The following morning, Whesley was summoned to Joffrey’s quarters where the young king made it known that he was sick and tired of all the “old” men currently in positions of power, and that it was time for the younger generation to take over. Much to Whesley’s surprise, he openly stated that he planned to remove Jon Arryn as Hand of the King and hinted that the position could be Whesley’s, provided that the Lord of Steadwater complete a task for him. As Whesley attempted to warn him that that would be a dangerous move since there were many people in positions of political power, King Joffrey curtly dismissed the idea and told the young lord to follow him to the courtyard. Upon reaching the courtyard, he promptly had all the members of House Steadwater summoned and commanded the hulking albino to bring out the prisoner.
A few moments later, the large bodyguard dragged in a bruised and battered Petyr Baelish who had been captured while “attempting to sneak away”. Unrolling a scroll, Joffrey proceeded to list out his many alleged crimes primarily pertaining to embezzling the funds of the Iron Throne in his capacity as Master of Coins. When finally allowed to defend himself, the diminutive man could do little but mumble his protestations and claim his innocence which only further infuriated the mercurial king. In a decision which shocked the attendants, Littlefinger was declared guilty and sentenced to death. As the albino forced him into a kneeling position, Lady Steadwater, whose abhorrence to blood was well nigh legendary, quickly turned away from the impending grisly scene. With one powerful blow which left a bloody cleft in the ground, the convicted man’s head was shorn from his body and bounced to lay at the feet of the woman who had tried so hard to avert her eyes and she immediately fainted at the gruesome sight. Thus ended the life of Petyr Baelish, the man known as Littlefinger, the Master of Coins and member of the Small Council.
Varys, on the other hand, was nowhere to be found. It seems like the Spider had slipped off sometime during the chaos of the previous day or perhaps under the cloak of night.
After a moment of gleefully looking at the corpse, Joffrey declared that it was a nice day for a ride and promptly called for his horse. A few minutes later, as Whesley was overseeing the disposal of the body, Maester Gregory hobbled over with two messages in his hands. After enduring the Maester’s usual caustic wit, the young lord was informed that there was a message from King’s Landing and another from Storm’s End. Choosing to hear his banner lord’s message first, Maester Gregory decrypted the message which called for all houses loyal to Lord Renly Baratheon to gather at Storm’s End and re-affirm their loyalty by swearing fealty. The second message was a call for all lords in the Seven Kingdoms to make their way to King’s Landing and swear fealty to King Stannis. As they discussed the messages and the line of succession over breakfast and with a bit of “divine intervention” (read GM’s hint), it was decided that they should meet with Ser Kevan Lannister to inform him of the events that transpired and see if they could enlist his aid in dealing with the capricious young king.
Making their way to the camping grounds of the ill-fated tournament site, they found Ser Kevan staying with one of the Lannister banner houses. Ser Kevan greeted them courteously and offered his condolences for the passing of the late Lord Eryk of Steadwater. Then, noting that Whesley’s new bodyguard was wearing the dented golden armor he had worn for the joust, he graciously refused the offer that it be returned to him. After some small talk and refreshments, Ser Kevan was informed of the two messages that were received earlier in the morning. He said he had heard the same thing coming from King’s Landing and that he was attempting to advise Joffrey to the best of his ability. As for the matter of Renly gathering his lords, he said he would look into speaking to Joffrey on the behalf of House Steadwater to make the trip to Storm’s End. As the meeting came to a close, he leaned closer and spoke to them in whispered tones, entrusting them with a rumor he had heard that had been passed along through many people that Jon Arryn had proof that Joffrey was not the son of the late King Robert. He impressed upon the members of House Steadwater with severity that what he had just confided to them was to be kept secret at all costs lest their lives be forfeit. As they bid each other farewell, Ser Kevan also mentioned that they may want to take a survey of their lands, as there were reports of looting and pillaging in the countryside from the troops departing from the tragic massacre. A dirty look was shot to Jeor from Lord Whesley as his Spymaster had somehow failed to learn of this information and they had to hear it from a guest of their lands, at which point, one of Jeor’s informants showed up and gave him the same information that Ser Kevan just had.
After arriving at the castle, as Whesley mustered his troops to begin surveying the lands of House Steadwater, several members of the party began a discussion of whether or not to take a wagon along with them, with Jeor revealing that animals were skittish around him and his inability to ride a steed. After much debate, it was decided that Jeor would ride in the supply wagon of the army. Sending the guerrillas out ahead of them as scouts, they found most of the Steadwater lands and the Toyne protectorate were mostly in order until they reached the northeastern tip of their border. Two of the scouts reported back that there was trouble in a small farming community with the villagers in an uproar about something. Making all due haste, the party approached the community where the farmers had indeed taken up arms and had armed themselves with pitchforks and torches surrounding one of the buildings in the common area. As the troops approached, the mob of smallfolk dispersed, scattering every which way and locking themselves into their homes.
Reaching the once besieged building, they noticed two fine horses that could not have belonged to the farmers tied up nearby and the bodies of two villagers with crossbow bolts protruding from their corpses. After Ser Sebastion knocked on the door, a knight wearing the colors of House Estermont greeted them and thanked them for dispersing the mob. Inquiring of the events that had transpired, the knight gave them an ambiguous story about how they had stopped by to water their horses and find some refreshment when suddenly the villagers had gone crazy and started to advance upon them. When their attempts to warn them off failed, they claimed they were forced to use lethal force. The knights again thanked House Steadwater for coming to their aid and attempted to recompense them for the loss of their villagers and hastily tried to leave, but everyone was suspicious of their story. When they attempted to leave, Whesley commanded the archers to train their bows upon the knights and make sure that they did not escape while they tried to ascertain the truth.
However, any attempts to get the villagers to speak or come out of their houses were met with fearful apologies, so it was decided a softer touch was needed and Lady Steadwater was asked to see if she could get them to open up. After much persuasion and investigation, it was determined that the cause of all the trouble was one of the young women in the small community. Initially unwilling to talk, she was eventually shoved out of the house by her grandfather who called her a whore and told her to confess what she had done. When she tearfully refused to speak to Lady Steadwater or Jeor the Spymaster, Ser Sebastion used his masculine wiles to coax her to tell her story. Responding positively at the prospect of having caught the eye of such a well-to-do knight, she revealed that she had been sent to provide refreshments for the traveling knights by her grandfather in the hopes that they may take a fancy to her and provide her with better employment. She admitted to having flirted with them, whereupon they complimented her on her “nice titties” and asked to see them. Having shown them to many of the boys in town already who confirmed that she did indeed have nice titties, she opened her dress and as one of the knights began to squeeze them, one of the young men happened to open the door and yelled for the knight to get his hands off her before rushing off to gather more men.
Finally finding out the truth of the whole matter, young Lord Whesley apologized to the knights who graciously paid two gold dragons in recompense for the deaths of the two villagers and offered to take the young woman with them “so she would not cause any more trouble”. After getting the woman’s assent that she did indeed want to go with the knights, they rode off with their men-at-arms in tow and the young woman sharing a horse with one of the knights. It took a few doors being kicked down, but the soldiers gathered the villagers together to receive a scolding from the members of House Steadwater on taking justice into their own hands and assaulting innocent people. Additionally, they were fined 10 silver stags for their misconduct, whereupon the village elder offered a cow as payment. Having done their part in administering justice, the party made their way back to the castle, one delicious bovine richer.
Arriving at the castle the next morning, everyone retired to their chambers to clean up after their travels. Whesley was visited by the surly Maester with yet another message which had arrived in their absence. The message brought dire news indeed as it seems an attempt had been made on Lord Renly’s life leaving him gravely wounded and the assassin escaping. It also brought another call for his banner lords to make haste to swear fealty to him at Storm’s End and prepare for war by mustering as many troops as was possible without leaving their lands completely undefended. Somehow, despite the privacy of his quarters and the golden armored Burned Man standing guard, Jeor and Ser Danien kept interrupting their private conversation. Before leaving the Maester also told the young lord that an “incident” had occurred during the king’s ride yesterday involving some of the smallfolk. Shortly thereafter, Whesley had another visitor, this time Ser Kevan Lannister, who informed him that King Joffrey was none at all pleased with Lord Renly’s call for bannermen and that the King commanded an audience in the hall. When informed about the assassination attempt on Renly, he commented that it was a pity that it was unsuccessful.
Gathering in the hall before King Joffrey, Whesley was berated about the stupidity of his smallfolk while the king was riding through town. They would not make way for his retinue and so had to be trampled to death and strung up to be made an example of for all to see. As Whesley attempted to placate the ranting juvenile king, he inadvertently interrupted him which only infuriated him further. Commanding the huge albino to go stand behind the young lord of Steadwater, there was a long moment of tenseness as the albino slowly stalked towards Whesley, eyeing the golden visor of the Burned Man who in turn fingered the hilt of his blade. As the albino finally took his place beside the Burned Man behind Whesley, the two glared at each other menacingly. Finally able to speak, Whesley appealed to the king’s vanity, babbling about how the smallfolk had probably never seen such splendor and magnificence and so were probably so stunned they could not gather their wits about them in time to move out of the way. With a bit of divine luck (read spent Destiny Point) to the king’s disposition, Joffrey magnanimously conceded that it was possible and told Ser Kevan that the next time they rode through town, they should inform the commoners in advance. With the disaster narrowly avoided, Joffrey intimated again that should he complete the task he was about to given, Whesley would be designated as Hand of the King after King’s Landing was reclaimed and Jon Arryn executed for siding with Stannis. Again, Whesley attempted to convince the erratic young king that he didn’t need to kill Lord Arryn, merely strip him of the title. The king took it into consideration but did not seem entirely convinced. As he outlined the task of rallying the Marcher Lords and House Tyrell to the boy lord, he was again interrupted by Jeor, who then promptly had the albino standing behind him. And so it was with Ser Sebastion who snickered while King Joffrey was listing out which lords he required allegiance of. When the list was finally complete, Whesley inquired about gaining Lord Renly’s support and the support of the Storm Lands to which his notion was dismissed by Joffrey saying that it was being dealt with and that it was none of his concern. Before ending the audience and going out for another ride, he stated that he expected them to make all haste and leave no later than on the morrow.