No announcement yet.

Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #61
    Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

    Just checking in to let you know that the effort you put into these write-ups was worth it. I'm eager to see where you take your players next. Speaking of, can you give a quick run own of which characters are PCs? It looks like you've lost and gained some players or characters along the line.


    • #62
      Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

      Thank you very much for the supporting words. Any feedback is welcomed! *g*
      Sadly you are absolutly right: after perhaps one year of playing, we lost our starting group mostly (some lost interest, other got jobs at other cities etc.) and given the fact, that this rpg is not soo widely popular in Germany (and we, the remaining two players only meet monthly at best) we never succeded to start a full group again. So, after a hieatus of a year or two, we started to play with a stripped down crew, letting many older chars dissapear or becoming npc.

      At the moment we have only a handfull of chars still 'played out' some more often, others more as side characters.

      Here are the actual played out chars:

      - Lord Gard Blyth of Dragonport -
      after the death of his father and son the head of the Player house - 25 years old. He was always the “good” son – dutiful, honourable and trying his best to please his father. Naturally there was no love between him and his older and more 'wild' brother. Gard is a sincere man, an able commander but only an average fighter. He tries to act as a “real” knight, has good manors but is sometimes a little bit arrogant.
      Sometimes perhaps a little bit to much interested in following the rules and respecting higher ranking men. A very competent commander and ruler of his domain and adept negotiator but perhaps lacking a little bit the ruthlessness and selfishness that might be needed.

      - Lady Alyanna Blyth of Dragonport -
      The younger sister of Gard. She seems to be a beautiful young lady with perfect manors. Only few people knew that she have her own will and a talent for intrigues. Normally she acts as the perfect noble maid, but she had learned to use this disguise for her own agenda. After several cancelled betrothals or failed wedding projects some say that she is bad luck for every man who is interested in her.
      Much more ruthless, sneaky and selfish than her brother, but fiercly loyal to her family and her brother who she supports (sometimes by means he would certainly not aprove).

      - Ser Paedrig Rivers -
      A young knight and bastard son of a fallen member of the landed knight family Blyth of Krayenhorn, a sideline of house Dragonport, seated nearby the major branch of the house. He is a very good fighter and able commander, at hte moment commanding a unit of light cavalry and seccond in command of the Master of arms of Dragonport.
      Still struggeling with his status as a bastard and his place in the world and risking all he have achived with his secret affair with his slightly older step-aunt Anya of Krayenhorn.

      - Turgon -
      (secondary pc)
      son of a ironman lord and a salt wife (who were from abroad) who had to leave the Iron Isles because he did not get along with his father and brothers (to put it mildly). A former mercenary, than officer on one of the Dragonport ships and now also some sort of bodyguard for Lady Alyanna).

      - Aeryn Hunter -
      (secondary pc)
      A member of the archers of house Dragonport and non comissioned officer of his unit. Currently with his comrades in the War in the South


      Former Player Characters (now removed or for the moment changed into npc)
      - John Buckwell: an relative to Lord Gards aunt, a mediocre knight and fighter but good steward, at the moment in service of the local house Dannett
      - Sammil of Lemmonplume: a young dornish noble, squire at Dragonport
      - Erik Blyth, Lord Gards uncle who had left the family for some times because he had fought for the Targaryens during Roberts rebellion and returned at the beginning of the chronic for some month to dragonport. A man in his 40th, not very athletic, strong or agile – no fighter, but an able negotiator and merchant. At the moment at Kings Landing, were he hoped to find more opportunities to gain wealth and find the luxerious living condition he had become used during his 'exile' in Oldtown. Although he is fond for his family, his own wellfare always comes first.
      - Ragnar Greyjoy, from a lesser branch of the famous (or infamous) Greyjoy-family, which rule over the Iron Islands. After their rebellion against King Robert 8 years ago, Ragnar was taken hostage. First “guest” of the Freys, he later was sent to the Blyth, where he stayed since 6 years. Although young and in some aspects even naïve and ignorant, he is an able fighter. Because of his mixed background he still not knows where his heart lies – and even, to what gods he should pray: the drowned god of the ironmen, or the seven? Should be the “honour” of the Ironman his ideal – or the honour of the knights of Westeros? He recently was sent back to the Freys, is fate is unknown.
      - William Blyth, Erics estranged son, a maester. Had a short encounter with his father and other family members at Kings Landing.
      - Lord Igen Horn: Lord of a house nearby the Ironmen Bay, recently sworn to house Frey. An very able commander and administrator. He had meet Lord Gard when Gard was a squire and earned his first martial experience during the Greyjoy Rebellion. He later visited dragonport a few times.
      Last edited by Paedrig; 13th January 2020, 12:08 AM.


      • #63
        Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

        Dragon's Hoard II

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

        During the first days after the repelled attack, the ca. 20 prisoners were interrogated. It soon became obvious that they were no members of a regular military unit, but a bunch of pirates. Sadly most of the prisoners were common men, no higher officers. Their escaped commander, Captain Scarecrow (called so because of his rough straw-like blond hair and scared face) had been bribed for the attack by a stranger who came according to his accent most likely from the Stormlands or the Crownlands. The common pirates did not know his name, because he acted incognito. However they called him Ser Asshole or Ser Scarface (they were enraged because he had promised the resistance at Dragonport would be limited). But they did know what the target of the attack was: the capture of Rhaegar Velaryon. The good weapons the pirates possessed were in part their own, in part a gift from this mysterious man. They described him as middle-aged, with bad teeth, a face full of scars, black hair and eyes, a very good ring-mail but no code of arms. Rhaegar thought he might be an emissary of Stannis Baratheon, but Gard more or less dismissed that idea. After all he knew a little bit about Stannis, and the idea that he would send hired pirates in a nightly attack instead of demanding what he thought was his right as the ‘true’ king seemed unlikely. Rhaegar also mentioned the possibility that Scarface was a servant of his estranged relatives, but he did not know him from his past.
        The prisoners gave also information about their comrades. Their small fleet – an armed merchant-ship and two smaller support-ships operated from a small natural harbour on the “Index Finger” of the Fingers, since five or six years now. There were rumours they had some protection by a local noble, but that could not be confirmed. Gard sent a letter of complaint to the Erie and to the local houses, but he knew that the chance of results would be very small. He was yet undecided if he should took the right of retaliation in his own hands and start an operation against the outpost of the pirates, fearing this might enrage the local nobles. After all the Vale was neutral and its High Lady a sister of King Robb’s mother…He also reported the attack to Riverrun (in part to show that he had problems of his own to have an argument against the demands that the local houses should contribute more to the war efforts).
        After the interrogation were finished, Gard sentenced two of the prisoners to death by hanging (not so much because of individual crimes, but he wanted to send a message). The rest was pardoned – some to the Wall, other as forced workers and a few were given even the chance to join the ranks of one of the crews of the fleet of Dragonport. It became obvious over the weeks that some members of the defeated units had escaped but failed to get a passage to their hideout – the abandoned pirates increased the danger of brigands etc., slightly reducing the law in the lands of Dragonport and around.

        Another question which needed a decision was the fate of Ludviga Lugus, hostage at Dragonport since a few months now. While she was not the target of the raid, this incident and other events had shown that prisoners of the house were not always secure. Aly discussed the possible options with her brother and his wife. One was to “sell” Ludviga either directly to the Lugus (what was so far not successful because of Alys high demands of ransom) or to Walder Frey so that she become HIS hostage. This at least was quickly dismissed by Gard, who had not very fond memories towards the old Lord Frey how paid him very meagre for the last hostage he “snatched” from the hands of the young lord of Dragonport.
        There was also the possibility to still hold the young woman as prisoner, but sending Ludviga to another place, which may be a little bit more secure (away from the sea), maybe to Stony Oak, the captured Lugus-holding on the Kingsroad. Aly played with the idea to try to manipulate Ludviga to marry someone from the wider household of her brother – perhaps to Jon Buckwell, who served as a steward of Stony Oak. That would give house Blyth not only some arguments for even greater influence at Stony Oak, but with a little bit of luck in that way a future claim to main Lugus-land could be created. If enough of the main Lugus-line were exiled or killed during the war…
        But Gard thought that such an ambitious project was more than his resources could handle at the moment. And so it was decided that Aly should lower the expectations in her negotiations with Orten Lugus and give him back his sister – for a good price. She should also send her to a safer location. That was surely a bad message for the numerous young (and not so young) men at Dragonport who had developed some interest in Ludviga (and her potential ,value’) – knights and middle-ranking officers. Torgon, who was among the luckless, organized some kind of ,drown-your sorrow’ festivity of the fellow want-to-be-suitors, which ended in a lot of drunken minor nobles and some enriched bar owners (and some whores got also their share, it seemed).

        The search after further information about the “Dragon treasure” which very likely was the reason for the attack remained complicated. Until now it was not possible to finger out how it may possible to contact Eric Blyth (and there was the question how much he could be trusted, if he would not go after the treasure by his own or sell his secrets). It seemed also difficult to arrange a passage to Dragonstone or Driftmark (and a good cover-up story to ferret out more information there). Rhaegar was getting a little bit nervous; fearing someone else might have clues to find the treasure.
        Aly was busy with planning and thinking, but progress was slow. She thought about a cover story, using their connections to some tradesmen in the Vale. Maybe she could mask herself and maybe Rhaegar too as merchants who claim to be interested in books (a good that was not very high priced in times of war but could easily be transported, stored and sometimes sold with a good profit outside the warzone). The self-declared heir to the Iron Throne at Dragonstone was surely in need for supply and might be open to the idea of selling books. In that way Aly would have a chance to get into the library of Dragonstone and use that as cover to sneak into more important parts of the castle. It would be risky, but maybe the only chance to visit the highly secured fortress of Stannis Baratheon.
        She also did invest some time and effort to “heal” Rhaegar of his blind loyalty towards the Targaryan (partly because she wanted to lower the danger he might do something crazy if the treasure was in reach to ensure that all the gold would be spend for the “noble cause”). She was first quiet successful, but Rhaegar distracted her a with offers to tell her some secrets (which turned out not to be much more than some rumours about high ranking supporters of the ousted dragonriders in King’s Landing – but nothing with any proof or real worth at the moment).
        And last but not least she began to plan to use Rhaegar as some sort of bait to find out who in Dragonport was spying for the unknown enemies who had started at least two attempts to get their hand on the young noble. There MUST have been some spies, and since they had to act quickly, their cover could not be perfect and after two failures they surely were under pressure. If they could be found and silenced or even better “turned around” to spread false information, it would give Aly’s family a big advantage in the hunt after the treasure…

        But while also other things like the war against piracy and the battles in the southern Riverlands may demand attention – there was also one problem which overshadowed not only Gard’s rule as a lord from the first day he becomes head of his house but had been an challenge for decades or even centuries. The border to the mountains could never really be secured, and the latest news was a grim reminder. A group of scouts from house Aran – around 20 men from a “green” unit – had been ambushed and nearly whipped out. This caused Ser Jonah Aran, heir of Lord Vickon Aran and for the moment the ruling local liege-lord, to call again for a meeting of the main borderland-houses, mainly Fallkirk, Blyth of Krayenhorn (and of course his own). Gard way not invited directly, but decided to attend anyway. After all his house had own interests, had invested in some of the units which often operated in the borderlands – and he did not trust the Fallkirks. So he used the fact that Lady Anya Blyth of Krayenhorn travelled through his land and asked for support and military advice to join her on her voyage to the meeting. He did not want to patronize the proud young lady, but he HAD more experience as military leader, and had commanded more than one patrol in the borderlands.

        It soon became obvious that the situation on Aran-soil was not the best. The local people looked frightened, the soldiers demoralized. And at castle Starbone the atmosphere was tense. This was in great parts so because Edwyn Fallkirk made no secret that he wanted to put a lot of blame for recent troubles onto house Blyth of Dragonport and their interference in the borderlands, which may have disturbed the fragile peace which was present before. Gard fired back that after all his own brother was heavily wounded and the land of his family raided long before he himself ever lead an host into the borderlands. This gave Lord Fallkirk the opportunity to bring up the fact that Gards older brother had almost started a war with house Dannett during his short reign.
        Gard also made clear that he was not satisfied with the way the Fallkirk acted as “warden of the wilderness”, since their soldiers seem to show little actions beyond the borders of their own land, while Aran, but even more Blyth of Krayenhorn and Blyth of Dragonport operated in an more active way, losing men and money. Of course Edwyns mockery about the ghost-stories about undead attackers Gard seem to believe in did not strengthen the argument of the young lord of Dragonport.
        In the end Gard made it clear he would go on to detach his cavalry as support for Krayenhorn, but wanted to be asked for permission before they were used in wider operations. He got also no support for his planed operations against pirates – house Aran had not the money and Fallkirk not the will. The situation was also tense because the local lords feared that their new king would demand more resources for his war in the south – men for his armies in the Riverlands south of the Trident, ships to support the operations, money etc. Most of them simply thought they had done enough. Even Gard was not very keen to join the war a second time, a war he had no personal interest in and saw little chance of getting any substantial advantage from, although he was less determent to reject any demands of king Robb. He was surely not one of the many people who admired the “young wolf”, but this war had to be brought to a satisfying end (although he would prefer a soon and peaceful one, even if that would mean that there must be made a compromise).
        Both Gard, his wife and his sister began after his return to think about the possibility, that house Fallkirk – after avoiding using their resources too much in the war in the South or in the borderlands – was preparing to take advantage from the military setbacks both the clans and other players had suffered (house Arans scouts were decimated, Krayenhorn had just recovered from some losses and had sent all his cavalry to the South, and Dragonport was dealing with pirates). Maybe Lord Edwyn just had waited for the right moment to snatch some pieces of land and/or villages after other people had done the work and bleed themselves dry…

        But Gard also felt that he could not ignore the attack by Scarecrow and his men completely – he wanted to teach both the pirates a lesson and got more information about the forces behind them. After all this was not the first attempt to attack Dragonport, and he had to make clear that this came with a high price.
        While often a man of patience, this time he reacted swift, in part maybe to show Fallkirk that he was able to do so. In a few days he had gathered four of his five warships and mobilized his personal guard to hit Scarecrows hideout on the Fingers. He hoped to achieve his goal before any local lord in the Vale could react. Such an operation would leave Dragonport poorly defended, since his light cavalry was in the borderlands – the heavy cavalry and the towns guard was the only available units which would stay behind. But he hoped that a swift and short operation would minimize the risks. So the small fleet set sail.

        Those who stayed behind were of course a little bit nervous both for the fate of the expedition and for their own. A few days after the lord had left, a message arrived that someone of the family should come to Krayenhorn. Since the lord was not here, Aly decided to travel by her own – of course with some soldiers to her protection, and she also invited Rhaegar (also to keep an eye on him). She thought it was urgent to reach Krayenhorn soon, so they also travelled during darkness. That may have been the wrong decision, because they were briefly taken for enemies by a patrol of the local troops, without doubt a result of the worsen security-situation. Luckily only one soldier was slightly injured by an arrow.

        At Krayenhorn Aly learned that a young warrior of the Shadowcats had arrived with a message for her brother and a young woman – it was the girl Elyra, the borderland-warrior Robb was searching for and for which Gard had offered a reward. But she was in a bad condition, after she had suffered months of captivity (and surely rape and other forms of mistreatment – although her abilities as healer had increased her “value” and may have helped her a little bit). Aly secretly agreed with lady Anya that the warrior in truth deserved no reward/ransom but a cruel punishment, but of course she did not acted as she felt. Establishing a connection to the Shadowcats – how weak it may be – was far more important. So she paid the price for the hostage.
        She got some information from Elyra about the situation in the ranks of the Shadowcats. The clan seem to be busy in the last months, taking prisoners even from other clans who had to face brutal challenges. Those who survived were incorporated into the ranks of the ‘cats. All that became more menacing by the circulating rumours about demons in the night and the return of walking corpses. The Shadowcats also got more real-world-visitors, but they were also frightening. Horrible scared (often burned) men and women – maybe members of the infamous Burned Men Clan – who were even respected among the Shadowcats.
        One day Elyra had been brought before the chief of the Shadowcats – he was frightening, although he did not harm her, just asked some questions. Together with him was a heavily scared old man with strange eyes which seem to change colour constantly. From him she got a message for Gard: His house had the key in their hand to defeat the night-child, the ice-beast. Not yet the weapon, but the key. Ore defeats the storm, fire defeats ice, both together would be invincible. The blood of the dragon was waiting. And there was also a warning – those who never looks outside their cave, cannot lose their head. But they would also did not see how the neighbouring cave was burned out. As often when dealing with the borderlands or unworldly threats, the messages remained a little bit mysterious...
        Aly offered Elyra shelter and maybe a new home at Dragonport. The clansman challenged Rhaegar to a duel, which he lost – something seem to make him curious about the noble with the Valyrian heritage. Maybe it was a mistake, but when the clansman asked who this stranger was, Aly answered that he was from the blood of the dragon…
        The return of the small party was swift and safe. Elyra was put under the care of her former teacher Elen (who surely needed a little bit more place in the small hut of the healer).
        Aly was starting so search her collected information about local myths and magic to decipher the meaning behind the cryptic words, but that proofed to be difficult.

        A few days later, ten light cavalrymen from Dragonport, which were scouting in the borderlands, helped by chance and swift action to lift a siege of clansmen (most likely Mist Brothers) against the village of Sevenhill, were both the villagers and a group of Robb’s warriors were under attack. The clansmen retreated, not daring to face regular soldiers AND the local resistance. But of course there was no guarantee that this would work out every time so well in the future (and the village had still suffered some damage). Since the local forces of the flatlanders were reduced due to the war and some setbacks, help for the borderlands was never sure and rarely swift. Of course the people there also did not pay for protection and bend the knee – they were just defended because some of the lords thought the best defence is one who did not let the clansraiders reach the civilized territories, but stop their attacks in the borderlands.
        Robb was informed about his lost love return, but their reunion was maybe not the same as in the tales – he left embittered and she stayed behind at Dragonport, maybe not at best terms towards each other… It may because how she suffered, what she had to do to survive or because she could not forgive him that he did not find her sooner.

        In the meantime Gard’s ships were making good progress in their journey. It was untypical for the young lord to act so swift – he often choose preparation and patience over action – but he proofed time and again that he was an able organizer in military questions. So the ships were well loaded, and the men of his personal guard found their place on board – not very comfortable, but with all they need. He had gathered all ships except the ship of the young Sunderland. The people in the harbours of the Sisters (mainly Long- and Littlesister) which were stations during the first days of travel all reacted a little bit nervous about so many well-armed men and warships, but Gard kept discipline tight. On the fourth day the ships reached the street of Pebble. So far Gard had let the soldiers sleep on land, although this mean extra time to spend every evening and morning, but as the ships closed the distance to the harbour of their enemy and the weather was getting worse, he decided that the men should sleep on board. The captains and he managed to land their soldiers on the next day – they did not want to dare a combat-landing, but decided to launch a combined approach. The personal guard should close in on land, while the ships would give fire support, attacking the hostile ships and cutting of any ways of retreat. The land was poor, just strand, rocks, a little bit grassland – and very few people, sometimes a lonely farm or fisherman. At least that reduced the danger that any local lord might react soon to this incursion.

        The hideout of Scarecrows pirates was not very impressive. A small bay in which his three ships – the armed cog which had attacked Dragonport and two smaller support-ships – found refuge against bad weather, a few simple buildings and a very old and only partly intact fortified tower. However the pirates were not totally surprised and rallied their ships and men swiftly. While their ships prepared for the battle, the raiders gathered at the tower, awaiting an infantry assault. As the ships of Dragonport closed towards the bay, there were some tense moments when the flagship had contact with the bottom and suffered some damage.
        But beside that, the chances look not well for the pirates. They had only three armed merchant-ships (although they were equipped with fire-projectiles etc.) against three (small) galleys and a heavily armed cog. And on land the raiders, while having good weapons and a good position, were facing the marching ranks of the well trained personal guard of Dragonport, nearly hundred men with good weapons and a quiet menacing presence in their black cloaks.
        So it was perhaps little surprise that they wanted to negotiate. The leader of the infantry made an offer in the name of his captain. The pirates would leave their harbour peacefully, leaving behind their booty as a ransom – and tell everything they know about the man who gave them the order to attack Dragonport. Gard was a man who surely did not wanted to risk the life of his men and his ships – he did know that he would need them in the planned joint operation against after the pirates in the Bite he was preparing for months and later maybe in the war in the South. So he was open for negotiation – but for a higher price. In the end he agreed to let the pirates go, but they had to left one of their ships AND the booty behind them. After all he thought the bloody losses of the pirates at Dragonport and the loss of their harbour would send a clear message even without a second battle. Some of his officers might be a little bit disappointed about the lost chance for glory, but the booty and a ship for free was of course a bonus which was welcomed, and many of the soldiers may secretly be happy not to be forced to battle for victory when they could have this without combat…

        Sadly the pirates did not know much about the man who had hired them. Although captain Scarecrow did know him under the name Leoff Cooper, but it was hard to believe that this was his real name, and neither this nor the details he remembered gave a real hint who stood behind Cooper. Many of the good weapons the pirates had were from him, but even that gave no clear hint from which house he was. He had tried to get his hand onto Rhaegar before (so surely he was behind the first attempt to kidnap him) and seem to be an able commander and warrior, but no man with experience at sea. Gard warned the pirates they would have not so much luck if they would ever meet again, and then the two remaining ships left the small bay. The third ship of the pirates, a snigge (a coastal-sailing-ship, a one-master with three sails - two headsails and a gaff-rigged sail - with a capacity of up to 50 tons cargo, a minimal crew of 6-8 men, while it could also carry maybe 20-24 oars if wished) was incorporated in the small fleet of Dragonport, and Torgon was given provisional command about a rump-crew (what he managed quiet well over the next days during the journey back).
        The next two days before the flotilla started their journey home the men spend with destroying the buildings of the pirates including the tower and blocking the natural harbour for further use. They finished their task and left before any local lord could react to their incursion.

        The journey home however was a though one, mainly because the weather worsened. The fleet needed not less than eight days for the distance they had travel in five on their way to the pirates, including one day at Longsister due to bad weather. The people on the islands were still nervous about the strangers (although Gard himself was half a “Sisterman” from birth, since his mother was a Borrell). Maybe because of that he was willing and successful in keeping the order among the ranks of his soldiers AND calms the fears of the people on the islands. At Littlesister he was able to speak with Lord Alesander Torrent, a man who was quiet interested in the planning of the anti-pirate-operation Gard was preparing together with houses from the Sisters and the North (what may also be an alarming signal, since it showed that there were the risk that something about this plans were leaked). Gard later meet shortly Lord Rolland Longthorpe at Longsister, too. The lord was recently widowed and had no heir, so he has also some interest in good relations with his neighbours, since he maybe was also searching for an appropriate bride.
        The last day of the voyage went without greater problems, and in the end all five ships arrived safely.

        Was the future may bring was uncertain. The new actions of the Fallkirks may set the borderlands alight and increase tensions between the local houses, and the combined naval operation Gard was planning for months was just ahead. In the same time more and more frightening rumours from the Mountains of the Moon emerged – someone or something may have been just wake up from a sleep of centuries if not longer. And surely because of that a short time after Gard returns a mysterious message from the Shadowcats arrived – they wanted the blood of the dragon…


        • #64
          Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

          WiC II

          Note: This chronic includes the settings of “A babe in the woods” and “Where there’s fire” from Night’s Watch, which were combined and slightly modified. I also used some chars from the fan-made “Courtship at the tourney”. Thanks to all authors and co-workers.

          When Paedrig, Lo Tho and their men finally reached their destination, the legendary Castle Black appeared to be half-abandoned and in bad shape. The Lord Commander and most of the garrison had marched beyond the Wall, leaving behind perhaps fifty old, crippled or VERY green brothers of the Night Watch. So it was the First Steward Bowen Marsh and not the ‘Old Bear’ who – cautiously – welcomed Lo Tho and Paedrig. However he was pleased by the respect that the Night watch received by Paedrig – and together with the recommendation letter by Cotter Pyke and the fact that Paedrigs Lord had funded the Night Watch regularly (and had send dozens if not more men to the Wall) that was enough to convince him to let the group stay at Castle Black and allow their research. Concerning the topic of these researches, Bowen Marshs reactions were mixed. In contrast to many southern Lords he did not negate the idea of walking corpses and undead attackers from the spot. After all, only a few weeks before two deceased members of the Night Watch, who had been found beyond the Wall, had risen in the night, killed several of their former brothers and attempted to murder the Lord Commander. However Bowen Marsh was shocked by the idea that such phenomenon could also occur in the South.
          Paedrig, Lo Tho and their men got quarters at Hardins Tower, an almost abandoned and not very stable looking building. They would eat at the Great Hall together with the brothers of the Night Watch, but it was clear that the Night Watch expected then to bought some additional forages as compensation (the Watch seem to be relatively short on supplies).
          Paedrig instructed his men to stay alert but avoid any trouble or conflict. He did know that many Night Watch members were former criminals and also considered the possibility that some of the men, Lord Gard or Paedrig himself had sent to the Wall, might want revenge.
          The quarters might be very mundane and the food frugal, but Lo Tho accepted this as the price for his researches and Paedrig was used to such living conditions (although not to the chilly temperatures). After all this was managed, Paedrig immediately went to the Wall and spend more than an hour on top of the biggest and oldest fortification in Westeros, watching out into the wilderness beyond the Wall.

          For their research, Lo Tho and Paedrig had to rely on themselves – the Night Watch had no men to help them to search the chaotic archives and endless piles of documents. Maester Aemon, who was treated by Lo Tho with great respect, did not know much about magic or necromancy and was almost blind, aging and sickly, and his aid Samwell Tarly had left Castle Black with most of the other brothers. Paedrigs men had to help (carry books etc.) but (like Paedrig) they hated the dark and cold halls, floors and archives of Castle Black and especially the tunnels which connected the buildings. The tunnels were in very bad shape, full of shadows. Some entrances were barricaded or secured with rusted chains and this – combined with rumors about recruits who had gone lost in these tunnels – disturbed even hardened warriors. If Lo Tho was somehow impressed by this atmosphere he did not show any sign of weakness.
          Paedrig tried to help Lo Tho, but given his mediocre reading and knowledge skills he could only assist. He also (with mixed results) did a little bit researches on his own about the history of the house of his father, which had been founded by a recruit of the Night Watch who had returned into the South before he was invited to speak the vows of the Night Watch. Later the founder of Paedrigs father house had returned to the Wall and died as a member of the Night Watch – and a significant number of house members had also served in the Watch during the last centuries.

          During the next days, Paedrig and his men established a routine: guarding their quarters and gears (Paedrig never forget the rather…dubious background of many Night Watch brothers and the fact that he and his Lord had sent a fair share of their enemies to the Wall), martial exercises and researches. Going through the Night Watch archives was frustrating and tedious and from time to time Paedrig had to clear his mind with a detour to the top of the Wall – always quiet a view, especially one day, when huge waves of fog rolled from the north like a silent grey flood, stowed by the Wall till they reached the top and then flooded into the South.
          Lo Tho remained reclusive and guarded and did not say much during the evening meals in the Great Hall. Paedrig was much more interested in talking with members of the Night Watch, but many of the brothers remained cautious. Altogether there were not much more than 50 brothers in Castle Black, mostly stewards, builder and some recruits – many of them nervous because recent events (like the rising of the dead), the long absence of most of their comrades and the foreboding winter…

          One day, Paedrig and one of his men did make a quick tour to Moletown to gather some supplies. The ‘town’ was a strange view, with most of its ‘buildings’ under the surface and many sub-terrain tunnels and halls. However the people were also mostly guarded towards strangers and Paedrig was not interested in ‘digging for treasures’ in the local inn/ brothel that seem to be famous by some members of the Watch.
          After almost two (mostly uneventful) weeks, Paedrig and Lo Tho were ordered to meet with Bowen Marsh. During the night, fire signals had been sighted north of the Wall – perhaps a sign of wildling presence, perhaps a Night Watch patrol in danger? Because he did not have many battle hardened men left, Bowen Marsh asked for assistance, which Paedrig immediately promised. However most of his men were afraid of the dangers of the North beyond the Wall and in the end only Paedrig and one of his guards accompanied the small Night Watch patrol which was led by their acquaintance Gueren. Most of the men – including Paedrig, although he was also a bit excited – were nervous when they left Black Castle via the tunnel through the Wall.
          For several hours they marched along the Wall through a silent, beautiful but slightly menacing scenery, a frozen world. Winter might not have reached the South, but beyond the Wall his coming was obvious. They reached their destination at noon, finding the rests of three signal fires and traces of two persons who seem to have fled a larger group. The traces were a little bit strange, because the pursuers did not march in a straight line or orderly formation – and some of them appeared to be bare-footed?
          After some hours the traces of the pursuer dispersed while the traces of the two persons they had chased ended at an edge of a steep slope. At the bottom of the slope the patrol spotted one or maybe two persons who did not move and were probably plummet down the hillside during the night. It was not easy to climb down, but Paedrig and Gueren managed to reach their destination without falling, while the rest of the patrol secured the hilltop. It was obvious, that this was no brother of the Night Watch - it was a young blonde woman, cladded in wildling clothing. The woman was dead, probably frozen to death during the night, but beside her a young boy of five or six years was crouched in the snow: frightened, half frozen, with a broken leg – but alive and with an axe in his hands. The boy did speak the Common Tongue not very well; however Paedrig and Gueren were able to calm him down. The name of the boy was Spar. He and his now dead mother Yrsa had lit the signal fire but then had to flee – from whom he could or want not tell.
          It was decided to take the boy back to Castle Black (to raise him and let him become a member of the Night Watch) and to carry the body of his mother back to the signal fires to burn her.
          Odred, one of the Night Watch brothers complained, that carrying Yrza was ‘…for no good. If her body was at least not completely frozen, than… ’ Paedrig was in no mood for such jokes and verbally lashed out at the man, but Gueren deescalated the situation. Hauling the body back to the fires was a tedious enterprise and did cost much time. When the group headed back to Castle Black, the weather worsened more and more and soon it became clear that they could never reach Castle Black before night – not alive. So Gueren commanded halt and ordered the men to dig themselves into the snow. Half of the group should sleep while the rest stand vigil.

          None of the men slept well. Paedrig commanded the first guard shift and although he and his men were on high alert, they could not see much through the falling snow and were all aware of their dangerous situation.
          And then, suddenly, seemingly out of the White, a young woman stood in front of them – pale, with blue eyes and the face of the dead wildling girl. And behind her, more silent figures could be seen in the snow – wildlings.
          For some moments the situation was really tense, but luckily no blood was shed, especially when the wildlings realized that Spar (the rescued wildling boy) was well and that Gueren, Paedrig and their men were not the cause of Yrsas death. Pale Dyrra, obviously the sister of Spar’s dead mother, demanded that the boy had to be given back to his father Rafe, who was also a member of the wildling group.
          There was a short discussion between the men of the patrol. Some (like Paedrig) wanted to hand over the boy immediately, while Gueren would have preferred it to bring the boy to the Wall. He also warned that giving away the boy would take away the only cause, why the wildlings probably did not have attacked the group on the spot. However no one wanted to fight the Wildlings, because they had superior numbers and more ranged weapons. In the end it was bargained, that Spark would be handed over tomorrow, near the gate to Castle Black. The wildlings reluctantly agreed and set up a small camp nearby. Of course any idea of sleep and rest had now left the men and they nervously awaited the dawn.

          Only one or two hours later, a scream from the wildling camp alarmed the men, who then heard approaching footsteps. The patrol hastily tried to form a circle, and then the attackers entered their sight: silent, determent – and without breathing. The dead had arrived.
          Paedrig ‘killed’ two of them with relatively ease, but other men were not so lucky. Whyt and Odred, two of the Night Watch members, were in danger and (perhaps because he had talked more often with Whyt and because of Odreds comment about the ‘use’ of the dead wildling girl) Paedrig decided to help Whyt first. He was successful, but came too late to help Ordred whose throat was ripped out in front of his fighting comrades.
          Spar fled the broken defense circle, a wight behind him, while the heavily wounded Odred was hauled into the Darkness and the remaining men tried to regroup. Paedrig shouted to his comrades that they should hold the line and chased after Spark. He slayed the wight before he could harm the boy, but on their way back to the group, the two were cornered by several undead.
          Luckily the wildlings (who had also been attacked by the wights) came to their rescue (or probably only to Spars rescue). Lighter armed and armored than the Night Watch patrol, they had lost two men, while another one (like Whyt from Guerens men) was severely wounded. Pale Dyrra and Spars father Rafe were among the survivors. For the moment, the undead retreated into the night.

          While Padrig and some of his men argued for a forced march to Castle Black, the wildlings had another idea. There was a stash of dry wood some miles away and if they could reach the place, they might have the chance to destroy the wights once and for all – because fire was most effective against them. In the end Gueren and Paedrig decided to follow this plan. It was unclear if they could reach the wall with one men lost and another wounded. Also, combining their forces seemed to be the best possibility to survive instead of parting in the hope, the undead would go for the wildlings…

          It was a desperate and exhausted group which started their forced march into the night. Tension and distrust between the wildlings and the Night Watch was still high, only momentarily suppressed by the common threat of the undead. Sparks and the two wounded were kept in the middle of the formation, slowing the men and women down significantly. Paedrig, although exhausted like most of his men, did his best to keep the men in good order, always at the outskirts of the formation.
          That they had not only undead MEN to fear became obvious, when an undead shadowcat attacked Paedrig, leaving the young knight with two nasty injuries before vanishing into the night. But the young knight was able to keep the tempo and without further attacks the group reached their destination.
          The wood was prepared but not lit up because the wights should be destroyed, not simply kept away. And, after only a short amount of time, the undead indeed arrived, the fires were lit and the fight began. Paedrig ‘killed’ one wight and the undead shadowcat that had injured him shortly before. And he had to slay Odred, their former comrade, who had risen from the death and now tried to kill Gueran. Finally the attack slowed down, with most of the wights destroyed or again vanished into the darkness, short before dawn. Without further losses, wildlings and Night Watch had prevailed – probably because they had fought together instead of each other…

          The party soon parted (peacefully), after Spar was returned to his father. Paedrig and Gueren even got some advises concerning their enemies: the undead wights, servants of the Others, obviously could be destroyed with fire. However their masters were much more fearsome and not so easy to kill. But dragonglas (obsidian) might be useful. The march back to Castle Black was thankfully uneventful and the patrol reached its destination without further problems.
          Notwithstanding the losses (one brother dead, another wounded), Bowen Marsh considered the operation as a success. He was of course troubled by the fact that the dark forces beyond the Wall were closing in, confronting the Night Watch with a thread they had not faced for some thousand years. He asked Paedrig to take letters of warning and pleas for support to the South. Paedrig agreed to this and promised that at least his Lord would listen. But he also warned that – given the raging war in the South and the fact that many Lords (and Kings) would not believe stories about undead attackers or the Others – help might not come in great numbers. Of course Bowen Marsh was well aware of this…

          It took Paedrig some days to heal his injuries, while Lo Tho finished his researches as best as he could. The results remained scattered and vague but seem to back the information that the wildlings had given about the wights and their masters. Beside fire (against the wights) and dragonglas (against the Others), also Valyrian steel was mentioned – but given the fact that there were only a few hundred weapons made of valyrian steel in whole Westeros this information might be of limited use.
          Lo Tho also found some stories and tales about warges and ‘green dreamers’ – information that might perhaps be of little help for Elen, the healer of Dragonport, who did suffer under prophetic dreams and nightmares. But most of the stories were confusing and obscure. There were even some recipes for teas etc. who either could suppress the dreams for some time or making them stronger, however the herbs which were necessary were very likely not easy to get.
          Concerning Paedrigs own little researches about the history of his father house, there was a partial success. It seemed that the girl, the founder of the house had taken with him to the South was indeed (as it was claimed) a bastard daughter of house Stark – AND also (as other stories mentioned) a wildling ‘princess’. Obviously she was the bastard of a Stark who had become a member of the Night Watch, while her mother had been the daughter of a wildling chief who had cooperated with the Watch. The girl had been raised in the gift, met the founder of house Blyth of Krayenhorn, when he was a recruit of the Night Watch and accompanied him when he returned into the South to revenge his family which had been slain by the clans of the Mountains of the Moon.

          The way back to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea was uneventful, but one night the whole sky was lit up by polar lights. It was a spectacular view; however the men were uncertain if this was a good omen, a sing of the coming winter – or bad sing for the future. Lo Thos mentioning, that polar lights were considered as a sign of the ‘Great Other’, the evil opponent of the god R’Hllor, did not sound very encouraging…
          At Eastwatch, Hakon Trader, the merchantman that had brought the group to then North had finished all his business. He was quiet pleased with the potential profit of the journey. The three direwolf cubs, Paedrig had caught shortly before their trip to Castle Black, were in good shape and while Hakon Traders ship was prepared for the journey back, Paedrig spend some time with the young wolves. The two black female cubs seem to have a little bit rowdy character, while their grey sister was more reluctant and calm. Paedrig decided to keep the grey one if possible and named her ‘Shadow’. The other two he considered as a good gift for some of the local nobles at home.
          The soldier who had been severely wounded during the hunt after the direwolfes decided to not return in the South. Paedrig accepted his decision and gave him some extra gold dragons as compensation for his wounds, although he was a little bit confused because he considered the North not as a good place to retire – with the coming winter and the encroaching evils beyond the Wall.
          However still not everyone did believe the stories he and one of his men had to tell about the undead…

          The sea voyage was not comfy to say the least, because the weather had worsened. Especially the direwolf cubs were not very happy – as were the men Paedrig ordered to help him to care for the young wolves. Not every day it was possible to find a fishing village or good anchor ground and everyone on board (beside Lo Tho) had to help to manage the ship. Paedrig also ordered his men to stay alert but no potential enemy (human or otherwise) appeared. Wales and dolphins accompanied the ship from time to time and one day the men even sighted something that might have been a giant squid – a truly terrifying view and perhaps a sing that house Greyjoy (which arms show a kraken) would enter the war in the South as King Robb Stark had planned it?

          After a voyage of one week, the ship again reached Widows Tower. There was a lot going on in the small harbor. Obviously the joint anti-piracy operation, which Lord Gard Blyth of Dragonstone had planned for so long, was finally under way. The naval forces of Dragonport, White Harbor and some of the Lords from the Sisters (Sunderland and Borrell) would attack known or supposed pirates strongholds, while the five armed merchant ships of house Flint should patrol the Bite and catch any pirate who might escape the attack.
          Paedrig strongly suggested that Hakons ship should join the operation. The trader captain was a little bit reluctant but finally agreed after Paedrig promised him a big slice of the potential booty and a financial compensation for any eventual delay or damages. He was perhaps a LITTLE bit too spendable with promising the gold of his lord…
          Ten men of the Widows Tower garrison should reinforce Padrigs men and the crew of Hakons ship – with Ser Gregory Sheridan as their commander. This of course led to the question who should be the commander of the armed forces on board – Paedrig or Gregory? Both young men had not got along very well when they met and no one was willing to step down.
          Although a test of their command experiences or negotiations would perhaps have been the best solution, Paedrig challenged Gregory for a sword fight. The matter went to Ser Aemond Westwood, landed knight and most trusted supporter and military commander of Lady Flint of Widows Tower. The experienced knight was a little bit frustrated by the whole ‘pissing contest’ but agreed to the duel.
          Gregory had a brigandine and a great shield, while Paedrig was much lighter armored with only mail and a left-hand dagger. But his experience and superior agility won the day, with Gregory defeated in mere seconds. The young noble was furious – especially because the young ladies had watched the duel and he was mocked by Tanda Darcy, since that was not the kind of attention from beautiful young ladies he was used with.
          A few days later the now six ships set sail, forming three patrol groups.

          Although the weather was better than before, the next days were tedious. In contrast to common practice, the patrol did not anchor every night but stayed at sea, demanding constant care and alertness. The ships were overcrowded and the quarters not very comfy. Paedrig also had a sharp eye that the soldiers stayed on high alert and exercised regularly. He was glad that he had left the direwolf cubs at Widows Tower.
          After several days, both patrolling ships of Paedrig group spotted an armed cog which sailed without banner. When they got closer, the cog tried to flee. Both patrol ships closed in to stop and board the supposed pirate, but were greeted with a hail of arrows, bolts and stones. Paedrig ordered his men to take cover and prepare for boarding, but realized that Gregory had problems commanding his men. So Paedrig stepped in – and was hit by an arrow when he stood in the open. Luckily his armor prevented any serious harm.
          When Hakon Traders ship reached the fleeing pirate, Paedrig and Gregory (both relatively good armed and willing to show their bravery) grabbed long boarding lances to cut down the nets that their opponents had put up to hinder any boarding attempts. They were successful in cutting down the nets but they had forgotten to order some men with shields as support and Gregory got a nasty wound by a crossbow bolt. However this did not stop the boarding party. Paedrig was ahead of his men and Gregory (although wounded) only slightly behind him. Cutting down a pirate himself, Paedrig ordered to press the attack, while their comrade ship was also closing in to board.
          The young knight identified and confronted the captain of the pirate ship and in a fierce duel (he had his shield shattered and taking two injuries) the young knight captured his opponent. Shortly after this, the remaining pirates surrendered.

          It was a very satisfying success with relatively light losses. Beside the crew, the hostile ship did also have some cargo and a handful of civilians (wives and children of the pirates) on board. Paedrigs personal booty were the arms and armor of captain Durryn Storm, some coins, three silver trinkets and a beautiful crafted harpy figure (perhaps from Mereen?). The overall booty for his men was not very big (20 gold dragons), also because a big part went to Hakon Trader. Paedrig had a close eye that the unarmed prisoners were treated well, but of course they were kept under strict surveillance and the next days were hard for the civilians and captured pirates, because the two armed ships and the captured cog resumed their patrol – but without further events. The other patrols did not capture any ships, so Paedrig, Gregory and their comrades got some credits for their performance when they returned to Widows Tower.
          They stayed for some days so that the injured men could be treated and the (light) damages on Traders ship could be repaired. Cherishing his status as one (not THE but one) hero of the operation, Paedrig had some good days, flirting a little bit with the beautiful Tanda Darcy. However the young Lady was well aware of her beauty and (probably sensing that Paedrigs heart was already given) she flirted back light hearted but nothing happened.

          A more serious matter occurred when Ser Aemond informed Paedrig, that the captured pirate captain wanted to talk with him. The old landed knight seem to have begun to watch Paedrig more closely after his performance during the anti-piracy-operation, perhaps search a potential groom his only daughter and heiress, who was almost twenty years but still unwedded and said to be not very ladylike and “strange”.
          The captured Durryn Storm, although badly wounded and in chains, was still not broken and wanted to negotiate his fate. In exchange for his life (and the lives of his officers) he offered to name the merchantmen and local authorities which had cooperated with the pirates, were bribed by them or had bought their booty. Paedrig (who was not in a very bloodthirsty mood) brought this offer to Lady Flint, also arguing that the pirates might be of greater use as new members of the Night Watch. Although Lady Flint was little bit sceptic concerning the need of increased support for the Night Watch, she accepted the idea – if she got the name list first…

          Before Paedrig, Lo Tho and their men departed, news arrived about the overall success of the whole operation. The results were very mixed. Lord Gard of Dragonport and two detachments of ships from the Sister Isles had burned some pirate camp, but the pirates had all escaped with their ships and booty. ‘Admiral’ Rukh, commander of the remaining Dragonport ships, had been more successful, intercepting a small pirate fleet, sinking two ships and capturing the third. And the ships of house Manderly had suffered an embarrassing defeat by the pirate captain ‘Grey Bear’. Keeping in mind the time, money, ships and men that had been put into the whole operation, it was a rather meagre result. House Manderly was angered about its losses and stated out that Lord Gard (who had initiated the whole operation) did owe them. And given their status as a major house, they most certainly will have the means to ensure that these debts are paid…
          Probably the long preparation time and the numerous houses and officials which were involved in the operation had resulted in a leaking of information and some of the pirates had been warned…

          Anyway, some pirates had been dealt with, chased away or at least temporally discouraged and so the last part of the voyage home was uneventful. At Dragonport, Lord Gard was mostly satisfied with the success of Paedrigs and Lo Thos mission, so both earned some praise. Monetarily, the mission was not a big success for Paedrig, also because his own attempts to buy and sell northern goods were not so successful.
          However his Lord was not very thrilled by the three direwolf cubs, Paedrig brought south because since an incident in his youth, Lord Gard deeply feared wolves…


          • #65
            Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

            About dragons and cats

            The return of Paedrig and Lo Tho brought some interesting news from the North, although of course the usefulness of them was very much in the open. There was much to consider and to think about. While it was not absolutely clear if the “old danger” Gard and his men had faced deep in the mountains was the same as in the North, the weakness of the animated corpses towards fire seem to suggest that. So maybe arming units with fire and getting some dragonglass may be an option to consider.
            Secretly, Aly started an affair with Lo Tho shortly after “his” return from the North. Yang Sa/Lo Tho was clearly more romantic than Aly, who – although she really liked the foreign woman and enjoyed the time with her – had little illusions that this relation could last. She had in the past dodged several attempts to marry her off, but she was realistic enough to not trusting that this would be possible forever. And a secret relationship with a foreign woman from such colourful background was surely a risk – although one she was willing to dare for the moment.
            A much more minor distraction (although a unwanted one) was the fact that Aly found out that her maid Myriah Rivers (bastard-daughter of the commander of the garrison of Dragonport) and Gard’s squire Hal Sunstone had gotten themselves into trouble – that kind of trouble young (unwed) couples often got into. Myriah was pregnant (very likely not only by accident or after her own will but after suggestions of her father, who saw Hal as a good catch for his dear child) and it seems that she and Hal were thinking about a secret marriage. Aly was a little bit pissed off (she had warned her maid not letting her affair go out of hand, and she had a lot of other things to consider), but in the end decided to help Myriah and Hal – not because of her kind heart, but to use this opportunity to bind house Sunstone a closer to Dragonport and to pleases Myriahs father, who was a valuable ally for herself in the future. So she convinced her brother to try to broker a deal with lady Margit Sunstone and with Hals father (who was master of arms of the Sunstones). Surely THAT was not a conversation Gard was very happy to face.

            In general things were taking up speed. News from the south seems to suggest that it was time to dare the next step in the search for the gold of the fallen dragon. Stannis seem to be busy, since there were rumours that his fleet was about to set sail – against which foe that was not clear. But that may open a window of opportunity to infiltrate Dragonstone under the disguise of researchers or merchants. Aly took the leadership in organizing this expedition, since it was obvious that her brother could not leave his realm for so long. He was, of course, initially not willing to send his sister either – but Aly was able to convince him that it was worth it. She would take “Lo Tho” with her, since “he” was an able researcher. Torgon would command her bodyguards and the ship on which she would travel – the freshly captured pirate ship, a two-mast-Krajer. It was not well known that this ship was now in the hands of Dragonport, and it was a very common type of vessel. The ship was repaired, heavily armed (for a civilian ship) and the new crew was handpicked for both being professional AND reliable. A few members of the personal guard completed the small party who would set sail for Dragonstone soon enough. Aly was already working on the cover-up-story.

            A little bit difficult was the fact that Rhaegar Velaryon needed to be convinced that he would not join the group. But after all, he had been a prisoner at Dragonstone for a while, so there was a danger he might be remembered by someone, even if he tried to change his appearance. And secretly, Aly (and Gard and Meera) were not to absolutely sure if he would not try to do something stupid if he would ever have the chance to lay his hand on the treasure or the secret where it may be hidden. So the young lord convinced his guest to stay, and bargained with him about his share if the treasure ever could be found. Rhaegar initially demanded one third, but Gard could lower that to a quarter. He also decided (after some hints from his wife and sister) that it may be wise to find some distraction for Rhaegar if he would stay behind. Aly tried also her best to keep an eye on him AND people who try to spy on him (in her opinion there must have been still a spy at Dragonport), but that brought no fruits. However she was able to spread some rumours about her future travel, suggesting it would lead her to the Sisters, to visit her family there (given the fact she was half a Borrell), maybe in a new negotiation with the local lords about future operations against pirates – or a potential marriage for her.

            The operation against the pirates seems to have reduced the attacks on sea-travel significantly, at least for the moment. However, it becomes more and more obvious that the many responsibilities house Blyth of Dragonport had shouldered during the last months were almost too much to bear – acting both on the sea AND in the borderlands towards the mountains, and let’s not forget that they also had send two of their units into the war in the south. So not just lady Meera hinted it may wise to concentrate on one or perhaps two of these burdens. And Gard did not dismiss such suggestions easily, although he still felt some responsibility towards securing the peace against the clans. He was also worried about the actions of the Fallkirks. There were on-going meetings between them and the Arans and Sunstones – maybe Edwyn Fallkirk planned to annexe some parts of the borderlands after the actions of house Blyth of Dragonport, the Arans and Blyth of Krayenhorn had weakened the might of the local clans. There was also the possibility that House Fallkirk may want to marry one of his (bastard) members with the oldest living daughter of lady Sunstone, the fierce half-clanswoman Nella. Of course Edwyn Fallkirk was unwed and without heir, too, but as some rumours went, it seems unlikely that THIS would change soon, since it was said he liked men more than women.

            The mysterious message from the Shadowcats bothered Gard, and neither he nor Aly could imagine another meaning than that the ‘cats had an interest in Rhaegar Velaryon. Why, that remained a secret. But Gard arranged a meeting, sending his master of hunt to place a message on a certain he location he and the shadowcats had agreed to use for some kind communication in times of need. The man – although he was an able hunter and fighter – was seriously injured by marauding Mist Brothers, a grim reminder that hostile clan raiders were still present in the borderlands. But in the end a meeting could be arranged two weeks later. Gard decided to travel – with Rhaegar and some of his soldiers – to Krayenhorn where he would met with Paedrig. He followed the advice of his wife to gather some gifts for the clansmen and he informed the Warden of the Wilderness – Lord Edwyn Fallkirk – about the incoming meeting, although he did that so late that the rival house had little chance to intervene even if they wish. Rhaegar was curious, and even a little bit flattered that someone may call him “the blood of the dragon” (since the Velaryons were of Valyrian blood, but he had not really much of the blood of the dragon riders in his veins, even considering the fact that Velaryons and Targaryan had married on several occasions in the past).
            Since Gards group was big enough, there were not much serious troubles on the trip to the meeting point. At Krayenhorn (the first station of the travel), Lady Anya ordered some of her local scouts to accompany Gards troop. He sensed some tension between Paedrig and Waters, the Krayenhorn Master of Arms, but was not completely sure concerning the cause.
            The people at Sevenhill where of course quiet interested in learning more, since any question of peace and war with the clans was a matter of life and death for them. However, not all were happy about negotiations at all – Robb, the young warrior house Blyth used a little bit as a proxy in the fight against the clans, was an open critic of any deal making, since he hated the Shadowcats as much as the Mist Brothers. Gard was able to mollify him a little bit. Other people were more optimistic.

            The Shadowcats seem to be men and women of honour, since the meeting started peacefully. Leader of the whole group of half a dozen claners and a real shadowcat was Raxa, a middle-aged woman which looked as though as any war veteran. Her appearance was frightening enough – with just one red eye, sharpened teeth and white hair – much more a Snark than a human (for a Grumkin she was too tall). At first she tried two languages most of the flatlanders could understand (very likely the Old Tongue – and a crude form of High Valyrian which only Rhaegar did understand a little bit), but finally both sides communicated in the Common Speech. She was clearly interested in Rhaegar (although there was some mocking among her men about the dragon-hatchling and what use he might have). But before an earnest negotiation she wanted to test his abilities and how strong the blood of the dragons REALLY was. So all come down to a duel of the two, although no fought to the death. Although Rhaegar was injured, he was able to hold his ground and he dealt as much damage as he suffered. After that Raxa, maybe not really impressed but satisfied, made the offer, that the Shadowcats would keep peace with the flatlanders until the end of the winter, if the blood of the dragon would come with her. He was – so the Shadowcats seem to believe – the key to defeat the old enemy. Since Rhaegar was curious enough to dare to travel with the clansmen, Gard was more than happy to agree. In this way he would have the young Velaryon on a place where surely no one would dare to kidnap him; his absence might also lead the mysterious foreign party who had organized the attack on Dragonport on a false trace. It was not completely out of question that the treasure had reached the local area during Robert’s Rebellion and was buried here – and with Rhaegar gone for the mountains such an option might become believable. As long as Rhaegar stayed as some sort of guest of the ‘cats Gard could increase the security in the borderlands at least for a limited time and with a single (but important) clan. He did NOT hope that Rhaegar may not return from his journey, so that he could not claim his share of the treasure. Others may not be so noble…

            A few days after Gards return from the borderlands – Aly was already prepared to set sail – he learned that Lord Fallkirk and Jonah Aran – leader of house Aran in his father’s absence – were planning a new meeting about the situation in the borderlands. However it seem so that neither the Sunstones nor Blyth of Krayenhorn would be invited – maybe because they were “just” landed houses sworn to house Aran, maybe because both had a relatively good relationship with Dragonport and would create a majority Lord Fallkirk wanted to avoid.

            The young lord of Dragonport travelled with a handful of his soldiers. The situation on the road was still tense – the war in the south, the scattered survivors of the failed pirate-attack against Dragonport and marauding clansmen all had their impact on the local population. There were also refugees from the south around, an easy prey for bandits, but some of the locals eyed them also with suspicion. So far the local lords were able to keep control – they resettled the refugees, mustered able men in the ranks of their forces, sometimes even forced unwanted refugees to leave their land. Whatever they did, so far they were the one who decided. But how much longer could the dictate the events? Dragonport – as many other houses – decided to resettle the people from the south to strengthen the population under their rule, even if that mean some difficulties (little conflicts between new settlers and old one, problems to fed and house so many additional people etc.).

            Of course there were lot news from the south which were also interesting – Stannis now had left Dragonstone, and his brother Renley had married the daughter of Mace Tyrell, securing himself a lot of support and uniting both Stormlands and the Reach. But why did he not march against King’s Landing while the main of the Lannister forces was bound in the Riverlands? And while the Bite has become a little bit more secure concerning pirates, there were some rumours about attacks on the western coast of the North and Riverlands.

            It became soon obvious that Lord Fallkirk did his best not to allow secret discussions between Jonah Aran and Gard, very likely to avoid some kind of deal behind his back. So Gard was not able to find out what the meeting was about on the first afternoon he spends at Starbone. The next morning started with an inspection of the local troops – finally house Fallkirk seem to honour its title as warden of the wilderness, since some of their experienced officers and men were training the battered Aran-scouts, which still suffered from their recent defeat in a borderland ambush.
            After the nobles returned, the real negotiations started. It was Edwyn who opened the discussion. He stated that the situation in the borderlands needed a permanent solution. The scattered patrols of the past were seemingly not enough, however the local clans were weakened, and other clans were bound in the war against the Vale. So it was time to move the borders permanently. His plan was to create a new bannerhouse, sworn to house Aran. His younger brother Torrhen, who was promised to Elyssa Aran, should become the ruling landed knight, creating the new line of the Fallkirks of Sevenhill. Edwyn would be able to back that with money and men, and with additional support by house Aran – plus some help from Dragonport who had already good connections in the borderlands – it seemed possible to secure quiet a stretch of land.

            This surely came as a surprise for Gard, who had thought house Fallkirk was eyeing more towards the direct annexation of land for them. A new house would change a lot. It would make both Krayenhorn and Dragonport more secure on the one hand – if it would last. On the other hand any further expansion of Krayenhorn (and to a far lesser grade also of Dragonport) into the borderlands would be contained (not that they had the power and money right now or in the nearer future). Any future action in the borderlands would need the cooperation of Torrhen Fallkirk (with which Gard himself had not the best relationship in the past, although he had tried to smoothen that up a little bit). Edwyn Fallkirk would pleases house Aran, improving his position. His brother would have his own realm and of course the main Fallkirk line would have now a new house with close connections to them – just like the Blyth of Dragonport with their relatives in Krayenhorn. It may also be a reason, that Gard learned that the option of reuniting the lands of Krayenhorn and Dragonport under his rule (or that of his heir) was a possibility which was discussed secretly. The ruling landed knight, Gawan Blyth of Krayenhorn, had so far no heir and no legitimate male relative with a good claim, so Gard’s “knight-father” already had spoken about this possibility with the Arans. Surely that was something the Fallkirks were not happy about, so this potential danger to the balance of power may also be a reason for their activities.
            Of course there was the question how the locals would react, how easily they (including Robb, who not really trusted the flatland-lords) would bend the knee. And would the clans gather their decimated forces to retaliate?

            Ser Jonah seem to already know and like the plans – his house would get a third bannerhouse with little cost, and the Arans would have not to deal so much with the clansmen any longer (a field in which they had suffered a defeat shortly before).
            Gard on the other hand was much more sceptical if not openly hostile towards the plan. He claimed that both the Arans, the Blyth of Krayenhorn and his own house had invested heavily in the fight against the clans (the creation of the Krayenhorn-scouts, the actions of the troops of Dragonport in the last months, the losses of the Aran-scouts etc.) – and now house Fallkirk who had done so little in the last year wanted to harvest the fruits other people have planted and secured? And he should even pretend to be happy and support this plan with FURTHER resources?
            This lead to a heated exchange with Edwyn who fired back with the failures of Gards brother in his short reign etc., while Jonah Aran mostly remained at the side-line. In the end however Gard decided not to press the matter too hard, but to use his reasons and anger as a bargain-chip. He had the advice of his wife (and others) in mind that it was too heavy of a burden to expand towards the mountains AND secure the sea – while also fighting in a war fare abroad. He decided that he simple did not have the resources to secure and hold the borderlands for him or create his own bannerhouse. It was surely a missed opportunity, but there was too much at risk. So he simply bargained hard to secure that both Blyth of Krayenhorn and his own house would get some compensation in gold – for further operation of his light cavalry in the borderlands (a vital support in the starting phase of the new house), for the transfer of the Krayenhorn-scouts into the service of the new house, and for his help in convincing the people in the borderlands to yield. The new border of house Blyth of Krayenhorn towards the new house also should have been drawn in a generous way, if Lady Anya wished it.
            It was suggested that “septon” Aryk, de facto leader of Sevenhill, and Robb and his ragtag bunch of warriors should be convinced to accept the rule of Torrhen – in promising them positions in the new house. And so it was settled and decided – of course without asking the people in the borderlands if they really wanted to be ruled by a flatlander.
            Some people would say that Dragonport had missed a chance for new land and fortune. Other may say that without this burden, house Blyth of Dragonport now could focus in the direction its lords were eyeing since they founded the realm around 300 years ago – towards the sea. But if the creation of the new house would went as the lords had planned, if it would survive and if the decision of Gard may proof fatal since he had allowed a rival to be strengthen a lot – that are questions just the future could tell.


            • #66
              Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

              To build a new house

              The travel back towards Dragonport went without problems and the next few days little happened – beside a visit from Lady Anya of Krayenhorn. She wanted to know what was decided and was maybe a little bit angry that she was not invited to the council. She was surely not sad that her house could get rid of some of the responsibilities in the borderlands, but sceptical if Torrhen could hold his planned position. He was still very young, a knight not longer than a year, and with little experience to rule a troubled realm. But she was thankful that Gard had not abandoned the interests of her house and secured some compensation for her. Meera was also split in her reaction. As her husband she feared the consequences of a stronger position of house Fallkirk and how Torrhen would react in any future conflict between his brother and Gard. On the other hand with a secured hinterland Dragonport was maybe able to strengthen its position in the Bite. The council of the town – although no real ruling body, but representing a lot of civil wealth and influence – was mainly optimistic. They always had seen the invested men and money in the borderlands as somehow “wasted”. The common people who heard rumours soon enough (and got an official confirmation a few days after Gard’s return when he gave a short speech in the Sept of Dragonstone) also hoped for more security, but few of them did like the Fallkirks (some of them had moved to Dragonport to escape their rule or descended from such people). Gards officers (beside the commanders of the ships) were mostly not very happy with the outcome of the Lords meeting. They thought that they and their men had secured the borderlands and were unhappy that now house Fallkirk could take ‘all the credits’. Some of the officers probably also thought that they were certainly more suited to the position of a new landed knight than Torrhen Fallkirk.
              Gard did try his best to secure stability in his realm also in other ways. He organized that some people were hired to help especially young refugees. Mainly they should teach them such things like how they could manage small tasks to earn a little bit money – by collecting seafood on the shores, helping fishermen to repair their gear, working in the production of slat-fish etc. Many of the newcomers come from areas far away from the sea, so they had to learn such things people from Dragonport know from a young age – like to be aware of the tides etc. The boys should also be tested in small contests if they had potential as future soldiers, may it be in the land-forces or the fleet.

              But Gard had promised not just to sit and watch and manage his own realm, and although he was not really happy about the situation, he was a man who honoured his promises. And since he felt some responsibility for the people in the borderlands, he wanted the transition of power to be done as smooth as possible. He prepared a visit to Sevenhill, since convincing this community (which would become the centre of the new houses realm) was very much his task, given the contacts he already had. So with some men of his cavalry he soon enough was again on his way. He took some gifts with him, some bought by his own, some from the council of Dragonport, to convince (aka bribe) important people in Sevenhill to support the project. He travelled via Krayenhorn as so often, partly because he wanted to meet with Paedrig who was stationed there with the light cavalry of Dragonport and was conducting security-operations and borderland patrols. He also wanted to parley with Lady Anya about corrections in the borderline towards the new realm. He learned there, that the preparations for the transfer of the Krayenhorn-scouts (or most of them) into the service of the new houses were already under way. The rest should be decommissioned, returning into civil life, becoming hunters etc., and Gard told them they may show up at Dragonport, if some may willing to serve in his forces – mainly as archers in the fleet etc.
              While the journey so far was without problems, the time at Krayenhorn was not. A (minor) annoyance for Gard was that Paedrig had his half-tamed she-wolf-puppet Shadow there, and the cub was present during the meals. Both Lady Anya and her master of arms seem to have some kind of weakness for the young direwolf. Given Gard’s fear for wolves (even a small one) this made him really uncomfortable. What was much more concerning was that he slowly began to realize that Lady Anya and his trusted lieutenant Paedrig might be a perhaps too fond of each other. Of course he did not know the truth, but he realized that this two liked each other very much. And while being often not able to see behind the masks of people, he was not stupid. Even an innocent friendship may be misinterpreted by others, and such a friendship could also maybe grow into something unnatural and sinful. Of course he could not say anything openly.

              He and Paedrig with their combined men and some scouts from Krayenhorn travelled towards Sevenhill the next morning. It was obvious for Gard that his third-in-command (Since recently, Paedrig was deputy of the Master of Arms of Dragonport) was a little bit pissed of although not really in Gard’s direction. Very likely the bastard-knight was a little bit jealous because (again) a young noble surpass him in rank and becoming head of a (small and surely contested) house. That was nothing Gard had lot empathy for. He was a man who believed in the natural order of the society (of course his judgment was a little bit clouded because his heritage from the nobility and the right side of the bed), and in his eyes Paedrig had made a much faster career than his bastard blood normally would allow. In less than two years the young fighter had made it from a homeless squire of a killed hedge knight to an anointed knight, champion of Dragonport, commander of a well-equipped unit of light cavalry, deputy of the Master of Arms of house Blyth of Dragonport. He had enough money and owned a decent house in the town. That was as much or even more than eight or even nine out of ten hedge knights and noble bastards ever could achieve in their life.
              Gard also had still in mind how badly his own ambitions backfired once. Gard had been always being jealous of his brother being the future Lord because he thought he would be a better ruler. He finally did had his chance to proof that after his brother was murdered – something he never had hoped for, so he knows what cruel jokes fate may make out of your dreams.

              Anyway, out of recent reasons he brought up what he had discussed with the young knight already once – that he thought it may be a good idea if Paedrig would find a decent wife, according to his status. It may be a good idea if Paedrig would consider marrying into the family of the Sunstones – who were much less biased against bastards than other noble houses, and with which Gard wanted a better relation anyway. There were some unwed Sunstone-women, and if Paedrig would marry for example Nella, oldest living child of Lady Sunstone, he would thwart the marriage planes of house Fallkirk and got a noble bride (though more in blood than behaviour). He even only half-joked that Paedrig and Nella had a lot in common. The young women had a murky heritage (since she was half-clan, although a legitimate child of Lady Sunstone from her second of three deceased husbands), had a half-tamed eagle she always brought with her (while Paedrig had just acquired a young wolf). Nella had experience in leading people into fight and defend herself, so she with her warrior-attitude would never really fit into most of society – just like a half-dornish bastard in the Riverlands, who not so secretly have a crush for the ousted dragon-riders. With her Paedrig would have a secure place, a family to which he could belong and who would very likely welcome him, and maybe sometimes even the chance to build his own small realm, if the Sunstones and their liege lords the Aran’s may ever be able to expand into the wild coastal areas. A marriage between Paedrig and a girl from one of the families of the city council might also be a good option. He did for now not press the matter hard, but he noticed that Paedrig was opposed to the ideas, mainly – so the knight claimed – because that would be an end to his career. The young knight was able to somehow dodge this “attack”, but surely that was only temporarily. Gard had a tendency to hold on to his plans, to good or bad, even if he was often not very fast to put them in motion.
              The next day after a short meeting with a small patrol of three of Robb’s warriors the party reached Sevenhill.

              Gard kept a close eye on the behaviour of his men (although Paedrig seem to have his unit under good control). The negotiations with the two most important people – “Septon” Aryk and Robb – proofed to be difficult. That was in part Gard’s fault. He did not speak to them at first one by one. He wanted to avoid that the other of the two felt himself left into the dark – but on the other hand so he had to argue with two people. There was also the problem, that the young lord in the past actually had warned the people in the borderlands about the Fallkirks (mostly about Edwyn Fallkirk, but that was a small difference). And Robb had very a high – in Gard’s eyes much TOO high – opinion of himself and his achievements as self-proclaimed warden of the borderlands and wrath of the mountain clans. The warrior would have preferred to rule on his own, maybe under the oversight of one of the flatlander-lords – but surely not just as an officer. And Aryk made no secret that he very much would prefer if Gard would be the Lord of Sevenhill (or someone he appointed and trusted). Gard was able to deal with both in longer discussions, but he had to promise Aryk that he would remain Septon, that Gard would ensure that the new Fallkirk-lord would not overextend his demands, and that he would organize a huge festival for the fall, as a gesture of the new lord. For that some gifts, some better food, wine etc. was needed. And Gard should gather a beast – a bear, a bull or vicious boar – something both dangerous and eatable. Gard agreed also that he would take care that Sevenhill would get an able healer.
              He was also able to convince Robb that he would accept the rule of Torrhen and serve him as an officer. With the support of Aryk it was possible to convince the heads of the most important families. Gard used the next days also to get an impression what kind of business could be built in the borderlands. There were of course not many possibilities. It was late in the circle of seasons; many agriculture projects were not possible for the moment. It may be possible to hunt for fur, cut timber etc. Very likely the new house would stay poor for a long time.
              The next morning Gard and some his men participate in a boar hunt which was organized by the villagers to protect their fields and gather additional meat. While Gard himself did not get kill any boar, the hunt was successful overall, with a good number of killed pigs and no major injuries for the participants.

              The journey home went smoothly. If there were wolves or clansmen still around than they were not stupid enough to test more than twenty armed men. At Krayenhorn Gard informed Lady Anya about the news. He also gave the order that Paedrig soon should move his light cavalry from Krayenhorn towards Sevenhill, so that the borderlands had a better security in this difficult situation of transition.
              A day later the small group arrived at Dragonport and were greeted warmly. Most of the people were happy that everything seems to work smoothly. Meera agreed to limited investments in the support of the new house – if it could be secured that Dragonport had not to come to a rescue time and again but earned a real protection. The still dissatisfied officers of Dragonport on the other hand (with the exception of the navy captains and the commander of the garrison) even started some kind of “civil mutiny”. The master of arms and the others demanded from Gard to honour the expenses and the lost blood in the borderlands and claim the price for himself and Dragonport. The young lord did not want simply demand their submission. Instead he used his social skills to convince the officers that the benefits would outweigh the risks and the insult. In the end he was successful. He was also busy to fulfil other promises he had made.
              Some news which spread in the next week were somehow concerning. It seems that there was a substantial increase of raids along the western coast of the North and the Riverlands. Some Ironmen seem not to accept the alliance king Robb had offered towards the Greyjoys. That was of course far away, but could make the war much more difficult.

              To find an able healer was not so easy. Gard had already invested in improving the healers hut at his castle so that there was more place for Elen and the people she may want to train (and for ill people, too). He wanted to keep Elen at Dragonport. Her two female students both had reasons not to return to Sevenhill. Jana had a despised husband at Sevenhill and never wanted to return to him. And Elyra was probably not willing to face her former neighbours so soon, after been kidnapped (and abused and raped) by clansmen, fearing social stigmatisation. Maybe she was also not so eager to see her “old” love Robb again. But in the end Gard was able to convince her that the people at Sevenhill would need her (not that she did have SO much of a choice, since she was dependent on his support). He gave her some money to buy needed material etc.
              He also prepared some suggestions about Torrhen’s future rule. It seemed wise in his eyes if the young landed knight would not demand full rights (at least for a while) how they were common in the civilised areas. Some things noble took as their right were not used to the people in the borderlands, like certain taxes and restrictions. It probably would make the transition easier if they could get used to the new realities over times (and also learned about the benefits). He was also able to get the vocal support from Septa Jonelle of Eaglewod, to go along if “Septon” Aryk would be kept in his position. Since it has to be considered that Aryk was a man of influence in the borderlands but a Septon of questionable heritage – since he was married and had children and was hardly ever officially appointed by the Faith – that was quiet important. It was also possible to found the right beast for the festival – a huge and wild bull, very similar to an aurochs.

              Around a week after the return from the wilderness a raven arrived, bringing the message from house Fallkirk that Torrhen would soon return. He would arrive at Dragonport – meaning that house Blyth had to arrange the welcome (and bear the costs). It mend also that Lord Fallkirk had called his brother to come back long before the arrangement about the new house was made, since Torrhen had originally served in the army of Roose Bolton south of the Trident. Gard did prepared quarters for the guests from far away as for the local nobles who would also attend – at least he had to care for 150 people, since he was sure Torrhen would bring a part of his soldiers back.
              It was quiet a gathering, and many nobles arrived some days before Torrhen. Lady Margit Sunstone was there with Hals father. Both were sceptical about the recent developments. They were angered that they never were asked about their position (maybe they would have another candidate for the “landed knighthood”) to this idea. Gard used that a little bit to saw distrust towards the plans of the Fallkirks – maybe a marriage between Sunstone and Fallkirk could be avoided. On the other hand he had something to ask, since he had to arrange – if possible – that his squire Hal Sunstone and Myriah Rivers, Lady Alyannas maid and bastard daughter of the commander of the garrison, could marry. Sadly Lady Margit was a tough old witch, and while she agreed to the marriage she got a lot of promises for that. Hal would one day become commander of the city guard of Dragonport, Gard would take most of the expenses for the young couple and support the dowry of Myriah etc… And shamefully the young Lord also was not able to convince Lord Fallkirk to pay much money for the festival Gard had promised to the people at Sevenhill. Since he was a man of honour, that would mean HE would pay more – for a project he was sceptic about. It was surely not his finest hour, and even less for the treasure-chests of Dragonport. At least Edwyn Fallkirk agreed to honour the promised towards Aryk and Robb (more or less).

              The Fallkirks had used the past weeks to come in contact with the Mist Brothers to secure a lasting peace treaty (well, how long it REALLY would last was open to debate). So there was hope that Torrhen would not have to fight from the first day on (although hard times WOULD surely come for him).
              Jonah Aran had brought his niece Elyssa who should marry Torrhen Fallkirk. Lady Anya Blyth of Krayenhorn also attends the meeting. All those nobles, their servants and bodyguards already brought the number of guests to around 50.

              It was Jonah Aran’s decision to welcome Torrhen in some distance to Dragonport – he would ride towards his group, obviously to honour him. Torrhen’s brother and Elyssa Aran as Torrhen’s betrothed would also come with him. Gard decided also to follow together with his wife and master of arms, but also with some of his men, both from the cavalry and the personal guard to show the Fallkirks how strong his house was. The ladies Anya and Margit also joined the party, although they were surely no really enthusiastic.

              Torrhen did not travel alone, just as expected. His followers however were a surprise, or more than one.
              First, he had around a centenary of soldiers behind him, but not Fallkirk-men, but well-armed medium infantry, with an unknown coat of arms, a black skull on white. There were also some nobles with him. Adham Dannett seems to have sensed an opportunity to return from his new acquired lands at Stony Oak safely and had joined his friend Torrhen. He was together with his new wife, a pretty but cautious redheaded of probably his age, the former Lady of the minor house Gemstone. The young Lord Dannett seem to have found some acceptance about his fate and all the sufferings he had to gone through since he was poisoned by Orten Lugus at King’s Landing. Even if his marriage had brought him little wealth and influence, maybe his wife had helped him to find peace with himself and the world.
              And then there was Erik Blyth of Dragonport, uncle of Alyanna and Gard. They had last seen him when he decided to left for King’s Landing, where he hoped to live a good life from his savings and income as a trader. The last months seem to be hard for him. He had lost a lot of his weight, instead of his noble grab he did wear armor and only two of his five bodyguards were with him.
              Torrhen himself also seem to have gone through a tough school in the last six months. He looked much older and more serious than his years would suggest. He did avoid looking at Meera – he had a serious crush for her in the past and her marriage with Gard was the main point which had stand between the two nobles – but he was no longer openly hostile towards the lord of Dragonport.
              Torrhen was greeted warmly by Jonah and of course by his future bride Elyssa (who seem to feel deeper for him than he felt for her – although he treated her very friendly), and with a show of rough affection from his brother. The party retuned to Dragonport and all guests got their chance to change cloths and clean themselves up.

              Gard used the chance to speak with Erik. His uncle really has had a hard time during the last months. Although he never showed signs of “treason”, as a wealthy noble from the Riverlands his life at King’s Landing soon became dangerous after the start of the war. In the end he had to flee to avoid arrest. He had managed to sell most of his business to his sister Visennya Buckwell, but it was unsure if he could ever return and reclaim his rights. One of his bodyguards decided to stay, another deserted, and a third was killed during the travel. And some things they had seen in the southern Riverlands… Erik was a veteran (although with little battle experience) of Robert’s Rebellion, but this time it seemed to be much worse.
              He had brought with him some letters from Visennya, who gave a very good impression of the events and situation at King’s Landing. The strange interest the queen had into Aly’s magical researches had vanished after her henchman “Ser Valar” had died under obscure circumstances. Lady Visennya seemed to see the Lannister-imp as maybe the most dangerous of the younger lions (an opinion Gard hardly shared, although Jaime now was a caged lion).
              Gard was lucky that he had prepared for many guests, so it was possible to shelter the Black Skulls – a mercenary company Torrhen had hired recently for securing and protecting his new lands – without too much problems. He did dispatch some men of his personal guard to the town, so that they could help the local garrison to have an eye on the mercs.

              When the nobles gathered for dinner, news from the South were high on the agenda. It seemed as if Roose Bolton still SLOWLY marched towards Harrenhal, and since the Riverlands were burned and plundered, it may become difficult for both Lord Tywin and Lord Bolton to feed their forces during a longer siege. Robb Starks march into the Westlands had the potential to cut of the Lannisters from support and supply, but the main question were what Stannis Baratheon and his brother Renly and the Reach would do next.
              Erik seemed sure that for now no decisive battle in the Riverlands was in sight. Neither were the combined armies of the North and the Riverlands strong enough to crush Tywin Lannister or really conquer the Westland, nor could Tywin use his superior tactical skills to either beat Robb or Roose as long as he had to look over his shoulder what the Baratheons will do. None of the local lords who were present seem very much interested to sacrifice more men or money than they already had to boost the war efforts of “their” king. Even Torrhen, who was eager to go to war a few months ago seem healed of any illusions. He also seemed to have got a very low opinion of the Lord of the Dreadfort after more than half a year under his command. Erik was quite frankly when he criticized how the enemies of Joffrey and house Lannister already clashed over who should be king, while neither of them seem strong enough to win for now. How devastating the effects of war were, proofed the example of Market Town. This settlement – being not under the rule of a noble lord but directly owned by the Iron Throne – had survived Lord Tywins first march into the Riverlands by bending its knees. But when the Lion had to retreat towards the Ruby Ford he ordered anything burned down what could be used by his enemies. Things got out of control when the city guards tried to defend their home against the Lannister-barnburners. Parts of the town were set alight, an unknown number of people murdered, women raped and many houses plundered. Few of the local lords however felt sorrow or regret for the arrogant lowborn people who had thought they would be better off without direct noble rule.

              The subject than changed to more urgent local matters. It seems as if the discussions of Edwyn Fallkirk with the Mist Brothers had brought some success, although the deal was not yet finalized. That should be done in an official ceremony – with Torrhen present, as many other lords as possible, and an as-great-as-possible force of armed men as deterrent. The Black Skulls would become the core of the new military of the new house. They had at least for now no commander (Gard was later successful to install Ser Bran of the Trident as head of the mercs, a hedge-knight who had earned the gratitude but not trust of Gard by betraying and killing a staunch enemy of Gard, the former chief of the Mist Brother, Ture Strong Hand/ Luckless,). It was decided that they should be relocated to Krayenhorn for the moment and later move to Sevenhill when Torrhen would made his journey to the seat of his new house to accept the oaths of allegiance (not that the locals had a real choice). Gard supported the lady of Krayenhorn that house Aran and Fallkirk would compensate Krayenhorn for the costs – he promised to support that by providing food etc. from Dragonport for a decent price.
              In three weeks’ time the great ceremony should he held, what leave the lords with a lot to plan. It was also discussed what benefit the new liege could bring (here Gard’s preparations paid off, since he could give some suggestions). But anything more than basic self-sustaining would surely have to wait until the next spring. The best what could be done was starting some logging. However the new realm should not mainly bring profit but protect the other houses. It would mix the scouts of Krayenhorn, Aran’s and Robb’s men to form two decent centenaries, together with the Black Skull surely a formidable force. It was this task which also dictated the borders of the new realm. It would be very “long” – maybe up to 30 miles – but mainly not more than around eight miles or so deep.

              A last message from the south was more obscure – Torrhen bad brought with him a complaint from house Barnell, located near the Trident and sworn directly to the Starks. They demanded that house Blyth of Dragonport should do something about bandits at Durrains Forrest. The wood was the realm of the extinct house Archay, and house Blyth had a hand in the death of the last remaining member of this house. Gard noticed that more with amusement. The last Archay, the infamous Fox Knight, was himself an outlaw since more than a decade ago when he was finally slain, so there was little what his death had changed for the worst or better in the lands of his family. And neither King Robert nor King Robb had given the Archay land to the Blyth. Maybe under other circumstances…but for now he had other things to worry than a dubious claim/responsibility about a liege some weeks of travel away. Probably (as Erik Blyth did suggest) house Barnell simply wanted to proclaim their stakes for Durrains Forrest.

              After the meeting (and during the following days) Gard had time to discuss things in secret with his uncle. Erik wanted of course some place in the household, and Gard willingly made him his “emissary” in the city council of Dragonport. That was a position he briefly did hold in the past, and of quiet some importance.
              Erik also shared what he did know about the treasure of the fallen dragons (although he muttered that Rhaegar Velaryon had got promised far too much of a share, if it was not planned that Aly should marry him). During Robert’s Rebellion Erik had stayed loyal to the Targaryans, different to the rest of his family. He had a role in the logistics of the loyalists and good knowledge about the northern Riverlands, f. e. which of the lords may be open for…negotiations etc. That made him a valuable asset in the effort to bribe them out of the rebellion. His importance increased further after the lost battle at the Trident made these intrigues even more urgent. But than some difficulties occurred about the secret transfer of the treasure on board of the ships (he did not elaborate that) and he was dismissed. He did however know that Ser Kael Stormsword should protect the transport. The old Velaryon (Rhaegars father) had some advisors, but Erik did not know their names or met them. It may be that Lord Varys was involved, but very likely not the Hand of the King (since that post changed a lot during King Aery last year of reign). Erik was lucky that they were not desperate enough to silence him forever, but at that time loyal men begun to getting increasingly rare. He was more or less sure that the treasure actually HAD left King’s Landing on a caravel, escorted by a warship. The first was named Siren or Mermaid (sadly a not very uncommon name), the second Balerion. He suggested it may be possible that Kael stole the cargo for himself. It was a treasure worthy of a king – thousands of dragons in coins, several weapons made of Valyrian steel, jewellery and the crown of Harren the Black – a melted, ugly head-ring of steel, blackened by fire, with red stones.

              The next few weeks the lords and their servants were quiet busy in preparing the ceremony at Sevenhill etc. Dragonport did help out with feeding the Black Skulls (while improve the own profit a little bit). Food and wine was gathered and the transport of this goods and the wild bull was planned. Gard took also care that Elyra was well equipped to become the new healer of Sevenhill. He decided that a number of 40-50 soldiers from his personal guard and most of his heavy cavalry should join him. That surely would make some impression to the Mist Brothers, who had suffered more than one defeat (and very few victories) against the soldiers of Dragonport.
              A small disruption was a letter from the Septrie Eaglewood, where Gard’s and Aly’s mother lived. It seemed that Septa Jonelle was interested in learning more about the borderlands; it was after all the chance to spread the Faith and influence. Dragonport and the Septrie cooperated in questions of security, since they both had to deal with a huge number of war-refugees.

              It was again at Dragonport that the Lords of Fallkirk and Aran met with the Blyth of Dragonport for their expedition. They would altogether travel with more than 100 soldiers and servants; join the Black Skulls at Krayenhorn – and at Sevenhill Dragonport’s light cavalry was waiting as were some local warriors from the borderlands and some scouts.
              The journey went on without any greater surprises. They needed a day towards Krayenhorn and two more to Sevenhill. It was quiet a formidable force – more than ever had marched into the mountains foreland since almost 200 years (mainly of course there was not much of value to find there). Gard and his officers had their men under firm control; while Torrhen had some problems but in the end was able to keep the mercenaries under control (after all he was not such a trained commander like Gard). Gard did not let his guard down. He not really awaited an attack from the clans or worse, but he had seen too many surprises in the last months to be careless.

              Maybe the first impression of Sevenhill was a little bit disappointing for Torrhen – the hamlet was very…rustically and there was no real stronghold. Surely some kind had to be build, very likely a wooden tower as some kind of “motte and bailey”-fortress, similar to the ringforts of the First Men. At least Sevenhill had a stockade and stood on a hill, ensuring some kind of protection.
              The local population and many people from the surrounding area were present. Robb and Aryk greeted the new Lord and the other nobles and the people cheered (well, if that was all honest…). Some detachments from the scouts and light cavalry were also present while most of their men secured the new realm. It was quiet some task to care for the soldiers and keep them under control, but it was possible.

              The ceremony started the next day with a prayer/sermon by “Septon” Aryk, who blessed the new almost-landed-knight. After that Torrhen got his new fief from Jonah Aran, swearing mutually loyalty, protection etc. After that Torrhen spoke to the people and offered them his protection now and in the future – the people cheered, but they had of course no choice than to do so. Torrhen also offered some gifts and of course wine and food for the celebration – to celebrate the harvest and spend hope for the coming winter.
              The lords and officers had to keep an eye on their men that they enjoyed the meal not too much, especially not the wine. The rest of the program may not be the greatest success (Jeyne Fielders aka “Blackbird”, the minstrel of Dragonport, did her best, but the rest of the musicians were not nearly as talented), but surely good enough for the local people and soldiers.
              Than the “Winterbeast” was presented. The hide of the bull was painted grey, and he was lead around the village to represent the winter, how he sneaks around the houses to bring death and famine, the cold shadow from midnight. Gard wondered if the curses Septon Aryk cited were influenced by a long buried truth about supernatural dangers that may lurk in the snow…
              The ceremony would go on the next day, by people throwing stones and mud after the caged bull to weaken and to anger him. Than one or two men had to face him with steel in their hands. Their victory would be an impressive symbol, but should they fail…
              Of course Torrhen wanted to proof his worth as lord, and Gard joined him to secure that anything went smoothly. He was able to convince the young noble.

              The next day also started with a prayer/sermon, than some more mundane competition were hold like shooting, throwing etc. Gard participated a little bit, not to win but to show solidarity with the people. After that it was time for the main event.
              The bull was cursed a second time, and then Torrhen and Gard had to face the enraged (and slightly wounded) beast. The beast had to die so that the people could survive the winter. A hero was needed to defeat the darkness, a flame in the night…
              Torrhen had a sword, but Gard preferred a boar spear. He had not planned to play the most important roll – but the bull had other ideas. He attacked Gard directly, and only because the young noble decided to fight defensive he was not wounded seriously. The fight was quiet heated, but in the end Torrhen and Gard slew the beast. That surely increase the mood of the people – and Torrhen took it lightly that Gard had dealt the final, decisive blow (lighter than his brother, maybe).
              News came that a group of claners would join the celebration the next day – for final negotiations. Of course the soldiers had to stay vigilant, since none of the Lords trusted the men from the mountains.

              The next morning – after the THIRD religious ceremony on three days in a row – the lords prepared for the meeting. Gard decided to stay with his troops and not to join the negotiations. First – he thought he might be not welcomed since most of the fighting of the last months was between his men and the Mist Brothers. And after all it was not HIS realm, so the Fallkirks could do the talking. Robb was also not included since his hate for the clansmen was all too known.
              The situation was tense, since both sides did not trust each other. But in the end (and not without help of his brother) Torrhen was able to broker a deal. The clans would have the right to hunt in the area and there should be some trade. And maybe some of the younger warriors could be hired as mercenaries. Torrhen and his counterpart Ygram son of Ygras cut their hands and shared a bloody handshake. After that some gifts for the claner were offered – including some weapons.
              And so it was finally done. The lords would return to their castles, the mercenaries should stay as some of the scouts, who were formed into new units together with Robb’s men. And Dragonport’s light cavalry would secure the area at least for a few weeks until Torrhen had his forces ready. If the peace would last was another question, as were the problems, an incoming winter would surely bring. But for now the flatlanders could be proud to increase their borders and created a new house. If it could survive…that has to be seen.


              During these busy times not all local houses prospered. Some had more luck than others. House Aran was not only able to create its third landed houses, but also dealt with the refugees, compensated its losses in money and increased the number of people under its rule due to a able management by Jonah Aran, supported by his mother.
              The local Faith (the Septrie Eaglewood) had much more problems to house and fed the refugees Septa Jonelle welcomed generously. But in the end the Septrie could cope with these problems.
              House Dannett had a rough time before Adham returned. His Maester seemed to be not the best administrator. But of course he had never before to deal with such harsh times. However after Adham returned, things changed to the better, maybe also because of the help of his young wife.
              Sunstone could increase the security of its land a little bit.
              Krayenhorn had less luck and lost nearly all its reserves in money.
              But it was Fallkirk who was hit worse. In this situation the hard-handed type of government Edwyn had learned from his father proofed not as the best option. When he had to send many of his men to the borderlands to secure the position of his brother, his grip on his own realm was temporally weakened. That resulted in some limited unrest (since he had to raise the taxes to pay for his project). Some of his peasants fled, sometimes towards Dragonport. That was something, not just Gard was secretly happy about.
              House Blyth of Dragonport had a lot of luck, or maybe just very good administrators, even if Gard often not could secure the best deal in negotiations. With numbers and administrations he was surely much better. In around two months Dragonport were able to gather enough money to secure the completion of the projects it had started around four months before – the creation of great storehouses for its port and the start of a better organized and centralized fishing-“industry” with supporting processing-buildings. It was still some months ahead before this would pay off, but it seemed on a good way. Gard also bought the debt of house Dannett from Ruben Piper and Eryk Blyth, which was 800 dragons altogether, for just 600 dragons. So Lord Adham owed him a lot, and while Gard was willing to not increase the debt further, he had some ideas how his neighbours could pay back the remaining debt (it seemed that Adham got slowly a better understanding of management, maybe thanks to his young wife). The Dannett’s had a skilled smith in their service, which was very good in making weapons. It was very likely a good agreement for both sides to use his service to upgrade the equipment of the Blyth-soldiers. This would of course cost some moths and deny the Dannett’s his service for the same time, but they could get rid of a debt they had little chance to write off in other ways.
              Dragonport also could bring security to the old level which had suffered a little bit in past. Gard also secretly kept in mind, that maybe one day he would be able to increase the little town of Dragonport to a greater community, although this was still a long way off. The creation of the new house also increased the security of the former border houses – Fallkirk, Blyth of Krayenhorn, Blyth of Dragonport and Aran – a little bit. So altogether the local houses had mainly weathered the recent storms well – but there were dark clouds on the horizon, as the war in the Riverlands continued and the real winter creped nearer and nearer.


              • #67
                Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                Taints and Celebrations

                (For this chronicle, we used some of the characters and ideas from the SIFRP.adventure - Courtship at the Tourney) and from the Chronicle Starter

                After Paedrigs return from his mission to the Wall, he had regained the command of the recently mustered light cavalry of Dragonport. The unit was soon relocated to Krayenhorn to keep an even closer eye to the borderlands than before. Patrolling the frontier was always a risk and certainly not comfortable, but again Paedrig enjoyed his relatively freedom. And it was a chance to see his slightly older step-aunt Anya of Krayenhorn more often, with which the young knight had started an affair before his leave to the North. However to find time and place to meet in secret was not easy and of course dangerous given the rather cramped condition at the small fortification Krayenhorn. Also some of the inhabitants (and even Paedrigs Lord, Gard of Dragonport, when he visited Krayenhorn on his way to a meeting in the Borderlands) might become suspicious. But luckily the two young lovers were not caught – for now. However, if their secret would be revealed…

                To handle the three little shadow wolves, which Paedrig had brought from the North was not easy, especially because Paedrig was rarely at Dragonport. His half-brother Wulf (the Master of Hunt of castle Dragonport) did help, but the three little monsters created quite some trouble – especially two of them had a rather rowdy temperament. Lord Gard (who was secretly afraid of wolves after an attack in his youth) was not amused. Paedrig started to look for a more professional trainer and decided that one of the cubs should soon go as a gift to the local major house Aran, while a second should be a gift for the new landed knight, Torrhen Fallkirk. Although Paedrig was a little bit jealous of him, he and the young knight stood on relatively good terms and a shadow wolf might be a good gift for a new borderland knight. The third, quieter cub named Shadow, Paedrig was planning to keep for himself. Therefore the young wolf accompanied him on some of his patrols, easily winning the heart of Lady Anya and her (normally rather harsh) Master of Arms.

                Given the risks, Paedrig was putting Anya and himself into with their secret affair, it was probably for the best (although both did not feel so), when Paedrigs unit relocated to the small borderland hamlet Sevenhill, in preparation for the installation of Torrhen Fallkirk as a landed knight. This should build an additional security layer against the mountain clans and bring new territories under the control of the local major house Aran, with which Torrhen should become related by marriage soon. The new banner house would certainly strengthen house Fallkirk AND Aran. However Fallkirk and Blyth stood on very uneasy terms, and Paedrig (like many of his comrades) thought, that Fallkirk and Aran would collect the prize that Dragonport had secured by investing heavily into border security and winning several battles again the mountain clans. Many of the officers and soldiers of Dragonport were pissed off, however as a (most time) dutiful knight and officer, Paedrig followed order, although a little bit grumpy.

                The next weeks were very busy for the young warrior. Beside constant patrols, Paedrig had also to support the power change by psychological means, propagating the benefits of the new situation and winning the locals over, which were not all very keen to become subjects of the ‘flatlanders’ or ‘kneeling men’.
                Another problem occurred, when Paedrig had to face two angry villagers who complained, a Dragonport soldier had ‘stolen’ a young woman who was the daughter of one of the men and the wife of the other. Paedrig was a little bit perplexed (he had kept his men under tight control), but soon realized that none of his men were to blame. The woman in question had been kidnapped by mountain clanners some month ago. After being freed by soldiers from Dragonport and Sunstone, she simply had decided to stay with one of her rescuers – perhaps because she feared prejudices after her return or because she had no desire to return to her husband who was much older and not very wealthy. The two villagers now demanded a rather ridiculous compensation (several gold dragons), but Paedrig was only willing to pay fourteen silver stags to each – an ‘offer’ they had to accept.
                This was not the only claim, Paedrig had to deal with. Several farmers, sensing the power shift, accused some of their neighbors for helping the clan raiders in former attacks and numerous demands for compensation for property losses during these raids were brought forward. Paedrig paid some (not much) silver as compensation and was later compensated by the new ‘Lord’ Torrhen Fallkirk, but he was unable to decide which of the accusation of collaboration with the raiders were true. This was a problem Torrhen Fallkirk will have to deal with…
                There was also some open opposition by local farmers against the power change, f. e. by a relatively rich man named Tristifer, who lived with his family in a sturdy longhouse several hours away from Sevenhill. He claimed that he had always been able to fight off the clan raiders by himself. Paedrig decided that the men was to influential to be left unchecked and – accompanied by 20 armed men plus ‘Septon’ Aryk who was the de facto mayor of Sevenhill – he went to Tristifer to either convince him or force him to stop his arguing. The combination of Aryks diplomatic skills and Paedrigs show of force proofed to be quiet effective and no drastic actions were needed.
                After the Torrhen had claimed his new land (see the last story), Paedrigs unit stayed at Sevenhill for some weeks to further aid the transition. Although Paedrig was still a little bit jealous, he did his job very well.

                Meanwhile Lord Gards uncle Erik, who (not voluntarily) had returned from Kings Landing to Dragonport did his best to reacclimatize. During his rather unpleasant flight from Kings Landing he had lost most of his wealth, three of his five bodyguards (two abandoned him, one died) and much of his body fat but none of his will to ensure his fortune. Although the relationship between the very honorable Lord Gard and his rather greedy and very pragmatic uncle, who in contrast to Gards father had fought for the Targaryen during Roberts Rebellion, was strained, Eriks nephew promised him an administrative position in Dragonport. Erik revived his links with the city council, balancing between the factions of the ‘modernists’ and the ‘traditionalists’. Lord Gard also gave him the task to organize support for the Night Watch – a project in which Erik did not really see any potential or need, simply not believing Gards stories about magical threats beyond the Wall. However sending men to the Wall might be a way to get rid of problematic subjects and perhaps trade ties with the North could be established…

                News from the South mentioned another astonishing victory of King Robb Stark at Oxcross, where he destroyed a new formed Lannister army.
                Meanwhile King Stannis had sailed South from Dragonstone and landed his army in the Stormlands – obviously he wanted to deal with his brother (and likewise King) Renly before attacking King Joeffrey at Kings Landing. Like many others, Paedrig thought that Stannis expedition was as foolish and ill-timed as it was hopeless.
                From beyond the Sea rumors arrived, that Daenerys Targaryen, recently married to a Dothraki-Lord, had died. While most people ignored this or were glad (the already existing four Kings of Westeros certainly were enough trouble) Paedrig felt remorse, because he had a not-so-secret knack for the Targaryens. After all, his father had fought and died for Daenerys brother Rhaegar Targaryen at the Trident.
                More important for house Blyth and the neighbor houses, which were all sworn to house Aran (which than was sworn to house Frey), was a message from King Robb Stark, who demanded additional forces and money for the war in the South. This demand was backed by Rivverrun. House Frey did also support this demand – probably because its suspicion concerning house Arans rising power.

                Most of the local lords (and their subordinates) were not thrilled about King Robbs wishes. Many thought, that they had already given enough to the war.
                Lord Gard came forward with the idea, that house Dannett and house Blyth would provide the reinforcements – mostly by sending units who had recently returned from the war or had been formed out of refugees, captured enemies and remnants of destroyed units of other Riverland houses. This would also mean that Paedrigs light cavalry would go back to the war – a perspective, Paedrig was not very happy with. He did not see much sense in the whole struggle and his secret affair with Lady Anya was another motivation to stay at home. However he was also well aware that he did not have much of a choice – especially if he wanted to remain as commander of his unit and deputy of the Master of Arms of Dragonport. Secretly begrudging his fate he returned from Sevenhill to Dragonport and began to prepare his unit for their new task. At least while getting new horses from Krayenhorn (and during Lady Anyas occasionally visits to Dragonport) the two secret lovers find some occasions to meet again, although it was always tricky.
                However this and his resentments concerning the march to the South did not prevent Paedrig from trying to become the commander of the reinforcements. If Lord Adham Dannett (who still suffered from his poisoning a year ago and was recently married) would not be part of the expedition, Paedrigs chances were not bad. Although a bastard, he was also knighted, deputy of the Master of Arms of Dragonport and had proven his worth as a commander and in single handed combat…

                There was also the question, what could (or should) be demanded in return for the additional war efforts. Even Lord Gard (who was considered by some of his subordinates and relatives as perhaps sometimes a little bit too eager to please higher authorities) was not willing to do this for a handshake and warm words only. Erik Blyth urged his nephew that lofty promises for the time ‘after the war/victory’ were certainly not enough. He argued that they should demand compensations in cash or land. House Dannett should get a royal confirmation for their recently conquered territory of Stony Oak near the Kings Road while house Blyth (who had participated in this conquest) should get their own new land. After all, during the war several houses had gone extinct or – if they fought for the wrong side – had been driven of their lands…
                There was f. e. Market Town, a small city near the Kingsroad. Before the war, it had been a direct subordinate of the Iron Thrown and had suffered terribly during Tywin Lannisters retreat to Harrenhal. However although the town promised rich incomes (at least after the damage was repaired and the war was finally over), its position near the Kingsroad and its status as a direct property of the Iron Thrown made any claims very dependable on a victory of King Robb. A not so prominent territory would be perhaps a better choice and could probably be kept if the war ended in a compromise or even after a defeat of the King of the North and Riverlands…
                An alternative were the lands of house Archey in Durain’s Forest. The Archeys (landed knights) had gone extinct after the last member of the family had been outlawed after Roberts Rebellion and was recently killed during his involvement in an intrigue against house Blyth and house Dannett. The lands had never been claimed, because Durain’s Forest was a relatively poor area with bad roads and many outlaws. These outlaws however, recently increased by deserters and desperate refugees, had become a serious nuisance for neighboring houses which demanded action but (at least until now) did not have the men or will to do it themselves. One of the neighboring houses had even sent complains to King Robb.
                Eric though that this area might have some potential – and it was remote enough that house Blyth might even be able to keep the land, if the war did not go as hoped. Lord Gard agreed to the suggestions of his uncle, who then played a major role in formulating the letter which should inform King Robb about the reinforcements – and demands.

                Sadly King Robb was not the only one sending demands. House Manderly was still angered because of their losses during the joint ant-piracy operation and wanted compensation. At least for Paedrig (like some of the other officers) this was ridiculous – the Manderlys wanted money for NOT doing their job. However Lord Gard thought that he could not take a stand against one of the major houses of the North and was willing to at least lease them a captured pirate ship for transports. He also promised to continue his efforts to wipe out remaining pirates.
                Given the still present danger of piracy in the Bite, Lord Gards speculation of a probable fleet operation in the South (against the lands of King Joeffrey, an idea initially brought up by King Robb) did not find much support by the captains of the small Dragonport fleet. ‘Admiral’ Rukh (perhaps also reluctant to attack the lands of the Iron Throne?) warned that such an operation would need many ships and could easily end in a disaster, especially if the Vale of Arryn did not take side for King Robb.

                While plans and preparations for the reinforcements were underway, a small band of the Dragonport archers, who had been sent with King Robbs army, returned home under command of Aeryn Hunter, a low ranking officer of the unit.
                Most of the returned were wounded, sick or ‘civilian baggage’ (camp followers, women or children of archers etc.), King Robb had ordered them to leave before he started his march into the Westlands. Part of the ‘baggage’ was a young woman, pregnant with the bastard of Ser Vickon Aran. Lord Gard was not thrilled that Lord Arans youngest son, betrothed to the only daughter of Lord Weymouth, had found the time to impregnate a refugee girl and then sent her to Dragonport to find a place for her to live.
                Others (like Paedrig or Erik) were more amused about the go-getting young knight, but Paedrig also was a bit wary if Lord Gard did not want HIM to ‘step in’ and marry the young woman. However at least for now Gard decided that the young woman should stay at the castle and that everything else should be decided after she had given birth.
                Another ‘matter of heart’ also came up, because Aeryn Hunter, the chief of the returning group, was the soldier with whom the borderland girl Jana had stayed after her rescue from clan captivity – much to the anger of her husband and father who had demanded compensation for the ‘stolen’ wife/daughter. Paedrig, who had paid the two a meager sum, informed Gard about the matter. Lord Gard questioned Jana und Aeryn to clarify that the young woman stayed at her free will with the soldier – which she confirmed. Gard decided that she could stay but did not compensate Paedrig for his payment – probably assuming, that the young knight would get his money back from Aeryn. However Paedrig got the impression that his Lord wanted to stay on ‘morally high ground’, probably seeing the whole situation as a bit tardy. After all, Jana WAS already married and by living with another man was acting against the rules of the Seven. Paedrig did not demand repayment from Aeryn, instead saying the spend money was ‘his tribute for the young love’. After all, he himself was born out of an unmorally act and certainly his secret affair with his ‘step-aunt’ was even worse than Aeryn and Janas behavior.
                However Lord Gard seemed not to have TOO much prejudices against Aeryn, because the former archer NCO soon after that became deputy Master of Hunt of castle Dragonport. Now that the winter was nearing, certainly more hunters were needed.

                Despite the war and several costly projects of/demands to House Blyth, Lord Gard was also planning a big festival to celebrate several achievements and fulfill some commitments of House Dragonport:
                - The (although only partial) success of the counter-piracy operation should be celebrated.
                - The knighting of Willem Sunderland. Lord Gard had promised to organize and fund this in exchange of the support of house Sunderland against the pirates. Also Willem Sunderland had earned some merits as commander of one of the Dragonport ships, justifying his knighting.
                - The expansion of Dragonport, which – thanks to the inflowing refugees, the construction of several new quarters and warehouses, the new Dragonport fleet and a small fleet of fishing ships – had grown significantly
                - Honoring the growing importance of the fishing industry, Lord Gard also wanted to give a representative of the fishermen a seat in the city council. Together with installing his uncle Erik as town administrator, Lord Gard intended to boost the administration and ensure that the supporters of his reform plans had the majority in the council.
                - Likewise the marriage of Torrhen Fallkirk (now landed knight in the borderlands) and Elyssa Aran should be celebrated at Dragonport. The small city was better suited for such a festivity than the castles of Fallkirk and Aran and it would be cheaper to organize one big event instead of several smaller ones. However these could become a little bit tricky, because House Blyth was still at not so good terms with House Fallkirk.
                - Also the marriage of Hal Sunstone (a member of a relatively new and rather remote landed vassal of house Aran) and Myriah Rivers (bastard daughter of the garrison commander of Dragonport and maid of Lady Alyanna Blyth) should be celebrated. Of course this marriage had to be played down in comparison to the marriage of Torrhen and Elyssa. Under no circumstances it should seem as if Myriah Rivers did have the same status as the two young nobles. Hal would certainly marry ‘down the social ladder’, but the young man seem not to care – and his family in general was not known to be very ‘picky”’ concerning the people married. Among the late husbands of their ruling lady was a chief of a mountain clan and a merchant. To smother the discomfort of the Sunstone, Gard had promised that Hal should be the successor of Myriahs father and also some financial gains. He also wanted this marriage because it would strengthen the ties between Sunstone and Dragonport, countering Fallkirk attempts to create a ‘borderland alliance’.
                - The festival should also celebrate the end of the summer.

                Beside the several ceremonies, a big funfair and contests in riding, boxing, quarterstaff fight, armed combat and an archery contest should be held – and even a small tourney for the nobles, knights and members of the cavalry and a song/poem contest. Of course the trophies would not be as costly as in a king’s tourney – a few gold dragons and a horse at best. Lord Gard also strictly limited the ‘ransom’ for defeated warriors – no one should lose his horse or armor, which might be needed soon enough in REAL combat...

                Gard’s uncle Erik took a great part of organizing the event. He wanted to ensure his re-establishing at Dragonport so (for now) he withstood the temptation to put some of the festival funds on the side. He was even able to convince the city council to spend some gold dragons. That his activities were not without danger became obvious when he almost had a severe accident with a sloppy secured timber transport.
                Paedrig was more concerned with the security aspect of the event. Although he was a little bit skeptical concerning the knighting of the young Sunderland – he and the proud young noble never got along well – he also did a good job. Because of the festival preparations, the ongoing construction work of Lord Gards infrastructural projects and the increasing inflow of refugees, Dragonport were buzzing with people and activities. The garrison (sometimes aided by detachments of the personal guard and the cavalry) had much to do to ensure the security in and nearby Dragonport.

                A rather delicate matter were the complaints about the increasing number of street-prostitution by some of the refugees, which angered more conservative citizens and enraged Lora Wren, the owner of the local brothel. There had already been some fist fights between ‘freelancers’ and Lora Wrens girls. Lord Gard – not interested to deal with such dirty matters – handed this to his uncle who was more open minded. In cooperation with Lora Wren and the commander of the city garrison, Erik came up with the idea of a monopole for Lora Wren, ensured by a special allowance for the prostitutes and enforced by the city guard. So – hopefully – the situation could be regulated, some extra coins for House Blyth could be produced and also (by controlling the prostitution and ensuring some control and standards) crime and the risk of venereal diseases would be minimized. Erik even began to consider the possibility of investing in the business. Given the growing wealth, trade and population of Dragonport, it seems to be a potential gold mine…

                Concerning the contests of the planned festival, Erik (only a mediocre fighter and an abysmal rider) only wanted to participate in the shooting contest.
                Paedrig on the other hand wanted to participate not only in the tjost, but also in the armed combat, the ride contest and the fist fight. He took Sammil of Lemmonplume, one of Lord Gards squire, as ‘temporary squire’ for the tourney.
                To their great frustration, Lord Gard had forbidden his two young squires Hal and Sammil to participate in the fighting contests. Paedrig disagreed in this – arguing that both young men had already faced REAL combat and that a tourney would be a great chance for them – but his Lord did not change his mind.


                • #68
                  Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                  Ah, I'm happy to see this is still going on. I remember the first posts from the old forum and you've come a long way from then. Very impressive and informative. Please go on!


                  • #69
                    Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                    Thank you very much! It is a great pleasure to hear from a loyal reader *g*, because to be honest sometimes I am afraid that it might be hard to follow the whole story with so much side-characters and npc...

                    Although our group has shrunken two only two persons we are determind to keep this going. Of course with a setting close to the timeline of the books we have to consider whatto do if we reach the point were the books (for now) are ending. Of course we could go on with borrowing from the tv-series (allthough books and series might more and more have parted) but anyway, this will still give uns only a little extra time...


                    • #70
                      Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                      Taints and Celebrations II

                      The first noble guests arrived two days before the start of the festival. Beside members of the local houses, also nobles from the North attained – mostly from houses which participated in the recent counter-piracy operation or had economic ties to the region.
                      There were f. e. Ser Aemond Westwood and his only daughter and heiress Darya. Westwood was the fleet commander of house Flint of Widow’s Watch, which had been part of the pirates hunt.
                      From the North also Lord Duncan Darcy and his daughter and heiress Tanda and Ser Gregory Sheridan (heir of his landed father) with his widowed sister-in-law Jeyne attended.

                      The Sister Isles were represented by the widowed Lord Rolland Longthorpe and by Lord Sunderland with all of Willam Sunderlands many brothers. Lord Sunderland of course wanted to see how his son became knighted. His relationship with Lord Gard was a little bit strained, because he had effortlessly wanted to marry Willam with Gards sister Alyanna. Sunderland was a major house and considered the failed attempt as an embarrassment.
                      House Sunderlands visit was also a little bit problematic, because Alyanna had left Dragonport some weeks ago under the disguise that she wanted to them, while in reality she set sail to Dragonstone for researches concerning the lost Targaryen treasure, house Blyth was searching for. Now this cover story was blown. Gard was not a good liar – in contrast to his uncle and wife, who did their best to cover up Aly’s mission. They now claimed that her destination was the Vale of Arryn, were Alyanna should look for trade opportunities and search for further allies against pirates (and perhaps also support for the war against King Joeffrey?).
                      Beside the Sunderlands and Lord Longthorpe, also Lord Borrell (brother of Gard’s and Aly’s mother) came from the Sister Isles with at least two of his several unwed relatives.

                      It was obvious that – besides strengthening political, military and economic ties and participating in the tourney, many of the guests also hoped to find suitable grooms or brides for unwed members of their houses. After all, the raging war and increased insecurity had raised the need for strong alliances while at the same time thinned out the number of available grooms.
                      Beside these guests from (more or less) fare away, of course all Lords and Ladies of the local houses who were NOT fighting for King Robb in the South (f. e. Lord Aran and his youngest son and Ser Gawan of Krayenhorn) attended, often accompanied by relatives who either wanted to participate in the contests or/ and were also interested in finding potential brides or grooms.
                      Especially Lord Edwyn Fallkirk (who was not happy about the obvious prosperity of Dragonport) was probably in search for potential allies. AND he had two still unwed relatives – his sister and his bastard cousin. Edwyn Fallkirk himself was also still not married, but rumors said that he was not interested in women…

                      Erik (who had been widowed for more than a decade) also began to speculate if he could not find a potential (rich, young and beautiful if possible) bride. Certainly he was not the most charming candidate, being middle-aged, only average-looking and without much land or riches, after he had lost most of his business thanks to the war. On the other hand he was a member of a prospering house and he had his wits, eloquence and experiences in intrigues and bargaining.
                      Lady Tanda Darcy, a stunning young beauty with blond hair and green eyes, was certainly the best prize on the wedding market. Of course almost every other unwed or widowed noble male had come to the same conclusion. Sensing this, Erik tried to distract potential rivals with supporting marriage projects of other houses. He also bought some gifts for Tanda Darcy and her father to start his conquest. Whenever possible, he tried to accompany Lady Tanda and her father, presenting himself – not always truly as a good catch. He even decided to participate in the armed combat contest and the poetry/song contest to make a good impression if possible.
                      However he soon realized that Lady Tanda was certainly not a blushing rose or eye candy. The young woman had her own will and wits, flirting heavily with Erik and some of his rivals and trying to ‘milk’ them by subtly hinting precious gifts. Thanks to his social skills (which were much better than his fighting abilities) Erik was able to hold his ground, although his rivals also did their best to increase their standing. One of them even paid a jester to mock and discredit Erik, but Erik simply payed the zany off.
                      To take more…direct approaches against potential rivals, he also promised Paedrig to support his claims for commanding the reinforcements for King Robb, if the young knight agreed to challenge some of Erik’s ‘rivals’ during the contests to discredit them. Given the fact that f. e. two of the potential grooms of Lady Tanda were Willam Sunderland and Ser Sheridan, with which Paedrig already had some quarrels, the young knight willingly agreed.
                      To gain more support, Erik also tried to mobilize Lord Gard and his wife Meera for his marriage project. After all, his nephew Gard did have earned some reputation in the last years and Meera (together with Jeyne Sheridan) was dominating the meeting of the noble Ladies. Surely a good word from them would help Erik’s reputation…
                      However he did not get what he wanted. Lady Meera sarcastically asked if Erik’s potential bride was not too old for him? After all, Tanda was ‘already’ sixteen and he ‘only’ more as double her age! Gard agreed with his wife, angering his uncle who could not understand such a ‘foolish’ argument. After all it was common that noble women (and to a less extend also male nobles) had to marry partners who were much older. In fact at least one of the other candidates for Lady Tanda (Lord Roland Longthorpe) was several years older than Erik.

                      However Lord Gard was more interested in sabotaging any potential alliance or marriage projects of house Fallkirk, because he did not want his rival to gain power after Edwyn Fallkrik had recently succeeded to install his brother Torrhen as a landed knight in the Borderlands. Given the complex alliances and verbal backstabbing, maneuvers and counter-maneuvers it was probably no wonder, that none of the several marriage projects made big progress. Gard also parlayed with Aemond Westwood, who (besides searching a potential groom for his rather unwilling daughter Darya) wanted to discuss future anti-piracy matters, a convoy system and trade ties.

                      In contrast to Eric and other unwed guests, Paedrig did his best to stay away from the ‘marriage-circus’. His heart was already given. For once he was even a little bit glad for his bastard heritage, because so he was not very ‘qualified’ as potential groom and no one (or at least not many) did recognize that the young knight seemed so strangely disinterested in looking for a good marriage.
                      Also his several security duties kept him busy. He had to judge a dispute between citizens and tried to keep the streets clean and safe, ordering increased patrols by the garrison and other armed forces. He also organized horse races for the already present young nobles to keep them busy and prevent ‘wild’ races through the streets, which already had damaged some property. This also gave Paedrig the opportunity to evaluate some of the men he would have to face in the tourney, but with almost 40 participants – and some of them from abroad – it was hard to tell who the favorite was.
                      That Lady Anya also attended to the festival was of course an opportunity for the young lovers – but meeting secretly was not easy. The young knight asked his secret love for a token of her affection, which he wanted to wear under his armor as a talisman. Lady Anya gave him a silken scarf, urging him to be careful.

                      The day before the start of the festival, Lord Gard had a secret meeting with Lady Jeyne Sheridan, Paedrig and Erik, discussing more…covert actions against the pirates. Jeyne Sheridan, who acted as a secret emissary of house Flint, informed Lord Gard, that the interrogation of captured pirates had revealed several of their former informants and supporters who might still be active. Probably one of them, a merchant called Mathis Flax from the Sisters, might be in town. This was an opportunity to turn him into a double agent. Erik treated Jeyne Sheridan with special courtesy. After all, the young widow was as rich as she was beautiful – a potential valuable trade partner or even an ‘option B’ for marriage…


                      Day One of the festival

                      The day started with the official opening of the new warehouses and the naming of the new fishing fleet of Dragonport with a festival at the market place and the docks. Also a representative of the fishermen and Erik should be introduced formally as new members of the city council.
                      The fishermen created a pageant with sham boats on wagons and personifications of ‘the skies’ and ‘the waves’ – a female for the waves and a male for the skies, probably a reminiscence of old religious traditions like they were honored on the Three Sisters and the coasts of the Bite in ancient times, although a ‘real’ church service at the sept followed. Members of the cavalry and the personal guard accompanied the pageant. It was Paedrigs duty to command the horsemen, but although he fulfilled his task, the performance of the cavalry was not spectacular. Later he secured the festival activities but was unable to catch a bunch of pickpockets.
                      All noble guests were present and participated in the ceremonies and the festival. Erik was unable to place himself with the Darcys. Instead of him (or one of the younger knights who were also interested in Tanda Darcy), Lady Tanda and her father were accompanied by Lord Longthorpe (probably the best potential groom, although even older than Erik). Erik placed himself with his nephew Gard and was able to fetch the first dance with Tanda Darcy (although his performance was not outstanding). Beside his marriage project he mostly invested his time in elbow-rubbing with other nobles.

                      Later the day, Erik learned that Flax, the supposed pirate informant, was indeed in town and he arranged a meeting with him for the next morning, claiming to have economic interests at the Sisters. He prepared the meeting by ordering his two remaining body guards and two other soldiers to Paedrig’s house at Dragonport, which Erik had chosen as a good place for…undisturbed negotiations. Also the young shadow wolves, who Paedrig kept there during the festival, might come handy (Erik ordered some bloody rags for a little bit drama). He and Jeyne Sheridan would attend to the meeting, in contrast to Paedrig who wanted to participate in the contests that were scheduled for the next day. Erik was not unhappy to have Paedrig out of the picture – the young knight was sometimes a little bit too scrupulous for his liking…


                      Day Two of the festival

                      The meeting with Flax went as planned. His two bodyguards were easily subdued by the professional soldiers and Flax himself did not offer any real resistance. He carved in and agreed to become a double agent after some threads and after Erik showed him the young shadow wolves chewing furiously on some bloodied rags…
                      Erik and Jeyne Sheridan were even able to extort a regularly sum from Flax, although Jeyne Sheridan secured the biggest part of the share for himself. But Erik was also happy with the outcome (especially since he decided to keep his share of the blackmailed money instead of giving it to his nephew), and he and Jeyne Sheridan started to respect each other as apt negotiators with a very similar moral code (or lack thereof).

                      In the meantime, Paedrig participated in the horse race. With Nymeria, his dornish Sand Steed, the young knight had a clear advantage. While most cavalry units of the local houses had been send to the war, members of the cavalry of house Blyth of Dragonport and house Dannett (which had returned from war recently) dominated the contest. The other houses could only send a few candidates, even Krayenhorn, although it had the most prominent stud farm of the area. A Krayenhorn contestant even had a nasty accident, wounding himself and his horse severely. Paedrig performed quiet well and the speed of his stud caused a stir, but in the end a member of the Dannett cavalry was even better.

                      The fistfights were mostly something for the ‘common’ people, especially for some of the soldiers and sailors. Paedrig did participate, but his first opponent, a member of the personal guard of Dragonport, sent him to the ground immediately – much to the secret amusement of Erik, who had returned from his meeting and had not always been on good terms with the ambitious and in his eyes to scrupulous young knight. In the end a Dannett-soldier did win this contest.

                      Than it was time for the bow contest, a competition in which Erik wanted to participate. Most of the participants were former scouts of the borderland units, some local hunters and several marines. Erik performed well, even getting to the last round of the contest, but was no match for more professional archers. In the end, the first price (a castle forged bow and a necklace) went to Aeryn Hunter, while Paedrigs half-brother Wulff Rivers (as Master of the Hunt of Dragonport superior to Aeryn Hunter) got the second price (a crested quiver) and a Dannett-archer earning the third price (7 silver stags). Nella Sunstone, a hardy looking daughter of the sunstone family who had wildling blood in her veins, made it in the final round, but was beaten by other archers.

                      The quarterstaff contest ended with the victory of a member of the Dragonport garrison.

                      While the ‘common’ people kept on celebrating in the streets, the nobles retreated to the castle for a more civilized and exclusive fest. The only non-nobles which were present (beside servants) were some officers, wealthy merchantmen and the victors of the contests. The food was good but not exotic and lacked costly spices from abroad which were normally used for such occasions. Also no wine from the Arbor and Dorne could be served – a tribute to the coming winter and the war.
                      This gathering was also the stage for the poetry/ song contest. Erik (after shortly considering a ballad about the ‘Dance of the Dragons’ given the state of the kingdoms) recited a poem about the founding and noble deeds of house Blyth of Dragonport. He delivered a good performance, however others were better. The winner was Lord Gard himself with a ballad about the ‘good queen’ Alysanna (very likely as a homage to his wife). He gave the victory money to the poor and declared his wife Meera to the ‘Queen of Poesy’. Later Erik mocked his nephew that Gard had won with a poem about the Targaryens, while he was normally a critic of the overthrown dynasty.

                      Paedrig did his best to enjoy the feast in the company of Lady Anya. Of course, spending so much time with her in public was not wise – people might become suspicious. Erik f. e. realized that Paedrig was perhaps a little bit too much into his young step-aunt. However he kept his mouth shut, because a scandal was not in his interest and he might need the support of the young knight in the future.

                      Again Erik used the time mostly for elbow-rubbing and charming the Darcys (father AND daughter). He also (with some success) tried to convince Lord Jonah Aran, eldest son of the momentarily absent liege lord, to support his wedding plans. However it was obvious that Lord Longthorpe was candidate number one, although Willam Sunderland had the first dance of the evening with Tanda Darcy – much to the envy of other young knights. Lady Tanda Darcy surely enjoyed the attention. Erik unsuccessfully tried to incite Ser Sheridan (another of his rivals) to challenge Paedrig for the next day, hoping that Paedrig would crush him.

                      A few hours later, after most guests had retired, Gard ordered Erik and Paedrig again to a secret meeting, because there were some security measures to discuss. He wanted to prevent any trouble during the armed combat and tourney. His uncle and Paedrig were not so concerned, however it was decided that additional personal guards (some fully armored as obvious warning sign for any trouble makers, others lightly armed and armored as quick reaction force) should patrol the contest area, while the city should be patrolled by the garrison and detachments of the marines.
                      Gard also mentioned that a ‘Black Knight’ had arrived to participate in the tourney – a man who concealed his identity and name – and a bard was causing trouble by singing rebellious songs about the greed and haughtiness of the aristocracy.
                      For Erik this all were trivialities and he even thought that Gard probably wanted to keep him busy to sabotage his marriage project. He handed the whole matter to Paedrig, who reacted sarcastically but followed order.
                      However beside letting the patrols look out for trouble and handing out descriptions of the sought bard, the young knight did not see any need to act. Probably his mind was a little bit preoccupied by
                      a) the presence of Lady Anya
                      b) the coming contests


                      Day Three of the festival

                      The day started with the knighting of Willam Sunderland, who had had spent the night staying vigil in the sept. This ceremony was attended almost exclusively by warriors and knights. Secretly Paedrig was still angered about the whole thing, thinking that he (as a bastard) had to achieve much more for his knighting and – in contrast to Willam – did not get his armor, weapons and horse for free.
                      After the ceremony, ‘Admiral’ Rukh, commander of the Dragonport fleet, was honored for his maritime successes with a plaque in the sept and several presents, including a carpet with embroideries showing his victories.

                      Erik (although he attended to the ceremonies) did not care much for these things. He was busy with ‘romantically’ things – for example by organizing a costly emerald necklace which had got the interest of Lady Tanda. Although Erik was normally rather stingy, he considered this as a worthy investment…

                      Than it was time for the armed combat contest. Many nobles and soldiers attended (but almost no peasant or townsmen). Lord Gard did remind the more than 60 contestants to fight fair and with honor – and the duels began.

                      Erik, who decided to participate in hope of showing his prowess to Lady Tanda, did not get very fare. Although he was able to hold the ground for some time against his first opponent, a Longthorpe-officer, he then was knocked down and had to be brought to the medic. Elen ‘Faeryeyes’, healer of castle Dragonport, was very clearly in her opinion concerning this stupid activities. She and her aid Jana surely would have a lot to do the next days – the lord Gard even had sent them some helping hands.
                      Paedrig, on the other hand, won the first round with ease, subduing a member of Lord Gards personal guard within seconds.
                      In the second round, Paedrig faced Eriks opponent. Again a swift charge and a powerful hit with his sword was enough to force his contester into submission. Erik (returned from the healer) was not quite sure if he should be happy about this or not…
                      The third round however was little bit different. Paedrig (remembering Erik’s instructions) challenged Ser Gregory Sheridan, one of Erik’s rivals for Tanda Darcy. Both knights were armed with swords and great shields. First Sheridan seemed to have the better hand, knocking Paedrig of his feet. But with surprising speed, the agile young knight got back on his feet – and his counterattack did sent Sheridan conciseness to the ground.
                      Erik was very satisfied. That Tanda Darcy seemed to be impressed by Paedrig did not bother him much, because he already knew that the young knight was no rival on that field.

                      Originally it had been planned, that the last three rounds of the armed combat should be on the next day and the afternoon should be reserved for the first rounds of the jousting. However, a quick but powerful downpour forced a delay of plans because the ground was to muddy for jousting. Instead the finale of the armed combat should be on this day. After all, it was much less dangerous, if a combatant on foot slipped…

                      Like in the first and second round, Paedrig again won the fourth round with ease, beating his opponent with a shattering charge.
                      However the fifth round was not so easy. Paedrig faced an ironborn mercenary who gave him a nasty injury. However the young knight again prevailed with a powerful counterattack. The victorious knight mentioned to his lord, that he should try to hire the mercenary, who could be a fine addition to the marines.
                      Thanks to this, Paedrig went into the final round injured, facing a war hardened officer of house Dannett, a former hedge knight with brigantine, a great shield and a castle forged sword. The veteran opened the fight with a mighty charge, but his opponent could block most of the damage, subduing his foe with a powerful counterattack.

                      With this, Paedrig had won this contest, earning a castle forged dirk and dagger and a silver diadem.

                      Before the evening festivities at castle Dragonport started, there was time for some other things. The search for the offending bard was still underway. Paedrigs half-brother Wulff informed him, that he had found a former scout who could help in train the young shadow wolves. For free quarter and food plus two silver stags a day, the man could be hired. He was even willing to follow Paedrigs unit to the South. Paedrig agreed to his demands and also ordered him to look out for other unemployed hunters and scouts, because he wanted to recruit some sort of vanguard for his troops.
                      In the face of the still threatening war and planning to increase the health situation at Dragonport, Gard asked Elen to recruit and train more potential healers and to cooperate with the local healers. However the young woman from the borderlands was rather reluctant, since he had experienced suspicion from several locals. With her ‘borderland customs’, sometimes strange believes and her prophetic dreams and visions she was often considered as creepy am was a little bit reclusive. Plus she already had Jana as apprentice. Elen also mentioned the bad hygienic situation in Dragonport – a problem Lord Gard already had tried to solve with orders and decrees, but with little results…

                      When the nobles (and some selected non-noble guests) again gathered at the castle, the atmosphere was light and pleasant with many expectations for the next day, when the jousting would finally started. No one seemed too disappointed by the weather-induced jousting delay, the final rounds of the armed combat had been entertaining and exiting. Paedrig got much credit for his victory. Although still slightly injured, he enjoyed the evening, dancing with Lady Anya of Krayenhorn whenever possible. He also tried to detect the ominous ‘Black Knight’ (who had not participated in the duel contest) in the celebrating crowd, but could not find him.

                      Erik’s evening was not so relaxed, because he still was ‘after the Darcys’. Normally a man who know how to celebrate, he could also be very determent if he wanted to achieve a goal.
                      Like during the last days, Tanda Darcy was surrounded by admirers and potential suitors who – to her pleasure – competed for her attention with compliments and gifts. Lord Longthorpe f. e. had bought her a horse (a gift however, she seem not to appreciate much). Erik had more luck with his gift, a costly emerald necklace she had desired. Tanda was very pleased. Beside this, Erik tried again to charm Lady Tandas father and kept a close eye on other higher ranking nobles.

                      Sometimes later, he and Paedrig noticed a commotion among Tandas suitors. Ser Sheridan, probably angered by the way Tanda toyed with him and others, got verbal aggressive, mobilizing the newly knighted Willam Sunderland as defender of Lady Tandas honor. Erik was able to calm down the situation a little bit – but (intentionally?) he could not prevent the two young men to challenge each other for the next day.
                      Lord Gard was displeased about this potential danger for the tourney peace. He also mentioned, that if William Sunderland – who had been knighted by Gard in the morning – was defeated, someone should prune Ser Sheridans arrogance a little bit. So the evening ended with a slight discord, although some guests were a little bit intrigued by this drama…


                      • #71
                        Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed

                        Taints and Celebrations III

                        Day Four of the festival – Jousting and Revelations

                        After the delays of yesterday, day four was now almost exclusively reserved for the jousting. With a mysterious ‘Black Knight’ and the challenge between Ser Gregory Sheridan and Ser Willam Sunderland, expectations were high. However, less than 40 contesters participated, there was no big rostrum for the spectators, rather limited splendor and the victory prices were also not to compare to a big tourney. But considering the rather local scope of the event and the ongoing war, most guests were not picky.
                        Not everyone who could participate did it. F. e. Lord Weymouth (already middle aged and not a great rider), Lord Fallkirk (who preferred to fight on foot) and Adham Dannett (who, considering the lasting physical consequences of his poisoning a year ago and a nasty tourney accident some month later, probably had come to the conclusion that his jousting days were over) stayed on the sideline.
                        Of course Erik also did not participate (his embarrassing performance the last day was enough). He was able to get a seat near Lady Tanda Darcy and he noticed with satisfaction, that she was wearing the emerald necklace he had given her. She seemed to be still furious about the misbehavior of Ser Sheridan, proclaiming her hopes that the arrogant knight will find his match.

                        There would be six rounds altogether and every ‘pair’ of contesters would have up to three passes each round. If a rider was unhorsed, he lost. If both opponents stayed in the saddle or were unhorsed at the same pass, a tourney judge had to decide.

                        The first jousting round started with the ominous Black Knight, who unhorsed his opponent with ease.
                        Paedrig faced a less intimidating opponent – a relatively lightly armored member of the Dannett cavalry. Both men shattered a lance on each other’s shield. With his second pass, Paedrig did send his opponent to the ground.
                        Lord Gard was even more successful than Paedrig, unhorsing his opponent with the first hit.
                        The fight between Ser Willam Sunderland and Ser Sheridan got much attention – but Ser Sheridan was clearly superior, unhorsing the freshly knighted Willam during the second pass.

                        After a little break it was time for the second round. Even before Paedrig could do it, Lord Gard (who had sired Willam Sunderland) challenged Ser Sheridan. Both seem to be almost even, but in the end it was Sheridan who went down with a satisfying crash.
                        Paedrig again faced a member of the Dannett cavalry, although this time his opponent was better armored. While the lance of Paedrigs opponent shattered on his shield, the young knight aimed better, sending is contester to the ground and wounding him severely.
                        Again the ominous Black Knight unhorsed his opponent with ease.

                        In the third round, Paedrig had to face Ser Torrhen Fallkirk. The young bastard knight had mixed feelings towards him. On the one hand, the two young men had got along relatively well (Torrhen showed not much prejudices concerning Paedrigs questionable heritage). On the other hand, the relations between house Fallkirk and house Blyth of Dragonport remained strained and Paedrig was envious. Torrhen recently got a decent strip of the Borderlands as landed knight. This was an achievement for the Fallkirks, Paedrig still considered as unfair, given the efforts house Blyth (and Paedrig himself) had put into Borderland security. And not-so-secretly Paedrig also thought that he would have been better suited for the new title…
                        During the first jousting pass, Torrhen shattered his lance on Paedrigs shield, while Paedrig hit almost unhorsed him. In the second pass, the already weakened Torrhen got a nasty hit and went down. Paedrig seemed to have a winner streak.
                        Lord Gard did not have so much luck, because he had to face the Black Knight, who struck him down with the first pass. Lord Gard had to be sent to the healer. Elen ‘Faerieeyes’ again got rather sarcastic concerning the stupidity of men (and especially knights) who were so eager to get injured for no reason. Her words went beyond what might be considered as appropriate for a woman of her class. But her status as healer, the fact that she had helped Lord Gards wife to give birth and her rather…strange, sometimes a little bit unworldly appearing powers gave her much liberties. It was also not the first serious injury Gard had suffered in the few tourneys he had participated, so he silently admitted that the healer was partly right…
                        Although the Black Knight earned much applause, not everyone was happy with his stunning performance. Erik, who was skeptical concerning ‘masked competitors’ and such things, ordered the personal guard on high alert. He feared, the Black Knight might be a distraction for some jet unknown sinister reason…
                        Paedrig on the other side, as a knight of Lord Gards house, considered it as his duty to challenge the man who had defeated his lord. He did this with little confidence, considering his victory chances as meager. For unknown reason, the mysterious competitor also was not so keen to fight Paedrig, but accepted the challenge.
                        The Black Knight was probably Paedrigs age. He was not very tall but wiry, with dark eyes and hair and an attractive face which seemed strangely familiar to Paedrig, although he could not pinpoint why.

                        So it was time for the fore last round, with only four men still in the game. The Black Knight clearly dominated the fight. In the first pass, Paedrigs lance shattered on his shield, while the counterstrike hit Paedrig hard. The second round was even more one-sided, with Paedrig missing his opponent while getting again a heavy blow.
                        During the third and last pass, Paedrigs lance again shattered on the shield of his opponent without doing any damage, while the Black Knight landed a precise and hefty hit. He was the clear winner, but Paedrig had fought much better than most other opponents of the Black Knight, earning him the third place of the tourney. The injured bastard knight was not in the mood to celebrate this. Paedrig was sent to the healer, where he also got some sarcastic remarks by Elen.
                        With Lord Gard and one of his best fighters injured, Erik suspicion of a potential foul play peaked and he ordered the present guards to be extra cautious.

                        The final fight had to be between the Black Knight and an experienced member of the Dannett cavalry. Although both opponents hit each other with great accuracy, only the Black Knight stayed in the saddle, completing his winning streak and becoming the jousting victor. The reaction of the crowd ranged between thundering applause (by many) and admiration by quiet a number of the young ladies – and frustration, suspicion and jealousy by some of his rivals and local (male) nobles.
                        Beside a pricy warhorse, the winner also got the right to name the ‘queen of the tourney’. Most were astonished (and some of the young ladies angered) when the Black Knight did choose Rhaenyra Fallkirk. Although a pretty but shy girl, she was certainly not the most beautiful. She accepted the honor with a blush. Lord Fallkirk seemed not so pleased, perhaps because he did not care much for ‘lofty nonsense’ or because he had tried to find a powerful groom for his sister and feared rumors about Rhaenyra and her mysterious admirer.

                        Erik, realizing the dramatic potential of the situation, sensed an opportunity to reveal the identity of the Black Knight, loudly demanding that he should now say his name. But this backfired, when the Black Knight revealed that his name was Aemon and that he was the rightful son of Aemon Blyth of Krayenhorn, Paedrigs uncle and Ser Gawans late older brother, who had died during the War of the Usurper. The revelation of the heritage of the Black Knight hit the audience like a pot of wildfire. Paedrig, who had returned from the healer, cursed (and he was not the only one) and Lady Anya of Krayenhowrn, the young wife of Ser Gawan, paled as if she has seen a ghost.
                        Erik also immediately realized the political implications. If the claims of the ‘Black Knigt’ were true, HE was the rightful heir of Krayenhorn, because his father had been the older brother of Ser Gawan.
                        Lady Meera took control of the situation, informing her injured husband. Lord Gard called for an immediate meeting between Lord Jonah of Aran (as heir of the local liege lord and head of his house as long as his father was in the war), Anya Blyth of Krayenhorn and of course Aemon. Paedrig, who was concerned what the revelations might mean for his secret love Anya, was able to convince his lord to participate.

                        During the meeting, Aemon revealed, that his mother had been the daughter of a hedge knight. She had secretly married Aemon of Krayenhorn during Roberts Rebellion and had got pregnant with a son before her new husband died in battle. The young widow named her son after his father and later married Brent Warrant, a wandering (and well known) tourney knight who had raised Aemon as his own and taught him to be a knight – and obviously a quiet formidable one. Only recently, while Aemon fought in King Robbs army, Septon Sylas, the man who had wed his mother and biological father to each other, had found him and told him the truth about his heritage. Now he wanted to know more about the house of his father. Septon Silas had accompanied him to Dragonport and was willing to testify the whole thing. Aemon claimed to not have any legal claims for Krayenhorn – an assurance, Lady Anya found hard to believe.
                        Paedrig was also skeptic. The story did sound much like a chivalric tale. He also doubted, that Aemons father could have kept his marriage hidden from his own father and his brother Gawan, when the three fought together in Roberts rebellion. Also Aemon of Krayenhorn did not have the reputation for misbehavior etc. – such a stunt would be more plausible for Paedrigs father Micael of Krayenhorn, who had earned the reputation of a womanizer…
                        Of course Paedrig AND Anya were both biased. After all, Aemons sheer existence was a threat to Ser Gawans right as head of Krayenhorn (and by this also a thread to Lady Anya).

                        Not knowing or ignoring such implications, most of the guests still enjoyed the festival, seeing the revelations more as an amusement and thrill than a problem. However, while Aemons disclosure had been quite a spectacle, the wedding between Torrhen Fallkirk and Elyssa Aran and (to a lesser extent) between Hal Sunstone and Myria Rivers, which were celebrated in the afternoon, were for many guests much more interesting than the emerging of a unknown member of the Krayenhorn-line.
                        The marriages were well organized and the four young people made a happy and joyful impression. Paedrig handed one of his shadow wolf pubs to Torrhen – a gift which was accepted with enthusiasm (at least by Torrhen, his new wife was a little bit nervous).
                        Of course Hal Sunstones and Myria Rivers marriage was set AFTER the marriage between Torrhen Fallkirk and Elyssa Aran and not all guests stayed for the second ceremony. If house Sunstone was offended by this, they did not show this, although they must have noticed that (with so many potential noble brides in town) they may had married Hal ‘under his worth’.

                        Than it was time for the banquet at the castle. Much of the plentiful served meals were seafood and the nobles (and few not noble) guests ate, drank and parlayed as they pleased.
                        Paedrig tried to get more information from Aemon, who was of course (beside the newlyweds) a center of attention. The young bastard knight had very mixed feelings. He did feel envy, mistrust, guilt and insecurity.
                        Aemons story certainly sounded far-fetched, but was testified by a septon. IF his story was true, Aemons father had married the mother of his son, making Aemon legal instead of damming him to the fate of a bastard. So a second time (like with his uncle Gawan) Paedrig had to face a man who earned (or could earn) something, that might have been Paedrigs right if he had been born legal. Aemon also shattered Paedrigs unspoken hopes that one day he might be considered as a potential heir for the childless Ser Gawan. Now Ser Gawan might have found an alternative – if he believed the story of Aemon and did not consider him as a threat. House Aran as liege lord of Krayenhorn probably would see such a solution as a good opportunity to ensure a stable succession for Krayenhorn. AND what might the turn up of Aemon mean for Anya? After several years of marriage with Ser Gawan, the young woman still had not got pregnant and now (while she had started an affair with her step-nephew Paedrig), a new member of the Krayenhorn-line appeared, a potential threat for the rule of her absent husband. Would Aemon claim his birthright? And if not – what would it mean for Anyas future, if Gawan (who was now in his forties) named Aemon as his heir?
                        However to criticize Aemons story and considering it as a hoax would not be much better than the distrusts, prejudices and nasty remarks Paedrig himself had all too often faced because of his shady heritage. Even Lady Anya had been resentful when first meeting her slightly younger step-nephew…
                        It was probably no surprise that Paedrig searched the company of Anya, who were at least as disturbed and conflicted as her secret lover. They kept close to each other and only rarely danced, also because the still injured Paedrig was not in top condition although he tried to conceal this.

                        Erik had a more calculating point of view. He also doubted Aemons story. And (like his nephew Gard) he did of course realize the political implications. Not long ago, Ser Gawan Blyth of Krayenhorn (facing the problem that his line might end with him, with his only known closer relatives being the bastards of his late brother Micael) had made clear, that he did want Gard Blyth of Dragonport, his former squire and heir of the major branch of the Blyth family, as executrix, perhaps even as his heir. Ser Gawan had even mustered more troops for the War in the South than he had to, to convince his liege lord to accept his choice. Now the whole deal could be off the table, because now Ser Gawan did have an alternative. And if Aemon succeeded Ser Gawan (or even replaced him thanks to his birth right) and did form closer ties with the Fallkirks (after all, he had declared Rhenyra Fallkirk as ‘queen of the tourney’), this might cost Dragonport an ally and strengthen its rival. Also any succession turmoil at Krayenhorn would harm the peace and trade in the neighboring Dragonport realm…

                        Concerning his own agenda, Erik was still charming the Darcys but with waning hopes. At least he could dance with Tanda Darcy and performed quiet will. But although older and less eloquent than Erik, Lord Longthorpe seemed to be the favorite for Tandas father. He was certainly the fare better catch. However Longthorpe, Lord Jonah Aran and Lord Gard seemed preoccupied by something, probably news from the war or new pirate activities in the Bite?

                        The other guests did not notice this (or did not care) because now it was time for the ‘Bedding’ of Torrhen Fallkirk and Elyssa Aran, although the whole thing remained relatively tame.
                        After this, Hal Sunstone and Myria Rivers were ‘escorted’ to their new home, were soldiers of the unit of Myrias father formed a row, singing indecent songs. The groom was probably more blushing than the bride…

                        The feast at the castle went on, although some of the guests retired, while other formed small groups or retreated to more intimate locations. Paedrig did not drink much – he was still injured and he did not want to waste the precious time with Anya. Erik tried to have an eye on the whole situation and also stayed sober.
                        However he soon got distracted by Tanda Darcy who made clear, she wanted to spend some time with him – alone and undisturbed. Erik was a little bit surprised. Although he had a very high opportunity of himself, he knew he was no womanizer. But either he had been more successfully in his charming attempts than he had thought or Tanda simply wanted to ‘test out’ her options. Erik soon discovered that Lady Tanda was certainly no blushing virgin (or a virgin at all) and did not care much about what was considered as appropriate for a young lady…
                        Beside the more amorous aspects of their meeting, there was also enough time for gossip. Tanda made some nasty remarks concerning the habits and mannerism of some of her other suitors. Obviously she enjoyed her live and the attention she got but had no desire to get married soon. Erik silently wondered what she might say about HIM in his absence…. However he repaid Tandas frankness with some gossips about other men – f. e. that Lord Edwyn Fallkirk was most probably gay or the fact that Ser Paedrig Rivers might have a secret affair (Erik did not tell Tanda with whom). However, although he enjoyed their encounter, he was normally not a man to take such risks like having sex with an unwed noble heiress. And – being a typical chauvinistic noble – he started to consider if Tanda was ‘worth it’. To convince her to marry could be quiet tricky and costly. And even if Erik succeeded – the strong willed, capricious Tanda would certainly be not ‘easy to handle’ and given the fact how fast she was ‘to get’ (as mentioned, Erik was chauvinistic), did he really want to wonder if their potential children were his own?

                        Certainly Lord Gard would have been shocked and disgusted by the behavior of his uncle.
                        He would have been even more appalled by Ser Paedrig who, in another part of the castle, met the wife of Ser Gawan, who had knighted Lord Gard. Although their meeting was risky and Paedrig was still injured, he and Anya did not want to waste any precious opportunity to come together. However their passion was again overshadowed by looming danger and the knowledge, that their future looked grim. Paedrig gave Anya the silver diadem he had won in the armed contest the last day – another gift (like most that he had given her), she could only wear with caution…


                        Day Five of the festival – Uncertain futures

                        The next day was the last day of the festival. During the breakfast, the newlyweds were mocked by many of the guests about how tired they might look etc. However it was mostly friendly banters.
                        Before most of the guests departed, there should be a last special event: the ‘hunt for the Kingslayer’ – a mighty boar which, with other boars as his ‘army’, had been gathered in a fenced area. The ‘Kingslayer’ had been decorated with pieces of lacquered metal. Obviously the whole hunt was intended as a mock reference to the defeated and captured Jaime Lannister (but could also be seen as a mockery of late king Robert). Most of the guests found the idea hilarious, Paedrig on the other hand was a little bit unsure. Although he did not like the Lannisters, he still did not believe all the rumors about the Kingslayer. He had met Jaime Lannister briefly during the tourney for Joeffreys last name day and the legendary (and infamous) knight had not cared much about Paedrigs bastard heritage…
                        The hunt would not be easy – every man would be after the ‘Kingslayer’ and boars in general were a dangerous prey even for seasoned hunters. Some would hunt by feet, others on horses.

                        Before the hunt started, Gard again ordered Erik and Paedrig to a secret meeting (not noticing or ignoring that obviously both had not slept very much).
                        Now the cause for the concerned behavior of Gard and some of the other lords became clear: Yesterday, disturbing news had arrived from the South. King Renly Baratheon had been killed under dubious circumstances while facing the much smaller army of his brother King Stannis Baratheon. Some of the rumors even claimed that Lady Stark – who was there as an emissary of her son – may have a hand in the murder. It was unclear what this might mean for the future. Would Stannis now march to Kings Landing? What was with Renlys army? What will the Reach do? Would they ally themselves with Stannis or with House Lannister? If this, it could mean that Stannis had won a battle but already lost the war…
                        Also the message had arrived, that Tywin Lannister had left Harrenhal. The destination of his army was unclear. Did he want to face Roose Boltons army which was slowly advancing towards Harrenhal? This seemed plausible, because it was against common sense to let an enemy stay in his back. And Tywin most probably would have good chances to defeat Bolton – he had beaten him only a few months ago. Neither Paedrig nor Erik (both had spent limited time in Roose Boltons army) had a very high opinion of his tactical skills – at least not against the ‘Old Lion’ Tywin Lannister. Also the Northern army did not have much cavalry - and what they had would probably stand no chance against Tywins seasoned knights and the famous heavy armored pike men of the Westlands.
                        On the other hand, perhaps Tywin Lannister was on his way back to Kings Landing, to protect the capital against a probably advancing Stannis? This would mean that Tywin would de facto give up the central Riverlands – and any hopes to re-establish and hold a land connection to the Westlands… Or would he try to return to his core lands and face King Robb Stark who marauded across the Westlands? But that would leave King’s Landing and the Iron Throne vulnerable for ANY attack…
                        IF Roose Bolton would have to face Tywin Lannister, would it be of any use to send the reinforcements, King Robb had demanded, to Boltons army? They would never be able to reach him in time. If he was beaten, they would be in a very tricky situation. Might it be worthy to consider waiting till the situation became clearer (an idea, Erik favored)? Perhaps instead sending the troops to Bolton (or Robb), it was time that the troops should form the core for an independent operating force to prevent Tywin Lannister from crossing the Trident. Even a small army could do this with good chances of success, even if the troops were no match for Tywins army on an open battlefield.
                        And last but not least – WHO SHOULD COMMAND THE TROOPS?

                        But of course with not much time and information (and without the other local lords) no decision could be reached for now and it was time for the hunt. While Erik stayed on the sideline, Paedrig did participate in the hunt on horse. However his performance was not outstanding (f. e. Edwyn Fallkirk, hunting on foot, was much more successful). Although Paedrig killed one of the ‘normal’ boars, his horse was seriously injured by the wounded beast. The young knight decided to hunt on foot the next time…

                        After the hunt, most of the guest left Dragonport. While most parted on good terms, the situation with house Fallkirk remained tense. Also none of the attempted marriage projects of the guest houses had succeeded – but such things did need time.
                        Ser Westwood and his daughter Darya stayed at Dragonport, because Westwood wanted to discuss further operations against the pirates in the Bite and even the possibilities for more ambitious naval projects against King Joeffrey. Erik secretly considered Darya Westwood as another potential marriage target. While not stunning beauty or heiress of a lord like Tanda, Darya was pretty, young and heiress of a landed knight. However something seemed…odd with her and her disdain for marriage was no secret.

                        The former Black Knight Aemon also declared that he wanted to stay in the area, asking Lady Anya of Krayonhorn to allow him to visit the home of his late father. The young lady did not trust him but gave him a halfhearted allowance.
                        Paedrig watched this with some concerns and while he increased his efforts to prepare his troops for the march to the South, he was determent to have a close eye on his ‘cousin’ and his intentions…


                        • #72
                          Dragon's Hoard III

                          The following chronic includes quite a number of elements and chars from the Dragon's Hoard-Campaign, although the narrator changed some parts of the story and reduced the numbers of NPC's on some points.


                          It took some time to prepare the journey to Dragonstone – the place, where hopefully some traces about the hidden treasure of the Targaryens could be found. The local library surely would hold a lot of naval information, much material about the reign of the Dragonriders and – hopefully – everything which was collected when Rhaegar Velaryons father Jothos was arrested. Of course there was no hope to find the infamous map with a mark where the gold was buried – if that would be the case, the treasure would have long been collected. The current situation would make the journey complicated. Regular travel towards the island seems to be having broken down more or less during the last months.
                          The armed Krajer – a medium sized two-mast former pirate-vessel which had just recently be captured and because of that was likely not much known to be sailing under the banner of the Blyth – was finally ready for the journey. Alyanna Blyth was able to convince her brother to let her lead the operation (at least the social part), although this needed some convincing. The cover story – a journey to the Sisters for some unspecified negotiation – should work at least for a few weeks, since it would be not the first time that Aly had been send on such a mission or had visited her mother’s family, the Borrells. But soon enough it would become obvious for potential spies that the ships was on a greater journey.
                          Aly decided that she would change her appearance after a few days of journey. She would act as translator for Lo Tho, who himself would be claim to be acting for a minor house in the Vale of Arryn (which had not taken part in the war so far). They would claim they wanted to search for information about the Targaryen (which was at least in part true), a subject some people were still interested in, also looking forward if they could not maybe buy books and some obsidian (for which Dragonstone was known). Stannis hopefully would be interested in a few additional dragons for his war machine and to reopen trade connections with the Vale. It was known that he did value books and knowledge not that much, so there was a chance that visitors may be able to get access to the library by paying, as long as they did not search for any dangerous secrets (and surely Stannis did know nothing about the treasure – or he would made his claim obvious, as it was his typical behaviour).

                          The journey to Dragonstone was calculated with around three weeks. The first days the ship was still in familiar waters, although they proofed to be rough due to bad weather. Aly and many of the men on board had travelled to the Sisters and across the Bite more than once. During this time, she did not hide her identity (but the destination of the journey), but kept her profile low. There were other ships around, mostly fishing-boats, some merchant-ships and once even a warship from one of the local lords. To a lesser degree, same could be said about Pebble, seat of house Pryor. The local lord, Cedric Pryor – a seasoned veteran who had no wife but a much younger mistress from the Seals People (a relatively moderate mountain clan) called Neera, warned them about the shore-robbers at The Paps. Although the journey was rough, Torgon did a good job so far as captain.

                          After that, it was time for some masquerade. Both Torgon and Aly changed their appearance (Aly even changed the colour of her hair) and the names under which they were going, and they and the crew trained to hold to their cover-story. Torgon was busy, since he had to proof himself as captain. He did treat his men just, working as much as they, and while he demanded that his orders were followed at once, he did not eat better than they. Captains of the Iron Isles were “kings” on their ships, but they had to earn the respect of their men (and women) and could hardly ever rule with fear and punishment. That was a lesson he kept in mind. Of course he had also an eye that no one of his men took any verbal or other liberties towards Lo Tho or Alyanna. He had some suspicions about the nature of the relationship of his lady and the foreign scholar (that Lo Tho was a woman he did not notice), but he kept that thoughts to himself. After all he did know that patronage by Aly was vital if he wanted to gain a permanent position as captain or other things. And since he was in debt and had ambitions, he was a perfect tool for Aly, who easily manipulated him to work as her henchman.

                          Torgon used the time on board to ask Lo Tho about some stories about Meereen – his mother was taken as Saltwife by his father, and was originally born in a wealthy family of that town. He knows the language of his deceased mother and her stories about her home – but since she died several years ago, he was hungry for information, even dreaming someday visiting the town. Of course he had little hope that his mother’s family would react kindly to him. In their eyes he surely was nothing more than the offspring of the kidnapper and rapist of her daughter. But since he had broken up with parts of his father’s family after killing one of his rockborn half-brothers and wounding another, he still had hopes to find a place or family he could belong to. Of course he also dreamed about reclaiming his right as his father’s oldest son, but knew that this was nearly impossible since he was a kin-slayer and only saltborn.

                          The ship avoided the treacherous, stormy and reef-infested waters around the Fingers by travelling over open sea – a bold move, but it played out. The further journey along the coast of the Vale was much safer. At Gulltown, Aly had the first chance to test her cover story. It worked not perfect and some of the harbour-guards became suspicious, but the lady – now disguised as a woman of good but not noble heritage – was able to convince them that there was no reason for distrust. It was a chance to improve the lies they had to tell.
                          They also learned that Stannis and his army had left Dragonstone – very likely in the direction of the Stormlands, maybe to ally himself with his brother? – which may increase the chance to bribe and talk their way into the library of Dragonstone. Aly – with support from Torgon – bought some cargo, things which now may be rare on the island.

                          Since they now came nearer to the contested shores of the Riverlands and to the nearly lawless Cracklaw Point, Torgon decided to sail over the open sea. That proofed as a dangerous decision. Navigation was difficult, the weather worsened and the ship lost a man in the storm – he was washed away and could not be found. For a time they lost orientation. That was surely a setback for the spirit of the men. In the end however, their direction was found again and the damaged ship approached Dragonstone.
                          As they closed in, the party was stopped by the SURLEY MISTRESS, an armed transporter under Stannis banner. While Aly was very good in telling lies, the captain Alfo Yond was himself a very good interrogator, playing with threats, so that in the end he has to be bribed to not look TOO serious into the matters of Lo Tho and Aly. Aly learned that recently many traders and other ships were forced into service when they approached Dragonstone. To avoid a similar fate – and to get the permission to do anything on the island (and repair the ship) the party needed to speak to Stannis’ deputy at Dragonstone – castellan Axell Florent.

                          Florent was neither friendly nor looked impressive, but his position was a strong one. However, Aly (who spoke for Lo Tho, since “he” claimed he could not speak the Common Tongue so well) could convince the castellan that they just wanted to make business, and that future trade with the Vale was more precious than a damaged small ship and a handful exhausted men pressed into service. For quiet some money she got the permission to repair her ship and to look into the “public” parts of the library – of course not free, but under supervision of the local Maester.
                          Her question after some Dragonglass lead to an almost hostile reaction. Florent barked that any trade with obsidian was strictly forbidden. Aly did not want to press the matter future – maybe she would later find a way to calm the castellan.

                          The whole situation at Dragonstone was tense. Most men were gone, there were no news about their fate and how Stannis’ expedition (which was directed AGAINST Renly) went on. Also, the island had openly broken with the Seven and now followed the Lord of Light – a decision, who had already created some martyr of the old faith including the local Septon. Aly and Torgon were both disgusted – while they do not have the same religion (Aly was a moderate follower of the Seven, and Torgon believed in a similar lax way in the Drowned God and the gods of Meereen), burning people alive was nothing they could understand. But of course they were wise enough to keep such thoughts to themselves. They ordered their men to keep their heads down and their tongues tied. Torgon warned the men not to drink or make any trouble – Stannis’ harsh approach to any type of crime was very well known. They should (and could) not stay on board of the ship all the time, but must keep in mind that they had to pretend to come from the Vale. Luckily, there was an easy explanation for their reluctant behaviour. The Vale had not joint any side so far and the local nobles (and commoners) surely would fear to be drawn into the conflict. But the captain would need to keep an eye on his men…

                          The last obstacle who had to be overcome was the Maester – a young man named Pylos who had just inherited his office. He was however no real match for someone as skilled as Aly. However he was not THAT naïve to let the stranger look into his library freely, even not in the open parts. He had not time to keep the visitors under surveillance constantly, since he seemed very busy with other tasks, but he kept an eye on them as good as he could. To his aid he had a young (and pretty) woman called Falae, obviously from low heritage. It was also obvious that she was more for him than someone who gives him a helping hand, so to speak…

                          The next days quickly saw some form of routine established. Aly and Lo Tho were escorted to the almost empty castle in the morning and back in the evening by some of their men – during the nights they stayed at an inn in the main harbour. Their guards had to stay outside the castle or at least let their weapons at the gatehouse. Than Lo Tho and Aly could ask for certain books, sometimes even search by themselves when Pylos or Falae were busy. The library was huge, but not well organized. It took two days just to find out after which structure the books were spread inside the rooms. Lo Tho had clearly an advantage because “he” not only had a very analytical mind, but was also fluent in more than one language. Aly, who had a sharp mind but was less educated, tried to help as best as she can. She was able to calm any possible suspicions by Pylos, charming and taking advantage of his curiosity at the same time. She spoke about her own experiences (as far as it fitted with her cover-story) and was nice towards Falae and Pylos, keeping both busy with questions about possible future trade and how the Maester – and as such specialist about logistic questions of the isle – would think about such exchange with the Vale, what goods would be needed and which could be exported. She was quiet confident that Pylos had no idea what she and Lo Tho were after. Lo Tho also was a good distraction. “He” was a stranger from far abroad, had travelled far and wide, and of course Pylos was curious. Both Pylos and Falae spied after the strangers a little bit, but Aly and Lo Tho were careful and so far successful kept secret what they were really interested in.

                          A few days after their arrival when they marched through the castle during morning time, they noticed that there was some movement between the frightening statues which were everywhere. Aly – often more curious than it was good for her – tried to investigate, although the glimpses of the…person…which tried to hide were a little bit frightening. He or she seemed oddly deformed. When Aly chased their follower, she found out that it was the fool of king Stannis, Patchface. It was a strange encounter. The fool sang a little song about the dragons who may come back over the sea, and the king’s brother, who soon will no longer be etc. Aly who had the strange impression he might know more than it seems (because he sang also about the death with blue eyes) treated the strange man kindly, but she was not able to make any sense out of his words.

                          Sadly the search after information about the treasure of the dragons was almost as fruitless as this conversation. There were some hints about the ships which had secured the transport of the treasure. But beside that nothing of worth could be found. It became obvious that parts of the archive had been removed, very likely to a more secured area of the castle. Aly decided to look a few days into the normal material – than she wanted to try to convince Pylos to let her look into some of the forbidden material (of course nothing what sounds dangerous for Stannis’ war efforts, but reports of the fleet from the time until the end of Robert’s Rebellion, since she could still explain that with her curiosity about the Targaryans).
                          Torgon had to manage several tasks. He had to look after the crew, sold out the cargo (with some profit), organize the repair of the ship etc. He also sometimes guarded Aly and Lo Tho, and – different to his men – he joined them in the library. He was able to read the common tongue, although he was not much into books. It seems so however, that Falae was somehow slightly interested in the captain. Pylos was an educated and friendly man, but hardly the material most girls dreamed about. And while Torgon was no “Prince Charming” either, he was a captain with at least some exotic flair and maybe a little bit more interesting than a Maester who was sworn to chastity and still uncertain about his position at the court.
                          Both Torgon and Aly did not try very hard to gain obsidian. They had learned the infamous Red Women was the one who was behind the ban of export and had some interest into the material for unknown reasons, and since religion was nowadays DEADLY serious on Dragonstone, they do not wanted to get the wrong kind of attention.
                          On some occasion Torgon left the harbour with the ship, so that his men could get practice. He escorted the local fishermen and agreed to take some of the guards on board for security reasons – his main goal was that his men should be ready if he had to leave the island in haste…

                          After Lo Tho and Aly were sure that the normal archives were not useful for them, Aly tried to bribe/convince Pylos to give them access to some of the more secured parts of the library. She almost convinced him, but in the last moment he “retreated”. He seemed suspicious concerning the motives of guests, or simply wanted not to choose between their arguments/money and his fear of consequences, if they got caught. So he “became” ill and showed not up for some days.
                          Aly now tried to befriend Falae – since the young woman had to manage the daily tasks she might be also a good ally. It proved not easy to charm her, but in the end Aly was making progress. She also asked Torgon to spend some time with Falae (more as a distraction in her eyes than that she thought he might successful). The captain spend some time with Falae both inside the library and outside – telling her some sad and some funny stories from his past, always with a little bit irony towards himself, asked her about her life and so one. He made her compliments – but not too obvious or direct – gave her smaller presents, try to entertain her etc.

                          This “distraction” was maybe not Aly’s best idea however, or she had tasked the wrong person. Falae who did know very well what she wanted and how to get it had no problem to manipulate and seduce the captain, and while he was not that moonstruck to tell her all his secrets, over the following days he gave far too much away about his past and (unknowingly) about the expedition, that they may not truly come from the Vale etc.
                          Aly was not able to convince Falae to let her and Lo Tho into the restricted areas of the library freely, but successful bribed the young women with three dragons into allowing Lo Tho access to the secured parts (of course she did not wanted that Falae searched the material for them since in that case she may find out what they were looking for).
                          Torgon and the young lady ensured that Pylos would be distracted during Lo Tho’s search, by holding him busy. Aly told the curious Maester more details about her own adventures and researches about magical topics, and Torgon added some stories from far abroad (he had at least travelled from the Iron Isles to the Bite). Of course he had to be careful, since if Pylos found out what Falae and Torgon did behind his back… but the Maester was of course not very used in such things.
                          Aly also learned a few new things about magic, although more theoretical stuff – what kind of magic may once had exists and what rituals claimed to be having worked in the distant past.
                          Lo Tho was in part successful during the first attempt and found something about Jothos Velaryon. He was actually betrayed by his own family who reported him being a traitor to Stannis, so that Rhaegar Verlaryons father was arrested and quickly executed without longer interrogation. Lo Tho tried to hide what she was looking after from Falae, but it was unclear if she was successful. She thought also she had some traces which were worth to be followed, since there seem also to be some encrypted documents which were confiscated from the late Velaryon. So “he” and Aly prepared for a second attempt. However, before they could start it, Falae made her move.

                          One evening – when she returned from the library – Aly found Falae sitting on the bed in her room at the inn. At first she joked Falae might have mistaken the chamber (Falae responded that she might just be the wrong person sitting on this bad). But what started harmless enough (although not without some poison) soon enough turned dangerous. Falae claimed that she did know what Aly was after and that she could report her to the authorities. Aly responded by reminding Falae that she was just a lowborn servant and if she tried to blame Aly, it would be easy for Aly to harm her reputation with the claim that this was just revenge of a servant who had try to steal from her (Falae had entered HER chamber) and had also a forbidden relationship with a Maester (something Stannis would hardly ignore). The following exchange saw threats from both women towards each other – Aly trying to bribe Falae while the latter tried to frighten her opponent. Violence was hardly an option in a public inn (also because Falae claimed she had put some information away which would emerge in the case of her demise).
                          It becomes obvious that Falae was not TOO keen to tell Florent about the treasure, she surely was not his spy. In the end both came to an agreement. Aly would hire Falae and pay her a reasonable amount of money, while Falae would help by securing all the interesting (coded) information from the late Jothos Velaryon. She revealed that she was in truth a spy for house Velaryon which was also searching after the treasure, but did not wanted to inform Stannis about the secret. That was surely the main reason why she had not reported about Lo Tho and Aly to Florent – if they were arrested, the treasure would be lost for the Velaryons anyway.
                          But Falae seemed also not to have a lot of loyalty to house Velaryon. Maybe she saw both Stannis and his (not very trustful) supporters as unlikely winners in the game for the Iron Throne. House Velaryon was also in a very dangerous position. If Stannis would ever learn about their double-crossing, he was maybe the only king who could not be calmed with a lot of money. To ally herself with house Blyth would get her a passage from an island which may be besieged soon enough (although there were no news about Stannis’ fate, it seemed unlikely that he could win against his much stronger younger brother or even become the king of the Iron Throne). And she could get more money for her service than from the Velaryons, which actions for securing the treasure had mostly failed so far.
                          Of course there was always the danger for her that Aly would betray her later on and simple ordering to kill her or throw her into a dungeon. But she seemed ready to take the risk. Falae even had already a list secured which showed what treasures the Targaryans had send away – and it was quiet impressive. 10.000 dragons in gold, the same worth in jewels etc., the burned crown of Harren the Black, two sets of dragon-armor (if that mean armor for dragons or for their riders was so far unclear), some documents of ownership about crown-lands in the Riverlands, three bows made out of dragonbones, the sword Dragonlord and the mace Heart of Valyria (if these weapons were made of Valyrian Steel was unclear for now, but surely this were precious and well-crafted pieces). Anyone who would be able to lay hand on such a treasure would be richer than many high lords (even considering the fact that the treasure had to be shared between the Blyth of Dragonport and Rhaegar Velaryon, and any lord of honour would have to pay his liege lord a significant tax).
                          Aly swear Falae an oath by the Old Gods and the Seven and by the ancient gods of her mother’s family to fulfil her promises if Falae would serve her well and even signed an agreement – a good position in her entourage, 150 dragons if the treasure would be found and at first and foremost a passage away from Dragonstone. After all she was impressed and thought Falae might be useful in the future. Of course she did not trust Falae for now…
                          The spy left smiling to celebrate her success.

                          After this agreement things had to be set into motion, before for example a defeat of Stannis would made the situation on the island more dangerous. Falae needed help to escape from the island, and she had also to get rid of a man the Velaryons had sent to help her (and to keep an eye on her). Aly had no problems orchestrating the murder of the man, who served as member of the local garrison. She even used that as some kind of punishment. While she coped with the situation, she was a bit pissed off that Falae had found out the truth. She did blame Lo Tho very little – her lover had little time to hide what books she looked into, and Falae did know where interesting things about the Velaryons could be found. It was not hard for someone who already was behind the Velaryon-secrets to discover who also was looking after the same secrets. She blamed herself that she had not noticed that Falae was not just nosy but a professional spy – she did not had anticipated that the Velaryons would try to betray Stannis. And she was angry about Torgon because she was sure he had given too much away in pillow talk (although Falae denied it). And so she used that as leverage to order Torgon to murder Falae’s comrade.

                          Since it would be difficult to get poison, Falae and Torgon decided that the spy would lure her comrade to an isolated place. Torgon would overpower him and throw his body into the sea – it was not THAT rare, that people – especially those who were not born here – suffered such accidents. Of course he should not use his typical axe, which would cause clear slashing wounds, so he got a mace. This would inflict wounds which were hard to identify among those from a fall onto rocks or on a body who was smashed by the waves against the cliffs.
                          The ambush was successful, although their enemy put up a desperate fight. In the end Torgon was victorious. Falae cleaned the bloody sword of Torgons victim and put it back into the scabbard. Than the man was thrown into the sea and the two departed.

                          Torgon decided to moderately get drunk that afternoon (although he was careful enough to get not completely wasted). It was not so much the killing he regretted – he was never a man who was raised as bound to the knightly code of honour, and this was not his first kill even outside a real battle. But his action reminded him of some of the darker things he had down in the past. And while he was not that clever or cunning, he was not stupid, too. The pretty woman he had shared some time (and the bed) had easily betrayed both Maester Pylos (with which she had an affair) and her ally from the Velaryons. He realized that he himself shared aspects of both men, and asked silently how easy and drastically Falae may abandon him when the time was ripe – and how he could be so dumb to not noticing that earlier. And of course the soft but cold words from Aly made him clear that he had lost quiet some credit in her eyes – credit he needed badly if he wanted to improve his position. He felt himself in debt towards the young lady since she had influenced his fate by helping him to become captain and gave him an opportunity of progress.
                          So after he was sober again he worked hard to get the ship ready, to secure a hidden place for Falae to be smuggled out etc.

                          With Falae as an ally it was easy to lay hand on the Velaryon-papers. It became obvious soon enough why the Velaryon were not successful so far. Most of the material had to be deciphered – and it was quite a lot of material, containing numerous letters, a diary/chronic of three volumes and a single book. Gladly not only was Aly used to codes already, she also trusted into the help of Lo Tho.
                          Aly had to bribe the castellan that he allowed the ship to depart, claiming she had found what she was looking for. She agreed to bring some messages to the nobles in the Vale from King Stannis and try to establish more trade connection between the Vale and Dragonstone (and at least the first she was indeed willing to do). Than the ship left the island – after a last (but not too serious) search after contraband. Falae stayed safe in her hideout, just to emerge when they were secure.
                          So far things seem looking bright. Of course the journey was far from over, the papers had to be deciphered…and Aly decided also to charm Falae to make her in a useful tool rather than a risk. The way home may become interesting…

                          At first it was decided that the ship should avoid the coast of Cracklaw Point. The area was known for being nearly lawless even before the war, a status which had hardly changed now. If a ship from Dragonstone or Driftmark would try to hunt down the Krajer, it would surely search at the shore. There was no reason to suggest the party may be indeed hunted, but maybe the death of the Velaryon-spy at Dragonstone and the disappearance of Falae might finally have led to suspicions.
                          But if there was an enemy, he missed the ship, and Aly and her servants arrived Gulltown safely after nearly a week of travel. Even the weather was pleasant and there were no problems with navigation either. The young lady had used the journey to successful charm Falae, so that she could feel a little bit safer about her loyalty. She had not started to decipher the documents. Lo Tho did not feel well and Aly wanted not to miss “his” help – and she preferred a secure environment if she should try to uncover the secrets of the Dragon’s Hoard.
                          Torgon kept an eye on Falae (although he was not sure how much he could trust her) during the journey if she might get into trouble, but he had his men under good control. The young woman stayed mostly on board even during the time at Gulltown – after all the harbour was not too far from Dragonstone.
                          Aly was interrogated in the harbour after she said where they come from – the people at the Vale were still curious to find out more about Stannis’ plans and the fate of their ships who had disappeared. She was frank about the facts – she did not know about the plans of the Lord of Dragonstone, but had learned that the Vale-ships had been forced into his service. Any future trade would be not without risk. She also gave along the documents she had got from the castellan of Dragonstone to the local nobles.
                          Her search for dragonglass in the town was not very successful. The material was neither very common nor was it wanted by many so there was little to sell and just for high prices. For two dragons she could just by around a pound – surely enough for quite a number of arrowheads. A gifted craftsmen could perhaps made an arrow tip out of 10-15 gram raw material, given the fact that a tip often did not had a higher weight of more than 5-10 gram – IF they could find someone who could really work with that material. It seemed unlikely that a spearhead or knife could be crafted.

                          The days after they left Gulltown were both peaceful and without major events. The shore of the Vale was well known and secure, the weather was no problem. Torgon and Aly decided to avoid the dangerous Fingers (both because of reefs and because she did not want to come near to land where Littlefinger had anything to say – after all she was once almost kidnapped by his servants on the Sisters). But the weather stayed good and Torgon had no problems to navigate the ship over the open sea. Of course it was not that easy for the crew to travel longer distances without a harbour (the possibilities of making warm/fresh food were limited, for example, and the nigh-watches had to be vigilant), but they worked remarkably well. Alyanna used the journey to get some additional information from Falae. While the former Velaryon-spy did not have information about possible moles at Dragonport, she told Aly some details about her own past. Obviously she had a rough start, becoming an orphan in Braavos at an early age.
                          Soon enough the ship arrived known waters – first Pebble and than the Sisters. Aly could now give up her disguise, although she still kept her secrets of course. And so finally after surely more than two months absence the ship arrived Dragonport again. They had lost one man and a great amount of money (several dozen of dragons), but the potential rewards were promising – IF the documents will proof to be holding what was anticipated.


                          The next eight weeks Alyanna was busy. Lo Tho and she could not work round the clock to decipher the documents – after all Alyanna had some lady-duties, and Lo Tho was needed in the creation of the library at Dragonport (plus “he” had own projects). But both made progress – with limited support from Aly’s uncle Erik. It proofed the right decision to start with the obviously least tight coded part of the documents, the diaries. Written indeed by Jothos Velaryon – mainly during his time in exile – it was more or less a 15 year long (sporadic written) chronic of frustration about the fall of the dragonriders and his personal grievances, anger about the pragmatism of the rest of his family etc. More interesting was that it mentioned Kael Stormsword, the knight who had leaded the expedition to deliver the Dragon’s Hoard to the Riverlands and bribe the Freys. He had been seen at Braavos, where he seems to have lived under a false name (sadly the information about his new status stay vague). Kael seem to be in good financial situation – what could mean, he had at least sold parts of the treasure, but none of the distinctive jewellery or weapons had surfaced so far. Jothos still had dreams about a return of the Dragons – and yes, this included the chance that Rhaegar might be a candidate for a marriage with Daenerys Targaryan. It would not be the first Velaryon-Targaryan-union, and if Jothos would discover the Dragon’s Hoard or at least great parts of it, he had some hopes (or illusions) for Rhaegar.
                          After that, the letters of Jothos were deciphered – a more difficult task, but one who could be managed. They mostly confirmed the information above, but sadly gave nearly no indication which people in Westeros still supported the Targaryans (an information which might become useful). A lot of the letters was more or less gossip from exiled loyalists, scattered across the Free Cities, and the men (or women?) used aliases. Kael Stormsword was mentioned again, also in Braavos, but not his new name. In some of the letters as in the diary worries of Jothos surfaced if Viserys Targaryan would ever be able to become the man who was needed in these times.
                          The last part of the document was coded the most, but since it was a very familiar system with the other two parts, Aly and Lo Tho were finally able to crack the secrets. They discovered a very detailed plan of the whole operation about the Dragon’s Hoard, which gave hints, that at some point even the murder of Aly’s uncle was thought about, since Jothos’ friends did not trust him (Aly could of course not withstand the chance to inform and friendly mock her uncle about that). The plotters (or at least Jothos) grow increasingly worried about the behaviour of King Aerys and deeply mourned the death of Rhaegar Targaryan. While other participants were not called by their real name, the information about a certain “Spider” who was involved was interesting. This information could harm Varys still today, since surely no new king would forgive that he never told what he knew about the lost treasure…
                          It seems that both ships were loaded with treasure, but Kael’s ship had much less on board – if they were hunted, his ship should have bought the real treasure-ship time. So the worrying question remained if Kael knows much about the fate of the treasure ship.
                          Anyway, the next step was all too clear – to travel to Braavos, find and “convince” Kael Stormsword to share his secrets, maybe also securing that he could not tell them to others…

                          However, time stand not still while the documents were deciphered. While many main events will be explained in another part of this chronic, there were some events that should be recorded here.
                          Most of the local houses were able to either hold their ground despite the ebbs and tides of war (Dannett and Fallkirk) or even secure some smaller gains. The houses Aran, Weymouth and the Sept Eaglewood were able to increase both security of their lands and their wealth in a moderate way. The landed houses were less successful, but could hold their ground, and while Ser Gawan Blyth of Krayenhorn was wounded during his operations with Robb’s Army in the Westerlands, his troops stay intact and he recovered. Others were less lucky. On a foraging-operation in the Riverlands disaster struck, when the support-unit of house Blyth of Dragonport and their protection – a unit of Fallkirk-infantry – was ambushed by a force, which origin never became clear. It may have been Lannister-raiders, or simple bandits. The Fallkirk-soldiers managed to break free, but they were not able (or, as some claim, not willing) to help the Blyth-soldiers out. All waggons were lost, more than 20 Blyth-men were killed, and even more wounded, some of them maimed for life. Since the unit was relatively “green” and never designed for combat and higher losses, the officers were not able to hold the majority of their men together and the unit was finally dissolved.
                          That was a hard blow for house Blyth of Dragonport. It cost men, money and power, while the Fallkirk were able to compensate their losses, even increase the quality of their unit due to the gained experience. Of course it increased the suspicion of Gard and others towards house Fallkirks, and worsened his already low opinion about the qualities of Roose Bolton as an army commander. Gard swear to himself he would increase his efforts to counter the gain of influence by the rival house – and he minimized the support for house Fallkirks newest branch in the borderlands (at least as long as he got not reward for sending his men).
                          The loss of the unit (which meant that some families needed support) and the preparations for the further hunt after the Dragon’s Hoard and other reasons did eat up all wealth house Blyth was able to gather due to taxes and trade, and while their coffers were not empty yet, the danger was becoming ever more likely. A few more struck from bad luck, and that may have serious consequences. On the plus-side house Blyth of Dragonport finished the re-arming program of their units which were present. They had agreed with house Dannett that for better weapons for their soldiers, the huge debt of the Dannetts would be written off. So now many of the remaining units – the local garrison, both light and heavy cavalry and the personal guard – had become very dangerous foes. Sadly enough a upgrade which may come in handy soon…

                          As soon as it becomes obvious that Braavos might be the next target, Aly (and Torgon) started carefully (but concealed) preparations for a further expedition. This of course also included the difficult task to convince Aly’s brother Gard to let his little sister AGAIN loose – given the fact that both journey and very likely also the planned “operation” at Braavos would be not without risk and that such adventures were surely nothing appropriate for a young lady. However as before Aly could talk her brother into submission and gain money and permission to start the preparations.
                          The instruments for navigation of the Krajer were improved, the ship step by step was made ready for longer travel across the open sea, additional secrets places to hide some cargo and maybe a few people were prepared, and the crew of the ship trained again and again together (and was also vetted for potential people with weak loyalty).
                          Aly was sure that Falae may be a useful support on the journey, but did not trust her fully (at least for now), so she did not inform her so far. But she was very generous towards Falae, as towards Torgon and in parts towards the men of the crew, rewarding all for her service. She also asked Falae about her plans concerning Torgon. Aly had no high opinion of the ability of her personal captain and henchman to resist manipulation by a pretty woman, but she thought he might of potential future use if she could marry him off to a local noble girl, if he gained some reputation first. She did not want to lose him (or Falae) in the way she lost her last spy-apprentice (who got pregnant and put Aly under pressure to deal with the consequences). Falae joked about Torgon being the love of her life, but seem not to have far-reaching plans, which was good enough for Aly so far.


                          • #73
                            Inherited Problems I

                            While most of the nobles who had visited Dragonport for the wedding between Torrhen Fallkirk and Elyssa Arran had left, some did choose to delay their departure:

                            Jeyne Sherridan stayed because of her financial interest (probably she also was gathering information concerning the local trade opportunities and the pirates in the Bite for House Manderly). Gregory Sherridan (after the death of his brother, Jeyne’s husband, now heir of house Sherridan) also stayed, perhaps to aid her or because he wanted to increase his military expertise. Blyth of Dragonport was very active in anti-piracy measures and its heavy armed cavalry and personal guard was superior to most forces other minor houses in the area could muster. He also had to prepare a smaller ship that Dragonport was willing to lend to his liege lord Wyman Manderly for transports along the vital route White Harbour-Dragonport. Most probably he was also in search for a lucrative bride, because his attempt to woo Tanda Darcy (heiress of her house and as beautiful as she was rich) had failed completely. Thanks to the local shortage of young noble males (many had gone to war) his chances were probably not bad. Indeed two young unwed ladies – Darya Westwood and Seyna Borrell – also stayed in town. But both were not interested in Gregory (in fact Darya seemed to despise the idea of marriage in general). He also was not very popular among the male members of the Dragonport household – partly out of jealousy or rivalry, partly because of his brash and arrogant behavior.

                            Instead of looking for a groom, Darya and Seyna seem to have more…unworldly ambitions. They were interested in Elen ‘Feyseye’, the local healer and ‘wise women’ of Dragonport, who had a reputation for prophetic dreams, strange foretelling’s and even ‘real’ witchcraft abilities. Together with Alyanna Blyth (who was also interested in magic) and the exotic Lo Tho, they formed a small band, discussing and speculating about such lofty things like omens, witchcraft and the arcane lore. However their gatherings were not well received by everyone. More rational characters saw their interests as a waste of time. And others even feared and despised these ‘studies’ as heretic and dangerous. And for ‘good’ noble maids, mingling with such questionable creatures like a ‘mountain witch’ (Elen) or a ‘dubious charlatan from gods-know-where’ (Lo Tho) was certainly not the proper past time activity. Luckily for them, most authority figures were busy with more urgent matters.

                            Shortly after Alyannas return from her journey to Dragonstone, Lord Gard gathered his family and closest allies to discuss alarming (at least in his view) news from the East: The rumors concerning Daenerys Targaryen’s death had been false. Recently she had reappeared in Qarth – with two or more young dragons on her side. Considering the question, how many soldiers she had, the accounts did differ.
                            Not everyone saw this as a potential danger like lord Gard. The lord himself was very uncertain about this dragon-thing – it might be that they were just wyverns – but even the rumor that the last Targaryan HAD dragons could create unrest.
                            His uncle Erik (who had fought for the Targaryen in the War of the Usurper) stated out, that Qarth was more than half of the world away – and that the last dragon had died more than hundred years ago. It seemed therefore very unlikely that the news were true. And even if they were – Daenerys had no real army, no fleet and probably no money. And even IF she might succeed in circling half the globe and gathering the means to land in Westeros (what Erik highly doubted), she certainly would never land in the Bite. Therefore most probably she would be the problem of King Joeffrey – sworn enemy of ‘our’ king Robb Stark. However, as Gard mentioned, Daenerys brother Rhaegar was slain by Robb’s father, and the whole rebellion started because of a Stark, so the Stark may be on Dannys ‘list’. But this argument did not convince Erik.
                            Paedrig on the other hand had even to conceal his excitement, because he not-so-secretly admired house Targaryen. And the story of the last Targaryen princess, reappearing with living DRAGONS for god’s sake – was almost too good to be true. Others were of course less enthusiastic but there were more closer and urgent problems…

                            Ser Aemon Warrent, the young knight who had recently showed up, claiming to be the legitimate son of late Aemon Blyth of Krayenhorn (Paedrigs uncle and Ser Gawans older brother), had gone to Krayenhorn. Supposedly he wanted to learn more about his heritage and the home of his late father. Neither Erik nor Paedrig (and also not Aemons step-aunt Anya) did trust Aemon. Paedrig did his best to visit Krayenhorn as often as possible He wanted to keep an eye on Aemon. And even more important for him, he wanted to meet his two year older step-aunt, with which he had started a secret affair a few month ago. However his many duties limited his visit opportunities and to find some private moments with Anya was even more difficult.
                            For the moment, Aemon acted like a good guest. With his perfect manners, friendly curiosity concerning the area and the history of his family and his knightly appearance and qualities, he quickly found admirers. This of course even increased Anyas and Paedrigs suspicions. Ornim (the Maester of Krayenhorn) and Waters (Master of Arms of Krayenhorn) treated Aemon with caution, because they were not certain how to deal with the situation – especially since more and more people seem to come to the conclusion that Aemon might be a good heir to Ser Gawan, who still had no son or daughter despite being in his forties...
                            Paedrig and Aemon’s relationship remained cautious, because Paedrig’s feelings toward his cousin (?) were mixed. The two young knights sparred and competed, but no blood was spilled. While Paedrig was superior in close combat, Aemon was much better with the lance. Many people realized that both young men looked very alike, an observation which supported Aemon’s heritage claims.
                            A visit by Lord Edwyn Fallkirk (who claimed he was on his way to the new established domain at Sevenhill, which was now under the command of his younger brother Torrhen) fueled Paedrigs suspicions. Edwyn was accompanied by his sister Rhaenyra. And like before, Aemon seem to be very fond of the young girl (which was pretty but not a stunning beauty). That Edwyn – a harsh man with high ambitions for his family – accepted Aemons interest in his sister seemed strange, because a hedge knight was certainly not a good match for a girl from a noble house. It seemed that Edwyn saw some potential in Aemon – perhaps he already envisioned him as the heir of Krayenhorn. In this case, a marriage with Rhaenyra would certainly strengthen the position of house Fallkirk and give them easy access to a supply of horses (until now house Fallkirk lacked any cavalry). Perhaps it even had the potential to cut the two centuries old ties between the Blyth of Dragonport and the Blyth of Krayenhorn…
                            Towards Paedrig and Lady Anya, Lord Fallkirk showed his normal unfriendly behavior. It was not a very amiable atmosphere, especially because Lady Anya did not hide her own resentments towards Lord Fallkirk.
                            Although Paedrig’s affair with Anya Blyth remained secret (at least for now) his regularly visits to Krayenhorn got noticed – and not positively. The young knight had many responsibilities and – fueled by his recent quick career and his bastard heritage – a significant number of rivals.

                            In the meantime, Erik Blyth was busy with management duties, regularly meeting with the city council of Dragonport. However he also kept an eye on the situation at Krayenhorn, because he also did not trust Aemon and speculated that his claims were a scheme or intrigue – perhaps initiated by house Fallkirk. He even went to septrie Eaglewood, were Sylas, the wandering septon who supported and confirmed Aemon’s claims, stayed at the moment. The septon had integrated well into the daily life at Eaglewood. Septa Jonelle however was a little bit reluctant towards Sylas, who had become very popular among the younger brothers of the faith – perhaps a little bit TOO popular for septa Jonelle’s liking. Her co-septon was ailing and she probably saw the charismatic Sylas as a man who might have career ambitions. Although Erik repeatedly tried to corner the septon, Sylas skillfully evaded any prolonged conversation – which of course fueled Eriks suspicions. At least he learned that Sylas claimed to be from the famous septrie Shattered Rock, which was seated near the River Road, maybe one day of travel away from the Kingsroad, halfway to the position of the castle Mountain’s Reach. This territory was owned by house Tullison, a minor house with family ties with house Tully, allegedly founded by a Tully-bastard. Shattered Rock was said to be built on an ancient holy place of the First Men and famous for its library – and the fact that the septrie (at the moment lead by Septon Ranulph) stayed always neutral, offering asylum to anyone in need. When Erik returned from his trip, he immediately sent a letter to Shattered Rock, asking for information about Sylas past. However given the distance and current war situation it was questionable if his request will ever reach Shattered Rock…

                            One day, Dennis Lumber (head of the garrison of Dragonport) informed Erik and Paedrig, that he had gathered information about the hideout of a small band of criminals which were marauding along the border between house Dannett and house Blyth of Dragonport. To ensure law and order, swift actions were needed. However Erik failed to convince Lord Adham Dannett to start a joint operation – perhaps Eriks letter was too patronizing for the young lord? This complicated the operation, but Paedrig decided that a swift attack would be the best option. The almost twenty men he gathered were certainly enough to wipe out any outlaw band. Paedrig was accompanied by Ser Gregory Sherridan, although the young knights did still not get along very well. The party marched at night, so that they could surprise the bandits with an attack at dawn – a tactic, Paedrig had used some month ago against rebellious peasants with great success. Although the bandits tried to take a stand, they were surprised and outnumbered by two to one and had no real chance. While three of them were captured and three others slain (with Paedrig killing their commander), three or four outlaws escaped across the border into Dannett-land. The bandits were surprisingly well armed – probably deserters from the war or scattered fighters from the attack on Dragonport a few month ago? They did not have much information about other bandits in the area. The dead outlaws were put on display on the gallows of Dragonport as a warning to everyone who might consider breaking the law. The prisoners were sent to the dungeon and should go to the Wall. Lord Gard was no friend of the death penalty (although he executed more men than most of his successors) and a strong supporter of the Night Watch. During the last two years, Gard had sent several dozen men and a lot of money to the Wall. Some were already joking, that the pirates, rebels and outlaws, Gard and his followers had sent to the wall, were either enough to start a rebellion in the Night Watch – or to reestablish several of the abandoned Night Watch castles along the Wall…

                            However Lord Gard also had to deal with more mundane tasks. Winter was coming and to ensure a constant flow of food and trade goods, Lord Gard was considering investing in whaling, although this would demand a lot of money and was a dangerous and daring business. But given the war costs and other enterprises (new warehouses, the strengthening of the fishing business, a library for castle Dragonport etc.), this investment had to wait.

                            Assisted by his uncle Erik, Lord Gard was also still brokering the deal with house Frey concerning the demanded additional reinforcements for the war in the South. He (and house Dannett, which should participate greatly) wanted some gratifications for their extra efforts. In the end the negotiations were a success. In exchange for a combined force two units of cavalry, one unit archers and supplies, house Blyth should inherit Durrains Forrest (a momentarily unclaimed domain north of the Trident, plagued by bandits, deserters and outlaws). Alyanna immediately activated her spy network to gather information about the area.
                            House Dannett should get some additional regalia for their new domain Stony Oak (a strip land along the Kingsroad that Dannett- and Blyth troops had conquered from House Lugus some month ago).

                            The risks of war became obvious, when grim news arrived from the south. The support unit of house Blyth of Dragonport, which had marched in Roose Boltons army, had been obliterated in an ambush. That the Fallkirk troops, who were accompanying Lord Gards men on the forage operation, had managed to break free, fueled Gards distrust towards the neighboring house, especially since the surviving commander of the support unit sent some harsh words concerning the Fallkirk men. Now more than twenty men were dead, others maimed, wounded or missing and all wagons and equipment of the unit was lost. As a consequence, Lord Gard reduced his support for the new founded borderland domain of Torrhen Fallkirk. Also his (and many of his officers) opinion about Roose Boltons military prowess decreased even further.

                            Other Messages were even more troubling: the western coast of the North was ravaged by massive Ironmen raids. Had house Greyjoy decided to side themselves with the Lannisters or to play their own game? Or was this a revolt by some Ironmen houses against Greyjoy and their alliance with the North? And in the inland of the North, Ramsey Snow, bastard of Roose Bolton, had kidnapped Lady Hornwood and forced her to ‘marry’ him, which had resulted in her death only a few days or weeks later. Most of the local nobles including the members of the Blyth family were appalled by this gruesome story. Paedrig Rivers was especially furious, realizing immediately, that Ramsey Snow deeds would again fuel all the old prejudices against bastards.
                            And beside the moral aspect of this crime, there were of course the political implications. While Robb Stark was raiding the Westlands, his house seemed unable to protect the borders of its mainland or to keep its vassals in line. House Manderly (with which Dragonport had close trade ties and cooperated in anti-piracy operations) was sending troops into Hornwood territory (the late Lady Hornwood was a born Manderly), while Ramsey Snow (who had been raised by his father Roose at the Dreadfort) had Bolton men under his command. A war between two major houses of the North seemed all too possibly, while the Ironmen ravaged the coasts – and just now house Blyth of Dragonport should sent reinforcements to Roose Boltons army in the South…
                            Paedrig mostly stayed out of this strategic discussion, which were a little bit above his head. Erik Blyth warned his nephew Gard, that house Blyth should do its best to not get directly involved. However he saw also some potential in this situation, to increase the relationship with house Manderly (White Harbor was a major trade partner for Dragonport). After all – with the western coast on fire, trade goods and reinforcements to the South would now mostly flow via White Harbor and Dragonport…
                            Erik also saw the opportunity to strengthen the bonds with some of the Manderly allies and vassals – especially house Flint of Widows Watch. The recently widowed Lady Flint had shown interest for a marriage between her son (who was with Robb Stark’s army at the moment) and Alyanna Blyth. Allthough house Flint was not as prominent as house Manderly, Bolton or Karstark, it was one of the major houses of the North. And the (still relatively young and – as her recently born daughter proofed – fertile) Lady Flint was an interesting potential bride for Erik himself. For this project, Erik was willing to travel to Widows Watch, although he hated sea voyages. He also suggested that gifts and investing a substantial amount of money at Widows Watch would further increase the chances. Lord Gard agreed concerning the suggested gifts (a castle forged brigantine for Alyannas potential groom and some jewelry and costly textiles for Lady Flint) but halved down the sum, Erik suggested as investment. The war and ambitious infrastructural projects had significantly reduced the financial reserves of house Blyth. Erik began to gather additional information about Widows Watch and prepared his travel to the North but with some hesitations – as mentioned he hated the sea…

                            Other marriage projects were also discussed to increase the power of house Blyth and decrease the power of its rivals. While Paedrig had dodged all suggestions by his Lord Gard and Lady Alyanna concerning potential brides, perhaps Turgon would be easier to handle? He was noble born (although from the Iron Isles and only son of a salt wife), very loyal and a capable officer. Perhaps he could be used to strengthen the ties to house Sunstone, who had two unwed daughters (one of them daughter of a mountain clan chief, which seem fitting for an Ironman)? This might hinder the attempts of house Fallkirk to wed into the Sunstone family.
                            Also women like Jeyne Sherridan (a young noble widow with a prospering trade income) or Darya Westwood (heiress of her landed father) were promising options. Lord Gard, his wife Meera, Gards uncle Erik and Gards sister Alyanna discussed these possibilities very practically, with not too much consideration concerning the preferences of the potential bride or groom, but so far did not come to a conclusion. Erik however opted more for a connection with the North, because house Sunstone was relatively poor.

                            Notwithstanding the problems in the North, the march-preparations for the reinforcements for Roose Bolton were intensified. Too many major houses (House Frey, House Bolton – and of course King Robb) were involved and too much could be gained in exchange for these men…
                            House Dannett should send 20 armored riders and 100 horsed archers, while House Blyth would send 20 men of light cavalry, some scouts and most of the supply material. It was decided that the expedition should carry as much provisions as possible. This would slow down the march but made the expedition more independent from gathering provisions alongside the way – and by this should ensure that men and horses will arrive in good shape. Altogether the expedition would be 200 men strong (plus several women), with a dozen wagons and more than 200 horses. Although house Dannett did send more men, Paedrig Rivers should take the command of the expedition, with Edan Ward, Master of Arms of house Dannett, as second in command. Paedrig had recently earned some experiences and reputation in the war in the Riverlands. He also was (in contrast to Ward) knighted – and house Dannett was financially dependent to house Blyth of Dragonport…
                            The scout squad should be commanded by Aeryn Hunter. Jana, a young woman from the borderlands and living with Aeryn, would act as the healer of the expedition.
                            The troops should march to the Rubyfurt. Than Paedrig should decide what to do next, depending where Roose Boltons army would be at this moment. The not too few critics of Roose Bolton (including Paedrig) joked that his army should be easy to find, because given his slow operation speed, the Northern army probably would not make any big movements…
                            If possible, Paedrig should also make a quick detour to the septrie Shattered Rock, to gather information about septon Sylas. Like Paedrig, Gard had his own reasons to keep an eye on the whole ‘the unknown heir’-story. Before Aemon Warren had showed up with his dubious heritage story, it had seemed very likely that Ser Gawan would name his former squire Gard as his heir or – f. e. if Gawan died in the war – it would be in Gards hand to find a suitable successor to the man who knighted and housed him. And last (but supposedly not least) Gard also mentioned that he wanted to rule out the possibility that Ser Gawan became victim of a dark scheme. And also like Paedrig and Eric, Gard feared an increase of power for house Fallkirk.

                            Two weeks before the planned departure, Erik got a visit by Torgon, who had gotten a job offer as bodyguard for a merchantman who wanted to travel to septrie Eaglewood (Torgon often used his free times for side jobs, because he was indebted to his former captain Ygrit). However something about this ‘merchant’ seemed odd and Torgon was speculating that this might be a trick to lure him away from Dragonport. After all, he was involved in the secret hunt after the lost Targaryen treasure. Kidnapping Torgon would be a perfect opportunity for any interested party to gather information…
                            Erik was a skeptical, but he informed Lord Gard. It was decided that Torgon should accept the job, but should be secretly shadowed by two scouts, who could alarm Paedrig and a few of his riders, who would be following out of sight. To simply deny the job offer or grab the ‘merchant’ for interrogation would have been a safer option. But Gard and the other wanted to know if this whole thing was indeed a trap and who was behind – and Lord Gard did not want to incarcerate a probably innocent man just because of a hunch.
                            In the end the plan was only half successful: It was indeed a trap for Torgon, but the shadowing scouts were detected and so the whole thing turned messy. Turgon and one of the scouts were badly wounded, two attackers killed, two other and the ‘merchant’ captured – but the commander of the ambush party escaped. One of the captured attackers died on the way back to Dragonport, so the gallows of Dragonport now had three new ‘fruits’ on display.
                            Paedrig handled the interrogation of the prisoners. It turned out that the head of the ambush party (and the man who hired the false merchant) was an Ironmen mercenary, who had been recruited for the Dragonport troops during the recent tourney – by Paedrig himself, who had been impressed by the fighting abilities of the man. Obviously the man – who was long gone when his identity was revealed – was a headhunter. His target had been Turgon, but probably not because of the Targaryen treasure, house Blyth was searching for, but because of Turgons sordid family history, which included the killing of one of his half-brothers and the maiming of another. While the ‘merchant’ got away with flogging, branding and confiscation of almost all of his meager properties, his comrade, who had attacked members of the Blyth troops, was sentenced to forced labor. As compensation and apology for the fact that Paedrig had unknowingly allowed the headhunter to became a member of the Dragonport troops, Paedrig gave Turgon a castle forged battle-axe he had earned in a fight some time ago. Turgon however seem to hold now grudge against the young knight.

                            Than the time for the departure of the reinforcements for Roose Boltons army had come. It was a somber departure – the near future seemed grim for King Robb, with all the turmoil and raids in the North, the losses and infighting of the Baratheons and Roose Boltons rather indecisive operations in the central Riverlands…
                            Paedrigs little army marched in good order: the scouts and light cavalry protected the head, rear and flanks of the trek, with the heavy cavalry, the impedimenta and the archers in the main column. Paedrig and his officers kept strict discipline, but for now the tempo was moderate and no imminent danger in sight – after all they were still in friendly territory.
                            It came to no one’s surprise that Edan Ward, Master of Arms of house Dannett and second in command of the expedition, had some resentment toward his much younger commander, but Paedrig was able to clear the air a little bit.

                            However soon the traces of war became obvious – there were less able bodied men on the fields and also draught animals seem to be scare. Women, who now often had to do the job of men, followed the marching column with weary eyes and tried to keep distance to the soldiers. Refugees were a common view on the Kingsroad. Hanged people and decaying corpses beside the street spoke volume about the dire security situation – and the harsh means with which the local lords tried to ensure law and order. Sometimes also prisoners of war could be seen, who had not been able to pay ransom or were not integrated in the armies of King Robb. They worked under strict surveillance and many peasants treated the former enemies with disgust, resentment, even hatred. Also from time to time, the troops passed ‘silent columns’ – groups of Silent Sisters and their aides, bringing fallen nobles home.
                            News from the South was confusing. No one seemed to know where the two main armies in the central Riverlands – Roose Bolton respectively Tywin Lannister – were heading. Only one thing was clear – the lands south of the Trident had become one of the Seven Hells: ravaged by Lannister troops (and probably also by the soldiers of Roose Bolton), deserters, bandits and desperate peasants and refugees. It was also said that Berric Dondarrion and his men were still operating south of the Trident – despite several stories of Dondarrions death. There were even rumors about wolf packs plaguing the Riverlands – Paedrigs half-grown dire wolf ‘Shadow’ did get not many friendly views…
                            Of course the war also created opportunities for some: Paedrig heard that house Barnell (sworn to house Stark and seated near the Rubyfurt and Durrains Forrest) should get Market Town, which had been owned by house Barratheon before. Although the small town at the Kingsroad, which Paedrig had visited a few times, had suffered losses and damages by Lannister troops, it was still a very lucrative price. Even house Blyth had toyed with the idea to demand Market Town in exchange for their additional reinforcements. However in the end Lord Gard and his uncle Erik had decided to abandon this idea – the town was too contested and such a good catch, that they probably would have to send much more men into the South in exchange. Now another house had made his move – and if house Blyth would ever have the means and men to actually claim Durrains Forrest, they now would have a new and obviously ambitious neighbor…

                            Along the Kingsroad, prices for bread and beer for the men and the fodder for the animals were high – while the quality was often very poor. In fact on at least one occasion, the food was spoiled, which enraged the soldiers. However Paedrig did not want any reprisal actions (they were still on the territory of vassals of Lord Frey and he wanted no problems with the Twins), so he calmed down his men as best as he could, send his scouts to hunt for meat and spend extra money to kept his men fed.

                            A few days later, the troops reached Stony Oak, a strip of land now belonging to house Dannett. It had been conquered by Lord Adham Dannett and Paedrig Rivers only a few months ago from the Westland house Lugus, with which both houses had an ongoing feud after Orten Lugus had tried to trick Adhams sister into marrying him, almost murdered Adham Dannett with poison while using house Blyth as a scapegoat. Jon Buckwell, the steward for Stony Oak, had managed the land very well and ensured law and order as good as possible with his small garrison – but given the dire circumstances and the damages and losses by the war, there was still much to be done. F. e. the road inn at the Kingsroad, which had created a substantial amount of the income of Stony Oak, was still in repair. Paedrig looked around with mixed feelings – he once had ambitions to become the steward of Stony Oak himself…

                            Buckwell warned Paedrig that the Mountain clans had become more and more aggressive (and better armed) in recent months. Local houses like House Tullison had not been able repel their raids, probably because many local lords and their best troops were fighting in the south. As a result, the clans now endangered any movement along the Kingsroad. The nearby River Road was de facto impassable, cutting the connection between house Marsten (in the Vale), house Tullison (on the western flanks of the Mountains of the Moon) and the Kingsroad. These were troubling messages for Paedrig, who still wanted to get information concerning septon Sylas at the septrie Shattered Rock – which was seated by the River Road. And although 150 armed men were certainly too many for most raiding parties, Paedrig would have been more confident if he had some infantry as a ‘backbone’ for his archers. Cavalry and archers were deadly in an attack – but vulnerable in difficult terrain or in case of an ambush. The young knight ordered his men on full alert. And for the night, the wagon should form a circle, with always a quarter of the 150 soldiers on guard duty.

                            During the next night, while the expedition were resting near a small village, Paedrig was woken up by turmoil and howling. It turned out, that his young dire wolf ‘Shadow’ had gone astray, broken into a sheep barn and killed a sheep. The local peasants were furious, calling for the blood of the perpetrator – but stayed back when Paedrig threatened to cut off any hand who dared to touch ‘Shadow’. Of course he did know that the peasants rage was not unjustified and so he paid seven silver stags as compensation, much more than the normal price for a sheep. The meat of the dead sheep was used for Paedrigs soldiers and the young knight had some serious words with his pet.
                            The next day proofed that Paedrigs security measures were not exaggerated, when the troops met a column of refugees and tattered soldiers with the blazon of house Manderly. The men had rested in a small village near the Kingsroad on their march southward, when they came under attack by mountain raiders. They had been able to fight their way out, but with great losses. The village had been burned down, many young women had been kidnapped and the clan raiders had retreated unhindered towards the Mountains of the Moon. Paedrig helped the survivors by distributing food. The attack had happened a few days ago, so it was fruitless to follow the raiders. According to the information he also got, it seemed that at least two of the local clans, the Rock Chewers and the Black Goats, had joined forces.

                            Notwithstanding this, Paedrig was still determent to go to septrie Shattered Rock – probably because he had a personal interest in the information he might find there about septon Sylas (and perhaps his protégé Aemon?). However he did not wanted to delay the march to the South or stay with the whole column in this area for long (the impedimenta and the great number of horses would be a very promising target for raiders). So he decided to let most of the column (the archers, the heavy cavalry, half of the scouts and the impedimenta – including most of the money, Gard had handed him over) march on under the command of Warren, while Paedrig, the light cavalry and some of the scouts should make a quick detour to Shattered Rock. Silently he asked himself if this was not a little bit careless – or perhaps also motivated by his reluctance to fight under the command of Roose Bolton. The whole war between the great houses made no real sense to Paedrig, while he hedged a grudge against the mountain clans, since they had gravely wounded him and killed the knight Paedrig had served as a squire some years ago.

                            The small expedition rode in battle formation, passing several raided huts. They reached Shattered Rock in half a day. However they came too late. The septrie had been looted, partially burned and abandoned. There were some corpses, while others and slain cattle animals had been hung at a nearby stone circle by the attackers. But all in all the number of victims seem to be relatively low. Obviously some of brothers had fight their way out, while the attacking mountain raiders had retreated into another direction. Paedrig ordered to bury the dead and built a night camp in the abandoned septrie. The next day he wanted to follow the tracks of the surviving priests…


                            • #74
                              Inherited Problems II

                              The night in the abandoned septrie was not very comfy for the men who slept in two shifts – if they could sleep at all, given the looming danger and the grim fate of some of the former inhabitants. But no real danger surfaced during the night and early the next morning the troops started their trek towards Castle Mountain Reach, seat of house Tullison, and the probable destination of the surviving monks.
                              The Riverroad was relatively narrow and partially in real bad shape. Only three to four men could ride side by side and the surrounding terrain was very rocky and steep - perfect for an ambush but certainly not suited for cavalry maneuvers. This of course increased Paedrig’s tension. He ordered his few scouts to scan the area in front of the column, while the soldiers did ride in full armor and weapons ready.

                              A few hours later, numerous crows and birds of prey were sighted, circling over the road. Paedrig’s men soon faced a disturbing sight: two burned carts and several dead men - slain or tortured to death – scattered along the road. The dead were probably peasants or miners who had tried to flee to Mountains Reach. There was neither the time nor the tools to burry or burn the dead and Paedrig was not willing to risk the lives of his men – so after some quick prays, the column continued the march.

                              To their great relief, the men reached the valley of Mountains Reach without any hostile contacts. Castle Mountains Reach was quite a view – much larger and better fortified than Castle Dragonport, with several big towers, suited on the flanks of a seemingly unclimbable mountain. The small village Lord’s View near the castle was full of refugees – mostly peasants and miners. The atmosphere was tense, with many people locking with great expectations at Paedrig’s men (probably hoping that more soldiers were coming behind). However although the village and the castle were on high alert, it was obvious that the number of guards was small – and many of them were only peasant levies. In contrast to this, the monks of Septrie Shattered Rock, who had in fact escaped to Mountains Reach, seem to be much more able and battle experienced…

                              At the castle, Paedrig was greeted by the blue-eyed and black-haired Lady Yve Tullison (who was roughly Paedrigs age and did rule for her absent brother and her ill mother), her Maester Haelis (a short, lanky, young men) and Ser Ulbert Hite, the battle-hardened commander of the remaining troops of house Tullison. Lady Yve invited Paedrig and his men to stay, an offer he accepted. The troops got quarters and Paedrig ordered them to keep strict discipline and stay on high alert. He only had little time to clean himself a little bit, than it was time to meet the Lady and her entourage to discuss the situation.

                              Lady Yve did not hide the fact that she was disappointed by the small number of Paedrig’s men. She had expected (and demanded) far more for the fight against the increasing raids of the local mountain clans, but her letters obviously had been ignored at Riverrun. Although Paedrig had orders to march to the South and mostly had come to Mountains Reach because of his business at Septrie Shattered Rocks (the surviving members of the septrie had fled to Mountains Reach), he reluctantly agreed to help Lady Yve. After all, securing the borders of the Riverlands was certainly in the interest of house Tully and Frey, right? And (still a young knight with lofty ideals) Paedrig also do not want to abandon a young lady with far too few soldiers to the more then questionable mercy of her mountain ‘neighbors’.

                              After the meeting, Paedrig visited the small sept of the castle. There he prayed to the Warrior (for the coming fights) and to the Maid (for his secret love fare away). He was not the only one who searched for guidance by the goods. The sept had many visitors, mostly frightened civilians. Septon Weyls, a bald, thick man, did his best to encourage the people.
                              Another sept-visitor was Septon Ranulf from Shattered Rock, a man in his middle ages, hardy and a little bit harsh, who looked more like a soldier than a man of the Faith. Paedrig discussed with him the current situation, asking if his men could support the fight against the wildlings. Ranulf was reluctant to do more than helping to protect Mountains Reach. He wanted support for rebuilding his septrie from Lady Yve in exchange for a more active combat role – a demand, Paedrig agreed to support. Ranulf confirmed that most of his monks were in fact former soldier. However Paedrig secretly speculated that there might be more to them – perhaps Ranulf secretly tried to keep the Faith Militant of the past alive? Anyway these men would be a valuable asset…

                              The evening meal was tense, given the looming thread. There were Lady Yve (her ill mother stayed in her quarters), Ser Hite, the Maester of the castle, the two Septon and also a beautiful Lady in her early twentieth. This was Lady Gwyneth Marsten, who seemed to have a rather frosty relationship with Lady Yve. Another participant of the meal (and probably the least favorite) was Lord Brom Bartheld, a lanky and arrogant man. He tried to impress Lady Yve (who was not even half of his age), boasting about his deeds in the War of the Usurper. He even showed a ruby ring around, claiming that the gem was from Rhaegar Targaryens armour – a boast Paedrig reacted rather frosty too, because his father had died for the Targaryen prince in the same battle…
                              Paedrig told the others a little bit about his deeds and career (although he was not such a professional boaster like Lord Brom); however he did hide his bastard heritage. Lady Gwyneth Marsten questioned Paedrig about his father. Her father had also fought for the Targaryen and had left Westeros after the war – he had even almost the same name like Paedrigs father, whose name had been Micael. The good rapport between the two annoyed Lady Yve.

                              The most recent news from the South (via raven) was the violent hunger uprising in Kings Landing, which had cost numerous lives, including some nobles and even the High Septon and a knight of the Kingsguard. Not just the members of the Faith were deeply shocked that the mob did not show any kind of respect, neither for the Faith nor the crown.

                              However the most relevant and urgent topic was of course the thread by the mountain clans. There was no clear leading figure in the discussion which was partially really heated. Bartheld again boasted how he would handle the situation – especially if Lady Yve accepted his proposal – but he certainly did not have much military expertise. Lady Yve had some experiences in managing the domain but no martial skills. She set her hopes on the timely return of her brother, who had marched to the South with the cavalry and guerilla unit of house Tullison. Until then, she wanted to stay defensive. However, given the fact that Lord Tullison was with King Robbs army (who was operating in the Westlands at the moment), his return seemed unlikely…
                              Ser Hite wanted to strike out against the clans – an idea, Paedrig objected, at least at the moment: His cavalry might be good on flat terrain, but much less in the mountains - and the peasant levies were not even able to ‘defend a pot of piss’. His blunt words were not well received by Lady Yve.
                              Septon Ranulf rather ominously warned that a ‘dark force’ might be behind the enemy: Lightings had struck his Septrie right before the attack and he sensed an evil will which was directed against the holy place. There were even some reports that something strange had happened at the great monolith near the septrie. Although Paedig did take these words seriously, many other brushed them aside – the last reports about the ‘witches’ of the mountains were nearly as old as the Dance of the Dragons.
                              After Lady Yve promised some financial support for rebuilding Shattered Rock, Ranulf was willing to send his men into battle.
                              Lady Gwyneth Marsten (who had arrived at Mountains Reach to woe Lady Yves brother) argued that house Marsten could send reinforcement. Probably she was hoping that this would increase her chances to marry the lord of Mountains Reach. However her idea was not very enthusiastically received by Lady Yve…

                              Paedrig argued that EVERY possibility for reinforcements should be tried: a raven should be sent to the South with a message to the rest of his column, which was still on their way to the Trident. The men should turn around and march to Mountain’s Reach – hopefully arriving in a few days.
                              In addition, house Marsten should be asked for help. After all, it was in Marsten’s own interest to keep the mountain pass across the Mountains of the Moon open. However this message could not be sent by raven, because neither house Marsten nor their vassals had a Maester. Lady Gwyneth wanted to be part of the messenger party, claiming that only she could convince her aunt Lady Isobel Marsten to send troops.
                              Lady Yve was very reluctant – probably because of her frosty relationship with her want-to-be sister in law. But in the end Paedrig could convince her. As the commander of the best present unit (and commander of a crucial part of the planned reinforcements) and with his recent experiences in small scale warfare (in fact partly against some mountain clans), he had enough leverage to get his will. However Lady Yve did not hide her disapproval, which angered Paedrig, who was tired of all the useless infight. Everyone seemed to have personal gains and want some ‘extra profit’ out of the situation, while Paedrig risked his and his men life just out of a feeling of dutifulness…

                              After some consideration, Paedrig decided that only a small group should go to House Marsten – half a dozen men who were familiar with the area. And given the fact, that Lady Gwyneth Marsten wanted to be part of the group, Paedrig decided to go with them to ensure her save arrival. He was tempted to ask Lord Bartheld, the self-proclaimed hero to became a part of the group – but decided not to do so, fearing that Bartheld might actually say ‘Yes’.
                              Almost a day was spent to prepare the small expedition, who should be only lightly armed and armoured, but with the best available equipment for the terrain (f. e. good shoes and cloth and enough cold rations for several days) and steadfast mounts. Paedrig made extra sure, that the equipment was neither shiny nor could create loud noises. Before he departed, he ordered his men (who remained at Mountains Reach) to be extra cautious until the reinforcements arrive and to stay out of rocky terrain until then.
                              He also used the time to question Septon Ranulf about Septon Silas, who had claimed to have come from Shattered Rock and was now supporting the claims of Paedrigs supposed cousin back at Krayenhorn. However Ranulf only confirmed that Silas was from Shattered Rock but was rather evasive concerning details. This of course fueled Paedrigs suspicions but his investigation had to wait.

                              Fearing that hostile scouts might operate around Mountain’s Reach, the small party departed after dark and with no torches or lanterns lit. Although the first part of the journey was through the (relatively) flat, cultivated valley, marching was slow and not easy. This did not change after dawn, because now the group had to cross the steep, rocky terrain of the Mountains of the Moon under the constant thread of an attack. In the evening the small party set up a hidden camp (with no fire), because now the terrain was far too dangerous for a night march.

                              During the short breaks, Paedrig questioned Lady Gwyneth Marsten about her home house. Obviously the air between Lady Gwyneth and her aunt Lady Isobel was not so good. House Marsten only did have a limited number of armed men, but two bannerhouses. According to Gwyneth, her aunt was rather reluctant in the use of her men, so getting reinforcement might be challenging. So the young lady planed something dramatic, which would morally force her aunt to grant support…

                              The night was cold but at least uneventful. The next day, the group hoped to reach the castle of house Marsten.
                              However, only a few hours later, movement was spotted on the path and the group took cover. It was a small group of wildlings, marching along the Riverroad. While Paedrig had hoped to avoid contact, he had no luck, because the wildlings spotted his group and Paedrig immediately commanded to charge the enemy. Both sides did throw javelins, and Paedrigs men were able to bring down one wildling. Then it was time for close combat, with Paedrig promptly killing one of the enemies, who were now clearly outnumbered.
                              Realizing that one of the remaining wildlings tried to flee, Paedrig chased after him, fearing that he might try to alarm other wildlings. He was able to close in and overwhelm his opponent. But to his surprise, he then realized that the ‘he’ was in fact a ‘she’ – a young wildling woman, probably a little bit younger than Paedrig. Reluctant, Paedrig bound his captive and marched back. Silently he cursed his luck – if his captive would have been a man, killing him would still be an option to prevent slowing down the group. But killing a captured woman was something Paedrig did not even considered as a possibility.


                              • #75
                                Inherited Problems III

                                With his silent captive, Paedrig returned to his men, who had meanwhile finished of the remaining opponents. Paedrig ordered to hide the corpses because he did not want to alarm any other mountain claners who might also use the path. There was not much bounty from the killed enemies. Then the group traveled on. Luckily for Paedrig and his men, they did reach the boundaries of Marsten territory without any further encounters.
                                It was an almost bizarre difference between the dangerous, harsh and steep mountain terrain and the fertile hills and small dales of house Marsten, which seemed so peacefully and prospering. There were no sign of thread or danger – a strange feeling for Paedrig, after the dangers of the Mountains Road and the war-torn countryside of the Riverlands.
                                Without delays or problems, the small group reached the little town Hartsbridge and took quarter outside of the town. Since Lady Gwynneth did want to surprise her aunt Isobel with her plea for help (and by this pressure Lady Isobel), the group kept a low profile.
                                Paedrig ordered his men to stay behind with his captive while he and Lady Gwynneth tried to mobilize support for their cause. Her aunt Isobel was very pious, so Gwynneth wanted so ensure the support of the local faith. Before leaving his men, Paedrig gave strict order to stay low and wait. He also ordered them to not touch his captive.

                                Hartsbridge was small and unfortified but prospering. There were at least one mill and the city was surrounded by small hills full of whine and fruits – a beautiful and serene picture which slightly irritated the war-weary Paedrig. He also noticed that there were only few guards and they seemed rather lax.
                                The local sept was in good shape and even had a small school building for the children of Hartsbridge. Septon Aeryn was a middle aged man, thin but attractive, with piercing eyes. While Gwynneth tried to sway the septon, Paedrig assisted her, arguing with the thread, the hostile mountain clans represented for Hartsbridge and the surrounding villages.
                                Septa Eloise (who acted as castle septa for Lady Isobel), energetic, curious and in her thirties, could also be convinced – but she was very persistent in questioning Paedrig, even discovering Paedrigs bastard heritage.

                                Lady Gwynneth planned a rather dramatic appeal to her aunt; therefore it was necessary that she and Paedrig get into the castle unnoticed. Castle Hartshome was an impressive fortification – two rings of stonewalls, several towers and a massive keep – but the guards were not on high alert and so Gwynneth and Paedrig could slip in easily. The two had to stay for the night in the catacombs (although it was certainly not right for a young lady to do so).
                                Gwynneth told Paedrig some stories about her father who had been a knight in prince Rhaegars service – just like Paedrigs father. The two men (who also shared almost the same name) must have known each other – a strange coincidence… Paedrig stayed vigilant the whole night.

                                The next morning, Gwynneth and Paedrig sneaked into the castle sept. During the morning praying, Gwynneth had her big moment, throwing herself to the feet of her aunt Isobel, dramatically pleading for military support for house Tullison. Inwardly rolling his eyes about this drama, Paedrig bend his knee beside her and also pledged for help, as eloquently as he was able. It was quiet a scene, although Lady Isobel, a middle aged and still attractive woman with long blond hair, probably did not cherish it to be put under morally pressure in public. However she did not have much choice…
                                Lady Corinne, Isobels only living child and heiress of house Marsten, was fare more impressed. The young Lady (maybe a little bit over fourteen years old) promised to become quiet a view with her raven-black curls and piercing blue eyes. Silently Paedrig later wondered why the castle was not already surrounded by want-to-be-grooms for the young lady who seemed to be as charming as her lands were prospering. If he wasn’t a bastard and also already enamored to another women (his two year older step-aunt Anya), he certainly would have considered making a move…

                                After this rather theatrical scene it was time to talk business and so Lady Isobel and her advisors met with Paedrig to discuss the military options. Beside Ser Markus Elridge, Master of Arms of the castle, there was also Gareth Stone, the steward of the castle. As Paedrig later heard, he was probably a bastard-cousin or -brother of Lady Gwynneth and Lady Corrine (depending which of the Marsten brothers fathered him). The steward was an earnest man with copper-read hair, probably in his early thirties or late twentieth. He and Paedrig get along well, perhaps because Gareth seemed to be one of the few peoples, who did NOT have his private agenda in the whole ‘fighting the clans’-affair. And of course both men very likely shared the fate of being of noble but bastard heritage…

                                Ser Elridge stated out, that house Marsten did only have a garrison and an untrained cavalry unit – both not suited for mountain warfare. However, Marsten also had two bannerhouses: Ser Lyras and Ser Kriegar. The landed knights could muster trained infantry and scouts – troops which were fare more suited for an expedition against the clans. Of course they probably had to be convinced to participate…
                                And IF this succeeded it had also to be decided how to use the troops. An expedition into the mountains seemed dangerous. Although the mountain tribes were preparing for the coming winter, they were still an elusive target. Perhaps it would be more promising to lure them into a trap – f. e. with a faked trading convoy or by the simulated evacuation of one of the miner settlements?

                                Paedrig did also use the time to interrogate his prisoner, although the girl was much tougher than her age would suggest. And Paedrig was reluctant to use extreme measures…
                                He tried some verbal threads, put the girl into the catacombs, denying her light, food and water for 24 hours and promising good treatment for information, but he did not got much beside bragging about a woman named Tira from the Burned Men clan, who had inspired the local tribes to “take back their land from the flatlanders”. Silently he was a little impressed by the courage of the young she-warrior.

                                The next day, the two banner-knights of house Marsten arrived: Ser Lyras with his two sons and Ser Kellan Kriegar, a hardy warrior, still embittered by the dead of his son, who had been killed by the clans some time ago.
                                However surprisingly, Ser Lyras was fare more easily to win for the operation, while Ser Kriegar remained very reluctant. He seemed to hatch resentments towards Lady Isobel, because she had kept her own troops away from the fighting that did cost Kellan Kriegar his son. At least Kriegar wanted to get the command of the expedition for the mountain clans but his lacking patience seem not very well suited for a counter-guerilla operation. Over time it was possible to convince him to send at least some of his men.

                                In the end it was decided that 100 men should be sent to aid house Tullison: 50 scouts and the same number of infantry. Ser Marcus Elridge should command the men, accompanied by Ser Lyras son Ereg. Lady Gwynneth also wanted to return to house Tullison, probably hoping to bring forward her own project – her betrothal with the absent Lord Tullison…

                                Before the troops departed, Paedrig tried to ensure that the captive clan girl would be treated well (he also asked septon Aeryn and septa Eloise if they could do something). He was probably still too good hearted…

                                The marsh to Tullison land did cost two days but was uneventful. More than 100 fighters were probably too much for an ambush attempt. Paedrig did his best to keep the men in high alert, but it was not easy. Especially some of the experienced scouts seem reluctant to listen to the words of the young knight…