Bow Before The Sun

Ingvar XII
The Maiden's 7th-Are we really different?

Ingvar had spent the early morning talking to several people about Perrin. Maester Llewellyn and Septon Connyr both said he seemed steadfastly loyal to Oakdown. Lord Andros didn’t have any real knowledge of Perrin before now. After his inquires he headed to the kitchens and picked up a small loaf of bread, a mug and a jug of water. He also told one of the kitchen workers to have a camp table and a chair brought to Perrin’s cell.

The walk was actually pleasant with warm sun and brisk air. He found himself at Perrin’s cell quicker than he anticipated. He had one of the guards place a torch in a wall holder While he arranged his packages near the stool from the day before.

Ingvar: Good morning Perrin. Sleep well?

Perrin: {struggles into a seated position} Well enough northman.

Ingvar: {looks thoughtful for a moment then smiles} I like that. You should keep calling me that. I’m not an Oakdown nor Dornish, good to keep that clear.

Perrin: {somewhat puzzled look}

Ingvar: I think Perrin you will find that I’m not like anyone you know. {chuckles} For that matter, the Dent’s aren’t really like most of the north either. Probably comes from our Wildling blood.

Perrin: {starts at the open admission of Wildling blood}

Ingvar: Oh come now Perrin. Think about it. All who are descended from the First Men are of Wildling blood. Until the Andals came that’s all there was and before that were only the Children of the Forest. We came to Westeros over 12,000 years ago, the Andals only about 4,000 – 6,000 years ago depending on which historian you listen to. The Dent’s came south of the wall about 4,800 years ago, before that the Frostfangs where our home and before that there is no record. The Andals couldn’t take us in the north and left us alone. Many northern houses forgot the old ways but two houses remembered more than the rest, Stark and Dent. It was only house Stark that could hold Dent in check and so we swore to follow them. Stark is dead at the hands of Lannister, Frey, and Bolton. Dent will see them avenged. You were wrong when you said northmen wouldn’t understand. I wasn’t questioning your right to vengeance, I was questioning your target.

Perrin: {watches Ingvar for a moment then turns his eyes to the floor but not before Ingvar saw the flicker of doubt}

Ingvar: {looks toward the door at the sound of voices} {raising his voice} Mars, bring the table and chair in.

Mars: {enters with small camp table and backed chair} Where should I set them up my lord?

Ingvar: Right here will be fine. I’ll take the chair here and place the stool opposite.

Mars: Anything else my lord?

Ingvar: Yes. Unchain Perrin from the wall but leave his fetters on.

Mars: {pauses, looks from Perrin to Ingvar} Yes my lord.

Ingvar: {once the chains are unlocked} Thank you Mars. Go ahead and return to your post. {after Mars leaves the room} {points to stool} Have a seat Perrin.

Perrin looks confused at this turn of events, a common expression for him these days. Saying this northman is different is an understatement. Perrin wasn’t too sure Ingvar wasn’t insane.

As he waits for Perrin to make his way to the stool, Ingvar gets out the bread, the aroma filling the air quickly and setting Perrin’s stomach to rumbling.

Perrin’s hesitation faded quickly and he made haste to the table.

Ingvar: Hungry?

Perrin: {not trusting his own voice, nods with a wide eyed stare at the bread}

Ingvar: {cuts a heel off, slides it to Perrin} {fills a mug with water, slides it to Perrin} Not too quickly or you’ll make yourself sick.

Perrin: {finishes the bread quickly and gulps some water}

Ingvar: I suppose you’d like some more?

Perrin: {warily} I said an oath and I’ll not break it for bread and water.

Ingvar: Nor would I expect you to from what I’ve heard about you. This meal is free.

Perrin: If’n you mean that northman then more would be welcome.

Ingvar cut another hunk of bread and refilled the mug with water. The only sounds for several minutes were Perrin eating and drinking. Ingvar kept his mug filled and cut hunks of bread until both were gone.

Silence reigned for long minutes. Perrin looked around the cell and stole glances at Ingvar, never more than a second or two at a time.

Perrin: Thank you northman.

Ingvar: {nods}

Perrin: Why?

Ingvar: {small smile} I think we both know I’m not good at being a torturer the way others are. Kill you for treason, that I can do. Kill you painfully, I know lots of ways. Torture you for information, not without torturing myself. So instead of pretending I’m something I’m not I’ll just be what I am. I want to know why and what you hoped to accomplish besides getting Oakdown destroyed in a war it can’t win, not yet at any rate.

Perrin: {shoulders slumped, looking Ingvar in the eye} I don’t know northman. I’m just a simple soldier. I do what I’m told and I keep to my oaths. They said it was for them good Oakdowns who was killed and I believed them. {pause} I didn’t think about what came after.

Ingvar: {nodding} I assumed as much Perrin. Everyone I talked to who knew you said you were a good soldier. Loyal to the Oakchair. I’m sorry you got mixed up with those who led you astray, who led you to do something that could destroy what you hold dear. Skyreach is screaming for Desmond’s head or hand, for justice for their murdered smallfolk, and if they come in force we will all die.

Perrin: {hangs his head}

Ingvar: {leaning toward Perrin} They must have talked something fierce to get you to break your oath to the Oakchair.

Perrin: {snaps his head up, anger showing} I broke no oath! I ain’t no oath breaker northman!

Ingvar: Didn’t you make an oath to serve the Oakchair loyally?

Perrin: {furrows his brow} Yes.

Ingvar: Was it the Oakchair that commanded the attack?

Perrin: {stricken look} No… but it was them who was loyal. We did what should’ve been done sixteen year ago. We… we did what… what was right? {shakes his head} You’re trying to confuse me.

Ingvar: No Perrin. I’m trying to understand. Take your time. I just want you to help me understand.

Perrin: Lady Farra, she’s a good woman she is… but she done nothing about teaching them Fowlers a lesson… and made you Master-at-Arms… and {looks at Ingvar with fear}

Ingvar: What Perrin? What can you possibly have to say that would get you in more trouble?

Perrin: {quietly} They said you was in her bed. {ducks his head}

Ingvar: {stares for a moment that throws his head back and howls with laughter}

Perrin: {expression goes from fear, to relief, and finally to anger} {yelling} What are you laughing at northman? She’s a good woman and still good looking even for her age. You’d be hard pressed to find better.

Ingvar: {waves one hand toward Perrin, wipes the tears of laughter from his eyes with the other} Let me … catch… my breath. {breathing heavily} Oh Perrin, I needed that after the last several days. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

Perrin: {sullen} She is a good woman.

Ingvar: Yes Perrin, she is. That’s why I serve her. But I can assure you that while she enjoys my stories and my skills at make her army better she wouldn’t have me in her bed. She has higher standards than that. I may be a noble but not one of standing. {pause} That was rich. It speaks well of you that you were offended for her.

Perrin: {muttering} She is a good woman. Any man would be proud to be her {looks around quickly, clears his throat}

Ingvar: And with that I’ll let you rest a bit Perrin. I’ll be back later to talk some more.

After seeing to Perrin’s chaining to the wall Ingvar made sure Perrin could not reach the table and chairs nor the torch then took his leave. He paused only long enough to repeat his orders as he did every visit. No visitors except Lord Andros, Maester Llewellyn, or himself without permission from Lady Farra or himself. Be cautious of any who approach. And scream like the damned if you come under attack.

The middle of the day was filled with the various duties of a Master-at-Arms and an adviser to Lady Farra. A quick and simple lunch before briefing the Lady and Lord on the last visit to Perrin. There really wasn’t much to report in the way of hard facts but from the way Perrin talked this was no impromptu attack by a few renegades. There was planning and it involved some higher up the chain of command but how high and who was yet to be determined. Lord Andros insisted on referring to Perrin as the traitor, Ingvar thought it had less to do with hatred and more to do with easing his conscious about what was happening. Lord Andros would do what was necessary but he was more politician than field commander but that was good. Oakdown would need that more than swords to survive the coming storm.

After the report Lady Farra indicated she wished to talk with Ingvar alone and had the room cleared.

Lady Farra: What did you leave out of your report?

Ingvar: {innocent look} Leave out my lady? I covered all that concerned the attack and the traitors.

Lady Farra: {scowling} And?

Ingvar: {looking sheepish} Apparently we are lovers my lady.

Lady Farra: That is an old rumor. Spit it out, I’m too tired for games Ingvar, even if you are just trying to get me to laugh.

Ingvar: {using a more formal tone} I think Perrin may be a bit smitten with you. Not in the “I want to marry you way” but from his responses to my laughing at the suggestion we are lovers I think he worships you for a lack of a better word. You are THE LADY FARRA to him. They got to him by playing on that to an extent. I’m the evil northman come to lead you astray, to blind you to who is really loyal.

Lady Farra: I see. {pauses} I’m sure you have duties to attend to before you return to the prisoner. {makes a gesture of dismissal} You may go.

Ingvar: {bowing} By your command my lady.

As Ingvar was closing the door he could have sworn he heard her say “You laughed?”

The second session of the day had Perrin, again, sitting on the stool and Ingvar cut him slices of fruit and cheese and kept his mug full of water. When Perrin was finished Ingvar began.

Ingvar: So where did we leave off?

Perrin: {face reddening}

Ingvar: I think we can put that particular topic to bed, yes?

Perrin:{mouth gaping}

Ingvar: {chuckles} Perrin, leave it be. I’ll only torment you with it.

Perrin: {shuts his mouth with a snap}

Ingvar: Oakdown is what, about 300 years old?

Perrin: {nods]

Ingvar: Founded on the bravery of smallfolk if I recall right. Their lords killed they went after the killers. A proud tradition, I can see how it must look like what you did.

Perrin: {eyes downcast} We didn’t fight no dragons.

Ingvar: I see.

Perrin: {voice hoarse} Northman I want to stop now. Please.

Ingvar: {watches Perrin as he struggles to control his emotions} Fine. We’ll get you tucked in for the night and I’ll see you in the morning.

Perrin remains silent as he is returned to his chains.

Ingvar: {leaves} {talking to guards after door locked} Leave the torch to burn out but no replacement all else remains the same.

Ingvar made his rounds of the guard posts, gave some pointers at the training yard, but couldn’t shake a dark cloud that followed him. He was wandering the grounds when he spied some young boys splitting wood for the heaths and cook fires of the keep. He watched for a bit then picked up an ax and began splitting wood with them. He quickly settled into a rhythm, letting the physical work burn off the darkness. His mind picked over the events, trying to make sense of them, to see where it might lead. He didn’t notice the sun had set and he was working by torch light until one of the boys shouted his name.

Jacob: My lord Ingvar!

Ingvar: {looking around as if he had just awakened} Yes?

Jacob: Begging pardon my lord but we’re done splitting for the day. We have to go now and help in the kitchens.

Ingvar: I suppose so. I guess you’ll be wanting this. {holds out the ax}

Jacob: Yes my lord. If’n we don’t put it away proper we get in trouble.

Ingvar: Don’t want you to get in trouble for my foolishness. {looks around} You splitting tomorrow?

Jacob: Yes my lord.

Ingvar: Good. {heads to his room to get ready for dinner}

Asaf V
The Maiden's 7th-A hunting we will go...

Two days, it had taken two days of tracking through the snow, over winding paths seldom used by men, for the Ghosts to locate this place, they were deep into Fowler lands at this point, the men were on edge, they each knew what it meant if they were found, and worse if they were identified as Oakdown soldiers; talking was kept to only what was needed, most done in the handsigns the Commander had been attempting to teach them. They were ten in all, loyal to their lords and each other.

The tracks had led to a small holdfast, burned and long abandoned, a few brief signals to the men, Sic taking places out of sight to observe and if necessary put an arrow in any man that caught sight of the four moving closer. It was Asaf that first smelled it, bodies, and not fresh either, a few days at least. It was unlikely anyone would linger too long with such a smell, but the scavengers of the mountains would hardly snub a meal, he signaled the others to be on alert.

Four men lay slain in the snow, they looked to have died fighting. Their garb was black, the well known Skull of House Manwoody on there armor. Harlon spoke up, “Leastways we found some friendly corpses, Asaf. These here are the house Quinn’s been squirin’ for” said the large man, Asaf muttered a curse under his breath, the youngest of their Lady’s Grandchildren had left only recently with a large delegation of these men, Asaf shook his head, “Ill tidings, This is too far off the path for Manwoody men to come upon by chance, and why wouldn’t their fellows give them a better resting place than this? I want the area searched, we need to find where whoever last saw these men went off to.”

The keep stood silent as the Scouts examined signs of activity, the four men and their apparent kills the most recent. They couldn’t get a complete count, at least fifty men, but possibly as high as a hundred. They could not confirm weather they had all left, or if any would return however. Asaf gather the group in a tight circle, picking out the two most fleet footed, after himself, to head back and report in case the worst happened. He and the reaming seven fond a small copse of threes from which to wait and observe, after three hours they had seen naught but the dead.

Asaf grew impatient, it was time to see if there was truly anything worth seeing in that old tower, his companions ordered to stay back, if a retreat was needed he was the swiftest of foot. Creeping closer, he caught sight of old decaying tapestries and furniture throw the melted side of the building, The ground floor of the two story tower appeared untouched, except for the fresh snow tracking up the stairs.

The top floor was a single room, old chairs and tables rotting along the walls, caked in the recent snow. Something else was there as well, a chest, much newer that the rest, and with most of the snow cleared off. It had been opened. The building was free of danger at least, and Asaf gave a short birdcall, the Ghost’s signal of “all clear” as he crouched by the chest. He attempted to work the lock free with his dagger, it was fruitless however, he was no thief. A less subtle approach then, pulling his hand axe from his belt he nodded to the others as they arrived, and with a pair of sharp blows of the hatchet, broke free a small section near the lock. The chest wasn’t open but he could see there was but one thing inside, a paper scroll. Reaching inside he carefully removed it, there was writing, though all present were unlettered smallfolk. Asaf recognized the sigil emblazed into the broken wax seal though, Oakdown’s, though something about it struck the scout as false, he had carried the odd official letter before and this wasn’t quite right. Carefully wrapping it in a peice of cloth, he secreted it in the bottom of his pack, looking to his brothers as he spoke, “Let us bring this back home, friends. Lest we overstay our welcome. I doubt we will be able to take our quarry even if we find them, given those numbers. And whatever this is needs to be seen.”

As they were leaving he caught sight of another oddity, that same foreign soil that had been at graybrook. Whoever tracked it through the village was unlikely to still have enough on their boots to show up this far away. Taking another cloth from Jonns he scraped up as much as he could, carefully tying it, perhaps the Measter could identify its origin. His last task was to take the Manwoody crest from the bodies, proof of their fall, and perhaps as false as the seal on the letter, The scout did not know enough of Heraldry to know for certain either way.

The four day march back to the keep went easier than the search had been. The only difficulty the slowing, uncomfortable snow. Upon their arrival the scout sent his men to rest and recover, “Warm yourselves by the fire, and have some ale waiting for me after I report, yeah?” He told them, before asking as to the whereabouts of Lord Andros, Ingvar, and Maester Llewellyn, respectfully waiting until all were present before recounting the tale, handing over letter, Crest, and soil, “I apologize for failing to find the snakes that did this, but given their numbers and our not knowing the contents of that scroll, I thought it best to return here.” He told them, if he had been just a tiny bit better they would have them, or if he had taken all six at the first camp.

Ingvar XI
The Maiden's 11th -The Lady's Monster

Ingvar had awakened just before dawn and with only the predawn’s grey light to guide him, dressed and made ready to make the trip to see Perrin and allow the Septon to hear his confession. He eyed his black beer but decided that if he started he might not stop before passing out. Instead, he drank a mug of water, slipped a black cloth into a pouch, and set out on his trip.

Physically Ingvar was still feeling the effects of splitting wood for the last several days but that was nothing compared to the exhaustion that had settled on his spirit from this affair with Perrin. He felt sullied like nothing he’d never felt before even though he was a veteran of Long Lakes and several engagements in the War of the Five Kings. Killing in battle had a cleanness to it – soldier against soldier, each free to act. This torturing of a helpless man was not something he could do unless there was great need. How the others who had reputations as torturers could do this again and again without destroying themselves was beyond his comprehension. This wasn’t justice for crimes committed, it was an atrocity even if they needed the information.

He had tried to scare Perrin into talking that first day in Ingvar’s quarters. He’d sent for a gelding knife and made sure Perrin heard him. When Andros had arrived he tried to signal Andros what he was doing without alerting Perrin. At the time he thought he’d been successful but he’d come to know better. Andros looked at him with horror and revulsion when he thought Ingvar didn’t see him. Ingvar couldn’t really blame him, he would probably do the same in Andros’ place.

He had called Corvo Lady Farra’s bolverk, her evil doer, maybe that made them brothers now. Surely he was the Lady’s bolverk also. If not, then he was her monster. It still stung when someone flinched as he passed, greetings were more subdued, if any. The keep gossip mill was going full tilt and Gods help him he’d given them plenty to gossip about with his odd behavior.

5 days ago…

The door to Ingvar’s quarters opened suddenly as Lord Andros stormed in.

Lord Andros: Where is the traitor?

Ingvar casually pointed at a bound and hooded man with the knife he was sharpening when Lord Andros stormed in.

Ingvar: {calm voice} I have take the liberty of sending for a gelding knife my lord.

Lord Andros: {obviously exercising restraint} While I would love nothing more at the moment, I advise we wait until we extract some semblance of information from him. Or at least until Lady Farra makes a decision. This is a delicate situation.

Ingvar: {speaking slowly, calmly, with no inflection} Indeed it is my lord. That is why I sent for the Maester also. {resumes sharpening knife} We would not want our guest to meet his end just yet. After all, he has much to tell us. And so do his friends. And everyone knows eunuchs have amazing singing voices. {voice brightens, he smiles} And we’ll have a full chorus to sing for you and gift to Lord Fowler when we are done. (winks at Andros and motions for Andros to keep it going}

Lord Andros: {smiles, nods} Yes, I hear the same. And oh the songs they’ll sing. I’m quite eager to hear. {walks over and sharply kicks the traitor’s leg} What about you traitor? Do you know any songs?

Ingvar: {slow, calm voice} I am sure he does my lord. And I’ll bet one is about Qyl. I wonder if this one will have a mysterious stranger in it?

Lord Andros nods seriously and sits in a chair, interested in how this unfolds.

Ingvar: My lord, I think our guest may be hot under that hood. Should I get him some water perhaps?

Lord Andros raises an eyebrow but nods nonetheless.

Ingvar: Just a small bit of water my lord. After all a dry throat sings off key. Could you help him be more comfortable and lean him back a bit?

Lord Andros rises and walks behind the traitor’s chair and yanks it back to an angle.

Ingvar gets a pitcher of water, walks to the traitor, pulls the hood tight to the traitor’s face and pours a small stream of water over his nose and mouth. After a moment or two the traitor begins jerking and choking and gasping around his gag. Ingvar counts to ten slowly then motions to Lord Andros to return the chair to upright as he releases the hood. After the chair is upright Ingvar reaches under the hood and loosens the gag without lifting the hood. The traitor gulps air and coughs.

Ingvar: See my lord, already he makes more sound.

Lord Andros: {nodding stiffly} I see. Perhaps we should give him a moment to consider responding before starting again. Maybe he’s had a change of heart.

Ingvar: True and I think it wise to have the Maester here also, just in case this one is more fragile than we thought.

Lord Andros: {nods} I agree. {leans in close to traitor’s ear, whispers just audibly} Let us hope your body is less fragile than your allegiance. {walks to door} I expect a full report Ingvar.

Ingvar: {almost singsong voice} A wonderful song he’ll sing my lord. And I’ll make sure you hear all the best parts.

Lord Andros: {pauses in doorway, distaste beginning to show on his features} Do what you must to learn what he knows. {leans in close to Ingvar and whispers quietly} But no more than that.

Ingvar drops the facade becoming the Ingvar Lord Andros knows once again. He nods once then salutes Andros.

Lord Andros turns on his heel and leaves.

Shortly after that the Maester arrived with a note from Lady Farra. She instructed him to do what was necessary and report the results. She was not feeling up to the walk after last nights events. That news was actually welcome as he did not want Lady Farra to see him as a torturer.

He spoke with Maester Llewellyn at length outside his room where the traitor could not hear about the possibility of using drugs to loosen the traitor’s tongue but Maester Llewellyn said that while there were several known for making a man’s tongue loose they could not be used with any certainty. The traitor could just as easily end up unconscious. They also discussed Ingvar’s idea to make the traitor think he was going to be gelded. Maester Llewellyn suggested moving him to the dungeons would add to the overall effect. When they returned to the room they discussed what would be necessary to keep the traitor from bleeding to death after the gelding and in general made plans while sitting near the traitor. Eventually Ingvar summoned some Gatekeepers and had them help him move the traitor to the dungeons.

After chaining the traitor to the wall Ingvar finally removes the traitor’s hood and gag.

Maester Llewellyn: {looking at traitor} I believe I know this one. His name is Perrin, if I recall.

Ingvar: {firm voice} That right traitor? Your name Perrin?

Perrin: {looks between the two and finally nods}

Ingvar: {turns to Llewellyn} Maester Llewellyn perhaps you should leave. This is likely to get unpleasant. We’ll hold off on the gelding for a day or two at Lord Andros’ request. I’ll check in with you each morning and evening to let you know if we’ll need you to keep him from dying.

Maester Llewellyn: Very well Ingvar. {turns to Perrin} If I were you I would consider telling him what he wants to know. My medicine can only to so much.

Ingvar escorts the Maester to the stairs then returns to the dungeon. He grabs a stool, puts it down outside Perrin’s reach, and sits.

Ingvar: What shall we talk about Perrin?

Perrin regarded Ingvar sullenly.

Ingvar: Will you tell me the names of those who ordered the murder of the smallfolk?

Perrin stares at the ground and shakes his head.

Ingvar: Ashamed …

Perrin looks sharply at Ingvar.

Ingvar: … or scared?

Perrin cuts his eyes away.

Ingvar: Hmm…. How about why? Surely you can tell me why you murdered those people. There must have been a purpose or are you just a sick animal who enjoys killing children?

Perrin: {stares for a dozen heartbeats} We did it for them good Oakdowns who died.

Ingvar: {studies Perrin for a minute} Did murdering any of those smallfolks bring the dead Oakdowns back?

Perrin glares sullenly.

Ingvar: Did you have some proof that they were involved in Lord Oakdown’s murder?

Perrin returns to staring at the floor.

Ingvar: I don’t understand Perrin. You murdered innocent smallfolk and did it without any permission. You heard Lord Andros, they consider you a traitor. You know what happens to traitors. Yes?

Perrin nods without lifting his eyes from the floor.

Ingvar: Help me understand Perrin. How does murdering smallfolk do anything to help Oakdown?

Perrin: {practically spitting} You wouldn’t understand northman. This is Dorne, you don’t belong here. If you’da stayed where you belong instead of leading Lady Farra astray then this wouldna needed to happen.

Ingvar: So I’m to blame for you murdering smallfolk?

Perrin: ’Til you came we had us a proper Master-at-arm, a good Dornish man.

Ingvar: You mean you had an incompetent Master-at-arms. Dromme was ruining Oakdown forces. The reason Lady Farra named me Master was to train Oakdown forces to be competent and to be ready for war. Have you not noticed the improvement in the forces?

Perrin: {petulantly} He coulda done it if’n he’da had a proper chance.

Ingvar: {stares at Perrin for several minutes} A proper chance. He was Master far longer than I have been and did less. No amount of time would have helped him.

Perrin: The Lady didn’t support him. He was ready to lead us to pay back them Fowlers but she wouldn’t let him.

Ingvar: He would have gotten you all killed more like. Lady Farra wants a trained army. You ever wonder why? Why have a northman from a house known for it’s army’s ability to take on foes larger than itself? What could she possibly been planning for?

Perrin: {mutters for a moment then snaps his head up, eyes wide}

Ingvar: Oh, he has a brain after all. Maybe you should think on that for awhile Perrin. Remember it was Lady Farra’s husband that was murdered. It is Lady Farra who refuses to be banner to Skyreach.

Ingvar stood and pushed the stool further away before grabbing the only light source in dungeon and leaving Perrin to consider his words.

Ingvar: {after watching the guard lock the dungeon} No food, water, or light until I say otherwise. Understood?

Guards: {in unison with salute} Yes my lord.

Ingvar returned their salute and headed back to the keep. On his way he decided to increase the guards. Perrin would be a tempting target not only for rescue but for some misguided loyalist trying to do what they thought Lady Farra would want done.

He made a brief report to Lady Farra and Lord Andros of the days events and the lack of tangible results. He told them it would take several days to get reliable information and he would keep them updated. Lord Andros said he would stop by himself from time to time to see how things were going.

Through out that evening Ingvar was distracted by the thought that his presence might actually have had something to do with the slaughter. He had grown up with Lord Dent’s sons and had been taught, as had they, it was a noble’s duty to protect smallfolk. That he might in anyway be responsible for this was disturbing. When he finally retired for the night his sleep was troubled.

Corvo II

“Why does this not surprise me?”

D imprisoned in SR, demanding trial by combat. Raven to RG to be ‘lost’ in weather.

Corvo scowled at the letter as he read it. So, Desmond had taken it on himself to run off and confront all of Skyreach on his own? He knew Desmond had a…talent, for violence, but this struck him more as suicidal. Or maybe some might call him a hero? Bravely charging off to settle matters honorably? He had heard many say before that ‘heroes’ feel no fear; might explain why so few could said to be alive.

There was a time when Corvo might’ve welcomed such a development. A situation ripe for exploiting (or to just watch for amusement), but what once meant a thrilling encounter now only warranted a letter. He did find a smile creeping across his face at the memory of similar jobs he had once done. Infiltrating strongholds, not but another shadow on a dark night, a whisper of sound before a man’s blood ran hot across his blade. The close calls, the heart pounding, hair raising thrill of stalking one’s prey, dancing at the edge of death’s door, challenging the ‘stalwart’ and ‘brave’ to enter the shadows to find what had ended their companions. He looked down at the cane that he used to throw people off, make them believe him to be less, but soon it might not be that. The years had taken their toll and he knew he had lost his edge, but that only served to fuel the feeling. He longed for another chance to stretch his legs, to travel and to DO, not just watch and listen, before time took it’s final due; but now was not the time. Now, he had a different job and all that was needed was another letter. Shortly, he was watching yet another raven fly for Redgate.

“Next time I see you, how about bringing me some better news, eh?”

Andros V
The Maiden's 11th

Andros felt the headache pounding somewhere near his right temple, pulsing from both the lack of sleep and anticipation. It had been a week since the anniversary of the Hooded Uprising and it felt like everything had changed.

He was careful to watch his footing on the narrow staircase carved out of the mountain that led down to the underpass. The underpass functioned as the Oakdown dungeon and as such was currently home to the traitor, Perrin. Throughout the week, Andros had joined Ingvar in many futile attempts to get the prisoner to talk. Their labors had produced little fruit for most of the week. It wasn’t until the previous day that they began to see some progress. Six days after the night of the feast, the man finally acquiesced. Perrin said that he would tell the lords whatever they wanted, but only if he confessed to a Septon first. Andros promised to make that happen.

Septon Connyr had come down earlier that morning. The man would have had his confession, and now it was time for Andros and Ingvar to hear what he had to say. Andros paused a moment on the stair and looked out over the valley of the Prince’s Pass. A cool breeze wound its way through the mountains, whistling quietly as it played gently on his face. He closed his eyes for a moment, feeling the sun warm his cheeks and seeing it glow past his shuttered lids. The breeze and the warmth had a pleasant effect… A calming one. It almost helped him forget the pounding behind his eyes and the reason he was here. Almost.

Sleep had been hard to come by as of late. It felt as if his last decent night’s sleep had come the night of the feast. And even then, he’d been perturbed by the fight with his wife earlier that evening. No, ever since Asaf had come to retrieve him from the training yard, Andros had been plagued by nightmares. Andros recalled the scene all too well.

He had come quickly to Ingvar’s quarters that morning. He’d burst in and demanded to see the traitor. He found him… in a way. The man was bound, gagged, and set in front of an oddly calm Ingvar, who pleasantly remarked that he’d already sent for a gelding knife. While Andros was furious, he was more interested in finding information than causing the traitor pain. Not that he was opposed to the latter, he just had different priorities.

The night was fruitless, however. Andros began to understand why some people referred to those from the North as barbarians. Ingvar had resorted to some tactics that could only be described as cruel. Andros felt he had managed to cause a little bit of restraint on the northman’s part, but it wasn’t enough to stop Andros from being quite uncomfortable after the fact.
He had returned the following day to see what progress had been made, but was again disappointed. And this time there was very little holding the northman back. Andros stayed for a time, but could only remain visibly impartial for so long. Andros was not a soft man, but he was not one to condone excessive torture. If it needed to be done, then so be it. But the screams and the pain in their eyes never left him. Perhaps this was a weakness. He did not know.

He left the underpass, attempting to remove himself from the intense situation behind him, but encountered only more bad news. He learned that the stable hand, Henred, had been slain in Lonetree, just outside the Devil’s Cup. Murder was not a common occurrence in the lands around Redgate, and as such Andros’s interest was piqued. He decided that day was as good as any to ride down into Lonetree and investigate.

Upon coming into Lonetree, Andros had discovered that there was a flurry of activity regarding the death of the old man. He had been directed to a young boy, Kile, who had apparently witnessed the attack. He was young though, and Andros had little hope that he would be of much use, but he listened all the same. According to the young boy’s testament, there was a man with a large red beard who was involved in the attack… What was odder still was that he referred to him as “the banker”. Andros decided to pursue further. He discovered that this man with the red beard, “the banker”, had been passing out gold coins to two men at the tavern… This was when it hit him. Andros had seen this man before. He was at the feast. This was that foreigner that had been talking to Mauro. What was his name… Norro? Nilloro? Norillo.

After his brief investigation, Andros decided it was time to return to Redgate, but he had yet another painful reminder of past mistakes on his ride back. His side throbbed painfully with every movement of his horse. Gritting his teeth, Andros tried to force the pain down – out of his mind. But it seemed to only get worse. He wasn’t sure which hurt worse, his side or his pride. It had been humbling to be bested so readily by Ser Tygor. He knew Tygor was a knight, and he a Lord, but it concerned him that he felt so defenseless with a sword in his hand. It was about halfway home that Andros decided he was going to take as many days as he must to recover from his injury. He would do this on his own, though. He respected Maester Llewellyn, but he hoped to hold on to whatever shred of pride he had left.

The following morning, the third day after the anniversary, dawned as the past few had. Andros felt older than ever, and bogged down by his lack of sleep. Gwendolyn had mentioned that he had been talking in his sleep, but he brushed it off as nothing. He was not about to succumb to that as well. His only hope was that the day of rest would bring him respite.

Fortunately for him, it did. He felt much better afterward, but still not quite his best. He resolved to take another day. It was late in the morning that he heard the rap on his door. He was surprised to see Elyana paying him a visit. He quite liked his cousin, but was surprised to see her. It didn’t take long for him to discover this was not a social call. She had come seeking information regarding the rumors of him and Jeyne Fowler. Perhaps it was the stress of the week, perhaps it was a strangely placed sense of trust. Whatever it was, Elyana learned much of what she’d sought to.

Andros was fed up with sitting around by the sixth day, five days after the feast. He decided to pay Ingvar one more visit and see if the prisoner had finally come around. He wasn’t to be disappointed. He’d sent for Septon Connyr as soon as he’d heard Perrin’s request, elated to finally be getting somewhere. The prisoner would have had ample time to confess before Andros finally arrived at the underpass on the morning of the seventh day, and Andros was beyond ready to get to the bottom of this.

His hair moved slightly, tousled by the mountain breeze. It was almost lovingly, the way the wind wound its fingers in his hair. Like Jennelyn were here whispering softly in his ear; giving words of encouragement, thoughts of confidence. It had been 16 years since he’d had this many sleepless nights. It had been 16 years since he felt everything around him was falling apart. It had been 16 years since he lost his father. But he had learned much. He was going to do now what Lady Farra had been unable to do 16 years ago. He was going to learn the truth of that night, and this time no Oakdown blood would be spilt doing it.

When Andros opened his eyes, a fire danced behind them. He locked them ahead, knowing that only one path remained.

That path was forward through darkness.


Elyana VII
The Maiden's 6th

The chatter of the birds outside Elyana’s window were a harsh reminder of the dawning of a new day. She rubbed at her eyes, struggling to focus on her surroundings. The accompanying pain in her head was not helping matters. She coughed for several minutes, clearing her throat, as was becoming her morning routine. She laid in bed, recalling the previous day’s events before she had sent for more strongwine. She tossed and turned in the bed, uneasy with how everything unfolded. The one good thing that came from it was she wouldn’t be leaving for Yronwood with Cransen. Instead she would stay in Redgate, for now – held to the promise she would bring in a better suitor. Elyana knew this was no slight task and she had better come through. She knew what happened to people who disappointed Lady Farra, for none remained at the keep.

Her thoughts turned to her sister and more worry swept through her. She could feel the uneasiness crawling through her veins. She spent yesterday holed up in her chambers avoiding the world, but she knew the world would eventually come to her. Experience taught her it was better to greet it head on and take the advantage.

She summoned all her inner strength to climb out of bed, heading to the basin across the room and splashed some water across her face. She stared at herself in the mirror for some time, took a deep breath and called for a handmaiden to help her dress. She needed to get this over with before she lost her nerve. It may have been a mistake to offer Daera in her place, but desperation had taken hold. Truth be told, she didn’t completely trust Daera, and having her in Yronwood would make her life a little easier. But until she was there, Elyana knew she would need to make amends with her, if that were possible.

Elyana knocked on Daera’s door but heard no answer. She beckoned to a servant walking down the corridor who informed her that Daera was joining Lady Farra for breakfast in Farra’s chambers. Elyana tensed at the thought. Grandmother was likely delivering the news now. Elyana stood in the hallway, battling her own will. Would Grandmother tell Daera it was her suggestion? Should she give Daera time to digest the news? After her last exchange with Farra, Elyana was in no hurry to have another, but maybe with Daera there Grandmother’s attention would be elsewhere. Elyana started walking, her stubbornness propelling her towards Farra’s chambers . “Just get it over with. The longer you wait, the longer Daera will stew,” she thought to herself.

As she approached Farra’s room, the door was shut. Not terribly uncommon, but clearly denoting this was a private breakfast. Elyana tried the doors nonetheless, but they were locked. A male voice, screaming, no, yelling in what sounded like fits of rage rung through from the other side of the door. Elyana stood back, trying to place the voice. A loud crash erupted from within, and Elyana pictured one of Farra’s large vases toppling over. Elyana pounded on the door, and hollered down the hall, “Someone help me get these doors open!”

The doors swung open abruptly from the inside and standing before her was Garnet Spicer, his spear by his side, his teeth clenched so hard you could see the twitching of the muscles in his jaw. He looked Elyana up and down, his eyes filled with contempt. Farra was standing at the far side of the room, her eyes focused intently on him so as to push him out of the room with her will alone. “I said, ‘Go…NOW!’” Garnet pushed past Elyana as if she weren’t standing there. Normally she would be offended, but she found it hard to be offended by someone as dull-witted as Garnet.

Elyana rushed into the room, surveying the damage and assessing the situation. She saw the large vase to Farra’s right overturned in pieces and spilling with dirt. “Are you okay?” she said to the two women left standing in the room.

“Love! Oh love. I can’t believe you have done this incredible thing for me!” Daera gushed as she ran toward Elyana.

Seven hells, what had happened to Daera? Was this one of her games? Elyana tensed as Daera wrapped her arms around her in a tight embrace. She took a step backward and gave Daera a sideways glance. “What are you speaking of, sister?”

“You shouldn’t be so humble. You gave up a marriage with Ser Cransen Yronwood so I could be the one to unite our houses. I don’t know if I could ever repay this gift you have given me. I will be forever beholden to you.”

Elyana studied her sister. This was far from the reaction she expected, but as convincing as Daera was in her words, something felt off. Her sister shared many of the talents they inherited from their mother – people easily took to them and all their lives had done whatever they wanted. Elyana found this was easier to do with kindness, but she knew her sister enjoyed tricking people into doing what suited her. Still, she could not read Daera on this. Maybe she was too close. “You’re taking this far better than I expected.”

“How would you expect me to take great news? I’m to be wed! I will be known throughout the kingdom as the one who united our houses. I can’t wait! There’s so much to do. You must be my maid of honor! Will you?” Daera reached out and held Elyana’s arms.

“Of course, little sister! I would be honored to stand beside you on this milestone of your life. You will be the most beautiful bride the seven kingdoms have ever seen! We will send for the finest fabrics in all of Dorne. This will be the biggest celebration the Red Mountains have ever seen.”

Daera began to weep, and leaned in to her sister, resting her head on her shoulder. “I can’t believe you’ve done this for me. I’ve never been so happy.”

“You deserve all the happiness and favor of the old and new. You will hold Redgate’s future.” Elyana smiled.

Daera sobbed uncontrollably, “Thank you, Love.” She turned and acknowledge Lady Farra as she wiped the tears from her face, then headed towards the doors. As Daera passed Elyana, Elyana could swear that Daera’s expression instantly morphed from joyful tears to drawn and sullen.

Elyana turned to Grandmother and asked, “Have you heard a reply from Yronwood regarding this?”

Lady Farra did not hide her impatience. “This matter no longer concerns you. You’d be best putting your efforts to matters that did.” Lady Farra approached and pressed her hand across Elyana’s belly. “How are you feeling?”

“Fine. Still coughing a little and fighting fatigue, but nothing that would complicate matters.” Elyana assured.

“I, too, am sure it’s unrelated. Go rest.”

Elyana nodded and gracefully exited the room. She saw no sign of Garnet lingering around, but spotted Daera entering the stairwell. Daera turned and smiled – or was that more of a smirk, she was too far away to tell, and waved at Elyana.

Elyana thought she had better seek out Blackburn. He wouldn’t give a second thought assigning a few of the gate keepers to her room and providing an escort if she told him she was feeling vulnerable. She just couldn’t be certain who she should be more afraid of – her sister or that unpredictable simpleton Garnet who was far less excited about Daera’s new arrangement.

Mauro XII

Mauro entered his chambers exhausted and in a very foul mood, making sure to lock the door behind him. The servants of course had already tidied things here since he left and lit a candle on the table after dark had fallen. Mauro’s knee was throbbing with discomfort. The feast and his confrontation with Norillo had him moving around the keep more than usual this night. The price for so much activity was always pain.

Pentoshi Pig! He muttered inwardly. It would have felt so good to put my steel through your neck!

Groaning, Mauro decided not to bother limping all the way across the room towards his bedside. Instead he settled for a nearer target, the small table where he normally ate his meals. In his hand he held a pitcher of strongwine. At least I have this!… He thought, sitting heavily into a chair and pouring the wine into a cup. The look on the servants face when he’d strong-armed them in the hall to seize the wine was quite amusing. They’d tried to protest of course, explaining the wine was for someone named Desmond Sand, lady Farra’s own bastard grandson.

It made no difference to Mauro of course who the wine was intended for. As far as he was concerned he needed it more then they did. “Tell Desmond he can have words with Mauro Drokhe if I’ve given offense. But please do warn him I am in a very foul mood and likely to be drunk.” He’d said, cringing at the memory of what that encounter must have been like for that poor servant.

Well done Mauro! You were just pleading with the maester to take Norillo seriously as a threat to house Oakdown, but that red-bearded devil hasn’t behaved so rudely as you have this night. He chastised himself, lifting the cup of wine to his lips gulping it down shamefully.

His thoughts after that first cup grew increasingly hazy. He vaguely remembered trying to stand to reach the bed after he emptied the pitcher, but as soon as he put weight on his knee again he instantly collapsed. Pain opened the door to blackness and sweet oblivion…

A sound woke Mauro, though at first he couldn’t remember what it was so it felt like he was dreaming. But then he heard it again. A dull THUNK sound, of something heavy dragging across the floor. A sound he recognized very easily, since he himself had thrown a grappling hook or two through a window once or twice. Intruders?! His mind said in alarm, forcing him to open his eyes and take account of himself.

He was lying splayed out on the floor of his chambers in a puddle of his own drool. His knee still throbbed, but not so badly now. The room was dark, which meant the candle had time to burn out. There was only a dim predawn light spilling through the open window of his chambers. Rolling over, he saw the grappling hook pulled taught against his windowsill wrapped in cloth to muffle the sound. Sometimes I hate being right! He thought to himself blinking and struggling to rise.

His knee inflamed with pain once more, but Mauro clenched his jaw and fought the blackness that tried to swallow him again. Standing now, he drew his dirk and estimated the number of steps to his window. Nine steps… nine chances to collapse and fall again, but he had to get closer to be sure he’d be able to strike first at whatever assassin would attempt to climb through it.

One step, two steps, three steps… each time he put weight on his knee he doubted he could take another, but he forced himself to keep going. Norillo is behind this! Mauro thought to himself, feeling his smoldering hate for the Pentoshi flare up within him once more. He also had a thought for lady Charlotte. Are assassins already climbing through her window?! He wondered, wishing with all his heart that he could run to her rescue instead of limping his way towards his window like a crippled, drunken fool. Each step felt like an eternity, but he knew he didn’t have a moment to spare. He had to get to the window first, his life, and possibly others depended on it!

Finally at last, he reached the wall beside the window and pressed his back to it. Mauro did his best to slow his breathing, to be still and quiet, but his heartbeat thumped so loudly it felt like a drumbeat in his chest. Then suddenly, a gloved hand gripped the windows frame as a form started to climb through. Mauro waited for a leg to pass over the windowsill before he lunged. Mauro knew he’d be at a disadvantage trying to fight this person on his feet in his present condition. Better to even the odds by stabbing the intruders thigh while his other hand reached for the mans throat, pulling him to the floor with all the strength he could muster!

The assailant would have screamed as soon as soon as Mauro’s steel sank into his leg, but Mauro’s fingers were already seizing his throat strangling him before he had a chance. The pair of them fell to the floor before the window, a tangle of violent limbs. Mauro pressed his initiative by twisting his dirk in his assailants leg as painfully as he could manage, feeling the man jerk and convulse beside him, frustrating his efforts to pull Mauro’s hand free of his neck. But then Mauro noticed that he wouldn’t have the upper hand for long… another assassin was about to climb through the window and join the fray!

Instinctively Mauro did the only thing he could. He pulled his dirk free of the assassins leg and threw it at the second intruder. Thankfully his aim was true as it plunged into the base of the mans throat. The intruders hands grasped for the hilt, but in so doing he also un-anchored himself from the window and fell backwards… arms pinwheeling in the air before he fell like a stone.

The effort of dispatching the second intruder loosened Mauro’s grip on the first and he felt the man struggle with renewed vigor. Now unarmed, Mauro used both hands to grapple with his foe, but quickly realized he was outmatched in raw strength. Mauro resorted to dirty tactics, pressing his good knee down hard on the mans wound making him recoil so Mauro had a chance to reach for another dirk in his boot.

However, the assassin also seized the chance to draw his own dagger and rolled away from Mauro. Now separated, both holding short blades and only favoring one leg, they eyed each other on more equal terms like coiled snakes.

Mauro: “You have no chance to get out of here alive unless you surrender!”

Assassin: “We’ll see about that!” {Glances at the rope and grappling hook as if to reassure himself they were still there}

Mauro: “Ah, so you think you’ll get out the same way you got in. But you forgot one thing.”

Assassin: “Whats that?”

Mauro: “Your friend probably made quite a mess when he took a splat on the stones before the doors of the armory below. The guards will have noticed that I’m sure. As we speak they are raising the alarm. A detachment will soon be searching all the chambers overlooking the armory looking for more intruders.”

The assassin glares, blood soaking his leg. Mauro could see the desperation in his eyes and decided more intimidation was in order. He reached down with his other hand to grab his second dirk in his other boot. Now wielding one in each hand he let a wicked, half-mad grin spread across his face.

Mauro: “I’m right here, go ahead and kill me if you think you can. I’m eager to poke you full of holes!” {Clashes the dirks together in a flurry of quick hand-movements until the blades start to spark against each other.}

Mauro originally developed that little display to impress ladies in the free cities, but sometimes it also made a foe think twice before tangling with him. And indeed it seemed to serve just as well on this occasion.

Assassin: “I surrender!” He says, dropping his dagger and collapsing to the floor in a defeated heap. “Spare me!” He begs.

Mauro feels great relief wash over him. What do we say to the god of death? …Not today!

Charlotte III

She dressed comfortably and went in search of that hot cup of tea. Not caring about formality she normally took her tea in the kitchen, enjoying a bit of simple morning conversation with the ladies there. Noble or smallfolk, they weren’t all that different-each privileged in some things, damned in others. The similarities intrigued her. This morning, however, she wanted to catch Mauro early so she wished them a good day and was turning to leave when she saw a lone figure sitting in an adjacent room.

“Nellie, may I have another cup of tea, please?”

“Of course, m’lady,” she answered, rushing to prepare a second steaming mug. Thanking her, she carried the mugs into the small dining room across the hall and sat down.

“Good morning, Gwendolyn,” she said, handing her the cup of tea. “How are you doing?”

The young woman pulled herself out of her reverie and offered her a quiet smile. “Oh, I am well, Charlotte, thank you; and you?”

“Also well, thank you.” They each sipped their tea before Charlotte asked again, quietly. “How are you, really?”

Gwendolyn dropped her eyes and took another drink of her tea, her silence answer enough. Charlotte wished there was something she could say to help her sister-in-law but marriage was often an act of duty and love was a luxury. Truth be told, she wasn’t sure if it wasn’t better that way. Her mother and grandmother had been among the rare few who had found love with their husbands and look what had happened to them when those husbands were lost. Better an amicable joining than risking one’s heart and mind on love. Still, that didn’t mean her heart didn’t go out to Gwendolyn and she searched for something to say.

“It was probably just the stress of the day, all that mourning and droning…” She was rewarded with a small but genuine smile from Gwendolyn.

“I’m sure you’re right,” she said. “Your brother is a fine man.”

“My brother is-my brother,” she sighed, but returned Gwendolyn’s smile. “We will talk more later, I’m afraid there is something I must do this morning.”

“Of course,” she said, “thank you very much for the tea, and the company.”

Charlotte climbed the stairs to the third floor, her mood somewhat lifted by lifting Gwendolyn’s. Interesting how that worked. It seemed…unseemly to be knocking on the door to a man’s quarters and she momentarily debated on waiting for Mauro to come out on his own. But the events of last night still weighed on her so she settled on knocking lightly, one that should only be heard by the awake or nearly awake, and waited.

Connyr I
The Maiden's 11th

Gentle Mother, Font of Mercy
Save our sons, from war we pray
Stay the swords and stay the arrows
Let them know a better day

The septon sung the hymn softly, clasping the seven-pointed star that hung around his neck. Unlike most of the souls in the Red Mountains, Connyr was grateful for the cooler weather that came with winter. He was devout, and wore his blue vestments regardless of the weather. His devotion didn’t prevent him from sweating. At least now with a cool breeze, the walk down to the underpass was tolerable, if not pleasant. From Redgate, one began the ascent of the path leading up to Sorrow Ridge, which eventually wound its way to the summit of Southmount. As the path rounded the mountain on it’s first turn, it would branch to a more treacherous path on the opposite side of the Keep. Septon Connyr took that path, actually far closer to a narrow stair, that had been carved out of the mountain. It zig-zagged it’s way down the mountain five hundred feet; below the Prince’s Pass and approaching the valley below.

Connyr was one of the few to actually use the stair. The path led to only one destination, a small tunnel carved into the mountain where four dungeons were to be found. Outside of the Gatekeepers, who’s charge it was to watch over the prisoners, most of the family and household had no cause to journey here. A septon was charged to hear the confessions of any who sought to make them, and Connyr took that role very seriously. This morning he was to hear the confession of a man known to him. Connyr had learned that Perrin was being accused with the dreadful massacre that took place one week past at Graybrook. That did not seem possible, as Perrin grew up loyal to his Lady and desperate to serve in the Redlanders in her service. This he had done, and done well. Still, the evidence seemed damning. It was not his role to determine guilt or innocence. He was summoned to hear the confession, and hear it he would.

As he finally came to the end of the carved stair, winded and sweating despite the chill, he approached the four guards- double the normal number at this post. The septon offered a smile to the men he knew well.

“Good morning Abel; Scarrow, Rodrin. And good morning to you as well young Mars.”

The men greeted him in return. “Good morning, septon.”

“Perrin must be quite dangerous to require all four of you to man the stair.” The septon smiled warmly, making conversation.

“Not just four of us, Septon Connyr. Ingvar has other men posted in the hills to watch the stair, and four more of us are in the underpass.” Mars answered proudly. He was named to the Redlanders after his completed training just days ago. Ingvar had indicated the boy had a lot of promise. More importantly, he was trusted. This was a commodity not to be ignored considering the events of the past week.

“I see. Well, I do not wish to interfere with your duty. May the Warrior protect you all.” Connyr smiled and entered the underpass to find Ingvar inside waiting for him.

The septon fancied himself a scholar, and was fascinated with the Master-at-arms. The reputation of those who hailed from the cold north was one of savagery. Connyr found Ingvar to be anything but. The man appreciated the history and study of the people around him; a trait the septon admired above all else save faith. It was true, he did have different customs and views. They were no more strange than the customs of Dorne to the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. They did not cross paths often, this man of faith and this leader of men. When they did, they enjoyed insightful conversation and fellowship. Today was not to be such a day. The matter of Perrin awaited.

Ingvar walked to the cell, sandstone on all sides save the one wall that was a wrought iron gate. Two more guards waited, and as they approached, opened the door. The septon entered, and was only slightly surprised when Ingvar followed him in. The gate was closed behind them, as the guards remained vigilant on the other side. A confession was typically between the confessor and a person of the Faith alone. There had been nothing typical about Perrin, and Connyr did not truly expect this to be any different.

“Perrin, the Mother would hear your appeal. May your heart be free from sin as the Seven accept your confession.” The septon took a small stool that was offered to him, as he sat next to the man chained to the far wall. The man began to weep.

“Thank ye, septon. I know I done wrong. The Stranger’s the only one who can take a man’s life, ‘less a true lord or lady commands it. And we took a lot of lives, septon. Them smallfolk up in Graybrook, they all died cause of us. I swore an oath to keep silent, and I tried. I don’t know. I’m just a simple man. We was all taught that oaths are the most serious thing a man can say. Those men that was with me, they’re my brothers. We swore to do this thing for them good Oakdowns who died. And we did it. I did it. I put my sword through that woman, and her baby too.” Perrin began to sob uncontrollably, but continued. “I’d a kilt her husband too if Hallam hadn’t done him first. It was all steel and death, septon. I know I’m breakin my oath now. I took all them guards and that Northman gave me, and kept my oath. But I don’t want to meet the Stranger like this. I don’t. And it don’t matter no more what Dromme says. He can’t save me now. Nobody can.”

“Perrin, the Seven have heard your confession. The Mother forgives, but the Father must judge. Free your heart in their mercy and trust in their wisdom.” The septon made the sign of the seven-pointed star in the air, and closed his eyes as he stood. Not a word was spoken. The gate was opened, and the guards stood by as the septon left to begin his long climb back up the stair to Redgate.

Ingvar remained, respectfully silent as the holy man departed. The gate closed once more, as Ingvar took two steps closer to the sobbing man in chains.

“Look at me.”

Perrin’s eyes found Ingvar, as Ingvar spoke once more.

“Let’s get started, then.”

Ingvar X

Ingvar had placed the prisoner so his back was to the door and left his head covered. A few moments passed and there was a knock at the door.

Young voice: You sent for a runner my lord?

Ingvar: {opens door, speaks clearly} Good. I have several stops for you to make. First find Maester Llewellyn and tell him to bring his special medicine bag here. Then, if Lady Farra is awake, tell her I respectfully request her presence here. I have someone she wants to meet. And finally find me a gelding knife. Go quickly.

Runner: {blinks several times} Aye, my lord. {edges away from Ingvar, takes off running}

Ingvar: {closes door, walks behind the prisoner and gently places a hand on his shoulder} {calm, soft voice} Are you comfortable my dear? Pants not riding up too much I hope. {chuckles quietly as he returns to his seat across the table, begins sharpening a knife slowly}

Ingvar: He briefly considers applying a candle flame to the prisoners fingertips but decides it would be best to wait for Andros, don’t want to offend the lord anymore than he already is.


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