Forum of Thrones: An Interactive Story



  • I'm still abroad atm, but I'll switch over to the new forums once I'm back to my home. So I guess this is my final vote on this thread.

    [Say that you would choose Montoya]
    Just because his father's great doesn't mean Hazar's going to be great.

    [Suggest killing Rell]

  • Ah, and it seems you have started the final page of the thread as well! While I'll continue posting here, I doubt we will get too many votes exclusive to the Telltale forums, so reaching the end of this page before the forums are shut down seems like it'll be quite unlikely. But ah, glad to hear you're going to join us in the new place soon :)

    DiverseGnu posted: »

    I'm still abroad atm, but I'll switch over to the new forums once I'm back to my home. So I guess this is my final vote on this thread. [

  • Repost from Creator's Haven:

    The Voting is closed!

    The Hawk is going to say that he hasn't decided on a successor yet

    Kyra is going to suggest that Damon disgraces Rell Vessels instead of killing him

    The Hawk's choice was mostly one for character development. It is a bit of a struggle he has to face, choosing a successor. After all, he has been in this position for over sixty years. In his mind, there are incredibly high standards for a potential successor and deciding between the few available options does not come easy for him. This option will certainly not help him with coming to terms with this struggle. Meanwhile, Kyra's choice is going to have more notable consequences to the people around her, most importantly, of course, Rell. Disgracing him is going to be the kinder fate, most likely, yet it continues the trend of nothing good ever happening to Rell Vessels.

    The next part is hopefully going to be out today. I still have some writing left to do, but this next part will reintroduce a character who has been absent for a very long time. I am talking about none other than Maya, who will return alongside Gregar, Irving, Aldrik and several other characters who haven't been seen since the end of Book 1. It'll be a part for returns, yet I nonetheless aim to have a second PoV as well, this time starting Edrick's storyline. Not much can be said in terms of recaps, so I just hope you are going to enjoy it :)

    And as always, in case you have not seen it yet, the story has moved to another forum, now that Telltale is closing down. New parts will appear here on the site as long as it is up, but if you wish to keep reading this story even after the Telltale forums are no more, you should check them out over at Creator's Haven, the new home to Forum of Thrones and many other stories found on the forums. A majority of the community is already part of it, more will join in time and all are welcome. Forum of Thrones even has its own section in the new forums, directly found here:

  • I am deeply sorry for taking longer than I thought. There has been a bit of a family emergency, but as I said, everything is fine now, it just really kept me busy during the last three days. I hope such a delay won't happen all too often. But here it is, the triumphant return of Maya! Enjoy the part, my friends.


    “Are we there yet?”, Irving mumbled and Maya rolled her eyes. “You're going to ask that every single day?”, she barked in return and he gulped, as he gave her a slight and completely unashamed nod. “Hey, we've been on the road for weeks”, he complained. “How am I supposed to know?”

    “And it'll be weeks more”, Aldrik replied, moving his horse closer to the cart Maya, Irving and Gregar were sitting on. “We've just passed the border to the Riverlands. This is Harren's realm. I doubt we're welcome here” He sighed, his face a dark, serious frown, as he stared down the road in front of the caravan.

    “There is no need to doubt, my friend”, Gilbar Cale interjected. The man with the powerful, booming voice claimed to be a magician, but Maya had seen his kind before. Illusions, that was all he was good for and it had always been easy for her to look through them. Though there was a certain charm to him, with his deep, calming voice and the carefully combed red hair.

    He was driving the carriage that she and her companions had found a place on, as part of the colourful group they were accompanying. The Wonders of the World, that is what Taenora had called them, a traveling company of showmen, storytellers and illusionists. Their leader was an ageing beauty, her brown, braided hair kept underneath a fur cloak. Not even her usually cheerful demeanour could hide that her coughing was troubling her and from the moment they had met, Maya had been concerned for the woman's health.

    Maya and her companions had gladly accepted the company. While her leg had gotten better over the past months, she still preferred to make the journey in a carriage as opposed to having to ride or even walk. After finding out that they shared a destination, Gulltown in the Vale, they came to an agreement, one Maya hoped would not be necessary. In exchange for food and shelter in the showmen's carts, the four would protect the caravan from any potential threat that would arise on the road.

    During the first two weeks, Maya had felt a bit guilty for ripping Taenora off like that. The Reach was a peaceful place, so all they did was eating and drinking the showmen's supplies. But this feeling was gone today. It had rained earlier and dark clouds still covered the sky, dousing the wet landscape into a gloomy twilight. A cold wind was howling and tall, half-bald trees lined the road. It was one of these days that just left Maya with an anxious feeling. Perhaps it was paranoia, but it had always served her well.

    “You had the pleasure before?”, Gregar growled. “Never took you for the kind to deal with Ironborn, Cale” The illusionist raised an eyebrow. “There is a lot yo don't know, friend Gregar”, he said. “The secrets of the world and of Gilbar Cale” His smirk gave him something enigmatic, a streak that reminded Maya of Orson Royce. She shivered at the thought of her upcoming meeting with the Lord of Runestone. At least she would not return with empty hands.

    “Perhaps you can enlighten me then”, Gregar spoke. “Next tavern we stumble upon, I'll pay the drinks” Gilbar waited a moment before he replied. “Now you speak truly”, he replied. “I shall join you for drinks and shall share some of my tales” At the mention of drinks, Irving looked up. “Well, if you're offering...”, he started, but Gregar shut him up with a glare. “Not you”, he merely barked.

    Maya smiled at their bickering, as she leant back, looking up at the tarpaulin that covered the carriage. Her hands moved across the ruby-shaped pommel of Lady Forlorn, the sword resting in her lap. It had been kind of the Targaryen knight to grant the blade to her, even if it came at the promise that she would return it to its rightful owners of House Corbray.

    Her brief rest was quickly disturbed though, as Gilbar slowed down the carriage. Narrowing her eyes, Maya looked up. “What is it?”, she asked and the illusionist shrugged. “There are things even I do not know, ambassador”, he told her, as he pointed at the rest of the caravan, all of them slowing down.

    “I don't like that”, Gregar mumbled and Maya gave him a nod. “Irving, stay in the cart”, she hissed, as Gilbar brought it to a full stop. They were the last carriage, behind them only Aldrik, who reached out for Maya as she crawled to the edge. “Thank you”, she said with a slight smile, as she grabbed his hand, slowly lowering herself to the ground. The other was still clenched around the scabbard Lady Forlorn was resting in.

    Sighing slightly as she places weight onto her leg, she carefully tested her footing. A small limp remained still, though according to Melylea, the blind storyteller and closest thing the company had to a healer, it'd disappear in time. For now, it was keeping her back and that was bothering her more than anything else. Perhaps after her return, she'd be granted a bit of a break, a thought that caused her to smile.

    Gregar flanked her, while Aldrik slowly rode behind them on his horse, as they walked past the carts. First came the beasts, the three shadowcats, two lizard lions and the old lion. The cats in particular were as Maya had come to know such beasts from the mountains of her home, wild, agitated and constantly hissing at those who walked past the cage. If not for the reinforced bars, they would undoubtedly try to actively maul the members of the group. Clenching her fists, Maya walked past them, trying not to think too much about them.

    Next came the carriages where the members of the company themselves lived, though Maya saw that they had all gathered at the front. “Taenora!”, she called out to the leader of the group. The woman stood there, surrounded by her companions. Her daughter Nila was there, the blind Melylea, Ulaf the Mountain Man and the young twins, Edric and Erwin. A bit to the side stood Sophey, Gilbar Cale's beautiful wife, whom Maya had never heard a word from, next to the dour-faced Ghiscari, Irnas mo Akk.

    As she came closer, she saw the problem already. About a hundred feet in front of them was a river, one of the many smaller ones that had given the Riverlands its name. The bridge that led across it was clearly unusable though. The stone had crumbled away, perhaps a long time ago, leaving only a few wooden planks for travellers on foot. To be fair, with the rainfall, Maya considered not even that to be a possibility.

    “That is a problem”, she merely remarked and Taenora nodded darkly. “I heard tales of how Hoare ruins his kingdom”, she spoke. “But honestly, this is worse than I thought” She shook her head, visibly suppressing a cough. Instead, she frowned and took a deep breath. “We shouldn't stay here for too long”

    Gregar nodded. “The mountain clans use tactics like that”, he explained. “Block a road, force a caravan to stop, then descend on the helpless travellers once they let their guard down” Sophey gave him an inscrutable, silent look, while Ulaf nodded. “I can confirm”, he growled. “My clan works like that”

    The look on Nila's face grew notably concerned, while the twins exchanged a brief look with each other. Irnas mo Akk narrowed his dark eyes. “Not helping, Ulaf”, he growled, his tone a harsh one. “You're scaring the young ones. There's no Mountain clan here. Bridges break if they are not properly maintained”

    Nila's expression did not get much better, but Melylea smiled slightly into Irnas' direction. Taenora sighed. “Whatever it is, a planned ambush or natural causes, we need to find a way around”, she decided. As soon as she had said this, Sophey stepped forwards, removing a wet, ginger strand of hair from her beautiful face. A slight, confident smile appeared on her face, as she touched Taenora's elbow.

    The leader of the group nodded after a moment. “Of course, I trust you”, she said, before she glanced at Maya. “Sophey is our best tracker. She will find a way around this river, one that is safe for the carts. I want you to accompany her, to make sure that she returns safely”

    “It is what we agreed on”, Maya said, though she couldn't hide the fact that she was not too happy with this turn of events. She had almost gotten used to a calm, uneventful journey, but it seemed that wasn't meant to be. Looking at Sophey, she noticed the woman's strange, almost cold stare resting on her, though the look on her face was oddly warm in return. “I'll come with you”, she assured her and Sophey nodded.

    “You should take someone else as well though”, Aldrik spoke. “If there's an ambush planned, it would make sense to take out the scouts first. You'd be safer with another fighter by your side” Carefully, he mustered Sophey. “No offence, m'lady, but you don't seem like you can handle your own in combat” Sophey raised an eyebrow, her smirk widening, though as always, she said nothing.

    “And you would be that someone, Ser Aldrik?”, Maya asked. Before the knight could reply, she cut him off. “Answer me this, do you have experience in scouting? Moving unseen, finding hidden paths, that sort of stuff. Because I have, but I honestly doubt the same applies to you” She gave him a slight winl. “No offence, Ser”

    Aldrik rolled his eyes, though he quickly glanced at Gregar. “I don't”, he said. “But he has. If you won't take me, I'd feel better knowing that Gregar would be by your side” Gregar crossed his arms. “Yeah, I'm probably good at that”, he spoke. “Bloody hell, I'm better than either of you” He nodded at Sophey. “That includes you, Mountain Clan”, he added, before he shook his head. “However, I trust Maya with doing this on her own, she and the mute one. She's not half bad either and I think I'd rather be needed here in case we get attacked”

    “I believe the Ambassador knows perfectly well what she is capable of”, Aldrik stated, unable to hide the concern in his voice. “Maya, I urge you, take Gregar with you. If we are attacked, I believe I'll be able to handle it just fine” Both men looked at Maya and she knew, she had to decide...

    [Take Gregar with you] [Leave Gregar at the caravan]


    Just as he had promised, Normund knocked at midnight. Edrick and his companions had spent the remainder of the day preparing for this moment and still, the knight saw how Dante and Reymond both flinched as the knock sounded. His own concern, while carefully hidden, did not grow easier as he spotted Normund's face in the doorframe. In the dim light of the single candle the Ironborn had granted them, he seemed younger than before. It was almost as if they were trusting a child.

    “Are you ready?”, Normund whispered and silently, Edrick gave him a nod. “Good, good”, the young man replied, as he entered, taking a deep breath as he looked around. Edrick closed the door behind him and sternly looked at him. “Alright...”, Normund mumbled. “I...”

    “How often have you done this before?”, Alphyn asked, leading Normund to give him a nervous smile. “A grand total of zero times”, he replied. “But I made proper preparations. The guards are tired. It's been a long shift and those who are supposed to relieve them are sleeping” Dante raised an eyebrow and Normund shrugged. “I gave them wine”, he said. “Spiced it with milk of the poppy. They won't wake up until tomorrow”

    “They'll know it was you who gave it to them”, Edrick remarked and Normund nodded, after a notable sigh. “To be honest, after today I don't intend to return to Faronhall”, he revealed. “Things are getting worse within the day here in the kingdom. It won't be long and this castle will burn” He shook his head. “When that happens, I want to be out of here”

    “Understandable”, Edrick admitted. “So, what is your plan?” Now, Normund managed to smile with more confidence. “We planned it out well”, he promised. “So, first of all...” He did not manage to continue his sentence, as Dante cut him off. “We?”, he asked, leading Normund to flinch. “I”, he corrected himself, taking just a little bit too long for it. “I have planned it all out”

    Dante narrowed his eyes, showing that he shared Edrick's disbelief. “We'll see to that”, he spoke. “Now, what are we going to do?” Normund straightened his back. “Alright, so, first of all we have to get to the northern wall”, he revealed. “This shouldn't be hard. It's not far and the guards won't patrol there at night. As I said, they are tired, it's cold outside and the guardhouse is located near the southern wall. They won't even see us”

    “They better won't”, Alphyn mumbled. “But the earlier we get out of here, the better” Normund nodded at that, with notable enthusiasm, though Edrick placed a hand on his shoulder, noticing how he tensed up. “And then?”, he asked. “After we reached the wall, I mean” Normund's smile faded again. “We climb down”, he revealed. “I prepared ropes. The wall isn't too high there and the ground is soft and wet from all the rain”

    “Sounds easy enough”, Edrick agreed. “But you know they will hunt for us” Normund gulped, visibly uneasy with the thought. “The Riverborn will meet you north of here. At the river, there's a boat. He'll wait for you in there”, he explained. “He... has a proposal he wishes to discuss with you”

    Edrick raised an eyebrow, but before he was able to instinctively shake his head, Alphy did it for him. “No way”, he replied. “We'll come with you, meet your master, alright, but don't get your hopes up. I won't play in someone else's games. My goal is to find my brother, plain and simple”

    Normund's face dropped. “Oh... sure”, he said. “I... well, I expected that. It won't change anything, just hear him out at least” With visible reluctance, Alphyn nodded. “Suppose hearing him out can't hurt, but don't expect too much of this, boy” He glanced at the door. “So, can we go now? I'm itching to be free of this cell”

    “Yeah”, Normund confirmed. “Just stick to my plan, or else they'll find you. I doubt Viveka will be merciful this time” He shuddered, as he approached the door. “And trust me, she can be much, much worse than what she showed to you. When it all comes down, she remains Ironborn”

    Edrick had no doubt believing that. Viveka had treated them well, sure, and betraying her trust came anything but easy to him. Yet he would make no mistake. In the end, she was still his jailer, he was still her prisoner. A useful prisoner, which was about the only reason any of them were spared the worse parts of an Ironborn prison. And the way his back was still burning, he would not make the mistake of staying here for any longer.

    Silently, they all followed after Normund. The young man led them through Faronhall at a pattern that felt unusual to Edrick. He had gotten a few brief impressions of the way the castle was built up and Normund, he took a seemingly random route through the empty hallways. Sometimes, he even outright stopped for a prolonged time, just waiting, placing a finger on his lips, before continuing to march.

    It was during this silent walk through the nightly castle, able to see only what little the torches illuminated, that Edrick realized how empty Faronhall was. It had been home to a large family, that much he knew, before Harren the Black had wiped them all out. Now, the only highborn residing in the castle were Viveka and Sylvi and he doubted at least the former had any regards for the undoubtedly lavish quarters the previous owners had left behind.

    But even beyond that, he noticed one thing and to him, it painted Viveka's struggle in a completely different light. With how silent Faronhall was at night, it left only one option. Her guard was severely undermanned, perhaps worse than she felt comfortable in revealing. The full garrison, he deduced, could be home to two or three hundred. At best, Viveka could hope for half that number. Was that why she relied on outsiders to help her with the Riverborn? Perhaps that was even the sole reason for her affable behaviour.

    And more, the castle made an almost pitiful impression at night. Edrick was admittedly not used to living inside them. He had been to the New Castle once, the proud and splendid seat of House Manderly, as well as to the smaller seats of houses Boleyn and Frostborn. But Faronhall, it was in a clear state of disrepair, compared to them. It felt like less of a home, now that Normund led them away from the pretty parts Viveka had allowed them to see and more like an occupied ruin.

    In this moment, walking past something that suspiciously looked like a crack in the wall, a door to their right opened and a woman walked out. In the moonlight that shined through the large windows, she seemed to be a bit older than Edrick and visibly frightened at their sight. Alphyn reacted quickly, approaching her with a clenched fist, but Normund was even faster, holding the knight back.

    “Peace, sister”, he spoke. “The river rises” The woman kept herself from screaming and instead, she managed to give him a nod. “I barely recognized you in the dark, Normund”, she whispered. “Be quick. Schaffrot is out tonight and he is not happy about the second shift sleeping in. There will be patrols”

    Her warning caused Edrick's heartbeat to fasten, though Normund remained admirably calm. “Then we have to hurry”, he hissed. “Quick, follow me” He gave the woman a nod and she stepped back into her tiny chamber, as the Northerners all rushed after him, as he sped up. Not quite running, but still at a pace that caused Edrick to grow concerned for the noise that would echo through the old castle, Normund led them up a set of stairs, before stopping them by raising his fist, right in front of a thick, wooden door.

    “This one should be unlocked, let's see...”, he mumbled and indeed, as he reached for the doorknob, he easily pushed it open. Behind it, there was the dark, northern wall. “Viveka doesn't know it, but the servants, they support the Riverborn”, he explained. “All of them. She thinks she can keep them under control, but...”

    Edrick cut the young man off, before he would rant some more. “Can we do that when we're out of here?”, he asked and Normund gulped, before giving him an awkward nod. “Sure...”, he mumbled. “Silent now. Once we're up there, try to crouch. If anyone patrols the courtyard, they might see us if we stand”

    “Lovely thought”, Darreth remarked dryly. They did as Normund told them to, crouching down and slowly following him onto the wall, in a long row, one after the other. Edrick could not help himself from casting nervous glances down into the courtyard. The small hut close to the southern was indeed illuminated and through the silent night, he was able to hear several people talking loudly, even if he was unable to make out any words in particular.

    Once more, Normund stopped them by raising his fist. He reached to the railing to his right, grabbing something and though clouds were covering the moon by now, Edrick was somewhat able to make out the rope in the man's hands. He raised a finger and it was clear, they were supposed to go down there one by one. As soon as that was said, he made the first move, pushing himself over the railing.

    For a brief moment, Edrick almost expected him to fall. And yet, swiftly and almost silently, Normund managed to lower himself down the side of the wall, the entire fifteen feet. Glancing over the railing, Edrick saw him reaching the ground, though by then, he couldn't make out much more than his figure. “Next”, the young Riverlander hissed, perhaps a bit too loudly.

    “After you, mylady”, Edrick said and even through the darkness, he could feel Reymond's glare. And yet, the proud woman did not argue with him. She seemed even a bit too eager to get out of Faronhall. Grabbing the rope, she lowered herself faster than Normund did, nearly jumping down the last couple of feet. “Come on, let's get out of here”, she whispered.

    Jorid wanted to go next, but Alphyn pulled him back. “Mind your place, commoner”, he growled, quickly grabbing onto the rope and lowering himself. Jorid seemed to be taken aback by Alphyn's action, though Dante put a hand onto his shoulder. “Hey, just go next”, he spoke gently and Jorid did just that, as soon as Alphyn had reached the ground.

    “Who is up there?”, a voice sounded and alarmed, Edrick looked into the courtyard. Two guards were patrolling there and one of them was clearly staring up at their wall. “What the... halt!”, he yelled, as his comrade reached for the horn on his belt. He blew it, a high-pitched and loud sound.

    “Fuck!”, Darreth yelled, just as Jorid had reached the ground. “We gotta hurry!”, Dante agreed, as he grabbed Edrick by the forearm. “Ser, you're next!” He looked at Darreth and exchanged a nod with him. “We'll be right behind you. But you need to get down there quickly!” Edrick's eyes widened as he realized the implication. If he'd go first, he'd be out of there... but could he do that, knowing that Dante and Darreth might not make it out in time?

    [Go first] [Insist that Dante goes first]

  • [Take Gregar with you]
    [Go first]

    I am deeply sorry for taking longer than I thought. There has been a bit of a family emergency, but as I said, everything is fine now, it ju

  • [Leave Gregar at the caravan] Gregar would be best with the rest. He's too big, and they need some muscle. Also, Ulaf, man his Russian accent will never leave me!

    [Go first] Dante sucks. No.

    “You had the pleasure before?”, Gregar growled. “Never took you for the kind to deal with Ironborn, Cale” The illusionist raised an eyebrow. “There is a lot yo don't know, friend Gregar”, he said. “The secrets of the world and of Gilbar Cale” His smirk gave him something enigmatic, a streak that reminded Maya of Orson Royce. She shivered at the thought of her upcoming meeting with the Lord of Runestone. At least she would not return with empty hands.

    It's hard to believe Royce was introduced so long ago without having Maya to remind us.

    This escape attempt will...go poorly.

    I am deeply sorry for taking longer than I thought. There has been a bit of a family emergency, but as I said, everything is fine now, it ju

  • edited October 2018

    [Take Gregar with you]

    [Insist that Dante goes first] yay self sacrifice

    Finally caught up with the new chapter! I’ll keep reading here, on the forums, just for the sake of my old habits, but I promise to register on Haven soon.

  • It's hard to believe Royce was introduced so long ago without having Maya to remind us.

    Almost four years ago, to be precise. The super long absence makes it harder for me to see Royce as someone from FoT's early days, but effectively, he has been in the story for longer than most living characters, including some who are absolutely major at this point. Hell, Orson Royce has been in the story for longer than Maron Mullendore.

    This escape attempt will...go poorly.

    Well, either that, or there will be more that has to happen after he escapes. I can say that his storyline for this chapter won't be over in his next part. There's more that has to happen, though wether this means the escape attempt will actually succeed or go poorly, that remains to be seen.

    [Leave Gregar at the caravan] Gregar would be best with the rest. He's too big, and they need some muscle. Also, Ulaf, man his Russian accen

  • Finally caught up with the new chapter! I’ll keep reading here, on the forums, just for the sake of my old habits, but I promise to register on Haven soon.

    Alright, glad to hear it! And that is fine by me, it's why I keep updating the story here in the forums as well, for as long as they are still up. I'd suggest at least bookmarking Haven already, in case the Telltale forums go offline sooner than any of us expect, but join us over there whenever you want to :)

    [Take Gregar with you] [Insist that Dante goes first] yay self sacrifice Finally caught up with the new chapter! I’ll keep reading here, on the forums, just for the sake of my old habits, but I promise to register on Haven soon.

  • edited October 2018

    I just realized, I forgot to properly close the voting over here. My apologies, it has been a busy couple of days. More importantly, if you have not seen it yet, we have created a new community now that the future of the forums is uncertain. Forum of Thrones and all of the other stories you might know and love will continue there and a notable part of the readership has already joined. All are welcome, so if you are interested, just follow this link:
    I surely hope to see you all there in time :)

    Also, for the sake of being complete, I shall copy/paste my comment on Creator's Haven to close this voting. The next part is ready and will be posted immediately after this.

    The Voting is closed!

    Maya is going to take Gregar with her

    Edrick is going to insist that Dante goes first

    This voting was open for longer and I apologize for the delay but I am finally back with access to a proper computer. I hope you all enjoyed Maya's return, I finally got some good things in store for her :D Ah, I am really looking forward for this chapter in general. The last one built some things up, but I think we are really getting into some interesting development with the way things will develop over the next couple of parts.

    The next part will be out tomorrow. I have started writing, but over the last few days, I have been busy and without access to a proper computer, as I had to help my father with getting his caravan ready for winter. We are currently at my grandfather's place until the rest of the week, which should give me some proper time to release a part or maybe two. As for the next part, I have started to write the first part of Ysilla's chapter 3 storyline, though I would also like to add a second PoV in my desire to improve the pacing, with my current ideas for this second PoV being Lachlan or Arthur. I don't know whom it wil be yet, but as for Ysilla, we'll actually have a slight time skip in her part, as her journey through Dorne will not be actively shown. Instead, we'll next meet her several days after she and her companions stayed in Blackmont, with them having reached the dornish border region by now.

  • Ysilla

    In the first eighteen years of her life, Ysilla hadn’t exactly been what one would consider well-travelled. Perhaps due to Theodan’s antics, her father had always been hesitant to leave the borders of his land and without him, there was no way for her to leave either. Over the last year though, that had changed. Retrieving Theodan from the Free Cities had introduced her to a fascinating new world. For months, she had gladly explored the lavish excess that seemingly made up the entirety of Pentos and Myr. In a single year, she had likely seen more of the world than most people would in a lifetime.

    There was one thing she was still not prepared for though and it was the cold. Central Dorne was cold at night, sure, but the heat of the day had always made up for it and Ysilla’s wardrobe reflected this. The thin silk was comfortable, not to mention she knew it looked good on her. But the closer they came to the dornish border, the more she had to admit that it was perhaps not all too great for a trip to the Reach, where winter was already closing in.

    Damon Blackmont had told her that much. Despite his advanced age, the Lord of Blackmont had personally bid them farewell at the gates of his castle. With a cheeky grin, the old, gout-ridden man had gifted her a fur cloak, heavier than anything Ysilla had back home and the promise that she would need it. The weight had irritated her at first, but now, as the second night outside of the comfort of Blackmont came closer, she more than appreciated it.

    With a sigh, she thought back to her stay at the castle. “Beware of the Reachmen, mylady”, Lord Damon had spoken. His grandson and heir, Byran, was fighting them at this very moment, leaving the old lord, his granddaughter Myrah and Byran’s bastard son as the only Blackmont’s in the castle. His warning was still ringing in her ears, adding to her discomfort, as she pulled the cloak tighter in a futile attempt to keep the cold away.

    “You’ll get used to it”, Jen spoke next to her. The other woman was notably more at ease in this cold climate. Though wearing heavy clothes of her own, she had no hood to cover beneath. Her blonde braid was dangling freely down her back, a red band woven into it, a gift from Myrah Blackmont. It made for a stunning combination, even if Ysilla was honestly somewhat irritated with how easily Jen faced the cold.

    “I’m more curious how you got used to it”, she mumbled in return, trying her best not to visibly shiver. The dornish flatlands had been alright, even so close to the border, but the mountains where another thing entirely. Hot at day, yes, but the nights grew colder the closer winter came. And then there was her growing concern that something would happen, something that would make this little adventure anything but pleasant.

    “Here we go”, Allar spoke, flanking her from the other side. “Not our first rodeo, mine and Jen’s. We’ve crossed these mountains several times before” Ysilla raised an eyebrow, glancing from her to him. With a frown, she noted that Allar kept his cloak open even. “You never mentioned that”, she said and the man smirked. “There’s a lot I never told you. Some of the daring stuff Lady Absidee had us do”, he said. “Maybe we should sit down one day and I can tell you. You got anything planned for tonight?”

    For a moment, the brazen words caused her to pause, as it was the last she had expected from Allar. Then, she caught Jen’s glare from the side and it caused her to crack up. “Hm, I don’t know”, she said. “For now, I’d say I prefer a warm place for the night. You know any nearby?” She raised a finger, before either could answer. “And by that I mean a fire and some decent comfort. I don’t want to ride another mile before we make camp”

    “What is it, little sister?”, Theodan said, as he moved his horse closer from behind. Ysilla rolled her eyes. Of course he had to get involved as well. Under any other circumstance, she would have shamelessly enjoyed the attention both siblings gave her. But with her own brother around, things could quickly get awkward. “I never thought the one opponent the fierce Ysilla could not beat would be a measly cold”

    Ysilla narrowed her eyes. “Oh yeah?”, she hissed, the cold making her more crabby than she wanted to be. “How about that, remember when we returned from Essos? You fell into the water. Never saw a man shivering like that” To her surprise, Theodan did not react with annoyance. Instead, his face sported the widest of grins. “Oh, you want to play the embarrassing game?”, he asked. “Keep in mind, I got a few years on you. Don’t get me started, because I’ll win”

    Jen laughed brightly and Ysilla briefly glanced at her. “Oh, I want to hear more stories”, she proclaimed. “We should find a place to rest” Allar’s smile narrowed. “I’d prefer to keep riding for a bit longer”, he admitted, though a sharp look from Ysilla and a silent plea from his sister caused him to reconsider. “Though... maybe we can figure something out”

    And that they did just well. With a routine that impressed Ysilla, the two siblings took the lead, guiding them through the winding pass that connected the lands of House Blackmont with those of House Mullendore on the other side of the Red Mountains. Allar silently pointed down a short underbrush and Jenelyne nodded, leading them through it and onto a barely visible and narrow path up the mountains, probably one of several the local shepherds used for their goats.

    After a few minutes, they arrived at a small opening in the cavernous path they travelled, large enough for them to set camp for the night. The mountain was leaning slightly above it, somewhat sheltering them from the cold, as well as the bad weather Ysilla almost expected. “Does this look like a worthy place to rest, mylady?”, Allar asked and Ysilla gave him a playful smile. “Do I look like a mylady to you, Al?”, she asked in return and he exchanged a brief glance with his sister. Ysilla was not able to see Jenelyne’s expression, but she could somewhat guess it, judging by his slight frown. “I feel like this is one of the questions where I can’t pick a right answer, isn’t it?”, he slowly said.

    Ysilla chuckled sweetly, though it was Theodan who replied in his stead. “As someone who grew up with two sisters, the answer is no”, he advised him and Allar gave both Allyrions a thin smile. “In that case, I shall stay silent”, he said wisely and this time, Ysilla caught Jen’s playful glare. “Good”, the other woman said. “Makes you way less insufferable”

    Descending from his horse, Allar shrugged. “Well, as long as you build up the tents while I’m away”, he spoke and instantly, Ysilla noticed a change in Jenelyne’s behaviour. “You are leaving?”, she asked, her voice shivering slightly as her eyes widened. Allar raised an eyebrow, before he shrugged. “Well, someone has to take care of dinner for tonight, eh?”, he replied. “Don’t worry, I’ll be right back. Just gotta find us a rabbit for the night” He gave Theodan a brief glance. “Care to come with me, Ser?”, he asked.

    Theodan hesitated for a moment, looking at Jenelyne, which caused Ysilla to give him a sharp glance. He at least had the decency to give her an almost sorry look, before he shook his head. “I, uh... think I’ll stay here”, he replied. “Someone has to take care of the tents after all and I hardly want to bother Ysilla with that”

    Allar suppressed a chuckle at his comment. “After what happened last time, I agree”, he replied and Ysilla sighed. “Hey, that could have happened to anyone”, she protested weakly, as she descended from her horse, but Jen, who followed after her, touched her by the shoulder. “Yeah, but it happened to you”, she replied, as she flashed her a grin. “Come on, maybe you’re good for making a fire. I’ll teach you”

    “You definitely don’t have to teach...”, Ysilla began, before she pulled herself together. “I mean, sure! Show me” She had said this perhaps a bit too hastily and Jen raised an eyebrow. “Pretty sure she means an actual fire, little sister”, Theodan said, as he removed his pack from the saddle. “Seven know, you can use the practice”

    Ysilla poked her tongue out at him, before she followed Jen to the centre of their little makeshift camp. The other woman had already knelt down, before she looked up. “First of all, you gotta find me some dry wood and stones”, she said, her tone showing a certain authority Ysilla hadn’t noticed before. Meanwhile, Allar turned to the path they had just left. “Don’t mind me, just making sure we don’t starve”, he said. “If you’re up for it, I’ll share a few stories when I’m back”

    It didn’t take long until Ysilla had gathered what she needed. Under Jenelyne’s careful guidance, she actually managed to start a fire, while Theodan built up the tents in the distance. She allowed herself a certain glee as she realized that she had finished her task faster than he did his. Allar however hadn’t returned yet and she did feel her stomach rumbling at the thought of boiled rabbit. Jen’s smile had gained a slight bit of nervousness by now.

    “So...”, Ysilla said, warming herself at the fire. She sighed, as the warmth slowly made its way through her body, getting rid of the cold that had plagued her for most of the day. Jen sat close by, looking at her. “So”, she replied. “What are we going to do until Allar returns?” She gulped. “He has been gone for quite some time, hasn’t he?”

    Ysilla shook her head. “One time, me and Theo went hunting in the plains beyond Godsgrace”, she spoke. “There’s not much game there, so it took each of us an hour straight to find something” She winked at her brother, who was just building up another tent, too busy to notice her teasing. “Of course I finished first”

    “You were not”, Theodan mumbled. “Don’t know what you’re talking about, but I guarantee, you were not” Ysilla and Jen exchanged a grin and the other woman finally nodded. “Yeah, you are probably right”, she admitted. “But thank you. When it comes to Al, I’m just... I don’t know, I’m worried. So, I appreciate it”

    “Guess it’s not too different with him”, Ysilla replied, as she subtly moved closer. Jen made no attempts to gain more distance between them. “Heaven knows, Theodan can be an idiot, but I know he cares” She had spoken these words in a low tone, so that he was unable to hear their talk. Noticing the silence, her brother glanced over his shoulder, raising an eyebrow and she gave him a wink in return.

    “That much is clear to see”, Jen agreed. “With Allar, it’s all a bit harder to notice, but beneath that gruff surface lies the most caring person I know” Unlike Ysilla, she had not lowered her tone and Theodan rose from the third tent he had built up. “Are you talking about me?”, he asked and Jen’s smile made Ysilla’s blood race. “Only good things, Ser”, she promised.

    Theodan did not seem satisfied with her assurance, though mumbling something beneath his breath, he turned to the final tent, kneeling down next to it in order to build it up. “I’d say we got that in common”, Jen spoke and Ysilla nodded. “We have a lot of things in common”, she replied, instantly frowning at her clumsy choice of words. For as confident as she felt, even she could not help but stumble over her words in the presence of a few select people. And Jen, she was definitely something. The last light of the day doused her into a faint, red glow, putting an almost auburn streak to her dark blonde hair and her eyes gleamed with a carefree sort of happiness that Ysilla liked to see in herself. But there was something else, something she had lost the day Theodan had been forced out of Godsgrace. It was innocence, a certain streak beneath all the worldly charm of an experienced sellsword. That she had maintained it for so long was perhaps the one feature Ysilla found the most attractive in her.

    Thankfully, Jenelyne decided not to tease her about it. “Yeah, we have”, she agreed. “Even if you grew up in a castle” Her smile widened and Ysilla, who noticed she had held her breath, burst into a chuckle. “I told you I was raised in a barn”, she replied, which caused Theodan to nod. “Explains the smell and the manners”, he spoke up and Ysilla narrowed her eyes.

    Before she was able to say anything, Jen did so in her stead, to her utmost surprise. “Oh, shut up”, she yelled. “I know you were raised in the same castle, knight boy” Ysilla smirked. “Same barn, I presume”, she added and Jen giggled. “For the record, I’m the one with the manners”

    “For the record, I don’t care”, Jen said, as she straightened her back. “If I wanted manners, I’d travel with your sister” She shrugged. “Not that I had much of a say in this. Allar accepts the contract, I just go along with what he comes up with”, she admitted. “Albeit it could have been worse. Must admit, Lady Absidee rarely gives us such delightful company”

    “Delightful, huh?”, Ysilla said. “That’s an Ashara word, even if she rarely uses it nowadays” Theodan nodded again. “She prefers ‘disappointment’ and ‘disinherit’”, he interjected and though he smiled, he could not hide the bitterness in his voice entirely. Jen did not notice it though, or maybe she chose to ignore it. “What can I say, Godsgrace had an effect on me. And Skyreach and Blackmont. Seven, I haven’t been to that many castles in my entire life”

    “How many castles have you been to before?”, Ysilla asked and Jen pressed her lips together. “Uh... does the gatehouse of Sunspear count?”, she asked and Ysilla nodded. “Then it’s one. I mean, it has just been a gatehouse, but it’s something. At least that is what I thought. Travelling with you, it kinda showed me how much less we are, people like me” Her expression grew more serious as she had said this.

    Ysilla placed a hand on Jen’s shoulder and the other woman gave her a slight smile. “I can tell you, you’re certainly not less than any of us”, she assured her. “Trust me, I’ve met a lot of highborn and I’d prefer you over any of them” Jenelyne raised an eyebrow. “Is that so?”, she asked and Ysilla used a brief paused to slide closer. “It might sound all tempting, but once you meet them, you’d be disgusted”, she explained. “No, it’s true. You are different from them. Kinder, more honest and pleasant. You’re better”

    By now, Jen’s stunning smile had returned in full force and Ysilla tensed up, being so close to her. She noticed her arm still rested around the other woman’s shoulder and by now, the warmth had increased to the point of outright heat. Surely Jen had to feel the same, yet neither backed off. “Better”, she whispered. “I like that” She fluttered her eyelashes and Ysilla found it hard to concentrate on anything but how downright beautiful she looked right now. She only faintly realized that Theodan was watching them sternly.

    [Kiss Jen] [Back off]


    “Move!”, Arthur yelled. “In formation!” The new recruits saluted, as they assumed position. Under the watchful gaze of Commander Stratford, they had gathered around in the courtyard of the rebuilt city guard headquarters. Arthur had seen his father doing exactly this time and again. Now it was his duty, welcoming the city guard’s newest members. Decimated during the raid, it was Stratford’s utmost priority to restore a semblance of their old glory.

    Right now, Arthur had to make sure that those who were unsuited for service were not even allowed to join them. A simple task, or so he thought, but as he looked into the hopeful faces of these young men, he found it hard to make a decision. Instead, he quickly focussed onto the oldest and most grim of the recruits. He was brown-haired, with an unkempt beard, both starting to grey. A promising physique, clearly steeled from hard labour and he certainly knew how a guardsman should stand. If anything, it was the dull look in his green eyes that caused Arthur to hesitate. That was a man who seemed almost dead inside. There was no joy, no excitement, just a hint of fury, a hellish revenge that made him shiver.

    “Name”, he barked and the man saluted, in the way only soldiers did. “Aylard Kawl”, he growled. Arthur nodded. “Why do you want to join the city guard, Aylard?”, he asked and the man gave him a sharp glare. “I’ve been a soldier, then an innkeeper”, he explained. “Lost everything I ever cared for, my inn, most of my family” He clenched his fists. “My daughter died because I couldn’t protect her” He had to pause after this sentence and Arthur gulped. He used the brief pause to exchange a look with Daemion Stratford, who gave him a subtle nod.

    “My son is all I have left”, Aylard continued. “I have to find work for him. My inn is ruined, so I do the one other thing I’ve ever been good at” Arthur managed a thin smile, though Aylard’s cold glare caused him to stop the attempt in an instant. “The duties of a guard and those of a soldier are vastly different”, he brought up. “If you wish to use your skill in combat, perhaps Lord Vyrwel’s men would be a better place for you. I heard he is looking for capable soldiers. Castellan Mullendore would surely be glad...”

    The swiftness with which Aylard moved caused Arthur to flinch. In an instant, the tall man had grabbed him by the collar of his tabard, pulling him close and glaring at him with hatred. “Not Mullendore”, he hissed. “I heard good things about your city guard, boy. I know how to use a weapon, but I also know how to follow orders. If that is what you are looking for, I’m your man. If you just want to belittle me, then tell me you’re not interested and stop wasting my time”

    Arthur took a deep breath as Aylard let go of him. There was something in his voice that made it clear it was personal between him and Mullendore. For a moment, there was pure venom oozing from the former innkeeper. Sherryl’s warning resounding in his head, he had to ask himself what it was that caused Aylard’s reaction.

    “It is what we are looking for”, he confirmed. “I... I think we have use for a man of your talents, Aylard” The tall man nodded, not a hint of joy in his eyes, though perhaps a bit of relief as he sighed. He remained silent and Arthur instead looked at the man to his left. A bit shorter than Aylard, which didn’t mean much compared to that one’s size, he was more on the stocky side, a bit heavy-set yet undeniably muscular. His short, black beard was unable to hide the ugly scars that went through his face, the marks of a warrior. Yet unlike Aylard, he did not seem to be a soldier.

    “Name?”, Arthur asked, hesitating a bit after Aylard’s rage. “Elias”, the other man growled and Arthur mustered him from head to toe. No, that one was not a soldier, yet he clearly had some experience with weaponry and was no stranger to combat. A sellsword perhaps? Wouldn’t be the first time the city guard would accept unsavoury candidates, as long as they proved their worth.

    “Why do you wish to join the city guard, Elias?”, he asked and Elias waited for a moment before replying. “I did some stuff I’m not proud of”, he admitted. “Followed a friend into trouble. The friend’s dead, but my life was spared” Now, he managed a brief, barely trustworthy smile. “I’d like to try something new. Why not protecting people for a change? Plus, I heard you pay well”

    This caused Arthur to grin. “You heard wrong”, he warned him. “The pay is lousy and the duties are heavy. But we’ll provide for you. If you serve well, you won’t have to worry about a thing in your life again” Elias nodded. “I say that sounds pretty good”, he admitted. “I mean, that sounds good enough for me. I bet I did shittier things for less coin before”

    Before he was able to turn to the next recruit, Daemion raised his hand. “This is enough for now”, he barked. “Each of you, pair with another recruit. Valarr, hand out the sparring swords, I want to see your worth in combat” Arthur noticed his gaze hitting Aylard, who barely reacted. “Keep in mind, you are allies. This is a sparring match, so try not to cause any lasting injuries”, he added, before he waved at the captain. “Nathamer, to my side. A word, if you may”

    As Valarr Roux moved in to hand out wooden swords to the new recruits, Arthur followed Daemion’s wish, as he came closer. “What is it, Commander?”, he asked and Daemion crossed his arms behind his back. “You’re doing good work”, the commander spoke, his tone stern. “Though you seem to be preoccupied lately. Well, for the last couple of months, to be honest. I know you lost your father and I know the toll this took on you... and your sister”

    Arthur briefly narrowed his eyes. “What does Aditha have to do with this?”, he asked, trying to hide brief irritation. Daemion’s expression told him he failed at that. “Your sister is rumoured to be a troublemaker, Arthur”, he revealed. “Spends her nights drinking at the inn, wasting your father’s inheritance. She has been seen with several men over the past months” Arthur clenched his fists, knowing how gladly Daemion would have been one of these men. Perhaps that was why he complained? “What are you getting at, Ser?”, he growled.

    Daemion sighed. “I don’t mean to attack you, Arthur”, he promised. “But I am concerned for Aditha and her safety. That behaviour of hers, it has gotten worse. One of these days, she will meet the wrong man” He straightened his back. “Can I be frank with you, captain?” Arthur nodded. “You’re the commander, Stratford”, he said thinly, though he noticed that Daemion’s concern was genuine. “I don’t want to be the one finding your sister in the gutter with her throat cut”, he said and his calm, straightforward tone downright horrified Arthur. “And make no mistake, that is a very real danger. We have a killer on the loose still”

    “A killer you stopped investigating”, Arthur growled and Daemion nodded, with the decency to look guilty. “Because we have no leads. Months of a proper investigation have only revealed that Woodbark has vanished without a trace and we’re short-staffed as it is. But I don’t want to invite him back into our city, by giving him a target as willing as Aditha”, he explained. “Arthur, when is the last time you have spoken to your sister?”

    Arthur avoided the stern look in Daemion’s eyes. “This morning”, he mumbled and it was not a lie, even if Daemion realized what he meant. “And when have you last had a true conversation with her?”, he asked. This time, Arthur had to sigh. “That has been weeks ago”, he replied. “Aditha, she... I don’t think she wants to talk right now, not to me at least. Or to anyone, really. She’s been taking Father’s death badly”

    “And she’s not the only one”, Daemion mumbled. “But we both know this is not true. Aditha has acted like this before. I saw it and it broke my heart, to see how this bright young woman wastes her life like that. Back when your father was still alive, it has been a cry for help. I doubt this is much different now”

    Arthur frowned. “I fail to see how this is your concern”, he said, realizing what Daemion was getting at. The commander tilted his head. “I want to intervene before it becomes my concern”, he replied sharply. “You are an excellent guardsman and unlike your father, I have no problem admitting it. Yet I don’t want you to repeat Hackor’s mistakes. Talk to Aditha, before it tears both of you apart”

    They were interrupted by a man approaching. Arthur recognized Elias, the new recruit. His opponent was lying on his back, holding his head with a pained frown, while the man himself carelessly dropped his sparring sword. His skill in combat was proven at least, that much Arthur had to admit. Though there was something in his smile he certainly did not like and the guardsman in him could not help but to narrow his eyes. Yet Valarr gave him the same bad feeling and he had proven his worth over and over. Perhaps it was nothing.

    “Elias, isn’t it?”, Daemion asked and Elias nodded. “Aye, Commander”, he replied and his salute didn’t seem half bad. “Figured now’s as good a time as any, but I actually have something to tell you. Chance encounter I had on the road, before I came here, might be of interest to you and the lords of this city” He was about to say something else, when a loud howl of anger cut him off.

    On the other end of the courtyard, Aylard Kawl had knocked his opponent down. “You’re one of them?”, he barked, before adding something else, incomprehensible in his rage. His opponent was a broad-shouldered man, yet helpless in the face of Aylard’s blind fury, barely able to defend himself as the former innkeeper brought his fists down on him. “Fuck...”, Daemion mumbled flatly. “You want to take care of that, Nathamer? Or do you want to stay with Elias here?”

    [Stop Aylard and ignore Elias] [Let Daemion handle Aylard and listen to Elias]

  • [Back off]

    [Let Daemion handle Aylard and listen to Elias]

    She only faintly realized that Theodan was watching them sternly.


    “Elias, isn’t it?”, Daemion asked and Elias nodded. “Aye, Commander”, he replied and his salute didn’t seem half bad. “Figured now’s as good a time as any, but I actually have something to tell you. Chance encounter I had on the road, before I came here, might be of interest to you and the lords of this city” He was about to say something else, when a loud howl of anger cut him off.

    This information could be bad for Leonard if a character other than Arthur hears it. Aylard could kill someone or something, probably not, but whatever.

    Ysilla In the first eighteen years of her life, Ysilla hadn’t exactly been what one would consider well-travelled. Perhaps due to Theodan

  • Creep.

    I should explain, this is decidedly not in a creepy way, but more in a "Damn, I wanted to get the girl" way. If not for Ysilla taking her chance first, Theodan would have definitely tried to seduce Jen, so that is why he's really not happy with this development.

    This information could be bad for Leonard if a character other than Arthur hears it. Aylard could kill someone or something, probably not, but whatever.

    That is true and technically, Arthur is not an ally to Leonard either, even if he knows the full truth about Maron Mullendore (to a degree not even Leonard and Kersea know). Though Daemion hearing about them would probably be worse, admittedly. It all narrows down to what Elias wants to tell them.

    [Back off] [Let Daemion handle Aylard and listen to Elias] She only faintly realized that Theodan was watching them sternly.

  • [Kiss Jen] Finally some lesbian action to keep me occupied until TFS Episode 3 comes out and I get my sweet Violetine

    [Let Daemion handle Aylard and listen to Elias] It's good to see Aylard again, in a weird way

  • [Back off]

    [Stop Aylard and ignore Elias]

    Ysilla In the first eighteen years of her life, Ysilla hadn’t exactly been what one would consider well-travelled. Perhaps due to Theodan

  • Whoops, over the stress of the last couple of days, I genuinely forgot to close the voting here. My apologies, but I'll go into detail about what is going on below, in the copy/pasted post from Creator's Haven. The next part is actually finished and will be posted in a few minutes, but I am going to close the voting for the sake of it. Most importantly, if you have not heard of it yet, since we don't know how long the Telltale forums will be up, we have migrated to a new forum, Creator's Haven, where you can remain in contact and keep reading the story even once the Telltale forums are officially gone. Those of you who have not joined us there yet, I would be overjoyed to see you around, just follow this link here:

    The Voting is closed!

    Ysilla is going to kiss Jenelyne

    Arthur is going to stop Aylard

    Not much of a surprise in the first choice, but I must admit, I would have expected the other choice to win. After all, Elias' information could be quite crucial and dangerous in the wrong hands, whereas anyone could handle Aylard. However, I am happy with either outcome and this option will give Aylard a bit more screentime. And there is, of course, a good chance that Arthur will learn of Elias' information regardless. Just now, he cannot prevent Daemion from learning of it. Also, look at what I just did above, I am honestly loving the features here in the forums!

    The next part will hopefully be out tomorrow. I realize I am late, but aside from waiting to see how many votes would tickle in, I actually have some news and they are not pleasant. I have spent the last few days at my grandfather's place, who has, as I mentioned before, been suffering from incurable cancer for the last six months. His health has decreased over the last week to a point that has been honestly gruesome to just witness. While I had my laptop with me, writing much has been the last thing on my mind. I returned home yesterday and while things were looking grim, I hoped he'd live for another few weeks at least. Unfortunately, today I received the news that he passed away. Not going to lie, this really fucking hurts and I haven't fully processed it yet. However, he has passed away peacefully at home, without pain and at an advanced age, after having months of saying his goodbyes to his family, so as crushed as I am, I knew it would happen for a long time now and I had time to prepare and actually say my goodbyes to him. Still, this is hitting me more and more, the longer I think about it. That being said, while I know I could always take a break from the writing, this is decidedly what I don't want to do. It has become almost a ritual for me to write the story, something incredibly calming and if I don't do that, well, then I'd lose the best way to keep my mind busy in these dark days to come. Still the whole situation has been stressful and I have not yet started writing the next part. I shall do so as fast as possible, but I cannot promise to finish it tomorrow. There is also the matter of the funeral coming up and I don't know anything about that one yet. Hopefully, tomorrow will bring more clarity on when I will head to the funeral, but I presume I will be gone from Thursday to Sunday. Nonetheless, I'll try my best to finish the part as soon as possible.

    This next part will feature PoV's from Lachlan and Jenna, showing the formers arrival at Gull Tower and the latters witnessing of the aftermath of the Chapter 2 finale. I can assure you, as bad as things are right now, I have no intentions of notably slowing down. Hopefully, the part will be done soon. Until then, I hope you're having a better day!

  • My apologies for taking so much longer! The fact that I only started writing on the day I closed the voting certainly played a part in it, as did the aftermath of my grandfather’s death. First of all, thank you for all of the kind words you left here or in private. This is a horrible time for my family, but your support warms my heart. I am currently at my grandfather’s place again, as the burial will be held on Monday. This also likely means I won’t get much writing done until Tuesday or Wednesday. But I am pulling through this as good as possible, I think. This is a hard time and it will only get harder, with Monday being a day I genuinely dread, but I have no intentions of slowing down my writing by a considerable amount.


    Gull Tower was modest, even when compared to Lachlan's home of Phoenixfall, itself not a particularly sizeable keep. It was, as the name implied, a tower, surrounded by a small, but sturdy wall on three sides, right on top of a cliff that defended the fourth. Overlooking the Bay of Crabs, it was equal parts lighthouse and watchtower. Almost as broad as it was high, it had five floors and numerous small windows, making it easy to overlook the entire area. As it was typical with the architecture of the Vale, it was not particularly pleasing to the eye, instead relying on cold functionality. In fact, the path up the hill was steep and muddy, likely a pain for men in heavy armour and Lachlan was glad he had opted for lighter attire.

    Light rainfall had plagued the three riders on their way from Runestone to Gull Tower and though the sun was visible through the morning fog, drizzle kept pouring from the sky and Lachlan and his companions were draped in wet cloaks as they approached the tower. Looking more like vagabonds than knights, it was no surprise to him that a harsh voice called out to them from the wall, as they approached.

    “You there, stop!”, a man growled from the walls and Lachlan narrowed his eyes to see him better. Fog clouded his features, a mere figure, holding a torch. There were others there and though they weren't pointing their crossbows at the trio, it was clear that a wrong move would get them shot.

    “I'm taking over here”, Osborn mumbled, as he raised a hand. “Easy, Ames! Don't you recognize me?” The man on the wall hesitated for a moment, before Lachlan heard a distinct curse. “Bloody hells, Osborn”, he mumbled. “What the hell are you doing here?” The crossbowmen made no attempt at easing the tension and Lachlan raised an eyebrow, as he looked at Osborn, waiting for his reply.

    “I bring word from my father”, the knight replied without missing a beat. And indeed, Lord Royce had given them a letter for Ser Sterling, to hide their true reasons for being here. An audible sigh followed from the wall. “Open the gates!”, the man growled. “And inform Ser Sterling of our unexpected guests” He nodded. “Come in, Osborn, make it quick”

    The gates of Gull Tower were opened and a satisfied smirk formed on Osborn's face. “Witness how far a few kind words can bring you, Keding”, he mumbled and Lachlan spotted Kyle rolling his eyes. The Royce knight rode in first, with Lachlan and Kyle following shortly behind him, into the modest courtyard of Gull Tower. Indeed, the area inside the walls was notably smaller than Lachlan's home, with a stable and a small barn being the only other buildings aside from the tower itself.

    From the walls, a man descended down a set of stairs. He was an intimidating sight, over six feet tall and heavily muscled. A thick beard hid a plain, battle-scarred face and his dark eyes darted across the three riders. His gloved hands were crossed over his chest and he wore heavy chainmail. There was a long sword on his side and Lachlan noticed the wooden pommel, carved into the shape of a hound's head. As he reached the bottom of the stairs, a heavy, black mastiff, previously half-hidden in the shadows beneath the wall, rose from the ground and trotted over to him, following him as he came closer.

    Slowly, they descended from their horses, as the man had reached them. The mastiff sat down next to him, sharing his stern, somewhat sullen look. “Osborn Royce”, he said coldly. “We didn't expect you here so soon. Who are your companions?” He glanced at Lachlan and Kyle, slightly raising an eyebrow. “A Keding and a Coldwater. You're making friends, Royce?”

    Osborn shook his head. “We have reason to be here and it's not pleasant”, he said, as he gave him his charming smile. “Ames, these are Lachlan Keding, heir to Phoenixfall, and Kyle Coldwater, Lord of Coldwater Burn. My companions, this is Ames Howard, known as the Mastiff”

    Ames frowned mildly. “Captain of the Guards of Gull Tower”, he growled firmly, one of his hands now resting on the head of the animal he shared a nickname with. “It is an honour, mylords” One of his hands moved behind his back and he straightened it, the other pointed down at the tower. “Servants will take care of your horses. Follow me inside until Ser Sterling is ready to meet you”

    He began to walk, Osborn and the mastiff by his side, while Lachlan and Kyle followed closely behind him. His cousin had a stern look on his face, as he glanced around. “I don't like this, Lachlan”, he mumbled. “If Shett is conspiring against Lord Royce, walking straight into his keep doesn't seem very wise to me”

    “We don't know that yet”, Lachlan reminded him, in an equally low tone, making sure Ames would hear nothing of their conversation. “It's just a suspicion, nothing more so far” Kyle's facial expression made it clear that he did not share the sentiment, but he managed a slight nod. “If you say so, cousin”, he whispered. “But I'm telling you, Lord Royce should have just summoned him instead of sending us here”

    He cut himself off as they reached the tower itself. The small gates were opened and led by Ames, they entered the entrance hall of Gull Tower. The room likely made up most of its ground floor and was actually quite sizeable, with rows of tables hinting at the dozens of people who lived here, albeit it was gloomy and barely illuminated.

    A few guards were sitting there, spending their time by playing a game of dice. The moment they spotted Ames, they hurried up and saluted, with the man giving them a brief nod. “We can wait here”, he replied, pointing at one of the tables, two benches flanking it from each side. Without wasting another word, he sat down and after a moment, Osborn sat down on the opposite site. Lachlan hesitated a moment, but finally decided to sit down next to Ames, managing a brief nod.

    “You mentioned you bring a message from your father”, the captain of the guard asked, a momentary hint of curiosity in his voice. Osborn nodded. “And you would like to know, huh?”, he replied, to which Ames sighed. “I just want to know what to expect”, he replied. “We all heard the rumours, Osborn. The men are nervous. Do we have to expect war?”

    Osborn waited for a moment, before he confirmed it with a nod. “It certainly seems this way”, he said. “Father hopes to avoid it though. A lot is uncertain yet, but the bannermen must be informed” Ames raised an eyebrow at that. “And why does he send his own son to inform us of this when a bloody raven would be good enough?”

    To this, Osborn's smile grew slightly smaller. “Do you expect me to tell you about every detail I wish to discuss with your liege?”, he remarked. “Yes, there is more to this, of course. Some things I'm not allowed to share with anyone but Ser Sterling” He narrowed his eyes. “We have heard of one of your guests. A certain Otho Wayland, is that correct? A member of this Order”

    Ames nodded. “You heard correctly”, he confirmed and his tone made it clear how he felt about this circumstance. “Not someone you want to meet, trust me” He frowned. “Quite the pompous bastard, if you don't mind me saying. Acts as if he owns the place. To be honest, I don't even think Ser Sterling wants him here”

    “Then why does he keep him around?”, Lachlan asked and Ames hesitated for a bit. “The Order still has some sympathies among the smallfolk, especially here in the region”, he revealed. “If I had to guess, I'd say Ser Sterling doesn't wish to offend anyone” Osborn frowned, then nodded. “Sounds just like the old man”, he agreed. “But what about Octavia? Bet she'd have a word or two to say about this”

    A very brief, thin smirk flashed over Ames' face. “She would have. Unfortunately, the lady is not here at the time”, he revealed and Osborn's frown grew stronger. “She has left Gull Tower?”, he asked and Ames nodded. “She is, as you know, still looking for a suitable husband. It appears Edgar Grafton is her current suitor”

    “Grafton?”, Osborn growled. “He's not right for her. Never even saw him speaking to a girl. Octavia needs someone who can hold a proper conversation with her” Ames shrugged. “I'm pretty sure she's not doing this because she wants to talk to him”, he said. “It's all about making an alliance and House Grafton is one of the most important in the entirety of the Fingers, besides your own, of course”

    Osborn was silent after this, but Lachlan could see his obvious displeasure at the news. It appeared, as he realized, that the rumours were true, concerning the infatuation Royce's heir had with Shett's daughter. At the very least, it would explain why it was such a sore spot for him. And he knew, Kyle realized this much as well.

    Unlike him, his cousin did not remain silent about this. “So, the Lady Octavia...”, he said and Osborn sighed, as he gave him a slight glare. “Don't mean to press you about this, friend, but is there anything we should know? I've never met her, so maybe I should know what to expect”

    “She is the most beautiful woman you will ever see”, Osborn finally admitted. “And that is about all I am going to say” He sighed, as he straightened his back. “Don't get me wrong, but that is not exactly the sort of topic I want to discuss” He narrowed his eyes. “Nor is it important for our task”

    His demeanour made it clear that the topic was over for him. At the same time, he certainly had gained Lachlan's curiosity. Ames Howard had been silent throughout their talk, though he seemed to know the lady just as well. Maybe he could tell them more. Besides, Kyle had a point. Octavia's father stood accused of treason, if Lord Royce could be believed. Her absence here was suspicious, to say the least. Perhaps this was important. At the same time, maybe it wasn't quite what Osborn wanted to hear.

    [Ask Ames about Osborn's history with Octavia] [Change the topic]


    “What a mess...”, Vali mumbled, as he looked at the corpse on the cart. His name had been Vashord Tallian, as Jenna remembered, General of the Rock. She hadn't seen him very often, never spoken to him, but word had it that he died with courage. They said he even managed to inflict a wound on the Tom, who had apparently kept the man's sword in return, perhaps a token of victory, or perhaps to honour the brave general who fought so fiercely.

    Three corpses had been recovered. Aside from Tallian, there was the knight, Roger Hill and a soldier wearing the colours of House Reyne, both butchered by Mullendore's thugs. And yet, horrified as she was at the sight, Jenna felt a small hint of relief at the thought that Willfred Reyne had not been found yet. It seemed, in the end, that Maron Mullendore had made a mistake, that the one he had to kill was still alive, on his way back to his kingdom.

    “He will pay for this”, Jenna replied. “He's gotten sloppy” Grimly, she clenched her fist, as she watched the guards transporting the three corpses away. “Has he?”, Vali asked. “Because I can see why he did it” He frowned, as he slowly looked around, making sure no one was observing them. “If it's a war he wants, what better way could there be to start one? I wouldn't even be so certain that the Reyne knight escaped because he got lucky”

    Jenna raised an eyebrow. “You think he wanted this?”, she asked and Vali shrugged. “I say it is possible”, he replied. “I mean, he claims the Rock knight tried to kill him first, but I don't buy it. He wanted this to happen, mark my words. Means he promises some sort of an advantage” His usually cheerful expression soured. “And I don't like that one bit, because it means he's smarter than I thought or madder than I feared”

    “He could be both”, Jenna brought up and Vali nodded. “It takes a particular mind, turning on a supposed ally as readily as Maron turned on the poor Reyne boy”, he agreed. “And yet, I bet this is not the end to his schemes. That is the sort of man who has something up his sleeve at all times” They both sighed, as one of the soldiers grabbed the corpse of Vashord Tallian by the collar, ripping off one of the man’s expensive silver buttons. With a grin, the soldier placed the trinket in his own pocket, before pushing the corpse back onto the cart.

    “To think we could all end like this”, Vali remarked. “I’ve been doing this line of work for years now and I’ve seen worse. But that is a thought you never get used to” He straightened his back. “Doubt Tallian was prepared. One moment, he just stood there, perhaps thinking of home and the next, he dies so that the Reyne knight might escape”

    To this, Jenna did not reply. She remembered her father's voice. There had been fear in it, as she realized, and still, he faced the madman, so that she could live. “Yet another victim”, she mumbled, as she glanced at the keep, unwilling to discuss this any further. The comparison, if unwilling, had ruined her already dark mood and though Vali had the decency to avoid any jokes on the expense of the recently deceased, his carefree presence was the last she wanted right now. “If you don't mind, I still got work to do” She pulled herself together, turning away from the corpses. “We'll talk later”

    Before she was able to leave, Vali placed a hand on her upper arm, giving her a brief, concerned nod. “Take care”, he spoke, as he remained standing, while she moved towards the keep. Of course, the servants had not been affected by the events of the last day, but there was a feeling of dread surrounding the entire castle. If not even a foreign nobleman was safe from Mullendore's plans, then what chance would a mere servant have to avoid his attention?

    That was perhaps what was going through everyone's head right now. Probably not only them. Kasyn Luck, Mern Gardener's ambassador, had fiercely demanded and apparently received an audience with Lord Petyr earlier today, the same applied to Helenys Bellward. Lord Selwyn had gotten into a public argument with his brother-in-law, who himself was rumoured to plan his return to Old Oak in a timely manner. A necessary move it might have been, but Maron Mullendore’s actions had alienated those close to him.

    Saerya... she had to find Saerya. Her decision to involve the other woman had upset Vali and ever since, they had not spoken about any further combined effort to harm the new lords of Raylansfair. He would get over it though, she knew he would. At the very least, she wouldn’t just abandon Saerya just because he did not like her. Why should she care about their problems with each other? All she wanted was to keep her home safe. That and revenge, more than anything else. She couldn’t risk this just because Vali and Saerya didn’t get along.

    Walking through the Great Hall and past the servants that took care of removing the remains of today’s dinner, she looked around, hoping to see Saerya’s familiar features among them. Without any luck, she instead turned to one of the hallways, entering it quickly, as she walked past two guards. They sported the colours of House Vyrwel and she had never seen them before, but even they seemed nervous about the recent events.

    Just as she turned around the corner, she heard the two familiar voices, arguing over something she did not understand at first. But both, Petyr Vyrwel and Maron Mullendore seemed agitated, another thing she could not even blame them for. Before they came into sight, she heard the characteristic sound of Maron’s cane on the stone floor, the same cane he had used to... Jenna narrowed her eyes, as she pushed herself into one of the darker hallways, almost hidden in one of the corners.

    Without any guards by their side, they came down a set of stairs and she froze in terror at the unexpected meeting. Petyr’s usually came face was distorted with rage, a heavy frown warping his features. Maron however seemed oddly pleased, having nothing but a thin smile in reply for his ally. The sight of him being so shamelessly happy cause rage to grow inside of Jenna. If only, if only, she had a knife and an opportunity, then he would lose his other eye and then his life.

    Though Petyr briefly glanced into her direction while arguing, he made no attempt to hide his words and she was not even certain if he had registered that she stood there, half in the shadows, soon close enough to even listen to their talk. Perhaps it was as Saerya never tired to say, they were overlooking her.

    “... a breach of trust!”, Petyr's voice echoed through the hallway. Jenna tensed up, noticing two things. First, Petyr was viciously angry. Second, he didn't even care that people were listening to the two of them. They knew she was there, they had to know, yes? And there she stood, seeing Petyr Vyrwel and Maron Mullendore marching side by side. “How can I still trust you after this?”, Petyr barked. “Answer me, Maron!”

    The beast shot him a smile and Jenna clenched her fists, as a wave of anger threatened to overwhelm her. She imagined he had the same smile on his face as he was... as he was beating her father to death. Something dangerous lurked in his eye. “The question, my friend, if some treacherous Rock bastard is what you want this alliance to end over”, he growled. “Think of how far we have come. You really think either of us can turn around now?”

    Jenna heard Petyr’s gulp and the lord glanced around. She suppressed a gasp, but managed to press herself deeper into the shadow, completely out of sight. He might have seen here, but at least Mullendore did not. Her breath began to grow faster, as she realized what an unexpectedly close call this had been. Had the monster seen her... by the gods, the thought alone was nauseating!

    “Not here, Maron”, the lord warned his ally and she heard a door creaking. The two men entered the room behind it, leaving Jenna to remain in the shadows for a little longer. Then, she exhaled. Instantly, her knees grew weaker, as she almost stumbled to the ground. Just barely did she manage to lean against the wall behind her and tears shot into her eyes. They had been so close! By the gods, had they seen her...

    She could still hear them, behind the door, arguing fiercely, but the thick walls prevented her from hearing anything but the tone in which they spoke. Petyr was almost yelling, whereas Maron’s voice was calm, confident and with a subtle, underlying aggressiveness. And though she could not hear it, she could guess what they were talking about. Perhaps this was her chance to find out what their plans were all about, the one secret not even Saerya was able to fully determine.

    At the same time, they had just almost caught her. Petyr might have even seen her already and he wouldn’t ignore her again. She had no doubt that her head would roll should she get caught this time. The reward was tempting though, so tempting that Jenna genuinely considered it, despite everything inside her screaming to just leave, to find Saerya and be done with it. After all, Saerya would know what to do, right?

    [Listen to their conversation] [Leave them and find Saerya]

  • [Change the topic] I don't going down the other way will lead to any tangible benefit, so let's change the topic and not tease Osborn.

    [Leave them and find Saerya] Mullendore will catch her, and that's very not good, so let's go find Saerya. She's nice. Spying on your lord? Tisk tisk tisk.

    My apologies for taking so much longer! The fact that I only started writing on the day I closed the voting certainly played a part in it, a

  • Mullendore will catch her, and that's very not good, so let's go find Saerya. She's nice. Spying on your lord? Tisk tisk tisk.

    May I just admit real quick, the moment I gave this choice, I was half certain you'd decide to spy on them, as the only one who is really in danger here is Jenna. It appears I have been mistaken. But aye, if Mullendore (or one of his usual followers) catches her, that will be anything but pleasant. Finding Saerya is definitely the safer option here.

    [Change the topic] I don't going down the other way will lead to any tangible benefit, so let's change the topic and not tease Osborn. [L

  • And here it is, the closing of the voting. A few days late, but the part itself got just ready. I closed the voting on Creator's Haven a bit earlier, but I keep up with my promise to keep the story up and running here for as long as possible :)

    For now, if you have not seen it yet, the Telltale forums will likely shut down at some point in the future. We don't know when it will happen, but it becomes more and more likely with each passing day. As such, we have organized in a new community, Creator's Haven, which you are very welcome to check out by following this link!

    The Voting is closed!

    Lachlan is going to change the topic

    Jenna is going to leave Petyr and Maron in favour of finding Saerya

    Once more, I apologize for keeping the voting open for so long. I told you about what is going on and well, I have not been at home until Tuesday, in order to attend my grandfather's funeral. I am feeling overall a bit better now, but not going to lie, this is a hard time for my family. That being said, I aim to not let the whole situation affect my schedule too much, though obviously my priorities are shifted for the time being. I hope you understand, if a part needs longer until I release it, that is the reason for it. Nonetheless, thank you for sticking around and especially thank you for your kind words, here in the thread, in private or on Discord, I honestly appreciate it. Things gotta get better eventually :)

    The next part should be out tomorrow. While I haven't gotten any writing done while I was away, I have started and should finish it in a timely manner. This next part will bring us back to Raenna's storyline, showing her arrival at the Wall. I also hope to include a second PoV, starting Irae's Chapter 3 storyline at the other end of the world and the aftermath of her treatment of Kareq Orlatis. Both parts should introduce some interesting new characters and I am overall excited to share it with you, so I hope I'll get it done tomorrow.

  • Raenna

    “Breathtaking, isn't it?”, Jorn asked, though Raenna had the slight impression he wasn't even looking at the Wall in front of them. She however was too stunned by the sight to even pay much attention to him, so she just nodded, staring at the inconceivably giant wall of ice.

    “Eh, it'll pass”, Erik added. “Once you're in that castle, trust me, the whole wall will turn to shit. I had my reasons to leave” Jorn, with notable irritation, raised an eyebrow. “Such as?”, he asked and Erik smirked. “Well, first of all there's the rules. Never been fond of these, guess that's what brought me here in the first place”

    “Yeah, figured that much”, Jorn replied and Erik gave him a sharp grin. “You get used to the cold”, he continued, with a brief glance at Raenna, who was slightly shivering despite the thick fur. “But there is one thing I just cannot deal with in this godsforsaken Night's Watch and do you know what it is?”

    Raenna shook her head, pressing her lips together as she stared at the gargantuan wall of ice. “It's the people”, Erik explained. “There's three types of people in that castle. My type's petty criminals. I stole a loaf of bread because I was starving, so I got exiled to guard a wall of ice for the rest of my life” He raised an eyebrow. “You ever been hungry, pretty boy?”

    As Jorn gulped, Erik chuckled. “Figured that much”, he said. “Anyways, all can take the black. You can probably guess, the harsher the punishment would be otherwise, the more tempting this becomes. So, you got folk like me, who broke the rules once or twice, and then you got rapists, murderers and worse. We're bottom of the pecking order to them” His tone grew colder as he continued. “But do you know the worst type stranded there?”, he asked. “It's people like you, Mormont. Highborn assholes who think they still own the world. Brother of the Watch my ass, no matter how low their rank, they all expect me to bow to them. I'm not a fucking kneeler anymore”

    Jorn was quiet after this, his smile gone. Raenna could see that Erik's account was troubling him. “My father used to say they are noble men”, he mumbled and Erik shook his head. “Maybe ten thousand years ago”, he spoke. “Now it's Westeros' dumping ground for all those they don't want anymore. Second sons, or maybe thirds, dissidents and criminals of all shapes and colours” He leant closer to Raenna and his smug expression faded. “Come to think of it, when we're at the Nightfort, keep your girl close, will ya? Worse things have happened there”

    Raenna clenched her fists, though she noticed the honest concern in his gaze, so she nodded in return. She too had grown up with stories of the distant Nightfort, headquarters of the Night's Watch, their oldest and darkest castle. And never had she ever imagined that she would see this place with her own eyes.

    The Nightfort was honestly a bit less threatening than she expected. It was large, yes, but it lacked walls to defend it from any side but the northern and compared to the Wall it looked almost tiny. Clearly ancient, perhaps older even than Winterfell, or at least not as carefully maintained, it had stained walls, lying completely in the shadow of the Wall. One tower was crumbled and if it wouldn't be for the smoke and the torches, she would have considered the whole thing abandoned.

    “Why would they ever even build a wall like this?”, she mumbled, not quite able to look away from the most massive structure she had ever seen. Sure, the Hightower was at least as high, but this wall, it was as long as the eye could see and more. Awe-inspiring in every sense of the word, as well as intimidating.

    “Not to keep out people like me”, Erik replied. “Or, well, you know, the Free Folk. We're a threat to farms and villages, but you've seen how quickly a few castle-trained assholes dealt with my group. Nah, that wall seems a bit excessive for that, eh?” He shrugged. “I've heard rumours though. Fuck, we all did”

    “Not just rumours”, a voice growled from behind and Raenna tensed up momentarily. For a man of his broad frame, sitting on such a heavy and stocky animal, Mace Crowl was remarkably silent. And yet, out of them all, the Skagosi was perhaps the most accustomed with the wildlings, to a degree not even the deserter Erik was. “The Others. White Walkers, as the mainlanders call them. They're not rumours, not fairytales or legends”

    “I take it you've seen them?”, Erik snarked at him and Mace did not respond to the slight provocation. He merely shook his head. “My grandfather has visited the lands beyond the wall”, he said. “Sailed across the sea to the settlement the Free Folk calls Hardhome. There, he spoke to their elders and they showed him what remained of the White Walkers in this world, remnants of the Long Night” He glanced up at the Wall. “Our ancestors had a reason to build this. We'd be foolish to disregard their wisdom”

    Erik shrugged. “Haven't seen any White Walkers in my time beyond the Wall”, he admitted. “But there's a lot Myrla didn't tell me” He gulped, as he looked at the Nightfort, now completely serious. “Oh man, I do so not like being here again”, he sighed and Jorn raised an eyebrow. “You have Lord Roffe's word that no man of the Night's Watch will harm you”, he reminded him and Erik smirked dryly. “Yeah, but I don't have theirs”, he growled.

    Raenna gulped, as his warning still echoed in her head. She glanced behind her, where Mace was riding on his unicorn. The horned beast remained calm while he kept an eye on it, but even Dag's wolf was afraid of getting near it. There was something about its scent that made the horses nervous, as well as a cruel intelligence whenever she looked it in the eye. However, it was at least fiercely obedient to its master and the Skagosi treated it with kindness.

    “I... think I'm going to check up on Briar”, she mumbled. The girl was sitting on the cart behind Mace, between Gared Snow, who was driving the cart, and Malina Karstark. Behind them, Dag Umber sat next to his wolf. And yet behind them, Eon and Harrold were chatting about something, with the Hornwood man's chuckles cutting through the cold air.

    She slowed down her horse and the unicorn briefly glared at the other animal as it trotted past them. Still, as nervous as it made her, she mustered a smile towards Mace. “Snow hair”, he greeted her, before he was past her. She nodded in return, though there was a smile on her face as she locked eyes with Briar. The girl was stunned at the magnificence of the Wall, probably even more so than Raenna.

    “And what is behind it?”, she asked, to which Malina gave Gared a sharp glance. The Dustin bastard merely grinned in return. “A frozen wasteland”, he told her. “Filled with cannibals and White Walkers” The girl's mouth slightly opened. “What is a cannibal?”, she then asked, though before Gared could answer, Malina placed a finger on his lips. “Not someone you want to meet”, she said, before her glare towards Gared grew sharper. He seemed to take enjoyment out of her discomfort though. “If you say so, mylady”, he replied, giving her a wink.

    “Hey Raenna”, Malina greeted her and the woman nodded in return. “Just wanted to see how you are holding up”, she mumbled and Malina glanced at Briar, whom she had wrapped an arm around. The girl nodded. “I'm excited!”, she assured her. “Can I touch the Wall?” For some reason, the fact that this was the first real question the girl asked caused Raenna to chuckle. “Only if you want to lose a finger”, she warned her. “That thing got to be cold”

    “Yeah, and don't lick it either”, Dag replied. “My sister Nea lost the very tip of her tongue that way, back when she was a child” Briar followed by sticking out her tongue. “Yeah, I'm not going to lick it”, she assured him. “But can we climb it? I want to see what is beyond, the cannibals and everything!”

    “It is supposed to be quite a view”, Gared brought up. He smiled at Briar, who nodded with excitement. Raenna however gulped, as she thought of just how high that thing was. Involuntarily, a memory crept into her mind. Alysanne, the madness in her eyes, as she had pushed her. And Raenna remembered falling. “I... maybe we'll talk about this later”, she stuttered. “For now, I want nothing more than a warm meal once we arrive”

    Her next sentence was interrupted, as a single horn signal sounded from the castle. A smile formed on Malina's face. “And it seems you won't have to wait too long for that to happen”, she replied. “If Lord Umber's letter has reached them, we should receive a warm welcome” Gared shrugged. “I don't know about you, but warm is the last thing on my mind when I look at that thing”, he replied.

    It did not take long for them to reach the Nightfort after this. Even from afar, Raenna was able to see the men, patrolling the courtyard and doing their duty, clad in black, with heavy fur cloaks. Some were clearly glancing at them, sometimes with more than just some casual interest and she was glad for the company of Gared, who had been keeping close to Briar over the past few weeks of their journey. She noticed, few of their glares were friendly, albeit some were obviously directed at Erik, who wore the fur garb of a wildling raider.

    The large courtyard was covered in snow and frost. The men quickly made way for them, as the cart entered the centre of the Nightfort. A large, yet unadorned hall loomed over it and Raenna spotted a massive tree with red leaves growing somewhere behind it, a weirwood as she had learned from her stay here in the North. From here, the castle was a maze of towers and vaults, closing in on them like the fingers of a giant fist. From in here, everything about the Nightfort seemed threatening. This was a dark place, the wind like the howling of the countless souls that had died here, in the shadow of the Wall.

    A dozen men walked out of the open door to the hall, the Great Hall of the Nightfort as she now realized. Their leader was clearly the one walking in their midst. Clad in the same black, his cloak was wider, covering his broad frame. A beard of the same colour was covering his lower jaw, falling down onto his chest and framing his face like a mane, while the hair on his head showed signs of balding. His face was brutish and ugly, with a heavily broken, slightly crooked nose and lines of wrinkles crossing through it. Yet his eyes were menacing, deep, black pools, the look in them calm and confident. Never before in her life had Raenna seen such dark eyes, yet the collected look on his face somehow mitigated how utterly unsettling they were.

    Behind her, Dag jumped down the cart, Mutt following him at once. The dark-eyed man only briefly glanced at the wolf, his gaze more wandering from the unicorn, to Erik, back to the unicorn before briefly resting on Raenna. Then, he spotted Briar and he narrowed his eyes. “Ser Dag Umber, I presume”, he finally spoke, his gaze shifting to Dag as the man approached him. Dag replied. “I see my brother's raven did reach you”, he spoke and the cloaked man nodded slightly. “That it did”, he confirmed. “Plus, only an Umber would be mad enough to travel here with a wolf. That thing attacks any of my men, we'll be having it for dinner”

    “He will behave”, Dag promised, before he hesitated, his head tilting slightly. “Lord Commander Hoare?” The man nodded. “Harrigon Hoare”, he introduced himself. “But if you don't mind, today is freezing. We'll continue this inside” He turned around at once, beckoning them to follow with a wave of his hand. “You take care of the horses”, he growled towards some of the men accompanying him. “And...” He glanced at the unicorn. “Whatever the hells that is supposed to be” Thankfully, Mace remained by his steed's side. “I'll do it”, he simply mumbled as one of the Night's Watchmen approached him.

    With him remaining behind, Raenna, Dag and their companions entered the Great Hall of the Nightfort. It was a high room and only slightly warmer than the downright chilling air outside. There was a fire burning, but it was neither enough to warm the entire room, nor to even illuminate it and the corners, as well as the ceiling was covered in darkness. On top of that, the wind was howling through the top of the building and Raenna frowned slightly at the noise. At least Briar did not seem to mind it. With pure excitement, she was sitting on Gared's shoulders, as the man carried her inside. The wide smile on her face was the only thing that prevented Raenna from regretting her decision to bring the child along.

    “Now, Umber, I must admit, I expected you to come with less... unusual company”, Harrigon Hoare growled, as he sat down close to the fire. Another man was sitting there, thin, with a long grey beard and hair of the same colour. He was wearing a thick robe, though no cloak and the chain around his neck clued Raenna in on whom he was. “Coracinus, Maester of the Nightfort”, Hoare introduced him in this moment and the maester nodded briefly, studying the newcomers out of his curious eyes. “A pleasure, Ser Dag”

    Dag smiled, as he took a seat next to the Lord Commander. “My apologies for any effort we force upon your men”, he said and Hoare smirked thinly. “You don't force any effort upon us, Ser”, he replied. “If we didn't agree to host you here, you'd be out, freezing in the snow. Your brother told me what to expect, I agreed and here you are” He narrowed his eyes. “Bringing a deserter into my castle”

    Erik had gotten into the hall with the rest of them, but while Raenna and Malina gladly took a seat close to the fire, he remained behind, as far away from the Lord Commander and his maester as possible. “Oh, I know you, boy”, Harrigon growled. “Erik Flowers. Arrived here a year ago, deserted after six months. We thought you died beyond the Wall. Hoped for it even”

    Erik managed an acidic smile. “Sorry to disappoint, Lord Commander”, he replied, but any attempt at sarcasm was drowned out as something dangerous flared up in these dark eyes. Raenna remembered how the saying about his house went. Black of hair, black of eye... She shivered, as she saw the anger in his gaze. “Been running with Half-Thenn's men, I heard”, he spat. “At least that's what Roffe Umber claims and the man is not a liar. He's also the only reason I don't have you flogged to death”

    His voice was calm, cold and threatening and Raenna could see how afraid Erik was of this man. Not that she could blame the Lord Commander. After all, he was still a deserter. “I never met the Half-Thenn, Lord Commander”, he mumbled. “But I...” Harrigon cut him off by raising his hand. “But I don't want to hear a word from you, Flowers”, he spat. “You got a second chance here at the Wall. The fact that you get a third one is out of my hands” He glanced at Dag. “And I expect something in return”

    Dag nodded. “Anything, Lord Commander”, he assured him. “I...” Hoare cut him off. “Wasn't finished”, the Lord Commander snarled. “But all in due time. I know why you are here and I might be able to help. Your house has helped my Watch a great deal. Half of Sable Hall is made up from Umber recruits. Only reason that castle still exists, to be honest. So, it'll be my pleasure” He said this in a tone that made it clear to Raenna that it was anything but his pleasure, but at least he managed an almost warm smile as he looked around. “Now tell me, who are your companions? Besides the deserter, I mean”

    “Well, there we got Lady Malina Karstark and her companion, Gared Snow, the bastard of Barrowton”, the knight explained at once. “His half-brother Eon Dustin, heit to Barrowton and his friend Harrold Hornwood. Jorn Mormont, the heir to Bear Isle. Outside, we got Mace Crowl of Skagos. And here we got Raenna Minsworth and her young ward, Briar Catelins”

    Harrigon glanced at Briar, then at Raenna, slowly narrowing his dark eyes, but not before she saw the concern in them. “You bring a deserter to my halls, Umber”, he finally said. “A Skagosi, which is pretty much half a wildling, then two women and a little girl” He grinned dryly. “I cannot decide which is worse. You're demanding quite a lot from me and mine” He sighed. “And there's a lot of fancy names in your group. Dustin and Hornwood and Mormont. Hope none of you expect that to be worth a damn once you pass the Wall”

    With this, his glare fell upon Erik. “Deserter, come closer”, he barked. “Hate to say it, but you're even more useless if you freeze to death over there” Reluctantly, Erik followed the order. There was something commanding about Harrigon Hoare. Unsurprising, as she realized, considering whom his brother was. Raenna had thankfully never met the King of the Isles and the Rivers, but she imagined them to be similar in these regards. Authorative and probably intimidating. At least Harrigon was not a tyrant by any account.

    “And me and Coracinus, we want to hear your story”, he revealed. “Compare it to what we know. I want to see if you bullshit these people, you understand?” He leant forwards, a predatory glare in his dark eyes. “Or better yet, how much you're bullshitting them” Erik gulped, as all eyes were on him. Harrigon Hoare however exchanged a glance with Raenna. “You and I, Valyrian, we must have a talk as well”, he added.

    It took Raenna a moment to reply. “Me?”, she merely managed to say and the Lord Commander grinned slightly. “No, I mean one of the other dozen Valyrians in the room”, he snarked. “Of course I mean you, snowflake” Briefly, he glanced at Briar and Raenna tensed up, as the Lord Commander shifted slightly. He rose from his chair. “Actually, I'd like to do that first. Come with me”, he ordered her and after Dag gave her a nod, she followed after Hoare, who was already approaching one of the walls of his Great Hall.

    He stopped next to a small window. “Can't say I expected a Valyrian in Umber's company. You're probably the only one of your kind in the North right now”, he spoke and Raenna shrugged. “I've been the only one of my kind a lot of times”, she replied, to which the Lord Commander flashed her a crooked grin. “I like that attitude”, he admitted. “Though I still question your intelligence”

    Raenna narrowed her eyes. “This is about Briar, is it not?”, she asked and Harrigon gave her a firm nod. “Briar, aye. The Wall is no place for a child”, he confirmed. “I mean, I never had children. Don't even like them to be honest, but I get it. She begs you and pouts and gives you one of these cute looks and you just can't say no. And so you bring her with you, all the way to the border of this world”

    There was something about his tone that struck her as genuine, so she merely tilted her head. “Is she in danger here?”, she asked and Harrigon sighed. Carefully, he placed a hand on her shoulder, before he pointed out of the window and onto the courtyard, where the Night's Watchmen were doing their duties. “There's almost four thousand men stationed here at the Nightfort”, he revealed. “I know half of them by name, or at least why they are here”

    First, he pointed at a slim, unassuming man, who was carrying a few swords towards a building. “Rapist”, he revealed. “Took the black to keep his manhood” His finger wandered towards one of the guards, a burly man with a spear, who patrolled across the courtyard. “Another rapist”, he spoke. “Rumour has it he had his way with a wildling woman once, so I don't send him on patrols anymore” Finally, he pointed at an older, grey-bearded archer. “And finally...”

    “Another rapist?”, Raenna asked and Harrigon shook his head. “Child rapist”, he corrected her. “And there's not just them. We got people here who would flat out murder your girl just to see tears coming out of those sweet eyes of yours, simply because it is the most exciting thing that'll happen here before the long, terrible darkness of winter engulfs this dreadful place”

    Raenna bit down onto her lower lip, as she glanced over her shoulder, to where Briar sat, merrily in Gared's arms. “Don't get me wrong, we're not all like them”, Harrigon assured her. “I'd say there's four hundred men in this castle who are genuinely vile. I don't mean honest folk who made a mistake, or even outlaws who mean to reform themselves, I'm talking people who see this as the easy way out. They should have never been given the chance”

    “Why do you keep them around then?”, Raenna asked and Harrigon sighed. “Because without them, the Night's Watch would lose a third of their members. I'd have to give up five castles at the least”, he admitted. “I don't like it, but those men, they play a part in the Watch's survival” He shook his head. “And there's good men here as well. Highborn recruits, volunteers, people who genuinely want to do their duty”

    Raenna bit down onto her lower lip. “Do you think Briar is in danger?”, she asked, to which Harrigon shrugged. “I don't know”, he said. “I know you are not. Don't know your story and frankly, I don't even care, but Umber has a reason to drag you along for this. I bet you're not half bad with that knife of yours. Lady Karstark has her grunt by her side. But your girl? She has none”

    “She has me”, Raenna insisted, to which Harrigon smirked. “Yeah, because your duty lies entirely with protecting that girl during your stay here, huh?”, he asked. “No, you got something to do with Umber and his brother. What I mean is, I got good men here, whom I'd trust with my life. And I offer to take two of them to guard your little girl while she stays here”

    The offer caught her by surprise. Raenna raised an eyebrow, but said nothing at first. She did not know Harrigon Hoare, nor had she even been to the Wall, so she was not certain if she could trust either of them. The Watch was way past its prime, filled with murderers and rapists. And Hoare? Ironborn, a tyrant's brother. Black of heart...

    Yet was she in any position to decline? He was right, taking Briar along had been foolish, but she couldn't just refuse the girl a wish, could she? If she could trust him, it would be a generous offer. But perhaps it would be better to stay as far away as possible from the Night's Watch and from the Hoare who led them. If she'd ask, surely Gared would be up for the task, or Jorn, or maybe even Mace...

    [Agree to have his men guard Briar] [Tell him you prefer to have your group guard Briar]

  • edited October 2018

    Great Part Liquid. As always

    [Agree to have his men guard Briar]

    I believe compromise is the best for everyone.

    Raenna “Breathtaking, isn't it?”, Jorn asked, though Raenna had the slight impression he wasn't even looking at the Wall in front of them

  • [Agree to have his men guard Briar] Eh, I guess this is best. I think? I don’t know really but...

    “Breathtaking, isn't it?”, Jorn asked, though Raenna had the slight impression he wasn't even looking at the Wall in front of them. She however was too stunned by the sight to even pay much attention to him, so she just nodded, staring at the inconceivably giant wall of ice.


    Raenna “Breathtaking, isn't it?”, Jorn asked, though Raenna had the slight impression he wasn't even looking at the Wall in front of them

  • edited November 2018

    The Voting is closed!

    Raenna is going to allow Harrigon's men to guard Briar

    This option means that Raenna is going to trust Harrigon to some degree. If he can actually be trusted, it surely was a good choice, because he knows the wall, he knows whom to trust and whom to keep Briar away from. If he cannot be trusted, well, you will find out about it soon enough ;) Raenna's storyline in this chapter will be huge and lots of things will happen before it is over. And I am very excited for it.

    The next part is written already and will be posted right after this. It will hold PoV's for Irae and Alys, starting their storylines for this chapter and showing the warlock order's schemes in Qarth and Alys' struggle in Merman's Rest.

    Also, I have an important question to ask all of you, if you haven't given your opinion anywhere else. I just asked the very same in our Discord server, but those of you who might not be active over there should get a chance to voice their opinions as well. I have written the same stuff in the discord and will just copy what I have written there, to definitely reach all whom it concerns. I have been writing my story for almost four years now and I do not intend to change anything about that anytime soon. Or at all, to be honest. If all works out, I won't even slow down. Sure, things have not been ideal for me lately, but I fully intend to improve my schedule now that things have calmed down again. Lately though, I have grown a bit, well, not bored with my writing, or disappointed in writing about the same topic for years, but I felt a growing hunger to expand a bit, to tackle another writing project. That project would be generally shorter than FoT, because nothing can be longer than that, but I would like to have another thing I can write for, another setting. At best, I will be able to regain that writing speed I had in the very early FoT days. Here's the thing though, the setting I would absolutely love to write about would be the one I DM for every two weeks, something I have done for way longer than writing FoT, or writing actively in general. I got this campaign going and the more I think about it, the more I realize that this is something I would love to write as an interactive story, character submission and all. Here's the second problem, none of you knows a thing about that setting and I would have to write a couple small guides to introduce you to the world. Minor thing for me, I'd like to do that, but still. And I understand if you all might feel like I'd stretch myself too thin, so I thought I should just approach everyone and hear your thoughts and concerns and who might even be interested in reading it at all. Naturally, I doubt it'd ever get the readership FoT has, but I hope to get at least some of you interested. I also intend to just write a prologue for it early next week, so that you get the idea where I would like to go with it. What are your thoughts on this and would you even be interested in seeing another project of mine?

  • Irae

    “How are you feeling?”, Irae asked, as she tilted her head, carefully looking at the pale man in front of her. Kareq Orlatis had recovered remarkably for someone who had been at death's door just days ago. But here he was, sitting straight in his own bed and though pale and still sweating, he was awake, conscious and did not seem to be in pain.

    “Could be better”, the merchant admitted. “But has been worse. Whatever that was you gave me, it's working” He narrowed his eyes, as he glanced to the door. “But you and I, we still have something to discuss” Irae smirked dryly. “This is about the price, isn't it?”, she asked, before she slowly shook her head. “I am afraid it is non-negotiable. This is not a contract between you and me, but between your daughter and the warlocks of Qarth. Naela knew what she was getting into before that”

    Kareq frowned. “Did she?”, he asked. “Or did your order took advantage over my daughter when she was out of her mind with grief and concern?” He leant forward and gave her a sharp glare. “Because it sure seems like it is the latter”, he growled and all of a sudden, his hand reached for Irae's forearm, grabbing it with surprising strength. For a moment Irae even regretted that she had patched him up that well.

    “I want to know what you want from Naela, warlock”, he hissed. “Because I don't trust you and I sure as hell won't allow you to harm my daughter” Irae's smirk faded. “Harming your daughter is not what I intend...”, she tried to assure him, but the grip around her forearm grew only stronger. “I am a merchant”, Kareq hissed. “That means I know a liar when I see her. You're not good with people, are you?”

    Irae tensed up. “What do you think we want from her?”, she asked, to which Kareq clenched his teeth. “You know what they say about your order. Can you honestly tell me it's all just lies?”, he asked in return. Irae knew the rumours he meant. More importantly, she knew that almost nothing of what was said was not, to some degree, the truth. She loved being a member of the warlock order, but there was no denying they deserved at least some of their bad reputation.

    “I do not intend to harm your daughter”, she repeated, staring Kareq dead in the eye. “And you overstep your position with the ones who saved your life” The merchant gulped at her unsettling glare and finally let go of her. “I won't let you harm her”, he said. “If it is her blood you need, then take mine”

    Estos Ezzara's suggestion from earlier still rang in her ears and she gulped at how close Kareq's suggestion might have hit the mark. Naela's blood, what else would the witch need her for? There surely was nothing outstanding on the girl herself. She was simply one of many, good-natured, innocent and she did not deserve whatever the Blood Witch had planned for her.

    “I am afraid the price is Naela's to pay”, she replied. “Your conviction to save your daughter is admirable, but I assure you, I mean her no harm” And it was the truth from where Irae was concerned. The Blood Witch however, maybe even the council of warlocks, if Agaz Darkeye would get what he wanted, they were another story entirely. And was she in a position to resist either of them? “Your daughter is not a child anymore, but a woman grown. She can make her own decisions”

    “And her own mistakes, huh?”, Kareq growled. He sighed, as he finally let go of her, which she used as an opportunity to raise from her chair. “Well, I see your condition has improved. The medicine works, as expected”, Irae spoke. “I will return in two days to give you the final stage of the treatment. After that, the poison should have left your body entirely and you will feel like nothing happened”

    Kareq nodded. “Can hardly wait for it”, he said, though he narrowed his eyes as Irae approached the door. “Warlock, if you do anything to harm my daughter, I swear I will tear down your palace of dust, do you hear me?” Irae raised an eyebrow. “I know warlocks who would have turned your eyeballs into maggots for this”, she warned him. Kareq sighed in reply. “I presume you're too nice for that?”, he asked and Irae shook her head. “I just don't like maggots”, she said gently, as she left the room.

    It was true that Kareq Orlatis' recovery had been exceptional so far. He was strong and the side effects that were usually to be expected from a warlocks medicine was almost non-existant. She'd lie if she'd say this did not make her happy. It was nice, helping the people of Qarth every once in a while. And yet she knew, this was not the end of it. Someone had tried to poison him and this someone would try again. And should they succeed, Naela would not be around to help her father. The girl had saved his life and she would pay for it dearly. The least Irae could do would to pull in some favours with the other warlocks, to ensure the man's protection while his daughter was away. Moros would not like it, but she had a hunch she could convince Garraman to see reason.

    “So, how is he doing?”, Naela asked, as Irae walked down the set of stairs that led into the main hall. The girl had remained here, but Irae could tell she was anxious. Doing a bit better perhaps, but still anxious. This would take time to get over and she sent a silent apology to Naela, knowing she wouldn't be able to grant her this time.

    “Better”, she admitted. “Remarkably so. I did not expect him to recover this quickly” Naela gulped. “You had no idea it would work at all, right?”, she deduced and after a moment, Irae allowed herself a thin smirk. “I don't think I had any chance but guessing”, she replied. “Had I done nothing, he would have died. It was a strong poison that nearly killed him”

    Naela narrowed her eyes. “The Tourmaline Brotherhood is going to pay for this”, she hissed. “Once my father has recovered, we will take this to the Pureborn!” She clenched her fists. “Have you found out anything about the man who made the poison?”, she asked then, her determination slightly lowered by a hint of doubt.

    Truthfully, Irae shook her head. “That is not my speciality”, she admitted. “I might know a warlock or two who could find out though. They can provide vidence not even the Pureborn will dare to doubt” Naela tilted her head. “For a price, huh?”, she asked and Irae shrugged. “At this point, what's a little bit more?”, she asked. “You already owe the order a great deal”

    “And you'll make certain I won't forget that”, Naela mumbled. “I'll talk to my father about this. Your evidence might help our claim. The Brotherhood must pay, that's all I know” Irae rose one of her fingers, to cut the girl off before she could fall into another rant about the Tourmaline Brotherhood. Over the past few days, she had surely heard enough of that. They were no threat to her order and all it would take was a single warlock to keep Kareq safe from them for the rest of his life.

    “Just remember there is a price to pay, always”, Irae warned her and Naela nodded. “And I'm ready”, she said. “You kept your end of the bargain. Now what is it you want from me?” Her facial expression revealed the sheer concern she undoubtedly had to feel. Irae tensed up. Over the past few days, she had subtly prepared Naela for this, to be ready for anything. The girl likely expected something painful, as the warlocks were known for, a tribute in flesh and blood. Would she be relieved to hear that all they demanded was her leaving her home behind? Irae knew, she could not tell her the full truth, else the girl would back out. Anyone would, probably.

    “I have to discuss the next steps with my order”, she admitted. “But when the time comes, and it will come soon, I am going to ask something of you and you will follow my command” Naela raised an eyebrow. “Command?”, she asked and Irae tensed up at the girl's sharp glare. Then, she nodded. “We need you to do something for us, but the price might grow higher if you want our protection from future attempts on your or your father's life”

    That, however, was a clear lie. Of course, the warlocks did nothing for free, but this was merely a minor addition to an already steep price Naela had to pay. Maybe they'd agree to add it in as a bonus. And that, in return, would surely make Naela more receptive of her demand. Perhaps she already was. She seemed willing to go that far, yes, but Irae knew, the girl had no idea what she was getting herself into. To be fair, neither had Irae and she had the slight suspicion not even Master Moros knew exactly what the Blood Witch wanted. The warlocks were trying to gain some time and Naela was supposed to be their sacrifice.

    “Lovely”, the girl mumbled. “But hey, be cryptic if you want to. You saved my father's life and I owe you one” She extended a hand and after a moment of hesitation, Irae shook it. To her surprise, she felt something in her hand as Naela pulled back and as she looked, she spotted a fine, silver locket the girl had handed over to her.

    “What...?”, she began, but Naela cut her off. “I want you to take this”, she said simply, as Irae carefully watched the locket she had been given. It was fine, probably worth a fortune and the most beautiful piece of jewelry she had ever seen. “This is for me?”, she asked in surprise and Naela nodded. “This is your payment”, she explained. “You have done a lot for my father and yet I presume the ones who will receive whatever payment your kind wants from me are those who stand above you, your superiors. I want you to have something out of this as well”

    “I cannot accept this”, Irae spoke, genuinely baffled by Naela's generosity. The girl smiled slightly. “It is a gift”, she said. “Isn't it rude to refuse a gift? Besides, it'd look wonderful with your eyes. Just take it, I got more of them than I ever need” And Irae was, admittedly, tempted. It was a beautiful locket, no doubt about it. Yet she was not the type to wear jewelry, never did so in her entire life. Could she truly accept this? And if she would do, how would the rest of her order react?

    [Accept the locket] [Refuse the locket]


    “So, can we go through that again?”, Alys asked, suppressing a sigh as Carvin and Warmond both just stared at her. “You know that the man who has sent a thug after me is one of the most dangerous pirates in Merman's Rest. You know he has no morals whatsoever. And your plan is for me to just go and knock on the doors of his palace?”

    “Private room”, Warmond corrected her. “It is technically King Blacksails' palace, in which Sargasso resides during his stay in Merman's Rest. That makes it easier to smuggle in my own people and actually, I already have” He smiled at her and it was probably meant to be reassuring, yet Alys felt awful. Here she stood, outfitted with a new, turquoise cape from Warmond's personal wardrobe, close to Aeron Blacksails' palace in the centre of Merman's Rest, about to get herself straight into the lion's den.

    “Once you're in, you have to stall him, that's all you need to do”, Carvin added. “Find him, talk to him about anything and keep him busy. While he's paying attention to you, we're getting in position to overwhelm him, but it has to happen quickly. If Sargasso realizes what is going on, he'll alert the king to our actions” Alys gulped. “Yeah and we really don't want that, huh?”, she mumbled. “Can't we just... talk to him first?”

    This time, Warmond gave her a sharp glare. “He will admit to nothing, have us thrown out of the building, then murder me and Carvin in our sleep”, he hissed. “And I don't have to remind you what that'd mean to you, do I, Lady Boleyn?” Alarmed at his loud voice, Alys glanced around, but thankfully, the small side street of Merman's Rest they had entered was just far away enough from the central square to avoid attention. By now, it was night time, which mostly meant that it was even darker inside the cave than usual, as well as notably colder. Yet at the same time, those were the hours when the whole settlement came to life. Pubs and alehouses opened, the brothels were overflowing. Alys didn't have to enjoy that part, sure, but she could not deny, it was nice seeing so many people out on the streets, being genuinely happy. Somewhere, someone always played music even and right now, the sounds of several lutes reached her ears.

    “Right, I got it...”, Alys mumbled. “Doesn't mean I like it, but I got it” Carvin patted her onto the back and flanked by the two men, she entered the main square of Merman's Rest, quickly approaching Blacksails' mansion. Now illuminated by dozens of torches, it had something intimidating about it that she did not see before. Or maybe it was because she had no idea what she had to expect in there.

    Carvin's hand on her back got removed and as she glanced over her shoulder, she saw that both men remained behind. Warmond gave her a stern nod, while Carvin smiled and she took a deep breath, as she approached the mansion. By now, she was known to the Ibbenese guards King Blacksails employed and they merely nodded as she passed. They had been given their orders, after all, by Aeron himself.

    She was halfway through the open doorway before she stopped, clenching her fists as she looked at one of the two stocky ape-men, the one that was less... hairy. “I... I would like to speak to Captain Saan”, she revealed. “Could you tell me where to find him?” The Ibbenese did not reply. Instead he merely blinked, before he grunted something incomprehensible.

    Alys frowned at his tone, before she hurried inside. Of course Aeron's servants did not speak the common tongue. He was a Lysene, wasn't he? They were Ibbenese. Why should either of them speak a language that wasn't their native, especially someone not more than a common guard. It seemed she had to find the captain all by herself.

    As she entered the dark hall that led deeper into Aeron's mansion, she blinked for a few moments. It was hot in here, despite the coldness of the night outside and she nestled at the cloak Warmond had given her. The air was heavy with smoke and the strange, sweet smell of the herbs Aeron Blacksails was smoking. Sargasso Saan, now, where could he possibly be at that time?

    “You were looking for me, mylady?”, a smooth, familiar voice asked to her side and Alys' heart nearly skipped a beat, as she just barely suppressed a scream. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she saw the figure, just sitting on a bench in the corner of the room, nearly invisible between the dark fabric of the tapestries. But there he was, undeniably, playing with his golden earring, Sargasso Saan.

    “Surprised to see me here?”, Saan continued and she froze in terror as he rose from his bench. “I like being here, invisible to the world, seeing who comes and who goes to this place. Seeing whom they like to visit” He approached her and the light of the torches revealed his wide grin. “Must say though, I didn't expect you, of all people, to seek me out”

    “I...”, Alys began, but she quickly pulled herself together, despite how much this man was scaring her. She could not give in now. Instead of fear, she thought of how angry she was, at him for what he had done, for trying to abduct her, and for Edward for bringing her here in the first place. And silently, she prayed that Anturion would never return from his raid. “I may need your help, Captain Saan”

    With mild satisfaction, she noticed that this had caught him off guard. For a moment, Sargasso Saan seemed genuinely baffled at her remark, but he pulled himself together almost quick enough for her not to notice. “My help...”, he repeated, before he moved closer, placing a hand on her back and giving her his kindest smile. “I would always help a guest of our king, Lady Snow. Please, walk with me, we will continue this in a more private atmosphere”

    He began to walk and Alys came with him, half out of her own free will, half because the hand on her back was subtly pushing her, through a door, into a similarly dark hallway. They passed several closed doors to their right and Alys heard passionate moaning behind one of them. Sargasso stopped there, only briefly, before he let out a chuckle and continued on his way.

    “Poor Melvan, so predictable”, he said. “His fondness for whores is his greatest weakness. Most of them are on my payroll and he knows it, but he ignores it as long as they spread their legs for him. Manderly, he prefers strong sailors and as it just happens, I have the second-largest fleet after our king himself” He shook his head. “I can read them, Lady Alys, just like how I can read Harlaw and his desire to fuck the future queen of Westeros”

    He next stopped in front of another door, opening it with a key from his belt. The room behind was illuminated by several candles, revealing a small office, with a window to the inner courtyard of Aeron's mansion. It stood open and the air inside the room was cold, which Alys saw as a welcome change from the heat inside the hallway.

    There was a small table and Sargasso walked around it, after he closed and, to Alys' discomfort, locked the door. “And yet, Edward Anturion? He is someone I cannot read, unlike most of my fellow captains”, he spoke, as he sat down, offering Alys the seat on the other side of the table. She took it and shifted beneath his smile. “He comes here after messing up badly... shouldn't he expect that the king is going to punish him somehow?”

    “The king forgave Edward”, Alys brought up and Sargasso smirked. “So he claimed, at least”, he corrected her. “But Aeron Blacksails is unforgiving. You fight him, you die. You disappoint him, he might just target someone you love” He shrugged. “Nothing a nameless bastard has to worry about, right? No family to care for, have you, Lady Alys?”

    Alys gulped, as she briefly closed her eyes. Images flashed through it. Her father, her little brother... oh gods, she missed them so much. In this moment, in the presence of this terrifying man, she wished for nothing more than to return home. She'd even marry Dante Karstark if that's what her father would want. Everything, if it would only mean she could return home, safe and sound.

    “I need your help, Captain Saan”, she reminded him and Sargasso nodded. “Of course you do”, he said and this time, he did not sound surprised anymore. “What is it though? Do you seek to free yourself from that two-timing son of a bitch who brought you here?” He narrowed his eyes, as his gaze wandered across her body. “That cloak belongs to Manderly, though you are not his type... may I take it I am not the only one you asked for help?”

    “Captain Warmond is the only reason I am still alive”, Alys admitted. “I was attacked by a man, just yesterday. He tried to abduct me, but Warmond intervened. He told me I should speak to you, told me you know everything going on in Merman's Rest” Sargasso nodded. If he was surprised at her account of what happened, he did not show it. “Mylady, I find that hard to believe”, he told her. “Warmond hates me and he is not enough of a pragmatist to look past that”

    “It is the truth”, Alys insisted and Sargasso raised an eyebrow. “And nothing but the truth”, he added mockingly. “But I might have heard a thing or two about that, yes. A body, floating in the harbour basin, his throat cut. Happens all the time in a city like this, but I keep a track on such cases regardless. Never know when it comes in handy. So, I believe at least the first part of your little tale”

    “Can you tell me who sent the man?”, Alys asked, not looking away from Sargasso's piercing glare. “Maybe”, Sargasso replied. “But what I always found more intriguing is the reason. I have my suspicions already, but I want to know why anyone would target a mere bastard girl form the North. Did my checks on you, you're nothing special, aren't you?”

    Alys narrowed her eyes, not sure if she should feel insulted by his remark or not, but she decided not to reply to it. Instead, the captain leant forwards. “There is one reason I see. Well, two actually, but one I always found intriguing”, he said. “What if the random northern bastard girl is more than she appears to be? What if she is smart enough to hide her true identity?” He chuckled. “But you want something from me, Lady Alys, so I think, if there's more to my suspicion, you should tell me” He shrugged. “How else can I help you?”

    [Tell Sargasso about your identity] [Try to avoid the question] [Don't answer]

  • [Accept the locket] Oooo, shiny....

    [Try to avoid the question] Ah. Neutrality. That's never, never, ever led to bad situations for our characters.

    “I can read them, Lady Alys, just like how I can read Harlaw and his desire to fuck the future queen of Westeros”


    Irae “How are you feeling?”, Irae asked, as she tilted her head, carefully looking at the pale man in front of her. Kareq Orlatis had rec

  • edited November 2018

    [Accept the locket]
    [Try to avoid tge question]

    Irae “How are you feeling?”, Irae asked, as she tilted her head, carefully looking at the pale man in front of her. Kareq Orlatis had rec

  • [Accept the locket]
    What? It looks nice!
    [Try to avoid the question]
    Leave Eddie with all his chess pieces intact thank you. Though I am very curious to find out what the difference will be between avoiding and not answering.

  • The Voting is closed!

    Irae is going to accept the locket

    Alys is going to reveal her true identity to Sargasso Saan

    I cannot say I saw the second option coming at all. At the same time, it is arguably my favourite of the three options, because I can confirm, it is something Sargasso won't see coming. I look forward for Alys' next part, but the same goes for Irae as well, as both are going to have quite a large storyline ahead of them in this chapter. In Irae's case, I would even say she has good chances to be the longest of them all.

    The next part will be out right after me posting this update. It holds an Ellena PoV and agaisnt what I previously planned, it will hold no second PoV in it. The reason is that I am going to show a bit more than I originally planned in Ellena's PoV, which stretches its length to one whole part. I hope you enjoy :)

    Also, you might wonder when the new story I mentioned is coming. Be assured, it is still going to happen. At the same time, you know me, if I can make something, I want to make it good. So, I have half of the prologue written and I like it so far. At the same time, the world I plan to write about is quite complex. It would not be a problem, if not for the fact that I want to give you the opportunity to submit characters. While the general information you need for that won't be too much, I plan to write more in-depth guides to the setting for those of you who really enjoy submitting detailed characters and that is taking a little bit longer. So, it is coming, but likely later this week. I am glad to hear so many are at least curious, hopefully the project itself will deliver.

  • Ellena

    Aegon raised his sword, bringing it down heavily and without hesitation. Most of the knights in Dragonstone wouldn't have parried such a blow, Ellena knew that much by know. At the very least, their weapons would have given in beneath the valyrian steel. But Visenya's slender blade was made from the same steel and it effortlessly blocked the strike.

    A rare grin flashed over the queen's face, as she pushed Aegon's blade to the side. Parrying another of his strikes, she followed by one of her own, which Aegon had to dodge. He used the opportunity to get a step away from her, using the range of his larger blade. It was more than a sparring match and the way they looked at each other was almost intimate, as odd as the thought was. After all, King Aegon was in love with Rhaenys, wasn't he?

    The younger queen was watching them carefully, resting her arms on the ledge that separated the open hallway with the courtyard below. Ellena stood by her side, as did Hemys and Cassandra. Rhaenys' expression was distanced, her ever-present smile a bit smaller than usual, as she watched her king and her sister.

    Aegon spun his blade, a low strike which Visenya parried with ease. This was followed by a high attack and this time, Visenya was not able to full evade the blow. The tip of the sharp blade stopped, just an inch away from her throat and for a brief second, Visenya's eyes widened. Then, instead of yielding, she jumped back, dodging Aegon's strike, before darting forwards again. Her closed fist hit the king right in the face.

    Momentarily stunned, Aegon was unable to keep a firm grip around his heavy blade and Visenya snatched it from his fingers. Holding Dark Sister in the left and Blackfyre in the right, she rested the blades on Aegon's shoulders and now, the king slowly smirked. Finally, he gave her a nod, the closest to a sign of yielding she would get. Then, they separated and she handed him his blade.

    “He will spend the night with Visenya”, Rhaenys mumbled and Ellena raised an eyebrow. “You sound as if you're okay with it”, she mumbled, to which Rhaenys nodded. “In a way, I am”, she assured her. “There should be no jealousy between me and Visenya” She sighed slightly. “I knew what I would be getting when I married Aegon”, she admitted. “Sometimes I believe Visenya did not”

    Ellena shook her head, staring down at the duel between the king and his older wife. Breathing heavily, Aegon took a step away from Visenya, his smile mirroring hers. There was a hunger in it, the lust for battle that she hadn't seen in him yet. Then again, perhaps that was necessary for a conqueror of his ambition. He and Visenya were the same in these regards.

    Her expression soured as she saw Noelle in the distance. The priestess had been keeping a low profile and, thankfully, remained distant from her during the past weeks at Dragonstone. But Ellena had no doubt that she was planning for something. Perhaps the worst of it was that she still wasn't sure if it was a good or bad thing. If Noelle could be believed, her presence was a necessary evil, but that was exactly the problem.

    “Can I speak freely, my queen?”, Cassandra spoke up and after a moment fo hesitation, Rhaenys nodded. “You may”, she said in a casual tone, though her eyes darted at the handmaiden, making it clear how touchy the subject was. “I believe it is unfair, what King Aegon is doing”, she spoke and Rhaenys clenched her fists around the ledge. “You mean?”, she asked. “He loves you, doesn't he?”, the handmaiden spoke and Rhaenys slowly nodded. “He does”, she spoke with utmost confidence. “And yet he remains married to Visenya as well, despite not loving her” She gulped, noticing the cool look on the queen's face “I mean, it's unfair for both of you”

    Rhaenys remained silent after this. “There was a time when I thought the same, Cass”, she admitted. “But Aegon is the head of House Targaryen. For the first twenty years of his life, our father decided on every move he would ever make, planned his entire life for him. He had no choice but to marry Visenya and yet, he still chose me. It gives me comfort, in a way”

    “Fuck tradition then”, Cass mumbled. “He is the king. Shouldn't he make new ones instead of clinging to the old?” Rhaenys' expression gained a momentary sharpness and Cassandra gulped. “I mean...”, she began, but this time, the queen cut her off. “This is quite enough, Cassandra”, she said, though she followed it by a sigh. “We are a family, Aegon, Vis and me. And trust me, I am the last who has a right to complain in this” After she had said this, she stared down at the courtyard and at her husband and her sister, both locked in a fierce duel. Ellena saw blood on Aegon's face and on Visenya's neck and yet, they showed no sign of slowing down.

    Ellena had not noticed the man approaching them, but given that she was the only one who gasped at his sudden arrival, Rhaenys and the other handmaidens certainly had. Laevon Raelgaeron, Hemys' father, always reminded her of a vulture, with his large nose and slim build. He saluted briefly in front of his queen and when he looked at her, his expression was warmer than when he looked at his own daughter even.

    “Queen Rhaenys”, he spoke, his tone firm and stern. She smiled in return. “Just Rhaenys, Laevon”, she corrected him, before she gave him a wink. “I thought I had made myself clear” Laevon managed a thin smile that looked almost out of place on his serious face. “Rhaenys”, he said. “I believe there is a matter to deal with”

    The queen raised an eyebrow. “A matter, huh? Can't Aegon take care of it?”, she asked and Laevon frowned. “I believe the king is rather busy at the moment”, he said, glancing at the courtyard, where Aegon and Visenya had started the second round of their sparring match. Rhaenys apparently came to the same conclusion, as she nodded. “Alright, what is it?”, she mumbled.

    “Down at the beach”, Laevon replied. “Lord Velaryon and Ser Daghan are already down there” He paused. “We are about to receive... unexpected guests. I think you should take a look at this” The frown on his face made it clear that his news were not meant to be pleasant, but this only gained Ellena's curiosity.

    With a last look at the courtyard, Rhaenys took a step away from the ledge. “Lead the way”, she merely said and Laevon did just that. With Rhaenys to his right and Hemys to his left, he began to walk, while Ellena and Cassandra followed closely. They walked across the wall of Dragonstone and from up there, Ellena was not quite able to see what Laevon meant. The dark waters beyond the gloomy beach of Dragonstone were covered in thick fog and she could barely see several figures on the path down to it.

    As they came closer, she first recognized Asher Velaryon. The boy looked even more gloomy than the dark weather and he merely gave her a nod. It was clear that Ser Orys' punishment had an effect on him and Ellena felt guilty about her part in it. For listening to Aegon's war council, Orys had simply left him behind, marching to war against the Stormlands without his trusted squire. She suspected this was worse for him than anything else for him.

    And yet, the wink he gave her was barely humbled and it put a smile on her face. “What are you doing here?”, she asked and Asher shrugged. “With Ser Orys absent for the time being, I was ordered to stick to Ser Daghan”, he revealed. “Probably means the king intends to keep him close, I doubt they would send me anywhere interesting”

    “Well, you did enough to deserve it”, Hemys hissed, before she hesitated under the stern glance of her father. “I'm... just glad you didn't drag Ellena into your shenanigans” She clenched her fists, staring past him and towards the beach, as their small group descended the steep path together.

    “I'm sorry you got into trouble, Asher”, Ellena said and the boy shrugged. “He'll forgive me”, he said with confidence. “The timing could have been better though. I really wanted to go with him, leave this island and help with the war” He sighed. “He knows I'm ready. I can fight, I can follow orders” He ignored Hemys' doubtful expression, as he shook his head in frustration. “But of course he'd rather go to war without his squire”

    By now, the small group had gotten closer to the beach and through the fog, Ellena could see the figures of two dozen Targaryen soldiers and half as many Velaryon men. Lord Daemon Velaryon stood there, his thin figure clad in thick fur, to protect him from the cold winds. Ellena was certainly thankful for the black cloak she had been given, though not for the first time, she had to wonder how Rhaenys braved the cold so easily, wearing a fine, but rather thin dress in black and red, the fabric itself and the low neckline more suited for the summer.

    Velaryon had one of his hands in his beard, gently stroking it as he gave the queen a nod. The huge, bald figure of Daghan next to him sported a wide smile that was so unlike his thuggish features, as he briefly approached them. He greeted Rhaenys with a cordial hand on her shoulder and the queen rested hers on his for a second, before the knight moved past her to hug his daughter.

    And there, Ellena could see what this was all about. There was a long shape visible in the fog, out on the water, a figure, perhaps as long as Meraxes, but more slender. The head... that was clearly a dragon, wasn't it? A dragon ship, a wooden beast, its sail a single, huge wing. Rhaenys narrowed her eyes. “What is this about, uncle?”, she asked and Velaryon pointed out at the shape in the fog. “A ship, my queen”, he spoke. “But not just any. This is an Ironborn longship. There's not many Ironborn captains who would sail these waters and I like none of them”

    “We are not expecting Ironborn”, Laevon added calmly. “But those are no raiders. They must be here for something else” Rhaenys raised an eyebrow. “And shouldn't there be our fleet to prevent such a thing?”, she asked. “I think I remember you telling the king about the proud Velaryon fleet, how nothing would slip past them”

    Daemon Velaryon cleared his throat in discomfort. “I... of course only a token force remains at Dragonstone, while we gather our fleet for the attack against the Vale”, he stuttered. “The fog. They somehow must have slipped past us” He straightened his back. “Be assured, we would have noticed more than one ship. An attack against Dragonstone by sea is completely unthinkable”

    “This morning I would have thought Ironborn guests would be unthin...”, Rhaenys began a somewhat snappy response, but she cut herself off as the wind carried noise towards them. Ellena saw the smaller rowboat that was approaching them from the larger longship. From there, voices reached the shore, locked into a loud, joyful and barely harmonic sailor's song.

    Ellena frowned, as she glanced over her shoulder, only to spot Noelle a few feet behind her. “What are you doing here?”, she asked and the priestess raised an eyebrow. “You know why I am here”, she replied. “And I saw this in the fire. The iron scythe, kneeling to the silver queen” Ellena rolled her eyes. “Certainly didn't expect such a clear reply from you” Noelle shrugged. “The flames are rarely clear these days”, she admitted. “But I believe the captain of this ship has a role to play. For the better or the worse, I can not yet tell”

    This gained Ellena's curiosity. “You think your enemy is on that ship?”, she asked. To this, Noelle shook her head. “I don't know”, she admitted. “It is as I said, he has a role to play. Now it is up to me to find out if he's a threat or not” Ellena narrowed her eyes. “Why don't you try to burn him?”, she spat. “Heard that's always an option for your kind”

    If Noelle was hurt, or even just bothered by her comment, she did not show it at all. Instead, she merely let out a slight sigh. “I hope one day you will see that my intentions are good”, she mumbled and Ellena frowned. “It is not your intentions I doubt”, she replied. “Merely your judgement” With this, she turned to the shore, where the boat was now clearly visible. A little over a dozen men were rowing it and she was certain that there were more back on the boat.

    One of them jumped into the knee-deep water as the boat reached the shore. He was lean and ruggedly handsome, with a short beard and even shorter hair, all in black. There was a notable scar in his face, a gash running from the bridge of his nose to his upper right cheek, yet it worked well with the roguish look he pulled off so effortlessly. His chest was bare, covered merely by an open, sleeveless leather coat, exposing further scars and wiry muscles and also revealing the blue handkerchief he had wrapped around his left arm, like a trophy of sorts. Ellena also noticed the fine longsword on his belt and she narrowed her eyes as she spotted a dagger behind his back. Seemingly as unbothered by the cold as Rhaenys, he strode forwards with a grin, while two members of his crew followed behind him.

    One of them was a young man, skinny and short, shorter than Ellena even. If there was anything outstanding about his looks, it was his complete lack of outstanding features and if not for him walking behind the rather notable presence of the man that had to be his captain, she would have likely overlooked him. His long brown hair was tied back behind a thick, brown stripe of cloth that was tied around his head and he wore a simple clothing. Despite the dark bags beneath his eyes, he seemed eager to be here.

    The other one was a woman, probably in the same age. She was a beauty, with a pretty face, grey eyes and fair skin. A beauty mark was visible above her full lips. Her hair was as brown as that of the skinny man and a bit longer, reaching past her shoulders. Her shapely figure was covered by a white blouse and a black corset, with purple embroidery. A scarf of the same colour was tied around her waist and it jingled slightly as she moved, with dozens of colourful coins dangling from it. Her tight pants were coloured similarly in black and purple and tucked into her black boots. Unlike the two men, she was not smiling and both of her hands were resting on the twin stilettos, thin, myrish blades, as long as a short sword and twice as deadly.

    “That's close enough, Ironborn”, Daemon Velaryon growled, as he moved forward. “State your name and intentions at once, or we will cut you down” He was flanked by four of his men and them moving their hands to their swords was actually enough to give the Ironborn some pause. He stopped, raising his eyebrows, as he mustered the tall, gaunt Lord Velaryon from head to toe.

    “Easy there, Dickon”, he spoke. “You know, that'd all be way more scary if you and your hounds here weren't clad in Velaryon colours” He smirked and Ellena saw Daemon clenching his fists. “What did you just...”, he hissed, before he interrupted himself. “I'll have you know, you stand before Daemon Velaryon, uncle of the king and Master of Ships”

    The Ironborn raised an eyebrow, while the skinny man behind him chuckled wildly. Even the woman smirked, as the captain replied. “Well, in that case, I am...”, he said, before his smile grew slightly smaller for a single, brief moment. Ellena wouldn't have noticed it, if not for the time she spent with Terroma and then with Noelle. Both had shown her to notice these brief moments where a man's true intentions would shine through. In case of the Ironborn, it was as he looked past Daemon Velaryon for the first time, directly at Rhaenys, surrounded by her handmaidens and guards.

    “Not here for you”, he finished the sentence, without averting his gaze from Rhaenys. He moved past Lord Velaryon, who failed to seize the opportunity to draw his weapon. By the time he did, the Ironborn and his two companions were already past him and halfway between his men and Rhaenys'. While the skinny man was still chuckling, the woman had the common sense to look concerned. The sound of steel behind him was enough for the Ironborn to stop, now only half a dozen feet away from Rhaenys, who mustered him in a neutral, if slightly curious way.

    “My name is Gregor Harlaw”, the captain finally introduced himself. “The most well-travelled and experienced Ironborn captain you will ever meet. Am I correct in assuming that you must be Queen Rhaenys Targaryen?” He said this just as Rhaenys raised a hand, silently ordering Velaryon and his men to stop advancing on the trio. “You are correct”, she confirmed. “Though perhaps now would be a good time to tell me why you are here. House Harlaw is sworn to House Hoare, if I'm not mistaken”

    Gregor shook his head. “You're not, my queen”, he spoke. “But this Harlaw here just happens to serve no king yet. Me and old Harren, we had a bit of a disagreement, so I left. Sailing through every sea this world has to offer, I found no king I'd serve but myself. That was until I heard of a king who plans to conquer all Westeros. They say he has a dragon by his side, as well as the most beautiful woman in the world as his queen”

    Rhaenys smiled sweetly at this. “So you came all this way to compliment me? Or do you wish to pledge your allegiance to my house?”, she asked and Gregor nodded without any hesitation. “I know a winning side when I see it”, he spoke. “I got friends, allies, well, former allies who mocked me for my decision, but I won't bet against the king with the three dragons. Saw what those can do over in Essos” The queen nodded. “Smart”, she agreed. “And it is true that we accept oaths of fealty for all those who would bend the knee. Before I consider it though, what can you offer beyond a massive ego”

    “Well, with Gregor it's not just the ego”, the skinny man behind him said, seemingly without even thinking what he just spat out. Gregor raised an eyebrow, but Rhaenys chuckled. “Well, first there would be my companions. Queen Rhaenys, meet Wimp. He may not look like much, but he is the toughest whoreson I've ever met and he'd face the whole world for me”

    Wimp nodded. “It's true, my mother is literally a whore”, he said, smirking widely, as Gregor moved on to the woman. “This beauty here is my dear friend Serysha Nahatis”, he said and the woman playfully rolled her eyes, tough they did not light up as she smiled thinly. Instead, she threw a brief glare towards Rhaenys. “Steeled in the fighting pits of Meereen, she is more than a match for any of your finest knights” With this, he pointed at the dozen men behind him. “And there you got part of my crew, the Wild Fellows”

    This caused loud cheering from the men, who were pulling the rowboat to the shore. “There's fifty more back on my ship”, Gregor said, his voice effortlessly drowning out the cheering. “The Nagga is the finest you'll ever see, my queen. Better than any ship in your fleet and I'm willing to back that claim up”

    “Now I remember that name”, Daemon Velaryon hissed. “My queen, this is a Stepstone pirate, in service to Aeron Blacksails” Rhaenys raised an eyebrow. “I thought you served no king”, she said and Gregor shrugged. “I wouldn't call it serving, my queen”, he replied. “Me and Aeron had an agreement, not more. That is over now, because he refuses to see reason” He smiled, equal parts charming and apologetic. “I would have preferred to arrive with a whole fleet, but I suppose I have to convince you with what you see”

    Velaryon narrowed his eyes. “Convince me not to kill you on the spot, Ironborn”, he growled, but Rhaenys raised a hand to interrupt him. “Easy, uncle”, she said. “I for one believe we could always need more of those who are willing to bend the knee” She gave Gregor a deep look and the Ironborn apparently got the hint, as he slowly dropped onto one knee. After his sharp glare, Wimp and Serysha followed.

    “This man is a pirate”, Velaryon argued. “One of those who attacked our ships before. He cannot be trusted” Gregor placed a hand on his chest. “Wasn't me”, he said. “Though I admit, I know a captain or two who have boasted with having taken on your prized Velaryon fleet before, mylord” He shrugged. “The truly skilled captains usually aim for richer vessels”

    “And what do you mean to say with that?”, Daemon Velaryon snapped. Gregor smirked. “What I'm saying is that your fleet is a joke. The Nagga was able to sneak right past it and my beauty is not exactly small. True, it's foggy, but that is inexcusable”, he said, looking from the flustered Daemon to Rhaenys, whose smile was gone, replaced by an expression of genuine curiosity. “Your choice of words leaves much to desire”, she reprimanded him. “But you bring up a point. We have ships out there who should have seen you and yet it was my guards here on Dragonstone who saw you first”

    “That is my offer”, Gregor told her. “If you accept my service, you gain me and the Wild Fellows, each of them an experienced fighter, sailor and raider. You gain my ship and be assured, it is better than anything you can bring to the table” He briefly glanced at Velaryon. “And you gain my unwavering loyalty and my experience as the best captain this side of Volantis”

    Velaryon clenched his fists, though Ellena had to smirk at the jab. Still, something about the man made her nervous. The last Ironborn she had met had been just like him, cocky, confident and outwardly friendly and yet, Marak was responsible for the death of the only person she truly cared for ever since she arrived in this strange land. That was what made her hesitate.

    “Confident words”, Rhaenys spoke. “And the Velaryon fleet's failure to spot you gives you a point” She beckoned him to stand up again and Gregor followed the order at once. “And yet, this decision is not mine alone to make”, she added. “My husband would like to get involved there and he is the one you will serve eventually. Come, Harlaw. We'll see if you can convince him”

    Hearing this, both Gregor and Daemon had a brief, confident smile on their faces, before noticing each others expression. Afterwards, Daemon frowned, while Gregor at least managed to keep a slight smirk. “Lead the way, my queen”, he said and Rhaenys nodded. “Your two companions can come with us. The rest of your men will stay hear at the shore”

    “I shall guard them, my queen”, Daemon spoke, but Rhaenys shook her head. “No, Uncle Daemon, you will come with us”, she ordered him instead. “I believe Aegon will be interested in your version of the story. Ser Daghan and his men will remain here instead” Daghan immediately saluted, while Daemon seemed to be satisfied with her reasoning.

    “That means I will get to see a dragon?”, Gregor asked and Rhaenys nodded. “If any of them are here right now, yes”, she confirmed. “Meraxes should be home from hunting soon” She gave him a wink. “Though you should be careful what you wish for, Captain Harlaw. Not many share my love for dragons. In fact, most consider them unsettling”

    “I heard tales of the dragons' beauty”, Gregor replied. “If you don't mind me saying, if they are only half as radiant as you are, then I don't think they could ever scare me” Rhaenys chuckled lightly. “I do mind”, she said, though her tone was calm and charming. “They can be beautiful and terrifying and in fact, this is what they should be” She turned around, pointed up the path. “Come now, captain. Talk to my husband”

    Led by Rhaenys, the group began to walk the steep path back up to Dragonstone. Gregor, Serysha and Wimp kept close to the queen, close enough for Ellena to grow nervous. However, her uncle watched her like a hawk and that gave her some relief, even as she herself fell back a bit, behind most of the Velaryon men even.

    Ellena frowned, as she noticed that Noelle was walking close to her. The priestess seemed to have slowed down and she could only guess that this was because she wanted to have a talk. “What do you want?” she growled and Noelle narrowed her eyes, as she looked past the Velaryon men and towards the trio of pirates. “He was lying”, she said.

    “You know?”, Ellena asked and Noelle nodded. “I can see when people are lying. It's a blessing from the Lord of Light”, she replied. “And this Ironborn, he was not entirely honest with her” She clenched her fists and Ellena saw that she was being serious there. “Then what does he want?”, she asked and Noelle shrugged. “I never claimed to be that precise”, she said. “But he is hiding something”

    “As always, I am amazed by your powers”, Ellena growled. “But you still did not reply. What do you want?” Noelle was quiet for a moment and as she continued, Ellena noticed an odd shift in her tone. There was hesitation, something she had rarely seen in the priestess. “I know he has a role to play in this”, she said. “And he is lying to the queen. At worst, he could be working for the enemy” She sighed. “I must know”

    And then, Ellena realized what was troubling the priestess. “You don't trust your own judgement?”, she asked and Noelle reluctantly shook her head. “Not anymore”, she said. “I don't trust myself with finding out the truth. This is why I ask you for help. I need someone whom I trust to find out about that man's secret”

    Ellena raised an eyebrow. “Even if I accept, how should I do that?”, she asked and Noelle gulped, as she carefully stared at the trio of pirates. “I might not trust my judgement, or my ability to succeed here”, she said, as she pointed at Serysha Nahatis. “But I know what I have seen in that woman's eyes. There is anger in her and jealousy. Perhaps enough for her to reveal the truth about Gregor Harlaw. Either her or that strange man by his side. He seems to be a lackwit, someone who rarely thinks before he speaks”

    “So I should help you”, Ellena said, even if she had to admit, Gregor's companions could indeed be a way to succeed with Noelle's request. All that was left for her to decide was if she should help at all. There was something about Noelle's mission that was important and she actually believed the priestess when she claimed to have seen Gregor in the flames. But still, she hesitated and Noelle noticed it. “I will beg if you want me to”, she assured her. “This is more important than my pride. Please, Ellena. I know I have no right to ask this of you, but if you help me, I assure you, you will help your queen in the long run”

    [Agree to find out Gregor's secret] [Refuse to help]

  • [Refuse to help] Noelle bad.

    It was more than a sparring match and the way they looked at each other was almost intimate, as odd as the thought was. After all, King Aegon was in love with Rhaenys, wasn't he?


    Very interesting part. I didn't expect that Gregor Harlaw would meet his true love so soon. And this Serysha lady, does not seem too happy about that. As for Noelle's feeling, very interesting. As that thing about the scythe bowing to the silver queen in the vision she showed Marak so long ago? Hmmm. If Anturion were the other, which I am also open to, the connection here make sense...

  • Very interesting part. I didn't expect that Gregor Harlaw would meet his true love so soon. And this Serysha lady, does not seem too happy about that. As for Noelle's feeling, very interesting. As that thing about the scythe bowing to the silver queen in the vision she showed Marak so long ago? Hmmm. If Anturion were the other, which I am also open to, the connection here make sense...

    I actually originally planned for him to appear in the second part, but some changes in Ellena's storyline for this chapter gave me the opportunity for an earlier reintroduction. I'd say it is for the better, the alternative would have seen Gregor and his crew competing with quite a number of new characters. Next chapter, I'd say. When it comes to Noelle and her feelings, it should be taken into account that she is not very good at this whole prophecy thing. She has caught up to it by now, so she isn't even sure anymore what to believe. It remains to be seen if her vision truly has a meaning here and if Gregor truly has a role to play in this whole situation.

    [Refuse to help] Noelle bad. It was more than a sparring match and the way they looked at each other was almost intimate, as odd as th

  • edited November 2018

    My apologies, I have completely forgotten to close the voting here. It has been a busy couple of days, but this will not happen again. The part has been posted yesterday in the very late evening at Creator's Haven, so it's not that much of a difference, but still, I usually try cross-posting immediately.

    The Voting is closed!

    Ellena is going to agree to find out Gregor's secret

    This was the choice I've been hoping for ^^ Opinions on Noelle or the Targaryen's aside, this will give me the opportunity to develop Gregor and his crew in the way I prefer, showing more of their individual personalities. As such, it makes things easier for me from a storytelling perspective and I like that. In general, this is going to be a good chapter for Ellena, I look forward to show you more!

    The next part is out already and will be posted right away. I know I am late and I would like to apologize for keeping you waiting. The reason behind it is that I have written a serious lot for my new story, in terms of guides and the prologue, which is as long as two FoT parts. That is all out now, so all that is left for me to do is to wait for characters. But as I said, Forum of Thrones will remain a priority. The next part will be out immediately after this post and it will feature PoV's from Keat and Sadie.

    Also, I am sure by now most or even all have seen it, but I am starting a new story! It is set in the world of Aventuria, which is the fantasy setting of the Pen and Paper RPG I am DM'ing for. It has just started, so if you want to join, I would be delighted to see as many as possible there. If you're interested in seeing me tackle a second project, just follow this link:
    The setting is quite detailed, so I have written guides like crazy, which might help you with getting an overview of the whole story, but if you wish to join and have any further questions, just let me know and I will try to explain the details :)

  • Keat

    It was not much of a question, he knew he had to intervene. Without missing a beat, he stepped aside, allowing the young woman to enter the house. Rose sighed in relief, as she rushed inside, briefly placing a hand on Keat's shoulder. “Thank you”, she whispered, as he closed the door behind her. He gave her a smirk in return. “Don't mention it”, he said. “Though I do have some questions. Bannister is after you, am I right?”

    She nodded. “How do you know him?”, she asked. Instead of replying, he removed his hood, showing the bandaged wound where his ear used to be. She winced at the sight. “That is a pretty good reason not to get caught by him”, she admitted. “Because yeah, that's Bannister after me” She shrugged. “I, uh, stole from him”

    Keat raised an eyebrow. “You are a thief?”, he asked, trying to sound not too excited over this turn of events. A thief she was, and a pretty one on top. Rose hesitated for a moment, before she gave him a shy nod. “Takes one to know one, I presume?”, she replied, her eyes slightly narrowed with distrust. “Besides, how else is a girl supposed to make a living in this city?”

    Erik tilted his head, as his eyes darted across the young woman's body. “Well, I'd know a thing or two”, he spoke and instantly, Keat threw him a sharp glare. However, it was Rose who replied before him. “Trust me, there's more than a thing or two to know about that”, she replied. “But I wouldn't expect you to know more” She followed this by a sly wink that caused Erik to blush.

    “So, you know my name, but I don't know yours”, she then said, as she sat down on the chair Keat offered her. Before he was able to reply, Samuel cut him off. “We're the ones who just saved your life. That should be enough, shouldn't it?”, he said. Keat sighed. “No need to be this distrustful”, he said. “My name's Keat”

    Erik sighed. “Erik”, he replied, though Samuel shook his head. “You know my stance on this”, she said and Rose smirked. “Keat, Erik and Ser Silence”, she said. “Can't thank you enough for this. Honestly, I owe you” Her smirk slightly faded. “Just gotta think of some way to repay you”, she mumbled. “But that shouldn't be a problem. What I don't have, I can steal”

    It was in this moment, that a heavy knock forced Keat's attention back to the door. From behind it, there were dog’s barking, making it unmistakable just who was waiting for them beyond there. “Rose!”, the harsh voice of Thorrin Bannister sounded. “I know you’re in there. My boys can smell your whore scent. Get out of here and I’ll make it quick. If I have to beat that door in, the boys will tear you apart”

    Once more, he knocked against the door and the old wood creaked notably. Concerned, Keat placed a hand on his sword, as Rose uncomfortably shifted against the back wall of the room. “You got a second exit here?”, she asked, but Samuel shook his head. “No need for that”, he spoke, as he approached a drawer. From it, he pulled a short sword, before he glanced at Erik, who placed a hand on his own blade. “I believe we got this”

    As he approached the door, he briefly stopped next to Keat. “For that, you owe me, my friend”, he growled. “First time I see you in months and the first thing you do is getting me in trouble” That being said, he followed it up with a slight smile and Keat chuckled. “A larger share of whatever we gain for our next job”, he said and Samuel nodded. “Deal”, he said, before he opened the door.

    As expected, the ugly figure of Thorrin Bannister stood there. Samuel had the proper sense to open the door only a few inches, yet it was enough for him to have to throw himself against it to prevent the massive hound from breaking through. Barking and snarling, it howled, as it spotted Rose, who had grown pale as she pressed herself against the wall. “Barh, get back”, Thorrin growled and the dog obeyed with a muffled whimper.

    Then, the brute glanced at Samuel. Spotting Keat behind, he narrowed his eyes and his expression lit up only slightly as he spotted Rose. “Why is it always you who gets in my way, Keat?”, he snarled. “Thought you learned your lesson the last time” He shrugged. “Well doesn’t matter. Not here for you. Give the girl up and we can part like reasonable men”

    Keat frowned, but the presence of two armed men made him bold. “That would be a first, Thorrin”, he replied and the man’s ugly face showed an instant and severe frown. “Bloody hell, you really want to piss me off, huh?”, he spat. “Fuck off and give me the girl. She stole from me, so she’s gonna pay the price”

    “Or what?”, Keat asked, as Erik and Samuel pointed their blades at the door. He had to smirk at the shift in power, just like he had to smirk at Thorrin’s anger. “Why don’t you come and get her?” For a moment, Thorrin genuinely seemed to consider this. With clenched fists, he stood there, while his hounds had their heads lowers, seemingly ready to attack. And that made Keat nervous. Sure, he had faith in Samuel and Erik, but Bannister was still someone to take seriously.

    Then, Bannister sighed and to Keat’s surprise, he backed off. “If you give her up now, I’m going to ignore your debt”, he offered, though this only caused Keat to raise an eyebrow. Just what did the girl steal from Thorrin that he would go that far? He was not one to just ignore a debt. But Keat did not even consider this. Aside from the fact that the man was hardly trustworthy, the numb pain in his head still reminded him of what a savage Thorrin truly was.

    “I think I like my debt the way it is”, he replied. “I’ll pay you off and if you have any sense, you’ll leave it at that. I got friends now, Bannister” Erik opened his mouth, probably to mention how calling Hishi a friend would take things quite a bit too far, but he reconsidered, closed his mouth and tightened the grip around his sword.

    “Friends, huh?”, Thorrin growled. “Well, I got friends as well, but I don’t count on them. When push comes to shove, little thief, do you really think they will have your back?” His ugly smile returned. “Keep the whore if you want to, I’ll get her eventually. And I’ll get you eventually. I can wait, Keat. Just give it some time and I will find you when none of your... friends is around”

    His tone was serious and threatening enough for Keat to gulp, as the brute already glared at Rose. “And you, don’t you think I’ll forget your face... or your scent”, he barked. “If you know what is good for you, you will leave Oldtown at once. But if you decide to stay... well, it is as I said. I’ll get you eventually”

    Though clearly intimidated by the brute and his threats, Rose stood her ground. Tucking a strand of dark hair behind her ear, she gave him a defiant glare. “Oh, you can certainly try, dog”, she spat. “But I have friends as well, as you can see. Haven’t gotten me now, won’t get me later. I’m not scared of you”

    Bannister did something surprising. Instead of falling into a rage at her disrespect, he merely chuckled. “Alright”, he spoke. “Dig your own grave, Rose” He smirked and it was the most disturbing sight Keat had ever seen. “I’ll leave you to it then. Make sure to thank your heroes here, the only way you can” He gave Keat a jovial wink. “Enjoy her while either of you still can”

    With this, he turned around, dragging his hounds with him. The obedient beasts growled only slightly at the door, but finally, they walked by his side, as he marched down the street. Samuel remained standing in the door until he was out of sight. Then, he closed it and shook his head. “What a thoroughly unpleasant man”, he sighed.

    “Never had the honour before”, Erik said. “Hope I don’t have it again” He glanced at Keat. “You see? Working for Hishi isn’t so bad in comparison” Keat noticed how Rose raised an eyebrow and he in return cleared his throat. “Never said it was bad”, he mumbled. “But maybe you shouldn’t have said that” He immediately avoided the sharp look this gained him from Samuel’s side.

    “Nah, it’s alright”, Rose clarified immediately. “Thought you’d work for someone. Seems like few thieves kept their independence in this city” Keat raised an eyebrow. “You’re not working for anonye?”, he asked, to which Rose shook her head, followed by a sly smile. “I don’t have to”, she said. “I’m simply that good”

    “Yeah, good enough to get chased by a mad dog and his hounds”, Samuel spat. “I can see that. What’s your issue with the man?” Rose shrugged. “You heard him”, she replied. “Do you really think I need an issue with him?” The man continued to stare at her and she finally rolled her eyes. “Fine”, she sighed. “I did steal from him. Nothing he could have used though, so it was only fair that I took it”

    With this, she reached into her pocket, to reveal a piece of parchment. Keat only slightly looked at it, then back at Rose’s beauty, before instantly snapping out of it as he recognized what the parchment showed. “That is the Hightower, isn’t it?”, he gasped and she smiled. “A map into it”, she told him. “As I said, I’m that good. And Thorrin, he’s no thief”

    “How the fuck did Bannister find a map into the Hightower?”, he asked and Rose shrugged. “He did search through some abandoned Solver outposts lately”, she told him. “That’s why I targeted him to begin with. That man was the first to get his ugly hands on some Solver treasures” She smirked. “So, I took what I deemed the most valuable. Didn’t think he’d even notice”

    “Well, he did”, Samuel merely mumbled, as Rose looked up. “And you’re thieves as well, huh? Working for Hishi?”, she asked. “I always liked him. Might act all shady, but he’s decent” Keat raised an eyebrow at her choice of words, but remained silent, as she continued. “Say, maybe I can help you. Free of charge, maybe. You saved my life and I’m a thief. How else can I repay you” She noticed what she had just said and threw Erik a sharp glare. “I mean, that is the only way I can repay you”, she clarified.

    Her offer made Keat think. Surely, her map would be invaluable. And even if he caught her at last, stealing from Thorrin Bannister and getting away with it required some skill. He’d know that, for he had done the same. Maybe she could indeed help. To repay her debt, of course. Of course, it was always pleasant to have a beauty by his side during a job, but by the Seven, he tried his best not to let that fact play too much of a role in his decision.

    [Get Rose involved] [Leave her out of this]


    The refugees from Maybros had a wondrous look on their eyes, as they entered Castamere. Truly, this was their safe haven and seeing them like this, it made the efforts to get them here worth it. For the first time in a long while, Sadie stood tall, looking at something with pride. The first wave of refugees had arrived already and she knew more were to come soon. All of them would find a temporary home within the deep tunnels below Castamere.

    “That is your work”, Leo said, as he stood next to her, his arms crossed before his chest. Sadie raised an eyebrow and he smirked beneath his thick beard. “Couldn’t have done it myself. I let my, well, my hatred for those stuck up highborn bastards blind my judgement” He sighed. “That Lady Reyne, she’s not as bad”, he admitted. “There’s worse than her, at least”

    Sadie smirked thinly. “High praise, coming from you”, she said and he gave her a nod. “The highest I ever had for her kind”, he mumbled. “But giving these people a home, that is decent. I can honour that” He patted her onto the back and she nearly staggered under the heavy hit. “But that we can stay here as well, that is your work. I applaud you”

    “Yeah, I’d applaud as well”, Sadie replied, raising her right arm. The stump was freshly bandaged, now only a thin layer remaining, as the wound was almost healed, according to Wylie. “But you know...” She forced herself to keep up her smirk, even though it gave her a sharp sting to see herself like this. Leo raised an eyebrow and his smile was hesitant. “Was that a joke?”, he asked and she nodded. “Yeah, I make them sometimes”, she replied, though the attempt left her less confident than before.

    “Leo, can I ask you something?”, she asked and he nodded. “Sure”, he replied. “Go right ahead” She sighed, as she glanced at him. The sellsword wasn’t even looking at her, instead he carefully counted his people among the refugees. The Forgotten led the people of Maybros in small groups and Sadie herself couldn’t help but to check up for her sister somewhere between them.

    “Why are you keeping me around?”, she finally asked and Leo did not reply at first. “You’re one of us now”, he spoke, but that was hardly a satisfying answer. “You know what I mean”, she hissed. “Why do you keep me around. I gave it a try and I can hardly fight anymore. Why would you keep around a sellsword who can’t even hold a sword?”

    Leo blinked, once, twice, one time too many. “You did help me out in here”, he said and she clenched her teeth. “Yeah, but you couldn’t know that”, she replied. “So, why all this? Why take all the effort, all the risk, just so that I might help you out?” Leo did not reply again for a moment and as he did, she noticed his voice was shaking slightly. “Because I don’t toss anyone out”, he spoke. “It’s what my family would have done”

    That was arguably a better reason than nothing, but Sadie was still not convinced. “And that was all?”, she asked. Leo gave her a crooked smile. “What’s that going to be?”, he asked. “Are you going to question me like that for the rest of the day?” His smile faded as he saw that she was serious. However, just as he opened his mouth to speak, someone called out for her from the crowd.

    “Sadie!”, Melanie said loudly and her bright smile proved that she was feeling a bit better since last time they had met. She even wave and Sadie gave her a nod in return. However, her smile was tarnished by the fact that on the very same wagon, she spotted the bloated figure of Gyles Gomblinger. The man sat at the front, a dark expression on his face as he spotted her and Leo. His mother was sitting behind him, her eyes closed and only the slight raising of her chest showing that she was still alive and just sleeping. On the opposing side, she spotted the hooded figure of William Gering, Gyles’ bodyguard.

    Melanie quickly climbed off the cart, followed by Blane and Nilanne. As much as Sadie disliked seeing the former, she at least appreciated that he was around, instead of leaving her sister alone with the man who tormented her for so long. With a smile that was perhaps one of slight relief, Leo took a step back. “I suppose we will talk later”, he said and Sadie reached out to stop him before he could leave. “We will”, she hissed and after a moment, Leo nodded, before he walked towards the keep.

    “Hey, Melanie”, Sadie spoke, as she had reached her. Nilanne and Blane were flanking her, while the cart with Gyles and his family kept on, deeper into the courtyard. “Any reason you’re travelling with him?”, she asked, glancing at Nilanne as she did so. The woman had promised to look out for Melanie after all and Sadie was anything but pleased that she had allowed her to be anywhere near Gomblinger.

    “Nah, just a coincidence”, Melanie said. “I know how you’re feeling on him, but Blane and Nila have been with me” She smirked, placing her arms around both of them, which only further irritated Sadie. “You’re feeling better?”, she asked and Melanie nodded. “Yeah”, she replied. “It’s been a good couple days. And this...” She pointed at the keep of Castamere. “This is just beautiful”

    “Not the first castle you see”, Sadie reminded her and Melanie shrugged. “The first that actually wants me inside”, she replied. “I can’t wait for this” She even giggled slightly and it reminded Sadie of the way her sister used to be. The change in her mood was severe though and as pleasant as it was, as much as Sadie just wanted to accept it, she remained sceptical. Perhaps she should have never left her alone...

    “Rhogarn said it’s thanks to your sister here that we can stay inside”, Blane said towards Melanie, but he gave Sadie a brief, appreciating look. She did not reply in kind, but neither did she glare at him as viciously as she would have done just a few days ago. In a way, she felt even somewhat thankful that he stuck around Melanie. One of Leo’s men could at least be trusted.

    “You know, Leo really appreciates you”, Blane said and Sadie sighed. “Yeah, but don’t ask me why”, she replied, to which he smirked. “Well, I suppose it is better if he tells you himself”, he mumbled cryptically and much to her annoyance. It seemed as if anyone but she herself knew why Leo kept her around, or maybe they just all had their own theories. Sure, she had them as well, but any time she thought she had seen through him, Leo surprised her somehow.

    “And the journey here went well?”, she asked, specifically looking at Nilanne, to get a hint, any hint at all that things did not go as planned, that something had happened to Melanie. The woman shook her head and all seemed normal, though she remained quiet and reserved. “Nothing out of the ordinary”, she revealed. “Your sister has been doing good”

    “Yeah, Nila’s been a great help”, Melanie replied. “Taught me how to sew. You want me to fix that old blouse of yours, Sades?” Sadie raised an eyebrow and did not reply at first, but then, she nodded, a slight smile on her face. “Why not?”, she simply stated, glad that her sister had found something she apparently enjoyed. As much as she remained suspicious, as much as this seeming peace bothered her, she wanted to believe that it was indeed all good. Perhaps what stopped her from giving in was the fact that in her life, things never went well.

    As she heard her reply, Melanie began walking towards the keep. “Alright, talk to you later!”, she said. “I got my things to unpack and I doubt you did yours properly. Where’s our room?” Before Sadie could reply, Blane had grabbed her sister by the shoulder. “I am sure Rhogarn can show you”, he told her. “Come, I’ll bring you to him”

    Wrapping an arm around Melanie’s shoulder, he began to lead her towards the keep. The sight caused Sadie to tense up, but worse than his affectionate gesture was the fact that Melanie clearly enjoyed it. There was a coy smile on her face and she even suppressed another giggle. Without resisting, she allowed Blane to take the lead, walking in his arm.

    “What the hell is going on there?”, she asked, but Nilanne shrugged. “I didn’t keep an eye on Blane”, she admitted. “I didn’t know that was necessary. Kept her away from Gyles though and trust me, there have been a couple close calls” Sadie nodded, her gaze wandering back to her sister and Blane Banefort. She did not like that sight at all and she could hardly even explain why. “Yeah, I appreciate it”, she mumbled, before she looked back at Nilanne, briefly. “Listen, I think I have to follow them. Have to prevent things from getting, you know, too much”

    Nilanne raised an eyebrow and for just a moment, she seemed almost amused. “Your sister is old enough to make her own mistakes, I’d say”, she mumbled, which truly earned her a glare from Sadie. “You know how Blane is”, she hissed. “He’ll take advantage of her and I can’t let that happen” She sighed, clenching her fist, as she prepared to follow them. However, Nilanne quickly cleared her throat.

    “Listen, I know you are nervous about him, but you shouldn’t be”, the woman said. “Actually, if you got a moment, I would like to have a word. Might be nothing, but it could just as well be very important. And if my suspicion is true, you want to hear about it” Sadie briefly looked at her, noting how dead serious she was. Then, Melanie’s bright laughter caught her attention again, as her sister was apparently laughing at something Blane had said. She could stay, yes... but just how far would Blane take it with her sister, who was just recovering from Gyles’ treatment? Could she truly let that happen?

    [Follow Blane and Melanie] [Stay with Nilanne]

  • [Leave her out of this] Can't let ol' Keat get distracted. More people on heist - bad. Frankly, we shouldn't have inferred with the nice gentleman Bannister's business. How rude.

    [Stay with Nilanne] If this is important, better here it. Don't care for Melanie, if Blane does something bad he will regret it.

    Keat raised an eyebrow. “You are a thief?”, he asked, trying to sound not too excited over this turn of events. A thief she was, and a pretty one on top. Rose hesitated for a moment, before she gave him a shy nod. “Takes one to know one, I presume?”, she replied, her eyes slightly narrowed with distrust. “Besides, how else is a girl supposed to make a living in this city?”

    Oh Keat, I missed ye. You could say she has...stolen his heart...

    Keat It was not much of a question, he knew he had to intervene. Without missing a beat, he stepped aside, allowing the young woman to en

  • Great part as always Liquid.

    [Get Rose involved]

    Why not, she seems nice enough.

    [Follow Blane and Melanie]

    Keat It was not much of a question, he knew he had to intervene. Without missing a beat, he stepped aside, allowing the young woman to en

  • Frankly, we shouldn't have inferred with the nice gentleman Bannister's business. How rude.

    It's true, the nice gentleman Bannister would have been highly pleased, had Keat not intervened. I mean, he never would have learned about Keat's non-intervention, but his opinion on him wouldn't have soured even more. Of course, Keat is not on his good side at all, but things have just gotten way worse in this part.

    Oh Keat, I missed ye. You could say she has...stolen his heart...

    Hehe, she might have indeed. Pretty thieves are exactly Keat's type, so he is, at the very least, very happy to work with her.

    [Leave her out of this] Can't let ol' Keat get distracted. More people on heist - bad. Frankly, we shouldn't have inferred with the nice gen

  • The Voting is closed!

    Keat is going to get Rose involved

    Sadie is going to stay with Nilanne

    Both of these are choices I expected. Rose is surely a bit shady, but there is a valid reason to get her involved. I am happy with this, as I look forward to reveal more about her character. Meanwhile, Sadie's choice to stay with Nilanne is going to reveal an important piece of information. Going after Blane and Melanie would have resulted in a huge argument and not much in terms of new revelations, so you probably chose wisely.

    The next part will be out right after this post, as it is essentialy done already. It will be a continuation of Janae's storyline, therefore kicking of the Essos parts for this chapter. And well, it will be quite the part, that much I can tell you :confounded:

  • Janae

    For the better part of the two weeks, they had continued by land, on the road west of the Rhoyne. If anything, the river had gotten even wider and on the foggy autumn mornings, it was impossible to even see the other shore. Few traces of civilization were found here, the last decades and the war with Volantis having devastated the landscape. A few brave settlers had ventured here, but Janae knew, she could not expect any help from them. The only other type of person were people like Goranero Sanys, who had given them a cart to ride on, before taking Abbas' ship to Volantis. Rich Volantene slavers, who came here to

    The further away they got from Volantis itself, the less outposts of civilization they found, until all that remained was wilderness. Only the road remained, Valyrian craftsmanship and remnant of a time when this entire region had been under the rule of the Freehold. They would be there for long after Janae was gone even, but considering her current chances, that wasn't particularly much, perhaps.

    At night, they either spent time in one of the occasional houses that lined the way, either taking over an abandoned building, or having Abbas buying them a place to sleep. At times though, they spent the night outside and they were the nights Janae dreaded the most. During these nights, she was so close to freedom, around her nothing but the empty night. Close to Behara and Harpy, she was reminded over and over why she could not even attempt to flee and yet, it was so temptingly close.

    Haar held back during these days of travel, or maybe Ryder held him back, but what she knew was that she hadn't seen the last of the man yet. There were the glares, silent, but effective, with which he looked at her, then at Behara, at Ryder and Harpy and all of them. Abbas wasn't helping, with the alcohol he was giving him, because for all she could tell, the sellsword had a semblance of restraint whenever not drunken, only to lose it completely when touching alcohol.

    It was after two weeks that Janae saw what they were travelling towards. It was the first actual bridge over the Rhoyne in this entire time. Clearly built by Valyria, it was long, so long that the only thing marking the other shore in the foggy distance were the small towers and the fires burning in them. As long as it was, it was also narrow, perhaps allowing for not more than two carts to cross it next to each other at the same time.

    There were small forts on each side of the bridge and Janae could see figures patrolling on the small, wooden walls on either side. The buildings seemed tacked on, marring the beautiful remnant of Old Valyria with crude craftsmanship. She could not deny that they made it notably easier to defend the structure.

    “She expanded”, Bakr remarked, as he and Abbas rode side by side, next to the cart. Ryder and a chained Janae were sitting in the front, with Ryder stirring the cart, while Harpy and Behara were sitting in the back. Haar, finally, was riding behind them. “Seems she's been doing well”, the heavy-weight slaver added.

    Abbas rolled his eyes as they saw the bridge in the distance. “Oh, I so hate that girl”, he mumbled. Janae spotted the banners flying above the buildings on each side of it. “That's how you see that this part of Essos has gone to hell since Valyria fell. This is no man's land. No ruler to contest that insolent bitch”

    Janae raised an eyebrow. “You seem afraid of a girl, Abbas”, she said and it earned her another vicious glare. She would have chuckled, but after today, she did not dare to provoke him. Not for her own sake, but Behara had been through too much already. To her surprise, he then nodded. “I wouldn't call it fear, but trust me, the sooner we get over with this, the better, for all of us”, he admitted.

    This actually gained her curiosity. “What's so bad about her?”, she asked, to which Abbas frowned. “She's the worst sort of a person”, he replied. “A haggler. Someone who doesn't know when to accept a good deal” He sighed. “Instead, she keeps renegotiating, until you have to agree to an outrageous deal”, he growled. “That is the reason we're here today”

    “To kill her?”, Janae asked and Abbas chuckled. “Tempting”, he admitted. “But no, we can't do that. Do you recognize the banners up there?” Once more, Janae narrowed her eyes and now, she could make out a round object, grey or silver, on a field of white. “A sellsword company?”, she guessed, to which Abbas nodded. “Those are the Silver Shields”, he explained. “A small group, but staunchly loyal to whomever pays them” A mild frown appeared on his face. “They never got along with Ghiscari”

    Janae rolled her eyes. “Well, I wonder why”, she mumbled, causing Abbas to shoot her a dark glare. “It means they will keep us waiting”, he spoke. “It's getting dark, so they will find a reason to let us wait outside their walls until we can speak to the bitch in charge” He pointed to the side and in the underbrush, Janae spotted a path. “Since I know that, we'll spend the night somewhere better, without having to listen to their... humiliations”

    He took the lead, with Bakr, the cart and Haar following, as they left the main road and entered the path. This was definitely not part of the Valyrian road, more a crude, overgrown trail and it was only thanks to Goranero's sturdy horses that they were able to make it without issue. About a mile through the path, Janae spotted a wooden building through the half-dead trees.

    Located on a small clearing was not just an abandoned house, but an entire small farm. A two-story building, a barn and a stable for the horses, all in poor condition but probably good enough to give them shelter for the night. From there on, it all went quickly, as Abbas' decision was clear. They would spend the night there, somewhat protected from the elements, before meeting up with the Silver Shields and their mysterious leader the day after.

    While Abbas and Bakr took the farmhouse for themselves, while Ryder and Haar took turns guarding the area. Janae, Behara and Harpy, at last, were chained against the most sturdy pillar in the barn. It was dark in there and even though nobody had entered it in years, there was a heavy air in it. At least it was warm and, as far as Janae was able to tell, free of rats. She had slept worse, despite the chains.

    For dinner, Ryder brought them roasted rabbit, freshly hunted, a bland and dry meal. Janae felt hungry even after she gnawed off the meat from the animal's surprisingly sharp and heavy bones, though both, Harpy and Behara seemed to look more miserable than ever in the light of the single torch they had been granted.

    “We can't live like this...”, Behara mumbled once more, her gaze showing sheer despair. She had barely eaten over the last two weeks and slowly, it was showing. Pale and thin, she was looking even younger than she actually was. And it was clear to Janae, the girl was not made for what was to come. Her current situation was bad, but the things to come... she had been a slave for many years of her life and she knew, Behara had seen nothing yet.

    “We can”, she replied. “We will” To her surprise, Harpy gave her a nod. Though not older than Behara, there was a calmness about her, the look of someone who had seen too much. And so, the girl born into slavery was somehow less panicking at the prospect of returning to it, when compared to the one who had been free her entire life.

    “I won't allow them to harm you”, Harpy promised, as she placed her arms around Behara. The other girl hesitated for a moment, before she buried her head in Harpy's shoulder. “I miss Tem”, she mumbled. “And John and Sammy. Do you think they are still looking for us?” Harpy gulped, giving Janae a deep look. Indeed, their chances were bad. Janae had no doubt that John and Temari were looking for them, just like how Harpy was convinced her knight would not give up on her. And yet, Abbas' trick would not make things any easier. No, Janae did not consider a miraculous rescue. If anything, they had to free themselves.

    “We have to get out of here”, she spoke. “Once we're over that bridge, it'll be harder. This is the only bridge over the Rhoyne in a hundred miles and we can't take a boat without coin” Harpy nodded. “Do you have an idea?”, she asked, as Behara looked up, suddenly curious. “Can you get us out of here?”, the girl interjected.

    This caused Janae to sigh. She knew, Behara was close to breaking down in fear and Harpy, for as strong as she wanted to appear, was a girl of eighteen years. They looked at her as if she had all the answers. She did not tell them that what she actually wanted, more than anything else, was to put a knife into Abbas' face, even if that would mean sealing her own fate. There was not one moment in which she did not regret sparing his life when she escaped, all those years ago. Abbas had meant something to her and she had been too weak to see the master in him. Now Behara was paying the price.

    “Whatever it is, we have to figure something out quickly”, Harpy said, as she separated from Behara. Picking up one of the bones from dinner, she tried to jab it into the keyhole of her chains, right where they were connected to Behara's. Unsurprisingly, it did not work and the tip of the bone broke off after a short, frustrating attempt. Harpy sighed, as she glanced at the bone in her hand, before looking up at Janae. “What about Harrington?”

    “What about him?”, Janae asked. “You... know him, don't you?” Harpy hesitated for a moment, before she nodded. “I know the name”, she admitted. “He was captain of the city guard under Mullendore. Don't know what brought him here, but he always struck me as upstanding” The word sounded like a slight as she said it. “His brother worked for the Solvers, one of Butterfly's chief enforcers”

    “So, they were both working for the same man?”, Janae brought up and Harpy nodded. “Unknowingly, we presume”, she revealed. “But he doesn't seem bad. Not like Haar at least. Do you think he would help us?” Janae had to think about this for a moment, before she shook her head, regretfully. “He is not here for our sake”, she spoke. “Sure, he's not a cruel man, but that doesn't mean he cares for our fate. He has a reason to join Abbas and I doubt he is going to give up on this”

    It was in this moment that the door got pushed open. At first, Janae expected Ryder, checking up on them, or maybe Abbas, out for some midnight cruelty. It was worse, though. She could smell Haar before he stepped into the light. His walk was off and the stench clued her in that he had been drinking again. Reeking of alcohol and of worse, he stumbled towards them. Janae put a lot of effort into appearing calm, but both, Harpy and Behara tensed up. The latter did manage a slight, angry glare, but it felt weak and fake, compared to his lecherous grin.

    “G'evening, ladies”, he said. “Y'all had a nice one?” He chuckled, as Janae narrowed her eyes. “What do you want?”, she asked, as Haar hesitated for a moment. “Well, what could a man want from such lovelies on a night like this?”, he asked, genuinely surprised she would even ask this. “It is cold and the wine can only warm me so much” With this, he looked at Behara, who instantly froze in terror.

    Janae exchanged a glance with Harpy and finally, she spotted all the fear in her dark eyes she hat expected to see there throughout the last months. “Wh...”, Behara gasped, as Haar chuckled. “I'm gonna be real with you, me and Abbas, it's not working out”, he admitted. “I'll leave him once we're past that bridge, but I know that man well enough and I know I can't expect a thing from him. Figures, he owes me a taste of the wares before I go”

    Harpy closed her eyes, now openly shivering, while Behara let out a panicked gasp, as Haar approached them. “I'll be gentle”, the drunken man growled, in a tone that made it clear he would be anything but. And yet, in his hands, he held something that gained her curiosity. It was a key, likely their key to freedom. “Now, you and I are going to take a little walk”, he chuckled, as he approached Behara. “And the rest of you is going to sit here and you will be silent, or I'll break her neck”

    That was enough. Without even thinking, Janae jumped up and straight at Haar. The sellsword surprised her by seeing that coming, as he took a step back, letting her swing at nothing but thin air. In return, just as her fist was past him, he jumped forward, his punch pressing the air out of her lungs. He moved faster than she expected from a drunken man and as her vision blurred, the stench that came from him was downright nauseating.

    She staggered back, sinking onto her back and clenching her aching stomach. Haar's punch had come with more strength than he should have and through blurring vision, she saw him approaching the terrified Behara. The girl tried to crawl away, but the chains that connected her neck with Harpy's and Janae's prevented this, as Janae was too stunned to move, while Harpy... she did nothing. Sitting there, her eyes closed, she was shivering, heavily biting down onto her lip, likely to prevent herself from stuttering and sobbing in fear as Behara did.

    Janae herself gasped something, or tried to at least, but she merely managed to produce a gurgling tone. She spat out, noticing that blood had mixed with her saliva. This was not good... Behara's scream caused her to snap out of the stunned state she had been in, but the pain still paralyzed her. Breathing became harder and she was pretty certain that Haar's brutal punch had broken a rib.

    The sellsword had grabbed the girl by the slave collar around her neck, trying to open it with his key. To her credit, Behara was struggling, but there was only so much a starving girl could do against a ruthlessly determined man twice her weight. Tears shot into Janae's eyes, as she, once more, tried to stand up in vain. And Harpy...

    “You don't have to take her”, Harpy's voice cut through the barn and something about it caused even the drunken Haar to hesitate. She opened her eyes and slowly rose from the ground. There were tears of fear in them and she was shivering. Clearly, she was terrified, beyond that even and her hands were shivering, not with the cold rage that threatened to overcome Janae, but with actual panic. And yet, her voice was clear, smooth, commanding and so unlike the scared girl that stood in front of the hulking sellsword.

    “And why not?”, Haar growled. Harpy took a deep breath, blinking briefly, and then she smiled. It was fake, of course, but she managed to make it seem convincing enough. “Because she is a child”, she replied. “Just look at her” The man did as he was told to and a lecherous grin formed on his face. Behara meanwhile was still struggling under his grip, yet he ignored her weak punches against his upper arm. “Looks old enough to me”, he replied.

    Harpy shook her head. “That is not what I mean”, she clarified, as she took a step towards him. “She is a child and she is scared” The sellsword shrugged, but she continued without giving him the chance to speak. Her smile was still there, even if it was hard for her to hide the disgust, as she gently moved closer. “She will kick and scream. Do you think you will enjoy this? No... you do not need a child”

    Janae caught up to what Harpy was suggesting the same moment as Haar did. “Harpy, no!”, she barked, as she jumped up. Once more, Haar was faster than he had any right to be. Dropping Behara to the ground, he spun around, his knee violently hitting Janae's waist. She screamed and a sharp, terrible pain made it barely possible to stand. As she fell onto the hard ground of the barn, Behara crawled to her side.

    “Stay out of this, ya cunt!”, Haar snapped at her, before he turned back to Harpy, who was staring at the other two women, with widely opened eyes. Janae just barely managed to shake her head, pleading her to stop, begging her to stop. Perhaps for the first time, she noticed what the captivity had done to her. The stress of the journey, the hardships... just a few months ago, she would have overpowered Haar with ease, especially now. But as it was, his strength alone was the deciding factor. “Now, what are you suggesting?”

    Harpy smirked at him. “You need someone who does not scream”, she spoke. “Or kick, or bite. Someone who will make you enjoy this” With this, she stopped right in front of him, presenting her chained neck. “Spare her and I will make it worth your time” And at last, Behara realized what Harpy was suggesting. “N... No”, she mumbled, but Janae held her back with one hand, the other clenched onto her aching guts.

    Haar only briefly glanced at her, before turning back to Harpy. “Well, if you're going to be that way”, he spoke, as he opened her chains. For a moment, the girl stretched in her newfound freedom, but then, Haar savagely grabbed her by the hair. “I'll enjoy this”, he told her, as he pushed her to the ground. “But you probably won't”

    For just a moment, fear was clearly seen on Harpy's eyes, as Haar dragged her towards the barn door her had entered through. Now, she was struggling, perhaps finally realizing just how bad it would be to take Behara's position. But lying on her back, grabbed by the hair, there was little she could do. He was loud, she was loud and all Janae could hope for was that someone would come and see them, put an end to this, before the worst could happen. Feeling the pain slowly getting better, she got up at last, still on shaky feet, but able to intervene.

    With Harpy lying on the back and him dragging her towards the door, Haar glanced over his shoulder. “You stay where you are!”, he growled, his words a drunken slur. “Or else I will...!” The rest of his words ended in a bellowing scream of pain, as Harpy pushed the sharpened bone she had kept from dinner into the soft flesh of his calf. Instantly, he let go of her and she used the opportunity to embed the bone completely in it.

    She jumped up, still in fear and nothing else, as he reached for his weapon. In his drunken rage, he reached for the wrong side and Harpy was quicker, pulling the dagger from his belt and grabbing it with both hands. The sellsword stumbled a step towards her, raising his fist, as she pushed forward. The blade entered Haar's body below the navel.

    Groaning in agony, his eyes widened and Janae noticed a shift in expressions. His rage turned to sudden fear. In return, Harpy had been terrified just until moments ago, but now, Janae saw a dark, determined fury in her gaze, as she pushed the dagger into Haar's body, all the way to the hilt. For a moment, her eyes widened and they were united in shock, as she let go of the weapon. The man stumbled backwards, still in disbelief, before he collapsed.

    For a moment, there was only silence, interrupted by Haar's last, desperate gasps, as the dagger in his stomach was slowly killing him. It was a painful death and still too good for Abbas' hound. Harpy, however, slowly dragged herself back to Janae and Behara. There, she went on all fours, as tears poured down her cheeks.

    Janae was there. Pulling her and Behara into a hug, she pressed her forehead against Harpy's. “Are you okay?”, she asked and the younger woman nodded. “I... will be”, she gasped. “You?” Janae even managed to give her a smile. “Was that your plan?”, she asked, to which Harpy shook her head. “I took the opportunity”, she merely said. “And he had it coming”

    “You were going to...”, Behara began, as Harpy pulled her into a close hug. “I promised”, she whispered. “Now, come on, let's get that key. We have to...” She was interrupted by the dreaded sound of heavy boots, running towards the barn. Just a second later, Ryder crashed through the doorway. He stopped, as he saw the scenery, staring in shock at Haar, who had stopped moving by now. And behind him, Abbas entered the building.

    “What the fuck?”, the slaver snapped. Ryder had knelt down next to Haar, before shaking his head. The sellsword stared at Janae and she was not sure if she saw displeasure, anger or fear in his gaze. Perhaps a mixture of all three. “What happened!”, Abbas yelled. “Who did this?” With the three women huddled so closely together, Janae knew, it had to be hard for him to realize the truth, that Harpy had killed him. In self defence, yes, but she doubted Abbas would care much for that. What mattered was that one of his men, no matter how useless of a drunkard Haar had been, was dead now.

    Deep down, Janae felt something different. Harpy had been willing to sacrifice herself for Behara, a girl who was as close as family to Janae. Perhaps she could, perhaps she should return the favour. Taking the blame. What would Abbas do to her? What at worse, that he wouldn't do either way? She looked at Harpy and the young woman realized what was going through her head. Subtly, she shook her head, placing a hand on her lips...

    [Take the blame] [Tell the truth] [Say nothing]

  • [Say nothing] What if these idiots think some random person came and stabbed Haar? Be great. Also, rough part.

    This actually gained her curiosity. “What's so bad about her?”, she asked, to which Abbas frowned. “She's the worst sort of a person”, he replied. “A haggler. Someone who doesn't know when to accept a good deal” He sighed. “Instead, she keeps renegotiating, until you have to agree to an outrageous deal”, he growled. “That is the reason we're here today”

    She knows the art of the deal...

    Janae For the better part of the two weeks, they had continued by land, on the road west of the Rhoyne. If anything, the river had gotten

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