Hidden 11 mos ago 11 mos ago Post by Ezekiel
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Questions, Answers, Dreams

The Day Of The Tourney

The tournament ground was abuzz. In the bright light of mid-morning, the very day that the tournament was set to begin, the Blackfyres had arrived.

The call had carried through the assembled throng, passing from servant to servant, knight to knight, lord to lord. With fanfare to match the Targaryens from which their line drew, the sons and daughters of Daemon Blackfyre had arrived in force. His eldest twins had lead the way, garbed in the red plate that they had styled for some time, accomplished knights as they were in their own right, receiving no small share of the glory of adulation in their arrival.

Even that paled next to what was to come, a wave of anticipation that rippled through the throng of already gathering small-folk and attendants that suddenly crashed into life at the figure many had travelled great distance to see. The armour that clad his body was black, darker than night, contrasting with the flowing red of the tabard atop it. His features were concealed behind a helm, but it was instantly recognisable, the temples flaring into the wings of a dragon, which trailed into the rim of the visor, ending in two draconic mouths. The third head was formed in engravings on the crest of the helm, catching the light such that even with the darker colour, the visage was clear. The cheering begun before he was even in sight to most, the first cry of his name drifting to him as he spurred his steed into motion, from trot to canter, leaving behind the wheelhouses which brought the non-riders of his assembled retinue.


It was a greeting the rivalled any of the house of the dragon, and to many, he was. A true blooded Valyrian Prince, born of a Princess and Prince-to-be-King. A monarch, if not for chance.


The cries continued as he moved into the first clearing within the tent-city of the tourney grounds, riders, his sons among them, fanning out to create a cordone around their sire, Blackfyre banners unfurling in the morning glaze, the soft wind enough to stir them into life above the thunder of hooves. The cheering reached crescendo when the Blackfyre sire halted his steed and pulled his helm free, held under one arm. The same wind that caught the banners threw back the silver-gold hair which framed his royal features, violet eyes as deep as any Targaryen’s had been for generations sparkling with mirth at the well wishes of the crowd. Each individual those eyes passed over felt a momentary, personal, connection to Daemon. He had that ability, an easy, effortless, charisma which burned as brightly for the commoner as it did the high lord. In those moments, the strain of life faded away. The endless struggle for vindication. The love of the crowd didn’t discriminate between Targaryen and Blackfyre. But it was a fleeting love.

Then that gaze fell instead to the view of Summerhall, rising majestically over the camp and tournament grounds.

Reality came crashing back.
“I will go to the palace, announce us to our hosts.” Daemon spoke as the eldest of his son’s drew near, handing the lance he bore in his other hand to him as he did so. “Behave yourselves, the first lists are not long hence.” The comment was made with mirth and it brought a laugh from Aegon.

“As you say, Father.”

The mood was far quieter close to the palace, set back as it was from the nearest open space where the tournament could be struck. Still, the sound and smell of so much human activity reached here, passing over pristine gardens, bouncing from perfect artistic stone. There was nothing quite like Summerhall in the Seven Kingdoms. To many it represented everything that the Targaryen lineage had fallen to, that they wished Daemon to replace and rebuild, but he did not think so.

It was a dream of what could be, the kind that had taken Targaryens from lords in the sea to Kings of a continent.

He swung himself out of the saddle of his horse, handing the reigns to a particularly attentive page boy.

“Good, hard work builds strong knights, you’ll be a ser yet.” Daemon smiled to the lad, pressing a coin from his saddlebag to his palm. “Make sure you don’t lose her.” He jested, although the young man hadn’t quite recovered from registering just who’s steed he had collected. He was still standing in place when Daemon began his walk through the last of the gardens to reach the entryway to the pristine palace. He did not rush, drawing in the beauty of the gardens. Once could get lost for a lifetime here, and spent it all in idyll beauty. A thought for another lifetime, perhaps.

He stepped through the open doors, the atrium was cool, the palace built first to deal with the heat of Summer, as would suit a structure raised in the heart of the Reach. He imagined in winter’s a cold mist would settle on the land, great fires would have to be lit, but it would never be a harsh cold, not here.

Already he could hear the frantic muttering and scrabbling feet of servants, scurrying from him to inform someone important enough that the head of the black dragon had arrived. He did not mind the pause, it gave him some time to inspect the majestic atrium, with the roar of human activity a long way off.

“Quiet.” He breathed to himself, enjoying the moment.

The page that found her was white, and out of breath. She didn’t let him finish, the moment he got the name and location out she had turned and was walking, but the pace wasn’t unusual. Casual, her face a pleasant thing of secret smile and beauty. There was no surprise, there was no stress. In a way, it was the strangest happy feeling she had ever felt. Like some relief that’s unimaginable, until it was here.
And it was here: it was time to begin. Finally.

A gown of pale purple sandsilk that draped over her shoulders in wide straps, dragon fire embroidered around the sleeves and bodice in gold thread. Golden dyed sandals were on her feet, strapping up her leg, disappearing under the bottom hem of the dress. Her Valyrian hair fell behind her shoulders, artful tumbles with no hard curl, shining like she was a princess afforded the ability to take great care of her appearance.
The scent of her would’ve hit him before her voice came up from behind him as he looked about the atrium: like lavender, but sweeter, and fainter. “Hello, Daemon.”

The tone of voice behind the greeting was soft, but not out of sweetness or the dictums of manners. This was a deeper softness, the profound nostalgia of a heart greeting something it had been sadly waiting for. The affectionate melancholy was there in her eyes and on her eyes, behind a small wisp of a smile and purple eyes that had seen Daemon before.

“Princess,” It was a more formal greeting than her own, but it held no less warmth, spoken a little too quickly after her own to be a reaction to her words, but instead to the felt presence of her, both the air of the scent that dance from her, and the motion of her approach. He turned his head, but made no effort to address the direction of his form, no need to address the proximity of her unless he should turn to do so. He allowed that state to linger for some time, before he did act, turning to face her, and dipping his head in a proper, courtly, greeting. Still, he stood close, closer than the dictats of royal respect should allow.

She was very much like the breeze that danced about these halls, drifting in and out of the life others lived. His life, a fleeting glimpse of her. He wondered, in a moment of artistic indulgence, if she lived as others did when not observed, or was she some fae creature to ever skirt the mortal world? If that could be true, it would be in her.

“I am sorry to have arrived unannounced, but there were delays on the journey, I thought it best to make myself known sooner, given the time of the tourney draws close. I cannot say I am too dismayed, however, that it is you here to greet me, and not your uncle.” It would be a stretch to say Daemon hated any of the Targaryens in truth, for all that his cause set him against them, but of all of them, the least complicated of feelings was with Maekar. There was little warmth there. “It has been a long while, and this cooling sun shines a little brighter for your company.”

“…no, you’re not,” she said it in a whisper; a secret between just them that she, beyond all his natural doubt, knew. “Although that answer’s the question of if you’d like me to fetch the Prince of Summerhall for you.”

No. No he would not. It didn’t matter. She knew it didn’t matter. She waited, waited for the surprise, waited for the bits of it all that she couldn’t see. Like words on a book’s page that were ink-blotted or blurred by stain. Or as she described it to Aelor: like trying to see when a drop of rain has hit your eye. Squint, and you’d see enough, but some of the details were all but impossible to make out.

What did he want? Why was he here? Why was it important that she was?...what did he want from her?
The realisation cut without pain, a shock, but not one that disarmed, instead confirming some of what he came to seek. A recognition between them that cut away, rather than add to, the barriers between two souls.

“I am told you still dream, that you study our past as you always have.” It wasn’t so much a surprise he would still have knowledge of what occurred within Summerhall and the Red Keep, not least from his mother, who despite her want to roam freely, was still a fixture at one royal court or another. In the years of his half brother’s reign he had seen less and less of the twins, fleeting glimpses. The familiarity should not have been there, but it wafted freely from her, as gently as the folds of the silks she was clad in, bringing yet further truth to the validity of his suspicions.

“Our house has been shackled by a fear of what we were, or a lack of understanding. Magic, dragons, dreams, those were the true three heads.” His voice was low, not so much as to be conspiratorial, but quiet enough to be clear they were for her, and not the benefit of wider listeners who were no doubt about at all times in such places. “Show me.” He spoke those final words without demand or desperation, an understanding that they were matters of her understanding, and not his own, no matter the stock he already placed in them.

“Some nights I dream only of a door in snow. Then it grows dark, I feel a cold that has cruel intent, and all I see is falling snow…but I belong there. I’ve been there before; I will be there again. In the dark, with that cold, in that snow.”

Lavender eyes had faded from his as her words dove into the depths of dreams, seeing what she had only dreamed as if it was just over there beyond him. When her words ran out, she went silent, though her eyes stayed there for moments longer. Watching that snow fall. It broke when her eyes fluttered under full lashes and darted down, to the stone floor, before sweeping right, then left, head turning to even peek behind her, before she found the tips of her toes in those leather sandals, bringing her mouth closer to his ear before she revealed a whisper more hushed and quieter than most desperate secrets.

“The water wizards and the dragon lords, the longest shadow the world has ever seen looming in the east…wait.”
She was gone with impressive speed, all but running out of the space and through an arched doorway, disappearing like a silk wraith around a corner. For the near run, the soft sound of her footsteps against the stone floor would have announced her return as she slowed to walk around the corner and back out the arched doorway. Her skin touched with a little flushness, a little color, as her scent was twice as strong after the sudden, quick, quest.

She drew close and slowed even more, holding the item in her hands: a precious thing, a personal treasure without any doubt from the way she held it so tightly with both hands, looking at it, at him, back to it, and finally back to him. A small book bound in light brown leather. If he were to flip through it, he’d find a book of mostly filled pages. Scribbles, sketches, and a collection of her own private notes, from dreams to obsessions to mysteries in between the two. The writing was in elegant, thin, strokes of ink.

She held it out the foot or so between them, and nodded a reassurance, more to herself than to him. Show me, he had said to her. “A taste.”

He had not followed her, the pace at which she had flown from the room, that might have been concerning, seeming natural to him in the moment, an inkling, as if passively drawn from her, of the ability she had to see beyond what was freely offered.

His hands pressed gently around what was offered, not being so undiscerning as to open it before her, with an unspoken knowledge of what it would contain. His touch was as cautious as if she had handed him the crown itself, if not more so.

“Thank you, Princess, it will be returned to you.” He gave a smile of reassurance, that in contrast, very much was meant for her, and lacked no honesty. No matter what his ends or means, he would do so. The the smile became more courtly, and his words took on the volume that those royal conversations, made for everyone else in the room, seemed to have.

“Look for me in the lists, without your father present, I will have want for a challenge.” Even with the pretence of royal personality adopted, it was not arrogance. The two men were matched in their prime, and even still, that victory had been so shocking as to earn the man his nomer. Without the other to test skill against, one could crown the other the victor at the start and be done with it. He did not bow his head low, and his vision lingered upon her, but there was no disrespect. Only the promise of the future.

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Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Ruby
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Ruby No One Cares

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Lord Barthogan of House Stark & Princess Saeria of House Martell
Collab with @Apollosarcher

Barthogan Stark tent was along the coast, and the natural harbor gave them a view if the skags went for their long ships. Autumn winds. His banners flew high as the Direwolf were in the air giving pause to the damnable Skags who were off along the countryside. They wouldn’t organize for a battle, no they were scavengers and carrion pickers. He had half a mind to wipe the island's entire population out after this stunt of theirs waging an armed rebellion. They were fools and traitors; the lot of them, Karstarks, had lost near three hundred people by his scouts' guess if they didn’t find more bodies.

He had made a sound plan, he’d called the banners of Manderly and Karstark, not to mention the aid of House Arryn’s Knights eager for some kind of fight. The Night's Watch knew of Torwynd, King of Stone as he called himself; they wanted the bastard Lord Commander Forrester was already getting his rangers back to come southward. He might have been a minor house from Glover but the Forrester lad was quick with a blade and better with a plan, no wonder he made Lord Commander. Skags didn’t want a fight; they wanted to be like the Ironborn raid and pillage; he'd dealt with fools like that before.

Break his forces up and press from each side, pin them in and use rides to bring down runners. The Skags had few horses or their one horned goats, morons might call a unicorn, but cut them off and push. When it came time for battle they were savages with poor steel, little armor, and no knowledge of the land. This was not their bloody island and he was not going to tolerate their barely contained Wildling notions.

Of course, the final concern of the evening made its way to him, one of his sworn swords out scouting the enemy. Reynar Holt had found something far more interesting, a Dornish Princess lost in a land of ice and snow. If this had been thirty years ago... He might have tried to hold her captive but his tempers had cooled... Somewhat. Dornish had still taken Rickon from him; it was hard to forgive that. Princess Saeria Martell was brought forth, she’d been given a hot bath and a fresh change of proper winter clothes from his own forests. The older man leaned back, the famed Greatsword Ice was next to him in its sheath. It was said Barth the Blacksword earned his name by taking that up and cleaving half dozen men in twain with a strike.

He was big, gruff looking yet he was old and tired, the cold did little to faze him but it was the authority, he never wanted to Lord it hung on him. Like weights it dragged in how he stood, how he moved even in just how he welcomed the Princess. “Ah, welcome princess. I’d offer you something more... Suitable but I don’t know much of courtly manners and practices, we care little for it here. What we will have is words, soup, meat, bread, and beer if you partake in those sorts of things with barbarians like me’self.” He spoke with a grin, as moments later food was brought a thick brown soup filled with mixed vegetables from the north hearty and filling men burned off food at an astounding rate in the cold so they ate plenty more here.

Gods, he believes I’m who I said I am.

The shock of it took her a few moments, though doubtful such a pause was noticed, as the Stark Lord spoke. It made her reconsider the dagger at the small of her back—the Stark men had ordered her to hand over her weapons. So, she gave them the bow, the quiver of arrows, and two daggers. They never searched her, however, allowing her the dagger at the back of her thick belt under the many layers that even a tent and brazier fit for a Stark Lord wasn’t enough to make Saeria feel anything but chilled even in his tent.

The Stark Lord was older but could easily beat her to death if he got his hands on her. Two guards outside the tent. She believed she heard footsteps in snow on the other side of the tent’s far thick canvas wall; there would be men all around, armed, and ready. Without the bow, without Reginald, who they tied up near their primary entrance to the camp along the shore…running wouldn’t do her much good. Where would she go? It was hard enough with her items and her stubborn horse. Without them she’d be good as dead, with no good-hearted commoner to save her this time, she reckoned.

Left with precious few options, the Princess simply took the few steps towards the nearest table, stool a mug of beer that didn’t seem claimed, and brought it up to her mouth. It wasn’t a sip, it was a quaffing that left lines of beer running from her either side of her mouth, down her chin and to her neck by the time she pulled the mug away, all but empty, a few heavy breaths and…a belch that could have rocked the wooden foundations of Barth’s tent.

The kind of sound that had no business coming from the Dornish Princess as she wiped her chin with her forearm in a lazy wipe, setting the mug down and nodding at the Stark Lord. “Speaking of Barbarian life: I killed someone. Your man wouldn’t tell me who he was. It looks like you’re here for a fight…I killed one of the other side, I’m thinking?”

Barth cracked a grin. “I like you girl.” He answered watching the beer run down her face. “Aye, Skagosi are up in arms, something something King of Stone. We’ve found evidence they’ve been ritualizing and eating the smallfolk here.” He spoke as he sat up, cracking his neck as he tried to get comfortable. “I am Barthogan Stark, to you folk down in Dorne you call me Blacksword... Unless you prefer to use the title the men with purple eyes give me.” He let her note he wasn’t stupid like many of the southern houses claimed the Starks were. “Warden of the North. We are here for a battle but as you can see they don't want to give us one... So I’ve got the Manderly’s and Karstarks gathering up the banners. While Knights of Vale sail on in to give us a hand, even the Night’s Watch are on their way... Lord Commander Forrester wants Torwynd to hang from the walls. I'd just settle for his head off his shoulders.” Grunted the man as gestured to the seat across the table from him. “Eat something girl wandering around the North like you are, you need food. Walking through snow requires three times the food of a normal march. Body burns more energy in the cold trying to keep you warm... New clothes should do you some good. Those pelts come from the Wolfwood.”

He stopped and took a few spoonfuls of the hearty stew before them. It had stayed hot it must have been near boiling when it was brought in. “I won’t go around spreading who you are... But you're here for something and I swore an oath to Dragons... So what does the little lady need, I’ll see to it even if I think little of the Dornish. My word is my oath and I gave it to that blood of yours so ask away... Though try to remember we're in a war child.” He added with a teasing tone, he didn’t bother with titles or flowery words. He was every bit what the Southerners called him but he wore it with pride and honor if half the men in seven kingdoms were like Barthogan their King would never want for anything.

Smallfolk, he said, and Saeria Martell felt herself twitch. She thought of Wendal and that cabin. She thought of his little boy. Suddenly, Saeria was reaching for a second drink and plunging her mind and heart into darkness. “Torwynd?”

The name played again and again and again in her mind with the deep tone of the Stark Lord. Torwynd. Torwynd. Torwynd. She drank once, twice. Each beat of her heart only seemed to make her angrier; common folk slaughtered for some hopeless, pointless, dumbass violence. It was cruel. It was evil. Torwynd. Drink. Torwynd. Drink. Her string hand twitched; once, twice. On the surface, however, it might have looked cloudier.

Except for one thing: the intensity of the Martell survivalist was increasing by the second. “Right,” she said, another smaller belch and a wipe of her lips, blinking at his question. “…NEED? This ‘little Princess’,” she stressed her title to correct him, an irony considering she never blinked when he called her girl, “Needs to kill Skagosi before they kill more commoners.” She snorted, loudly, the combustible mix of Rhoynish and Valyrian blood boiling, the Northern beer enough to make her outspoken about it. “I can track, hunt, and fight. You won’t find a better archer.”

There was no further qualifier. Matter-of-factly, she had declared it impossible with a sip of beer. There was no pride in her voice, there was no ego creeping about the edges of her eyes—there was nothing but steel in those big purple eyes.

“I’ll learn the land, I’m sure your scouts have some helpful tips. I’ve already had a rude introduction to the North,” she said, head shaking at the memory of her ignorance and lack of foresight. She should have known better, and if it weren’t for Wendal…his little son…Saeria felt herself burn all over again.

“Maps. Where are they? Why are you waiting for so many men? You’re sure a small force can’t go in hard and fast and cut off the head of this ice serpent of stupid? Wargs?...worse?”

She asked, looking sharply at him. She heard stories, and from men who were no fools.

“We called up aid because the Skags won’t organize because the North is a big place girl.” He explained as reached for a map. “I have hundreds of miles of coastline to cover to find where they landed. As you saw they didn’t stay together, they’ve spread out across the lands of the Karstarks perhaps further. I bicker with my advisors on how to deal with them. Some say spread our forces out and try to hunt and kill them, a long and slow process which we do not have time for... Don’t want to be here when Winter comes.” He tapped the locations on the map.

“Manderlys I need to locate their landing. The Karstarks I need help from because they know the lands. If neither come... The Watch will be useless too. We have only more than a couple thousand blades... Which is why we are considering another option.” He explained as he showed her locations of villages and farms on a survey map. “Ride out, spread our men to villages and towns and bring a lot of smallfolk to Karholds Wintertown. Leave half our army’s supply trains with them and their men gathered on the walls. They can defend from Skags at the old castle and keep their smallfolk safe.” He explained as he sighed a moment. “I cannot fight someone who does not organize for battle. I cannot force a battle without martialing up the might of the whole north, with Winter around the corner it would doom our crops.” He explained his predicament.

“...Your bow and your skill are appreciated though.” He offered honestly as he took a long gulp of beer draining half the cup. “But what my men have in training and discipline they counter with survival skills. That barren wasteland of an island has given the ability to endure harsh winters and subsiste on even less.” He groaned and stood up showing her the map. “So I can fight and get more and more killed, then lose even more in the Winter... Or I make things a little worse and take all the smallfolk back to Karhold and have the Karstarks batten down and hold till winter freezes the skags out.” He had no good options.

“This isn’t an honorable foe, not a real king either... He’s a pretender and traitor seeking glory off the backs of backwards people.” He groaned a moment. “We ought to burn their island down...”

“Batten the smallfolk in Karhold, then gather a pack and do what you direwolves do: hunt. There’s a trail. We can find it. He’s a pretender, not bringing ruin to their seat on that island would be neglect of your duty.”

Princess Saeria had gotten that lesson more than once from family, close and distant.

“Aye, we can hunt them... But not in Winter. We are only in autumn and the cold nearly killed you. What is it like when forty feet of snow buries the roads and trees. When homes are not regularly clear of snow it might collapse inward and kill you.” He explained with a sigh. “My men cannot spend all of autumn hunting Skags. I can spare some yes, but the rest are needed with harvests... A long winter here... Mean famine and death for thousands.” He took a breath and then walked over clasping her shoulder.

“But, I can see your set on this... So I will give to the Karstarks one hundred of my best to help hunt and kill Skags. Since you want to help, you choose from my men. The best archers, stalkers, trappers, and scouts will be brought up. Test them for me, pick out the best to fight and kill these savages and if you wish go with them till Winter nears.” He answered with a sigh. “Then... I’ll take you to Winterfell where we might finally get warm... And proper hot baths in the springs underneath the castle. You may be a guest of honor, perhaps by the time we return my Brandon will be home, you’d be able to meet the rest of the family.”

She nodded, slowly. “I’ll need a message sent out through the nearest raven,” she said, sadly, “I will have to tell…my mother. I’ll write it now and hand it to your man.”

”Mother. Tell father I love him. Tell my siblings I love them. I miss you all. There is war here, and I must fight it. It’s the right thing to do. Need the RIGHT assistance, will help ties with Starks. Like the Starks, so would you. — Your Little Sun Dragon.”

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Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Psyker Landshark
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Psyker Landshark return to monke

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Houses Tarly and Hightower

Hours before the tourney was set to begin, the lord of Horn Hill and his only daughter sat before a table set up within his tent in the Tarly camp, patiently awaiting their guests.

"Remember," Talbert nodded to Mina, idly filing his dagger as they waited. "Give me your measure of the boy when we're finished. The Hightowers have enough sons that you've your pick of the bunch, should this one not be preferable to you. Unless Ryam Hightower is a more neglectful man than his accomplishments have led me to believe, I doubt they'll all be lackwits."

"Oh?" The girl raised an eyebrow. "How strange, that you're giving me more of a choice than Sam. People may talk, Father."

"Let them," He grumbled in response, lowering the file to inspect his weapon. "The Hightowers have four sons, all unwed. I've only the one daughter. I'll not have you wed to anyone unworthy. Fortunately, you're more realistic than your brother. I hope you'll judge the Hightower lad by practical terms than by any...superficial matters."

At this, Mina scoffed. "One night and Samwyle's already besotted with the Redwyne girl. But speaking of superficial matters, am I to mention the fact that I can wield a dagger and bow as well?"

"You complained enough about the training that I doubt it's anything you take pride in." Talbert said flatly. "Do as you will regarding that. Only know that it may just save your life one day." A brief commotion outside had him turning his head up, returning his dagger to its sheath.

"Enough. Our guests arrive."

"Remember, the Tarly House is proud and rightfully so. They have a long history of military achievement and as such are to be treated with the respect they are due for such a legacy. Do you remember all the notes on Lord Tarly's daughter?" Addam Hightower, Heir to Oldtown and the Hightower looked over and back to his aunt, dark brown hair falling slightly over his eye.

"I did the required research that you gave me, but I don't see a problem. I don't consider myself repulsive and I believe I'm simple to get along with. And besides Leo is as yet not promised to anyone, nor is Ashton."

His Aunt scoffed and rolled her eyes, brushing her hand on the back of his jacket to remove imagined dust or dirt. "Leo would rather marry a book and Ashton, bless his soul would have a heart attack before he could even speak to a woman about simple court proceedings, let alone betrothal. No, while you have brothers, you must be the one. Marrying the heir of the Hightower gives Lord Tarly a perceived higher standing. They get the Heir and the Redwynes get the only daughter and one that will never likely gain anything in the succession."

Addam sighed and nodded before turning into the main walkway to their hosts. As they arrived Addam shot a quick wink to his sister who had remained silent thus far, even when spoken about as she was. She was a bright girl, exceptionally quick and well spoken while also unafraid to let her opinion be known or be disagreeable. Addam got a nod from the girl and he turned to the front and gave a nod to the herald to announce them as they entered.

Addam came first, escorting his sister. Addam wore a flowing silver silk tunic, tight in the shoulders and loose near the hands. A black jacket was worn over the tunic, a silver collar blending in with the tunic, with the first three buttons undone and folded over top. The jacket was long, going to the Hightower's lower shin. Polished black boots and leather belt finished the outfit. Addam's hair was styled his usual style, well brushed and pushed to the right. Alicent on the contrary wore a stunning cloth of gold dress, obviously tailored specifically for her as it hugged and accentuated all the right places. An emerald necklace, earrings, and hair pin accentuated the gold coloring. Finally came Khloe Hightower, the sister to the current Lord Hightower. Khloe was dressed much simpler, a nice but not striking powder blue dress, and silver accents.

The trio approached Lord Tarly and Mina, to whom Addam offers a wide dimpled smile, and they all bowed or curtsies at the same time. "My Lord Tarly, it is an honor to be hosted by you for this discussion."

Talbert and Mina rose to meet their guests, returning the bows and curtsies with their own. Talbert was clad today in a tabard bearing House Tarly's colors over a leather jerkin, and Mina in a silk dress dyed a rich navy blue.

"My lord and ladies Hightower. In the name of House Tarly, I bid you welcome." Talbert gestured towards the seats, giving them leave to sit. As they did so, Mina looked over all three of the visiting delegation with a critical eye, though Addam most of all. A stern enough expression crossed her face that she looked for all the world like a younger, female version of her father.

Talbert reached for a jug of wine on the table and began to pour into several cups for his guests.

"Arbor Red. From our mutual allies in the Redwynes." He stated plainly, raising his own cup in a brief salute before taking a sip. "Now for the formalities. Ser Addam, I take it you act with your father's authority in this matter?"

Lord Tarly, Lady Mina, thank you for your welcome. It is well received and honestly after travel it is a great relief to finally have a chance to rest. This meeting is very important to our House which is why it is you that we have come straight to meet upon arriving." The two ladies sat Addam waiting until they did so before sitting himself. His eyes found Mina's again and he looked right at her unafraid to hold the eye contact.

Addam maneuvered the various cups to his female companions and then looked to Lord Tarly whom he nodded to a few times. "In this matter and in any other that may arise I do speak with my father's voice and my actions should be considered as his." He inclines his head and then politely sips his wine, smiling and nodding a few times. "A great taste here, but now. As you said let's get to business. Alicent here," he nods towards his sister, "will be going to meet with the Redwyne lad after this meeting."

At this, Talbert simply inclined his head to acknowledge Addam's words while Mina began to speak instead.

"Oh? We wish you the best then, Lady Alicent." Mina offered a slight smile before turning back to Addam, her gaze suddenly sharp again. "Tell me of Oldtown, Ser Addam. I have visited on occasion, but that pales in comparison to having actually lived there since birth. After all, if you wish for us to be wed, I ought to know more of the lands I am to help you oversee, yes?"

Talbert himself said nothing after Mina's question, merely staring at Addam with an inquisitive gaze, bordering on challenging. It seemed this was some sort of test, really.

Alicent smiled widely at Mina when she spoke and gave a quick wink that Mina would notice. "My thanks Lady Mina, just as I hope that my bone headed brother here doesn't make a fool of himself."

Addam simply chuckled and sipped his wine again, eyes moving from Talbert to Mina and back again rapidly. When Mina asked her question though, Addam's smile widened and his eyes glimmered while he sighed in contentment. "Oldtown is, simply out, the most magical place on earth. Boats coming in from quite literally every place in the wider world. The way the sun catches on the buildings and sails, the louder voices on the dock or the various celebrations House Hightower sponsor in the city. It's... Home, I don't really know what more to say."

The barest hint of a smirk crossed Mina's lips at Alicent's wink, and she inclined her head back briefly to acknowledge it. Her expression softened slightly at Addam's clearly enraptured overview of his home, and she took a sip of wine, waiting until he finished before she spoke again.

"A beautiful picture you've painted, my lord. Though I was more wondering the amount of effort you and your family have put in to see such a city thrive. As I've heard, Oldtown has prospered greatly in the recent years of House Hightower's administration, yes?"

Addam chuckles and nods, his hands going out before him and making a sort of shrug. "Apologies, I quite love my home, as I'm sure that you love yours. Before I answer I wish to make it clear that any desire at any time you have to visit will be understood. The last thing I would ever seek to do is make you a prisoner. But yes, we have spent most of my father's rule to ensure the city flourishes, putting regular stipends of cash into keeping things going, broadening trade little by little so as not to overflow, and of course prop up our armed troops, and city watch."

Alicent spoke then, having mostly sat quiet. "Addam has been working directly with a group of Essosi mercenaries on drilling a standing force. And I Routinely walk the city and keep an ear on things." She copies her older brother's chuckle, "so you could say that we recognize that the city IS our strength."

"I should think that I'd be doing my brothers a favor not returning often, really." Mina said dryly, though she seemed genuinely touched by Addam's sentiment. "But I do appreciate the thought. And that your family understands the value of your territory. I've doubts that Father would hand me off to someone likely to drive his house into the ground, after all." She gave Talbert a significant look at that, to which he held up a hand, finally speaking once more.

"Enough. This match has my blessing. Ser Addam, if you'll have my daughter, I consent to joining Houses Hightower and Tarly together." He stood from his seat and walked over to the desk present in the tent, pulling out a sheaf of parchment before heading back over and sitting down, handing the documents to Addam.

"I believe you'll find the offered dowry is more than generous." The documents that Talbert handed over listed off a significant sum totaled in in crowns, food shipments to Oldtown, and preferential treatment in Horn Hill's fur trade.

With the words from Talbert, Khloe stood up and walked out of the room. The woman had remained quiet for the entire meeting, showing that she was more or less just an observer and advisor if needed. Alicent also stepped towards the door and gave a curtsy to the Lord Tarly and another wink to Mina. "I look forward to seeing you in Oldtown Mina. I will be looking forward to having another female presence in the family dinners. I've been outnumbered for some time."

While his grandmother and sister moved to leave, Addam simply stood and moved over to the parchment Talbert stood over. He quickly read through it, and then muttered softly so only Talbert can hear. "My father wishes to know if this agreement consolidates previous discussions with himself over wine". It was a coded message and spoken nonchalantly, and before Talbert could reply, he leaned down prepared to sign.

Mina didn't quite wink back, but smirked slightly instead and dipped her head towards Alicent, standing up and curtsying as well to both Talbert and Addam.

"By your leave then, Father." She said, turning to exit the tent after Talbert waved her off. With all that done, he looked back towards Addam, who was busy in the process of signing the marriage agreements.

"It does." He murmured in as quiet a tone as Addam had given him before raising his voice once more. "Ser Addam. By all accounts, you are a man of honor. I trust that after you wed my daughter, you'll continue to be as such." His eyes narrowed. "The girl was trained to fight and hunt at my command, no matter how much she protested against such. But I've no reason to threaten you for misconduct. She is entirely capable of expressing her displeasure with you in such a case on her own. Remember that."

His threats made, Talbert softened his gaze slightly towards his usual stoic mien. "That all said, should you wish to make her happy, allow her to take the reins in administration of your holdings, as befits a competent wife of noble stock. Mina's talents lie with numbers, and she's been trained through aiding myself and Samwyle in managing Horn Hill's lands for the past few years."

Addam finishes writing and then goes for his wine goblet. "When I take rule over from my father I assure you that Mina will have all the administration she desires. I can't promise my younger brother or sister won't attempt to help but it'll be made clear who is in charge. I swear to you and the seven now that I will do all that I can to make her happy and comfortable, and to defend her with my last breaths if needed."

He takes a sip of wine after his declaration and smiles. One marriage down. What a crazy tournament this would be.

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Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Apoalo
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Apoalo Harry potter Nut

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Mycah Arryn

"Welcome home My Lord, I must congratulate you on your successful campaign against the Mountain Clans. Please, take your time and I will have a full briefing on what you have missed within the Great Hall when you are ready." Mycah Arryn, the acting Lord of the Eyrie looked down at his dirty armor and then to Maester Trenten with a short chuckle.

"I will in fact take you up on that offer Maester. I will wash, and then make my way to the Great Hall. Please have the kitchens ready for my meal and that of my Knights and men. They have fought well for the Vale and deserve a rest." He looked over his shoulder to his Captain who instantly began giving orders. The Maester gave a short nod and then turned to walk back into the Gates of the Moon.

Free from attention for the brief moment, Mycah takes the moment to inhale deeply, the crisp mountain air, a chill hinting at the winter to come, filling his lungs. He held the breath and then let it out, shaking his head and walking into the Gates of the Moon and maneuvering directly to his chambers. He was confident his Captain and Officers would handle the men and send them off after they had eaten, and also confident that the stable hands would take care of his friend.

Upon entering the chambers, Mycah was happy to see servants already finishing filling his bath and preparing a set of clothing more suited for comfort. He gave a nod of appreciation and busied himself with removing his armor while he waited, though he did have to call in a page to help him with a few of the pieces, for as flexible as he was he still struggled with them.

He sent everyone away once the bath was ready and his armor was off and then finished stripping and then sunk into the warm water. By the seven is was nice to actually sit and relax again. The campaign against the Mountain men had lasted for longer than he would have liked. And while he could blame many factors, at the end of the day he should have adapted faster. In the end, it was a total victory and without very many losses either. And if he was being honest with himself, he was glad that his battles kept him from having to go South. He preferred his home and disliked the peacock Knights who preened and pranced about in tournaments.

Mycah took longer than needed in the water. Not even caring when the water got cold, simply relaxing his sore and bruised body. War, no matter what size always took its toll. Mycah frowned as he remembered the names of those he had lost. That was the hardest part of war, making decisions that meant the deaths of the troops that trusted him to serve them. To get them home to their families.

The youngest Arryn gave a sigh and shook his head. It was no use thinking like that, he had done his best to bring as many troops home as he could, and that would simply have to be enough. He stood then, and dressed silently now that his thoughts had turned against him, finishing his sky blue garments off with his sword which he strapped to his belt. Now ready to play Lord, he left his room and gave his gratitude to the servants outside that were waiting to clean things up inside. He was feeling quite refreshed and while he despised handling court matters he was decent at it and was prepared.

The Great Hall of the Gates of the Moon weren't far from his chambers, and as he got closer he could smell the food being prepared which made his mouth water. He had pushed the campaign host hard on the last day to finish their journey so that the men could be released the following morning to return to their respective homes and Houses. As such, Mycah was starving and his stomach let him know that fact as the smells continued to assault his senses. He stepped around the entrance and smiled widely as he saw Maester Trenten, and Arrold Mortimer sitting at the high table waiting. The smile grew even widen when he noted a serving boy go dashing to the kitchens to let them know that he had arrived. Good, food must be ready.

"Maester, Seneschal it is truly good to see you both. I apologize for the delay, I was taking advantage of the privacy and chance of some relaxation. And I won't hear any of the 'it's fine my Lord' your time is as important as mine in the running of the Vale while my family is away. Now, please get me up to speed with things."

The following hours were long and a different sort of exhausting. Mycah was used to the exhaustion of battle or strategy meetings but this was different, almost mind numbing administration tasks. And it was finally ove-. "My Lord, one final thing." For the love of the stranger. He raised an eyebrow and nodded to Trenten to continue. "Honestly I should have probably led with this, but we received a letter from the North this morning. I have not opened it as I knew that you expected to arrive today. I have it here." The Maester reached into his robes and pulled out a scroll that had the familiar Stark sigil on the seal. Mycah instantly was curious and accepted the letter, breaking the seal and reading quickly.

"It seems that the Starks are having Skagosi troubles and have asked for our aid." Mycah frowned, as the last of the Arryns at the Eyrie he knew that if he left to take support to the North then the Vale would be managed by the Castellan. This fact also seemed to be acknowledged by the two men with him.

"Well, my Lord our families are long time allies. Perhaps we can have one of our bannermen bring up a force to send. I could prepare a few rav-."

"Maester, you know that if our troops leave the Vale that I will be leading them. The true question is if we should or not. As the Starks themselves say, Winter is coming and I would rather not be stuck in the North when it arrives. However, as you say they are steadfast allies." Mycah was thoughtful, his eyes shining as his mind worked. Finally he nodded, and looked over to Trenten. "I will take our force here to the North, dropping off some and taking on others until we arrive at Gulltown. There we will board the ships and head to the North, I would expect perhaps a thousand men but no more than that. I may change my mind at Gulltown but either way. We will send aid."

The Maester nodded and smiled softly, perhaps in pride before standing. "Then, I shall send word to the Houses on your route, to Gulltown, and to the Starks." Mycah nodded, already mentally going over the possible routes to take to support the North. It wouldn't be quick, but let it not be said that the Arryns forsook their friends. The Knights of the Vale would go north and do what they could to help. "Seneschal, while I am away and until my father returns, the Eyrie and the Gates of the Moon will be yours. I am also entrusting the Vale to yourself and Trenten, and naming Lord Royce to acting protector."

The elderly man nodded and smiled. "As you say My Lord. We will keep good care as always. I don't expect any problems, but I do wish you safety." Mycah chuckled and stood.

"I think I'm going to need more patience than safety in the North. And lots of fur cloaks." He stretched and then went off back towards him room for some well deserved rest. On the morrow another campaign would begin…
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Hidden 11 mos ago 11 mos ago Post by Neianna86


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Lord Domeric had taken it upon himself to smarten up his boys.
He had pulled Finnegan away from Arystide and had dragged Brennan from Arnaud's side explaining to the young heir that he had needed his son to represent the family.
The Gorlois's goodnatured heir had released him easily enough and all the backtalk he had received from Arystide was a set of raised eyebrows and a smirk that promised trouble.
No doubt the boy would find a way to tease his sons relentlessly.
It mattered not.
The House needed to represent itself, appear proper afterall, he could hardly present them looking like vagabonds.
So after ordering them to bathe and make something out of their wild heads of hair, he had two clean, well dressed young men standing next to him.
Though, Lady Cyra still fussed with her shawl, knowing this would be a meeting to potentially set up their eldest son into his own castle and grounds.
The whole problem with potentially the girl not being willing to enter this deal concerned her greatly.

Manfryd knew the detour was less than appealing to either daughter, but a match for Danelle was of the most dire importance. That House Redwyne was offering an alliance was something he could use. Especially if he were to lean more towards supporting the Targaryens when everything went down. Either way it came out the Lord of Harrenhal suspected all would be well for him. With one daughter married to a Targaryen heir, a few rumors to suggest it was to cover a scandal, and the other married to the Redwynes. It was possible that his house might find themselves in control of the Arbor if the Targaryens decided to have done with the Redwynes.

Not that these thoughts were on his mind as he bowed to the Lord Domeric, placing a delicate and stately kiss on the Lady Cyra's hand. "A pleasure to see you again, Lady Cyra. I do hope your offer of wine still stands?" He greeted the Lady as he clasped hands with the Lord. "May I present my daughters, Danelle and Elayne, and you must forgive our lack of appetite there was an unfortunate incident." Elayne flushed as she dipped a curtsy to the Lord and his family even as Danelle did. Danelle herself looked stiff and formal, but there was a cool mask of polite mannerisms over her face.

"A pleasure to meet all of you." Danelle agreed with a pleasant nod.

Lady Cyra offered them a curtesy aswell before signalling to one of the servants nearby, as the men bowed.
"Lord Manfryd, with house famed for its wine, how could you imagine we'd be so cruel to keep it from our guests." She offered with a smile.
Lord Domeric smiled warmly before gesturing to the raised dais, so they could take a seat.
"It is an honour to meet the lovely daughters of Lord Manfryd. I am Lord Domeric and these are my sons; Finnegan and Brennan. We hope this unfortunate incident did not spoil your good taste in wine, we do hope the young ladies will partake? Unless something more sweeter is desired?" He asked as allowed Finnegan and Brennan to escort the ladies up the dais and have them seated, as a show of gallantry and good manners.
As he allowed the servants to pour them whatever they desired they had sat themselves down strategically. Lord Manfryd would be flanked by both his daughters, with the boys on their respective left and right, seated on the ends were Lord Domeric and Lady Cyra.
"Well, let us toast, to a bountiful tourney." Lord Domeric suggested as he raised his cup.

Finnegan calmly glanced over to his 'potential bride to be'.
His father must have gone stark raving mad.
The younger was pretty enough, but both were stiff and formal, rarely showing a crack of a personality. Maybe they had been instructed just like them. It wouldn't surprise him in the least.
Honestly, getting married off was such a hassle.
He doubted they actually wanted any of this.
Finnegan was known as a good natured jokester, but this was more serious and quite frankly the one thing he had been dreading in his life.
She wasn't too ugly, but even he had heard whispers of rumours. Whilst his father might pretend nothing was wrong, he wasn't the one potentially marrying into this family.
He was.
"I have to confess Lady Danelle, that I know next to nothing about you, perhaps you could tell me a little bit about your own preferences and what your life at Harrenhal is like?" He offered hoping to at least cease the uncomfortable silence that had fallen over the four of them.
Brennan cast a curious look at Elayne.
"I do hope this unfortunate incident was nothing serious?" He asked politely and softly out of genuine concern. "Not brigands, I hope?"

"A bountiful tournament." Manfryd agreed, his voice wry and amused. Afterall either way it went, it was hardly going to effect him if things went according to this new plan that was growing in his mind.

Elayne blinked away from her sister as she heard the question and smiled softly.
"No, nothing so untoward. I was merely overwhelmed by the tournaments and got turned about." She blushed at admitting that, but it was all very true.
"I've never been to one before and it is quite large."

Looking over Finnegan, Danelle smiled as her sister played her part. Pretty, genuine, and the mask she would wear when Harrenhal produced an heir.
"My own preferences?" She adjusted a pearl string in her red hair, darker than Elayne's own. "I must admit that life at Harrenhal has much of what I enjoy. Hunting, riding, seeing to the accounts." Her smile was a thin thing as she mentioned the last. In truth, she did like to see and do the accounts herself, it kept her abrest of her father's plans and more able to foil him if she felt he was acting against her own interest. Of course, this was something she could not have foiled, as much as she had wished. "I enjoy wine as well, though our own fields are modest and more to keep our own taverns within Harrentown stocked."
Taking the stem of her wine glass she admired the work openly. If she had to marry... a boy from the Arbor would do well for the current span of time, needlessly he could be discarded if it came to it.
"Harrenhal life is quite, but there are pleanty of enjoyments to be had and it quite easy to travel about with the God's Eye feeding straight into the Blackwater Rush if you were to take boat. Riding, we have access to the King's Road which can take us most anywhere we wish to go. If we do not have something, Harrenhal can aqquire it. It leaves us a broad selection."

"What enjoyments and interest fascinate you, Ser-?" She hedged slightly as though unsure of which title to use.

Brennan nodded.
"I can understand, such things can be quite overwhelming. I hope you were not too fearful when meeting us. After all, matches are easily made by parents, who don't always look to who their children actually prefer." He asked.
"Though, I shouldn't say such things I suppose, I should instead compliment you on your dress. It is quite lovely, it does you justice, lady Elayne." He offered.

Finnegan listened, but smiled bitterly.
"I see. No doubt our family offered you a good supply." He commented before he shook his head at her trying to adress him.
"Just Finnegan will suffice, I am no Lord, nor knight of great valour. Just a wine merchant's son." He stated eyeing her calmly and carefully.
"As for my enjoyments, I love the strong bond of family. The occasional teasings and feasts as well as the Midsummer Night Markets and the Masquerades at the Mermaids palace. But I suppose I enjoy being a 'nose' for the family." He joked, before he explained. "I can usually tell what's in the wine before I have drunk a drop."

Elayne's cheeks flushed and the younger sister looked down into her lap. Flattered by the compliment. "I thank you."

"An interesting talent and one that must server a 'wine merchant's son' well." Danelle agreed smoothly. "I must admit I have not seen this Mermaids palace, nor these masquerades, though they sound delightful. Harrentown does boast a harvest fair when we bring in out largest catches from the lakes and crops. Though I would suppose such a thing would not compare." She sighed and arched a brow. A family man who enjoyed wine. How very typical for a Reachman, the woman thought with sardonic humor. "Of course, our seat is set about with dark rumors." She shook her head and chuckled slightly. "False, most of them. Simply said, it has been nothing short of bad luck and the ill deeds of the Lords that have come before. I can attest that the halls are haunted only by our dear Elayne." Perhaps he could take that as agreement to the teasing.

Elayne flushed at the mention of her late night wanderings when she could hardly sleep and tried to not eavesdrop on her sister. It would be better to speak to the young man before her, have a nice conversation. Feeling her cheeks bloom with red again, she thought of another conversation with a pair of silver haired twins and her smile took a beaming quality. "Fearful? Not at all." It was hard to be fearful when your sister was the scariest thing at the table and you had just come from Summerhall and dined with dragons who were as perplexing and exasperating as nothing else! "No, forgive me Ser. I enjoy colors and embrodery and paint when I've the opprotunity. It tends to make my mind wander, however."

"Are these stitched flowers and border yours aswell?" He asked remarking upon them as he tenderly touched the border to point them out.
"My cousins like similar occupations. Though they all have their talents. I know Odette is the best at embroiding, embrodery?" He said not certain what the word was as he never had really need of such language. Still he wanted to offer some comfort and familiairity to her. Before scratching his head and smiling warmly.
"I suppose I am guilty of wandering about as well. Though cousin Arnaud isn't letting me daydream or wander for too long. Being is squire is honestly hard work and leaves little room for other things, but he teaches me a lot. I can only hope I will one day be as noble of a knight as he is and serve our house proudly." He told Elayne.

Finnegan smiled at that.
"Oh I don't know how popular those harvest feasts of yours are. But our Midsummer Night Markets are held during the fairest weather of the summer. It all over the Arbor and the lit lanterns and other lights capture the towns in a most magical glow. There are bonfires and special rites during those nights. You have the strangest competitions. The Masquerades are a tad different and can happen all year round. Though they're usually held at the turning of the seasons, in fashion of course.
The boats sail off to the small islands and the barges are roped together into one large floating floor, they last from Twilight till the break of the New Day and at the stroke of Midnight you have the dance of the mermaids and the crowning of the Mermaid Queen, who is chosen for her unique special ability, whether it is for her singing or for her fabled beauty. Last year we crowned the finest pie maker..." He chuckled. "Let me tell you I couldn't seen another pie for the rest of the year, as one of the judges I had to sample every single one, I told them next year should be non edibles." He laughed before turning to Danelle again.
"So you tell me I should pay no mind to the many rumours? Though they must come from somewhere, any idea why your family should be slighted in such a way?" He asked clearly showing her he wasn't the halfwit she probably took him for.
Well, no matter. No need to wake up sleeping dogs too much.

"Embrodery." She agreed softly, "And, yes. I do most of the embrodery on our clothes. Perhaps it is silly of me, but I enjoy it and it fills the time." Listening to him talk about being a squire, the young woman nodded and smile thought she found herself at a bit of a loss having never been around such before. "What such does he teach you?" She asked, trying to guide the conversation to his interest and perhaps learn more about the world outside Harrenhal. The Princess's book had been a welcome and enjoyable, but there was something about hearing things first hand.

Danelle smirked at the story of the pie, it was amusing and in good taste. For all her cold demeanor and her stiff attitude, the heir of Harrenhal did have a sense of humor. If she had a dislike of men? It was due to the fact she did not enjoy men the same as women. "I could imagine. We have similar such contests, though I am hardly called upon to judge them." Leaning back into the chair at his question, however, the woman frowned and sighed. "In truth? Most of the black talk comes from former lords. Did you know that before us, a woman called Alys Rivers held Harrenhal? The witch of Harrenhal they called her." Sipping her wine she gave Finnegan a pointed look. "I doubted that helped any. With out sigal being a bat? Well, the smallfolk take notions into their heads. My brother's death falling in a reckless run down the stairs hardly helped along with my father's second wife and son dying to the pox. Unfortunate circumstances. When rumor spreads it has wings, when truth does, I've noticed that merchant wagons travel faster." She remarked.

"Well...all sorts of things really, but I shouldn't really bother you with that. As I doubt you'd really be interested in the different parries and swordtechniques or the way one needs to ride to accomplish certain feats. The chivalry code and other knightly duties, that are expected." He said feeling kind of silly for bringing it up.
"The horses are amazing though. Fantaghiro, which is Arnaud's horse is really clever, I often find her taking things and hiding them from me, in a sort of hide and seek kind of game." He explained. But perhaps if your sister is so interested in finding out what the Mermaid's Palace is, maybe we should invite you both over when they come again this year?" He asked tentively, Brennan cast his eyes quickly down as he took a large swig from his cup, to hide his slight blushing.

"True. Gossip is like wildfire, rather hard to extinguish. No doubt this did not pass you by unnoticed nor leave you with a sour taste in your mouth growing up." Finnegan remarked knowing how harsh the effect of such comments could be. He took the cup in his hand and poured hers full again, before he did his own and turned it around as he stared in it, as if he saw secrets into the blood red depths.
"If I was to accept your father's proposal and be honest here...would you truly wish for that?" He asked, as he had kept an eye on Lord Manfryd who had been kept busy by lady Cyra, so his question might slip by him unnoticed.
"Would you even desire for such a thing?"

"Oh that would be lovely! I, too, would enjoy knowning more about this mermaid palace." Elayne agreed eagerly, her blue eyes bright with wonder at the thought. Perhaps if a certain silver haired fool had not been so blunt he could have been as charming she thought with a irked smoothing of her gown. "And please, do tell me of being a squire, I've no brother and my veiw is rather limited with my studies." She protested his doubt that she would be interested. In truth, they would mean little to her, but Elayne was nothing if not keen to hear about things. Even if she was not so keen as to try them all herself.

Pausing as her goblet was filled, Danelle considered the question as the man asked it. In truth? She would rather marry a pig than a man, yet as heir she had to marry lest she find herself indeed marrying a swineherd. "In truth? I have little interest in the trappings of marriage." Her voice lowering some as her eye flicked to the busy parental figures. "Yet, I see no fuss over a husband keeping his whores, or his gambling, or what enjoyments he might seek." She sipped the wine and turned that consideration to the young knight. A husband would not find himself wanting so long as Manfryd was alive. The man would be able to keep his whores and she would keep her own. "I would be the one to inheiret and run Harrenhal and the lands after my father dies after all. A husband would find I can accomadate and there are benefits." Her eyes flickered to Elayne in thought. If all of Westeros knew she had been scooped up by the Targaryen Prince, with King Aegon's folly so recent, it was possible marriages would be hard to find for Elayne. A thought occured to her slightly, but she set it aside for another time. "Should I take it you would find the life of a unwed son of a wine merchant more to your liking than marriage to any maid?" Danelle quirked a brow.

Finnegan sighed.
"I am no fool. What you propose sounds sound, but you fail to think further than your own ambitions. Who is to inherit when you're gone? If you propose I keep to my own bed as it were, how then to pass on the legacy when we're both cold in our graves. A man doesn't like to lose his line if he is smart he attempts to set a future for his house." He eyed her seriously.
"So who? One of my bastards?" He asked barely audible so only she could hear.

"Well I think I couldn't give you a better description than the one my brother gave just now, but to really understand is for you to simply see it and be there. Upon our invitation of course." He uttered, before she allowed him to steer to more familiair waters and he began to explain what his daily duties looked like, what the code of chivalry meant and what the different types of weapons were he was being trained in.

"You assume." Danelle stated cooly. "No, I would not avoid the marriage bed." No, that would be entirely impossible so soon with her own marriage being spoken of. With Manfryd still alive for sure. Children could be avoided though and that would have to do. "The legacy of my house must be carried on after all." She cocked her head in consideration, "I would not begrudge you your bastards or putting them in some favorable places." She noted in absent thought.

Elayne for her part was listening and nodding. Stowing away what she was learning for when she could use it.

Then suddenly Brennan stood up, after having finished his cup and gathering his courage he held out a hand to the lady Elayne.
"If you permit me, it would be a shame and a sin to have asked you for a dance, so would you permit me, lady Elayne?" he asked with a slight tremble as his nerves turned and twisted his stomache into a knott.

Finnegan noticed his younger brother's action and smiled, rising up himself before offering his arm to Danelle.
"Would you care for a dance, my lady?" He asked with a warm but careful smile.

Taking the offered hand and arm respectively, the sisters stood and assented to a dance. It would turned out that Danelle was not the better dancer though her dancing was aided by her own practice with the sword. Elayne had practiced endlessly in Harrenhal with herself, but for all her slight pauses of uncertainity she was not lacking in grace. Danelle swirled as well but her heart was not in it as Elayne's was. It was as standard as the practice of sword work would be to the lads. Elayne, beamed and seemed utterly jovial at the chance to do as she had been dreaming of for so long in dusty halls.

"You're a very good dancer, Lady Elayne." Brennan commented, hoping he would not screw up this rare opportunity to dance during the tournament. Arnaud was not particularly one who attended the dances and claimed time was often better spent observing or working on one's own skills. Still, this rare opportunity was not one Brennan was willing to let slip. He admiringly gazed upon her lovely face and her fair features that seemed to radiate and glow now as she seemed clearly in her element.
Brennan just inwardly thanked his mother for badgering them to learn how to dance, so he wouldn't make a mockery of himself.
He looked longingly at those bright eyes and those full lashes that framed them.
He couldn't help but lower his gaze to those lips that formed such a wide and happy smile. If he had to marry, he would glady marry her." He thought.

Finnegan, more at home on the dancefloor, smoothly turned Danelle around.
"I must confess, sometimes my sly younger brother has some good ideas." He commented.
"It for one allows us to talk without the fear of being overhead." He stated as he gazed down at Danelle.
"What is it you expect of me? Should this alliance continue?" He asked honestly. "And please spare me pretty lies, I prefer cold hard facts without the element of surprise." He told her. "Would you love me? Could you?" He asked.

"Thank you." Elayne smiled at the handsome man, oblivious to his line of thought as she simply enjoyed the dance and the compliments heaped upon her. The young woman was still a girl in many ways and oblivious to her charms.

Danelle felt the corners of her mouth twitch as Finnegan laid the words out plainly before her. He was right in many ways and Danelle found herself amused by his thoughts. "Without lies? A rarity." Her husky voide was only loud enough to carry to her dancing partner. "Could I love you? No. Be amused and fond of ther service you provide? I could do that." She admitted though there was an bluntness to her words. Not scorn, but frank disinterest in the thought of marriage. "You, for all your skill, do not have breasts." She arched a brow. "Now you find another reason the people of Harrentown speak of witches." That was said full of mockery and scorn as the woman continued the measured pace about the space. "What I would expect is for you to do as you would. Drink, hunt, keep your whores as I will do the same. To Harrenhal's benefit and my own. In turn? We keep our pleasures and our station, your which would move up from your marriage to me. Harrenhal cannot boast having the same wine as the Arbor unless we buy it, but we are not a poor House."

Finnegan couldn't help but laugh at her statement.
"No, I do not. Thank the Seven, else I'd spend all my time fondling myself." He spoke softly as he couldn't help but hide his mirth at the thought and idea, before turning more serious and listening as she continued.
"You're hardly a witch, you've not casted any spells as of yet, but I appreciate the honesty. Few people value it these days." He pondered her offer for a while longer before he ended.
"All right, I'll do it. Whilst the prospect you paint me seems too good to be true and often will lose its flavour, I do hope a mutual respect and understanding can grow between us, also for the bonus that it would silence those pesky rumours you must have heard so long once and for all. For I would not allow my ladywife to be scorned in such a manner." He promised as the dance ended.
"Whatever your thoughts may be of me, I promise you I am not so terrible as you might fear." He told her, before he escorted her back to the dais.

Brennan watched her as the dance ended and he was forced to escort her back to the dais. Frankly he couldn't help but kiss her hand and hold her slightly closer and tighter as he escorted her back. He offered her her seat first, and poured her some more wine before asking what she would like to receive as a gift.

Domeric meanwhile eyed Manfryd and stated. "It seems we might find some favourable matches after all. Provided of course you're still looking for those." He asked they watched the pairs end their dances.

"For Danelle? Of course, though your younger son lacks lands or a knighthood to offer Elayne." Manfryd mused, "They like each other enough, but I would see her future more secured."

The woman nodded to Finnegan, "Then it seems we are in agreement." Danelle thought he was hardly the fool she could wish for but his ties to the Arbor could be of use until she disposed of him. "There is one small matter I must insist on. That you do not find yourself fondling my women of choice." She said in a undertone, her eyes sharp as she smiled with dagger sharpness. "Though I would think that would hardly be a problem."

Elayne looked shocked at the kiss and knew her face was aflame as she took her seat. At the mention of a gift she shook her head, looking shocked. "I could not accept a gift! Your company has been quite enough." She insisted softly. "I would feel as thought I was taking advantage of your kindness!"

Brennan looked disheartened at that.
"I...I see." He said. "Twas a mere thought of gifting you something to remember me by, nothing serious..." He uttered feeling conflicted and wondering whether he had understood their intentions wrong.
"It seems I made an oaf of myself assuming things I mayhaps shouldn't have. I beg your pardons Lady Elayne." He said statically, trying to save face.

Finnegan snorted.
"I hardly doubt those you favour, would favour me likewise. So there is little issue there. Besides, I do not particularly want those belonging to others. As for my demands there are relatively easily as well, but we can discuss those at a later time." He said calmly as they arrived at their parents once again.

Domeric instantly narrowed his eyes.
"Clearly your fortunes must have shifted then. Perhaps enough that you would not care for match with us?" He asked intending to know the full extent of this specific turn.
Earlier he had been adamant it would be Brennan to marry Elayne if Danelle and Finnegan did not match. As Brennan was considered more worthy of her then, clearly something must have happened to turn his youngest son into sloppy seconds.

There was amusement in Manfryd's expression as he arched a brow. "No, Lord Domeric. I merely want my youngest daughter to have a very solid foundation in life. Though I shall keep your youngest in mind. I am in no rush to marry Elayne off to the first young buck that comes along. She was the last child my dear Calera gave me." His voice took a a sad tone as he watched Elayne. "She looks so much like her mother. You must understand if your own wife were to pass delievering to you such a treasure? Seven forbid that to ever be a concern Lady Cyra."

Danelle seemed agreeable and motioned subtly for Finnegan to take the lead in speaking to their parents with a flick of the eyes between them and a pointed arched brow at the young knight.

Elayne shook her head and looked utterly confused. "Oh, do forgive me. I have nothing to offer in turn. You have hardly made an oaf of yourself!" She protested laying a gentle hand on the man's arm. "My pardon is given, though I see it hardly needed. Rather I ask for yours. The day has been quite long and hectic for me, perhaps that is why I am making such a fool of myself." She shook her head and sighed, blushing. "Oh, I am prattling on and making a mess of things!"

Domeric was not wholly convinced by that argument, not with the other conversation fresh in his mind. No something had occured and right now he wasn't certain he should tie himself to a family that was not forthright. Family was all in Domeric's eyes. Hence he would keep his caution.

Meanwhile Brennan took the lady's hand in his again.
"You would not need a pardon from me, but if it would soothe your mind I would tell you you are without fault. You would never be able to look like a fool, for such a fair maiden could only make minstrels turn to song and inspire ballads of old." He looked down at her hand he was still holding, before releasing it quickly, with a clear sigh of misery. Tis but too true, I simply at not worthy of thee. I hold no knighthood or land. Am no great warrior of renown, I would only be in your way as you no doubt attract the attention of more famous knights or richer men than I."
He eyed her with a look that bordered on hope and despair.
"Tell me I might hold onto hope...to have a chance at gaining your heart for mine own."

But Finnegan shook his head, nodding to the their two younger siblings. "Not yet." He told her. "It isn't the right time."

Glancing at the siblings, Danelle arched a brow. "He's falling and she will give him nothing." She remarked quietly. "Her options are to stay open as of yet."

Elayne blushed at the flowery language and fidgetting nervously. Her eyes flicking towards Danelle nervously. "You flatter me, I would gladly tell you such." She whispered. The mask, she had to hide behind her mask and play the game as Danelle expected her to. She had seen Danelle nod her head subtly after all. But to give hope to this young man? Was there any? She wanted to work on something, take her time to sort out the tangle of her thoughts. Paling slightly, she swallowed. "Forgive me, I feel faint." It was hardly a lie. She was granted permission to eye and look with pleasure at this man but not at the Prince?

The Lord of Harrenhal sighed and gave Domeric a sigh. "Let the boy try when he has his knighthood. When he has won some fame to his name. I am not against him trying to win her love, but I also desire security for Elayne. Calera married a knight and it went badly for her. I would not expect that from your son, but I am not yet ready to give over Elayne into a hastily made marriage as Danelle seems to have taken your elder son as acceptable." She wasn't trying to chase the man away with a barbed tongue. "Let them court, if he wishes while he gets his shield." That he was encouraging it Manfryd thought was something of a sign there was hope.

Finnegan sighed. "Then Brennan should not be given false hope. It will end badly for him then. Intending to fix this mess himself.
"Brennan." He said speaking up. "You're 'frightening' the girl. Let it 'rest'." He spoke aloud. His words cryptic, but the message was clear between brothers and Brennan eyed him with a look of utter broken misery.
"Forgive me Lady Elayne, I spoke out of turn." His voice turned softer. "You need not fear me, I perhaps frightened you with my forwardness. I do apologize, mother...lady Elayne, if you will excuse me, I shall remove myself from your presence so you won't be so disturbed by me." The words were clinical, hurried as the boy rigidly bowed and disappeared. He was in need of his cousin, to work out his frustration and his churning emotions, preferably by hitting something.

Domeric sighed.
"It seems one problem seems to have resolved itself. The boy will calm down and I'll have a conversation with him later, he's a proud lad. She just hit him where it hurt the most." He said calmly, nodding to Cyra who in turn had attempted to comfort Elayne.

Danelle cast a side-eye towards Finnegan. "Was that necessary? His court of her could have proved useful to the both of us." She remarked, easily using the us. In truth? Brennan marrying the girl could have given Danelle the answer to all her problems, though it would complicate getting rid of the elder brother when the time came.

The gentle Elayne looked horrified at Finnegan's comment and stammared her protest, soft and muted as she watched the squire flee. Looking to the Lady mother, Elayne gave her a pleading look that bordered on outright shame. "I truely was not so frightened!" She whispered. "I- His words took me off guard and after such a day!" She shook her head and sighed. "Oh, I've made a right mess of things!"

Manfryd sighed and nodded in agreement. "Danelle shall have to comfort Elayne, I imagine she will take it poorly. The girl has not been outside of my lands before and I fear this first tournament had overwhelmed her. Let alone being so admired by a young man." He shook his head and sighed. "Your thoughts towards matching our eldest, Lord Domeric? As my own daughter has voiced no objections, I see none."

Lord Domeric turned to Finnegan, who on his turn turned to Danelle, giving a simple, why don't you tell them gesture as a show of good faith.

Lady Cyra sat a little closer to Elayne and rubbed her back.
"It isn't your fault dear, sometimes, my sons can be difficult. I know he knows you were not so frightened of him, he perhaps hoped for more than you were willing to give him. It will be a good life lesson to learn." She calmly soothed.
"At least you can be assured that you are a very beautiful young lady and that you'll attract more than your share of suitors, like my son." She spoke softly.

"Father, Lord Domeric." Danelle continued accepting Finnegan's offer. "I would like your accept that Ser Finnegan and myself might marry and he might be taken into House Lothston as my husband and a furture Lord of Harrenhal." She smiled politely and ignored her sister's fretting.

Blinking at the gentleness being shown her, Elayne gave the Lady Cyra a desperate look. "My Lady, if you would. Would you give him my deepest apologies? I would give him more but..." But what? She had given her favor to a Prince of the Realm? That she was exasperated and perplexed by a man that made her heart flutter who she could never have? Even if her father had suggested the match and the Princess had too... Could it be? It could not surely, for Danelle would not allow it. "I fear my father desires to see me wed to someone he sees as able to provide for my future." She sighed and looked into her lap. "Please, My Lady, give him my apologies and that I did not mean to be so rude to him. I truely was merely overwhelmed. He is a handsome and lovely young man, especially for speaking of me so." She blushed at remembering those kind words and smoothed her gown. Falling to silence as Danelle put her proclaimed request before the two fathers.

Lady Cyra couldn't help but smile apologethically and promised she would, before being interrupted by the announcement.
That had escalated quickly.
"My dear are you certain of this? Would you not prefer to have more time to get to know oneanother?" She asked wanting to be certain her husband wasn't forcing her son into something he did not approve of himself.
But Finnegan merely raised his hand.
"I am fairly certain mother. Though we may not know one another all that well, I can find myself in agreement with the lady, I believe we would do well together." He stated cordially, taking Danelle's hand in his and kissing its knuckles to add strength to his words.
And with that Lady Cyra could hardly refuse.
She would have to put her worry aside and apparently see this through. Words were bond and rarely broken.
Lord Domeric smiled widely however.
"Brilliant Fin, we shall have to celebrate your betrothal then, assuming you would protest this Lord Manfryd?" He asked turning to their guest.

"I shall not protest this, Lord Domeric." The Lord of Harrenhal noted, though he approved of the match. That Danelle had accepted it so easily troubled the man. Perhaps it was simply that his daughter wished to settle the matter of a husband and move on if he would not be put off the idea. "Let us celebrate this union." His smile was genuine even as he noted Elayne had calmed remarkable. Another good things. If all went well there it was possible she would have the favor of a Targaryen Princess and perhaps the interest of a Targaryen Prince. The rumors around the tournament's city of tents for one would run faster than wildfire and surely have the Prince and his youngest daughter in some sort of relationship. It was something that would cause trouble, but there was also the fact he could seek recompensation for the slight of honor towards his House. If the Targaryens compensated? It would be a start to their slight, even as the boy's flattery had been a start. If they did not? Just another reason to urge Daemon to press for the throne. A different house, the same house in a sense, but perhaps one of stronger honor.

Danelle endured the kiss, giving a small curve of her lips that could pass for a smile.

Finnegan toasted for a moment before stating to his father and turned to Lord Manfryd.
"As I have little knowledge of planning such affairs, I would, with your leave Lord Manfryd, take the lady out for a stroll accross the Pavillion. The night is fair and I would have the ladies enjoy their time whilst you are with us.
The Lady Elayne could accompany us as means of a surety that I have no unsavory intentions, merely wishing for some diversion from the earlier incident. Some of the games will be held tonight so I believe it would please both ladies as well." He suggested seeing his father nod in approval. "They would have little to fear within our grounds and it would give you and my parents some time to give thought to planning the happy affair." The redhead spoke with his usual charm.

"You may go, Ser. My younger daughter shall accompany you." It was a wise move of the lad and Danelle agreed. Elayne for her part rose and followed her sister and the knight, blushing at being 'escort' for her elder sister. As if anything untoward could hamper Danelle! The man would find himself spitted on his own sword. Noting the hand tucked under Finnegan's arm Elayne sighted, at least she found him acceptable enough to agree, though the girl knew Danelle would be fury when they reached their own tents.

Finnegan stood up and offered an arm to the Lady Danelle and aided them both getting off the dais, before he took them for a stroll around the different tents.
There was liveliness in the air tonight, a large crowd had gathered around a tall pole made slick with grease and fat. From its top hung a large leg of ham and the brave young common men tried their luck at reaching it. Several young lordlings of lesser houses and squires also made vain attempts, but despite the crowd's eager cheering they had not succeeded yet either.
A little further the applebobbing barrels had their own ring of crowd, mostly young boys and young women, attempting to catch as many apples before the hourglas ran out of sand. In between all that vendors sold curious spices drinks and the smell of grilled meat filled the air. Finnegan allowed the girls to watch for a moment before he asked.
"Lady Elayne. Would you be so kind to fetch us some cups of drink. Ask for '3 Arbor Nights' and tell the barmaid it is for me. You should have no problems then." He suggested as he hoped to ask his practicular question without the young lady present.

Elayne dipped a quick nod to the knight at Danelle's agreeable smile towards Finnegan and was soon making her way to get the drinks as requested.

When she was gone he turned to Danelle and kept his eyes on the retreating form of her sister.
"Now,I did have a question I wished to ask you about. Word has reached my ear, naturally I do not want to place much faith in such matters, but I have to ask, for Brennan's sake as well as that of both our families. There was an incident with your sister and some dragons I believe? As you can imagine I would appreciate your honesty in this particular manner as well." He spoke, though the words were more clinical.
As he turned to her and looked at her, she could see the seriousness replace the once misschievous eyes. "As you can imagine I would hate it if my brother got dragged into a mess, his honour and feelings for the girl would urge him to do stupid things and cause problems for both our houses." He pointed out, the smile fading as the voice trailed off at his last words.

Danelle arched a brow, and gave a small hum of consideration. "Has word reached that far?" There would be no use in denying it. "I would not suggest asking Elayne about it. She found the entire thing distressing, little wonder she was so over wrought by your brother's straight forwardness." She had been slighted by those dragons and Danelle felt her lips curve in a snarl. Oh, she could use this to play the game and she would find that girl- the one who had so claimed she had seen Danelle's end- in her hand. Fluttering like a bird. The Targaryens had lost the dragons and with that loss had gone their power. The girl would answer for that cryptic message, even if she had to pluck every feather. "The sister insulted me at every turn." In truth? Aelor and Aelora had fended off Danelle's jabs and insinuations. Pulling Manfryd from the path she had laid out for him, turning Elayne into a willful little beast. The girl had dared to interfere when her orders had been specific.

"The brother was drinking, his words to my father were smooth. Using his sister to ensure that nothing had been improper with Elayne. You know the custom, sister to brother. What better match than twins? Already paired in the womb." Danelle noted with a grimace. "Your brother's feelings are not alone. I think Elayne finds him very acceptable, though I can imagine after such a day she was overwrought with all that had happened." Raising a hand, she squeezed Finnegan's arm. "I cannot say if anything untoward happened, I have not had time to question Elayne yet on the matter. When I do so, it will take time and shall have to be delicately approached. Given the last King however, I have my suspicions." Danelle felt her mask curl in disgust, even as she nodded in satisfaction. That answer would buy time and give Elayne a potential suitor that Danelle could perhaps find acceptable if she had no other options. If she was extremely lucky, perhaps the squire would get lucky enough to land a blow on the Prince and remove him from the situationn entirely. Then Elayne would not have this foolish streak rear up in her!

"Hence why I send her with a long taking order." He stated. "I would not want to bring further embarrasment to her. Despite of what you might believe me to be, I would prefer not to be cruel, when I can avoid it. That being said..." Finnegan felt her squeeze his arm. "I hope you understand that Elayne should attempt to avoid any further run-ins with them, for her own reputation's sake and we might have to keep a wary eye out for her. Whilst we could suppress such rumours, we cannot avoid them being spread at all. Your sister seems to be too tenderhearted and innocent to understand the damage a tarnished reputation can do." He eyed her with a softened expression this time.
"Now, I'll not inform my brother of what I have heard, doing so I believe would diminish his hope and would completely cease his interest in her, unless he truly has lost his heart to her. Arnaud would keep him busy enough during the tournament. So perhaps something could be salvaged at a later time." He ended.

"Why do you think I keep her close?" Danelle commented simply. "I plan to do just that, Ser. Though, I should think perhaps you might warn your brother as to her innocence, if nothing else? He might find her words confusing when he expects someone with experience as some other ladies might. Elayne is of a slightly simple mind." She advised and noted Elayne returning with the drinks.

"You can be assured of that." He promised Danelle before gracefully smiling and accepting the drinks from Elayne, before explaining.
"This my lovely ladies is what we know to be an Arbor Night. A drink made by mixing certain elements and known to be our own special little secret.
Take the wild spices, warm twist of caramel, a splice of lemon and his quality liquor you gain an intoxicating beverage that smoothly glides down your tongue and warms your senses." He explained before offering a toast to the two of them.
"May the sweet summer nights never end and wrap us in its embrace."

"May they never end." Both women agreed, Danelle looking satisfied. Elayne was far more muted and smiled gently at the two set to be wed.

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Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Almalthia
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Almalthia Friendly neighborhood redhead

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The Sea, The Keep & The Beginning

A cool sea breeze blew in from the Narrow Sea pulling tendrils of red gold hair across the profile of a petite young woman. Her blue green eyes took in the sight of The Red Keep and Kings Landing. She wrinkled her nose at the thought of the smell of the city itself. They would not be there long. Perhaps a night and they would stay in the Red Keep itself. Many of the men had taken the opportunity to throw in and assist the crew to make things go faster.

“Jassy you will at least stay out of the sun. If not, you will look like a cooked lobster." A very pretty woman with deep auburn hair and golden green eyes with striking brows that were currently drawn together in worry.

Moving back into the meager shadows cast by the afternoon sun playing across the deck and the lee of the steps up to the stern Jaslyn Arryn, known as Jassy to her family and close friends, looked back then up at her cousin Ysolde. Jaslyn hated that she was so tiny. It made people assume she was much younger than her twenty years. Sometimes she felt older than Arthyr, her older brother who was three and twenty. Ysolde is sure to catch a husband, she looks old enough. Unlike me I still look like I am but two and ten… mayhap four and ten if I am being generous.

“Yissy it is unlikely any man will be looking at me. I look like a baby compared to you, or any other woman. No one will care." Jaslyn mused her voice heavy with irony.

“You will care when you blister, daughter." Brighid Arryn intoned with just as much irony as her daughter. As the woman strode down the stairs from the stern her shadow fell over the two young ladies. “We will be pulling in soon and I want nothing to hinder getting a room with a bath. Sea water baths just do not wash as well as I like." The younger women agreed with vigorous nods as they went inside the captain’s cabin to await the ship pulling into the harbor at Kings Landing.

The company of men scurried like ants when a nest is kicked after they’d secured the cog in the harbor. Jaslyn had charge of the foal that was the gift to Prince Daeron as well as charge of the items that were to come with the spirited little stallion. He was one of the noblest lines of Vale Destriers, his sire being Donnel’s own stallion and younger brother to the Heir of the Vale, Arthyr’s colt that he would be riding during the tournament. The boy was weaned and had a high spirit but was turning out to be a steady proud destier like his older brother and sire. As Jaslyn led him down he clattered noisily, surprisingly not skittish at the noise he made nor the noise of the harbor.

Smiling at Ysolde who raised her eyebrows in surprise Jaslyn laughed softly. “I began conditioning him to noises made by men when he was still young. We wanted the Prince to have a steady companion even if he is never ridden in his life."

Tipping her head Ysolde followed Jaslyn to a pace away from the ship and the men clamoring all over it and the harbor as Brighid directed without a raised voice. The woman was just listened to, not questioned for no one wanted the glare from the formidable redhead. Jaslyn took her looks from her mother but with a touch of her father’s golden hair tossed in to lighten it to an interesting rose gold rather than the auburn of her mother’s hair.

The Braavosi Water Dancer pair swaggered off the ship. Father and son, Tybalt and Bastian Forel, had been with House Arryn for about twelve years now. Having traded Braavos for House Arryn the two never regretted it in the slightest. They were loyal to the power couple that had found them and offered them a position in the house to teach their children water dancing if they were so inclined. Tybalt recognised quickly that this position was a much better position than that of First Sword for he would likely live longer as would his young son.

Bastian smirked as he caught sight of Jaslyn and Ysolde. Tybalt sighed and shook his head. “I tell you boy that way lies trouble."

“I have done nothing." Bastian countered innocently. Too innocently.

“Yet. I warn you if you do I will personally make sure you can join the Unsullied." Tybalt hissed. “Lord and Lady Arryn are here to present Jassy and her cousin to the royal court and look for matches for them. You are not one boy."

“My heart goes out to the man that chooses to court his death." Bastian’s arrogance was obvious in those words as he looked at Jaslyn who had noticed them and smiled sweetly.

Tybalt rubbed his temples. Jaslyn out of the three Arryn children showed the most promise and interest in water dancing. The petite girl was quick and ruthless with the blade. She had a way of looking into one’s soul and knowing what you were going to do before you did it. He loved the girl like a daughter and would have happily wed his son to her but he had not broached the subject due to his certainty that her parents were looking elsewhere. Her mother, Lady Arryn was not stupid and had seen that Jaslyn and Bastian had grown close recently. The closeness was not the closeness the girl had with her brothers. Had it been that then the look and nod Brighid had given him a week before they set out for the tournament said it all. That woman could say more in a look than the most trained courtesan in all of Braavos and she was much more intimidating.

The men fell into step with the young women as they attended the foal and their own palfreys Gemma, Ysolde’s mare and Dusk which was Jaslyn’s gelding. Jaslyn was in favor of walking them to the stables in the Red Keep. River Row was busy and they decided to wait for Lonald Royce and a few of their guards that had come with. Catching up with them were Lyndsay, Khloe, Serah and Septa Leynara along with just the people that they had been waiting on.

The men easily parted the crowd as Brighid, Donnel and Arthyr came leading their horses as well. Few in the Arryn entourage did not lead at least one steed. “I understand the reasoning behind not wanting to ride until they have their legs under them Jassy but this would go much faster if we do not walk them." Brighid stated as she lead her stallion Snowfall. The comment was more ironic because she had not saddled him nor did she want to do so. Knowing it was not a set down but merely the way her mother communicated for the guards to be on alert and that she expected them to be so, Jaslyn nodded as they continued up the River Row past inns, and houses of merchants and smallfolk alike.

The incessant chirping that the ladies maids, whom Jaslyn referred to as the doves, made about who would be at the tournament and who would win and crown some lucky lady the queen of love and beauty was almost more than she could stand. Jaslyn, like her mother, wanted a bath and a bed that was not rocking.

As the Arryns made their way up River Row to the Red Keep they had people make way for them. All in all the journey was a brief one. The animals were tended to and the entourage was taken up to the rooms in the Red Keep that they normally inhabited when staying there. Their visit was brief and hardly worth note as it was expected that they would spend some time within Kings Landing after the tournament.

Crossing the Blackwater Rush in barges the Arryns set out for Summerhall…

At long last the troop of Arryns had arrived. They had not set a hard pace from Kings Landing, rather an easy one that was not hard on any of the entourage, including the foal that was a gift for the Prince’s Birthday. Granted it was sunset the day before the start of the tournament by the time they arrived at Summerhall. Brighid had decided that sleep was more important than hauling everyone in front of a young Prince who would likely be settling down for the night. She remembered when her children were the age the Prince was now. The tender age from infancy to wanting to be more independent and yet needing help. She smiled to herself absently as they were getting things together in their rooms at Summerhall.

There was a splash of water and Brighid looked over with a raised eyebrow. Donnel had splashed himself with water from a basin.

“How do you explain your current shenanigans?" Brighid questioned as Donnel sputtered. “Well, speak up."

“Someone set me on fire and I had to put myself out." Donnel replied.

“I see and who put the torch to you?" Brighid asked, slightly amused.

“A sunbeam." He grinned with a wink.

“A sunbeam?" She was doing a good job of keeping a straight face.

“A sunbeam disguised as a fairy queen. But you can not fool me, I know a sunbeam when I see one."

Grinning Brighid moved closer. “That was very poetic, Donnel." Her eyes sparkled as she stalked him toward a bedroom that the servants had set a bath in.

Backing away Donnel smirked and grabbed the pitcher of water. “Don’t come too close or I’ll have to do it again." Brighid laughed and Donnel joined in as they left the rest of the entourage in the sitting rooms taking a bedroom.

Shaking her head Jaslyn marveled at how her mother, a normally very stoic and serious woman, could turn into an excitable teenager at the sight of her father or the flirting that the two of them did. She supposed it was much like her closeness with Bastian, which they had not had a moment alone for over a week now. Her water dancing was improving slowly and she was frustrated because she felt like she was just about to where she might just be able to beat Bastian and then possibly Master Forel. Granted Bastian had almost kissed her. Or she thought he had almost kissed her. Perhaps she was wrong. He had avoided her or someone had been with them since the start of the journey. Sometimes she lifted her eyes and saw the heat there that seemed to melt her inside. Which she could not decide if it was exciting or not or just slightly frightening

Moving to a bedroom the ladies in waiting and Septa Leynara all followed along and directed servants on where to put things. There was an attached room for the ladies and the Septa would take a room across the hall in the wing. The room was beautiful and Jaslyn was content enough to watch the twilight shadows fall over the gardens as she got ready for bed. She yawned as Lyndsay was pulling a brush through her hair. “Almost done. Just a few more and we can braid it so that it will not tangle." Humming Jaslyn yawned again as Lyndsay’s quick fingers made short work of two thick braids tying them off with ribbons and tucking in Jaslyn who was practically asleep before her head hit the pillow.

Hidden 10 mos ago Post by LadyRunic
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LadyRunic The Laughing Raven

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House Lothston & House Blackwood

The tournament was set to begin, the noble guests that were expected had arrived on time. Lord Quentyn Blackwood stared in resigned silence at the black dragon on red that flapped high on a pole in the distance. Dressed in padded quilting, he looked as a lord should who was set to be merry and to take part in the tournament. In truth, he would have rathered not jousted. There was a point to be made, however, all the Blackwoods were fine and fit warriors. Robert was keeping himself from most of the dealings, but his second son was more a bookish sort and no less a fighter for it. Not turning to greet the man who paused beside him. “You are a fool Manfryd.” His voice was gruff as a breeze raised flags and swept through the scents of hundreds of campfires, cooking, cleaning, and the smell of shit. His cousin by marriage was full of the latter. “Arranging to marry Danelle to a Redwyne boy.”

“It was acceptable to both and I wanted the girl married before the year was out.” The reply was gruff as the Lord of Harrenhal crossed his arms over his tunic. Servants took a berth around the two lords. Some slowed, others speeding on whether they wished to risk overhearing a word. Most did not after both lords fingered the hilts of swords and fixed harsh stares about them. Perhaps the conversation would be better in the privacy of tents and their camps. But the meeting here was out of the reach of sons and daughters alike. “That they have a potential son for Elayne as well hardly hurts. Though I have other hopes.”

“Hopes.” The word was a bark of harsh laughter, as the Lord of Raventree grimaced. “Your hopes lie in that the Prince will take her for wife. A young lad taking a woman he fancies? Possible, but your hatred of the Targaryens is well known after King Aegon, may he rest in peace, took your mother and sister as whores.” Ignoring the snarl on the other lord’s face Quentyn continued. “The boy will likely marry either his twin or a daughter of a Lord higher and with more family prestige than you.” It was harsh but true. The only times Quentyn knew of Targaryens marrying outside of the family for future Queens had been Houses of note. The Hightowers, the Martells, Valeryons, Arryn. Though the last had been a cousin through the mother. Viserys, the father of Aegon, had married a Lyseni woman. Though the King had thought to have been dead through most of the Dance. “Peace. Manfryd, I want what is best for your daughters just as you do. They are Calera’s children.”

That hardly seemed to quell Manfryd, though he did take his hand from his sword. “They are my children and I will do as is best for them.” A gruff reply and Quentyn could hardly blame the man. Manfryd’s pride had always been a touchy thing and he cared deeply. Though he could hardly show it, it just was not in the man. Not since Calera had died.

“Dammit, man. What’s best for them is for you to let me foster Elayne.” His irritation with the Lord of Harrenhal was taking over and Quentyn knew it. Manfryd bred fine mules and wonder he did not provide the place of the ass himself! “You do her no favors allowing her to remain in Harrenhal where you host no one but bats and shadows!” Slapping his gloves against his thigh, he considered his argument and sighed. “Manfryd, Danelle is as stern as stone. A fine heir for Harrenhal.” As fine as a woman could be. The girl had approached him asking if he found her fine enough for Harrenhal. He had, she would rule the land well. She had wanted assurance that if cousins came to call and claim the seat of House Lothston after her father passed, the Lord of Raventree would aid her. Hell, the girl had hinted that her father would be better off dead. Encouraging thoughts as to an accident.

Not that he could say as much to the man before him. Manfryd did not care for Danelle. He found his daughter a suitable heir but difficult to deal with. Like a falcon that could savage you or fly away with a prize at any moment, Melissa had mentioned in passing. An apt comparison. Elayne was a sweet girl and would not do well under Danelle’s hand when the elder sister became Lady of Harrenhal. Manfryd was playing a dangerous game and Quentyn wanted to make sure that at least one of Calera’s daughters had a shot at a happy life. He knew the husband of his cousin was speaking loudly against the Targaryens and if the Lord of Harrenhal was eager for the whispers that the Blackfires were the true dragons… It would not surprise Quentyn.

“Manfryd.” He decided to play on a cruel nerve and continued carefully on the path of diplomacy. “Melissa is at Raventree and I can think of no better woman to find Elayne a match worthy of her.”

“One of Aegon’s-”

“Mistresses.” He interrupted the snarl and continued over the protest. “You well know how highly Calera thought of Melissa despite that. You know very well the two were close as blood sisters. For the love you still bear your wife, will you not at least take it into consideration? Bennifer’s wife just had a son as well. It would only benefit Elayne to be around a newborn child as well so she will be better prepared when the time comes or do you mean to send her with a caretaker when a husband means to take her?”

That seemed to cause the other lord to pause and he seemed to muse on the topic. The flow of people thinned and thickened. Servants hauling food, drink, and laundry about. Buckets and trinkets and tokens. Squires with weapons and armor. Shields of many different hedge knights bobbing as they made their way through the tourney’s roads. Sidestepping a horse and cart of wine, the two lords were tucked off at the side of the throng and Quentyn was about to give things up for a lost cause for the day and take up the litany at another time.

“Let us speak of this over wine. Perhaps you could convince me better with some arbor red in me.” Quentyn’s lips curved as he took the opening. That Manfryd was willing to offer him wine that would cost him something to buy said only positive things.
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Hidden 10 mos ago 10 mos ago Post by Joytex
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Joytex Patron Saint of Procrastination

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The King At The Edge Of The World

Not a day went by Myros didn’t think of that valley on that stinking hot afternoon back in the Red Mountains. The sword at his throat, the trickle of blood running down his neck, dripping onto the dry sand. His friends all lay dead around him, Smiling Nymor still smiled as flies danced across his empty eyes; Rass Of Ghosthill hung limply, skewered on a knight’s lance. It had been a rout.

Myros remembered the Reach knight’s sneer as he looked down at him, clearly confident his place in songs was now assured, bragging rights for the rest of his days. Though he was to die of the pox less than a year later. Myros gaze had drifted over, glared death at the young septon who had been no septon at all. Of course it had all ended in betrayal. The knight had pressed the sword against his neck, cutting into the flesh.

You any last words Vulture King?

Forty-three years and more than two-thousand miles away Commander Sand of Eastwatch-By-The-Sea scratched at the scar on his neck uneasily, bracing himself against the spray and the sway of the autumnal waves as they rowed to shore. Ever since they’d spotted the smoke rising up out of the fishing village that same feeling had come back to Myros, haunting him from all those years ago. There would be death here and more would follow.

They’d left Wormwood anchored off the coast and Myros had taken 10 brothers to see what was left. There was an unsettling stillness to the place as they pulled ashore, Eyron’s Pier had always been bustling and busy when they’d come to trade, now the silence was deafening. Swords drawn the black brothers moved cautiously on, they could see signs of fire and fighting, but no bodies. This did little to reassure Myros.

“You will keep yourselves sharp.” Myros ordered, his black hair may have turned to white and his Dornish tan long faded in his years on the wall, but he'd stubbornly clung to the accent of his homeland. When at last they found the bonfire it turned out even the battles of the Red Mountains could not have prepared him for what they saw. Teeth marks on charred bone, children upon pig-spits, rotting skulls that had been caved in and the innards eaten raw. Myros felt his stomach rise and had to steady himself against a wall. More than one of the others, hardened watch-men all, ended up spewing. They did not linger to bury the dead.


“Oi’ll kill tha’ bastard whoreson oathbreaker myself!!” Spittle flew from the enraged mouth of the first-mate back aboard Wormwood. Angry mutterings from the rest of the crew gathered on the main deck, looking at a cannibalised child’s skull brought back. “Sooner we find and burn ‘is ships then join with the Stark host the better!” This drew shouts of agreement. Edwin was known to frequent the brothel’s of Eyron’s pier and the rumours were he had a bastard girl off one of them in the village.

“I would not even be taking the time to spit on Torwynd's corpse.” Myros spoke quietly for the first time since returning aboard, this had the effect of silencing the men. “But that was the work of an army." The old man’s eyes seemed very far away. "Torwynd, he is no mere oathbreaker leading a band of savages - he is a king.” The words were painful to speak, but it was truth.

“I don’t give a fuck what he calls himself I’m gonna-“ Edwin flared up but the Commander cut him off.

“The Night’s Watch takes no part in the wars of the Seven Kingdoms.” Myros sternly recited the mantra. “We should never have come here.” The Commander said shaking his head, this whole expedition had made him uneasy. Lord Commander Forrester was a good man, a capable one too Myros thought. But he was young and young men had a way of seeing the world in black and white.

“Skagosi are no different to wildlings anyway!” Someone else shouted out. “Are we cravens hiding on the wall just because the wrong type of murderous fuckers are raiding?!”

“We’re not hunting an traitor, we’re fighting a war. Turn the ship around.” The Commander hated himself right then, he could see the pain on the first mate’s face, on all their faces. Of course Myros wanted to help kill this monster, but he’d tried being a hero forty years ago and that had just gotten his friends all killed. It had taken a long time but Myros had found purpose in the Night’s Watch, left the anger of his youth behind.

“We got orders Myros.” Edwin growled, dropping the ‘Commander Sand’, Myros saw Edwin's hand resting on his sword, there were angry tears at the edge of the man's eyes.

“You swore oaths Edwin.” Myros’ gripped his own sword hilt tightly, the tension on the deck was sharp, they seemed to have formed into two rough groups behind each man. Breaths all misted in the air, for a moment nothing happened. “I will not tell you again. Turn this ship around.”

“You won’t.” Spat Edwin as if Myros was Torwynd himself. The man lunged forward, steel flashing. Then all was chaos. Myros wasn’t as fast as the younger man, had to use his scabbard to meet the blow and tripped backwards, falling over. It was brother against brother, the Orders against the Oaths, more of a brawl than a battle though. He saw someone’s dagger slide into Edwin’s chest and the man went down. It was all over in moments.

Myros was helped to his feet, he was panting heavily. It seemed the oaths won it. The fight had been smaller than it had seemed, most of the crew had only watched in shock then fallen into line with the winners. The oath-breakers were bound and led below deck, some with fearful looks, others defiant. Aside from Edwin there had been only one death, young Ronnel the cabin-boy.

“What now Commander?” Someone asked. Myros thought back to the Red Mountains, the fighting, the death. He swore to himself this would be different.

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Hidden 10 mos ago Post by Vanq
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Vanq The Chaos Ladder

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Pageantry and Procession

Vanq with @Danvers

The Princess sat silently, a goblet pressed between her lips, soft lilac eyes stared absently in the distance. In her youth, she was shamed for her appearance, yet she had aged finer than the vintage she sipped at now. Or at least, that’s what men said. Her brow furrowed at the errant thought. How much of their lives had been lived at the whims of men. Baelor, Aegon, even Daeron...Daeron, who, though he knew her worth, would not name her to his small council directly. She prayed that her fool of a husband would not undo her work in her brief absence.

Perhaps that alone was the reason she had invited Shiera to speak with her in her tourney box. Maekar and Baelor had made their invitations, yet she preferred having control of who would join her. Bloodraven’s consort had set off waves of rumors with her entrance, sufficiently enough to pique the aged princess’s interest. So much of Shiera reminded Elaena of herself at a certain age. The bastard was known to the princess for many years, she saw potential in the woman, if she would only grasp it fully.

The princess had been given a young kingsguard as her escort. Perhaps they thought she would appreciate having the handsome young man in attendance, but Elaena had never been one to be drawn to youth, even a pretty one. As Shiera entered though, the princess spared a glance to see how her guardian would react. The Seastar was a beauty, perhaps one to even rival Daena in her youth, and like Daena, Shiera knew it. Though today the woman seemed less herself.

“Ser Leyton, my my.” The Lyseni dragon took in the white-clad knight before her. “The white still complements your blush so well.” Leyton Tyrell, a young savant of a swordsman when he took the white, Shiera had often taken to teasing him in passing in King’s Landing. She did so to toy with Brynden, but the young flower’s responses only ever served to spur her on. She placed a hand softly to his elbow as she teased with a sensuous smile. She could not help herself, no matter the mood she had been in. “It’s been too long, I hope you have not missed me in my absence.”

Leyton nodded politely as Shiera entered, one hand resting on his sword's hilt, the other held strictly at his side. Yet his ease of bearing was promptly interrupted by her blatant flirtation and he instantly blushed, mortified as she pointed out the contrast between his cheeks and cloak. "Of course I have my lady." He smiled awkwardly, anxiety written plainly across his features. "Not that I should have reason to! Simply that you are always a welcomed sight in King's landing." Leyton added, maintaining his tall stance as he spoke, eyes watching any entrance ways, if only partly to avoid looking at the woman.

"I don't mean to say I care only for your looks. I do not!" He tensed as he began to dig himself deeper. "But, well they are very pleasing, I am sure. Many must like looking at you! Though- though I do not, of course!" The words tumbled out of the young man's mouth with an alarming rapidity and his flushed cheeks only worsened the more he spoke, blood heating his face. He fixed his gaze downward, busying himself with the droll task of ensuring his scabbard was secured properly, which of course it was. He would never dream of protecting the princess without being fully prepared.

“Shiera, leave the poor boy be. I cannot expect him to guard me if he is ogling your breasts.” Having let it go on long enough, Elaena called the woman over, though her chastisement was mixed with a hint of mirth. The boy was a rather pleasant shade of red. "And, Ser Leyton, perhaps you should learn less is more. Back in my more youthful days you would have been taken to task for a tongue wagging like that." At last a small but throaty laugh erupted from the princess. "Besides, our dear Seastar is quite aware of her pleasing looks. Men seem unable to not remind her of this fact."

Shiera's eyes narrowed at the reproach. Elaena was well known for her sharp tongue and brusque nature. The great bastard was never sure if it was jealousy or respect she felt for the princess. Perhaps both, though times like this, it was a bitter draught to swallow.

"Ser Leyton and I are old friends, he knows I mean no offense." She turned her head for a final glance in enjoyment of how thoroughly ruffled the knight was. Her tongue traced her lips teasingly before she returned her attention to the princess and took a seat next to her elder. Her skirts lightly pooled around her, cloth-of-silver paneled with delicate white lace. Elaena had been too accurate as well, the top of her dress barely obscured her chest, adorned by long but delicate strands of emeralds and sapphires.The necklace had been a gift from Brynden. Absent-mindedly, she traced a strand between two slender fingers.

Elaena took a sip of wine, eyes trained on the woman before her. “You know, Bloodraven was really in quite a state when you departed King’s Landing.”

Shiera’s head dropped slightly, silver hair a curtain to shield her face. “Good.”

“Oh child, one day you will regret taunting that man so much.” The princess waited but cleared her throat when no response came. “It was unexpected, I will give you that. No one thought you would seek out Bittersteel.”

“Nor did I.” Shiera’s lips were pressed together as she made her admission. “It was impulsive.” Like much of her life, if she gave a moment for self-reflection. “I love them.”

Elaena grunted softly. She had known love once, and fate had seen fit to tear him from her too early. “You play with fire. Do not protest yet, listen to me.” She raised her hand though Shiera had barely opened her lips to speak. The princess paused to appreciate a single man in the procession before them. A barely perceptible blush crept across her cheeks as his head turned and their eyes met for the briefest of moments. “We live and die by the men we bind ourselves to, surely you recognize this truth.”

“As you have bound yourself to the Lord of Parchments?” Shiera responded quietly but with an uncharacteristic bitterness to her voice. “I will choose who I wish, when I wish, and remain unbound.”

Tsk. “Perhaps if you had chosen any other than your brothers who were fated to hate each other from birth.” Elaena attempted to mellow her words, she extended her hand to take Shiera’s. “You think you have a choice but it’s an illusion, girl. Do you not feel it? Daemon and his supporters - including your new love - put us on a dangerous path.” She sighed. “Bittersteel can only give you death and destruction. Whatever his faults, with Bloodraven you could have a life with at least half of what you long for.”

Shiera’s eyes narrowed again, her head raised in defiance. “And what is it you think I long for?”

“Respect.” Elaena let the word hang in the air. “To be recognized as an equal.” It was an unlikely thing to hope for.

Once she had dreamed of such things, thought them within her reach. Shiera pulled her hand from Elaena’s and rested her chin upon it with a pout forming across her lips. She could not refute the princess’s claim, nor could she vocalize her agreement. “I will think on your advice. But I fear it may be too late.” She sighed deeply, her mind unable to let go of the images she had seen brought forth from the prior night’s ritual. Her life would not be the same, and soon, she felt it and knew it to her core.

The quiet lingered as the procession of knights became barely more than a trickle and the men before them bore heraldry only the most astute would recognize. Elaena broke the silence. “I expect Rhaena to arrive soon. She is still a prudish bitch, you may wish to take your leave before she lectures you on the Maiden’s virtues.” It was offered as a suggestion but spoken as a dismissal.

Shiera simply nodded in response. Of the Maiden Vault sisters, the bastard knew of Rhaena only by reputation. “Thank you for the invitation, Princess. I should return…” She paused, a moment of uncertainty. The statement hung in the air unfinished.

“Just be cautious dear. Even a dragon can be burned and you are only half of one.” Elaena spoke without turning her attention back but waited for the sound of her soft footsteps to end. “Ser Leyton, have a page send word to Ser Michael of Kingsgrave. I’d like him to join me for dinner tonight, we have business to discuss.”
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Hidden 10 mos ago Post by Apollosarcher
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Apollosarcher Knight with the Rowan Shield

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The Accords of Wolves and Wyne

Just before the Stark Feast...

Brandon Stark waited until his kin departed then withdrew a flask from cloak. “Gods what I wouldn’t give to have a more normal family. My apologies for my... Wife’s less than adequate courtesy Lady Redwyne.” He spoke, taking a long drink from the flask and passing it to Gryff who knocked back some himself. “I’ve come to make an offer... Two actually to present your father, one if my son has championed himself in the melee. The other if he has not... I know you two are fond of one another, I’ve spent time ensuring our coffers can pay a Redwynes bride price and survive our winters... We are not the richest of houses but we are proud and honorable.” He explained as he smiled at Honora. “And any price is worth it for the way my son speaks of you. I'd think he’d found true love by song alone."

Gryff blushing next to his father as the young man turned his head lightly scratching the back of his head. “I... I told you I wasn’t just wasting all that time I had to get what I needed... I won’t dare to dishonor you... Hope you know we might not have the wonderful weather and wealth you are used to here...” He explained nervously it seemed fiddling with practice sword hilt.

Honora listened in silence, her eyes moving from Lord Brandon before they settled on Gryffith’s.
“No need to apologize.” She offered. “I wasn’t exactly at my best either. I beg your pardon for my own rude behavior in return.” Honora asked as she bowed in reverence and honor.
She dared not interrupt the compliments, as she felt a blush rise to her cheeks once more.
“I fear your son cannot be trusted as a reliable source my lord. For I fear he is not impartial, but then again neither am I. My heart has been wholly his since the night he sang for me, I must confess he spoiled me rotten. For no man could compare thereafter.” She spoke praisingly, before smiling at the dowry offer.
“I dare not make such demands, nor would my father protest I believe. We are a lower but wealthy house. Father always was more pleased with prestige, a noble house and lineage such as your own would certainly lift his spirits, regardless of the distance.”

She turned to Gryffith and took his hands in hers, demanding he’d look at her.
“You would never be able to dishonor me. For all my coldness, truly can you blame me… waiting for three years without a word of comfort?” She asked with a slight smile before stating. “If I was afraid of the cold, I would not marry a wolf. Besides, the bear pelt you gave me back then has kept me warm through the biting licks of frost that do venture South.” She smiled warmly at him. “You shall simply have to see to it I don’t wither from the cold.” She teased.

Brandon nodded, then produced formal letters with personal seals on them. “One is for should Gryffith win, the other should he not both be generous terms. I know how he feels... Same way I did when first met Sylvara and when found ourselves beset by brigands.” He chuckled thinking back on as he stepped forward putting a hand on her shoulder. “Besides, no need to bow you were good to my boy and him to you Lady Honora you will always have my care and respect even if my pack isn't the best at showing it.” He smiles at her, turning to Gryffith. “You want a moment alone before we go off to feast and revel with our fellow men of the north? You know Ashe will start to suspect something soon.”

“I heard your eldest was a troublemaker, I fear, we do not lack in those either.” Honora remarked. “All good families seem to produce at least one.”

Gryffith stepped forward taking her hands. “I wasn’t fast I admit... But I promise this time next year you’ll be with me in Winterfell. You’ll love the glass gardens and the hearths.”

“Maybe I should set up our chamber there. In the hothouses.” She joked feeling relief wash over her. “You’re really sure about this…a deal struck is a deal made and this time in front of your father. I would hate for you to regret marrying a dainty Southern flower.”
“Also whatever may happen know that I hold you dear, dearer still than my own life, regardless of who will stand against us, I’d rather not uproot unnecessarily.” The light that reflected in her eyes was slightly fractured, due to the smallest of tears starting to form at the thought of their future happiness.

Brandon nodded. “Aye, he didn’t stop hounding me for three years to marry. I think the lad knows what he wants.” Griffith blushed but nodded and hugged Honora.

“Yes... You are what I always want.” He spoke, stepping forward to hold her hands then leaned down kissing her sweetly.

“Good.” Honora managed to say before he hugged her and took hold of her before robbing her of her breath and any restraint or struggle she might have felt was necessary to maintain some dignity. But as his lips touched hers she concluded dignity could go hang itself.
She was too preoccupied to care.
“You’re cruel.” She stated softly giving him the lightest of punches. “How am I supposed to get a good night’s rest after all that? I’ll be sitting in that box all puffy eyed tomorrow and it will all be your fault, for haunting my dreams.” She proclaimed with a slight pout as her eyes couldn’t help but trail downwards and instantly make her flush bright red again.
“You’ll be the death of me.” She scolded. “It is a good thing I love you, otherwise I would be horribly frustrated.”

Griffith laughed. “Could be worse Mathias is infamous for forgetting a shirt after training.” He sighed as he shook his head. “And Ashe doesn’t use doors very well. He once climbed up the side of the Eryie.” He shook his head. “My older brother, the trouble maker. I wonder what sort of Warden he’ll make one day.” He added before hugging Honora. “I have to go pretend to be happy without you awhile, think you can manage?”

Honora sighed remembering.
“Don’t remind me, Serenei was ready to jump him, poor boy. She’d ravage him. You might be wolves, but from what I’ve seen he seemed more like a duckling and she was the hungry vixen ready to devour him.” She rubbed her temple in a tired manner.
“Make a mental note to always bring a shirt for Mathias and to put a bell on your brother.” She said. “I will not have him scare the death out of me with his antics. I had to deal with Arystide and Finnegan. He shall find me no easy victim.” She reminded him before she smiled at his embrace.
“I have managed these past few years, I think I can manage those extra few days. Go and be a good son, but if I hear of you flirting with any of these Northern girls I will show you exactly why you don’t mess with a Redwyne.” She added with slight jealousy for good measure.

Griffith blushed. “Please like any northern woman could-” Brandon coughed. “Could... Compete with you in my heart, even drunk I have only eyes for you.” Gryffith squeezed her hand and smiled at her.

“All right then, go on. The Seven know I loathe to watch you go, but I would hate myself more if I caused you harm or damage your reputation. I know the North expects its men to be tough and whilst the women of Bear Island may be excused for their She-bear behavior, I doubt they would approve of a Southern Lady chewing out her husband to be.” She curtsied again for the both of them, taking her distance and turning more stiff again for appearances sake.

“Please be careful.” She pleaded.

“I may not be able to keep you from ‘proving yourself’ but remember it is you I want instead of that flower crown.” Honora reminded him, before wishing him and his father goodnight.

Meanwhile in the feasting hall...

With the festivities now over and the hours progressing later and later in the evening, long after other Lord's had taken their leave, the Redwyne sisters had been on the prowl again for some merriment and finer specimens of men to spend the evening with.

As the crowd had grown larger the twins had eventually even split up, with Rowenna enjoying a turn about on the dancefloor only to bump straight into a familiar sigil.

She managed to catch hold of the man's arm only to laugh mischievously offering the man an apologetic wide smile.

Cregard had been crossing the floor having just finished his book. He was about to go put it away, maybe take in a proper meal and then see about some training. However when she caught hold of his arm he turned, looking her over he didn't apologize or try to move as he looked down. "Best be careful, wolves bite." He spoke not with a smile or a wink but a warning most ladies didn't much care for rough and tumble north men who wed easily before a tree and took them off to bed.

She laughed wider at that.
"Do you promise?" She chuckled, offering a slight bump with her hip as her smile turned wicked.
"But only after a dance and a glass of wine surely?" She offered, wondering if the man wanted to play.

He shook his head and then paused. "I don't dance but I do drink if that is your game. Happy to drink." He offered with a shrug. "I always bite, it's why my brother and I are my father's Fang's. He talks and we bite."

"Well, dear Ser Wolf, I do hope you tend to keep that promise. We'll see whether I can convince you to drink our wine, rather than our blood, how is that for a start, Ser Wolf?" She suggested.

"Fine to me, though it's Cregard. Just call me that." He spoke, clasping his book and turning to walk with her. "I only want blood in a fight... You're not really the type to fight, are you Lady?" He added not even knowing her name.

"Cregard... A powerful name Ser Wolf and no I do not fight....well not the usual type of fighting." She laughed as she pulled him along to one of the bars and merely needed to signal before one of the barmaids came running.

"The usual Lady Rowenna?" Asked the maid.

"The usual." She nodded with a smile watching as the wench took two goblets and poured them from a different casket than the other Arbor Reds before planting them before them.

Rowenna turned to Cregard and handed him a goblet before saying.

"Enjoy... and don't immediately toss it backwards like one of the other vintages. This one is to be tasted and allow your palate to savour all the Summersun that lies within it." She instructed with a lower voice, before doing so herself.

"Oh and I am Lady Rowenna Redwyne, my lord...at your service."

Cregard had already reached for it to toss back and drink like so many beers before but he listened... Curious to learn about wine a bit at least if he was to marry into one of these families he should learn about their customs and drinks. "Fair enough. I admit it's different from the beers back home." He added taking a long slow drink nodding his through scrunching his face a bit. "It's sweet... So sweet." He muttered, seeming a bit off put by the nature of it.

"Your wine is certainly interesting, my uncle has brought beer. Maybe you ought to try our deep black drinks?" He was curious about her reaction to the idea of drinking it. "It's more filling but stronger than wine. Though it's bitter not for the faint of heart." He added carefully trying not to discourage her from it.

Rowenna put a hand on his, which seemed tiny in comparison. "Aren't all Summer's sweet?" She asked in return. "Of those long, warm nights, simmering with the cool sea breeze and smelling of the various sweet blossoms." She turned to watch him carefully through her long lashes. Making sure she would keep his attention.

"Is Ser Wolf inviting me? Then how would I be able to object to such an invitation?" She asked. "Whilst I perhaps shouldn't, as the saying goes, you have piqued my interest. I certainly am willing to taste this deep black drink...I imagine it is brewed by Winter itself." She said, taking another swig from her granite red.

"Mhmm nothing like that but the waters are from fresh mountain snow... As for Summer nights... I help the smallfolk. We prepare constantly... Winter is coming and if we do not have years of grain, food, and drink readily stored we will starve." He spoke then thought a moment before turning his hand to take her own in his rough and strong hand. "Summer nights are strange to me... Too warm and bright. Summer in the north is cooler, sometimes gets warm enough the wall weeps yet never melts... You know some cut the ice from it? It never melts so you can cool anything without weakening the drink."

"Sounds appetizing under the right circumstances." She stated. "And I am sure you're a tremendous help, how could they starve when they have men such as yourself to rely on." She played. "I am certain one needs to be warm blooded to survive those cold northern nights. Aren't you lonely, Ser Wolf?"

"It's why we are so contentious: cold weather breeds hot blood and desire to stay close to kin. Northern families grow so big because men and women spend months and months in doors in winter so close together bundled in furs for warmth." He added with a pause then sighed. "I've never been the most keen for the company of women. Good conversation is more important, learning and understanding that makes things worth doing. My brother has a vice for women." He then paused for a moment.

"I am not adverse to female charm just... Different I crave battle and blood or knowledge and companionship, I do mean good company and conversation first before anything else." He spoke letting her know he wasn't as uneducated and unrefined as many might think to look at the man.

Rowenna's expression instantly changed.
"I did not mean to offend you, Ser Wolf." She smiled wryly. "I am a problem child, my sister doesn't approve of me, claims I am too promiscuous, but that is because I seek the right type of man. One cannot but test them and see how they fare without a little risk." She claimed. "I want a man that fights for me, would kill for me and would rather spend himself out on me."

"Perhaps I was wrong to presume you would be up for that task." She stated. "I beg your pardon."

"They call me bloodied for a reason. I fight when blood needs to be spilled only." He took a long drink. "Mine or theirs matters not to me. If you took me a yours, I'd cave I'd skulls and rip out hearts." He spoke simply with a shrug. "Wolves will fight an Ice bear to protect what is their own, even if they'd lose their tears and fight till it's done." He simply finished the wine and grabbed her arm light and was careful not to hurt her.

"If you're looking for someone to kill, die, and fight for you. I would do it all but you have to be mine and mine alone. Wolves mate for life when they choose one." He spoke staring into her eyes a wildness in them, he was a man who did the things he had described to men before. "I won't fight tourney's in your honor or talk shit to little men with tiny cocks. If they harm you, if they hurt you, I bring an ax down upon the helm and split it then ask who else needs a lesson." He let her hand go. "That the right type or are you looking for something more refined?"

Rowenna raised a sculpted eyebrow, putting a hand on her side.
"Listen, my lord. Not every lady here goes weak in the knees for flower crowns and tourneys." She stated with a proud look in her eyes.

"I'd chain myself to the bed for a man that would promise me that he would ravage only me." She replied boldly. "So Ser Wolf, do we have an accord?" She asked as a wicked grin slowly crept on her face.

"I am yours and you're only mine."

"Aye, I'll be true if you do. My eyes will never wander. I want only love, a warm bed, and good conversation each day with the woman who I share my life with. As for chained to the bed... When winter comes, we probably won't leave it weeks at a time during the blizzards anyway." He spoke reaching an arm to pull her towards him, so open and eager not worrying about decorum or station.

She easily slid into his embrace.
"You'd better find me Septon... Oh that's right...you Northerners marry differently do you not? Well whatever you do, I suggest we do it quick, before you can change your mind." She teased with a warm smile.

"Before weirwood trees... Perhaps we might find a grove. All we need is a tree and then to consummate it … Your family alright with you taking up with a Wolf?" He stared into her eyes holding her close as he was curious he'd never met a woman southern born who spoke like this.

"I am the least of my family's concerns... They would be thrilled to hear I made an honorable match." She stated with light annoyance. "Keep sweet talking to me and we won't even get to your precious tree." She smiled, turning her attention back to the man in front of her. "I do hope you keep your promise, the one of you biting me." Rowenna grinned, before dragging him with her towards the exit of the tent. "No turning back now, Ser Wolf. I am not letting you escape."

"Please, like I'd run now... I wanna see if you tumble as well as you talk." He spoke reaching down and grabbing her up to carry as he looked down into her eyes. "You're the prey tonight." He whispered as took her quickly off to find a spot and show her how they kept warm in the worst of Winters.
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Hidden 10 mos ago Post by Ezekiel
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The Serpent’s Dragon

In the long years of the marches there had rarely been a peaceful reason for the Sunspear sigil to fly. The blazing red on bright burnt orange was a sign feared as much as the personal sigils of the Dornish lords more likely to be raiding the lands to the North. Quarrelsome as they may be, the citadels of Yronwood and Starfall still knelt beneath the Sun.

Thus of all the arrivals of the great and good to Summerhall, the banners of Nymeros Martell caused a stir through the camp. There were other Dornish in attendance, but they came as part of the assembled Northern parties, guests of the Crown to secure the alliance which had finally brought the Dornish, in part, into the fold. It was not a vast train, no doubt smaller in many ways than less contentious houses, a set of three wheelhouses, and accompanying Dornish riders. They had taken ship from Sunspear, landing in the South of the Reach before traveling North to the tourney. The mountain passes between Dorne and the Reach were not necessarily safe at the most peaceful of times, roamed by raiders and Bandit Kings, and this was not the most peaceful of times.

“Is it a relief, Princess, to feel the cool air of home?” Opposite Daenerys sat the tall figure of Prince Nymos, the younger, previous estranged, brother of her lord husband. She had never felt hard done by in her marriage to Maron, despite being her elder by some years he was still a handsome man, one who had aged well into it. A fact she had teasingly suggested made her fortunate for the years he had lived before her. Nymos was another matter, he was shockingly beautiful, an easy charm that seemed to work on men and women alike. She could understand now, how cut off from his family and wealth, he had still attained great heights of success as a leader of men. It did not help how he reclined in her presence, a casual display at odds with his largely respectful words.

“The climate is pleasing, dear brother, and I can admit to being happy to see my loved ones after so long, but Dorne is my home now, the home of my children, I will miss it more while we are here than I ever dream of King’s Landing in Sunspear.” Despite her words, her eyes still remained out the grated window of the rolling home, watching the sloping hills of the Reach drift by. She had not seen such uninterrupted green in such a long time and no matter how pleasing to the eye the younger Martell brother was, he could not eclipse the Reach in the last hints of bloom.

The slight hum of approval her words earned from him did fight for her attention though, but not in the way she was sure many young maids would find. It was so similar to Maron’s, the little exhalation of vindication. She smiled at that, warm affection for her family now that the brothers were reunited, she understood what a chasm in Maron’s life Nymos’ rumored death had been. “Considering what we were told about you Targaryens when we were young, my brother is very fortunate to have you for a wife, Princess.” He paused, studying her in a appraising manner which would be entirely unwelcome on someone not so achingly appealing. “They sung songs of your beauty, but they failed to capture your soul, that is the true fortune.”

She laughed gently, a noise as pretty as any of the songs, “You are too kind, but I should have expected it, Maron is the same. You are both far too charming.”

“That is because you have earned our kindness, Princess, we are different in many ways, but we are both warm in love, and bitter in vengeance. It is the Dornish way.”

“You may call me Daenerys if you like, Dany, if you are feeling particularly familiar.” She sat back against the rest of her seat, finally pulling her attention fully back into the shady interior of the wheelhouse, as the glare of the Sun obscured the countryside from her.

“I prefer Princess, lady-sister, it helps me to behave.” He grinned, and that did make her flutter, although it was an interaction only approved because the pair both loved their mutual connection greater than any fleeting heat might eclipse, “And more importantly, it reminds the rest who you are. You are a Princess of Dorne now, Daenerys of House Targaryen, that means something far more than the trappings they aware their women here.”

“Martell. Prince Nymos, that is my house.” She corrected him, but the smile that touched her lips was far from reproachful.

“Of course, Dear Princess, you have earned that more than any others not born to Sunspear.”

Any further interaction between the pair was interrupted by the sudden swell of noise as the Dornish train advanced into the tourney grounds. The noise of human habitation had been building for a while, but is suddenly surrounded them, bouncing between the walls of the wheelhouse. Much of it was far off background sound, knights and their servants preparing for the martial display to come, further away the smallfolk encamped in their wider, sprawling, accommodation as they readied to watch the events of the coming days. The most intense portion of the noise, however, erupted from those clearly responding to their arrival. As far as she was aware, her attendance was widely known, but she considered now that perhaps the connection that this would mean the formal presence of her marriage-house had not quite sunk in.

Finally the wheelhouse came to a halt, a brief, but heavy, knock on the frame of the carriage all the warning those within received before the main door opened, blazing light into the shady confines. She was well used to such things though, and was quickly standing and at the doorway, accepting the chivalrously offered hand of Ser Corbray from the ground to assist her down the stairway.

If the arrival of the Dornish had sent a rustle through the camp, the sight of her pulsed like a wave. Princess Daenerys had been the darling of court in her day, Nymos had not exaggerated the songs, but Northern Westeros had not seen her for what, in the standard of courtly gossip, had been an age. Her beauty had not faded, but blossomed, the mother had surpassed the maid. Silver-gold hair shone in the light, and her choice of gown would not doubt echo through the consensus for some time. She had, of course, chosen Dornish lace, bone-white trimmed with red detail in a style that drifted about her in a way that was entirely Dornish, yet suitable for the more conservative tastes of the North. The red had been a choice of caution, those who wished could read it as Targaryen or Dornish Red, but all the same, it made its mark.

Nymos followed a few moments behind, just as Daenerys thanked Ser Corbray for his assistance. The murmers through the crowd already assembled were of a more hushed nature, a Dornish Prince was a dangerous, exotic, sight, but still certainly an appreciated one. His outfit stood in contrast to her’s, black, and finely cut, the leathers trimmed in details of the same shade. He gave a nod of appreciation to Ser Corbray as well as he stepped clear of the wheelhouse, before offering his arm to the Princess.

“Princess, it does seem they remember you.”

His voice was loud enough to carry to the onlookers, but nothing was quite loud enough between them to eclipse the surge of cheers his words had taunted from the Westerosi.
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Hidden 10 mos ago Post by Vanq
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Vanq The Chaos Ladder

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House Tully


Ravella stopped in the corridor, the tiny voice squeaking in the silence, reverberating off the damp, cold walls. Her heart jumped to her throat at being found; it thudded still at being called sister. It took a moment to clear the pain from her face, even after all these years.

“Yes, Ronn?” The petite brunette turned, dark and sensible navy woolen skirts brushed against the stone walls. Her face was poised, emotionless, though her muscles twitched at the effort.

“Where are you going?” The little boy peaked out from the doorway of his chambers and rubbed at his eyes. It was late, far too late for the little heir to be awake. Ravella had snuck in to watch him sleep for a few minutes but, it seemed, she had awakened the boy.

“To bed, which is where you should be, little one.” She returned to his side and knelt, her hand cupped to his plump cheek. There was sleep in his eyes; she gently cleared it away with her other hand. His hair was much like hers, though tightly curled, his eyes though were a deep blue unlike her own, unlike their mother’s. Rhialta would admonish her for trekking to her brother’s room like this yet again. What servants see they wag their tongue about. The constant reminder echoed in her mind. But there were no servants here, not now. The corridor was quiet enough to hear vermin scurrying behind the walls.

“Tell me a story.” He whined through a yawn as he yanked his head away from her ministrations.

“Once upon a time a little boy went to bed without complaining.” She smiled softly, her hand moving to his shoulder to pat and turn him back towards his bed.

“Not that one.” He grew defiant, his eyes fluttering with only half-feigned contempt. The defiance was short lived as he took a stumbling step forward.

Ravella giggled quietly as she rose to follow him back towards his bed, her hand on his back to guide him forward. “This little boy knew that one day, he would rule the Riverlands. He had to grow big and strong to sit the high seat, to pass wise and fair judgements. But to grow big and strong, he knew he had to go to bed and sleep sweet dreams each night.” Ronnel climbed into bed and she tucked him in beneath layers of blankets and furs. “Good night…brother.” She bent to brush her lips against his forehead with a sigh. She could hear his soft snores before she had taken two steps away from his bed.

Medgar’s muffled groans signaled that the lord had risen for the day. A servant outside the door inhaled deeply, as if to savor the final moment before attending to his lord. Within Riverrun’s Lord’s chambers, the large bed dominated the room. Massive trouts leapt from the bedposts. With each shift the current lord made, the entire bed trembled and groaned in response. Medgar struggled to pull himself up to a seated position, thin but grubby lips pressed tightly in the effort. His eyes were crusted shut. From the servant’s perspective it was as it a giant catfish flailed about on land. Then the smell hit, a few more steps in. A rancid, sulfuric,stomach turning scent. The Lord Tully had shit the bed, again.

The servant stopped midstep. “Have the tub readied, milord will need a bath this morning before breakfast. Find fresh linens as well, and some scented oils for sevens’ sake.” He whispered the sharp commands to the small boy at his side. A little lad from some pissant Riverlands’ house who had the great misfortune of serving as a page in the Tully household.

It took four men to lift Medgar from his soiled bed and into the readied tub. No matter that he was cleansed, a sickly sweet smell clung to the man. The exertion of the morning was too much for the lord and breakfast instead was brought to the rooms. A dozen soft boiled eggs - peeled as Medgar would eat the shells in his haste, rashers of soft cooked bacon, fat greasy sausages, crispy fried trout, pureed turnip with a massive lump of butter, honey cakes and cream cakes. All was washed down with copious amounts of ale. Medgar rarely appeared drunk, whether due to his size or the amount of food to soak up the alcohol was a running discussion amongst Riverruns’ inhabitants.

Lord Tully belched loudly. “No guests today.” The first words he had formed, several hours after waking. His steward had joined him at the end of breaking his fast. Few could stomach watching the man eat for long.

“My lord, there is one matter most pressing. Unless you would like the council to address it?” He asked a question he was certain of the answer to. Yet it was only proper to maintain the charade. Rumors swirled, even with half the realm removed to Summerhall. In Kermit’s long rule he had made few errors and done much to mend together the disparate houses of the Riverlands after so much destruction. In just a few years, the foundation was cracked and flooded. The steward knew it, the council knew it. House Tully, now like trout in an ever-evaporating pond, flailing for breath.

Medgar made a small movement with his flabby hand, waving off the suggestion. “Not today. Handle it.” He moaned suddenly, both hands pressing into the rolls of his abdomen. His eyes squeezed shut, sweat formed at his receding hairline before dripping down his face. “Send in the servants, I have need of them again.”

The steward bowed his head and quickly backtracked from the room. The servant from the morning stood waiting outside the doorway. “Lord Medgar has need of a chamber pot, make haste.”

The Maester met him at the end of the corridor. “A shame our lord cannot join us. You’ve seen the messages, what shall we tell the rest of the council?” His concern was unconvincing, but it needn’t be.

“That it is just rumors. Have we had any word from Merrett or does he continue to evade us?” He spoke quietly. Merrett had disappeared from the Riverlands years ago and refused all contact. They thought he was perhaps married with children, with sons. The heir was but a small boy with questionable parentage, Merrett was a solution or a threat. The steward and maester were not sure which, yet.

“None, though we believe him to be in the Crownlands now, a guest of House Stokeworth.”

The steward mulled it over briefly. “Too far, he will be gone before we get anyone in place. It would have been too easy had he gone to Summerhall, damn the man.” The pair made their way to the council chambers, a nest of intrigue and shifting alliances without anyone to keep them in line or focused. The Riverlands bent beneath the weight of its incompetent lord.

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Hidden 10 mos ago Post by KZOMBI3
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KZOMBI3 thuggy-lewd-dere

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𝓞𝓪𝓴 𝓢𝓪𝓿𝓮𝓼 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓓𝓪𝔂
𝓞𝓪𝓴 𝓢𝓪𝓿𝓮𝓼 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓓𝓪𝔂

interactions: Oak & Garrett @Danvers | Argie | Baratheon Boys @Sini

It had become rowdy and loud in the Pavilion. The air was heavy with drunken laughter, some unruly, most simply cheerful. It would be difficult to spot anyone you knew amongst the crowd and even harder still to spot a lady in trouble. Bards however were used to such gatherings and one particular singer had been staggering throughout the swathes of revelers, his path akin to a bee - a rather drunken bee it must be noted - on its morning flight to fetch pollen. On more than one occasion he nearly slipped, grabbing arms and shoulders and even a leg to steady himself. His eyes were unfocused and he was wondering amusedly why everyone was part of a triplet, when something dreadfully awful caught his attention. A brute? And a lady looking rather uncomfortable? Well who better to investigate than the trusted bard!

Such thoughts passed through his head with an intoxicated absence of clarity and he had no time to think them through before he stumbled straight into the side of their table, sending goblets and tankards flying in every direction. Their contents slopped onto the floor and filled the air with the strong scent of hops & fruit, prompting several groans of protest. Oblivious to the upset he had caused, Oak pushed himself upright once more, his grin wide as he tottered over to his objects of interest, squeezing himself between the young doe and her companion. He leant down on both elbows, eyes glimmering with mischief and a sudden focus that had not been there only moments before.

"Perchance could I entertain your fine-" He hiccuped, "Your fine selves with a bout of music? Or maybe a limerick if you are so inclined?" A finger tapped against his chin idly, "I know one you may like." He turned to the brute beside him though not before shooting the girl a small wink. "There was once a giant so hairy. He was dreadfully unsanitary. He was awfully rude…and so small in the nude--"

Oaks' eyes traveled impishly down to the man's lap and not for the first time that day, was he suddenly cut off. However this was no simple goblet careening towards his head. The long bench was pushed back with enough force to send everyone atop careening backwards and a large hand grabbed ahold of his tunic, pulling the bard brusquely to his feet. "Now, now. I meant no offense-" He smiled harridly until his voice was cut short by a tightening of hairy, wine-stained fingers about his collar. Oak scrambled but his boots no longer had any purchase on the ground and all he could do was wave his arms in a wild panic, doing little more than to make himself look rather ridiculous. Oh how dearly he wished to be away from this fellow's breath. To say it smelt like a dead animal would be cruel to dead animals everywhere.

"I don't like limericks." The brute growled, spit and beer flying from his mouth. "And I really don't like bards." He placed an emphasis on each of his words, his face reddening with anger.

* * *

Orryn was no stranger to the raucous atmosphere permeating the drinking pavilions. Glancing round he saw men and women from all over the Seven Kingdoms, and some exotics besides. Put this many people together, add the excitement of violence and drown it in wine, ale and spirits… that was a heady and volatile mixture like wildfire itself. Some uneasiness tickled the back of his neck. It was only a matter of time before fights would break out over dice or women.

There were also several men in dragon livery with watchful eyes who, the Baratheon saw, drank sparingly. Maekar’s, Bloodraven or Baelor’s? Orryn pondered, deciding they had likely been posted by all three. He had been nursing a horn of dark ale strong enough to make his eyes water, something sweet and bitter. Others around him lacked his kind of restraint. Certainly, Harlan and his young stags had indulged vigorously in the bounty of grain and grape. They sat together, or rather sprawled, like lazy youths though most of them had passed into manhood. Summer knights and greenhorns, thought Orryn as he listened to their boasts and tourney prognostics.

“Half of this lot will be out in the first quarter,” he muttered to Robert ‘Bobbie Crawdad’ Cray, one of his companions.

The swarthy Crannogman was far from home, but had been with Orryn from the first day he had stepped off the ship in Pentos. Crawdad was busily dismembering his namesakes, tossing the tiny peeled carcasses over his shoulder. He was one of those characters who ate with such gusto that even if you had made a pig out of yourself, you’d find yourself wolfing down another helping. “This is not half bad,” he said, slurping on a crimson torso piece. “Nothing like Mama Cray’s cooking of course.” More slurping underlined his point. “And it makes me long for the marshes and crawfish boils of home.” Talk of the tourney would seemingly not spoil his appetite or distract him from his meal.

Orryn shook his head, ignoring the nostalgic homesickness. Harder it was to ignore the nascent hunger Crawdad’s relish was working up. He cast long eyes at the emptying bowl. “Where did you get that anyway?”

Cray pointed a finger at a red coloured tent. “Some Dornishman married a Riverlands girl and now they travel the realm, selling bisque and étouffé at fairs, markets and tourneys. They came up with their own flavour mix combining green herbs and hot spices.” It always amazed Orryn how much Crawdad could get out of people. He had that easy way about him, and though he was ten years Orryn’s senior he had kept his boyish charm. With grease dripping down his chin, Robert grinned widely. “Rather romantic. I bet they will make beautiful children.”

* * *

Having someone swoop in to rescue her, at first, irked the young doe. Always seen as something needing saving, someone weaker, it wasn’t her in the slightest and yet that is all she would ever be known for. In her mind at least. So when the bard arrived, she had shot him a glare and would have told him that she was doing just fine, she never got the chance. The brute’s grasp on her had disappeared as he focused his attention on her savior. His theatrics saved her and cast all the wrath on himself.

She was appreciative of the rescue, once she realized that she was finally free, though she now found herself irritated. At the situation. At the drunkard. At the bard and of course at herself. “All I wanted was a night to myself…” she grumbled, exhaling deeply through her nose as she picked up a decanter of red and dumped it in the drunk’s face, “And you ‘ave done nothin’ but ruin that!”

The wine to the face did nothing to help the poor man dangling above the ground. If anything it only managed to get his sights set back upon her. To which she swallowed hard and swung the arm holding her makeshift weapon, landing a solid blow to the side of his head, effectively causing him to let go of the bard. He stumbled, taking hold of his head, a trickle of blood falling into his eyes and blurring his already unstable vision. His shouts drowned out with the rest of the ruckus of the tent as Argella took her protector’s hand in hers and hauled him in the opposite direction, a laugh on her lips as they went shuffled between the throng of those congregated, “Quick as a bunny now, let’s go.”

* * *

Oak beamed back at the doe, letting her whisk him through the crowd. He clutched tightly onto her hand, her steady progress the only thing that stopped him from toppling over his own feet. Laughter spilled from his lips and they were barely paying attention to where they were going, the music only heightening the frantic joy. He turned to see if the giant was following when, ignorant of who was around them, the pair crashed into a nearby patron. Hands came up to steady Argella, the tall figure glancing down at the duo, dark eyebrows raised. "There you are…"

Garrett scowled at the bard, irritation clearly drawn across his face. His jaw tightened before his eyes moved over to Argella, unabashedly admiring her form. "Have we met before?" He asked bluntly, his gaze shooting briefly over to the pair's clasped hands, something akin to jealousy flashing across his features for the briefest of moments. "I must apologize for the interruption but I was looking for my bard." He frowned at Oaks' disheveled appearance, his tunic torn and beer staining his doublet. "Speaking of...why do you look like you've been sleeping in a ditch?"

Oak opened his mouth to explain when yells and shrieks began to erupt from the crowd surrounding them. People scurried aside as a great, lumbering oaf came stumbling through the throng, one hand clutched against his blood matted hair, unsteady gaze trying to focus on the doe and the bard. He stopped in his tracks, wobbling precariously for a moment before pointing a grimy finger at the trio. "You!" He slurred, words bumbling from his lips.

"What in the Seven have you done now?" Garrett muttered to Oak as he moved to step in front of the young Baratheon, pushing her gently aside. "Let me guess. It was another limerick?" He shook his head. "Our dear bard does so love to antagonise his patrons." The lord turned to smile wickedly at Argella, "Though it seems he had aid this time..."

With the sudden readjustment of position Argella found herself staring up at the wicked grin and feeling a nagging sensation pull at her mind. Something was so oddly familiar with him, she knew his face, but from where?

An odd thought for an inopportune time. The dark haired lass puffed her cheeks and crossed her arms over her chest once his words reached her ears, “It should be known, good ser that I aided him not. He was the one who intervened,” she huffed through her nose. As if the statement made the situation any fairer. Though she tried to be serious in the matter she couldn’t help the shy smile that graced her lips upon receiving such attention from the handsome man.

In no time however, the drunken brute had caught up to the trio, still disoriented and still lit with, no doubt what he believed to be a righteous fury - pulling her from her reverie, “You wretched cunt-monger,” his words were venomous and like gravel in the mouth and he spit with every other syllable. Enough where Argie feared the dribble would fly off and land on her or her guardian. He seemed far less concerned with the situation at hand and more bothered that the drunk was there in the first place.

Argella wanted to retaliate and was nearly successful in sidestepping the dark haired man posing as her shield, if only to take another swing towards her aggressor. Though the most she was able to do was glare menacingly at him. She hadn’t even realized she had grabbed ahold of the warm body before her in the hope to steady her already frayed nerves. It was supposed to be a fun and relaxing evening… not, this.

“This your bitch?” He hurled insults around like leaves in autumn, jutting a finger in the young Baratheon’s direction as he glared at the Tyrell, “She owes me a right apology she does. Look at what she’s done. An’ I expect to be handsomely compensated for my anguish,” he was smarmy and so self-assured in his swaying stance.

Garrett smiled, arms folded lazily across his chest. "Let me get this straight. You're demanding that I pay you for your…anguish?" He drawled, derisive laughter spilling from his lips. "Though it's understandable I suppose. You came here for the tourney yet you have already been bested by a girl." He cocked his head at the ugly man, taking in his increasingly teetering form. "It will surely bring shame to whatever mud pit you call a house."

“You pretty boys always like to be chivalrous, don’t you? Drooling over those lady bits.” The brute was drooling himself, though the irony would be lost on him. Instead, he raised two ham-sized fists, scars covering the knuckles that jutted out like subdermal pebbles. “Get your smug gob out of my way, ‘fore I make you eat that mud.”

“No,” was all Garrett said, and had time to, before a bare-knuckle jab flew fast as an arrow. The big brutish lout was surprisingly quick for his inebriated encumbrance. As if the cauliflower ears and crooked nose had been no indication: this fellow could throw a punch.

Against all odds the young Lord managed to stay upright, though there was no time to dodge and the fist slammed into his face, a sudden sharp pain blooming across the bridge of his nose, followed by a rush of warm blood. He stumbled back into Argella but managed to catch himself, stunned and likely with a brutal headache brewing. But Garrett had grown up with a rambunctious brother and was no stranger to pain, as much as he highly disliked it.

"I'm going to kill you." He muttered moodily as he pinched his fingers either side of his nose, jaw twitching in irritation. There was a sudden war cry, or at least a yell beside him as Oak ran - or more accurately stumbled - towards the brute, dragging a chair with him. He swung the chair aloft, though only succeeded in raising it to eye level before he smashed it against the man's chest, wood splintering as it broke uselessly against the oaf's surprisingly robust body. The man did little more than utter a grunt of displeasure before turning his gaze to the bard. Garrett couldn't help but roll his eyes as three more men parted the now sizable crowd, each appearing to be equally boneheaded as the last, though comically they were all of decidedly different shapes & sizes.

"You really know how to pick them don't you?" He smirked at Argella, wiping the blood away with the back of his hand. His nose at the very least did not feel broken though his tunic was sadly ruined. "Such a waste of fine cloth." Garrett shook his head before reaching down to draw a small dagger that had been sheathed at his waist, and holding it out to the young woman. "Personally I'd aim for the waist down."

A coy grin graced her features as she looked up at him, “Don’t I though?” she quipped though it seemed it was lost on him as he passed his personal weapon to her. The heat that erupted across her skin from having his eyes on her felt as if she were walking through flames. Shaking such thoughts from her mind, Argie grabbed the stylet and held on firmly, weighing it. The blade was longer than she was used to but she would make do. “You assume this is my first time wielding a knife~,” she teased, her gaze flipping between the weapon and Garrett. This was all too much, but instead of finding herself overwhelmed with it all, the young Baratheon discovered that this was exactly what she was needing in order to feel… alive.

Argella shot him a thankful smile that was short lived. With the reflexes of a cat, she surged forward, blade first; the look on Garrett’s face was of shock - at least for a brief moment - as she dashed past the Tyrell Lord and thrust her newly acquired blade into the gut of one of the drunkard’s companions. Just as quickly as she stuck him like the pig he was, she twisted the blade in deeper before yanking it out.

He stared down at her through crossed eyes and blurred vision, muttering some string of curses under his rancid breath before yanking her up by her arm. “She has some fight in her,” he called back towards the rest of his troop. She tried to kick at him to release her but he had enough brains to hold her far enough to keep her blows from landing.

“Put me down and I’ll show you just how much fight…” came her growl.

* * *

In a very short period of time a very unfortunate series of events went down. Orryn never got to have the bowl of boiled and buttered crustaceans so lauded by his Crannogman companion. Instead, after having paid a handful of coppers, licking his lips in anticipation and moving back in the general direction of Crawdad, some loggerheads rushed past him, almost knocking him over. The étouffé did not survive. Tiny red-bodied crayfish spilled across the grass like calcic gems, and he received an elbow to the gut. When he righted himself he spied a face he knew, and recognised the infamous rage written across it. After all, he was no stranger to the Baratheon fury… it was a family trait.

“Seven Hells,” he grunted out with a wheeze. Sucking in as much air as he could, he bellowed out “Harlan!” Then, like some hornet-stung bull, Orryn started barrelling through the crowd that had gathered. More fists started flying in his wake, though he trusted his younger brother able to navigate through the punches. Harlan had always been quick on his feet.

When he espied the trademark flicker of metal, he felt his bowels lurch. Argella was wielding it, and she had a mountain of a man in her sights. “Argella! Don’t!” Orryn had little hope to be heard over the ruckus, shoving a man off him and doling out a generous kick to clear a path. The knife his sister was about to use would not kill her assailant instantly, and he looked as if he could break her like a twig. Not to mention, it was one thing to be part of a brawl, but another when someone got stuck with a blade. Fortunately she picked a smaller target than the brute, but still… Did she not realise they were subject to Prince Maekar’s jurisdiction? Had she not seen the hanged and mutilated criminals? The ends of his mercy were to be found at the end of a rope. What. was. she. thinking?!

Like a spinning top, Orryn emerged from the massed bodies and charged into his sister’s attackers from behind. The Baratheon put his back into it, intending to lift someone clean off the ground. The boulder-like impact was amplified by a wrathful roar. He would not be able to take them all on, but if Harlan and his staglets and Crawdad were on their way, all he needed to do was bide time. If Argella had any brains at all, she’d try to get away while he collected her beating.

* * *

It happened in the blink of an eye. One minute she was dangling in the air and the next she was falling flat on her backside, bloodied knife still in hand. Argella frantically searched for the man who held her up and spotted him wrestling another - the reason for her release, “Orryn-!” The look shot her way, as brief as it was was enough to get her up off the ground and bolt the other way. Not before she grabbed ahold of the dark haired lord’s hand beside her and dragged him along. She would find some place to hide, out of sight, and wait for Orryn to find her. Argie groaned aloud at the hell that would soon follow from this.

* * *

Harlan was laughing like his cousin Lyonel would, only madder. Growing up in the wide shadows of his male kinsmen, he had had to play a hard and aloof game and found he quite liked the role he had chosen for him. Like Orryn had done, Harlan flung himself into the fray but with considerably less regard for personal safety. Already he felt the swelling preceding a black eye, and bruises would bloom on his torso like blue and purple flowers in the morning. The pain did not stop him though, as he only grinned the wider - pearly whites turned pink and red from the blood in his mouth. He had knocked someone down, standing over him and momentarily scanned for Orryn’s whereabouts. Instead, he spotted Argella being led away. “Let go of her!” he yelled, slurring his words through bloody spittle. There was some dandy holding her and dragging her off. Not on my watch, thought Hotspur as he felt fingerbones crunch beneath his boot.

* * *

Garrett turned, eyes roaming over the ridiculous drunk of a man, a low laugh escaping his throat. "Such demands you make." He smiled wryly, "But you are mistaken. It is in fact me that is being kidnapped. Perhaps I should have protested more but it is rare that one is stolen by someone so intriguing." He glanced towards Argella, raising his eyebrows at her playfully. His entwined fingers visibly tightened about her own as if to purposefully rile the man even further. "But now I must decline to let go. Unless she commands me of course..." He glanced down at her, his expression surprisingly serious. "Do you command me?"

She whipped her head in the direction of the voice calling out to them, as drunk and slurred as it was, she could still recognize it as Harlan. Who else would be at the heels of Orryn, jumping into the fray with no questions asked? Standing there stock still her eyes danced between the two men talking, if that's what the pissing contest could be watered down to, her jaw slack and a rosy hue painted on her cheeks down to her collarbone, dipping under the fabric of her dress. His squeezing of her hand, the heat from his faze on her, expecting her answer. Harlan on the other hand looked less than pleased with the sight before him as a whole and she could only imagine his chagrin when sober. Commotion from behind her brother pulled their attention back to the situation. Using that to her advantage she tightened her hold on Garrett and pulled him with her once more, shooting him a flirty smile, “After such a compliment how could I so easily release you?”

* * *

By the Gods but this felt good. Royce felt his fashionable doublet tear as he threw a man several feet forward. The fellow hitting an empty barrel of Arbor wine and knocked it over.. He and Orryn had their differences, but he was damn well not going to stand there and let his brother get a kicking from some drunken bastards. If anyone was to beat Orryn, it would be Royce himself. A thunderous roar escaped him as he stretched his arms out like two massive branches from the oaken trunk that was his wide chest. “Anyone else?” A maniac’s grin and lunatic’s eyes turned his fierce, bearded face into that of a demon, so when the huge brute that had previously accosted his sister squared off against him - Royce just loosened his shoulders and bent his legs lightly.

* * *

Oak had found himself staring at the ceiling. Or the fine swathes of cloth that made for a makeshift ceiling. His whole body hurt and he had lost his lute. Nor was his Lord anywhere to be seen. Turning his head, his eyes roamed over a fellow who was laid next to him. In spite of the bruises, blood and blooming black eye, the man was astoundingly handsome and the bard would be a fool to not be distracted by such beauty. With great difficulty he managed to get to his feet, brushing uselessly at his dirt and wine stained doublet.

"So, do you often come round these parts?" He grinned shamelessly, holding a hand out to the man. The stranger had no time to reply however before Oaks legs were swept out from under him as a large man barreled past, his back hitting the hard ground painfully. The force winded him and for a moment all he could do was gasp for breath, twisting to the side in agony. "You-you flop-nozzle!" He finally managed to shout as he rolled onto his hands and knees, looking around for his attacker. "I'll have you know we musicians are of delicate constitutions!"

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Friendships and Feasts: Northern Camps the Night Before the Tournament

The Feast of the Northern encampment was into full swing, food and drink flowed in great amounts. The table of House Stark was hosting some of their greatest friends and family from the Mormonts of Bear Island, to the Boltons of the Dreadfort. Sasja Reed and Gwendolyn Carmyne were seated with the Stark children. Though Ashe had been moved to sit next to Raelith so the couple could catch up after her arrival. Around the room food was simpler than their southern counterparts but far more hearty, though wine could be had. Brown and blacks beers were passed out. Honey meads, liquor, and more were had Brandon had spent a good deal of his investment on this feast.

He’d let it be known among the lords that this night was for them, not a feast honoring some great deed or great hero but as thanks for all they had done. For what all they could do together in the years to come, the North remembers and when kindness is done rewards would be given. Brandon would use tonight to hear from the Houses and their heirs to determine what course he might take as their Lord in the coming years. He was not the most skilled leader, nor did he have Barth’s abilities as a peerless warrior and tactician. Even Edric had fought Dorne in the conquest and against them when rebelled. He at least had the fame and honor of bringing Rickon’s body home after he’d been killed by the Dornish.

However Brandon had his fame as Cregan’s avenger, as one of the most capable warriors to ever take his blade southward. He had the support of his sisters and finally the blessing of the other northern houses for him to inherit over. Edric especially after his fuming. They did not trust his desires for more Northern influence over the crown especially with his grumbles over his father never receiving the Targaryen wife promised to Rickon which would have gone to him instead. However tonight was a celebration not brooding over love lost between brothers.

Sipping on the wine that had been placed next to her, Gwen looked around. She was going to play the part of a bright Southern jewel surrounded by Northern stark metal. Brushed and polished metal was still glorious, jewels just enhanced the metal making it more valuable. Saying little would hopefully appease the harsh reprimand that had been handed down from Sylvara, though Gwen doubted it. It would have been better to have fought it out with her foster mother but that was never really Gwen’s way. She loved her fiercely and all the other Starks and people of not only Winterfell but the North. She had never been made to feel apart from all of it.

Never having been in as much trouble as she was now, Gwen defaulted to silence, though not sullen silence for the atmosphere was to merry for that. Pondering what exactly was in store for her was more torture than Sylvara could come up with and it gaulled Gwen to know that was exactly what her foster mother wanted. But once one knew what was expected of oneself it was easy enough to let it go and just enjoy what she could at present. Though the cousins were not going to get her to sing. That was something she really only wanted a select few to know. Those who called Winterfell home knew but also knew that she was shy about it. So she sat and sipped her wine eating and speaking softly to those around her be they servant, knight, sworn sword or family.

It was one event after another since she arrived down south. So unlike the dreariness and staunch stoicism of the North - though not completely unwelcomed. After arriving at Summerhall, Raelith was bombarded and approached to attend some gathering that was held only for the ladies in attendance. Most likely in hopes to incur some sort of bonding between the women there, an experience that the Bolton didn’t see the point in.

Alas, she attended, if only for a moment and only for the purpose of gaining information to use against them at some point. It was the part she could play in the South and she played it well. Of course it was a lot easier when those she decided to extort knew not of her true identity. Once it was out that there was a Bolton in the midst of something, lips seemed to tighten and it was more difficult to pull secrets from them.

So there she sat, beside her betrothed, looking out over the feast that was taking place for the houses of the North. Another show of comradery and bonding. The entirety of it felt… theatrical. A means to show off before the others; whether good-naturedly or not it did not matter to her. It was all the same. Raelith took notice that although they were friendly towards one another that her dearest husband-to-be had his mind elsewhere. Clearly wanting to be somewhere other than atop the dias. She would have been hurt by this observation but it wouldn’t do her well to let something as trivial as this bother her and instead sipped on her goblet, eyes scanning the hall once more.

Jornar set his mug down having downed another of the northern ale he had been left without for so long. Though he had acquired a taste and appreciation for the southern food and drink, nothing could beat the taste of home that came with the bitter taste of most northern choices. Besides the welcoming food and drink, Jornar was happy to be amongst family and friends again even if it was for a short time. He did not envy the duty of his lord uncle in having to rangle the northern lords and keep them in line. Of course Northerns would never disobey a command from the lords of winterfell, but they were also a proud kind of people and when ale flowed tempers usually followed.

But that is what truly made for a proper Northern celebration. Drinking and eating with family and friends while telling grand tales of adventures and battle past. And should a fight break out the two parties would end it quickly and be friends by morning nursing their headaches. Jornar couldn't help but smile at the thought of how things were so different yet similar to the other feast he had been to in the south.

As he finished looking over the guest of the celebration Jornar turned to face a friend he had not seen in many years even before he left to travel the south. The little girl from winterfell with the fire kissed hair. Though she was a small scrawny thing back then, now she threatened to stand even taller than he was. “Why the long face my lady? This is supposed to be a celebration after all." Jornar paused for a moment as his eye flicked between Gwen and his aunt. “Ah let me guess you got on the bad side of the bear again." He finished with a smile, hoping to lighten her mode a bit rather than worsen hers.

Gwen smiled at Jornar. "That I did. I'm still convinced she shifts into a bear. Still wandering around the seven kingdoms toppling knights like block towers? Any predictions on who might win the competitions?" She was glad for the interruption in her silence and the excuse Jornar made for it.

Leaning over Gwen gave all her attention to Jornar. She normally did anyway because of the interesting dichotomy of Northern Hedge Knight that toured the South. She was eager to hear more about his time away. Her excitement in hearing his recounting made her smile lift on one side and deepen her dimple on that same side.

Jornar smiled at the theory of his dear aunt and the hidden talent it seemed all mormont women had of scarring those around them. “I would be surprised if she did. Of all the foes in the kingdom she is the last one I would want to fight." He paused for a moment giving a glance towards his aunt and giving an exaggerated shiver of fear at the thought. “But Aye, I'm still touring through the many keeps of the south. Doing my part to ensure some of these upstart knights remain humble in their careers." he ended with a smirk at his rather good record of tournament entries. He thought for a moment though at the amount of competition that would be present for this grand occasion. “I would like to say myself of course but nearly every knight and warrior alike will be present so things should get interesting." Just the thought had already begun to get Jornar excited for the following days to come and the true competition it would bring. “The grand Melee though should be when us Northerners truly shine. I imagine most of the fresh knights will be too disoriented in such an unorganized scrap. But what about you my Lady have you placed any bets on the competition thus far?"

Grinning Gwen picked up on his excitement and bandered back. "I have. I put my money on my cousin Ashe. If any of the Princes decide to take the field I will be betting on them. Baelor after all got his name by being the only one to beat Deamon."

Taking a sip of wine Gwen looked over the festivities and nodded at Mathias. “Maybe Mathias would do well but the melee isn’t Ashe’s forte. Hit and run is more his style. Gryff might do well if he isn’t overwhelmed. I can understand if certain houses agree to start out together to take out other houses and leave a good fighter for the last man in the group. I would think it is more political if done right than just a mere chance that your skill can beat another." She smirked, intent on drawing him into conversation about tactics since he had fought in tournaments before.

Mathias chuckled. “I’ll do my best in the Melee dear cousin but in truth I’m more likely to do well in the joust than the melee. For all my size and strength I do not have nearly grace of Gryffith." He added chuckling as he looked down at the quiet lad who had barely touched his beer. “Perhaps you two have some good stories to share from all your time traveling? I admit I’m curious. Uncle and father rarely talk much of the Southern lords.”

“Well... Don’t discount yourself too much Mathias. You are coming along well. You don’t have my foot work or finesse but I doubt I could stop your blows dead on." He reminded his cousin before turning towards their Mormont family. “Though I don’t have nearly the experience fighting southerners like Jornar, perhaps you can help me prepare for what the melee will be like?" The massive bastard son of Barth asked as he then ripped the meat from a chicken leg in one bite as his cousin talked.

Brandon chuckled as he looked at the boys. “Gods, reminds me of when I was young. Dragged Barth down to one of these... Man went into the melee when about a dozen knights turned to try and stop him didn’t want him winning the coin I guess. I went to help my brother... Only to find he bashed one down on the ground then picked him up to throw him at the others!" He laughed while lifting his beer. “Barth laid into them one after another, he was a right demon in the center of a melee. When he lost his sword he went to punching and grappling them. You’d never seen knights so confused." The usually more quiet and careful lord enjoyed the night of his family all around to loosen up and tell stories it seemed.

Sylvara elbowed Ashe. “I would have paid to see the looks on their faces. I’ve seen that painting of all the boys before they went off to Dorne. Barth must have been like fighting the mountain itself even though I am loath to channel our Lord, even if I didn’t threaten to deck him in the face if he didn’t approve of our marriage." She leaned on her husband's arm happy they were finally in their own element.

Ashe shifted quietly, the others talked of melees, honor, and glory... He had little of that. He was not a great fighter certainly he could use a pair of long knives as well as any other, even hold off Mathias or dance around Gryff but he was some great warrior or respected son. Yet here he sat next to one of the most radiant women in the North, a Bolton, one of the most important Bannermen in the North. He wanted to show her how skilled he was, how would honor and care for her... But he had little to offer save for the chance of winning the competition tomorrow and the promise she would be Lady of Winterfell when he ascended. He spoke quietly just to Raelith. “I hope you had a pleasant trip... I am so happy you are here. I’ve been wanting to see you for a while. I brought you a gift for later." He added before giving a small blush and staring down into his tankard.

Beylee for her part tried to reach over and swipe something from the deserts before she had even touched any of the food. The girl looked towards the instruments as she thought of trying to convince her siblings to play and sing, it had been so long since they had performed for anyone together.

The raven haired beauty turned to her husband to be, the smile on her face didn’t quite reach her eyes, though it was perfected enough it could fool even the most cunning of folks. “It was… as pleasant of a trip as it could have been, traveling with my green nephew and Brachyllo. The two of them together spell out disaster if I am not there to cull the pissing contest," this time her smile was genuine.

It always was when speaking of things that made her pulse pick up.

Raelith took notice of his squirming, of the way he listened on to his cousins speak about melee tourneys and events. It was no secret that Ashe wasn’t the most combat forward of the Starks, his methods teetering on more small bladed works and archery. It meant little to her, she herself knew only to wield blades and Gods was she skilled.

Placing a hand on his shoulders, lithe fingers dancing along the fabric, she leaned in enough for only him to hear, “Concern yourself not with their fanciful talk. Anyone can swing a sword; it takes a master to let loose an arrow successfully." Hands running up and down his arm, squeezing and kneading the flesh beneath her palm every now and then, as if to punctuate her words, “A wolf doesn’t not concern himself with his prey.”

Sasja was doing her best to covertly slip little bits of meat to her newly acquired pet, a ferret she had immediately dubbed ‘Ser Minkens’ after his energetic, friendly face and sharp teeth had caught her eye out at the markets. She’d heard that some people used such creatures to hunt rabbits and other small game, and besides that he seemed too cute and energetic to ignore and leave trapped in a cage. Her other gift from the market was from Gwen, a beautiful Dornish recurve bow she planned to put to use in the archery tournament tomorrow. Wait til Ashe got a look at that, ha! She’d tested the draw and found that for her size, it was better and more manageable than any longbow. She might even have a chance to win it all! At the least, that’s what she told herself. She was probably a few years yet from being good enough, even if she was a remarkable shot for her age. After a few minutes of fussing over Ser Minkens and letting him burrow into the hood of her cloak, she was distracted from her dreams of glory and her new pet by Beylee’s pastry thievery and decided to join in, only pausing to tuck some of her meat away to try and train her ferret with later.

Jornar looked between his extended family, happy to have finally been around familiar faces and able to enjoy the company of family. To add to this fact was the idea of being able to potentially compete both with and against Gryffith and Mathias just like the days back at Bear Island and Winterfell when they would visit each other. “We should still have some time to spar before the real events start. Between the three of us we should stand a decent chance of bringing some glory to the north." he finished as he triumphantly lifted his mug in the air chugging the rest of its contents.

As Jornar let the mug hit the table he contemplated what Gwen said about the grand melee and the ideas of politics and alliances. Though he was not one for the battlefield that took place in court halls and behind ones back his time in the south taught him she was most likely right in her assumption. “Gwen speaks the truth about how the melee will go. It won't just be a chaotic mess, though it may seem like it when it all starts. Some of the other houses will start working together trying to clear out the competition to help their chosen fighter win in the end. It would be in our best interest to watch each other's backs, at least at the start. Our main threats are going to be the dragons and whatever house tries to gain favor by protecting them, not that they need any."

“Either way, it will be good to see how you both have grown since the last time we sparred." he said as he leaned back a bit in his chair relaxing a bit more. “And besides, tournaments like these are always a good way to show off for the fair maidens watching from the crowds." as he finished Jornar let out a wince as he felt a sharp pain from where his sister Janas had swiftly placed her elbow. “What did you do that for? I was kidding…. Mostly."

Pressing her lips together Gwen hid a smile and contained a laugh at Jornar's reaction when his sister elbowed him. "Thank you Jornar for the compliment." She’d noticed Ashe being quiet which she thought was out of character for him. Possibly because Raelith was paying him her undivided attention. Drawing them into the conversation she brought up the archery contest. "I for one would bet that Ashe is the greatest archer in all Westeros. Woe be the person who bets against him."

Ashe blushed a moment at Raelith’s words then gently moved his hand into her own to hold it. “Thank you... It’s nice to have someone other than Gwen and Sasja tell me I’m more than just a wild wolf causing my father no end of grievance." He then took a breath focusing himself, calming down before his betrothed got too worked up. As he opened his eyes he caught Gwen’s boast of his skill before chuckling slowly easing into being around the others and Raelith. “I may be... But Sasja’s twice as good as I was her age and far quieter. I wager that within a few more years we’d be the most deadly marksman and markswoman in all of Westeros." He spoke with a smile, proud of his little cousin as he held Raelith’s hand face still aglow but clearly more comfortable.

Griffith laughed, knocking back his mug finally. “My brother had a bow since he was strong enough to pull one back. Mom always said it’s why he’s got arms like a bear." He teased as he nodded. “I’d like that Jornar, though I’ll pass on the maidens I don’t need the attention... But we ought to take some money home... Maybe spend it on getting some proper boats to and from Bear Island?" He chuckled knowing while many Southerners would spend it on women and wine Northerners learned to... Practical in their spending or at least make sure they got a damn good deal.

Sylvara chuckled as Jornar was elbowed. “Leave him, boys will be boys. After all they can chase dainty southern lasses, real North men like their women with a bit of fire in their soul and blood on their hands. Only place to get that is beyond the prissy southlands, no wonder you spend so much time here probably have enough gold to rebuild the hall when you get home." She locked Brandon’s head as gasped and tried to pull away as he grabbed at her arm clearly both were playful more than serious.

Brandon pried her off from around his neck rolling his eyes. “Just don’t be like Barth, no woman to keep him company or tell him off when he’s got a bad plan." He rolled his eyes. “Man hears there might be a rebellion from Edric and starts putting together our entire army." He put an arm around Sylvara as the pair kept drinking. “He still acts like the young man who went off to conquer Dorne with his brothers.”

Mathias spoke up next, curious. “Do you really think that many women will be interested in us just for fighting well?" He asked clearly that Mathias had little idea what to do with noble women and even less how to handle the proceedings when approached by one. He was Barth’s son and one who assumed few would care for a bastard line with little to gain especially thanks to his lack of ambition and love for his family. He would not be a usurper even if he had a legitimate claim to the throne.

Ashe chuckled watching Gryff a moment before adding in a whisper. “Personally I think he’s already got a girl he’s chasing after... Betting it’s a southern born lady from a powerful house, he’s giving dad a headache with that I’m sure.”

Beylee of course flashed a grin as Sasja joined in and she passed over a sweet roll with raspberry filling and thick honey glaze. Before she set her sights on something bigger, namely still steaming hot nut log with a glaze made from honeyed apples poured over it. Expensive and delicious treat no doubt was far rarer to the pair than the meats before them.

Jornar couldn't help but laugh as he watched his aunt grab his uncle in a headlock with little effort as she continued to talk to the rest of the family. In any other hall such an act would have been considered a taboo, but here it was almost a sign of love and affection between the couple. It also served as a reminder that any women from the north, especially one with a Mormont name was not to be taken lightly.

Jornar then turned his attention to Mathias and his questioning of the effect knights had on the ladies of the realm. “Well you do need the looks to back it up, but being the knight in shining armor that wins the tourney pushes ahead of the rest. Of course embarrassing the competition on the field also helps your chances." he ended with a smirk before he looked towards Griffith. “But that is a good idea for the money, I'm sure my father would be more than happy to see that happen. But speaking of a bear with a bow I must warn you my sister has come a long way since we were kids." as he spoke he placed a hand on her shoulder shaking her a bit as he leaned forward in order to see the young heir to the north. “I dare say she might even challenge you soon."

Smirking, Gwen set down her wine that she had barely sipped and decided to eat more of her food. She cut pieces of venison and chewed thoughtfully as Ashe praised Sasja. She did and did not like being overlooked when it came to her abilities. She liked being overlooked because then no one expected you to perform at the level you did. She did not like it because it made her an outsider.

Gryff’s comment about not needing maids after him made Gwen glance over at him quickly as she took a small forkful of greens.Oh no, of course not. You have your betrothed all picked out.

Gwen did not believe that they did it on purpose just like Aunt Sylvara’s comment was not really about her, yet it was. She was a North girl but she was not all at once. Or perhaps she just felt like no one fully saw her. Ashe was the closest and she wondered if anyone really did. Uncle Bran and Uncle Barth most certainly did not. Uncle Edric had likely discounted her early on. More the fool he was. Mathias kept to himself a veritable giant that was constantly looking to make his father proud and have the attention he deserved. Gryff… blind to things around him, if her experience was anything to go by. If not blind then too noble to admit that he knew she had been infatuated with him since she was eight. And that was just as bad, if not worse. Beylee was a damned goody-goody who was going to wind up the size of a bear if she did not stop eating everything in sight.

The bloody twins, as Gwen thought of them, stayed away from her thankfully as did Gwen. Not being around for their tempers after one time seeing the display was more than enough for her. Aggie was everything Auntie Syl hated about Southern women but without the full polish of one. The old maid of the house. In her thirties and still not married off. It was her superior attitude. No man wanted a viper to house. Araya was the only one that Gwen could stomach. A quiet intelligent woman who, had she been a man, would have been content to be a Maester.

She supposed it was really her fault for being so… changeable. She caught the tail end of Uncle Bran’s statement about Edric and a rebellion and Barth gathering up men. About gods damned time someone took him seriously. The bloody knife you do not expect is the one that will end you. Historically men passed over for a younger sibling did not take it well. I really do not want to ever be right about that or my Uncle Tobias.

Finishing off her food with a soft yeasty roll Gwen tapped her plate with the sauces on it taking bites that filled her mouth so she would not be tempted to speak. Raising her eyes and an eyebrow she regarded Mathias as he puzzled about women. Really? Did he not remember the fact that the last woebegotten Bard that came near Winterfell was loose of lip? Though perhaps Mathias was not listening as closely to the stories as others were.

Finishing off the roll Gwen narrowed her eyes as she saw Ashe whisper but did not catch what he said exactly. Movement caught her eye before she should poke at what Ashe had said. Beylee. Beylee stuffing her face with sweets. She rolled her eyes as she watched Beylee passing them on to Sasja. Sasja who could use a few to be honest. “Beylee you’re being greedy. I see you eying that nut log. If you eat the whole thing, along with the rest of the desert table you’ll get a bellyache. Besides being too much for your horse, gods forbid the wagon.”

Sasja froze when she heard Gwen call out to Beylee about the sweets, midway through the raspberry jam filled pastry. She visibly relaxed when she wasn’t included in the reprimand, though she was more confused than relieved. Maybe Gwen hadn’t actually seen her? Still, she couldn’t let this opportunity go to waste. As she finished off the treat in her mouth she slipped a dagger from her boot and cut off a slice of the nut log, wrapping it up and tucking it into her cloak. Ser Minkens squirmed and hissed in surprise as the maneuver put the little parcel a little too close for his comfort. She shushed him and glanced back over at Gwen warily. With luck, she’d sneak part of it to Beylee later as thanks for the distraction.

Sasja hadn’t been paying enough attention to catch the discussion of possible rebellion, too fixated on her ‘mission’. Her ears weren’t so dulled from the task at hand that she was completely deaf though. She grinned through a mouthful of raspberry sweet roll and swallowed, doing her best to ignore her own blushing with a boast. “We’ll see Ashe! Come tomorrow I could finally beat you!" She hadn’t shown him the new Dornish bow yet. Let that be her secret weapon in the coming contest. But really? Greatest markswoman in Westeros in a few years? If that wasn’t empty boasting on Ashe’s part, then perhaps she’d been underestimating herself. Or else the Southron lords weren’t much for archery. War and tourney glory were tomorrow’s concern though. For now, maybe she could sneak another slice of the nut log, less to share with Beylee…
Hidden 10 mos ago Post by Almalthia
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A Chance Meeting

The morning of the tournament before the sun was up Gwen was. Mentyr needed to be exercised daily and it was some alone time she enjoyed. She could put her thoughts together before she saw most anyone. She needed that time. With everything that happened last night she wanted some time to process. Without the She Bears.

Gwen had decided that she was not sitting side-saddle today so she wore the tunic and leggings that her family had sent to her. She pulled out a grass green tunic with embroidery. The thin silk was soft and slippery. The embroidery was of little buttery yellow roses, bright blue forget-me-nots and twisting vines that were a shade or two deeper green than the tunic. She grabbed a doeskin vest dyed a soft rich brown. The leggings were a soft buff color and clung to her long legs like a second skin. Her boots were gently worn, their color a brown so deep it was almost black and came up to the bottom of her knee.

Pulling on stockings before the leggings Gwen thought about the night before with Ashton and Arystide. Out of the two of them she had spent more time with Ashton and was going to meet his family this morning. That was exciting and terrifying all at once. Luci and Quinn had grilled her about what she thought of each and reminded her that there were more young men out there. Quinn had even mentioned Prince Aelor. After the rumors going around about Elayne Lothson being seen riding in his lap Gwen was very sure that he would be looking more in that direction rather than at her. She wouldn’t mind having a conversation with him or the Princess but Elayne was surely where he cast his eye for a marriage. It was rather bold but he was a Prince so his boldness was part of his charm.

Quietly pulling on her tunic and vest Gwen gathered her boots, belt and sword in hand. Rather than wake her Aunts she crept out of the room and into the silent hall. Slipping into the boots was almost comical as she attempted to be, if not silent, then quiet about it. She had already put two knives in the inside of her boots but she had to take them out as she put on the boots. Small little hops made almost no sound as she got them on and slipped the knives down the side. Then wrapping her belt around herself she adjusted it to where it felt most comfortable to draw the sword from.

Gwen was not Gryff but could hold her own with the blade. It was very plain looking because the lighter it was for her the better. She had limitations on how long she could wield the blade effectively. It wasn’t a great sword but it was modeled after a water dancer blade and sharp enough that it got the job done. She’d named it Riñnykeā or Lady in High Valyrian.

In the early half light of predawn the hall was nearly pitch black and Gwen struggled into the boots and started to braid her hair quickly. It was a loose braid from the back of the head. It would hold for now, and it was better than having it a snarled mess when she had to arrange her hair later.

Moving through the hall downstairs to a common room that was dimly lit by a banked fire Gwen smiled at the housemaid as her eyes nearly fell out of her head. “My Lady ya nearly gave me a fright. What in the name of the Seven are ya wearing men’s clothes fer?" The plump kind woman nodded at Gwen’s outfit.

Grinning Gwen bantered back with, “Oh just out riding is all."

“Is all she says like it’s a lark!? Ya be careful that the Demon Steed don’t get ya nor those She Bears who took the room across from you."

“Whist Mari don’t worry your pretty head. You did like I asked and put the power in the She Bear’s goblets right?" Mari nodded. “I’ll be back in an hour or so. Have a bath ready for me? Besides that Demon Steed in the stables is mine. He needs his lady and his exercise." Gwen snagged a piece of twine from Mari and grinned happily at her as Mari sputtered, crossing herself while Gwen tied up the end of her braid with a wink.

Scampering down to the stables Gwen wasn’t even out of breath when she got there. She hadn’t seen a soul on her way and the sky was just starting to lighten to a charcoal gray. She could hear Mentyr pacing in his stall and the whispers of the stable hands that were trying to calm him.

Gwen coming into the stables made Mentyr knicker like a young colt. “Miss me did you? You know they call you Demon Steed. One of these days you’re going to be far too interesting to a person of lofty interest and you inevitably will end up disappointing them."

Mentyr whinnied softly as if to say. “I care not, for they are not you, my love."

“Yes, yes you brute. They’re not me but you need to behave." Gwen knew she indulged the stallion but she couldn’t help it. She opened the stall door and he stepped out daintily. “Oh as if sugar wouldn’t melt in your mouth, eh? Keligon."

Mentyr stopped. She had given the word to stop him. She brushed him down and while he lipped her arms, leg, side and blew on her neck and she giggled he didn’t shift from his spot. Gathered a bridle that was bitless and put it on him. Tossing a saddle blanket over him she smirked and gave another command. “Obūljagon." Mentyr knelt smoothly at the command. She affixed the saddle to him and gave another command. “Sīmonagon." Rising smoothly he held his head high as she made sure the saddle was fitted properly. “Obūljarion." His front half went down and he waited for her to climb on. “Sīmonagon." He rose just as smoothly with her on his back as he had with no one on his back. “Memēbagon." He daintily danced forward and they were out of the stables.

Laughing Gwen rode hell for leather as she let Mentyr have his head.

Yet she was not the only one out whilst others still slumbered deeply. Another lone figure had risen early this morn, ignoring his guards' wishes for him not to go out alone. They were all such droll bores. But it was not an unusual sight, the young Lord had always been apt to awaken with the sun, leaving behind any warm bodies and thoughts of one too many goblets of wine. He enjoyed moments of solitude far more than he would ever let on, particularly given his late fathers propensity to encourage a near endless stream of guests, each as foolish and brown-nosing as the last. It had been lucky that Highgarden was vast and many did not know of its secret twists & turns. Though he was far from his home now and a tent, even one as extravagant as his own, left much to be desired in ways of entertainment.

His pace had reached a gallop when a sudden flash of white caught his eye. Years of instruction took over and he pulled on the reins, steering his steed in a wide arc, only narrowing avoiding what would have surely been a fatal accident. Hooves cast dirt flying, though thankfully there had not been a heavy rain and he was saved from the worst of it. He pulled back, his eyebrows furrowed as his heels dug gently into his steed's flanks, ceasing her unhappy movements.

"Calm girl." Garrett removed a hand from the reins, patting the ebony black mare firmly on her side. The horse responded quickly to his touch but gave a snort of annoyance, front legs stomping irritability against the wet grass, casting dew over its coat. His sharp gaze moved slowly over to the offending party, wondering which fool had decided to ride with such reckless abandon.

Leaning back in his saddle as easily as if he were in the finest chair, he looked the girl up and down. Red of hair but not Tully in her looks, and wearing what many ladies would refuse to ever place against their skin, she was somewhat intriguing, he'd give her that. He wondered if he recognised her, from the Pavilion last night, but there had been oh so many women. It was difficult to recall. A playful smirk played at the corner of his lips, his own hair lightly dampened by the fading fog of the early morning. "Do you always try to knock people off their horses at such an hour?" He raised a dark, mocking eyebrow, eyes glimmering, refusing to look away.

Preoccupation and letting Mentyr have his head was a mistake on her part. Gwen knew better and drew up sharply. Mentyr reared and Gwen growled at his juvenile attitude. Turning Mentyr back she brought him under control. "My apologies. I was preoccupied, which he took advantage of. But you are uninjured as is your animal. So the question begs, do you normally stand in the middle of a field wool gathering so that you cannot hear the world?"

The raised eyebrow over lavender gray eyes shot the snark back at the man. Her smirk was irreverent and in no way apologetic. He was as much to blame as she was. Handsome men, she was learning, had interesting and varied ideas on how to treat the opposite sex. "I am ready for your apology now. Unless of course you're not that good of a rider. Then as the superior rider I apologize."

Garrett steered his mare so they were beside one another, turning to face the woman once more. "I will not be goaded." He replied, a smile still painting his features. "I am happy for you to believe you are the superior rider, my ego is not so easily bruised." The lord leant in closer, or at least as close as one could safely do whilst atop a horse. "Though I do not think you could beat me in a race. I am rather wily and prone to cheating." Spoken with a stern seriousness it was difficult, as ever with the Lord, to tell whether there was any real truth to his words. "It really is an abhorrent habit." He smirked, feeling no unease in these lightly given confessions.

Keeping a serious countenance Gwen’s eyes sparkled with laughter at his wit. "Yes I could immediately place that about you. I said to myself 'There is a man who cheats'. Never play with a cheater, it spoils the game. Besides you have nothing I want. Your pride in tatters, as stunningly breathtaking it would be, I think not. There is no audience to witness your crushing defeat."

With little practically imperceptible movements Gwen ordered Mentyr to circle the man and his mare. For Gwen knew that Mentyr would never have let a male horse as close to him. "Besides that I have nothing you could want. Or were you looking for lessons?" She had finished circling and was back to where she had started, but closer. They were close enough to have easily reached out and touched the other rider.

"Hm, that is true, I have vowed to only embarrass myself when in the full view of at least a hundred other people." He quipped back, idly turning his head to keep her in his sight as her stallion circled him. "It is much too boring otherwise." His brown eyes glimmered with something darker as she continued to speak, though his countenance remained light. "Oh I would not say that. I'm sure you have plenty to offer. Perhaps a name would be an adequate start?"

Tossing her head Gwen smirked. “You would beg a name as your prize? What a funny little man you are. No harm in a name. Alright. To the treeline then."

Mentyr sprang into a full gallop at the touch of Gwen’s knees. The pounding of his hooves in a steady quick rhythm thrummed through her and she laughed freely. The treeline was, or rather had been a descent 200 yards from their stopping point.

Garretts jaw twitched before he cast after her, leaning into his mare. She was quick, very quick. Not built for war and no good at carrying a heavily armored knight, she was closely related to the sand steeds of Dorne. He had no temptation to let the stranger win simply because she was a lady and he gained on her, mud and broken pieces of hillock cast aside as he closed in. It was a small distance and just as it looked like she might win, he overtook her, pulling on the reins to pull his steed to a halt just past the first row of trees.

Jumping down, a cocky smile graced his features and he wandered over to her side, holding out his hand. "I believe I am owed a name?"

Laughing Gwen watched as the little mare put on a burst of speed and outstripped Mentyr. She pulled up and smiled broadly at the man who’d beat her fairly. As he moved to her side she whispered to Mentyr. “Gīda."

Mentyr steadied and stilled as the man came near him. He had gotten the look in his eye that he was going to lash out because the man was advancing on his lady love. He snorted as the man held out a hand to Gwen.

Gwen could get off Mentyr but it would require her jumping down exactly where the man was or getting off on the wrong side, which Mentyr wasn’t fond of. Gwen knew he wanted her name but she’d never promised him her name. “Mentyr." The steed flicked his ears and nickered softly. “You have your name, lit-uh stranger."

Garretts polite visage fell at her continued taunts. He stepped closer, grabbing ahold of her forearm. He paused as if in thought before, with a sudden yank, he had pulled her from Mentyr.

Gwen tensed as she saw the arrogant smirk fall from the man’s face. She had pushed too far. She felt Mentyr turn to lash out at the man and shouted as the man grabbed her, paused, then yanked. “Keligon!!" Her head was turned toward Mentyr who halted as she commanded.

The yank sent Gwen sprawling; she struck chest first into the man and gasped. Unconsciously and out of self preservation her feet had cleared the stirrups so the awkward position that he pulled her to essentially pulled her out of the saddle and on to him. Unfortunately she was off balance and totally reliant on him to stay upright until he let her go. Gwen blushed as she became aware that there was no separation but for their clothes and hers were summer thin. She could feel his body heat and it made her blush more as she realized that he was quite fit. “Unhand me or you will regret it."

Holding her against him, the Tyrell seemed rather comfortable with their closeness and made no move to let go. He leant closer, enough so that he could speak quietly into her ear. "Oh don't tempt me so, now I must see what you will do." He replied, his voice low and tender as if speaking to a lover, though his fingers were tightening around her upper arms. "Perhaps if you tell me your name then I will let go. Or perhaps not..." Garrett shrugged, "I did already point out that I am apt to cheat."

“Fancy to know the name of the female who undermined your manly riding abilities?" Gwen flushed angrily and struggled half-heartedly. She didn’t fancy a bruise and she was a little shocked at the words coming out of her mouth. “Gwendolyn. Now unhand me." Gwen narrowed her eyes on the man to cover her breathlessness.

"Thank you, Gwendolyn." Garrett smiled coldly before letting go, holding up his hands as one would if they were showing they bore no weapons. "But you mistake me. I do not care for my riding abilities, whether I have them or not is inconsequential to me. You are the one who was determined to beat me." He brushed a hand through his dark locks, shaking some of the moisture away. "I am now simply intent on never telling you my name. And I do hope you suffer because of it."

Gwen refused to rub her arms like she wanted to. To soothe? Yes to soothe the touch of the man who handled her with less care than she was used to. She glared at the man as she fought a shiver at his use of her name. It was intimate. “Did I ask your name? No. I did not. Perhaps you should have your ears checked or mayhaps it is your memory that is going. Besides, why should I suffer because I do not know your name? Believe me I will not." Her voice sounded husky and different to her own ears even as she gave him as good as he gave her. The excitement kicked up her heartbeat. She did not detest sparing like this; it wasn't really arguing.

He let out a bark of a laugh at her little speech.
"It would be a blessing for my memory to fail me, for then I would not have to recall this encounter." He quipped back. Stepping over to his mare, he opened a fine leather satchel on its side, pulling out a ripe green apple. "I am surprised, Gwendolyn Carmyne," He spoke as the horse took a large bite from the apple, blowing air through her nose in what one would presume was a gesture of enjoyment. Her last name rolled off his tongue as if he had said it a thousand times before. "I imagined being a ward of the Starks would make one droll and dull in conversation. I am pleased to find it otherwise."

Gwen froze. He should not know her full name or who she was warded to. She recovered quickly, smirking as she looked him over, letting her eyes study his clothing. The deep rich marron leaning toward brown tunic was studded at the bottom with jewels. Peridot or so it seemed from the light green sparkles. Leather in a warm brown color with buckles that shone brightly in the morning light that was dappled due to being in the tree line. Some of them were open and she was lucky that she hadn’t cut herself on them when she fell. His tunic was open showing his undershirt that was an ivory colored silk and was open as well showing a small portion of his chest. Her focus wandered for an instant as she recalled the heat of him when she had fallen against him.

Her mouth tightened subtly as she refocused on his clothes. The cut was simple but the cloth was fine, again because she had fallen on him she noticed. His breeches were a deep brown and the weave an excellent fiber. His boots came up over his knee, the leather soft and brown so deep it was nearly black. It may have been simple but it was of excellent materials.

Looking toward his mare Gwen mentally calculated the value of the horseflesh and then the sword at his hip. Raising an eyebrow Gwen circled the man and moved to the mare. Mentyr nickered and snorted, stamping his foot at her giving the mare attention. “Lyka Mentyr." Stroking the mare she whispered soothingly to her, a murmur in High Valyrian. “Rytsas gevie riñnykeā. Ao dakogon raqagon se jelmio." A liquid string of words that was melodic and hypnotic as she told the mare she was a beautiful lady and ran like the wind.

“Nyke daor kesīr naejot kostilus ao." Was said to the man so that he could hear Gwen as she cast her eye in his direction letting him know that she was not here to please him.

Turning her attention to the man Gwen studied his face. “Your intimacies with my name and my place in a House not my own are fascinating." She tapped her chin with a single finger. “So you are one of three things. Possibly four.." She ticked off her thumb and first two fingers as she made her next statements. “An assassin from my Uncle. A scholar who knows house history. Or a lordling that has spies." She stroked the mare’s nose absently. “If you were the first, you're a poor assassin. Your clothes and horse are too fine to be a scholar so… a lordling that has spies. Spies that are well informed. Or you could be taken with me. Though that is laughable since you do not know me. No matter how intimate my name sounds coming out of your mouth..." She looked at the mouth in question and seemed to lose focus then blinked after a heartbeat or two.

Tipping her head Gwen felt the tendrils that had come loose from her braid slide along her neck and shoulders. She fingered the bridle on the mare’s head tracing the pattern of flowers embossed into it. Then she looked at the saddle which had the same embossed work on it. “Ostentatious in subtlety."

Gwen moved to point out the embossing in the saddle and along the bridle. She moved around to touch a lock of his hair. “Yes, your hair gives you away. Not to mention your subtle wealth." She let her fingers fall to the collar of his open tunic as she fingered the weave then the silk undershirt a moment before letting her hand fall. “Never put a puzzle in front of me you do not want to see puzzled out. ‘Growing Strong’ yes… I see… a Tyrell lordling." She smiled, flashing her dimples; it was that smile that charmed the North. She was mostly unaware of its effect on the opposite sex for it turned her from beautiful to captivating. She just knew that it caught people off guard unaware of why because she was unaware of her own beauty.

Garrett watched her silently, his dark eyes impassive as she picked out details that many others would not want, or be able to see. A glimmer of something flashed across his face when she delicately played with his collar and he was half tempted to grab ahold of her once more. She had done something rare - she had surprised him. Only moments before he had been ready to ignore her and leave, but now she had kindled a small spark of curiosity within him and it was that which made him stay. He was not ready to stop this game quite yet.

"How very astute. I did think I had dressed subtly but you have caught me out." He admitted with a wry smile, "I suppose I cannot deny that I am a Tyrell now or it might seem that I am ashamed of myself." The lord's words were playful as he closed the gap between them once more. As she had done him, he moved a hand to her head, catching a strand of vivid red hair and curling it about his finger. Her height was less than his own and he had to look down to face her when this close. "It is so unusual for a woman to inherit. Though perhaps it is becoming fashionable in the Riverlands?" He pondered idly, "My maesters think such things are a portent sign but I think they are old fools."

Opening her mouth to let him know that he had dressed subtly Gwen's eyes widened at him stepping near. Her eyes dilated as his scent teased. A sharp tang of apple crisp, sandalwood, warm leather and man. She almost backed up but stubbornly held her ground.

Straightening at the inherit comment She blinked and swallowed. He stirred things in her that were half frightening, half exciting and Gwen was a nudge away from listening to that impulse. Her lavender gray eyes flashed with a bit of temper and she adroitly retorted. "I do not know why you or your Maester would find this surprising. After all, did the Tyrells not support Rhaenyra's claim? Why should my sex matter if I inherit or not? Do you ask the Seven why you inherited your locks?" She reached up and caught a soft curl and rested her wrist on the bend of his shoulder and neck. Placing her wrist there she could feel the satiny smoothness of his skin and the beat of his pulse. Conversely, so could he monitor her. She ignored this as she combed her fingers through the curls at the nape of his neck.

Gwen's eyes went soft as she envisioned him pulling her closer…

Blinking Gwen brought herself back to the present. Blushing, she removed her hand from his hair and his person. "And why should you feel they're fools…?" She let the question hang hoping he'd give his name.

"Because they are." Garrett replied bluntly, never one to shy from the truth. Or at least what he perceived as true. "I do not believe the Crone knows our fates and guides us, as some of my maesters would like to convince me." His brows furrowed for the briefest of moments, annoyance spilling over until he quickly reined it back in. "It is natural therefore that I have no qualms with you inheriting your house. It does not affect me." Garrett stepped forwards, the trees closing in behind Gwendolyn and leaving little room in the way of a retreat. He would oh so like to see her ivory skin alight with a blush once more.

"Unless of course your plan all along has been to woo me in the hopes of a betrothal?" He grinned wickedly, knowing he was stepping into territory that might be apt to upset her but enjoying it too much to stop. "No...I do not think that was the case, which is lucky for I am awfully selfish and cruel, and I would make for a terrible husband." A hand came up to rest on the tree trunk behind her, blocking the path to the open field beside them.

He advanced, Gwen retreated… into a tree. His comment about her wooing him made her burst out laughing. Her laugh was not the courtly affectation most women had. Gwen's laugh was pure joy and full of bright bubbly sparkling happiness. She laughed all the more at him saying he was cruel, selfish and would make a terrible husband. She laughed so hard that she thought nothing of leaning her forehead on his chest since she couldn't bend in double. Her arms held her sides as she finally wound down to little giggles. She was flushed and her eyes sparkled and she attempted to cover her mouth.

"Oh excuse me, I found those last few statements more than uncommonly funny." Gwen cleared her throat, grinning. "Me woo you?" She giggled. "One moment." Tipping her head back and sucking a breath in for control; she'd inadvertently shown off her long vulnerable neck, arched her back and pushed her breasts forward. It was but a few seconds then she cleared her throat and returned her sparkling attention back to the man who'd made her laugh. "I find me wooing you, not knowing your name and yet pursuing you… I cannot get past how hilarious that was but then you said you were selfish, cruel and a terrible husband." She barely got through the whole thing not laughing.

Breathing deeply determined to get through the rest of her comment Gwen continued on. "If you were any of those things that beauty there would not respond to you in such a manner. Her coat would be littered with scars or she would fear your slightest touch. She does not move because you ask her but because it is pleasing to you." Gwen had abandoned her laughter as she indicated his mare. As she spoke she began to feel a kinship with the mare and it made her feel peculiar.

Gwen realized how close he was. "You crowd me. Step back." She didn't want to sound panicked but she was starting to feel peculiarly warm as if the sun had been high in the sky and she'd been in it for far too long.

The lord seemed momentarily nonplussed by her laughter, staring at her even when she leant her head against his chest, his gaze passing over the fine curves of her body. She was undoubtedly a beautiful woman though she did not appear at all aware of her impact on others.

It was only when she took a hold of herself that he shook himself out of his reverie. His name nearly slipped from his lips but he stopped as she spoke of his horse, the amusement falling off his face like leaves from an autumn bough. "There is more than one kind of cruelty." Came his simple answer, though it irritated him that she spoke words which he could not refute. It was true that he saw little use in harming an animal. What purpose would there be to that? Especially when the mare had cost him more gold than most would see in the entire span of their lives. How dare she presume to...no not presume. How dare she read him so well? It infuriated him. And when she asked him to move away his eyes narrowed and for the first time it did not seem like he was simply playing a game. "Make me." He muttered coldly.

Gwen blinked then tilted her head. "I will in a moment, and I cannot say that you will like it. But tell me why you do not wish to."

Her words were a taunt, one Garrett refused to rise to and though he smiled, it did not reach his eyes.
"Never." He snapped back before turning on his heel and striding over to his horse, who gave a gentle whinny of greeting. Rubbing a hand against the soft hair atop her nose, he took the reins, making to swing himself back onto the saddle.

Gwen blinked. "That was far too easy. By the Seven you swing as hot and cold as we women are purported to do." She was right behind him. "For being selfish and cruel you most certainly did not do the one thing you wanted to do this whole time. You'll regret that later." She stalked away toward where Mentyr had wandered off to. She had no intention of mounting; she was far too keyed up to ride Mentyr without risking his, her own or both their lives.

Frustration welled up inside her. So much frustration she wanted to scream but knew that wouldn't help. No one had ever frustrated, irritated or gotten under her skin more than this Tyrell boy. She turned and in an insulting tone shot at him. “Ao issi nykeā gevie vala! Sīr gevie ziry ōdrikagon issa naejot daor gīmigon aōha brōzi! ōdria issa!" Her tone was all fire and blood, however the actual translation was far from an insult. It spoke of him being a beautiful man and that to not know his name hurt her, wounds her. She meant it as a way to vent her frustration with the truth.

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