, the Riverlands
The castle was on fire, barely seen through the smog but on fire nonetheless. Screams could be heard from all around, some Ashton knew but many were just an unknown. Ash stood in the Great Hall surrounded by men-at-arms and beside Tristifer Paege, the Knight whose duty it was to protect the Lord of the House. Women and men ran through the Great Hall, panic from all around, some being chased by figures shrouded in darkness. No sigils could be made out and Ash felt terror in his heart, but also determination. He needed to protect these people! He rushed forward and gave the order to charge, with himself forming the wedge point. The formation crashed into a line of enemy troops that had come to engage the remnants of resistance and the clash of steel could be heard over the cries of “For Tully! Fallow Hill! LANDRY!” Ashton did what he had always done in a larger melee, he put his back to a safe place and kept everyone in front of him. He then picked out a fighter and goaded them over to him, where he was able to engage in single combat which is where he excelled. He made quick work of his first opponent, the shadowy man's form weak and untrained. But something was wrong… He looked up and readied his shield, expecting another enemy but instead stared into a mirror. His reflection was covered in blood, but it was old and dried. His doppelganger shook his head, looking forlorn and lost completely. ”You failed Ashton, everyone is dead because of you.”
The figure gasped and a knife appeared through his neck and the mirrored image slowly began to fall forward, eyes blank and limbs limp…
Ashton awoke with a start, chest heaving and eyes wild. He glanced around his room and jumped up as if he had just been scalded. The stone didn’t seem to have any answers and other than his breathing, all was quiet. Faster than many, Ash took control of his mind and calmed himself down. He gave an exhausted sigh and slumped back onto his bed, sprawling across it and staring up at the ceiling. He closed his eyes and let his breathing settle down before he shook his head and groaned, wishing he knew the time. It didn’t really matter, but he was trying to get a number on how much sleep he was actually getting since his father and brother left for a funeral in Pinkmaiden. With another sigh, the 14-year-old stood and lit another torch since the one that had burned during the night was almost dead. With that done, the lad turned towards the clothes he had put out the night prior and stripped out of the underclothes he had worn to bed. He replaced them quickly with a new pair as the Castle walls were quite chilly and Ash had no intention of freezing his bits to pieces. He gave a small smirk at the thought and continued dressing in a simple white linen tunic and breeches. The only distinguishing feature of the tunic was the embroidered Landry sigil on the right breast. Sufficiently clothed and ready to begin another day, Ashton exited his room and began heading out of the great keep, nodding to a few of the guards who stood at the ready. It was fairly common to see Ash out this early, the guards having longed figured out the habits of the young Landry and as such, they merely gave a respectful salute and knowing smirk.
He started off in a jog around the enclosed portion of the keep and then after that circle, he entered the courtyard proper. The Castle was slowly coming to life, and Ashton let a smile across his face. It was his favorite time of day, the time when the world became aware once again and the animals started getting restless after a long night of quiet and relative stillness. Guards rotated out of the barracks and to the armory to prepare for their shift on the walls or stationed at the gates, and the early birds went to retrieve water from the well or supplies for breakfast. It was a time of serenity and peace, everyone just going about their business and if Ash had to pick a time that would last forever it would be this stretch of the morning. He passed by the sept and headed for the North Gate, which was his usual exercise spot. The hill running down was perfect, and he remained within sight of the guards on the battlements. He chuckled a bit to himself as he remembered the one time he had ‘disappeared’ and sent the entire watch on high alert. It hadn’t been funny at the time but reliving it in his head allowed the fourteen-year-old to appreciate the situation and how much the soldiers of House Landry cared.
He shook his head to get his thoughts in order and gave a small wave to the guards at the gate. He received a few eye rolls and grins but the gate was opened and Ash’s slim figure started stretching as he left the safe confines of the castle proper. After the quick warm-up, he began an easy jog down the hill, as he ran he let his brain wander once more and the events of the week started coming back to the young man so his mine could contemplate them better. The first thing, however, that came to the forefront of his mind was the nightmare he had. Did it mean something? Was he just exhausted and overworking himself? He didn’t know and not knowing something made the lad all the more anxious. He resigned himself to talking about it with Ella later one and until then moving on with his duties as the de facto head of the House. He still had Baldric to lean on but as the only male Landry left at Fallow Hill it was left to him to deal with things, and his judgment that would be reconsidered when his father returned. That would be soon actually, a raven had come a week prior speaking of trouble on the road back. It was no doubt the same bandits that Ash had been made aware of by the Landry merchant caravans that reported thieves stealing supplies and even some of the precious food that was being sent to various Houses as exports.
Before he knew it he had run five ‘laps’, consisting of going down and back up the hill and his breathing was becoming heavier and heavier. He could keep going, but for a simple exercise, he didn’t need to exhaust himself as he knew the rest of the day was going to be quite long. He started walking to pace himself and replayed the last decisions of the day to re-plan themselves out. A meeting with the Maester, Trademaster, and Quartermaster would be needed to iron out the finalized harvest and what else could be sold. The last of the summer trading caravans would need to be accounted for, and the final imports of weapons, armor, and other needed supplies would be arriving within the week. After that meeting, Ash would call for the Landry military advisors in order to discuss a plan to eradicate the bandits harrying trade routes. In between all of those meeting he would need to eat, and find some time to train and then be ready to go over all that his father had missed with the man himself and his brother Edmund. All in all, a very stressful day and by the end he would -definitely- need a soak in the bath to relax. He shook his head and finished his walking lap, grabbing his discarded tunic and wiping off his face and neck. He placed the linen shirt around his neck and made his way back into the Castle. He nodded to the new guards who closed the gate and secured it and slowly made his way back towards the enclosed Great Keep.
It was still early but Ash must have been out for longer than usual as more servants were out and about and as the lad made his way towards his room he heard a few giggles and glanced to his right to see a small gaggle of serving girls blushing and looking away. Ash made eye contact with one and flashed a bright smile and gave a bit of a wink. He felt a bit of that boldness he was beginning to get used to and watching the girl turn into hysterics boosted his ego a bit. He didn’t linger long, however, definitely not like his older brother Edmund. In Ash’s mind, it was better to be an object of fantasy, an unreachable goal and almost mythical creature in those girl’s minds. It gave Ash a mysterious vibe and also secured at least a basic loyalty should they ever be tested. Beyond that, the youngest Landry had no real desire for a girl's touch as the moment. He had to ensure that he was the best he could be for his family before thinking of such things.
He passed one of his servants in the hall and verified that his bath was already waiting on him. It was sometimes nice having a predictable routine as things just seemed to always be ready to go. Ash liked that, appreciated having everything in its right place at the right time. He entered his room once more and stripped back down to his skin and slowly sunk into the tub. Unfortunately, this bath wasn’t one of relaxation, as the day wouldn’t wait for that. He washed the sweat and grime from his body and when he was satisfied gave his hair a wash as well. After he toweled himself off and then wrapped the linen fabric around his waist to pad over to the mirror. He styled his hair as best as possible into the usual messy spiked brown that he always wore and then turned to his closet. He picked out a much more refined silk set of clothing, as he would be addressing concerns of the population that morning. His shirt was blue with golden grain embroidered into the fabric, and his breeches matched perfectly. A pair of tan boots completed the outfit and after dressing, Ash made sure to check over his appearance in the mirror. Briefly, Ash remembered his dream and hesitated to take a full look before he told himself he was being ridiculous. Finally satisfied, the young Landry placed his signet ring and sword belt onto his waist and smiled at the familiar weight of his blades.
Priscilla had just finished adjusting her outfit after her handmaidens had messed up the snitching. She cursed to herself in a low breath and turned to the side then back to the other side to make sure everything was perfect. Priscilla let out a soft huff that eventually turned to a sigh as she walked over to her window and peered her eyes out of her window. She couldn’t really see anything right now and slumped down a bit and grew a bit worried. She hasn’t seen her husband but not that she was forward to it or her son, Edmund, in quite some time and she was eager for their return. Mostly Edmund’s if she was being honest with herself.
With a simple turn of her heel, she was heading out of her room and heading to the kitchen to make sure they were preparing breakfast for herself and others. Especially her little otter, Ashton. Gosh, how she loved her little man. He’ll make a great lord someday, or hell, even a king. The thought made her smile with glee as the servants stared at her, making sure it was real then her smiled wavered into a glare towards them. She had opted out of breakfast this morning because she was too worried to eat anything but as long as Ashton ate, that’s all she really cared about.
For now, she just wandered around the home to make sure things were ready for when Edwyn and the others return home. She even checked with the stable boys to make sure that they were ready. Her mind slipped for a second as she had forgotten about Ashton holding court for the day and immediately rushed in that direction before she missed anything.
Dressed and ready for the day, Ash left his room and headed straight for the Great Hall. As he arrived he gave his breakfast order of two small fish, some bread, an apple, and crispy bacon to the servant that awaited such at his chair and then sat with a sigh. It was rather lonely at this point in time, no one else awake to keep Ash company. He briefly wondered what Axell was doing at this same moment, and had a laugh as he imagined the redhead scrambling to get breakfast for Edwyn ready to go. It didn’t take long for his food to be ready, his routine once again paying up as the cooks had his order already prepared. He ate silently and -almost- made it through the entire meal without being interrupted. As it was Ash could only smile as Maester Oylen made his way up to the high table and sat down heavily. ”Maester, good morning to you. I thought for a moment I finally was up early enough to get through the meal without seeing you. Sleep well?”
The Dornishman’s eyes twinkled a bit with laughter before he inclined his head to Ashton.
“Young Master Landry, your early morning escapades are well known within the Castle. But it’s my job to be as annoying as possible so all of the work that needs to be done, is in fact done.” He smirked a bit then. “As for my sleeping, I think the better question is whether you yourself slept well.” It was crazy at how fast the man could turn Ash’s questions back on him and the teenager just gave a half grimace, knowing it was useless to try and bluff the Maester. ”I slept fine for most of the night.”
It wasn’t a lie, as a good majority of the night had in fact been quite perfect. He couldn’t help the rest of it was restless and knew the Maester was now regretting his decision of teaching Ash half-truths.
“My Lord, I know it’s early. But the commoners have already begun gathering, and the gate reports more coming towards the keep now from the village.” Ash looked past Oylen and gave a sigh before nodding and finishing off his bacon. ”You can send them in now, we’re ready. If my sister is awake let her know I’ll be holding court but she’s more than welcome to come as well.”
Ash sincerely doubted that Ella would ever voluntarily step into a court session, but felt that offering would be polite and would let her know he was at least thinking of her. The guard bowed and hurried off to see to his orders. Ash leaned back and closed his eyes, his fingers gripping the chair until they turned white. He controlled his breathing and slowly relaxed before giving a knowing look to Oylen who said nothing but did nod in understanding to the young Lord sitting and preparing to fix what needs he could for the common folk. Sure enough, not even ten minutes later the first few filed in. They were put in a line and guards filled the rest of the Great Hall, just in case. While most of the requests were small, there were also many that would require quick thinking and problem-solving skills. This took most of the morning, and by the time it was over Ash was exhausted. ”And to think Father does this all the time.”
He supposed it was the price one had to pay to have a population that respected and adored their Lord, but it was not an easy job in the slightest. Oylen just chuckled a bit and placed a weathered hand on Ash’s shoulder. ❝Yes, yes he does.❞
She commented plainly but chuckled right along with Oylen. ❝But I think you did an outstanding job, Ashton.❞
Priscilla said with a smile as she walked to stand before him now with a smile. ❝Your father and brother are coming back home today.❞
She stated as if it wasn’t big news. ❝Are you excited?❞
She questioned towards him and knelt down to be at eye level with him and a smile slowly crept between her lips.
Ashton had no idea his mother had been watching and a wide, dimpled smile hit his face. ”Mother! I didn’t know you were here!”
He felt the pride in his chest and let it sit there for a bit. ❝Yeah, I slipped in through the crowd.❞
Priscilla commented honestly. She did move through the crowd of people with ease. ”Yes, I figured it would be today or tomorrow. It doesn’t stop me from being busy today, however. I’ll try to find you at lunch?!”
He didn’t want to leave Priscilla’s side, in fact, he would like to have the rest of the morning to walk the Castle and talk to the woman, but he was still Lord and he had to make sure -nothing- went wrong.❝Well...❞
Before she could say anything further, Ashton had left her side. She had sighed a bit, seeing him all grown up or growing up did sadden her a bit. She didn’t know what to do right now as she was still in the Great Hall, eyes wandered around the premises so, she just decided to sit down in the chair for now. Priscilla wondered heavily to herself when were her men coming home because of the growing worry that began to set in again.”Bye mother!”
Ash called over his shoulder as he disappeared into the hallway leading back into the Great Keep.
“It gets easier with practice, and a lot of the situations are repeated. It comes down to whether or not you believe that the problem is real and if helping will be a true blessing or just a convenience. You did very well, your father will be proud.” Ash frowned -just- slightly at that and doubted that even if Edwyn felt pride for his youngest son, it wouldn’t be shown. He hid the frown quickly and nodded to the old and wise Maester. “Now, young Master, we have a meeting to attend to.” Ash faked a groan and gave a chuckle as he followed Oylen out of the Great Hall and back into the Keep itself. They didn’t have travel far, only a few turns until the two arrived into a large yet very active room where a man stood directing the chaos.
“No, this one goes there, -THAT- one goes there.” Ash gave a subtle smirk and stepped closer to the yelling Pentoshi. Indiriyo Daratis had the tell-tale look of an eccentric foreigner, his well-trimmed beard and mustache dyed a smoky blue but to Ash he was a well-known retainer of his family and made House Landry more gold than many of the other Riverlanders could even think of. As such, he was a figure to be respected and not to be approached while in the middle of a tirade. Ashton and Oylen simply stood near the Trade Master’s office and his their amusement by glancing around the large storeroom. It was never the same, sometimes being filled with barrels of oats or crates of feed. Other times it was well-tanned leather armor or packages of grain. All if it was exported to various Houses all over the Seven Kingdoms, or across the narrow sea to Essos. After another few minutes of yelling Indiriyo swiftly turned and changed personalities from overseer to his usual charming and intelligent side. “Master Landry, Maester Oylen, time all ready for our meeting? The time just seems to disappear I tell you! Come, please into my office, I have had a few recent imported teas prepared for our discussion! I’m quite interested in trying these blends, and I’ve heard nothing but good things! Besides, if we -don’t- like it we can always sell it to another House.” The Trade Master shrugged and Ash could only think that this was the main reason Indiriyo was so good at his job. He took calculated risks and always had a backup plan with the products he procured. The Pentoshi led the way into the office and sure enough, three cups of tea awaited them. Ashton sat, at Indiriro’s insistence behind the desk, another reason Ash truly liked the man. Politely, he tried to tea and had to admit it was rather good, though not something that Ashton would -have- to have. ”A fine blend, as you said. I’m sure if I was a bit more interested in teas I would be much more impressed.”
Oylen, on the other hand, seemed as if he had tasted pure bliss and began making sounds that Ash wasn’t sure was appropriate for the Maester of a House. It seemed the older man agreed as he quickly replaced the tea and cleared his throat a bit, his kind smile returning.
“Ah, yes… It is quite a good blend Trade Master if you erm… Decide to sell it I’m sure you’ll get good prices from those of Dorne.” Even when the Maester hid it, however, Ash could tell that Oylen would consider the loss of the tea a great tragedy. Ashton cleared his throat, hiding his amusement and wanting to get the meeting underway before some other issue sprouted up that he would need to deal with. ”Well, tea aside.”
He pushed his away for dramatic effect and then continued. ”The final harvest for summer is finished, we have our own winter supply doubled and the rest has been placed in your warehouses Indiriyo. However, with the recent trouble within the Kingdom, I have decided to scratch the last shipment to Essos in favor of stockpiling the food in case of war.”
He knew this wasn’t -truly- his decision to make, as he wasn’t the Lord and at the end of the day his father trusted Indiriyo with what and when to trade. However, Ashton was always practicing his diplomacy and with the Landry name behind him, he knew his words did actually matter, despite them coming from a 14-year-old, acting Lord or not. The Trade Master seemed to flounder slightly, almost choking on his tea and quickly set it down, tilting his head and going to stroke his mustache a bit. Maester Oylen, on the other hand, seemed thoughtful and even nodded a few times.
“A wise action My Lord.” You could always tell when Oylen truly respected a decision from the children as he would always call them ‘Young Master’s’. When they did something or thought a problem through however he would change it to My Lord or Lady, and Ash felt a rush of pride run through him. Indiriyo, however, didn’t seem to enjoy the idea in the slightest.
“If we don’t send this shipment, we’ll have to deal with diplomatic repercussions from across the sea.” Ashton nodded a bit and frowned to show that he indeed, didn’t want that to occur but then gave a dramatic shrug and sigh. ”I’m sure the Good Master’s of Astapor, the Wise Master’s of Yunkai, and the Benevolent enslavers of Volantis will understand that war sometimes will prevent shipments from being sent? And if they can, then the three kingdoms of the contested lands will also understand, besides if war -does- break out then only the Reach and us will have a tradeable surplus of food to spare. That makes us a target yes, but also a good friend to have. The profits would be astronomical.”
He nodded a few times and leaned back in his chair. For his part, Indiriyo remained silent and hid his actual feeling very well though Ash was perceptive enough to see just a glimmer, the tiniest glimmer, of respect and the Pentoshi inclined his head.
“I will change the order as you have suggested My Lord. I will also stop the export of our cowhide leather armor to the Summer Isles as well.” Ashton inclined his head to say he agreed with that move as well and flipped through a few parchments on the Trade Master’s desk. “Now, the imported shipment of weapons couldn’t come at a better time. Do you have a full inventory of what we’ll be gaining?”
Indiriyo nodded and stepped over to a chest and rummaged through a few older correspondences and pulled out a small ledger which he passed to Ash. ”100 Halberds, 100 Arming swords, 100 heavy kite shields, 100 heater shields, 100 lances, 50 longswords, and 50 set pieces consisting of Mail, surcoat, and coat of plates combination.”
Ash shook his head a bit and tilted his head over to the Trade Master. ”I assume this was the remaining pieces to arm half of our potential forces?”
Indiriyo nodded and sipped his tea.
“Yes, My Lord. The rest of that booklet has all orders of that fact.” Ashton nodded and felt a small wave of exhaustion wash over him. ”Very well, then everything seems to be in order. Thank you, Trade Master, for your time, Maester Oylen will finish his recording of the meeting and take the notes to my father’s study so he may review them when he returns. Until then, continue the good work, House Landry thanks you for your continued service and loyalty.”
He grins at the end of his words so the Pentoshi knew he did actually mean the more ceremonial words. Indiriyo bows as Ashton stands and moves to leave, the young man leaving both older behind him. As soon as he enters the hall once more he releases the breath he only just realized he was holding and a wide grin split across his face. If he could get through this meeting then he could get through the next. First on the docket however would be lunch as sitting through the assembly, and then the meeting had his stomach growling unhappily. He made his way back to the Great Hall and almost ran right into the Maester’s assistant who helped run the ravenary. Ash tilted his head and ushered the poor teenager to a seat.
“Sorry my Lord, I didn’t see you even when I was lookin for ye. Raven came from Riverrun, Lord Tully has sent us commands if the banners are called again.” The boy bowed low and left the note on the table. Ash was flabbergasted for a moment and closed his eyes, war was surely coming soon enough. Now, more than ever did he need to speak to the military men of the House. He stood and looked towards one of the Hall servants and spoke gently to her. “I will take my lunch in the meeting hall near my father’s quarters.”
The girl nodded and curtsied before rushing out towards the kitchens. Ash grabbed the note and took a deep breath, controlling his nerves and emotions before returning back to the Keep.
It wasn’t long after, that the Landry entered the meeting room. His eyes were clouded with thought and in his hand was a note commonly attached to a raven. He seemed to be the first in the room and took a seat at the head of a long table. No more than 2 minutes later did the serving girl from the Great Hall enter carrying a plate of fish, bread, cheese, and fruit. A very small glass of wine and a larger glass of water balanced in her other hand. He placed all of these things upon the table and gave a shy smile to Ashton who inclined his head in thanks and gave her a wink. He had a reputation to keep up after all, but inside he was feeling anything but bold and alive. He was anxious, and a bit nervous now that he sat in the room. Left alone again, he took a few deep breaths and sipped his water. His company would be here soon enough.“Good afternoon, m’lord,”
Baldric addressed the current lord of Castle Fallow Hill while his father and older brother were away at the Hand’s Tournament. The Master-at-Arms wore a green silk tunic with the white image of a snow shrike emblazoned upon the left breast. The snow shrike is the house sigil in the lands north of the Riverlands. Resting his hand on the pommel of Shriek
attached to his left hip, he took a seat the table across from Ashton Landry. This move enabled him to push the sword out of the way; allowing him easier access to take the seat. “Wench! Goblet of wine!”
Baldric called the young woman who brought Ashton his fish and water. Then he turned back to the current lord of the house, “do ye know when ye father is returnin’ home?”
With his mouth full of bread, Ash could only dip his head in greeting as Baldric entered the room. He chewed slowly and let the Master-At-Arms get comfortable before he washed down the bread with some water. “Yes, I suppose at this point it is afternoon Ser Baldric, things have moved rather quickly today.
He gave the man a glance over, his eyes not missing a detail, and said eyes lingered a bit on the sword that Baldric wore on his hip. It was well-made castle-forged steel, exactly what he would expect from his primary swordmaster. ”Should be some time today or tomorrow I would expect. His stay at Riverrun wasn’t long, Lord Tully released the other Riverlords to their respective lands to await further instruction and protect their own borders… But a raven just arrived for us in particular.”
He pushed over the note which would read, ‘House Landry, your rapid pace in answering the call of banners is to be commended. House Tully appreciates your unwavering loyalty and has charged you with the primary defense of the South Eastern area of the Riverlands. If the banners are called again, forces from House Mallister and others will rendezvous at Fallow Hill. Family. Duty. Honor.’
Lyren, the serving girl came back with the requested wine right after Ash passed the note, and made sure she saw nothing before leaving the two alone once more.“Good-day My Lord,”
Royce Deddings announced as he strolled across the room, taking a seat next to Ser Baldric. He nodded at the Master-at-Arms, “Ser.”
The portly shaped Captain of the Guards addressed the larger man on his left. Ser Royce had also come from a minor house in the foothills west of Riverrun. His family had supported the Tullys from time immemorial. It only made sense for the third son of a bannerman to work for one of the houses in the Riverlands. He had been training the off-shift garrison detachment since before the sun had risen. They ran drills around the castle and through the countryside until about a half hour after the sun rose. Upon return to the castle, they broke their fast and returned to the training yard for sword training with and without shields. Regardless of the round belly beneath Ser Royce’s armor, he was a very muscular man; age had not slowed him down.
Ash smiled a bit as Royce entered, he knew the big man was probably more than ready to see his son just as Ash was ready to see his brother and father. ”Good afternoon Captain, I just showed Ser Baldric our new ‘orders’ should Tully call the banners once more.”
He gestured towards Baldric and the note and continued eating some of his lunch. ”Can I have Lyren get you anything Captain?”
The serving girl had gone to stand near the doorway after handing over the cup of wine and awaited any instructions. As she heard her name the girl stepped forward and flashed a quick smile to Ash and Royce before lowering her head and awaiting a possible lunch order.
Baldric slid the missive or miniature scroll across the table for Royce Deddings to read. Baldric stared across the room past Ashton Landry, as though he were inspecting the rocks forming the great hall. After reading the message, Royce looked up slightly annoyed towards Ashton and Baldric. “Appears we may be heading to war soon,”
the Captain murmured.“Ye sure have a keen fukin’ eye for the bloody obvious, don’t ye?”
Baldric stammered.“Don’t you dare address me like that ser!”
Royce blustered as though surprised by the larger man’s comment. He pulled back away from Baldric. “I’ve never been so offended.”
Ser Royce was genuinely offended by Ser Baldric’s comments; well at least appearing to be offended.“Oh climb down off your fokkin’ horse, ye fat cunt. Did ye really think this peace-shit was gonna last forever?”“No. You’re right about the peace, Baldy,”
Royce collected himself. “Just don’t address me like that. It is improper for a lord to address another in such a distasteful manner.”“Of course, ye dumb cunt.”
Baldy held back a grin; retaining a more stoic expression.
Royce attempted to overlook the Northman's rude comments. “How many men do you think we will be able to provide for the campaign?”
Ser Deddings asked.“Based on recent figures, we’re lookin’ at twenty-fife hundred foot and six hundred horse. That number includes two hundred longbowmen and three hundred Rangers.”
Baldric knew he was optimistic with his numbers. ’Let’s see if Deddings picks up on that.’
the Master-at-Arms mused to himself.“Six hundred horse!?”
Ser Royce queried.’Ah, maybe the blithering idiot is paying attention,’
Baldric thought to himself with hope. “Yes, ser. I coun’ fifty heavy cavalry when you include the lords of the house, their kin and the hedge knights in our region. The two hundred conscripted cavalry known as Landry’s Lancers and another three hundred fifty mounted men-at-arms.”
Baldric let the words float out there for a brief pause. Baldric focused his eyes on the Captain of the Guard and leaned in toward the man, “tell me if my numbers be off a wee bit.”“Fifty is a bit optimistic. We’ll be lucky if we get forty. Those Lancers you speak of?... I doubt none of those lads show up. As for the remaining three hundred fifty men-at-arms, mounted? I expect no more than a few hundred. Maybe two fifty.”“Good man, Ser Royce,”
Baldric complimented the older man with a smile. “Maybe there is hope for you yet. How about the garrison? What do they look like?”“We have two shifts of fifty men working twelve hours each. When the off shift is awake and not eating, I have them training either in the courtyard or in the fields around the castle. They are in tip top shape and prepared for whatever encounter may be presented to us.”“Wonderful, Ser Royce,”
Baldric spat out softly. “Maybe you’re not such a dumb cunt after all.””Alright, alright.”
Ash had been eating while the two men went after each other, hiding his amusement in his cup. Baldric was an acquired taste but was one of the most respected soldiers and teachers Ash had in his years. ”I just came from a meeting with our Master of Trade and Maester Oylen. You’ll be happy to know we can arm all of our levee’s, though a quarter of them will have to use older equipment. Each infantryman can be equipped with Halberd, kite shield, arming sword, and armor. The Cavalry can be equipped with weapons of your choosing, but heater shields will be available. You can thank Indiriyo for all of the equipment when you both see him next.”
He finished off his lunch and leaned back in his chair. ”Before we go any further on combat readiness I want to discuss the bandits that have hit our trade caravans. If we are to go to war, banditry will need to be handled swiftly as we will need clean supply lines. I have a plan I’d like to propose to you both.”
He stood and tilted his head to either man.
Baldric was curious to hear the lad’s idea. “If it pleases m’lord. Let’s hear what ye haf to say.”“Aye”
, Ser Royce Deddings concurred.
Inclining his still tilted head Ash paced a bit to gather his thoughts and opened a map on the table. It showed the layout of the Riverlands as a whole and a red circle had already been placed in a location where Landry caravans have been attacked in the recent past. ”The raiders can’t be very large, as they only attack the more weakly guarded caravans. I would wager that they scout the traders here.”
He pointed to a hilly area of the route on the map. ”They then find the target that they desire, prepare for combat, and hit the transport. This would mean their encampment is somewhere in these woods.”
He gestured once again to the map and drew a black circle with the quill around woods that ran parallel to the road. ”My plan is to have a larger caravan leave Fallow Hill and run as all others do. But instead of transporting supplies they’d be transporting soldiers. They’d be covered and we’d have to ensure the deception can’t be seen before the bandit's attack. Our Rangers will enter the woods themselves and will find the encampment from their movements. Mounted men will ride north as if answering the call to banners. The bandits won’t know any better but our men will camp further down the road at this bend.”
He once again pointed and drew a line from the various groups and formations. The Landry Lancers will come from the opposite end. We will eradicate the bandits, root, and st-.
He cuts off as the door to the room opened and tilts his head at the interruption.
From the doorway, a familiar face emerged. Axell, squire to Lord Edwyn, and son to Ser Royce. The boy was ungraceful in his movements, and a little red in the face, dipping his head apologetically. He shared a brief look with his father, who’s expression brightened slightly, before looking to Ashton. A friend of his, for the most part, but, in the halls of House Landry, at this moment, his lord. “Apologies for the interruption, my lord,” the boy spoke, his voice monotone and deep. “Lord Edwyn has arrived, and he requests your presence in his quarters, and Ser Baldric’s likewise, with posthaste.” The boy panted. Perhaps he had run here.
If the appearance of Axell surprised Ashton, the young Landry didn’t let it show. He was in his element, and in command at this moment and as such merely placed his hands behind his back and considered for a few moments. He glanced back to the two military advisors, opened his mouth, and then closed it before turning back to Axell. ”Thank you for the message, inform my Lord Father that I’m currently in a meeting of utmost import to the protection of our lands. He is as always welcome to come and take over but otherwise, we will be along presently.”
He nodded at the end of his words and turned back around, hesitating before throwing over his shoulder. ”It’s good to see you back Axell.”
With that he turned his attention back to the two men. ”We shall wait and see if my father comes to join. He will no doubt wish to know about the plan regardless so my informed guess is that he will wish to sit in.”
Axell blushed redder than he was previously. He looked as if he was about to say something. It was apparent by his expression that he did not believe it was a smart move to reply to Lord Edwyn’s call with another call, and he didn’t look thrilled to be the one to deliver the message, but he loyally dipped his head. “It’s good to see you again, my lord,” he spoke, the edge of his lips curling into a small smile, before turning to Royce, “father.” He then turned to leave through the still-open door.
Royce Deddings looked uncomfortable at his son. He glanced at the young Landry knowing he had made a mistake but was unsure of how to approach the subject. He gave a wave to his son as though suggesting he should do what the present Lord Landry instructed him to do.“Hold Fast, Axell!”
Baldric called out. “Take one step and you will surely annoy the Lord of Fallow Hill! You do not want that attention.”
Baldric then turned to Lord Ashton. “M’lord. Your father has returned. He is home. Been gone for over three months. I trust you miss his fatherly guidance. Wouldn’t you like to greet him in a respectable manner!? Show him how you have taken care of his house?”
Baldric pointed to Axell, “please don’t place that lad over there in a more uncomfortable place. He is a good squire. Does fine service for your house and your father. It would be an insult for you not to go see the Lord of Fallow Hill in person. He requested our presence, we will accompany you.”
Baldric gestured to both himself and ser Royce allowing the young man to think it over a few minutes. To emphasize the seriousness of his advice, he dropped the formal titles and deepened his tones, focusing on the young man’s eyes, “Ash, I strongly urge you heed my words if you know what is good for you.”
His final statement, spoken with those low deep tones to underline the graveness of his decision.
Ashton tilted his head a bit as Baldric spoke and turned to face him slowly. He listened to the words and nodded a few times and stood beside his chair. ”Wise council Ser Baldric and I appreciate it.”
Inside he was a hornet's nest but he didn’t let it show and did truly try to see it from Baldric’s point of view. The man must think that he didn’t know his father, or that he was some child to be coddled, that his decisions needed to be second-guessed publicly and his orders stopped entirely. He closed his eyes and then smiled slightly, dimples and all. ”If my father becomes annoyed at anyone it will be me and now Axell, and it’s his annoyance I’m willing to face because my father would do the same thing I have asked Axell to do here. He would -not- want me to leave this important meeting to go and see him, he would want me to handle business and to secure the people of our land than meet him in the hall all smiles and pretty words, and to show ‘how good of a job I did while he away’. I will show him with actions and not words, and another thing. Until Edwyn Landry of House Landry enters that door and I pass the scepter back to him I am Lord Landry. I do not think that you would question and halt his orders, but then again your council is beloved because of those reasons so maybe you would. Regardless, I need you to know that I can handle myself and my father. Axell only has one awkward position and that’s you throwing doubt on whose orders he is to follow. ”
He stopped and turned back to Axell, giving him a much friendlier smile and an apologetic face. ”You must feel like you’re being thrown all over. Please let my father know where I am, and if he enters a fit of anger let him know it was me that spurned his initial invitation to handle work of our House.”
He inclined his head again and returned his gaze back to the two men.”Now, I was discussing the pincer cavalry maneuver correct?”
Inside, however, Ashton was now a complete anxious mess. He had gone three months without his orders and command being questioned but the second his father returned it was back to Ashton is the youngest and needs all the help, his ideas should all be re-thought. He knew in his heart that it was for that reason Edwyn had summoned him and Baldric. They were going to go over every single choice Ash made while he sat the Lord’s chair and would tell them all of the things he had failed in. He couldn’t let it show… He knew his eyes were clouding, and tried to play it off as if he was pacing again, but Baldric knew of Ash’s condition, as the teenager had told him, long ago when he was still a lad and had come to the intimidating Master-At-Arms for help.
He would only have to deal with this weight on his chest for a bit longer. He drank a bit of the water, realizing he had completely ignored the wine and prepared to move on with his battle plans, father or no father.