of the North was passing the Neck. And so the lords got the order to gather their armies and to march on, into an uncertain future, leaving behind their realms that were not really secure. It may be that the Stranger would have a lot to do soon - and winter may be coming...

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      • #48
        Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

        The fleet of Dragonport

        All of the ships have improved hulls and the galleys have very solid and strong rams. And while the unit has still a lot of new recruits and is still untrained in working together as a fighting force (that should say, the unit is green) she is clearly equipped very well (that means, three invested points of wealth increased armour, fighting- and marksmanship-damage to the maximum). The siege weapons which are mentioned below are more part of stuff to explain the extreme damage the unit could inflict over distance, and could not just used as the siege weapons of a engineer.-unit.

        "Mastiff"
        A great cog, nearly 70 feet long and a beam of over 20 feet, with one great mast, a received deck and small "castles" on bow and stern. It could hold more than 150 tons of cargo and was originally build in Gulltown, served a few years as transporter between White Harbour, Gulltown and King's Landing before it was bought by Gard to increase his fleet. The ship was renamed after the dog in the Aran-Coat-of-Arms and had a yellow dog as figurehead on its bow. While slower than the galleys (also it could be moved by oars for short distances), the ship carries a very heavy armament in form of great numbers of archers, crossbowmen, some scorpions and even a small trebuchet and a catapult. This ship may in the future often work as flagship of the fleet and is under the command of captain Gabrel, a former whaler with hot temper in his mid-30's who had a lot of experience with handling a ship under sails in northern waters (although he lost one due to a collision with an iceberg). Admiral Ruk "One-leg", the commander of the whole Dragonport-navy (a former Targaryan captain of ca. 50 years age with a lame leg who become a merchantmen after Roberts rebellion), often will stay on board of that ship, too.

        "Golden Dragon" and "Sea Gull"
        Both ships were former pirate-vessel of the fleet of Nardis. The Sea Gull defected, the other ship (at that time named "Bloodrider") was captured. Both are small galleys perhaps 80 feet long with a beam of around 15 feet and a flat deck, around 18 pairs of oars in one row under the deck and a single “Valyrian” (aka Latin) sail (as it is mainly used in the free cities). Each has a crew of 60 to 70 men. The armament of the ships was improved since they were captured/defected so that they both now could use a scorpion and a light catapult. Both ships bear the name-giving animal on their bow as figurehead. The Sea Gull is still under the command of its original captain Sandro Amero, a young Bravoosi pirate who defected from Nardis' fleet. He once had stayed loyal to Nardis after the pirate-king was defeated by a internal mutiny of some of his own family, but when Nardis' grow suspicious of further betrayal Sandro used the amnesty the Blyth were offering. His crew, however, is a mix of former pirates and new recruits - lord Gard wanted both to exploit the experience of the former raiders but he keeps also a watchful eye on them that they not simply could steal a ship and defect AGAIN. The Golden Dragon is lead by Valgar Pyke, a bastard-born young men in his late 20's from the Iron Isles (his mother is married to a local captain), although he mainly grow up at Dragonport. There is some kind of friendship between him and lord Gard, more than with the other captains, although the lord do his best to treat all of is officers just. Valgar has served as officer and captain mainly on freighters in the past and has still a lot to learn about sea warfare.

        "Shark"
        This ship may be the least technical advanced of the small fleet, since it is "only" a great longboat, typical for the Iron Isles and other less advanced regions in the past centuries. It is still an impressive ship with over 90 feet length and a beam of almost 20 feet, 30 rowing banks and a single mast. While the ship has a ram and improved hull, it lacks a siege weapon. However, the crew of around 80 men (and women) have quiet some experience and is well armed with bows and heavy crossbows. And captain Ygrit "crooked mouth", a small sized but powerful and energetic ironborn women in her 20's, seems to be a skilled warrior with her axe and a good captain alike. The single sail of the ship shows a huge menacing shark.

        "Wrathfully Mermaid"
        The fifths and newest ship of the fleet was bought from the Sisters and had served house Sunderland before (and many of the crew also come from the Sisters). Technically it stands between a longboat and a galley. It has a covered deck, but is much lower than a normal galley, the space in cargo bay is very limited and the crew and oarsmen stay in the open. However it has a ram, small "castles" on bow and steam, 25 rowing banks and a crew of 70 men. It is also armed with a scorpion. The name of the ship goes back to a local legend of the Bite and the figurehead on its bow shows a beautiful mermaid with long black hair (OF COURSE she had to be naked) with a swordfish's sword in the one hand and a chopped head in the other. William Sunderland is a young and still a little bit inexperienced captain, he himself being a lesser son of Lord Sunderland. However, the young men (he is under 20) had served on board of a warship before and had grown up in a house which has strong ties to the sea for centuries.

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        • #49
          Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

          Into the hells I

          Finally the day for the departure of the troops of the local Lords had come, following the order of house Aran (and by this Lord Frey's call to arms). Not only the troops of house Blyth of Dragonport had gathered around and in the small harbor town, but also the more than 400 men of house Fallkirk and Weymouth, which meant an increase of the town population by almost 30 percent.
          Dragonport, which had already seen a significant rise of its (armed) population because of the new fleet of house Blyth, now was crowded with armed men. And while some local merchants (and the inn-owner and whores of course) made profit out of this, big parts of the town population were certainly happy to say goodbye to their temporary ‘guests’. With so many armed men in the town and the fact, that the situation between house Blyth and house Fallkirk was not without some old grudges and resentments, it was a small wonder that no serious incident had happened.

          On the day of departure, the small septrie of Dragonport was full of people – soldiers who lit candles in front of the Smith or the Warrior (and in some cases in front of the Stranger) and townsfolk who prayed for parting relatives and (hopefully) for the fortune of the whole operation and the safe return of their Lord and his men. Paedrig also lit two candles – one in front of the Warrior, but the other in front of the Maid (honoring his secret but mutual feelings toward the two years older wife of his uncle Ser Gawan).
          Lord Gard made quiet an event out of the departure. He publicly handed his family sword over to his pregnant wife who should (assisted by Gards sister Alyanna) rule in his absence (and with this gesture also reminded everyone that Lady Meera now had the right of pits and gallows). He also showed his generosity, rewarding the officers of his troops and fleet with small gifts like myrish eyes etc.

          Shortly after the troops of house Blyth of Dragonport, house Weymouth and house Fallkirk had left, they were joined by the men of house Aran, Dannett and the bannerhouse Blyth of Krayenhorn – creating a force of almost 1.000 men, plus several hundred horses and camp followers (servants, merchants/sutlers etc.). For now the weather was good and the army operated in friendly territory, so it was no problem to get food. However, finding quarters was a problem – even the bigger road inns simply did not have enough space, not even for the noble and knighted members of the small army. Many of the men had to sleep in barns, tents and in the open. The camps on the march were fortified at least in a simple way (spikes etc. to provide some protection from a cavalry-charge, and even at nighttime some units were awake and armed.
          Gard, second in command to Lord Aran, Receiver of Victuals (Quartermaster) and Master of the Purveyors, was responsible for the logistic aspects of the operation – not very glamorous but essential tasks which he handed very well. He also participated in the regularly meetings of the nobles, where strategies, tactics and news were discussed. Gard did his best (also with some success) to ease the still frosty relationship between house Blyth and house Fallkirk.

          Paedrig Rivers as a knighted but low ranking cavalry officer could only occasionally visit the meetings of the commanding officers (and was not allowed to say much). His daily duties were mostly in the rearguard and vanguard of the trek. He stayed with the younger members of the cavalry (knighted or not) and some of the younger nobles which he did know (like Torrhen Fallkirk, Adham Dannett and Ser Vickon Aran – all now commanding several units). Paedrig successfully convinced Adham Dannett, who commanded a part of the cavalry, that he was a good candidate for special operations and new tasks, if an opportunity would arise – but some of his older (not noble) colleagues were not very fond of the ambition of the young ‘bastard knight’.
          In the same time however Paedrig also evaded his own Lord a little bit, because several times Gard of Dragonport tried to convince the young knight, that a marriage into the landed house Sunstone would be a good idea and a step up the career ladder for Paedrig (and of course strengthen the ties with Sunstone). However Paedrigs secret devotion to his young ‘aunt’ Anya made the idea not very appealing for him. He also calculated that such a marriage would place him only as third or fourth in power at Sunstone (because there were several other family members). Becoming an officer of some rank among the (rather limited) troops of house Sunstone was not so promising, because he was more or less confident to achieve such a role at Dragonport (a liege with much more troops, people – and civilization so to speak).
          Mostly because of his feelings for Lady Anya he also had only rather brief contacts with her husband Ser Gawan (who was not very fond of his bastard nephew anyway).
          In his free time Paedrig started to write letters to Anya, although there was at the moment no save possibility to deliver them.

          When the small army arrived the Kingsroad, the vanguard discovered that the army of the North had already crossed the Neck und was now ahead of them, marching southward. Information about the situation in the south was scare, uncertain and overall not pleasant. The Lannisters had invaded the central and western Riverlandes with at least two big armies – one under the command of the Kingslayer towards Riverrun, and another (even bigger one) commanded by Lord Tywin into the central Riverlands. They seem to have achieved substantial victories and especially Lord Tywin had left a trail of captured or destroyed villages and fortifications. Some of the Aran soldiers (and knights and perhaps even nobles) might begin to wonder, if the war was not already over for the Riverlands…
          There were some disagreement what Lord Arans small army should do – shadowing the North army, gathering with the North (the North and the Riverlands were supposed to be allies or did have at least a common enemy) or even march towards the Trident, gather with local troops and built a defensive position, denying Lord Tywin the crossing of the Trident.
          However because of the conflicting orders, Lord Frey had given to Lord Aran (and the shifting strategic situation) it was decided to simply shadow the army of the North and to gather more information (and new instructions from the Twins if possible). It was also still unclear, which destination Robb Starks army did have – Riverrun (via the Twins), to aid Lord Hoster Tully, or perhaps Lord Tywins Army?

          The next days all men stayed on high alert – because at least the officers did know, that the almost 20.000 Northlings would have no problem to wipe out Lord Arans troops if they decided to do so. Also the march became much less comfortable, because following the North army did mean that supplies were now much scarcer. Vanguard detachments of cavalry tried to observe any movement of Robb Stark’s army. The troops also discovered the first results of the war – refugees, deserters and scattered soldiers of southern Riverland Lords which brought stories about bloodshed and mayhem with them. Some of the Lords and knights (especially younger, not already battle proofed one) spend a little bit of their money for some of the refugees. Other had a more practical approach – the numbers of camp followers increased significantly, because getting a stable boy (or a concubine) was now very cheap. Paedrig f. e. recruited a young stable boy named Robb Porter, who had fled his home when Lannister men burned the tower and settlement of the local Lord.
          Some of the Lords even ‘recruited’ able looking men and women to increase the number of their smallfolk. Also many of the scattered soldiers were gathered to organize a new infantry unit and a unit of light cavalry. Both Lord Gard and Paedrig Rivers were involved in this recruitment with some success (Paedrig hoped that he might become the commander of the newly formed cavalry detachment).

          There were also other duties Paedrig had to fulfil. Escorting some purveyors, he had a brief but peaceful encounter with foraging northerners (which seem to pay the peasants better than the men of the Aran-army).
          These and similar encounters however let the question arise what distance Lord Aran's army should keep to the army of the North, because ‘misunderstandings’ might occur (especially considering various rumours about Lannister raiders/fore riders, bandits and even rebellious peasants). While Lord Gard urged for a bigger distance towards the North army, other Lords preferred to stay close, especially when it became obvious that the Northerners now left the Kingsroad and marched towards the Twins – probably to cross the river.

          One evening some of the soldiers got seriously ill because of tainted flour (probably ergot), and it was Paedrigs duty to deal with the situation. With a small detachment of cavalry he was sent to the mill where the flour was bought the day before. He was accompanied by his old acquaintance Ser Joris Landseer who did know the area. Paedrig was told that he had two main options – going directly after the miller who had sold the flour - or going to the local Lord. The young knight opted for a combined approach.
          His men surrounded the mill and arrested the miller. This got not without complaints and small threats (by the men) and tears (by the women) – but neither the miller nor his sons or male relatives were stupid enough to raise a hand against almost a dozen soldiers. The miller was bound to Paedrigs horse, than the small party rode to the tower of the local Lord. The miller tried to get sympathy, mentioning his big family and his hard life and finally wanted to bribe himself out of the situation, but to no avail.
          Arriving the tower of the millers Lord there was at first some distrust but after Paedrigs party identified themselves as bannermen of house Frey he and two of his men (and the bound miller) were reluctantly allowed to enter the fortification. It turned out that the Lord (also vassal of house Frey) had died some sears ago, leaving his widow and young son behind. The ruling Lady had awns most of her men towards the Twins, leaving behind only a small garrison. The Lady was not very fond of the idea that Paedrig wanted the price of the tainted flour, a punishment for the miller AND the allowance to ‘recruit’ two of the millers sons as compensation. But in the end the young knight was able to make his point. With some money they returned to mill were they conscripted two of the millers sons – which again got not without complains and lamentation.
          Arriving the Aran army, Paedrig was praised for his action and the two sons of the millers had to oath their loyalty (their new commander was instructed to have a sharp eye on them, so that they do not go missing).

          A few days later the Twins came into sight – with the army of the North standing right outside the walls of the fortress. Tension was high in the small Aran-army, because it was clear - if things went south between the Freys and Robb Stark, the small army of Frey bannermen BEHIND the Northern Army would be most likely the first target…
          Staying on high alert, the officers and soldiers waited, while house Stark and house Frey seem to parlay. Then, a messenger left the Twins towards the Aran-army. Paedrig, who was with the cavalry vanguard, met the messenger and escorted him to Lord Aran. To everyone’s great relief, the messenger informed Lord Aran, that Lord Frey and Robb Stark had reached an agreement and that the armies of the Twins and the North would now fight together and not against each other. Other news were not so good – obviously Edmure Tully, son of Lord Edmure Tully and brother of Caetlyn Stark, had been captured and Riverrun was besieged with force.

          Robb Stark decided to split up the joined troops – most of the cavalry and mounted archers should pass the Twins to lift the siege of Riverrun, while the rest of the army (foot soldiers with some cavalry detachments) under Lord Rose Bolton should confront (or at least block) Lord Tywins army. While some of the (allegedly exhausted) soldiers of the North should protect the Twins, Lord Freys bannermen (including the foot soldiers of Lord Aran and his vassals) should go southwards – an order which filled some of the older (or cautious) Lords and officers with dislike towards Robb Stark, for example because both his and the second army would be under the leadership of "foreigners" (Robb himself and Lord Bolton), while the younger knights and Lords mostly were happy to get a chance for glory and combat merits. Since the main body of the Dragonport-troops would join Robb's army, Gard was released from his post in the infantry and took command of his cavalry and mobile archers, while the support-unit of Dragonport would stay with Lord Aran in the host of Lord Bolton.

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          • #50
            Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

            Into the hells II

            Riverrun or confronting Lord Tywin's army was not the destiny for young Lord Adham Dannett and Ser Paedrig Rivers, who got a special task. House Lugus (a Westland house which had in recent years gained some territory in the Riverlands) had – probably assuming Lord Tywin's near victory in the last weeks – started to plunder neighbours and acted as operation base for Lannister fore riders. Lord Frey wanted that Stony Oak (the local tower of house Lugus) be captured as soon as possible. It would be quiet easy for Boltons army to wipe out the small tower and its garrison, but his troops had much more immediate tasks and it was simply no time for any delays.

            Therefore Lord Adhams should command his own posse (a unit cavalry and one unit mounted archers) plus the troops which were recruited during the march towards the Twins out of scattered Riverland soldiers (one unit light cavalry and one unit infantry). While Adham of course would be the commander, Paedrig should be his second in command (he was a better fighter and probably also more talented commander, but still only a knighted bastard).
            Adham (although still depressed because of his fragile health and the death of his father short before) was easy to convince to take this command, because not even a year ago house Lugus had tried to get their hand on the land of house Dannet by using murder, poison, lies and intrigues and almost killed Adham. Like Adham, Paedrig also nurtured a grudge against house Lugus, because he and his Lord had to play the role of a scapegoat in the Lugus plan.
            (=> “Perils at Kings Landing”)

            Although Lord Frey seemed not very convinced of the martial qualities of Adham and Paedrig (and after some mocking that he wanted the tower intact, that the young men should not overdue anything and that he wanted his fair share of the booty etc.), the Lord of the Twins lent them some few engineers and even a medium catapult. Adham got some additional sneering comments by Lord Frey because he had ignored several attempts of house Frey to marry one of Lord Frey MANY daughters/granddaughters. Lord Gard supported the operation with some of the money he had taken with the army (200 of 600 dragons), which were used to buy some oil to increase the damage the catapult may inflict against dug-in enemies.
            The small ‘army’ of almost 300 men first followed Rose Boltons troops (to cover their true target) but soon parted towards their own destination.

            With every mile further south/east the scars and traces of war became more frequent – refugees, burned villages and the constant fear in the eyes of the people. There were rumours that not only bandits, deserters and Lannister fore riders raided the countryside, even parts of the smallfolk were said to rebel because of enforced conscriptions and war taxes, feeling not enough protected against raiders or seeing an opportunity to get rid of oppressive Lords.
            Information concerning the strength and movements of the Lugus-troops at Stony Oak were hard to get and remained unclear – it seemed that their garrison included one unit archers, a lightly armed unit of pardoned bandits, thieves and other misfits – and at least one or two detachments of light Lannister cavalry. This would mean that the numbers of the Lugus and Adhams and Paedrigs army were almost even. That was a not very promising ratio for a siege.
            The commanding figures of the Lugus forces seem to be Ser Davain Lugus (a member of the big Lugus family with which neither Paedrig nor Adham had met until now). Ser Jarred Lugus (with which Paedrig already did have an unpleasant encounter at Kings Landing) and the Dornish knight Ser Gennady Shannin (who probably still hated Pedrig because the young knight had beaten him in a tourney at Kings Landing and had taken the valyrian sword Gennady owned)
            (=> “Perils at King's Landing”) acted as sub-commanders.
            The Lanister fore riders and the light infantry of house Lugus had raided some of their neighbours who stayed loyal to house Tully. Especially the former criminals had gain a nasty reputation in very short time.
            Adham (advised by Paedrig) ordered his troops to march offside the Kingsroads or other mayor streets in tight order – the light cavalry as vanguard, than the infantry, impedimenta and archers, with the heavy cavalry covering the flanks and the rear. While Adham stayed with the main body of the army, Paedrig was with the light cavalry most of the time.

            One or two days ahead of Stony Oak, Paedrig spotted smoke nearby the marsh column. So while the infantry and archers took a defensive formation, the light and the heavy cavalry rushed towards the fume.
            Paedrigs assumption was correct, as they detected a burning village, attacked by a formation of Lannister light cavalry. While Adham and Paedrig ordered their men into battle formation, the raiders also spotted them, regrouped - but were unable to retreat in time. A quick charge of Adham Dannetts men ripped the enemy in pieces. Paedrigs unit did not have much to do besides encircling the melee, preventing surviving Lannister soldier from escaping and hailing to the stunning success of Lord Adham (who seemed to be a little bit surprised by this easy victory).
            Paedrig was able to capture the commander of the enemy in a hard hand to hand encounter. It was Jarred Lugus (to his ire again defeated by Paedrig). The young knight had a sharp eye on his men so that they don’t start to plunder the burning village. After capturing the surviving Lannisters and their horses, Adham ordered Paedrig to look after the inhabitants of the village – he wanted more information. Although many of the peasants did hide or had fled into the woods (especially most of the women and workable men) Paedrig did find the local bailiff and brought him to Lord Adham, ensuring the terrified men that he was in no danger.

            The bailiff could only confirm information Adham and Paedrig already had.
            More promising was the interrogation of the captured and wounded Ser Jarred Lugus. Given their rather unpleasant past with him neither Lord Adham nor Paedrig had much scruple to use rather harsh measures to get what they wanted to know. The wounded knight was dragged into a barn by two especially brutish looking soldiers, stripped of his armour and (most) of his clothing and the interrogation began. Paedrig did most of ‘work’ – and given the envy on both sides this meant not only harsh words but also brutal beating. Ser Jarred soon caved in and (in exchange for the promise to spare his life and the life of his relatives) gave detailed information concerning the strength and equipment of the Lugus garrison which (as already known) included two units light Lannister fore riders, one unit light infantry (ex-criminals) and one unit archers. Jarred’s relative Davain Lugus (which commanded the Lugus garrison) was obviously cautious, because he had strengthen the fortifications and his troops in stayed on high alert, minimizing the chances of a surprise attack. Davain seem to be an able commander but not too comfortable with the recent politics of house Lugus which put him and his men against all of his neighbours. But although Jarred Lugus told otherwise it seemed not very likely that Davain would hand over the tower in exchange for Jarreds release.
            Another news, which might be important for the future, was that the Lugus and their Lannister friends had aided some rebellious peasants against one of their neighbours (house Gemstone) who had suffered a crushing defeat against the combined forces and retreated to their fortress where they were blocked (or even besieged) by the rebels.
            Jarred also revealed that the other Lannister cavalry detachment was like his obliterated unit on a raid, commanded by ‘Ser’ Twostone (a former hedge knight who like the Lugus did have a bad history with Lord Gard Blyth of Dragonport). Jarred did not know the exact destination of the other unit but the area in which Twostone's men operated.

            Paedrig immediately recognized the opportunity to destroy the remaining cavalry of Davain’s army and convinced Adham to send him and both cavalry units after the Lannister fore riders while the archers, infantry and impedimenta should stay behind at the village under Adhams command. Because the exact route of the hostile unit was unknown he needed locals who know the area. The bailiff mentioned a young man (Barren) and a half-grown girl (Jenna) who had some survival and tracking skills. Obviously he was not very fond of the two youngsters, because they both had a reputation as prowlers and probably poachers. If they got lost they would be no big loss for the village (at least in the bailiff’s eyes). Paedrig convinced the two young people with a rather generous offer of one gold dragon for each of them and gave strict orders to his men to not harass the guides. Beside Barren and Jenna, Ser Landseer did also have some knowledge of the area because he travelled this territory during his years as a hedge knight.
            Before Paedrigs detachment departed, he and Adham had to decide what they should do with the handful of wounded prisoners. Some of the locals (including the bailiff) would have preferred the Lannisters to be killed, but neither Paedrig nor Adham were ruthless enough (or did see the need for such measures, because the infantry and archers should stay in the village and so there was no need for a forced march of the whole army). So they decided to let the wounded alive.

            Paedrigs two units than departed to intercept the second unit of raiding Lannister fore riders although it was already in the afternoon and they had to perform a night march. Thanks to the local guides and Paedrigs abilities as commander they performed this without delay or problems.
            Paedrig did only know the area (but not the specific targets) of the raiding Lannisters. But given the fact that the Lannister unit was under command of a former hedge knight, Paedrig assumed that this man probably could not resist the opportunity to plunder instead of only burning and destroying the villages he would attack. Therefore the young knight decided that his best chances was to intercept the enemies when they were on their way back to Stony Oak (probably slowed downed by booty which also hopefully let them stay on the roads and not ride cross country).
            But still there were at least two probable routes the Lannisters could take. After some consideration Paedrig decided that it was too risky to part his units. Instead Barren and Ser Landseer should hide near one probable route while Paedrig and the rest of the detachment would create an ambush at the most probable route of Ser Twostone and his men. In case that the Lannisters took the other road, Barren and Landseer should light a signal fire and Paedrigs unit would try to follow and intercept the raiders. Paedrig warned Ser Landser to be cautious (not only because of the Lannisters but also because of bandits, deserters and even armed peasants) but the old knight only stated that this was not his first mission in a war-torn area.
            Paedrigs men did find a good place to hide in a small forest and after detaching scouts the men went to sleep.

            In the end Paedrigs assumption proofed right when the scouts spotted a column of light cavalry with the Lannisster banner. The unit was accompanied by two two-wheeled carts and half a dozen bound women.
            Paedrig ordered his men to saddle up and form battle formation. While the heavy cavalry should attack the Lannister soldiers straight ahead, the light cavalry should flank the enemy and prevent them from escaping. However the plan worked not completely as intended. The Lannisters abandoned their booty and tried to retreat. When they were intercepted by Paedrigs light cavalry they showered them with a volley of javelins, sending their enemy into disorder. However this gave Paedrig and the heavy cavalry time to close in. The following charge of the heavy cavalry proved again that light cavalry did have no chance against such an attack. The Lannister unit was destroyed and only few escaped. Sadly, one of them was Ser Twostone who also took most of the gold and silver with him, which his men had gathered during the raid. So the booty of Peadrigs victory consisted mostly of food and some weapons, armours and horses. The freed women were mostly in a bad condition – traumatized, beaten and probably repeatedly raped. They came from a small village that was destroyed by Ser Twostone. Obviously the former hedge knight intended to get as much profit as possible of the war, not only by plundering but also by kidnapping women and girls and using them as whores in the road inn nearby Stony Oak – a practice which even some of the Lannister soldiers despised.
            Because the freed prisoners simply did not have a home to return, Paedrig decided to take them with him (at least to the village where Adhams other troops waited). So the captured Lannister men were now bound to the wagons, Paedrig men get order to not harass the women and then the column marched home while five men of the light cavalry made a small detour to pick up Ser Landseer and Barren.

            The next day Paedrigs column joined with the rest of Adham's army. Adham was quiet pleased with the result of Padrigs operation, because now the Lugus had lost all of their cavalry. However some Lannisters had escaped Paedrigs attack and so Paerdrig and Adham assumed that Stony Oak was now aware of them.
            Paedrig paid his two local guides and spend one gold dragon for the rescued women who were left at the village when the army departed (he was still young and not battle hardened and cynic like an old veteran).

            Again the troops marched in tight order. Shortly before arriving Stony Oak they spotted smoke. Adham and Paedrig ordered their men into battle formation and then – wondering if Ser Davain perhaps had abandoned and burned his fortification – they closed in. But although the Lugus commander had indeed awaited them he had not left his tower but instead burned down the local road inn so that the building complex could not be used as cover, quarter or source of material for building siege weapons. He had also strengthened the palisade which surrounded the tower and had dug some trenches which would slow down advancing infantry or cavalry. It seems as if the siege may not be as easy as first thought...

            Adham and Paedrigs men were not enough to encircle the fortress. So after parading in full force (including the catapult und their prisoners) their army built a improvised camp (of course outsight the range of the enemy archers) with posts and guards to prevent any probable night attack or sabotage attempts against the precious catapult, horses and forage.
            It was decided to start parlays in the morning – and that this should happen only in the camp of Adhams troops, certainly not inside the Lugus fortification given the reputation of this house for treachery and murder.
            Lord Adham reacted not very positive when Paedrig suggested the possibility to let Ser Davain simply left the fortification with his men and let him go where he wanted. Adham (confident after the last victories and still hedging his grudge against the Lugus) wanted a full surrender. Paedrig did not have so high ambitions, wanted the fortification intact and although he was in no way fond of house Lugus, he secretly feared the costs of storming the fortification (or the problems of a prolonged siege).

            The next morning a messenger was sent to Stony Oak to ask for parlay. Shortly after the negotiator of house Lugus arrived: It was the Dornish knight Ser Gennady Shannin. He had played a minor role in the Events around the Lugus intrigue against house Dannett and Blyth (and was one of the ‘clients’ of Adhams sister while she was forced to be a prostitute) so Adham and Pedrig acted frosty towards Shannin. The older man however seemed not to be bothered by the past although Paedrig had during the tourney at King's Landing taken the precious valyrian sword Shannin had gathered (in probably a rather dishonourable way).
            (=> Peril at King's Landing)

            After Shannin had confirmed that Jarred was alive (although wounded and brutally beaten) he presented Ser Davains offer: If during a period of two weeks no help arrived Stony Oak, Davain was willing to hand over the tower and most of his forage and equipment if he and his soldiers could left unhindered. He also offered 300 gold dragons as reparation for any harm house Lugus had done to Adham Dannet and ransom for Jarred Lugus who should stay as prisoner until the money was handed over. While Paedrig thought that this was an offer that should be discussed, Adham reacted almost outrageous, remembering that house Lugus had tried to kill him and get the land of his family. Paedrig was unable to mollify his commander who sends Ser Shanin back to Stony Oak with a ‘counteroffer’: Davain Lugus should surrender with all of his men until tomorrow or the siege would begin and the tower would be sacked. Ser Shannin kept his manners, promised to return with answer and headed back to his commander. Paedrig watched his parting with mixed feelings – he was quiet unhappy with Adhams outburst plus during the conversation with Shannin he had got the impression that the older knight might have some hidden agenda or did know much more than he said.

            However to increase the psychological pressure on the besieged and to prepare the probable start of the siege the two young commanders took a number of preparations during this day. The few engineers directed the other soldiers to erect a more permanent camp in case that the siege might cost some time. This should also increase the defence against probable sabotage or sally by the besieged or relief attack by allies of the Lugus.
            The light cavalry was sent out to scout the area around Stony Oak. Any travellers along the Kingsroad should be controlled and questioned. Paedrig gave strict order to not harass or mistreat the people (however he was sure that some bribing, stealing etc. was almost unavoidable). The heavy cavalry which was much more disciplined was sent out to confiscate forage from the local hamlet. Paedrig and Adham were well aware that confiscation in time of war could escalate quickly into pillaging if the troops got out of control. Given their rather naïve (or chivalric) view of war and the fact that Lord Frey wanted ‘his property’ back without much damage they tried to control their men as tight as possible. Till evening both commanders were quiet busy with all this tasks and after the cavalry returned to the camp, night guards were set up.

            The next morning Ser Shannin returned for parlay. Still acting very respectful he informed Lord Adham that Ser Davain Lugus could not accept Adhams demand of a full and immediate surrender. Davain however was willing to reduce the deadline until he handed Stony Oak over to one week, reduce the amount of weapons that his men could take with them and increase the offered reparation sum to 500 gold dragons.
            However Adham was still against the Lugus offer (mainly because he simply did not trust house Lugus) what inspired Paedrig to the rather frustrated offer that the fate of the garrison should be decided by a duel. If Adham's fighter win (Paedrig of course thought that he would be the best candidate) than the tower should surrender immediately. If Ser Davain (or his fighter) would win, than he and one of his units could left the tower ad free will. Adham liked that idea although he seemed a little bit pissed of that Paedrig suggested that he was fare more suited for taking the fight than Adham – the young Lord still had to deal with the fact that his health had suffered so badly after he was poisoned by house Lugus.

            But then Shannin revealed a rather surprising but promising alternative for the besieger:
            He offered that his men (the former criminals) could help Adham and Paedrig to capture the tower and get Ser Davain Lugus and his remaining men captured or killed. As reward he wanted that his unit (with Ser Shannin as commander of course) got into service of house Frey and that he got free hand with Ludviga Lugus, a sister of the heir of the house, which was also at Stony Oak. The young Lady had been sent to the Riverlands in seek for a good marriage and when suddenly the fighting broke out between house Tully and house Lannister she could not return in time to the Westlands. Ser Shannin obviously wanted to increase his status by marrying a noble Lady. Perhaps he even speculated that he could use Ludviga to get his hands on Lugus land – especially if the war would went into favour of house Stark and Tully and f. e. Ludvigas only surviving brother got killed. Ludvigas good looks (at least according to the rumours Paedrig had heart when dealt with house Lugus) were certainly bonuses for that matter…
            Shannin also warned that revealing his plan to Ser Davain would bring Adham and Paedrig nothing but losing the chance to win without much costs.
            Paedrig and Adham were both surprised by this promising but very dishonourable opportunity and unsure what to do. They decided that they had to discuss Shannins offer and that before they accept or reject his plan he should inform Ser Davain about their offer to decide the fate of the garrison by a duel – which of course would be much more honourable.
            Ser Shannin agreed to inform Davain about this offer but stated out his doubts that Davain would accept the challenge (and probably also did not WANTED this solution which would bring him not much).
            However this gave Adham and Paedrig the time to decide about Shannins plan. Adham was very much appalled about this idea because it was against the very core ideal of knighthood. He also was disgusted by the idea to hand over an innocent noble girl to a traitor like Ser Shannin. The fate of his own sister (who was forced into prostitution for several months) had probably also heightened his sensitivity for such matters like sexual coercion. While Paedrig (who also still nurtured some lofty ideas of the knightly code) agreed in this he stated out that this chance was simply too good to ignore. After some lengthy debate he convinced Adham. but maybe not without suffering some loss of reputation in the eyes of his noble friend.
            So when Shannin returned again (some soldiers were already joking about this to and fro of the ambassador) with message that Ser Davain was not willing to let a duel decide, Paedrig started to bargain the terms of Shannins betrayal. Adham supported his sub-commander but clearly wanted to deal as less as possible with this sordid affair.
            Paedrig accepted almost all of Shannins terms – however he convinced Shannin that instead of getting Ludviga he would get 300 gold dragons as reward for his betrayal. It was a lengthy and not easy discussion and Shannins cynical remarks about Paedrigs intentions (f. e. ‘if there is a young pretty mare around, someone certainly want to ride her’) did not increase the disposition of the young knight towards his partner in crime. But in the end they reached an agreement. Ser Shannin should return to Stony Oak, secretly inform his men and starts his coup during the night while Adham and Paedrig men would rush to their aid when they heard a special horn signal. The plotters parted – but not before Paedrig warned Shannin that he could not await any mercy if his offer was just an attempt to lure the besieger into a trap. The older knight simply shrugged up this thread.
            The rest of the day the troops continued their preparation for the siege (to cover up the attempted coup). However after night fall the men were informed about the new plan. The archers and the cavalry – not very fit for storming fortified positions and hampered by the trenches Ser Davain had ordered to dig around Stony Oak – should act as reserve while the infantry would to the job.

            Paedrig was still uncertain if he could trust Shannins plan, so when the sound of battle could be heard from Stony Oak and the planned signal echoed through the air, he ordered his men to close in in loose formation so that they would be not such an easy target for arrows.
            However Shannin seem to have delivered what he had promised – most his men (although some had remained loyal) were attacking the Lugus archers. Paedrigs men scaled the small palisade which surrounded the tower. It was a chaotic fight in the dark and only luck prevented ‘blue-on-blue’-incidents. Paedrig, lightly injured by a Lugus soldier who was then killed by the young knight, lead a detachment of his men into the tower while others helped to clear the area around – soon supported by Adhams cavalry which attacked the remaining loyal Lugus men at the palisade with lances and javelins. Obviously the young Lord was not willing to stay as a reserve.

            Meanwhile Paedrig inside the tower (perhaps also guided by his mistrust against Ser Shannin and remaining chivalric ideals) searched and found Ludviga Lugus. However the tall (she was from mixed Lugus- and Clegane-heritage) but beautiful young Lady was not some damsel who crouched behind her bed. Instead she and some remaining loyalists of both Lugus units were trying to defend themselves and the tower. She stubbornly ignored Paedrigs request for surrender and stabbed one of his men badly when he tried to capture her. However she was no match for an armoured and trained knight and so Paedrig disarmed her with ease.
            By this time the fighting had began to die down with half of the loyal men killed or fled and the rest (like Davain Lugus) captured. The fortress was captured and the troops praised their commanders although at least Adham seem not so happy with the tainted victory.
            Adham and Paedrig (aided by Shannin) successfully prevented too much uncontrolled plundering (or even worse burning). After all Lord Frey wanted an intact fortification, and Paedrig and Adhams troops of course also needed the accommodations and provisions at Stony Oak if they would stay for some time at the fortress. In the end they had avoided a longer siege and much bloodshed, however by methods some knights may see as very questionable...

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            • #51
              Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

              Into the hells III

              The next day was mostly reserved for logistic matters, a task which was handled quiet well by Lord Adham. A messenger was sent to the Twins to inform Lord Frey about the victory – and also about its costs (Adham and Paedrig – not very confident – hoped that Lord Frey might pay the sum they had promised to Ser Shannin for his betrayal).
              The booty of the coup was collected and accounted – ca. 120 gold dragons, some weapons, armours and horses plus a satisfying big amount of provisions. However accommodations were scarce for the almost 400 men, 60 prisoners and the remaining civilians so some of the soldier had to stay in the improvised camp that Lord Adham’s men had erected the last two days. It was obvious that this could become a problem in the future, especially if the weather got bad. One of the units who stayed outside was Ser Shannins men – neither Paedrig nor Adham did trust them or their commander. They might not be ALL former murders, bandits and rapist (much of them had simply not paid their taxes, were small thieves, poachers etc.) but given their rather…shifting loyalty…
              Paedrig did also found the time to visit their noble prisoners who were put into one of the rooms of the Tower. Beside Ser Jarred Lugus and Ser Davain Lugus (both in real bad shape) there was of course Ludviga Lugus but also Ser Davains five year old son Lothar.
              Of course their behaviour towards Paedrig and Adham was rather hostile or at least unfriendly although Paedrig ensured them that they should suffer no harm and that he did not fight against children or women. Any accusation concerning the sordid means the besieger had used to get the tower he countered with mentioning the past intrigues and tainted deeds of house Lugus – and the fact that Ser Davain did had have the option to decide the fate of the tower by duel but refused.
              He also mentioned the infamous alliance of house Lugus with the peasants which rebelled against the neighbour house Gemstone (also to get more information about this affair). However Ser Davain stated that this alliance was mostly done by the Lannister fore riders and that at least in this case the rebellion was almost justified because Lord Gemstone was known for his cruelty and abuse of his subjects. Davain rejected Paedrigs demand for a word of honour to not trying to flee while the other adult members of the family accepted the demand (although Paedrig had his doubts if he could trust Jarred Lugus). He also promised the prisoners to get them some of their personal and look after their personal servants. However he soon discovered that the chambers of Ludviga and Davain were plundered during the coup (probably by Ser Shannins men) and some of their belongings were stolen. Ludviga seem to be a well-educated young Lady, with lot of books in her possession, some of them even in other languages. Paedrig ordered that the prisoners should get access to their clothing, books and even their servants (who of course should be watched carefully).
              Adham mostly tried to ignore the prisoners. While he still hedged his grudge for the intrigues of house Lugus he was also ashamed of the means with which the tower had been taken.
              Because of all this the evening meals with the noble prisoners were rather uncomfortable, especially because Ser Shannin also did participate – much to the chagrin of the prisoners. He treated Lord Adham with almost servile respect and Lady Ludviga with great courtesy (but with not much success), while his behaviour towards Paedrig was now much less subservient.

              For the next day it was decided that Paedrig and the light cavalry should visit the small hamlets and farmsteads of the liege to show the people that things had changed. He was accompanied by Ludviga Lugus who should act as an additional demonstration that house Lugus now was no longer in charge. The young Lady was an able rider and while she treated Paedrig coldly who tried to make some smalltalk, her behaviour towards the guards was not so icy. With her easy laugh, beautiful appearance and friendly demeanour she left quiet an impression (Paedrig later reminded his men that they should tread her with all courtesy but that the guards should stay alert and deny her all means which could help her or her relatives to flee).

              The peasants of the liege more or less accepted the changed situation without complaints although it became obvious that Ser Davain Lugus and Ludviga did have a good reputation around here (in contrast to Ser Twostone, Ser Shanin and his unit of former criminals). Ludviga even asked in favour of the former subjects of the Lugus liege that Adham and Paedrig should take care that the peasants did not become target for any reprisal actions by neighbour lords or villages who had suffered by Lannister raids. Paedrig promised that all neighbours should be informed about the changed situation and that any action against the liege Stony Oak or its inhabitants would now be an attack against house Frey.

              In the evening news arrived the tower from the south. Westeros now had two new candidates for the Iron Thrown: Renley and Stannis Baratheon, brothers of the late Robert Baratheon. Robert’s son Joffrey was accused as being only the offspring of an incestuous affair between queen Cersei and her brother Jaime Lannister.
              The two young commanders were a little bit irritated about this news – they did have some problems believing the accusations even they were no fans of house Lannister. And both thought that it was foolish that both Baratheon brothers claimed the throne instead of forming a united front. It was like fighting about the hide of a deer (or lion?) even before it was killed. The young men joked a little bit who might now also claim the crown…

              The next day nothing happened but obviously the news about the power shift at Stony Oak got around because the day after Robert Gem (bastard brother of Lord Duncan Gemstone) arrived at the tower to ask for help. Robert was a tall, hardy, middle aged man with an almost intimidating appearance. He informed Adham and Paedrig that his half-brother Duncan was still besieged by rebellious peasants and needed military aid. The peasants were led by a hedge knight and also accompanied by some war seasoned men - leftovers of clashes and skirmishes of Riverland and Lannister troops in the south and even some deserters of Gemstones own troops. This surprised the young commanders; Robert Gem was a little bit evasive concerning their question why some of his half-brother’s men had defected. He mentioned that Lord Duncan Gemstone was sometimes a hard man who could lose his temper – but it appeared that there was more behind the rebellion than some occasional tantrums.
              However Duncan Gemstone was a loyal vassal of house Frey and some of his men served in the army of house Frey so it did not matter much if the rebels might have causes to revolt. The rebellion had to be stopped by any means necessary – at least this was Adhams and Paedrigs point of view.

              Paedrig opted that a mobile force of at least 220 men should be sent: Shannins lightly armed former criminals, Adhams horsed archers plus the light cavalry. Paedrig would have liked to also take the heavy cavalry with him but Adham wanted this elite unit to stay at Stony Oak. Paedrig shortly considered including the engineers with their catapult to the expedition, to discourage and demoralize the rebels. But this would slow down the operation and restrict them to marching at daylight and taking the road and bridge which lead to the hall Gemstone. This would probably ensure that they were detected soon by the rebels and be forced to cross a dangerous bottleneck.
              Instead Paedrig decided that a surprise attack would be the best approach. He wanted to perform a night march and attack in the dawn. His idea was approved by Robert Gem, Lord Adham Dannett and Ser Shannin.

              Before the expedition started, every soldier of the Adham army (including Shannins men) got a financial extra gratification of seven silver stags (more for the officers) to keep the moral high. Also Ser Shannin got half of the promised 300 gold dragon, with the vow that the rest will follow soon. However these two investments stripped Paedrig and Adham of most of the money they had captured or been given by Lord Gard before their mission. Than Paedrigs detachment did depart. The young knight led his men with rather mixed feelings. He did not trust one of his officers and his men and also was not quiet comfy with his task ahead. Fighting not against soldiers or raiding clansmen but badly armed peasants which revolted because the misbehaviour of their Lord was nothing he had envisioned for his knightly career.

              The small army did not take the direct road to Gemstone hall but marched off-road with the cavalry and some former poachers from Shannins unit as vanguard to prevent to be spotted. It was not easy to keep the marching order during the night but with the help of Ser Shannin the morning sun saw the small army approaching the camps of the rebels which besieged Gemstone hall.
              Gemstone consisted of the fortified two leveled hall and some additional buildings, all surrounded by a moat, rampart and palisade – which all had seen better days. It was seated on a hill ledge which guaranteed a good sight but made the fortification vulnerable if enemies captured the nearby hilltop. And this was exactly what had happened - the rebel archers kept this tactical important position. Their comrades camped at a nearby hilltop or nearby the bridge which crossed the small river, by this blocking the main routes to Gemstone. Paedrig was glad that he did not taken this way.

              There was no parlay because Paedrig did not want his enemies to gather – and also was not certain if he actually did have the authority and means to parlay with the rebels given the fact that they were subjects of Lord Gemstone.
              The battle was opened with an exchange of arrow volleys, but Paedrigs archers were much more accurate. Their precise fire disorganized and in the end routed the rebel archers, denying them the opportunity to attack their advancing opponents with substantial success.
              Meanwhile Shannins lightly armed men and Paedrigs riders closed in. The cavalry was the next to engage while the besieged garrison of Gemstome started a sally and by this bound on of the units of the rebels. A charge of Paedrigs cavalry ripped another of the peasant formations into pieces. An attack by some of their comrades did some damage but failed to disorganize the cavalry which then mercilessly trampled down the attackers.
              By then the battle was almost over. The remaining rebels retreated into a small wood near the bridge while Shannins men closed in, killing wounded peasants and chasing the scattered men of the destroyed units. Paedrig was tempted to let it be by then. He had achieved a clear victory with only small losses but was disgusted by the slaughtering. But he decided that the fire of rebellion must be wiped out completely. So his cavalry pursued the rebels which had retreated into the small wood, shattering their last formation in a swift charge. What followed was more a massacre – the fleeing peasants tried to reach the bridge which crossed the river, but were cornered and most of them hacked down or driven into the water until Paedrig commanded a halt and gave order to take prisoners. Given some of the rumors about Lord Gemstone he was not sure if taken prisoner was really an act of mercy.
              In the end around 200 peasants were killed, almost 100 captured and the same number fled. Although the military commander of the rebellion, a former hedge knight Derry Thrunell, had escaped, it was a great victory. But when Paedrig met the Gemstone garrison, he was not in a very triumphant mood. However he was secretly thankful that at least the armed peasants were not accompanied by their families because in this case the whole thing would have been gone REALLY nasty.

              The soldiers of the garrison cheered their saviors. They were commanded by a young, black-haired, one-eyed noble who introduced himself as Maryk Gemstone, son and heir of Lord Duncan Gemstone. He thanked Paedrig and invited him to Gemstone but appeared strangely reluctant when it came to his father Lord Duncan Gemstone, who had been seriously wounded during the rebellion and had remained at the hall.
              At Gemstone Hall Paedrig met Maryk’s stepmother Bethany, a beautiful, fire-haired and green-eyed woman of maybe less than 20 years, whose make-up could not conceal her black eye, bruises and terrified feelings. She thanked Paedrig for the rescue but informed him that sadly Lord Duncan Gemstone had died because of his wounds.

              Paedrigs men stayed for some days at Gemstone to aid their wounded and the young knight participated in the funeral of Lord Gemstone. He soon noticed that neither Bethany Gemstone nor the new Lord seem to be saddened by Duncan Gemstones demise. This in combination with local rumors that the late Duncan Gemstone did not only maltreated his peasants, servants and even soldiers but also was said to have killed Maryk’s mother and brother, driving his sister to join the Faith led the young knight to the conclusion that probably the passing of Lord Gemstone was not only caused by the wounds he took in battle. However Paedrig decided that this was not his concern and that Lord Gemstones demise had preserved him from rescuing a man he most probably would have despised.
              There was still the question how to deal with the captured rebels. The new Lord (who seem to have little problems to accept his new role) and Paedrig agreed that while rebellion had to be punished sometimes leniency was needed. So the captured rebels were only decimated. Those ten who were singled out were hanged in public on a gallows which span over the small river nearby Gemstone hall. Underage prisoners were pardoned and the rest was put to forced labor, send to the Wall or conscripted into the army.
              After all this was done, the small army returned to Stony Oak with a gratification of 100 gold dragons from house Gemstone.

              Nothing major happened the next days. Paedrig was able to increase Ludviga Lugus disposition towards him to indifferent, also because he allowed her and Ser Davain Lugus five year old son a little bit more freedom of movement (of course always guarded).
              Every man who participated in suppressing the uprising got an additional reward of 14 silver stags (the officers got more). This generosity of Adham and Paedrig should also act as some kind of counterbalance to the rather tight discipline they executed – no pillaging etc. However this of course also meant that their financial resources remain limited (150 gold dragons, which was not much in comparison to the costs of raising or improving a military unit).
              At least Lord Frey seemed satisfied with the outcome of the operation, because his answer letter was (more or less) approving and he even promised to pay half of the sum that was promised to Ser Shannin for his betrayal. However he also reminded the two young commander, that he wanted his engineers and precious catapult back soon.
              So there were still challenges and issues ahead. How should Paedrig and Adham deal with their prisoners (noble and common)? Guarding and feeding so many people could become a problem. Some of the soldiers might be willing (and able) to change sides as compensation of the recent battle losses. But what was with the rest?
              The tower was also a little bit small for four noble prisoners. However Paedrig and Adham had no desire to send them to the Twins, anticipating that they would get not much in return from the greedy Lord Frey.
              And how should they deal with Shannin’s men and Shannin himself? He and his men were despised by locals and neighbours and given their proved fickleness and questionable discipline they remained as much a risk as a useful reinforcement.
              Should Paedrig and Adham stay at Stony Oak (Lord Freys letter was a little bit vague)? Could this small domain and fortification sustain and house so many men? How would their neighbours (many of them had suffered because of the recent Lugus and Lannister raids) react to the power shift? And how would the war in the south influence their fate?

              Comment


              • #52
                Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                So, sadly it will take some time until we could continue...

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                • #53
                  Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                  The wolf and the lion

                  Like the whole combined Frey- and Northerner army, the troops of house Aran and its vassals were split at the twins. The newly hired men and the Dannett-soldiers went after the Lugus, the infantry including the support-unit from Dragonport become part of the Army of Roose Bolton, which was mostly build out of soldiers on foot. The main bulk of the cavalry - 40 armoured men from the Arans, 20 armoured and 20 light riders from the Blyth of Krayenhorn and 20 heavy riders from the Blyth of Dragonport plus 100 men mounted archers - become part of Robb Starks army. Together with other parts of the Frey army, around 1.000 men cavalry joined the ranks of the heir of Winterfell.
                  It soon became obvious that the mood between the Northerners and the soldiers of the Frey and their vassals was not the best. The men from the North saw themselves as superior in battle and blamed the Frey soldiers for until now avoiding taking part in the war. The men from the Riverlands were not happy with such a huge host of foreign soldiers on their land. Even lord Frey voiced his unhappiness in a last meeting of the commanders of the Riverlands. He was not happy that Robb decided that Stark soldiers would replace the greatest part of the garrison at the Twins, and suggested, since the Northerners had come to fight the war, the men from the Riverlands should never stand in their way to go first...so to speak. Gard used the last chance to write some letters home, mainly towards his highly pregnant wife.
                  Of course at first Gard and the other men from the shore of the Bite had little contact with Robb Stark, they were presented to him in a distance, but after all they all were only men from limited influence in a huge gathering of nobles.

                  The army of the young wolf only had a strictly limited number of camp followers, and a strong force of lightly and medium armoured cavalry as vanguard. The first station in their journey south to free Riverrun would be Seagard on the shore.
                  Gard was highly involved in the task to provide enough food for the advancing troops - men had to be sent to inform the local lords what they had to collect, especially the feeding of the horses was a major concern. While Gard had sometimes to struggle to fulfil his military duties, he organized the supplies very well. His immediate contact was one of the Freys, a Martin Rivers.
                  After two days of travel, the lord of Dragonport was called to meet Robb Stark who wanted details about Gard's last visit at King's Landing (where he met Eddard Stark, maybe as one of the last of the people who were present in this part of Westeros). The young lord was quiet nervous because of the presence of the direwolf of Robb (Gard had a deep fear of wolves since he was nearly killed by some during the last winter), but was able to contain his fears. He also spoke about the sisters of Robb stark (his sister met Sansa Stark, and he himself shortly met Arya Stark). He also used the chance to inform Robb Stark about the matter he and Adham Dannett had spoken with Eddard Stark (the conflict with house Lugus).
                  The march towards south was overshadowed by nervousness and spreading rumours (Gard for example wrote down his last will for the case he may be killed in battle). Small scale conflicts between both parts of the army remain, and Robb tried his best to avoid looting by the men and have an eye on keeping the troops on a short rope. Gard was a regular visitor of the supply-discussions which happened regularly. He got some impression about his new commanders (secretly he was a bit unhappy that so few men from the Riverlands had an important position in the combined armies). Robb seem to have quiet some strategic talents, and was deeply bound to his personal code of honour. He got some admiration by younger nobles, so Ser Vickon Aran who led the forces Gard was part of had quiet a positive disposition towards Robb.

                  There were some minor problems with the supply for the horses, but until now no real problems occurred (Gard took care the horses who were beyond the chance of recovering were killed and their meat consumed). Despite the limitations of the number of camp followers, Ser Vickon seemed to have used his chance to get a young female refugee as his consort (nothing Gard supported).
                  Aeryn Hunter served as second in command for his vintenar and had an eye on the members in his 20-men-unit of archers. However at the moment he ignored some smaller crimes, even in one case when a young soldier slept during his guard-duty. He only warned the young men, he would not be so lenient next time or when the army would be near to the enemy.

                  The first major station of the journey, Seaguard of house Mallister with its famous Booming Tower (with a huge bell) was reached without major incidents. The town of Seaguard had seen violence in the past, the last time during the rebellion of the Iron Isles. Roderick Greyjoy tried to raid the location, but was slain beneath the walls by Jason Mallister. The house had close connection with the Starks (one Mallister was burned when the Mad King killed those which demanded justice for the kidnapping of Lyanna Stark) and Tully. Jason Mallister himself greeted the approaching army. Next to him was his heir Patrek Mallister, a great fighter, but also a man who was famous for wenching and drinking.
                  Most of the army (except the nobles) stayed out of the town, however to ease the grumbling they were provided with food and some people of Seaguard offered various services. There was an archer-contest organized by Robb Stark, and while Aeryn was able to reach the finale, he made some impression. The best archers were asked to form a special unit with doubled payment under the command of Theon Greyjoy. Aeryn was interested, but his lord (who did not want to loose a good archer) convinced him to stay.
                  Ser Vickon and some other younger nobles did their best to enjoy the short break in the march, but that was nothing Gard was interested in. He had to calm down a Karstark knight who was pissed of that Gard looked into the needs of his men before the Northerners (and not the other way around) but the young lord was able to calm the waves.

                  From Seaguard the army followed the shoreline of the Ironmen's Bay (what gave them the chance to buy seafood for the soldiers and to avoid the treacherous Hag's Mire along the Blue Fork). However the income of supplies was becoming thin, some lords both of the army (mainly the Freys and some smaller Riverland lords) and also of the locals who should support the forces had not provided enough supplies. Now every two or three days there were meetings about the supply, and Gard did a good job there. However the Northerners were a little bit angry since most of the foraging was done by locals, and that meant that the best part of the supply ended in their bellies. There were some small scale thefts and some accusations from Eddard Karstark towards Gard, but the hot tempered Northerner was no match for the eloquent young lord who was able to calm him.
                  The heavy cavalry and the archers of Dragonport were rarely part of the foraging patrols or the vanguard. But on one occasion on the southern parts of Mallister land (a few days from Seaguard) Aeryns unit protected some carts that should collect supply. They run into a village in which the number of armed people seemed very high. Suddenly the hells broke loose when it became obvious that a group of criminals had taken over the village. The Vintenar ordered a quick retreat since his men were not in battle formation but also mounted which meant they were not ready to fight in close combat. Beside two men from the baggage train who were murdered by the criminals all made it safe out. A few volleys of arrows against the criminals who tried to take cover were enough to drive the enemy out of the village and send him fleeing into the wilderness - around half a dozen of them did not make it alive. The soldiers discovered that the criminals had taken the village over some days ago, looting, raping and beating the locals. This was, as it seemed an unavoidable part of war, that such elements would use their chance.

                  The army had left the shoreline in the meantime, and the vanguard was even strengthened the closer they came towards Riverrun. The march was not as quick as hoped, and many of the men were nervous what they may find on the end of the journey. All that they know was the fact that the Lannister had superior numbers. The Tully's seemed to have broken the dams and flooded the area around their castle, but it was unclear how long they may able to hold against their foes. It was not know to the majority, but the commanding lords did know the Edmure Tully was prisoner of Jaime Lannister and Lord Tully himself was very ill. Gard suggested among others it may be an option to ally with local lords, sending small parties of men across the Red Fork, hitting the River Road any by doing so cutting the supply for Lord Tywin's army and other Lannister forces south of the Trident. However, Robb was mainly interested to help the castle of his mother family, smashing the western Lannister army if possible.
                  The vanguard-patrols now often contained a full unit of cavalry, which had the order to avoid armed contact if possible. The lords of the Riverlands were uncertain about future tactics. The marks of war become more and more obvious - refugees, men from destroyed units of the Riverland etc. were all too common.
                  Reports from scouts and three Lannister deserters Gard stopped during a patrol brought some solid information. They learned that the Lannister's had crossed the Red Fork in greater numbers, splitting their camp in three parts to fully encircle Riverrun. The Kingslayer did often leave the camp, do crush local resistance and hunt after guerrillas. His rear was still not secure, although it was unclear who coordinated the resistance (if there was any organization).

                  Knowing this it was decided that a small group of men (maybe 2-300 men) should incite and irritate the Lannisters, luring a greater number of them in a trap by the bulk of the combined army. Gard's archers take part in the operation (his heavy cavalry was not fast enough and should stay with the main forces), together with the 40 riders from Krayenhorn, The other half of the detachment were mainly Mallisters under Patrek Mallister. The small force left the camp at dawn. The young lord did not much to secure his own leading role, since he wanted not to piss of a house as powerful as Mallister.
                  It take some hours of travel, but than they found what they had looking for - or maybe a little bit too much of it. In front of them a greater host of Lannister-cavalry, seemingly including elite-units, were advancing. While Gawan of Krayenhorn wanted a retreat and Patrek Mallister wanted to strike the Lannister's at once, Gard argued for a tactical retreat to a better position. However the discussion become fruitless after they were spotted and chased, not only by the main bulk of the enemy but also by smaller detachments of cavalry to the right and left. Gawans light cavalry crashed with a unit of hostile fore riders, but were able to hold their ground. Gard ordered his archers to dismount, send a volley into the enemies and mount again in very short time. These actions secured that they could avoid to be cornered by flanking units, and after quiet a few hours and with a lot of luck (spending a destiny-point) they were able to escape the pursuing main force of the Lannister's - leading them right into the prepared trap.

                  There was not time for Gard to rally his heavy cavalry so he stayed with his archers. As the night felt, the Lannister's closed in. They were greeted with arrows and the menacing howling of Lord Robb's direwolf.
                  And so the battle began which should become famous as the Battle of the Whispering Wood. The Lannister's were taken by surprise. Gards unit was quiet successful in hitting them, then sending suppressive fire to prevent them to regroup. But soon the combat was to close to use arrows in the dark. Gard decided that his men should stay and he would move forward, trying to come in contact with his heavy cavalry (who surely was charging) or another unit he could join. However this nearly proofed fatal when the archers were attacked by an already decimated unit of Lannister's who tried to escape. They made a Blitz attack right through the ranks of the archers, dealing some serious damage. But then Hawkeye, the centenar, was able to circle his men 180 degree and ordered a devastating volley into the Lannister's rear, which became routed. Aeryn Hunter was able to bring a charging rider down (however it later become obvious that he only had captured a hedge knight who had no real value concerning ransom).
                  Gard in the meantime run nearly into the last desperate charge of the Kingslayer and his men. Although it was in vein, they did put up quiet a hard fight before they were brought down and Jaime Lannister was captured. Gard fought against an already injured knight and after a longer duel was able to capture him - young Ser Walton Dulver, son of Harald Dulver and Falyse Lannister, heir of house Dulver of Deepen Hall.

                  The units of Dragonport both survived the battle without serious losses, and the Krayenhorn-units were also not much damaged. Vickon and the Aran-men had not so much luck, since the young knight was seriously wounded and his units did have some losses.
                  The Lannister's were completely routed, having lost nearly all their 1.500-2.200 men. More than 100 knights and a dozen banner lords from the Westerlands and a number of common men were captured, while the losses of the combined army were just around 200 men, although this included some highborn. Furthermore, the battle opened they way for a quick charge against the Lannister camps around Riverrun, which were probably still unaware of the threat that was closing in on them.

                  Robb Stark indeed did not waste any time. By the following night the assault on the camps begun. Brynden Tully lead the vanguard of the combined army to crush the northern camp of the lions, after he had taken out the fore riders and scouts. Resistance was weak and short-lived. While the decimated Aran cavalry under their wounded commander did not play a important role, Gard Blyth of Dragonport and Gawan Blyth of Krayenhorn lead their armoured horsemen in a dismounted night-attack and they all performed well. The Lannisters in the other camps tried to help the stormed camp by crossing the river in boats and rafts but were hit hard by the garrison at Riverrun with arrows and siege weapons, while soldiers from the combined army greeted them with devastating volleys of arrows. Gard's dismounted archers take part in that operation. Few of the Westerners made it to the shore of the river as intact units, and were quickly routed. Robb Stark lead the final push against the already weakened western camp. They put up some resistance but their shieldwall was broken after the garrison of Riverrun come to the aid, attacking the lions from the rear. These Lannister's were defeated too, many of their former prisoners released, the siege-equipment burned.
                  The light cavalry of house Blyth of Krayenhorn performed mostly rear duties, to secure that no Lannister's made it across the river intact and to hunt down survivors. And while they did not run into trouble, since the unit was ,green' and their commanders could not have a constant eye on them, they did waste most of their time by looting the stormed northern camp of the Lannister's, doing not much of any importance.
                  The remaining men from the last Lannister camp, around 2.000 men infantry and as many archers, retreated in good order towards the Golden Tooth, and the combined army was not in the shape or mood to press them too much. The freeriders of this part of the Lannister army who where under the command of a Tyroshi sellsword however immediately changed their loyalty and declared themselves for the North and the Riverlands.

                  In the end, nearly 8.000 men from the Westerland's were either captured, killed or driven into the countryside. The losses of the Riverland and Northern army were again limited compared to those of their enemies. It was a astonishing victory, which all had to admit who had their doubts about the "young wolf" (like Gard). The lord of Dragonport, who was of course quiet relived by the events did honour the soldiers and officers who had performed well, offering gifts from the money he brought with him (maybe 25 dragons together). He also took care of the wounded, and that reports about any losses should send to Dragonport as soon as possible, and the families of those few who may be killed or maimed should get some help. Of course he also wanted to inform his wife and sister that he was well, as he was nervous about news from Dragonport, how the situation there had evolved (the constant threat of attacks from clansmen and pirates, if his wife Meera had born their first child and was in good health and so on), what was the fate of the support-unit who went with the Bolton-Army and of his liege-lord and father of his wife...

                  For here and now, the wolf seemed to have beaten the lion, but the war may not have even started in full fury and strength...

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                  • #54
                    Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                    Homeward

                    Meanwhile at Stony Oak it became more and more obvious that the fief and the small fortress (only a tower with a small stockade and some unfortified huts and stables around) could not provide enough food and quarters for so many soldiers (more than 350) plus prisoners etc. Also the financial situation of Stony Oak might soon become complicated because the nearby Inn at the Kingsroad (a former major source of income) has been burned down during the fighting and the traffic on the Kingsroad has significantly decreased because of the war and the recent fighting. Higher taxes might be a solution but probably a short sighted one…

                    Than an invitation for the funeral of the late Lord Gemstone arrived (Paedrig had commanded the troops which had smashed the rebels who had besieged Gemstone, but not before the wounded Lord succumbed to his wounds. However it was a little bit questionable if not the wife or the son of the infamous Lord might have their hand in the passing of Lord Gemstone).
                    Adham, Paedrig and an escort of twenty men went to the funeral. There were also accompanied by Ser Shannin, although he most probably would not be a cherished guest given the brutal raids his men had conducted only some weeks ago when he was in the service of house Lugus und house Lannister – but neither Paedrig nor Adham trusted the former Lugus officer to stay behind at Stony Oak.

                    At Gemstone, a small river nearby the fortification was redirected, so that the late lord could be buried in the riverbed like his ancestors. Given his notorious reputation some people might also consider this as a method to prevent that he could further harass the people and his family even after his dead. No one (neither nobles nor common folk) seemed to be sad about his passing - beside perhaps his bastard brother and even he was not blind to the dark sides of his brother.
                    It soon became obvious that, while the new Lord Gemstone and his young stepmother where thankfully for Paedrigs and Adham Dannetts support during the recent revolt, most of the neighboring houses did have their own interests for Stony Oak (and Gemstone).
                    For example house Conwy did hope to create marriage ties with Adham Dannett (if he would keep Stony Oak) and/ or the young Lord Gemstone. Adham Dannett (who in fact planned to get his hand on Stony Oak as a compensation for all the wrongdoings which house Lugus had initiated against house Dannett) was able to win Lord Conwys support in exchange for financial promises.
                    The Melwichs (a house of landed knights, commanded by two twin brothers) had even more daring ambitions than house Conwy: they hoped that getting the territory of Stony Oak would grand them the status of a ‘real’ noble house. Paedrig did his best to scare them off but this resulted in some harsh encounters and finally a challenge for a duel with one of the brothers. The fight was not easy, but after been almost hammered unconsciously, Paedrig managed to send his opponent to the ground, wounding him and forcing him to surrender.
                    There were also some compensation claims from Stoneway (a community which was not run by a noble house but a bailiff which was appointed by the Freys) for the almost 100 men and women which were killed, maimed, wounded or raped during the raids of the Lugus and Lannister. Given their rather tough financial situation Adham and Paedrig were not able to satisfy these claims. Demands to execute Shannin ore some of the captured Lugus as kind of reprisal for the raids were also (at least for the moment) ruled out by Adham. Neither he nor Paedrig did like Ser Shannin, but they had given their word when Shannin changed sides – and to execute noble prisoners on demand of lowborn was nothing what Adham did consider.

                    However after the two young knights returned to Stony Oak it was decided that Shannin, his men and the Frey engineers should go back to the twins. This would minimize the number of men which had to be fed and housed. Also by sending Shannin and his ill-disciplined and notorious criminals away, a potential source of frictions with neighboring houses (and a not very trustworthy ally) would be out of the way. Adham Dannett and his cavalry unit accompanied the departing troops because he wanted to ensure that Shannin did not get astray. Adham also wanted to bring his claims for Stony Oak before Lord Frey.

                    Paedrig stayed behind. The next two weeks were very busy for the young knight who had to command more than 200 soldiers and a significant number of prisoners. It was quite a task to organize patrols, manage the fief and to ensure discipline, forage (and also sanitary situation in the still overcrowded quarters) so that the soldier stayed in good shape. There was some trouble when peasants from Stoneway crossed into the territory of Stony Oak to gather some crops (as ‘compensation’ for the raids of house Lugus) but Paedrig was able to calm the situation with firm words, some minor threads and some coins. However he also ordered to increase the patrol activities (in which he did participate). This became even more urgent when disturbing news arrived that the army of Rose Bolton was defeated near the Trident by Tywin Lannister and was in full retread towards the Twins. This could mean that Stony Oak might become a warzone again – and there were little hopes that the small fortification could withstand the might of house Lannister.
                    Meanwhile the noble prisoners (members of house Lugus and one knight from the Westlands) were treated well but guarded cautiously. The common prisoners which often had not much loyalty to their former lords were partly (if they were fit enough) incorporated in the Dannett troops as a replacement for the losses or had to work.

                    Than Adham Dannett returned from the Twins. He had convinced Lord Frey that Stony Oak should get into the possession of house Dannett in exchange for a substantial increase of the taxes Stony Oak had to pay to the Twins. Probably Lord Frey also did not want that other local houses increase their might. Or – given his at least half earnest wedding plans for Adham Dannett - he calculated that his family would profit from this anyway. Lord Frey might also take into consideration that given the thread of Lannister raids it might be a good idea to bring additional troops into the area south of the Twins.

                    Now that Stony Oak got into the possession of house Dannett, it had to be decided how many troops should stay and who should command them. Adham did not intend to stay permanently at his new fief but wanted to install a trustworthy steward. Paedrig considered himself as a good candidate for such a position although he did not have much experience in stewardship (and only limited experience in commanding more than one unit) – but he was at hand and did have a good relationship with the young Dannett lord. However before this was decided there was still the question what should happen with the noble prisoners. Lord Adham did not want them to stay at Stony Oak –he feared that perhaps house Frey would claim them. With half a dozen of noble prisoners the situation at Stony Oak was also a little bit overcrowded and there was still the danger of a rescue or flight attempt. So (with a little bit urging by Paedrig) Adham Dannett decided that the prisoners (which had been captured either by his men or by Paedrigs and because of this were ‘possession’ of house Dannett and house Blyth of Dragonport) should go to Dragonport, were would be enough room for housing and well trained men for guarding a significant number of high value captives.

                    Paedrig convinced the young lord that he should escort the Lugus nobles with the light cavalry unit. The young knight was inspired by several motives:
                    The idea of coming home with noble prisoners and tales of remarkable deeds was very appealing for a bastard who was still trying to show his worth. There was also his secret (but not unrequited) affection for his two year older ‘step aunt’ Anya which he hoped to see again. And Paedrig was hoping that - if he could not became steward of Stony Oak – he could at least ensure that house Blyth of Dragonport would fund the light cavalry as part of their troops (of course with Paedrig as their commander).

                    While there was some movement on the Kingsroad (f. e. reinforcements and support for Boltons army) the trade had greatly decreased because any trade routes with the central and southern Riverlands were now cut or very insecure. Also the road was brimming with rumors about war and bloodshed. The local population were in constant fear and mistrusted almost every traveler – especially if he was armed. Beside the regularly armies marching against each other, there were nervous local militias and garrisons, raiding Lannister raiders, starving refugees, desperate deserters, scattered soldiers, bandits and probably also raiding mountain clans and even rebellious peasants who all did make traveling (and living) along the Kingsroad far more dangerous than a few month before. Paedrig kept his men in strict order and high alert – abut at least for the moment a group of twenty well-armed soldiers was certainly not an easy prey for bandits or scavengers. Often it was not possible to find good quarters (many of the former road Inns were now abandoned, burned down or overcrowded with other guests). A dangerous storm and a few days later the population of some villages which were eel-fishing at the river was a reminder that the winter might be coming…
                    One day the party encountered a small group of Lannister riders under a truce banner – obviously they were sent to manage a prisoner exchange. The situation between the two almost even units of armed men was tense but no blood was spilled.

                    Although the group came closer to their destination they were still not safe – which became all too clear when they discovered a slaughtered convoy. The wagons of the small convoy, probably supplies for the army of the North, had been plundered and burned and all drivers and soldiers were killed – some of them even had been burned alive or tortured to death. Paedrig was reminded of his encounters with the mountain clans (which had killed his sire and wounded Paedrig more than a year ago). The traces suggested that around 40 to 50 men had raided the convoy – certainly a dangerous thread for Paedrigs troop. The young knight ordered increased alertness and speed. His noble male prisoners asked for weapons to protect themselves which was granted after some consideration and after the prisoners did swear an oath to not use the weapons against Paedrigs men. This was a risk but Paedrig considered 40-50 claners as a greater thread than four prisoners.

                    Two days later Paedrig and his men faced almost 50 clan raiders mounted on ponies. Paedrig first ordered his men to prepare for battle, but – realizing the disadvantageous numbers and that the clan ponies probably were not as fast as the horses of Paedrigs troop – he decided to retreat. His calculation proofed right and he was able to keep distance.

                    However the retreat came to an end when the group passed by a small village. Paedrig was not willing to pass by and left the population to their unavoidable fate. So he alarmed the peasants of the nearing danger and then did hide his men in a nearby small forest. He also offered his prisoners the opportunity to depart if they promise to go to Dragonport on their own. In retrospective it would be wiser to either incorporate the four male prisoners into Paedrigs unit or even let them command the peasant levies which tried to defend the village. But there was also a young boy and a young woman among the prisoners and Paedrig who considered his chances for the battle as rather grim did not want the send his non fighting prisoners to Dragonport on their one – or even worst let them fall into the hand of the clans.
                    When the clansmen discovered the village, they reacted as Paedrig had predicted – they attacked the seemingly easy target. While some of them tried to storm the rather improvised stockade which surrounded the village, the other attackers circled the village to attack from another direction. The peasant levies tried to fight back but were no match for the raiders. However the seemingly victory of the claners was shattered when Paedrigs unit attacked, crushing the circling claners in a powerful charge. Only a handful of the destroyed unit escaped, while their comrades who attacked the ‘gate’ of the village hastily regrouped. They probably would still have a chance to start a successful counterattack - but they were raiders, no regular shock troops. They showered Paedrigs men with javelins and retreated.
                    The young knight was tempted to pursue but decided that it was not worth it and that he did have risked enough for a village which was even not part of the liege of his lord. Also there were wounded (some in Paedrigs unit and much more around the peasant levies) which had do be treated. So his men helped the wounded and did fight the fire that the claners had started. They also looted the killed claners (which had some booty from earlier raids and the slaughtered convoy) and killed any wounded clansmen they did find. This was certainly not chivalrous but Paedrig did not want to slow himself down with wounded prisoners and did vividly remember how the mountain clans treated their prisoners. Also he rationalized his decision that a quick death was even a favor for the wounded in comparison to the fate they probably had to face from the peasants.
                    The peasants were quiet thankful for their rescue and did offer quarter and provisions. However they also did fear that the escaped clansmen might return so they plead Paedrig that he and his men did stay till reinforcements did arrive. Paedrig agreed to stay for a few days (this also gave his wounded men time to recover). The next two days his men stayed in the village. Some of them trained the village militia (which also got some of the captured weapons) while other men did patrol the area around the village. However they did not encounter the mountain clans again – only finding some traces and prisoners which were tortured to death and left behind as a message. Crude carvings in nearby trees named some ‘Tira daughter of Dogar’ as commander of the raiders.

                    After soldiers from a nearby Frey garrison arrived, Paedrigs group departed. To his delight (and surprise) he could also collect his former prisoners who in fact did have stayed loyal to their words (although it appeared there had been some disagreements and even brawl concerning this matter).
                    The rest of the voyage was rather uneventful although the local population was also nervous, fearing probable raids and unrest. A few days later Dragonstone came into view.
                    Last edited by Paedrig; 10-22-2017, 01:28 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                      Shadows beneath the ice I

                      While the soldiers of Dragonport fought in the Riverlands, the situation at home had not changed for the better. Both the absence of the fighters and the lord was felt as a loss. Lady Meera did her best to increase security by ordering soldiers of the Personal Guard to take part in patrols. The ships of the newly formed navy also were on patrol or had to guard convoys. It was often so that one ship was at home for repair and to give the men some rest, two guard merchant vessels in a convoy to White Harbour or the Sisters, and two were on patrol, mainly in the waters along the shores of the land of the Blyth, Weymouth and Falkirk. While Meera seem to be an able ruler, it was obvious that the pregnancy also was a bit a handicap both physical and mental. After all she was just around 18 years old, pregnant with her second child after she had to abort her first, and she did not know how the fate of her father, youngest brother and husband was - all of them could be dead. She kept the healer Elen close to herself. What make things worse was that there were still some rumours about Meera and who might be the father of her child. The young lady reacted harsh, at one occasion even condemning a minster to a high amount of money and a whipping. At least her sister in law Alyanna was a help she could rely on. Aly also mollified Meera's fury a little bit, so that the punishment of the man was reduced.

                      The income from Dragonport's market and trade drastically decreased as result of the increase in attacks by pirates (obviously not only by Nardis' group) and the general insecurity. It was possible to collect some income, but much less than before. Meera and Aly thought that it may be necessary to mobilize an additional unit of soldiers, to defend Dragonport against attacks from sea or land, but for now this seem nearly impossible. The mobilization during the last months had consumed most resources in the local area (weapons, men with at least a little bit of training etc.). So they could do not much more than make some preparations for the future. The young ladies also continued their search for a able officers to strengthen the troops and (if necessary) replace the old Master of Arms of Dragonport if he should become to frail or ill to do his duty. Secretly Aly used her spies in the whole Riverlands to stay informed of the military events, and by doing so she was in most cases the first person who got notice about how the situation evolves. She planed to use her spies and knowledge in the future to establish Dragonport a little bit as a centre for the exchange of hostages. She also kept contact with other ladies of the local houses to increase commercial cooperation in this times of hardship.
                      Secretly Aly prepared also for a little celebration with which she want to honour the birth of her first nice or nephew (if everything would go fine) and also to please the families of the soldiers who were fighting in the south.

                      The situation inside the castle was also a little bit tense since some people did not trust the stranger from Yi Ti, Lo Tho, who spend some times with the ladies - William Sunderland especially seemed to be jealous about the time Aly spend with the foreigner (although his interest for Aly was more due to the wish of his father for a good marriage than that he was really in love). Aly, who found the interest from both Lo Tho and William a little bit amusing did calm the waves and convinced Lo Tho to help to reorganize the chaotic library of Dragonport and accepted the gifts from the young Sunderland, without offering more than a few friendly words. She still was curious what brought Lo Tho to this region and learned, that he had visited Oldtown and King's Landing before, but both visits seem to be not successful to 100 percent (or Lo Tho ran into some trouble with his researches).
                      The two young squires at Dragonport, the Dornishman Sammil of Lemmonplume and the Borderlander Hal Sunstone got their chance to take part into smaller naval operations, but they had also continue to train administrative duties. Aly (and the commander of the towns garrison as of the girl) keep a watchful eye on Hal's evolving romance with Aly's maid and spy Myriah Rivers. While Aly was interested in building closer connections with the Sunstones even via marriage (for which she had also an eye on John Buckwell, who acted as the administrative head of the town of Dragonport of minor members of the Dragonport household she was not sure if these two would find the likening of Hal's father.
                      Lady Anya Blyth of Krayenhorn also visited Dragonport, maybe every two weeks or so - to stay in touch but also perhaps she was a little bit bored on her lonely tower which has lost most of his inhabitants.

                      Only few information from the borderlands with the mountain clans were available. The flatlanders had reduced the numbers of their patrols when their cavalry had to march to war. Aly (and Meera) debated the possibility to strengthen den scouts who were guarding the border, for example to gave the men mounts so that they were able to cover a greater distance (although they would be not real cavalry), but the local stables were nearly empty and id did take time to replace the many horses which were send away for war. It seems clear that the attacks of the clans increased, although this did hit the southern Riverlands much more. In the northern Riverlands the Mist Brothers, old enemies of Dragonport, seem to be split and broken. Some of them sided with the feared and mysterious Shadowcats, but there were also rumours about Seals People who take part in the fighting or even armed "flatlanders" - maybe just bandits, maybe not.
                      Secretly Alyanna used her private money to strengthen the small-scale warfare against the clans by paying small groups of mercs or arming the local people, but that had also little effect. Some of the money were directed for the small warband of the borderland-warrior Robb who fought the clans for months. He had become more and more some kind of hero for the locals, although many rumours about the effectiveness and size of his band seems inflated to say the least.
                      The increase in pirate-attacks which harmed the trade so much suggested that not only Nardis' but also a number of other groups were operating in the Bite. It seems to soon as if that could be Lannister-corsairs, even more since the Lannisters had to fear one of the finest and strongest navies of whole Westeros - the ships at Dragonstone.
                      In this situation the "Mermaid" (a very common name) from the Sisters arrived. The ship hat be attacked by Nardis' pirates. They killed two members of the crew, kidnapped the captain and send the rest of the men with a message for the local lords back: The quintessence beside a lot of bragging and threats was that Nardis was open for peace, if he would be paid 1.000 dragons in gold - he would even support the war efforts of the local lords. If the lords were interested, they should sand an emissary to the Sisters in four weeks, where he should met a man called Hook-Jon (or John) in the "Fishing Hook" (pun intended?), a inn of dubious reputation.

                      Alyanna and Meera immediately informed the Aran's as well as other local coastal-houses like the Falkirk, Weymouth and Sunstones (and later also other houses). She included some thoughts Gard had left about a major operation against the pirates. The message did for now only asked the lords after their opinion and favoured none of the options openly.
                      Meera saw peace as a (expensive) possibility but did not trust the criminals - who should guarantee that they would not just tale the money and continuing raiding (left alone that it was hard to control how Nardis' would fight the enemies of the locals lords including other pirates as he promised). Alyanna asked both "Admiral" Ruk, head of the fleet of Dragonport, as the former pirate Sandro Amero. Ruk "One-leg" did not trust the offer of the pirates even a little bit. He claimed however, that he have serious doubts that the fleet of Dragonport was prepared to met Nardis' ships in open battle. He had to scale back training a little bit in the last months since the ships were busy in patrol-duty etc. It was also obvious that he did not take Meera or Aly serious - any operation before Gard's return or under the leadership of another lord would surely met his resistance. Amero on the other hand said that Nardis had made and kept such deals in the past. He was a little bit nervous that his head might be part of such an deal since Nardis' surely did not forget that Amero betrayed him and defected - a fear Alyanna calmed.

                      The answers from the other lords arrived maybe a week later. It soon become obvious that no one really was interested in participating in ANY form of solution. Some preferred the option of a payment to the pirates (as house Weymouth) others - like Falkirk, which had suffered under their attacks - were against such a appeasement. But all of them offered little money or soldiers for one of the options. Meera's oldest brother who ruled in the absence of his father did avoid a clear statement. But clearly he and the other lords have little resources left. Aly came up with the idea to offer the pirates just a part of the money they demanded - the rest should follow later IF they kept their promises and released their prisoners. That would reduce the negative effect of paying a lot of money at once and gave the possibility to further train the troops and...change the deal later on or make secret deals with the Sisters and other potential allies. The only disadvantage (beside the danger that the pirates would not agree) was that after a first agreement was made the other lords surely would even less likely to invest some of their money (or men) after house Blyth of Dragonport had started to deal with the situation.

                      At Riverrun Gard was busy with the several duties a battle who was won and a war who has to be fought brought with them. He had just one important prisoners - Walton Dulver, who he had captured personally. The common prisoners were in part incorporated in the combined Northerner and Riverland army, others were released, others kept as prisoners for forced work. Gard treated his prisoner with honour, in part because he want to know more about his prisoner to evaluate his value for ransom or a prisoner exchange. The young knight and heir seem not to bitter of his defeat, and his wounds seem not life-threatening or painful, although he had fought well. Gard allowed his prisoner also to look after the men house Dulver had send into this war - a engineer and a support unit. Walton seemed a little bit ashamed about this not very martial contribution of his house and had personally fought side by side with the Kingslayer. Jaime Lannister now was indeed like a caged lion, the target of curiosity (and maybe mockery) by the victorious nobles, as was his precious armour.
                      A few days after the Second Battle of Riverrun Gard was called to Robb Stark, who together with Edmure Tully were more or less the superior commanders at this place (lord Tully was too weak or ill to take command, maybe with an deadly sickness or high age). It was obvious that the war was far from over. Roose Bolton had suffered a serious blow from Tywin Lannister when he tried a surprise-attack, and had fallen back with perhaps just two third of his army left. Tywin had retreated deeper into the southern Riverlands, but where he went after he passed the Trident was not clear. Gard was of course concerned but the high lords had no details which nobles and which units had not survived or were captured. They had however new orders for Gard - he should return home to secure the Bite, mobilize as many additional soldiers from the Frey bannermen as possible and maybe even prepare combined operations of the Manderly of White Harbour, his own house and any support he could got from other houses like the sisters for naval operations. Robb seems to have some ideas of increasing the pressure towards the Lannister not only on dry land. He tried to broker a alliance with the Iron Isles, and Gard should prepare a naval offensive in the eastern seas. If both would be successful, the Lannisters and theirs allies would also face pressures on several fronts. Gard mentioned the possibility to strengthen the role of Dragonport as harbour for supply from the north - a much better way for transport than the road through the Neck, and Robb seem to agree on that. The lord of Dragonport was not sad for a chance to leave the path to glory in Robb's army, since he was concerned how the situation at home had evolved. He thought Robb's plans might be a good strategy, but he remembered that any greater naval operation in the east needs at least a agreement from Robb's aunt Lyssa Arryn. Without the harbours of the Vale any greater offensive by the northern ships would be very difficult at least.

                      Gard decided to take his cavalry and his noble prisoner with him, the (mounted) archers would stay with Robb's army. He handed around 200 gold dragons towards their centenar, and informed the soldiers that they could send messages for their beloved one which would. He also visited Lord Gawan Blyth of Krayenhorn and Ser Vickon Aran. The wounded young knight seem in a good mood and on the road to recovery. Lord Gawan however was in a much more concerned and dark mood. He had his doubts about rioting against the rightful king and what consequences this war might have. He was also concerned for his own house (and send his last will with Gard, so that the young lord could hand it over to the Septrie of Eaglewood). Gard tried to calm the fears of his knight-father an tutor, with quiet some 8maybe just short lived) success.
                      Since the route was not along the main road into the heart of the Riverlands but the way back the combined Army had went shortly before, there were no clashes with any enemies. Not much happened on the journey until Seagard, where Gard was welcomed by lord Mallister. It may also help that he praised the son of the lord for his role in the operation which lured the Kingslayer in the trap in the Whispering Wood. Lord Mallister was raising his own fleet, but he was not sure if Robb's plans of an alliance with the Iron Isles would work - of if they not may resurrect the old curse of the Red Kraken, who plundered the coasts during the Dance of the Dragons.

                      The soldiers of Dragonport than joined a small convoy of goods ad marched toward the Twins. After arriving there he quickly realized that the situation between the Northerner garrison and the men of Walder Frey was a little bit tense. The foreigners claimed they were not supplied well, and lord Frey was not happy that he "has to hid his sheep and his daughters" as he claimed. Gard got news about the fate of Roose Bolton's army. The lord of the Dreadfurt had retreated in the northern Riverlands a little bit south of the Twins, and he kept the discipline of his men. However his reputation was a bit damaged after the defeat. Lord Frey had also some information about the fate of his bannermen. Some units from the coast of the Bite were decimated like those of houses Weymouth and Falkirk, but not destroyed. Both the younger Brother of lord Falkirk and lord Aran were wounded. The support unit from Dragonport had survived without greater losses. Gard got also news from the successes of the young lord Dannett and Paedrig Rivers against the Lugus at Stony Oak.
                      The break at the Twins also had some not so pleasant results since Walder Frey was able to convince Gard to gave his prisoner away for 120 dragons - not a very good ransom, and even more since it was common that he owed a third of the money to his superior liege lord (house Aran). But although Gard had some good arguments, there were little people who could win a discussion with Walder Frey. Gard had his own thoughts that lord Frey might be interested in not just got more ransom for the young Dulver, but perhaps marry him to one of his daughters, since the young knight was a heir of house which was important.
                      At least Gard had some success in convincing the castellan of the Twins that a future role of Dragonport as hub for goods from the North would something the Twins also benefit of.

                      The rest of the journey was also peaceful for the men of Dragonport - after all they were around 20 heavily armed men in shining armor, but the situation in general was dire. Refugees were common, and it seems as if the Twins had a hard hand towards anyone who break the law - corpses were hanged on trees in significant numbers, and not all looked like hardcore criminals. The soldiers also passed the site of a massacre in which around a dozen of civilians were slaughtered - who they were and who did it was unclear. Gard ordered a burial, but he kept an watchful eye during that.
                      Around a week or so after they left the twins, the group finally arrived Dragonport. Both Gard and Meera were touched to be reunited. The young lord also praised the courage and fighting skills of his men in a short speech and took care that news (as far as he know) spread quickly. He also agreed to all decisions Meera and Aly had taken in his absence. But now he had to face the difficult decision how to deal with the pirates and how to mobilize further support for the war in the Riverlands.
                      Last edited by Kajani; 10-23-2017, 10:27 PM.

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                      • #56
                        Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                        Difficult Discussions – Difficult Decisions

                        Paedrigs rapport to the highly pregnant Lady Meera and Lady Alyanna (who managed Dragonport during the absence of Lord Gard) was received well. His deeds during the last month had weakened house Lugus, an enemy of house Blythe of Dragonport and its allies, and strengthened the position of house Dannett who had become a closer ally of house Blyth. Paedrigs achievements cemented his status as an able officer and from now on he was seated with other high ranking officers of the garrison. The noble Lugus prisoners he had brought in got quarters and were all treated well. Given the fact that some of them were technically in the possession of house Dannett (while house Blyth of Dragonport should house them and broker the ransom deal), it had to be bargained if (and how much) house Dannett would pay for this ‘service’. Paedrig supported Dragonports stance in this negotiations, although he still hoped that perhaps Lord Adham Dannett might name him as the steward of the Lugus liege which he and Paedrig had recently conquered. However there were also other candidates – for example John Buckwell, a relative of house Blyth of Dragonport with some merits in Stewardship and Warfare – and much better social skills than the young knight…

                        Concerning Paedrigs suggestion that the light cavalry unit which was created during Paedrigs campaign with the Riverland/ Northerner Army and which had proven very useful in several small skirmishes and the capturing of Stony Oak should be kept under his command as a permanent part of the Dragonport army, the Ladies remained a little bit cautious and vague. After some rather costly investments of the recent past (new ships, a support unit and the participation of Dragonport in several projects in the border area) and the decreasing trade and toll income of house Dragonport (all caused by the war and heightened insecurity), Lady Meera and Alyanna don’t want to rush further pricey investments.
                        Paedrig was of course very eager to keep the unit. He especially stated out the usefulness of highly mobile cavalry for surveillance, support and patrol operations in the borderlands etc. To bolster his argument he was even willing to forgo much of the money that was offered to him by the ladies for the noble prisoners he had brought in.

                        Even more important for him was the chance to meet again Lady Anya of Krayenhorn, the only two year older wife of his uncle Gawan and Paedrigs secret love, during one of her frequent visits at Dragonport. It was not easy for them to meet, because this had to be kept secret. However one evening they found a quiet place at the castle walls. Beside some rather silly/ sappy words and kisses not much happened. Paedrig noticed that Anya was a little bit annoyed by the fact that house Blyth of Dragonport (especially Lady Alyanna) was doing researches for potential heirs of Anyas husband who had become more and more concerned that his childless marriage, the dangers of the raging war and his age (Ser Gawan was more than twice as old as his wife) could result in the extinction of the bannerhouse Blyth of Krayenhorn. Anya, who despite her affection for Paedrig did respect and appreciate her absent husband, was concerned what her future might be if Ser Gawan would die and the liege did fall back to the liege lord (house Aaran) or to some unknown heir. Paedrig promised that he would do anything for Anya – but this was not much for the moment.
                        Of course both were aware that their secret meetings and growing affection could result in a potential disaster for both of them – but both were young and (at least concerning the matters of heart) not very wise…

                        Some days after this, Lord Gard returned with his heavy cavalry unit, while all other troops he had sent to war (a support unit and an archer unit) stayed in the army of Roose Bolton or the army of Robb Stark. This of course mend, that the military forces of house Blyth of Dragonport would remain limited for the next time – one reason, why Lord Gard decided to keep Paedrigs new light cavalry unit as an permanent part of his army and even further upgrade their equipment. He was also very pleased with Paedrigs actions in the last month and promoted him as a Centenar (= commander of a military unit of 100 foot soldiers or 20 riders). This, together with some donations and the money Paedrig got for ‘selling’ ‘his’ Lugus' prisoners to his Lord mend that he did now have the right and the money to buy a house in Dragonport. Paedrig asked the commander of the Garrison (which had very good connection in the small town and was willing to help – for a small fee) to organize this and also to hire a couple of refugees who could do the household (cook, clean etc.). However the slow but steady increase of refugees from the southern and central Riverlands was also a potential challenge for the future. But for now there was no coordinated strategy or guidelines of the local Lords concerning this matter…

                        A more pressing problem was how to deal with the ‘diplomatic’ offer of the ‘pirate king’ Nardis: Peace and even support by his men in exchange for a substantial amount money. Lord Gard was highly skeptical about this offer and more than a little bit appalled by the idea to pay of a band of murderers, kidnappers and rapists. However the alternative idea to start negations (and even paying some money) to deceive the pirates for a surprise attack later was also not to his liking. But in the end his sister Alyanna (which had come up with this scrupulous idea) was able to convince the lord that negotiations and the payment of at least a part of the money the pirates had demanded was the best idea. The young noble women was even able to convince her brother that she could handle the negations which should be started at the Sweetsister Isle at the ‘Fishing Hook’, a local inn owned by John ‘the Hook’ as the contact person. Certainly such an enterprise (and meeting place) was not suited for a young Lady. Like her older brother Gard, Paedrig was not very convinced that this meeting was the right thing for a young Lady. But Alyanna was very convincing (surpassing her older brother in the field of persuasion) and the honor bound Lord was happy of staying away from such rather shady negotiations and did not want to leave his highly pregnant wife Meera.
                        There was not much known about John ‘the Hook’, beside that he was a bald, middle aged men with only one hand (the other replaced by a hook which earned him his nickname) who might have been a pirate (or at least a smuggler) in his past. He was said to be a man with a lot of shady connections, a good connection for retrieving ‘lost’ goods (or to arrange that goods of someone should get ‘lost’). However it was also said that he was a man who could be trusted in his business (meaning that he normally did not betray his clients – or at least no one he DID had betrayed had been able to tell the tale).

                        However even before the planning of Alyannas trip could get started, Lady Anya from Krayenhorn did visit Dragonport with some disturbing news her Maester had got via raven:
                        Eddard Stark had been executed as a traitor.
                        His son Robb Stark had declared himself as ‘King of the North’ (and the Riverlands), reviving a title which had been obsolete since the North surrendered to the Targaryens.
                        Renley AND Stannis Baratheon had declared themselves King of the Seven Kingdoms. Stannis also spread news that all children of Cersei Lannister weren’t the result of her marriage with his brother Robert but the offspring of a incestuous relationship with her brother Jaime Lannister, which of course would bar Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella from any rights for the Iron Throne.
                        Barristan Selmy, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and despite his age still regarded as one of the best and finest knights of Westeros had been killed or exiled.
                        This of course mend, that peace negotiations between house Lannister and Lord Robb of Winterfall had become hopeless, while Robbs declaration also damaged any opportunity for an alliance between him and Stannis or Renley Baratheon. And given their own crowning declarations it was also unlikely that Renley and Stannis would be able to work together against house Lannister and its allies. The enemies of house Lannister and king Joffrey would most probably not be able to fight together (more probably they would fight EACH OTHER).
                        Realizing all this, Lord Gard was not very thrilled by the news and measured the future perspectives as rather grim. While the North could be defended well (especially if the road through the Neck was fortified and with support by the Iron Isles), the Riverlands – now part of the new ‘Kingdom of the North’ - did have long borders to alien territory and would be almost impossible to defend against raids and invasion, at least south of the Trident…
                        However as a good vassal, Gard kept his doubts mostly to himself and the people close to him, published (and praised) the crowning proclamation of Lord Robb and ordered the production of some rather expensive gifts for his new king.

                        The new strategic and political situation made the problems with pirates in the area of the Byte even more pressing and heightened the need for secured coastline of the Riverlands and the North. There was even the potential perspective to initiate more aggressive naval operations and attack the area around Kings Landing. But all this only would be possible, if the pirates thread was dealt with – either by killing many of the pirates or by hiring them for the war. Gards sister Alyanna (secret head of a small intelligence network in the Riverlands) also mentioned the small coastal town Port Maril at the Bays of Crabs as potential operation base, because the town had a long (secret) tradition of smuggling and perhaps even piracy. If this base could be won or captured...
                        But for this of course a substantial amount of naval forces were needed in addition to house Blyth (still green) warships – either by the ‘Pirate King’ Nardis and other pirates or by the local houses. And the houses of the Sisters Islands were known for their ships and their ambivalent attitude concerning the property of other men or the royal laws. Given the family ties of house Blyth of Dragonport with the Sisters (Gards and Alyannas mother was from house Borrell of Sweetsister, and William Sunderland, member of the ruling Sister house commanded one of the Dragonport warships) negotiations with house Borrell and house Sunderland (which was by the way also interested to wed William Sunderland with Alyanna Blyth) seem to be promising. A additional step to deal with the pirates was also done by broadening the amnesty offer of house Blyth of Dragonport (which was until now only for the men of ’King’ Nardis) to all pirates in the Byte who were willing to desert their leaders and getting pardoned in exchange for military service.

                        To ‘soften up’ house Sunderland for further negotiations and naval cooperation offers, the idea was discussed that the young William Sunderland (commander of one of the Blythe warships) could get knighted by Lord Gard. Paedrig got the order to assess and prepare the young noble for this. Lord Gard was even willing to arm and equip the young noble generously with a castle forged sword, a half plate armor and four horses (a courser, a destrier, a rounsey and a pack horse).
                        The knight-to-be proofed himself worthy and able in Warfare, etiquette and hand-to-hand combat but failed in riding and jousting. In fact William could hardly keep himself in the saddle and animals tended to flee or react aggressive towards the young man. Perhaps this was caused by the fact that William Sunderland (like many nobles of the Sisters) did have floating skin between his fingers – a trait which was rumored by some to imply that not only human blood did flow in his veins…
                        Paedrig was a very demanding teacher and also argued that William could be equipped a little bit cheaper for his knighthood (f. e. a lighter armor and only two horses), what certainly did not increase his relationship with William Sunderland.

                        Lady Alyannas diplomatic mission should be accompanied by a substantial number of armed men. She would travel with the ‘Wrathful Mermaid’, one of the warships of Dragonport, commanded by William Sunderland. She should be accompanied by a half squad of personal guard. Paedrig Rivers and Torgon Ahrendal (an ironborn officer of one of the other Dragonport warships) would also accompany her for protection and as adviser in military and naval matters.
                        Lo Tho, a recent and rather exotic guest of house Dragonport, who came from the almost mythical land Yi Ti and claimed to be studying the magic and myths of Westeros, also wanted to accompany Alyanna. The young Lady decided to not grant this wish. Given Lo Tho’s frosty relationship with William Sunderland, caused by the fact that the stranger had developed a certain affection towards Alyanna what (notwithstanding the wide believes that Lo Tho was a eunuch) William Sunderland did not take very well; Alyanna did not want to spill oil into the flames. However she promised Lo Tho to do some researches concerning the local tales about witchcraft and magic at the Sisters.

                        It was a two day sea voyage to Sweetsister. The trip was mostly uneventful. The situation onboard was a little bit tense, given the fact that William Sunderland was the captain of the ship, while Paedrig (although only a bastard) was a knight and did have a higher rank. Maybe the young captain was also a bit annoyed by the fact that two of the personal guards stood vigil every night at the door of Alyannas room. But Paedrig did not really trust the sailors (and trusted William Sunderland only halfway).
                        Alyanna used the time to tell her companions a little bit about the Sister Isles, a harsh and not very lawful area, with its own gods (although today it was widely claimed that they woreship the Seven) and a population who had a reputation almost as the Ironborn. Torgon Ahrendal told Paedrig some about his past. He was the son of a small ironborn lord and one of his ‘saltwives’ (a woman from beyond the sea who had been kidnapped by Torgons father). He did not say much about his father and his siblings but it was obvious that they did not parted on good terms. The two young men got along well, probably because both did have a heritage (noble bastard or son of an Ironman and a ‘saltwife’) which was by many considered as inferior or at least questionable.

                        The small harbor town Sisterton which was crowned by Breakwater Castle, seat of house Borrell, was not very impressive: the streets were muddy, the landscape dreary and most buildings a little bit shabby. However the harbor was full with small and medium ships and well-defended with several siege weapons, and the town was also fortified. The market place did show a lot of gods from abroad – not so surprising given the rumors about widespread smuggling by ships from the Sisters. It was a rather rough place, with many armed men. Paedrig ordered his half-squad to full alertness and he and Torgon did their best to shield Lady Alyanna from any molestation, insults or thieves – but could not prevent that some pickpocket relieved Paedrig from several silver stags.

                        Breakwater Castle was a decrepit looking fortress, very well fortified (by three sides surrounded by the sea and armed with several siege weapons) but certainly not comfy. However given her mission (and her status as niece of Lord Borrell) Alyanna of course stayed at the castle. Lord Godric Borrell was a rather intimidating looking, massive man with floating skin between his fingers (just like William Sunderland and many other nobles from the Sisters). William Sunderland went to Castle Sunderland to visit HIS family.
                        Alyanna and her uncle got along well, however he did not have a high opinion concerning the Sunderlands, because they had lead the Sisters into several of the Blackfyre Rebellions some decades ago which resulted in much bloodshed and destruction – and all for nothing. He was also very skeptical about the recent political changes and no big fan of ANY of the new kings (Joeffrey, Robb, Stannis and Renley). He was a man who did not forgive the “rape of the Sisters” by the Northerners, although that happened many centuries ago.

                        The following days Paedrig and Torgon used some of their free time to gather information about the fleet and military situation of house Borrell, f. e. by talking with Ellis Longthorp, son in law of Lord Borrell and one of his captains. The house did not have any cavalry (which would be of not much use on this stony island), but 2-3 units infantry, mainly marines or raiders and almost a dozen warships (mostly longboats but also some for more prolonged operations). House Borrell did not have many problems with pirates, probably because many pirates and smugglers might use the sisters to sell their booty. However the heightened insecurity of the trade routes and the raging war did also minimize the income of house Borrell.
                        The two young men also participated in the negotiations of Lady Alyanna as her military advisers – and both did this well. However Lord Borrell was unwilling to wage war for ‘king’ Robb Stark (in the end, Borrell was still a vassal of the Vale and as long as Lady Lysa Arryn of the Vale remained neutral, Lord Borrell did not want to take a side). However he was more willing to participate in operations against the local pirates’ thread - probably to thin out his competitors?
                        Lady Alyanna also did negotiate with house Sunderland (liege lord of house Borrell and the whole Sister Islands) concerning their willingness to participate in the war or operations against pirates. Castle Sunderland was located inland and certainly not as well-fortified (but more comfy) than Breakwater Castle.
                        Given the fact that Lord Tristan Sunderland, an ambitious but not very impressive gaunt man with grayish hear and – again – floating skin between his fingers, wanted to wed his son William with Alyanna (and appeared to be frustrated by the lack of progress) this negotiations were a little bit delicate but Alyanna was able to hold her ground. Like his vassal Lord Borrell, Tristan Sunderland did not want to become part of the war. At least Alyanna could convince Lord Sunderland to support military operation against pirates in the Byte. But this did not come for free – besides the knighting and arming of his son William, Lord Sunderland also demanded a fair share of the captured booty. Remembering her promise to Lo Tho, Alyanna convinced the Maester of Lord Sunderland to share his knowledge about local legends and tales about magic, although the Maester did not seem very interested in such things.

                        Paedrig and Torgon did successfully poke around for information about house Sunderlands military force. Paedrig also did use his time to by a beautiful silken scarf for his secret love Anya.
                        As preparation for the planned negotiations at the ‘Fishing Hook’ inn both young men visited the location in disguise. It was a rather rough place, with lot of (often armed) sailors and other hard drinking men. Besides his waitresses (which seem to act as halftime whores) John ‘the Hook’ did have some rather intimidating looking guards. The inn looked not very clean but sturdy and defendable. Paedrig and Torgon also noticed that John ‘the Hook’ did parlay with a well-armed men from abroad – perhaps his contact with Nardis? The young men themselves were also watched and even followed by a long bearded man (one of the guards of ‘the Hook?’) but their attempted to catch their follower failed.
                        To secure the negotiations with the pirates, Paedrig, who feared an ambush or kidnapping attempt for Alyanna, decided that beside himself and Torgon as guards for Alyanna, three handpicked sailors from the ‘Wrathful Mermaid’ should seat themselves in the ‘Fishing Hook’ to come to aid if necessary. As third line of security the five personal guards should stay near the inn as additional reinforcements (not heavily armored but well-armed).

                        But notwithstanding Paedrig fears the first meeting with John ‘the Hook’ was relatively uneventful. The negotiations were held in a backroom of the inn. Alyanna started with offering 200 gold dragons and regularly payments in exchange for the goodwill and military support of Nardis pirates. She also wanted information about other pirates group.
                        John ‘the Hook’ who acted as stakeholder for Nardis (although he probably was more interested in his own fortunes) stated out that Nardis wanted more money and other benefits, f. e. fixed prices for equipment. However, Alyanna (supported by Paedrig and Torgon) was able to convince John ‘the hook’ to share some of his knowledge about other local pirates captains (although he remained a little bit vague) and he promised to send her offer to Nardis and back her proposals. The next meeting should be in four days.

                        The next day’s Alyanna stayed mostly at castle Breakwater and castle Sunderland. Paedrig did his best to keep an eye on the “Fishing Hook”. The owner seem to be still in negotiations with this exotic looking guy from abroad (contact man to Nardis?) and Paedrig did also get the impression that the inn was also watched by other men of unknown affiliation.

                        For the next meeting Paedrig again ordered three sailors from the ‘Wrathful Mermaid’ to stay as undercover reinforcement in the inn, and the half squad of personal guards waiting nearby the inn. However this time he seem to have picked the wrong sailors. When Alyanna, Paedrig and Torgon entered the ‘Fishing Hook’, their three backup men seem a little bit too well ‘integrated’, more interested in drinking, brawling and the girls than in being watchful. At least it looked like the surveillance of the inn by an unknown party had been stopped.
                        The negotiations went relatively well, when suddenly the call ‘FIRE!’ was heard and smoke began to pour into the building. The result was chaos and panic, everyone tried to get out of the inn. Alyanna, Paedrig, Torgon and John ‘the Hook’ tried to get out through a side door – and stumbled into an ambush of half a dozen armed men who immediately attacked them (including John ‘the Hook’ who seemed as much surprised as his ‘guests’).
                        Paedrig faced the leader of the attackers and one of his men, while Alyanna, Torgon and John each faced one opponent for the moment. Paedrig was able to wound the chief of the attackers, but got some injuries in return. Torgon and John did overcome their opponent but were both wounded. Even Alyanna (who fought much better than it is considered befitting for a young lady) wounded her opponent but was knocked down.
                        Paedrig was able to drive away his main opponent by wounding the commander again and then overthrow Alyannas attacker. With three of them down and finally the five personal guards arriving, the remaining three attackers retreated. Paedrig left two soldiers behind to aid Torgon and John and to protect Alyanna, while he and the three remaining soldiers chased the fleeing enemies.
                        Near the harbor the hunt ended and two of the attackers were captured. The last one tried to escape with a small coastal vessel, but Paedrig alarmed the harbor garrison and after a warning shot by a Spitfire the small ship quickly surrendered.

                        The prisoners were brought back to the castle and interrogated in the presence of Paedrig. However the words of their commander Rhys Stone send the whole situation in difficult political water. The man claimed that he did act in order of Lord Petyr Baelish, Master of the Coins, who did not want that any of the enemies of the crown did mobilize pirates against King Joeffrey. It seemed that John ‘the Hook’ was not only negotiating with house Blyth but also with Lord (and now ‘King’) Stannis Baratheon who was in desperate need of ships and men.
                        Given the fact that it was rumored that ‘Littlefinger’ did had some murky connections, this whole scenario seem plausible. However this also meant that Rhys Stone was from the Vale and acted in the name of a Vale Lord. The noble of the Sisters were also vassals of the Vale and Littlefinger was said to be in high regards by Lady Lysa Arryn, so Lord Borrell did not want to do anything what might anger his liege lady and bring him in direct conflict with another Vale lord. In the end he decided to send Rhys and his men back to Littlefinger (but without their ship and money). Dragonport got nothing as compensation for the attack.

                        After all participants had healed their injuries, Alyannas negotiations with John ’the Hook’ were restarted who then offered a new bid: he would urge Nardis to accept a prisoner exchange and also coax him to take Stannis offer. If Nardis accepted this, which John was quiet confident given the fact that this would open Nardis the chance to plunder Kings Landing, the richest town of Westeros, Nardis and his men would be gone for good. If Stannis were successful than Nardis probably would find better hunting grounds in the South. And if Stannis ambitions did fail, well than Nardis might go down with him or will be at least further weakened…

                        The travel back was uneventful. Lord Gard was quiet pleased with the outcome although a little bit disturbed by the danger his sister Alyanna had to face. He rewarded her gurads, especially Paedrig.
                        Paedrig got the message that the commander of the city garrison had organized the construction of Paedrigs new home and even hired a young a couple of young refugees (Godry and Eddara who had prior worked at an inn at the Kingsroad). For the moment anything seems to go rather well…
                        Last edited by Paedrig; 10-24-2017, 09:04 AM.

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                        • #57
                          Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                          The following chronic may include minor Spoilers for Dragon's Hoard

                          Shadows beneath the ice II

                          While Alyanna was on her mission to the Sisters, lady Meera was about to give birth to her child. Of course her husband (as any man) was send away. He could not do more (or less) than pray at the sept in Dragonport for the life of his wife and her child. Although the Lady did not have the best start in Dragonport (given some scandalous rumours about her) he was accompanied by a certain amount of citizens. In the end the birth went very quickly, and just two hours later he was informed that Meera has given birth to a girl and both mother and child seem to be fine. Other than some other men Gard did not care that the newborn was not a son and heir but was just happy and relieved that things have gone well (he had seen the wife of his brother die together with her baby). Meera was of course exhausted and only half awake.
                          Using the preparations from his sister, Gard organized a celebration so that the people could share the luck of the parents. And most people seem to be in good mood, despite that there were still some bad rumours about Meera - but mainly the people seem to respect and admire the lady (or at least acted so).
                          The lord rewarded Elen, the local healer, and also promised not only to spend some money to the sept but also to provide food and cloths for seven poor female infants for one year as a kind of thankful gift to the Seven. In the next days Meera recovered relatively quickly. It was Gard's idea - and his wife agreed - to call the girl after Meeras older sister Morya, who died some years ago and who was remembered as a flower among the noblewomen. Of course the parents of Meera and Gard (and the other local nobles) were informed about the birth, but Gard's mother who still disliked Meera did congratulate but stay at distance to her first legitimate grandchild.

                          It was around that time that Alyanna returned with the mostly good news (although of course Gard was concerned that some scoundrels nearly kidnaped his sister - and get away without real punishment). Aly had also the problem at hand to discourage William Sunderland to ask her brother for a betrothal - she was not really interested in a marriage, and while she had nothing special against William, his person and his position was nothing what catches her heart and mind. She was able to delay that problem a little bit and discourage him, arguing that the situation between the Vale and the Riverlands was complicated at the moment (as the release of the would-be-kidnappers by Lord Borrell and Sunderland had shown) and that this might not be a good time for rash decisions.
                          Her voyage was also in parts a success since she was able to get some additional information about the ancient magical phenomenons on the Sisters - information which she shared with Lo Tho. Mainly it were just stories about a secret Targaryan stronghold or a grave, stories about the Northern occupation, ghosts like the Skinned Man, who was flayed by a Bolton but was still wandering and taking his revenge on Northerners when the mist was thick, about artefacts who were used to control wind, storm and the creatures of the sea like sea-dragons. Together with her other researches she now was very well informed about the local tales and knowledge about magic and similar topics. However, most people surely would call that fruitless information...

                          A few days later a small group arrived from Krayenhorn - it was Jerryk, a Vintenar of the local scout-unit, who monitored the borderland, with two of his men. With them was Arryk, the "septon" and de facto head of Sevenhill, a community in the disputed area towards the Mountains of the Moon, and Robb, the local warrior who fought with his small warband against the clans and had become a hero for some people in the borderlands. While the rumours that Robb had up to 100 armed men and women were surely inflated, he had (in parts thanks to the secret help by Alyanna, who donated up to 30 dragons in his fight) increased the number of his fighters to around 30. They had shown up at Krayenhorn, planning greater actions in the mountains. However Lady Anya of Krayenhorn prohibited the armed gang access to her land and only allowed Robb and Arryk to pass towards Dragonstone – she did not trusted them very well. Robbs "unit" seem to live mostly from hunting and what the communities in the borderlands gave them (perhaps not in any case voluntarily). However they had made some progress in repelling attacks from the mountain-clans.
                          Robb and Arryk reported that they did know the whereabouts of "Ser Pirron Strife", the outlawed knight of the Arans who very likely was Joren Ripon, the last member house Ripon of Twinwood. That was something Gard was very interested in, because Joren/Pirron not only tried to kidnap/kill two of his guests from the houses Aran and Fallkirk while they stayed at Dragonport (their houses had nearly extinct his family and claimed their land). He was also (of course not in public) said to have raped Gard's bride and now wife Meera. On the other hand some people whispering that Meera had an affair with him, but that was nothing Gard believed. Pirron/Joren had sided with Ture Stronghand (aka Ture Luckless aka Ture Fastwalker, because notwithstanding several setbacks against the flatlandlords the Clanschef had managed to avoid being captured and had to run fast to rally support) of the Mist Brothers, a long time enemy of house Blyth. In the past the outlaw had also organized weapons for the clans, but that had stopped recently.

                          Gard negotiated with Robb, "buying" information and support for an action against Pirron for ten swords and two Spears plus the promise to further support his fight in the future. For this promise he learned that Robb caught a deserter from Pirrons troop (probably a former criminal recruit of house Lugus' penalty-company). Pirron did try to train Tures men and his own ragtag band of misfits for coordinated attacks, perhaps even against fortified positions. At the moment it was said that he and his unit - maybe around 50 men and fighting women together with some civilians - were at an old abandoned "fortress" in the mountains, located on a narrow mountain ledge, just above a glacier-lake. It was at least a six-day travel via Krayenhorn, Sevenhill and the so called Catpath (named because of the mysterious and feared Shadowcats, a clan which even others clans were afraid of and who are said to be close to the - also widely feared - Burned Men).
                          Gard did his best to get as much information as possible from his guests, who he placed among his officers (Aly, who secretly watched the conversations of the guests with his brother and was very well informed what was going on had to mollify some frictions between Robb and one of the officers).

                          The young lord did of course favoured the idea of an operation against this "fortress" to decimate this possible threat and end the Pirron/Joren-problem (which were not only his but also those of house Fallkirk and house Aran), weakening Ture even further and preventing more daring attacks against settlements. But it would be a risky operation. In the rough terrain he would not be able to use cavalry, and his soldiers would have let their heavy armor behind. Any operations was in danger to be spotted, so that Pirrons men might get support or the expedition force may be ambushed on their way back. Logistic was also difficult, they needed the right gear and so on...
                          The idea of a small raid by a secret operating minimal group of men was discussed but it seemed unlikely that this would be so much better. They could for sure move faster and their chance of reaching their target undetected was much higher, but the risk of being spotted was still high, and on their way back they would probably be an easy prey. So the young lord preferred the idea of using a mixed formation of up to 200 men - Robbs fighters, some scouts and his (lighter armored) personal guard. With such a force he thought it must be possible not just to overpower Pirrons men but also scare away any revenge attempt by Ture or any quick incursion by the Shadowcats (who were said to had allied with Tures enemies inside the Mist Brothers and because of this were also enemies of Pirron, but surely hated the flatlanders more). But of course he needed support from the Arans and/or Krayenhorn to get some scouts, and he planed to use his 40 men of light and heavy cavalry as some kind of "smoke screen" - to send them into the borderlands to draw attention and in this way disguise the target and movement of his main force. Alyanna secretly supported this preparations by spreading false rumours about the next planed operations of the troops of Dragonport - they were said to be directed against pirates or something.
                          In fact house Dragonport had some dealing with pirates, but so far not on the battlefield - after secret negotiations lead by Alyanna around two dozen of Nardis prisoners were freed and send to Dragonport. Around a quarter of them were merchants and captains who were held for ransom, the rest were women who were kept prisoners as future slaves or suffered as whores of the pirates, or men who were captured to be sold as slaves. They all could return home now, but lord Gard tried to get at least some of the money back from the richer prisoners. He was successful, but lost still around 50 dragons in that exchange. However he saw the protection of trade and travel as something Dragonport could only profit from.

                          It was the task of Aly to negotiate the support from the scouts of house Blyth of Krayenhorn. The (in absence of her husband) ruling lady Anya wanted to use this demand to lower the debt of her house towards the Blyth of Dragonport, but Aly was able to do convince her to reduce the price - although she had no support from Paedrig who was with her as some kind of military advisor (he was more on Lady Anyas side due to his secret - or perhaps not entire secret - crush for the lady of Krayenhorn). In the end Aly agreed to lower the debt by 150 dragons, not 400 as demanded, arguing that any operation in the borderlands were a great benefit for all houses - and for Krayenhorn and their liege lords Aran even more than for Dragonport.
                          Aly was also busy (supported by Lo Tho) to search in the chaotic archives of castle Dragonport after information about the fortification her brother wanted to attack, but she got no real news. There was no map, just some old written stories about this location which claimed that this was a place even the clansmen fled during fall and winter, maybe because the weather may be too harsh, because some ,monsters' may come from the mountain-glaciers (cats, spiders - a DRAGON!).

                          The preparations for the small expedition did cost quiet some money - as secretly as possible food for two weeks, tents, ropes, good boots, some mules and garrons etc. should be send to Krayenhorn (disguised as supply for the scouts). All that cost another 200 dragons altogether, most of the money went directly in the pockets of Krayenhorn. Gard also spend some coins so that Robbs men could be fed while they waited for the operation to start. Together with around three "Vintenaries" (20 men each) of the scouts they should support his personal guard during the operation. He was also able to convince Robb to accept the orders from the commander of the scouts in major battles (nothing that young warrior liked). Maybe it was some kind of revenge that he used a training-fight to defeat the lord clearly...
                          The two young squires at Dragonport, Sammil of Lemonplume and Hal Sunstone, convinced Gard that they could take part, although the lord wanted to keep a close eye on them. But they should learn how to lead troops and fight, and such a "controlled operation" (or so Gard thought) may be better than a real war against the forces of Tywin Lannister. Of course he was a little bit nervous about the operation, since he would let Dragonport with little troops left - the cavalry would be on patrol (although the heavy cavalry should return soon), the personal guard would be in the mountains, leaving behind just a unit of garrison-soldiers and parts of the fleet. However since the main force of the pirates in the Bite had left the area, it seemed a risk which could be taken.

                          The 100 soldiers from Dragonport marched in good order and high speed towards Krayenhorn, where they met with Robb's men and the local scouts under the command of their centenar Adam "Border Wanderer". It was obvious that Krayenhorn had even suffered more under the events of the last month. The stables were mostly empty, many of the men had left to fight in the Riverlands - and the realm had never been as wealthy as Dragonport. Gard took care that his troops kept discipline. And while the hospitality of Krayenhorn was limited, he found everything was well prepared. He paid his respect to Lady Anya, discussing political and economic issues with her, for example the vague plans of a greater hunt of the local houses to got flesh for the coming winter. Of course this would need a lot of salt, what may be a problem for the indebted Krayenhorn (less for house Dragonport since they bought a lot of salt some months ago).

                          On the next morning a combined force of 200 men - personal guards of house Blyth of Dragonport, scouts of house Blyth of Krayenhorn and militias of Robb's war band - departed the tower towards wilderness. Lady Anya accompanied them to the borders of her liege and then said goodbye.
                          From day one small groups of scouts - around a third or forth of the 100 men of Robb and Adam - were send as vanguard to avoid a possible ambush. The use of fire in the camp was limited (although not completely forbidden) and during the nights at least 50 to 60 men had to be awake at any time - and even the lord and the squires had to take part in the shifts. Gard took the whole operation very serious - he had not forgotten that his brother and he himself were both wounded seriously during past skirmishes with the mountain clans.
                          A two-day-march brought the men to Sevenhill, were they were greeted with cautious hospitality. Gard took care that his men good fresh food and stayed with them, while some of the officers and nobles slept inside the small (but fortified) village. It seems that the hamlet had grown a little bit since his last visit, very likely by refugees from smaller settlements who were driven away by raids of the clans. Sevenhill now had even a small inn, the "Mother and Maid" (although no sane mother would send her maid into this location). There were some news - Ture Luckless seem at least to have found a little bit luck, since it was said he had won a small battle against his rivals. He was still searching for new fighters, and this success may boost his chances to find some. This made future attacks of him more likely and made it even more urgent to wipe out his allies.

                          The next days of the march went without contact with hostile (or other) people. There were signs that the small army had left the half-civilized borderlands, for example the head of a sheep or goat on a tree as a warning or grim message, and the terrain became more and more hostile. The Catpath they reached on the second day after they had left Sevenhill was at first just wide enough for 2-3 men to march side by side, and the terrain seemed to be ideal for someone who want to lay an ambush and rain rocks and javelins from above. However the vanguard found no sign of enemies. Gard did his best to stay in touch with his officers and men, not just the soldiers from Dragonport but also the scouts and Robb's men, and since he had a convincing nature, he had some success to boost moral and confidence in his leadership. On the other hand he himself was a little bit nervous, because there were howling wolves in the distance, and since he was nearly killed by wolves during his youth he had a deep fear for the grey predators.
                          On the third day of their march from Sevenhill there was the first sign of men in the mist - but a rather strange one. There was a voice, coming from nowhere, but it shouted repeatedly in a language nearly none of the men could understand. It was the young Dornish squire Sammil of Lemonplume and the exiled Ironmen Torgon Arendal who could understand it - it was "Stop" - but neither in the common or old tongue but in Valyrian (Sammil did speak a little bit High Valyrian and Torgon had learned a bastardized version of the Valyrian language from his mother, a saltwife from Meereen). No one had an idea who may speak this language HERE, on a place were only savages lived. Nervous by this strange encounter the soldiers marched on, but at least not enemy was spotted.

                          On the next day they reached the mountain fortress they want to destroy - a crude complex of walls and small houses and a greater hall. Only on one side it was possible to reach the fortress across a mountain flank, and even there you had to march uphill - the other sides were maybe possible to master for a skilled climber but nothing anyone unit could dare to conquer. There was no clear sight of the inhabitants or guards and the wall seemed damaged at one point, but that could also be an ambush or just the result of long years of neglect. Gard reorganized his forces quickly. While the scouts scattered to build a harder target (and should cover the advance with their arrows) his personal guard closed in, formed as a gigantic tortoise-shell - quiet a difficult manoeuvre, but the trained men under their skilled commander executed it perfectly. And so they marched forward, prepared to meet their foes in battle...
                          However as the men reached the breach in the walls it became obvious that the fortress had been abandoned. There was no sound or sign of resistance from within. The soldiers marched in, still awaiting a trap, but nothing happened. Gard let his men hold position while he ordered the scouts to follow his personal guard. Then small groups of men started to examine the fortress.

                          It soon became all too clear that the fortress had been captured, and just a short time ago. There were some tools, cloths, food and even weapons scattered around, and there was a secondary defensive position around the "hall" of the fortress, but even this last stand had not lasted, or so it seems. Strange enough the fortress seemed not to be pillaged - as everyone would have suspected from clansmen. And there were only few corpses - some slain animals, yes, but beside from around one and half a dozen bodies of men, women and children, mutilated and burned beyond recognition in one of the small houses there were no fresh graves or anything like that. It was rumoured that for example the infamous Shadowcats did eat the flesh of their victims, but even they would not take away just the "meat" leaving behind normal food, clothes and even some bronze tools and weapons.
                          All this make the "conquerors" feel a little bit nervous. Their prey was missing - if Pirron was dead or not was impossible to say - and whoever had taken the fortress must be out there, not too far away. But it seemed useless to search for traces in this terrain and in an area where enemies may gather quickly, if the flatlanders stayed too long. Very likely Gards expedition would have little chance to do anything other than retreat soon.
                          Gard ordered his men to stay on high alert, and one third of every unit should be awake at any time during the night. Small patrols should even watch that no one sneaked inside over the sides of the wall-less sides’ fortress. It soon become obvious that they should have no time to rest...

                          It was during the first watch that alarm was given - late, almost too late. A force of maybe 80-100 attackers had made it nearly to the walls before the guards spotted them, marching in deep darkness and without any sound. The soldiers lit some torches, but even Gard, a skilled leader of men, had to hurry to reorganize his men. But he was able to do so, so that the personal guard stand ready and the scouts took formation behind them when the attackers reached the damaged walls. But to their horror the men had to discover that their enemies - warriors but also civilians - seem to be not ordinary clansmen, but resurrected corpses! Many of them did bear wounds no living being could survive! The shock was deep, and just training kept the moral from breaking instantly. Maybe the fact that it was a highly disciplined personal guard with a trusted commander attached was the only reason that the battle turned not into a massacre right from the start.
                          Gard and Lothar Hendriks, the old and experienced master of arms of Dragonport and commander of the personal guard, lead their men in a counterattack. The fighting moved forward and back, and even the young squire Sammil and Gard himself had to face undead enemies - foes who had to be hacked to pieces, with wounds and maiming any living man beside some berserks could not cope with. But in the end and after a hard and bitter fight which saw the personal guard nearly becoming disorganized, leadership and weapons payed off and the attack of this horrible army was repelled, leaving behind up to 50 mutilated bodies which still moved after been hacked into pieces. A strange voice cried somewhere in the darkness, signalling retreat and defeat - the living had neither the courage nor the strength to pursue their enemies. The personal guard had suffered serious losses, but their will to fight never was broken. So Gard praised his men and ordered to collect the sometimes still flinching remains of the fallen enemies with long weapons like spears and axes and burn them - and they burned as if they were dipped into oil. So ended a night of horror with a grim victory.

                          On the next morning the soldiers also had to honour their fallen comrades. The scouts and Robb's men had not suffered losses, since they went not into action, but quiet a number of the personal guards had fallen, and others were wounded. It was part luck and part result of their good training that the unit did not crumble. Gard ordered the corpses of his soldiers to be burned too - he could not take them with him in this terrain, and to burry them here would not only left the remains open to further actions of the local clans (who very likely would not respect the peace of graves of hated flatlanders). He also feared a little bit the fallen could be reanimated by whatever dark magic was behind all this. So he ordered to burn them, while he praised their sacrifice and courage. But his men and even he himself were deeply disturbed. Some of his men even did not want to admit what they had seen (it could not be what should not be), and the rest was highly nervous. Gard ordered his squires to collect all reports what the men had seen during the night (with mixed results which did not clarify the situation much). Of course he and his men had no wish to stay here any longer, fearing the return of the living dead (although they hoped that their unknown enemy had lost too much of his soldiers to strike again immediately).
                          But before they could depart, a small advancing army - maybe around 100 men and women - was spotted. It was strange enough that the men from Dragonport felt relief when they noticed that this were "just" clansmen, although it become obvious that most of them were members of the feared Shadowcat tribe. They wear grey and white paintings, and perhaps up to a dozen of the mighty feline predators were present in their ranks - as were some members of other clans or brigands (but these men seem unarmed and surrounded by Shadowcat-warriors - very likely survivors of the fortress?).

                          Und normal circumstances Gard would prepared for battle and strike first, confident to defeat this ,savages'. Not so much because he hated them, but if clansmen were killed here, they may be scared of to raid the borderlands and even the civilized lands. This time however he just wanted to secure the life of his men after the terrible night. So he talked first before he gave orders to shoot.
                          It became clear that the Shadowcats, lead by Gormak "the old" (although he might be just in his 50s, and yes, he had a shadowcat at his side) were also not here because they wanted to kill flatlanders. They were after the "fighting dead", the "icehearts", and maybe a little bit impressed that the undead were repelled by men from the "plains". Gormak and Gard had a difficult conversation in the middle between their forces, but in the end the clansmen were not in the mood to fight - this time. However, Gormak made clear that this was their fight, and their land - nothing Gard wanted to dispute. It seemed obvious that they did know something about what happened here, but it seemed also as if this was a threat that had just retuned after sleeping over many, many years.
                          A further complication was Robb's hatred towards the Shadowcats which he blamed for the disappearance of his love, Elyra, a girl from Sevenhill who was first kidnapped by the Mist Brothers and shortly after that taken away by a "Shadowcat" (if a real cat or a men of that tribe was unclear). Gormak showed little respect or sorrow and mocked the young man mercilessly. The situation almost escalated into violence, but Gard (with words) and Turgon (with strength) were able to hold Robb back. Gard offered a ransom for Elyras return should she be indeed a prisoners, but had little hop. He also convinced Gormak to hand "Pirron Strife" - who was among the unarmed in the ranks of the Shadowcats - over to him for some weapons. The clansmen felt no commitment to the outlaw, and so they traded him lightly.
                          After that both sides departed - but surely did not trust each other. Some Shadowcats followed the soldiers in distance, and Gard's men stayed in high alert, fearing that either the living dead might return or the clansmen may try to ambush them...
                          Robb suggested they instead should ambush the small group of clansmen who followed them, but Gard did not want to risk the fragile temporary ceasefire and thought his men had fight enough for now.

                          The weather turned to the worse during this day - while the winter was still a distance away outside of the mountains, he seemed to be close up here. There was sudden snowfall after dawn, and not a light one. So the camp they build was a rough one, and there were additional disturbing circumstances. Several men including Gard thought to had seen something out there during the night - a figure not really human, but they had no idea what it was. No one was willing to stumble into the snow and darkness to search for whatever it was. Gard took care that his men were protected against the cold as good as possible and that they hold some torches ready, although only small fires could kept alive due to a shortage of firewood. What creature lurked in the shadow, he or she did not attack.
                          The next day the men marched on into the snow and mist. They had still food, but not for many days, and the longer they stayed the more the clans might be able to rally - not just the Shadowcats, who seem busy with their own agenda. In the afternoon the snowfall stopped and soon the army reached areas which were free of snow - a great relief. Just another day, they did know, and they would left the highland.
                          However it soon became clear as that the mountains would not let them go without a fight. It was in the afternoon of the following day and on the last bottleneck of their path, that Gard's men and he himself spotted clansmen who were laying in wait.
                          However these were not treacherous Shadowcats, since the battle cry of the charging clansmen was "Ture!" and they did not wear the grey-white-patterns of the 'cats. But they were (for clansmen) well armed and their attack was ferocious. While half of their small warband showered the flatlanders with javelins and arrows, the rest charged down the mountain flank. However Gard's men were well prepared since they had spotted the enemy in time and were not surprised, and the young lord was a skilled commander. They formed a shield wall to got some cover - the scouts remained chequered behind them. The attack of the clan-infantry crushed against their lines, but the wall of shield hold on and the attack was stopped, than the enemies' unit thrown into disarray and even routed. The scouts gave projectile-support and did their part in routing the infantry and scarring away the rest of the clansmen. In the end Ture's army - very likely the last he would ever be able to rally after a new and bloody defeat - broke and fled, leaving behind up to 50 dead or heavy wounded, who were quickly finished off by the soldiers. Own casualties were limited. "Pirron" who had attempted to flee during the fight was beaten up and had little hope of another chance of escape.

                          This was the last blow the mountains did blow against the men from the Riverlands. Sevenhill, which they reached at the end of the next day, welcomed the soldiers maybe not with enthusiasm, but with fresh food. "Septon" Arryk did of course not really believed what some of the soldiers told about fighting corpses (Gard kept his thoughts and fears mainly secret). He was relieved that the clans had got a bloody blow, although this would not end the menace by other groups than Ture's/Strife's men. It was around that time that Robb's forces departed. The lord and the warrior might not be friends and maybe never will be, but they seemed to have some respect for the abilities of each other. How they would cooperate in the future was still open - Gard had promised to support Robb's forces further with money and material but he still not fully trusted the young warrior and his ambitions.
                          The next two days towards Krayenhorn went without mayor events. Sadly it became more and more clear that the scouts - while having suffered only minimal losses in both battles - had lost a good part of their discipline and will to fight as a unit. Some may considering deserting, others were frightened by what they had seen. This was of course a sad result, and Gard decided to support Krayenhorn as good as possible to strengthen the unit again (not just because he felt some guilt and responsibility, but because the scouts were a precious first line of defence for his realm, too).
                          At Krayenhorn lady Anya was informed about the events. Although he own officer confirmed Gard's words, she was a bit sceptical about the supernatural aspects of the operation to say the least - something she could hardly be blamed for. Here Gard's men also met Paedrig Rivers with the light cavalry of Krayonhorn. His unit and the heavy cavalry had indeed harassed the borderlands to cover the march of their comrades, and maybe they had drawn some attention away from them. While the heavy cavalry safely returned to Dragonport, the light cavalry have had less luck. One of their two squads had been ambushed, and only the poor discipline of the clansmen might have rescued them from certain death. They had lost some dead and wounded - it seemed as if Paedrigs Second in Command was not very capable, a problem which had to be solved in the near future.
                          On the next day - after two weeks of absence - the soldiers of Dragonport (less than 100 men personal guards and light cavalry) retuned home, victorious, but their ranks thinned and their minds upset. It was obvious that the lawlessness in the borderlands and the dangers of raiding against the realms Dragonport and Krayenhorn and maybe also beyond was reduced, and it was sure that house Blyth would got some credit for the defeat his men dealt to Ture. But that had come for a price.

                          Their welcome was a little bit mixed. The return was of course celebrated, but it was obvious that several men were missing. Gard honoured his men for their courage and victories in a short but well placed speech (he did not mentioned the...strange aspects of their journey in public), and he promised to help the families of the fallen. Pirron Strife was thrown into the tower. The young lord than informed also his "inner circle" - his wife, sister but also the healer Elen and Lo Tho (who both seem to have some interest or knowledge about strange phenomenon's) about the rather gruesome and strange encounters of the expedition. Meera suggested, that it may not be wise to tell her brother (or her father, when he returned) ALL the details. Gard could easily become the target of mockery if he claimed to have fought against living dead. Her husband agreed, heavy hearted, since he feared that it may not be the last time he have heard about the "icehearts". He also apologized before his sister and Elen, since in the past he had taken Elens dreams and Alyanna's interest into magic not always serious. Furthermore he promised Alyanna and Lo Tho support and money for future researches into the subject - mainly about resurrection, necromancy etc. They should also wrote a report about his journey and everything what happened during it, to preserve it for coming rulers of Dragonport (although maybe most of them would not believe it...).
                          For now both Lo Tho and Aly could only remember some old stories and legends - mainly about the Others in the high North, that the wildlings beyond the Wall burn their dead to avoid that they came back, but also about a Weirwitch at Cracklaw Point, who in the distant past kissed the heads of slain enemies so that they speak again to guide her husband, and about the dark fate of Hardhome, a small town north of the Wall who had been fallen 600 years ago to a unknown foe and which is said to be plagued by bloodthirsty ghosts and hungry corpses ever since. There were also some local rumours about the Shadowcats - some claimed they may been leftovers from the army of the Others during the Long Night, servants of a great evil, others said that they stand guard against its return - maybe the last was more correct...
                          Nothing of that brought any satisfying explanation, but maybe some traces which could be followed in the future.

                          In the next few days surely the whispers about what happened in the mountains spread, although few seem to believe it. But what happened was also the reason - maybe just the last of several others - that the old commander of the personal guard and Master of Arms of house Dragonport asked to be released from his duties. Lothar Hendriks had fought in many battles, but maybe the last was one too many. Gard praised him and gave him some dozen of dragons as additional reward for long years of service, but he had now to find a competent, trustworthy and respected replacement for the veteran - not an easy task.
                          The fate of Pirron Strife/Joren Ripon of Twinwood was also an open question. Meera asked for a quick execution (some might say to remove a former lover who know very damaging secrets about her). However Gard convinced her to interrogate the prisoner first, than decide on his fate. It was maybe some relief for Meera that it was obvious that her husband was so much convinced from his wife that he might not always share her wishes and ideas, but he would never really distrust her or believe any lie (or truth) his prisoner may tell over her past.
                          So it was not that Gard believed any of the rumours, but he was deeply disturbed, maybe a little bit traumatized from what he had seen in the Mountains of the Moon and did not want to silence the only man at hand who witnessed the return of the "icehearts" first handed. A man who also may have access to some secrets of high value. So Gard prepared a interrogation - feeding his prisoners badly over some days and than presenting him a lot of "tools" who may inflict great harm and pain if he decided to stay silent (that was mainly for intimidation, since if Gard did torture or ordered to doing so, some knives and a small fire was more than enough as it has been proven in the past).
                          However even with these preparations Joren - he confessed to be indeed the last of the Ripons of Twinwood as Gard already guessed - was not an easy target. He argued so convincingly despite his bad position that in the end he rescued his life - maybe also because Gard was still a little bit of balance and did not want to kill a witness of the strange events. Joren's life would be spared, with taking the black of the Night's Watch as the alternative to execution (it may be a grim joke that he should stand guard on a Wall which according to legends was built to keep supernatural beings and their undead servants out) - and should he ever try to flee or spread "lies" about Meera before being send to the Wall he would be executed without a second thought.

                          Joren told that in the past he had indeed got support from flatlanders - house Lugus had provided him with some weapons and money, but that had stopped some time ago, maybe after the short lived ceasefire between house Blyth and Lugus, maybe because of the war - or both. He also confirmed that Ture did get some information from house Fallkirk in the past, but this had stopped for some time and Jorren did not know who the Tures source of information had bee. He also told about an old family secret: in the last days of the rebellion against the Mad King, the treasurer of house Targaryen had send men to this area. There were stories of a secret intrigue and a huge amount of money, money which should convince one of the major houses to flip sides. However he did not know details, being a child at this time.
                          And he told about what happened at his fortress in the mountains. Some weeks before a part of the glacier nearby had broken off, opening old caverns and tunnels, in which corpses in precious armor and weapons made of bronze could be found. A menacing old man with scars tried to warn some of the people, but although they did not slay him, they did not follow his advice. However, after a few days the first tomb raiders began to disappear, and soon after they returned as reanimated corpses, killing anyone in their path. Many of the inhabitants left in time, but some had waited to long and were cut of. Too late they learnt that only fire could bring definite death to the undead, and only some of them made a dangerous escape over the rough flanks of the mountain to the lake beneath the fortress.

                          It seemed as if this curse had slept for centuries or longer, just to be wake up recently. But who was the commander of the undead - the mysterious creature Gard had seen in the night, the voice who cried during the attack of the living dead or anything else - remained a secret. All this was not much, but Gard - which flaw was that he was an honour bound noble - felt as he had little choice but stand to his word. This might one day come back to haunt him, as it did not go down so good with the Fallkirk and Arans who both would have preferred an execution. They still supported Gard with some money as reward for the increased security in their realms due to his actions, but probably less than they would have done with Joren's head on a pike...

                          Of course beside this mysterious and dramatic events there was a lot of politics going on during the last months. The war had stripped many houses of their rulers who had gone to war, and while their replacements - the ladies or heirs - were far from incompetent, there was ever the danger that someone would want to test their abilities, given the fact that a lot of their resources and power was invested far abroad. The consequences of war were not as harsh as southward of the Trident, but all rulers had to face a decrease in trade and some additional problems. So far most houses were able to hold their ground.
                          Some like Sunstone and the Septrie Eaglewood took in some of the refugees who were fleeing the war or the renewed raids of the mountain clans in the last months.
                          House Fallkirk got a good fortune since their salt and iron was highly demanded in times of war, but they had to invest some of their income to replace the losses their archers had suffered in the battle at the Green Fork.
                          House Weymouth had even less luck. Their archers also lost quiet an amount of men in the same battle, and at home the house was hit by smaller raids of pirates despite the efforts of the small Dragonport navy. They were able to compensate their losses, however this cost them a huge amount of their savings from better times. Future losses would be hard to cope with.
                          House Aran increased its military reserves a little bit - supported by two banner houses and led by lord Aran's heir they were in a relatively comfortable position.
                          House Krayenhorn could regain the old strength of their scouts thanks to the help from Dragonport, and had now paid most of his debt back.
                          House Dannett had beside the Fallkirks the best fortune, conquering some land of the Lugus, although their new territory needed additional investments. It remained open if the house could manage to secure Stony Oak, would give it to a minor noble as landed knight or perhaps sell it to another party. And the fate of this house remained still uncertain since young lord Adham Dannett had a frail health and no heir (or wife).
                          Until now at least at least 100 men from the realm which was sworn to house Aran had died in the first months of the war, and maybe the same number of people was killed in fighting with pirates and clansmen during the same time - including a number of civilians. The position of the local houses was until now a lucky one. All in all the war had so far mostly siphoned resources out of the realms, but not in a catastrophic way. However, more and more the houses lost their savings who should have been a safeguard for sudden problems and setbacks. They had luck that neither pirates nor clansmen were a threat they could not deal with, and that Tywin Lannister and the fleets of the rival kings were far away. Should this change, things could quickly turn ugly.
                          And winter was coming...

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                          • #58
                            Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                            Strange Friends, strange threads, strange treasures


                            As mentioned in the last story, the cavalry of Dragonport did their best to support the incursion of Gard's expeditionary force into the Mountains of the Moon by patrolling the borderland, scouting and working as a distraction. Paedrigs detachment encountered not much – only a small band of mountain claners with some goats. Paedrig failed to surprise the clansmen. The patrol could only gather some of the animals while the claners retreated. One cavalryman was injured by an arrow and Paedrig decided to not pursue the enemies further.
                            When Paedrig returned to Krayenhorn he discovered, that the other detachment of his unit had been ambushed and lost almost half of its men. The commander of the detachment faced some very harsh words by Paedrig. The young knight came to the conclusion that this man was unable to lead and had to be replaced soon.
                            A few days later Gard's expedition force returned – victorious but with losses and rather unnerving stories about walking corpses and lurking dangers of the night. Paedrig was not sure what he should think about all this although he did know his Lord as a no-nonsense man without a favor for rumors and superstition. Concerning the performance of Paedrig's unit, his Lord agreed that a new second-in-command was needed. Paedrigs unit than escorted the troops home. Leaving Krayenhorn was bittersweet for Paedrig, leaving behind the woman he secretly loved (although given the cramped condition there was no opportunity for a secret meeting between Paedrig and his step-aunt Anya anyway).

                            At Dragonport the next weeks did not bring much new, beside the spread of fantastic rumors about Gard's encounter in the mountains – this certainly endangered the reputation of the young Lord among other nobles who of course did not believe these stories. Gard's sister Alyanna ordered two eye-witnesses, the young squire Sammil Lemmonplume and Turgon (a former sea officer who was transferred to the personal guards for his service as bodyguard of Lady Alyanna), to write a report about the whole operation and the fight with the walking corpses.
                            However trade increased during this time because the most notorious pirates of the area, ‘King’ Nardis and his men, had left to fight for Stannis. Lord Gard started to plan further naval operation to clean the area from remaining pirates. The Lord also was busy to manage the increasing flow of war refugees. He stimulated and increased the local fishing industry and initiated the construction of new warehouses for trade goods. Gard also wanted to increase the number of the town council members by adding a representative of the fishermen. While the city council of Dragonport agreed that trade, commerce and food support should be increased, many were not keen of the idea of a newcomer among their ranks. The Lord got his will, but not much money from the council. He had to stem the planned investments (which probably would cost several thousands gold dragons) mostly out of his own coffers. On the other hand he got some financial support from members of the fisher guild.
                            Beside these investments, Gard had also to spend some money for a crowning gift for King Robb Stark – notwithstanding the question what he thought about the idea of secession and the new ‘King of the North and the Riverlands’.
                            Paedrig's own construction enterprise, a house in Dragonport, was almost done – it was quite an experience for the young knight to have his own domicile.

                            To fund the new town investments, some hundred gold dragons could be collected as ransom for the noble prisoners which Paedrig had captured in the south, but Gard's liege lord and house Dannett had also to get their share of the booty.
                            While the male prisoners were released quickly, Ludviga Lugus had to stay behind. Lady Alyanna (who organized the whole ransom business) wanted to keep her at Dragonport for the moment. Perhaps she wanted her as insurance or speculated that Ludvigas ‘worth’ (as sister of the heir of house Lugus) might increase – for example if her brother would die in the war…
                            Anyway Alyanna and Blackbird (the female minstrel of house Dragonport and one of Alyannys spies) did invest some time to befriend the captured Ludviga. They were not the only one, because Ludviga – young, beautiful and of high heritage – did have a lot of admirers around the younger (and older) knights and officers, including f. e. Ser Buckwell, the steward of the city. The only unwedded knights or men of higher standing who were not after Ludviga seem to be the two young squires Torrhen Fallkirk (who had started an affair with Alyannas maid) and Sammil of Lemmonplume (who was enamored by a young noble from the local house Sunstone) – and Paedrig Rivers. Given the fact that he had some responsibility for ‘his’ prisoner and should prevent any flight attempt or ‘damaging’ of Ludvigas ‘ransom value’, the young knight became more and more frustrated by all these romancing (probably also because his own love life was a little bit complicated). Alyanna however kept also a watchful eye on the hostage.

                            The townsfolk – already unnerved by the stories of walking dead – was further unsettled by a red comet which could be seen for several nights – for many a bad omen. Both Lo Tho (the mysterious visitor from abroad who stayed at Dragonport as guest of the noble family) and Elen (the local healer who was said to have some…strange abilities) studied the comet but did not come up with reassuring news. Lo Tho even mentioned secretly that the comet might be a sign of the ‘Lion of the Night’, a terrible demon lord…

                            Probably also as a result of the gruesome encounters during Gards expedition into the mountains, Lothar Hendriks, commander of the personal guard and Master of Arms decided to retire. This created a gap which was not easy to fill, just like the losses of trained men during the operation. Paedrig had also to replace the recent losses of the light cavalry unit and was looking for a new (and more able) second in command. But the war and the recent mobilization or upgrade of units in the area had reduced the number of potential candidates significantly.
                            In the end it were mostly officers who were already part of the Dragonport troops, who competed to be Master of Arms – foremost Ser Bowyer (commander of the heavy cavalry unit) and William Sunderland (commander of one of the Dragonport ships). Paedrig was tempted to also to compete and he certainly did have some leverage with his recent successes and deeds. However he was uncertain if he was up for such a task – and feared that such a position would pin him down to do mostly static and organizational duties. He LIKED being commander of a mobile unit, operating often on his own, patrolling the borderland (with an occasional opportunity to visit Krayenhorn and thereby his secret love, Anya).
                            His relationship to the other competitors was complicated. Bowyer, his former commander, had never really liked the young bastard, probably considering him as a potential rival and thinking that he was fare more ambitious and proud than his status should allow. And William Sunderland looked even more down on the bastard knight – fueled by the fact that William was still not a knight and that Paedrig was ordered to ‘test’ Williams’s knightly abilities and chivalrousness (and did this very challenging), while William did came from a major house and considered himself HIGH above ANY noble bastard. Paedrig also did not completely trust Williams’s ambitions, so he decided to support Bowyer – if his former commander agreed to name Paedrig as is deputy. Bowyer reluctantly agreed and did indeed win the competition.
                            For the commander of the personal guard there were also several candidates: Aemon Smith, a seasoned veteran of the unit, Stepen Aycre, a man who was famous around the men but had also got a doubtful reputation during the short reign of Gards vicious brother Viserion, and last but not least Ser Edward Strongarm, a young hedge knight who was also a friend of the heir of Gard's liege lord Lord Aran. In the end Lord Gard decided that Aemon should do the job. Paedrig did not try to influence this result or claim the position for him.

                            ***

                            A few days later, all unit commanders and high ranking officers had a meeting with the Lord. Gard informed them, that a mercenary unit from the Stepstones would arrive soon – reinforcement for the war in the Riverlands. The victorious troops of King Robert wanted to invade the central Riverlands and therefore much more men were needed. The mercenaries (around 400 men and 100 horses plus the crew of the transport and escort vessels) were hired by House Frey and would temporarily increase the population of Dragonport by around 50 percent. This was certainly a logistic and security challenge. Quarters and food had to be organized (while Lord Frey did only provide limited funds) and Lord Gard wanted to ensure that he had a tight control on the whole situation. Therefore (as Paedrig also favored) the arriving troops should mostly stay outside the town.
                            Paedrig had to organize the forage for the horses – an opportunity to visit Krayenhorn. Although he was able to dominate the negotiations with his step-aunt Anya, he did not push the price as far as he could, thanks to his feelings for Anya.
                            Lady Alyanna of Dragonport on the other hand negotiated with Lord Edwyn Fallkirk for support, but this was tough – especially given the fact that the Fallkirks still did cling to their grudge against Dragonport and the young Lord seemed totally uninterested in Alyannas charm and beauty. This surprised the young Lady (who was used to profit from her appearance) and she started a little research to find the possible cause.

                            When the mercenaries arrived at Dragonport, they were welcomed by the garrison and members of the personal guard and than escorted to their camp, while the cavalry of Dragonport paraded nearby – an impressing show of force and not so subtle warning.
                            The Mercenary Company was called the ‘Five Fingers of Death’: two units light and one unit of normal cavalry, a unit of heavy shock infantry and one unit of crossbowmen.
                            Their commander was Terro Reris, an old and bald veteran with numerous scars, three much younger wives and (so it was said) an artificial denture made out of the teeth of dead enemies. Gulian Santagar, a young dornish officer of the light cavalry, acted as liaison officer.
                            In the evening, a banquet was hold at the castle for high ranking members of the Mercenary Company and their companions. Although Reris not very polite behavior, the meeting was a success. Paedrig mostly talked with Santagar, because the young Bastard knight wanted to know more about the land his mother came from.
                            The planed departure of the mercenaries had to be delayed because one ship (with lot of the impedimenta) was still missing. So the troops had to stay for some time at Dragonport. They mostly behaved well – probably because they got enough forage but also because the strict rules and tight surveillance Lord Gard, his officers and troops had established. Paedrig used the time to search for a promising candidate for his cavalry unit and decided that Santagar might be a good second in command. He was able to convince Santagar and to‘buy out’ him from his contract with Reris.

                            However the relatively calm situation threatened to escalate when a camp follower of the mercenaries was raped by a sailor of one of the merchant ships in the harbor. Luckily the culprit was found quickly. Paedrig argued for a harsh punishment, also because he feared that the mercenaries might enforce their own ‘justice’ if they were not satisfied. He suggested that the perpetrator should pay a high fine and run the gauntlet. Lord Gard, who did not have any sympathies for rapists, opted for an even harsher punishment. Before running the gauntlet the culprit was also put in the pillory for some days and than branded. Paedrig had to monitor the execution and did this without remorse or pity. When some town’s people tried to bribe him and the commander of the city garrison to ease the punishment (while some of the mercenaries offered money for an especially brutal implementation), Paedrig decided for the later. The culprit hardly survived the execution. A few days later the missing ship arrived and the mercenaries departed southward

                            ***

                            Feeding so much people had lowered the food reserves of Dragonport and given the impending winter, Lord Gard wanted to stock up his supplies by encouraging fishing, whale and seal hunt and by organizing a big deer hunt. This hunt should be organized by the houses Dragonport, Weymouth and Dannett (house Falkirk did not participate because of its rivalries with Dragonport).
                            Participating in these event was not cherished by the peasants because id did mean several days of hard and dangerous work, while most of the drovers did not even have the right to be armed (this was rather a privilege).
                            Paedrig had to command his cavalry unit plus a number of armed drovers. This in combination with the task to control unwilling conscripted smallfolk was a challenging task and for several days he and his men did not find much sleep. Paedrigs enforced strict discipline and did not show much sympathy or patience for unwilling subjects.
                            But when one night a shadowcat tried to break through the drover line, it was Paedrig who killed the beast – but not before the shadowcat almost killed one man.
                            In the end the hunt was a great success and Paedrig was rewarded for his service by getting a well made drinking horn and the pelt of the shadowcat he killed.

                            ***

                            Concerning the question, who should become the steward of newly captured realm of Stony Oak for house Dannett, John Buckwell won the race. Paedrig had tried to compete, but in the end he had not so much experience and good connections. However he was ordered to accompany Buckwell with his cavalry unit plus 50 archer recruits who should replace the losses of the troops of the Aran vassals in the war in the south.
                            Elen, the healer of Dragonport, famous for her cryptic words, warned him that he should not destroy the nest of the raven. Paedrig was a little bit unnerved by her words, also because he secretly speculated if Elen did not mean Paedrigs affection for his step-aunt Anya Krayenhorn (Krayenhorn did have a raven or crow as banner).

                            The trip was mostly uneventful, but Paedrig enforced strict discipline and high alertness and drilled the recruits regularly. The situation in the Riverlands remained fluid: while Tywin Lannisters army seemed to retreat towards Harrenhal or even back to Kings Landing, mercenaries and Lannister fore riders raided the central Riverlands, burning, killing and raping. The recapture of the central Riverland seemed still some time off. Beside troops and forage convoys there were many refugees on the road, often without a clear destination, chased away by local authorities. Hate against the Lannisters was rising, as it became obvious when Paedrigs column passed by a prisoner column which was harassed by the local population. More and more it became difficult to find food and quarters. When the troops spend a night at a lumberjack camp, there was some trouble between soldiers and woodcutters. Paedrig did his best to tilt out the unrest, even using his fists. At least not much blood was spilled.

                            A few days later the column arrived Stony Oak. Adham Dannett had everything under control although his health remained fragile. He had hired some refugees to reopen the road inn nearby the fortification and established good relationships with house Gemstone (who had been rescued by troops under Paedrigs command when it was besieged by rebellious smallfolk). Especially Bethany Gemstone, the young widow of the late Lord Gemstone, seem to have established a close relationship with Adham Dannett. Obviously there was something going on between the two young nobles. Although Paedrig was tempted do make a comment concerning the fate of the abusive Lord Gemstone (who had died during the siege of his hall under suspicious circumstances), he decided that this was not his concern.
                            The situation at Stony Oak remained insecure. Not all neighbor houses did welcome the changes (some would have liked to take the land for their own) and of course there was the always present danger of bandits, marauders and even clansmen who raided the Riverlands.

                            During a visit of the members of house Gemstone (the new Lord Merryk Gemstone, his older sister Elia, who had fled her abusive father and became a Septa and their young step mother Bethany) Elia Gemstone suggested to organize a ‘Festival of the Fires’. This was local tradition, celebrating the victory of the Faith of the Seven over the Old Gods. Old trees were brought together and processed to charcoal during a seven day long festival. The produced charcoal was said to be have special powers and was cherished by local smiths.
                            To organize such a festival in these unstable times would be a symbol of renovation for Stony Oak AND house Gemstone and increase the standing of house Dannett and Gemstone.
                            While Adham Dannett and his new steward Buckwell agreed wholeheartedly, Paedrig was a little bit uncertain: Elia Gemstone wanted make the festival special by burning some weirwood trees which were said to be still growing at an old fortress in the ‘Barrows’, a mostly barren hill landscape which was said to be full of old tombs and plagued by wolves, ghosts and lawless people. This idea unnerved Paedrig who certainly believed in the Seven, but did also believe in the existence and power of the Old Gods and did not want to anger them. Given the alliance with the North and remembering Elens prophecy that he should not destroy the nest of the ravens (and – probably falsely – associating ravens as messengers of the old gods), he argued against cutting down weirwood trees. He was able to convince Elia Gemstone that some ‘normal’ trees would be enough.
                            Reluctantly the young Septa agreed. However she still wanted to accompany Paedrig and his men in their search for other prominent trees (the bigger the better). Paedrig took ten riders and a number of woodcutters and draft animals with him. The trip would cost some days because most old trees nearby had been already cut down and so they still had to search in the wilderness of the Barrows.

                            The trip into the Barrows was not easy – the terrain soon became rough and some of the men were unnerved by the bad reputation of the area. The local people – always armed and often hiding their faces - mostly stayed away but the men did have the feeling that they were constantly watched by unfriendly eyes. During the nights the howling of wolves could be heard in the distance…
                            Paedrig did his best to encourage his men although he himself was shaken by the stories about ghosts, witches, old tombs and their restless inhabitants (especially since he now did know that things like necromancy and walking dead DID exist). He also tried to come to good terms with Septa Elia who tried to strengthen his believe in the Seven (and weaken his believe in other entities and supernatural powers). At least Paedrig could ease her frustration about his refusal to chop down weirwood trees a little bit.

                            At the small hamlet Falconhill, the expedition resupplied and gathered information. Paedrig ensured strict discipline – he certainly did not want any hostilities with the relatively well armed and rough looking hills people.
                            There was the opportunity to buy some ancient looking weapons and jewellery – probably the result of grave robbery by the locals. Paedrig bought an old bronze dagger for himself and some jewelry (silver rings and a bronze necklace with freshwater pearls) for Anya.
                            The expedition did find and chopped down a giant old oak, although it was quite an enterprise to bring the tree back to Stony Oak.
                            On the Kingsroad they encountered a unit of Bolton soldiers which were monitoring the street under the command of the young (and a little bit arrogant) Ser Damian Ryswell. The young knight decided to accompany Paedrigs troop and participate in the festival although he did make some sarcastic remarks concerning the ‘victory of the new Faith’ which was celebrated with this festival. Now Paedrig was even happier that he did not followed Elias original plan. The situation with the Northeners would probably have been tricky if they would have encountered Paedrig with a chopped down weirwood tree…
                            Ryswell brought some news. The Bolton army had passed the Trident end was marching towards Harrenhal. It seemed that the war was going well…
                            The travel to Stoney Oak was uneventful although Paedrig did have the impression that they were followed by someone. However his attempt to catch their probable followers remained fruitless.

                            The festival was celebrated some miles south from Stony Oak and most of the local houses were present. The giant oak Paedrig had brought did make a good impression. There were much singing, dancing and other joyful activities, although the partly religious character of the event and the presence of the Faith did ensure that the whole festival stayed probably more ‘civilized’ and sober than a normal smallfolk fair.
                            Paedrig did not have much time for fun because he stood vigil by the charcoal kiln where the chopped trees were processed. It was challenging to stay alert all the time but his apprenticeship as a knight and times of military service provided him the stamina and will to remain awake. And so it was Paedrig who noticed it, when someone tried to creep up the kiln and pour oil into the ember. Paedrig alarmed the other guards and chased the saboteur. The young (and only lightly armored) knight stopped his opponent but the saboteur did not give up easily. Paedrig was injured several times during the fight, but in the end his opponent went down with some nasty wounds. And now it was revealed that the saboteur was ‘Ser’ Derry Thrunell, hedge knight and former leader of the smallfolk revolt against house Gemstone, which had been suppressed by Paedrigs perhaps two month ago.
                            Paedrigs injuries were treated by Bethany Gemstone. While many men would be delighted to experience the care of such a beautiful young lady (and good healer) Paedrig was simply feeling miserable because of the pain and blood loss. He was also a little bit anxious, still remembering the abusive and cruel Lord Gemstone, who had died by his wounds in the care of his ‘loving’ wife… However Paedrig could not complain about how Bethany Gemstone treated HIS injuries.
                            Concerning Thrunell, Paedrig wanted him dead. But Elia Gemstone had other plans. She wanted the man alive so that he could atone for his deeds and find salvation in the service of the Faith. Paedrig reluctantly agreed, because he did not want to have an argument with the headstrong Septa AGAIN. But he demanded that Thrunell should be stripped of his knighthood in public – a demand Elia agreed to. So on the last day of the festival, ‘Ser’ Thrunell lost his status as a knight and was handed over to the Faith.
                            A probably more cheerfully event was the public betrothal of Lord Adham Dannett and Lady Bethany Gemstone. Paedrig congratulated the young Lord (although Adham certainly did not make such a good catch as Bethany did), but he speculated that Alyanna Blyth, the young sister of his Lord, might be disappointed because she also might have speculated about wedding Adham Dannett.
                            For his part in the festival, Paedrig got a big amount of ‘consecrated’ charcoal which might be worth a lot for many local smiths.
                            After his injuries had healed, Paedrig and his cavalry unit left Stony Oak and, after some weeks of surprisingly uneventful travel, returned to Dragonstone.

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                            • #59
                              Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                              After a long break, I put a new text here - we have started with Dragon's Hoard. Of course we will need a lot of time for that and not play only this story without amaller stories between parts...

                              Dragon's Hoard I

                              Warning!
                              The following chronic includes details from the Dragon's Hoard-Campaign, although the narrator changed some parts and reduced the numbers of NPC's on some points.

                              It comes to little surprise that the rumours about the strange encounter in the mountains spread quickly. Most people did not really know what to do with the stories the surviving soldiers of house Blyth of Dragonport (and some of the men of house Blyth of Krayenhorn) told about undead enemies, dark magic and potential doom. Gard did not officially confirm the rumours, but he also did not deny them. Lying was nothing he did lightly, although he of course did know that he could easily be taken for a man who just believes in fairy tales. Some damage to his reputation was nearly unavoidable, so at least for now many nobles saw him with light suspicion. But although he was a sceptical man, he could hardly deny what he had witnessed. So he now had a more open ear to Elen's dreams, although they were still often hard to understand. That the healer dreamed of a silver-dragon who take refuge at the hall of castle Dragonport might be a good omen, or not.

                              The research of Alyanna was a little bit hampered by the many duties she had to manage - her own spy network, helping her brother and his wife in administrative tasks etc. Even the support of Lo Tho also brought not many results - and he demanded a kiss from Aly as reward. The young noblewoman who since her time at King's Landing saw such things "liberal" (although she always made sure to not compromise or endanger herself) agreed - just to learn during the kiss that the "eunuch" Lo Thos was neither cut nor a man at all - but a young woman called Yang Sa, who had taken male disguise because of the obvious risks for a foreign women. Few among the people at Dragonport had so far noticed that (surely Lady Meera, who had even slightly mocked about the affection of the foreigner towards Aly). Aly did not push Yang Sa away but was also not yet sure what to make with the romantic interest of the other woman. She was more or less open for...unregularly or unsuited relationships...in so far they were not to risky both emotional, physical or social for herself, but had until now not really thought about being THAT adventurous. She hold a friendly relationship towards the young woman from Yi Ti, but decided so far not what to do next - beside using Yang Sa's affection towards her for her own benefit. Aly learned a little bit more about the woman from Yi Ti - she was part of a group of very educated people (which kind of education Yang Sa did not say exactly) who were interested in magical knowledge. But that kind of research had brought the young woman into trouble both in Oldtown and King's Landing, so she had to leave in haste. She now had some additional reason to stay at Dragonport since some strange things had happened here in the past and present.
                              It was not clear if the undead the soldiers of Dragonport had fought were identical, but they seem to have a lot in common with the legendary Wight-servants of the "Others", although the old legends as far as they were known here neither made clear how someone could fight them and what kind of "relationship" between them and the clan of the Shadowcats did exist. Aly had learned did know that in the distant past a great battle had happened here, but the exact outcome and even participants were shrouded in mystery and legends. Both Yang Sa and Aly agreed that the Night Watch or the Maesters of the Citadel may know more - but since Oldtown was far away and the realms in war, the latter was not really a option. A journey to the wall on the other hand...

                              It soon became obvious that Elen's visions got more and more in number, and also did increase in "strength", until it was hard to bear for the young healer. One evening Torgon spotted her when he returned from his guard-duties, wandering - while being asleep! - on the top of the walls. He was able to prevent her doing any harm to herself by accident, bringing her back to her home, but she was at that time and even on the next morning in a very bad condition, when she talked to Aly and Gard. Elen never had experienced something that bad since her childhood, around 16 years ago, when she dreamed similar powerful about fighting stags and dragons, fire and blood, a dying she-wolf with crows who circled about her cub etc.
                              Now she dreamed about a silver-dragon in black chains, who had a black, burning key in his claws, about a river of green fire, a shadowy lightning which tears a crown apart, a bony hand with claws, blue-white, who was reaching after the stars and the moon, but was pierced by a fiery sword, a naked girl, crowned by fire and ruling over the fire, a dance of corpses to the music of a song unknown to her and grey mist who threaten to overwhelm a red-golden dog or lion. Elen said that the visions were nearly too much for her. If that would continue she may understand them - or loose their mind (or both). Aly suggested she may use potions to help her sleep better (and joked, Elen may also think about to find something or better someone other to keep herself busy and tired during the nights), but of course both was hardly a solution. Aly - with the support and backing from Gard - decided it may be a good idea to ask for help from some gifted people from the Neck. That they were known to have strange abilities was common knowledge in this area. Gard used the good term to which he had come with house Weymouth of Whitecrane (which had strong connections towards the Neck) to ask for help - for a fair compensation. However this would take time and it could only be hoped that Elen would be able to cope so long with her problems.

                              In the meantime Ruben Piper, a wealthy trader who originally had the centre of his business on the lands of house Dannett (and was even betrothed to Iris Dannett for a while - see "Peril at King's Landing") visited the castle Dragonport. In the eyes of many nobles he was still something abnormal - a commoner who was much richer than many landed knights and even quiet a number of "smaller" lords. On the other hand he was thick, already growing grey and lacked all they valued high heritage and fighting abilities the nobility saw as their own core values. But he was nevertheless a man who no clever lord ignored - even he had theoretically the right to send him to the gallows.
                              Piper congratulated Gard to the birth of the first child and offered a gift. Of course that was not all - his trade was going well even after (or maybe in parts because of) the open war in the Seven Kingdoms. Since the town, marketplace and harbour of Dragonport had prospered under the rule of Meera and Gard, Piper was considering moving his domicile from the land of the Dannetts towards the realm of the Blyth (with consent of his lord, who was still in deep debt). He would soon marry 17-year old Lena Townsman, niece of the first of the city elders of Dragonport, Ablar Townsman. He hinted that he would be honoured if Gard or at least a member of his house would visit the ceremony as would the elders of the town. But his most important issue was that he wanted a seat in the ranks of the elders - a move which Ablar Townsman and the members of his "fraction" would support. He also asked for some...financial favours in questions of taxation for his new business if he would join the ranks of the "upper class" of Dragonport. Since he was a very good trader he was able to convince the young lord, who saw clear benefits. Gard was also not completely opposed to enlarge the supporting body of his main realm. Although the city elders where not an independent ruling body, they managed most of the day to day administration of the town and trade - and even dealt with petty crimes together with the head of the garrison, although the lord always could intervene (but did rarely do so). Piper would swing the balance in the "council" a little bit back into the favour of the traditionalists, since their opponents, the newcomers, where strengthened by the possibility that a member of the local fishermen soon would become a provisional, and later maybe even full member - something Gard had arranged a short time ago.
                              Piper offered that he could transfer the debt of the Dannetts (500 dragons) to the Blyth for a decreased price (400 dragons). It was after all no bad deal for him either, since the chances that the Dannetts would pay him soon were limited. Gard was tempted by that prospect, but of course saw the risks - and his reserves in money were also limited because of the various projects he had just started and the war efforts, which had cost him a lot of resources. But on the other hand Gard would have the possibility to even increase his influence towards the Dannetts if he tried to buy also the debt they had to his uncle Eric to similar conditions. But for now that was not decided.

                              Around that time news arrived that the ,civil war' among the mountain clan of the Mist Brothers had finally come to an end. Ture Luckless stayed true to his new nickname and was completely defeated after his last setback when he tried to ambush Gards soldiers.
                              Lady Anya Blyth of Krayenhorn - who visited Dragonport all three or four weeks - also brought news that her scout unit was recovering well, in great part thanks to the support Gard had offered her. So however the situation in the mountains will be evolve - there was at least some kind off protection. Of course it might be that the new chief of the Mist Brothers, Ygram son of Ygras, an already "seasoned" man, may try to proof his strength by some attacks at least against the settlements in the borderlands, if not in a daring operation against the "kneeling men".
                              Partly because of this Gard also send parts of his cavalry as support for the scouts on some occasions, although his light cavalry soon would depart under Paedrigs command to a mission in the Riverlands. Other clans like the Seals People and Smoke Eagles stayed calm, but the rumours about the Undead the soldiers of Krayenhorn and Dragonport had defeated did also spread in the mountains. The clans were also nervous about the major incursion of the forces of Krayenhorn and Dragonport, although it was a short one. But such an operation had not happened since at least a generation, and some might fear that the flatlanders where planning to increase their realms, maybe by bringing the half-civilized lands under their control (and some people in those areas may hope this to gain protection against the clans).Sadly for now the main war limited the possibilities for such expansions.

                              Even the navy of Dragonport was stretched thin. While the ‘pirate king’ Nardis had left the Bite, other pirates were still active, and so most of the time just one, sometimes two of the Blyth-ships were present at Dragonport. The others were either patrolling the 40 miles of shore which are owned by the local houses (Blyth of Dragonport, Weymouth and Fallkirk) or securing small convoys.

                              Some local news may be the cause of trouble in the future - house Fallkirk was strengthening their ties with the Sisters by organizing a coastal meeting (what was a hidden insult against Gard as official warden of the shore - but on the other hand maybe it was just a revenge that he had also manage things in the mountains without asking the "wardens of the wilderness" before). What supported this move was the fact that the Sunderlands as main house of the Sisters were a little bit pissed off that Gard showed no intention to marry his sister with Willem Sunderland (although this was calmed given the fact that Gards offer of to pay for the knighting and arms and armour of Willem was upheld). It may be possible that a marriage-pact between the Fallkirk (who had a still unwed girl) and the Sunderlands (the lord had more unwed sons than he could find brides for - or could easily pay for their knighting) was in the making, but for now it was not secured.

                              Around that time a one-eyed hedge knight called Ser Bran of the Trident arrived at Dragonport. He brought with him the head of a man he claimed was the defeated cla-chief Ture Stonghand (Aly later ferreted the truth out of him that he was a mercenary of the Lugus, send as support to Tures ranks who later betrayed his master after the chief had lost). Gard rewarded the knight and gave him a (minor) position in his armed forces. The head of Ture was presented and the news of his fate spread quickly, adding to the fame of house Blyth of Dragonport.

                              The marriage of Ruban Piper was an event of some (local) importance and a well-organized one. It was obvious that Piper was already successful in his elbow-rubbing with the commander of the town-garrison and the septon and had a lot of wealth he could brag about. All town elders would take part, and there would be also beer and food for the common people. Gard was at least present during the religious ceremony, while his sister also took part at the meal after that. It was obvious for her that the young bride was not really enthusiastic about her much older and not very attractive future husband. The celebration however was a huge success and likely gain Piper some credit among the people of Dragonport. It has to be seen if the city elders will try in the future to become more independent from their lord and form a real ruling body or not - but such ideas have much more often than not ended not well for those who had went too far and dare to change the balance of power.

                              It was a few days after when Torgon - born and raised on a small storm-hit island of the Iron Isles - noticed that a heavy storm was coming for Dragonport. Lord Gard took some preparations for potential dangers - after his entire liege had some experience with natural disasters. It was of course an important part of the work to secure the ships in the small harbour. Since most of the warships were absent, for these men and ships nothing could be done beside some prays.

                              Just before the storm hit and while dark clouds were already gathering, a ship called "Wanderer” arrived the harbour. Some of the passengers demanded hospitality at the castle - mainly Ser Georg Weller, a sworn brother of the Night Watch, a man of middle age with half a dozen recruits for this noble institution - with one exception all of them convicted criminals for things like thievery, poaching, rape...
                              He got a better welcome than in some other houses. One of the chained men, a young guy with silver-blond hair and deep-blue eyes called Rhaegar used this moment to plea to house Blyth for help. He claimed he was no traitor but a patriot for the true king as many of this house and reminded Gard on Eric Blyth (his uncle) and Micael Blyth (Paedrig's father - the young prisoners surely did not know the house Blyth had two branches), and mentioned a huge treasure, the gold of fire and blood.
                              Sadly for him that where no words which impress Gard much. After all HIS father had fought for Robert and he was no supporter of the fallen Targaryans. And he was a man who had already at one point in the past be lured into a trap by the promise of a lost treasure, so he was a little bit sceptic towards such claims. He only mildly intervened when Weller beat up Rhaeger to silence him. Aly was secretly more interested, but could not intervene openly. However she managed to secure that the young man - who claimed to be of noble origin - was locked up separated from his future comrades.

                              But while Aly had thought about speaking in secret to the prisoner, her plan had to be cancelled for the moment, because at this moment the force of nature struck with full might. It was much more than just an ordinary storm which hit Dragonport. Torgon who was at the port helped secure the ships, and help was indeed needed, as high waves and strong winds threaten to smash the vessels onto the pier. In the town itself rooftops were opened, debris was in the air, and on some point lightning-bolts etc. started a number of smaller fires. In the end it was maybe only thanks to Gard's preparations before the storm that worse consequences were avoided - but the results were bad enough. There were some fatalities, and a greater number of wounded including the commander of the town's garrison. The castle was also hit hard, although the buildings were much stronger. The master of the hunt, Wulf Rivers, was wounded, as were some servants and soldiers, even Gard himself was slightly injured when he was caught outside his main hall while he had tried to keep an eye on potential problems. Aly and Meera did their best to calm the main group of the inhabitants which was gathered in the great hall, and with some success. The ladies stay calm, what could not be said about all others. Even Elen seemed to be frightened an at one point whispered that the ,stormdaughter' was coming - maybe a reference to the storm goddess of the Sisters or another deity of old?
                              In the end the results were grim but at least not catastrophic. But it surely would cost quiet an amount of money to repair what was destroyed. Gard detached the commander of his personal guard as temporary commander of the town garrison, since he was a seasoned officer who he trusted.

                              Meanwhile Aly was able to sneak into the tower where Rhaegar was locked up. The prisoner was more than just a little pissed of that he had to wait for hours (obviously he had awaited a much warmer welcome to his claims). Aly was able to calm him down, while also making clear that his position was less favourable than he might thought and that he could not counted on support but had to earn it. After that a little bit frosty start she learned that the young man was a member of house Velaryon, son of Jothos Velaryon, the last treasure-master of the ,Mad King' (not that he used this phrase, since he was obviously a Targaryan loyalist, although far too young to have fought in Roberts Rebellion himself). Jothos was at that time relatively close to prince Rhaegar and in that way also met Ser Micael Blyth, who was one of the knights of the heir of the Iron Throne. After the Rebellions started and emerged as much more than just a minor insurrection, some people at the Royal Court came up with the idea to split the rebels up, mainly by bribing an important house of the Riverlands. At this point Eric Blyth entered the game as one of the plotters and planers and may have even worked secretly in the area. But the sudden progress of the war hampered the plans. The Prince and some of the plotters marched to the Trident, most of them did never return. Eric survived and retuned to KL, and for a while his importance even increased. But than some disagreements forced him to abandon his role - how and why this conflicts occur were unknown to Rhaegar, but his father seem to have after that not high opinion of Gard's uncle. However despite all the setbacks the plan was not abandoned. It became clear that the target for the whole plot were the Freys - a major house of the Riverlands which could have split the realm into two parts, rallying at least some support (if aided with money and promises of further royal blessings etc.). The Twins had joined the war late, not before the heir of the throne was dead and Robert was advancing further. To slow this advance by creating a rebellion inside the rebellion seemed to be vital.
                              Jothos was able to collect a whole ship filled with a treasure worthy to be the ransom for a king - coins, jewels, even weapons made of valyrian steel. All that was done in secret, since if it would have leaked, many people would have thought Aerys was preparing to send his money away, and there was also the danger that criminals, rebels or loyalists with less honour than greed would use their chance. Someone here at the coast of the bite had an important role in the whole thing, but Rhaegar did not know who that was. Under the protection of a few warships the treasure-ship set sail. But than the Lannisters marched towards King's Landing, seemingly bringing relief...well it was known how that ended.

                              Jothos fled with his young wife, a lady Lara Tarly and his infant son Rhaegar. Lara did not last long in exile, suffering under the hardships of a life in a foreign country with little money. Jothos returned with his son after some years in Essos and Dorne after the prosecution of loyalists had stopped (and Robert was after all forgiving in most cases, while that could not said about his oldest brother or father in law). House Velaryon had lost a lot of influence, being reduced to a minor player, while they hold their traditional realm until today. While some members had died, others had chosen an easier (or better) path and joined the side of the king - so Jothos and his son were not very welcomed. Jothos never forgot the treasure, since it was great enough to buy the last Targaryan a new army. And there were some possible traces he followed.
                              Then, suddenly fate struck again - when Lord Stannis left King's Landing after Lord Arryns death. Jothos was killed on the isle of his house, Driftmark, during an attempt to arrest him, Rhaegar was captured. Maybe Stannis had heard about his contacts to the fallen dragonlords (although it seem not very likely that he had heard about the treasure or pay much attention to such stories). Since Rhaegar was not interrogated, the arrest had surely other reasons, and may have been triggered even by the family of his father. Maybe someone simply saw Jothos as a loose end he wanted to cut, driven by some outbreak of distrust and hate towards Targaryan-loyalist. More details he did not want to reveal before house Blyth could spare him from a journey to the Wall...

                              It was quiet a piece of work for Aly to convince her brother that this wild story was of any interest. But in the end she was successful, and with his support it was able to bribe Ser Weller with quiet a number of dragons (together around 50) for him and for the watch. He would also take "Pirron Strife" aka Joren Ripon of Twinwood with him to the Watch, so in the end the Watch did not lost much, at least that was what he could claim if he would come under scrutiny. Aly and Gard pretended to negotiate the release more for family-matters (since the young Velaryon reminded them on old connections etc.).

                              Rhaegar was set free, although Aly had a watchful eye on him (she was sure that he had not just fabricated the story to get out of trouble, but was NOT sure if he might try to flee). He was treated as a noble, and later even got a sword, but his identity remained secret. She also ordered Torgon (who often worked as her loyal henchman and bodyguard to increase his status) to keep an eye on the young noble. But Rhaegar was able to befriend the exiled Ironman, so that he was not under strict surveillance.

                              Rhaegar told what he remembered, but his father had not told him all - he way always afraid that the Baratheons might strike back against him. It seemed likely that the money never arrived its destination, since no major crack had occurred in the rank of the rebels. There was also no report of a major treasure found and looted by the rebels at any point, beside the coffers at King's Landing, so far Tywin's men had not emptied them. Maybe the loyalists fled with their treasures, but they never seem to have sent anything of it to the heirs of the Targaryans.
                              It was highly likely that the entire material Rhaegars father had gathered (a diary and secret letters to other loyalists) and which may include further information was brought to Dragonstone and stored there. The problem was of course, that the isle was centre of new main warzone, since Stannis was now preparing for his next move - what move exactly was unclear. But it was obvious that strangers from the realm of a rival king would surely not be welcomed, and even if they disguised as a neutral party, would have problems to get access. Any attempt in this direction needed to be carefully prepared.

                              To get more information locally proofed to be tricky, in part since it should not become obvious after what they where looking. It was also difficult to find anything, since most local houses did not know a lot and supported the Rebellion. The material of the "library" (or better scriptorium) of the Ripons, who had worked as local contact for the Iron Throne during this whole intrigue during the Rebellion was split between the houses Fallkirk and Aran when their castle was destroyed. Aly was able to get access to the Aran-material, while Lord Fallkirk was no man who would show his rival house Blyth of Dragonport any courtesy.
                              She found some old letters of the Fallkirks at castle Srabone who made it obvious that the treasure indeed did never arrived, it was not hidden when their castle fall, but was never in their possession. There where also small hints who of the Frays was part of the secret discussions with the crown, a man (?) with the initials E. F.

                              It was also the problem that there was not possibility to contact Eric easily what had been part of the conspiracy for some time. He lived in King's Landing and so any contact via raven or messenger would very likely be examined. The ,Spider' had quiet a reputation of knowing anything what goes on in the city, and the Blyth did not want him on their trace (or on that of Eric Blyth).

                              One part of the researches was a visit to house Weymouth of Whitecrane - the only other house in the region who stayed loyal to the crown during the Rebellion. Aly travelled with her handmaid, a few armed men and Rhaegar to the castle. She had some kind of good relation with the house since she and her brother had supported the betrothal between the daughter of lord Weymouth and the second oldest living son of lord Aran.
                              However, the researches brought little result. It seemed that the archives where cleansed after the Rebellion and potential dangerous information removed.

                              On their way home the party was ambushed by half a dozen armed men. Aly first feared they were after her (since she had experienced two kidnapping-attempts in the last one and a half year, plus some other dangerous situation). But the attackers where just interested in snatching Rhaegar!
                              However, the young noble was a good fighter, and although seriously injured he plus the soldiers under Torgons command easily drove the attackers away, killing three and capturing one. Sadly the prisoner could not reveal much. He was a member of a local group of bandits who were hired for the job - why and by whom he did not know for sure.
                              All that was of course a reason for concern - mostly because the attempt has happened so quickly. How could the mysterious mastermind learned so quick that Rhaegar hat left the “Wanderer” and than organizing to monitor him and hire the bandits to kidnap him? Rhaegars security was increased - he should be accompanied by guards on his moves, and got a new armour.

                              The security in lord Gards realm was of course a little bit in danger anyway. His light cavalry was now abroad (on Paedrigs mission), the heavy cavalry was occasionally active in supporting the scouts of the Arans and Blyth of Krayenhorn in the borderlands. And the ships were often on patrol- or escort-duty. So once and then castle and town Dragonport was just defended by the city guard (which had at least for now a new commander), the personal guard (which had no commander since he had to command the city guard) and a single warship.

                              It was just in such a time of weakness when the next unexpected danger occurred.
                              It was deep in the night when Gard was alarmed - armed men were approaching his castle. However, as a talented leader of men he was able to rally the personal guard in little time - much quicker than the attackers might have thought. The massive gates delayed their attack a little bit - so when they smashed through and charged, the personal guard had already formed a shield wall and was set for her attack. The enemies did achieve little, and the counterattack under Gard's command was so ferocious, that the enemy unit was crushed at once. They surly had not expected that the personal guard was so dangerous, well armed and ready - and maybe underestimated the abilities of Gard.
                              Meanwhile two armed transport vessels attacked the sole warship in dragonport, the former pirate-galley Seagull, with fire arrows, while around hundred men tried to climb the improvised defences of the town. Both attacks met fierce resistance. The Seagull was able to hold their ground and scarring the attackers off, mostly because it was a vessel which fighting capabilities where highly improved in the past months. The fight on the wall went for- and backwards, both units suffered serious casualties. But in the end the garrison was victorious, although it was a close result and at one point the unit almost get disorganized. But they won, both because of the competent leadership by their present commander, and because the men where well armed and protected and fought with good discipline since they were at their own territory. The enemies fled, and since the cavalry was missing and the Seagull could not be sure if the enemy had another ship in reserve, those who had not be captured or killed escaped.

                              After all the nightly battle was costly and bitter, but was won, adding to the glory of house Blyth of Dragonport. The garrison had suffered badly (so that quiet a number of new men had to be hired and trained). Up to 20 men where killed, others wounded. The enemy had lost maybe up to two dozens of prisoners and even more fatalities. It soon become obvious that the men did not wear liveries or coat of arms, but their weapons seem to be castle-forged, what was strange if it may be pirates. It was clear that this was no clansmen, since they where by far to good armed and armoured.
                              But whoever had sent them, his plans had failed to a high price. It was now up to house Blyth of Dragonport to uncover the mystery of the identity of their foe, and maybe let him pay...
                              So it may be good news for them but bad for their foes that the warships of the small navy of Dragonport were becoming more and more experienced after months of drill and practice...

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                                For this part of the chronic, we adapted some of the chars of the SIFRP – adventure “Courtship at the Tourney” which could be downloaded via a link in this forum- Special thanks to the author!

                                For winter’s coming Part I

                                Paedrig returned from his trip to Stony Oak shortly after the pirates attack on Dragonport. Although this battle had been won, there was still a lot to do: the destruction of the fighting had to be cleared and repaired and the dead must be buried. The attackers had suffered the most, but the city garrison also lost many men. Lord Gard rewarded the officers of the defending units with praise and money for the triumphant victory. However the booty was not much worth. The captured attackers (less than twenty) were kept under strict surveillance but their fate was not decided yet. Paedrigs unit of light cavalry was sent out to patrol the area and look out for scattered enemies but was not very successful.

                                On a more personal level, Paedrig was relieved that most of his comrades and acquaintances had survived unharmed and also his property (he had bought a house in Dragonport shortly before) was intact.
                                Rather surprising for him was the new guest of house Blyth (Rhaegar Velarion) and his story about a lost Targaryen treasure. The whole thing was kept in a rather small circle but Lord Gard considered Paedrig as trustworthy. The young bastard knight and the fugitive noble got along very well, thanks to their mutual admiration for the Targaryens and the fact that Rhaegar was named after the same prince Paedrigs father had fought and died for. The two young men even spend some time speculating what might be possible with all that money, now that the rule of house Baratheon was contested and there were rumors about heirs of the Targaryen throne beyond the sea…

                                Meanwhile Gards plans for the expansion of the harbor and fishing facilities were on the way, while the problems with pirates attacks in the Bite had decreased – also thanks to the patrol and convoy operations of the Dragonport fleet and the fact that the notorious pirates-‘King’ Nardis had left the Bite to fight for King Stannis Baratheon.

                                There was some news from the war in the South although the fighting seems to have come to a temporary stalemate, while the central Riverlands suffered by the raiding and pillaging Lannisters troops. Perhaps to give the war a new momentum, Robb Stark hatched the idea to open a new front (or even two) by attacking his enemies from the sea. However this would demand support by the Ironmen for any offensive in the West and some sort of agreement with Stannis for any offensive in the East (or a military dealing with Stannis and his fleet). Dragonport and the other houses around the Bite might play an important role in such an enterprise – but Lord Gard was a little bit skeptical. As long as Stannis and the Vale of Arryn were not on board, such an operation seemed a little bit overambitious. And anyway it would be necessary to get or capture strongholds or harbors near the Trident for any operation against the area around Kings Landing.
                                Tyrion Lannister (of all unlikely candidates) had been appointed as the Hand of the King, while Janos Slynt (commander of the Gold Cloaks and temporary Lord of Harrenhal) had lost both title and commando. Perhaps all this had also something to do with the rumors about uprisings or unrest in Kings Landing.
                                The military stalemate probably was also the cause, why Alyannas negations concerning the fate of Ludviga Lugus did not bring much fruits and so the young and beautiful noble maiden staid at Dragonport as a center of attention by most of the younger (and also some not so young) unwed knights and officers. Paedrig stayed a little bit out of this because he still felt a little bit uncomfortable around his former prisoners who he had captured by intrigues and betrayal – and of course because his heart was already given…

                                Given the rather tumultuous times (and recently the strange tales of the encounters with unworldly phenomenon like undead opponents) the fact that the comet, which had risen on the nightly sky some weeks ago, now was visible also during the day unnerved the people. Some speculated that the comet might be related to the war, to the coming winter – or be a signal that the rule of the Seven Kingdoms will go from house Baratheon to house Stark. Rhaegar had a more fantastic idea – that the comet meant the rebirth of the dragons (or the Reconquista of the Iron Throne by house Targaryen). However such ideas were not cherished by everyone – f. e. by Lord Gard, who didn’t hold the exiled Targaryen dynasty in high esteem.

                                Beside the situation abroad there were still many nearby tasks, duties and little (or not so little) challenges. The infant daughter of Lord Gard of Dragonport became seriously ill. This troubled the Lord and his wife a lot, however thanks to the medical skills of Elen, the castle healer, the girl survived. Freed from this burden, the Lord had time to order the preparation for the knighting of William Sunderland - a signal of goodwill to the major house which ruled the Sister Isles and also a part of the bargain for military support in the planned operation against pirates. Paedrig (who never got along very well with the proud young noble) was a little bit skeptical, thinking that William still had to prove his knightly worth and martial skills. Although William was commander of one of the Dragonport ships, he did not have achieved something noteworthy until now. However Paedrig realized that a son of a major noble house certainly could become a knight much more easily than f. e. a bastard of a fallen knight of the wrong side of the War of the Usurper…
                                While his unit of light cavalry (which had suffered substantial losses in an ambush some weeks ago) had to be trained and was constantly (although not very successfully) patrolling the area of Dragonport in search of scattered pirates, Paedrig did not have much opportunities to meet his secret love, his two years older ‘step-aunt’ Anya, even – to his frustration – missing some of the occasions when she visited Dragonport.

                                Other people were frustrated too, although for other reasons: the slow burning power-conflict between Septa Jonelle from the Septrie Eaglewood and Septa Berena, who was in service of the local major house Aran of Starbone, did escalate – also because Septa Jonelle had increased her influence at Dragonport during the recent month by financial ties and the fact that Lord Gards mother was now a member of Eaglewood. The conflict did not become violent but was a constant source for resentment, arguments, bickering and small intrigues and threatened to disturb the peace. It was no good example of obedience for the smallfolk, when members of the faith openly argued against each other...
                                Lord Gards wife Meera wanted to calm the waves by organizing a conclave of the opponents at Dragonport. Paedrig got the task to escort Septa Berena from Starbone to Dragonport, although he was not very fond of the whole thing – he wanted to stay out of this religious strife and personally favored the young (and better looking) Septa Jonelle over the sometimes haughty Septa Berena. So he fulfilled his escort mission without much engagement.
                                During the meeting (which was dominated by the more eloquent Jonelle) Paedrig did his best to prevent any turmoil between the entourage of the both Septas.

                                Meanwhile the more…unworldly challenges of the recent month were not forgotten. Lord Gards Sister Alyanna came up with the idea to send an emissary to Castle Black via Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Probably the Nightwatch, storing tales of some thousands years – including the fight against such legendary threats like Giants, Warges, the Others and their undead servants - might have some knowledge how to deal with an enemy like the one which seem to have been awoken in the Mountains of the Moon.
                                A travel to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea would also be an opportunity for trade and for gathering information about small scale warfare and anti-piracy-operations with which the Nightwatch had experience for some thousand years. The emissary should also visit the recently widowed Lady Lyessa Flint of Willows Watch, a local house at the coast of the Bite, to boost the preparation for the planned large scale operation against local pirates. Some generous gifts (a sword for the son of Lady Flint and silk for the Lady herself) should support the intentions of house Dragonport. Certainly the whole travel would cost at least two month. Hakon Trader, a local merchantman who was at good terms with house Blyth of Dragonport, should command the ship (a small cog he owned).

                                The research should be conducted by Lo Tho, the exotic guest of house Dragonport, of whom Lady Alyanna seem to had become fond of during their joint researches concerning magic and other unworldly phenomenon – regardless some unfriendly rumors about the intention and nature of the always calm and restricted man (?)/Eunuch (?) from abroad.
                                Paedrig should act as Lo Tho’s advisor for military aspects of the research, and as commander of the escort of ten men. He should also look out for ‘Ser Pirron Strife’, an outcast from an local house which had almost gone extinct during Roberts Rebellion, who had been sent to the Nightwatch after several attempts to harm house Aran, Fallkirk and Blyth for their role in the downfall of ‘Pirrons’ house.
                                Lord Gard (who had funded the Nightwatch more than once and had sent many captured bandits, pirates and other convicts to the Wall and even supported recruitment for the Watch around the war refugees who flooded into the area) decided that a certain amount of the captured arms and armors of the captured/killed pirates should be sent to the Wall.

                                There was much to prepare. Paedrig had to choose the men, who should accompany him. Northern garb and equipment had to be bought and tested and Hakon Traders ship was loaded with wine, iron, salt, wool and other goods which could get a good price in the North.
                                Although the whole enterprise would help Lo Tho’s search for knowledge about local magic phenomenon and unworldly secrets, he seem to have mixed feelings concerning the trip, but the motives of his bad mood remained hidden. Paedrig also had mixed feelings. Of course, seeing the legendary Wall (were the founder of his father’s house and a significant number of its members had served and died during the last centuries), would be a great adventure and he was proud that Lord Gard had given him this important task. On the other hand he was a little bit uncertain if he (who could only read the common tongue – and not very well) would be any help for the researches. And last but not least, the expedition did also mean that – after two rather leanthy trips into the South during the last months - he would not see his secret love for another two month. Through sheer luck Paedrig was able to go for a short visit to Krayenhorn and he and Anya even found the opportunity to meet secretly. This time they didn’t stop with kissing, bringing their secret relationship to an even more dangerous level than before - especially because the Master of Arms of Krayenhorn seems to get warily…

                                The first part of the travel, Hakon Traders cog was accompanied by the Mastiff, flagship of the small Dragonport fleet, which brought Lady Alyanna Blyth to the Sisters. She was escorted by her handmaiden and some soldiers under the command of Turgon. Her official task would be the preparation of the knighting of William Sunderland. Given the fact that the young noble unsuccessfully courted her for some times, this was a source of mocking for the young men. In reality, Alyanna should finalize the planned joint operation against the pirates of the Byte.

                                The two ships departed without a big ceremony and the short voyage to the Sisters was uneventful. The nobles and officers stayed at the fortress of house Borrell (the house of Lord Gards and Lady Alyannas mother) for some days. Paedrig assisted Alyanna in the talks for the planned anti-piracy operation. He and Turgon also accompanied the young lady when she visited a rather shabby tavern for ‘negotiations’ with some very shady guys. The situation was tense and the two young men had to beat up some of the followers of Alyannas ‘guests’, but in the end the young lady seem to be happy with the results of her meeting (although the subject of the talks remained hidden for her two guards). Paedrig also tried to befriend Lo Tho a little bit, but the mysterious stranger remained reserved and was mostly be found around Lady Alyanna.

                                Strange news came from the North. It was said, that a great number of the Nightwatch had marched beyond the Wall but the nature of the thread they wanted to confront remained unclear. Giants? The King beyond the Wall? The Others? The ‘White Ship of Heartshome or another of the numerous ghost stories and legends which were said to roam the Fare North?

                                After two days at Sweetsisters, Paedrig departed towards the North. Lo Tho remained an enigma for Paedrig and his men, always guarded and a little bit sinister in his behaving. On the first evening, their ship anchored near a small fishing village which was already part of the Flint territory. The people had much to tell about the increasing pirates attacks and it was said that house Manderly was building a fleet to end the constant raids. Given the fact that now the young and crippled Bran Stark was Lord of Winterfell (with his brother and mother staying in the South) there was much concern that house Stark could not protect the lands and ensure the peace between rival houses.
                                A happier message (at least for house Flint) was, that Lady Lyessa Flint had given birth to a healthy girl – sadly that the girl would never see his father who had died short before…

                                The following day the small cog sailed along the rocky, mostly unpopulated coast. Paedrig was able to prove his worth during a rigging accident and they arrived at Widows Watch without further delays in the evening. The fortified hall was seat of the major branch of house Flint, sworn to house Manderly and like their liege lord a little bit more ‘southern’ than most houses of the North. The harbor was small, but the armed merchant ships and the garrison seem to be in good shape. Lady Lyessa Flint was a petite lady in her thirties, with dark hair and eyes. Paedrig offered Gards idea that her and house Manderlys ships should participate in the planned pirates chase, arguing that this would bring prosperity to all houses around the Bite. The young knight was able to bargain good terms for Lady Lyessas support. The Lady seem also to be interested in information about Lord Gards sister Alyanna – perhaps as a potential bride for her unwed son? Paedrig described Alyanna very positively. Secretly he had his doubts that the young lady was interested in a soon marriage. After all she already had let go – or even discouraged – several potential grooms.
                                Lo Tho did not participate in the negotiations. He was more interested in local tales about magic phenomenon, but the locals were a little bit reluctant to talk with the exotic stranger.
                                The Dragonport party was invited to stay for the blessing of Lady Lyessas newborn daughter Lyanna by the Faith – an event in which most of the nearby houses participated:
                                There was Ser Emmond of House Westwood with his daughter Darya – still unwed by the age of nineteen although she was the heiress of her father.
                                There was Lord Rodery Sheridan, his heir Gregory and his widowed sister-in-law Jeyne.
                                And there was Lord Duncan Darey with his heiress Tanda, a beautiful and elegant girl of 16.
                                It was a rather new experience for Paedrig – given his status as a bastard with no land and not much money - to be a focus of attention, because he had been in the war and in King’s Landing while the number of unwed young men had decreased significantly because of the war. Gregory Sheridan was not amused to have a competitor for the attention of the young ladies. However although Paedrig flirted a little bit with Tanda Darey – who was well aware of her beauty – he certainly was no womanizer.

                                Following a local tradition, some guests should play the ‘role’ of one of the Seven in the ceremony for the newborn Lyanna Flint. Paedrig participated in a challenge for the role of the Warrior – a walrus hunt. However he (like his ‘rival’ Gregory Sheridan) did not have much luck while Lord Aemond of Westwood and his daughter were successful. Paedrig took his loss easily and complimented the winners. The ceremony and the little festival for the blessing of Lyanna Flint were well organized but not too costly. Some of the local traditions (like drowning a sheep and butchering a seal as an offer to the old gods of the land and the sea) would probably result in raised eyebrows south of Neck. Paedrig did his best to make a good impression around the nobles but given his mediocre dancing and social skills he did not create a lasting impact (at least he did not make a fool of himself).

                                The next day the small expedition set sails. Eight rather stressful days followed: the weather got bad, it was not easy to find a harbor and quarters. Many northerners reacted with suspicion towards the southlanders - especially towards such exotic birds like Lo Tho, whose interest in magic and supernatural phenomenon was not received well. Paedrig and his men had to help the ship crew and for some days it was almost impossible to get dry clothes or warm food. During one night the ship almost ran ashore but thanks to Paedrigs alertness and the abilities of the crew, the disaster was avoided. Finally the weather got a little bit better and the men were even able to value the harsh beauty of the Northern Sea – including a drifting iceberg and a group of majestic whales. With only one day delay, the cog arrived at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.

                                For the first time in his life, Paedrig and his comrades faced the Wall. It was a breathtaking view, although the giant fortification was getting ‘lower’ towards the sea and was mostly out of stone, not ice. The harbor of Eastwatch was in bad shape but housed even a whaler from Ibb who traded whale oil for timber. Paedrigs party stayed in a small village nearby. It soon became obvious that the garrison of Eastwatch was undermanned, while rumors of increased pirates and wildling activities troubled peasants, sailors and Nightwatch alike. There was no accordance if the recent expedition of the Lord Commander beyond the wall was necessary or downright foolish.
                                For the next day Paedrigs group stayed at Eastwatch. While Commander Cotter Pyke was away, he had to negotiate with his second in command Barkas, head of the local Stewards. By offering some of the military equipment, Gard had sent with the ship, Paedrig was able to get Barkas support – although he stated out, that a letter by Cotter Pyke himself would be much more useful at Castle Black. Paedrig decided to wait until the commander of Eastwatch returned.
                                Lo Tho tried to gather information for his research. Although he did not find much about magic or the undead, he obtained some information concerning small scale naval warfare and old maps of the Bite which might be useful. He even contacted the sailors of the Ibben ship although they mostly remained cautious towards strangers. The local Maester Harmune was no help, almost constantly drunken. Paedrig did his best to help Lo Tho, but his knowledge and reading skills were not worth much. At least, Paedrig was able to obtain some information concerning ‘Pirron Strife’ – the former outlaw had been sent to Castle Black, became a member of the Rangers and was now (probably) patrolling along the Wall.

                                Paedrig did use the time to train his men (six of them should accompany Paedrig and Lo Tho to Castle Black while the remaining four should stay at Eastwatch) and completed their gear (including clothes made of wolverine fur for him). He also spends some gold coins for buying pelts to sell them in the South – however his bargain skills were not very good, minimizing the potential income. From time to time he tried to get acquainted with some men of the Nightwatch to get information, although the grim reality did not have much to do with some of the lofty ideals, Paedrig might have had about the Watch.

                                After almost a week, Paedrig had a meeting with Barkas (Cotter Pyke was still absent) who mentioned that there was an opportunity to downright guaranty Pykes support for Paedrigs and Lo Thos mission: the small village Greenfield, stationed near the Greenwater river had sent for help. The elderwoman of the village, a hard looking woman named Jayra, perhaps in her late thirties, had come to Eastwatch and was asking for armed men against some ‘monster’ in the woods. She speculated that the village was threatened by a direwolf, although such beasts were almost never seen south of the Wall during the last century.
                                Paedrig agreed to the task and departed with Lo Tho, four men of their escort, Jayra and an old crow named Gueren as pathfinder. The watch even lend them some mules for the ride.
                                The atmosphere in the group was a little bit tense: Paedrigs men were not thrilled by the perspective to face the wild beasts of the North, while Jayra (and to some extend also Gueren) might have some doubts in the ability of the Southerners. Paedrig did his best to encourage his men and to ensure Jayra and Gueren that he and his men were the right for the job.

                                Greenfield was a small village with perhaps fifty people, surrounded by a shaky palisade and with some isolated farms nearby. Recently a hunter had been severely wounded by ‘the beasts’ while his comrade was missing. Lo Tho treated the wounded but the man could not give much useful information, beside telling that a giant black monster with yellow eyes and giant fangs hat attacked them. Like the survivor, the other villagers could not tell much, because no one had really SEEN them in daylight. During the night (Paedrig and his men stood vigil) the howling of wolves could be heard – or of something that was probably much bigger than normal wolves…

                                Together with three of his men and Gueren, Paedrig departed the next morning towards the area, were the two hunters had been attacked. The men were nervous – even more, when Gueren mentioned that the Lord Commander of the Nightwatch had been attacked at Castle Black by two undead black brothers who had been found near the wall. The gruesome story seem to indicate that Paedrig and Lo Tho were on the right track for their research – but this was nothing, what Paedrigs men want to hear – surrounded by the dark, silent forest and the menacing presence of an unseen danger…

                                When the group did arrive at the place of the last attack, Gueren was able to find a clear track –blood and traces that something/ someone had been carried into the woods by two or more creatures – big creatures. The men followed the traces as stealthy as they could till they did arrive an isolated farmhouse. The door was broken down…

                                When the men closed in, they were attacked by two giant wolves that had hid inside the building. The men were able to kill the beasts (Paedrig killed one of them), but one of the soldiers was taken down, only surviving because Gueren could stop the bleeding, leaving the man probably crippled for the rest of his life.
                                When the group rushed into the house, they faced a disturbing scene: several mutilated and half consumed bodies – obviously the lost huntsman and the farmer family which had lived here. In one corner of the room, three dire wolf pubs (two black and one grey) had crouched together, growling at the intruders. However before Paedrig could decide what to do with the young wolves, howls from the woods informed him, that the fight was far from over. Another two furious direwolves attacked, wounding another guard before Paedrig (who again killed one of the beasts without getting harmed) and his comrades could kill them.

                                When the fight was over, Paedrig ordered his comrades to stay in the abandoned farmhouse while he rushed to Greenfield to organize a transport for the wounded man. His trip to the small village was unnerving, always in fear of another attack. However he reached Greenfield unharmed and with the help of some of the villagers (and the medical expertise of Lo Tho) the crippled man was brought to Greenfield alive. Paedrig decided to take the three pubs with him, speculating that – given the fact that the Starks seem to value their ‘banner beast’ – the young wolves might be a precious gift.
                                Three of the pelts of the adult wolves went to the villagers while Gueren got the fourth one. It was a very disturbing revelation that the adult dire wolves did wear crude collars made of bronze, indicating that they might have been trained by someone. However following their tracks was a fruitless attempt and so this mystery remained unsolved for now.
                                Paedrig and his men stayed at the village for a few days and then departed, leaving their crippled comrade and the second wounded guard behind who should follow when they were able to travel.

                                At Eastwatch, Paedrig found a local who was willing to look after the wolf pups during his time of absence, because he did not want to take them to Castle Black. He also spent some time with the three young wolves, beginning to developing some kind of connection with them notwithstanding the gruesome details of their meeting. He even began to consider keeping one of them for himself…
                                Several days later, Cotter Pyke finally returned and only two days later Paedrig and Lo Tho got a letter of recommendation for Castle Black. The next day, Paedrig, Lo Tho and four of the guards departed to Castle Black. They were accompanied by Gueren and three recently sworn members of the Nightwatch ,who originally had been send to Eastwatch but now were sent back to fill the gaps, the departure of Lord Commander Mormont and his expedition force had created.
                                The newsworn brothers were Odred (a former bandit), Wyth (a poacher) and Lame Jon (a man who had volunteered for the Watch to escape the War in the South). It was a trip of 45 leagues, which mean five to six days of travel. The group rode along the Wall, passing a number of now ruined forts of the Nightwatch without seeing other people. It was a strange experience to ride in the shadows of the giant Wall and passing the abandoned forts, topic of so many ghost stories and legends, silent witnesses of a bloody, heroic, dark (and almost forgotten) past. The weather did not much to lighten the mood of the men: cold rain, mud, sometimes even snow and ice.
                                On the last day of the travel, the party decided to go for a bore hunt, to bring some additional food to Castle Black. This was Guerens idea, but Paedrig thought, that such additional gift might increase the support of the Nightwatch for the research. The hunt was successful. One big boar and two yearlings were killed, although Paedrig was slightly injured. On the next day the party finally arrived at Castle Black.

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