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Most Recent Posts

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.”

The sky looked like the shadow of a shadow to her, a never-ending voice of grays and lifeless pale blues that threatened the world with snow all over again. She took slow, painful, breaths and focused her eyes on the haze upon the horizon. The first two weeks in the North had been, by far, the worst in her young life. It wasn’t winter. It was barely autumn. She checked, twice, with Maesters before leaving.
Tell that to the North.

She had wandered to nearly every corner of the Seven Kingdoms, save the Vale and the North. The North just sounded more amusing than being boxed into a valley with a bunch of steep mountains all around. First men, Andols, First men, Andols…the First Men won. And, really, all things being equal, it was Winterfell and the Wall that had won.

And in her few days out from White Harbor, she had never been so cold in all her life. The last night she could fully recall had been such a misery, she had come to terms with wanting to die. Not actually dying, the girl was just too stubborn for such nonsense, but the desire to let it all end, quietly, in the dark and cold like so many before.

She understood the urge, now.

Sheer willpower saw her another few nights. The days and nights blurred, pooling in her mind as one long grey and white and painful stain. If it weren’t for her well bought clothes, the voice told her, she would have lost toes and fingers. Instead, she just needed rest. She understood the voice to belong to some god. She didn’t believe in your gods, or their gods. She could see gods having been a thing, once, long ago. But to her…it would just be some god telling her to make sure she closed the door on her way out for the last, final, time.
It was half a day before she realized the voice belonged to no god, but a man who cut and sold wood. There was a cabin, there was a little boy, hiding behind things. It was nightfall before she could speak to the man, ask what, how. He explained it was the wet that did her in. She had been too exposed to snow, she had clearly fallen in snow, and she had never properly dried off. Staying dry, he said with a puff of his pipe, was the key to staying alive in the North. “You’re an archer? Keep yourself as dry as your strings up here, girl.”

He noticed she didn’t look like any woman he had seen when he changed her, dried her clothes. The amount of near strangers that had seen her in her nameday pride, between being dressed by ladies of court and the water gardens all her life, it frankly wasn’t that strange. It was honor that forced her hand in the end. She knew he might not accept it, so she smiled big and sweet and gave the gold coins to the young boy, and told him to give them to his papa when she was gone.

Reginald was beside himself when he saw her again. He looked, he snorted, he looked away. “I MISSED YOU TOO!” The horse might have bolted, had he not been tied. Not that it mattered, eventually Reginald always found her. Eventually, Reginald always returned to her. “I love you too, I’m an idiot.”

She spent a few days not far from the cabin, accounting for everything from various pastes to salt beef to small blocks of steel, strings, jigs, feathers fletched and unfletched, and a variety of shafts in firmness and size. Small saw, various small blades, bow, leather wraps and casings. The bedroll she kept upon Reginald, but sleeping under the stars was ill-advised if the clouds looked stormy, and if they didn’t, it would just be freezing cold. Fire became necessary, a large wineskin of Dornish Red, but true freedom came in the map Wendal had given her. A hunter’s map that highlighted trails, and more importantly, every cave and hunter hideaway between the south shore and the Wall.

The next few weeks just rolled together. She adjusted to constant freezing, even spending the evening two nights ago wild and naked in the snow and moonlight. Possible, of course, because of the natural hot-spring she had discovered nearby under some of the largest, oldest, trees she had ever seen in her life. They had been her favorite few days in the North, so far, outside Wendal’s cabin.

Her mind and her eyes seemed to focus on the horizon, again, at the same time. The synchronization of their focus allowing her to see past the haze of travel in the wilds of the “autumn” North. That haze on the horizon became something else entirely; it became a horse, it became a rider.

It became a danger as she watched from under tree line upon a ridge. And a danger made Princess Saeria Martell focus like nothing else in her earthly trials. There was new life to the girl as she disappeared where she had been standing just moments before. She had seen him first. In the wild, that could make all the difference. She returned to Reginald, removed the thick cloak and pulled up the hood of the layer just under the thick cloak; hooded tunic, woolen and lined with fur.

“Fade away, Reggie, I’ll be back.”

That was nearly noon. It was nearing sundown when she found the danger again. The man was, by quick looks behind trees, a scout of some sort. He busied himself with a camp, which meant a fire. She understood his concern, she had been regretting the shedding of her heavy cloak for hours, but it was more than enough noise cover for her to make slow and careful movements. He was hacking away at a tree nearby when she got to his camp. She soothed the horse the best she could before a quick pick through. Steel and salted fish and wools to keep warm. Nothing Stark, or any other noble house she recognized.

“Wha’ th…”

The voice grew quiet as his dark eyes surveyed her. When they met eyes, she knew trouble was coming, she'd seen that look in the eyes of many men before the violence came. He let the wood of the tree he had hacked at fall to his feed, thick chunks of wood for a long, slow burning fire to get him through the night before he went back looking for smaller bits, before the sun set.

She knew the schedule. Anyone who lived out in the wild did.

She’d seen the look in his eyes before. When he lunged forward, she was took his own dagger up from the neat pile he had created in order to make camp. She went back when he went forward, moving awkwardly in the snow under the tree he had picked. He lunged again, she circled around, keeping in mind the obstacle he had created. When he swung back around and gave a short shout, his eyes were narrowed on her, and the next lunge landed his foot awkwardly on one of those pieces of firewood, rolling the ankle and sending him to the snow. Another piece of firewood smashed the back of his head before he could recover. A hand gloved in rotting leather squeezing at her neck, and her hand brought the dagger down.

The scout howled, screamed—he wanted to make noise. Who was around? How many? She’d have to make a quick escape, thoughts she thought as she kept stabbing. When the noise stopped and the man’s twitching mostly died off, she caught herself standing there, removing the hand from her neck, panting as her mind dazed and her eyes narrowed to a tunnel.


Panic struck through her heart like steel as she moved for the tree she had originally hidden behind to watch him. The tree she had left the bow at. The snow seemed thicker here, like a sludge she had to struggle through, sweating and freezing in equal measure. The doeskin cover was in her hands, then the bow itself, stringing it, and rearing around with arrow notched just in time to see another man, on a horse, ride up with a blade in his head.

She nearly felt the pressure fall and the string release, until the horse spun in place, and she noticed the shield. Grey, with a direwolf. She rested the bow, all but panting again as her heart raced. “Stark?...Princess Saeria of House Martell…really, really,” she said through huffs, catching her breath, “hope you’ve got a camp around here, somewhere.”

The scout snorted at her when she gave her name and her house, to no surprise of her’s. “Disarm. Lead me to your horse.”
You don’t believe in no fate, uh
Every day diggin' a grave, uh
Step in the pit with the snakes, uh
City of dreams, city of gang
You don’t believe in no fate, uh
I might just dig up your grave, uh
Step in the pit with the king, uh
City of dreams, city of gang
Gang, gang, gang, gang
City of dreams, live in your grave
You live in your grave

Collab with @SunsetWanderer with guest appearance by @POOHEAD189

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those were Lannister men.

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

“…oh, she’s—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Frost - NPC
Location: Green Lagoon, Krakoa

Emma stood still for a moment longer than would have been casually normal in the current situation, even given the circumstances of Magneto’s arrival and the two, for all intents and purposes, young adults to children. The psychic front of the moment was lost to Tommy, Billy, and Erik…though Erik no doubt knew what a moment’s too long of a pause from Emma meant. First, the blonde billionaire turned to Magik.

“Jean needs your presence at the New York gate,” Emma said, before immediately clarifying, “the publicly known New York gate, the one for—”

“—the Seneca gate. I’m going; have fun, kids.” Magik grinned at the two boys and disappeared in a disk of brilliant light, the mutant teleporter gone in a flash, leaving Emma, Magneto, and the two off near the stage at the Green Lagoon.

It was enough to get Blob’s attention.

Yet it was what the two young men said that struck with Emma. She’d been part of the X-Men long enough to know what it probably meant, but a quick check with Scott Summers was required. Scott was a strategic nerd, with endless scenarios written in the kind of long detail that was usually reserved for fantasy nerds and their favorite lore. Scott’s opinion was much the same as her initial one; multiversal fuckery.

“You two are the sons of the Scarlet Witch,” she said, her cold blue eyes narrowing as she watched each body for any and all physical reactions, to say nothing of the telepathic monitoring she did of their surface level thoughts and emotions. “Is this news to you?...where is it you both come from?”

She finished, looking up at Erik, only slightly confused.
The last of the journey was mostly behind them. It had been nothing but heat near the capital, humid in a way country around King’s Landing was not. Ser Silence had been dutiful and very alert, there was little Celena could have argued with except for the fact that he’d spent far too much time minding the luggage and the transportation than she liked. If someone had jumped out at her from the haze of city-dwellers, he would have been late to act.

Instead, she had left Ser Silence in the outer yards of the Red Keep as a servant led Celena away shortly after their arrival into the castle in the late stretch of the morning. She returned to the horses and cart with its luggage and Ser Silence not even hour before twilight. She apologized for the late hour and recommended a nearby inn a member of the Small Council had recommended.

There was someone in the small stable of the inn when they arrived. Seemed more road weary than the average servant, and Celena introduced herself in order to reveal the lad’s name: Dunc, he said, from Flea Bottom. Then he paused, like he was thinking hard on maybe he didn’t have to admit he was from Flea Bottom?

It was a curiously transparent tick from the child, and it seemed to decide it for the Lioness then and there, but she continued the questioning. He said he was a squire to Ser Arlan of Pennytree. Celena left him with a smile and a silver coin, asking him to also look over their wagon while he was occupying the stable. The excitement in the boy’s face shined almost as much as the silver coin in his dirty hand.

The Knight gave her looks, but she professed innocence. Halfway through a meal of peppered meat pies and ale Celena excused herself from the table—not that she went from. She simply moved across the room and started up a conversation with an older man with short-cropped salt and pepper hair, lean but with a look of strength, wearing brown riding leathers. In her simple dulled blue cotton dress with silk sleeves and a dark brown traveler’s cloak, the Lady caught the older man by surprise.

Eventually Celena went back for her ale, but returned to the man, Ser Arlan. The two talked on and on, though it was mostly Ser Arlan that did the talking. Old men love telling tales to pretty faces, it seemed, and Celena wasn’t stopping him. When it was over she bid the man goodnight as he retreated for the night, the innkeeper’s son met her at her table, Ser Markus having had more than a few ales in her absence to pass the time. She paid the son, tipped, and informed Ser Markus of the news:

The kid from the stable? Would be coming with them. Ser Arlan had business pop up with the gold Celena paid him for the boy’s services. She said it, aloud, to Ser Markus that the gold was for a down payment of services rendered. Should the squire’s term of service be ended prematurely, the risk was entirely on Celena, having already paid Ser Arlan.

It was the Braavosi in Celena. It’s not slavery, see? He can leave any time he wants. But we could use the extra hand. Ser Markus seemed too happy with the ale to care, or more likely, was pleased to have someone to tend to the horses and cart and luggage. The rest of the evening was uneventful, and the next morning they left so early they had to wait on the City Watch to open the gate. They took the Kingsroad most the way until Bronzegate, then skirted the southern edge of the Kingswood. By mid-day they weren’t alone, and Celena asked the ten or so years old squire about some of the banners they saw of the noble traveling parties along the way, all of them passing them by as they went much faster with their wheelhouses and horde of escorts moving quickly, giving dangerous side-eyes to every dirty face they passed. Even poor Ser Markus got quite the look.

Suffice it to say, the child the size of most young men was bad at memorizing Westerosi noble houses and their coat-of-arms. When Dunc asked about tents after looking over the cart and what it stored, Celena waved a hand in the air. She’d already arranged and paid for tents. Lady Dondarrion had insisted Celena let her take care of everything, just send the gold. It was a kind offer, the debt forgiveness sought by Blackhaven from the lone Iron Bank Keyholder in Westeros surely, Celena thought, had nothing to do with the kind offer.

From city walls to a trip through a forest, getting properly rained on as they went through that forest, to skirting the southern end of the forest and hitting village after little village of hunters and farmers, to the end of the forest beside them and open plain becoming slow rolling hills. Soon enough the road was half-tournament itself as the open plain become narrower valleys between steeper grassy uplands, the Dornish Marches now upon them. As soon as they hit the Marches it was nearly time to branch off and follow the lively crowds of merchant and commonfolk and noble born alike.

Licks of orange and purple threatened the late afternoon sky with evening as they finally made it over the last hill and into the clearing of Summerhall proper, tents of seemingly every size and shape and color laid out before them like a city of cloth. The Free Cities had little parallel to the Great Tournaments, and although Celena hated to attend, she’d promised her cousin. Even Celena of Braavos had to respect where she had come from, and so Lady Lorelai Lannister’s plea was met with a promise that she would be present.

There were two tents, near a small birch tree, and only a few tent rows from the nearest road. One was red, almost Lannister red, but a darker shade that seemed to Celena to give it a bloodier look. She liked it. It was three sections, a large open middle and two small ‘wings’ that could have curtains drawn down over their openings for privacy. Basin, bed, even some tables and chairs thrown in, a small brazier if the autumn mornings and evenings proved too chilly in the shadow of the Red Mountains.

The other was a smaller tent. Large for a tent, but no separated spaces. Ser Markus and the boy, Dunc, would have to grin and bear it. The boy seemed more than happy it, and Ser Markus seemed surprised she had provided him an actual bed, even if a smaller size than he might have preferred. Dunc was happy with his sleeping roll and a corner spot. Each tent was left with a basket of fruits and breads and cheeses, and though Dunc would wander for hours, Celena just seemed to make-do with cheese and fruit for her evening meal.

The next morning she dressed and sought out the chest the two men had left in her tent. For the first time this side of the Narrow Sea, the key was entered and the lock disengaged with a heavy click. The lid was carefully, quietly, lifted and Celena sighed at the blade in it’s scabbard. How Celena Lannister wanted to melee and fight. The sheer reaction she’d get. The looks on the faces of these Westerosi. It was as lovely a thought as it was short-lived. The iron key was placed around her neck with the gold chain, instead, and the trunk was closed and locked again.

Her dreams, her heart were all back in Braavos. All she had in Westeros was business, and suddenly, early as it was, she was in a mood to get straight to it. Let Ser Silence and the tall boy sleep in.

House Lannister of Lannisport

House Lannister of Lannisport has emerged from a recent storm of wealth and mystery and murder. Lord Jasen Lannister led the House to new investments and new trade opportunities after nearly a decade in Essos before his father died, working tirelessly to establish Lannisport, and to some extent even the Sunset Sea, as even more of a destination for trade. He was largely successful, in everything except for his timing: his father died days before he returned home.

Lord Jasen honored the arranged marriage match his father had favored, despite the belief Lord Jasen could have done better. Lady Kyra of House Kyndall came from an ancient house, with good lands in the southern stretches of the Westerlands. Typically, closer to Lords from the Reach in terms of focus (growing and harvest), Lady Kyra spent much of her time growing up in the Reach and in Oldtown.

The wisdom of the match proved apparent over the years; Lady Kyra had all the knowledge and connect of the Westerlands and the Reach that Lord Jasen lacked given his extensive time abroad in Essos. Better more she was a good wife, and a loyal friend, and theirs became the lucky political arrangement that, given time, became real love. Their first child, Lady Celena, was welcomed soon after.

Their lives were largely happy things. Lord Jasen had made waves by openly discussing some changes to Lannisport; changing some of the port and treasury rules so their officials served for less time and could only serve so many years. Increased punishments for market manipulations, including kickbacks. It was just the start, and less than a fortnight later, the Lannisport City Watch were brought to a scene on the Golden Lion Street just as the sun arose over the city on morning: the carriage of Lord Jasen. The two were found stabbed, combined, nearly a hundred times.

Though their daughter, Lady Celena, was reported by house staff as having been with her parents at the time the young child was never seen again. She was either murdered, as well, or sold into slavery somewhere down the line, most suspect. It’s the best those in Lannisport and the Westerlands will have to do; the mystery behind the murder has never been solved, despite the City Watch executing “guilty men” they rounded up from one of the few not-so-great corners of the city.

Lady Jolene Lannister, a widow in her early 40s, a cousin and Lord Jasen’s closest blood relation, became head of the House in the aftermath. Lady Jolene, or Lady Jo as she’s more commonly known, is affable, sharp-minded, and sharp-tongued, well-liked by most stakeholders in Lannisport and other Western nobility. She has two children, the eldest Lord Symon, a scholarly young man with a touch of warrior in him, and Lady Lorelei.

Although Lady Jo and Lord Symon had little issue moving into the immense castle/manse seat of the family in Lannisport, Lady Lorelei found herself needing to change rooms. She couldn’t sleep in the room that was shortly before Lady Celena’s without thinking without stop about what horrible fate became Lady Celena. Lady Lorelei would change rooms and settle in, in time becoming a major force in the courting circuit for nobility in the Westerlands. Lord Symon would marry Lady Alysanne of House Tarbeck, do respectably in local tourneys, and settle down with his new wife in Lannisport.

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