ASIFR - Tales of Iron

The Kings Justice, and sweet Thorns
...or how a house was lost.

Cry out for Justice for the murder most foul
Of two anointed knights. Struck down in cold blood.
One with neck snapped like a chicken before fest
Murder most foul, the foulest indeed!

The court yard was set and words were exchanged
A story so twisted, that some words were left plain
Ser Danian however the man of the hour
Was near put to the sword for words spoke out of turn.

But back to the murder, of snapped necks and more
No quarter to yield between knights so bold?
Neigh fingers were pointed and Heartsbane did the rest
So ended the life of a man far from home.

The Lady of Thorns her young lad she did miss
And gave him a gift, of whispers and laughs
The Lords wanted heads, The Kings called for laughs
And the fat man obliged with a humorous Jest.
Let it be spoons! A spoon and a knife.

So Giant vs Giant
Plate vs Flesh
Each man with a kitchen knife and a spoon, well a shield
They danced and they japed and the king fell asleep.
Til frustrated and tired Ser Danian did leap
And did find in his neck a knife, not a spoon.

Down went Ser Danian and with him his Lord
Yield was the cry , but the king wanted blood
Yet his sweetness did whisper while Ser Danian Bled
Until finally the King laughed and sat looking red

Lord Steadwater summoned, a choice he did have
His head on a pike, or a wall.

To the wall, to the wall, each and everyone
Nobles no more, Steadwater is done.
Each one clad in black! To the Wall!

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The Surrender of King's Landing

On the morning, the Steadwaters were called to an audience with King Joffery. His grand pavilion had been setup flying a conspicuous crowned Lannister lion rather than the crowned Stag of Baretheon. Wesley had finally been feeling much better and relieved to the King himself the outcome of our mission, and its dramatic end by becoming outcasts at Storm’s End. The King listened with little amusement, asking constantly for the actual number of troops we’ve managed to gather rather than whose allegiance we had managed to secure, until it came time to delivered Renly’s message to King Joffery. Wesley, deciding it would be the better part of wisdom to obliquely deliver the challenge, slid off his gauntlet, and dramatically struck his uncle Sebastian, hard. Thus, was delivered Renly’s ‘message’ to the Lannisters. Impressed with such a show of loyalty, King Joffery toasted the Steadwaters for “taking a blow for the King”.

For fulfilling our mission King Joffery also granted us 300 gold dragons. Wesley, fulfilling our promise to Lord Wagstaff, presented young Ser Humfrey Wagstaff, asking for appointment to the Kingsguard. Thus, young Wagstaff, fulfilling his father’s highest hopes, knelt before the boy-king and offered his sword and arose a brother of the Kingsguard. Both Steadwaters and Lannisters, it appears, pay their debts.

Both Wesley and Sebastian were invited to sit at high table for the dinner feast. Darrius seemed to have some sort of bad blood with Lord Tarly. There seemed to be some personal mutual back and forth between them. Meanwhile, Ser Danien-Rimchurch somehow directly insulted Lord Paxter Redwyne, who gave (very good as it turned out) advice to befriend the cooking staff. Thus, the Steadwaters survived another night at high table with King Joffery.

In the morning we were summoned to break our fast with Ser Kevan Lannister and no other than Lord Tywin Lannister himself. While Ser Kevan updated us on the latest going ons in the realm, Tywin watched silently, as if weighing us. We expressed our grievance over the unfortunate death of Lord Wesley’s Lady Mother, and concern over the capture of our current Lady Steadwater by Lord Renly. Tywin broke in, challenging our ability to ‘take care of our women’, especially the current Lady Steadwater who was bethrothed to Wesley under the late King Robert’s grace. Ser Rhean offered a rescue mission for the Lady, but the matter was quickly laughed off as the Deadbow quickly changed the subject, asking about House Steadwater’s survivors from the battle with Stannis. Only a unit of green Stormsland guerrillas remained. They were happy, perhaps overjoyed, to be led away from the front lines of the King’s army to join our 500 mercenary troops.

Kevan and Tywin then revealed to us two new tasks we were to perform on the march to King’s Landing. The Dreadbow would help Ser Gregor Clegane, known as ‘The Mountain that Rides’, outriding for the King’s army along the path to King’s Landing as well as foraging. All of House Steadwater, along with another Lordly House, would receive the honor of accompany the King on his ‘rides’ out into the country as his personal bodyguards. Tywin, obviously the power in the room, suggested that we keep His Grace, whom he referred to as ‘that stupid idiot’, away from the smallfolk as much as possible. Kevan, and the Kingsguard, would assist in clearing the smallfolk along the path ahead as much as possible. Yet if we managed to run into anybody, we were expected to help His Grace handle the affair ‘diplomatically’.

House Garner joined us on that day we went with the King. His Grace quickly summoned both the Dreadbow and Darrius to scout ahead for commoners. Both did their best to guide the party away from smallfolk. However, we still alighted on a small family with a baby on the side of the road. King Joffery stopped to greet them, and kiss the baby, when suddenly the baby threw up on the young monarch. His Grace immediately dropped the baby. The Steadwaters were immediately in action. Darrius caught the King; the Sebastian apprehended the man, his longsword to the fool’s throat; while Clancy drew his own longsword and told the woman, children and whomever was still in the village to flee at once. The King, uncharacteristically, seemed more upset at the stains to his clothes and boot, nevertheless delivered a stout kick with his mailed boots to the infant before remounting his horse and continuing the ride.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully, as did the march to King’s Landing. During the march, Ser Danien struck a friendship with Ser Follard, a religious minor noble who seemed to always be preaching.

King’s Landing stood virtually undefended, apart from the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Baristan Selmy, called the Bold, who rode out to greet House Steadwater and Ser Kevan before the gates of the city. There Sebastian Steadwater accepted the surrender of King’s Landing. They touched swords, and thus averted another sacking of the capital. After several days of management duties, the Steadwaters were suddenly called again for an audience with Ser Kevin.

The King had gone missing.

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Hostage to the Will of Kings

The 25th Day of the 7th Month of the 296th day since Aegon’s Landing.

The King arrived in his solar at Storm’s End. In the company of his Rainbow Guard, Ser Loras Tyrell – the knight of Flowers – chief among them. He welcomed Lord Westley’s household with warmth, praising their worth. Yet looking among them he found not the Dreadbow and missed him. He was told of the Marcher Knight’s solemn vow never to relinquish his namesake until the King be seated securely on the Iron Throne, a vow taken after the massacre at Fellwood cost Steadwater the life of their Lord’s Lady mother and no few puissant men-at-arms in Ser Clancy’s service.

Hearing this, His Grace opened the door to accost the worthy Ser Oisin demanding he attend his King. When the Dreadbow stood upon his vow, King Renly had Ser Loras break the weapon, rendering Ser Oisin’s vow obsolete for the short time the audience should last.

Therein he heard Ser Sebastion report Joffrey’s demand that Renly bend the knee and learned of Renly’s planned rebuttal. The King would convene an open court at Storm’s End in two days time. There he would hear Steadwater’s petition in public and loudly reject the order from the abominal bastard pretender. Furthermore, he would exile Steadwater from the Stormlands and declare them outlaws. The fiction thereby being complete in the eyes of all of Westeros, Steadwater would meet Renly’s agents who had gathered 500 sellswords to serve Steadwater according to Renly’s design.

Steadwater was bid carry word of Renly’s rejection of Joffrey’s sovereignty and deliver these 500 men to Joffrey’s army. It was hoped that Joffrey’s host would have met with Stannis in the field, bringing an end to one or the other, ere Steadwater ever got to Bitterbridge. However, should Joffrey’s host still stand, Steadwater was to remain with it while Renly marched his own host to close with the Lannister pretender. The battle thus joined, Steadwater must turn their cloaks and attack Joffrey’s army in the flank, trapping it between Renly’s host and Steadwater, delivering victory. Joffrey thence dispatched, Lannister would have no claim to the throne and Tyrell would retire to Highgarden. Steadwater was then dismissed while Ser Oisin was given a private apology by King Renly and offered his pick from the Storm’s End arsenal to replace his broken bow.

26th Day of the 7th Month, the audience at Renly’s court still a day away, Ser Darrius hatched a plot to find imposters to mimic Joffrey. The mummery meant to fool onlookers from afar, he managed to secure two children around the same age as the cuckold-spawn. An adolescent boy and his sister with a babe at the breast followed him from the Septas of Storm’s End. He then set about clothing them in raiment fit for a King and training them in courtly etiquette.

Little else of note happened before the day of Court arrived on the 27th day of the 7th month. The knights and worthies of House Steadwater entered into the Great Hall in the center of the massive drum tower that rises like a fist over Storm’s End’s curtain wall. The cavernous room was filled with nobility, all drawn by the prospect of being in King Renly’s presence. He sat upon a throne, his Rainbow Guard arrayed around him and listened to petitions. Regardless of merit or worth all were belayed with the pronouncement, “You will have his Grace’s decision later.”

After several of these disappointing missives, the herald stood forth, announcing, “King Renly Baratheon, First of His Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, shall now hear a petition from House Steadwater.” It was the first time a petition had been harbingered in that fashion this day.

Ser Sebastien and his entourage advanced, but refused to kneel before the King. Defiantly, he delivered King Joffrey’s command that Renly renounce his claim to the Iron Throne and in deference to his late King Brother’s memory join his Grace in defeating the traitor Stannis. Loud curses and cries of traitor answered from the crowd. The Rainbow Guard drew their swords and advanced on the Steadwater company, but Renly stood up from his throne and bid them stop. Raising up his hands for silence, the crowd grew silent, but restive.

“You are brave to come here and deliver this message from that bastard spawn of incest, but it was pointless. I will not bend the knee to Joffrey. Deliver this message to that Lannister puppet: He has no right to the Iron Throne and I shall see an end to him. The crown will be mine!

“And you, who were my sworn bannermen, I cast you out! Henceforth, I name you outlaws! If any man find you within the borders of the Stormlands a day hence, you will face the King’s Justice!” With a motion of his hand, he pronounced, “We shall keep the Lady Steadwater as hostage to ensure you risk no further treachery!” The Rainbow Guard then advanced and took the Lady Iris prisoner.

The knights of House Steadwater looked for sympathetic faces in the crowd around them, but there was only hate to be found. However, Ser Darrius was convinced there was some stirring in their favor and exhorted them to the espoused cause. This proved a poor gambit and only loud hostility answered him. Discretion being the better part of valor, Steadwater retreated, returning to the inn, whereat they found that rumor of the Court had preceded them. Only the few remaining soldiers under their command and Ser Darrius’ orphans spared their belongings from being thrown in the street and carried off by whatever miscreants would have them. Quickly, they prepared to flee while an angry mob gathered. Through a hail of rotten missiles, they flew through the gates of Storm’s End and headed North. Some rabble followed them on horseback, trailing them as they travelled up the Kingsroad.

A few hours outside the walls of Storm’s End, a secret companion revealed himself to Jeor Blackmont. Unbeknownst to the company, a knight had secreted himself in the Dornishman’s wain. He revealed himself to be Ser Jorris Blackwater, Captain of a company of sellswords gathered near Bronzegate awaiting Steadwater to take command. Through a private council, out of earshot of the Burned Man, who Ser Sebastion cleverly kept busy, they decided the next course of action; to meet the army and then proceed West through the Kingswood, keeping away from the road and approach Bitterbridge in secret.

Several weeks of hard travel passed. The army, marching through the wild Kingswood, made slow progress with the baggage train needing new trails to be blazed. The secretive nature of their march meant no shelter could be sought, but clear of purpose they made their way to the plains before Bitterbridge. Ser Oisin rode out alone to scout the way, ensuring that the Steadwater army would not encounter either Stannis nor Joffrey before either had the chance to destroy the other.

A few days from Bitterbridge, he spied a great dust cloud advancing toward him. As they approached he spied groups of men walking in disorder, carrying their wounded up the Rose Road and seeking safety in the East. They were the remains of Stannis’ routed army. Apparently, even a thousand score strong, they were lured into open battle against the might of both Highgarden and Casterley Rock, led by Lord Tywin Lannister. They were quickly destroyed, Stannis was killed, and his Red Witch escaped with a single bodyguard.

The Dreadbow returned to his companions and delivered the news of Joffrey’s victory. The sellswords leapt to the suggestion that hostages amongst the defeated foes might fetch a decent ransom and set out to pounce upon the stragglers. They brought back some prospects they thought might prove worthy, but in the end only two escaped the traitor’s noose. Most prominent of the pair was a Vale knight, the heir of Longbow Hall, Ser Gallwood Hunter. He promised a ransom of a hundred score dragons from his Lord Father, Lord Eon, but they need act soon lest his father die and his treacherous brothers deny his rights and claim the seat of Longbow Hall for themselves.

A few days passed and House Steadwater came upon King Joffrey’s army camped around Bitterbridge, flying Lannister and Tyrell banners and the Royal Stag and Lion above all. They announced themselves to the Lannister pickets and were soon brought before Ser Kevan Lannister, who had been Ser Sebastion’s foster father. From Ser Kevan they learned that Joffrey’s force nearly doubled that of Stannis’. Lord Tywin had drawn out Stannis by sending out the men that Joffrey brought with him out of the Rainwood, including those from Steadwater. Stannis launched his attack and was soon enveloped and crushed by the combined might of the Reach and the Westermen.

Thus welcomed, House Steadwater repaired to their company to find a place to camp in the midst of Joffrey’s army.

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To Storm's End

The Fell guards finally burst throw the door with Jeor in tow and stood gaping at the sight of the bloody carnage before them. Fell soldiers stabbed to death by stilettos; … soldiers hacked apart by long-swords ; Clancy’s personal body guards both stabbed and hacked; the dowager Lady Steadwater lying on her back in a pool of blood with at least three daggers sticking out of her throat; Lord Harwood Fell dead from multiple dagger wounds and a comparatively larger ax sticking out of his back; but most depressing of all to the pastry chefs of Westeros and Clancy’s motivational rotundness-loss activities, Jayce Errol died mid creamy cupcake to face.

Although initially suspicious of Steadwater hands in the assassination of their lord, the Fellwood men quickly saw the truth of the matter, given the overwhelming evidence and the capture of the two principal assassins; the unnamed jester and Ser Alestor. Ser Oisin wrapped the body of the dowager Lady Steadwater in his cloak and carried her towards the inner sanctum of the keep, putting out a call for the Silent Sisters to escort her body back to her ancestral home with the Umbers in the North. Ser Rhean collapsed silently into a corner, before being seen to by the local maester with Ser Sebastian, who needed a couple of daggers removed from body, more fascinated by the axe wounds than compentent at healing them.

Ser Alestor and the jester were placed in the dungeons. Clancy and Jeor went bellow to interrogate their motives. Unfortunately the jester had expired due to poor treatment, while Ser Alestor had multiple new injuries to insult his still untreated gashes. From him, we learned that Lady Errol had been the mistress mind behind the whole plot, whose target was Lord Fell, with Jayce being but the puppet she strung along to disguise her intent. Ser Alestor expressed his regret and surprise that we did not join him to support King Renly, given our reputation. He placed himself into Clancy’s service, if we could free him from the dungeons. Clancy quickly saw to Ser Alestor getting “better” treatment and a cleaner cell with a shifty bribe of 2 gold dragons to the jailor… thus starting an impending avalanche of inflation.

Suddenly, the portcullis was instantly cut again, as apparently the same frightened gate-guard had realized that the Errol cavalry were still camped out beyond the wall. The Dreadbow, Clancy, and Jeor volunteered to be lowered down beyond the wall, and ride out to talk to the Errol men. Clancy, meanwhile, appropriated one of the former Lady Steadwater’s sand steeds, a Dusty with bells and curls which caused quite a few odd remarks, before the fair house became again masuclinized. They met the captain, a Ser Barrack, who swore that Ser Alestor was not traveling with them. Nevertheless, we managed to convince them to meet us on the way back to Haystack Hall on the Kingsroad, given that the only welcome they were getting now from the Fellwood guards were arrows from atop the walls…. And Jacye was dead.

The following morning, a 100 armed guards escorted us to meet with the new Lord Fell, confiscating our weapons. Fortunately, the new lord, a mere boy of nine by the name of Dean, honored House Steadwater for defending his father. Clancy managed to persuade the boy that, given the political ramifications of his father’s death, it would be better somehow to let us take the prisoner to see Stannis for the King’s Justice alone, while he concentrated on defending his home from potential attacks. The boy, naïve to the Game, believed every word coming out of the fat man’s mouth.

Thus, we finally left Fellwood carrying the dead bodies of the dowager Lady Steadwater, Jayce Errol, and the barely alive ones of Ser Allestor and Ser Rhean. The Erroll men were waiting for us on the Kingsroad, where Ser Barrack was shocked to see the sight of Ser Alestor, a cousin of the Lady Erroll. The party with cavalry escort entered Buckler lands en route, where they were shadowed by light infantry and came upon the site of a battle. At Bronzegate, we learn from Lord Buckler, a wiry statesman knight rather than a warrior, that House Horp had been invading Buckler lands, as his was the nearest lands not aligned with Stannis. Lord Buckler thus decided to put an end to it, explaining the battle site we’d come across earlier. At Bronzegate, we paid our final respects to Lady Krumbria Umber-Seadwater whom the Silent Sister will be taking back to her ancestral hall back in Umber. We send a couple of ravens back to Steadwater to inquire for news back home.

The next day we returned to the road to Haystack Hall. We arrive, and was greeted rather warmly by Lady Erroll except for Ser Sebastian, who couldn’t be half as charming his usual self while his wounds were still pusing, and Ser Rhean, who she immediately had sent to the maestor. After a day’s rest, we resumed the road to Storm’s End, arriving safely. There we receive word back from the ravens we sent, informing us that Joffery is on the move, having taken all the Steadwater soliders and the food to link up with the Tyrells and the Reach. Lord Renly requested our presence, thus dressed in our best finery, except for Clancy who always wears plate armor, and of course the Burnt Man, we enter the room sans weapon standing in the presence of two rainbow guards. And suddenly… somebody finally realized that they should’ve killed the Burnt Man.

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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!”

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Interlude 2 - Rally to your King
Rally to your King

Lord Fell’s promise to House Steadwater of troops to guide them to Kings Landing and King Stannis stands, and you have seen troops preparing for the journey, obviously news of the road being unsafe is being taken seriously.

Lord Harwood Fell is very insistant that you wait for his troops to be ready, he could not bear the thought of allowing allies to the King to travel with such light protection when raiders have been hitting travelers and out posts along the road, the rumour that Renly is behind these raids is very worrying to Horpe.

You settle down for the second night in Fellwood castle, clear in the knowledge that while you are guests, any move to leave the castle would raise a lot of suspicion as to your allegiance.

Next morning the Burned Man brings news that the dawn sky was busy with Ravens, coming and going in all directions. He counted no less than 4 arriving and 6 leaving. Three leaving in the direction of King’s Landing.

Breakfast is a tense event, Lord Harwood looks agitated and angry, deep in discussion with his captains, barely touching his food. Once done he comes over to Lord Steadwater a grim expression on his face.

“It is a grave day… we have news from the North, our King has being negotiating with the Starks to ensure their support in the upcoming war to secure his thrown, but… that Wolf….that dog!!! He has slapped away the hand of his rightful King and said that the North will stand alone! STAND ALONE!!!! HA! Those backwards fools will soon be tasting the bitter draught of piss and shit when the King drives their faces into the dirt!”

He pauses and composes himself…

And more…. though not so unexpected… the Pirates of Pyke have started to raid the coasts, hitting Banefort and The Crag, putting both castles to the torch and taking many prisoners. Lord Gawen and his entire family is said to be dead, slaughtered in their grand hall after they had asked for quarter. Lord Quenten is said to have escaped South with some few men at arms, seeking the aid of Lannister….it seems the war will be fought on many fronts my friends.

With that he shrugs and smiles, seeming to regain his good humour.

Anyway I await news from our King to ensure he is still at Kings Landing and then I will have you safely escorted to his side, I have informed him that you are on the way and he will no doubt be very keen to hear news from the South!

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Like it never happened

The day started with the troupe heading back to report what happened to Lord Grandison. Lord Wesly, and his Lady mother were in attendance of the lord when Clancy, Darrius & Abu Afif, Ser Rhaen, & Ser Sebastian Steadwater arrived. Lord Grandison was none too happy about the way Steadwater handled the revolt, almost 500 smallfolk dead, and no sure sign that the revolt had been quelled. This after having given explicit orders that all the Steadwater Delegation was to do was to simply hear out the peasants concerns, not to make any demands.

Between Clancy & Darrius they managed to calm the Lord of Grandview down enough where he simply asked for proof that the revolt had indeed been quelled. The party rested for the evening and headed out the following day into the countryside villages. A long and arduous walk it was for some as many of the Steadwater horses were left behind trying to escape the peasant horde. Lady Steadwater’s Carriage played host to a sweaty sour Clancy as his slow tottering along in his full plate would have taken them ages to get anywhere. In the end however they found village life to be getting back to normal. The peasants had indeed come back to work and resumed their normal activities. They weren’t really interested in talking about the revolt, instead they just pretended like it never happened.

One of the Grandison bailiffs, Bailiff Wesson, sent back his assistant with the Steadwaters the following morning after having spent the night at the village. There was some commotion the following morning when Lady Steadwater found a red headed peasant girl and Sebastian had been doing all sorts of messy, deviant things inside her carriage, and were apparently not finished when it was time for breakfast! After a bit of argument Sebastian and the girl left the carriage, the girl with some of the Lady’s clothing of wich the lady made her strip off in the middle of the street, before being carried back to some hut by Sebastian.

Finaly they made it back to the keep where they had a audience with Lord Grandison whom was satisfied by their report combined with the Deputy Bailiff’s testimony that all was indeed well in his lands. Grandison agreed to provide Steadwater with his Artisan, and thanked them for their help. That day and evening there were some interesting side bars as everyone went about the keep for a bit of information gathering. The following was learned in the night or two that the Steadwater troupe remained.

1) From The Lady of the keep ; “The Lord covets the land to the south, House Wagstaff’s, and believes he may go after it in the future”

2) From the Freemen merchants; “The price of Iron and other goods are up 100% due to fear of an impending war”

3) From the Head of the House Staff; “The Lord is all about Joffery on the outside, but behind closed doors he’s Renly’s man”

What was never found out was WHO was behind the revolt in the first place, though we did recover clues that would insinuate that it was not a entirely organic revolt from the people. The session wrapped us with the Steadwaters on their way to the next keep along the way to Renly’s.

Finally on a side note, it was discovered that the Burnt man seemingly NEVER sleeps or eats or goes to the privy. And he caught Jeor sending back a raven to someone…

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The Grandison Peasant Revolt, as told by Ser Danien
Peasant Revolt

…thus our party departed from Wagstaff hall tasked with swearing young Ser Humphrey Wagstaff. into the King’s Guard. The next leg of our journey takes us into Grandison lands, the last pas guarding the entrance into the Kingswood. From my recollection, House Grandison maintains a sizable army of at least 700 strong, and blessed with many sons. One, in fact, noted enough to become a sworn brother of the King’s Guard before being replaced by the Kingslayer, Ser Jamie Lanister. Given such martial might, our arrival went unchecked for many leagues before we came upon an abandoned hamlet, which aroused no interest in my person until Ser Oisin of Carmayar —renowned as (or perhaps notoriously know as) the Dreadbow — noticed a lack of farm appurtenances. This aroused his ever-curious, natural investigativeness, and he began to track the smallfolk. This culminated in the investigation of a trail of livestock droppings — which he assured me was quite comparatively “fresh” — leading to the mountains due north-west, as the human trail became washed out due to rain. He also noted that the fields had been harvested, and the granaries were half-full; though I failed to make the connection of what that had to do with the situation.

Steward Clancey Fortale, not to be outdone, concluded that the hamlet — estimated at approximately 500 souls, with 125-200 males of fighting age (one has to wonder at his remarkable head for numbers) — had left in an orderly and organized fashion, due to the pad-locked doors and general orderliness and “cleanliness” of place.

We decided to investigate this matter, sending the rest of the party ahead to Grandison Castle, keeping only three of Clancey’s bodyguards as the Dreadbow tracked down the smallfolk. Uncharacteristically, Dowager Lady Steadwater decided to join our little diversion. Curiously, the smaller trail joined with another trail and culminated upon what might have looked like a small army’s march. Towards dark our splinter party decided to return to the hamlet, rather than risk injury to the horses by trekking through the mountains at night.

Though I only managed to piece the account together later, for I had been awoke only towards dawn in mid-decision, the events transpired as such: Clancey, roused in the night by his bodyguard, quickly removes his armor, thus awaking Lady Steadwater, valiantly sneaks out into the middle of the night to investigate reports of a large fire in the distance with only one bodyguard. Lady Steadwater wakes up Ser Sebastian Steadwater who wakes up Dreadbow who decides to follow Clancey. They both return to report a 5,000 strong peasant army camped out a distance from us, preparing for a large scale action of some sort.

After debating possible options, of which I volunteered my services as a courageous hostage/diplomat/bait, Ser Oisin daringly snuck into the encampment alone, and, evading the drunken sentries, managed to capture a smelly peasant by name of Bill Weatherson. From interrogation, we received news that peasants Burnt Bell, and more importantly Ted Weaver had incited a revolt against Lord Grandison’s new taxes and managed, somehow, to levy a mass peasant army on the march to Castle Grandview!

Thus alarmed, we rode at the break of dawn to deliver warning to Lord Grandison! As we came upon the town and the garrison, the lack of militia could not be more obvious. Where had the respected Grandison men-at-arms dispersed to? Upon entering the castle, young Lord Wesley Steadwater greeted us with a new companion, a Dornishman by the name of Darrius Korrah, on a quest to find his lost half-brother Afif. The reception at Grandview Castle by our host was suitable for our station. We informed the Lord of his uprising, dragging Weatherson out to meet his justice. The loyal man had responded to his liege lord’s summons, and had sent the majority of his troops, including his sons, to Renly, leaving him with only at most a hundred men left in garrison. While negotiations ensued I could not help but admire the fine collection of pikes behind the Lord Grandison. Their long sharp points and fine thick shafts so transfixed my attention that when our gracious host asked for reward for putting down the revolt, I could not but ask for only the honor and pleasure of possessing such fine species of spear-craft. My companions, on the other hand, negotiated for artisans for Steadwater as proper payment for the task.

Given the rest of the day to wander about, I decided to go gauge the garrison’s readiness for a peasant siege. I bested the solider, though barely. I feel quite pleased that the realm of Westros offers many fine examples of martial competencies: our lands should be safe from conquest with so many fine warriors of all quarters that I’ve met thus far on our mission for the King. On a side-note, I noticed Ser Sebastian shares an identical red whip mark on his face as a solider in the garrison. Apparently, the solider had gotten into a fight with a rather snappy laundry-woman. Their collective self-esteem seems to be less than somewhat usual. The Dreadbow investigated the town; Lady Steadwater the highborn ladies. Collectively we were able to gather that Grandison is very loyal to Renly; possessed well-trained fighting men; and levied the taxes in order to feed and support the army as it answered the Call.

During dinner Lord Grandison seemed strangely distant, and non-committal. Even Clancey’s famed silver-tongue could not elicit further disclosure from him, beside a rumor that his neighbor Wesington (an elderly gentleman in his mid-30s) has forsaken the Seven and began to worship some sort of fire god from across the Narrow Sea. He also has yet to muster his troops to march for Storm’s End.

On the morning of the next day, we embarked on our diplomatic mission accompanied with two Grandison pages and a scribe. Lady Steadwater prudently decided to remain at the castle. We found the disorderly peasant army easily enough marching down the road and asked to speak to their leader, Ted Weaver, a well-dressed and well-spoken artisan, whom we met with two rather unpleasant pain-clothed smallfolk, one a hefty looking peasant (Hefty Smurf), another an angry looking peasant (Grumpy Smurf). Negotiations were conducted inside of a tent made of sewn bedspreads which could scarcely keep out the rain. I, on the other hand, decided to delve into the hearts and minds of the smallfolk by chatting with them as they drank themselves into a stupor, while I observed my willful temperance.

Suddenly, Weaver appeared before me and asked about smallfolk relocating to my lands. The shock of the whole situation, not to mention the heat of the day, overwhelmed my senses at the moment, but I told the man as honestly as possible the disposition of the management of Danien and Rimchruch, and the good sense of my Lady Wife Ethel. Weaver seemed pleased and started to tell the amassed crowd about our happy arrangement…

When peasant treachery ensued! In the blink of an eye, Ted Weaver was no more, his throat perforated with a crude dagger by the angry peasant beside him. Cries of ‘They killed Weaver’ rang through the crowd, and while both Clancey and Darrius tried to both intimidate and calm down the increasingly panicked crowd, the Deadbow, still mounted, audaciously decapitated the murderer with a single arrow, spraying blood onto the faces of an awestruck crowd and the head flying into the mob behind. Taking cue from Ser Oisin, though admittedly still slightly confused as to the situation, I drew my greatsword, Celebron, charging the last peasant still standing and halved him. From there the farce erupted, as smallfolk broke through the protective lines of our guerrillas and bodyguards, the sheer mass of 5,000 souls pressed upon us. The Dreadbow who had remained mounted, quickly managed to clear a path for himself. Clancey Fortale managed somehow in his plate armor to endure the trampling feet and the slaughter and carnage around him as his bodyguards did the best they could, Alfred and Elric giving up their lives, to turn away the on-rush of the peasant mob. Darrius and his companion kicked and fought and tried to shout commands to our men, while Sebastian almost met the fate of his brother under numerous feet. For my part, each swing of Celebron sprayed so much blood and peasant innards that afterwards I had enough peasants on me to make several sausages.

And so, despite 40 men killed, two dead body guards, two dead pages, one dead scribe, and the loss of all mounts, except the Dreadbow’s war-trained destrier, we ended the Grandison Peasant Rebellion…

We walk, gloriously, to collect our reward.

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Dearest Cousin Marta
By raven

Dearest cousin Marta,

I’ve just arrived back at House Steadwater after my longish stay in Sunspear, where I met Ser Fandish. Do you remember him? Last time I wrote to you about him, he was attached to teach Prince Trystane Martell a thing or two about that vile business of warfare. Now, Trystane is almost a fully grown man, and Fandish has been promoted to military advisor. Time files!

But it is nice to be back home, despite these turbulent times. I had barely time to arrive before the Crown Prince Joffrey Baratheon arrived with his entire retinue of King’s Guards and advisors and assorted servants. It is really wearing the castle’s resources thin.

We actually do not have enough food to supply all the troops currently stationed here. We have two full garrisons, two units of archers, raiders, warships, yes, over four hundred men to feed. On top of that, King Joffrey brought twice as many again. And there have been too many feasts, to celebrate weddings and newly-crowned kings. We have been hard at work resolving the issue. I will not bore you with politics, dear Cousin, but I’d like to recount one story. I had to take a dreadful coastal journey to Stonehelm, to buy food. That was a mistake. Well, it was better than riding, but the whole trip was still a waste of time.

We decided to leave in quite a hurry, because we had promised King Joffrey to leave in the morning, and you do not want to disappoint your new King and therefore, we made very little arrangements. But more about leaving later.

As we haul anchor, young Lord Wesley Steadwater’s betrothed comes running along the pier. That… woman. You cannot leave her alone for long, or there will be all sorts of mischief. She asks for a firm date for the wedding, and Lord Wesley tries to not commit, as usual. Poor man. We did try to help him, by telling her that we are tasked with important business for King Joffrey, and cannot delay.

When she demanded the wedding to be held as soon as we returned from our restocking mission, we were already far enough from the pier for the noise of a bustling crew to drown out her voice. She muttered something about “Joffrey” as she glared after the ship. The ships’ captain sucked air and said “there goes a woman scorned.” We should have listened.

Once at Stonehelm, we discovered the Swann flag is flying alone at half-mast, and as we docked fifty soldiers gathered on the dock. A man in full plate, flying Swann’s flag, claimed that “House Steadwater is not welcome here.” They held us responsible for the death of their Lord. I cannot possibly conceive how that could be true, but anyhow, we were given half-an-hour to depart, or they would burn the ship. They even set up a crude sundial on the dock, and refused to let us step ashore.

I will not bother you with the negotiations, but we did not waste the entire trip, albeit we only had a small victory. House Swann will support King Joffrey. They had some ridiculous demands, such as having him visit them in person, but in all we had some good news to bring home.

There was a comic exchange onboard. Do you remember Ser Rhaen Danien? I believe I have mentioned him before. He is a banner man of House Steadwater, of Danien-and-Rimchurch. He married that weird warrioresque woman that I hate, Lady Ethel. I’m sure you remember me complaining about her before.

Anyhow, I am digressing again; Danien insisted that we still try to buy some food from Stonehelm. Seeing as how they blame us for their loss, we figured the food would be poisoned, or filled with glass, and someone, I fail to remember who, dropped the comment, “Let’s feed Joffrey with it! It’s preposioned.”

As you sure know, King Robert Baratheon is dead. To think that Joffrey was declared the new King at our little castle! These are exciting times, with, as you know, usurpers claiming the throne. Stannis has summoned all banner men to pronounce themselves loyal to “King” Stannis. Very few have declared. And there was an attempt on King Joffrey’s life! But I will not bore you with the details. Suffice to say that I witnessed blood and decapitations to chill your spine. Old Lady Steadwater passed out, as any proper lady ought to do. Dreadful. I was doing my best to stay out of trouble, I assure you.

King Joffrey was taking full advantage of his new title, and the powers that come with it. It was very delicate to deal with him. For example, any man that spoke out of turn risked getting his head lopped off. Death has hovered over me before, but it was very unsettling to be singled out by our new King.

Fortunately, Ser Kevan Lannister also attended the Crown Prince. He is a very amicable fellow, and a voice of reason in Joffrey’s ear. Good to see somebody trying to reign in our new King’s youthful exuberances. A good example was when Joffrey wanted to rush up to King’s Landing to reclaim possession of the Iron Throne and the capital. Ser Kevan managed to persuade him that his forces were not great enough to do so, yet.

Instead, Joffrey tasked House Steadwater with rallying the Marcher Lords to his banner. We counseled at length, discussing how wise this is. He of course has the gold of Casterly Rock to support him, and he needs the men of Dorne to complete the package needed to reclaim King’s Landing, but many of the Lords he asked us to visit are of no significance, or they are “weak sauce,” as Ser Oisin of Carmayar put is, referring to the Iron Island brown gravy, incomparable in heat to the spicy food of Dorne, and the whole thing felt a bit like a waste of precious time. I’m rambling again, dear Cousin.

We suggested, through Ser Kevan, that King Joffrey send us up to meet with Lord Renly right away instead. We are, after all, sworn to Renly, and he has asked up to rally. This is a risky business, as we don’t fully know how good terms King Joffrey is with his Lord Uncle Renly, and he could very well take the suggestion as an insult, and decapitate someone once again.

King Joffrey of course knows that we are Renly’s men, so showing some allegiance to King Joffrey might be good for one’s health. As per Ser Kevan’s suggestion, we will rally the Lords to the north of House Steadwater instead, on our way to see Renly. This will show King Joffrey that action is being taken, gathering men for him, which he sorely needs. Much better than rushing to King’s Landing. As Ser Kevan put it, “more men for the horde is good, no matter where they come from.”

But King Joffrey’s whims are not all bad. He has plans, and he knows that to get people to proclaim for him he needs to offer incentives. The new, young Lord Steadwater has been offered the potential position as the Hand of the King. They have a very jovial relationship, jesting with each other. You know, for example, that King Joffrey’s father demanded that young Lord Steadwater marry that promiscuous little… woman? Well, King Joffrey jests, and calls him “The Hand of the Whore” and such, if you can pardon such a crude expression. All in good fun, though.

There is also some good news, dear Cousin! King Joffrey also wants us to escort Lady Olenna Tyrell – “The Queen of Thorns” – back to Highgarden, and on the way there, we might pass by Castle Blackmont as one of our detours to convince local Lords to proclaim for Joffrey. I do hope that I get to visit you before you head for Storm’s End and your wedding. Has the date been set yet? If it is soon, then maybe you and I will meet at Storm’s End instead. Either way, it will be good to see you again, dear Cousin.

Ser Cortnay Penrose is a good man, from what I hear, a seasoned battle commander, weathered in many ways. You will be very comfortable as the wife of the castellan. It will be odd to call you Marta Penrose, though, dear Cousin.

Have you heard from your brother, Stur? He is a busy man, but I hope he will take the time to attend your wedding. Maybe I will see both of you there!

But before we leave, we need to resolve this very mundane task of supplying the troops. We had a long and heated debate, some suggesting we bring the troops with us and pillage our way through the lands. We could ask Joffrey for a carte blanche, so that we can demand food as we move out. Also, to properly escort Lady Olenna, we would need to bring soldiers.

But who would stay behind and guard the lands? And if we take what we need from our neighbors, we give a clear signal to Stannis that we are with Joffrey. Do we want to do that? And soldiers would slow us down to fifteen leagues per day, and with 200 leagues to Highgarden, that’s half a month. Visiting the little lords would be at least another month, plus time staying with each one, trying to convince them to rally for King Joffrey. I would probably end up missing your wedding, dear Cousin.

Anyway, who would be interested in taking over our lands? Swann’s heirs are still around, and they do seem to harbor hostile thought against House Steadwater. Lord Donnel is the son of the late Stonehelm, and he could be ready to move at any time. In fact, I have people telling me that he is probably doing so as I write this. Ser Balon, his younger brother, is in the Kingsguard at King’s Landing, and they seem to be supporting the usurper.

Lady Olenna has a small host with her, which will slow us down on the first leg of the journey even if we bring troops, so we can bring some. We do have gold, so if we leave troops behind they can send ravens to our neighbors to buy food. However, I feel we should leave a garrison, in case Joffrey decides to take off, but as long as he is here, our lands are secure.

And when we reach Highgarden, we need to convince Lord Mace Tyrell to support Joffrey. I have no idea what we can offer him in return, because we need to give him something, or they will go with the highest bidder. Can we make his daughter queen? What would Joffrey say about that? Funny thought, that I am involved with such high profile decisions. We are a only a minor house, so in the end our suggestions might be in vain, but it is still interesting to see how things develop.

Speaking of developments, a little bit of gossip! Tyrion Lannister might be the new Master of Coin. That would be interesting. I have never met the man, but from what I hear, he is a good man, and would do a good job. But we will see, Joffrey can turn on a whim, and he does not seem to plan very far ahead.

I just finished my visit to the Septon, for my confession and blessing. He is a good man, but he is fighting a cause that has been neglected by the late Lord Eryk Steadwater – spreading the word of the Faith. Did you know that there is only one Sept in our lands? I will try to convince the new, young Lord Wesley to build a few small Septs in the hamlets. It is a good way to spread more secular words as well, so he might decide in favor.

The Septon told me that King Joffrey had overheard a villager calling him “the son of the fat bastard,” and he burned the entire hamlet, put everybody to the sword, and preached to the corpses for half an hour. I will report it to Steadwater before retiring for the evening.

While I visited the Septon, and as I write this, Lord Whesley is meeting King Joffrey. We will see what comes of that.

Anyhow, it will be nice seeing you again, hopefully sooner than later.

Jeor Blackmont, your Cousin.

PS. I could not send this to you quite yet, as there were some interesting developments. Lord Whesley’s meeting with King Joffrey did not pass uneventful. Apparently, his betrothed had spoken to King Joffrey while we were away to Stonehelm. Oh, but she is living dangerously! She literally demanded that King Joffrey forces a wedding upon us, in the name of the late King Baratheon, his father. I told you that the trip to Stonehelm was a disaster.

Anyhow, King Joffrey said he was “sorely tried” by her visit, but decided in her favor. Lord Steadwater was pressed for an answer to the simple question “Do you want to marry this whore?” King Joffrey can be a real potty mouth at times.

Apparently he was more disturbed by the visit than he first let on, or his soldiers took liberties, because she was escorted back into the throne room, all black and blue. She claimed she had not been violated, which we will have to take her word for.

Ser Sebastian, speaking out of turn, muttered something like “Oh, so you’re still a virgin?” I heard that Ser Sebastian also had a near-death brush during the meeting, and his life hung on the flip of a coin, just as it did for me earlier. Heads. Again. We both survived meeting the new King.

So today, there was a wedding banquet! In the morning, we were summoned to what passes for a Sept. King Joffrey was sleeping on the throne. He sure does work hard!

There were several dignitaries from the neighboring Houses present, such as House Lefford and House Ruttiger from the Westerlands, sworn to the Lannisters, and House Gower, House Rogers of Amberly and Ser Mace from House Peasebury, and Ser Gerold Gower, upriver. Ser Kevan woke up King Joffrey, and we had a short but romantic ceremony, as King Joffrey was hungry and wanted to move on to the feasting part. He did a good job getting us to cheer for our new Lady of Steadwater. He can really work a crowd up! She looked happy to be married, despite her bruises and a swollen face.

Suddenly Joffrey yelled, “Bring in the bed!” And they did. Young Lord Steadwater was a bit hesitant, still being such an innocent little boy in these matters. But they did consummate the marriage, and afterwards they opened their wedding gifts. King Joffrey presented them with a slightly odd gift – revenge. He had killed the Bar Emmon knight, and he thought Lord Wesley would appreciate the head of the man who ruined his last wedding. Jennifer, old Lady Steadwater, passed out.

We later learned from Cersei’s old inquisitor that the Bar Emmon knight was sent down by Lord Stannis with a unit of men selected to be very loyal to Stannis. When old King Robert passed away, that was the signal for them to rise up. Luckily that took place while we were all outside the castle, so Joffrey survived the assassination attempt. From the conversation I gathered that Bar Emmon was most likely just the patsy, and “he was probably innocent of anything but crass stupidity,” as the inquisitor put it.

Young Lord Steadwater decided to send the head of the Knight of Bar Emmon to Lord Swann, together with the written confessions he made before being decapitated. I did not counsel for the action. I feel we have irritated Lord Swann enough, and I fear there will be trouble in House Steadwater’s lands while we are gone.

But I digress, again; the wedding. King Joffrey had gotten it in his head that Ser Clancy Fortale, the rotund fellow, looked a bit like Lord Varys, the Spider, and had him shaved and powdered, and called him Varys the Second. He tried to get a nice little bantering session going, where we took turns making up funny names for Lord Whesley Steadwater. All in good fun. King Joffrey sure likes his entertainment.

Today, we are leaving. In the end, King Joffrey did not want us to bring troops to see Renly, as he thought that Lady Tyrell’s fifty men ought to be enough. After all, all soldiers of House Steadweater ultimately belong to King Joffrey. He let us bring fifty soldiers, which should be more than enough.

Instead, King Joffrey introduced Wyril Hill, an unknown fellow to me. He actually looked quite a bit like a maester, pale, skinny, and serious, with intelligent eyes, but still young. His voice was unexpectedly deep, and he will join us on our trip. We will see if a friendship becomes of that.

However, the visit to Lord Renly will not be an easy one. King Joffrey demanded that the man come down here in person, and not just send word of his support. I believe his exact words were, “I want his head kissing my foot. Succeed, Whesley, and I’ll make you my Hand.”

My fears of House Swann moving in have been confirmed as well. Suddenly, fifty of our men and another fifty of Lady Olenna does not seem enough. As far as I can tell, House Swann has spread out over five hundred men along our border, trying to intercept us as we pass out of Steadwater Lands. I wanted to take a boat, and circumvent Cape Wrath and the problem, but I soon realized that we would never make it back in time, as King Joffrey has given us a fortnight to return.

Again, your beloved Cousin, Jeor Blackmont.

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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.

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