ASIFR - Tales of Iron

A Gambol with Death

Month 7, Day 1, the 296th day since Aegon’s Landing, Castle Fellwood.

A day had passed since a Stark envoy was intercepted on his way to King Joffrey’s court at Steadwater. Captured with two oathbreakers from the Night’s Watch, Sebastion Steadwater, Clancy Fortale, and Ser Rhaen of Danien & Rimchurch let him continue on his way out of the Fellwood, without letting Lord Harwood Fell know of a presence of a man sworn to the self-proclaimed King in the North.

The oathbreakers were put to death; the penalty for fleeing the Wall under the King’s justice.

While their prisoner, Stark’s emissary was relieved of his possessions, including an encrypted missive which Ser Sebastion deciphered. The message made clear that Stark meant to declare for Joffrey, however, the ravens had brought word to Fellwood of Stark secession from Seven Kingdoms under the Iron Throne.

The days passed under Lord Harwood’s hospitality. Steadwater’s men whiled away their time in the yards, honing their skills. Ser Sebastion plowed his way through handmaidens and maid servants of Castle Fellwood; many a Storm bearing Ser Sebastion’s looks will sprout from these furrows we’re certain.

Suddenly, the sound of the portcullis slamming shut brought all eyes to the wall. There, down the road could be seen 100 armored horse following a carriage bearing the arms of House Errol of Haystack Hall. In their panic, Lord Fell’s men had cut the winchrope holding up the gate. However, Lady Errol’s emissary rode under a peace banner and sought parlay at the gate. Fell’s riders camped in the wood, rode out to meet them.

The gate was hastily repaired and Lady Errol’s carriage was welcomed into the inner ward. The coachman stepped down to the side and unbundled the stairs before the door. The door opened and two strong swordsmen wearing Errol livery stepped out. Lord Fell and his retinue gathered before the carriage to await the appearance of the Lady Shyra. What emerged was an enormous fat man who squeezed himself through the narrow doorway from the carriage, the Lady Shyra’s good-brother, Master Jayce Errol.

Soon the fat lordling was ensconced in his rooms at Castle Fellwood, indulging in sweet cakes and the finest from Lord Harwood’s larder. Ser Sebastion told us how Lady Shyra was the widowed wife to the late Lord Errol, but Jayce, being the younger brother and entitled to this late brother’s seat eschewed it for the sake of growing fat off harvests of Haystack Hall. This and the 5 companies of heavy horse that comprised Jayce’s escort to Fellwood had left Haystack Hall impoverished, their small lands almost incapable of supporting either Jayce’s appetite or the maintenance of such an army.

Clancy had some notion that Jayce would be Steadwater’s ticket out from under the yoke of Fellwood’s hospitality and joined the obese lordling at his gluttony. There, he learned that his appetites were not as prodigious as that belonging to the Errol and that Jayce had been invited by Lady Shyra to tour the Stormlands, indulging the hospitality of the other lords. It is surmised that she envisioned this as a form of economic warfare, for Jayce’s appetite for food would quickly deplete the provisions of many a castle. Indeed, Jayce had quickly found his welcome overstayed at the inns and holdfasts he had visited en route to Fellwood.

Meanwhile, Ser Rhaen busied himself by making merry with Lady Errol’s men, or the company that formed Jayce’s bodyguard while inside the castle. Two stayed at Jayce’s side at all times, while 20 gathered in the great hall and drank themselves through the day, much to Ser Rhaen’s delight. Ser Oisin visited the Errol camp, where the remainder of the host from Haystack Hall waited 4 bowshot lengths from the castle walls. Not much was learned from Errol’s men except that they had little love for Jayce and had been travelling through the Stormlands at the Layd Shyra’s bidding.

As the day waned, a great fanfare erupted at the gates and Jayce waddled his way excitedly to the inner ward. There he welcomed a troupe of tumblers and musicians, jugglers and bear-baiters. This company of entertainers had followed him throughout his tour and he excitedly extolled their virtues.

The feast that night passed without incident. Jayce found himself aghast at the fare on offer at Lord Fell’s board, deeming it little better than dogfood. He contented himself with the sweet meats he had gorged on throughout the day, and with the music played by his minstrels and the dancing bear that capered to their tune.

Next day, yet more ravens arrived and Lord Harwood summoned Ser Sebastion to his solar. Sebastion attended on the Lord of Fellwood with the Dreadbow and Clancy at his side. There, he learned that word had arrived of King Stannis’ march down the Rose Road into the Reach. Lord Fell meant to dispatch the Steadwater company and the Errol host to meet Stannis at Bitterbridge, the seat of House Caswell.

Later, Clancy learned that Jayce was quite excited by the prospect of meeting a King and showing off his tumblers, minstrels, jugglers, and bear. A farewell feast was planned and the Steadwater company prepared to make their departure. The Dreadbow organized the provisions and the men. Ser Rhaen found the Errol men-at-arms strangely subdued, refusing to drink with him. Ser Sebastion made his farewells with all the ladies he had made merry with over the sevenday he had spent in Castle Fellwood.

There was little evidence of anything untoward afoot.

Then, the feast. Then, the minstrels, the tumblers, and the fool and juggler. Ser Sebastion and his good-sister the dowager Lady Steadwater took their seats next to Lord Fell. Ser Oisin took his place behind Ser Sebastion near the Errol and Fell guardsmen. Ser Rhaen sat with the Errol men-at-arms, at the lower end of the hall. Clancy sat near Jayce, Lord Harwood thinking that two fat men should sit near one another.

The fool and the juggler progressed through their act until they were flipping knives end over end into the air. The skilled juggler added first three knives, then four, then five… Finally, six knives he had spinning all at once.

Finishing his act, the juggler caught all six in a fluid motion and threw them at Lord Fell and his guests!

Three knives struck Lord Fell, wounding him. Lady Steadwater, leaning over to listen to some jest by Lord Harwood, was mortally wounded. One knife buried itself up to the hilt in Jayce’s corpulent neck. Ser Sebastion was struck by two knives but escaped with only minor injuries.

Then, the hall erupted into violence. The Errol guardsman struck and killed Lord Fell’s bodyguard. The Errol men-at-arms produced knives and began murdering their way through the great hall.

Soon, 40 armed men were engaged in melee around the hapless Knight of Danien-Rimchurch. The Errol fighters had the upper hand, quickly whittling their way through the Fell men-at-arms even though armed only with knives. Clancy’s 8 man cadre joined in the battle, but they were quickly killed, but not without reducing the Errol men to a single soldier.

After the assassin’s daggers flew, Ser Oisin sprung from his place upon the wall behind Ser Sebastion. He stood over Lord Steadwater’s uncle, seeking to secure the Steadwater knight’s safety, shield raised and blade ready. Lord Fell, though wounded, jumped at his assailant, pulling forth his sword and readied to strike the dagger-flinging foe. Behind him, Ser Alestor Errol,the Errol Captain, drew forth an axe and threw it across the room at Lord Harwood’s defenseless back. The Lord of Fellwood weathered it and continued to press his advantage against the treacherous jongleur.

Seeing his host attacked, the Dreadbow, ruing his lack of the dread weapon, turned for the axeman and struck out at him. Fell’s captain joined in the fight and Ser Alestor was pressed hard for a time, though both Ser Oisin and the Fellwood Captain found few openings in their opponent’s guard. Ser Sebastion Steadwater gathered himself and joined in the attack, though soon found himself winded. Frustrated, the Errol knight aimed to strike the Dreadbow, deeming him the greatest threat, but the axe flew wide and escaped the axeman’s grasp! The weapon flew across the room, landing on the far side of the feast table.

Lord Hardwood had taken many wounds so far in his fight with the Errol Assassin, but still he fought on. Clancy joined his side as did Ser Rhaen, leaving the massacre of the Fellwood men-at-arms and Clancy’s bodyguard behind. The assassin found himself outmatched, but still sought to finish his murderous task. With a final blow from the assassin’s blade, Lord Harwood Fell was struck down, his ruined body laying bloody at the feet of his would be protectors. With a roar, Ser Rhaen raised up to his full and massive height and struck down with his borrowed blade, laying low the villainous juggler with a vicious strike, yet sparing his life.

Seeing his fellow’s fall, and his axe flung far beyond his reach, Ser Alestor lept away from the Dreadbow, Ser Sebastion and the sole remaining Fellwood fighter. He sprung over the table and gathered up his axe to strike at Ser Rhaen and Clancy. The two soon found themselves beset by the devilish fighter, demoralized by the death of their host and companions. Ser Rhaen was grievously wounded, many wondered at how he still remained alive.

Ser Oisin followed his prey, again bemoaning his missing bow. As he lept to the top of the table he was heard to grunt, “Had I my longbow, this battle would be over already!”

Standing amongst the roasts, the trenchers, the spilled cups of wine and pools of blood from the dead and dying, Ser Oisin struck down at the Errol knight. Beset by 3 swordsmen, the axeman was steadily beaten to his knees.

Suddenly, Ser Alestor dropped his axe and threw his hands into the air. The Errol knight declared, “I yield! I yield in the name of King Renly, true King of the Iron Throne!”

Comments

Looking forward to part 2 of this excellent story, great write up so far :-)

A Gambol with Death
Dreadbow

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