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(IC) Black Dragon Rising

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  • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

    Ser Vlad

    The innkeep delivers the horn of ale to the table with the Paege contingent, and answers as he returns to the bar. “I’ve got a few birds for roasting with onions and squash. I’ll roast a few more for your men. There’s four rooms left; yours for five silver stags each. The rest of your men can sleep in the stable or outdoors as they will, but I'll have a stag for each horse in the stable. Horses have a way of shitting on the floor more than men do, I find.” His price is not low, but not unreasonable either. Innkeeps have faced hard times, given the banditry plaguing the realm.

    Once you’ve concluded your business with the innkeep, the lordling calls out to you. “Ser Vladimir Kirov, is that you?”


    Ser Timon

    Ser Walton moves swiftly to carry out your orders, filling Lew the Outlaw’s squalling mouth with a strip of sail and marching him out to the deck. The miscreant does his best to scream out slanders, but the cabin door muffles them reasonably well, as does the gag. Out on the deck, the Longpalm is twisting a rope in his hands, throwing a length across the knot and catching it on the other side as he winds it around and around. Once satisfied, he tosses it over the main yardarm and secures the other end to the hull.

    The two crews and the Leyburn men stand silently to the side as Ser Walton forces the condemned to stand on a stool and fits the noose about his neck. After you give the command, Walton gives the stool a donkey kick and it scoots out from beneath Lew's scrambling feet and falls to its side. The outlaw twists in the wind for a few moments and then it’s over.

    DISREGARD: Soon enough you’re under way once again, cutting through the river. Around a bend, the other two branches of the Trident join yours, and the river swells to twice its former width. A dozen other boats are in sight, ranging in size from humble fisherman’s rowboats, to wide flatbottom barges, to even a Tully river galley, headed upriver with an iron-shod ram and a double bank of oars.

    Presently, Lord Harroway’s Town comes into view on the south bank, instantly recognizable for Harroway Tower, and the unplanned spread of huts, herd pens, and taller inns and warehouses. It’s said that the River Kings of old refused to charter a city at Harroway Town, thereby forbidding the lord of the town to lay out a grid of stone roads. Reedtown evaded this restriction, for Reedtown needs no true network of stone roads, but relies on canals and bridges instead. As a result, the Leyburn's town has always had a more predictable, orderly presentment than that of House Roote.

    Up ahead, the docks splay into the water like great wooden fingers. The dockman seated atop Crier’s Mast surveys the other docks from his perch, before booming out for you to approach the Fowl Dock.
    OOC: Did you want to have both boats come with you? I left this post ambiguous as to which boat you’re on. And who commands each boat?


    Quinton

    Ferret gulps, clearly not pleased with the idea of facing down a lord. Lords can be terrifying in their wroth, but having served at the elbow of several knights, you’ve learned the measure highborn chastisement, and how to endure it. You’ve never met Lord Roote, but you’ve like as not met his type. Perhaps he’ll be like Ser Garland Hobbs, crushed by his station and desperate, or like Ser Vlad, stern and tormented, or Septon Kyle, measured and unyielding.

    The miller mumbles something incomprehensible, his eyes half-lidded. He’s not in much of a state to be traveling anywhere under his own power.
    Last edited by Ser heretic; 09-06-2017, 03:23 PM.

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    • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

      Quinton

      Rolling his eyes slightly as the miller makes it known - whether that's what he intended to communicate or not - that he will not be able to assist them, Quinton focuses solely on Ferret. "We've got few options right now," he says, no sounding fond of the idea he's come up with, but maybe seeing it as the only reasonable alternative. "We can go back home and both of us get a beating for getting into this situation," Quinton explains to Ferret. "Or we can try and fix it and /maybe/ only getting a bating when we return home," he then adds, a bittersweet smirk on his face. At this point, it seems Quinton is just trying to minimize the negative repercussions recent events could have for them. "We'll ride for the tower - don't stop for anything or anyone. We'll demand to see Lord Roote and explain he's got counterfeiters among him. If the subject of the betting hall comes up, let me explain - alright?"

      Only once does he have Ferret's agreement to the plan does Quinton then gather himself and leave the mill and the miller to wallow in idleness. If the miller has a spare horse outside, perhaps figuring he's owed the lending of the horse, Quinton will secure it for Ferret to ride so that his own horse isn't overburdened with their weight again.

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      • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

        Vlad looks at the innkeeper as he lists his prices. "I'll take the 4 rooms off of your hands. Thank you for accommodating us. I'll let my men know about the sleeping arrangements."

        As Vlad hands over the necessary amount of silver stags to the innkeeper, he looks over at Blacktooth and says "One room is mine, one is for you and our new friend. The other two are for the two most senior men and the most junior men we have with us. I'm sure they will appreciate the reward. Once we've eaten, we'll get back to our guest and what he knows. Go ahead and let our lucky winnerd know what's happened."

        As Vlad turns to leave he is hailed by the young lordling. "Yes, I am Ser Vladimir Kirov. I apologize, but you have me at a disadvantage sir."

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        • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

          Originally posted by Ser heretic View Post
          Ser Walton moves swiftly to carry out your orders, filling Lew the Outlaw’s squalling mouth with a strip of sail and marching him out to the deck. The miscreant does his best to scream out slanders, but the cabin door muffles them reasonably well, as does the gag. Out on the deck, the Longpalm is twisting a rope in his hands, throwing a length across the knot and catching it on the other side as he winds it around and around. Once satisfied, he tosses it over the main yardarm and secures the other end to the hull.

          The two crews and the Leyburn men stand silently to the side as Ser Walton forces the condemned to stand on a stool and fits the noose about his neck. After you give the command, Walton gives the stool a donkey kick and it scoots out from beneath Lew's scrambling feet and falls to its side. The outlaw twists in the wind for a few moments and then it’s over.
          Once Lew's struggles stop, Timon stalks forward and cuts the rope. Catching the corpse as it falls, he lays out Lew's body on the deck with surprising gentleness. "Wyl! Put together a burial party and get this man and his accomplice in the ground at once. And make sure you do it properly. They've paid for their crimes in life. Now they deserve to rest easy in the ground, same as the rest of us."

          As Wyl makes his way to shore and the rest of the crew and soldiers return to their duties, Timon gathers Ser Walton, Ryk, and both boat captains for a meeting in the Moonspirit's cabin. "Gentlemen, I am not a gambler by nature, but Captain Longpalm and the bandit Lew have confirmed that the mint was to be delivered into the hands of a man known as Joren the Fox. I know this man well – he is a fugitive from House Leyburn's justice and, more importantly, he is a lieutenant of the notorious outlaw Quickfinger. If we can catch Joren in the act of taking delivery of the mint, we will have struck a powerful blow against Quickfinger's organisation, and for that I am willing to take the risk of going to Lord Harroway's Town."

          "Of course, the mint will not actually be going there. Captain Harn, I need you to bring it back to Reedtown, and Ryk, I need to you make sure that it stays well hidden until I return. Remember, all our lives now depend on keeping this affair secret. When Ser Vladimir gets back, inform him of the change in plans. If there are questions about where Ser Walton and I have gone, you are free to tell them that we've gone to Lord Harroway's Town in the hopes of apprehending Joren the Fox, and that we learned of his presence there from the bandits we captured. No one in Reedtown or Templestone will be surprised that I'm making the most of an opportunity to capture one of Quickfinger's lieutenants."

          “Captain Longpalm, the chests containing the mint are quite distinctive. Do you have anything on board that can serve as a substitute, at least at a first glance? If not, we will likely need to move the mint to some other containers and keep the original chests aboard the Riverfly. Once this has been resolved, we will continue a ways downriver, where I will disembark and make my way to Lord Harroway's Town on foot. I need to gain Lord Roote's permission to apprehend Joren in his town, and it will likely draw less attention this way than if I disembark directly from the Riverfly. I may need some time to accomplish this, so I need you to wait about six hours after I leave your boat before continuing on to the town.”

          “Once you arrive at Lord Harroway's Town, you will proceed according to the instructions you've been given for making the delivery. Ser Walton and some of our soldiers will be travelling with you, and I will have people watching the port. When Joren or his representatives make contact, signal me and we will seize them, or follow them to Joren's hiding place if he hasn't come himself.”

          “Naturally, you will need a cover story to explain the absence of Lew and his crew. Something simple and close to the truth should suffice. If asked, I suggest you tell Joren or his men what happened in Reedtown, except for the part where Lew's lot kidnapped Jax. Joren knows that I don't take kindly to the murder of House Leyburn's smallfolk, so he won't be surprised to hear that I pursued the Riverfly to bring Lew to justice. You may also tell him of Lew's fate and that of his men. If he wonders as to why I hanged Lew but not the drunkard, tell him it seemed like Lew offended me with his impertinence. Having captured or killed all of Lew's band, as far as you know I then returned upriver. As for you, I let you go on your way in return for a very stiff fine – curse my name all you like – and you continued with the mission because you're still hoping for that commission from Lord Tarbeck.”

          Finally, Timon turns to Ser Walton with a tired smile. “Ser Walton – this was your idea, so you will be in charge of seeing that everything goes according to plan once I've left the Riverfly. But first, detail a few of our soldiers to escort the mint back to Reedtown. The rest will go with you to Lord Harroway's Town – keep as low a profile as possible and only intervene if Captain Longpalm is threatened or Joren himself comes aboard the Riverfly. Oh, and make sure you bring enough men on the Riverfly to spare one or two. I may need an escort on my way to Lord Harroway's Town.”

          OOC: I'll stop with the massive info-dump there and let you come up with any response you deem necessary.

          I'm leaving it up to Walton to dispose of the Leyburn men as he sees fit. Timon will also provide everyone who needs it with a description of Joren the Fox, so they can identify him if he makes a personal appearance. I'm going to assume that Walton, Longpalm and Timon can come up with a signal so the Riverfly can communicate with Timon when Joren and/or his representatives put in an appearance.

          Before Harn sails off, Timon will settle their accounts. He will be generous in paying Harn for his services and he will make sure to put it in writing. Would freedom from docking fees (or similar taxes) for a year be considered generous? Perhaps with an offer to buy choice pieces of his current cargo at an inflated price?

          As for Ryk, Timon expects him to use his smuggling know-how to hide the mint once they get to Reedtown. I think Ryk can be considered quite loyal for the moment, since Timon did just return his son to him unharmed. He can probably also clearly appreciate the need to keep his knowledge of the mint secret, as well as knowing better than to cross Timon on this matter.

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          • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

            Quinton

            Ferret follows you back out into the waning afternoon heat. There’s an old stot tied up the shade of the windmill, and you manage to find a blanket and cinch-belt, if not a saddle for Ferret.

            Outside, the town is slowly starting to come to life in anticipation of sunset. Some crofters are driving a handful goats down the street ahead of you, and a dungsweeper is brushing the dessicated husks of horse droppings off to the sides of the street. You see no sign of the gamblers or the knight as you make your way towards the tower that dominates the sky at the center of town.

            The area immediately around the tower is encircled with a low palisade, and the area just outside of that is alive with fisherman calling out the catch of the day, half-naked whores leaning out of second-story windows to banter with passersby, and a quick-hands magician performing sleights of palm atop a tarred barrel. The loose crowd parts before you, and Ferret manages to maintain his focus, even when the whores (who seem to know him) shout and flash a glimpse of bosom.

            You find the palisade gate unsecured. Inside, there’s an outdoor smithy, but without a lit fire or tools, as well as some posts to tie up mounts. The inner palisade has a step-up built in to allow men to attend the wall with bow or spear, and to see over. The tower itself is an ancient thing, the grey stones and mortar seeming to blend into one another except for the arrow slits that form five rings about the tower at different heights. It’s built with square corners and a detached fifteen-foot stone step connected to a drawbridge, which is down at the moment. House Roote’s double-headed horse flutters from the top, as well as a streamer of Tully blue and mud red. The portcullis is up, and a grey, balding man in worn Roote livery is sitting in the doorway, polishing a silver plate and spitting seed-shells over the side of the drawbridge. When he sees you coming, he squints and says, “What is it you want?”


            Timon

            The men haul for shore with the corpses aboard, as well as some spades. Meanwhile, Walton, Ryk, the Longpalm, and Harn take in your plan. The Longpalm immediately offers up some of his cargo—steel rods—to serve as the decoy chest contents. However, the damage done to the hinges of the chests will be easily apparent upon any close-up examination, even after Lew’s men pound additional nails into the wood to secure the lock-hinges. The true mint is wrapped in canvas and transferred to some barrels, which are secured aboard Moonspirit.

            While the arrangements are being made, Captain Harn pulls you aside. “Ser, I thank you for you generosity with the fees and such. Howe’er, I have my eye on a sweeter prize. She’s beneath our feet now.” He wants Riverfly.

            Ser Walton has divvied up his men with their respective assignments. With the extra cavalryman left behind by Kirov, there’s fourteen men-at-arms remaining. Five men are detailed to the mint, including Wyl, the most seasoned man of the bunch, and one archer. Seven more are to stay on Riverfly, including three of the bowmen. That leaves Johnny Longshaft and the wayward cavalryman Dorian to escort you to Harroway Town. Dorian is young, but quick to obey and a skilled enough rider to be trusted with a horse. Longshaft is the best bowman of the five aboard, and is a veteran of perhaps five-and-twenty outlaw patrols and sorties. Both men wear chainmail with steel coifs, with Leyburn hearts-and-axe on their chests, shields on their backs, and swords ahip. True to name, Longshaft carries a longbow and sheaf of arrows, and a large mattock to boot. Dorian has traded his war lance for a more manageable spear.

            Before you depart, Ser Walton repeats the plan back to the Longpalm, demonstrating his knowledge and reiterating for the captain. He then turns to you. “You said to intervene only under threat to Lew or if the Fox comes aboard. If he does, must we take him alive? And what if he comes under the Roote banner, arm in arm with House Roote’s escort?”


            Ser Vlad

            The lad stands to clasp your hand. “Simon Paege, ser. You overthrew my brother twice at Fairmarket—once in the lists and again in the melee.” That tourney was a sweet one; you won the melee over Ser Tommard Heddle, and almost won the joust. In the end, you fell to Prince Valarr Targaryen on the final tilt, after breaking four lances on each other’s shields. Three years have passed since then, and Prince Valarr’s ashes have long since scattered in the wind. The Sickness took him as it did his brother and grandfather.

            When Simon introduces himself, you recall that he is the middle Paege brother and is the heir of House Paege, at least until his brother Harbert manages to whelp a child. His younger brother, Daemon, must be fourteen or so. Simon speaks again, breaking into your thoughts. "Are you hunting outlaws? They've been plaguing our lands as well, but the Knight won't allow me to take the field against them." He must be referring to his brother, though he does so with more formality than you might have expected.

            Behind you, the men you’ve rewarded with rooms are climbing the stairs. They include Mason Blackwood and Chett, the most senior, and Ser Maynard and Ser Rast, the hedge knights you’ve adopted. By the Blacktooth’s command, the hedge knights will each share a room with either Mason or Chett, lest they plot some misfeasance.

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            • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

              Quinton

              The young man on the horse can't help but take note of the prostitutes calling out to them and even noting Ferret specifically. When he sees them paying his compatriot attention, he turns about on his horse slightly to look back at Ferret and watch his reaction. When he's able to get the other young man's site, Quinton flashes him a knowing smile before shaking his head and turning his eyes back in front.

              As the draw closer to the portcullis and Quinton sees the man taking note of them, he begins to slow his horse to a gradual stop about five or so feet back - enough room to turn his horse and make a break for it should the man decide to suddenly get up and take the reigns. Steadying the black gelding with a few quiet 'Shhhs' from his lips, Quinton eyes the old man for a moment - noting the polishing, but also gauging his openness to a boy essentially telling him some unbelievable news and possibly making demands.

              When he's summoned up the courage after about two or three seconds of silence, Quinton says in his most authoritative voice, "I am Quinton of Stoney Sept. I have news for your lord on behalf of Lord Leyburn. I wish to speak with him immediately - it's of great importance to the well-being of this town."

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              • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

                Originally posted by Ser heretic View Post
                While the arrangements are being made, Captain Harn pulls you aside. “Ser, I thank you for you generosity with the fees and such. Howe’er, I have my eye on a sweeter prize. She’s beneath our feet now.” He wants Riverfly.
                “Well, you've got balls, there's no doubt about that, Captain Harn,” Timon replies with a harsh laugh. “But think for a moment. I am about to place the good name of my house – possibly even my life – in Captain Longpalm's hands. The last thing I need is for him to be distracted by the knowledge that his boat would be forfeit even if he does all I ask of him. So you see, I cannot promise you Riverfly as your prize, at least not now.”

                “If she is the only payment you'll settle for, then you must wait until I return to Reedtown with the Longpalm. He still has to stand trial for his crimes, and though his guilt is not in question, Ser Ethan will be the one to decide his punishment. At such a time, you may make your case to Ser Ethan as to why ownership of Riverfly is just compensation for your services. Or, you can take what's on offer now and be assured of turning a decent profit from this excursion, whether I make it back or not.”

                Originally posted by Ser heretic View Post
                Before you depart, Ser Walton repeats the plan back to the Longpalm, demonstrating his knowledge and reiterating for the captain. He then turns to you. “You said to intervene only under threat to Lew or if the Fox comes aboard. If he does, must we take him alive? And what if he comes under the Roote banner, arm in arm with House Roote’s escort?”
                “Aye, Ser Walton, the Fox must be taken alive if at all possible. But if it seems that he is about to escape, and I haven't shown myself on the docks to cut off his retreat, then put him down like the dog he is.”

                “As for the possibility of House Roote's involvement in this matter, I pray that the rot doesn't run so deep. But if he does arrive with officers from House Roote, then stay back and let Captain Longpalm take the lead. Longpalm should rightly demand the compensation he was promised for delivering the mint – watch and see who pays him off. If it's a Roote man that hands over the gold or the commission, then that's strong evidence that Lord Roote or someone high in his service is plotting against the crown. If they actually remove the chests from Riverfly, then let them – we will need to follow and see where the chests end up, but each step they take damns House Roote further. But I honestly doubt that anyone will be taking the chests off the boat. Joren is no fool – he will likely wish to inspect them before taking possession, and then he will see that they've been opened. If anyone draws a blade on Captain Longpalm then... well, you know what to do.”

                OOC: And by "you know what to do", Timon doesn't mean "kill them all". Capturing Joren is still a priority, and if there are any actual officers of House Roote present, capturing them is just as important. I figure we're going to be in dire need of them as hostages to escape Lord Harroway's Town and later as witnesses to House Roote's treason.

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                • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

                  Timon

                  Harn takes the hint and demurs, muttering something about taking it up back in Reedtown. Soon enough, the dead are buried and the switch has been finished with the chests. Moonspirit turns for home, while Riverfly anchors near the south shore to give you a head start.

                  The terrain to Harroway Town is low grass, with a few footpaths rutted out. It’s a bit strange to find yourself walking, like a peasant, but there’s no horseflesh to be had since Vlad’s departure. Longshaft and Dorian fall in behind you, the latter using his spear butt as a walking stick. Up here on the land, you soon find yourself sweating hard, even though the sun is beginning to set. You’re not moving as quickly as you did on the boat, and the water is a few hundred yards off now.

                  Presently, the footpath arches away from the river and connects you to a proper road, wide enough for wagons to pass side-by-side. It’s not paved, but is in reasonable repair nonetheless, without obstruction or damage. When the drought started, some of the roads went to waste, given the dangers of sending workmen to the more far-flung reaches of the realm. They say even the Kingsroad has suffered up in the north.

                  Soon enough you find yourself approaching Lord Harroway’s Town. It’s an ungainly sprawl of huts and pens clustered around some more substantial stone buildings, all set deeper into the bank than Reedtown. The town has no defense but Lord Roote’s tower, the tower’s tiny palisade skirt, and the river to the north. Instead, the town is ringed by a shallow ditch, but it’s more latrine than moat.

                  The road turns to street between a few pens and a stout-timbered house. There’s also a little shack beside it for a customs officer, and a pair of light dust-cloaks draped over a stool outside, but there are no soldiers or officers in sight. For a moment, the only sound is the clucks of the chickens in their pen, but then you hear a man’s groan drift from the closed shack. Someone is either fucking or dying within.


                  Quinton

                  The man spits out the remaining shells in his mouth and gives a polite smile. “Well, I am the Lord. Come on in and we’ll speak. House Leyburn, eh? A good, young house. Better neighbors than the Stricklands before them.” He motions for you to follow him within.

                  Inside, the bottom of the tower is arranged as a lord’s hall, with a woven blue carpet leading from door to an elevated dais, and four cold iron braziers sitting atop low stone pilings. Lord Roote’s chair is considerably grander than he is. It’s a huge thing, carved from a single piece of weirwood, with the circular back of the chair showing a cross-section of thousands of rings, and the arms flowing outwards and ending in wooden horse’s heads right where a man might rest his wrists. Instead of mounting the dais, Lord Roote shuffles to a table that has been set to the side with three chairs. It’s expertly placed for receiving visitors in the afternoon, as the light from the arrow-slits above shine directly on it. The room is empty except for Lord Roote, yourself, and Ferret (assuming you let him in).

                  There’s a creak in the wooden stair set back in one of the corners, and a tousle-haired man comes down, blinking. He’s wearing a black knight’s gambeson with a big yellow star in the center chest, although it’s not fully laced, and carrying a swordbelt in hand. Lord Roote turns to him. “Ser Meryn, could you find a servant? I’d like a flagon of lemon-water for our visitors. And bring Ser Gerold as well if you see him.” He motions for you to sit, and then takes a seat himself. “What news of Leyburn? Do you have a letter?”

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                  • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

                    Quinton

                    At first Quinton seems a bit stunned that the lord would be sitting out polishing armor in the open. He does his best to conceal his surprise and shock, but the long pause after Lord Roote's statement is probably enough for the old man to figure the boy is skeptical of his claim. Nevertheless, the confidence of the man must spur him on to follow, which Quinton does. Glancing back at Ferret briefly, the young man then dismounts his horse and grabs it by the reigns before gently guiding it into the keep and handing it off to one of the attentive stablehands who was watching the conversation. All the while, Quinton racks his brain to see if he can recall any descriptors of Lord Roote he might have heard in the past to judge if, in fact, the old man is the lord himself.

                    Once inside, Quinton walks cautiously through the great hall with Ferret in tow, taking in the sight and being reminded at just how little he is. He does not enter Lord Roote's domain as a confidant representative, but more like a nervous child being called before someone of authority. He watches the Lord's interactions with Ser Meryn with interest, shifting his attention to the knight with the yellow star upon his chest, trying to discern the heraldry, but then being distracted by the lord's inquiry. He remains standing, perhaps as a sign of respect to the Lord, or just fearful about sitting down at a table he would normally otherwise have no business being seated out. He's clearly a fish out of water in this setting.

                    "N-no, my Lord," Quinton answer, his voice cracking a bit at first. "But I bring news on behalf of Lord Leyburn, in his honor," Quinton is then able to get out before he starts to undue the purse from his person. Holding the bag of tin chits, he then looks back to Lord Roote with nervous energy. "If I might, with the Lord's permission?" the young man then asks, holding up the purse briefly and then nodding to the table in front of Lord Roote. Should he be given any sign of indication, Quinton will then bring the bag of script to set in front of Lord Roote to examine.
                    Last edited by Jewdebega; 09-21-2017, 08:57 AM. Reason: Formatting

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                    • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

                      Ser Timon
                      Originally posted by Ser heretic View Post
                      The road turns to street between a few pens and a stout-timbered house. There’s also a little shack beside it for a customs officer, and a pair of light dust-cloaks draped over a stool outside, but there are no soldiers or officers in sight. For a moment, the only sound is the clucks of the chickens in their pen, but then you hear a man’s groan drift from the closed shack. Someone is either fucking or dying within.
                      Timon's disapproval of the customs officer's dereliction of duty is plain to see, even though it's to his advantage in this case. Shaking his head, he motions for his companions to follow quietly as he continues into town.

                      "I don't much like the look of things so far," he says as the little band move deeper into town. "Where are Lord Roote's guards? There should be at least some patrols about, but we've seen none." Stopping at a crossroads, Timon addresses Johnny and Dorian. "I think it's time we took measures to make our allegiance less immediately obvious. Johnny, take this silver and find us some cloaks - nothing fancy, just long enough so we don't go about flashing our colours for all to see. Then we'll be heading to the docks. I need to see a man about some fish before we go to meet Lord Roote."

                      OOC: I'm making the assumption that the relative disorder and lack of guard patrols in the streets is something that Timon would pick up on quite quickly. The idea is to head for the docks to meet one of his contacts, to learn as much as possible about the current state of affairs in Lord Harroway's Town.

                      Let's call the contact Bass (I'll leave it up to you if he has a nickname). He's a fishmonger with a side business dealing in information. In normal times, he mostly sells Timon information about comings and goings at the town docks. When the day's catches are sold, he likes to relax at a tavern that everyone calls the Rancid Oyster, after an unfortunate food-related mishap some years ago.

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                      • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

                        Quinton

                        You haven’t heard much in the way of descriptions of Lord Roote. Men have called him “complacent,” “well-read,” “suited for a seat,” “passionless,” “getting on in years,” and “stoic,” whatever that means. Before you is a somewhat fleshy and deflated man whose hair is racing to depart his scalp before being fully drained to grey. Up close, you can see that his clothes are a fine cut, though he’s allowed his sweat and dust to sully them somewhat. He speaks with the confidence and lilt of a lord or highborn knight, and seems at home in the tower.

                        Ser Meryn laces up the chest of his gambeson and slides out the door while buckling his sword about his hips. He’s perhaps six-and-twenty, and looks in his fighting prime, with broad shoulders and a flat stomach. You recall learning in the gambling hall that a Ser Meryn Templeton serves Lord Roote, though the yellow star on black and the name Templeton are strangers to you.

                        When you balk to sit, Lord Roote pulls your chair out for you and seats himself without further delay. Ferret follows your lead. When you ask permission to empty the purse, he nods. “Of course.” The tin spills out across the table, shining where the light hits it. Lord Roote reaches into the spill of coin and spreads them a bit, plucking a chit up here or there and turning it in his fingers. If he has a reaction, it’s well-guarded. “Aye, I’ve seen these chits. Strunk the Miller issues them and they’re accepted in place of silver around the town. What business does Ser Ethan have with these?”



                        Timon


                        Whoever occupies the customs shack raises no acknowledgement of your entry. Stepping lightly, you manage to gain entry to the town unawares, yet without any real deception. Something strikes you as amiss about the situation. Usually, you find a pair of soldiers at each of the three entry paths to the town, but this time, they couldn’t even bother to properly man the shack.

                        When you ask him to secure the cloaks, Johnny knuckles his forehead and disappears down a side street. Soon enough, he reappears with three dun-colored dustcloaks. He and Dorian clasp on their cloaks so that it covers their left arm and chest, obscuring the Leyburn badge. Luckily, their shields are unadorned. Once that task is accomplished, they follow your lead to the docks.

                        The way there leads you through the heart of the town, with the daub huts and pens giving way to prouder stone structures with slate roofs and windows framed with open shutters. With the sun setting, the town is beginning to cool and the streets are growing more congested. Here, a brown-eyed monger calls out the catch of the day, his voice rising over the spatter and crackle of fish in oil. There, a swindler makes coins dance across the top of a tarred barrel. Above, wanton women throw bawdy remarks from windows, hoping to entice a plump-pursed man abed. A few slow-moving carts plod down the street, pulled by mules, donkeys, or stots. You and your men catch a few stares. While your cloaks mask the Leyburn badge, you’re the only men in mail and so heavily armed. You’ve seen more than a few men with weapons dangling from hips—knives, stilettos, clubs, and a mace or two, but none with swords or polearms. Only a few of the armed men wear mail; the rest make do with boiled leather or no armor at all.

                        It’s been a few months since you’ve been to Harroway Town. It has always been rough, teeming with newcomers and fortune-seekers, but never this lawless. Ser Dickfred Roote ruled the streets then, putting men in stocks every other day, and ‘neath a gallows on the month. He was nevertheless loved, not feared—the young man has a disarming smile and a way with making the smallfolk feel heard. His older brother Robar is more pious and studious, perhaps befitting his status as heir; the sept and ferry-docks are his domain. Lord Quincy Roote himself is reserved and bookish. At ten years your senior, you’ve always received the sense that he thinks himself wiser and better educated than you, although he has proved an able arbiter of issues his sons cannot quell. His rule is just and steady, but slow-moving and sometimes uninterested with matters of sharp justice. As for Blackfyre sympathies, the Rootes are a blank page. After his wife died a year before the rebellion, Quincy went to Oldtown to forge a chain, bringing his sons with him. His older brother Mace was the lord then, and backed the Tully loyalist forces, though he was slow to move. Mace and his young son died some six years past, causing Quincy to put aside his half-made chain and take up a lord's scepter.

                        You’ve seen no sign of either of Quincy's sons, or of any officer. The highborn captains and officers of Roote are more distant in your memory, but the names Gerold Whent and Sebaston Frey come to mind. Each is a stalwart knight from a distant branch of their house. Whent in particular, called the White Bat, is known for his force of personality and command of lance and mace. Of course, Osmund Blackwood was once Lord Roote’s strong right hand, but the Sickness took him as it took half the town. Quincy ground ground his ashes, as he did a thousand others, and gave them to the river.

                        After shouldering past a group of sailors, you find yourself at the Rancid Oyster. It’s largely as you remember it: an outwardly nameless tavern of timber and tar, with a peaked thatch roof. Pushing inside, you find the benches crowded with sailors, crofters, and all manner of ne’er-do-well. No fewer than seven bar-lasses are serving the tables, with a man and a woman pouring from behind a low bar. Scanning the room, you catch sight of Bass dicing down at the end of one of the tables. Aside from him, a couple of others stand out. There’s a large bearded man in a lemon jerkin over brown who carries a knight’s sword and poise. A singer with bright blue eyes and a flowing sheet of silvery hair is sitting cross-legged at the end of the hall, stroking a woodharp as he would a lover, and belting out a mournful ballad of love lost, betrayal, and valor.

                        Comment


                        • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

                          Quinton

                          "Ser Ethan's man here was sent to purchase barding from one of the leatherers here in Harroway," Quinton says, tilting his head in Ferret's direction while trying to answer Lord Roote's inquiry the best he can, attempting to connect his presence with Ser Ethan so that he has legitimate reason to be in front of such a man. "He, uhm..." Quinton now begins to stumble a bit as he searches for the appropriate phrasing to describe how the chits came into their possession. A bashful, knowing smile then crosses the young man's lips as he bows his head ever so briefly. "... he was very fortunate is some leisurely pursuits with some betting folk, my lord. And over the course of an evening, gambling at the track and getting along with the locals, a number of coins changed hands, but there was not much concern. He's good with counting, you see? And we understood the chits could be exchanged for coin. So coin or chit, it didn't matter." The young boy then looks back to his comrade as if to get some sort of agreement with the story so far before turning his focus back to Lord Roote.

                          Taking in a deep breath, Quinton steadies himself before continuing on to the next part of his story. "We went to the miller to exchange the coin so we could buy the barding and return to our lord. However, when we arrived, we were told the chits were no good," Quinton explains. "You should have seen the place, my lord - the floor was littered with these. And the miller was quite the mess - tight as a tick, he was. He explained to us someone has paid him a few dragons to learn how to stamp them." Quinton nods towards the table and the pile of chits. "He mentioned someone called 'The Fox'... said they looked like Hedge Knights. Tied him up and printed thousand of chits they probably spent here in town over the last two weeks. But he didn't make much sense after that. Out of respect for you and to honor our lord, we thought it best to come to you with this news. I'm certain you'd want to know immediately so that you can help the situation before it gets out of hand."

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                          • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

                            Ser Timon

                            Moving through the streets of the town, Timon makes sure to sling his shield on his back so that his new cloak covers it. Better a hunchback than an obvious target, he thinks. And with no sign of Lord Roote's sons, officers, or soldiers, his unease grows with every step. He grips his sword hilt reflexively, his eyes scanning every window, doorway, and alley as they approach the docks. Something is wrong here. Very wrong.

                            When the three men arrive at the tavern, Timon orders Dorian and Johnny to find a table near the door from which they can keep an eye on both the entrance and the taproom. He unslings his shield and gives it to Dorian with instructions to keep its arms hidden as much as possible. "Order yourselves something to drink if you like lads, but keep a weather eye on the entrance and the taproom. I don't anticipate any trouble, but with our full kit on we do stand out from the crowd, and you never know who might feel like picking a fight for no good reason in a place like this..."

                            Having given his instructions, Timon threads his way through the benches to the table where Bass is trying his luck. "Space for one more?" he inquires, jangling his money pouch. When one of the players grunts his permission, Timon flags down one of the serving lasses to order a drink, then takes a seat nearly opposite to Bass, making sure to catch the fishmonger's eye as he does so. "So, what's the game?" he asks with a broad smile.

                            OOC: In the best tradition of James Bond movies, how about we say that this is how Timon usually contacts Bass when they need to meet personally? How about we also say that Bass gets paid off through the noble tradition of Timon losing an established sum of silver to him at the table. Once he's lost enough, Timon excuses himself from the game and leaves the tavern. Shortly thereafter, Bass will excuse himself as well, and also leave. They then meet up in an out of the way location near the in to talk in earnest. If Bass has some especially juicy news, he also knows he can expect a bonus. This should provide Bass with some deniability over his sideline as an information broker.

                            If you're okay with this, the most unusual aspect of the meeting from Bass's perspective would be that Timon is wearing armour and that he arrived with an escort (assuming you think Bass noticed Dorian and Johnny).

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                            • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

                              Timon

                              Dorian and Johnny situate themselves at the first of the long tables, securing your shield between them. Soon enough, they each find themselves with a horn of sloshing foam and ale.

                              Bass smiles widely when you approach him. He waves you into a seat without standing to greet you. Named for his likeness to a fish, Bass is a barrel-bellied man with big lips, bulging eyes, and a thick, sagging neck tucked beneath his chin. His leathern smock is stained a dozen shades of brown and the tang of fish and copper wafts from the deep pockets cut into the skirt. “Come to gamble, my friend?” He’s already scooping away the dice by the time you sit, and dealing out tarot cards as your own horn mug of ale appears. Games of chance serve poorly, when one’s object is to win by losing.

                              The game is familiar enough, though you are no master. Bass deals four leathery cards face down on the center table and distributes the rest between himself, you, and two other players—there’s a scruffy, black-haired man you know to be one of Bass’s associates, and a clean-shaven young sailor who sits shirtless and keeps a copper medallion round his neck.

                              Bass antes modestly, allowing the others to inflate the bid, which they provide in silvers and tin Mills that pass the same in Harroway Town. The scruff-haired man buys the four cards in the center with an extra few coins and flips them face up for his later use. It proves a weak bounty—a Two of Hearts, Seven of Bells, Cavalier of Swords, and just one trump, The Fox. He opens play with a Six of Bells from his hand and after play has rounded the table, Bass drops The Maiden, not shy with his trump cards apparently. Scooping up the trick, he scans his friend’s remaining three face-up cards while he considers his next play. “I fear the fox will prove elusive. Perhaps coins will drive him out.” Bass lays the Queen of Coins.

                              As you play on, Bass regales you with endless tales of nothing—stories of catches fair and foul, buxom lasses he spied bathing from his dock, omens in the clouds, and all manner of useless thing. This is his custom and your agreement; the useful information comes later. The bare-chested sailor wins a few small hands, riding high at the top of the table, but now he has fallen behind. Bass and his friend have ups and downs, neither running away with the game, but you don’t fail to notice that together, they’ve managed to accumulate more than half the coins. Some of that is due to your own arrangement with Bass playing itself out in each hand, but you suspect that the bare-chested sailor doesn’t realize that there are really only two players at the table, despite the four hands, four antes, and three faces besides his own.

                              The rest of the hall remains somewhat raucous, with the clank of tankards and horns, the shouts of men, and the singer’s ringing ballads. You notice that the lemon-shirted knight has moved closer to your game, with just two men in between him and Bass. He’s nursing a pewter tankard of ale and listening to the singer, who has switched from Seven Swords For Seven Sons to Fireball’s Ride, a song commemorating Quentyn Ball’s furious march on House Toyne back before he turned rebel. Johnny seems to have noticed the yellow knight too, keeping a jaundiced eye on the man in a somewhat discrete fashion.

                              OOC: I have no set idea as to how this game works except that it’s a trick-taking game played with tarot and you can buy the flop cards to supplement your hand.


                              Quinton

                              Lord Roote’s brow furrows as you tell your tale as best you can. “I see. You did well to bring this to me, Quinton. Every man knows the Windmill can be passed as a Stag within sight of my tower. If Strunk will not honor them, there could be blood in the streets.” He thinks for a moment. “You say Ser Ethan’s only issue with the chits is the barding you came for? If so, I will buy your chits myself so that you might lay by what the Knight of the Ley requires. I won’t ask much in return.”

                              Just then, Ser Meryn returns with a white-haired, but ruggedly fit knight clad in mail and a black tabard slashed with yellow and bearing a white bat prominently in the center. Presumably this is Ser Gerold Whent. Both knights knuckle their chests and wait at attention. Lord Roote turns to them. “Go and find Strunk the Miller. Question him about his chits and outstanding loans. Whether he will honor them, and whether he is under threat or duress. If so, I’ll soon know the names of his foemen.”

                              When they’ve left, he returns to examining you. “I might as well learn what I can of you as well. Maester Altingar wrote that half the tragedies the singers love to perform could be avoided if only lords could see through the eyes of common men. I’ll make you whole on those chits if you give me the news of Reedtown and Templestone.”

                              Comment


                              • Re: (IC) Black Dragon Rising

                                Quinton

                                The young man seems relieved, his shoulders dropping when Lord Roote notes that he would be willing to buy the chits back from him and Ferret. However, the disclaimer on the end of the sentence causes Quinton's brow to furrow ever so slightly. Quinton may be young and naive in certain situations, but even he seems to know when there is a catch involved. Patiently, the young man waits while Lord Roote gives his instructions to Ser Meryn, shifting his eyes between the two older men without saying anything. Once Ser Meryn has departed with his task, Quinton's eyes refocus on Lord Roote, locking his gaze with the elder's, as he waits for the other shoe to drop. Quinton seems surprised when Lord Roote inquires about Templestone and Reedtown though, perhaps thinking he was going to ask some sort of labor on his part. "News m'lord?" Quinton asks, as if for verification. "I'm sure Maester could provided you much more information than I could. They're supposed to keep up with all that, aren't they?" The question posed by Quinton seems sincere as opposed to sarcastic, the young man unsure where Lord Roote is going with his questioning or what information he could provided that the lord didn't already have at his fingertips.

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