Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Vanq
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Vanq The Chaos Ladder

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Conspiracy of the Mad

Starfall - Vorian


Stranger take them all! Vorian was in a foul mood, skulking about his private library. He picked up items only to slam them down, angrily shuffled the piles of parchments that had taken over his desk. His face was a deep set scowl, his neatly trimmed beard even seemed to stand on end as a wave of anger roiled. The parchment contained some translation to complete a set he had been working on for nearly a year now. He had just looked at it the night before, before he had succumbed to restless sleep.

His lady wife, Nymella, had approached, likely drawn by the noise that had sent the servants scattering. They knew better than to be nearby in his moments of rage. She said nothing, as she stood in the doorway, she watched him intently, but knew he needed no prodding. It seemed his friends had retired already for the night. They told Vorian whatever he wanted to hear, and left her to do the real work.

Vorian returned her gaze, his eyes frantic. His tongue worked in his mouth, delayed to finding his words and pushing the frenzied thoughts to coherence. “We are the blood of an ancient and mighty empire. The last descendants, we are meant to be a bulwark of day against the death of night.” Spittle flew from his mouth as the texts converged together in his mind. “Instead we scrape our knees to the Rhoynish invaders of Sunspear. And they in turn force the heavy weight of tainted Valyrian bastards upon our backs. My own father sold my sister to them. And she has already whelped for him twice!” He wiped his chin with his arm but carried on with a crazed look coming to his dark violet eyes. “It is they who should bow to us. We brought the world from the brink of extinction and extermination into a glorious dawn. Yet these bastards and their simpering great houses ignore their duty to us and the world, so that they may instead play at war and peace with each other rather than prepare for true threat.” He was sweating profusely, his dark hair slick as rivulets trickled down his face. Anger, exhaustion, lingering drunkenness mixed into a volatility that the Dayne household had become too familiar with.

His lady wife looked back at him thoughtfully, and though she cared not for whatever it was he found in his parchments while in his cups, it was a useful thing after all. “My lord husband, if it is as you say - and I’ve no reason to doubt you though such matters are beyond me - what do you do now?” She spoke flatly, certainly her family held no love for the Targaryens, but words were wind; she had to know if he could be molded for more.

"Pah! They travel to Summerhall to celebrate the end of summer. As if that is some cause for celebration. The Starks are an insufferable lot but at least they half-remember." Vorian was losing himself to a tangent, but he caught himself. "Now is the time. With so many eyes elsewhere, we may make moves without being perturbed." He turned back to his desk and searched for missives he had hastily scrawled. “Now is the time, before that asshole cousin of mine can usurp what will be mine when father dies. You will help me contact the other houses who at least remember that the Iron Throne does not rule in Dorne. I will lead them, as soon as Ryon is dead and Dawn returned rightfully to my hands.”

Vorian slumped against the desk, exhaustion overtaking the rage of mere moments ago. His wife approached at last to take the missives from his hand and the rest off his desk. She had work to do, though her husband need not know of it. “Go rest, I will do as you bid.” Before she could walk away, his hand grasped her arm, and she bristled coldly.

“Ryon will be dead before that tourney ends.” Vorian twisted her wrist in his hand, watching the pain flicker across her eyes though she remained stoic as always. “You will bring your relations to heel.”

The heir to Starfall watched as his wife walked away to deal with sending out his calls. He had paid good coin for a man to slit his cousin’s throat. Now he needed only to wait.

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Neianna86
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Arystide & Armand.

- Maidens, Mischief and Mayhem -

“I still can’t believe you got her to agree with this…” Armand stated as he helped his brother and cousin carrying the large round table to its spot.
Arystide flashed a wicked grin at the 17 year old.
“Nene can be a harpy, but she could never deny me anything.” He told them with a rather smug confidence.
Armand flashed him a look of concern.
“She’d better not hear you call her that…” He uttered, shifting his grip on the table as the boys manoeuvred it over to one of the other tents.
“Eh, she’ll throw a fit at first, but that’s cause she feels no one takes her seriously, but in the end she knows I am not the idiot she thinks I am.”
Finnegan couldn’t help but snicker and add.
“No, you’re far worse.”
“Exactly.” Arystide accepted proudly. “Therefore, what better way to control the loose cannon than being the one determining where you aim it. We all know this is a big deal for Dottie, so she wants us out of the way so we can’t embarrass the family during the later hours.”
Armand shook his head in concern.
“I can’t help but feel for poor Nene, having to deal with both your antics as well as Sissi and Wen’s. This should be a time they should flaunt their beauty and good looks, attracting the attention of other Houses.”
“That’s because Nene is passed her prime.”
Armand turned his neck a bit too fast groaning at the pain as he instinctually brought his hand up, releasing the table and nearly dropping it.
Finnegan and Arystide corrected quickly.
“Oi! Hands on table! Hands ON Table!” Arystide growled making Armand regrip it quickly. They got it to their designated spot and with a unified groan placed it down.
“What did you mean, Nene is passed her prime.”
“Women, my dear little brother are like Summerwines. They’re sweet when they’re ripe, but the older they get the more sour they become. Eventually they’ll kill your liver as well as your taste for the finer things in life. Nene is an old Summerwine. She lost her sweetness. She only has the harsh sour taste left.”
“How can you say that?”
“Cause it is true.” Arystide threw back. “Most matched get set up early, the kids don’t know it, but the Mothers and Aunts do all the planning and prepping. Finding out which alliance would serve their interests best and whether or not their son or daughter would be a good match.” He grabbed one of the chairs they had gathered earlier and set it at the table, leaning on it.
“Now, the attraction stage comes the moment the little flowers starts to bloom. When they get their comely shapes and fill up their dresses.”
Armand blushed at that particular image whilst Finnegan grinned as he put a hand on his shoulder.
“But when a match isn’t found or set up, the flower withers, loses her bloom and inevitably loses her youth and beauty. It is when they usually prepare themselves mentally for spinsterhood and you get either the jealous type of behaviour turning them into harpy’s or they become as desperate as can be and will settle for any cock they can raise.” Arystide finished enjoying watching his young brother squirm at this particular topic.
He is too sensitive, Arystide believed, and it was high time he and Finnegan would take him under their wing and turn him into a proper man.
“We’ll find you a nice one don’t worry.” He promised with a wink, watching Armand squirm even harder in horror.
Finnegan meanwhile had admired and tapped the lacquered layer of the table.
“Not to put any questions on your particular taste of furniture, but….Why the Seven Hells did you pick this heavy thing anyway? We could have made due with a couple of lighter ones.”
Arystide rolled his eyes at his cousin’s foolish question.
“That way dear Nene can’t easily go back on her word, regardless of what happens.”
“Oh yes she can.” Armand cut in sharply trying to shift his thoughts from his potential first time to he large round monster between them.
It technically wasn’t even one of their usual tables, Arystide being Arystide had seen it during one of his travels and had picked it up.
The overpriced monster had been stored belowdecks of the Arbor Queen for at least a full month, only to be remembered and brought out along with the rest of the Tournament supplies.
“But she won’t. We’ll be out of sight and the great honourable Lord Tarly wouldn’t venture into a den of depravity such as this. He’ll head for his seat of honour, dine and drink for sake of appearance and fuck off afterwards. Meanwhile, we can excuse ourselves and have our own little party here. Pretty wenches…a good casket of Arbor ‘spiced’ Red I happened to have stowed away and I already got Little Davy to set us up with a nice brisket.” Arystide explained being the seasoned tourney-goer here.
Armand looked both impressed and horrified at the same time.
“If Nene finds out, she’ll have your head.”
“Hardly…she knows what I am. She’ll just hope I’ll be stupid enough to get myself hitched up. That way I would be out of her hair. Speaking of which…” His eyes drifted to the people outside. As the pavilion started to gather more visitors the flock of those being women increased as well.
“Giving a soft chuckle and a mischievous wink Arystide looped an arm around Armand’s neck and pulled him along.
“Let’s go little brother. We have game afoot.” He uttered with a mad grin before leaving Finnegan to finish the chairs. “Particularly that pretty little thing in the teal dress there..” He gestured with his head, picking up two goblets of Arbor wine and winking to Armand stating.
“Watch…and learn.” He stated with a smug smile, looping around the two so they would catch him in his path. Making certain he timed it just right, he turned around making sure his accidental bump spilled, making some of the wine go all over his outer vest. Wisely he had chosen a watered down Arbor Gold for the deed.
“Oh…Seven Hells.” He exclaimed in pretended shock, before feigning to notice the women. Quickly attempting to take it off.
“Begging your pardons, Ladies.” He stated with a nod. “But if it gets into my shirt I’ll stink like peaches for the rest of the Tournament.” He joked as he flashed a good deal of chest accompanied by his usual bright smile.
“I hope my clumsiness didn’t cause you any grief or stains in those beautiful dresses…Here allow me to offer you fresh cups…accompanied of course by my sincerest apology.” He stated signalling the bartender and bowing deep enough for them to catch a good glimpse of everything.
The bloody bastard is playing to his strengths. His skin tanned from being outside a great deal would turn his teeth and eyes even brighter as well as compliment the long fiery locks that surpassed his shoulders. His accident would allow the women one of the rare glimpses of muscle and skin and bowing that low would certainly allow them to look further.
If Armand scoffed at the fact that his brother was seemingly getting away with most breaches of propriety and decorum.
He ordered a goblet of Arbor Red pretending to keep himself occupied as he kept a careful watch on his brother’s antics.


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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by WXer
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WXer オラ・オラ・オラ!

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House Bolton



The Dreadfort - Three weeks before the tournament



Sunlight had become scarce and night soon beckoned yet it felt as if an eternity must pass before lord Rycann of the Dreadfort could retire for the day. He had been listening to the trouble that befell his small folk, one after the other, since what felt like daybreak. How he longed for the days where a steed and a sword were his only concerns out on the hot fields of Essos. Nostalgia for an uncertain time now seen clearly with enjoyment kept his apathy at bay.

Still, the Redmark's daydreams would be interrupted.

"... And as such m'lord, I ask you on behalf of the small folk for a lighter tax burden due to the harvest failure." Those were the only words he had paid attention to from the latest petitioner. The man was well-dressed in southern fashion but had a full beard typical of that of a Northernman. If he had to hazard a guess? This was a freeman from White Harbor. What game was this upstart playing at, Rycann pondered to himself.

"Why would I reward failure?" Rycann quipped. The petitioner was caught offguard, mouth agape as he tried to recompose himself. "A-as I mentioned m'lord, without coin for supplies not only would the small folk starve but traders such as myself wou-" Before the petitioner could finish, Rycann had signalled his household guards to take the man away. Such naked greed was unbecoming and he had enough of dealing with that for a lifetime.

Still, this wasn't the first time today he had heard of trouble among the small folk's harvest. It wasn't quite winter yet but the threat of starvation and instability had to be taken seriously. How Rycann had wished that they could just stated their pleas all at once instead of doing so one by one throughout the day though. Before he could lament further, the next petitioner had entered and it was his own son Alaric. While a common sight within the walls of the Dreadfort, the Bolton boy did drag along an interesting companion.

"Alaric, why do drag a man bound and gagged to my court." the Redmark stated dryly, staring at a beaten up peasant stripped down to rags.

"My lord father, this criminal had been caught poaching on our lands. I have brought him before you to exact justice." Alaric responded with greater enthusiasm as he yanked the chains of the criminal.

The lord of the Dreadfort could only rub the side of his face at the response to his inquiry. "Lad, why do you waste my time? You are born of this house, you are free to administer justice in our name. Cut off this thief's hands and feed them to Brack's hounds for all I care."

The accused could only weep at his fate as he was met with uncaring silence from everyone else at court. As Alaric dragged him away with ease, the next petitioner would be yet another peasant in somehow even worse clothing. "Milord, troubles over the Weeping Water's coast has scared my hens and they do not lay as muc-"

Rycann simply stood up and walked away. He had taken all the foolishness he could bear for today.


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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Ruby
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Ruby No One Cares

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Collab with @SunsetWanderer with guest appearance by @POOHEAD189


The morning sun peeked over the Red Mountains and flooded the valley where Summerhall stood. He’d spent most of last night just sitting and staring at it from a nearby ridge, nursing a cider the woman had pressed into his hand with one of her hands while pushing at him from behind with her other hand, insisting he, “GO! There’s no more work. No fighting, no stealing, GO.”

She said it, laughing, but her tone seemed to carry a weight to it. Deeper parts of him thought she was just trying to rid herself of the annoying boy she must regret bringing alone by now. It wasn’t until she added the last part that made him uncertain what to think, at any level: “Just don’t come back TOO late, be safe.”

Not, don’t be out late, there’s work needs doing in the morning. Just be back, because it was the safer thing to do. He just stared at her. She was beautiful, so maybe it was just that making it seem so strange? Although, he admitted, he didn’t remember the last time someone gave him a curfew out of care, instead of needing him to do work for them.

He thought of his mother as he took sips of the drink the woman gave him. Well, not just some woman. She was stranger than most women. She was nice, like a proper Lady. She was very rich, with more gold than he would ever see. She spoke strange tongues he’d never heard before, throwing bits and pieces of unknown languages at Ser Markus and he often, usually in a playful way—another unexpected turn. She was rarely serious, she rarely seemed to take herself so serious…but as Ser Markus had warned him, never let his properness slip none, not even a little.

That didn’t seem to be a problem for him. The problem for him had been not thinking about her chest: the one with the lock, and mysterious contents. When Ser Markus realized shortly after Dunc had awoken and scurried to be of use that the Lady wasn’t even in her tent, that she had obviously slipped away in early dawn, he seemed irritated.

Then he announced he was off to break his fast, and would return with something for Dunc, too. Dunc spent the time talking to the horses, brushing, feeding. He thought about peeking inside the Lady’s tent, but every time he got close, the hairs on the back of his neck raised and he found himself looking about, this way and that, back again…no one ever seemed to be looking, but he couldn’t help the feeling she’d know.

So he abandoned the sweet perfumed scent of the air coming from the tent, and stepped away from the front of it, instead finding relief in a shady spot next to his own tent, with an apple and a small skin of wine the Lady had tossed him yesterday during the trip. He saved it then, for later, and was very satisfied with himself now that he had, smiling and watching the people pass their camp site.

Knights, men-at-arms, lords, ladies, men, women, children would give queer looks to the flag the Lady’s tent flew. Some stopped and asked what it was, a House, maybe? Dunc responded with a shake of his head and an informative bit of, “Keyholder, Iron Bank of Braavos.” You know, like a real Braavosi might, he imagined. He was into a long drink with his head kicked back when he finished, wiping his chin with the back of his hand and blinking with a tiny jolt at the appearance of men-at-arms staring him down, wearing colors and a coat of arms even Dunc the Lunk knew:

Those were Lannister men.

“You, young man,” one of them sternly started, making Dunc blink and think to himself that he wasn’t a man, yet. He was still years away, according to Ser Arlan, and Ser Arlan knew life. “Where is Lady Celena?”

“…oh, she’s—”

The sellsword came back with a fresh swagger, the kind only possible after a nice morning walk about, a nice bit of bacon and bread and hash from a lovely young lady tending her father’s cart, and a belly full of still chilled beer. When he saw the Lannisters, the smile on his expression only seemed to widen, if only but a smidge. “—the Lady is away. Better luck next time, lads.”

Their sneers seemed to say it for them, sellsword. Like any of them wouldn’t, given the opportunity, or the need. Let alone her sellsword, whatever price he imagined up in that Stormlands tavern where they met, she doubled it. And then she doubled THAT. It was, he found, supremely easy to smile at the group of crimson clad lion pets, and wait for them to make a decision.

“You are her sellsword, hm?” One said, while it’s entirely possible another muttered something about just one sellsword to protect such rumored beauty, causing his fellows to snicker aloud. Entirely possible, given the way the boy with a young man’s body stood up like a hot knife, anger twisting across the young lad’s face.
“He isn’t alone in protecting the Lady!”

His voice cracked halfway through, and the red clad Lannister men erupted in laughter, declaring to Ser Markus that the Lord of Casterly Rock demands an audience with Lady Celena, the moment she arrives. Ser Markus gave a rude gesture as they left, then looked at Dunc, frowning. Dunc’s head dropped, his eyes staring at the ground, his cheeks hot…but the Knight lived up to the teasing name the Lady had given him the day before of Ser Silence, and said nothing, just handed him a roll of bacon and stepped into their shared tent, leaving Dunc to watch the Lannister men fade away into the crowd thickening by the minute.

Morning stretched and brightened to midday before there was any actual lead to the whereabouts of the woman of the hour; the edge of all encampments, next to a towering oak tree and a little creek swollen to an actual creek from autumnal rains in the foothills of the Red Mountains. At the edge were found less savory and honorable types. Lesser merchants, common visitors with enough resources to travel and have a small roughspun tent, a tent belonging to a small troop of dwarves, and the big purple and orange slashed tent next to that tree.

It was a tent big enough to fit near forty men in, overnight it’s myrish carpeted floors scattered with bedrolls, during the day a largely open space with some chests and small barrels for impromptu seating as various minstrels plucked instruments while a pale white haired boy of ten danced a water dance with a man over a decade older, darker skinned and long hair dyed blues and greens, lithe and almost impressive.

The two were mostly idle entertainment, same as the minstrels. A game of cyvasse was being played towards the back by an older, bald, man in silks with a woman middle-aged beauty and sharp eyes that always seemed to be looking around for dangers, dark brown hair falling in curls towards her shoulders near exposed with the simple gown of light blue she wore. Nearly a dozen others mostly concentrated between the game and the performers going through their practice routines.

When they entered the tent, she was nearly hidden behind the big, older, bald man in the silk pondering intensely, hand on his chin, at the game of cyvasse. The two red, lion, cloaked men almost left just moments after they walked in unannounced—until one of them saw the glitter of golden blonde Lannister hair sparkle in the natural light let in by his holding the tent open. There, past the big bald one, he pointed to the other Lannister man.

Emeralds shadowed and smoldered at the man staring into them as Celena locked eyes with him, the rumor of a smile playing at the corners of her full, lush, lips pale pink and unpainted. She wore an ivory gown of Dornish silk and lace, lace of gold filtered through the bodice, with raised collar that plunged a quarter-way down her chest, the kind of dress that covered everything and hid nothing.

The big, bald, man stretched long with arms reaching behind him and nudged his chair backward just a bit before resettling in the seat, further revealing the woman seated behind the Cyvasse table. His accent was thick, Braavosi, with a voice that bellowed as deep and impactful as a large wave against a curtain wall. Booming, if dressed with a smile fueled by the recently finished morning beer Celena had brought him, “Hoy, friends, the Mummer Show isn’t ‘till sundown.”

The older of the two Lannister men, with dark hair and rough stubble, was quick to answer. “Not here for a show.”, his words sharp with ill-concealed contempt. A gloved hand lifted from the hilt of his blade to brush aside the red cloak draped over his shoulder, pointing in the direction of Celena, “Here for that one.”

The younger, with long brown hair and curious eyes, was silent for the most part - his attention fixed on the Lioness, struck by her beauty. It was he who had spotted her. After his colleague, and likely superior, had announced their intention, he raised his own, uncertain, voice. “It.. is the Lady Celena, is it not?”, he asked none in particular.

The other didn’t wait for an answer, his chest instinctively puffing out as he spoke, “The Lord of Casterly Rock demands your presence.”, he commanded firmly. If his tone and the dumb, smug expression on his face was anything to go by, this man was used to getting his way by invoking the name of his lord. His hand fell to rest on the plain hilt of his blade as he took a step forward.

The unflinching eyes of the Keyholder stayed on the young man, as he asked his question, as her lips allowed him a direct answer, rare enough as such things were from her, even if it carried the burden of deeply buried secrets with it, “It was.” She needn’t speak loudly; there wasn’t a noise made within the tent at that moment.

A deafening silence broken by the strum of one of the minstrels’ lute; one older, one younger. The younger was a tall, attractive, bright brown eyed Braavosi. The older, his mentor, had skin like weathered leather, a coarse stubble along his jaw and cheeks of gray hair, the lines around his narrow blue eyes testifying to his experience, to what he’d seen. The strumming of the lute produced a slow melancholy of a sound that drifted from the background until the gentle depths of the old minstrel’s voice could be heard giving life to the tune played.

“Every prayer was heard that night
When the golden light made the world right
Against the wicked bravos of the twenty-eight
At bloodied blade and dagger tip came their end, their fate”


Every Braavosi in the tent stared at the minstrel as his play faded to a stop, his face in the direction of the two. Everyone of them except Lady Celena, and the minstrel whose voice faded as his strumming of lute strings faded to a near whisper looked off in his own direction. She watched the Lannister men as her thoughts skewered her with memory. A freed slave lost at sea and reborn upon the tide, sailing past what was known of Sothoryos, survived where the Doom and water collide, when vessel and crew broke off it was reported she was killed. But she was still alive. Sword and dagger by her side, she rode across the Disputed Lands, too many a young man losing his lifeblood to her blade.

Braavos was the place to rest. To stop. ’With what you earn with blood spilled tonight, if you survive, you can finally rest that spirit of yours.’ He was an old friend. She trusted him, she believed him. She thought of her Sealord with suppressed sigh as she slowly slid to her feet from the seat she had taken.

Now every eye was on her, no one daring to speak, let alone move, faces watching her, convinced of what was to come and the tension that came from the very idea of two Westeros men wearing officious sigils dying at the bare hands of a woman wearing silk. A slow, deep breath, and Celena disappointed them.

It was her friend, Ohoro, big and fat and bald and glorious to her, that spoke up with his body leaning back in his seat with his large hands now linked and settled behind his head as he eyed the men, “You do not know what this Lady is to Braavos, friends. Go gently, and may your Gods protect you.” He said it plainly, almost matter-of-fact. He said it for their sake.

She saw both men-at-arms. Armor was well-fitted, but mostly leather. She read the way they stood, the way their bodies wore their weight, compared their frames and structures to similar men of the many she’d killed before. Careful estimates of their reaction time, of their balance, of their flexibility—of which of them could take more pain than the other. Which was the better blade. All with that hint of a smile, all standing there, arms down by her side and just towards her back as one finger from her left hand hooked with a finger from her right, keeping both hands at her lower back, chest out, head high, green eyes shadowed as she faced them and away from the internal light sources within the tent of brazzier and odd lantern.

That smile of hers had grown just enough to be plainly seen, and closer to a grin than a proverbial Braavosi blade in the back, “After you,” she said to them, for the first time sounding like a Westerosi noble lady. Like she was used to giving commands to men such as these two.
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by LadyRunic
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LadyRunic The Laughing Raven

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House Lothston
Shield in the Darkness


The servants were scattered and their ceaseless clucking over their appointed tasks. There were days when Danelle felt like she was a farm wife with hens and herding cats, though there would be no worse fate than that if her father found her unfit to find a husband to suit his needs. They did a delicate dance about each other with Elayne in the middle. The woman ran a hand over her dress of dark green silk and light blue, attractive colors that suited her well she thought. Of course, she would rather be in armor and snapping men down to their knees. “Oh, isn’t it lovely! All the dashing knights and the fashion!” What little peace was shattered as her reason for galavanting about sighed dreamily at a rather large man in armor passed. The armor was well made and the man a knight Danelle had heard of before, but not one suitable to take Elayne for wife and the Lothston’s name.

“Sister.” Oh, how she had to keep her tone even and away from that sharp edge that was so natural. Light and lady-like. Several of their guards shifted about them and the women watched as a group of Northmen rode by. Stark men if she was any guess. “We will see these knights thump each other with sticks and try to bash their brains out while they drown in drink and women. We are to stand out among the women so that we might be approached.”

We, being Elayne as both women were aware. The younger sister, adjusted the lilac gown that hung on her, a slightly dated gown but no less beautiful. Danelle approved. It had been one of Jeyne’s that the woman had urged Elayne to take. Suitable for the end of summer and Elayne’s coloring, it accented all the parts a man would look at while being perfectly modest. An alteration that had been discussed lengthily before Elayne had set to altering it. Snapping a fan open, Danelle crossed an arm under her chest and eyed a lad wandering the crowd. A Northman with a feckless charm. A rogue, though his clothing spoke of someone highborn.

“Danelle?” The small voice of Elayne trailed off as she studied the unwary Ashe Stark. A handsome fellow to the younger sister, though hardly comparable to some of the knights in their impressive armor that spoke of victory in the lists. “Oh, he is impressive.” Her light voice did not reveal her true feelings of ambivalence. She was to charm and simper over any man who seem to meet approval in Danelle’s or their Father’s eyes. She privately hoped for a young man from the Reach, a place with more even weather, there was little to do in the North except wade through snow and wish for the winter to end according to her books. No, all the great love stories came from the South. Skittering about a puddle in the ground, Elayne swallowed as she saw Danelle snag the arm of a servant carrying a jug of wine. There was little worse than Danelle drunk, and she hoped the woman was not annoyed enough for that.

Danelle, for her part, had seized the arm of the servant and with a skeptical look gave a sharp bark of command. “You there, where can I find the camp of House Bracken?” Ignoring the questionable look that Elayne sent her, their mother had been a Blackwood after all. The man looked startled at being accosted by a Lady and stammered his reply even as Danelle leveled a far more chilling smile at the man. “What about the Blackwoods?”

“Blackwood? Aye. They have arrived and set their tents over on the western side, Mi’Lady, but the Brackens have not yet-” Anything else was cut off as Danelle turned away, abruptly dismissing the man who glowered at her back, the information she needed was there and that was enough for the woman. Elayne winced at the servant’s black mood and could only emphasize. Danelle was no easy woman to get along with and especially so as a servant. Sliding a coin onto the man’s platter and hoping her sister did not notice, the younger sister moved to catch up with Danelle’s stride.

Whatever plan she had going on, Elayne felt a worry stir in her. Danelle had been whispering the private corners of Harrenhal with Jeyne, just as Manfryd had been staring at maps and writing letters. Plans were being made about her, plans that keyed on her and if she leaned one way or another, the devastation would crash down on House Lothston. Elayne tucked her hands into her gown to hide the trembling. A bright smile fixed on her face as she focused her attention on the tents, the flags that snapped in the breeze, and the gallant knights. Things that could be smiled at, an enjoyment that was rare in Harrenhal. Hopefully, she would leave promised to a man and be far from the drama of her father and sister.

Spying the black ravens bordering the white tree, the flag of House Bracken, Danelle smiled coldly. Quentyn Blackwood, her cousin through her mother’s side was the current lord of Raventree Hall. A proficient man in jousting, she could see the smaller tents of his four sons. They would hardly miss an opportunity to grind Bracken noses into the dirt of the tourney ground. “My Lady Danelle!” The booming voice of Bennifer Blackwood, the second of the sons, crashed through the din of the tourney. “And this must be Elayne, well met little cousin.”

“Ser Bennifer.” Danelle bowed her head slightly as her red hair cascaded over her shoulder. “Is Lord Quentyn inside his tent?” Their mother had kept close ties to her House and Bennicott had been urged to do the same as there had been plans to send him out to squire under Quentyn, sadly that had not come to pass. Danelle couldn’t quite bring herself to mourn even now for her brother. “Your letter was most illuminating.” If it was not for her cordial relationship with the Lord of Raventree, Danelle would have urged Elayne to marry one of his sons. He had enough between the four for at least one to produce an heir and spare for the continuation of the House.

Elayne gave a small smile at her cousin and dipped a slight curtsy. “So formal!” The jovial knight bellowed a laugh that nearly caused the woman to stumble. “Aye, he is and plans to joust with the rest of us Blackwood menfolk! We will put those Brackens in the dirt and hopefully a few of their necks get broken!” Elayne looked horrified at the notion, her eyes flicking between Danelle’s grim smile and Bennifer’s.

“A glad outcome.” Danelle agreed, her stride carrying her by Bennifer and towards the largest of the tents. Giving a nod to another of the sons, she let a servant announce her before entering into a lush and well-kept interior of Quentyn’s tent. “Lord Quentyn.” She greeted and gestured for Elayne to remain outside. “Stay near.” Though it was hard to tell if the order was for her sister or the guards. There was little that could happen to Elayne within the Blackwood’s encampment. Turning her attention back to the Lord who sat on a camp stool, a sword being sharpened in his hands. A man in his forties, Lord Quentyn was a handsome fellow and a lord of note within the Riverlands as well as a relation to the Spymaster of the King. Though Danelle could not decide if he was one of Bloodraven’s eyes or not, there were always a hundred layers in the games that the court played.

“Little Danelle, not so little,” He gestured to a canvas seat near a table with a jug of Arbor red. “My sympathies for the death of young Lucas.”

“A death long past,” Danelle commented, her tone no longer light as it had been outside where potential suitors might see. “My aunt Jeyne sends her regards, and Elayne is not fit for such conversations of necessity.”

“A young woman cannot be kept from the world.”

She heard the reproach in that tone and shrugged, many of her letters had been to Raventree. “A child still in the games played. She has no skill in the world besides those befitting a simple woman.” Pouring the Arbor wine into two goblets, she picked up one as Lord Blackwood took the other. “My father remains in good health and has poor hearing. He speaks loudly.”

“Too loudly. His discontent can be heard in Dorne and is well noted. Though Harrenhal has always been questionable in the reputation of its Lords.” Taking the wine the man drank deep, with a grin. “Jeyne would be welcomed at Raventree.”

Danelle reclined back in the canvas seat and swirled the wine, staring into the red depths. “My aunt has been most useful in Harrenhal, leaving would be granting my Lord Father a victory.” She commented with a growl. “He does not intend to joust. I tried to convince him, alas. A bit of enjoyment for his old bones, but he is too worried about an accident.”

“An accident.” There was an agreement of annoyance from Quentyn. “It would be most fortunate to see the man quieted from his grumblings. He strays towards fire and brambles.”

“Brackens.” Danelle spat with annoyance, cutting to the quick with words. “Mother’s ghost would wail in Harrenhal. It would be best if a duel happened. He is not so skilled with the sword anymore.”

“You speak too openly, my lady.” The Lord warned, only for Danelle to shake her head sharply.

“I speak truthfully, Lord Quentyn.” She growled and shifted in her seat. “I will not have the Lothstons lose Harrenhal for his foolish idea of pride and vengeance against a dead man.” Danelle’s voice lowered as she growled to herself. “I have Elayne secured but a proper promising marriage being planned can pull his fangs.”

Lord Quentyn sat back and rubbed his beard as he studied the fearsome woman before. Jeyne had kept ties to the Blackwood and had passed them to Danelle and Alysanne when she had returned to Harrenhal. Letters and the odd visit when traveling kept the ties of blood alive. It was a political alliance, but one that was intended to curb Manfryd’s growling. Lord Blackwood hardly thought his cousin’s husband would do anything, but there had been whispers and rumors being spread. A nuisance more than anything else. Harrenhal had kept him in wealth and with men, though his lack of heir had been a sore spot when he looked towards Quentyn and his four sons. “As well as that would be, you speak of his death too openly, Danelle. Curb your tongue against a thousand eyes and one. Harrenhal is an unfortunate seat.”

A warning and Danelle scowled at the disapproving Riverlord. “I have had one brother dead for his foolishness, a sister who ran off into the world to die, and a second brother who was born by a lowborn whore. Most likely not even brother to me.” She pointed out with a skeptical tone. “Harrenhal has long been cursed by unfortunate death.”

“I would rather not include you, Lady Danelle. Had your father allowed it, I would have taken you as a ward but Benjicott’s death and Alysanne's disappearance put an end to that. He would not risk another child disappearing or dead.” Danelle gave the lord a cold look, this was news to her but she had known Lord Blackwood to be fond of his Harrenhal relations, if not Manfryd himself specifically. Hemming and hawing like a wild mare at the reins would get nowhere if Quentyn had made his mind up. She was to take the safe route he had chosen and it would be like moving the weirwood tree itself to convince him otherwise.

“Your affection touches me, Lord Blackwood.” She drawled, in truth, it was only blood ties that made it easy to consort with the man. Had Jeyne not recommended cooperation with her mother’s kin, Danelle would have gone her own way. A way of money, knives, poison, and blood. This was, there would be others to speak for her right to Harrenhal if it was brought into question, a point which Danelle knew she would need. The Riverlords all fought for their ideas and they were often greedy for the riches each other had. House squabbles were as dangerous as the games the greater houses played. “But let us get to business.”

Outside the tent, Elayne winced as Bennifer went on entertaining her. He spoke of duels and fights against brigands. Often a problem and, according to him, not enough of them plague Stone Henge. She loved to hear tales of distant lands and delighted in them, but when those tales were about how you hacked a man’s hand off or an ear? She cringed and kept a delicate smile on her face, praying Danelle would not be long. She was not sure she could remain thus! Taking to walking had only made Bennifer point out the men who had fought with him and who had done what deed. Elayne was silently thankful she would not be asked to marry the second son of Quentyn Blackwood and reminded herself to make an offering to the mother for that relation. Directing the man that she was feeling quite faint, Elayne ducked behind a tent and found herself in the frenzy of the tournament.

Delighted she walked along the path, her guards forgotten behind her as she considered the different houses that had come for the celebration. Surely it must be as grand as the Golden Wedding had been described by the maester. All it was missing was being in King's Landing, which was no loss in Elayne's eyes, and the swooping dragons of the past. Dodging a man pulling a reluctant horse down the makeshift street between tents, the young woman hesitated as she realized with a start she was alone. No guards surrounded her, and in her loss at the colors and frenzy of wondering at food, flags, knights, and lords she had become quite a bit lost. Pulling at a lock of her hair, she frowned and stared about her. Looking for the flag of either Lothston or Blackwood. Surely she had not wandered so far, yet there was no sign of either and no sound of Bennifer's bray over the din. A flush rose in her cheeks and she thought of Danelle's order for her to remain close and outside the tent. Her elder sister would be in a fury over this, though if she could find her way back there would be no one the wiser. She had simply been around the corner was all! Swallowing hard, Elayne felt a lump in her stomach as she wandered the stalls and tents, Danelle would have her hide for this. She could hear her now, belittling her sense for wandering off on her own when she had never even been out of Harrenhal castle alone before! She was rarely alone even in Harrenhal! Her steps kept to a delicate walk, though her eyes were a bit panicked as she pulled that lock of hair again. Where were the tents!


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Apoalo Harry potter Nut

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Ser Addam Hightower

On the road to Summerhall


Complicated. Everything was oh so difficult. Addam Hightower, heir to House Hightower and Oldtown sat in his tent leaned forward, and pinched the bridge of his nose. In front of him, laying half opened, was a letter. Addam looks up at his Aunt, Celene, who was also sitting quietly with a thoughtful expression on her face as she was leaning forward and staring at the letter. Finally, Addam breaks the silence. "Guessing at loyalty is going to be impossible. And each person we poke is a potential threat. We have to assume the Lannisters will ally with the crown. The Lord Paramount of the West is friends with the king, they have history. The Iron born are wild card and could attack anyone. Bringing them into the plan is not the right move."

Celene sighs and gives a slight shrug. "It's not the worst play, the Lannisters are wealthy and Tytos has rebuilt. The mines are flowing again and should the Rock empty their lands it'll be easy pickings. The Lannister fleet is also more or less easier to defeat than a combined Redwyne and Hightower flotilla. But don't focus on what moves your father is making, instead focus on the plan already in motion. Your job is to ensure the triple Alliance and all marriages are finalized. Anything less than that and nothing else matters. Alicent knows her role, to ensure the Redwyne boy is taken with her, you must do the same for Lord Tarly. He is a proud man, and rightly so he will be watching you closely to make sure his daughter weds correctly. Everything comes down to you. No pressure." Celene smirks and leans back before winking over at Addam who gave a roll of his eyes and groans. His hands no longer pinched the bridge of his nose and instead rubbed his eyes. He was tired, the travels hadn't helped matters.

"I understand Aunt Celene. I will make the House proud." He didn't think his sister, Alicent would struggle either. By all words, the youngest son of House Redwyne should be a decent match and someone that his sister could be happy with. The Lord Tarly though was a different huntsman. And Addam would be lying if he wasn't nervous. Just as he was about to speak again a page entered wearing the Hightower livery.

"Apologies my Lord, My Lady, but we will need to be off if we're to make Summerhall by tomorrow morning. Addam smiled softly and nodded before shooting a look at his Aunt.

"Thank you Lyam, we'll be out shortly." The page bowed and left leaving the two Hightowers alone once again. No words needed to be spoken, both knew what they needed to do.





Ashton Hightower

Summerhall

A Collab with @Vanq


Lazy, and wasting precious time. Ashton could hear his one-time teacher even now while he lay upon the grass of Summerhall, letting the sun's rays gently caress, and cradle him in their warmth. A smile ghosted at the young man's lips as he thought about Otho's face if he came across Ashton in this place at this moment, and what colors of rage would manifest. Still smirking, Ash slowly leaned up and moved his arms behind him to support his weight as the sun started to ever so slowly disappear and surrender to dusk. It was the Hightower's favorite time of day and he always allowed himself this little sliver of personal time. When the sun finally set, Ash sighed in contentment and with a groan began to stand up, his muscles instantly protesting after having been still for the last hour. He attempted to alleviate their distress with a cat-like stretch and even gave a small yawn. Slowly the muscles relented.

Setting off from his hilltop perch, Ashton slowly walked back to the main Castle ground and started a mental list of things to do before sleep. Sharpening blades, shining armor, cleaning leather, collecting letters for Ryon and himself, bringing up supper, cleaning clothing, and making the beds with the fresh linens he had washed earlier that day. It was hard work surely but Ashton never once complained, finding the word a fair trade for the knowledge and training he got in return. Besides, by this time he and Ryon were good friends and so Ash wasn't in the greatest of hurries to be Knighted. He'd get it when he got it and not sooner.

Stumbling, Ashton glanced behind himself to see a foot sticking out from a pavilion and rolled his eyes as he heard snickering. Some young lords making trouble and trying to trip people. Not a smart move really, but Ashton wasn't a guard nor their family and so simply continued on his way. Now that so many were making their way to the celebratory tournament more and more pavilions were being set up and serving to cause Ashton's journey to and from his hilltop refuge to take longer and longer as the maze grew. Briefly, he realized that his brother and the entourage from Oldtown would be arriving either tonight or early in the morning. It would be good to see his brother after so long.

Eventually, Ashton made it to the main Castle and waved to the guards as they allowed him passage. Ash was for the most part a very shy boy and awkward when not discussing combat or knightly topics. He didn't speak much and didn't make many friends though he was slowly trying to do better by remembering names and simply being nice. "Evening Rolf, Malak, hope you're doing well?"

The two guards smiled back and gave quick nods before replying. "Can't complain, don't have tent city duty." They gestured towards the pavilions and Ashton nodded in understanding before heading inside and making a beeline for Ryon's room.

He made the bed, collected the dirty clothing that he could find, and then took them and his own to the washing woman. He then ensured supper would be brought up and then retired to his Knight's room to begin the process of cleaning sword, and armor.

Ryon made his way through the corridors of Summerhall effortlessly. Perhaps because of the grimace he currently wore, or perhaps because he had become as well known in this castle as the sword he carried. Dawn. The fabled sword that he had been the first to wield in decades. It was a heavy burden to bear. And having welcomed in the rest of his family - family that he rarely saw in the past few years - that burden was heavy on his mind and the cause of his grimace.

Lord Ormond was in good spirits and had wanted a meeting with his daughter and the Prince. Ser Ryon had interceded on Dyanna’s behalf; Seven knew she did not need her father suddenly interested in her welfare or haranguing the Prince for some kind of favor. It had been pleasant at least to see young Arron and Eldon again. The boys had truly become men, and Ryon had been all too happy to have an excuse to take them around the tents and pavilions that had been sprouting up ahead of the tourney start. But then Eldon had pulled him aside to share the more worrying news out of Starfall. Vorian grew more unstable of late. The heir had refused to come north and had become deluded with conspiracies that Ryon acted to usurp him upon Ormond’s death. Rubbish of course.

Instead, having shown Ormond and his cousins where they would stay, he made his way to gather his squire. It would be good for Ashton to have time away from duties and with company closer to his own age as well.

Even before entering his rooms, Ryon was certain he was correct. He could hear the familiar sound of work being done. The boy was relentless at times in his duties. And while it was something that Twilight Star could respect, it was also a source of something to jest about.

“Ashton, how many times have I told you, don’t start a bit of work if you’ll need to end it early to have some fun.” In rounding the corner into his rooms, the knight had rubbed the grimace from his face and plastered on the care-free smile he used with others. “My cousins have arrived at last and are quite eager to meet your acquaintance again” He leaned against a wall, at ease, arms crossed lightly against his chest. He waited for the squire to look up before he continued. “And of course, by meet your acquaintance, what they mean is to have their old cousin buy them rounds of drinks down at the Redwyne pavilions.” He laughed, a quick and hearty noise. “Somehow they think I’ve become as rich as the Prince their sister married. But if I am buying for them, surely I am buying for you. Come on now.” He snapped his fingers dramatically.

Even before Ryon showed himself and spoke his jest, Ash could tell that he was there. It was one of the things about Castles, you could hear when someone was coming for the most part and Ryon wasn’t exactly trying to be sneaky. Ryon would see Ash’s back when he entered fully, the squire bent at the waist as he shined his boots. The rest of the equipment of both squire and Knight were neatly organized to Ash’s left, an obvious ‘clean’ pile. “Just finishing up, so if anything it was perfect timing. Oh, your practice shirt is going to need to be resewn, it tore during the wash I was told. I have your backup ready for tomorrow in case you need it.”

That was Ashton, always ready and prepared and going above and beyond to the best of his ability. He took his job seriously, and he supposed going out and mingling was a part of that job. The young man finished his task and then slowly turned, a wide grin on his face. Ash knew that Ryon was aware of his squire's weaknesses and as with all good mentors always attempted to strengthen them. "I suppose I should go and change into something a bit more appropriate then if we're going to go out and be festive. You know I can't dance though so don't even try to trick me into it."

With his smile growing ever wider Ashton headed for the doorway, preparing to go to his room, which wasn't far, to change. It would be good to see the younger Daynes. And it would be a good chance to stretch the more social muscles.

— —

Eldon and Arron were not well accustomed to being outside of Starfall, and though they were men grown, they acted like children at their first summer fair. It was a flaw mostly laid at Ormond’s feet, but Ryon thought reluctantly, him having left before he was done training them had not served them well. They had run ahead at least, to gather drinks with Ryon’s silver for the group of them.

For all that he had said about not having grown rich, Dyanna had seen fit to ensure that her cousin was taken care of for his station, or perhaps the Prince had not wanted his wife’s family and sworn protector to look anything but the part. Ryon stalked the grounds now wearing a fine lilac robe, open to reveal the crisp linen tunic beneath. His house sigil was finely embroidered in cloth-of-silver across his shoulder. The knight would rather be in a practice shirt and trousers, but if Dy could will herself into the pageantry and gowns, he could certainly bear to don a more formal attire as well.

He clapped his hand to his squire’s back. His squire was getting rather old to be a squire, but taking on a squire as the Sword of the Morning had felt as though much more was required of his charge. “I’ve prepared you as much as I could, so tell me, are you ready for what lies ahead?” He spoke jovially though with a weighted undercurrent. Placing well in the melee would surely satisfy most as cause to knight the lad. It felt lacking for the untapped potential of the boy though.

As Ashton walked into his room his gaze unconsciously moved to his things. The content they were all organized and ready he tried to figure out what to wear. He certainly did not want to overshadow his Knight. But he was also the son of a powerful House so it couldn't be too simple either. Knowing Ryon's wardrobe helped matters and Ash figured he would go with a dark blue silk tunic with the High Tower embroidered in silver along with a dark gray cape that was clasped below his neck by a glittering diamond tower, another sigil of his house. The chain going from shoulder to sigil was also silver. Simple, yet elegant Ash figured it fit well enough.

He buckled on Vigilance, as he never let the blade out of his sight, and then headed back out. Upon seeing Ryon, Ash was content that he had made the right choice in his outfit and nodded politely before falling into step beside the Dayne. He wasn't certain where exactly they were headed but the Redwyne tent was always supposed to be the most popular. Briefly, Ash remembered his latest correspondence with his father and brother, the latter of which was supposed to be arriving the following morning. They were seeking an alliance with the Redwynes and Tarly's while the Reach figured out what to make of the new Tyrell paramount…

The lad was brought out of his thoughts on the matter by Ryon asking him a question and Ash took a breath in to buy some time before frowning. "I'm ready, all I can do is my best and follow your training but there are some very experienced Knights competing. I'm excited but nervous, I know I still have a lot to learn." Some other young men, squires to other Knights might have been arrogant and cocky. But Ashton always considered his potential opponents his equal or better and realized that the art of swordsmanship was constantly evolving and changing. One was forever a student and there would always be someone better at some point.

"Either way, I just want to make sure I don't disappoint you or my family." Ashton shrugged and then blinked rapidly as the mass of torches and lights suddenly came into view as they reached the edge of the tent city.

Ryon had always appreciated his charge’s outlook, perhaps it reminded him of himself. But the young man sometimes needed a stronger push. He glanced to the lad’s side, knowing Vigilance would be secured round his hip - much the same as Ryon always carried Dawn. It was not just protection or pride. It was duty, a heavy weight and reminder that they did not serve themselves or even just their families.

Ryon’s face turned serious. “Your family has already bestowed you with your Valyrian steel. You will do your best, and you will always learn. Just remember that it is a foolish man who confuses the Warrior for the Stranger and seeks to tempt Them to prove themselves.” His hand still rested on his squire’s shoulder, and he allowed his friendly smile to return. “You’ll make us all proud I’m sure of it. Now then, my other young charges are not so responsible as you. Shall we find them and make sure they don’t mar my family’s name?”

Ashton stared up at Ryon as he spoke. It was a teaching style that the Hightower squire had come to appreciate. Serious, yet understanding, and then right back to simple friendship. Mentally, Ash was taking notes should he ever have a squire of his own someday. As they stood at the edge still Ash remembered the important conversation he was supposed to have with the Dayne.

"Yes, let's go and find them but uh.. I have to ask you something. It comes from my father and not me but I am duty bound to ask." He went quiet for a second and then just grit his teeth and went for it.

"My father is attempting to consolidate power in the Reach. He is aiming to support Daemon should he ever make a bid for the Throne and he was curious where you stood. As he could see about having you become Lord Dayne." Ashton made a face as he finished as if he had just eaten something exceptionally sour and sighed. His shoulders sagged and a defeated look crossed his face. "I'm sorry, I didn't want to bring it up…"

Ryon's face darkened immediately. Surely they had spoken of the realm and of politics, but this was treason thrown to the open. He furrowed his brow, his eyes narrowed, in an uncharacteristic way. What foolishness did the Lord Hightower have to make his son approach his knight with such things.

The Twilight Star pressed the bridge of his nose between finger and thumb. "Your father gave you an impossible task, I will not hold this against you, but you will listen closely and we will never speak of this again." He paused, lips pressed tightly. "I am not and never will be heir to Starfall. I have no desire to add the weight of lordship to my shoulders, you understand?" Had Vorian actually heard rumors of this? It would perhaps go to explaining how serious Eldon had seemed. “Beyond that, my beloved cousin is sister-in-law to our king. She has born children to his brother. I would not betray them for anything.” He had pointedly avoided speaking the Blackfyre’s name. Seven, how he hated this positioning and angling.. “Tell your father…tell him that I wish House Hightower continued prosperity and a bountiful future.” It was an inelegant non-answer, but Ryon had no taste for these affairs.

Ash had shrunken back when he noted Ryon's initial reaction. But he steadied himself, he knew his Knight well and had never seen him lose control. Ash had told his father pursuing Ryon as a potential ally was folly but Lord Hightower wanted to cross every t and dot every I before making his final play. Even Ash didn't know any plans, he had simply been asked to find out about Ryon and Maekar. There was probably a hidden message but Ash was unintelligent about such subtle maneuvers and was abrasive in his words. He said what he meant, meant what he said, and always kept his word. He had ambitions to be another Aemon the Dragonknight, to serve as best he could.

"I'm sorry Ryon.. Er, Ser Ryon. I didn't want to ask but my family was insistent. And I knew you would understand that I'm not exactly the best at… Well speaking." It was a known weakness for the Hightower, which was odd, considering how good the rest tended to be. "As you said, we will speak no more of it." As if to punctuate his words Ash moved forward into the throng, waiting just a bit for any final words from his Knight.

Ryon worked to smooth away the frustration that still bristled underneath. “Ash…” He forced a smile across thinned lips. “I think it best we go find my cousins - and several bottles of wine. A final night of revelry before you need to be sober for the challenges.” His voice held an edge to it, and he remained unsettled as they crossed the grounds. Perhaps things were more dire than he had assumed. Unconsciously, his hand rested on Dawn.

Arron and Eldon had quickly found themselves a corner of the Redwyne pavilions to set up with bottles of wine, a smattering of food already picked over, and two women on their laps, when Ryon and Ashton found them. “Go on now, have some fun Ash.” Ryon patted his squire’s shoulder. “I should settle up with what these two fools have gotten themselves into.”

Eldon and Arron looked up from their cups and their women. “Ah here he is, our famed cousin, the Sword of the Morning himself! Ser Ryon! And his Squire of Hightower, Ashton - at long last.”

Ryon gave the group a half-smile, his head nodded in response. “Eldon, Arron - you’re to get Ashton drunk as a boiled owl, and if you haven’t found the lot of yourselves stumbling out of tents in the morning with your trousers lost, you haven’t tried hard enough tonight.” He picked up a half full goblet of something and knocked it back in one long gulp. “And Ashton, I still expect you for training come the morn.”

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Danvers boo

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Present: Lord Garrett Tyrell, Leyla Tyrell & Oak the Bard




The Tyrells were incredibly rich. Perhaps an obvious statement for a family that had never hidden their wealth but nevertheless. They were used to comforts and the attendance at a tourney would do little to prevent their continued lives of ease. Their extensive entourage had meandered up from Highgarden at a leisurely pace, stopping at inns when desired and on one occasion having to double back when their Lord conveniently forgot their bard was still napping in the sunshine. He had still been asleep when they had found him, several of the soldiers hiding their laughter at the crown of daisies Oak had fashioned for himself. As it was, they had thankfully timed their journey well and arrived at the tourney with plenty of time to spare.

After several groans from their Lord and daisy crowns made, their vast collection of tents had been set up. It was more akin to a small village, each tent a different shade of green, looking from afar like small hillocks. Flowers had been brought up to Summerhall, some to give to the Lady Dyanna herself but most to adorn their campsite. The sweet smells filled the air with the scent of roses, tulips and lillies, masking the stench that only came with a gathering so large. Oak had made it his duty to hand out flowers to passersby, until he had promptly been told to cease, whilst Leyla herself had overseen the delivery of flowers to the castle. It was a trifling gesture but one she felt she needed to make.

The largest tent of all was of course reserved for the Lord Paramount himself. Partitioned into several rooms, the most sizeable one was pleasantly decorated. The earlier spoken of flowers were dotted about, accompanied by plush cushions of every colour and size. Soft drapes of silk hung from the ceiling, wafting gently in the breeze, providing a sense of privacy and intimacy. A large chaise lounge sat in pride of place, carted up from the Reach despite its heavy weight. A well built wooden table had been set up nearby, chairs dotted about, brought solely for any meetings that may...or more likely, may not, take place. Any who passed by the tent would hear the euphonious sounds of singing, the voice that sung the words undeniably beautiful, fingers passing over the lute with practiced ease. Even though bards were plentiful at the tournament many stopped for a moment to listen, drawn by the unique lyrics that spilled from one witty mouth...

A lord of flowers, a lord of woe
For his quench is not parched
And there are many a foe
His goblet tilts over
And the wine a spilleth!
Oh no he has saved it
What a wonderful--ah, fuck!-


The honey-toned narration was abruptly interrupted as the goblet came flying towards the brunette balladeer. It came at surprising speed and force yet he managed to jump out of its careening path, narrowly avoiding the splatter of crimson wine on his doublet. Oak did not miss a beat before his hands moved to strum his hand-carved lute once more, far used to having to avoid much more lethal flying objects. Now I have to confess... He sung playfully, That my boots are a mess-

"If you don't cease your infernal singing Oak, I am going to personally find a way to revive a dead dragon and then feed you to it limb by infuriating limb." Garrett snapped as he moved to lay back on his seat once more, an arm lazily slung behind his head, dark brown eyes narrowed in a withering stare at the bard in question. He paid no mind to the droplets of wine that had indeed landed on Oaks leather boots, instead lamenting the loss of his limited supply.

"Now, now. You surely must be the only sour face at this entire tourney. I think we all know who is to blame for forgetting half of our wine supplies-" Oak said pointedly, bending over to try remove some of the stain with a piece of cloth. It did little to improve matters.

"Yes. I remember very clearly." Garrett muttered, barely able to contain his fury. "I remember a certain foolish bard insisting that he could keep an eye on the wine and said bard also losing over half of everything we brought. How in the name of the seven does someone lose wine!?"

"Ah yes..." Oak paused. "It was me wasn't it. Give me a few hours and I'm sure I can charm the Redwynes into--"

"No. You damned fool, I am going to-"

"Quarreling again?" A soft voice called from outside the tent, interrupting the tirade of insults that would have been sure to spill from Garretts mouth. As it was the intrusion had been made by his sister, who offered the guards a polite smile as she entered, holding the fine swarthes of emerald green silk aside whilst she peered at the lord and his bard. "I do not think there are any in the whole of Westeros who bicker as much as you two." She teased gently, stepping into the welcoming and cool shade of the large tent. "Someone is going to suspect that you have made a friend Garrett."

This prompted a frown from the eldest Tyrell and a bright smile from Oak. She moved to embrace the bard, the action more familiar than would be expected but to most of the children he was practically one of their own. And by the time they moved apart, Leyla was laughing. Oak tended to make a different animal impression everytime one of the Tyrells hugged him. This time it had been of a goat...it was eerily similar to the real thing.

"You must stop doing that!" She said, shaking her head. "Or everyone will think we truly keep farmyard animals in our tent."

"And miss seeing you smile? Never!" Oak replied, holding a hand to his chest with a dramatic flair.

"Yes, yes. We all know that you used to live in a barn." Garrett drawled, the barest hint of a smile tugging at the edges of his lips. He made no attempt to sit up, instead motioning for a servant to bring him a new goblet.

"Actually I lived near a barn. My parents were able to afford a rather quaint cottage."

"You're mistaking me. I was referring to your home." The lord muttered, disdain dripping from every word as he took a large swig of replenished wine. Leyla and Oak shared a look. Though the Paramount of the Reach had never been one to mince his words, he appeared to be in a particularly foul mood today. Oak tried and failed to - erratically and with a lot of gesticulating - act out his loss of the wine supplies but only succeeded in confusing the young girl further. Eventually they gave up, turning to face Garrett who was looking increasingly murderous.

Leyla took a seat beside her brother, straightening out her gowns skirt before shifting to offer Garrett a hesitant smile. "Everything appears to be in order. It seems we have a lot of vassal houses in attendance and I was thinking perhaps it would be a good opportunity to work on our relationships with them. I do fear we have been neglecting them since..." Leyla trailed off, her face falling. "Well, anyway, we have all been rather busy this past year I suppose."

Garrett sighed loudly. "You can say it Leyla. Since father is no longer around to charm them, everyone is terribly unhappy. They live in the most bountiful and populous area of Westeros. If they are not happy with that then nothing I can do will satisfy them."

"If you were just to speak to them. It might do something to ease their concerns..." She pleaded softly, eyes widening in unease of her own.

"Did grandmother ask you to lecture me so?"

"Please, brother-"

"Okay fine." He muttered, keen to finish the conversation as he glared into the last dregs of wine clinging to the polished bottom of his goblet. "I will consider it." Leyla simply nodded in reply, moving to leave the tent before Garrett held up a hand embellished by several fine silver rings. "Oh sister...before you go. You should meet with the Lannisters today. I'm sure you won't be able to miss their tent, it's usually garish enough."

"Oh...of course." She answered hesitantly. "Though may I ask why?"

"You are to marry one of them...Loreon? Yes, that's the one. Anyway grandmother insisted that it was my duty to tell you, though it is all rather a bore." He waved a dismissive hand at the thought before standing, traipsing out of the tent and leaving his sister to contemplate this unexpected news. She stood still as a statue and it was all Oak could do to offer her a small smile & a squeeze of her shoulder before following in the shadow of the young lord, almost tripping in his haste to catch up. Overtaking Garrett, he turned so he was facing him, walking backwards whilst keeping the same pace. Anyone else would have sensed the dark waves of displeasure rolling off the oldest Tyrell but Oak was either utterly oblivious or foolishly brave. He tucked his hands into his pockets, opening his mouth a few times before finally speaking. "If I may offer one tiny, miniscule, trifling piece of advice?"

Garrett remained silent, which the bard took as his cue to continue.

"You could have broken the news more gently."

"First of all, it is none of your business.' Garrett muttered. 'Secondly, my sister has never expressed any desire to enter into marriage and she would take the announcement badly no matter how I put it. I was simply creating a clean wound, one which will heal more quickly."

"But..."

"No buts. I am already driven to irritation by the mere thought of political alliances and now I desire to drink myself into a comfortable stupor. So, you can either join me in silence or find someone else to annoy." He raised an eyebrow nonchalantly, walking ahead without waiting for an answer. Oak pouted and folded his arms against his chest but did not leave his lords side, the pair strolling towards the hustle and bustle that was flowing as if a torrent of water (or wine) from the Redwynes pavillion.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Psyker Landshark
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At the Redwyne Pavilion...


As evening fell life truly found its way to the Pavillion. Locals and Nobles passed by one another, or were standing shoulder to shoulder ordering drinks and food from the different stalls.
Outside the tents jugglers and fire eaters were performing their craft and the Redwynes had ordered several smaller bracers to be lit so the paths would be properly lighted.
Wine and Beer flowed richly, whilst a bard strummed his lute as he entertained the smallfolk farther away.
Lady Honora was accompanied by Lord Domenic and his wife the Lady Cyra, awaiting the arrival of the Tarly’s as courtesy having send out the dinner invitation.
It would be the first time they would meet and they needed to make a good impression.
Lady Cyra had motheringly managed to get the Twins to dress a little more modestly, instead of the tight laced corsets and shimmering silks that barely concealed anything. Domenic and Arnaud were dressed in their usual leathers, but had donned their shorter cloaks and clasps in effort to be a little bit more formal. To Honora’s great relief had Arystide been nothing but pliable, he had donned a silk shirt in their house colours and a brown leather overcoat. Odette had been hidden away. As surprise for the young lord and to hopefully impress the man.
Nadiya had put her in the best jewels they brought and Lady Cyra had been making the final alterations to the dress this very afternoon. Hopefully it would all work in their favour.

The Tarly contingent had arrived with several bannermen in tow, all present to display a show of the house's might and for said knights to compete in the lists. Lord Talbert had prioritized having their entourage set up and encamped before any other undertakings, and by the time everything had been set in place, dusk had arrived.

As they approached the Redwyne pavilion, Talbert allowed himself only a minute scowl at the sheer extravagance of it all before his face set into a stoic mien, as unchanging as stone. Behind him, however, his two children didn't fail to notice.

"The way Father's acting, you'd think it was him that was marching off to an unwanted marriage." Samwyle murmured aside to his sister, who scoffed.

"Oh, I'm fairly certain you'll change your tune with one look at the girl if she's pretty enough." Mina said dismissively. "Frankly, watching you flail around trying to woo her is payment enough for the price of Father parading me around the lords."

"Quiet." Talbert said once as they approached the pavilion at last, where the Redwynes seemed to be awaiting them. "Our hosts await. Come."

The Tarlys approached, with both Talbert and Samwyle clad in sturdy leathers and tabards bearing House Tarly's heraldry, while Mina wore a crimson dress.

"House Redwyne." Talbert stepped forward with a brief, but courtly bow as they finally came into range. "House Tarly thanks you for your hospitality on this day. May I introduce my son and heir, Samwyle, and my only daughter, Mina."

Both Sam and Mina approached, smiles on their faces. Samwyle's was a good deal warmer at the very least, with Mina's body language being more cordial than anything. Despite himself, Samwyle couldn't help but make a brief scan of the Redwynes with his eyes, trying to match their appearances and ages up with what descriptions of his betrothed he'd been given.

*you can add in between wherever you feel like

Lord Domenic nodded curtly, knowing lord Talbert's usual demeanor and allowed Honora to perform the proper courtesies.
Honora smiled warmly,her soft voice rang clear and managed to make itself heard despite the busy atmosphere.
"My Lords Tarly, Lady Mina you are most welcome. Most welcome indeed to our Pavillion. I am the Lady Honora Redwyne, eldest daughter to Gorlois Redwyne, it is so good to finally have a face to put to the writing." Honora spoke before explaining thing to lord Talbert.
"I wrote father's letters for him and was asked to receive you in his stead. Father alas was not fit enough to travel, but please do not take it as a discourtesy towards your mighty selfs. He pressed upon me the urge to seal this betrothal properly and let you be our most honoured guests. Therefore thy delegation need not lift a purse during this Tournament whilst they spend their time here." She courtsied bending fluidly and elegantly before offering introductions.

"Of course." Talbert nodded curtly at Honora, his expression not revealing his opinion on Honora taking her father's place in the negotiations at all. "And how is your lord father's health?"
"Father was suffering from gout Lord Tarly and had been looking forward to conversing with you, but Maester Tyburn convinced him to remain behind, much to his own displeasure as he would have preferred to 'give' our Odette away himself." She answered.

"Good Lords, Sweet Lady, allow me to introduce you to the rest of the family before we shall seat ourselves at the dinner table. If you permit me...my Lord Tarly," Honora said as she placed her arm upon Lord Tarly's allowing him to support her.
It all was show and partly good manners, but it would also allow her to be in physically on the outside, placing the Tarly's in between. There was a smooth and natural warmly kindness radiating off of her that it would be hard for a man to keep grumbling or remain unpleasant.
Honora had dealt with those kind of men far more often than she would like, yet such was the case when dealing with matters of diplomacy.
"These are our Uncle and Aunt, Lord Domenic Redwyne, my father's younger brother and the Lady Cyra Peake, sister to our late mother. Should you have any further grievances or need for pleasure...please turn to them, they will attempt to accomodate you in whatever way we can." She spoke allowing Lord Domenic to add to it, having met Lord Talbert before, though explaining he had been a great deal younger then before asking how his wife and second son were.
After which Honora went passed almost her entire family, so all the Tarly's would at least have a name to their faces, for the moment.
Arnaud bowed cordially and in competitive fashion stated he was eager to see the both of them compete, as he was curious to see the fabled strength and swordskill of the Tarly's, offering a conversation topic for Samwyle to fall back on.
Arystide stayed on his best behaviour as did the twins Serenei and Rowanne, though they couldn't hide the playful smirks and mischievous glints in their eyes, as a giggle escaped their lips it was perhaps all Honora could hope for as she quickly continued.
At the end all were introduced save for one.
The potential bride to be.
"Come, we shall head to the Feasting Tent, where you shall meet our dearest sister." Honora promised as she leaned upon Lord Talbert's arm and guided them, whilst the rest of the family did the same in proper procession. Armand less tall and intimidating as his brothers offered the Lady Mina his arm, whilst Samwyle was flanked by the two elder brothers asking pleasantly about the Tarly's home, the hunting grounds and the lands surrounding them.

Samwyle responded animatedly, speaking at length about the hunting available in the woods surrounding Horn Hill and asking the same of the Arbor in return. Meanwhile, Mina seemed to barely regard Armand.

As they arrived at the Feasting Tent it showed the Tarly's that the Redwynes family table was separated from the rest of the hall and slightly raised so they would be able to overview the entire tent. In between them was a smaller stage usually reserved for a speaker or performer and at the other end of the Tent was a large stage for larger groups of musicians or performers.
The Table itself was large and fitted to seat everyone save the soldiers of the Tarly's entourage, but they would have a table closeby near theirs and the bar, also decked out and prepared with a lavish spread of food and drink.

Honora smiled at the sight of the lone figure standing in front of their table. Like a final mystery for the Tarly's to discover. It was ofcourse the figure of their youngest sister who stood there. Her face was hidden away in the deep hood and rich dark blue of her cloak, which was fastened with an eleborate clasp in the form of their House's sigil. As Honora approached her she smiled to lord Talbert and Samwyle.
"My Lords and finally...allow me to present you my sister, Odette, our Arbor's Flowerqueen and who's birthday we will be celebrating in a couple of hours hence." She mentioned as Odette courtsied first, more deeply before unveiling herself by pulling her hood back.
The young lady that stood before them was a proper mixture of the brothers and sisters fairest attributes, whether it was the fairness of skin, the length of her lashes, the elegant curve of her face and nose, the lushness of her long cascading red hair, the light brightness of her blue eyes or the perfect rose petals that formed her lips all could not deny that Gorlois had spoken true when he claimed her to be 'his most precious of jewels'.
Her delicate rose gold necklace of grapevine leaves and chain tiara twinkled and glittered every time it caught the light of the lit candles. Her dress made of soft shimmering pale blue silk and lavender satin were set with Rose golden claps with beads of amethyst 'grapes' and was only giving a hint of reveal without being too promiscuous about it.

Her voice was gentle and one could hear the clearness that lay within it.
"My Lords, My Lady...It is an honour to make your acquaintance." She spoke the carefully rehearsed words, though there was a slight tremble and a quick glance at Honora to check for approval, whose smile made her rest a little easier, though she still was somewhat terrified of the gruff man in front of her, before glancing carefully at her supposed 'betrothed'.

Samwyle took in his betrothed with the expression of someone who expected the worst receiving something far better instead. After a moment in which he followed her stare towards his father, he gave her a hopefully reassuring smile.

"My lady Odette." He proffered a hand for her to take. "I am Samwyle. The honor is mine. I hope to prove myself worthy of your hand and of your family's alliance."

For his part, Talbert regarded the young girl with little more than a nod of his head at her gaze. At Armand's side, Mina gazed at Odette with a critical eye, as if judging her every move to see if she was a worthy match for her brother.

As Odette tenderly took his Honora suggested they'd be seated so dinner could start.
As drinks were poured and fresh food was brought in and set down before them Odette stood up from her seat again, slightly more nervous and gestured to one of the servants that had remained standing off to the side.
"As...in a few hours I will celebrate my nameday I had thought of offering our honoured guests some gifts of mine own." She uttered as parcels were put before the lord Tarly and Lady Mina. A proper bottle of granate red port for him and a package containing some of the finer silk fabrics for the Lady Mina.
For Samwyle however there was a smaller package.
"I do hope it will fit..." She uttered slightly unsure as when the package was unfolded a handsome green open sleeved vest came out, but holding a fair decoration of an embroidered archer.
"It is my gift to you Lord Samwyle." She offered with a slight blush before she hastily sat down again.

"You have my thanks." Talbert nodded to Odette before gesturing for one of his own men to take the present away while another set different parcels in front of Odette and Honora. "We would be remiss to have not brought gifts of our own for your nameday, of course."

He gestured towards Honora's. "This was meant to have been given to Lord Gorlois, but in his absence, I hope you can convey our well-wishes back to the Arbor for him." Within the package was a luxurious ermine cloak, with House Redwyne's heraldry stitched onto it. Similarly to Mina's, Odette's contained a selection of fine furs befitting a noblewoman.
Honora smiled knowingly.
"Undoubtedly my Father would praise you for the effort acquiring such a luxurious gift, true to thy sigil, it is a statement of perseverance and discipline. You astonish us Lord Tarly, with your generosity." Honora praised.

Speaking of, Mina regarded her present with some appreciation, nodding and smiling politely. With that done, however, she returned to watching Odette, as if to gauge her reaction.

Samwyle looked at his present with a grin of genuine delight, his fingers tracing over the embroidered archer for a moment. "It is very well-made. I'd change into it right now, but I fear it'd be rather untoward to strip down in front of this much company." He joked, trying to set her at ease.

Odette tenderly touched the furs lifting one and brushing it against her cheek in appreciation of its softness.
At Samwyle's words however she blushed stating with a slight tremble.
"I am glad it pleases you Lord Samwyle, I was quite pleased with making it, it forced me to do some research into threading it in such a way that it would create a leveling effect." She explained ignoring the stripping comment she did not dare to imagine anything further.
"Did you hunt down the animals for the furs yourself? I was told your family were outstanding hunters." She asked growing a bit bolder.

Armand meanwhile attempted to strike up a conversation with the lady Mina.
"Is it your first tournament Lady Mina? I cannot recall whether I saw you at Balon Swan's tourney last fall." He asked politely, before adding.
"You seem somewhat concerned for you brother. Trust me, Odette is the least terrifying of all my sisters." He added jokingly.

"Just Samwyle, if it pleases you. I'll not be a lord in truth for many more years, hopefully." He chuckled. "And indeed. Both Father and I hunted the pelts ourselves once word of the arrangement reached us." Samwyle leaned in slightly, whispering the next words so as not to offend the subject in question. "He didn't quite trust the castle huntsman to do the job properly, I'm afraid. Thought it was important enough to oversee everything himself."

"Indeed, it is." Mina replied to Armand. "Father believed myself to still be too young those few years ago. As for those two," She flicked her eyes back over to Samwyle and Odette for a moment. "Perhaps she is. Still, I would have liked to see him struggle with someone more...difficult." Mina took a sip of wine at that. "You've several younger sisters yourself, so I'm quite certain you understand how much we like to see elder siblings embarassed."

"Your lord father honours me with his care and consideration and you as well...Samwyle."She tried the name out carefully before taking a sip of her drink.
"I know you must have felt your reservations about someone like myself, to be attached to your person, but I hope I have not disappointed you too much in that regard." She asked. "Would you care to tell me more about your preferences...if I am to be your ladywife I would like to do a decent job and not vex my lord husband." She asked.

"To be frank, my lady, I knew very little of you before I came. I still do, in fact." He chuckled slightly at that before continuing on. "Well, I enjoy hunting and riding, mostly. Between that and arms training, I spend more of my days outdoors than in, although I've begun aiding Father more in administrating Horn Hill as time goes on. Are you an avid rider at all, Lady Odette? Or have any interest in hunting? I know that outside of my family, women aren't wont to take part in the hunt much, but do you engage in falconry?"

Odette was growing slightly more comfortable around him listening to him as she got a better look of him and he explained his own interests.
"Oh, I am not much of a rider, barely average, but not as bad as Nene. But I have my own peregrine falcon called Kieran, he's an excellent flyer and incredibly fast." She explained. "I sometimes get to go with our elder brothers to go hawking, mostly rabbits though." She said turning to him. "Other than that I of course have my needlework and enjoy painting, but I am often found with my brother Armand as he accompanies me in my singing." She spoke more confidently now, knowing her strengths in that regard.
"Should you wish it I could sing for you later." She offered. "As I wasn't sure what would please you best, I mainly studied upon a couple of ballads."

"I should be pleased to hawk with you some time, then." Samwyle nodded and took an appreciative sip of Arbor Red. "I've a goshawk, myself. Though he's an ornery old bird at this point. As for song, well, we've not much of that at home in Horn Hill." His gaze flicked in his father's direction for but a moment as explanation. "Any music would be appreciated, truly."
"All right..." she nodded before turning her head to Honora with a nod.

"Father cares little for bards, singers, or fools. Horn Hill only has song when we host the company of other lords." Mina murmured aside to Armand in explanation. "Though I'd surmise that wouldn't come as a surprise at this point."
Armand who had been paying attention as well smiled wryly, feeling a poor situation come up.
"Well then this will be rather unfortunate..." He stated as he picked up the lute from the side of the table, having put it there earlier in the evening.
Odette stood again, this time Honora and Nadiya raised as well, smiling encouragingly at their baby sister as she waited for Armand to play.
Armand's fingers easily strummed a gentle tune, bringing in the melody of a familliar ballad before Odette gently started the melancholy tune, her voice slowly raising in volume and power as her sisters accompanied her by adding their voices as backup.
Whilst Lord Domenic and the others looked on with pleasure, Armand kept his eyes fixed upon Lord Talbert's expression, hoping the man wouldn't burst out in frustration.

As the song began, Talbert's only visible response was just the narrowest thinning of his lips, followed by a long sip of wine. Regardless, he simply waited patiently for the song to end while Samwyle and Mina listened attentively.

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by SunsetWanderer
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Lord Tytos Lannister || Lady Celena Lannister





Tytos had moved from his central tent to one of the smaller extensions, the curtains drawn open and tied in place. The interior of this extension was more intimate. There was a table of nightwood, decorated with floral carvings and dark as the midnight sky. Three leatherbound chairs of similarly dark wood sat beside it - two on one side, the third opposite and facing the entrance. Two lit braziers flanked the third chair, their low flames creating a soft glow. Heavy rugs of crimson were laid across the floor, depicting lions and floral arrangements. Where his central tent was intended for receiving groups, this was clearly a section for more private, delicate discussion.

Within, Tytos stood behind the lone chair, tightly gripping it, between both braziers. His slim form was illuminated by the light, and he had not changed from the earlier clothing. A simple jacket of black leather, crimson neck scarf beneath, and the golden brooch of a roaring lion on the left of his chest. The aging grays and silvers of his golden hair were more accentuated, perhaps, by the light on either side.

“You are sure of it?”, he asked to the more finely clad of the two, standing opposite - his trusted adviser, Raynald.

“This source has yet to lead me astray.”, Raynald answered confidently. He had spent decades cultivating a network of informants and trusted contacts within the Westerlands, since before even he had found himself in the court of the Rock. It was, in part, how he had secured this position as Tytos’ most able and trusted servant. And he was, for the most part, a servant. He held no great ambitions to rule - but this would not mean he did not enjoy the privileges of his post. He did. The fine clothes he wore were but one such example. The women waiting in his tent, another.

Tytos huffed in consideration, lifting his grip from the chair and straightening his posture. his hands now folded behind his back. “Then I will visit with their new lord.”

“Tarbeck Hall is but a shadow of itself.”, Raynald offered. “They will not be difficult to persuade from this course. Josmyn is a second son who stands to inherit nothing, and this is a desperate attempt for attention. He is clinging to any crumb of influence he can find.”, he paused to allow for a quiet sigh. “Like most friends of Blackfyre.”

Before the conversation could continue, Ser Benedict Vikary entered the tent and made his way to the pair, bowing his head toward Tytos quickly. “Forgive the intrusion, my lord, but we’ve found her. She’s outside.”

This grabbed Tytos’ attention. “Leave us, and send her in.” Vikary gave a curt nod at this, turning to enact the order while Raynald remained in place, but not for long. Silently understanding the glare shot his way, he followed after Vikary to leave Tytos alone, awaiting the Lioness.

The walk was long, the gray doeskin slippers were newly made by an artisan and held up much more beautifully than she did. The two armored men were full on sweating by the time they arrived at the Lannister camp, while three months traveling Westeros had left her in far better shape than she was in when she left Braavos. Thankfully, she escaped the walk across almost the entire width of the small valley, or near enough, with barely an issue save for the thin gloss of shine from sweat on her neck and chest.

When she arrived at the camp it seemed like nearly immediately Lady Lorelai had appeared at her side, casually dismissing the two men-at-arms who had gone to some lengths to retreat Celena, before leaning in so the two of them could exchange rapid whispered words. It was Lady Lorelai who saw Celena to the Lannister main tent, where they met Ser Benedict and the two women said their goodbyes for now.

Celena never was good at stopping the little voice in the back of her head that always whispered in her ear, ”Careful. Danger.” Her eyes sank in details with a single glance around as she was escorted to an off-shoot section of the main tent, thoughts lingering to what exactly the meeting might be about.

One of the Bannerman of the Rock that were in debt to the Iron Bank, using the bank as an alternative to loans from their Lord and Warden. She thought perhaps, but it didn’t explain sending men to find her and bring her, as if she were little more than a servant girl caught stealing.

Some part of Celena bristled at the disrespect shown, but it was a part of her that was deeply hidden away. Her green eyes all but actually glowed as she thanked Ser Benedict and gave a happy quick hello to Lord Garner as he left, and she was motioned to enter. She was well aware of Garner, but he seemed less aware of her and her people.

That was the way she preferred it.

Her smile was big, her demeanor friendly and warm and sweet as she bowed her head gently to the man on the other end of the table she suddenly found herself standing at. “Lord Tytos, it’s so good to finally meet you, I’ve heard the Warden of the West was a capable and intelligent man,” her lips pressed as her smile thinned and twisted at the corners of her mouth into a little grin, her voice lowering as if she were letting Tytos in on a secret, “you know, they don’t say that about every Great Lord of Westeros.”

It was true, too. There were concerns about the North, even concerns about the Reach with so many influential Houses so seemingly fractured. Was it just the cycle of things? Was it the Blackfyres? Her voice had a depth of tone that could give the sound of her a husky, exposed quality at times. Giving the impression there was always something more; to her, to what she had to say, secrets buried atop secrets, some hers and some belonging to the world around.

It was with that sound that her golden head tilted just to the side, the silk gown tight with the long walk before to her still cooling skin just below, her eyes focusing on the Lord before her in a way that was more focused than before. Like she was searching…and then a few moments later, she retreated to a gentle, warm, smile. She thought she might have it now.

“…you’re curious where I’ve been? What happened to me after that early morning murder of my parents?”

Pale green eyes studied her form silently as she spoke. She was gorgeous, and held the look of a perfect Lannister, there was no denying. His eyes locked with hers for but a moment as she searched his expression - and he, hers. Two lions, each getting the measure of the other. Lesser men may have easily succumbed to her natural charm, and beauty. They may have followed meagrely as she sought the initiative of their conversation, putting a question to Tytos.

He wasn’t willing to grant her that control of their dance. Not yet. A hand was brought from behind his back to gesture at one of the chairs beside her, his other hand moving to a golden jug on the table. It was water he poured into two goblets, not wine. “I remember your parents well.”, he began. Her earlier compliment was heard, but not acknowledged. “We supp’d together, when you were but yea high.” A flat palm was held beside his waist to illustrate her height, before he moved to sit in the chair opposite her.

“What befell them was unconscionable. But I cannot help but wonder… what is it you remember of them - your mother and father?”, he asked in a not-so subtle test of her identity.

"Everything. I remember you. I remember the Rock. The Bank of Lannisport. The brass studded leather chairs in the big office on the second floor of the bank in that dark crimson color. I was a baby when I learned what power felt like…it felt like sitting in those chairs. One for my father. One for you. One for the old man with the crown of white hair and the big belly that ran the Bank…a Lannett, as I recall."

His remark about a murder he didn't understand was heard but not acknowledged, as she slipped into the seat as she smoothed the dress and her straight blonde hair that looked as shiny soft as the silk gown, tucking it behind her right shoulder with her right hand, delicately, settling into the chair to the great relief of her feet.

"I can show you to South Shore and the path among the rocks between our centuries old fortified manse of a home and the secret beach below. More importantly," she said, her smile again the kind of shine that was usually reserved for steel, "you are the second to this line of questioning, my Lord. My cousins were the first four years ago when I first returned home. I wanted to see that manse. I wanted to walk those streets. I wanted to feel that chair, even if just one more time…and I wanted to offer help to them if they needed it. I never expected to return. My fellow Keyholders of the Iron Bank thought I could represent their interests in Westeros better than anyone else; so at their gracious invitation I arrived three months ago. The only part of Westeros I haven't been to since my arrival is…the Westerlands."

Tytos reached for the goblet of water closest to him, taking a drink as she recounted the memories and, surprisingly for him, the fact that she had been to Westeros before. At Lannisport even, four winters past. So close to the Rock, and yet he had heard nothing. His thoughts raced to find conclusions that were still out of his reach - but he wagered the silence of her past visit meant that it was kept secret and that she, at the very least, was no stranger to travelling unseen. But to what purpose, why keep her return secret till now? Frustratingly, he didn’t know.

Her present reason for being in Westeros made sense enough, but then again, perhaps that was the point?

“Then Lady Celena”, an acceptance of her identity, “I am glad to see you again. It had always felt, to me, that we failed Jasen and Kyra by not finding you - and the fact that their murderers have also gone unpunished…”, he trailed off to let that point linger. In the aftermath of that morning, the red cloaks had hanged common criminals they proclaimed “guilty men”, but it did not take much insight to know that they were not responsible.

His posture straightened in the chair, “You were right, though. I am curious - curious of what happened to you, and your insight of what happened to them both… unless you have never wondered?”

Her face illuminated with the joy of knowing a secret he did not as he spoke of her parents murder, and their murderers, her pink lips spreading wide and bright in a smile so earnest she couldn’t seem to contain it, her honeyed tone taking on that slight hint of husk and mystery that was nearly lost in the glow of the woman, “Their murderers didn’t go unpunished.”
They just couldn’t tell me anything useful.

Sudden and surprising as a crack of thunder over a barely cloudy sky, her face changed: gone was the radiant smile, stolen was any semblance of satisfaction or joy. The light had gone out, as her green eyes hardened before his very eyes, her tone was that of a woman…there was no more or no less. As close to maintaining the connective tissue of reality of what happened without leaving enough to make her feel.

“The two men leading the wheelhouse stopped the horses, got off, opened the door, and then burst in with daggers, stabbing. My father tried to use his body to shield us, but he was so bloody, his face so white he was effortlessly snatched from the wheelhouse by one of them, the other ripping my mother from me, one hand using her hair to wretch her, the other stabbing his dagger into her side to force her compliance. One of them started towards me, the other grabbed him and told him no. The first said it wasn’t the plan, the other said it was worth the change of plan in their weight in gold to the slavers.”

Celena’s green eyes briefly moved to the goblet near her, found water as well, and simply returned her eyes to the Lord across from her. A pity. “I was taken to a ship waiting at the Lannisport docks. A merchant from Myr,” a ghost of her earlier smile came to haunt her golden and green features, fainter still. “But few Myrish captains would refuse the kind of reward such a slave could represent to the right buyer. And in Myr, there’s always someone who knows the right buyer. The right buyer was…strict, demanding, extreme in his views and thinking. Some brilliance to the madness, no doubt, but I’m not sure what became of him.”

The lie used to come so easy. Now? She found herself risking water, as she reached for the nearby goblet and took the kind of sip that came with a dry throat. The goblet was set down exactly where it had been before without so much as a half-moment’s glance, “I was freed by pirates. Their captain wouldn’t see me harmed further than I wished, as he put it…so I ended up on a pirate vessel for years. That captain died during a long voyage to the East. We returned to Braavos to complete the contract for the Iron Bank. I…had an interesting time. The wealth created from that voyage, treasures found and returned, allowed me to return to my roots of Lannister gold lending. Various investments…various adventures and mis-adventures,” she said, playfully shrugging, that glow slowly returning as if color was slowly returning to the woman before his very eyes.

Tytos studied her every expression as she wove the tale, subconsciously stroking at the greying beard on his chin, something he was wont to do when focusing. Her account of the morning was brutal, and a small part of him regretted that he asked her to recount it. The rest was interesting, remarkable even, and for the most part he was inclined to believe it. But there was one thing that stuck at the front of his mind while she spoke, something he asked as soon as she had finished. “Didn’t go unpunished?”

“More than nostalgia brought me back to Lannisport years ago,” she allowed in answer to this question. “There are still questions. My cousin, Lady Lorelei, would like to speak to me regarding the matter and potential new information. For years I wasn’t sure who was behind it. I’m still not, the conspiracy seems hidden deep in the shadowy corners of the city, but I’ve come to eliminate the Lannisters of Casterly Rock from suspicion. Your family is insulated by the Rock and your greater power across the West. I believe those responsible focused on Lannisport, itself, and immediately adjacent lands.”

He reached again for the goblet of water nearest him, taking a contented drink. That explained the secrecy of her past return, something that had been clawing at the back of his mind since she revealed it. He set the goblet down with a soft exhale, considering the idea of a conspiracy. “It was something that had crossed my mind, years ago. A conspiracy of foes to Jasen, united by some cause. I appointed a…”, his words trailed off as he paused to recall. “Ser Darian… I think, to pursue an investigation even after the red cloaks had hanged their guilty men.” He sucked at his teeth in frustration, “Nothing came from it, and that was the end of it. You think you can find these answers, where I could not?” It wasn’t a challenge or doubt, but more an invitation. If such a group existed, then the Shield of Lannisport would be glad to hear of their end.

Celena settled into her warm expression with a gentle sigh, and tired eyes, "I think I'm going to talk with my cousin and meet some Westerland Lords regarding Bank business, and then Gods willing I get a boat and go home." After a pause, a dark brown perked, "Should more happen, I assure you I will let you know it."

“Good”, he remarked plainly. “… and, now you mention the Bank, there is one more thing.” Pale green eyes looked to her, his expression falling steely and tone cold.

“Under the misrule of our late King Aegon, the crown accrued a significant debt to my house. A debt he did not intend to repay. Now, I can only imagine that if the King turned to me, he also turned to the Iron Bank.”, he then raised a palm, “But I know you are not wont to discuss the details of that with me… However, since our new King - Gods be thanked - has ascended the throne, the crown has been faithful in repaying these debts. Again, a situation that I might wager is replicated with your Bank.”

He brought his arms forward now, to rest on the table they shared, his hands clasped together. “It stands to reason that the Iron Bank would not finance anything that could… upset the present circumstance, does it not?” His reference to the Blackfyres, and any possible supporters, was plain. House Lannister had spent decades investing in the Westerlands after the raids of the Red Kraken, and in this process, had found many vassal houses owing them debt from their generous loans. Tytos liked this. It was good to have his vassals reliant on his house. Oaths were too easily broken. That some of his vassals had Bank business he was not aware of, was already of mild concern.

“Stability is good for business, conflict provides opportunity,” She nearly shrugged again, instead choosing to take another sip. Not an answer he was looking for, but Celena respected the majority of her fellow Keyholders, and the rest mostly scared her. “Given how ledgers balanced after the Dance of Dragons, it may surprise you just how neutral the impact was for the accounts at that time. The storm gathering certainly hasn’t the scale of that one, at least in my opinion, though any prolonged period of uncertainty will inevitably see mitigation of risk by wise investors.”

She could see his pale green eyes narrow in either a losing of focus or interest, pivoting to a more direct approach to ease him, rather than the more Essos-based careful and roundabout way of addressing such a high-capacity concern, “Just so, the Targaryen dynasty, outside the recent Aegon, has generally acted in good faith with the Bank. Slavery is punished by death and seen as the abomination it is, open trade is encouraged. These are ideal conditions for the Bank, making major investments in potentially disturbing this unlikely, to say nothing of discussions I had at the Red Keep before journeying to this tournament to see Lady Lorelei.”

His thin lips curled into a faint, forced smile. The storm gathering. He knew well what the mitigation of risk meant. The Iron Bank will have it’s due, after all. “All storms pass, and this will be no exception.”


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Loreon Lannister | | Nyla Martell




Having unburdened himself from the last of his armor plate, standing it on the armor rack in his tent, Loreon rolled his shoulders. There were few sensations better than when finally removing armor after a long ride. Now he wore only a simple black gambeson, with well-fitted trousers and leather boots of a similar black. He had always felt it was his colour, despite the Lannister red and gold. Indeed, the only thing he wore of colour was the crimson belt around his waist, with the buckle in the unique form of a golden lion’s head - and, of course, his blade which hung, sheathed at his hip. The gilded hilt contrasted against the black - just how he liked it. Vanity? Perhaps.

Turning to leave his tent of crimson fabric, he was yet to encounter any of his family, despite arriving at the tents of House Lannister. He had left his hedge knight companions behind, for they had insisted their first stop be the famed Redwyne pavilion, determined to put every wine and spirit and to the test. He would join them, soon enough. But not before he’d met with his family. As fate would have it, he was intercepted the moment he stepped foot out of his tent.

“Brother!”, a loud voice called over. It was the heir to the Rock, and his elder brother, Lyman Lannister. If one was to ask any for their image of a Lannister - it was likely an image of Lyman that came to mind. Golden, fair and wavy hair that fell down his face. Eyes of perfect green, and a beard grown evenly and well-groomed - something Loreon had never been able to achieve. Lyman was, as always, at the head of a large group. He was charismatic, popular. A natural leader, they said. None could truly blame Loreon if he felt jealousy - but, he never had. In truth, he was glad to be free from the prison of Casterly Rock. Beaming a wide, genuine smile, he called back. “Ly!”

The two brothers embraced when the distance between them was closed, the group accompanying Lyman offering a variety of idle greetings with feigned eagerness. Loreon was unknown to the Westerlands and, usually, disliked by the few who did.

“Hells, Loreon. How long’s it been? Two winters, almost three? Too long, brother.”, Lyman clasped his hands firmly on Loreon’s shoulders. “Let me get a look at you.”, and a grin then curled on his lips. “No great scars from your many combats?”

“They’ve tried.”

Lyman laughed at that, lifting his hands from Loreon, and the pair spoke for a short while longer, swapping stories and congratulations for various feats, ‘til Lyman decided to make his leave. His smile faded, and voice lowered.

“Much has changed since I saw you last. Father has- ”, he paused to consider his words. “He’ll tell you himself at supper, this eve. His tent.”

And with that Lyman left, as he always did - even when they were small children. Their father had been successful in drilling a sense of duty into one of his sons, at least. Loreon made for the tent of his father, only to be turned away by the guards at post. Business inside, they said. He insisted he was not to be disturbed by any. What could possibly be more important than meeting with his own son? Loreon did not care to press the matter. Instead, he began to make for the Redwyne Pavilion, and his friends already there. If nothing else, he would enjoy a drink.

Weaving through the ongoing chaos of carts and busywork, the morning sun began to fall to midday, and suddenly he caught sight of a familiar form. Could it be? Was it? He focused his attention, pushing through moving crowds to catch a better glimpse. It was.

“Princess..?”, he raised his voice soonafter to call above the noise of a crowd, “... princess!”

At his words, a young girl abruptly stopped in her tracks, forcing several stewards and servants to veer out of her path, a flash of colours and movement parting around her. Oblivious to the chaos she was causing, the princess turned, beginning to deftly slip through the crowd as she searched for the voice that had called out to her. Her dress of light blush silk had once been heavy with layers, fit for sitting and gossiping loquaciously but not for any sort of easy movement. Nyla had quickly seen to this error however and now the garment effortlessly flowed with her every step.

The throng of people was dense here and Nyla nearly crashed into Loreon as she finally spotted the recognisable shock of blonde hair, her limbs too caught up in the thrill of the moment. The face of the young martell lit up at the familiar sight before her, a hand resting against his chest, having been the only obstacle preventing her from toppling the pair of them onto the dirt path. "Ser Loreon!" She smiled as she lifted her hand away, no hint of unease in her standing, the words both fond and teasing as they slipped from her lips. "What luck you are here! I was just wishing for some excitement. Perhaps the seven listened to my plea, or perhaps you have just missed me terribly?"

Walking around him like a small pup unable to contain its excitement, Nyla only stopped when a passing merchant grunted irately at her, his cart tilting precariously under the weight of several bushels of ripe cherry red apples and sweet pears. Though she lived at court and was in many ways linked to the royalty themselves, many did not know of her and often presumed she was from a lowly house. But Nyla enjoyed this thoroughly. There could be nothing more fun after all than being mistaken for something one was not.

Clasping her hands behind her back, she looked up at him, chewing gently at the soft skin of her lower lip, a behaviour that many servants had tried & failed to drill out of her. It was terribly uncouth afterall. "Are you here to partake in the tourney?"

The corners of his lips curled upwards into a grin, meeting her eyes with his own and following her gaze as she circled him. Finally planting her feet in one spot after almost toppling an overburdened cart, the grin on his lips grew wider. “I am.” His tone low and playful, he took a small step toward her. “I’m here to compete… in the joust, and the melee...” He continued to slowly close the gap between them as he spoke, till there was but a perilously thin wall of air between them. Leaning forward and to her side, his words became little more than a whisper to her ear. “… and, perhaps, to see you.”

He pulled back suddenly, the distance between them again respectable. The pair had always had a teasing relationship, but that had been brave even for Loreon. If there was any self-doubt, it didn’t show. “It’s good to see you again, Princess.” His words had become more formal, but in a way the two could recognise as teasing. They had always enjoyed the spectacle of keeping up appearances. “Pray tell you’ve been keeping out of trouble?”

His arms fell from his chest, one hand idly resting on the hilt of his blade while the other rested at his waist, inviting her to walk alongside. “… and speaking of trouble, I did hear the Redwynes have built quite the pavillion. I thought we might pay a visit.”

Nyla had to fight against the blush that dared to flare upon her cheeks as he closed the gap between them. She may enjoy to tease and taunt but in reality the girl was thoroughly inexperienced, particularly for one of House Martell. It bore from over a decade living at Kings Landing, where appearances had to be kept up, despite her attempts otherwise. Loreon had always been a refreshing change against the bore that was daily court.

"Well perhaps I will also be kind enough to give you my favour." Nyla grinned, matching his stride, her eyes twinkling mischievously at the mention of trouble. The pair walked precariously close, occasionally bumping gently against one another. She nodded eagerly when he mentioned the tent.

"Oh yes please! I tried to go there earlier but they told me a lady should not sit alone with so many men. How ridiculous!" She raised her hands in exasperation as she spoke, "I personally think I could drink at least half of them under the table."

An amused huff escaped him as she mentioned her favour. “I’m not above buying your favour with wine, Nyla.” The young pair continued to meander their way to the pavilion, but neither seemed in a rush. He couldn’t resist stealing more than one glance to her as they walked, and occasionally they caught their eyes together.

He scoffed at the suggestion she could drink half of them under the table. “Please, if I know you, you can drink far more than half under the table, and that includes me.” They’d once spent part of an evening away from the prying eyes of servants and maids, drinking whatever vintage they could find. At least, Loreon was told they had done this. He had no memory of it, such was Nyla’s ability to both outpace and outdrink him.

“Besides, you won’t be sitting alone, now. You’ll have me.” This only doubled their chance of falling into trouble. “… but tell me, how is the capital? Is court as exciting as it’s always been?”, he looked to her more obviously now, the grin tugging at his lips. “The suitors must be lining up.”

Nylas face fell at his mention of suitors. "I do not wish to marry some man who cares not about me." She frowned, brushing a piece of stray hair from her face as they neared the pavillion. "It does not seem like a good life..." As much as she grew tired of Kings Landing, she knew her days would be much more tedious if she had to live with some boring old lord. And she could not help feeling perturbed by the ease with which Loreon asked her of such things. He clearly must not see her as anything but an acquaintance, someone fun to drink with but little else.

"But anyway, we should not dwell on such miserable thoughts!" Nyla shook her head decidedly as she grabbed ahold of his forearm, pulling him along to join the rabble of people entering the pavilion. "I think we should get our first drink! I do so wish to see you slumbering under a table...it is not often that one gets to witness a sleeping lion afterall." She teased, her expression lighting up with excitement as they neared the feasting tent. "And I can tell you all the secrets from court."

His lips pursed into a sympathetic smile as she spoke, listening quietly. The fall in her expression was obvious, though in truth, Loreon shared her outlook. Marriage had always seemed a prison to him, rarely made for love. It was no accident that he was still unwed. Still, as it always did with Nyla, she soon perked up to lead him through the entryway of the pavilion. “Oh, you have secrets to spill? Then you’re right, we must find our first drink.”, the grin returned to his lips. “…and, much as I’m sure you could quickly have me sleeping under the table, let’s not drink too fast.” Loreon leaned closer again to whisper, “I don’t want to miss your company for a moment.” With that, the pair found their way to the nearest counter pouring wine. His friends could wait.

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Wine, Wolves & Words



Someone had bumped into Gwendolyn, thankfully it was a gentle thing and she watched her wine slosh to the rim of her cup but didn't spill over. But the hard body that brushed hers muttered a swear and she flushed slightly as she realized that they, no, he had spilled wine on himself. Turning she watched the man with beautiful red hair take off his vest.

She'd never seen a man disrobe. It was fascinating and it made her breath catch. She could feel the blush that she was sure stained her cheeks. "I'm deeply sorry. I-" Her eyes traveled over him. The flex and pull of his muscles arrested her speech.

"You all right, Milady?" He asked as he came up from his bow. His eyes capturing hers for a moment to assess her response.
"I do beg your pardons, but where indeed are my manners. Milady I am Captain Arystide Redwyne, at your service. If there is anything I can do to make up for my boorish behaviour you need but command me, my ladies…"

Lavender gray eyes tangled with bright blue and a spark of interest liberally laced with innocent desire could be seen before Gwendolyn bit her lip and looked at the wine the man, Arystide, replaced. It was an upgrade from the simple white she had purchased.

Watching the exchange between Arystide and her niece Quinn stepped in to save her some embarrassment. Quinn was more used to half naked men than someone who'd spent most of her life in the North. Though most farmers don't have a sailor's physique. Regardless she wanted to give Gwennie some time to compose herself. "Nothing to apologize about just a little mistake. Thank you for the wine Captain. I am Quinn Carmyne of House Carmyne." She sank into a curtsey then indicated her sister. "Luci Carmyne of House Carmyne." Luci smiled sweetly up at Arystide. "And Gwendolyn Carmyne also of House Carmyne Ward of Winterfell. Whom is quite alright just startled."

Arystide smiled brightly at that. "Ah, I thank you Lady Quin of House Carmyne... It seems I have accidently sailed straight into the Riverlands. Such a delight. Will your House be represented in the Tournament? A Black Swan and a hunting hound if I remember correctly?" He asked smoothly, before ordering his own usual red and taking the ladies in. "I hope at the very least you will enjoy our Pavillion, each Tournament we seek to improve upon it, for both Highborn and smallfolk alike" He spoke, offering them several topics to delve into.

He moved gracefully as always, Armand mentally noted to himself, before he felt the familiar pull around his neck.
Finnegan this time looped him along.

"Come on, you shy little butterfly. You'll never be able to meet a woman if you keep standing here in the shadows" He laughingly stated as he dragged him along. Naturally moving up behind Arystide.

"Ah, there you are...got distracted did you?" Finnegan cut in, releasing Armand just in time before calling out and drawing their attention.

Armand knew he couldn't back up now. "We were wondering what happened to our wine"

Arystide turned to his cousin and younger brother, smiling apologetically.
"I am afraid I dropped it"

"Getting distracted by such lovely ladies it is no wonder" Finnegan accepted graciously before allowing Arystide to introduce them.

"Dear ladies allow me to introduce to you to my cousin Finnegan Redwyne and my younger brother Armand" Both of them bowed, though Armand being the more humble didn't bow as deep as Finnegan and could help roll his eyes upward to the heavens at their shenanigans.

Curtseys were made as introductions were made and Luci spoke up this time. "Actually Captain, it's a silver wolf for our grandmother Lyanna Carmyne, formerly Stark. We are young to our position though the family is very old. But I daresay we rose to the occasion."

Recovering herself Gwendolyn stated. "I could not fathom what else you could add. You even have a stage. Pray do tell, will you gentlemen be singing on it?" She teased all three of them, flirting shamelessly. "I do love a man who can sing."

Arystide instantly gently took the hand of Luci, bringing it up.
"Oh and rise you did, my fair lady" He smiled planting the lightest of kisses upon her knuckles. He held her gaze for a moment longer, before answering Gwendolyn. "But I fear I am but a poor singer, I can offer a backup voice, but the true lark amongst us is our young brother here" He said before he smirked at Armand who felt put on the spot for a moment. "Grab your lute brother, you heard the fair maidens, they wish to hear you sing"

"I...I am not all that great.." He protested. "I am no bard after all"

Arystide scoffed. "Too modest as always"

Finnegan turned to the ladies, saying. "Ladies, if you wish to hear him, you'll have to command him. He's a tad bit shy"

At this a red tint graced Armand's cheeks, rather cornered now. "Only, if they wish" He uttered softly.

Intrest peaked Gwendolyn smiled warmly at Armand. "If you'd like I can sing with you. I'm no bard either. Besides where one sounds good two is better. Only if you like though." Gwendolyn looked at the others. "I'm sorry that was presumptuous of me." She sipped her wine to stop from talking. Apparently the Reach had beautiful men.

"If you like...Lady Gwendolyn. Then I shall fetch my lute, please excuse me" He bowed to the ladies before departing.
"Then we best get you ladies seated. Poor hosts would we be if we left you standing" Arystide said before offering his arm for one of them to hook onto.

Luci and Quinn looked at each other knowingly bumping Gwendolyn so she fell into Arystide. They then linked arms with Finnegan and looked totally innocent.

The slight shove from her Aunts put Gwendolyn off balance and she stumbled into Arystide.

He caught her easily, his reflexes fast and quick as his arms were strong. Pulling her in and holding her close against him, closer than was appropriate, but such was the troubles with accidents. They cared not for propriety.
"Careful, my lady.." He uttered with a voice like warm caramel as he caught her eyes with his.

He fluidly brought her upright before pushing an escaping lock back behind her ear. The movement was gentle, allowing his roughened fingers to brush softly along the shell of her ear, innocently of course. "Shall we?" He asked again, offering his arm for her to take.

Lips parted on an apology that was lost in the sensation that spread through her. It was like when she laid too long on her arm and then got up. The tingles were sharper but not painful but warm and heady. She had been tipsy once and it felt quite like that but more. He pulled her too close and she wanted to be closer and farther away from him.

His voice sent tingles through her. Her eyes were drawn to his mouth. Her half lidded eyes caught his as she thought about how soft his lips were and if he was going to kiss her. Her thoughts in her eyes as he brought her upright.

She blushed prettily and closed her eyes as he tucked her hair behind her ear. Her breath caught, she exhaled in a soft rush that only he would hear. She was still blushing as she took his arm.

Quinn and Luci watched the interaction with small smiles. They remembered their first fancy. The feeling didn't last because usually the match was unsuitable. This match wasn't unsuitable, however he'd not be getting her alone.

Brandon Stark had only just finished dropping off the gifts with one the stewards around the camp to be delivered. Namely noting the disappearance of his ward and niece. Mathias having returned from putting away the horses looked around. "Where is-" He began only for his uncle to raise a hand, grab his direwolf cloak from their things as the Starks men set about setting up the northern encampment here.

"We passed the Redwyne camp. We start there" The two men started to walk a couple of his sworn swords following along, the two thankful their cloaks be used to hide the smiles they wore at their lords expense. More of their Stark men falling till about eight of them entered the Red Wyne tent Mathias going wide eyed at the sight before them as Bran crossed his arms.

He was a big man, tall and broad as many northmen were with black hair... Of course across his back was the massive pelt of the dire wolf he'd slain. He wore it for special occasions and in the cold, the first man to kill one hundreds of years. He'd done with a knife as he stared daggers across the room, not yet speaking that confident Stark sternness that came with expectation of explanation first then he would pass judgement, harsh judgement.

Arystide calmly set the lady back on her feet as he watched the men enter the pavillion. Raising an eyebrow he watched them march up like a small army, with the alpha wolf at the front of the pack."My Lords Stark" He greeted offering common courtesies as a made a slight bow.
"With what can I be of assistance?"

The question was of a lighthearted tone as he reached behind the lady Gwen and took his goblet, taking a proper swig from it."Aaaahh that hit the spot" He put the goblet back before shielding the lady slightly, unsure what the Starks wanted, but willing to play ball.

Brandon took his step forward staring over the man. "My niece and the others are needed back in our camp" He added fairly straight forward, the men behind a bit more apprehensive unlike the shining knights and nobles of the south sworn swords had seen bandits, wildlings, and worse. These men were veteran's who know what true battle was not the things the played of in southward dirt circles as ladies watched and gasped at the prissy little blows the bled more than they hurt.

"And I'd watch your hands from here on. Wolves bite, hard" He added with a certain careful monotone. Mathias next to him cut an even more imposing figure well over six foot with arms like tree trunks and with that massive hunk of steel they called greatswords in the north on his back. He didn't even seem bothered by the heft of it as he looked between his uncle and his cousin. carefully ready to grab for it if needed.

"I am not holding them here against their will Lord Stark. As for your discourtesies I have done little to deserve them, nor the veiled threats, but alas such must be the pack rules I suppose" Arystide cut back turning to Lady Gwen making certain she'd want to leave.

"Lady, be assured the choice is yours, nor will I bear you ill will for their conduct" He took her hand gently and placed another kiss on her knuckles. "Should our parting be for a long while I can but hope you will enjoy the tournament" He offered.

"You are not the ones in trouble. As for discourtesies I don't imagine any happened unless someone wants to tell me something?" He paused then added. "Gryffith is looking forward to facing you in the melee" He moved a hand for Gwen to take and step away. "Come now, your father entrusted you to me. Can't have you wandering off" He gently spoke eyes moving to Gwyn.

"Waltzing in dressed for war, veiled threats, such things are considered discourtesies down south, Lord Stark. As for your son he can look forward to a lot of things, but not that particular thing. I don't partake, you must confuse me with my elder brother Arnaud" Arystide calmly cut back before he winced sharply at the mentioning of his name. Or rather who it was that called him out.

Honora strode up to him furiously, tossing a fresh vest at him. "Arystide! For heavens sake dress yourself! Act with a little more decorum!" She snapped as she cut in between the men.
The lightning flash courtesy she did was so quick it barely registered.

"My Lords Stark, pardon the intrusion, but I have need of my brother" She stated "So if the killing can be postponed until after the festivities that would be most helpful"

Brandon gave a nod and small bow of respect to Honora she entered. "Of course Lady Redwyne, besides not really sporting for us to fight Southerners... You've never really known a war, just playing at it" He added smirking at Arystide as Mathias looked him over, his father moving to take Gwen's hand and lead her away.

Mathias spoke up. "So you'll be jousting then? I'll see you there then, may the better man win" He offered being friendly and honest, even giving a hand to shake politely. "And forgive the weapons we just came in from the road didn't mean to cause such a seen" He added trying to make up for Brandon's... Lack of decorum not getting why he was so uptight about it.

Gwendolyn put her hand on Arystide's arm and stiffened her spine looking at the Northmen. "Might I speak for myself?"

"We may only play at it, because our good Northern Lords are frightening enough on their own, yet for all their might even they bend the knee when Dragons come out to play" Honora smiled sweetly, cutting back. "He'll not be jousting either...his forte is sailing, you'll meet our other brother in the field Ser Mathias" She answered for Arystide who smirked at Brandon at Gwendolyn's actions.

Gwendolyn looked from Lady Redwyne to Brandon. "There will be no killing. I apologize for the inconvenience Arystide my cousin is rather protective. I have enjoyed the precious little time in your presence I would not be adverse to more of it later. I don't believe that this posturing solves anything."

Squeezing Arystide's arm lightly Gwendolyn smiled at him. "I expect to see you later Arystide, yes?" Luci and Quinn blinked and hid smiles at Gwendolyn standing up to their cousin. Gwendolyn slowly moved to stand in front of Arystide looking over her shoulder mouthed Later. and raised her eyebrow in question.

"Yet even frightening wolves have beautiful songs Lady Honora" Brandon spoke not turning around moving to stand outside with two of his men. "Gwen, Mathias. We are needed back at our camp" His voice commanding and strong but not devoid of empathy.

Mathias confused, "I mean we will all see each other later" He explained as he turned and waved at them all. "I am sorry again for the intrusion. Oh uh...I am not a Knight Lady Honora, I keep to our old gods. Still good luck to all today and may the gods watch over!" He spoke cheerful and kind, gentle for such a big man.

She did a silent doubletake before stating. "Apparently they sing only for the moon or at each other, as always they avoid the races of Man" She answered not giving an inch. "It matters not, song or no, the world is already full of empty promises and broken dreams, nothing a wolvensong would be able to fix"

Arystide looked at her curiously, knowing his sister well enough to know this was rather unusual behaviour.

"You're forgiven Ser Mathias, may your old gods watch over you" She answered sweetly back,

Gwendolyn blinked at Lady Redwyne's comment. Tipping her head she looked at the woman. She sounded like she wanted to bite off a few of her cousins and Uncle's fingers.

Luci and Quinn moved to the Northmen's side. Gwendolyn looking slightly confused up at Mathias and her Uncle Brandon.




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Secrets and Growing Up



Brandon Stark looked tired, very tired as he took a moment to sit down as the camp was finished. Across from him sat Gwen, his darling niece. One of his Pages came over and took his cloak. Rubbing his temples as he began to rub slowly.

"Gwen... Redwynes, why did you have to run into them?" He explained as he leaned his elbow on the table. "I already have one headache with them..." He explained worriedly.

Gwen opened her mouth to snap at her Uncle then thought better of it. She sighed and cleared her throat. It was always better to present facts when in a debate. Or so the Maester always said. And what was an argument but an emotional debate. “I do not understand what the problem is, Uncle." Gwen blamed her behavior on herself, but a small part of it she chalked up to isolation from the opposite sex. That part she understood as being cultural and steeped in tradition. Breaking tradition is not done in one afternoon, but apparently breaking your Uncle’s trust and possibly his heart a little, that took no time at all.

Gwen bit her lip as she started to feel guilty, though she wasn’t entirely sure why. Which in turn upset her because, other than not having a maid around, she guessed that since her Aunts were unmarried and certainly not spinsters that were less than a handful of years her senior they did not count. Struggling to recall etiquette lessons about such a thing was giving her a headache. “Truly Uncle Bran I did not expect to entirely run into them but I do not seem to understand the harm this caused. I am not stupid I need to marry at some point. I am not Beylee who would shun marriage given half the chance. I would like a chance to have what my mother and father had. What you and Aunt Sylvara have. Much as I wish it wasn’t just about the outside it is. Or at least at the start."

"I... I understand but try to limit your interests to closer to home... Look, your cousin wishes no one else to know... But for years he has pined for Honora Redwyne. I have been figuring out ways to approach this. Meanwhile Gryffith has been training and he intends to do well to ask for her hand... They are rather in love... And what goes beyond this is these rumors of Blackfyre trying to take the throne!"

He slammed a hand groaning as took a deep breath. "And if they are not bad enough... I suspect Redwyne would do anything they could to defeat Tyrell. I do not want us caught up in this war. Neither does Lord Barthogan. You understand the difficult position this could place us in?"

Gwen swallowed hard and looked down at the table. Gryffith? In love?. She shoved aside that painful thought for now. She’d deal with it later. Her Uncle was telling her something important. “Uncle it is not difficult to understand that people would take issue with a house that only recently came to power. The Tyrells are new blood in a region ruled by old blood. They were in the right place at the right time. Their forebears made the decision to bend the knee rather than die. Our own line is not so different in that regard."

Shaking her head Gwen raised an eyebrow. “if you didn’t want a foot in this war why are you even considering letting Gryffith ma-” She stumbled a bit and cleared her throat. “Marry the Redwyne girl? With her rabid defense of Ary- her brother, you know if it came to it that she would want to help them."

"I understand that is normally how these things work. That is why I am so worried... I love my son however and they know we would not stand for it. I am giving him a chance to win the Redwyne's over. If he cannot, I will seek another match... Someone who cares for and loves him dearly who he can grow to love." Brandon explained as he sat back slowly then stared at Gwen.

"We cannot march till our stores are full and our banners gather. That would take months. You know your history. My father could not get his army together in time for the dance. Then cross all of the kingdoms? We are not a good ally and they know it my dear." He explained shutting his eyes. "I understand their grievances with the others... But every Warden swears to the Targayrens his loyalty and service. Not Blackfyres, I will not strike my King."

“Not to be contrary Uncle but… You are not Cregan. You have more than what he did at the time. And you have never been one to quake at rumors. If it is as you say then wouldn’t Blackfyre have a point? Legitimate children inherit according to the primogenitor laws. Don’t ask how I know this will keep you sleepless at night if this situation gives you a headache. Regardless, Aegon IV legitimized all his children's Uncle. All of them. That would mean that Blackfyre would need to go past four Princes of the Realm before he could inherit. I don’t see that happening without someone knowing more than a rumor." She did not speak on the hint that her Uncle knew about her girlhood infatuation.

Brandon nodded then sighed. "As a rule I stay out of southern politics. I am not Warden of the north as such it is my brother's choice. One I have to convince him of... Would you like to convince Blacksword to March his army down here? He is Cregan's son more than I am. Warrior with all balls and brains. But hatred of politics." He explained, reminding her he was heir not Warden.

"These rumors have been around for years. But they have merit, much as I loathe it. I am not Cregan and I don't want to be. We have enough problems in the north." Brandon sighed. "Meaning I can't push this unless her family is interested... Meaning Gryffith has to do well here... Failure will mean we have to match him."

“Uncle Barth wouldn’t need me to talk him into it." Gwen tilted her head. “He likes to hear that his brother has come up with the same idea he did. And if her family was interested? What then? You know what you should be doing Uncle so why aren’t you?"

"What I am doing is avoiding trouble. I will talk with him. However... You were his original idea. He thought you and Gryffith would be a good match." He explained why.

Gwen blinked and shook her head. “I would never be a good choice now." She blushed. “Maybe once but not now. Not unless it were his idea. I don’t want to be a replacement. I want to be first in someone’s heart. But if you didn’t notice Lady Redwyne wasn’t directing her venom at me. Let me talk to her. I would do this for Gryffith and you Uncle." Smirking, she put her chin in her hand. “You know I’ll do it without your permission unless you lock me up. Which would be counterproductive to marrying me off. Unless you want Gryffith to hate you. And you know Mathias won’t marry me. He doesn’t fancy me. I am what you made me, rather allowed me to become." Gwen knew she was a pawn but she was going to be the biggest pawn on the board. She just hoped her Uncle knew that she could handle it.

Standing she leaned over the table balancing on her fingertips looking him directly in the eye. Gone was the girl she pretended to be to fool others. Here stood a woman who knew her mind's capabilities and her battleground. One who'd taken a calculated risk to be seen by every House in attendance. She'd let her Aunts trot her around knowing her height and hair would be a beacon for every male eye. She wore her house colors and she'd been the one that steered them away from the Northern encampment.

She acknowledged that she was out of her depth with Arystide but that was a fluke. No one was perfect. But the Redwyne Pavilion had the biggest crowd and damn her Uncle for getting in the way before she sang. That would have gotten even more attention. She still didn't regret what she had done, unless it ruined Gryffith's chances of happiness. That would cast a shadow over the strategy.

“You taught me to use my gifts for the House. I paid attention to the lessons, asked questions and learned more. You gave me this knowledge. Not only how to use a weapon but how to use my brain in defense of myself and those I love. Strategy. Tactics. Histories of kings and queens. How they became what they were. How they rose into power. Don’t cripple me now when you just brought me to where I can do the most good."

“Look I don’t intend to stop you but it is delicate. Griffith wants to win her hand his own way... The boy is too shy to sing in public, too nervous to speak up to her in a crowded room, but his sword... Even Mathias with all his strength can barely match him. He’s my equal or more in battle, I’ve had many more years than him." Brandon explained shaking his head at the idea of corralling her in place.

“Look... I may not have much but... I do have friends coming to this but perhaps for now don’t get us embittered between several powerful houses with enough troops to wage wars for a decade? ...Beylee needs a chaperone for the day. How about you watch her and keep her out of trouble and I won’t mention your visit to the Redwyne’s to anyone?" He offered to let it be water under the bridge at least.

“If you want to help you may, later Gwen. You have Stark stubbornness and Riverlands pride, a dangerous combination." He added reminding her of their shared parentage. “You are nothing I made you... If you were you’d be praying with us at the weirwoods than in a Sept. You are more like mother and father than anything else, or my sister..." He chuckled a moment then frowned. “Also if you see Torrhen and Cregard be careful those two are around here somewhere why Edric sent them down I’ll never know." He added, cracking his fingers. “I am going to rest while I can it is a long trip... Please don’t make me have to give you a guard, I know few of my men from house Mormont like to spend time with you but this is supposed to be fun. Just responsible fun, not your poor uncle tearing out his hair trying to keep the ghost of your father from haunting my tomb." He added, shaking his head.

Gwen thought for a moment. "Uncle Edric was passed over to inherit. He's hard to read but if it were me I'd be out to make sure you had an accident where I couldn't be implicit."

“Gwen! Edric is my brother. He is a Stark though we may not get along, he is family, he’d not slay his brothers for a plot of land. I love my brother and his children even if they are maddening we must love our family. We will not treat him like some ruffian of low moral standing." He sternly tried to remind her that she was speaking about family and it was rude without evidence to talk of such things.

Gwen tilted her head. “You brought it up Uncle. Honestly I’m surprised that Uncle Tobias hasn’t sent someone up here to make sure I don’t come back. Perhaps he loves me more than I thought?" She paced a moment. “You know I’d do anything for Beylee as much as she annoys me at times so I will do as you ask. Though wrestling her into a court dress is punishment enough."

“I suggested you be careful around your cousins. They are dangerous and their father married close to his own kin. I just don’t want you getting roped into that sort of life." He spoke with a sigh leaning back. “Now no need for Beylee to be a dress, just make sure she isn’t trying to knock men off horses with Ashe. I get enough trouble from that boy alone." He added, sighing he’d have to wrangle his son later too.

Gwen shuttered delicately in distaste about her other Uncle’s history. "I prefer to have a few more degrees of separation from the father of my hypothetical children and more branches on the tree. Fine, I will handle Beylee. Aunt Luci and Quinn and myself will be her keepers. Gods knows that she and our Reed cousin will be chaperones enough that I may never get married."

She reached out to touch his hand. “I know you want to show Luci, Quinn and myself off..." Gwen sighed. “Whom am I meeting? At least give me that so I can plan who will sit where and what you expect of me. I would not ask you your plans for fear that you’d do the same for me, and that I am not ready to fully give away."

“Right now? Worry not about being shown off it’s your first tourney... More will come, you only need to catch eyes and have fun. Your marriage is the future not today or in the days to come. I did not marry off my boys so early and your uncle has no pull here. Enjoy and see, after all spend enough around southerners you’ll learn how it’s somehow warmer in the north." He teased her again, squeezing her hand.

Gwen smiled broadly. She had her grandfather Quincy’s smile with even white teeth and deep dimples. It was one of the things that had drawn Lyanna Stark to him. Her grandmother described it as ‘The summer sun had come to the north and shined only for her.’ and praised that it was passed down. Gwen teased back. “You know I might find it warmer in the north but dipping my toes in water that isn’t my bath sounds delightful."

“Whatever you do just no further than talking Gwen? If war does come down here I want us all out of it and safe back in Winterfell. Not galavanting around looking for lovers or riding off to rescue princesses." He added a simple request he made of her. “You’ll have plenty more chances and plenty more men... You’ll find ones who matter and ones who never did." He added in a tone as if he missed his own youth on days like this.

Gwen looked at her Uncle like he had decided to dance in dragonfire. “Uncle, you realize there will be dancing? And I am dancing. That is not negotiable. You know I love to dance just as much as I love to swing blades. You cannot be serious about telling me I can’t dance with anyone."

“I am fine with dancing, just don’t offer more than that." He spoke, waving his hand. “Please, I need a nap my dear." He groaned as he waved for her to go onward with her day. As he began to relax into the chair.

“As you wish Uncle." Gwen dips a quick curtsey and leaves the tent. Motioning one of the Northmen over she looks him in the eye intensely. “No one is to disturb my Uncle for anything less than someone bleeding, broken or dying for the next two hours. Find another family member if you need assistance. They can all pull their weight for that long. The youngest Stark girl and the Reed girl will be with my Aunts and myself."




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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Vanq
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Vanq The Chaos Ladder

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Pick a Pocket or Two

Alys Rivers, Dannel Flowers, Dyanna Dayne
Summerhall

Vanq & @LadyRunic


Summerhall was overwhelming with the masses that had converged ahead of the tourney start. Dannel had not passed through this part of the Stormlands before, but he knew it was as close to Dorne that he had come since he had been left for dead and near enough taken by the Stranger. He had been quieter the closer the pair drew to Summerhall.

Great tents and pavilions greeted them, the actual castle of Summerhall, seemingly tiny in the distance. Dannel had offered to go do an initial bit of groundwork, a review of what he could see for opportunity of coin, or things that may interest Alys. It would be better, he kept to himself, if he had an idea of what they would be walking into.

There were plenty of calls for women servants, though how many of those were truly as maids and not as bed-warmers was impossible to tell. Dannel ignored those, he’d never hear the end of it if he suggested such a thing to Alys. There were calls for men to help build the structures still going up in preparation of the tourney start. Hard-work, likely shit pay, but it would be a bit of honest work; work that was just as likely to cause injury as the melee.

There was indeed plenty of opportunity to make more than a few coppers - and plenty of opportunity to swing for it. He heard talk of the quick justice the Prince of this castle deployed. Yet another bit of hypocrisy, for surely the Prince should hold his own household responsible for their crimes, or the crimes of their family. Dannel’s scar prickled, his jaw locked up at the thought. No point agonizing over it, there was nothing to be done other than nurse that anger, and that was better done over ale.

He made his way back through the crowds, to Alys. “You’ll want to be more careful here, it seems our Princely host doesn’t take kindly to petty crime.” A lopsided grin flicked across his lips, she was not likely to listen to him no matter what.

If one was to call this a grand tournament, they would be most right and proper about it. Perhaps years of travel and her acquaintance with large crowds and many dwellings being of better use to her, but Alys preferred such over open countryside. A change from her youth. Then she had liked nothing better than riding her pony across the fields, learning how she was to be a lady. Days long past, now she wore the garb of a squire with her red braid tucked and pinned deftly under her cap. Gripping the two horses as Dannel returned, the squired arched a brow. Her voice having that cracking squeak of a boy just coming into manhood and by her face, only just. “I hadn’t noticed.” She remarked pointedly, sliding pale eyes off in the direction of the gallows. Men already hung there, and a woman could just as easily hang as well. A Targaryen’s word was as good as law in Westeros and on his own land that was doubly so.

“Aye.” Dannel followed her eyes, the gallows were meant to be a statement and a warning. “But I thought it worthwhile to say it aloud nonetheless.” Dannel picked at the saddle bag strapped to his horse. “Perhaps more to the point, we’re quite close to the grounds House Redwyne claimed.” His stomach rumbled in remembrance of what had actually smelled tantalizing. “Wine, grilled meat, and a lot of drunken louts from what I could see.”

Stroking the nose of her stout horse, she studied the tents in the near distance with the Redwyne flag flapping along with so many others. From the Dornish sands to the Vale. Her lips thinned, Manfryd would not come to a tourney and especially not one hosted by a Targaryen. Her father had no love of them, he had railed of them after Benjicot’s death. No, Manfryd would have no Targaryen loving heir to take his place and he certainly would not grace a one of the Princes’ tournaments without a direct invitation, which surely no Prince would give! “Redwynes.” Alys could recall them for a family grown rich from wine, boats and being of note within the Reach. A prosperous bit of merchanting if what Septa Bessa had taught her rang true. “Wine and grilled meat, you say Ser? How could we turn down such!” But the suspicious and cunning though was more to the mind of those drunken louts. “You goin’ ter be offerin’ yer service to them Ser? Heard more than one man walk by talking about some Lords hiring knights.” Oh, she would dance on a barrel if she could get a Redwyne shield snatched into her pack. A signet ring would be even better, but it was best as to not be so greedy. Things that could get lost and not noticed were the best things to take. Looking to the side she narrowed her eyes towards a more distant flag. “Ser Dannel, what’s the mark of a blue hawk on silver?”

“House Fowler I believe, of Skyreach.” He spoke without a moment’s thought, unsure of when he had learned the houses of Dorne, yet he did know them all. “As for offering my services, the Redwynes were indeed looking for men. Hard labor it seemed. Perhaps it would be better work for a surly squire to take on?” He chuckled as he closed up the saddle bag, a small bite of dried meat to quell his hunger for a moment. “I’ll stand guard for some foolish lord but I’d rather not break my back for them. First though, should I go claim a bit of land for us?”

She had not seen that particular banner, nor could she place it. Perhaps it was from far South in Dorne? It was a curiosity, and she longed to slip among those tents and see what bits they, in particular, would not miss. Self preservation held her back, a tent was needed. A place to turn from squire to lady and back again just in case someone came looking. “Once you're settled into a tent Ser, I’ll see what’s what. Heard tell there’s an archery competition!” Her voice squeaked in excitement that was very really. She could not resist a challenge such as that and even if there was half a garrison of troops searching for her? Alys would find her way to where her skill with the bow could be appreciated.

“I thought you may have heard of that already. It seems that the Lady of Summerhall herself will enter into it.” He ran a calloused hand through the short curls of his hair. “You’ll enter the lists of course. I’d bet good coin we don’t have yet that you best at least a few of them.” He grinned, though it didn’t fully reach his eyes. The scar tugged and pulled at his skin with a wince.

In a lower voice she took a sideways glance at Dannel. “Your scar is tight enough that you might split it open, what is wrong Ser?” Though lowering her voice, she kept the ‘squire’ voice.

Dannel ran two fingers over the scar. He was unsettled, and that always seemed to push the pain and discomfort to the front of his mind. “You ever get the feeling something bad is coming?” He stared off for a moment, watching the masses scurry. “Of course you do, you always have a sense for when a plan is about to sour. I’m just fretting for the both of us again, don’t you worry about me, boy.”

Alys had to duck against her mare's side to hide the wicked grin that broke her facade. It was so enjoyable to play the game with Dannel, though she sobered as she realized the truth was that she was worried to. Accidents could happen in the list and she had no wish for Dannel to befall one. The lie she told herself was that he was too useful, but she had grown found of his company and life was harder alone than with a knight to play the squire to. "Not at all, Ser. I shall mind the business of tending horse and armor." She agreed with a slight squeak. Eagerly following to see where this ten would be set at. "And I'd suggest away from the Blackwoods, no need to have Brackens side-eyeing Ser. Which they might if they think ye court the favor of Lord Quentyn." In truth she did not wish for the man to recognize her. “How about near the Redwynes? They’ve got wine and feasting. Easy enough to keep us both pleased.” She offered, though she did really want to try and snatch a Redwyne shield!

Dannel agreed quickly enough, a short nod of the head and he was off to claim the small bit of land and set to work. Bracken, Blackwoods, he knew their names and he knew they caused nothing but trouble. That was good enough reason to avoid that lot. For such a small task it took no time to have something at least serviceable. He left Alys to manage whatever womanly things she needed to manage, and begged his leave. He’d find a way to make a quick bit of coin and come back with food and drink.

— —

“Further back now!” A light voice called out to the sound of laughter. A woman stood, bow in hand, her other waving at a man in the distance. He dragged a target a few feet back, stopped, and looked to the woman for any further instruction. “I said further back, good man. Further back now!” Another tittering of laughter spread in the crowd that had gathered. A few minutes passed before at last the woman was satisfied with the distance. “Now get out of the way!”

She lifted the bow, and in one smooth movement drew back the string. For a moment, time seemed to pause. She felt the soft autumn breeze rustle loose tendrils of hair and took a deep, centering breath. Her muscles pulled at the tension of her draw and she released. The arrow shot clear and true to the target. A smile grew across her face, genuine and kind. She turned to her audience and offered a small bow before walking off to the fencing to receive a cup of watered down wine. Her nose wrinkled at the taste, alas, it was for the best.

Sauntering through the crowd, using elbows as much as a wicked remark to make a path. Alys Rivers stared with absolute glee at the field before her. An archery contest where she would not have to dress as a squire! Some relief that was, she was fond of the dark green gown that clung to a shapely frame she used to distract the eye from what her hands did. Already her own purse had grown slightly over the course of her walk. Men were free with their gaze and drink. A laugh, smile, wink and they never noticed fingers slipping where they should not! Leaning on the fence, she watched the woman take the shot. An impressive distance, but it was hardly a moving target. A well dressed woman who looked as though she might be a noble’s daughter come for the tournament and to look for prospective husbands. Though she was a bit old not to have been wed yet. Unhooking her own skin freshly filled she thrust it across the fence to the woman, studying the lavender eyes and blonde hair. Perhaps a bastard of dragon seed?

“Take it, I just filled it and it will taste better than what is in that cup.” She offered lightly in her rough tone, flicking her braid over her shoulder. Propping her head on her hand she studied the target and chuckled a low, rich sound. “Not a bad shot at all, though that target is hardly on the run.”

Pale lavender eyes took in the form that had appeared rather brusquely before her. With a quick glance and a small wave, she stopped her maidservant from interfering or calling for any of the palace men. It had been hard enough to get away and she didn’t need anyone alerting her cousin or husband to her location. Still, she waved away the offered skin. “I’m afraid I’m on strict orders to drink this mix.” The woman offered a small chuckle, “much as it leaves a poor taste in my mouth.”

The woman before her was a pretty thing, and, Dyanna was sure, she knew it. She had an ease not often found. “I’ve been told it’s bad form to shoot at moving targets on a tourney field. I wouldn’t want to give the men more reason to be uppity about a woman encroaching on their sport. At least, these northern men seem to find it an odd thing.” Again a gentle smile crept across her lips as she cocked her head in thought. “You speak as if you know a thing or two about it - you must be here to sign up as well? The attendants should know to turn away no woman.”

There was a wince of commiseration on the red head’s face, medicine was never something one sought out. Especially when it came to drink the vile brews. Looking over the grounds with a keen eyes, as she listened to the noble woman prattle on. “If the menfolk wish to be uppity, then I say it only gives reason to have them carry the targets while the women shoot.” She commented with a wicked grin. Let any man get between her and the bow! She had started it simply to enjoy more time with Benji, but later it had become a mementomori for her dead twin. A way to work out problems and focus, then survival had hinged on her skill with the bow.

“Aye, I am. You might learn a thing or two if you watch closely.” There was real pride in Alys’s voice but no menace. A friendly competition jab towards another who enjoyed archery. Of course, she could risk offending the woman, but women were often more sensible then men and not so keen to draw steel over honor. Of course, Alys considered as a darkness flickered in her mind, some women were more vicious in melted towers and haunted halls. “Which means, I need to hunt down an attendant.” She still eyed the field and her hand stroked her braid. “Oh, this will be utterly delightful. A clever thing to allow women to shoot as well.” She chuckled in her throaty tone. “The Prince chose well in his choice of wife.”

“There is always so much for us to learn - especially from one another I think.” Dyanna responded genuinely. What an odd creature, yet she felt an immediate kinship. She had not dressed the part of Maekar’s wife, or at least, had not dressed as many expected a Targaryen Prince’s wife to dress, so perhaps this was to be expected even if it surprised her.

“Prince Maekar?” Had affection crept into her voice? “Yes, some say his choice in wife is the best decision he ever made. Otherwise, he casts such a brooding figure. Best to avoid him, or so they say.” A glint of joy sparked in her eyes. She smoothed the top of her brown skirts and adjusted the leather surcoat over her stomach. “Why don’t I join you, I’ve been listed already so I know just who we can approach for you.” She offered the crook of her arm as she rounded the fence to join the woman’s side. Behind her, Dyanna was certain she heard a muffled sigh.

“You would put me in your debt for such aid.” The mock shock in her voice was filled with amusement and Alys took the offered arm. “But yes, from what I’ve heard? Best to avoid all men who grumble so loudly. I have one in my own family, unfortunately.” Manfryd had grumbled loud enough to drown out the trouble about Danelle, and the Harlot. “And whom do you have in mind?” She cocked her head curiously. A good bit taller than she, was this mysterious archer. Absently she remembered she had forgotten to introduce herself but the conversation was rather relaxed and enjoyable. It would be a shamer to interrupt the flow with belated manners.

Dyanna patted the girl’s hand briefly. She thought her a girl, though truthfully they could not be that different in age. “I think we all have at least one like that. My eldest brother is prone to grumbling and anger.” Another bit of truth, Vorian vexed her greatly, particularly with the most recent news that had finally reached her ears, much as Ryon had tried to hide it.

“Just a bit around this path. The man is a serious sort of course, but he was quick and courteous with me and so it should be for you.” Dyanna led them a few more feet forward before spying the attendant in the distance. It was not entirely untruthful. The man had been put in charge of coordinating various entries. And he had been given very explicit instructions about how to respond to any other women entrants. Done so at her behest of course.

“Lady D-” He began in greeting, a look of surprise across his face.

“Now, now. You’ve already accepted my entrance request. I’ve found another friend who’d like to enter the archery lists as well. Please add…” Dyanna paused with a firm glance to the attendant who had half-recovered. “I’m afraid we’ve broken all sorts of courtly etiquette. What is your name, my friend?”

Unable to do anything but follow along, Alys nodded in agreement and chuckled at the thought of men speaking so. They were usually quick and courteous when they wanted something done and out of their hair and thought you a lady. Pausing in midstep as they came upon the man, Alys raised a brow upon the notice of her companion. ’Lady D-’ left several questions and there was a inkling of suspicion that made her pause completely and study the woman closer with a more speculative expression. A sly smile of amusement sliding across her lips. “Courtly etiquette, broken? How horrible, I fear we shall have to go before the Mother for penance.” She remarked lightly, and arched a red brow that matched slightly redden cheeks as she realized exactly whom she was addressing so. “Alys Rivers, I am. I do believe I address Lady Dyanna Targaryen? My, we have made a right mess of things, have we not?”

A broad grin broke across Dyanna’s face, she held the woman’s arm loosely in her hand. “Roderick, please add Alys Rivers to the lists, in my grouping please. And see to it that we have a steward made available to Alys for anything her and her party may need ahead of the contest.” Dyanna gave a curt nod to the man who now seemed more perplexed but did his best to keep his face smooth.

“Of course, my Lady.” He bowed his head and motioned for some of his assistants to join them. They waited until Dyanna was finished with her conversation.

She turned towards the lady, pleased that Alys had pieced it together herself. “I am sorry, it was nice to be unrecognized for a bit. I have not completely grown accustomed to being...me.” Dyanna folded her hands over her stomach with a small shrug. “So, perhaps you could see fit to give these men where you’re located in the tourney grounds. And I must ask that you join me for dinner tonight. I’m afraid my husband is likely to be busy with other matters.” Her eyes glanced up and over Alys’ head at a tell-tale sight and sound. Except, perhaps her husband had been made aware that she had slipped out. That man worried too much, even if it made her blush in appreciation. “Unless you’d like to meet him now, I’ll have one of those men escort you up to Summerhall this evening.” A mischievous glint sparked again, Maekar would surely be his normal public self - brooding and grim - and it was probably best to not actually frighten the girl so.

There were few things that knocked Alysanne Lothstone sideways, but she could hardly help the smile at the acceptance given by the pretty woman. A mark in her favor and that she was a sensible sort. “I’ve no need of a steward, though I thank you for the offer My Lady.” She protested firmly, though there was another reason. Dannel would not appreciate a man coming into their small camp and she would appreciate it even less to have her own ruse discovered. Though her eyes dance at the perplexed folk around them, it was always good to knock other people’s legs from under them, mentally at least. “My Ser Knight would not appreciate it in the slightest and grumbling men…”

She glanced over her shoulder as she pretended to straighten her dress, noticing Dyanna’s attention being moved to a disturbance. An offer to dinner from the Lady of the Tournament? She could hardly refuse! What was worse, however, was that Alys did not wish to refuse. She found Lady Dyanna Targaryen a charming woman of intellect that did not dim when a mere bastard woman of little to no renown was before it. ”Admit it, old girl. You like this young woman.” She chided herself, though her husband was another matter. “I am camped with Ser Dannel of House Bushy near the Redwyne encampment. He or his squire can easily find me, My Lady.” She dipped a low curtsy and cocked a brow. “You honor me, My Lady. I shall be glad to attend only send a time.Your conversation is most enjoyable.” With that she slipped into the crowd, weaving through the bodies of people and she considered exactly who had invited her to sup.

Dannel was going to be spitting nails, and Alys did not care a wit. That was the most enjoyable conversation she had had in months. Sighing, she skirted about two carters arguing over collided wagons. A purse went into her own and she sighed utter delight. Oh, this was a very delightful tournament. Now, so long as Dannel did not spit nails into her! A giggle at the thought burst from her lips. Oh, who would have thought this was the way the wind would blow! But she would be collected, calm. Perfectly courteous. Even if she was seven years out of practice.


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interactions: Alaric | Brachyllo | Unnamed Unfortunate Soul
mentions: Rycann | Alarra @WXer | Skagosi @Vanq


News of the tourney taking place at Summerhall reached the Dreadfort with plenty of time to prepare. However, it seemed however, Lord Bolton was busy with other matters at hand than throwing thoughts to attending a southron event. Having been present for the wailings of the small folk expressing their grievances, it irked the Lady of the Dreadfort to no end to see how meekly her nephew handled the poacher situation. Instead of allowing young Alaric to take the offender away she quickly climbed down from her seated position calling out to him with a sickly sweet smile set in place upon her lips, "Allow me, dearest nephew~"


“Can’t he see the benefits of going south and mingling with the other Lords?” The dark haired Lady of the fort sighed in frustration as she paced the stone floor, light from the multitude of candles casting an ethereal glow along her frame, shadows dancing on the walls. Wails erupted from the rooms surrounding her while her own present company dwelled silently. “I swear, it’s as if all other plans and ideas have sailed from his mind as soon as he took her as a wife,” she shuddered at the mere thought of her sister in law. There was no love lost between the two of them and her dearest Lord brother favored her words over those of his wife's, but there was still something there that kept his thoughts on the edge between the two and it was becoming increasingly more difficult to sway him to her side more often than not.

The poacher hung there, loosely, arms shackled to the ceiling, legs crumpled under him on the ground, struggling to hold him up. They had been down in the dungeons for quite some time at this point and the fact that no solution had come to her was making the Lady cantankerous. More so than usual. "Is there nothing you have to say for yourself? What did you think was going to happen, hmm?" She brought the bloodied blade up under his nose catching on a nostril. "Did you think we weren't to find out? That you would be dealt with without consequences?"

"S-spare me, m'lady... please, please. Have mercy-" He tried so desperately to speak without his voice wavering, to hold himself up with some dignity. Though him begging stripped him of that long before Raelith threatened him. It was pathetic to bare witness to.

A sick sort of smile came over her as she dragged the blade further down his torso, stopping between his fourth and fifth rib, "Mercy? This is mercy."

The door to the chambers swung open revealing Brachyllo Hotoris, the captain of the house guard. A towering man of impressive stature and even more impressive decorative hair. He was a Second Son back when Rycann traveled with them in Essos. Striking a friendship of sorts he accompanied her Lord brother back home and hasn't backed down from the tasks at hand since. A blessing and curse. "Ah, Brach, whatever can I do for you?"

"The sarcasm is not welcome, Lady." His playful words didn't seem to match his stoic posture. It was the same with him always - so mirthful one moment and then militant the next. A flip of the coin to experience the different facets of Ser Hotoris. Raelith however, was an exception; always getting a playful encounter with the guardsman. It was as if he fed into her perverse games. Wasn't as if she were going to say no. "Your presence is required elsewhere."

"Of course it is," with a final glance back towards the poacher she thrust a long blade from the assortment laid out near the door into Brachyllo's arms, "He poached. I'm thinking the loss of his less dominate hand. He still needs to feed his family."

Before she could make it past the threshold the captain spoke up, tossing the blade between hands, testing the weight of the weapon and gauging as to if he were going to use it or not, "That's very generous of you-," It wasn't like Raelith to be so courteous with those worthy enough to make it to the dungeons. So to see her take being pulled from her... hobby so willingly was truly a sight to behold.

The dark haired beauty halted her steps and turned to look back, "Make no mistake," a scoff on her lips and a scowl upon her face - she didn't want to leave matters in his hands but what could she do? She was summoned and it would behoove her to heed her brother's call. No matter how inconvenient. "It is not out of generosity that I do this, but because it would benefit us to have as many able bodies possible to protect against those Skagosi that are marching towards Karhold."

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Apoalo
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Afternoon Flirtations [Present time for Gwen flashback for Ashton]



Arranging to find Beylee and Sasja wasn’t that hard. Sasja Reed was a small thing and very pretty. She’d be where Beylee was, attempting to talk Mathias into them squiring for him. Gwendolyn rolled her shoulders anticipating that Beylee was going to annoy her till her temper flashed. Looking around and not seeing Luci or Quinn right away Gwendolyn sighed and thought they had gone to lay down for a nap much like their Uncle was doing at present.

Catching sight of a page Gwendolyn beckoned him over. “Have you seen Lady Beylee or Lady Sasja recently?" She smiled as he nodded.

“I ‘ave. They be o’er at th’ lists wi’ th’ gian’ in fur." His accent was thick and utterly adorable.

“My thanks." Gwendolyn handed the boy a groat and he grinned while running off.

Sighing, Gwendolyn knew that she’d have to go get the girls. If she remembered correctly, which she almost always did, then she'd have to go past the Redwyne Pavillion again. While part of her did want to stop in and enjoy herself more she knew it would disappoint her Uncle. Disappointment and or disapproval was far worse than him being upset at her. Swiftly walking in the direction she needed to go, Gwendolyn made her way to the lists in between tents. Picking up her skirts she dashed looking in between tents in case Beylee and Sasja had given up on nagging Mathias.

Seven hells, why were there so many pavilions strong? Barely did Ashton manage to jump and dodge the variety of straps and ropes all tying down fabric of all colors. He needed a break. He had traversed these tents many times already, having been at Summerhall for some time already and being present when the first tent came up. But everyday now more and more added to the flood of color on the grounds.

Stumbling, much like he had earlier near the lists he looked for feet and giggles but he heard nothing, it was his own clumsiness. Luckily he was able to keep his feet, a testament to his training, but his head was still spinning as he mentally tried to remember his shortcuts through the maze.

Sighing, and with great internal strife, Ash turned to continue on his way toward his 'secret spot' which was little more than a tucked away hill where he liked to watch the sun set and relax for a small moment or two before he got to work on getting things prepared for the next day.

She had barreled into someone. Of all the luck trying to catch a glimpse of either of the cousins. This is what she gets for being even close to disobedience. Not to put too fine a point on it but she was in between tents and no one would check back here for a while. She had turned a corner and ran right into a solid wall of muscle.

Gwendolyn's breath left her in a rush as she tripped and was on her way to the ground. She was going to hit hard when suddenly a solid pair of arms wrapped around her and her descent to the ground was halted.

There was a soft 'oof' followed by a quick inhale and gasp as Ashton realized someone had just run straight into him. And judging by the dress it was a Lady. "Oh! By the Seven, are you quite alright?" Ash exclaimed as he suddenly had a five foot ten woman in his arms, preventing her fall. It wasn't every day when a woman would just sort of fall into your lap, or arms in this case, and it never happened to Ash. In fact he was quite positive he had never even dreamed of such a scenario happening. His younger brother perhaps had, but that was because he was in Essos.

"Um." He looked around to see if anyone was watching and raised an eyebrow. When he was certain she wasn't going to fall and he couod habdle her weight he chuckled. "Got to watch that rope there. Whoever put that tent up decided to use way more ropes than was needed. I'm Ashton by the way, Ashton Hightower."

Gwendolyn stifled a giggle as she sat up and looked up and up and up at Ashton. “Pleased to make your acquaintance My Lord or is it Ser Hightower? Excuse my lack of a curtsy but I find it rather difficult to curtsy while being held. I’m Gewndolyn Carmyne." She smiled up at him.

Automatically, Ash straightened and pulled her up with him to her feet while smiling. “Just Ashton or Ash. I’m the third born and still a squire so i'm not really anything important.” He shrugged off any remaining awkwardness and finally got a look at the person he ran into. His cheeks were burning a bit as he did so, embarrassment now taking the place of awkwardness. “I er- hope that you’re enjoying the uh." He looked around again, finding the words to describe the busy pavilions. “Uh, city of tents?"

Gwendolyn brushed off her dress and shook out his skirts. “It rather seems like a city doesn’t it? Well Ash you can call me Gwen. A squire is still something." She tapped her lip. He sounded like he was a poor sheltered lad. Accidents happen because Ashton definitely wasn’t capable of having engineered their meeting. She needed to put him at ease.

“A city without a repository of knowledge is such a shame. I suppose that a tent city is too fleeting to include one of those. But such is the price we pay for watching men bash each other on horseback with sticks. Skills used in war made to entertain." Gwendolyn shook her head, her hair swaying back and forth. She itched for a comb, she was sure there was something in her hair; a piece of grass, a twig something. Rather than dancing about like a rasher of bacon being cooked she stayed still. “Oh I’m sorry I just insulted what you’re working toward in life. I didn’t mean… oh bother."

"Gwen it is then." His goofy smile widened a bit as he rhymed and then shrugged as she mentioned that he was at least something. "I suppose I really can't complain, I was lucky enough to be born into the family I was and to be trained."

As she spoke he found himself nodding along with her and quickly put out his hands and shook them in a rapid gesture of negative. "No, no you're right. I've always found the tourneys to be weird. They're nothing like real combat, but all you can do is train and try and prepare as best as you can. I see it, if anything, as a way to meet new Knights and a very good opportunity to learn. From them, my defeats, my victories. Everything."

He realized he was talking. A lot. And the Hightower had to blink at that. He never spoke like this to anyone, let alone a relative stranger. But, his filter was gone. "You should come to Oldtown. It has a rich history and the Citadel is one of the greatest areas of education in the 7 kingdoms. You may be too pretty for it though." He smiled as he said it but when his brain caught up to his words the smile became one of embarrassed horror.

Gwen raised an eyebrow. “You think I’m pretty? And what am I too pretty for?" She smiled at him, teasing him. He was endearing.

Sputtering a bit, Ash quickly tried to explain. "Oh! I just meant that you'd be the prettiest Maester or uh, scholar there. And that it would be a shame that no one else got to see it since you'd be inside and reading all the time like my brother Leo." The lad had no idea that he was being messed with, the poor squire was entirely out of his depth and was feeling the rush of adrenaline. "So, what exactly were you doing running through the tents instead of the perfectly good worn travel path out there? Are you also an introvert who despises social interaction?"

Gwen smiled at Ashton. “Well you see I was on my way to find my cousins. So I really needed to find them, but I didn’t want to be obvious because I didn’t want to wait for an escort. Unless you’d like to escort me? Older or younger brother? You don’t enjoy reading? What about riding?"

The questions came in rapidly and Ash barely could prepare one answer before the next question was fired. He let her finish and then attempted to go one by one. "I hate reading, or at least normal reading. I struggled as a child so the Grand Maester developed a way for me to read as I trained. He called it a sort of meditation. As for your escort, I will be delighted my Lady and do so solemnly swear that you will not run into anyone else on my watch. As for riding, I do plenty of it here with my Knight, Ser Ryon Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. Oh, and older, I'm the third born son. I'm only older than my youngest sibling, my brother Gerold. My twin doesn't count." As he finished speaking he was heading off towards the lists.

Gwen walked with Ashton in the direction she was hoping to go. At least she remembered from the walk-about she had done with her Aunties. “It must be nice having siblings. I had one but he and my mother died when he was born. And with me being the oldest they sent me to my grandmother’s family, the Starks. Ser Ryon Dayne is your Knight? Only the best of House Dayne carry the title. You must be proud of your Knight. Tell me does he win tournaments often? I should think that if I bet on him that I could see a great return. Do you think he’ll win? If he does not, whom do you think will? Does he carry a Valyrian steel blade? I would like to see another at some point and compare it to Ice."

Looking over at him as she followed. Gwen had noticed the sword, rather hard not to when she was positively itching to test it out, and this was a ploy to see it without coming out and saying that she’d like to see it. Southern men didn’t like women that were ‘too’ interested in blades, or bows, or anything that didn’t fit in their ‘women’s things’ box. Box ha. More like thimble. She would also need to be careful. As Heir to a house she would need to make a solid decision on whom to marry or her Uncles would do it for her. That much was evidenced by her Uncle’s comments this afternoon.

Glancing up at the sky Gwen noticed that it was probably about a quarter of an hour since she left the Stark tent. She’d better hurry or someone would come looking for her and Beylee and Sasja. If they were with Mathias it was not an issue but Ashe… by the Seven that boy. She still remembered the time he tied a stick to a goat’s forehead and called it a unicorn then ran it around the courtyard. Uncle was furious but he couldn’t hide the twinkle of laughter in his eye. She smiled widely flashing her dimples at Ashton, she knew it would make it easier for her to get her hands on the sword. She didn’t want to take it, she just wanted to see it.

The more excited Gwen seemed to get Ashton matched equally and he answered her questions easily. "I'm sorry about your mother and brother, and yes Ryon is my Knight and also the best in my own opinion. I suppose I'm slightly biased but I trust him unconditionally and am proud. As for tournaments, he's not showy so he doesn't enter them all the time, just enough to get some practice in. We've had to deal with bandits though and of course tensions have been rising on the borders. I hope to be like him and the Dragonknight, that's my goal anyway. Pretty lofty sure, but shouldn't goals be lofty?"

As the conversation moved to swords, Ash couldn't help but look to Vigilance. He smiled a bit and even as she was talking took it and respectfully offered it to her. "This isn't as storied as Dawn but is still Valyrian steel. This is Vigilance, the Sword of the Tower." Ashton wasn't like most Southern lords, a fact that he had been aware of most of his life. He was happy to see someone enjoy quality craftsmanship. He wasn't concerned she would go out and steal it, or hurt herself as she seemed quite capable. When she smiled at him, his stomach did a backflip and he gave an exaggerated swallow while his eyes widened. He had already been handing the sword over so all it served to do was knock the poor boy off his feet. This time, luckily, not literally.

Taking Vigilance from Ashton she treated it with the reverence it deserved. Taking a good look at it Gwen noted that this was an amazing sword. "Thank you. It's beautiful." She stepped closer. Ashton was harmless, he was a gentleman. Not that it was bad or wrong but rather boring. But boring was fine. Boring, she had the upper hand.

Gwen reached out and grabbed the sheath at his hip to the sword. She fitted the sword in and slowly stepped closer as she simultaneously slowly slid the sword back into the sheath. Her lavender gray eyes sparkled with mischief and excitement.

Ash was no stranger to court, he had been plenty of times and had watched his father countless times. He knew about the game but was probably one of the most abysmal players of that game in Westeros. Mostly because he didn't care. He had no ambitions other than to be the absolute best swordsman he could be and to strive to the tenants of knighthood. Girls however, scared him. Not his twin, she didn't count and now standing here with Gwen, Ash was entirely under her power and he knew it. As she stepped closer, Ash held in his next breath and looked down to her. He didn't have to look down much, being only a few inches taller than she, which he found he liked.

Eventually he croaked out. "Thank you. So are you." He smiled then, his brain not exactly functioning correctly. There seemed to be some sort of interference.

That warm smile bubbled up and Gwen blushed at the compliment. "Thank you. You're not bad yourself." She attempted to keep it light and fun. "I should let go of the sword and step back…" Stating the obvious as she watched Ashton. "Blue. Like the sky on a clear day." She murmured about his eyes.

Ash was hooked and he couldn't help but blush as well. "Guess training pays off…" He considered for a few moments and thought about what his older brother once said about women. 'Don't think, just do. If you try and think you'll screw everything up like you usually do.' And so, Ash didn't think. As she murmured about his eyes and before she could actually step back, whether she ever intended to or not, Ash closed the short distance and went to kiss her quickly.

The kiss came as a surprise and Gwen gave a little sound of surprise as Ashton kissed her. She had never been kissed before. His lips were soft and warm. Letting go of the sword fully, her hands found his sides. She didn't know what to do. No one mentioned what you're supposed to do now. This wasn't covered in a book or lesson that a Maester had given her.

Were bells ringing somewhere? Or perhaps lightning had struck him. Ashton wasn't sure but his first kiss had surely sent the Hightower into a shock. His skin filled with gooseflesh and heart felt like it was going to burst out of his chest. He had closed his eyes but opened them, irises widening as he felt her hands on his sides. He wasn't sure what to do next and his rational brain started sending all the what ifs. He leaned into the kiss just a moment before breaking it and looking at her. "I… sorry. I-..."

Blinking Gwen looked at Ashton in a bit of a haze. "Sorry? Sorry!" Her lavender gray eyes snapped with temper. "Of all the things to say to a girl after her first kiss you picked 'Sorry'?! Why did you do it then?"

Blinking, Ashton opened his mouth to speak before closing it again even as a perplexed expression shot across his face. "I-er. I only meant… I should have…" Wincing. He realized big brother was right, thinking only resulted in him looking stupid. "I'm not sorry actually… I just felt like I should've apologized for just randomly kissing you, but I'm not. Honestly, I think that was the first time I did something outside of the practice field without regretting it. And I'd like to do it again."

Gwen blushed and touched her mouth, her temper falling away. "Oh… again? I…" Now she didn't know what to say.

"You certainly don't have to. You seem to be quite intelligent. But you have the final say, and I'll respect whatever decision you make." He glanced over toward their path to the lists and was glad that it at least appeared to be empty.

Ashton was giving her time to think. Gwen appreciated the time normally but she found in this situation she didn't want time to think. That scared her. She took a step back. "While I wouldn't mind, I think not having been caught by anyone the first time is pressing our luck after that." She blushed deeply. "My Uncle, Brandon Stark, will not be pleased if he finds out. Nor any of my male relations. I'd rather they didn't for your sake."

Ash nodded slightly and sighed softly. He had a feeling that he had enjoyed the moment a bit more than she and while it may have been just because of the wine he recognized his position and an honest retreat was needed. "I suppose you are right, My Lady. It wouldn't do for either of us to be the talking points of gossip tomorrow morning. Please, allow me to continue my escort of the Lady to the lists." He offered his arm and straightened fully while offering a small smile. "And I thank you greatly for the small sliver of time I managed to have with you."

Biting her lip Gwen reached out. Ashton pulled away from her and that hurt. Perhaps her meager attempt at protecting him was not what he wanted. Violence because of her behavior was not something she was keen to witness. She was trained to protect herself and while she knew she didn't have to rely on others it was nice to have someone offer to be there. She curled her hand into a fist then relaxed it. "You have my gratitude My Lord." She curtsied and put her hand lightly on his arm as propriety dictated. "I would have it last at least a while longer."

As Gwen reached out Ashton sighed and gave her a soft smile. "I'm not the best at this, and I'm afraid that I'm not exactly your type anyway, not that I know you have one. I just… I REALLY like you, and I hardly know you. And I'm afraid because of it. I don't trust my own actions or emotions. Please don't think less of me for it. And the last thing I want to do is to cause you any distress or grievances with your family." His eyes were soft and clouded with confusion, curiosity, and a small bit of longing.

As they walked to the lists Gwen replied. “As you stated we hardly know each other. I don’t think less of you Ashton. Truly you have risen in my estimation. You could have ignored your gentlemanly behavior and blamed it on myself for being there. Truly this gladdens my heart and do you want to know a secret?" She leaned in to whisper to Ashton.

With a raise of his eyebrow, Ash listened and walked. He was careful this time, not wanting to fall AGAIN as that seemed to be something that was becoming a habit. "I suppose secrets are to be shared by those who can trust each other… I can trust you?" He looked at her then, his eyes now searching and seeking with their glint, sunlight just catching his face.

Tilting her head Gwen didn’t flinch from the question. “I am willing to be the one to share my secret. I do not need one in return." She smirked and paused them in their walk. “No you’re right I do need one in return. However I will collect it at another time. I enjoyed our kiss more than you think."

Grinning, she let go of his arm and winked at him over her shoulder, tossing back at him. “Am I escorting you or are you escorting me?"

There was a distinct lack of any mention of trust. And yet, Ash couldn't help but be drawn in. The promise of another meeting both exhilarated and terrified the Squire. "I am glad that I did not make a fool of myself then. As for the escort, I made a vow to see you safely there. A Knight does not break their vows." He caught her stride and leaned toward her more closely. "And I vow that when I fight in the melee to come it will be your beautiful face that spurs me forward."

Raising her eyebrows. “For shame Ser Hightower! It should be the Queen of Love and Beauty you fight for, not I." Gwen tried to look serious, she really tried but the sparkle in her eye and the slight knowing smile that lightly pulled her mouth up just the slightest gave the game away.

Ash chuckled a bit, this time letting go of any potential mask. It was a light smile, showing his own dimples and perhaps giving back as good as he got finally. "Any who even attempted to name someone other than yourself for that title doesn't see what I see, My Lady. Now, the lists are right. Around. This corner." He gestured to the last pavilion, a ghastly green and tan and then sighed.

Gwen laughed freely, the music of it sweet and pure causing more than one male head to turn her way, all of whom she did not notice. “Whoever told you that you are not enough is more than incorrect Ashton Hightower. I fear for their soul for they have committed a grave sin against the Seven."

She didn't know it, but she had just given Ashton the largest compliment of his life. He stood at the very edge of the last pavilion and simply glowed. "Thank you Gwen. Hope guides me. It will be what gets me through the day and night. The hope that after you are gone from my sight that we will see each other once again."

Dipping a curtsy Gwen blushed prettily. “I can but count the hours Ashton."

Ash gives a full bow, his eye glinting as he straightens and turns, going back the way he had come.




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LadyRunic The Laughing Raven

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Aelor & Aelora Targaryen | | Elayne Lothston

Wake up before dawn. Dress in leather and mail, try not to need any help but quietly thank the Kingsguard for a hand when needed, making it faster and easier. Eat fruit, a bite of bacon, some dark beer in the working kitchen while the Red Keep bakers mostly run the place. Meet Captain Davik and his two men at the main gate just before the sun rises. Spend most of the early morning walking around Flea Bottom, listening to every word the Gold Cloaks offer about businesses and notable residents and orphans, an alley where a woman was murdered the night before their eventual focus.

The Prince watched as the three Gold Cloaks questioned residents. Someone heard some noise but thought nothing of it—it’s Flea Bottom. Davik knows an old woman who lives in the alley that likes to sit at her windows. The woman provides a vague description. Follow the Gold Cloaks across Flea Bottom, to another alley, breaking up a small gambling game and detaining one of the gamblers. Ichy, he calls himself, with arrogance. Aelor doesn’t blink when Davik puts a fist into Ichy’s ribs. Ichy, Davik would later explain, is someone who offers information to them from time to time. In return, he further explained, they allow Ichy to live.

By evening the Gold Cloaks are tired enough to let Aelor bust down a door, chase down a thief. The errands are small but better than the nothing of before. Over weeks Davik trusts him to do more, and more. By the end of the year, it wasn’t uncommon for the Prince to return to the Red Keep at dawn, collapsing into his bed after a night filled with patrol and long periods of tedium before explosions of chaos.

And, sometimes, it was just odd: like the raving madman who approached them, loudly proclaiming himself King Aegon the Conqueror reborn. Davik allowed the Prince the pleasure of dealing with that. Aelor remarked to the madman that he was no Targaryen and turned to face Davik. So, the madman pissed on his boots. He waited three hours for the sun to rise and a merchant Aelor knew through Maekar to open his shop so Aelor could replace the pissed-on boots.

One morning he came in, and Aelora greeted him. As much as Aelora loved to sleep, she was never awake at any point around dawn. The suspense didn’t last long as she revealed why she was so very awake, and so very busily active, telling him to sleep on the road; they were off to Maekar’s tournament to support their uncle and cousin. Aelor moaned about a bad night, Aelora reminded him that she had reminded him the night before, after telling him about it two days before that.

Aelor slept in the wheelhouse for most of the first day.

The trip took two days, and the night camped he spent wandering the Stormlands woods, because he was used to sleeping while they were about, and being awake while the Red Keep, King’s Landing, and his family mostly slept. His father encouraged it, even if his mother had begun to worry. The next day he didn’t sleep, but mostly rode a horse with Aelora or walked to stay awake. They arrived at Summerhall just before sundown, but after greeting his family, Aelor escaped with Aelora to sleep. She read him to sleep, a history of Essos, volume fifteen by some Magister.

When he awoke it wasn’t early, but it wasn’t as late as his usual awakening. Mid to late morning, he guessed, before dressing lazily in black riding leather trousers and a thin black linen tunic that went just past his waist, unlaced as the Summerhall sun warmed the skin of his chest that it left exposed as he rode about the various tourney campgrounds. When he was noticed he gave polite waves, nods, and simple greetings. Maekar had teased him the day before about being ready for the ‘marketplace’ as the family indulged in chatter about potential matches for the twins, knowing full well how much the twins loathed such dull conversation.

The thought spurred him forward. It was a nervous feeling that he was unused to. He presumed it a matter of facing the unknown, dismissed it thusly, and managed to snap out of his thoughts just long enough to keep the horse from hitting the woman. The girl? “My Lady, beg your pardon.” He said, once. He was sure of that, even if the woman or girl pretended not to hear him, or just didn’t hear him. Perhaps she was lost in her own thoughts, too, so Aelor tried again. Louder.

This time, the girl’s head snapped toward him, seeing him, as he saw her, and offered a polite-sized smile on his otherwise reserved features. Girl, not woman, because she looked younger than Aelora and he, even if not by over much. Aelor’s purple eyes swept left and right, noticing the number of heads turning when he looked.

Most heads just stared. He was a Prince, the son of the Hand of the King, and heir to the throne. And unlike some members of his family, Aelor and his sister looked like Valyrian Dragon Lords of old, which meant people stared. The heads that quickly turned away? Men. Not highborn, either, from the quick glance he got of them. In the back of his mind, Aelor heard only Davik, ” Men expose their guilt with every word and act, you just have to do this long enough to see it when they do it.”

His eyes returned to the girl, the noble Lady, as he suspected the guilt behind the faces that turned away from his glance. She wasn’t ugly. Her gown looked well-fitted to her. “May I offer you a ride home?”

The woman looked startled that she had nearly run into a horse, so worried had she been at the fact she could not remember how to retrace her steps it had taken a second questioning to make her blue eyes flicker to the rider. Her head tilted as she studied the man as though judging him for a portrait, her red-blonde hair falling in curls over a shoulder. Elayne Lothston was unaware of the men who had been approaching her and her worry was dispelled as she wondered how exactly she could capture the man before her with the stroke of a brush or needle. “My apologies, your Highness.” Her voice was breathless as her cheeks flushed in embarrassment at being woolgathering when the Prince had asked a question. For Prince, he was, a Targaryen, though which one was not exactly known to her.

Twisting about, she looked at the different banners and stalls all were very delightful. Something she had never seen before and if Danelle and her father laid their hands upon her after this, would be something she would undoubtedly never see again unless through a ring of thick men-at-arm with stout clubs. Tugging at a lock of her hair in agitation and worry for that fact, she gave the Prince a beaming smile that faltered slightly. “It is very wonderful, is it not? Though I admit, I am a bit confused as to where I am exactly. Danelle will see me never set foot out of Harrenhal again.” She trailed off as that thought came to her and worry, and fear flashed down her spine. Danelle would never let her out of the tent without her, let alone the searing tone she would have to bear, and only that if she was lucky enough to keep Septa Bessa close.

“Elayne Lothston, Highness. My apologies, I am trying to place myself.” She felt as though she must seem a fool, trying to preserve all she saw and her wonder of it while being utterly lost and now making a fool of herself in front of a Prince. Never mind that her father would be having that twitch in his hand, as he did when the Targaryens were mentioned. Perhaps having run into him would spare her some of Danelle’s temper? Dipping a curtsy, she tugged at the lock of hair again and her head swiveled to scan the banners. “Father will never let me leave the castle again. Lost at a tournament. Danelle will see me fed to hounds.” Elayne spoke more to herself, seeming caught up with how best to deal with the situation at hand and the reactions she would get for it, than the actual situation at hand. Such a fool was she, Elayne tugged her hair again.

His mouth barely hinting at the smile of amusement the girl’s ranting produced within his spirit, Aelor leaned in the saddle and offered her an open hand at the end of his long, strong, arm, “None of that. Come now, I’ll see you safe.”

She took his hand before she thought. It wasn’t really in Elayne to question someone so much higher. Though she blinked in shock and stammered slightly. “No, I would hate to be a bother. Surely you have things to attend to? The tents- They must be right around the corner.” Her words were almost running over each other and but she did have one reason as to why this was a very bad idea. “I’m wearing a gown.”

His face twisted at the issue at hand. A bloody gown, he could have sighed. It took some lifting with his legs in the stirrups, and the left hand to hold the bottom hem of the damnable gown down, but in a motion that strained most of the muscles of his body he brought her closer with their hands locked, then let go, reached out to hook her waist, and carefully lift her, setting her across his lap in the saddle, the right hand taking the reins back up, the left casually placed on the outside of the thigh furthest from him. The grey Rounsey only silently gave a shake of its head, Aelora’s nameless horse taking them at a careful pace back to Summerhall, picking its way through make-shift boulevards of tent town as they headed towards palace gates.

“Forgive me,” he said loud enough only to be heard by her as they went, “my name is Prince Aelor. What House is it you are from, Lady…?”

If Balerion the Black Dread could have come out of the sky and eaten her in that instant, Elayne would have been most thankful. As it was, she gave an indignant squeak as she found herself lifted and set across the lap of the Prince, her face most likely a match for any scarlet banner. It was indecent and if her father saw, he would be drawing steel. Nothing was made better as her planned apologies were cut off by an introduction.

She resolutely wished to throw herself from the horse and into the jaws of a kraken.

Yet a question had been answered and it was rude to not reply. “House Lothston. Elayne of House Lothston of Harrenhal.” She whispered in something more of a strangled squeak. The slow plod of the horse torture within itself. “Father will see me never leaving my rooms again.” She whispered in horror, “Highness, please. It’s quite alright. I can find my own way back.” Surely her voice wasn’t so high-pitched? She was a lady, a lady’s voice did not squeak. Then again, a proper lady would not be sitting so in the lap of the son of the Heir to the Iron Throne! “Danelle is going to flay me alive.” She whispered in despair, and Danelle would for Elayne slipping away, let alone causing this mess! Then again, it would be far easier to live with Danelle than feeling this amount of heat in her cheeks. Pushing slightly, she attempted to slide from the horse, “I beg your pardon, Your Highness. I do not mean to cause you such trouble.” She whispered, mortified by the situation.

Irritation seemed to flash by his face; purple Valyrian eyes narrowed as his lips pressed, head tilting as he watched move to slide. He simply re-acquainted the hold around her and slid her up and right again, balanced once more. Though he didn’t say it, the side glance he gave was a mild, ‘quit that.’ Other than Elayne, the ride was easy; not many horses were allowed down these paths. Horses and carts were kept to exterior paths, outlying the camps, not the internal ones. It would turn them into muddy pits.

Did Prince Aelor seem to care about that? Not particularly. Did anyone seem determined to shout him out and stop him? Not really. People moved, the Aelora’s horse moving at a casual pace that people didn’t have much trouble getting out of their way. And being they were the only ones on a horse…people got out of their way.

“Lady Elayne, well met,” he began, cheerfully, before his tone grew stern and absolute in its conviction of his following words: “You mistake the situation, Elayne. You required a ride, I happily gave one. You seem to have a unique charm, and I’ve not met your Lord Father, though I’ve heard of your sister.”

He kept it singular, though he certainly could have used the plural.

“What could be the matter? What front to honor? Do you think a man insane enough to suggest anything other than the virtuous occurred here today exists in all the realm? Do you know the price for making such wild accusations against a Prince?... I don’t either, but I can’t imagine it’s any good for the accuser.”

No good for the accuser certainly, Elayne was one to agree. Though tongues would wag and people would think as they would, speaking behind hands and closed doors. She was one to read every so often when she was trapped in the boyer of the castle and she had seen the result of talk. Even if that talk could not be proven. Jeyne, who taught her some arts that Septa Bessa would have squealed at, was proof of such, though the young lady said nothing in reply and tried in vain to think of anything other than honor and virtue and the fact the man next to her was incredibly handsome. Talking at least would have proved a distraction but she had learned well when to be silent, and the last thing she wanted was to offend a man who offered to help her. Let alone offending the son of the heir!

Once they crossed the gates of Summerhall, palace guards helped the Lady down, and the Prince quickly dismounted to follow. “You seem overcome, perhaps it’s the heat of the day or the dizzying nature of the large crowds in every direction? You must stay and rest, the understewards will find you a cool place to rest.” As he said it, he looked past her, motioning to one of the officious-looking men wearing Targaryen colors on their tunic, buzzing about the outer courtyard of Summerhall, before motioning to her. He seemed to understand and headed in their direction. “We will invite your Lord Father and sister to dinner.”

“Prince Aelor, how may I assist?” He said it with a bow, eyeing the Prince and the Lady like he dreaded what came next.

Aelor didn’t seem to notice, “Lady Elayne will require a room to rest in.”

Elayne began to protest, but it was the Understeward who cut in, “Prince, there are no rooms. The palace is past full, there are no appropriate accommodations for the Lady.”

“Alright,” he said, looking down and thinking, “She can have mine.”

Elayne’s terror was plain enough for those that knew what it looked like, and what sparked it in the first place. The voice that swooped in was sweetly pitched with a rich, warm, layer always there in whispers and more quietly spoken words, but now came across like a fanfare of trumpets announcing an arrival: “Place the Lady Elayne in my room, Qarltin, thank you.”

A gown of jet black samite with a tight-laced bodice with shining red lace came swooping into view as the source of the voice, baring shoulders and the tops of the breasts under a short span of similarly glittering red lace, sleeves and skirts settling from the sway of the young woman’s fast, flowing, movement to arrive within the group that had just arrived. A young woman of a beauty that seemed like it belonged to another time, in an age of heroes, before the Doom, the hair and eyes of a Dragon Lord, even if it was a term she rarely used. Purple Valyrian eyes set squarely on Elayne, awaiting introduction.
An arrival that seemed to please Prince Aelor just fine, motioning to the new arrival, then Elayne, “...better idea. Elayne, this is Princess Aelora, my twin sister.”

Aelora’s nature was warm, even disarming. It was as if Aelor had helped people before, and Aelora knew well enough to try to make the person he brought feel more at ease. In the case of Lady Elayne, that was easy: Aelora could relate to Elayne far better than Aelor could. If Elayne didn’t pass out soon from shock, Aelora would be impressed, giving a gentle nod and a happy little smile. “Lady Elayne of House Lothston, very nice to meet you.”
“We’re inviting her family to dinner. Think we can do the duck?”
Aelora chuckled, “With the cherry?”

“Exactly.”

She smiled large enough to contain the laughter she almost gave, instead, “We brought Rem and his wife with us. I spent an hour finding their kitchen space. I’m sure I could find duck…just your father and sister? So five total?”

In a snap, the twins had started planning dinner before even looking at Elayne, the kind of thing the twins were known to do, before Aelora stopped, looked at Elayne, and thought to ask just who, and more importantly how many, were being invited.

Blue eyes stared at the twins, her jaw held firmly close against the need to gap at how she had found her life jerked up into a saddled at sat before dragons. Hesitating, the woman, she was a woman, dipped a belated and rather elegant curtsy to Aelora. Her features were as open as any book as they settled in adoring thankfulness. "I-" Her voice shook slightly and she swallowed. She was not Danelle to demand answers, nor was she the stubborn, smiling girl she could remember of Alysanne. "I think I had best take you up on your offer, Your Highness?" How had that come out as a question? She desperately needed to sit down and think. Some place quiet, someplace where could awaken in her tent and find it all some strange dream and have Septa Bessa standing over her tutting.

Of course, her eyes took that skeptical look of judgment. Wide and innocent but weighing. They were both beautiful, the shape of their faces, their coloring, she longed for paint or needle or weft. Blinking, she pushed those thoughts away. "My apologies, I get lost in thought. Five. Lord of Harrenhal Manfryd of House Lothston, my father, and, my sister, Danelle of House Lothston." She agreed to the earlier question. Downright lost, and then snatched off a tournament street so it seemed! Her fingers pulled at a curl of hair in distress as she felt horribly out of her depth, and it was so much more than that.

Her father hated Targaryens, for their slight against giving his father a spoiled wife, then dismissing him from court with his father when mother and daughter have shamed the family. He would come to dinner, with the sword and demand to have her back and her honor restored. Never mind that she had lost none. In that Prince, Aelor was mistaken. Angry men would talk and use any chance to stroke their fury. She had seen her father do it often enough. Tugging the lock of hair again, Elayne nodded meekly. She could see the avalanche or horror that was coming and could only hope that Danelle would range their father in.

"It would be an honor to join Your Highnesses, though I must warn you, for the kindness, you have shown me, my father will take this badly." She whispered, "I would not like to bring you trouble, nor him." Danelle would contain herself, until later. Then she would demand answers and Elayne would have none. She tugged her curl again, looking distinctly worried. What on earth had the Prince been thinking? A unique charm? Her?

Perhaps there was Targaryen madness in him? She hoped not, he was a kind man so far and good. If perhaps stubborn but most men were. A slight flush crept unto her cheeks and she added a hasty, 'Your Highness'.

At the courtesy added with haste, Aelor just smiled and motioned for her to follow. The distance from that courtyard to her chamber wasn’t short. The halls of the palace were packed with servants, pages, squires, lords, and ladies. Aelor could almost hear her uncle Maekar grumbling about the number of noble children about. As soon as they stepped into the palace and turned into a long corridor they were having to press themselves nearer the walls as a small army of servants carried enough wine to flood a bedchamber to the ceiling.

It took so long that Aelor struck up a conversation with a Lady Laylah of House Erenford, stuck against the wall like everyone else, on the other side of a small table between Aelora and the elder Lady of Erenford, beginning the chat with a curious, “How many years has it been, Lady Laylah?” Before the white-haired and age-wrinkled woman responded with a pained laugh that it had been at least two since Aelor and Aelora had toured the Riverlands, and met so many, the elder Lady Laylah included. Aelora apologized for the inconvenience and promised to send her own Maester as purple eyes noticed Laylah’s hands gripping her left hip under her gown.

When the train of servants was gone in a minute more, Aelora helped the woman because every single eye in the corridor was on the Targaryen Princess, and they would move for her, and so long as she helped the elder Lady get started down the corridor they moved for Lady Laylah too.

Then there was a blockage in the eastern stair. There were no servants to blame here, they weren’t allowed on the eastern stair, just some lingering that had turned into some words exchanged which had turned into less appropriate words. Aelora laughed loudly, tilting her head towards Elayne, and saying loud enough to be heard, “It’s true. I really do pity any man who causes a scene in the Prince of Summerhall’s home. The things I’ve seen that man do…” Her head shook, sadly, in a jest so dry it would be impossible to tell where humor began or ended, and where truth began or ended.

The stairs started moving, a group of young Lords moving aside and insisting the two Ladies go ahead. They were polite enough with their words, but their eyes Aelora could feel until they turned the corner to go up the final bit of stairs. Two older men in finery were whispering near the stairs, pausing for the two young Ladies to pass. Targaryen men-at-arms stood sentinel almost everywhere they looked, including outside her door.

“This is Lady Elayne,” Aelora explained to Timm and Ed, left of the door and right of the door, before opening the door and inviting Elayne in with the formality of a Princess raised in royal residences all her life. The space was mostly bed with the outer wall lined with windows draped in delicate white that pooled on the floor just barely and a balcony beyond, lined with small trees and flower bushes grown in ornate clay pots, while the interior was a large bed and a round table room enough for six, at most, and a table off to the side for basin and her stock of candles. Just inside the door and to the left was a long, narrow, table hugging the wall that was covered in books, at least a dozen, as well as a seeing glass, and an empty space where books had been shoved aside that was covered with various parchments, with drawings in thick black lines of structures not familiar to any Westerosi, and letters half written, at least three, in three different languages; High Valyrian, Braavosi, and Volantene.

The bed was a mix of furs and linens and finer fabrics beneath, where the bed met the wall was a mass of pillows in a rainbow of colors and varying fabrics that reached no less than three feet from the bed itself. She motioned to the two bottles at the table’s center; with four empty cups standing adjacent. The blue bottle, she explained, was a rare sweetwine she recommended from Dorne while the red was a sweet cider. There were apples, oranges, and grapes littered around the bottles and cups, to which Aelora simply told Elayne to help herself should she want.

The look in Elayne’s eyes reminded Aelora that she hadn’t said anything to Elayne the entire way there. Her expression remained serene, her tone as calm and happy as the courtyard before, her lips curving to a rueful tiny smile. “I understand, Lady Elayne. Truly. It is a tale I’ve witnessed many times before. You may breathe. This looks like your first time in such a setting, with the people, and the politics, and the never-ending never-ending? I promise this is not my first day as a Targaryen Princess. You may believe that and relax. At least until we dine. I’ll send one of my ladies to go with our messenger to your family as they deliver the invitation to pick out a gown for tonight among your things. Your sister’s sense of style is infamous and insults the Gods, so I must send my own trusted agent.”

There was amusement twinkling in those lavender eyes as she reminded herself she had no time for such amusements. “Yes, well, if you need another thing ask one of the fine men outside. The cuter of the two is the nicer of the two, as well, or at least the one less nervous about speaking to us. They’ll go with you if you need anything or wish to go anywhere…yes,” she said, looking this way, that way, back again to this way, before issuing a little sigh and nodding to, apparently, herself, “Rest well, Lady Elayne.”

The whirlwind of Targaryen siblings swept her from her feet again and Elayne found herself led down halls and along stairs packed with an array of people she had never seen before. Of course, the cousins visited from time to time on their journeys about the realm, but Harrenhal's halls often echoed and rarely were so full. Still, Elayne followed and watched, helping Aelore as she could with the elderly Lady Laylah, giving disapproving frowns that were more curious than anything to the men who caused problems, and she watched.

The princess was skilled and practiced at handling these situations. A skill Elayne wished she could boast herself. Giving a small sigh as they're achieving the elaborate rooms, she could hardly believe these were borrowed and not her rooms in truth. Much had been brought along the road and it was befitting a princess. But then the woman spoke her bit and Elayne's stomach knotted. "Danelle has a well-thought-out sense of style." Which did not always suit Elayne's own tastes, but her first reaction was to defend her sister without thought or reason. Feeling heat flood her cheeks, she looked away. Her hands smoothed over her silk gown as she recalled that Danelle had chosen it. Did it look so horrible?

Seeing as Aelora planned to leave her, Elayne's thoughts broke free. The one question that she could hardly keep in. "Your Highness? I do not mean to sound ungrateful for this honor but I must ask, why?" Her soft voice was tense with worry and confusion. The hurt about her own gown which she thought looked rather nice plain in her delicate voice. "I worry this shall cause problems for you and I would not wish that. Your brother says no one would speak of a Prince's honor, and forgive me for doing so, but my Father's sister is Jeyne Lothston. I well know people's whispering, even about kings, can disparage honor. Surely you must see that?" She knew that her cheeks must be flaming and her gaze drifted to the floor before snapping back to Aelora. Firmly taking this point to try and protect the honor of the man who had helped her. Prince or no, it was the right thing to do.

Aelora just smiled. "Is a grown Lady gaining a few new friends from an odd family really so dishonorable, Lady Elayne?"

There was a meekly suffering look as Aelora dodged her question! Yet she could not call the Princess out without being rude. Giving a defeated sigh, no one would reveal things to her ever it seemed, she dropped a curtsy to the woman. "No, Your Highness. I suspect not." Why did she think the sister would be any different from her brother? "I believe I shall rest as you so wisely suggested. I feel I have need." She felt as though she had been picked up and tossed into a whirlwind and found her feet only to land firmly on her bottom again. If her voice was a bit dry, who was to notice? "Please, if I may be of service in any way, Your Highness, I would be glad to be of assistance." She gave Aelora a hopeful look. Elayne would not see their kindness and care go without return.

She hoped Targaryen madness did not come in pairs with twins, but it seemed so. Surely there could be no other answer to this madness and they had offered no other reason!

“You can help me set up dinner when it’s closer to time. We’ll have to chase down plates, cups…everything not nailed down or reserved for my uncle seems to be fair game as a dozen meals get served in these walls, alone, never mind the dozens more outside these walls…” Aelora lingered at the door a moment, the corner of her eye-catching the table near the door, and the letters. Her lips drew grim as she sighed lightly and shuffled papers into appropriate books, where she kept them.
“My brother has an eye for people in need, Elayne. He’s…forgetful, at times cold, at times unthoughtful, and so much more…but he’s always had a good heart. If you’re worried about the why I wouldn’t. Because he wants to, and I’ve known him and his choices long enough to be intrigued, too. So enjoy being intriguing, Lady Elayne.” Words punctuated with a small chuckle as she looked back to Elayne, bidding her rest easy.

The woman flushed and gave a weak protest that Prince Aelor was certainly not unthoughtful, or forgetful and certainly not cold! Stammering over the words, she fell silent with a shake of her head in disagreement. Firm disagreement, and accepted the bid that she rest and a promise of her aid for the hunt in such elusive things. Though she meekly added she would fair better with a guide.


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Apollosarcher Knight with the Rowan Shield

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Barth Blacksword,
Lord of Winterfell





Nearly two thousand men at his back as they had traveled days and prepared as best they could they had been searching for ruins and signs of battle. Now they had their answer Barthogan stood over desiccated and chewed human bones the village around them burned down and and destroyed one of the scouts vomiting as he had little stomach for it. "Aye, it's the Skags... Only people worse are the wildlings. We make for Karhold. We will need more men. Have the scouts track them, carful and quiet too. Send riders to the Manderlys... We may have needs of their knights for this." He explained scratching his beard as he looked along seeing more smoke in the distance. "And a rider to Karhold... This is their land, their men will be useful. Our forces together should crush this horde of unruly fools." He turned looking around at his sworn swords and nodded. "We keep on them but look for their ships too. Best to separate them from the boats and force them towards us without a method of retreat."

Barthogan stared hard as he mounted his horse a big black mare that could run all day with him sat astride on her back, one that had been a gift from Brandon. He thought of his brother off down in the south probably drinking with Lannisters and talking of trade with Tyrells, maybe even feasting with one of the dragons. His brother was the diplomatic sorts, the reasonable sort, the thinking sort. Barth touched a hand to Ice and gave a grin, this was all he needed to be a good lord of Winterfell to fell his foemen and cleave traitors in twain. He was his father's son and with iron grip and steady hand he'd direct the north for years to come or so he hoped. Yet his age caught up with him sometimes he couldn't quiet walk right in the morning or he'd have to wrap warm towels around his arms to ease the pain in the muscle.

He walked back towards his horse sighing as he looked out at the horizon, maybe it was time to stop... To rest and command, not charging in the van with his men, or riding round the flanks with the outriders. Perhaps he should take the advice of others, he was old now... He paused leading his horse to trough of water and brushing her down as he sank against a tree. Fetching out an oil cloth as he laid the great family heirloom Ice down across his legs. Slowly oiling the blade as he wondered how many generations had oiled this sword next to a weirwood... And how many more would, that this blade was their connection to each other. How they held it... How they took the heads of those they demanded justice from with it. Ice was his... And yet part of him wondered if it was safe to wander with this blade so far from home towards an enemy mob.

No leaving it at home only give Edric ideas... But perhaps it should not be his in the next battle to precious to risk to monstrous cannibals in battles untested. As he cleaned his blade he looked up to see a crow perched above staring down at him as he yet again drifted his thoughts back. He wondered what it would have been like at the Wall as first ranger, as Lord Commander... He would have done it eventually as good as he was in his youth. Still though... He had to admit for not having fought wars Brandon was sharp, honed from fighting his brothers to learn and his father's orders. To be the first to hunt and kill a dire wolf in gods know how many years after it slayed their father? He had to admit Blacksword wasn't much of a title compared to Wolf Lord. Both were better than Edric's moniker the nobility had given him, the patient?! Bah, he'd never have Winterfell or the north no sane lord would follow him as long as any other Stark lived he was sniveling coward more concerned with the Red Keep than the North.


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Ezekiel

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The Thunder Of Hooves


Shiera had not explicitly had any dresses in the garish colors of House Bracken, yet, her maids had been rather resourceful in getting her what she desired while on their journey to Summerhall. Few would deny her her desires. It had started as an errant thought, as if having spent weeks with Aegor was not enough of a slight to her Brynden. Certainly the Bloodraven had heard by now where she had gone and who she had taken to bed in his place. Or whose bed she had been taken to; in the quiet moments by herself, she struggled to decide if it was her or Aegor who truly had the upper hand in the game they played.

“It’s finished, my lady.” Her maid disturbed her from her musings. Jeyne held the surcoat delicately in her outstretched hands.

“Very good, girl. Leave it there, I’ll need you to deliver a message to Aegor. Tell him I will ride with him as we enter Summerhall. And find your tongue to remind him I’ll not take no for an answer.”

The maid’s reluctance to deliver these messages had never faded, but she had at least stopped protesting. Shiera had already been dressed for this final stretch of their journey, and while they were not riding clothes, as surely Aegor would be quick to point out, they were at least slightly more practical than her normal attire. She picked up the surcoat that Jeyne had left for her. It was heavier than she would normally wear, not the delicate fabrics she favored. Yet she sought to make a statement, and the large red stallion of House Bracken embroidered across the back was the garish display she sought.

Shiera joined Bittersteel at the front of the train as Summerhall came into view. It was one of the few times on their journey she had moved herself to ride instead of travel in the wheelhouse, but she would not ruin her entry by looking road-weary. Especially not with so many eyes to be upon her.

In contrast to the sight of Aegor that Shiera had no doubt come to expect, neither he, nor the men with him, were garbed in simple riding leathers. Instead, the bold yellow of House Bracken adorned them, cloaks and tabards over finely polished, if still functional, armour.The red charger, rampant, stood out on the flowing cloaks which draped back over their steeds, that is except for Bittersteel himself. His own personal heraldry, a more recent creation, bore the scaled wings of the Targaryen dragon upon the horse’s back, and its mouth spewed a stylised fire. It was an unusually aesthetic decision for the man, but certainly stood out as a statement of his unique heritage.

In their time traveling the Riverlands and Northern Reach the infamous rumour about Aegor’s lack of ability to show good humour had proven wrong on many occasions, but it had still been largely concealed from the party as a whole. The small smile, that rose to his features as he turned in the saddle to regard her arrival was not, a rare glimmer upon his iron visage.

“I am surprised you can bear it.” His amusement rumbled forth, his steed keeping stride with her own. It was a large steed for her, they did not travel with steeds not bred for use in their campaigns, but that perhaps only added to the display of her arrival. Whether he spoke of the material, or the mount, as unclear, but he shortly continued. “I’d be careful, I might start expecting it of you, maybe a few weeks on the road really have shown you something.”

“A few weeks on the road, with you, have shown me several things.” She spared a small glance to him, her lips turned upwards in a knowing smile. “I’d prefer to think you had learned that there are more pleasurable ways to travel than on horseback, but you may be impossible to teach.” Shiera, for all her confidence, did struggle to ride a steed quite like the beasts that Aegor and his men rode with. The man who had prepared her ride had tried and failed to hide the judgemental look when she asked for the most gentle of the creatures.

“We can’t all live in wheelhouses.” He murmured, riding closely enough that he could have pulled his arm around her if he so wished, but if the woman complained at the scratchiness of his gambeson from before, she’d certainly have words about plate and mail. “Someone has to hunt the duck you and your ladies munch away on all day.” His tone came close to a lightly teasing, no doubt he would have, were they alone, but his voice never quite lost all of the authoritative command he used before his men.

Shiera caught the tone that she had struggled to parse when they first set off from Stone Hedge. She had come to tease him about that more often than not, though she held her tongue when his men were nearby. It seemed a small price to pay for when he had finally agreed to abandon his duties for brief moments.

Yet, Summerhall now loomed ahead of them and a pit of reticence grew in her stomach. Their company on the road had seemed eternal and ephemeral, for a time. Now reality stared back at her. Westeros gathered, and with it, that which she had fled. Shiera sought a few more moments of the easiness they had found with one another. A pout pulled at her lips. “Though I wish you had shared your plans for your new heraldry. It is you who holds my allegiance.” Not Bracken. A thought left unsaid, and one perhaps that could prove only too fleeting if also completely true for the moment.

The pout was enough for him to lean over, despite the need to retain his sense of purpose and command, placing a kiss to the softness of her cheek, the coarse hairs of his newly trimmed beard running along her pale skin. “No, but I do enjoy the sight of it on you. Perhaps allow me one first revelation to the nobility of the realm before I share it, then I am sure your ladies can get to work. They seem to jump enough at the sight of me still.” His eyes settled on the distant sight of Summerhall. The palace built for a rival, no doubt soon a foe, and steel returned to his visage. The thought had crossed his mind on several occasions on the ride, to simply not go, take Shiera away somewhere else they could lose all the disappointments that everyone else brought. Daemon had summoned him, however, and he could not quite abandon the work of decades for her. Not when her whims could change on the morrow.

“They find you to be rather…imposing. I cannot say why with any certainty.” She stared straight ahead at the comment though there she knew full well how little her ladies trusted him and why. “But fine, I shall wait with as much patience as I can muster before setting them off to correct this design.” If only he had perhaps selected less garish colors, but it seemed unlikely he’d appreciate such feedback. She allowed them to ride on in silence for a few minutes, her lip caught between her teeth. “Does Daemon expect me?”

“I didn’t expect you.” Aegor’s response was short, but it put words to the lingering sense of mystery around Shiera’s presence at his side. Still, there was none of the bitterness that had so often tainted his words towards her when they had first reunited at Stone Hedge. “And I do not keep ravens in my pockets.” There again was the ghost of good humour, a jest with her that was not meant harshly, and a slight upturn of his lips as he turned to study her again. Even in an outfit her, admittedly skilled, ladies had put together on the road she was stunning, and there was certainly something to seeing her in the heraldry of the house he had been born to. “I always thought you enjoyed making an entrance.”

As if timed to perfection, and perhaps it truly was, one of Aegor’s men pressed his lips to a horn and blared a short cascade of notes. The horn was a spoil of war from the Hill Tribes, a loud haunting noise, even when played in the rhythm of an Andal refrain, announcing their arrival. The horses spurred into a faster canter, moving in formation with enough pace as to not be challenged by any on the foot as they prepared to move into the tent city surrounding the palace, yellow cloaks cast behind them by wind and speed, but not so fast as to be perceived as an onrushing threat. The horn sounded again, one further time, rebounding around the camp.

Bittersteel had arrived.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Almalthia
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Almalthia Friendly neighborhood redhead

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Mischief for the Girls




Gwen grinning from ear to ear turned toward the lists to see if she could find Mathias since looking for Beylee or Sasja. She composed her face but the sparkle of excitement still hung around on her smile and in her eyes. Shading her eyes she looked around.

Ashe dropped down in front of her where he’d been sneaking around hoping on crates and shimming across trees. "My, my cousin, aren't you popular with men today? What would uncle say after he’s promised your family he’d look after and keep you safe." He chuckled, flipping a coin in one hand leaning on a tent. "Or are you just out here to break all their hearts when you have to choose one?" He tapped his chin unsure.

Gwen raised an eyebrow at Ashe. "I break no one’s heart. Uncle told me I can take my time. And I intend to. There are no shortage of noble Houses that are looking at an alliance. Didn’t think you’d want to talk about marriages so soon Cuz." Snapping at Ashe giving him the reaction he wanted. She couldn’t help but smile a little at him. Their teasing had a little bite to it, always had. She’d learned to nip back early and they’d go back and forth in little sparring matches.

“I already have a match settled. Not to mention I am not as unlearned as some, taverns are a great place to learn music and other things." He added leaning forward to tap her nose. "Besides, not going to hold for Gryff? Maybe see if you can win over that dour faced sword dancer?" He added getting in closer holding his hands behind his back.

“A tavern he says!! Uncle would skin every man alive within miles of the place. I have too much love for the good people of the North than to deprive a woman of her favorite bed warmer on a cold winter night. That is after all you men are good for. I’ll pop you one if you mention Gryff again." She blushed. "If he hasn’t come around now then he won’t. I need options. So I am going to make it my mission to meet all the eligible young men here."

“Oh please and where do you think my dear father learned all he did? From taverns the same as he let me. If you are going to rule, folk got to know folk!" Ashe chuckled then rolled his eyes skirting around her as looked her over. "Oh men are good for plenty more... Then again I suppose you wouldn’t know Beylee’s probably seen more of men than you!" He laughed then turned to head away from her heading to see what the camp grounds the Starks had set up were like. "Mathias and the little wolf are arguing over the tourney grounds. She wants to be his squire and he’s not having it."

“You would say that about your sister only when she isn’t around to hear it. Give you a scar for that comment she would. Only problem dear Ashe with me being in a tavern is that I haven’t been able to pass for a boy since before I flowered." Gwen kept pace with Ashe. "Have you seen Sasja?"

“Ah, Sasja, the only person able to keep up with me on the hunt. I believe she was helping Beylee if you need a hand I can track her. About the only who can with how nimble our little sprite is." He spoke then tapped his chin. "I dunno, I feel like you could pass for a boy if you bound those tits of yours." He spoke ducking away and jumping up onto a stack of crates. "Head towards the tourney grounds, I’ll take the high road and see what I can see!" He added jumping off onto a passing crate and making haste away from her no doubt perturbed self.

“You have to come to roost at some point. Just you wait. Just you wait." Gwen muttered at Ashe as he stalked off. She turned and looked over at Mathias with Beylee haranguing him.

Rolling her eyes Gwen approached the pair. "Will you stop shrieking like a harpy at Mathias? He said no. What more do you need to hear?"

Beylee put her fists on her hips and turned to Gwen sticking out her tongue. "Oh lighten up, I’m not shrieking. That’s you when you see a spider!" She argued as she looked back at Mathias who was stepping out from his tent wearing just a simple sack cloth shirt and a pair of britches held up by his belt. His heavy riding boots on his feet as he had the ancient version of Ice laid across his shoulder still in its massive fur scabbard. He held it over the shoulder with one arm looking down at the two girls.

“Beylee I’m not a knight so you wouldn’t even be a squire." He answered as tried to reason with the younger girl again.

Rolling her eyes at Beylee and crossing her arms under a generous bosom Gewn smirked and called Beylee the hated nickname. "Alright Bumblebee you heard him. Let's go find our little Sprite." It had been one time that Beylee, likely egged on by Ashe, had put a spider on her pillow. One time! Beylee was clueless about Gwen's. "Stop bugging Mathias BumbleBee. He's a big man, he ties his own boots and everything. Besides the minute you can handle Mentyr you can squire."

Gwen smirked. She knew no one could handle Mentyr but her. He was as sweet as honey with her but with anyone else he was evil incarnate. She was proud of it and swore he had the soul of a dragon, and like in the histories only one rider could claim him. Well she had.


The Freys had decided to spend some coin on libations and had made some purchases at the Stark tent. Beer. Lots of beer. "You seriously think that Snow boy has a chance?"

“Eh, winter comes sometime."

A handful of men laughed well into their cups sniggering about how they were sure the Tyrells would stink of roses. And who would be man enough to try for a Lannister whelp.

Sasja was watching the Freys drink themselves stupider from within the tent, her hands moving down to check a little pouch at her side as she sized them up. She had bound up her hair, smudged some dirt on her cheeks and reversed her cloak of House Reed green to show only plain brown lining. Combined with her usual trousers and hunting clothes she figured she could do a fair job of passing for a serving boy long enough to get the job done. Let ‘Lee fight over helping Mathias tomorrow. Sasja was going to do something to even the odds tonight.

And if the champion of the hated Freys who’d been warring on and off with her family for centuries now so happened to shit his armor in public tomorrow, well, two frogs with one stab.

Ashe dropped down next to Sasja with a grin on his face looking at the bag. "I like how you think, sister... Hey, maybe next time we slip a little itching powder into their clothes?" He spoke sling dangling from his hip looking at the kegs as he paused a second. "You're gonna need a distraction... Luckily I happen to be an expert at that. Watch and learn little sprite, some tricks you can’t learn from the forest." He loaded an acorn into his sling and swirled it around at his side. A moment from his strong left hand he let it fly, a tink and one very loud splash one of the knights dumping a full mug of the frothie stuff right over top of their favorite to win.

While the ensuing brawl drew their attention, Sasja crept her way towards the Freys party, keeping her eyes downcast and doing her best imitation of a servant. To scum like the Freys, smallfolk were the next best thing to invisible so even if she were spotted near the drinks they’d hopefully ignore her. As she went through the motions of picking up the mug that Ashe had knocked over and sopping up the mess, she dropped a handful of powder into the Frey competitor’s drink, watching it fizzle and seemingly vanish. It was meant as a purgative in case of poisonings intentional or accidental, but in this small an amount it likely wouldn’t hit until morning. With that done she collected the spilled mug and did her best innocent serving boy shuffle back over to the tent interior.

Meanwhile Beylee skipped along with Gwen, looking for the missing Sasja humming as they slowly made their way back towards the Stark tents. Yells and the sounds of fists and violence, no doubt concerning could it be a brawl or maybe some wrestling between Umber and Mormont? When they looked up, they saw the darkly cloaked Ashe bolting with a wink past two men in House Frey tunics who had tried to break up the fighting. Of course Ashe was up to his usual tricks or... Maybe Sasja’s? Her family did harbor a deep grudge with the Frey’s.

“Oh the Crone take it!" Gwen muttered as she watched Ashe run off with a wink. Gwen pulled Beylee behind her. Hearing the meaty sounds of fists flying and arguing. Grinding her teeth Gwen stayed out of sight and signaled Beylee with Sasja’s hand signals to ‘Wait here’.

Gwen crouched and peaked around the side of the tent to see if she could spot Sasja. Scanning past the lugs that were tussling and others throwing punches or making general asses of themselves Gwen was looking for the subtle artistry that was Sasja hiding. Gwen remembered when Sasja had first come to them at Winterfell. The tiny quiet girl had been a darker shadow against Uncle Brandon.

Sasja had been about ten. Only a couple of years older than Gwen herself had been when she’d been warded. But Sasja had been a fellow relation that was surprised by the warm welcome they received at Winterfell. Well mostly warm. Gwen had learned to avoid Aregelle, Torrhen, Cregard and Uncle Edric early out of necessity. She had passed on the message and lesson to Sasja without letting the girl go through it.

Seeing as Sasja had already finished with her little ‘mission’ she had no problem walking right up behind Gwen, still in her servant boy disguise. "Hello cousin, can I get you an ale? I don’t recommend what they Freys have been drinking though, I’m sure they’ll regret it come morning." She gave the brawling group a pointed look, green eyes flashing as she tried to hide her self-satisfied grin.

Gwen’s eyes nearly fell out of her head and she sighed softly. Sasja had startled her, like she normally did. Turning to Sasja she signed furiously. ‘Not good. Bad heart.’ Gwen didn’t know as much of the signs as Sasja and her gestures were jerky with anger and a touch of fear. So her sentences were short and not as fluid as they normally were.

Sasja still couldn’t keep the smile off her face as she signed back ‘Your heart’s fine. Your eyes and ears need work.’ She often made a game of sneaking up on the other Stark children, though only Ashe could catch her every time. They had all had a lot longer to learn the sorts of lessons she didn’t have at Greywater. So, Teaching them the hand sign language she’d learned from the Reed’s Huntsmistress and sneaking up on them and the like were her own little way of showing off. "Did Lee ever settle if she was squiring for Mathias? If we can’t, what am I supposed to do tomorrow? Just sit in the stands?"

Pulling Beylee and Sasja away from the brawl, Gwen headed for the Stark tent. There was no way Beylee would be quiet enough not to be noticed by the tent full of Freys. Getting far enough away so as to not attract attention she turned to Sasja. "Yes she did. She will not be squiring for our cousin. Yes we will be sitting in the stands." Gwen eyed the two intensely. “Uncle Brandon has me watching out for you both and thankfully he has not given me the task of trying to wrangle you two into court gowns. But I will not have either of you in anything that isn’t clean and stain free."

Smiling Gwen stated. "He didn’t say we couldn’t have as much fun as we wanted today. Now we have about…” She looked at the position of the sun. "Possibly an hour before someone can wake him or face my wrath. So you two hoydens game?"

Beylee grinned, getting an idea. "Can we go shoot apples out of trees? Or maybe sneak off to go hunting?" She spoke her ideas of fun clearly more like her brothers... Or her father for that matter, she didn’t have much fun wasn’t hunting, fighting, or something unladylike it seemed. "Oh, oh! Maybe find a stream and go fishing. I bet it’s pretty different to ice fishing." She added thoughtfully as usual her first idea involved killing something to eat, no wonder the girl got along with her brothers so well.

“I’m not sure about that. The hunting isn’t likely to be very good anywhere near the pavilions or the surrounding woodlands. Too much noise and humanity frightens off the game. Anyway, what was your idea of a good time? You’re sure it’s not something that will trick us into impractical dresses?"

Nodding at what Sasja said, Gwen smiled. "If I wanted a headache then I would try to teach a stone to hop. No dresses. You have my word. I know what I want to do but I’m open to suggestions."

“Oh oh idea! Let's go join in the feasting at the Stark camp. Maybe see about some new furs or maybe some of the wares brought down?" It was hard in the north to shop for goods if you didn’t travel hundreds of miles so having them all here was a good opportunity. "Or maybe we will get you a new knife Sasja? Or presents for the boys?"

Sasja grinned at the mention of new wares “Well, I could use a new knife or two. Maybe one that’s decent for throwing, all I’ve got is a hunting knife right now. I want some things to make any jumped up boys in armor think twice before they mess with me!" Sasja knew from her family’s stories that Southroners especially could be less than kind towards Crannog folk, even compared to some of the ruder Northerners she’d encountered before.

Grinning Gwen motioned for the two younger cousins to lead the way. "I was thinking Northern things are great but they can get those any time. I say we branch out in ideas and get something as special as they are."

“Like what? You want to look at Lannister jewels and gold perhaps?" Beylee rolled her eyes. "Baubles such as that aren’t worth anything but the price men pay to appease others." She muttered with a nod looking at Sasja. "You forget we aren’t much for southern finery... The only thing I’ve heard they have here that we cannot get in the north is weirwood bows... Though it’s profane to chop down the gods' sight they do it here. Apparently the wood conducts magic rather well; they have arrows and bows made from it in some scarcity."

Rolling her eyes Gwen shook her head. "Well you can look in the Northern camps but I am going to find something that is different. I want it to be as special as they are."

Gwen crossed to the stalls that her Uncle had set up with the wares. She knew there wasn’t anything here that Ashe, Gryffith or Mathias couldn’t make or buy on their own. She wanted something that they would treasure. Maybe some black swan fletched arrows for Ashe. Maybe an oiled deerskin shield cover for Mathias.

Gryffith’s gift was intangible. She was going to go to Lady Redwyne and speak to her. She was going to fix what she messed up. Gryffith was going to be happy and she was going to have a hand in it. That would be the end of this one sided infatuation.

“Gwennie has a point. Let’s look at the Southron stuff! Besides, Weirwood bows and spearshafts aren’t exactly sacrilege. The Children used Weirwood in their weapons, provided it was deadfall or excess off a tree. It’s stronger and more flexible than any other wood and it won’t rot to pieces in the swamps of the Neck! It might be neat to have one!"

“I’ve heard a few traders from Essos have set up here as well... Maybe see if we can find something from far beyond? That would be good for gifts right?" Beylee added, tapping her chin. "Maybe even a trinket or something from the free cities!" She spoke knowing they had many strange and wondrous creatures there.

“See now that sounds more exciting than things they can get anywhere in the North. Ohhhhh maybe they have a Summer Isles bow!! Ashe would love that!!" Gwen was getting excited and thinking about the assortment of stalls that the girls could go to. She pulled the cousins along as they chattered all the way to the stalls that had items from across the sea.

Gwen was able to find black swan feathers and a very nice set of oiled waterproof white doeskin shield covers. Paying attention to both Beylee and Sasja while they were walking around looking at things so that she could get things for them after they walked off. They ranged from a buckler to a massive tower shield size. Her Uncle was the hardest to buy for. She eventually ran across a very smart looking cloak pin that was cast in silver and the jewel was a deep black that when the light caught it stripes of silver made it look as if there was a star caught in the jewel.




Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by LadyRunic
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LadyRunic The Laughing Raven

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House Lothston


It was supposed to be a simple thing, to find candles for the dinner. As to why she was to find candles rather than a servant who would know where the candles were was a rather apparent answer. Summerhall was filled to the brim with people and there were hardly enough to send one for the necessary items when they had numerous other lords and ladies and Princes and Princesses to tend to. Thus Aelora had asked that she, Elayne Lothston, look for candles. Which raised the more pressing question of why her precisely? Perhaps the Princess was not aware of the fact she had gotten lost ducking around the corner to avoid her cousin’s bloody words of glee about battles. Perhaps she thought thrusting Elayne into a turbulent castle would be most amusing, which Elayne could hardly place that cruelty upon the Princess.

Corridors that twisted and turned and stairs that led up and down. She dodged around servants, politely excused herself past parties that fill the hall in chatter or argument, and turned quickly around when she came across the scandal of a man and woman engaged in some enjoyment in a less than private stairwell. The sound of a startled scream and shouts of outrage from others also stumbling across the two had followed. Beating a flushed face, she paused in a window and took a minute to fan herself in the cool air. Her cheeks flushed from the press of people and her more recent embarrassment. Leaning against the stone, she wondered exactly where a storeroom was. Elayne figured she could go and summon one of her own servants to fetch candles but that would mean Danelle would tear strips from her hide and not allow her back which ultimately fail in the Princess’s request. That would not do at all!

Snapping open her fan, she sighed and took the slight quiet as respite. Summerhall was a grand castle, a place for lazy days to pass and watch as the years turned. Gentle compared to its infamous lord. Thinking of lords with tempers, led her down the trail of Targaryens and to Aelor. Her cheeks heated as she glowered at the silken fan as she recalled the predicament he had put her in! Well-meaning of course, Elayne could not fault him for that. A very lost young woman in a sea of tents, his help had been required. But to bring her here! Here in the middle of the tournament itself! Of course, that was going to drive her father to foam at the mouth in outrage, Danelle would be plotting how best to secure her in a marriage that would benefit the ends of the Heir of Harrenhal. Despite the Prince’s assurance that no one would speak on his honor, things were hardly so simple. She had tried to warn him and his sister. For what? Because for some reason they had shown her kindness and favor by their actions. Could she do any less than try to stem the fury her father would bring over the actions? No, she could not. It was simply the right thing to do. Just as she was doing the right thing by trying to find candles.

What was not the right thing to do was to find herself sitting practically in the lap of the Prince on a horse that moved slower than a butterfly! She fluttered her fan to banish the flush that rose to her cheeks. That had been far too bold even for one of his standings and Elayne had just accepted it! The woman knew she probably looked like a fluffed cat considering if she needed to repay some offense and smoothed her dress. And he had dared to handle her casually!

Well, she would give him what for! That was exactly what she would do, if he wasn’t the son of the Prince of Dragonston and future king in his own right. Perhaps he did have some rough edges as his sister had mentioned, but what man did not? Prince Aelor, at least, in some small way had a kindness about her that she had not seen among men. Not that she knew many men. Looking about the dark corridor, Elayne realized she had wandered in her thoughts and become hopelessly lost once more. Though it was remarkably not as cool as the shadows would suggest it would be, there was even the smell of cooking and that meant one thing.

There was a kitchen!

Slipping around the large door that was part of a servant’s corridor, Lady Elayne hesitated off to the side and snapped her fan closed, stowing it in her small pouch. Here servants bustled with trays, pots, pans, and whole spits of beasts. Rabbits, deer, hogs, and board to name a few she had seen. Having seen Harrenhal’s kitchen when her cousins visited she waited patiently at the side until a large man with a stout belly noticed the obvious noble. “Can I help you, M’Lady?” His voice was a battlefield roar over the din as he drew near. His tunic and apron were stained with sauces and flour. Elayne noted she had never seen a clean chef in her life. Gesturing the man to draw a bit nearer lest her voice not carry in the din, Elayne spoke in a firm, if apologetic tone.

“I need candles, for Princess Aelora. I doubt you could spare anyone with so many to feed to show me back to her quarters, but I would be much pleased for the candles, Chef…?” She offered no names and offered no more work than what could possibly be easily obtained. There was hardly any sense in disrupting his kitchen more than it was.

The big-bellied man nodded, seemingly thinking more to himself than as to why Princess Aelora would send a Lady. “Nir!” He snagged a small boy who was rushing about with a stack of rags and smell of someone used to fetching things. “Take this Lady to the store rooms and show her back to Princess Aelora’s chamber in the…” She lost the rest of his words in the din as a pile of plates clattered from two bickering maids. His orders delivered the man whirled on them with insults and snarls that made Elayne’s eyes widen.

Slipping out of the door as Nir skittered before her, she offered no conversation as the youth hardly explained where they were going other than pointing, leading her to the store room and then the rooms of the Princess. Pausing, she dug a groat from her pouch and clasped the boy’s hand about it with a cheery smile. “Thank you, Nir.” She whispered in her willowy voice. The boy only hesitated to give her a bow that nearly landed him on his face. His speech was a stuttering mess, explaining his silence, as he tried to get out his thanks as he scurried back off to the kitchen like his toes were held over the coals. They might well be if he was not back soon, she noted as she gave both guards a small thankful smile before slipping into the room. Perhaps she should have taken one of them, but it hadn’t seemed necessary.

Setting the candles carefully with the dwindled stock, she had enough for the night she thought. Sitting she poured a cup of the sweet cider and sipped at the drink. The kitchen had been sweltering compared to up here and Elayne let slip a forlorn sigh. Was she forever doomed to be sequestered in rooms and gardens? She had no real quarrel with it. The world was dark and full of terror if one listened to Danelle. Yet, from what she had seen there was beauty and wonder as well. Pulling the ribbon from her hair, she let the red-blonde locks tumble free down her back and shoulder without restraint to pool in her lap. Running her slim fingers through the locks, she hummed and picked up one of the books. Thankfully in the Westrosi language and not the other scribble that must be from Essos. She was not prying she reminded herself, it had been the twins in their Targaryen madness that had shuffled her off to this room.

Not that she had protested it. Dragging her fingers through her curls again, Elayne peered at the pages and hummed softly to herself. She should have brought her own books along to the tournament but Danelle had promised to burn one if she dared. ”You are here to look pretty and be seen. Listen to what is said. Learn who is who and seduce those who are acceptable.” Elayne cringed at the remembrance of the word. Seduce. How to move and allure a man, Jeyne had told her how and she must have some success still for men still watched when their Aunt walked by.

Seduce a man. Elayne took another sip of the cider and sighed as she basked in the sunlight that filled the room and set about reading. How could she seduce men when a particular man and his twin had secluded her and he had seduced her. Her lips twisted into a small sad smile. A fool she was. Elayne knew herself for true. She was a fool and while she might look favorably upon Prince Aelor. He was meant for another, a Princess or Higher Lady than she. It was best she found enjoyment in this small favor the twins had graced upon her before it ended and she was once again a pawn in the greater game. :Best to privately nurse the small care she felt for the Prince than allow her thoughts to wander into what could never be. How often had she dreamed as one of her cousins had come by Harrenhal? For nothing, it had been no real love then but a private hope that one of them might agree to a cousin for wife. Something which would be acceptable to both Manfryd and Danelle. ”Take the happiness as it comes and try to see some benefit to the sorrow.” She remarked more to herself than anyone else. Firming setting her mind to rights she sipped at cider and delved into the book as a leg tucked up underneath her.




The conversation had gone fairly well, though no direct aid could have been accepted. Certainly nine had been offered. Danelle felt her temper become irked at that thought, but she could not afford to show it as she stepped into the sun's rays as they came through the smokey trails of campfires. What had been calmness had turned into a frantic scramble of men, noble and guards alike. The two from Harrenhal looking as though their Graves might be met while the massive Bennifer had a thoughtful look.

A giant bear just as his father had been, Danelle thought absently before her attention snapped to the two men. Two men, and no sweet sister to be shepherd about. "Where is Elayne?" Her voice surely turned the summer to winter in those three simple words. A simple question, a simpler answer. The latrine, ducked into a tent to take a break from the sun, somewhere where the fragile girl might rest.

"Gone, M'lady." One man, the older, answered stiffly. "She left the circle of tents."

Bennifer Blackwood gave an apologetic look to his cousin. "She was feeling faint, and in the camp, cousin. I went to find her a drink and upon returning she was no where in sight." He shrugged, so unconcerned! Danelle felt her teeth grind as she bristled. "Be at ease, the Tourney is safe."

"Safe." She spat the word and gestured for the guards to follow her. "Safe!" She hissed and stalked like a hunting wolf through the streets of the city of tents. Her eyes flashing as she listened to word and chatter, for any sign of an unthinking chit who would wander about alone!

"It's true! Saw them meself!" She pause as she noticed a young lad, excitedly dancing on his toes. "A girl all in silk and purple! Hair like red gold!" She sized the young boy's arm and spun him from his playmates, his terror rising in peasant brown eyes.

"The girl, was she to my shoulder. Thin. Hair in curls with blue eyes." The questions came out in sharp statements, and the boy nodded in terror. "Where? Stranger take you boy, where?" She shook him like the rat he was.

His voice was high and reedy as he stammered out the reply. "In the Prince's lap! Goin' towards Summerhall proper, Milady!" Finding himself suddenly free the urchin turned and ran, his livery flapping with the smell of piss.

Elayne had been taken by a Targaryen Prince? The Prince, the boy had said. She considered summoning him back by force and then dismissed the idea. There were plenty of Princes, but she had gotten the lad's head nodding on the description. It was Elayne. Snarling, she considered walking up to tear apart the Hall itself. To find the Prince and drive him at sword point from her fool sister!

Her plans were not ruined, not yet. There had to be a way to salvage the girl, to get her to wed a more proper fellow rather than following Jeyne into becoming a Targaryen whore. Turning back towards her own tents, she figured as to find Manfryd. Her fury making the guards sweat and march in sync behind her. The one good thing, this might kill the man. Then she would bring all of Harrenhal to get Elayne back and marry her at sword point to some husband. "Worthless wench, I'll make sure she never walks again." She whispered, promising to see the girl bound in a room. How the hell had this happened?!


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