ASIFR - Tales of Iron

Dispensing Justice

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.

Westeros: The Next Generation

Upon returning from the Toyne lands, young Whesley and Ser Clancy were greeted by the sight of a young man with blonde hair holding audience with Lord and Lady Steadwater, Jeor the Spymaster of Steadwater, Maester Gregory, Ser Sebastion the brother of Lord Steadwater and Ser Danien and Rimchurch in the courtyard. It was none other than Joffrey Baratheon himself, flanked by a new member of the Kingsguard, a man from Stannis Baratheon’s banner houses, and a giant albino man, identified as being from one of the fringe banner houses of House Stark. He was none too pleased at having been warded to a sickly old man in such a small keep hardly befitting of his stature as heir to the Seven Kingdoms and was berating the coughing Lord himself. Upon seeing the situation, Whesley quickly rushed to his lord father’s side and bowed before the heir in attempt to placate him and divert his attention away from his sick father. After a few more moments of raving and ranting, Joffrey demanded to be taken to his quarters and was none too pleased when he discovered that he did not get Lord Steadwater’s own chambers. However, with some quick thinking on Ser Clancy’s part, he was convinced that he would not want to reside in a place where a sickly person was in just recently and relented to taking up quarters in Big Bart’s old room.

After leading Prince Joffrey to his new quarters and being summarily dismissed Whesley returned to the courtyard and he and Clancy went to check on the tourney grounds. As preparations were being made, a caravan stopped before them and out stepped a small man who was immediately recognized as Petyr Baelish. After making some brief demands for the whereabouts of Ser Oisin, Varys the Spider stepped out of the caravan and joined in the questioning. After deflecting their questions as best as they could, Varys and Littlefinger grudgingly decided that no rider would be sent after the Dreadbow and that they would patiently await his return so that he would not be warned of their arrival. After demanding a room in the castle and a minor dispute of who would get the last of the nice rooms (Whesley’s own quarters) in the keep, Littlefinger made use of his agility and took advantage of Varys’s portly frame to run ahead to the castle to claim his prize.

With only a couple of days prior to the start of the tourney, Steadwater’s Spymaster received interesting news which he quickly relayed to young Whesley. One of Jeor’s sources revealed seeing Joffrey meet in the woods with a crippled man with Joffrey being none too happy after the meeting. Upon hearing the news, Whesley was immediately worried and had Jeor fetch Ser Clancy post haste. After fetching Clancy, Jeor was asked to wait outside the room. However, as Clancy and young Whesley attempted to communicate in secret, Jeor used his abilities to eavesdrop from outside the door and entered the room when he heard his name mentioned, feigning that he thought he was being summoned. At this point, Whesley decided, against Ser Clancy’s protestations, that as Spymaster for House Steadwater, Jeor needed to know everything about their secret mission from Stannis and Renly. After hearing the details, it was decided that Clancy would attempt to discreetly ascertain what Joffrey and the crippled man met about and Jeor’s task was to determine if it was the Burned Man as they suspected. A day later, when Jeor’s sources confirmed that it was indeed the Burned Man, plans were set in motion for Prince Joffrey to “have an accident” and Maester Gregory’s miraculous powers of healing were sent out to see to a milling “accident” that occurred on the outskirts of the Steadwater lands.

With all the guests having arrived, including a surprising contingent from two Lannister banner houses, the wedding tourney was finally set to begin! Feeling bold, Ser Clancy attempted to strike up a friendly bet with Littlefinger on the outcomes of the joust. However, much to his dismay, Littlefinger wanted 5 to 1 odds on the underdog. After a long debate, Ser Clancy grudgingly agreed on 4 to 1 odds in favor of Littlefinger. As it turned out, the first joust was none other than the staunch ally of House Steadwater, Ser Danien and Rimchurch! However, the odds-makers were proved correct when he, as the underdog, was unhorsed after a single lance, making Ser Clancy 10 Gold Dragons richer. And so it would prove for the rest of the tourney as round after round, the underdog was defeated, filling Clancy’s pouch to the brim with golden coins. However, there was a gasp of shock from all, when during the semi-final, a tall, imposing figure rode out in the golden armor of the Kingslayer himself! After defeating his opponent, the man in the golden armor paid his respects to the lords and retreated from the field, not to be seen again until the final the next day. During the final, many lances were traded before the golden clad knight was defeated and it was revealed that it was not Jaime Lannister, but rather, Kevan who wore the armor in honor of his missing nephew.

As the shock began to wear off on the identity of the golden knight, a large number of ravens were seen to be flying toward Castle Steadwater. Seeing this, Whesley, Ser Clancy and Jeor quickly made their way to Maester Gregory’s rookery whereupon they were informed that ravens from King’s Landing had arrived for a number of the houses in attendance of the wedding. Having no contacts in King’s Landing themselves, it was decided that the messages would be read without the knowledge of the other houses. Once the messages were decoded they learned of dire news indeed…King Robert was dead and Prince Joffrey was the new King of the Seven Kingdoms! As they debated on how to handle the messages with Jeor suggesting false messages be drawn up and Clancy arguing that House Steadwater needed to stall for time in order to carry out their plans to ensure that Joffrey did not see another dawn, the lords of the larger houses approached the castle to determine if they received any ravens. It was decided that there was not enough time to write up forgeries and any attempts to stall the delivery of the messages would bring suspicion upon the house so the messages were handed to the appropriate lords and ladies, whereupon learning of King Robert’s death, many of the lords departed hastily back to their encampments. Whesley suggested that King Joffrey retire to the security of his room and began escorting Lady Tyrell back to her soldiers.

Having barely reached the courtyard, sounds of battle were heard within the castle walls and Ser Clancy, Jeor, Ser Sebastion and Whesley rushed to Joffrey’s room to find the Kingsguard and the giant albino in a furious duel. Unsure who to attack, they tried to glean the information from a hysterical Joffrey who did not provide the information until mere moments before the albino cleaved the Kingsguard in twain. Having secured the safety of the new king, they returned to the courtyard to find two contingents of Lannister soldiers outside the gates of the keep as well as another contingent of soldiers of Bar Emmon’s men, another banner house of Stannis Baratheon, marching upon the castle. Fighting could be heard from the tourney grounds, but with the safety of the king at risk and the troops of three houses barring exit from the castle, there was no way to ascertain what was going on down there. At first it looked like Bar Emmon’s men were there to protect the king…but they attempted to attack the keep and were defeated soundly by the Lannister banner houses.

After realizing that his wife-to-be and his lord father had yet to return to the castle, Whesley attempted to take his own troops out to go find them. Originally denied by King Joffrey who feared for his life, Ser Clancy was able to convince him he had a sufficient amount of troops to protect the keep and off they went to look for the missing members of their house. As they marched to the last known location of Lord Steadwater and Iris Dannett, scenes of carnage could be seen all along the tourney ground. They were able to glean that after receiving the message, Bar Emmon’s men assaulted many of the other banner lords of Renly Baratheon, killing many of them before marching upon Castle Steadwater. House Tyrell’s troops managed to remain mostly intact by staying out of the fighting. When they finally arrived at the lord’s box at the jousting grounds, they found Iris Dannett safe and sound along with Varys and Littlefinger, but alas, poor Lord Eryk Steadwater was trampled to death as he feebly attempted to make his way to the castle when the fighting broke out. Ser Sebastion and Whesley carried Lord Steadwater’s broken body as they escorted the two members of the Small Council and his fiancee back to the castle. Now, not only was there a new King of the Seven Kingdoms, the mantle of Lordship had also passed to young Whesley.

As the day’s events began to take a toll upon them, Whesley’s last action was to have Master Gregory send a raven to Lord Renly informing him of the day’s tragic events. But alas, his rest was interrupted when he was awoken in the middle of the night and told that a man was at the gate, insisting to meet with him. Curious, the young lord went down to the gates where he was met by none other than the Burned Man himself! Stating that they had both endured great losses in the past months, he was concerned now only with Joffrey’s well being, the Burned Man made young Whesley an offer he couldn’t refuse: For as long as Whesley was Joffrey’s man, the Burned Man would be his. Carefully weighing out his options surrounded by Lannister troops, Whesley accepted the offer and thus made a deal with his mortal enemy.


It is a bare 2 weeks before the first households are expected to arrive for the wedding….. and as the Knights and camp followers return to Steadwater castle after their time away in the Border Marches they note a strange sign. Flying over the castle is not the Steadwater flag….a stag…..a crowned stag.

The patrols that had been established before setting out are nowhere to be seen, on the walls of the castle you see armed men that you do not recognize and as you reach the castle portal your way is blocked by a knight in white armor, one of the kingsguard. Behind the stoic knight …with a look on his face you have never seen before … Maestor Gregory….. his face shines with a look……….of pride!!!!

In the courtyard beyond you see a young golden haired man, more of a boy really as he is slight of build. He appears to be giving a speech, or dressing down, to the Steadwater household staff. Behind him like a snow caped tor stands a giant in dark burnished chain armor, the skin of his face is so white as to be freakish in nature and his eyes burn red beneath a mass of long straggling bleached white hair, upon his back a worn flowing cloak that shows him to be of House Crowl. If ever there were white walkers….this man would have made them fear for what they really were!

Beyond him, slumped in a chair sits Lord Steadwater, covered in rugs and wracked with coughs, beside him Lady Steadwater. He is flanked by a couple of Steadwater men at arms.

The rest of the men at arms in the castle appear to be of Lannister and Baratheon

Fleshing out the Flesh Eater

The come hither looks and the sly smiled beguiled the young boy. Too bad he didn’t turn away in distaste like the young lordling had earlier. The serving boy anticipated a fun romp in the pantry, not to end up on a menu.

Finished with his grisly task, Afif, stole the body away into a privy hole, and let the evidence fall far below. He cleaned up and returned to the banquet which was well under way. The Arbor Gold had been well received by the lady, but that was long gone. Ser Tygor Wyl was well into his wine cups and was reiterating his request to the young Whesley Steadwater for the third time.

Rebels were coming into the Boneway, and causing trouble for the Dornish. The Stormlander raiders were calling themselves Blackbolts. They were being led by Ser Aidan Storm and had the full support of Beric Dondarrion. However, things were escalating, and the Red Viper threatened to come up from Sunspear and deal with the rebels himself, which would most likely lead to a full blown war. Hopefully, something could be done about the rebels, or the other storm lords could be convinced to withdraw their support.

The day after the banquet, the Steadwater contingent made their way up the Boneway to go to Black Haven and talk with Dondarrion. On the way, they met up with the knights of Carmayar, who were superb archers. Steadwater bandied words with them, and were unable to sway them to lessen their support of the Black Bolts

At Blackhaven the travelers were met with Ser Gennady Shanin, who sported the stolen sword that belonged to the Wyl family. Tempted to slay the young man, Abu, had to keep his hand from yanking his sword free. There was a wall full of archers watching, and a town full of bystanders. So, instead, they peaceably made their way into the keep.

A Conspiracy of Ravens

Westley Steadwater stood before his prisoner upon the tidal quay, waiting for an answer. Who is this man? This murderous assassin who had only barely been defeated and nearly killed him?

From his knees, the mysterious stranger, addressed himself to motion like as he would speak and answered, “I am…”

Suddenly, the Dreadbow dashed forward, tackling the prisoner to the ground. A thrown stiletto flew through the empty air where the prisoner had been standing an instant before. It found Westley instead. Thrown by another of the red masked assassins that had plagued them in the dungeons. But this one was quickly dispatched.

With that done, Steadwater turned its attention on the prisoner. Ser Clancy attempted to interrogate him to no avail. The man refused to speak, evidently too scared to open his mouth for fear that Ser Clancy’s gifted speech might rend the secrets from his lips. It was intimated that the business in the dungeons was a trap to kill Westley, for some reason. Remaining silent, we transported him back to Steadwater where further interrogation might loosen his tongue. Orders were left for the garrison to be maintained on Castle Toyne and for supplies to be brought by ship, through the dungeons.

Once safely returned to Port Steadwater, we found an conspiracy of ravens awaiting us along with our new Maester – sent from the Citadel to replace his useless predecessor. Maester Gregory proved caustic but incredibly gifted in both the healing arts, ravencraft and language. He quickly diagnosed Westley’s injuries and healed them all. He treated the prisoner’s wounds so that he wouldn’t die while waiting in the dungeon. He gave Lord Steadwater another 5 months to live, saying that even his prodigious talents in the healing arts could not keep the Stranger at bay.

The ravens cried out for answers, one from Lord Renly demanded a date for the wedding, another from the Small Council demanded Ser Oisin answer their summons, and a third came from Westley’s future wife demanding more attention. First, Lord Renly was answered and the wedding will take place along with a Regional Tournament 3 months hence, on the 21st day of the 5th month of the 297th year since Aegon’s Landing. Second, the Small Council was told that Ser Oisin was needed to follow Lord Renly’s orders to set his lands to rights, House Steadwater being without many knights trustworthy enough to properly carry them out. Third, it was determined that Iris Dannet had sent the raven before she was escorted to Danien-and-Rimchurch, so she should be suitably distracted for the nonce.

These perfunctory matters dealt with, Steadwater now meant to solve the troubling matter of setting Toyne to rights and bringing it under Steadwater’s control. With a starving populace and no law to speak of, reconnaissance was required to know exactly what state the lands were in. Ser Clancy rode for 2 days across those lands, determining their population, what power remained in the land, their wealth and defensive structures. In the end, it was determined that 6 wealth was needed to feed the populace and bring it under our control. To that end, Ravens were dispatched to the neighboring lords. The Maester’s eloquence brought 5 wealth, the bulk from Rogers of Amberly and the rest from Peasbury. No other lords could well afford to send much in the way of food or supply. Ser Clancy, with his eye for acumen, reckoned that Toyne would be set to rights within a month.

Before other business could be done, visitors started arriving to the castle. First was Westley’s betrothed, returned from Danien-and-Rimchurch with tales of boredom and a desire for excitement. Westley, of course, hid from her, closeting himself in counsel with his knights and hoping this business would keep him well away from her. He didn’t need to worry long about that, for soon a hedge knight came to the gates, begging for bread and salt, to engage Steadwater’s hospitality and swear his sword to them. Knowing nothing about this man, it was decided to put him to the test. Ser Clancy ordered one of his personal guard, a skilled fighter named Brendan, to put this wayward knight to the test. Ser Roose Axl made a swift and pitiful contest. Brendan struck him three times in a row with his wooden longsword. Ser Roose could not land a blow until he recklessly lashed out. Brendan made him pay for it, landing a critical blow that forced Ser Roose to yield.

Ser Roose then told a tale that struck strangely to our ears. He said he had served House Lannister as an outrider and had been released from their service since the disappearance of Queen Cersei and her children. In fact, all stranger knights and those not sharing a blood relation had been sent away. Ser Kevan Lannister himself told Ser Roose that he could find no better employment than with House Steadwater. So, Ser Roose traveled across the width of Westeros to the Stormlands to seek service with House Steadwater, a thing too improbable to believe. However, nothing could be gleaned from his earnest presentation of the facts. None present believed a word of his story, but he was welcomed to stay in the port and to prove his mettle in the tourney to come.

All that was left was for the prisoner to be put to the question. Having been hosted for 2 long days in the dungeons, we judged him ready to talk. Ser Clancy hammered him with questions. The Dreadbow pleaded with him to make it easier on himself. Finally, the prisoner said, “Alright! I’ll tell you everything you want to know!” Then, he looked at Westley and said, “But you must promise me, my lord, that once I have told you all, you will give me the King’s Justice. Strike me dead here in this room and make a complete end of me. If you swear this by the Seven, I shall tell you just how deep the conspiracy that surrounds you goes.”

Westley said, “I do swear it.”

The prisoner then began to speak, shocking us all with the incredible machinations that had been unleashed against House Steadwater.


The Dungeons of Toyne

The passageway yawned like an open maw set as it was into the earthen wall, concealed behind the empty wine racks. It clawed sinuously through the earth, dank and ill-shapen, as if some cavernous worm had worked its way through the ancient cliff face beneath Castle Toyne and left this trail behind. It beckoned like some live thing, sucking in a stale damp breath that drew the torch flames and made them gutter, casting dancing shadows against the rough hewn walls of the passage.

17 men stood before it in the empty wine cellar; the Heir of House Steadwater, his trusted Sheriff and 5 of his personal guard, the Dreadbow, and the 9 raiders who returned from the first foray down into that dungeon. Finally, the order was given to enter the tunnel and the company of men plunged into the deeper darkness before them, none knowing what they would find. At first they found nothing but more passages, little about them to suggest that something lived here. Finally, they came upon a wider intersection and Ser Oisin bent his gaze upon it and discerned the tracks of a soft-booted figure having passed this way before.

Westley ordered that the company follow the tracks, leaving behind 3 of his raiders as a rearguard. The tracks came to a door mortared into the living rock, but was unlocked, so the company passed through it without incident. They came upon stairs leading deeper into the earth. It was then they heard the noise; echoes of fighting coming from the passage behind them, where the rearguard stood watch.

Returning to where the raiders were left, they found only corpses; 3 raiders lay dead and the bodies of 2 of their attackers, well armored swordsmen wearing mail and bearing shields. The Dreadbow found tracks of 3 more attackers leading down the main path, but it was decided to continue their original trail. Using the bodies of the dead attackers to block the door and ensure some security behind them, the company continued, down the stairs until they came upon another confluence of passages leading off from the main path. Down one a light shone dimly at its farther end.

Westley and Ser Oisin went to investigate. However, in the close darkness of that winding passage, Westley’s famed agility failed him; he clattered and clashed with the walls, betraying any stealth he and the Dreadbow sought. Ser Oisin left Westley in the middle of the darkness and continued on alone. There, he found a bend in the corridor with a torch set in a sconce just around the corner and a lone swordsman waiting in the darkness beyond that.

Quietly, the Dreadbow set down his blade and unstrapped his shield and drew forth the longbow that has brought him fame. Just then Ser Clancy ordered a clattering charge, fearing the approach of unknown figures somewhere in the dark. With no time to lose, Ser Oisin pulled forth a cloth-yard arrow, set it to his string and let loose the barb at the swordsman waiting in ambush. In the short distance, the missile flew straight and true, piercing the man’s face and the brain stem beyond, killing him instantly.

Having trampled over Westley in the dark, the 14 strong Steadwater company now stood cramped at the end of this dead end tunnel and waited for the enemy Ser Clancy feared to appear. They were not long waiting, for they were hailed in the darkness from the passage they had left.

“Surrender,” the unknown voice called.

“It is you who should surrender,” Ser Clancy threatened, “We have you outnumbered and your castle surrounded! You have no hope to prevail!”

“But we have a boat!” one of the enemy blurted. “Shut up, you fool!” the voice of their leader silenced his men, then ordered the attack. 3 swordsmen ventured into that tunnel, Westley greeted them with steel in his hand, Ser Clancy’s men helped him and the Dreadbow set his deadly weapon to work, loosing winged messengers of death down the tunnel to the approaching swordsmen. 2 fell quickly to Westley and Clancy’s cohort, the third fled after being struck by an arrow and seeing his fellows fall. His flight did not last long, for the sharp sound of steel puncturing armor heralded his demise. 1 more raider died in this fight.

The 13 man company advanced in good order, stepping over the slain man, whose chest had been pierced by short-bladed weapon. Ser Oisin followed the tracks of the soft-booted figure as far as he could, then the target’s stealth proved too much for his skill. Instead, they found another stairwell leading down and determined to follow it, hoping to catch the leader who had foolishly ordered their surrender. Then they heard the sound of flames down a corridor, but ignored them, and continued down the stairs.

Suddenly, a raider was struck down by a flaming dagger in the hands of a masked assassin, the sixth raider to fall! Then, the battle joined in earnest. The assassin stood her ground attacking the next raider in line with a dagger that sprouted flames from its blade! It scored the raider’s chest with a deadly wound. Ser Oisin stood behind him and drew back the string on his longbow and sent a the barbed point of his cloth-yard arrow across the point blank distance striking the assassin square in the chest. One of Ser Clancy’s men did for her, but not soon enough to save the second raider. 11 remained of the 17 who ventured into the darkness.

Behind them, a second assassin appeared, attacking Westley, one more of the hapless Steadwater raiders and one of Ser Clancy’s men. Westley held his own, but took several wounds at the hands of the other assassin. He could not save the raider, who was the first to fall. Leaving 10 survivors in the company.

Searching the assassins’ bodies, they were found to have foreign looks of a kind not seen by any who had been across the Narrow Sea. Tattoos graced their shoulders and they bore vials of a strange green liquid and a pouch of unknown herbs. Their daggers were coated in some substance that burned along the blade’s edge, a strange notion that should be pondered in some quiet moment outside of these dungeons.

However, the stairwell still carved its curling way into the depths of the dungeons of Toyne. Steadwater advanced until they heard the sound of the waves and the boat they were seeking. They found it moored to a tidal quay, a light masted schooner large enough to take them all out to sea. They could not seek escape just yet…

For suddenly, the unseen leader who had demanded their surrender appeared in the dark passage behind them. With a single motion, he drew forth his dagger and plunged it into the chest of the raider standing between Westley and him, killing the raider instantly – bringing the total to 9 raiders fallen that day! A battle ensued where Clancy’s man delivered several powerful blows in the lordling’s defense, but it was only enough to draw the ire of the enemy. Lunging past Westley, the man in Toyne livery pierced the guard’s defenses and his brain with his dagger. The first of Clancy’s personal guard to fall. Another of Clancy’s men came to the heir’s aid and the Dreadbow made his way through the press of men to bring his arrows to bear against the foe. 4 cloth-yard missiles pierced the man’s defenses and many smaller wounds forced him to yield.

Westley said, “We do not want to fight you. We have come to aid House Toyne! Who are you?”

Of the 17 who ventured into the dungeons, 8 still lived to bear witness to this moment, to find out what had become of the defenders of Toyne, why 5 swords, 2 assassins and this strange man in Toyne livery had attacked them without reason.

From his knees, the mysterious stranger, addressed himself to motion like as he would speak and answered, “I am…” TO BE CONTINUED

From Port Steadwater to Castle Toyne
Adventure in the Toyne lands

House Steadwater (Westley, Ser Clancy, and Ser Oisin) had tracked the Childslayer to the river that bisects their lands, losing his trail. However, they had discovered his appearance was that of a severely burned, green-eyed man, wielding an extremely sharp sword, with fingers missing from his left hand, and a limp.

With nothing further to be done on the banks of the river, the party turned for home where the Lord Steadwater lay in his deathbed. Traveling along the far banks of the river, they came upon two solitary figures bedecked in outlandish fashion and clothing ill-suited for a Stormlands spring. They wore feathered cloaks and vests barely fit to cover their torsos. They were the massive Summer Islander, Abu Afif, and his half-Dornish son, Afif. After some concern that Afif’s green-eyes marked him as the Childslayer, it was discovered his hands were fully-numbered and soft as a woman’s (by the gods!); his effeminate manner also precluded him from being a monster of the caliber now stalking Steadwater’s smallfolk.

Abu begged audience with the Lord Steadwater, hearing rumor of his links to the Summer Islands. However, with the death of Bart and his cohort being judged guilty of poisoning, those links had since been severed, but rumor travels slowly in the lands where sex is a way of worship. They were also 3 leagues north and on the wrong side of the river from Castle Steadwater. Westley welcomed them to his lord father’s lands, regardless of these woes, but his was not a joyous homecoming. Lord Steadwater was found even closer to death than before his heir departed to investigate the rumors of the Childslayer and was delirious; he proclaimed his love for his late foreign wife, while Westley’s mother sat her vigil next to him. Westley has since taken over the duties of managing the house, while his father lies dying.

However, the shadow of Childslayer loomed over all and the fear was the monster would turn his sights on Steadwater town. So a watch was set but nothing occurred in the night. Rumor surfaced the next day as Ser Clancy’s men reported a cloaked swordsman had been seen in the port tavern. Abu went to gather more information, but his outlandish looks garnered him little good will from the parochial patrons of the townsfolk giving custom there. Ser Oisin and Westley followed and discovered that the hooded swordsman was the Childslayer and the word was spread to the town-criers to look out for this figure and give notice of his passage. Hopefully, this would keep him out of the townlands and keep the smallfolk children safe. Since the Childslayer was seen to move Eastward towards the Dannet lands, Whestley worried for the safety of his betrothed and dispatched men to escort her to Danien-and-Rimchurch where she could arrange for the Septon there to preside over their wedding and be out of harm’s way.

Having provided for the security of his betrothed and his smallfolk, Westley determined it was time to look Westward to the Toynelands. Lord Steadwater forbade him from armed conquest, declaring that the Toyne Knight had been a good friend to him during Robert’s Rebellion. So, a messenger was sent to give word of Steadwater’s arrival, but soon returned with tales of a starving populace and an empty castle.

House Steadwater marched on Toyne; 200 hundred men, comprised of raiders and archers. There the hungry Toyne smallfolk watched them ravenously, eying the heir’s and his knights’ mounts hungrily. In the end a thousand or more surrounded them as they came upon the Toyne castle’s gates to find them barred and unmanned. Abu climbed over them – his strength allowing him to easily scale the rough mortared walls – and opened the gates to Steadwater’s army. They were then quickly secured against the starving peasants.

Inside the gates, several bodies were found lined within the inner ward, no mark of station upon them. The castle was investigated and stairs leading down, deep into the cliff-face upon which the castle was founded, were discovered. Of the ten men who ventured into the deep darkness, nine returned; either lost or fallen to some evil fate.

The dungeon now waits for the heir and his heroes to brave its darkness.


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