Bow Before The Sun

Elyana IX
The Crone's 6th

mortar_pestle_herbs.jpg The first part of Elyana’s trip to King’s Landing had been fruitful, but certainly not the visit she had hoped to have. Maester Llewellyn, exhausted by Elyana’s further weakening condition, had sent a raven to plead with Grand Maester Pycelle to have a look at her – a courtesy among maesters. Three weeks of hard travel to make it to King’s Landing had depleted Elyana’s vigor. Pycelle’s conclusions were less than favorable, but Elyana did her best to hear what she needed to.

Pycelle reported he had seen cases similar to this before with varying outcome. The immediate illness upon her would require strict measures and rest. He assured her if she followed his instruction, she would overcome this present condition. He also pledged she would never be completely free of it. She would be more prone to every illness that crossed her path, and recovery each and every time would test her.

Elyana heeded the Grand Maester’s words. As much as it pained her, as much as she had looked forward to her time in King’s Landing, it was primarily spent at her room in bed at the Blood Orange. Her cousins were kind enough to drop by and give her company. She longed for their company when they could spare it, and the tales they told of the world outside her door. Charlotte insisted she accompany her to lunch several times – asserting the notion that what she really needed was fresh air and to move about. Though she appreciated her cousin’s well-intentioned thoughts, the outings exhausted her profoundly and seemed to only add on more days to her sentence in bed.

The window from Elyana’s room gave a nice view to the city below, and on good days, she would sit at the window and imagine stories of the people passing under her. When she couldn’t sit at the window, she forced herself to read. If her body was going to revolt on her, she had better keep her mind sharp. One simple request for reading material had produced more than one could read in a lifetime.

Her strength increased gradually, and Elyana eventually found herself out of bed more than in. While out on one of her longer strolls inside the Blood Orange she saw several people gathering on the wall overlooking the courtyard below.

Elyana stepped out onto the balcony and wrapped herself tightly in the shawl draped over her shoulders. She should have known who would draw this crowd, her dear foolish cousin Desmond. It was the first she’d seen of her bastard cousin since he left Redgate on his suicide mission to Skyreach. He stood opposite one of the guards, arrogance dripping from his every movement. Not much had changed. He was fortunate the Seven had seen to bless him with skill if not wits.

As the sparring began, a second warrior was called into the skirmish. A smile snuck across Elyana’s face, expecting it would finally get interesting. She wished her cousin no harm, not corporeally at least. She had faith his skills, which had remarkably improved from Redgate, would declare him the victor and bolster Oakdown’s reputation further. Elyana didn’t think it possible for his ego to grow any larger.

Desmond had given one of his finest performances. Elyana smiled and cheered. The bastard was good for something.

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Corvo IV
Crone's 16th

It wasn’t often Corvo got to travel and especially not back to Redgate, so he found himself very much looking forward to it. He had long since served Lady Farra and enjoyed the occasional reminder of what he worked for. He ran his fingers over his tooth necklace beneath his shirt and smiled. He thought of himself as a kind of sin-eater; he did the things Farra needed done but didn’t want her people to know she had to do. He had accepted the things he did as evil long ago and suffered no remorse but it still felt good to do something that didn’t involve pain and/or death. Freeing a man from what he considered to be an unfit ruler seemed a much more noble cause. The very idea was almost laughable, but still felt good.

Now for his next out-of-character act, he needed to do some shopping on someone else’s behalf. He would advise against it of course, but if the stories were true it would be in their party’s best interest to equip Lord Devon. He and his companion had been looking for only a short time when she drew his attention to a particular merchant. A slow smile spread across his face at what he saw.

Later the smile was still on his face as he and his companion approached Lord Devon with the gear in hand.

“I apologize, but when my companion pointed these out I just couldn’t resist. I think we’ll all find these…appropriate for you,” Alexander said. He handed Lord Devon a set of hide armor and his companion handed over a paired battleaxe and handaxe.

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Bennyn V
Crone's 16th

Bennyn marveled at the stranger in their midst. Once they were safely outside the walls of the Iron Key and Goldway, they relaxed slightly. There was still a risk of course, but all eyes were on the Red Keep and the spectacular event of the Royal Wedding. King Joffrey insisted that his wedding be the grandest ever seen in the Seven Kingdoms, and it became clear he would get his wish. There was a flood of travelers from all roads heading into the capital. While the sharing of the road with half of the Reach was a concern, it became quickly apparent that the timing would be a blessing. No one was looking for a northern lord on a road headed to Dorne. And anyone who might be would be looking for a large framed, dark haired man. Not the man that was sitting before Ser Bennyn now. Truly, he was recovering remarkably. The strange healer known only as Alexander had begun treating the one-time prisoner for approximately one week, and the man known as Devon Dent was responding well. Not well enough if you asked the Northman, but by all accounts he would recover fully. Alexander explained that while the dangers had likley passed, and the wounds would heal quickly, it would take longer for Lord Devon to regain his strength. The Northman didn’t complain, didn’t seem despondent- he simply pushed himself harder.

The company was small. Ser Bennyn and the new Redlander known as Mars served as the armed escort. Lady Charlotte commanded the group, and seemed to take special care in nursing Lord Devon to health. Accompanying them was the mysterious Alexander, who kept to himself most times, and his strange female companion who didn’t talk. Ser Bennyn asked him once if he was a maester, but the man quickly denied it. He came about his craft in other ways, and that was all he wished to say of it. Finally, Bennyn’s stablehand was with them, the young girl Ria. She had an odd friendship with Lady Charlotte; the traditions of nobles and smallfolk staying apart seemed to be of little consequence to Charlotte Oakdown. He enjoyed Ria, and understood why others would want to share her company. Ser Bennyn found Lady Charlotte to be kind; not near as haughty as most of her family. Lady Farra was always aloof, and Lord Andros was little bettter. Ser Bennyn spent little time with Desmond or Aryl’s daughters, but didn’t feel particularly inclined to do so.

Lady Charlotte and Lord Devon talked constantly. They exchanged stories of the North, where Charlotte sought to confirm the unbelievable tales that Ingvar told her. Devon confirmed that yes, his cousin told it true. The Wall in the north was tall enough to see half of the massive North. Wildlings were real, and no different than those in the Seven Kingdoms save custom and language. The most frightening were the tales of the Others. The undead were rumored to have disappeared thousands of years ago. Now, if the Rangers of the Night’s Watch were to be believed, they were stirring once more.

They approached a small hamlet, and Lady Charlotte bade them to stop. Ria quickly dismounted and gathered the horses. Ser Bennyn went to find a hot meal for the company, and Alexander reviewed his supplies. Alexander’s mute female companion helped unload some supplies, and stayed near to the mysterious healer. Lady Charlotte and Lord Devon made their way to a small market in town, and set about procuring some goods for the remainder of the journey.

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Desmond XIX
The Crone's Ninth

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The Sept of Baelor was stuffy and overcrowded and the High Septon droned on about duty and honor and protecting the innocent. Gods, this was boring. He was already tired enough. The excitement in Goldway had kept most of the Oakdowns awake late into the evening. Some relative of Ingvar’s had been rescued from the king’s dungeon; a brother or cousin or some such. He hadn’t paid much attention having been far more interested in the food, wine, and the pretty young girl that had fallen drunkenly into his lap. The three together had made for a long, tiring ride back to Kings Landing earlier this morning. He stifled a yawn and surveyed the Great Sept.

One would have thought that there were a hundred knights swearing oaths today instead of only three by the arses planted in the pews. Desmond had a strong suspicion that many of those present didn’t even know the names of any one of the three being anointed. Other than Quinn, some boy from a minor house the Seven only knew where, and a Redwyne lad were the other two standing before the altar. He knew his house sigils enough to know the purple grapes of the Arbor but the feather-covered cloak of the other lad escaped him. Likely, the combination of the Redwyne youth’s knighting and the upcoming royal wedding explained the presence of so many Reachmen and women. The city was positively overflowing with Lannisters, Tyrells, their bannermen, and their bannermen’s bannermen, and those that sought their favor.

Even the damnable Fowlers had come. He had espied that whey-faced whore, Jeyne, her idiot Lannister husband-to-be, and her trollop twin sister as the Oakdowns had been led to the front of the Sept. The Fowler girl’s bruises had healed, unfortunately. Apparently, she’d learned little judging by the cold stare she’d given him as he walked by. He had merely smiled in return for there were too many witnesses and potentially powerful enemies present for him to teach her another lesson. And besides, what would the gods think? Soon enough, bitch. Soon enough, I’ll teach you, your father, your sister, and anyone else who gets in my way a lesson that will echo through the ages.

He closed his eyes tiredly at the thought and felt the corners of this mouth turn up as he considered the Fowlers demise. Yes, he could almost see how perfect it would be. His head grew heavy as the heat of the sept and the High Septon’s monotonous voice combined their powers with the wine and exertions from last night. His head bobbed down to his chest limply and he snapped it up, startled awake by the sudden jolt. Perhaps a little rest would do him good, however. Everyone was watching the three boys and the Faith of the Seven’s appointed bore. He let his eyes slip shut again and lowered his chin, felt his breath even and slow…

Until a sharp jab to his still-bruised ribs forced him to suck in air through clenched teeth and sit upright again. He turned to his right, fire burning in his eyes and his side, to see Elyana with her elbow drawn again for another volley. She smiled sweetly, smoothed her skirts, and turned her attention back to the altar. Ser Loras Tyrell had joined the little group at the altar and stepped forward to touch his sword on each of the boys’ shoulders as the High Septon spoke the vows.

It was over a few scant moments later and the High Septon presented the newly anointed knights to the crowd. The chamber erupted as everyone stood to their feet and offered their applause. Except Desmond, who stayed in his seat and clapped slowly. He saw no point in honoring those who fought by antiquated rules. In a duel or a battle your opponent seldom cared if you followed an archaic code of principle and the Stranger could give two shits when he collected your soul. And all of that nonsense about defending the weak and the innocent was rubbish. The only people these “Sers” defended were the lords and ladies that paid them or granted them favor.

A blossom of pain erupted in his shin followed by a second only slightly lower. Elyana passed up a third kick, leaning down to whisper in his ear.

“Get up and honor our cousin, you lazy, loutish oaf or I swear I’ll kick your shin bloody,” she hissed.

“Loutish oaf?” he replied quietly as he stood slowly and with a sullen scowl. “I’m not the one committing and threatening acts of violence against an innocent man in the holiest house of the Seven.”

From Elyana’s other side, Robert Auros had a look of amusement. Desmond glared at the big man dangerously and the heir to the Iron Key gave a defusing smile and nod before returning his gaze back to the three newest knights of the realm.

“I don’t know that I care for your new friend,” Desmond said under his breath as he continued clapping apathetically.

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Desmond XVIII
The Crone's Sixth

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The first day of his training had been hard. It had been a long time since anyone had bested him in the practice yard, least of all a man old enough to be his father. Who was, in fact, his father come to think on it. The defeat had come quickly too. Barely into his ready stance, Qalross had disarmed him and he had found himself on his back with water running from his eyes as he gasped for breath like a trout plucked from the Blackwater Rush.

At the time he had marked it as an anomaly, a freak event brought upon by the shock of meeting his father, being woken at a gods-forsaken hour, and the cup of wine that he had emptied. Except the second day had been much the same. Only this time Qalross used a training sword. And the third the same again but with a hammer. The fourth day, an axe. All in the interest of a ‘fair fight’ as his sire put it.

“You know what your problem is, boy?” Qalross had asked him on the fifth day as Desmond again stared up into the sky over Kings Landing with his father’s staff at his throat. “No focus.”

He offered a hand to help Desmond up off the ground. Wearing only breeches, a thin shirt, and his boots, Desmond felt every bruise Qalross had given him in the past week from toe to shoulder.

“You have skill, I’ll grant you that. But skill alone can’t be relied upon. Your mother would have beaten ya easier than I just did,” Qalross continued as he lifted Desmond to his feet. He grinned with the glint of memory. “Well, maybe not easier. But with less mercy. Was she a sight to behold! Nymeria herself would have been awed.”

This had led to a long conversation about Lady Annabyl and Qalross’ love affair. They’d been as discrete as possible and were careful to avoid arousing the suspicions of any of the nobles in Sunspear. Very few knew their secret. When she had become pregnant she fled the Dornish capital and returned to Redgate to protect him from the wroth of both the Princess of Dorne and Lord Nygel. They’d spoken but a few times before the Fowler attack outside Graybrook had taken her.

It was one conversation only and there had not been any others. Qalross outwardly showed no sense of connection or affection to Desmond. It had remained unspoken between them that they would continue to keep his parentage a secret and that was to the good as far as Desmond was concerned.

The following three weeks had been easier, if only marginally. Qalross had taken a break from the daily beatings and had passed Desmond off to the Martell guards under his command. The majority of these Des had handled with ease. But Qalross was critical of his performances at every turn. He either wasn’t keeping his guard up, or was making some small motion that foretold his next move, or was prolonging the duel instead of ending it as quickly as possible.

“Grandstanding and showing off just give your opponent an opportunity to catch their breath. If you have a man on the ground, finish him!” Qalross had barked more than once. “Does a snake play with a mouse? Nay, it strikes swiftly and swallows it whole.”

Desmond soaked it all in and utilized the criticism to drive him. Every cutting remark, every word of reproach, only made him push himself harder. He still hadn’t come to terms with the fact that this sellsword was his father but if he helped Desmond to become a better warrior so he could avenge his family and reclaim their honor then he would use him. No matter who his father was, he was still an Oakdown and the Fowlers must still be punished for their betrayal. Qalross was simply another means to their end.

And, so, Desmond found himself in the courtyard of The Blood Orange yet again ready to spar with whatever guardsman would still face him. He’d sent more than one to the healer, Willa, over the course of his training. This was to be the last day of instruction for an undefined period of time; the Oakdowns left on the morrow for the Iron Key, the Auros holding in the town of Goldway a short distance from Kings Landing, and when they returned were expected at the Sept of Baelor for Quinn’s knighting ceremony.

His black and red armor was in place and his small shield was slung over one shoulder as he approached the rack of training weapons Qalross had brought to the yard. He selected his favorite; an oaken shaft with a blunted iron tip, well balanced and worn. The spearhead, although rounded and unable to pierce, could still deliver a painful stab, this Desmond knew from his previous sessions. He moved his shield from his shoulder to its place on his forearm and spun the spear in a series of flourishes with ease. Over his head, behind his back, and around, the haft blurred in his hands. He yawned without breaking rhythm.

Gods, he amazed even himself sometimes.

Qalross stood with folded arms and leaned against the slender tree that bore the fruit from which the inn took its name while several of the inn workers – cooks, serving girls, and chambermaids – had gathered in the small courtyard. This had become a common occurrence. At first, they had merely come in to the yard at Qalross’ command to move the tables, chairs, and potted plants to the edges to make room for the training. And then one day one had lingered. The next day two more and by the end of a week a small crowd, one that began to include several of the inn’s guests, had gathered. It looked to be the same today and Desmond even picked out some of the Oakdown party; Ser Bennyn, Mauro Drokhe, Quinn, the stable girl, Ria, and even his lordship, Andros. Looking up at the balcony surrounding the courtyard Desmond saw Elyana and Charlotte amongst the faces gathered there, the former looking exhausted and wrapped in a heavy shawl while the latter wore a look of distinct disapproval. He had heard rumor that Elyana had taken ill. In fact, this was the first he had seen of her in days.

Not that it mattered one whit to him. The month in Kings Landing had done little to soothe his injured pride and he was still vexed by his family’s absence in Skyreach. If it weren’t for grandmother and his silent promise to his dead mother he’d have left Redgate long since. Did any of them think for a second that their presence at a lesson would make up for abandoning him as he risked his life for their house?

“Well, Master Qalross,” Desmond began as he continued playing to the crowd, “who have you brought for me to send to Willa today?”

Qalross motioned with his chin to one of the guards dressed in a long leather jerkin in the colors of Sunspear over mail.

“Moran, grab a spear from the rack and get in the ring with Master Sand,” he said casually. He sounded almost as bored with the exercise as Desmond felt.

Moran was a slender man, olive-skinned and dark of hair, but quick. Almost as quick as Desmond. But, he had beaten Moran soundly in their last three meetings. Well, if he was willing to take another drubbing Des would certainly oblige him. Desmond stretched and shook out his arms and legs as the guard did as commanded and retrieved a weapon. Moran entered the open space in the middle of the yard and faced Desmond, spear held at the ready.

Desmond whirled the tourney spear again, bringing it to rest in the crook of his elbow with the tip pointed toward the ground. With a crooked grin he beckoned Moran forward.

“Wait!” Qalross’ booming rasp called out. He pointed to another of the guards. “Danned, join Moran. Let’s see how well Master Sand fares against two opponents.”

Desmond looked around the courtyard and noted again the size of the crowd. You rotten old bastard, this was planned.

Moran shifted, putting himself on Desmond’s left, while Danned, short but powerful and like Moran wearing mail, took up a position to his right. Desmond shifted his stance slightly to balance his weight and looked from man to man.

Without warning he ducked as the two men thrust their spears simultaneously, the hafts banging together in the space he had just occupied. He twisted round and struck swiftly. Moran, now on his right took a hard stab of the blunted spear tip to his ribs that, judging from his grunt of surprise, the mail did little to protect against. Desmond lashed out swiftly with the iron capped butt and landed a solid blow in Danned’s shoulder joint.

They both recovered quickly and struck at Desmond simultaneously. He managed to deflect the majority of Danned’s strike with his shield but it still managed to slip down and strike a glancing blow to his knee while Moran managed to land a solid hit to his kidney. The blow to his back stung but nothing that caused him any worry. His armor would have guarded him from the worst effects of both and neither would have resulted in much more than a shallow cut had the weapons been sharpened.

He feinted toward Danned and struck at Moran again first, he was the quicker of the two and the more dangerous opponent. The feint had worked to perfection and Moran fell to the yard like a sack of grain as Desmond’s staff and its cap smashed into the side of his head with a crack that reverberated through the courtyard. As he whirled to face Danned, Desmond noted the blood that flowed slowly from the split his strike had opened on Moran’s skull. Willa would have some stitching to do. Let it never be said that he didn’t keep the smallfolk busy.

Before Moran’s head struck the ground Desmond’s spear flicked out quicker than lightning and landed squarely in his remaining oppenent’s midsection. Had it been anything other than a tourney spear in Desmond’s hands, Danned would have been impaled and dying. As it was his legs came up a hand from the ground before he landed off-balance and huffing for air. The guardsman spun away from a potential follow up attack and turned to face Des again. He had recovered his breath quickly but his chest heaved hard from the effort. As Desmond closed to finish the fight Danned surprised him by charging.

Fortunately for Desmond, he had listened to Qalross and learned over the intervening weeks to not underestimate a beaten opponent. He carried his shield up and spear point low beneath it. He was able to catch Danned’s thrust, strong and true, in the center of his shield. It shook him nonetheless, injured or not the man was still strong as an aurochs. He could have sworn he felt the shield flex as it smashed painfully into his forearm but it held. And more importantly, Desmond maintained his balance.

Faster than thought and with the ease of breathing, he slid the spear haft up in his hand so that he gripped but two hands from the butt cap and swung the spear around over his head and then low like a sword. Danned was unable to avoid the perfectly placed sweep and his legs flew out from beneath him. He landed flat on his back and before he could even so much as realize what had happened, Desmond’s spear point was at his throat.

The courtyard erupted in applause and cheers. Desmond had been so focused on his adversaries that he’d forgotten about the crowd of onlookers. Wincing slightly he turned to look around.

The kitchen staff, chambermaids, and stablehands were all smiles and ovations. Qalross stood silently but Desmond detected a faint smile of pride. Prince Oberyn, too, smiled and merely nodded. Quinn clapped excitedly and whistled while Andros simply stood next to him with a look that was difficult to read – somewhere between disdain and awe. Elyana and Charlotte gave reactions befitting their appearances and personalities. Elayna positively beamed and applauded fervently, while Charlotte gave a sad shake of her head with pursed lips and an air of disapproval before she turned and retreated toward the interior of the inn. Septon Connyr, Mauro Drokhe, Ser Bennyn, and the stable-girl, Ria, all stood near the front of the crowd cheering wildly.

Desmond basked in the adulation and leaned against his spear. It was an easy pose, arrogant and calm. Yes, there were enough people here. Between this little display and the fight in Skyreach, the Seven Kingdoms would soon know there was a force to be reckoned with in the Red Mountains. He looked pointedly at the two men on the ground – one writhing in pain, the other lying motionless – before addressing the crowd.

“Anyone else, then?”

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Charlotte X
Crone's 12th

“As soon as I’m packed.”

Charlotte and Devon, both equally stupefied, looked up to see a smiling Alexander descending the stairs, arriving for his daily visit. They spoke at the same time.

“Um, what?”

“Pardon, but did you say…?”

“That I’m going with you? Yes. Getting Lord Dent here to Redgate was always part of the plan and I am obliged to continue his care until he is remanded to the maester there.”

“Obliged to whom?” Charlotte asked. “Who paid you to rescue Lord Dent, was it my grandmother?”

“We’ll call it…interested parties. Besides, I would lose all standing as a healer of value if I were to do all this just to have my charge die because the road was too bumpy.”

“Well whatever your reasons I am grateful for all you’ve done thus far. Your intervention and healing efforts have probably saved Lord Dent’s life. I am in your debt, sir, and could not in good conscience ask you to leave your home and practice for the weeks it will take to journey to Redgate and back.”

“That won’t be a problem; I’m not asking. If you don’t want me to come, you’ll have to chase me off. I travel light, my companion and I can be ready any time.”

“The injured person likes this idea,” Devon muttered with a mischievous grin. “I already asked him.”

Charlotte cut her eyes at Devon and sighed. “Very well then. I would be a fool to refuse with Lord Dent’s health at stake. I’ll leave you to your examination and see to making preparations to leave.”

“Speaking of preparations,” Devon said, “did this deal include anything else? Maybe a wagon with a really soft bed? A weapon or armor so I don’t feel like I’m travelling in the nude? Might settle for a dull knife at this point…”

“You can barely stand…” Charlotte began, but Alexander and Devon both ignored her.

“I might know someone who can help. Not with the bed I’m afraid but…I will see what I can do.”

Charlotte looked at Devon. He smiled and joked with Alexander now but not 30 minutes ago he was the very picture of fierce determination as he pushed himself to his limits, and beyond. He was pale and thin and weak from his wounds but from what she knew both of, and from, Ingvar, she would be wise not to underestimate him; and considering who wanted him dead, he certainly had the right to defend himself. She pressed 5 gold dragons into Alexander’s hand.

“Get him whatever you can, let me know if you need more.” She gathered the tray and dishes and went to start packing.

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Ria IX
Crone's 11th

Ria hadn’t been terribly pleased that Ser Bennyn and her had been ordered to stay at goldway, she had not sen nearly as much of King’s Landing as she would have liked, but she didn’t complain openly, this was farther than she had ever imagined she would actually manage to travel. Lady Charlotte returned surprisingly quickly, and without her brothers. Ria found it odd, knew there was someone important in the keep but also knew better than to pry into noble’s business. She’d offer help or an ear if asked but she wouldn’t intrude on these matters.

Ser Bennyn was an excellent employer as it turned out, She rarely got to spend as much time with a single horse as she had with Emma, it was calm, easy work compared to the stables, careing for the horses of travelers and Emerson’s riders, she remembered the surprise and surge of pride when the knight had offered her extra coin for her work. She didn’t turn it down, she had her mother to think about, and more dreams of travel besides, but she also told Ser Bennyn that she really hadn’t done much, Emma was a sweet horse and any Stablehand would have an easy time caring for her, the ones he’d hired in the past must have been truly unskilled.

At the knight’s orders she nodded “Aye Ser, I’ll fetch him and get the horses saddled and ready to leave quick as I can.” she said, tracking down Mars before heading back to finish her job, she’d miss the cities, but heading back home would be welcome.

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Asaf VII
Crone's 11th

Asaf had spent the past four days organizing patrols around the small homesteads of Fool’s Drop, and the reports were discouraging, more lions than anyone could recall seeing in one place in years and it seemed more showed up by the day, though he was sure it was a trick of the mind, the mountain cats were dangerous in small numbers and the smallfolk were in a panic, livestock and a few of the less fortunate community members slaughtered, the ghosts escorted them back to Lonetree for the time being, and now was bringing in a decent force of men to try and drive them off, most fled when the caught wind of the men’s numbers, a few scattered arrows encouraging them, Asaf smiled at one of the fresh trainees, complementing a shot that he could tell was sticking out of one beasts leg, it was important to keep moral up, and the boy was one of the more talented shots.

They reached the home that seemed to be the central point of the cat’s gatherings, and the man signaled for a few men, armed with long hunting spears in case the animals got too close for bows formed up outside, the smell of blood was strong as he and Jonns went in to examine the home, a pair of loins, smaller ones, had been sleeping and awoke with a start, eying the men warily before catching the scent of the others and leaping through a large window in the far wall. They searched the room again, careful in case the predators returned with friends, the most notable thing was a cellar, the door torn down, and… “By the seven…” Asaf muttered when he saw that this had clearly become the home of the beasts, keeping his bow half drawn he nodded to his comrade to attempt to quietly back away, this could end poorly very quickly…

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Bennyn IV
Crone's 11th

The lord of Broadmont woke early, and found Ria was already preparing Emma for the journey. He was concerned she would be disappointed. She spent a few weeks in King’s Landing before the feast at Goldway with Lord Auros and his family. They planned on returning to the capital to celebrate Ser Quinn’s knighting and the wedding of King Joffrey to Lady Margaery Tyrell of Highgarden. Instead, they were asked by Lord Andros to stay behind and safeguard an important but anonymous prisoner.

That went calmly enough, and Lady Charlotte returned the same day of Ser Quinn’s knighting. She must have left immediately, and she took over the watch of the prisoner. Ser Bennyn was asked to remain, and so he did. He assumed they would be returning to King’s Landing soon, and he told Ria as much. Now though, only three days after Lady Charlotte’s return, they were to make the long journey back to Redgate. If Ria was disappointed, she didn’t show it. She was a dutiful girl, and even more capable than he first thought. He had given her more coin than was agreed upon to show his appreciation, and he hoped she would consider being a permanent retainer for him. He liked the girl, and so did Emma. The black palfrey nuzzled her as Ria brushed her.

Bennyn approached her and looked around. “Where is Mauro? Has he not arrived?”

Ria continued to concentrate on the Palfrey. “No, Ser Bennyn. Haven’t seen him in days.”

Bennyn looked concerned. “I sent word to the Inn where he was staying. The keep at the Coppers said Mauro had received the message before leaving for the night. That was yesterday morning. He should be here.”

Ria nodded. “Aye. Just a short ride. Should we wait?”

“No. Go tell Mars to get his things. We’ll take him instead. Lady Charlotte has said this journey is of critical import, and we must leave as soon as we are able. We’ll leave word for Mauro here. I expect Lady Charlotte and our ‘guest’ will be ready to depart at any moment.”

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Devon I
Crone's 12th

563 stones in his cell. 37 cracked, none loose enough to pry with his fingers in his current state, 15 patterns among them. Seven visits from Alexander (that he was cognizant enough to recall), eight from Lady Charlotte, but the days escaped him. It seemed impossible to find the beginning of one, the end of another. It didn’t matter anyway, it all meant the same to him- wasted time. He needed to be up, he needed to be fit and he needed to be forcing a blunt object between Frey’s eyes and out the back of his head. This feeling wasn’t new to him, he had felt the same rage at Richard and had felt the satisfaction of separating his head and body . This would be no different.

At least, that’s what he kept telling himself, but after falling flat on his face for probably the 20th time he was beginning to question if he would have to fulfill his murderous intent with someone holding him up. He was feeling much better and had begun to try to advance his recovery, but even a light workout was proving too much. How could this possibly work if he couldn’t even get to the point of working up a sweat? The simple answer of ‘it can’t’ only served to fuel his anger, made him forget the pain and try again. Only to fall again, but he’d swear he actually made it an inch further that time. He was so intent on his failing activity that he hadn’t even noticed Lady Charlotte rushing over with a tray of food and an admonishing look.

“From comatose to calisthenics,” Charlotte chuckled. “There’s no middle ground with you, is there Lord Dent.” She had hastily placed the tray and was doing her best to help him lever himself off of the cell floor.

He gratefully accepted her help and was soon sitting on his ‘bed’, leaning against the wall. “Nothing ever happens in the middle ground. It’s neither good nor bad, here nor there, beginning nor end. It’s where you go when you want to sit on your ass and stall. I should know,” he added with a smile “I normally spend quite a lot of time there, but I can’t today. I need to be on my feet with a sword in my hand as soon as possible.”

Charlotte smiled back at him. “We seem to be in accord then,” she said, “almost identically so. That’s good. Let’s start with breakfast, shall we? And while we eat I will catch you up on events to date as i know them.”

An update on events and a full stomach later, he was feeling much more hopeful. “It all sounds good to me, I’m anxious to be out of here and moving around. It will also be nice to see Ingvar again, and nicer still to not see King’s Landing. So I only have one question…”he motioned for her to stay when she began to stand when he started standing, using the wall as a crutch;

“When can we leave?”

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