Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed
Wedding Knight Part III
Than it was time for the travel to castle Starbone. For the next few days the commander of the city garrison should be the interim steward. Before he left, Gard had ordered to choose some men as future bodyguards for the new Lady, and to be aware if Joren Ripon (the last of the almost extinct house Ripon of Twinwood, who had try to kill Ser Vicon Aran during his last visit at Dragonstone) might try to harm an Aran-family-member again. Beside Lord Gard, his mother, sister and uncle the travel party consisted of Lord Gawan and Lady Anya, Ser Paedrig Rivers, almost half an dozen servicemen/maids and 14 soldiers from Krayenhorn and Dragonport.
It was a long trip to Starbone and the ‘street’ was not very comfortable (a typical problem in this area) but the travel was uneventful. At the Aran borders the party was welcomed by Ser Vickon Aran and a cavalry detachment. Vickon was in a good mood; joking with Gard and flirting with Alyanna although he was a little bit angry about the rude reaction of house Fallkirk (not even an apology and almost ordering back the two members of their house who stayed at Starbone).
It was still unclear if the Weymouth delegation would arrive this or the next day. Vickon also mentioned that septa Berena did have left the castle for some unspecific but urgent matter of faith (an excuse – in reality she might be still pissed off that not she will celebrate the marriage. But it was also a good explanation why Septa Jonelle would lead the ceremony). When the party passed by some small hamlets the inhabitants gathered together. Some of them cheered and praised the wedding (and the future husband of Lady Meera).
Castle Starbone was erected on a hill, protected by slopes at two sides. It was an old castle, built after the Andal invasion. The party was greeted warmly by the whole Aran family and their high ranking servants etc. (minus septa Berena). It was obvious that the antipathy between Torrhen Fallkirk and Ser Pirron Strife had not faded away (and Torrhen still looked not very happy because of the wedding). Alyanna (still a little bit cautious because of the rumours she did have heard) came to the conclusion that there was indeed a vague similarity between Ser Strife and one of the members of house Aran (Elyssa Aran to be specific). Both young people looked like they did have the blood of the first men in their veins (small and lean, dark eyes, hair and taint), while most members of house Aran have the appearance of the Andals (tall, light hair and eyes).
There was time to bath and change the clothes before the great evening meal. Of the other guests only Septa Jonelle from the Septrie Eaglewood (who should lead the ceremony) had arrived. The young head of Eaglewood (not even thirty) acted like it could be expected from a high member of the faith (of course she was very pleased because she could lead the ceremony).
It was obvious that there should not only be a festivity for the noble/ higher ranking guests but also for the local smallfolk – the gates of the castle were wide open and there were numerous activities to prepare the ‘great day’.
Of course the family of the husband-to-be did get special attention and prominent places at the table. The meal was opulent, some minstrels were hired for this occasion, the atmosphere was delightful and all guests acted with perfect manner. The most prominent topics of the conversation were the wedding and the events at Kings Landing (or at least the parts that could be told in the presence of ladies). Alyanna get much attention by Ser Vickon – a situation which seems to anger Lord Aran and his wife a little bit. Gard concentrated his attention on his future bride.
During the meal message arrived that the Weymouth delegation had arrived Starbone (earlier as expected). When Lord Aran left the hall to greet the newcomers Gard wanted to accompany him. However he was stopped because Lady Meera suddenly felt ill and left the hall in hast. When she later returned she claimed that this was only the result of nervousness and perhaps some ill prepared food (Eric who had witnessed the scene was not certain if she said the truth).
Meanwhile the Weymouth came into the hall. The delegation consisted of Lord Weymouth (a calm, cautious and not very pretentious man in his thirtieths) his wife (a born Manderly) and their daughter Naerys (a shy and calm girl of fifteen years, certainly a bit ‘normal’ in comparison to such beauties like Meera, Alyanna and Anya). Lord Aran (and also his wife and his children) treated them very well (given Lord Arans normal temperament it was almost unusual).
Naerys was seated right beside Ser Vickon Aran and (after some meaningful views were exchanged between father and son) the young knight concentrated his charm towards the new guest – at least for some time. However the young lady was very shy and seemed to be more comfortable with a conversation with Elyssa Aran (both young women seem to have something in common) and Alyanna.
Lord Aran announced a deer hunt ‘a la Reach’ for the day, some riding/ jousting manoeuvres in the afternoon (plus a poetry contest). The wedding should be in the late afternoon/ early evening followed by the obligatory meal.
He claimed that the deer hunt would be a great fun, a real manly adventure – and Lady Anya Blyth of Krayenhorn claimed that she could ride at least as good as many men who will participate.
Lord Aran laughed and accepted this challenge but Lord Gawan (who was calm, almost a little bit depressed during the whole day) was not very amused. However he did not argue.
It was late when the meal ended and all the guests went to bed.
Given the fact that the place was a little bit cramped by the number of guests, some did not get single quarters. Eric f. e. should stay in the same room as Ser Vickon. The young knight joked that his father perhaps wanted to ensure that his son do not sneak out undisturbed or invite one of the young ladies in his room. He was well aware that Lord Aran wanted him to court (and in the end marry) Naerys Weymouth but seemed not certain if he did like the idea.
Alyanna soon noticed that someone had sent one of the minstrels to who started to sing love songs etc. under her window. She guessed that this might have been Ser Vickons idea and thought that it might be the best to bribe the minstrel that he should do his serenade under the window of the bride – as an ‘gesture of admiration by Lord Gard’, and because she want not to insult Naerys (or anger Vickons parents and their plans for their son).
After the minstrel has gone away she did hear an argument in one of the quarters nearby and sneaked out of her room to listen. It soon became clear that she witnessed a little quarrel between Lord Gawan and his wife. Gawan criticised Anya’s idea of participating in the hunt and even accused her that perhaps her ‘adventurous behaviour’ might be a cause for the fact that she still not could get pregnant.
Lady Anya countered with the statement that this was not the diagnosis of Elen (the healer of Dragonport). Short after this the quarrel (which never gets very loud) seemed to have ended and Alyanna returned to her room.
Very early the next morning the hunting party started. The noises of horses, hunting dogs and hunters did wake up even the people who did not participate. The party consisted of most of the young knights, squires and lords (and also the older one) who could ride - plus Lady Anya.
It was a clear, beautiful morning and everyone was eager to be the best when the dogs tracked a great deer. It was not easy and sometimes even dangerous to follow the prey. Gard did his best to stay at the top but some other hunters outmatched him.
Ser Strife did have bad luck when his horse jumped over a small wall – he failed, got unhorsed and even trapped under the fallen horse. Lady Anya immediately stopped to help him (as did Paedrig who had an eye on his slightly older ‘aunt’) while the other hunters followed the prey. In the end it was Ser Vickon who did catch the deer, killing it with one single sword stroke.
Skinning and take out the prey was a bloody business but none of the Aran men thought he was to ‘noble’ to do this job. While the hunting dogs did get the intestines of the deer, the hunters got small stripes of the fresh raw liver (an old but a little bit barbaric hunting tradition). When Ser Strife, Lady Anya and Ser Paedrig arrived it was obvious that Torrhen almost gloated over the misfortune of his tormenter.
Lord Gawan used the situation to remind his wife that this sport was certainly too dangerous for women. Her answer was that SHE did not fall from her horse, but than she apologized for her ‘unwomanly’ behaviour.
When Lord Aran wanted to get on his horse suddenly his saddle girdle split and he went down - right into the pack of hunting dogs. A yellow bitch (and I mean a female dog with this!) attacked him and must been killed. This dimmed the enthusiasm of the hunters because it was a bad omen (the arms of house Aran have a yellow dog in it)…
In the same time the castle was humming with the preparations for the big event (cooking, cleaning, decorating etc.). The small castle almost seemed TOO small and Lady Aran ordered and chased the service men and maids around mercilessly.
However for the honoured guests there was not much to do. Eric ordered a second breakfast and Alyanna wanted to socialise a little bit more with the Aran girls. But when she arrive Lady Meeras chamber she did hear some sort of argument and tried to listen secretly. She did hear only single words and half sentences, something about shame and worth of someone, a warning to be silent etc. but Alyanna could not detect who was speaking and who/what was meant.
To get a look at the situation she silently sneaked away and then returned a little bit louder, knocking on the door and acting as if she had just arrived.
When she marched in Alyanna did actually find Meera Aran and her niece Elyssa (who seemed very disturbed). None of the three young Ladies mentioned the argument but when Elyssa left the room short after, she was followed by Alyanna. To get a real conversation with her was not easy because she tried to evade this and used every possibility (f. e. the duties of the festivity preparations and Erics arrival who also detected that something was going on) to get away.
But in the end Alyanna was able to get through her defence, noticing that Elyssa was deeply troubled by something that did have to do with the honour of her family – with rightfulness and trustworthiness. But Alyanna must also promise Elyssa that she would not reveal the source of her information and that she will do anything to prevent any harm for the honour of house Aran.
After this promise Elyssa did reveal the shocking and embarrassing truth: Her ‘aunt’ Meera (would-to-be-bride of Lord Gard) was pregnant – probably by Ser Pirron Strife.
Alyanna was uncertain what to do with this – but clearly she could not act as if nothing had happened. She secretly informed Eric Blyth and they both decided to bring this case to Meera’s mother but letting Elyssa out of the picture for the moment. Of course Lady Aran acted furious after hearing such a ridicules accusation. Eric (who was suspicious that Meera’s parents might already know about the pregnancy) could not detect any proof of this. She seemed really surprised and shocked. It was not easy to convince her that this shocking news might be true.
But then she stormed into the room of her daughter, creating quite a scene. Meera at first denied everything but under the threat of a medical examination by the castle master her defences seemed to falter. She did break down crying and confessed that she indeed was pregnant. As she told it Ser Piron Strife might have misunderstood her acting and feelings towards him and one evening when they were suddenly alone in the castle garden…
After this she was too ashamed to say anything about it.
In the same moment noises outside the building indicated that the hunting party was returning. The three (Lady Aran, Alyanna and Eric Blyth) left Meera Arans quarter and came to the conclusion that Ser Pirron Strife must be arrested immediately – but of course as calm and secretly as possible.
Following the ideas of Alyanna and Eric Lady Aran tried to separate Ser Strife from the public scene and the group of the lords, knights and honoured guests by ordering him to one of the (at the moment mostly abandoned) castle towers where two guards were waiting to arrest him.
However Alyanna and Eric (both with very keen senses) soon did hear some noises out of the tower (swearing, fighting noises etc.) which indicated that the arrest might not go as swift as planned. While Eric tried to convince Lady Aran to give him her ring so he could order additional forces into the fight (not so easy because she was in the middle of all attention and the whole operation should go as silent as possible), Alyanna simply grabbed Ser Paedrig (who stood more at the sideline of the scene), ordering him to go to the tower and help to arrest Ser Strife.
Although the young knight was a little perplex by this request he simply nodded and followed the orders. He arrived just in time to notice Ser Strife climbing out of a window of the tower. However his attempt to flee was blocked by Paedrig. The fight was unfair – Paedrigs sword against a simple club. In the end Ser Strife did get two nasty injuries and went to ground unconsciously. Of course the fight did get some attention by others but when Lady Aran did arrive the scene she was able to cover this by claiming that she ordered Ser Strife’s arrest because he had stolen some of the wedding gifts. Lord Aran ordered that Ser Strife should be brought to his quarters and that a guard should watch the door.
Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed
Wedding Knight Part IV
After Ser Pirron Strife was in custody it was time to tell Lord Aran the truth about his daughter Meera. Of course he was as furious and shocked as his wife (a second time Eric did not find any signs that this was only acting). After some swearing and threatening the health (and manhood) of the absent Ser Strife, Lord Aran informed his eldest son and heir Ser Jonah. No decisions were made for the moment because Gard was not yet informed about the whole problem. However Lord Aran warned that time was thin and that everyone must act very careful to prevent a scandal. Because of this he also came to the conclusion that Ser Strife (still unconscious) should stay at his quarter for the moment although Lord Aran would have liked the idea to put him in jail. However he did not want any further attention…
When Eric (not very tactful I must say) informed Gard about the pregnancy of his would-to-be-bride the young Lord reacted at first with disbelieve and than with anger, disappointment and sadness, feeling betrayed and fooled by Meera. A good marriage was one of the things he dreamed of and after the first meeting he had the illusion, that Meera might become a good lady. The news was like a knife from behind. For him it seems a little bit as if fate played a bitter joke with him again – first he become Lord, another thing he had secretly wished, but only because he was not able to rescue his brother, and now…
Alyanna tried to calm the waves while Gard’s mother, Lady Fiana, was angry too but ensured her son that he should and would act like a real lord. To have a closer eye on the villain Ser Strife, Eric ordered Paedrig to accompany the Aran guards who were watching at the door of Ser Strife’s chamber (he should also inform Eric or Gard if the Aran’s want to interrogate the hedge knight).
The atmosphere was very tense when the heads of house Aran and Blyth meet to decide what to do. Lord Aran was accompanied by his wife, his eldest son and the maester of Starbone while Gard was accompanied by his mother, sister and uncle.
It soon became obvious that Lord Aran seem to prefer ‘business-as-usual’: Meera should get rid of the unborn child by drinking moon tea, Lord Aran would half down the bride price (he might be willing to reduce the price even more), Lord Gard should marry Meera. Of course they must also get rid of Strife although this might be tricky because he was still a knight and only arrested by the allegation of stealing. Any open trial or ‘to harsh’ penalty might reveal the scandal or at least spread rumours. However perhaps if he would be ‘killed during a flight attempt’…
Concerning the idea with the moon tea for Meera, Lady Aran seemed a little bit concerned (as was the Maester) about the medical risks. An abortion was always dangerous and although the Maester did claim that under normal condition a healthy young women should have no problems (and would also not endanger her fertility by the procedure)…
Lady Fiana Blyth opted for another possibility – there was still another Aran girl who might be more trustworthy and ‘pure’ than Meera – Elyssa Aran. Meera could f. e. claim that she has found the faith and want to spend her live in service for the Seven instead of marry…
Of course such a solution would cost house Aran BOTH eligible girls and such a radical change one the day of the wedding could very likely wake some rumours…
Eric was not certain if he should support Lady Fiana or go with Lord Aran’s idea (but lowering down the bride price even more). Alyanna did stay mostly silent but was sceptic about the idea of her mother. After all Elyssa had revealed the pregnancy of Meera. To use her now as replacement bride seemed not very fair and Aly’ had promised to do anything to secure that no scandal emerge.
Gard was not certain what to do and claimed that he did need more time and that he did want to meet Meera before he would decide. This was accepted by Lord Aran but he warned Gard that there was not much time given the fact that the wedding was planned for this evening. To get more time both parties came to the conclusion that perhaps Lord Aran’s riding accident and Meera’s ‘illness’ of at the last day (f. e. because some ill prepared food) would give an opportunity for a little delay.
With this both parties separated for the moment. Alyanna suggested that the quarters of Ser Strife should be searched for any hints that there was more behind him than an honourless hedge knight – but Lord Aran more or less dismissed the idea of any conspiracy (also because Alyanna was only a girl and did not have any valuable facts or plausible theories).
Following the original wedding plan the next event should be some riding exercises of the young knights and squires to show their abilities with horse and lance. The event took place but given the fact that Lord Aran could not conceal his anger very well (his wife and his oldest son acted more convincing) and the absence of Lord Gard, Meera and Ser Strife the atmosphere was a little bit tense and the competition for the remaining participants certainly not very hard. Paedrig (who did get the allowance to leave his post at Ser Strifes door) obvious dominated the contest and was rewarded with a beautiful silver goblet although Lord Aran’s praise sounded only half hearted, leaving Paedrig a little bit disappointed (but still clueless). Lord Aran’s temper, the circumstances of his riding accident, the absence of Meera (plus the rumours about her illness) was the cause for some gossip and speculations although the real causes stayed hidden.
Eric and Alyanna had a short chat with Lady Aran and convinced her that it might be wise to send for Elen (the healer of Dragonport). Given the fact that the Maester of house Aran seemed uncertain about the risk of an abortion a women with a little bit more practice in such matters might be a good idea…
Although Lady Aran did not want any further witnesses of the shame of house Aran she could be convinced because of her fear for Meeras health (her husband seemed to care less in this case). Of course it was Paedrig who was sent away with the strict order (but without telling him the real cause) to bring Elen to Starbone as fast as possible. The young knight was a little bit curious (especially when Gard mentioned that Elens dream warning did come true) but followed his orders.
Meanwhile it was time for the next event (a poetry contest) although now it was declared that the marriage should be delayed for one day because of the ‘illness’ of Meera. To honour the young bride the event was relocated to the place under her window (when she showed up at the window Meera certainly looked ill enough to make the story about her illness plausible).
This was again a contest for the young nobles but this time both women and men could participate. This time Gard did participate to prevent any speculations about his absence although he was certainly not in a very happy mood.
However his love ballade was certainly the most moving recitation, followed by Elyssa Arans poem about the flight of the three dragons and (after her) Alyanna’s recitation of poem from the time of the coming of the Andals.
All other participants were certainly not as good (and Lady Anya again did show her sometimes a little bit…eccentric behaviour by choosing an ‘unladylike’ dark poem about the long night and the fight against the Others). Torrhen Fallkirks ballade about hopeless love and a knight’s struggle to get the attention of his untouchable lady d’amour was certainly nothing that Gard (or Lord Aran) could value at the moment.
The price for the winner was a flower that should be given the most cherished (or loved) person – for Gard a VERY bittersweet victory although he tried to not show it.
Gard than visited Meera but their bitter conversation did not help him to come to a conclusion. Beside apologies, self-hate, tears and the plea not to kill her innocent unborn baby – the last a thing he noticed with surprise because as far as he know she was raped – Meera had nothing to offer, sure not the explanation he wanted. Gard in fact did not blame her for her pregnancy – he had seen in his life more than one woman who had no choice – but for the lying to her parents and to him, even during her secret meeting. However he more and more toyed with the idea to accept Lord Arans solution that he should marry Meera Aran despite her lies because this would certainly mean that the Arans would be deep in his dept. Also any other solution might create the scandal he (and the Arans) did want to prevent, a scandal that may lead to some bad blood between both houses and would also harm the reputation of his house (as a “horned” groom and because another wrong-going marrying-project of the Blyths after the death of his brothers wife might lead to rumours about a “curse”). And last but not least he did not think that marrying Elyssa Aran might be a good idea because she seemed to be in love with another man (Torrhen), was eight years younger than he, and surely would be hurt as ‘bride-replacement’. To change a lying bride against an unwilling (and perhaps insulted) one was not SO appealing.
However when the Blyth family meet again his mother despised his idea and stated out vehemently that Elyssa Aran seemed to be at least trustworthy and would soon recognize the qualities of her new husband if she was not stupid. The old Lady Blyth also made it clear that she could never accept Meera as her daughter-in-law or gif this wedding her blessing. Gard should think more about the fait of his own house than the wish of house Aran to prevent a scandal. If he would marry Meera – how could he ever trust her to rein the house in his absence because of war etc.? And if the shameful truth ever came to light – what would this mean for his dealing with other lords? Eric supported her position (although only half hearted) while Alyanna (who still thought that she did owe Elyssa something) tended more towards Gards position. In the end Gard was still not able to come to a conclusion although he did know that the clock was ticking…
The evening meal in the great hall was not very a pleasant – at least for the people who did know about the actual problems (some of the others might still be troubled by the ill omen of Lord Arans riding accident). Outside the peasants who had come to celebrate danced and sung and cheered for the health of the bride (remember the spread rumours about a sudden illness) and a soon wedding at the next or the following day. They did have certainly more fun than some of the noble guests…
During the meal Torrhen Fallkirk rouse from his seat and claimed that he want to fight against Ser Pirron Strife who had spit on his honour and the honour of house Aran by stealing from the wedding gifts. Obviously the cover story for Ser Strife’s arrest seemed to him as a good opportunity to get revenge from his tormentor.
Lord Aran was not very pleased to be remembered of his problems, Elyssa was shocked and others (like Gard, Gawan and Jonah Aran, the knight-father) were at least sceptic about the chances of the young men. When Alyanna (in a mocking way) brought to attention the result of Torrhens last ‘training’ fight with Ser Strife and the fact that he was no knight yet, Lord Aran ordered the young man harshly to sit down and be quiet – there were others who might have more causes to call for a duel (a meaningful view towards Gard)…
After the meal ended the party split up. Alyanna made a short visit to Elyssa and found the young girl crying. It was almost impossible to calm her down. Elyssa feared that her two year older ‘aunt’ Meera and her grand parents would hate her if they ever found out her role in this whole tragic story.
Meanwhile Gard did have a short, strained conversation with Lord Aran who revealed that a first interrogation of Ser Pirron Strife had brought nothing substantial – beside some bumps and bruises for the young knight. But Strife simply claimed an open trial and accusation and beside this he did not say anything. And while Lord Aran wanted everything to keep under the radar he could not do what he desired most – to torture or even kill the arrogant bastard at the spot.
Lord Aran toyed with the idea that a duel (to the death) might be a good idea to get rid of Ser Strife – at least if someone more competent challenged him. But although Gard liked the idea to kill the man he warned that there would be still the danger that Strife did reveal the shocking truth. It would be wiser to finish him without giving him a possibility to fire up the rumours.
Lord Aran agreed and (inspired by some words of Gard) seemed to have find a solution. If he ‘banned’ the ‘thief’ (a certainly not too hard or suspicious punishment) some of Lord Aran’s men could bring Ser Strife to a discreet place and get rid of him permanently. No one would find it curious if the ‘banned’ never show up again…
When Gard (like his sister) mentioned the possibility that there might be more behind ‘Ser Strife’ he did not get the reaction he intended because he mentioned the rumours that Ser Strife might be a bastard. Lord Aran seemed to know this rumours – rumours that indicated that Ser Strife might be HIS (or one of his sons) bastard. This was enough to fire up his anger and Lord Aran stormed out to set into motion the ‘putting beside permanently’ of Ser Strife. Gard went to the Septrie of the castle to pray and ask the Seven for guidance (they remained silent).
Hours later, after the last of the celebrating peasants had gone to sleep, Gard, Alyanna and Eric woke up when a small group of riders prepared to leave the castle – two men with a third (chained) one between them. Lord Aran did not lost any time…
It was still very early when loud knocking woke up Gard. Lord Aran stormed into the room swearing aloud – the two men who should ‘escort’ Ser Strife on his ‘way into exile’ did not come back.
With the shout ‘the prisoner has escaped!’ Lord Aran mobilized his men and only ten or fifteen minutes later his cavalry was ready to leave. Gard who wanted to participate in the hunt was stopped for a moment by Lord Gawan. The old knight certainly sensed that there was something more serious was going on beside the simple fact of a fleeing thieve. But when Gard stated out that he could not answer this, his old knight-father did not asked again.
Eric who did not think that accompanying the hunters would be a good idea (given his bad riding skills) decided to stay at Starbone. However fearing that Ser Strife might have left some ‘friends’ behind, Eric took his crossbow and positioned himself at a place on the castle walls from which he did have a good overlook – in the case of an sabotage attempt or something like that. Of course given the fact that the castle was still full of guests, peasants etc. and the fact that he did only know some of the more prominent members of the castle population it was not easy to decide if someone looked ‘out of place’…
Lord Aran was so eager that he not even waited for his master-of-hunt or the hunting dogs. Of course he did know where he should start his search – at the place were his men should kill Ser Strife and burry him secretly.
When the hunting party did arrived this place they found the bodies of two men – killed, brutally mutilated, their faces almost completely destroyed. One of the dead men was wearing the clothes of Ser Strife. A third man was missing and beside the corpses there was a small item made of branches and blood stained cloth. The tracks indicated that they were ambushed by three or four attackers. Could this mean that the men were killed by clansmen?
Gard was sceptic but it did cost some time to reveal that the man with Ser Strife’s clothing was NOT Ser Strife. More and more Gard came to the conclusion that his idea of an conspiracy was right – and that ‘Ser Strife’ might have something to do with (or might actually BE) Joren Ripon, the last scion of house Ripon which was almost extinct by house Aran and house Fallkirk during Roberts Rebellion. ‘Ser Strife’ has bullied Torrhen Fallkirk whenever he did have the opportunity and by raping/ impregnating Lord Arans daughter he has also damaged the honour of house Aran, and Gard had also suspicions about Lord Arans hunt/riding accident…
Such speculations did not help to calm Lord Arans temper. He did even beat one of his men to the ground because of a hapless (but ill placed) bad joke.
When the hunting dogs did arrive, the party tried to follow the tracks of their prey but this was not easy because the fleeing did have horses, a lead of 4-5 hours, and also did split up into three groups (two of two horses and one of one horse).
It might be that the whole situation (the fact that Lord Aran did know exactly where to look for the ‘fugitive’, the presence of two killed guards at the scene and the intervention of these unknown attackers could become a source of rumours and suspicion that there is more behind the whole thing than the lord wanted to say, endangering the cover-up attempts of house Aran and Blyth…
At Starbone Alyanna used the time to socialize a little bit more with Elyssa. This time the young girl was not so emotional than the last evening also still very troubled. But now her manners kicked in. Elyssa showed Alyanna some of her poems and ballads – the shy and reserved girl did certainly have talent.
The (only vague mentioned) possibility that SHE might marry Gard did not cheer her up so much.
In the early afternoon a very weary Paedrig did arrive at Starbone together with Elen. Both get time to rest.
In the meantime, the hunt after “Ser Strife” continues. Gard’s search-group could capture one of Strife’s men after a short fight – the other groups did only capture two horses. Gard asked if the prisoner could perhaps be used as an spy to follow Strife, promised a release from punishment and some money (he was sure that the loyalty under this scum was not very high – but their hunger for gold and life was), but Lord Aran and his oldest son Jonah followed a more…direct way. The prisoner was interrogated and tortured in the presence of Lord Aran and Lord Blyth and told them some disturbing facts. Although he did not really know if Ser Strife was “Lord” Ripon, this seems more and more likely. The prisoner mentioned that Strife had infiltrated the Aran-household indeed with the goal to attack and kill Lord Aran or perhaps one of his sons, against which he had an oath for revenge. But his attempts were unsuccessful, in one case the target had too many men, in the other he did not shows up at the place were his would-be-murders waited. The bunch of Ripon, who waited outside the castle and during the celebrities slipped in to prepare further action, was perhaps less than a dozen men strong and mainly located in the borderlands near the Mountains of Moon. The men were outlaws, half-civilized border-men and some who were even in this area seen as outcasts. “Strife’s” competent second in command was a female clanswarrior or halfblood called Nyra. This was exactly a woman how she was mentioned earlier in the hunt after Joren Ripon after his fouled murder-attempt in Dragonport. The spies at the castle noticed Strife’s arrest and so the group was aware when Aran’s men were on their way to finish him secretly. It seems that during his time at Starbone, “Strife” changed his mind what to do next. This caused some trouble between him and Nyra. She claimed, or so the prisoner told, he would loose a chance for his revenge only because of a nice face and two breasts. What he planed during the wedding was not entirely clear, but it seems that he had planed to kidnap Meera – with or without her knowledge. Even more unclear were his further plans after his escape, and while soldiers were sent to the possible meeting-points of the brigands which the prisoner reported, it seem very likely that Nyra and Joren did not trust her followers and meet on a secret place (indeed the hunt did not bring any result). There was no mercy for Joren’s man, he was doomed to death (but not now, because Lord Aran want not to much trouble at once). Both lords were now convinced that Ser Strife was indeed Joren Ripon, and his impregnating and rape – or whatever (Alyanna for example was uncertain if the young woman was really forced, what was what her brother and perhaps Meera’s father believed) – of Meera was perhaps some sort of honourless revenge against a easy target. Some could also think that he started to love Meera and changed his mind because of this, but it seems very unlikely to most (surely for Gard and Meera’s father), that she did start voluntary and knowingly a affair with a man which had try to murder her brother only short time ago.
Elen – which presence while allowed by Lady Aran angered Lord Aran, who want the number of witnesses be small – was ordered to examine Meera. She found out that an abortion – while not without ANY risk – was possible without great danger. She seemed not happy with the idea to give this kind of medicine to a unwilling “patient”, but Gard persuaded her, that the unborn child could not be allowed to live in any case, anyway if Meera get married or not. An Aran-Ripon-bastard would be far too dangerous for house Aran (which hold land of the Ripons), and a constant risk for a disastrous scandal for herself and her family (and the family of her potential husband), much more because Joren still lived. Without a child it would hard to proof any rumours. If an abortion was not to avoid, it seems better if a competent healer take care (Gard – as a Blyth with a long tradition of relying on local healer – did trust Elen more than the local Maester who himself seems to be unsure).
While Gard was still uncertain what to do (his mother and uncle prefer the idea of changing the bride, his sister did oppose this), Lord Aran forced his daughter to accept her bitter fate. He told her, partly because of Gard’s arguments, the true identity of “Ser Strife”. Perhaps this betrayal together with the pressure count heavy enough, and Meera which had defiant defended her unborn child before, changed her mind drastically. She did accept her father’s demand, asked Gard a second time tearfully for pardon and promised to be him a good wife, if he would accept her still. It was a hard fighting with words in the Blyth-family and a difficult decision, but in the end Gard decided to go on with marriage with the same bride. He had different motivations for this highly questionable and dangerous decision. On the one hand he still feel a little bit guilty to Meera, because he had sworn her an oath at Krayenhorn (also he did not know what she kept secret at that time, an voluntarily oath to the Seven is an oath). And he wanted in any case and for nearly any cost to secure the alliance with the Arans. He believed that his house desperately needed this, facing open and secret foes (the clansmen, the Lugus, perhaps the Falkirk’s or even the mysterious “fox cubs”) and hard times in the future. It seems clear for him, that future battles sure and soon would come, and for that day he want a strong connection with the local “big man”, who know how much he owe him. To give up his plan of a marriage with the Aran’s would also mean to loose in his first big project as lord (the alliance and the creation of the border-watch was very much his idea, also the daily work was in parts done by others). That danger he thought he could not accept, because he thought he must desperately proof – other people, himself and even the Seven – that he was at least as good if not better than his murdered brother. Additional, he tends to be a loyal follower to superior authorities he could admire and respect – his father and knight-father before, and now lord Aran. In addition he believed that a marriage with Elyssa would more likely lead to a scandal (changing the bride shortly before the wedding night would create suspicions). He also did believe that it would be not a better start to marry a bride which secretly (or not so secretly) loves another man, as wedding a lying one. Also he thinks that Elyssa was clearly for now not able to manage her duties as lady and would of course feel deeply insulted if he chooses her as a “replacement” after he had courted her aunt. Last but not least the lower bride-price and Meera’s beauty did play a role. He was – of course – not lucky with the circumstances, uncertain about how much he could trust his future wife (and aware of the coming trouble in his family, because his mother claimed she would nether accept…THIS PERSON…as her new daughter), but it seems for him and the house the smaller “evil”. But he know, if the truth ever came to light, he would be a joke for everyone a week of travel around. On the other hand, his uncle Eric and he could convince Lord Aran to reduce the bride-price to one point of Wealth and to convince him (at least for now) that he was deep in dept towards the Blyth.
The marriage goes on as planed and only people with good awareness could see that not everyone was as lucky as he or she should be. Meera played her part perfect (Gard was less successful). Precious gifts were given and accepted, clothing, jewellery, horses, a falcon and so on, mostly to the bride and groom, but the presents to the Aran-family were also expensive. Oaths were spoken in front of the Seven under surveillance of Septa Jonelle (with this Erick’s deal with her was fulfilled, although if the details of the marriage ever would leak out, this could cause trouble), money was spend to the peasants. Meera Aran has become Meera Blyth. The feast went on, and there was very much and very good food and drinking even for a lordly table - even wine from the Arbor. Erick did not let the circumstances minimize his appetite for food and wine, while Alyanna looked nervous after any possible problem (for example between her mother and sister-in-law), but nothing happened. The newly wed couple was escorted to Meera’s chamber, where they stayed alone.
The next day the guests went home to their different locations. The local people welcomed the couple during the voyage, and at Dragonport, Paedrig, who rides faster than the rest, organized a good welcome. Erick presented his gift of around 200 dragons – a generous gesture which was warmly welcomed and praised from his nephew. The new lady was presented to the people of the castle. One or two days later, the prepared feast take place – very well organized, but more expensive as hoped. Although the old Lady Blyth could only half-hearted conceal her anger, Erick and Alyanna did their best to avoid any scandal. The feast did give surely Gard and his young wife a lot of good publicity under the townspeople.
Secretly Gard ordered Erick and Peadrig to be his best man – not for the marriage, but for the hunt after Joren Ripon (which was outlawed under his false identity Ser Pirron Strife, because the Aran’s did not want a public confirmation, that a Ripon was still alive, at least for now). A high bounty was promised by house Blyth, 50 dragons for Joren alive, 40 for a dead one (or severe punishment if anyone try to get money for a false head) and 10 for any information which lead to the killing or capture of the outlaw. Also any member of his bunch which helped to capture or kill him should get amnesty. House Aran join the hunt, and even the Falkirk’s – which did only know that Strife harmed Torrhen, the heir of the current Lord – become part of the manhunt, with requests of help to the other neighbours.
Even more secretly, Erick asked Alyanna to keep an eye on the new lady (although he tried to convince his sister-in-law to accept the new facts and his nephews bride), what the young woman promised and started to secure. And Alyanna himself did not forget her private intrigues – she started to search with the help of her net of “little birds” after able bounty-hunters and after a person, which she could use as a false outlaw to infiltrate Jorens men and hunt this threat to death.
Some days later, Meera had to drink the bitter medicine which aborted her child. She did as was demanded without signs of resistance; a procedure which seemed to work without further complications, beside that it is never an easy thing, although her pregnancy was not long. How she and her husband will live together is for now unclear, while the marriage is still not consummated, because Gard take care for the young woman who he think needs time to overcome a rape (or so he thought) and an abortion…
Altogether, the future of house Blyth is still uncertain and in danger. They have gain a strong ally, but also a new foe, and the possible scandal hangs over them or at least over Gard and his wife. How the new lady will act is unclear, the internal peace in the family is threatened with the old lady strongly oppose the new one. Additional taxes to the Frey’s, the cost of the marriage, the arming and creating of the border-guards and some attacks of brigands against the road from Dragonport to the inner Riverlands did reduce the wealth-reserves and income of house Blyth nearly to zero, although better months seem to be on the horizon. As ever, the future is in deep mists…
P. S.: During the whole adventure Paedrig was often a little preoccupied because he used every (rare) possibility to increase Lady Anya Blyth’s disposition towards him (he had even buy a small silver mirror with ivory frame in Kings Landing for her). In the end he was successful although this did cost much time and was not easy because Lady Anya’s resentments towards the bastard nephew of her husband (in game terms my char started a charm intrigue and won – but only by burning a destiny point).
Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed
An old story part I
This adventure was rather unique given the fact that it played during the Greyjoy Rebellion almost nine years before our normal adventures. But we wanted to integrate a short term visitor in the game play and his old group (which he had to leave because of his job) played their campaign short after Roberts Rebellion. We tried to combine the timelines and therefore…perhaps it is a story which Lord Gard told some entrusted people on one long evening in the castle of Dragonport…
The adventure started in the late phase of the Greyjoy Rebellion. The Lannister fleet at Lannisport was burned month ago and also the Ironfleet was already destroyed by Stannis, leaving only scattered remnants of their naval forces. Robert’s troops had landed at Pyke and other islands and marched forward to besiege the dark heart of treachery.
The troops of Dragonport (200 personal-guards and bowmen) under Viserion Blyth together with 20 horsemen under Ser Gawan Blyth of Krayenhorn (accompanied by Ser Gawans 14 years old squire Gard Blyth of Dragonport) marched towards the coast to be shipped to Pyke as reinforcements for the royal troops.
On their marsh they were also reinforced by 100 personal guards of Ser Igen (the pc of our visitor), Lord of house Horn. He had married the only heiress of this house five years ago and took the name of her family after her house fought on the wrong side during the civil war and lost against ser Igens house Isenband. Initially Ser Igen wanted to send more troops but his wife (after a rather stormy start of their relationship they both had learned to accept each other) convinced him that it might be unwise to strip house Horn of most of his power – given the fact that the times were really uncertain and some of the neighbouring houses might use the good opportunity…
The marsh to the coast was rather uneventful; some small contingents of landed knights and little lords came as reinforcements, giving the whole contingent strength of ca. 400 men (plus baggage). The Situation between Ser Igen and Viserion was not clear. Viserion seemed to assume that by commanding the most men he was also automatically the commander of the whole army and Lord Igen did not want to push the matter.
At Whitecliff, a small tower at the coast with a natural harbour nearby, the troops meet ‘Admiral’ Moran Farman of Faircastle, commander of the ships which should bring the troops to Pyke. However the ‘fleet’ did not look very convincing – a crude mixture of cogs and merchantmen ships, sometimes in a bad shape. Also the number of the ships was not very promising, especially if additional forces of other local houses might arrive in time…
The air was very cold between Viserion and the ‘Admiral’. Lord Igen did his best to calm the waves and to keep his troops in good order (he did not want any misbehaving). Likewise Viserion and Gard kept their troops in order while they waited for the promised additional troops and ships.
However the whole army and fleet were not very watchfully, because everyone believed that the Ironfleet was destroyed. This was a mistake. During the fourth night, a small group of longboats (perhaps only raiders or survivors of the Ironfleet) attacked the ships, setting some of them on fire and killing a significant number of sailors. The troops at land were not able to do much until the archers were organized and started shooting.
For Gard it was his first ‘real’ battle and quiet traumatic although there was no close combat. But the chaos, the incoming arrows, the fire etc…
However the young squire did his best to do his duty and fired at the attackers while the lords tried to organize and command the resistance.
But when the ironmen finally sailed away they left behind almost half a dozen ships destroyed and some more damaged. This disaster did not improve the atmosphere between Viserion Blyth and the ‘Admiral’ – both blamed each other for the losses while Lord Igen and Ser Gawan tried their best to prevent any bloodshed between them.
Short after this news arrived that the promised reinforcement of House Wirot, one of the local houses, would not join them (supposedly because the danger of raider attacks). Given the fact that there was an old feud between house Wirot and Lord Igens house he did not trust the message (and was glad that his wife had convinced him not to send all of the mobile troops).
Viserion now urged not to waste more time waiting for additional ships or troops (which MIGHT come or not) but to get on board immediately. The ironmen might come back (perhaps even with more ships). If the forces left the harbour immediately it would be perhaps harder for the ironmen to find them – and anyway ships full of soldiers and archers would be a much harder opponent for raiders.
However after the ironborn raid there was not enough space for all troops, baggage and horses. Together with Lord Igen Viserion ‘convinced’ Ser Gwan (he did not have many choices) that the horses of his cavalry must be left behind. Ser Gawans men should form an infantry unit together with the small contingents of the local houses. Also the horses of the noble men and much of the baggage must be left behind.
The sailing trip to Pyke should be not longer than 3-5 days (depending on wind and weather). However even for such a short time the situation on board was very unpleasant for most of the ‘passengers’ (even for the noble men it was very cramped). Lord Igen gets really sea sick but most of the other lords and commanders (and even Gard) deal better with the circumstances. The first two days of the sail were quiet uneventful – no ironborn ships but a patrol of royal galleys on their way to the next friendly harbour for forage and repairs. The news were good but urged for more speed – Castle Pyke was already under siege from land and sea so if the reinforcement want to participate in the battle…
Beside this King Robert (or the men around him) had ordered the other fleets to raid some of the other islands, hunt down the rest of the raiders and ironfleet and spread terror.
During the third day the weather changed dramatically and the fleet was hit by a real storm. It was quiet a horrible experience for Lord Igen (Gard coming from a harbour town with relatives on the Sisters was a little bit more experienced with bad weather).
The convoy managed to stay together more or less (although some of the smaller ships get lost) but when suddenly land was sighted in the morning and some of the ships stranded no one did know what island this might be. Anyway it soon became clear that this was hostile territory when armed men gathered at the strand and the first arrows fly.
Lord Viserion ordered his troops to get on land and the other commanders followed his example. The landing was chaotic and it was real luck that the ironmen were clearly outnumbered (a raider unit and an undermanned archer unit against two personal guard units, one infantry unit and an archer unit). However Lord Igens troops did have some losses before the enemy forces were beaten and retreated to a small village were they try to regroup but were smashed again together with the local defence forces (in game terms an upgraded peasant levies unit). For young Gard Blyth it was his first battle with close combat and the first time he killed a man face to face.
After the hostile forces were destroyed some of the troops (and also some of the sailors which also landed) began to pillage and burn the small settlement, killing, maiming and raping the villagers (ironmen and thralls all together). While Lord Igen and Ser Gawan tried (successfully) to keep their own troops in order, Viserion was not able (or not willing) to do so. When Gard tried to stop some of the bloodthirsty soldiers (who were mutilating a boy of perhaps twelve years or younger) on his own he get into serious trouble. He was able to knock down two of the soldiers but was severely injured by the others – perhaps only Ser Gawan’s timely arrival spared Gard a bloody death or maiming by ‘friendly blades’. The plundering went on for some time.
After the pillaging finally ended it also cost some time to bring the baggage on land, aid the wounded and getting information where the troops actually had landed.
The good news was that this was actually the island of Pyke – and the bad news that they were some days away from the royal army.
Now was the question was what to do next. Viserion urged for an overland trip towards Castle Pyke. He also wanted to burn the stranded ships and organize the crew as some sort of marines. ‘Admiral’ Moran Farman of Faircastle urged for another approach – he wanted that the troops stay until the stranded ships were repaired, than the troops should be transported to Castle Pyke.
Gawan and Lord Igen did not want to burn the stranded ships but also did not want to wait here. In the end it was decided that the troops should march to Castle Pyke while the crew of the ships stay at the captured village until the ships were repaired. Faircastle was not very happy to be left behind in hostile territory but against the united front of three commanders he did not have any chances. Viserion ‘recruited’ three local scouts (he promised them that he will maim them if their description of the way to Castle Pyke might differ).
While the lords and commanders organized their troops Gard could only cure his injuries. He surely felt sick and depressed after what he has seen – war seems much less honourable than he thought. Ser Gawan stated out that his squire had acted honourable but stupid – while Viserion mentioned that his brother had acted only stupid. Viserion was concerned about his younger brother but also angry about his stupidity (or what he called so). A mere squire without real authority who tries to stoop raiding soldiers…
The next morning the troops began their march towards Castle Pyke – still almost 400 men strong but with only food for two or three days so they must be quick. Because of this the commanders ordered light package – all booty which was too heavy or cumbersome must be left behind (like all prisoners and ‘rescued’ thralls).
The first day was mostly uneventful beside a short skirmish with a little group of ironmen which attacked the column but quickly retreated after some minor losses on both sides. In the evening the troops built a camp and set up watch-posts around.
Lord Igen decided that it was time to discuss the matter of command with Viserion (this question was still a little bit open although Viserion seem to think that it was all clear) and asked the other commanders for a meeting.
Before the meeting Viserion ordered his brother Gard to his tent because it was time that he ‘learned something more about being a grown up man and knight’.
When Gard arrived at Viserions tent he found a young ironborn woman (perhaps 18 or so) and Viserions message that he did have an hour until Viserion return from the meeting.
The name of the woman was Swenja. She seemed unharmed but was afraid although she tried to not show it. Obviously Viserion (while to proud to plunder and rape like his men) was not too proud to give a captured girl the choice to be his ‘salt wife’ (and get some sort of protection) or…
Gard was furious because of the acting of his brother and because Viserion thought that Gard would appreciate such a ‘gift’. After all he had very clear imaginations about knightly honour, although he had learned a hard lesson about this in the last battle. So when Swenja tried to convince him to let her go he did not even argue and helped her to get out of the camp. She gave him a silver-dolphin she wear around her neck as a kind of reward, hoping that it may bring him luck (Gard gave it away to his wife many years later).
In the meantime Lord Igen was able to ensure some sort leading role in the expeditionary force by mentioning his superior military skills (f. e. he participated in Roberts Rebellion etc.) although Viserion was not very lucky about this.
When he returned to his tent and noticed that his ‘salt wife’ was gone he beat Gard unconscious and whipped some of the guards. Although Gard later tried to ease the pain of the whipped guards by giving some money his reputation now was certainly damaged (first fighting against some of the own men and than helping a prisoner to escape…).
(The narrator was a little bit surprised because he had thought that convincing Gard to help Viserion’s “salt wife” would cost more time. Ok, this situation was a classic scheme. But at least the girl was not a princess incognito and they did not start an affair *g*).
Last edited by Kajani; 11-12-2016 at 03:13 AM.
Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed
An old story part II
The next day see the troops on their march to Pyke Castle. There was little resistance – some arrows and stones were launched from the mist, out of the cover of bushes and hills. Since the soldiers of King Robert had neither scouts nor riders, there were little what they could do. They suffered some injuries, but no one was killed. The troops marched battle-ready, Lord Igen’s house-guard in the first position, with him and his personal squad, behind them the archers and after them Viserion’s house-guard, on the rear the mixed infantry under command of Ser Gawan. Gard, which stayed on the side of his knight, asked if it was not possible to answer to this small-scale attacks with one or two volleys of the complete archer-unit (even if that would kill not many enemies, it would sure hurt and frighten them), but Gawan dismissed this because the archers had not much ammunition. The lands were almost empty, but the soldiers did also not search after the smaller settlements and castles, which may be located some miles away from their path.
In the evening the camp was prepared again. There was a meeting of the commanders (now under the control of Lord Igen, Gard was not present – result of his earlier wrongdoings), in which Igen, Viserion and Gawan decided to make a march of force on the next day to reach the main army.
In the middle of the night there was alarm, because several fire-arrows were fired from covered positions around the camp. Some tents seem to burn. Lord Igen and also Gard get their weapons and rushed to the scene, but there was no greater damage. While Lord Igen give up his first secret thinking, that this may be a probing-attack to cover a secret entering of the camp on another place, Gard – who had exactly the same idea – went to the opposite side of the camp. And he was right – some ironmen seem to try to enter, crawling to the tents of the commanders. He cried out loud, and while soldiers rushed to the scene, he had to face one of the raiders. Both had to fight in uncertain light, but Gard slew his opponent in single combat, only to be nearly attacked by his comrades who mistaken him for an intruder. He could convince them from his identity. Some of the raiders were killed, but most escaped. Gard’s booty was an axe and an iron ring, but more important, he got back the respect of Ser Gawan.
The next day, the troops marched in hurry. No new attack happened so far – the enemies seemed to be repulsed by the failed attack in the night. Soon it becomes all to clear that the main army was near. The field were burned, the villages and lonely houses destroyed, with decaying corpses of animals and people everywhere. The soldiers marched trough ashes and dust. After noon the soldiers of Lord Igen spotted a lonely man, wandering in their direction. He did not wear any colours and showed no signal of fear or any other emotions as he closed the distance to their ranks. Lord Igen demanded to know who he was, but he did not answer. Then – as he was only some yards away – he burst out in a fighting frenzy, which hit the soldiers in surprise. None of them had ever thought that a single man could be so stupid to attack a whole unit. So he wounded mortally one man and slightly another, before he was hacked to pieces. Even Lord Igen who had seen combat several times before was shocked.
Evening was near when the next living people were spotted, a unit of cavalry. They wear the arms of house Waterman (minor house of the North). They greeted the reinforcements and shortly after the main army were reached.
The camp of Robert’s army was huge, tens of thousands of soldiers and army followers from the North, the Westlands, the Reach, some from the Riverlands and also (as part of the fleet) from the Stormlands. Lord Igen was able to secure the troops under his command a moderate place in the camp. He and his sub-commanders (including Gard, who now again escorted his knight but of course remained silent) meet Lord Eddard Stark, who was some sort of second-in-command. The Lord of Winterfell was not very lucky, that the numbers of the reinforcements were smaller than anticipated – a chance for Lord Igen to put all blame on house Wirot. Lord Stark did not say anything further about the fact. He might not be very happy that some lonely ships of the Iron Isles had damaged the reinforcement-fleet, but he did not directly blame the lords in front of him. He pointed out that the great attack against Castle Pyke, the final battle of the rebellion, would come in a few days. Tha plan was simple. After a hail of stones from the siege weapons against an already weakened section of the wall, ladders and siege towers would support an assault against the broken walls. Of course numerous lords want to be the first in the attack (or at least her troops to be the first). Since the reinforcements had no high status, they get not a really prominent role. The archers of Dragonport would support other units, Ser Gawans mixed infantry would be some kind of reserve, and the personal-guards of house Horn and Dragonport would be take part in the assault, but not on the first place.
The next two days the troops rested, and their lords prepared for battle. Gard meet some other squires and together they discover the camp, looking from distance after the famous or infamous men in the army. During that time, Pyke was under constant fire, and the Ironmen could only answer with few archers and some smaller siege weapons. Gard convinced Lord Gawan to send him to the archers (he did know that he surely would not be allowed to march in the house-guards ranks, and he stayed away from his brother, but he did not want to see the whole battle from distance). He got what he want with the strict order to stay in the ranks and follow any order of the centenar of the archers.
The last evening before the assault a great feast was hold for the lords, their heirs and famous fighters. Lord Igen and the other lords joined the crème de la crème of Westeros’ knighthood, most minor men and squires like Gard stayed outside and watched the famous men like Lord Lannister, the King, the members of the Kingsguard and so on come (and they could also HEAR King Robert very well during the following eat-and-drink-contest).
On the next morning the dogs of war were released. A storm of stone, iron and fire hit the walls of Pyke. The main castle of house Greyjoy lays on small islands and cliffs, but could only attacked after a breakthrough against the main wall on solid ground. A maritime landing was impossible, but the ships of the king did their best to add their firepower to the siege-weapons on land.
The walls of Pyke Castle were broken, and the armies of the Seven Kingdoms (all which were there) marched forward. Only some fire came from the walls, the towers and the huge fortified gate of the wall. A red priest with a burning sword was the first who passed the broken walls, soon followed by other soldiers. Lord Igen ordered his soldiers to march in marching-formation, as soon as he was allowed to follow the first assault-forces. Viserions used an open formation, which slowed down his men, but helped them against enemy fire. This seemed the better decision, because Lord Igen’s men got enemy fire and suffered some losses by scorpion bolts. Even the Lord himself was hit, but rescued by his solid Plate-armour. Gard did his duty in the ranks of the archers – a not very glorious, but necessary duty, but they had to stop to fire when the walls were reached.
Lord Igen led his forces trough the hole in the walls, soon attacking an already damaged unit of enemy raiders. The battle-tired Ironmen were no match for house Horn’s trained and well armed soldiers and exterminated in short time, causing nearly none damage in return. Viserions troops joined other soldiers which attacked the wall-towers and their garrisons. The enemy tried to retreat to the main castle, and the refugees, who had come to Castle Pyke but did not get shelter in the main keep, fall prey to the marauding soldiers of King Robert. The Battle became a chaos mixed with massacre, but the fight was not over.
Ladders now were sent into the chaotic scenes inside the castle. The archers were ordered forward to support the assault against the huge bridge-tower which protected the stone bridge from solid ground to Pyke’s great keep. Gard’s unit joined the fire of the King’s ships and other units, and at least one man was sent crying down from the walls by one of his arrows.
Lord Igen reorganized his men, so that he had to march behind Viserion’s troops, who did not rest so long. Both units start to scale the walls of the bridge-tower, and finally going over the top of the walls. But in this moment message came, that Castle Pyke had surrendered – the rebellion was over.
This did not end the horror for the refugees inside the walls (the main keep and the towers were safe). Few lords (like lord Igen, but not Viserion) were willing to stop their men from plundering, killing and raping. Gard helped his centenar to keep order in the ranks of the archers, which was only partly successful. He did what he could to help people who may cross his way, but he respected his order to stay in the ranks of his unit. So he made no booty, did not face a real risk and helped not much. For him, what he saw, heard and smelled on that day seemed a view of the Seven Hells – even more than on the day of landing. He had to learn that not only common men but also nobles and knights like those he wanted to join could act like savages. He surely never forgot the cruelties he had seen on Pyke.
After the battle and pillaging ended house Greyjoy had to bend his knees again. The Lord and his sole surviving son Theon must join a feast, in which the army of King Robert celebrated the victory. The young boy should sent away to be a ward at Winterfell (his only other surviving child, Theon’s older sister Asha, could stay away for security reasons). Lord Igen had a good, but not prominent place in the feast, but got more honour (that he had earned quite a lot) than money or booty from the victory. But he could be sure, that his soldiers learned a lot from the fights which they fought under his command. Viserion was knighted on the broken walls of Pyke Castle, after he fought remarkable well and also rescued a son of house Bracken.
The way home went well for all, but the welcome was a very mixed one. Lord Igen, which was glad to have lost only few men, had to learn that house Wirot had used the absence of him to raid the lands of his old house Isenband. Also the land of house Horn had suffered some losses (Wealth reduced by one). So it seems all too clear, that soon house Horn would call to arms again, to punish his treacherous neighbours. It was now in the hand of the Father, the Smith and the Warrior to decide if the battle-hardened soldiers of house Horn could take revenge.
Ser Viserion and Ser Gawan travelled home without greater problems, but some people thought that the war had hardened and darkened Viserion’s character further. His brother Gard had killed his first man (and two others had soon followed) and had gained some honour and glory to do well for a youngster of 14 in his first battles. He also had rescued his first maid (more or less) and learned some bitter lessons about war. At home he did again serve as squire to Ser Gawan in Krayenhorn, as loyal and dutifully as ever, if not more. He was knighted more than a year later with around 16. After that he did return to Dragonport, making his father proud and serving him well as steward in Dragonport. But between him and his brother the relations stay frosty at best – and did not grow better in the following years…
Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed
Salt, wood and steel, part one
Some weeks have past since the lord Blyth of Dragonport returned home with his young bride. The situation in the castle and town has changed little. On the upside things seem to go well. The financial losses could partly be compensated by good management, trade has increased. But there are hidden problems, which may come to surface sooner or later. The regular hunt after Joren Ripon hasn’t brought any result, and even Alyannas more secret attempts did not help until now. There is a covered conflict going on between the mother and the bride of the lord (more from the side of the mother), all to clear to all which could see true, but never in the open. While Gard treats his wife courteous and friendly, hearing her opinion and even giving her some minor duties, there is some distance between the two, even after Meera recovers from her “illness”. She is not – at least for now – the real lady of Dragonport, a hidden mistrust stands between the two. Gard did not know how much he could trust her, and what she thinks about him is unknown. Meera is well respected in the town (after the successful feast) and even by most of the people on the castle, but some members of the household did notice the hidden conflicts.
Clearly Gard’s general trust in other people and even more in his own abilities to judge them, to see through deceptions and intrigues, is damaged. He reacted as ever in times of conflict, burying himself in work, laughing even fewer than before, praying and working even more, relying on people who seem to need and respect his judgement and command (soldiers and townspeople) – and trusting those who showed that they are hard to fool, like Alyanna and Erick. He respected also Elen, more and more believing, that she may be indeed have some ,special abilities’. Even Paedrig get some benefits from the last events, his quick reaction when Alyanna send him to arrest Ser “Strife” helps him to get promoted to the formal champion of Dragonport, petty-captain of the house-guard. The young knight tried to hold contact with Krayenhorn, and indeed his last intrigue (charming his aunt) seemed to have work. On the other hand, being trusted by lord Gard means at first more duties as an officer and less time for any other things. Since Paedrig could not write (he try to learn, but this takes time) there are few possibilities to holding contact to Krayenhorn – anyway to which person.
Lord Erick seems more or less satisfied. His manufactory seems to work better and better, Eaglewood sending him wool exclusively, and he slowly works on the arrangement of a marriage between Ruben Piper and a girl from the Townsmen-Family, to boost his influence on both. He also recruited his personal bodyguard of five men, a hedge-knight Roger Brecon of Stonegate (fourth son of a small house on the Fingers, an able fighter but not very noble indeed) and four sworn swords (all of them men he meet during Peril at King’s Landing). Paedrig take part in training the men, which were paid by Erick alone (and are not part of the regular forces).
Alyanna had also found another field of interest – after the strange whispers about Elen’s abilities she has started to read about magic what she could found (in fact not very much). The whole family did hold contact with the Weymouth, to supporting a further project of the Aran’s, marrying the heiress of Weymouth with Vickon Aran of Starbone.
In the neighbourhood, not all things went well. House Dannett is still dealing with the consequences of their two nearby-wars with Dragonport, and surely lord Dannett is hit hard by the illness of his son and the shame of his daughter (Ruben Piper claims his money, after he had not got his bride), while Tygor Wyl’s presence at the Dannett-castle may create a little glimmer of hope for the family. Their wealth is reduced, and while the trade with Dragonport did increase again, they sure are not out of trouble. The shadows of the past are strong, rumours and mocking songs coming in, about the “lady of the whores”, the “many times consummated apple” (a pomegranate is the sign of the house), about the tree, on which this apple hung and was picked (Iris worked also in the Green Tree Inn) – songs, which are stunningly detailed. This brought the possibility of further conflicts, because in the area the Blyth’s were those who know most outside the Dannett-family…
Gard reacted swift, letting one or two minstrels the choice between getting beaten and their instruments crushed, or to praise the Dannett’s and Blyth’s in public. Some people which could her mouth not keep quiet while on Dannett-land did not have so much luck…
It took some time, before Alyanna could find out, that it seems the songs and rumours started to spread from the area of the Kingsroad, where the Lugus (while original a family of the Westlands, but gaining some additional parts of land in the Riverlands after the war or the usurper) had an inn…
Meanwhile Erick (Paedrig should help him) get new orders from Gard. They should secretly buy a larger stock of salt. Salt is an important problem in Dragonport since the community grows – it is to cold for salt works (and the house have not enough wood), and there is not salt mine nearby. Most salt here comes from the Falkirks, which burn salty peat and cooking the ashes (the Weymouth did the same on smaller size) and get in this way a not very good type of salt. Since the relationship between Blyth and Falkirk are not the best and the production not very high, salt is expensive. So in Dragonport a lot of food is cooked with saltwater or saltwater-plants. In times of war and winter, salt becomes even more important (and expensive), because it is necessary to securing fish, flesh and fruits from decay.
Since Gard believes, that the next winter may come soon or late (the last was several years ago, and now he believes more and more, that the prophecy of the Manderly-boy about which he was told by Peadrig might become true). So he invested two hundred dragons in buying salt. Erick and Peadrig were able to master the task. They bought salt from several traders, letting no one know that they want to create a huge stock, so they could avoid that the prices lift up to much. And Erick proves again to be a hard fighter with words, when it comes to the question of bargaining. In the end, Dragonport get the salt for a good price, much less than you pay on the market, altogether around 13 tons. This was a very unheroic, but maybe in future important victory.
The Lord spend most of his time with work, but he also has improved the ranks of the dogs (including some young elk-hounds) and falcons and other birds of prey of the castle, and sometimes he (often with his wife) rides out for hunt or to show Meera the land which is her new home, mostly with Paedrig as part of the personal guard.
Most of the money house Blyth of Dragonport earns and nearly all of the former reserves were bound in the raising of the border-guard, and in Gard’s private project of improving the strength of his units. He buys weapons in great number, not only to equip the scouts, but also for his own men. New bows, crossbows, arrows with steal-heads and better melee-weapons for the archers, better weapons for the garrison-unit and the personal guard, better weapons and armour for the cavalry – hundreds of dragons will spread their wings and fly, gold will change into steel. The drums call able men to the arms to enlist in the border-guard – in the lands of the Blyth (both houses), the Aran’s, and in minor scale also in the Dannett- and Weymouth-land. In few weeks, 50 to 60 men began their training, while Gard also trained his own men hard (regular marches, perhaps three a month, weapons drill, training swimming in smaller rivers).
Additional, Gard steps up the presence of soldiers in the border-lands, together with the riders of Krayenhorn and Starbone the cavalry of Dragonport rides trough the disputed territory, coming in contact with the small communities, painting maps and searching for safe paths trough the wilderness. This soon results in some minor conflicts with small bands of clansmen. Paedrig tried to join these forces, but he was not able to convince the centenar of the riders, which do not like the bastard-knight, so he had to stay. About four weeks after the wedding, the cavalry returned home after clashing with a small band of clansmen, bringing with them some cattle (some of the infamous manhood-eating goats of the mountains and some small cows), chopped heads of slain enemies hanging on the saddles. One was also on the saddle of the lord, who proved his tactical skills and took full advantage of his men superior training and equipment. As the people of the castle coming together to welcome the homecoming victors and Meera greeting her husband with wine, it soon becomes clear for those who have sharp eyes, that his armour is broken, his face pale and covered with fever-sweat. He tried not to show it open, praising his soldiers, but after that called after Elen. Erick, who stayed during the examination, learned that Gard had a hard fight with his enemy, suffering two hard hits before defeating him. During the march back, a covered archer also hit him with an arrow. The wounds were partly infected, but at least the arrow seems not to be poisoned. It was in some aspects a grim reminder on the fate of his brother, first wounded in an ambush, than murdered while recovering – and this leads to some harsh words between the old lady and Gard. Lady Fiana did not want to lose her second son in a similar way, and she made it clear that it was not the duty of the lord to participate in any small skirmish, even more if this fights happened abroad. Alyanna, which helped Elen, and Eric could mollify her mother/sister in law a little bit.
The next days the lord stayed sick, but the wounds seem to be not life-threatening. His wife cared for him, helping Elen with the treatment of the wounded (under the surveillance of Gard’s mother which did not trust her). This sure brought the couple closer together, also some distance remained. Gard tried to use the time to learning more about his wife, asking her after her youth and telling her something about his life (for example about his experiences during the war on the Iron Isles), but to some kind Lady Meera stayed carefully and did not tell much about herself.
Gard was no man who rested long, even if he himself was immobilized. He calls a meeting after he recovers a little bit, bringing together several officers, Erick and Paedrig. He explained the problems, Dragonport has to face. The local production of weapons and armours is limited. The Aran’s with her mine produced a limited amount of weapons, and the Weymouth’s sells some bows, but for up to 300 bows and crossbows, often from better quality, for hundreds of swords, halberds, axes and lances, this sure was not enough. Asking traders to import the weapons would cost a lot. Also the local recruitment-pool was empty, with the scout-unit only a bit more than half complete. So he asked Erick to travel to White Harbour, to buy steal for crossbows, ivy for bows, better melee-weapons and armour, and also to ask the Manderly’s of White Harbour (You could find what is known about these house in the Campaign Guide on page 95) for permission to recruit able men as scouts. Erick accepted his new duty.
Of course he needed some men as support. The master of the hunt (Paedrig’s half-brother) should come with him to help to judge the recruits, and because Erick had to transport up to 1.000 dragons, he needs soldiers. He choose his private guard of five, Paedrig (Gard had ordered the young knight, because he trust his abilities) and also five men of the personal guard of Dragonport. Erick decided to travel with the help of Hakon Trader, a partner of him in business, which owns a small cog and two coastal-ships and who was active in the trade with the North (and even married a daughter of a merchant in White Harbor). Erick was able to bargain a very good price for transport there and back again. He used the days before travel for informing himself about potential partners in White Harbour from which he could buy what he wants. Paedrig searched for rumours about potential dangers on the three-day-travel. While there was no news about active pirates in the Bite for now, he could hear enough – much more than enough – about the dangers of sea-travel. He “learned” about cruel pirates which slay anyone they defeat, giant kraken, which pull ships to the bottom of the sea or could snatch a man even from the highest top of a ship, about huge whales and sharks, which could sink boats and even ships, swallowing swimmers, about sea-lions and sea-bears, which eat human flesh, about horrible storms and cliffs, about the monster-waves which could sink entire fleets and destroy towns on the shore and, and, and. Surely the young knight was in some ways “impressed”. Erick gets his “ration” of myths and legends later during the travel, also the stories about the “white death”, drifting icebergs and –fields from the north, and a story about “something” that lurks in the ice, occasional coming on board, about the messengers of the wandering death with their blue eyes, hands that claws trough doors, strangling any man in reach. He stays more sceptical also he noticed that some stories were believed by the men which told them.
One early morning, Erick and his men left the castle, the gold sharply guarded by the soldiers. The travel to White Harbour was not a pleasure for Erick, who deals not very well with the sea and stayed sea-sick the first two days. Because the ship was small and the placing were they rested (they did not travel during the night) were not very civilised (mainly the coast of the Neck – which added to the stories additional rumours about dangerous lizard-lions and snakes), cleaning was nearly impossible and the food was bad (and Erick was a leader who did look after every single penny, which he spend, even more when not for his own pleasure). The ship passed greater merchantman-ships, flotillas of smaller fishing boats, which followed the treasure of the sea, hunting smaller fishes and even sharks, little whales and so one. Some warships also pass, but galleys were rare in the North. Finally on the afternoon of the third day, they passed the bay of White Harbour and arrive the important port, the gate to the North. It must be mentioned, that at first during the travel the air was a bit frosty between Roger and Paedrig. The head of Ericks guards thought he was the better choice as leader of the soldiers on this little travel. On the other hand he could not say much against the decision of his lord – and his attempt to beat Paedrig in a training fight during the travel did not go as he planed, because he was defeated in a short time.
Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed
Salt, wood and steel, part two
Warning: The following details about the town of White Harbour are mainly individual fiction written before more information about this location emerged in the books, it is in great parts not based on information from G. R. R. Martin or by Green Ronin. Feel free to use (or ignore) them…
Castle and town of White Harbour are located on the shores of the river White Knife were he flows in the Bite. The river can be used for travelling up to the area of Winterfell, around 100 leagues in the North. White Harbour is the most important (or only real) town in the lands of the Starks. With over 10.000 inhabitants it is more than ten times bigger than Dragonport. Of course Peadrig was impressed by the size of the town. The “down town” near the harbour and the river-harbour with their smaller wooden houses and mainly narrow streets is not very impressive. It is not allowed to load goods directly from riverboats to saltwater-ships and vice versa, they must be presented and sold first in the town (many outside lords and merchantmen did not like that very much). Even from their ship, the visitors could see the source of the wealth of White Harbour – ships from all around the Seven Kingdoms, perhaps even beyond, huge “mountains” of packages and long warehouses, and giant numbers of fishing-boats which bring their booty to their harbour. The people on land come from Westeros and beyond, half a dozen languages could be heard if you walk hundred yards. The port was full of inns, traders, whores, brothels and sailors but harboured also some houses from better quality for captains, officers and merchantmen, which are located in some distance from the fishing pier.
The safety in the whole town was in the hands of the “Mermen”, garrison-soldiers with the arms of house Manderly, wearing blue-green cloaks, short swords and tridents.
The lifestyle in White Harbour differs from the south. The people were mainly from the blood of the first men, even if they are mixed with other blood here. And while the Manderly believe in the Seven (and many of their people and visitors also do), there is a sacred place for the trees of the old gods, because there is no mistreatment for believers of the old gods. The people drank more beer than wine, seafood is very common and the cooks of White Harbour are famous for their art, especially with fishes. Important goods for trade are fur and wood, but also exotica like unicorn-horns (some look like ivory, others more like horn), and horn and wood are much more used for daily needs than in the south. Bows and crossbows (and other goods) could be found, build of whalebone, sometimes very precious and well-forged pieces, and you could find goods for which sharkskin and teeth, sword of swordfishes, shells etc. were used, and also things from outside of Westeros. The North himself export also living animals via White Harbour – aurochs for bullfighting, bears which could be trained as fighters or dancing-bears (mainly young animals, which mothers were killed) and sometimes also other animals (wolves and so on).
In the area of the harbour you could find masses of people, mud and smell, whores, small traders, thieves and people from around the world. If you leave the area of the harbour, craftsmen dominate, the muddy streets have boards of stone for walking. Here are the markets and there are lesser dirt and strangers, everything looks a little bit more solid. The part of the town towards the castle looks and behaves different – you can feel the wealth, the streets are paved with flagstones, the market sells precious goods, for example art from the famous silversmiths of Whit Harbour, security is high.
The new castle was greater than Dragonport or Starbone, a real castle – huge walls with half a dozen towers, a massive gate, a great keep and a smaller (for guests), with a strong garrison. The Manderly are much more committed to the idea of knighthood than many other parts of the North.
There were several possibilities to spend time. There were regular fighting-contests outside of the town, in which the lower people (and also some noblemen) proofed themselves as more or less able archers while the common folk also fight against each other with spears or staffs.
The group from Dragonport choose an inn which Hakon Trader had favoured – a more civilised (and boring) house than many others in the harbour-region. Some of the soldiers of lord Erick were send to the markets to hold their ears open about the situation on the trade with weapons and armour (even before Hakon Trader was “interrogated” which men would be the best addresses), and Roger was sent to castle White Harbour to ask for the permission of a meeting between lord Manderly and Erick and entourage. He did his duty with success.
The next day, Erick, Roger and Peadrig meet Lord Wyman Manderly. They had brought with them some gifts (a sweet wine from inside the riverlands), which was welcomed. Lord Wyman might be fat and mainly famous for his appetite, but he was well informed about the troubles in the south and interrogated them, for which purpose they need the men and weapons they want to get. He did not want to get into trouble if he helped to fuel a local feud – or at least he want to be paid well for doing so. Erick was able to convince the lord about the good intentions of house Dragonport and to minimize the amount of money he had to pay (even the support of Maester Theomore did not help Lord Wyman much). So the emissary of Dragonport get the permission he wanted and could later meet with the commander of the local garrison, Ser Marlon Manderly, to discuss on which places recruiting may be successful. Paedrig and Erick also paid condolence (the first more honest than the second) to lord Brandon Manderly, which son Eddard they had escorted from Eaglewood some months before to Dragonport (the young man which had some strange visions about coming danger was washed away/ jumped into the sea on his travel to White Harbour). The Manderly’s did not blame Dragonport for this incident, because it happened after Eddard was on board of a ship of his own town.
The next days were full of activities. Paedrig and Wulf Rivers (his half-brother) were in charge of recruiting the men for the scout-unit which should protect the borders against the clansmen. Men were sent to inns, brothels and markets to call hunters and other men to the arms, offering money and ale for free. The volunteers were interrogated about their career and abilities, and had to choose how well they fight, trace, shoot and could survive and operate in the wilderness (the last abilities were only tested in theory). Wulf and Peadrig were able to sort out some potential troublemakers and some people who only claim to be able, and in the end they had a mixed force of between 40 and 50 men with certain abilities. Most of them were local men, but some came even from the hill-clans of the North, and at least one (called Loren) was a crannogman which had strayed into the civilized world, a man which may not be a very good archer, but excellent with net and frog spear (he was a secondary char for Ericks player, for cases in which it would unlikely that the lord would take part in the adventure). The neckman has soon to learn that even in the North not all people respect or at least ignore his kind – he had to fight a brawl with one of his fellow soldiers, but was able to defeat him.
Beside of this duties Paedrig bought some gifts for his relatives in Krayenhorn – seven miniatures of ivory for his uncle (one for every of the Seven) and a real precious fur of a white bear for his aunt. He was also able to show his abilities in some training-fights with the younger knights at the castle, which must accept that the bastard was surely a good warrior.
Erick was able to bargain with the local traders to buy the weapons and armour Dragonport needed – and to a fair price. He was careful enough to avoid that the traders learned how much he needed, buying smaller amount of goods from different men, before they could speak to each other and raise the prices altogether. And he was able to look after the quality of the goods. He used his free time to buy a huge book about the Nightwatch, a gift for his nephew Gard, and looked also for foreign books in translation (at White Harbour, there were also books about places beyond the sea, some in common language), but found nothing what he want. Furthermore he was able to hire a young cook who just finished his training at White Harbour Castle (Erick, who had lived a great part of his life in Oldtown and King’s Landing found the life at Dragonport a bit too much…rustically).
The voyage back started not very good. The weather was a little bit rougher, and nearly a half or more of the recruits had clear problems with becoming seasick. Paedrig did his best to organize and advice them on board and during the nights on land (and he tries to counter Roger and some other men from the Dragonport-forces, which mocked the recruits with stories about their future enemies in the mountains). On the morning of the last day of the travel, he noticed something going on the open sea. It seems that a greater cog, the “Brandon” (named after Brandon the builder, a ship which travels often between White Harbour, Dragonport, Gulltown and sometimes King’s Landing) was attacked by a smaller ship. The flag of the pirate showed a skeleton with a battleaxe. He demanded to intervene, given the fact that several dozen of armed men were at hand (the recruits, which were not “green”). The captain of the “Tide daughter” was not very happy about the possibility of a fight – emotions which were shared by Lord Erick, who was willing to shoot after the attacker, but did not want to join direct combat hand to hand (fearing for the fright and that his men were not trained in combat on board). But helping effective via firing was not so easy, because it would cost time to reach a proper position, so that very likely the melee would start earlier. At this time firing would help not much because the men of the Brandon and the pirates would be to close together to find clear targets. So he had only the choice between passing and firing some arrows (which would not help much) or join the fight directly. He opt for the first, against Peadrigs emotional words, and the “Tide daughter” left the scene, causing only minor damage, and also getting only some hits.
After arriving in Dragonport, Erick informed the harbour (and the lord) about what happened. The welcoming was mixed. Lord Gard was happy with the results at White Harbour, which saved him almost two hundred dragons, and he offers Erick as reward two barrels of fine wine from the Arbor and Dorne, Paedrig get a precious castleforged left-hand dagger and the right to choose in which unit he wants to become petty-captain/centenary, in the ranks of the personal guard or the riders. But Gard did not conceal that he was really disappointed that his uncle had avoided helping the “Brandon” (and that worsen the disposition from Paedrig towards Erick also drastically). He organized a watch in the harbour (an idea from Paedrig), warned the traders and lords and send message to the Sisters, also starting to searching after information about lost ships, messages from attacks and about foreign ships, but more he could not do for now. Some days later news came, that the crew of the “Brandon” was massacred, the fright plundered and the ship was left drifting in the Bite – a strange and cruel behaviour for normal pirates, which often either steal the ship to or did not find their pleasure in killing ALL people on board.
Lord Gard, in the meantime healed from his wounds, thank those who cared for him and gave them rewards – Elen, his mother and his wife. It seems that his wounds were healed without further complications.
With the new men and weapons, the scout-unit could be formed in short time, officers were promoted, the units of Dragonport started to be “upgraded”, too. Loren decided not to join the unit, because Wulf Rivers asked him if he not better want to work for Dragonport directly as a hunter under his order.
In an official ceremony, the new scout unit was sworn in to her formal commander, Lord Gawan Blyth of Krayenhorn, while Gard and an emissary of Starbone were present. The men were well armed, but wearing as only sign a patch with a black ravens head on the shoulder. Than the unit marched out, to protect the lands of the Aran’s and Blyth’s (both branches) against the enemies from the mountains – while it seems possible, that another foe might emerge on the shores…
Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed
A Dornish Tradition
The weeks after the return of Erick and Paedrig from White Harbour were quite busy, not only in Dragonport. Rumours spread that the King rides to the North with many men, likely to choose his old friend Eddard Stark as new ,Hand’.
For now no news came to house Blyth about the pirates which had strike in the Bite, but Dragonport stayed in high alert (after all, the town was at least once plundered by pirates before, and lives from sea-trade). For now the trade seem to work undisrupted and the income of the house stays on a good level thanks to the port and market place. Concerning possible problems with the pirates Gard spoke with the elders of the town, and the alderman Ablar Townsman had the idea of spreading rumours about a precious ship (perhaps similar to Erick’s and Paedrigs last mission), because he was certain the pirates may have spies in the town. The ship of course would be a trap, a idea which the lord seem to like – since it was clear for him that there was no way to hunt the raiders down easily, because the Bite was great and many of its coasts were no-mans-land, especially large parts of the coast towards the Neck in the West or between the sea and the Mountain of the Moon. On the other hand, the elders were not willing for now to spend money in supporting such a project. In addition, Gard keeps up the speed to arming his men.
Meanwhile the newly recruited scouts had started their duty in the borderlands. For now the clans stayed quiet, perhaps driven away after Lord Gards small victory and the presence of a new well armed force.
Ericks business was until now not harmed by the pirates, and he was happy that with his new cook life-stile improved a little bit for him. Loren did his duty as second hunter, learning as much as he could about living under “civilised” people, caring for the dogs and so on, but staying in some distance to Wulf Rivers, his direct leader. Paedrig changed his position from an officer in the personal guard to second in command in the ranks of the cavalry, a duty which send him to the disputed territories regularly. Because of that he was not present during the following events, instead riding along the borders.
Meanwhile the conflict between the old and the new lady of castle Dragonport had died down a little bit, leaving only some cold resentment but no open barbs. Clearly the new lady improved her position by getting closer with her husband, maybe because his nearby-death remind she that if he dies she surely would be send back to her family, instead of becoming the lady of Dragonport. Perhaps this was also a reason that she decided to invite her husband into her bed (Gard did not consummate the marriage until now because he cared for her health before/after the abortion and even more was worried about her feelings about the abortion and that she was raped/forced by ,Ser Strife’).
Alyanna, which still visited the Weymouth from time to time to help the Aran’s in marrying her youngest son Vickon to the only child of the other house, Naerys, was informed by her spies, that the Lugus seem to have still interests in the very neighbourhood of Dragonport. House Lugus hold not only their mainland and castle on the border between River- and Westlands at the Ironman’s Bay but also a small fiefdom on the Kingsroad westwards from the Twins, where they had a prosperous inn, a fortified tower and some soldiers, which were now improved in numbers. The Lugus, she learned, had contacts with the Weymouth, obviously in the hope to merry one of HER sons with the heiress of the house, and also messages were exchanged with house Falkirk, the old rival of house Blyth of Dragonport. There the subject of the contacts stayed hidden. Maybe they want an alliance against house Blyth, or perhaps instead or additional a marriage between the sister of the young Falkirk-lord and one Lugus-son or between the youngest Lugus-daughter and the Falkirk-lord? Alyanna decided to go on with spying against the enemy houses, informing her uncle Erick which was more or less the only person in the household which was able to see trough her masks. He gave the information along to Gard, claiming them as discovered by him but praising also Alyanna, which he claims had found out some of the information in gossip with the Weymouth’s. Gard informed the Aran’s, and Erick and Alyanna came to the conclusion to harm the Lugus’ interests as much as possible, for example by enforced spreading of rumours about past and present acts of cruelty and infamy, mocking songs and so on.
For house Dannett bad and good news come side by side. Iris Dannett and Tygor Wyl were promised to each other (Gard send some presents, trying to improve the relationship with the house), but Lord Dannett had no success with his complains against house Lugus which he had send to the Twins (the Frey’s are liege-lords both for the Aran’s and in this way for the Dannett’s, and also for the Riverland-realm of the Lugus). The rumours about Iris were getting even more poisoned, now speaking about a ,bitch-bastard’ which she either strangled or left in the wilderness after giving birth to him – clearly no insults which calm the mood of her father, brother and future husband.
It seems that the Dannett’s were in need of allies, and since Gard had an interest in ending the old feud and perhaps finding potential friends against HIS foes he ordered a warm welcome when news arrived, that Adham and Iris Dannett with Tygor Wyl want to visit Dragonport. A small feast was prepared by Erick and Alyanna (nothing expensive but a good chance for Erick’s cook to show what he could do), and some musicians and artists were hired in Dragonport. Gard decided to avoid more active events like ,higher’ hunt or fighting-contests, remembering that young Adham might not be happy to see young men in action while he was still suffering from the tears of Lys which nearly killed him. Gard made clear, that under NO circumstances any of the rumours about Iris should be mentioned – with harsh punishment if someone did not follow – and informed also the centenar of the town’s garrison to take care that all things went well there.
During the visit a small hunt with birds of prey were organized, and Tygor Wyl used a chance to speak with Gard under four eyes. It seems clear that there was no real chance for punishment of the Lugus in legal way, but an open attack would surely anger the Frey’s, which had not interest that two houses which are more or less directly sworn to them harm each other. He was also worried about the arming of the Riverland-garrison of the Lugus and the constant intrigues (the rumours he also blamed – rightly – to the Lugus). So he voted for an old Dornish tradition in internal feuds and against the northern neighbours, called razzia (raid). He was informed that the Lugus were at the moment recruiting a new unit of cavalry for their Riverland-garrison. He wanted to steal the horses, at best during travel but if necessary also if they still have arrived, a operation of perhaps a dozen men from the Dannett’s and Blyth’s, acting without banners and marching away from the streets, driving the horses to the south and selling them there.
Gard agreed – he also want no full-size war, but was deeply angered and insulted by the actions of the Lugus which nearly drove his house into war with the Dannett’s some months ago and tried to harm his reputation deeply. He also found attacks against the military might of the Lugus more appealing than honourless attacks against their peasants. Together with his officers and supported by Erick he prepared the raid in secret, claiming openly it would be only another long range border-patrol as he did some in the past. He did not know if the Lugus may have spies around, so even the soldiers were not told what the real mission would be. Some good fighters and men with knowledge about horses were chosen and prepared for a longer journey, as were Wulf and Loren, and Wulf also prepared the meeting with a local guide which knows the paths in the area best.
Gards mother (she and his wife were included in the discussion because Gard see them both as rulers if he was absent and want to hear their opinions) welcomed the idea of the raid, but was opposing the idea that he want to take part, since he still had no heir and was wounded only some weeks ago. Gard was able to convince her that he needs such small victories to raise the respect of the men towards him (which in many cases were still the men of his dead brother). Meera stayed more or less silent.
Some days later the ,patrol’ left Dragonport, changed direction in the wilderness and at a secret place they meet Tygor Wyl and his men, bringing the numbers to around one and a half dozen men. The journey to the land of the Lugus was more or less without special events, but exhausting. Possible ways for the escape after the raid were discussed with Tom Hunt, the local guide, which also mentioned that he knows a possible contact which would buy the horses (original plan was to sell them on a southern market some days away from the Lugus-land). The men of course did not wear colours, mostly only light armour, and weapons which may draw attention were concealed (like the Valyrian blade ,Scorpion’ of Tygor Wyl).
The group take cover on a hidden location outside the land of the Lugus (secretly Gard ask himself sometimes from which source Hunt knows so much about the tactics of cattle-thieves...). Tygor Wyl decided to meet his local contact a last time, which brought him information that the horses were already here as were some riders in addition to the regular garrison (a unit archers), and that the commander, a man called Hill (perhaps a Bastard-Lugus) was a tough guy, but most of his men seem not to take their duty very serious. Also there were rumours that one of the Lugus-brothers (it was unclear if it would be Naton, a tough fighter which was maimed in duel by Paedrig at King’s Landing, or Orten, a more cunning and treacherous man which may be the brain behind the Lugus-intrigues) would visit the tower in some days. The raiders had to act swiftly, but Gard convinced Tygor that it would be better to wait at least one day so that the scouts could spy on the tower.
It becomes clear, that the Lugus were not awaiting an attack but work to improve their defences. The tower now should get a palisade, which was half-complete at best. The horse-pen had two watchmen, as were two on the top of the tower. Dogs were not present.
The plans were made during the next day for the attack in the coming night. Wulf, Hunt and Loren should shoot down the watchmen on the tower – together with on or two other archers – just in the moment when two men (Gard and Tygor) would ride “harmless” and open to the pen, claiming to be simple travellers (two men surely did not look after an attack), drawing their weapons at short distance and riding forward. The rest of the men would advance after that, opening the pen and driving the horses out. After that the men and horses would march in hurry down the Kingsroad, leaving the road at dawn, after that marching on smaller paths to meet Hunts contact and sell the horses.
,Of course’ it does not went completely as planed. When the archers sneak in, someone of them was spotted and a first half-hearted call of alarm was heard. The attack was now started in hurry, and some Lugus men were killed or wounded, the horses driven away (but not all, some escaped in the wilderness). The archers of the attackers fired ,suppressing fire’ while the men of the Lugus awake and try to regroup, but were not fast enough. Retreat was ordered by Gard, which was wounded by axe and arrow but managed to fight on, and Tygor. Loren falls from his horse in that hasty retreat, but his Lord helped him out, taking him on his horse. In the end several men were wounded and one was missing, around thirty horses (rounsey’s and a single palfrey) captured. The group could not search after the missing man, a problem which could lead to mayor trouble if the man would be captured and interrogated, but now they had to retreat before the garrison could organize enough horses to follow the attackers, or the Lugus-son arrives, perhaps with enough men to doing so.
The next days the men ride southwards, avoiding the Kingsroad, hiding their traces as good as they could (of course not very successful for forty-plus horses, even if the hunters work very well) and even leaving some simple traps behind them to slowing possible enemies down (ropes across the way and small pits to harm horses, sometimes with hidden stakes or stakes in the water when the path crosses a river). Loren did manage a huge part of the work, exhausting himself, while Gard had no problems in managing watchmen-duty and help to care for wounded (he may be a lord, but one with no problem to get dirty hands if necessary). They marched hard, exhausting themselves and the horses, but successful avoiding clashes with the Lugus. After four days they reached the village of Hunt’s contact in the disputed areas near the mountains – only to discovering that the man was just hanged for selling weapons to the clansmen. After that it was decided to change direction sharply, driving the horses to homeland instead of riding further south (which would exhausting the horses even more, making them hard to sell), giving them time to recover and changing the brands. To cover the change in direction the hunters started a huge grass- and bushfire, which spread rapidly. It seems that the idea worked, and after some additional days of marching the group finally reached Dannett-land, were they departed, and the Blyth-party rides home.
Some days later it become clear that the lost man have had luck, he was neither killed nor captured but managed to come home wounded. But it seems likely that while no clear evidence was left of the guilt of Dannett and Blyth in the attack, the hate of the Lugus may grow further. News came, that the Lugus-son Naton was shot and killed by ,bandits’ during his attempted to catch the raiders. It seems very likely for Gard and the others that his brother Orten had returned to the old Lugus-tradition of eradicating people which stand on higher position in the ranks of the heirs, but now he had someone he could blame…
The mysterious information source of Tygor Wyl seemed to be Jeyne Fielders, called ,Blackbird’, a young minstrel he, Erick and Paedring had meet at King’s Landing where she had her own trouble with the Lugus and no hesitation to spy for money. But Tygor was more able in recruiting a spy than WORKING with her, because his meeting with her did not went as unseen as hoped, so that she had to flew – and was granted asylum and a good salary at castle Dragonport, maybe also a trace which will lead to house Blyth as part in the attack. In the end, the whole raid was more or less a success, at least for now. The booty was small, but Lugus had suffered a minor hit, which cost them time, money and perhaps men, and of course house Blyth had earned respect from their old rivals, the Dannetts. But will the Lugus take revenge and how will her new heir Orten react? Will his attempts to get a foot in the door by marriage or alliance be fooled or will he succeed? No one knows for sure…
Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed
Duties and Honours – part I
The weeks after the secret raid were more or less peaceful, at least in the beginning. The local trade flourished and the arming of Dragonports units was completed. In addition secret preparations were made to strengthen the forces of house Blyth even further if necessary. Eric cared for his personal business, Paedrig tried to act as a new cavalry-officer. Alyanna kept up her secret intrigues and researches. After a second ominous warning from Elen, that she did foresee great bloodshed in the south, but did not know how Dragonport would be involved (since she saw a dragon in her dreams, and there was a dragon on the arms of the house), the young lady also searched intensively for information about magical phenomenon’s in the area. Alyanna discovered a lot of details, but most seemed to be only gossip. She heard many local stories (about ghosts, the magic abilities of the Neck people and so on), about witches and skinchangers of the clans in the mountains, even rumours about a local group of magicians/witches long LONG time ago. There were rumours that some areas in the region “darkened” during the Long Night, a shadow which never completely faded away, and tales about a dragon in the mountains before or during the coming of the Andals, whose fall might have lead to the name “Starbone” of the castle of house Aran (but it was still unclear if he was slain in the age of heroes or during the Andal conquest. Perhaps the falling star which gave the castle of the local liege-lord its name WAS the dragon). Of course there were also some tales about a witch an her dragon after the Dance of the Dragons, who founded the clan of the Burned Men, but that were rumours from an area of the Mountains of the Moon which lays far in the south. Also rumours existed about magic abilities in the ranks of the local healers of house Blyth of Dragonport, about strange blood in the houses Weymouth and Blyth of Krayenhorn, coming from the north or the Neck people and so on…
Some time ago a maester of the Citadel, named Roderick, had done some research about local tales, magic remnants, witches, oracles and magic places of the region but he had left after some years and took his books with him, possibly to Oldtown. This happened years before Roberts Rebellion.
Alyanna told Elen about her information, but the rumours about the magic abilities of the clans were nothing new for the young woman from the wilderness – and the old tales about magicians and witches at the time of the andal invasion seem to be of little interest for Elen. However Elen reacted to the (even older) tales about the remnants of the Long Night. Alyanna was not able to get more out of Elen for the moment.
In the more rational area, there was also some news. House Dannett, Aran, Blyth of Krayenhorn and Blyth of Dragonport tried to strengthen their new connections (forged by recent agreements, marriage and aid) by a military manoeuvre in which up to hundred armoured riders would take part. For house Blyth of Dragonport and house Dannet this was also an opportunity to intimidate potential enemies (although the situation was a little bit…complicated given the fact that house Fallkirk, a potential enemy of Dragonport, did have good ties to the Dannetts in the past – and to house Aran).
House Dannett also tried to muster additional troops (light cavalry) which they wanted to send into the south after the planned marriage of Ser Tygor Wyl and Iris Dannett to help him to claim his birth rights as heir of house Wyl of Boneway Castle. Therefore they needed money, arms and horses. A great three day fair market at Dragonport that should be held in the same time the manoeuvres took place would be a good opportunity to get some of this and to bargain with their new ‘friends’ for additional aid.
While Lord Gard of Dragonport was busy organizing the military manoeuvres and to meet the Lords of the houses Aran and Dannett (his sister Alyanna take part in this journey, partly because she supported some plans of Lord Aran to wed his son Vickon to the Weymouth, partly because she was a gifted negotiator), Gard let his wife Lady Meera, his mother Lady Fiana and his uncle Lord Eric organize the fair market. In the weeks before Meera was actually very successful in manipulating her husband who had great interest in her sympathy and now began to trust (and love) her, so she got more liberties and power than before and replaced more and more Gard’s mother as trusted person on his side, maybe exactly what she had in mind. Secretly her agenda goes even further, to remove the old lady from the castle altogether, perhaps by suggesting she may join the Faith. She was already able to win the septon of Dragonport as some sort of support, but that plan was far from realized.
Given the fact that the air between the mother and the wife of the lord was still a little bit…frosty (and that Meera also secretly did not like Eric very much) the cooperation of this three was not as easy at its sound, although hidden mistrust stayed under the surface.
While Lady Meera did prepare the welcome festival for the guests from Krayenhorn (Lord Gawan and Lady Anya) and the Dannetts (Adham Dannett and Tygor Wyl), Eric’s duty was the organization of the great market. He bargained with the city elders about who should do what, how much the city elders and house Blyth should spent for the event etc.
Despise the fact that Eric Blyth was supported by some of the council members and (half hearted) by Lady Meera, the alderman of the city, Ablar Townsman, was able to beat Eric in the negotiations – house Blyth had to pay more than it was planned. Lady Meera later remarked (perhaps a little bit sarcastic) to Eric that he perhaps should marry into the family of Ablar Townsman instead of unsuccessfully trying to beat him in an intrigue (Townsman in fact had already mentioned such a possibility).
Eric did not comment this, but for the great market he was willing to act as one of the market judges (an honourable but boring and sometimes tricky position given the plenty problems which can arise during a fair market).
In the meantime Ser Paedrig Rivers did pay special attention to the question of security. With permission of Lord Eric and Lady Meera he selected men of the personal guard of house Blyth and ordered them into the city to assist the city guards and watch over the goods of the merchantmen, artisans, guests etc. They should prevent any trouble and stay alert for potential problems (after all house Blyth did have some serious problems with clansmen and pirates, a feud with house Lugus etc.). He was able to find the right men for these duties.
To get enough money for his ambition in Dorne, Tygor Wyl (assisted by Adham Dannett) asked Eric for some money (200 gold dragons), promising him some profit if Tygor Wyl might be successful - and some land of the Dannetts as security, if the Dannett/Wyl-attempt failed. Eric was quite happy with the deal he brokered with the two young men.
Adham and Tygor also bargained with Lord Gawan of Kraynehorn to get horses for a good price. Paedrig stayed out of this because he did not know who he should help – his uncle or the man who knighted him?
Instead of this he used much of his time to accompany his aunt Lady Anya. He soon recognized that she was a little bit disappointed because her husband let her out of all important business (in Lord Gawans opinion his 17 year old wife was too young and careless for such topics), giving her only some minor task (buy some goods for Krayenhorn etc.). Paedrig used this opportunity to increase the intention of his secret love towards him by telling her everything he did know about the ‘important stuff’ (politics, military plans etc.). He also gave her the opportunity to ride on his new horse Nymeria, a beautiful dornish sand steed Paedrig (a gift by Ser Tygor Wyl after Paedrig had helped him during the tourney in King’s Landing to get back the valyrian sword of house Wyl). Lucky for both, Lord Gawan did not notice this – he was never very fond of the ‘unwomanly’ activities of his wife (hunting, riding through the wilderness etc.).
The young lady was quiet impressed by the attentiveness of her (two year younger) nephew and her intention towards Paedrig increased to friendly. Slowly the situation between Paedrig and Anya became a little bit…dangerous, given the fact that the lady also slowly began to realize his feelings for her.
When Lady Anya and Alyanna meet, the young lady of Krayenhorn used the opportunity to ask Alyanna for some fighting lectures (Anya had heard that Gard allowed his sister to practise with real weapons and was quite curious). Alyanna agreed (that she could train her abilities which she learned in King’s Landing was a result of a failed attempt to kidnap her and that Dragonport was still in a hostile environment). However they trained secretly because Anyas traditional and pious husband would not like the idea of women who could fight.
Meanwhile Eric was busy with the duties of a market judge. There was much to broker, bargain and organize, quiet a number of little problems between locals and guests etc. However he also did have to deal with some drunken scouts who wanted to celebrate their free time and created some trouble. With the help of Paedrig (who arrived a little later) he was able to calm the waves without disturbing the festivity.
But the next morning a much more serious problem got the attention of Eric and Paedrig. They got the news that Marian Strand, a young maid from Dragonport, was brutally raped and beaten during the night – a crime which harmed the peace of the festival seriously, angering and disturbing many people. After all in a city of only 1000+ people such crimes did not happen very often, and quickly some people blamed the foreign merchantmen and guests of the market.
Following Paedrig’s hint Eric ordered Elen Fairyeyes (healer of Dragonport and more competent than the healers of the city) to look after the girl before she was interrogated. Eric did everything to minimize the public effect of the crime. He was able to convince the frightened and traumatized young girl to tell him everything about the rapist, getting a good description and the information that the clothes of the man did smell of fire and ash.
With this information it was able to start some investigation, focussing on blacksmiths, bakers etc. Soon the list of potential suspects went down to two names. Eric wanted to interrogate them himself but Paedrig convinced him that it would be better to let him and two lightly armed personal guards do the job.
The search did not last very long, because the first suspect (a journeyman of a local blacksmith) attacked Paedrig and tried to flee when he noticed the cause of their arrival. After a short fight he was overwhelmed and imprisoned.
Eric decided that it would be proper to let Lord Gard judge this serious crime but he ordered to put the suspect into the pillory and (after a hint of Lady Meera) let him be whipped brutally to give the people what they want.
He also give Paedrig a reward for his prompt and able actions but the sum (1/2 gold dragon which Paedrig should share with the two guards who assisted him) mostly angered the young knight. After all Lord Gard was normally much more generous. Some friendly and warm-hearted words might have been more appreciated than this money which Paedrig took as an insult.
In the meantime the military manoeuvres took place and most troops did their part quite well, as did the men from Dragonport. However the performance of the Dannett troops was not so good – perhaps because of the bad health of Lord Alfric Dannett, a man of over 50 years with a fragrant constitution. His heir Adham did his best while he visited the troops but it was obvious that he also had health problems (long term consequences of his poisoning at Kings Landing). Gard and Alyanna Blyth also recognized that the young man might show some kind of interest into Alyanna although he did not act towards his interests.
Lord Vickon Aran was more interested in politics. He asked Adham Dannett about his future plans for himself and his house (perhaps Lord Aran was interested in a good marriage for his grandchild Elyssa?).
Lord Aran also mentioned his hopes that the feud between Blyth and Fallkirk could be ended (or at least dimmed) like the old Dannett-Blyth feud. However Gard was not very fond of this idea and stated out his believes that the Fallkirk’s might aided and armed the clansmen who attacked Dragonport some month ago. Lord Aran remembered Gard that it was his idea to build a ‘limites’ (line of watch towers, supported by mobile scout units) against the clans – a plan that could only become reality with the support of house Fallkirk. This did not impress Gard very much because he had come to the conclusion that his ambitious idea of a permanent defence line might be too expensive.
It was also obvious that house Aran planned to strengthen its might and influence f. e. by gaining an additional banner house.
Beside this Lord Aran acted concerned by the rumours about pirates at the Bite and mentioned that he might be willing to spend some money and men if a trustworthy ally of house Aran want to build some warships (given the fact that house Aran did have no coast line or port they could not built their own fleet). Gard was more interested in increasing the position of house Blyth in comparison to the other vassals of Lord Aran. During the following intrigue Gard was quite better than Lord Aran but decided not to press his luck – in the end he get a (vague) promise of a better standing of house Blyth for the (likewise vague) promise that he would try do built a naval force “if possible”. The specific details of this agreement were left open for the moment.
Last edited by Kajani; 12-01-2016 at 11:15 AM.
Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed
I do not know why, but there seem to be problems when I want to post a greater text, so I have to split it up, sory
After Alyanna and Gard – who seem to be glad to be at home and reunited with his young wife – returned, the Lord seem satisfied with the way in which the market was handled. He was concerned after he heard about the crime and ordered the suspect to be interrogated, a task which he managed by himself. Robyn Ash denied the rape – his attack against Paedrig he of course had to admit – claiming that the girl was a whore who deserved beating because she had tried to steal his money, but he was intimidated from the Lord until he confessed that this was a lie. Gard decided that his crimes were to hard to be punished only by money/forced work, and that maiming him as it would in his eyes just – castrated for the rape and a hand cut of for breaking the peace of his lord and attacking an knight – would also minimize the possibility of be a useful (which mean profitable) part of the society. Given the fact that both crimes happened during a critical time, when disturbing social peace could reduce the income of his lord in a significant way (during an important market-day), Ash was condemned to death by the sword. It was Paedrig’s duty (or privilege) to fulfil the Lord’s sentence with Gard’s battle-proofed two-handed sword, some days after the market in a public ceremony, which he did in a perfect way with a single clean strike. Ash did swear and fight to his last moment. Social peace was restored and the law was fulfilled (and some entertainment shown).
Re: Campaign Chronicle: Loyal But Untamed
Duties and Honours – part II
Some day later news arrives that the King’s party including the new “hand” and the future daughter-in-law of the king would soon pass the Kingsroad which is located not far away from Dragonport. Of course it was the duty of the local houses under house Aran to arrange housing, food, drink and entertainment for these high guests, even if they not visit any of the castles. House Dragonport as local centre did bear a great part of the logistic burden (and had to spend several dragons, additional some for presents for the guests). Eric was able to master his part of these problem well, even rescuing some money, and Paedrig gathered around ten men from the cavalry as honour-guards. The lord prepared a welcome-speech (of course he would speak after Lord Aran) and his uncle and wife take care that the words were put in the right way. While Gard was quiet loyal to Robert, he was not so happy with the new “hand” for the kingdom – a man far from the North with another religion. Gard thought that a man from the South – even Tywin Lannister, Doran Martell or Stannis Baratheon – might perhaps be a better choice, and that it might be better if Joffrey would be wed to the Martell-girl to bind Dorne to the other parts of Westeros, not becoming the groom of the daughter of a man who was loyal anyway. Of course he would never articulate his thoughts open, but he had them in mind – and his relatives were able to help him to conceal this thinking. Gard and his lady join the journey to swear loyalty to the king and to greet him. Of course members from most of the local houses were at the place were the King’s party should camp – the liege-lord, Lord Aran, but also members of house Dannett, house Falkirk, house Weymouth and the Septrie Eaglewood.
When the visitors arrived, they were welcomed warmly. A man with sharp senses could notice that king and queen were both a little bit annoyed of the endless stream of lower nobles which try to impress them. But Lord Aran and later Gard were able to find the right words for the king (perhaps less for the queen or lord Stark). The meal and entertainment was well organized and went well, beside some minor events.
At one point Paedrig and (very late) Erick mentioned that among the children which played on the “down” part of the table also a huge…dog?...was present, which was on his way to snatching some food from the people. Erick hastily retreated while Paedrig stay, only to learn that the young girl next to the dog was lady Arya Stark with her direwolf Nymeria. He was quiet surprised by the appearance of the lady (at first thinking she was only a lowborn girl from the camp-followers), although he had heard some strange whispers about the “wolf-pack” which was with the Stark-children.
Both he and Erick (which made his round under the lower nobles to collect some gossip and heard about the tragic fate of Bran Stark, about some conflicts between the queen and the king concerning the question who should be the next “hand”, about Stannis Baratheon being deeply insulted for not being chosen for the job and about the question when the children of Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark would wed) could later see from a distance that Sansa Stark, which stayed at the upper end of the table, was also accompanied by a direwolf, a wonderful “cultivated” animal called Lady with much better manners than Nymeria.
This was not the last (in)famous person Paedrig meet – he was suddenly slapped in the neck and when he turned around he looked into the face of a slightly drunken Sandor Clegane, searching after the “Bastard of Dragonport”. It comes to light that Ser Naton Lugus, which was maimed by Paedrig at King’s Landing in duel, was a relative of Sandor (Naton’s mother was a cousin of Sandor’s father). Paedrig had to follow the older fighter, cursing secretly that he was unarmed, and face Sandor away from the feast. Sandor did his best to intimidate him – with some success – by his menacing presence. But in the end it becomes clear that Sandor had indeed no real wish for revenge – only a dark sense of humour, in which he want frightened the young knight and learn more about a man who maimed a good fighter like Ser Naton Lugus. Given the fact that Clegane did not to like his relatives (neither the Lugus nor other), he did not bear real anger against Paedrig. He showed little respect (in fact voiced disrespect) for Paedrigs knighthood, claiming that knights smell and die as any other men, and that only a fool tries to be something “better” than he was. He also warned Paedrig that insulting people with Lugus AND Clegane-blood meant that he must live carefully, or might become a lot less attractive than Sandor himself. Paedrig take these words serious and informed his lord about the warning. He was also able to calm an escalating conflict between his lord and the freshly knighted Torrhen Falkirk, which was clearly jealous to see Gard happy with his wife (and even more seeing Meera smiling towards her husband).
On the next morning the king and his followers leave, and the local lords travel home. They may not have made a huge impression, but did master their burden well.
All time during the last events, there were some incoming news which did for now not harm Dragonport directly but could do so in the future. Gard has ordered Erick and Paedrig to search after further information about the pirates in the Bite, and he himself was also looking after news (as Alyanna did in secret with help of her spies, reporting to Erick).
Through this different channels a dark picture began to emerge, and become even clearer when Gard, Erick and Paedrig shared information and used their warfare-abilities (if they had some – Erick was more merchantman than fighter or officer) to come to the right conclusions. Erick remembered that the chief of his bodyguards had served several times onboard of merchant-vessels as part or commander of escort-soldiers. So Ser Robert Brecon of Stonegate joined the small round. Together they could put the details in a better frame.
It seems clear that there were several pirate-vessels operating in the Bite (between two and four altogether). All were from the same size – small galleys with a flat deck, between 12 and 18 pairs of oars, a scorpion in the front and a single “Valyrian” (aka Latin) sail (as it is mainly used in the free cities), onboard a fighting force of 60 to 80 men. The crews were – in so far anybody of the attacked crews survived and could tell any details – much better armed than “normal” raiders. They wear light metal armour and great two-handed battle axes. The result of their attacks was devastating. Up to four ships went missing in the last weeks, much more than normal; several others were found drifting, the crew slain or taken hostage, with few survivors/escaped crewmen if any. The pirates attacked even small fishing-vessels as they hunted merchant-ships. There was no logical reason for the great amount of bloodshed; someone could believe the pirates were only interested in pure terror, butchering the “sheep” instead of only shear it. Gard thought that perhaps some local lord might behind this cruelty but with which intention or plan he could not say. Three ships were able to sail away when they were attacked and one – on which by chance a number of sellswords and hedge-knights was travelling – drove of the attackers away with bloodied noses.
For now the attacks did not harm the trade with Dragonport much, but this might come in the future. Given the fact that the coasts of the bite were several hundred leagues long and there exist few naval powers (with not much will to cooperation), it seemed hard to put an end to this threat. Dragonport had no warships at least for now, even Gard ordered Erick to calculate what a hand full of ships and their crews would cost (a duty that did not make Erick very happy, since he try to avoid costly projects and was sceptical that Gard would get the promised status reward from Lord Aran).
But these were only plans for the future and even if Dragonport would “lend” or hire some ships in the meantime there was no guarantee that they could find the raiders in time. Erick and Paedrig suggest that ships could be ordered to form convoys to protect each other, and Gard agreed, but he feared that he could do little to enforce this policy abroad (for example for ships which want to sail TO Dragonport), even if he wrote to other lords like the Manderly’s. He mentioned also that it might be a good idea to follow Ablar Townsman’s inspiration – sending a “trap-ship” which looked like a good booty but was reinforced and manned secretly. As Townsman he believed that the pirates sure did have at least one spy at Dragonport (one of the few local ports). Important would be to fool the spy.
The Lord ordered Erick and Paedrig to execute the idea, realizing that with the potential threat from house Lugus, Falkirk and the mountain clans it would be better if he stay at Dragonport. But he promised the money and support which was necessary.
Erick bargained (this time successfully) with Townsman about lending one of his ships, the “Amber Crown”, a full size cog under the command of Valgar Pyke, son of an exiled Iron Isles women who was wed to a local captain (his stepbrother was captain of Townsman second ship “Golden Wave”). Secretly weapons for the crew were brought on board, oil, small mantlets for archers and “boarding claws” - even a scorpion was obtained and boarded secretly. The preparations did cost quite a number of gold dragons, together with the money for the ship and crew. Only some officers and the owner of the ship were told the truth, and even the captain did not get clear orders before leaving the port. Officially it was claimed (and rumours were spread in the harbour) that the ship should bring Erick and a small group of soldiers and bodyguards to White Harbour where he want to invest highly in fur-trade (it was planed to bring great chests onboard in which metal or weapons should be stored so that it sound like coins). A force around 60 soldiers (archers including Loren as scout and personal guards) would leave Dragonport several days before, supposedly directed for the wilderness but secretly changing course to come on board in a distance. For now it seemed that no details leaked out beside of what SHOULD leak. Roger Brecon would lead the whole operation, while Paedrig was his second in command (Erick decided to left the ship and stay on the shore when the reinforcements would arrived – he had no hunger for adventures although he know very well that his nephew would expect from him that he lead the men into battle… Of course this also did not increase Paedrigs opinion about the uncle of his lord).
The Amber Crown set sails as planned, and after leaving the port Erick informed the captain about the real plan. The young man was not very happy with being used as a trap without his knowledge, but with arguments and some gold as reward and the promise of additional gold for good fighting (some silver for every killed enemy and some dragon for any captured officer or captain) Erick clamed his anger. The scorpion was installed, weapons given to the crew, and Erick gave Roger instructions for a speech he should hold after the reinforcements would arrived (he foresee the potential problems which his absence could caused – not because he was so much loved and respected by the men, but because leaving the ship means distrust in their abilities). Roger mocked his lord, but accepted his task. Main danger was now that the pirates could strike early, before the Amber Crown meet the soldiers some 15 or 20 miles north of Dragonport, but they had luck and were not attacked.
In the meantime, Paedrig with the support of Loren lead his force to a bay were they should board the ship. He motivated his man in a fiery speech, winning their support and improving their fighting-will, which surely reduce hidden fears about fighting on unknown ground (only some of the men had already fought on board of a ship). After the arrival of the Amber Crown, Erick left the ship with four of his bodyguards, and the others sailed on. Roger did his best to motivate his men, but even with the advices Erick had given him before he was not as brilliant as Paedrig. The ships sailed slowly northward, staying more or less near to the shore on the typical course of merchant-ships. Everything on board was prepared for the fight, now they could only wait and pray.
On the second day of the journey it seems as if the preparations had worked in the right way. A small galley was sighted by Loren, quickly closing the distance to the Amber Crown and showing the already known flag: a skeleton with a battleaxe. As ordered, the Amber Crown did try to sail away (it should look believable, not as obvious trap), and for a while the greater ship managed to hold the distance. Than the pirates opened fire with her scorpion and some crossbows and bows, laying an effective suppressing-fire on their would-to-be-pray. Roger ordered the crew taking cover as if the fire had frighten them, while the secret reinforcement waited under deck or under the back or forward “castle” of the cog. When the enemy closed in, he ordered them on their post – archers on the “castles”, crew and personal guards on the deck. Boarding claws grabed the Amber Crown and the pirates made a fierce attack. They meet deadly resistance from the personal guard under the command of Roger Brecon, which smash trough the ranks of the charging raiders. In reprisal the raiders also inflicted heavy losses with their initial charge. But after some fierce fighting it becomes clear that the personal guard, supported by the sailors under the command of Paedrig, could win the upper hand. The men from Dragonport narrowly avoided disorganization, partly because of sheer luck when the enemy commander failed in lead his men in the right way through the chaos of battle, but half of the enemy forces were routed. In the meanwhile, Loren who had stayed with the archers was able to wound or kill many of the people which manned the hostile scorpion so that the enemies stopped their suppressing-fire, which had been very effective until now. Already the scorpion of the Amber Crown together with the archers laid suppressing-fire on the enemy, making it difficult for the pirates to fight or flee. They tried to retreat and to organize their ranks, but loosing the momentum resulted in being boarded themselves when the archers throw the prepared boarding-claws. The second half of the pirates were disorganized in bloody fight on their own ship – at that point the first men began to surrender, while some die-hards still fighting on. Paedrig and Loren had joined the boarding troops, searching for enemy leaders. Loren was able to defeat an officer, and Paedrig faced the captain of the pirate-ship in single combat – a huge man with long black-grey hairs in a plait, decorated with bells, wearing silver-plated armour and a deadly fine balanced arakh. The fight was hard and both combatants suffered severe injuries, but in the end the captain was defeated, going down bleeding. The battle was over, with around half a dozen soldiers and sailors killed and up to 30 pirates were killed in combat, slain when their unit routed or killed after giving up. The same number was captured.
Ser Roger was able to hold his men under control, so that the looting concentrated on the prisoners, and that they were kept under surveillance. This proofed necessary (and lucrative) when it become clear, that onboard of the captured ship a significant number of money and fright from the North were secured, obviously looted shortly before. A number of prisoners – taken maybe for ransom – were freed, including the merchants Robbyn and Eliza Dale, brother and sister from Gulltown. After the situation had calmed down, they offered a good price for getting her fright (now legitimate booty of the Amber Crown) back, and as reward for freeing them. The Amber Crown and the captured ship – the “Bloodrider” – set sail homewards. Lord Erick was taken onboard. First interrogation of the normal pirates showed, that they were mainly from abroad – the Free Cities, the Slavery Bay and above, the captain himself was quite unique, a Dothraki named Khalo. The prisoners seemed not fearing much, believing in the strength of their free comrades. This changed sharply after Roger and Erick hanged five of them to scarring the others. Paedrig protested weakly because he thought that executions were a thing Lord Gard had to decide, but Erick claimed at this moment he was the lord. Paedrigs meaning of him decreased even further, given the fact that Erick now “did play the lord” while staying away from all the danger.
Anyway after that the prisoners were much easier to interrogate. This and later interrogations painted a grim picture. It becomes clear that the Bloodrider were part of a fleet of five ships, four smaller galleys and a real war-galley called “Spotted whale” with 80 oars. This ship and the command of the entire fleet were in the hand of “Lord” Nardis, “Nardis the Golden”, the “Lord of the hundred ships”, the “Whip of the Sea” and so fort. He was a pirate-prince which had plagued the area of the Free Cities and the Stepstones as pirate, mercenary and so on. Once he commandeered two dozen ships and “thousands” of men, lived in a palace – but than two of his sons and several rivals joined forces and he had to flee with only five ships and some hundred men. It seems as if he thought the Bite – far away from the Westerosi fleets at Dragonstone, the Reach, the Iron Isles and Lannisport – was a good place for operation, at least temporary. That the foes were so strong and organized clearly worried the men from Dragonport, but for now they could not do much. Later interrogations revealed also that the pirates’ base seems to be on the southern shore of the Bite, but because the captured captain was still not in the condition for a “robust” interrogation, the exact position stays unclear for now.
When the two ships reached Dragonport, the excitement was huge. So many prisoners were uncommon in the area during the mostly peaceful last decade. While the ordinary pirates stayed in the town’s garrison, the officers were brought to the castle. Lord Gard was clearly impressed by the result, and the officers and men were rewarded generously. The Dales could buy her fright back, a possibility for Erick to create some contacts to the Vale.
Gard decided to rearm the captured ship as part of his future fleet because he feared that the pirates maybe become a major threat for his houses wealth and security, and ordered Erick to began with calculation how much more ships would cost. The older men did fulfil this task with as much effectiveness as ever, calculating for several options of different ships (small galleys like the Bloodrider or armed cogs), coming to an agreement with the head of the local timber-industry and started to reach out to White Harbour and the Vale to look for ships, men and officers for hire (he also asked if not some of the prisoners might changed sides). He even mentioned that they should perhaps even look at Kings Landing. It seem clear that a fleet would be expensive in creation, but possible – even more if house Blyth could get some support. Lord Gard informed his liege-lord and asked for additional money and other help.
Some days later news came which made clear what the intention of Nardis were and which maybe explained why the pirates did have struck so brutal in the beginning. Several fishermen which were abducted before were released to communities in several parts of the Bite. Nardis demanded a “ransom” from the local lords for securing their coastal villages, fishers and trade – 20 dragon per month from every coastal lord, 100 from every port, and 200 extra from Dragonport (including the release of his captured men) as compensation for his slain men and captured ship. If anyone did not pay, he promised to harm trade and people as much as he can. The last sentence of his message could be interpreted that in the future there might be the possibility that he would work FOR some of the local lords (against their enemies) for pay. Maybe the first brutal attacks of the pirates should frighten the local nobles and “soften them up” for this offer, also demonstrating what a brutal effective ally he could be.
Gard discussed the new challenge with the people he trusted. Erick asked if it would not be possible to pay the pirates off or use them against enemies. This was NOT what Gard had in mind or want to hear – and while he still had great respect towards his uncle’s cleverness and abilities, he had some doubts about his honour and personal courage given his speeches now and his behaviour during the pirates-hunt. Meera came up with the possibility of promising a bounty on Nardis’ head and a pardon for men of him which leave his ranks. This might not only weaken him, but after the last betrayal even the possibility of traitors might create paranoia and mistrust, which could harm the pirates’ morale. Gard welcomed this idea, while he opted to wait what Lord Aran would mean about an amnesty (because such a move could anger lords who had lost men by the hands of the freebooters, and because an amnesty behind which a local liege-lord stand would perhaps sound more believable). He also ordered his troops to stay on high alert, fearing a possible revenge-attack from the pirates or an attempt to rescue the prisoners.
So it ended for now. House Blyth had shown it capability of organizing major events and began to flexing its mussels to face a new threat. It is not sure if swords and oars or daggers and intrigues will decide the conflict with Nardis, but on both fields of battle the forces preparing for the fight…