Lord of the Crossing Game Thread (Turn IV)
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Author Topic: Lord of the Crossing Game Thread (Turn IV)  (Read 2451 times)
Garlan Gunter
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« on: October 18, 2018, 07:29:41 AM »
« edited: January 18, 2019, 09:30:05 AM by Garlan Gunter »

Lord of the Crossing Turn One

Summer, first month of 295 AC



‘So! You return for once to grace my halls, heh. Don’t suppose you’re expecting any calves fat enough to sate your wife and her get, heh heh. They breed them slow and lush out west I hear, heh. Your brother Lothar will show you to the Further Green Chambers, heh. We all so hope her ladyship of Lannister sleeps softly there. Mayhaps you’ll bring to mind what it is you want of your old sire come morning…try to surprise me, heh.’

The stout, crowded, glum fastnesses of the Twins, dominating the Green Fork, are unusually abuzz with the visit from the Westerlands of the family’s richest and most powerful connection – Lady Genna Lannister – along with her appendage, or husband, old Lord Walder’s second son Ser Emmon, and all their children and grandchildren. For all Lord Walder’s not uncharacteristic mockery an arrival on this scale must have been planned long in advance, for reasons known about at least to some extent by all parties. What can be afoot?

One thing is for almost certain – whatever Lord Walder, Ser Emmon, Lady Genna and House Lannister may be scheming, surely the Steward of the Twins, Lame Lothar Frey, knows of it all. He has rarely if ever been closer or more indispensable to his father than now, good news for the Blackwood-born Freys who follow his lead…

‘Don’t look so seven-damned gloomy, my boy. My very oldest boy. Just because your string-livered brother and his bullion-bucket of a wife choose to put in an appearance now and again and I desire to make ‘em welcome, give ‘em a show, doesn’t mean I’m about to show you and your brood the door. Although if Black Walder gives me another dirty look…consider yourself warned, heh.’

Ser Stevron Frey, heir to the Crossing and the Twins that guard it, is well enough regarded throughout the Riverlands, even relatively trusted by House Tully of Riverrun. That may be one of the elderly heir’s problems, as Lord Frey and Lord Tully have been on ill terms since the latter, formally Frey’s overlord, mocked him as ‘the Late Lord Frey’ after the Battle of the Trident.

Nor is that the only weight on old Ser Stevron, with his richer younger brother Ser Emmon’s return posing an apparent rivalry – if just possibly, instead, an alliance. And then there are those constant troubling reports about Ser Stevron’s highly capable but little-liked second grandson, the restless Black Walder…

‘Aenys, is that? No, Jared. Ser Whatever, heh, damned fool names the pair of them, must have been your mothers’ fault. Not like //me// to go toadying up to dragons, heh, and as for Jared…sounds like some foul-breathed septon. Wait, didn’t your own full-birthed brother //become// a septon? That’s rather a good jape, actually, if I do say so myself, and I do, and I’m Lord of the Crossing. Heh. Any news of that brother of yours? No, not the septon, the outlaw. Yes, nephew, not brother, that’s what I said. That one’s Aenys’s, not yours, you say? Wait, weren’t you Aenys again?...urrrgh, Symond, sort this nonsense out, your brothers and nevvies are boring me stiff, heh, and not in a good way, heh heh, and I don’t intend to be stiff in a bad way for quite some time yet, heh heh heh.’

For the lesser-noticed members of House Frey, existence sludges on much as usual, as the ferrets struggle to attain their sire’s notice or even remembrance. One of the more successful in this regard has turned out to be Symond Frey, born to his father’s Crakehall wife but less warlike than most of his brood. Symond may be disrepected by most but he has furrowed out a niche for himself as a channel of both coins and rumours to Lord Frey, with the help of his accomplished Braavosi wife.

Among Symond’s less fortunate relatives is Ser Jared Frey, an aging knight whom it is rumoured Lord Frey has capriciously selected to hunt down a renegade outlaw of the House, one Aegon Bloodborn. But Ser Jared, quietly far up the succession to the Twins and with a brother, Septon Luceon, among the Most Devout in the far southern capital of King’s Landing, may well harbour other ideas of his own…

***

Player family information, stats, and turn crises to follow

***

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Garlan Gunter
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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2018, 12:46:18 PM »

Player family information (also to be found on the first LOTC thread)

Ser Stevron’s Line (The Senior Line of House Frey)

Head: Ser Stevron Frey (widowed)

Heir: Ser Ryman Frey (widowed)

Other males: Edwyn (married), Ser Walder (called Black Walder)*, Petyr  ‘Pimple’ (married), Aegon ‘Jinglebell’, Walton (married), ‘Sweet’ Steffon, Bryan

Females: Perriane (sister, married), Walda, Perra, Maegelle (married), Fair Walda

Marriage alliances:

In the Vale, Houses Royce, Waynwood, Hunter, and Hardyng

In the Riverlands, Houses Haigh (also a Frey bannerman) and Vance

In the Westerlands, House Lydden

In the Stormlands, Houses Swann and Caron

Strengths: Legitimacy, power, riches, military and political talents in Black Walder*, political talents in Ser Stevron and Edwyn

Weaknesses: Black Walder’s disloyalty, Ser Ryman’s drunkenness, Edwyn’s cowardice, Petyr’s youth, Aegon a lackwit

*Black Walder will in practice operate alone


Ser Emmon’s Line (The Lannister Freys)

Head: Ser Emmon Frey / Lady Genna Lannister (married couple)

Heir: Ser Cleos Frey (married)

Other males: Tywin, Willem, Ser Lyonel (married), Tion, ‘Red’ Walder

Females: None

Marriage alliances:

In the Vale, House Royce

In the Westerlands, Houses Lannister and Crakehall

In the Riverlands, House Darry

Strengths: Huge riches, independent lands in the west, favour at court through Lannister interest, political talent in Lady Genna

Weaknesses: visitors to the Twins, outsiders in the Riverlands, few allies, weakness of Ser Emmon, youth of Tywin, Willem, Tion and Red Walder


The Swann Freys

Head: Ser Jared Frey (widowed)

Heir: Ser Tytos Frey (married)

Other males: Zachery (training at Oldtown), Septon Luceon (in King’s Landing among the Most Devout)

Females: Zia, Kyra (married)

Marriage alliances:

In the Riverlands, Houses Blanetree and Goodbrook

In the Stormlands, House Swann

Strengths: political talent in Ser Jared, excellent Faith connections and good sources of information, relative importance and legitimacy

Weaknesses: few in number, limited resources (apart from distant Septon Luceon), minor allies, shortage of heirs


The Braavosi Freys

Head: Symond Frey / Betharios of Braavos

Heir: Alesander Frey (a singer)

Other males: Bradamar (a ward in Braavos)

Females: Alyx

Marriage/wardship alliances:

In Braavos the Betharios and Tendyris families

In the Westerlands, House Crakehall

Strengths: exceptional Narrow Sea, Braavos, mercantile, commoner and singer connections and information, more than adequate resources, generally high political acumen, Crakehall health

Weaknesses: few in number, scarcely regarded as noble, little martial ability despite Crakehall heritage, few allies in Westeros


The Blackwood Freys

Head: ‘Lame’ Lothar Frey, Steward of the Twins (married)

Heir: Ser Jammos Frey (married)

Other males: ‘Big’ Walder, Dickon, Mathis, Ser Whalen (married), Hoster

Females: Tysane, Walda, Emberlei, Leana, ‘Merry’ Merianne, Morya (married), Tyta ‘the Maid’

Marriage alliances:

In the Riverlands Houses Blackwood and Paege

In the Westerlands Houses Lefford and Brax

Strengths: political talent in Lame Lothar and Big Walder, adequate resources, well-connected at Twins, solid Riverland and Western alliances

Weaknesses: below average fighters, distrusted by other Freys

***
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Garlan Gunter
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« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2018, 12:53:13 PM »
« Edited: October 23, 2018, 08:31:54 AM by Garlan Gunter »

Map of the Riverlands



***

Player Statistics and Crises, Turn I

Ser Stevron Frey, Heir to the Crossing



Favour: 7 (trusted but not wholly liked by his father Lord Frey)

Resources: Substantial (the heir to the Twins answers to his father, but can draw on considerable credit and personal savings, as well as having most control after his father of House Frey’s 1000 knights and 3000 foot)

Influence: 9 within the Frey domains, 7 in the Riverlands, 5 beyond (word very nearly law as heir within the Twins, but lessens at a distance)

Standing: 9 (well-known as a wise, experienced and upstanding noble and knight)

Turn I Crises:

Your lord father, your brother Ser Emmon and your good-sister Genna Lannister are deep in one another’s counsels since the latter’s visit, ostensibly concerning a recent question of lawful inheritance in the West following the death of old Lord Crakehall. You have your own interests in this question as your deceased second wife, Jeyne of House Lydden, and therefore your children by her, the lackwit Aegon Jinglebell and Maegelle, now married into House Vance, have a reverted claim on some of the late lord’s lands. But in addition you cannot help wondering whether some deeper game may be being played here.

You have great potential to add to your already impressive array of marriage alliances. You yourself and your drunken heir Ser Ryman are both widowed, several of your grandsons are unmarried, your grand-daughter Fair Walda is a famous beauty – if of less than spotless repute – and your great-granddaughter Small Walda is potentially heiress to the Twins. Tread carefully, however, about ensuring your lord father’s goodwill for such matches.

Your many allies among the Valemen seek more advantageous trade arrangements with House Frey, however they may bluster of honour and penny-pinching. Will you lend your support to such approaches, and if so how?

Your younger half-brother Ser Jared has recently been tasked with recruiting a small command to pursue a full nephew of yours, the outlaw Aegon Bloodborn, disowned son of your brother Ser Aenys. Will you permit any of your descendants to join Ser Jared’s party?

Finally, there is the question of your younger grandson, Black Walder. The boy is a dissatisfied troublemaker with plentiful talent but a will of his own. Many of the stories you commonly hear about him are frankly disturbing. He is said to have slept with his good-sisters Janyce Hunter and Mylenda Caron, his cousin your grand-daughter Fair Walda, and Lady Frey herself, among others. Will you try to bring him into line by fair or stern means?


Ser Walder Frey, called Black Walder



Favour: 4 (disliked and distrusted by his grandfather, but Lord Frey concedes he is occasionally useful)

Resources: Scant (a younger son with a small personal following)

Influence: 8 (a highly able underhand operator)

Standing: 3 (although a knight and likely future heir, already widely hated and feared)

Turn I Crises:

Your lord grandfather loves you little. You can’t be sure how much he’s heard or whether he believes any of it, but if he swallows a tenth of the truth you are in a very serious predicament. Can you prove yourself of more use to him above ground than under it – or is it time for more drastic solutions?

You are all too aware that you would make a far stronger Lord of the Crossing than all those fools ahead of you, your milksop grandfather, your sot of a father, your snivelling elder brother and his brat. What are you going to do about it?

Your Lannister kinsfolk are at the Twins for a change. They have gold aplenty, which you lack. How can you get your hands on some of it?

You are unmarried and have hitherto intended to remain that way, but now do you sense any advantage in altering that resolution? On that note, you have recently received covert letters from Janyce Hunter, Mylenda Caron and Lady Annara Frey herself expecting you to meet them in the usual places. Will you satisfy their hopes, keep to the safer and frankly more charming attractions of your cousin Fair Walda, or look elsewhere, within the Twins, without, or wherever you will, for dalliance?

Into the bargain, all three of Janyce Hunter, Mylenda Caron and Lady Annara assure you their gets are your bastards. Do you care about ascertaining either way, and if so how?

There’s word your grand-uncle Ser Jared Frey, kin to you through Houses Frey and Swann alike, is to be sent to track down your mutual cousin Aegon Bloodborn, with whom you have had some dealings in the past. Clearly, though, the command should have gone to you. Will you upstage Ser Jared by scraping together a force of your own and going after the outlawed Frey yourself, join Ser Jared and undermine him from within, or cut a deal with Bloodborn to eliminate your annoying grand-uncle?


Ser Emmon Frey (and Lady Genna Lannister)



Favour: 6 (mocked by his father and sometimes envied over Lannister wealth, but also relatively courted for it)

Resources: Vast (Lady Genna’s Lannister dower lands and coffers make Ser Emmon, notionally a knight not a lord, already all but Lord Frey’s own equal in wealth)

Influence: 5 at the Twins and in the Riverlands, 7 at Court, 8 in the West (Ser Emmon’s branch have become outsiders and Lady Genna’s power and personality speak louder further afield)

Standing: 6 (Ser Emmon is little thought of, and though Lady Genna is generally admired the family is mocked with the perception of being led from its skirts)

Turn I Crises:

Poor old Lord Crakehall’s passing was very sad, of course, but it has come at a convenient time for all of you. Of course there is the claim of your second son Ser Lyonel’s wife Melesa to be pressed, which could make that unlucky boy, younger son of a younger son, a tidy living after all. And then there are other matters, of course, in your interest’s, the Court’s, and, alas, even your lord father’s…

Your elder brother Ser Stevron has given you a cool reception so far. Will you seek to reassure him about your visit or work to weaken his position? Poor fellow, to have stayed so leal so long and produce sons and grandsons like that…and grand-daughters and good-daughters too, for all you’ve heard. A certain adjustment in the succession would sort out a lot of bother, when Lady Genna puts it like that…

Your chambers in the Further Green Rooms are damp and doubtfully clean, and your dear wife Lady Genna is loud in proclaiming that that mince-legged steward must have meant to smother her grandsons with agues and chills. The condition of the wing does not differ, though, spectacularly from your own childhood memories of the Twins. How can you placate Lady Genna without snubbing that irritatingly favoured Lame Lothar?

There is some talk of an expedition to fight outlaws, apparently led by some relative you’ve long forgotten about, a nephew with a melodramatic byname. Will you allow any of your younger boys to accompany it for seasoning? The gesture would please your lord father but Lady Genna will currently have none of it. She would much rather see them safely betrothed, or if absolutely necessary packed off as wards. As for your grown sons Sers Cleos and Lyonel, they could be sent on the venture but neither are enthusiastic about demeaning their Lannister blood by serving under their Uncle Jared.

There’s even one rumour that one of the outlaws who may or may not be out there is some kind of bastard kinsman of your good-daughter’s family, House Darry. Will you exploit this possible link to gain information – or redouble efforts to eliminate the outlaws and further secure an inheritance for your grandchildren?


Ser Jared Frey



Favour: 4 (Lord Frey rarely considers his Swann children)

Resources: Scant, a younger son with many family commitments. However the resources commanded by his younger brother Septon Luceon, of the Most Devout at King’s Landing, are Vast.

Influence: 5 but 8 in matters concerning the Faith

Standing: 6 (an adequate but aging tourney knight little known beyond the Twins)

Turn I Crises:

You find yourself, possibly as a result of a misunderstanding or some scheme by a whoreson like Symond or Lame Lothar, suddenly and at your relatively old age unexpectedly put in charge of the latest of umpteen doomed expeditions to catch the notorious outlawed Frey, Aegon Bloodborn. This time, though, your lord father is apparently at least pretending to make a serious effort. He has given you a tenth of the Twins’ foot, three hundred picked men, to be stiffened with fifty household knights and whichever of your kin you can recruit.

The last time only two hundred men were sent; their leader, your Crakehall-born half-brother Ser Geremy Frey, drowned mysteriously and the rest went missing, scattered and deserted to the outlaws most like. Will you make a proper effort to raise your forces and achieve your mission, at last distinguishing yourself to your lord father? Or will you try to come to terms with Bloodborn? Mayhaps you could even use your new command for some more useful end. And which, if any, of your kin should join it?

But more interesting even than the Bloodborn errand is a letter from Septon Luceon in King’s Landing. At first it was his usual blend of pious hypocrisy, financial blackmail and self-regard, but it slid to towards a remarkable suggestion which has given you much thought.

You yourself and your daughter Zia are also available for marital pacts, but may want to delay until you have parlayed a better name for your branch of the family.


Symond Frey



Favour: 8 (Lord Frey is beginning to find Symond an amusing companion as well as a useful tool)

Resources: Substantial (skilful Narrow Sea tradecraft)

Influence: 8 (a versatile and well-travelled schemer)

Standing: 2 (not a knight, married to a foreign commoner, regarded as all but degraded in rank)

Turn I Crises:

You and Betharios have made it your business to learn all that passes within the Twins as well as across the Narrow Sea…while Alesander and Alyx distract rivals with glistening tales, and Bradamar over the water cultivates alliances of which the clodhopping knights of Westeros could only dream. But now altogether uncomfortable numbers of secrets you do not yet understand have clustered about the Crossing. What are Lord Walder, Ser Emmon, Lady Genna and the Lannisters really planning? How dangerous is Black Walder really? What has so excited Septon Luceon in the capital? Where is the Bloodborn, and is he his own man – if not, whose?

You have arranged for Ser Jared to be dispatched in answer to this last question, in large part as a cruel jape, but Alesander suggests he accompany Ser Jared to get closer the truth of it all. Betharios instead believes he ought to make contact with the outlaws. Whose stratagem will you follow?

The Lannister-Freys have revealed the official pretext for their visit – an arbitration about the estate of the late Lord Crakehall. You yourself, with your full siblings, have a small claim on some of the contested lands through your late mother. Do you intend to risk trouble by raising it?

In the meantime Alyx, while no maid, has managed to pique Black Walder’s interest by resisting him. Is this mayhaps perilous family connection one you wish her nonetheless to pursue, or would you rather parlay her charms into the grandest match you can find, on whichever side of the Narrow Sea?

Bradamar’s master, the merchant Oro Tendyris, writes to invite you to invest in a spectacular business opportunity. You gather it involves milk of the poppy, shade of the evening, and possibly, in contravention to the laws of Braavos, slavery, but the likely returns are reliable and high. Are you interested and how closely should young Bradamar be employed in this business?

In the long run, your present favour with your lord father would be best ensured by replacing Lame Lothar as Steward. You are fairly sure he is guilty of significant embezzlement, but can you prove it – and is it as yet worth crossing him? Some dismiss the cripple as harmless, but you and Betharios know better.


Lothar Frey, called Lame Lothar, Steward of the Twins



Favour: 9 (currently Lord Frey’s most trusted advisor)

Resources: Adequate from personal means, Substantial as a result of embezzlement as Steward

Influence: 9 within the Twins as Steward, 7 beyond it

Standing: 5 (neither honoured nor feared, a useful cripple)

Turn I Crises:

You have lodged the Lannister-Freys as uncomfortably as possible at your lord father’s request; a curious jape, typical of the cussed old man, whom you know has much to gain from their friendship. Is it worth making some fair approach to Ser Emmon, or more meaningfully Lady Genna, yourself?

Your relations with the heir to the Crossing are cordial but cold; he suspects you with some reason of keeping him at a distance from your mutual lord father. Is it time for a reconciliation, and will you help him do something about that delinquent Black Walder, or stay back and let the senior line shred itself?

You have a slight claim on the recent Crakehall inheritance through your wife, Leonella of House Lefford. Is it worth bothering about?

These regular and pointless exercises in hunting Aegon Bloodborn are an unnecessary drain on the Twins’ coffers, and therefore your own. Will you gamble on putting a genuine stop to the problem by for once outfitting the Frey soldiers properly, even mayhaps letting your knightly younger brothers join them, or skim off the difference, skimp on the equipment and cut a deal with Bloodborn as you did last year and the year before that?

You know more of Lord Walder’s councils than anyone; how can you make sure that the beneficiary of his courtly plans is your family…and yourself?

You are the proud but exhausted father of four maiden daughters (you aren’t letting Black Walder anywhere near them). Is it time to capitalise on your respectability and riches as Steward and find them matches, or should you climb higher first? What about your unfortunate sister Tyta ‘the Maid’, approaching thirty?

Lord Tytos Blackwood writes complaining about Bracken and that seven-be-cursed mill again. Can you bring yourself to write back?

Finally that sly Symond (can he really be a Crakehall-Frey?) is evidently after your post. Is he best dealt with sweetly or sharply?

***
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King Saul
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« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2018, 01:34:15 AM »

Stevron I:

Stevron Frey sighed tiredly, thinking of things, he was happy with the visit of his brother Emmon although he also asked himself if there was a bigger reason or not ...... Stevron looked briefly at his children and grandchildren ..... he knew that most of them were a disappointment or a problem, but he had to make sure that his father Lord Walder still relied on his planks, so many relatives did not make things easy on the future succession in the Twins ... he had to prepare yourself and your family for the future .

Stevron, going to his sleeping quarters, said to himself:

"It's time for me to think about some things ..."
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Garlan Gunter
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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2018, 06:39:22 AM »



Ser Stevron's reflections were interrupted by the wobbling figure of Maester Brenett, introducing three visitors to the Twins eager to take up a moment of the heir's time. Two had ridden from Riverrun, and one from much further afield.

The Rivermen were recognisable to Ser Stevron at once - his good-son, Ser Dafyn Vance, a small and querulous man, and Lord Tully's master-at-arms, Ser Desmond Grell. It was immediately evident that Vance had come upon the Crakehall business, but Grell held his peace till he could gain a more private hearing.

The third guest was a Valeman with a gift, Ser Harlan Hunter of Longbow Hall, with a cask of his father Lord Hunter's excellent wine brought by a serving-man behind him. Ser Harlan, as he made haste to remind Ser Stevron, was a close kinsman of the heir's eldest grandson's wife. It seemed he had some matter of tolls and duties to discuss, wanting to pay House Frey in kind while the Hunter wine flowed unimpeded down the rest of the Trident. He was not the first Valeman to make such a suggestion, but the quickest to come in person...

Knowing he would not be like to attain his hopes at once, Ser Harlan proved full of gossip. It seemed he had broken his journey a day or two's ride since at the Bucket, a once derelict inn now glowing warm and bustling again - but apparently a hearth where dangerous men were easily found, the sort of men who offered to rid one of a foe for a handful of stags...and some of them frog eaters from the Neck into the bargain...


***

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King Saul
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« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2018, 11:02:54 PM »



Ser Stevron's reflections were interrupted by the wobbling figure of Maester Brenett, introducing three visitors to the Twins eager to take up a moment of the heir's time. Two had ridden from Riverrun, and one from much further afield.

The Rivermen were recognisable to Ser Stevron at once - his good-son, Ser Dafyn Vance, a small and querulous man, and Lord Tully's master-at-arms, Ser Desmond Grell. It was immediately evident that Vance had come upon the Crakehall business, but Grell held his peace till he could gain a more private hearing.

The third guest was a Valeman with a gift, Ser Harlan Hunter of Longbow Hall, with a cask of his father Lord Hunter's excellent wine brought by a serving-man behind him. Ser Harlan, as he made haste to remind Ser Stevron, was a close kinsman of the heir's eldest grandson's wife. It seemed he had some matter of tolls and duties to discuss, wanting to pay House Frey in kind while the Hunter wine flowed unimpeded down the rest of the Trident. He was not the first Valeman to make such a suggestion, but the quickest to come in person...

Knowing he would not be like to attain his hopes at once, Ser Harlan proved full of gossip. It seemed he had broken his journey a day or two's ride since at the Bucket, a once derelict inn now glowing warm and bustling again - but apparently a hearth where dangerous men were easily found, the sort of men who offered to rid one of a foe for a handful of stags...and some of them frog eaters from the Neck into the bargain...


***



Ser Stevron thanked the Maester and addressed the three men:

"It's good to see you around here ... although I suppose each of you will want to have a private conversation with me right?"

Ser Stevron turned to his good-son Ser Dafyn Vance and then to his other guests:

"I'll talk to Ser Dafyn first if it's not a problem for you two to wait a little."
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Garlan Gunter
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« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2018, 03:03:40 AM »

 

But Ser Dafyn, unlike Ser Desmond Grell, scarcely seemed to mind the presence of witnesses, even, mayhaps, to welcome them.

"Don't you see, good-father, this is my - our - best, only chance! If I am to die anything other than a household knight at Atranta with an empty purse and too many children, some of those Crakehall lands are the only solution! Let the Westermen know I'm perfectly willing to change our name to Lydden, or Crakehall, or whatever they will, and to move to the West for good, if they only...do right by my lady Maegelle," he concluded with a pompous note and a release of foetid breath.

"As to my good-brother Jinglebell, of course, no one need take any notice of his claim, I hope you agree. He is hardly like to prove a great western noble, for all his, hur hur, endearing qualities..."

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King Saul
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« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2018, 04:14:19 PM »

[quote author=Garlan Gunter

But Ser Dafyn, unlike Ser Desmond Grell, scarcely seemed to mind the presence of witnesses, even, mayhaps, to welcome them.

"Don't you see, good-father, this is my - our - best, only chance! If I am to die anything other than a household knight at Atranta with an empty purse and too many children, some of those Crakehall lands are the only solution! Let the Westermen know I'm perfectly willing to change our name to Lydden, or Crakehall, or whatever they will, and to move to the West for good, if they only...do right by my lady Maegelle," he concluded with a pompous note and a release of foetid breath.

"As to my good-brother Jinglebell, of course, no one need take any notice of his claim, I hope you agree. He is hardly like to prove a great western noble, for all his, hur hur, endearing qualities..."


[/quote]

Ser Stevron envisage Sor Dafyn:

"I would appreciate it if you did not talk about my son in this way, Ser Dafyn, about this issue of the claims in the Westerlands  ..... I'm thinking about what's most advantageous in this case, I suppose Maegelle's claim is the best considering everything .. ...... but I'm still thinking, I can not give you a definitive answer yet, but I do not think you need to worry too much about this issue "
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Garlan Gunter
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« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2018, 05:07:25 AM »

Ser Dafyn grunted and retired, evidently assured he had received the most hopeful answer he was likely to extract for the time being, and mindful, also, of his good-father's rebuke. While Hunter stood at a distance making casual enquiries of the maester, Grell took the chance to rush up close to Ser Stevron in the shadowiest portion of the chamber.

"My lord of Frey, Lord Tully values your personal safety next to his own, and has reason to believe it may soon be under threat. I have come with a dozen of Riverrun's best men-at-arms, and silver for their fodderage and maintenance. My lord insists that you allow me and my men to guard your movements until we receive more favourable tidings."

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King Saul
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« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2018, 03:57:43 PM »

Ser Dafyn grunted and retired, evidently assured he had received the most hopeful answer he was likely to extract for the time being, and mindful, also, of his good-father's rebuke. While Hunter stood at a distance making casual enquiries of the maester, Grell took the chance to rush up close to Ser Stevron in the shadowiest portion of the chamber.

"My lord of Frey, Lord Tully values your personal safety next to his own, and has reason to believe it may soon be under threat. I have come with a dozen of Riverrun's best men-at-arms, and silver for their fodderage and maintenance. My lord insists that you allow me and my men to guard your movements until we receive more favourable tidings."



"I would like to be surprised by this, but I am not ..... tell Lord Hoster that I am really thankful for his consideration of me and that if possible I will make up for it in the future .... this protection can be extended to my heirs? "

Quickly Ser Stevron whispers to Sor Desmond:

"Do you know which side of the family the threat comes from, and I do not think Black Walder will need to be protected, I'm sure my... dearest grandchild knows how to defend himself without protection."
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Garlan Gunter
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« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2018, 08:27:31 AM »

Grell's purple-veined features flushed darker as he leaned in to mutter a name close into Ser Stevron's ear - the very same name they were a moment later astonished to hear bellowed at the other side of the chamber, by the hearth where the maester and the Vale knight still lingered.

"It's Lame Lothar," Bastard Walder cried out in his harsh drill-yard's thunder of a voice; he had burst into the room mailed, as usual. "Perilous sick, they say, on a sudden, too sick for his duties. You'd best hurry along, maester. I don't like your prospects if the cripple bites it, he's dear enough to our lord father."

The maester bustled out leaving utter confusion in his wake, and on nowhere more clearly than the florid face of Ser Desmond Grell.

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« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2018, 05:04:56 PM »

Grell's purple-veined features flushed darker as he leaned in to mutter a name close into Ser Stevron's ear - the very same name they were a moment later astonished to hear bellowed at the other side of the chamber, by the hearth where the maester and the Vale knight still lingered.

"It's Lame Lothar," Bastard Walder cried out in his harsh drill-yard's thunder of a voice; he had burst into the room mailed, as usual. "Perilous sick, they say, on a sudden, too sick for his duties. You'd best hurry along, maester. I don't like your prospects if the cripple bites it, he's dear enough to our lord father."

The maester bustled out leaving utter confusion in his wake, and on nowhere more clearly than the florid face of Ser Desmond Grell.

***


Sor Stevron looked at Ser Desmond Grell's expression and understood and whispered to him:

"Thank you for the information Ser Desmond, I think I understood by your expression who you are, thank Lord Hoster for me"

With that, Sor Stevron approached the Knight of the Vale to see what he had to say...
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« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2018, 06:34:22 AM »

But by now Ser Harlan Hunter of the Vale had, it seemed, got involved in a drinking contest with Merrett Frey, one of the lesser Crakehall Freys, and was unlikely to be able to talk business with much flair. A gong sounded ushering the family of the Twins to begin a new banquet, although rowdier knights and squires were talking of a visit to the re-established Bucket Inn instead, and then there was always Lame Lothar's sickbed or the ancient Lord's own solar to be inspected by the curious and ambitious...

Any player feel free to jump in with public posts from any of these locations, or indeed elsewhere!

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Garlan Gunter
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« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2018, 06:10:23 AM »



New appointments and dispositions in the wake of the sickness of Lord Frey's dear son Lothar:

Edwyn Frey, eldest grandson of Ser Stevron Frey, heir to the Crossing, is appointed to act as Steward of the Twins until such time as Lothar Frey recovers.

Ser Tytos Frey, son of Lord Frey's trusty fourth son Ser Jared Frey, is named Master-at-Arms of the Twins in the place of Ser Andrey Charlton. Given the suspicious circumstances of Lothar's ailment, Ser Tytos is instructed to place the Twins under close watch, and to assist the acting Steward upon all matters pertaining to armed force.

Rumours aswirl express surprise that the ambitious Symond did not gain the place...and suspicion that Lothar's decline may have somehow originated from one or another of Stevron's blood...

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« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2018, 04:24:17 PM »




There is a fog lingering about the Riverlands, peristent and greedy. „As if there has been nothing but eternal afternoons in its past, pattering and purling waters“, Betharios of Braavos muses as she gazes down at the snot coloured waters of the Green Fork beneath them.

„You'll find it entertaining enough“ Symond Frey answers „even if the fog smells different here. The Twin is home to weasels rather than Braavosi street cats, but their coats are just as scrubby. You'll find it amusing enough, I promise.“
„You sent Alyx to the sept.“
„Ah, don't be jealous, love.“ As a respond he receives nothing but an arched brow. A subtle gesture to remind him of the first time they had met. He on a boat with nothing but ragged sails and thirsty men, struggling to row towards the lagoon, she on a merchant ship ordering to toss them some waterskins and  helping them to moor – just because she was utterly bored that day, she always claimed.

„You know how distrustful they can be in Westeros. Showing faith in the Seven is important. She won't become a septa.“
„She would make quite a septa“, Betharios chortles. Then, more somberly, she adds „and you would make quite a steward. Wouldn't you?“
„No. It is not the time. In fact, there is a matter I wanted to speak to you about. King's Landing. I might have to leave soon.“
„I just got my chest unpacked.“
The smile Symond Frey has to offer Betharios is as ragged as his sails have been years before. Her understanding just as quick.
„And you need me here at the Twins“, she concludes with an air of melancholy.
„Alyx will return soon enough. As well as Alesander. You'll have your handmaids with you.“
„Of course.“
„I'll send you a letter. I'll make sure there are enough ravens if we have to be quick.“
„Of course.“

These two simple words of her, their repetition, her halfsigh, her patience. She'll find a way, Symond Frey thinks, as he gazes down at the greedy fog lingering about the snot green water.


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« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2018, 08:51:45 AM »

The First Ferret's Fall

A horrified Maester Brennett is to be heard flapping unctuously about the Hall wailing that the late Steward, Lame Lothar, is now late in all senses, having met his demise following what he deems to be the unmistakable progress of a swift-acting, but as yet unknown poison.

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« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2018, 01:32:04 PM »

PYCELLE



With every decade of service he accrued, every reign or Hand he triumphantly outlasted, and every snowy drift of beard he nurtured, the Grand Maester felt more apt to perform his favourite stratagem.

It was so comfortable upon his habitual chair; the Grand Maester’s seat was by tradition a small and hardened stool, fit almost in pain-infliction for the Throne it served, but Pycelle had gained credit enough to see that altered early in the second Aerys’s reign. It was so warm, in the prime of this long summer, in the Small Council chamber, a lengthy session behind them. And it was so very simple, as he drifted onto the august table board with a tinkle of gold and silver fetters, to appear to be deeply slumbering.

That was for the benefit of the other two left in the room; the tubby, scented, smooth creature Pycelle had known far longer than he cared to reflect; and the hard-eyed little man who had joined them not so long ago, and all too soon made so far-reaching an impact. Varys and Baelish. Lord Eunuch and Littlefinger. And this was what made the Grand Maester’s squint-glimpsing nap so valuable. The pair of them were talking with a pair of cordiality that turned his stomach.

‘A confident move,’ the eunuch cooed with a complimentary smoothness that was almost, yet horribly not, that of an amiable uncle. ‘Boldness and flair, on a certain. But are you really sure that for the want of a cripple, you can stop two ambitious Houses, the richest of their kingdoms, in their tracks?’

‘For the time being,’ the young Valelord replied easily, speaking with all the effortless, somewhat bored confidence of the Kingslayer after mopping up a tourney. ‘Frey is as ancient as he is greedy, failing in frame himself from the gluttony and lechery of near a century, and hardly in his right mind. His elder son is not a rule-breaker, and his second an utter poltroon. Lothar the Lame was his ablest tool left. And comical as it is, Lord Tywin cannot strike against us for the present…unless he has the Freys.’

Grand Maester Pycelle swallowed a cough of such severity he thought it might have cost him a handful of beard, but maintained silence beyond stertorous, flamboyant snoring.

‘For all his Rains of Castamere, his gold and his steel,’ Varys agreed, ‘Lord Tywin came perilous close at the Rebellion to looking like a traitor to both sides. He cannot have everything as he might wish it without looking fearfully isolated…against the full might of the Crown.’

And then something terrible indeed occurred. Baelish pivoted elegantly, sat easily upon the council table, and tweaked the revered Grand Maester by the beard.

‘Go and tell your lion lord whatever you will, old man,’ he sneered. ‘The Small Council is staying just where it is for now. Players such as us twain need not fear the likes of you.’

‘Treat him gently,’ Varys added with skin-crawling kindness. ‘I think he has something more of interest to tell us.’

‘S-s-s-…’ Pycelle half whispered, half spat.

‘Ser? Sssshh? No, honoured Maester, that won’t quite do at all,’ that abominable Petyr snarled all of a sudden. ‘We want something more…specific.’

‘Symond, Symond Frey,’ Pycelle gasped through his tears. ‘The old man sent him here, or as near as did…on his way…’

‘I have begun to have dealings with that Frey already, in a way,’ Varys soothed between those malevolent, shining little teeth. ‘A sensible man. I’m sure he’ll take good note of what happened to his brother.’

‘Half-brother,’ Pycelle found himself correcting to the air, for those two demonic counsellors had, at last, left him back to himself.

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« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2018, 01:37:57 PM »

RAVELLA



It was a merry time for minstrelsy in the Riverlands in these days. The Lady of Acorn Hall had already this day bade one well-known old friend among the singers farewell for the present, and welcomed a fresh young replacement in the afternoon. She was understandably irked when the steward announced the arrival of a considerable armed party, footsore, weary, hungry, drenched, thirsty for the Seven knew how many sorts of slaking, and led by one of her least charming cousins, in Ravella’s opinion at any rate – that cocksure old swaggerer Ser Jared Frey.

‘Find yourself an attic, pretty one,’ she urged the young singer softly and fondly, but with a definite force. ‘I fear you’ll be more interested in what Cousin Jared has to say than I am, but you’ll agree it’s best you listen from the rafters.’

Cousin Jared was missing another cousin, the Bloodborn one, and had thought to find him here of all places. As if Ravella was quite deranged. Certainly, she was an open-hearted soul with interesting friends, but the likes of Bloodborn were not fit for a lady’s solar, especially with her lord so regularly fond of the chase.

‘No word of him,’ Jared was grunting, unconvinced, while Ser Garse Goodbrook – her cousin’s good-son, Ravella thought with an effort – made some kind of note. At least one of these men in mail could write, that was some kind of mercy. ‘Shall I have the Seven-Pointed Star brought in with our sweetened wine?’ the lady enquired smilingly. ‘I was about to settle to my devotions, cousin, and after all your brother of the Most Devout would be sure to approve.’

‘Devout be damned,’ Jared spluttered, not shocking his cousin so much as he mayhaps expected too. ‘Nothing of Bloodborn. Very well. What of his lieutenant, this so-called Plowman’s Bastard?’

‘So-called? What, is he actually one of yours?’ Ravella fenced, her innocent countenance radiant. ‘Or more like, doubtless, your lord father’s?’

‘With respect, your ladyship,’ Ser Garse cut in, showing little enough, ‘it is well known you are intimate with the outlawed bard who calls himself Tom o’ Sevens, wanted not only at the Crossing but at Riverrun…’

‘Wanted, ha, and we all know why that is,’ the lady scoffed. ‘I enjoyed the ballad of the Floppy Fish as much as any noblewoman who has endured a bedding, but as for your word…intimate?...guard your tongue, Ser Garse.’

She had to knock over a cask of wine with slightly implausible lack of grace to cover the peal of mirth from somewhere above.

‘One more trifling matter,’ Ser Jared insisted. ‘Symond’s boy, the half-Braavosi with the wood-harp, he’s the only one missing of our party so far. Not much use in a scrap, I fear, but the men miss him at the firesides, and no doubt his utter loss would grieve his mother. Alesander, he’s called. These aren’t safe woods for a nice-looking foreign lad to go a-wandering.’

Ravella paced loudly and drummed her hands dramatically against her hall’s panels. For Seven’s sake, could that irresponsible child not stop guffawing for one minute?

‘No word, I’m afraid,’ she let out with a sigh when the all too plausible likelihood she herself would break into a cackle was staunched. ‘I am sorry to offer you such poor hunting. Now, cousin, sers, if you’re too busy to join me and my daughter in prayer, perchance…?’

‘I was telling them the entire truth,’ she insisted to the irritatingly perfect looking brat later, lying at ease upon her comfortable straw pallet for sudden needs. ‘About Bloodborn, that is – I neither know where he is nor care to. But as for the Plowman’s Bastard…’

And the Lady of Acorn Hill slipped a scrap of vellum into Alesander Frey’s gentle, pleasing hand.

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« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2018, 01:43:49 PM »

JINGLEBELL



Aegon liked the latest visitor to the Twins a great deal. He was a westerman, like Uncle Emmon’s men, but he seemed kinder and more courteous. He looked at Aegon for more than the bells, and that made Aegon feel warm and tall and toasty. After all, wasn’t he Lord Frey’s son too? Father had explained that Lord Frey was the father of them all, in a way. And wasn’t he named for a king, the greatest of the kings? Aegon, he liked it when people called him Aegon properly. Eggs could be broken. Jinglebells could crack. No one would dare break a fiery Aegon.

But the westerner wasn’t just calling him Aegon now. He was calling him my lord. Most Freys were called my lord now and again, my lord of Frey, my lord of the Twins, my lord of the Crossing, by smallfolk or singers or merchants or visitors from far far away where Aunt Betharios lived, but Aegon never was. Until now. Was he a lord? Why was he a lord?

‘There’s been a mistake here,’ Father was saying gravely, so Aegon supposed there must be, for Father was never wrong, but it was a shame. It had been such a nice mistake. Aegon imagined sitting on a big chair like Lord Grandfather and eating more capons. It was a nice, warm thing to think about again.

Now Father and Good-Brother Dafyn were shuffling a lot of parchment about with the westerner. A lot of it seemed to have Uncle Symond’s name on it; Aegon could read when he chose to, though he preferred not to boast about it. Boasting was bad. The other Aegon Frey, the bad one, was boastful, they had told him. Anyway, Father and Good-Brother seemed contented for the while.

And then the chamber seemed to be full up with mail, shiny mail, new and good. What a lot of things Aegon noticed, what a good person he would be to tell anyone anything, if they ever thought to ask. The mail was good, because someone had made it properly, and even paid for it. And that was good too. But something else was bad. Good-Brother looked worried, no, afraid, and Father looked angry and sad at the same time. More than sad. Like when Mother died, or like when Aegon was born, though they’d only told him about that, especially Maegelle. Aegon had tried, but he didn’t much like Maegelle.

Father must be sad because of Aegon’s two eldest nephews, who were always getting into mischief. Yes, here they were. Edwyn was being held by the shiny maily guards, held tight, and his nose looked like the rotten plum he had given Aegon to eat the day before. Walder was on a stretcher and there was a lot of red, like Brother Ryman’s favourite wine, coming out through the mail between his legs. Yes, Aegon thought with interest, something must have gone very peculiarly wrong today.

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« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2018, 02:23:24 PM »
« Edited: November 30, 2018, 05:37:45 AM by Garlan Gunter »

Lord of the Crossing Turn II

Summer, second month of 295 AC



‘Let Edwyn be Steward then, fine. It’s no place for a future lord, heh, but it’s not as if anyone will ever respect him if he tries to strut about with sword in hand anyway…’

While Lame Lothar still lay sick Lord Frey quickly confirmed his eldest great-grandson Edwyn as the cripple’s replacement, though interestingly seconded by Ser Tytos Frey, son of the increasingly prominent Ser Jared, as the Twins’ new master at arms. Even more remarked upon was the omission of sly Symond Frey, famously in favour with his father and long spoken of as Lothar’s likeliest successor. Edwyn settled to his new duties swiftly and diligently, even as wicked tongues whispered that Lothar’s serious ailment seemed mighty convenient for Ser Stevron and his line. And then came direr news by far…

‘Dead?’ An unpromising pause. ‘Ser Tytos, the maester is already secured?’

‘Aye, that he is, lord grandfather.’

‘See that he is properly questioned.’


Following the rapid demise of Lame Lothar Frey, Steward of the Twins, and Maester Brennett’s frantic alarms about poison, the unfortunate maester himself, much as Bastard Walder had darkly predicted, was the first to lie under suspicion. Arrested by Ser Tytos Frey, the new master-at-arms, Brennett was harshly examined indeed but his panicked whimperings revealed no sign of guilt, only incompetence. It seems the maester had allowed himself to be talked into seeing that a certain cask of wine found its way to Lame Lothar’s cup – Hunter wine, from the Vale. The knight who brought it, Ser Harlan Hunter, was last seen by Merrett Frey but has long absconded from the Frey lands.

Yet not only the Valemen but House Frey’s overlords of Tully may have questions to answer, given Lord Hoster’s continual, mysterious and apparently groundless warnings to Ser Stevron against Lame Lothar – even extending to sending him an honour guard led by Ser Desmond Grell. Grell and his men remain uneasy guests for the present, while even Ser Stevron’s name is muddied with suspicion. As to the maester, he is thought unlikely to be able to serve for some long time yet, and is to be dispatched under a cloud back to Oldtown in the wake of a peremptory request for a replacement.

‘Crakehall. Crakehall. Crakehall. I never want to hear that damn pig’s name again.’

The contorted case of the Crakehall estate has at last been conclusively resolved, with mixed results for House Frey. Lord Frey’s own shameless and persistent pursuit of his late third wife’s claims went down extremely ill with the new Lord Roland Crakehall, who broke off negotiations with the Lord of the Crossing and refused to answer further messengers. Ser Emmon Frey meekly purchased a little credit back for his family by his timid refusal to press any suit at all, a decision that pleased all his Western friends – except, perhaps, his own Lannister wife and brood. Lothar Frey’s case was evidently moot, so the wise, altruistic, and gently applied pressure of Ser Stevron Frey appeared to have won the day, and the reverted estates for his daughter Maegelle Vance, although the lady is but a quarter Crakehall.

But there was another twist ahead. The heralds, maesters, septons and scholars of law of the West at first universally refused to ignore a male heir in favour of a female, whatever that male’s nature. So instead of Maegelle, most of the disputed lands were initially awarded to her brother, Aegon ‘Jinglebell’ Frey, for all the poor lad’s shortcomings where wits were concerned. The matter stood thus unsatisfactorily until the entrance of another potential claimant, Symond Frey.

Though Symond’s own hopes had been thwarted when his father Lord Frey’s case was bluntly dismissed, it seems he effected a shrewd intervention with the lords of the West, suppressing Jinglebell’s claim – and was himself granted a fair slice of the estates by the grateful Vances as a reward, or, some might say, a price. Certain rumourmongers claim Symond convinced House Crakehall that the Lannisters themselves might soon find themselves preferring female claims to…defective…male ones, given the sad case of little lord Tyrion…

‘Take yourselves off, damn it. Your lady wife tires our larders in any case, heh.’

It seems that the Lannister Freys are set to conclude their brief visit to Ser Emmon’s home and return west after a fairly unsatisfactory spell in the Riverlands. With, however, one exception, Ser Cleos, dispatched to hunt outlaws with his uncle…

‘Ser Aenys – I mean Jared, I think, heh – well, he hasn’t done so very badly thus far. An adequate force, and fair preparations. Shame Emmon’s cub won’t obey any of his orders, heh…’

Ser Jared Frey appeared to have recruited a fair contingent to hunt his outlawed cousin Aegon Bloodborn, with his good-son Ser Garse Goodbrook and the notorious Black Walder himself successfully appointed his principal seconds. In addition, Ser Emmon sent a small but well-equipped force of Lannister men under his son Ser Cleos, Ser Strevron sent a slightly larger band under Ser Ryman, and even Symond Frey volunteered his singer son Alesander as the expedition’s eyes and ears.

But these apparently good prospects soon began to unravel. Ser Garse’s involvement drew criticism from the newly arrived Tully men under Ser Desmond Grell, who suspect House Goodbrook of sharing with Bloodborn’s men some notional affection for the defunct House Targaryen. Black Walder seemed on exceptionally bad terms with his closest kin, with talk that his grandfather had ordered he be woken daily with pails of cold water at dawn and kept apart from the family’s womenfolk. Ser Ryman huffed and puffed about following his uncle’s orders, but ultimately fell back in line; yet no such obedience was extracted from Ser Cleos Frey, proud of his Lannister heritage.

Ser Cleos took off his small detachment hunting in a pointedly different direction from Ser Jared, north instead of south. Meanwhile some other accident altogether seemed to have delayed, or even entirely prevented, the arrival of Ser Ryman’s and of Black Walder’s men, while to add insult to injury Alesander Frey then vanished only a few nights into the excursion, whether deserted or captured none yet knew.

‘Seven tickle my arse if I know Symond’s game or that whore of a Braavosi’s wiles…but at least they entertain me, heh.’

The ladies of the Twins, as well as Lord Frey himself, were astonished to hear that Betharios of Braavos had dispatched her nubile and accomplished daughter Alyx – after, it seems, a failed approach for advancement to Lady Genna Lannister – off to train as a septa at Seagard.

Meanwhile it seems that Symond Frey – mayhaps at his father’s bidding, it might be by his own choosing, or a bit of both – has spurned the Stewardship of the Twins and sailed to become the eyes of House Frey at the capital. It may be that some matters there are indeed worth watching. The High Septon remains sickly though not yet incapable, and among the Most Devout a leading and loud contender is Septon Luceon, Ser Jared Frey’s brother…

Back in Lord Frey’s solar Ser Stevron appeared to be consolidating his political respectability, the shadow of Lame Lothar’s death aside…

‘Redwyne? Hightower? Lord and knights, fiddlesticks, what do you feed that grand-daughter of yours, heh? And what’s the damn secret of those harlots of Hardyng? Steffon the Sweet, Fair Walda – best watch out, or they’ll turn to each other dragon-like before you can fetch ‘em a good price, heh…’

It trickled out that Ser Stevron had been seeking a western bride for himself – mayhaps as part of the Crakehall negotiations – and though he had not received an answer, he had found better luck elsewhere.

In the North House Manderly of White Harbor sounded truly intrigued by the offer of the widowed Ser Ryman, while a shrewd distribution of miniature paintings returned the news that as far afield as the Reach, two lordly knights of great cities, Ser Garth ‘Greysteel’ Hightower and Ser Hobber Redwyne, had all but come to blows over the hand of Fair Walda.

Into the bargain, Ser Stevron’s negotiations with the Valelords seemed to be proceeding well and pleasing his father…although with the implication of House Hunter in the murder of Lame Lothar, this was a mixed blessing…

‘The true lord of the Crossing, he calls himself? I’ve a mind to double Ser Jared’s men after all. Though it sounds like Ser Cleos might have followed the stronger trail, heh…those Lannisters might be needing their fancy breastplates soon enough…’

Ser Jared and Ser Garse’s forces travelled first to Acorn Hall, despite protests from both branches of House Vance, allies of Ser Stevron, about Frey trespassing on a Vance domain. It was thought that the Lady Ravella Smallwood, a Swann cousin of Ser Jared and noised to have a lover among the outlaws, might hold the best information as to where Bloodborn lurked. But Ser Jared’s main force has so far been disappointed.

Ser Cleos in chasing another trail both asserted his high birth and, it seemed, pursued a separate quarry – another outlaw leader, the Plowman’s Bastard, whom Ser Cleos considers a possible threat to his wife and children’s Darry kin. Yet ironically it was the little band of heavily armed Lannisters that heard the first fresh news of Bloodborn – that he had extracted tribute, or ‘black rent’, at the village of Hag’s Mire, naming himself true Lord of the Crossing, possibly with a hint that he supported House Targaryen’s ancient rights.

‘What in the seven hells is the meaning of this? Who gave these orders? What idiot…brawling…maiming…I’ll not have…aaaarrrgh…’

Back at the Twins wild, yet all too evidently true tidings emerged. Ser Stevron had given orders that his son, Ser Ryman, prevent the setting out of his grandson, Black Walder, to join Ser Jared, if necessary by force. Ser Ryman’s fifty men were excellently armed, Black Walder’s small retinue, by order of Edwyn the new Steward, kept ill-equipped (as also were all too many of Ser Jared’s force gone ahead). Ser Walder’s men quickly scattered, not fancying their chances, while their leader’s recent humiliations by order of his grandfather had dimmed his appeal. Black Walder was all set to be confined to his quarters, when his elder brother Edwyn made the serious mistake of straying too close to deliver a sneering remark. Black Walder broke his brother’s nose almost instantly, and guffawed at the slight steward writhing on the ground – joined, it was universally admitted, by mirth from soldiers on all sides.

But Edwyn’s reaction proved swifter, more skilful and more stupid than anyone might have guessed. With the rage and cunning of a trampled serpent, he produced his eating knife and sliced into his brother’s groin, Walder’s blood streaming in combination with his own.

Black Walder is still unconscious, though the long-term seriousness of the wound awaits the verdict of a new maester. Edwyn has been held, for the present, under guard. The consequences have been catastrophic for Ser Stevron’s previously solid reputation, with western lords dismissing talk of his marriage out of hand, though the Reach knights still seem to burn for Fair Walda.

As for Ser Ryman and the Manderlys, a final development would ensure their continued interest…

‘Aaaarrrgh….aaaarrgh… heh…no…ugh…arrrrgh…’

News sped through the lands of the Crossing that word of his great-grandsons’ maiming and arrest had brought on some kind of fit in old Lord Walder, and confined him for the present to his bedchamber, attended by Lady Annara alone.

For the present Ser Stevron, for all his battered repute – as the rumoured assassin of his brother Lothar, and the more certainly known source of the orders that led to his grandsons’ disastrous brawl – must act as Lord of the Crossing. Ser Ryman stands as his continued heir, and after him – with Edwyn under guard and Black Walder incapacitated – the prospects of Petyr Pimple suddenly soar.

Ser Tytos Frey has taken over the acting Stewardship of a disordered Crossing indeed…

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« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2018, 07:28:59 AM »

By Royal Command of His Grace Robert of the House Baratheon, First of His Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm



In view of the suspicions sadly cast upon the proper conduct of Ser Stevron Frey, heir to the Crossing and lately acting as lord of the Twins, the Lady Annara Frey is empowered to assume the duty of ruling Lady of the Crossing for the time being. Anyone whatsoever within the dominions of House Frey acting in breach of Lady Frey's word will answer to the wrath of the Crown.

X King Robert I Baratheon
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« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2018, 10:41:34 AM »


Ser Stevron Frey, Heir to the Crossing

Favour: 5 (trusted by Lady Annara regarding her rights and children, and still thought competent by old Lord Walder, still legally heir and with diplomatic importance and connections, but has caused fury to Lady Annara among others by treatment of Black Walder)

Resources: Vast (original fortune enhanced during brief Stewardship of Edwyn)

Influence: 7 (has lost some power and repute at the Twins, but developed and consolidated alliances further afield)

Standing: 6 (good name as a fair dealer badly dented by Lothar’s death and Black Walder’s maiming)

Turn II Crises:

Your brief recent tenure as Lord of the Crossing was all but nominal, and you have emerged from recent events with heavier coffers and several far-flung allies, but many fresh enemies much closer to home. You also face numerous dilemmas within your immediate family.

The Lord of the Crossing’s right of judgment, pit and gallows has just passed to your step-mother Lady Annara Frey, born to House Farring in the Crownlands. As a woman Lady Frey cannot of course command soldiers in person, and as the highest ranking Frey, still despite your age hale enough to lead your House’s forces, you are at the head of Frey troops for now, should they be raised.

Working with Lady Annara could see her depute some lordly power to you, including in the crucial case of your eldest grandson Edwyn. But is undermining her weak woman’s grasp all too tempting? She has no personal following or household troops of her own as yet, but the Crown’s recent decree makes it all too likely they will soon be on their way…

Ser Desmond Grell and his Tully guardsmen linger on at the Twins, uncertain and half-willing allies, unpopular with your family and suspicious of your own motives since Lothar’s death. The Crown appears to have pre-empted or overridden House Tully’s wishes in appointing Lady Annara above you. Should the Tully men be put to some constructive use or respectfully set on their way home?

The Houses of the Vale appear more than willing to do business, but then there is the colossal embarrassment of their agent and messenger, Ser Harlan Hunter, being the prime suspect in the apparent poisoning of Lame Lothar. Your closeness to the Vale and the advantage your line appears to have gained from Lothar’s demise has also compromised your own position.

Do you wish to risk further consolidating your Vale connections, or are you willing to sacrifice them to catch the culprit and absolve your honour? Ser Harlan was last spotted at the inn they’re calling the bucket…

While your recent evil reputation has discouraged the lords of the West from offering you yourself their daughters as brides, Lord Manderly is willing to press ahead with Ser Ryman’s match to his young cousin Lady Jessamyn, and both Ser Garth Hightower and Ser Hobber Redwyne demand the hand of Fair Walda. What terms will you strike with White Harbor, and which of the fiery Reach-knights will you pick?

Black Walder lies gravely wounded and friendless, but is sure to be all the more evilly enclined and perilous should he recover. What are you to do about that?

Your full brother Ser Emmon and Lady Genna Lannister have left the Twins in a haughty and disappointed temper, while your half-brother Ser Jared hunts Aegon Bloodborn through the Riverlands, and Symond Frey plans the Seven know what in the capital. Whom should you aid, and how openly?

House Vance of Wayfarer’s Rest, distant connections through your daughter Maegelle’s marriage among their Atranta cousinry, write to protest against Ser Jared’s movements through their lands. How do you respond?

After Symond’s intervention, your daughter and good-son are well-settled with lordship over three formerly Crakehall villages in the west. Should they take up residence there, mayhaps taking the name Lydden or Crakehall, waive their claim back to the Crakehalls in exchange for cold hard western gold, or attempt to rule as absentee Vances?

Finally there is the pivotal matter of your grandson Edwyn, under guard for maiming his brother. How will you deal with the nasty talk of your own responsibility? Will you try and interfere with the case or gain judgment over it yourself, and if not will you press Lady Frey to pardon him, let him defend himself by combat, stand trial by judges, take the black, or avail himself of some other option, such as the Faith or the Citadel? Who, in any case, will you name Ser Ryman’s heir – still Edwyn himself, Edwyn’s daughter Small Walda, the wounded Black Walder, or even Petyr Pimple?


Aegon, formerly of House Frey, outlaw leader known as the Bloodborn



Favour: 0 (disinherited, and while he possesses some remaining links at the Twins neither old Lord Walder nor Lady Annara acknowledge them)

Resources: Adequate (one of the more successful outlaw captains in the Riverlands, but resources by their nature fluid and risky)

Influence: 9 (extremely experienced, able and cunning)

Standing: 1 (well versed in fear, terror and intimidation, few friends but widely known, often hated, always respected)

Turn II Crises:

Your most immediate predicament concerns, as so often, your teeming and interfering former family. You stand with a large portion of your band not far from where you last exacted black rent, at Hag’s Mire. Your Lannister cousin Ser Cleos Frey, with an excellently armed but laughably tiny retinue, sojourns at the village, but has had time to apprise the Twins of your location by raven. If you fall upon him you could gain an easy victory, excellent and much needed equipment, and a satisfying scalp or valuable hostage – but you also risk being pinned by your hated family’s superior forces at long last. But if you vanish back into hiding and safety, your recent claims of power to the villagers will stand mocked by a mere handful of men-at-arms. How will you play this?

Your sometime lieutenant Ser Tristan Rivers, called the Plowman’s Bastard, writes from hard by Saltpans that he has received three interesting visitors with Essosi connections – one another of your cousins, Alesander Frey the half-Braavosi singer, one claiming to represent the young exiled King Viserys III Targaryen, and one recruiting for the Golden Company. Do you have any orders or suggestions for Ser Tristan on these matters – and how will you encourage them to be obeyed, if so?

Your half-uncle Ser Jared is your main enemy in the field, and though your false trails leading to Lady Ravella, his kinswoman, have led him far off the scent he will soon know much better from Ser Cleos. You have enough strength to confront him if necessary, but at considerable risk and loss. What tactics will you adopt?

Word reaches you of rumoured Crannogmen claiming to offer hired killings at the re-opened inn known as the Bucket; some say they finished off Lame Lothar, possibly with the aid of a knight from the Vale. Lothar was one of your occasional contacts at the Twins, and besides these pretenders are trespassing on your territory. How will you punish them?

By all accounts the Twins are facing turmoil, their regent by royal appointment a woman, their household in disorder. How can you exploit this opportunity? Two of your ‘insider’ occasional contacts, Lothar and Black Walder, have been, permanently and temporarily respectively, removed from the scene, but there remain your own immediate family, Ser Aenys’s line. Rhaegar Frey, the brother who displaced you as Aenys’s heir, professes friendly intentions to yourself and perchance to House Targaryen, but you suspect you’d be a fool to trust him…

And where will be your next profitable source of black rent? Will you continue your recent practice of styling yourself ‘True Lord of the Crossing’, with or without some hint about Targaryen loyalties?


Ser Jared Frey

Favour: 7 (has earnt Lord Frey’s grudging respect, though relations with Lady Annara neutral at best)

Resources: Adequate (Ser Tytos currently occupies the Stewardship; Septon Luceon’s resources currently Substantial after considerable but barren canvassing)

Influence: 7 (8 in matters concerning the Faith, but even in general affairs now a far more substantial force)

Standing: 8 (has accumulated much of Ser Stevron’s previous reputation as most reliable and competent Frey)

Turn II Crises:

Ravens surge from the Twins apprising you at your camp near Acorn Hall of ever more astounding events. No reinforcements from Ser Ryman can be expected as yet after the Edwyn debacle, though your son Ser Tytos, the new Steward, may be in a position to send you both men and equipment.

Meanwhile Ser Cleos, the last Lannister-Frey remaining in the Riverlands, with his paltry retinue stands at Hag’s Mire, apparently having successfully tracked the Bloodborn, but in no position to resist him should he attack. Should you march to his rescue or leave him to his fate and the response of the Twins?

There is word of some activity by Targaryen loyalists near the eastern port of Saltpans, probably led by the follower of Bloodborn calling himself the Plowman’s Bastard. Should this be looked into?

Your most trusted lieutenant and good-son, Ser Garse Goodbrook, is the victim of a whispering campaign from Ser Desmond Grell and other Riverrun men regarding his supposed Targaryen loyalties and possible sympathy with Bloodborn, whom rumours also dub a secret dragon partisan. How will you react to these probable calumnies?

Your brother Septon Luceon reports little progress as yet on any front, the High Septon’s health, his own support or his archival researches, but is still confident of improvement in the future. In the meantime he reacts with curiosity to the arrival in the city of Symond Frey, and wonders whether to treat him as relation, friend, acquaintance, suspect, adversary or some mixture of several or all…

Your son Ser Tytos as Steward has received a communication from the Citadel, offering House Frey the services of a new Maester to replace Brennett, with certain provisos. The Citadel was displeased with reports of Brennett’s rough handling and warns the Freys that they will not be sent any more Maesters for the foreseeable future if it is repeated. They are reluctant to appoint a new Maester but suggests a certain Theomore, currently on his way to serve at White Harbor, could be diverted for a time to the Crossing. Theomore was born a Lannister of Lannisport, and is said to excel in matters of strategy and economy. Should Tytos accept this arrangement? It will probably please Lord and Lady Frey but may irritate House Manderly, Ser Stevron’s prospective new ally…

Ser Stevron’s line continues to implode; will you give them a push, arguing for Edwyn to be executed or sent to the Wall, and implicating his grandfather in his crime? And will you try to ensure the safety of your wounded former ally, Black Walder – who might well also be the Lady Regent’s lover? What of the accused murderer from the Vale, Ser Harlan Hunter?

Should you capitalise on your increasing prominence to make good matches for yourself or Zia, or wait to trade up further still?

Finally there is the matter of your warrant for hunting Aegon Bloodborn. In it Lord Walder commands you to pursue Aegon wheresoever within the Riverlands he may be hiding, but Lord Vance of Wayfarer’s Rest and his bannerman Lord Smallwood have complained to Lord Tully, to Lord Walder and to Ser Stevron that House Frey has no authority to gain passage through other Riverlords’ dominions for any reason. Will you try and attain a higher warrant, mayhaps from Riverrun, the Crown, or even the Faith, or just press your existing position, brushing aside objections?


Symond Frey

Favour: 7 (Lord Frey is impressed by Symond’s decision to head for the capital acting on a mere hint, but Lady Frey knows and trusts little of Symond and his ilk)

Resources: Substantial (recent mercantile investments have not quite paid their way, but gains in the Crakehall case make up for it)

Influence: 9 (natural ability and increasingly well-placed agents)

Standing: 5 (non-knightly, commercial tendencies less frowned or remarked upon in King’s Landing, word of Alyx’s holy vocation as a novice Septaalso meeting with general, surprised approval)

Turn II Crises:

You reside at the lodgings you’ve taken in the capital close to the Street of Sighs. So far your investigations have confirmed your worst suspicions – Lords Varys and Baelish are currently aligned with each other and against House Frey. While you suspect you can count on some Lannister protection for a time, you have doubts about the Queen herself. Is it time to seek some accommodation with the Spider and Littlefinger?

Septon Luceon is your main potential friend in the capital – and you are curious, indeed, about his recent researches, quite apart from his obvious desire to become High Septon – but can you trust or befriend this half-relation?

Betharios writes that Alyx has made fast friends in her new life, but has still not been permitted to meet with her community’s leader. Alesander too reports that he is safe and happy, merrily learning new drinking songs about dragons.

Bradamar’s news, however, is much more irksome. The investment Tendyris urged, which you neglected to join, has thrived in any case, and Bradamar’s master is now one of the very richest men in Braavos. Tendyris’s only problem is that much of his new fortune rests on a trade, slavery, forbidden in the Free City. Bradamar knows much and more of his master’s affairs, which may place him in a possible position of profit – or peril.

Betharios wonders, in the absence of Lady Genna, how she should best occupy herself at the Twins, now that a woman briefly seems to rule it.

You are closer upon the scent out of any among your kin of Lothar’s seeming murderer, Ser Harlan Hunter. How will you exploit this information?

Finally, much to Betharios’s surprise, you are now for the moment a genuine if petty lord and lady, of two villages within the Crakehall domains. Will you sell your rights back to the new Lord Crakehall, attempt to rule your gains from afar, or send some representative to take up your claim?

***
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Garlan Gunter
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« Reply #22 on: November 29, 2018, 07:13:28 AM »
« Edited: November 30, 2018, 05:38:51 AM by Garlan Gunter »



Men under arms

Ser Jared Frey, 300 foot, 50 household knights, ill equipped by Edwyn’s arrangement, marching north from Acorn Hall.

Accompanying Ser Jared - Ser Garse Goodbrook, 5 Goodbrook knights, a dozen men-at-arms, adequately armed.

Ser Hosteen Frey, 250 foot, 50 household knights, adequately armed, marching south from the Twins.

Aegon Bloodborn, outlaw following of large but uncertain size, patchily equipped, near Hag's Mire, village south of the Twins.

Ser Ryman Frey, 50 foot, 12 knights, well armed by Edwyn’s arrangement, at the Twins (setting out indefinitely delayed by Black Walder’s wounding and Edwyn's arrest).

Ser Desmond Grell, 12 well-armed Tully armsmen, at the Twins.

Ser Cleos Frey, 24 very well-armed Lannister soldiers, at Hag's Mire.

Ser Tristan Rivers, outlaw following of unknown size and equipage, near Saltpans.
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Garlan Gunter
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« Reply #23 on: December 07, 2018, 11:00:33 AM »

CLEOS



Outside House Nayland’s scarce-fortified glorified meadhall of a seat, above the village of Hag’s Mire they mustered, blades, axes, scythes glinting against the dusk’s descendant sway. Ser Cleos could survey his own men with pride enough; if not quite untinged by apprehension. The best men-at-arms of the West bred brawnier than most knights of the Riverlands, and these, the picked two dozen from among his lady mother’s guard, were better armed and armoured than most into the bargain. But Cleos knew for all that they lacked the will to command of the truly nobly born, or the initiative to react supply if their first orders went ill.

Beyond his own men, the Lannister Frey’s stomach frankly turned. House Nayland had agreed to defy their aggressor the Bloodborn, but the old knight of Hag’s Mire was as bedridden as old Lord Frey himself, though three decades younger at least; and his supposedly gallant young son, the idiotically named Ser Raymond Nayland, was far off, Cleos thought with bitterness, disporting himself with Frey ladies back at the Twins. He had met Ser Raymond during his brief stay there; a good enough dancer, scarce a passable jester, and beyond that of no use at all. At any rate, the only Nayland men Cleos had at his disposal here were around a hundred of smallfolk, mayhaps just under half bloodied in occasional encounters before, but few with any true weapons beyond what they used for farming, hunting and gobbling.

It had begun, and his nerves were telling it clear enough, to his mixed annoyance and panic. Firearrows; horns; drums; all the tricks he recognised, even with his relatively small experience of true combat, that an irregular foe uses to impress its numbers and strength upon a more hardened adversary. Bloodborn’s band need not woo so hard, he thought ruefully; their suit was nearer to half won already than they could possibly have guessed. There were hundreds of them out there on a certain, even if probably not the thousand they aimed to imply. And then night came, so would they.

Cleos had wrestled with his desire to keep all his men close, to die – crucially to resist the shame of captivity – together at as steep a price as could be contrived. Mayhaps just possibly, they could stand long enough to buy their vengeance, to hold the Bloodborn till strength came from the Twins, the south or both. But he knew without his boys sprinkled among them the Nayland scrapings might as well be corpses already. He was no would-be Dragonknight but he could not bring himself altogether to leave them to that fate. Glumly he gave orders for six Lannister men only to stick by him, the rest each to take ten rivermen and try to lick them into some kind of discipline.

He had forgotten about the young Maester, - surprising so petty a House even possessed one, a certain Taleryth, hesitant with a slightly foreign look to him. When questioned it turned out the youth was not exactly attached to Hag’s Mire, but on his way to another holdfast some Nayland connection by marriage had a claim on. What a mess; Cleos thought of the contorted Crakehall affair that had dragged him here in the first place and grinned despite himself.

The maester caught that grin, wrongly guessed it for encouragement, and began to produce various maps and rattle about streams, banks, bogs and, yes, mires. At first despite himself, all but for something to do, Cleos found himself listening…

***

So the night had been born in that predictable fire, but the Bloodborn men found Hag’s Mire in a state of picket and resistance that Cleos could not help gloating would have given mild satisfaction even to his grandsire Lord Tywin. The outlaws were good shots, of course, but the Naylands were in no hurry to get exposed. The enemy knew the ground, indeed – and they knew it was bloody difficult. The defenders of the Mire had scant arms; but so, often enough, did their attackers. Bloodborn’s great weapon was fear, a bluff waiting to be called, and, Cleos realised in amazement, some accident had made the gods pick him to call it.

It had been an hour or two going, the assault, with light harm befallen either side. The Nayland men died easily when they let themselves get into range or arms’ length, which was seldom enough; the outlaws were not too different. Three of Lannister men were lured into a proper scuffle that cost the defenders plenty of smallfolk, one westerner wounded, one killed and one taken. That was the only time Cleos saw the Bloodborn in the fighting, through flame and wood-smoke. He did have of a look of their grandfather, but comely with it, and, what was truly alarming, cheerful. Then another of those damn false horns sounded – and the outlaws proved to be retreating.

When some Naylands cheered victory Cleos had his men shut them up fast with gauntlets. There had to be more coming. There had to be. But silence lingered, and Cleos thought it almost more perilous than the attack. He could not quite stop the villagers chuckling, slackening, the seven-accursed fools, surely laughing themselves into mirey graves.

It looked like the outlaws had caught the same disease. Were those victory bonfires they had lit in the woods? Or beacons, for some purpose? Then Ser Cleos recognised a very peculiar tree climbing through the fiery dark. A gallows-tree, with his one captured man, still in full western arms, at its feet.

And there was Bloodborn again, shouting so as to be heard. A lord’s voice, no question. And somewhere, beyond him and his men in a rare clearing…banners. Frey banners. Help come, and well in time.

‘Put up our colours. Nayland, Frey, Tully, Lannister, whatever,’ he snapped to the maester.

‘My lord of Frey, I fear amid the cloud and smoke and bog-fire and night-mist…’

‘Just do it, damn you.’

‘Cousin Hosteen,’ the Bloodborn was yelling now; how could he bellow like that and keep up his grin? ‘Come to find where we drowned Geremy?’

‘Come to get little Cleos, and kill you.’ Aye, that was Hosteen at the head of the Frey men all right; a tall, broad target, and not one for deception.

‘Come then,’ Bloodborn cried back with somehow undiminished amiability. ‘We’re a-hanging our western coz here. Come join us.’

Only Hosteen could have believed so simple a trick so immediately. He was in his way a good soldier, Cleos had to admit from his vantage point. The Frey attack was immediate. Ser Hosteen even reached the Bloodborn in person; could it be that Aegon wanted to be reached? But everyone knew the worst way to fight Hosteen was face-to-face. Sure enough, the exchange of blades was brief before Aegon reeled back, evidently hurt.

And then the rest was a blinding wall of flames and screams.

***
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Garlan Gunter
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« Reply #24 on: December 07, 2018, 11:44:12 AM »

FAIR WALDA



She had come none too soon to the bedchamber. Her coz had succeeded in getting on his feet at least, and had already started issuing his first demands.

‘Hang it, Walda, get my mail on me. You’ve done it often enough before.’

‘Not this time, Blackie,’ she answered, her tone even softer and more emollient than usual. ‘Try and dance in mail, the state you’re in, and we won’t get any more more amusing dances without it.’

‘We won’t anyway,’ her stricken kinsman growled straight back. ‘Don’t think I’ve forgotten what day it is. You’ll be away to the Reach. I shan’t likely see you again. I need to be armed. A last favour to a fond cousin.’

‘And why would you need to be armed then, if not to joust or dance at my nuptials?’ Teasing was good, it made him angry. And an angry Walder was a stronger Walder.

‘My father’s off to the north to drink himself into a merwoman’s bed. They’ve sent your sire Walton now, of all people, to pursue the Valeknight. It’s my chance, curse it, to show ‘em all up. Then when that’s done there’s Edwyn…’

‘On his way north already,’ Walda cut in with careful smoothness. ‘Like your father, to a different fate. Lady Annara condemned him out of hand. Plenty of other dirt to go around too. Our new knightly Steward was most convincing.’

‘Uncle Jared’s work, of course,’ Black Walder replied. ‘Do you think I didn’t think when he held out his iron hand he didn’t mean to set us all on each other? Well, I did. I thought. And I didn’t care.’

‘And now,’ Walda finished for him sadly, ‘you are never to hold the Twins.’

‘And you are to marry in the Reach.’

‘Aye, though to whom? I gather it’s still proving quite the question.’

***

They had arrived from Seagard so friendly and courtier-like, with Patrek Mallister to guide their way; her two suitors who seemed close as brothers, though one brought three true brethren, one a sire and a twin; tall, strong, grim Ser Garth Hightower, elegant in every look and movement, with never a graceful word or a jest; and gingery, pimply, gangling Ser Hobber Redwyne, playing the fool with mock-modesty. Such an oddly assorted pair, yet she could more easily imagine them in each other’s company than either in her bed and the rest of her life.

The Reachmen were splendidly accoutred, caparisoned, mounted and armed, but far from the only visitors. Several Crownlanders had been trickling up for some weeks to make sure of Lady Annara’s safety; and when Ser Stevron formally let it be cried that Walda’s husband was to be decided at a great tourney, Stormlanders came flooding up to the Twins too. It was glory that drew them, not her; only Garth Greysteel or Hobber Redwyne would claim her hand, for all the knightly panoply, but there was much else to flaunt this day.

As the Riverknights were many in number and the Crownlanders few – as well as to compliment Lady Annara – both combined to form the defending side, against the Reach and the Stormlanders. Even though so many of the Crossing’s best were hunting the Bloodborn or otherwise indisposed – Ser Jared, Ser Cleos, Ser Hosteen, Ser Ryman, Black Walder himself – the Freys put up a strong contingent by themselves, knights young and old salted with a couple of squires, including Walda’s brother Sweet Steffon.

There was bowmanship, a melee, a race and at last a joust; and at every stage the two suitors competed again and apart, head to head. Fair Walda had had practice in plenty watching such pursuits, and without being entirely gripped was skilful ant observing their essence. She noticed two broad patterns; for all the many famous names the Reach and Stormlands boasted, the hosts of the Trident and Crownlands were generally having much the better of it; and, more importantly from her point of view, she was undoubtedly going to marry Ser Garth, not Ser Hobber.

The jousting began close to eventide, with torches put hard to work. Now the guests of the Reach and Stormlands wrested back a little honour; they were undoubtedly very good at this. Walda was crowned Queen of Love and Beauty by Ser Guyard Morrigen, then crowned all over again by Ser Garth Greysteel, whom, she noted without wild enthusiasm, had thereby become her betrothed husband. Many healths were drunk to Ser Stevron. Ser Hobber seemed to have broken an arm.

Walda was more amused than surprised when the quiet word broke through the castles, quite late into the night and after the inevitable, fairly entertaining bedding, that Black Walder and one of Edwyn’s horses were missing…
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