Forum of Thrones: An Interactive Story



  • The Voting is closed!

    Janae is going to tell the truth

    This has been a close voting, but I can say that this option is actually leading to the same outcome as remaining silent. In that case, Harpy would have told the truth, as it was her plan. And she has a very specific intention for telling the truth, this much I can tell you. Meanwhile, taking the blame would have messed up her plan. It only remains to be seen if she has thought this through all that much, or if she is just winging it. Janae's next part... oh man, that will be quite something.

    The next part will be out right now. It will be a Jaron part, showing his arrival in Volantis, as well as a Willfred part, showing the aftermath of the Chapter 2 finale. Hope you enjoy :)

  • Jaron

    Where Lys was beautiful, Volantis was magnificent and intimidating. It was the largest city he had ever seen, larger even than Oldtown, its sheer size alone being quite a bit shocking. Built near the mouth of the Rhoyne, it was large enough to spread beyond the hills on both sides of the river, making it impossible for him to see just how huge it was. Judging by the harbour, though, it had to be enormous, for it alone had to be three or four times as large as the already huge one he knew from Oldtown.

    “You better close your mouth, boy”, the old Gill growled, his voice showing a strong eastern accent. “There's a crazy amount of flies around here that time of the year” The man was Aidan's first mate, taller and broader than John and apparently in his fifties, even if Jaron would have never guessed by his looks alone. The only signs of ageing this man showed were fine wrinkles around his eyes, themselves hardly visible due to the black paint he wore to protect his eyes from the sun, as well as the hint of grey hair on his otherwise clean-shaven head. Though Jaron had never asked, he had the fleeting suspicion that Gill was not his real name, but a nickname originating from the gruesome trio of gill-like scars that spanned across the left side of his neck, all the way to his left ear. They were white and knotty and clearly set themselves apart from his otherwise darker skin.

    As he suggested, Jaron quickly closed his mouth, clenching his hands around the railing, as the ship approached the city. To the east, he spotted massive, black walls, far taller than the city walls that surrounded the rest of Volantis. Even then, behind it, there were ancient buildings and spires that towered over it. The port itself was crowded with ships and unlike the comparably minor traffic he had seen in Lys, this was just what he expected from a city of this size. Aside from the more familiar ships of Westerosi origin, he spotted countless exotic shapes among them. Ghiscari, Summer Islander and others he had never even seen before.

    “It is quite something, isn't it?”, Gill said with his deep, gritty tone and Jaron gave him a nod. “I think the town I grew up in can fit ten times into this harbour”, he spoke, to which the old man shot him a smirk. “They say the entirety of Braavos can fit in it”, he explained. “That is, of course, not true at all and it tells you all you need to know about the Volantene”

    “You don't like the people here too much?”, Jaron asked and the old man shook his head. “Oh, most of the people who live here are alright”, he revealed. “Then again, slaves outnumber free men five to one in this city. Not even Slaver's Bay is that bad, when compared” He shrugged. “You can say it's the city I hate and the people who made it what it is today”

    Jaron glanced over his shoulder, to where Lysara Rogare stood, in a conversation with Aidan and John, while Temari and Samuel stood in the background, listening carefully. After two weeks on sea, the woman was still a mystery to him. Perfectly affable and strangely excited to be aboard a pirate's ship, there was nonetheless something about her that unsettled him. “Aye, she's one of them”, Gill said, having noticed his glance. “And Aidan should have never taken her aboard, if you ask me”

    He had said this just a little bit too loud and Lysara, as unlikely as it was that she actually understood him over the distance and the howling of the wind that pushed them into the harbour, briefly glanced into their direction, which prompted the older man to give her a wide, cheerful grin and a mocking salute. “You should stay away from that woman, boy”, he whispered, still grinning. “But that doesn't make her any less easy on the eyes. Gods, if only I'd be twenty years younger”

    This earned him a brief glare from Lili, his beautiful daughter, who was working with a rope a few feet away from them. She shook her head, though she smirked as she did. Jaron however narrowed his eyes, as he realized, he still did not know just what the woman wanted from them. And it was them now, him, John, Temari and Samuel, ever since Aidan agreed to take them along. If Abbas was already past Volantis, then helping Aidan was instrumental to keep a trustworthy captain who'd bring them all the way to Slaver's Bay if necessary.

    “Excuse me for a moment”, he spoke, as he approached the group. Lysara stopped talking as she noticed him, but Aidan gave him a wide, friendly smile. “What is it, mate?”, he asked, as Jaron stopped between him and John. “Morning”, the one-eyed sellsword said and Jaron gave him a nod. “Morning”, he replied. “We're almost there”

    “Yeah, we can see that”, John replied, as he flashed him a grin. Jaron however sighed. “I believe I should know what we're going to do in this city”, he replied. The first to answer was Samuel. “Killing Ryder”, he growled. “That has been a long time in the making” He gave Lysara a nod. “I can count on your help, mylady?”

    Jaron raised an eyebrow at that. “You are making new friends, Samuel?”, he asked and Samuel sighed. “I take every ally I can get”, he admitted. “Lady Lysara has offered to ask her contacts about Ryder if I help her out with her little problem” He shrugged. “It's good for you as well. The sooner we find Ryder, the sooner I can help you against the slaver”

    “Yeah, about that”, Jaron said as he turned to Lysara. The silver-haired woman raised both eyebrows, giving him the hint of a smirk. “You question my willingness to help against a slaver?”, she asked and nonchalantly, Jaron gave her a nod. “Honest. I like that”, she complimented him. “But your concerns are unfounded, Ser. Just because slavers make up a majority of our customers does not mean the Rogare bank knows every slaver this side of the Narrow Sea, nor do we protect every single one of them” She shrugged, giving him a wink, followed by a clever smirk. “This Abbas is simply not important enough to deal with us”

    “Or he is too smart”, Aidan mumbled. “No offence” Lysara's smirk grew slightly smaller. “Offence taken”, she said and her tone made it impossible to deduce if she was joking or not. “Keep in mind, Captain Storm, we are in Volantis now. You work for me while we're here and I expect a minimum of obedience”

    She and Aidan glared at each other for a moment, before the pirate shrugged. “Aye aye, mylady”, he mumbled, with feigned enthusiasm. “The noble Captain Storm is at your service” He followed with a mocking bow that caused Lysara to roll her eyes, though she smiled as she did. “If any of my brothers would be here, this wouldn't have been such a lovely journey”, she revealed. “So, if you would be so kind and listen to what I want you to do?”

    This time, Aidan's smile faded. Jovial as they were around each other, there was no love lost between them. Quite the contrary, Jaron was sure they would tear each other's throat out if not for the fact that she needed his help and he was understandably hesitant to cross her family. Worst of it all was that he had seen Lysara sparring with John and that woman knew how to handle the blade that never left her side. It was more than likely that she would to the throat-tearing if he'd give her a reason.

    “What do I have to do?”, he asked, to which Lysara's smile grew a bit more genuine. “My, what enthusiasm”, she spoke. “There is one thing I need you in particular for, captain. We require your contacts in the city, as well as your ability to walk unseen within it, to find a specific man who is in terrible debt to us. I'd do it myself, but unfortunately, if I walk into the wrong parts of this city, I likely won't get out again”

    Aidan raised an eyebrow. “Hm, intriguing”, he mumbled. “But alright, if it's just that. Though I hate to screw over some poor soul” Lysara shook her head. “I can assure you, he is not just some poor soul”, she replied. “He is a slaver as well, just one who did not manage to pay his debt” Jaron could tell that this actually gained Aidan's curiosity. “You want me to hunt a slaver?”, he asked and the hint of a smile, half surprise and half disbelief, formed on his face.

    Lysara's smile grew wider and for a moment, she showed her flawless teeth. “I was told you are one of the best in that discipline”, she said. “The man's name is Aeron Longstar, but for some reason, he calls himself 'Dark Prince'. The debt he owes us is substantial and more than enough for us to, well, conveniently forget about your own sum”

    “And you think he has the coin?”, Aidan asked, to which Lysara gave him a nod. “Oh, absolutely. Our contacts told us he is rather generous with what he buys here in the city”, she assured him. “We fear he wishes to buy himself a powerful friend among the triarchs of Volantis. As such, we must find him before he is able to get away for good”

    “And that would tragedy”, Aidan spoke dryly. “But you had me at 'slaver'” Lysara chuckled sweetly, before she looked from Jaron to John. “That would not be all”, she replied. “I consciously decided against taking Rogare men with me. Secrecy is important for this, after all. But I will need an escort, for my very own task, behind Volantis' black walls”

    “What do you need to do?”, John growled, to which Lysara raised a single eyebrow. “I don't have to tell you, you know that, right?”, she replied. “But I suppose, honesty is in order. I am going to meet with a potential partner of the Rogare bank here in Lys. Her name is Bazaeya Braesendys, a woman of high birth and some peculiar interest in increasing her standing in this city and Essos. She has some rather interesting connections to Westeros and my father would like to see if she is worth our time”

    “And money, I presume?”, Aidan chimed in, to which Lysara nodded calmly. “Always”, she confirmed. With this, she looked from John to Jaron. “I need two guards at most. Don't want to appear too intimidating to a potential business partner”, she spoke. “So, I would suggest one of you goes with me, the other helps Aidan finding Longstar”

    John and Jaron exchanged a look and the one-eyed sellsword followed with a nod. “I don't really care”, he spoke. “I guess I'll do whatever you don't want to, so just go with whomever you want” He briefly glanced at Temari. “You come with me?”, he asked. To Jaron's surprise, Temari shook his head. “Depends on what the knight does”, he growled. “Because I'll sure as hell go with Aidan. Maybe we'll find a lead in this shithole, instead of wasting our time playing errand boy”

    [Go with Aidan] [Go with Lysara]


    Darkness was the only thing he saw. The howling of the storm was the only thing he heard. Then, torches, illuminating black rocks and yellow eyes, staring at the men who came from the sea, with hatred and fear. A voice, just behind his eyes, whispering spiteful curses at the newcomers, in a tongue he had never heard before. Though he did not know the words, they made sense as they formed in his head, as he drifted in and out of conciousness, seeing the dark, rocky shore, then an endless winter, then a forest road, followed by the border plains of his home and a castle by the sea. What he saw, was a beginning...

    “Who are you?”, he growled, at the shadows near the rocks, at the man, running from the demons through the frozen plains, at the loyal soldier on the horse, as they rode through the forest together. “Answer me!” And this time, they did, with the sudden, brutal force of a storm, pulling him back to the dark shore anytime he threatened to snap out of it.

    “Ser, stay calm!”, the soldier growled, but the shadowy voices drowned him out, flooded him with screams until he saw nothing but what they wanted him to see, heard nothing but what they wanted him to hear, as a black void surrounded him, a tempest of raw, primordial power.

    “We are the first”, the first voice hissed in an inhuman snarl. “The first and the last!”, a second chimed in, slightly higher pitched. “The beginning and the end”, a third added and he recognized it. It was the one that had spoken to him before, the one that had uttered the warning that saved his life.

    “Why?”, he merely managed to mumble and the storm calmed for a second, as the eyes stared at him, just long enough for him to shiver. They understood what he meant. “We see”, the first voice spoke. “We know”, the second added. “You will yet be of service”, the third revealed and no, he did not like how it said these words. “You will yet repay what you owe”

    Willfred tried to clench his fists, but noticed that he couldn't move at all. Strangely, he felt no shock at this revelation, just like how he barely felt anything at all. “What do you want me to do?”, he demanded to know and the voices erupted into a cascade of different demands. “You will reunite us”, the third voice hissed. There was displeasure in the voice's tone, but hidden beneath, Willfred felt a longing in his chest.

    “Reunite us!”, the first voice demanded. “Reunite us!”, the second repeated and like this, the storm was back, swallowing him without warning, surrounding him with shrill demands. Crushing, tearing, ripping... It was more than a dream, he knew, as he sank into oblivion. All that remained was the feeling of him, staring into the void and something else, radiating power beyond belief, staring back at him, for a moment, for a lifetime.

    The first thing Willfred consciously noticed was that the ground beneath him was not the hard, rocky shore he had seen in his dreams. No, it was actually rather soft... a bed! A bed, inside a room of stone. His head was aching, but not as bad as he feared, though the pain in his side had barely subsided. The room was brightly lit and warm, yet he shivered still.

    Reunite us...

    He gasped, as the voice in his head brought it back, the memory of him and the storm. It was in this moment that he noticed how dry his throat was and what would have probably been a scream in any other situation ended up as nothing but a pathetic croaking, followed by a fit of violent coughs. Pain swelled up in his throat and he coughed, his vision blurring, as he jumped up. This caused the pain in his side to sharpen and now, he did manage a slight scream, more a wailing.

    “Ser!”, a voice yelled and a figure rushed to his side. He blinked, recognizing a young woman, who pushed him back into the bed. She was tall and had a slightly robust build, with hard, strangely familiar features, though there was a certain beauty within her sharpness. Her dirty blonde hair fell down onto her shoulders and her green eyes stood out from her sun-tanned skin.

    He tried to say something, but it only caused more coughs, until the woman pressed a cup against his lips, forcing him to drink. And he did just that, greedily, spilling more than half of it thanks to the cough. Only now did he realize that tears streamed down his cheeks, half due to the pain in his side and half due to the echoes, still ringing in his head.

    “Easy”, the woman said and she effortlessly held him down, giving him an intense stare. “Don't twist like that. Don't tense up, just relax” But he couldn't. Willfred could think of nothing else but the void, the power beyond, the massive, twisted consciousness that had granted him a fragment of attention. All he could think of was the shrill storm, the voices, their cries...

    “Where...”, he mumbled. “Where am I?” This caused the woman to let go of him. “First time you ask that”, she admitted. “First time you even speak at all. You're here, aren't you? Like, fully awake” After a moment of confusion, Willfred gave her a nod. “Where am I?”, he repeated again and his voice was thin and hoarsy, making it painful to even press these words out.

    “Crakehall”, the woman replied, as if that was the dumbest question he could have asked. “And before you ask how long you've been here, it's been the better part of two days. You've been slipping in and out the entire time” She smirked. “Maester wasn't sure you'd make it, but I say he brought you through this just fine”

    And this was when he recognized her strong features. That woman was indeed a Crakehall through and through. Prettier than most of her family, but undeniably related to Quentyn Crakehall. His daughter? No, she was too young for that. A granddaughter, or grand-niece maybe. As if she had read his thoughts, she took a slight bow in front of him. “I'm Audrey”, she introduced herself. “You probably remember my old boar of a grandfather” She frowned mildly. “You... do remember him, don't you?”

    Willfred managed a weak nod. “Hard to forget a man like Quentyn Crakehall”, he replied. “What about...” And then he realized what had happened. “Roger!”, he yelled and Audrey sighed. “I am sorry, Ser”, she told him. “Your soldier, this Jack, he told us what happened. I am afraid you and him are the only ones who made it out. Your uncle and General Tallian are considered dead”

    He closed his eyes and for a moment, instead of yellow eyes staring back at him, as he feared, he saw something much, much worse. There was Roger, sinking from his horse. It had been a sacrifice, he knew that much by now. Roger had taken a hit meant for him, he had let go so that he would carry on. The uncle he had barely known for most of his life and now he missed him. By the gods...

    “I...”, he began, before he paused again. “How did I even...?” Audrey gave him a reassuring smile. “You got here because that man of yours brought you”, she explained. “I mean, I don't want to tell you how you have to treat your people, but that soldier, he definitely earned something. Had enough common sense to bring you to the first castle within the borders of the Rock. Nearly killed his horse to get here and probably himself as well, but he did it”

    “Is he okay?”, Willfred asked and Audrey nodded. “Grandfather gave him a room all for himself. Don't think he ever had one in his lifetime”, she assured him. “He is alright. Tired, sure, but who wouldn't, after his hellish ride? He was barely able to speak, but we got the bits and pieces all together, I believe”

    Willfred clenched his fists, as he remembered what happened. “The king”, he mumbled and Audrey rolled her eyes. “Of course we have sent word to the king”, she told him. “But that can take a while. He's out, fighting the Ironborn. Should be near the Golden Tooth by now. I doubt our message reaches him within the next three weeks”

    “Do you know who did this”, Willfred snarled and the young woman gave him a nod. “This Jack, he told us a man named Mullendore did this”, she confirmed. “Never heard of him, but grandfather has. Didn't seem too happy about that name, that much I can tell you”

    “He plans something”, Willfred revealed. “He tried to kill me, but he knew fully well what this would mean” Audrey gulped. “Yeah, he wanted to provoke a war”, she spoke. “Might have succeeded still. You got out alive, you are safe and among friends, but King Loren still lost two good friends, a trusted general and his former master-at-arms. If he'd want to, anyone could understand marching to war for this”

    With a sigh, Willfred sank back onto his pillow. “Listen, we know”, Lord Crakehall's granddaughter spoke. “Your man told us all he knows and we sent a raven to the king. All we can do now is to wait. But you, you're badly injured. Still look half dead, if I may say so´” She tilted her head and gave him a warm smile. “I don't think your fit to receive visitors just yet, but I'm not your mother”, she spoke. “So, if you think you have anything to add, I'll send my grandfather and maybe your soldier as well, to ease his concerns. But if you want to remain alone for a bit, to recover, then I bet everyone will understand”

    [Tell her you wish to receive visitors] [Tell her you wish to remain alone for the time being]

  • [Go with Aidan] I likes piracy.

    [Tell her you wish to remain alone for the time being] I believe that reflecting the vision would be best instead of taking visitors. Would not be surprised if hostile agents would attack someone weak.


    Jaron Where Lys was beautiful, Volantis was magnificent and intimidating. It was the largest city he had ever seen, larger even than Oldt

  • I believe that reflecting the vision would be best instead of taking visitors. Would not be surprised if hostile agents would attack someone weak.

    Hm, surely, Willfred is weak at the very moment and would Mullendore know where he is, he might send one of his assassins. Remaining assassins, that is, since Kersea turned on him, Alysanne is dead and Clayton's whereabouts are unknown, whereas the Fang is already after a target of higher priority. That being said, visitors in this case does not mean anyone who wants to see him and he will still be guarded. The only ones who would come are Lord Crakehall and Jack and it is highly likely that neither of them is secretly working for Mullendore.

    [Go with Aidan] I likes piracy. [Tell her you wish to remain alone for the time being] I believe that reflecting the vision would be best instead of taking visitors. Would not be surprised if hostile agents would attack someone weak. Hmm.

  • The Voting is closed!

    Jaron is going to go with Lysara

    Willfred is going to receive visitors

    I was actually hoping for the other choice in Jaron's part, but this was a very close one and so, he will go with Lysara. Undoubtedly the more comfortable choice, but going with Aidan would have been a similarly exciting thing, which is now going to be seen from John's perspective. And that, in return, holds some pretty neat possibilities as well. I just need to find a place for Jaron/Temari interaction, it was something you requested and this choice would have brought it, so maybe I shouldn't leave it up for a choice next time ^^

    The next part will be hopefully out today. It will be a part for the PoV who has not been seen in the longest time, namely Samantha Ducard, who makes her return after being absent for a full chapter. She will probably not be the only PoV for this part, so I will likely also give one for Drent. And you know what this means, we finally reach the point of recaps again! Samantha has not been seen in forever. Last time she was around, she and Sasha agreed to meet up with Vali's superior among the Order of the Green Hand, Lord Chrass Serry, who rules over the island of Southshield. Her journey there will be skipped over, showing her right as she arrives at the island. Meanwhile, Drent is part of the unit sent to support Lord Benedict Buckler, Bernard's father, during his first contact with the Targaryen vanguard, led by Orys Baratheon. Arriving at the Buckler seat of Bronzegate, Drent was confronted by Warrick Fell, one of Argella's suitors, whom he knocked out during the melee on her order. Warrick is, in fact, not dumb and he put the pieces together correctly. Understandably angry about it, he confronted Drent and left him with the decision to admit the truth or try to deny it. You chose the former and so, Drent will be honest with Warrick.

  • Samantha

    The shore of Southshield was covered in an eerie fog, as the small ship approached it, towards the later evening. Only its shadow was visible, black in grey and even then, Samantha had to narrow her eyes to make out the shape at all. It was cold, chilly and unusually silent, with the only thing she heard at all being the sounds coming from aboard the ship itself, as the crew did their duties.

    “That took way too long”, Sasha groaned, as she dragged herself next to Samantha. “We've been on this ship, what... a year?” She frowned, holding her stomach, as she closed her eyes. Samantha smirked, before she shook her head. “A little over two weeks”, she replied. It was almost amusing that Sasha, of all people, reacted so harshly to being aboard a ship. Then again, she had Dothraki blood in her veins, so maybe it made sense after all.

    “Worst two weeks ever”, the woman proclaimed. “Gods, please tell me this is the last time we have to be on this blasted thing” Samantha raised an eyebrow. “Well, unless you want to stay here, we gotta take the same route back eventually”, she said, in a slightly teasing voice. Sasha groaned, as she placed her head on the railing.

    “I fucking regret ever coming with you, you know that?”, she mumbled. “No, I fucking regret ever leaving Essos” Samantha suppressed a chuckle, as she placed a hand on Sasha's back. “How did you even get here, if not by ship?”, she asked and Sasha was silent for a moment. “It was by ship”, she clarified. “But I was so drunken, I can hardly even remember getting aboard, or off it again” She managed a weak smirk, before she shook her head again. “Should have remembered, but let's be honest here, you can't get a good drink in this part of the world either way”

    “That's because you don't know where to look”, the captain said, having approached them in silence, so suddenly that Samantha tensed up for a second. That being said, his tendency to be way too quiet aside, she hasn't found anything concerning about the man. He was older, easily twice her age, with tanned skin and a net of fine wrinkles over his face. All that remained of his hair was a short, grey coil and he was a bit too thin to actually do the heavy duty he expected of his sailors. That being said, he paid them fairly, for all she had seen and he didn't charge too much for the journey.

    “The Shield Islands, for example, they have some of the finest wines you'll find outside of the Arbor”, he continued and Sasha briefly raised an eyebrow. “Continue”, she said and he smirked, but Samantha noticed that he did not look at her. Instead, his eyes darted across the shore and she followed his gaze, narrowing her eyes. “I know a place here on Southshield that can equip you for your journey back...”, the man mumbled.

    Samantha tilted her head. “Is it supposed to be that dark?”, she asked. “Or that quiet?” The captain hesitated for a moment, before he shook his head. “Didn't want to concern you fine people”, he admitted in return. “But no, it is not supposed to be this quiet, nor this dark. You see that shape over there? That's supposed to be a lighthouse. Has never been dark in the three decades I have travelled across this part of the sea”

    “So what, you tell me we have to stay on this hellish thing until they light us a fire?”, Sasha groaned. “Can't you just enter the harbour?” The captain shook his head. “I know the way”, he confirmed. “The darkness is not the problem. The problem is what might have caused the lighthouse to go dark” He listened for a moment, but the only sound that he and Samantha heard were the waves crashing against the hull of the ship. “Or the town to go quiet”

    Samantha clenched her fists. “What do you suspect?”, she asked and the captain shrugged. “Something that'd make it advisable to leave this place as quick as possible”, he replied. “Oakenshield is not far. We can resupply there and leave for Raylansfair as soon as possible” He gave her a stressed smile. “That is what I would advice, at least”, he admitted.

    “What do you suspect?”, she asked again, this time giving him a stern glare. The older man notably hesitated. “Ironborn”, he finally spoke. “Ever since they attacked Raylansfair, these waters seem to be swarming with them” He shook his head. “If they attack Southshield, they'd take out the lighthouse first. Myladies, I would advice against going ashore here”

    Sasha groaned, holding her stomach in clear discomfort. “How far is this Oakenshield?”, she muttered, staring at the ground to her feet. The captain and Samantha shared a smirk, before he answered. “Three days”, he explained. “It's not as comfy as Southshield and, well, to be honest, Lady Hewett has quite the reputation, but it is a safe harbour”

    “We thought the same about Southshield”, Samantha brought up. “Besides, we don't need to talk to Lady Hewett, but to Lord Serry. If Ironborn killed him, then we can just as well return to Raylansfair” She frowned at the thought. “Though if he is dead, we should not leave without proof” Sasha gave her a nod. “Everything, if it just takes me off this godsforsaken ship”, she muttered.

    Samantha sighed, as she stared at the dark, silent coast. Out of all the ways she could have arrived here, this was decidedly the last she imagined. She felt a shiver running down her spine, not just at the thought that something terrible might have happened in Southshield or that her journey here had been for nothing. No, it was the entire place that caused her to be on guard. Shifting nervously, she glanced from Sasha, in her miserable, seasick condition, then to the captain.

    “Would you bring us ashore?”, she asked and the man thought about it for a moment. Then, he shook his head. “I have an old skiff I'm willing to give you”, he replied. “But I won't get any closer to this island. We're a trading vessel. If an Ironborn longship catches up to us, we're practically dead” He gave her a sad smile. “And I must again advice you against going ashore. Is your business with Lord Serry worth your lives?”

    Samantha sighed, as she closed her eyes. What she saw was her old home, up in the North, as she returned from her trip to the forest. The door half-open and smeared with blood. What she saw was the man behind it, what she saw was Butterfly. And her gaze, as she opened her eyes again, was furious and determined. “More than that”, she spoke. She clung to the hope that Vali was right, that Lord Serry was able to help them. The last weeks had made her desperate like this. Maron Mullendore as castellan of Raylansfair, about to get away with all he did. That was a thought she could not live with, so if there was any help to gain on Southshield, she was more than willing to risk her life for this.

    “And I just want to get off this boat”, Sasha complained. “So, can we get going?” The captain sighed. “You are my passengers, not my prisoners”, he spoke. “So if you want to leave, you can take the skiff and be on your merry way. Me and the crew will take the route to Oakenshield and return once we are certain this is not a trap”

    He waved two of his men over and together, they began to prepare the skiff, while Samantha and Sasha packed their few belongings. The entire time, there was no noise from the dark island and she began to grow genuinely nervous. After thanking the captain for his faithful service, the two took place in the skiff and were lowered into the water, where both grabbed one of the oars and began to row towards the shore of Southshield.

    “What do you think we have to look out for there?”, Samantha asked and Sasha gulped, trying her best not to even look at the water around them. “Hopefully something to kill”, she admitted. “I could blow off some steam right now” She looked back at the water and frowned. “Maybe you should have taken Davith instead of me”

    “What do you think he's doing right now?”, Samantha asked and Sasha raised an eyebrow. “Who”, she corrected her. “With Davith, it's not a 'what', it's probably a 'who'” With a mischievous smirk, she jabbed an elbow into Samantha's side. “I mean, somehow he has to get over you, huh?”, she added and this got a chuckle out of Samantha.

    “Do you think he noticed by now?”, she asked and Sasha nodded. “Gods, it'd be awkward if not”, she replied. “Still, maybe he should have been here instead of me. I'm... ugh, I'm not feeling so well” Samantha raised an eyebrow. “You don't say”, she replied. “But hey, there's nobody I'd rather go to this creepy island with”

    Sasha chuckled. “Very smooth”, she said in a dry tone and Samantha shared her grin. “I just hope he's alright, that's all”, she said. “Him and Richard and Jenna. Fuck, even that asshole Leonard” Sasha nodded. “He kinda grows on you, doesn't he?”, she remarked. “But hey, they are alright. Leonard and that Kersea girl are likely in Oldtown already. Richard's keeping a low profile and that girl of his does the same, I hope”

    Samantha nodded, though she remained quiet. Neither Richard nor Jenna had been there when the two of them left for Southshield, despite what they previously agreed upon and though she hadn't admitted to it yet, she was concerned for what this meant. She was concerned for what she'd find when they'd return to Raylansfair.

    “Look”, Sasha hissed, pointing at something in the distance. There, in the fog, she spotted a hulking structure and she didn't need to guess twice that this was Castle Southshield. What made it stand out, though, was the fact that unlike the unnervingly quiet village, there was light up there, visible as they rowed closer to the island.

    “Torches”, Samantha mumbled. “There's still someone up there” Sasha nodded. “Yeah, doesn't have to be good though”, she replied. “We don't know what happened here. I say we check out the village first, try to get some answers, or at least try to find out just what the hell is going on here” She pointed down the shore, to where Samantha could barely see some rundown huts around an empty port, near the dark lighthouse. “You with me on that?”

    [Approach the castle] [Approach the village]


    Drent hesitated for a moment, as he stared into Warrick Fell’s mismatched eyes. The man radiated fury, his fists clenched, his glare sharp, as he waited for a reply. Should he be honest? Could he afford to be caught lying? And worse, Warrick likely suspected the truth already.

    As such, he sighed. “You are right”, he confirmed. “I did it for Argella. Targeted you in the tourney, to prevent you from winning” Warrick closed his eyes and sighed, his fists still clenched. At least the glare was gone, if only for a moment, before he opened his eyes again, twice as sharp. “And Bernard?”, he hissed. “Jonathan?”

    Now that he was already admitting it, it felt easier to just say the rest and as he did, Drent felt a weight lifted from his conscience, though the concern of just what Warrick would do grew. The man was highborn after all. If he wanted to, he could make Drent’s life a nightmare and few would care. “Emphryus took care of Bernard” he stated. “It was no coincidence that they met at this stage in the tourney. And Edonia did her best to defeat Jonathan”

    Warrick nodded slowly. “As I thought”, he spoke, his tone neutral, yet with an underlying anger. Then, without warning, he grabbed Drent by the collar of his shirt and pulled him closer. Strong and in a superior position he held him there and Drent didn’t even make the attempt to break free.

    “Now you listen to me, you fucking fool”, Warrick growled in a low tone. “Do you have any idea what you have done?” Drent gulped, though his gaze remained firm. “I followed an order”, he spoke. “I did a favour for the princess” Warrick nodded. “The princess you love, I know”, he said in a harsh tone and Drent frowned. “Do you think I do? Do you think me a rival in whatever little affection she can offer?”

    Drent said nothing towards this, but his eyes widened slowly. Warrick let go of him, but they remained close, glaring at each other. “Because if you think any of this was necessary, then you are an even bigger fool than I thought”, he spat. “I don’t want to marry the princess. I feel nothing for her and I know, she feels disdain at best. Not even for a kingdom would I spend the rest of my life with that woman” He sighed. “Jonathan is the youngest of us, almost a boy still and he is in love with a common girl from his father’s lands. You don’t think he’d give up on her for a woman he doesn’t even know, huh?”, he continued. “And Bernard, he loves the girls a little too much to settle down for just one of them”

    Drent sighed. “Doesn’t change the fact that you were supposed to marry her”, he spoke, but Warrick cut him off. “Trust me when I say, we had a plan”, he spat. “Me, Bernard and Jonathan, we agreed pretty early on that none of us would go through with this. We are friends and our fathers and the king tried to force us to be rivals” He glanced around, realizing he had spoken a bit too loudly, so he continued in a lower tone. “We had a plan to get out of this without losing face, but you and your buddies had to go and ruin it, huh?”

    At the very least, Drent understood just why Warrick was angry. And he felt a sting of guilt, all things considered. “Listen, I…”, he began, but once more, Warrick cut him off. “I don’t want your apology”, he hissed. “I want you to listen and understand. When Jonathan comes home, his father will be furious. If he suspects anything about that commoner of his, he’ll send the girl away, quite probably ruining her life and surely breaking his son’s heart”

    Drent remained quiet after this, but his fists were clenched. “My father is a fairly reasonable man, but after that, losing against a commoner, failing to win the bride I was supposed to win, well, I doubt my days of freedom will last much longer”, Warrick continued. “And Bernard… sure, he beat Emphryus the Invincible, but he was not sent to Storm’s End to do that. Lord Benedict ordered him to do something else and when that man gives an order, he accepts no other result”

    “You mentioned you had a plan”, Drent said and Warrick nodded. “Just a bit more time and I would have convinced the king to call off this foolishness”, he spoke. “I almost had him and if you and your cronies would have given me more time, then none of this would have happened, you bloody idiot”

    “I…”, Drent began, but once more, Warrick cut him off. “And don’t get me started on what could have happened”, he spat. “Setting Bernard up against Emphryus Dresfel? I know the princess doesn’t care at all, but have you considered just once that this man could have easily killed him?”

    That was indeed a new thought and Drent frowned, as he realized that Warrick was right. Bernard was not a bad man, but he could have died with ease. Had Argella been aware of this? No, he refused to believe that she would have done this, had she thought of the risk it posed for Bernard’s life. And yet, pitting him against Dresfel… it felt harsh, even without taking into account what Warrick just revealed. If Argella only knew…

    “I did her a favour, out of my own free will”, he spoke. “Don’t think bad of her for this” Warrick smirked coldly. “Oh, I do, trust me”, he said. “Because I am certain she arranged this. You are a fool for love, so I can understand you a bit, at least. But she? She nearly got Bernard killed because she That woman is dead to me” He shook his head. “The three of us hated every moment at Storm’s End, but we kept up with what our fathers expected, while trying to find a way to end this. Isn’t the least I can expect from the future queen of our kingdom to have enough patience, enough manners to do the same?”

    Drent pressed his lips together, saying nothing at this. “What are you going to do now?”, he asked. “If I can do anything to…” Warrick shook his head, viciously. “Oh, you did enough”, he barked. “Now, I, well, I have to find a way to maybe help Jonathan at least, but I sure as hell don’t want you to get involved with that”

    He raised both hands, taking a step away from Drent. “Listen, I… I’ll keep your secret, because I can actually understand you. Doesn't mean I appreciate it, but I know why you did it. No, it’s the princess I’m having a grudge against”, he assured him. “And Bernard and Jonathan, would they know what I know, they would kill you for that and they’d be right to do it” He narrowed his eyes. “So, do me a favour, keep doing whatever the hell you want to do, without thinking wether or not you should”, he growled. “But never talk to me or Bernard or Jonathan ever again, or I will break every bone in your body”

    Drent sighed. He had expected something like that, to be honest and he even understood where Warrick came from. In his position, he would likely react the same. Truth be told, he would probably react harsher and he was able to see from Warrick's clenched, shaking fists just how much the man wanted to do it. “One more thing”, the man hissed. “Not a word about this, to anyone. It's for your own good”

    “I understand”, Drent confirmed. “I'll be on my way then” He turned to the Great Hall, but paused for a moment, unsure if he should apologize. Finally, he shook his head, noticing Warrick's glare and he instead decided to approach the Great Hall.

    Most of the other soldiers had found a seat already as he entered, gathering around four long tables, each large enough for over fifty men, while Emphryus, Bernard and Jonathan had taken position with Lord Benedict, at the table of honour. Bowls of bread and salt were generously distributed across the tables, as well as cups of water. Edonia was the first to spot him and she raised a hand to gain his attention.

    “Over here!”, she called, though he was only able to hear her over the noise of two hundred soldiers because he was looking at her. She had kept a seat for him next to her and opposing Torrence, who stared at the bread on his table. No sooner had Drent sat down that the other man tried to say something. However, just as he had opened his mouth, Lord Benedict slammed his cup onto the table, demanding absolute silence for a moment. Torrence was smart enough to actually shut his mouth for this.

    “When I sent my son to Storm's End, I expected him to return a prince!”, the lord began, giving Bernard a brief glance and Drent noticed how the younger man had tensed up. “And a prince he is not” The lord shook his head and Bernard sighed, averting his gaze. “Even if he gained honour during the tourney. Emphryus Dresfel is no easy opponent and I can respect that” He raised his cup. “To my son and heir!”, he roared. “May there be another day, another chance for him to prove his worth!”

    He gave Bernard the briefest of nods and the younger man smirked thinly, though neither of them hid the cold look in their eyes. “There will be a small feast tonight!”, he proclaimed and this caused quite some approval from the soldiers. “To honour Bernard's victory in the tourney and to thank you, all of you who have come here to defend my lands against the foreign threat on our borders” He took a drink from his cup, a sign for the soldiers to start eating the bread. Drent himself reached for a piece, dipping it in the salt and sighing as he swallowed it. Though he should have been hungry, his talk with Warrick had taken away a lot of his appetite.

    “There is an army approaching”, Benedict revealed. “They are led by Orys Baratheon, the bastard of Dragonstone and they outnumber my own forces two to one. And yet, with your help, we will hold them off!” He raised his cup again and the men cheered at him. “May they bring five hundred men, or a thousand, or their godsforsaken dragons!”, he yelled. “Because here I see the Stormland's finest! Our people have braved even the gods, so how bad is that silver-haired pretender going to be, huh?” He sat down again, but the soldiers continued to cheer, which visibly pleased the lord.

    “So, what did he say?”, Torrence finally said, mumbling between two bites, his mouth full with bread. He raised an eyebrow. “That Warrick guy, I mean”, he clarified. “He looked pissed” Edonia placed a hand on Drent's shoulder. “We were concerned”, she confirmed. “Is this something to worry about?” She blinked quickly, giving him a nervous smile and Drent knew, he could trust both of them with this. At the same time, Warrick's warning was still fresh, his threat, about not telling them a thing. Perhaps it was not a wise idea to break his silence already.

    [Tell them about your talk with Warrick] [Change the topic]

  • [Approach the village] Want a sense of the situation. Very eerie. All we need is a wolf howl and a bat and it's creep city.

    [Change the topic] Wow, he was really pissed.

    “That took way too long”, Sasha groaned, as she dragged herself next to Samantha. “We've been on this ship, what... a year?” She frowned, holding her stomach, as she closed her eyes. Samantha smirked, before she shook her head. “A little over two weeks”, she replied. It was almost amusing that Sasha, of all people, reacted so harshly to being aboard a ship. Then again, she had Dothraki blood in her veins, so maybe it made sense after all.


    Sasha chuckled. “Very smooth”, she said in a dry tone and Samantha shared her grin. “I just hope he's alright, that's all”, she said. “Him and Richard and Jenna. Fuck, even that asshole Leonard” Sasha nodded. “He kinda grows on you, doesn't he?”, she remarked. “But hey, they are alright. Leonard and that Kersea girl are likely in Oldtown already. Richard's keeping a low profile and that girl of his does the same, I hope”

    lol on Richard, great to see their opinions on Leonard.

    Samantha The shore of Southshield was covered in an eerie fog, as the small ship approached it, towards the later evening. Only its shado

  • Want a sense of the situation. Very eerie. All we need is a wolf howl and a bat and it's creep city.

    Aye, I wanted things to feel really eerie here, with the town being silent and the island seemingly deserted. I suppose there are no wolves on the Shield Islands (bats though... well ;)), but imagine a metaphorical wolf howling for the proper atmosphere.

    lol on Richard, great to see their opinions on Leonard.

    Yeah, I couldn't resist with the Richard reference. Samantha and Sasha are really out of the loop and given that their Shield Island adventure is still just beginning, there is definitely more they are going to miss, a lot more. That being said, I also wanted to show their opinions on the people they left behind. By now, the relationship between Samantha, Sasha and Leonard is a bit odd still, but they do care for each other certainly. I am not sure if friends is the right word here, but it's close.

    [Approach the village] Want a sense of the situation. Very eerie. All we need is a wolf howl and a bat and it's creep city. [Change the t

  • The Voting is closed!

    Samantha is going to approach the village

    Drent is going to change the topic

    Yeah, Drent's choice was a wise one. He won't gain much from satisfying Torrence's curiosity, but Warrick explicitly told him to remain silent and he already let him get off easier than he originally planned (though Drent's earlier honesty played a big part in Warrick changing his mind). Samantha however, I cannot tell you much about wether or not you chose wisely. I can say, this was the choice I hoped for, story-wise, because it will lead to the introduction of a very important character earlier than otherwise. I am really glad about the positive reactions to her return, it has been a while and I am excited to get back to her storyline!

    The next part will be out right now. It will feature a return to the Riverlands storylines, more precisely to Garthon's and maybe Kyra's. Last time we saw Garthon, he and the Blackwood family welcomed their guests at Raventree Hall, Lord Elmont Piper, his daughter Mariya and Elmont's right-hand man Lucas Lolliston, whom Petyr Blackwood wishes to ally with in their growing rebellion against House Hoare. It became apparent that Elmont might be perfectly willing to support them, but the one who is actually pushing him into it is his daughter, who seems to have a lot more influence behind the scenes than one would suspect. While Elmont and Petyr went to the Great Hall to celebrate their negotiations, Mariya remained behind to have a word with Garthon. As much as she dislikes Ironborn, she is willing to work with him against House Hoare, although she wanted to hear how far he is willing to go, specifically if he is willing to turn even on Ironborn he considers friends. Garthon confirmed this and his next part will show the aftermath of the Piper's arrival at Raventree Hall. Meanwhile, Kyra found herself once more in her brother's schemes. Royally pissed off at him for his earlier threat against her friends, she is hesitant to work with him, but still unwilling to turn on him. As such, she ended up having to advice him on what to do. His greatest concern at the moment is Rell Vessels, whose return to Harrenhal might drive his father Simon, whom Damon involved in their conspiracy, back to Harren's side. Since he requires Simon's support, he intends to harm Rell and blame it on the king. Kyra suggested merely disgracing him, leading to a new banishment at the hands of the king, instead of framing Harren for Rell's murder as Damon would have prefered.

  • Garthon

    The reception had been over quickly and Garthon considered it to be comparably dull. There were Petyr's rather awkward attempts at having a casual conversation with Elmont Piper, while ignoring how both of the former's sons were visibly crushing on the latter's daughter, each in their own way. Raymon was barely able to look at the girl and the one time she tried to start a conversation with him, Garthon was half certain he nearly fainted. Ethan was notably more confident, though the presence of his parents seemed to keep him in line.

    Mariya herself did little to acknowledge this, as she was soon locked in a talk with the young Marian Blackwood, who soon started to talk freely despite some initial shyness. Garthon himself spent the reception and the following brief meal with Hjalgar and Christian, albeit Gavin the Tall was surprisingly absent from the entire thing. Neither of his companions had seen him after he had left the Great Hall, shortly before Garthon himself had joined them.

    In hindsight, it made sense that the two lords would not discuss anything of note in this public gathering. Servants were present and guards and should Maurice's suspicion turn out to be true, then one of them was a traitor. As such, the two lords did little but updating each other on the occurrences that happened since they last met each other, trivialities, but the two lords were clearly glad to see each other again after so many years.

    It was a brief occurrence and after welcoming the Piper entourage in his halls as it was customary and expected, Petyr and Elmont wasted no time. The two lords and their advisers retreated into one of Petyr's private rooms. Garthon, Maurice and Ethan accompanied Petyr, while Elmont took Mariya and Lucas Lolliston with him. Torvin Hale accompanied them as well, though it was clear that he was only there to escort them and not to actually be present during the meeting.

    As they walked through the building, Maurice fell back, giving Garthon a brief nod and the Ironborn stopped for a brief chat. In a low tone, the Riverlander began to speak, his eye twitching mildly as he did so. “So, any news on the girl?”, he asked and Garthon shrugged. “She seems alright, to be honest”, he admitted. “Helpful, doesn't strike me as much of a traitor”

    “Those are the most dangerous ones”, the man replied. “Some women are like that and I believe little Marie Redloon, she's one of them” He sighed. “Though the more I look into this, the less sense it makes”, he admitted, before he stopped Garthon entirely. “Can I admit something?” Garthon nodded and Maurice looked visibly uncomfortable for a moment. “I am not sure if either of them is the traitor”, he then revealed. “Or maybe it's both of them”

    Garthon raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”, he asked and Maurice clenched his fists. “I don't think either of them can do this on their own”, he explained. “Marie has the connections, so she's a clear choice. But she's a servant woman. Doubt she can even read or write and whomever spies on our lord is sending intel back to Harrenhal”

    “And Torvin?”, Garthon asked, frowning mildly at the name. It was still odd, uncomfortable even, to talk about Torvin Hale. Likely, it would always be this way. Maurice sighed, as he glanced down the corridor, where the knight was leading the group through the castle. “He's got an issue”, he revealed. “Guy can hardly focus anymore. Forgets stuff, is absent minded. He had it for years, but it's been getting worse. He's growing feeble, you know what I mean?”

    “You mean he is losing his mind?”, Garthon asked and Maurice nodded. “Slowly”, he explained. “He might have a motive, but on his own, I doubt he'd be able to do it. Both are still suspects, but there's either a third party involved, or they are working together” Garthon shrugged. “That would be convenient”, he admitted. “Them working together, I mean”

    Maurice narrowed his eyes. “How do you mean that?”, he asked hesitantly and Garthon shrugged. “It'd mean we'd have our spies right on the silver platter”, he clarified. “But we can't just strike without evidence, can we?” Maurice shook his head. “It'll be even worse with our guests here”, he confirmed. “If we fuck this up, if the traitor learns about their next steps, we risk more than just angering the king”

    “We better not fuck this up then”, Garthon spoke and Maurice shot him a lazy grin, as he continued to walk down the hallway. “Took the words right out of my mouth”, he mumbled and soon, they had caught up with the rest of the group again, who were walking at a slightly slower pace. Together, they reached their destination.

    The room was small, most of its space taken up by a single, large table. On it, Garthon recognized a map of the Riverlands, not particularly well-drawn, but good enough for its purpose and, more importantly, likely showing every keep in the entire kingdom. There was a thick, golden needle sticking right where Raventree Hall was and as they entered, Petyr pulled a second one from beneath the table, placing it where Garthon spotted the Piper seat of Pinkmaiden, then a third, made from heavy iron this time, and placed it right at Harrenhal.

    “So”, Petyr spoke, sitting at the head of the table. “Shall we begin?” Elmont had taken the seat to his left, Maurice the one to his right. Next to them sat Mariya and Ethan, respectively. Neither Lucas nor Garthon had a chair remaining for them, so they settled for standing behind the two lords. In case of Lucas, Garthon was not quite sure if the man meant to stand behind Lord Piper, who was slouched into his chair, or behind Mariya, who was sitting with her back straightened, not touching the backrest, her hands folded in her lap.

    “We most certainly shall, my friend”, Elmont agreed. “I am afraid House Mallister can firmly be counted to the ranks of the enemy. Arrec Mallister married his own daughter off to Harmund Hoare” The news made Garthon frown and Petyr averted his gaze for a moment. “Poor, sweet Elaena”, he sighed. “I met her once. A good kid. Doesn't deserve what Harmund's going to do to her. Her father might be traitor scum, but she's innocent”

    “Was innocent”, Maurice added and he was the only one in the room to grin. “Guess what Harmund took first” Petyr frowned, showing just how little he appreciated the tasteless comment and Mariya outright gasped, while Lucas Lolliston leant forwards, his fists clenched.

    “No, we cannot count on Mallister anymore...”, Petyr spoke up, quickly changing the topic and placing an iron needle at Seagard. “The Ironborn hold Faronhall to the north and they have fortifications here and here” He placed another three needles, two of them in the northern part of the Riverlands. “Our enemy is particularly strong to the north and to the west”

    “Not so much to the west anymore”, Lucas spoke. “Just a few weeks ago, Loren Lannister won a decisive victory against the Ironborn at the Golden Tooth” To Garthon's surprise, Petyr did not even smile at this. Instead, the lord seemed concerned by this. “A lot of good Riverlanders were there as well”, he spoke. “Their defeat brings me no joy. Besides, it will leave our borders open for an attack from the west. Does this mean we have to prepare for Lannister's retaliation?”

    “That is not his style”, Lucas declined. “Loren will reinforce his lands, to prepare for another attack, one that hopefully never comes. I hate to say it, but this one time, Harren's raiders are useful for once, as they keep him busy. This means, we won't have to fear anything from the west and can focus entirely on the threats that truly matter”

    “There is more, I'm afraid”, Elmont mumbled. “I am sure you have heard news from Blackwater Bay?” Petyr nodded and Garthon tensed up as he thought of what they had been told. “They say there is a new king in Westeros”, he confirmed. “One with two queens and three dragons” Elmont nodded. “We heard the news earlier than most, I believe”, he spoke. “Bryen Darklyn sent word to Pinkmaiden when he first gathered his host. Asked me to march with him”

    Briefly, Lord Piper exchanged a warm smile with his daughter. “I would have done something foolish on that day, if not for Mariya talking me out of it”, he mumbled and the young woman spoke up. “We all underestimated the Lord of Dragonstone”, she explained. “Yet I see no reason to march against him for a king who brought us nothing but misery”

    “Many Piper men could have died on that day”, Elmont sighed. “Instead, Bryen asked Grenn Mooton and both perished in battle. Duskendale and Maidenpool have yielded to the Conqueror” Petyr raised an eyebrow. “It might be a bit too early to call him that”, he disagreed. “All he conquered so far is Blackwater Bay” He gave Maurice a nod and the man leant over the map, sticking copper needles into several places around Blackwater Bay, some of which Garthon had never even heard of, finally into Duskendale and Maidenpool.

    “House Rosby and Stokeworth yielded to him without bloodshed, as did the smaller lords of the Bay”, Petyr spoke. “We are talking about Chelsted, Rykker or Hogg, lords who bring a few dozen men each to his cause. Duskendale and Maidenpool are notable cities, of course, but their armies are weakened by the very king they have knelt to. As far as I can see, Aegon Targaryen is no conqueror yet. It takes more than intimidating a few petty lords and burning some others to take over the Seven Kingdoms”

    “Harren the Black won't yield his lands so easily”, Elmont muttered, which caused Maurice to raise an eyebrow. “So, you suggest supporting the invader?”, he asked. Mariya shook her head. “My father suggests no such thing”, she corrected him. “And frankly, I... we do not believe that Aegon Targaryen will free us from the Ironborn any better than Hardhand freed us from House Durrandon. We cannot just keep switching tyrants. The king who rules over our lands must, at last, be better than that”

    “Agreed”, Petyr confirmed. “Very much so. This is what you think, old friend” He glanced at Elmont, who nodded slightly. “Wholeheartedly”, he confirmed. “I don't know about that new king. He is Harren's enemy, but contrary to the saying, that does not mean he is our friend. At best, he is a third party we can arrange ourselves with. At worst, he is Harwyn Hoare all over again”

    Petyr closed his eyes and Garthon remembered what he had been told, how many Blackwood's died because of their defiance to Harren's grandfather. How many more would die this time? And yet it seemed that a hundred years were enough to make him lose the fear his predecessors had for the black line. Seeing this filled Garthon with confidence. He knew, it was only a matter of time until his brother would be avenged.

    “And arranging ourselves with him we shall”, he agreed. “If he is reasonable. He cannot hope to stand against the armies of the Ironborn and the Riverlanders” Maurice flashed a thin smirk. “I don't think the man can be called reasonable”, he spoke. “If it is true what I heard, he declared war on every king in Westeros at once. He landed not somewhere at Crackclaw Point, or in Dorne, but right between the two strongest kingdoms and he marches on both at the same time” He shook his head. “We cannot hope for Aegon's reason. I would even like to bring up that he could be worse than Harren Hoare”

    “Worse than Harmund as well?”, Mariya asked, raising her eyebrow and yet, the gaze in her eyes was sharp. “Harren is a cruel man and he bled our lands dry for his vanity. His son is nothing short of a monster and one day, not too far away, he will follow his father as king. Even the semblance of restraint the current tyrant shows will be forgotten by then”

    Maurice opened his mouth to say something, but he cut himself off. “You are right”, he admitted, glancing down, though his fists were clenched and Garthon heard his displeasure. “Though if you do not intend to join forces with Aegon Targaryen, then what do you want for the Riverlands... Lord Piper?” He visibly ignored Mariya, staring at Elmont, who was sunken back into his chair. “Is it a king from among your ranks, a new King of the Trident?”

    Elmont did not reply to this at first. “Perhaps this would be for the best”, he finally said, before his daughter could reply, undoubtedly with the same thing on her mind. “Edmyn Tully has called many of his closest friends to Riverrun just as well. His message arrived us just hours before we left for Raventree Hall. If I had to guess, I would say he intends to be crowned and perhaps he would be a king I can accept”

    “Tully?”, Petyr asked, but it was Maurice whose chuckle caught the attention of everyone in the room. “Have you forgotten about Tully's cowardice, Lord Piper?”, he growled. “When it truly mattered, he fled back to Riverrun, with his tail between his legs. And that is the man you would trust to lead you against the might of Harrenhal and against the Dragon King?” He shook his head, before he pointed at Petyr. “There sits the only man who never yielded to the king. There sits the man who never stopped resisting!, he proclaimed. “Royal blood pumps through his veins. Crowing his family was what our ancestors set out to do centuries ago! If any lord is crowned king in this war to come, then it should be him and not Tully. What has Edmyn ever done but... giving false promises and running like some girl?”

    He gave Mariya a challenging glare, which the young woman met without flinching. “He is not as... involved as Lord Blackwood”, she said without missing a beat. “May I remind you that the Blackwood's claim of old is anything but accepted among your neighbours? Bracken would never accept him, neither would Darry or Strong”

    It was Ethan who replied. Lord Blackwood's son shrugged, followed by a thin chuckle. “And why should we care for what they think?”, he asked. “I for one like the sound of it. King Blackwood...” He gave Mariya a wide, charming smile. “Tytos Bracken will support us once I make his daughter a princess”, he explained. “And our house is already second in power only to House Tully. If you support my father's claim, then why should the raven ever care for the trout?”

    Maurice nodded. “Just what I meant”, he confirmed, patting Ethan onto the back. “Good lad! Harren and his Ironborn can fight against Targaryen and his dragons. In the meantime, we steal his kingdom and crown the rightful King of the Trident” He tilted his head, as he looked at his lord. “How does that sound?”

    Petyr pressed his lips together. “Tempting”, he admitted. “And my son is right, we are strong” To this, Mariya crossed her arms before her chest. “Unfortunately, mylord, you are not strong”, she spoke bluntly and Lucas Lolliston visibly suppressed a smirk at Petyr's slightly baffled reaction. “How many men-at-arms do you have under your command? Five hundred? A thousand?”

    “I can gather up to four thousand with ease, mylady, likely even more”, Petyr revealed and Mariya shook her head. “How many do you have right now?”, she asked again and the lord hesitated. “Less”, he admitted. “But that is merely because...” Mariya did not let him finish. “We have prepared already”, she revealed. “House Piper has three thousand soldiers under our banner. Does this mean that, right now, we are powerful? Does this mean that, by your logic, we should force you to follow us? Make my father king and me a princess?” That last remark was followed by a cutting glance at Ethan, whose smirk grew notably intrigued.

    Petyr and Garthon both looked at Elmont, who seemed utterly unfazed by their visible concern. “We won't because we are no fools”, the woman hissed. “We have a common enemy, one so terrible that surrendering to him is not an option, for the sake of our families and those to follow after us. And yet here you are, making the same mistake as our ancestors. Teague used it, Durrandon did and Hoare most certainly. They defeated us, because some of our ancestors thought they were smarter, stronger, better on their own. They kept us divided and by doing that, they kept us weak. Does anyone here truly believe that House Blackwood can defeat Hoare and Targaryen and the will of every other lord in these lands?”

    After a moment, Petyr sighed. “Harsh words, Lady Piper”, he admitted. “But unfortunately, I cannot deny that you might have a point. What are your demands then?” A brief, satisfied smile flashed across Mariya's face. “Quite reasonably, all my father wants is that your men will fight side by side with the rest of the Riverlords. No delusions of ruling over us all, that can wait, that has to wait until all of our enemies are dealt with”

    “So that Tully or your father get more time to take over themselves, huh?”, Maurice growled. “Little girl, you demand that Petyr gives up on what should be his by right! Even you must admit this is no small thing to ask. Why shouldn't it be the other way 'round? Tully bows to us instead of we to him”

    “If this is what the Riverlords want”, Mariya replied calmly. “I merely ask that you follow the majority on this. Only if we stand together are we capable of defeating our foe” Petyr nodded. “I am a Riverlord”, he clarified. “Do my own wishes count for anything in your plan, Lady Piper?” His tone made it impossible to guess how he felt about Mariya's bold request. Garthon himself raised an eyebrow. At Harrenhal, she wouldn't have been so confident, he was sure of it. A king such as Harren would have taken her tongue for being insolent. Perhaps that was precisely the problem, because Garthon could see the wisdom in her words.

    “Of course”, Mariya assured him. “If you can convince the Riverlords to accept you over Lord Tully, then I don't see a reason why you shouldn't be the one to lead us. I simply believe that we cannot stand divided on the matter. We need to choose someone all of us can gather behind, or else we'll end up repeating the mistakes of the past”

    Petyr sighed. “You are asking a lot, mylady”, he admitted. “And you should know it. Every single lord of the Riverlands wants himself at the top more than anything else” He narrowed his eyes. “Or anyone. I have followed Edmyn once and it ended in disaster, so he has to bring up some good reasons for me to follow him ever again”

    “Well, my stance on this is quite clear”, Maurice growled. “I wonder if the girl would be so quick to urge you into giving up your chance, your birthright, if her house would be strong enough to come out on top” He flashed Mariya a grin. “Would you give up on the chance to become a princess, missy?”

    Instead of replying, Mariya rolled her eyes and wisely ignored the man. “Your stance is quite clear indeed”, Petyr mumbled. “Both of yours. And there is still this dragon king, whose power we have no clear intel on. The way I see it, the days of Harren Hoare are over if we choose wisely, but what we can do here is shaping more than that. The new king of these lands must be chosen” He looked at Garthon. “My friend, you are no Riverlander. This might give you a more neutral perspective on the whole situation”, he spoke and added a kind smile. “Imagine you were in my situation... I wonder, what would you do?”

    [Advice Petyr to declare for Edmyn Tully] [Advice Petyr to declare for Aegon Targaryen] [Advice Petyr to declare for himself]

  • [Advice Petyr to declare for Aegon Targaryen] Probably the smartest movie in hindsight, maybe. Merry Christmas by the way friend, and I think 4 year anniversary of FoT tomorrow!

    Garthon The reception had been over quickly and Garthon considered it to be comparably dull. There were Petyr's rather awkward attempts a

  • Merry Christmas to you as well, InGen! And you are right, the four year anniversary is today. Hold on, let me write something down for that real quick!

    [Advice Petyr to declare for Aegon Targaryen] Probably the smartest movie in hindsight, maybe. Merry Christmas by the way friend, and I think 4 year anniversary of FoT tomorrow!

  • Well, look what date it is!

    It's time, once more, to celebrate Forum of Thrones' anniversary! Four years ago, I had no idea how big this could get and started with only a rough plan in mind. It's been occasionally bumpy, but I think I truly settled into something I am comfortable with. And let it be known, I have not regretted starting this story even just once. The last year has been without a doubt the most tumultuous year so far, the pacing has slowed down, though I have big hopes that this will change in 2019. My plans will see the story continuing for years to come, this much I can easily say. We have a new forum, something I considered impossible just last year, we have a strong community and I am glad to write this story. Of course, nothing of this would have been possible without Telltale and I can rightfully say, I will miss the old forums.

    As always, this whole story would not be going on, at least not at this size, to this degree, without all of you. I am extremely happy that Forum of Thrones still attracts new readers even at this stage and I am beyond honoured that so many have remained faithful readers over the years. This is the one thing I would have never expected, that so many actually like what I am doing here, that so many want to be a part of it, have submitted their characters, voiced their thoughts, positive and negative and helped me with improving my own writing. Without your support, I don't think I would have had the guts to keep going. But with every single part, even the ones I am not too excited to write, it is your support that keeps me going forward. And it is this that makes me so excited for the things to come. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading. Here's to a new year ahead!

  • The Voting is closed!

    Garthon is going to advice Petyr to declare for Edmyn Tully

    This was a choice I was quite interested in. Obviously, Garthon is not the only influence on Petyr, there is Maurice pushing for independence and the Piper's, who believe that unifying the Riverlords behind the one candidate all could be expected to somewhat agree on should be the primary goal. However, Petyr respects Garthon and his opinion will influence him in some capacity. Let's just say, pushing for independence could have surprisingly enough been an idea that wouldn't be as terrible as it might seem in the long run, even though it would have caused tension and discord among the Riverlords in a time where they absolutely must find common ground. However, this will be something for future what if sections, because with Garthon and the Piper's urging him to declare for Edmyn Tully, it can be expected that this is what Petyr will ultimately decide to do, much to Maurice's chagrin, who would have prefered to secure House Blackwood's independence in what might be the last chance they will get in several lifetimes.

    Also, apologies for not being all that active lately, safe for one Dark Eye part I released with quite some delay. There is a simple and unfortunate reason for that. My mother was at the hospital again with a case of pneumonia, especially risky due to her weak lung, and I spent a lot of my time there. This slowed down all of my other activities, naturally. There is no need to be worried though, not anymore, she's fine again and she'll probably leave the hospital within the next couple of days. And this means, I can write at last. The next part is written and will be posted right after this. Currently, I am writing a Kyra PoV, but I think I will add a second PoV for either Edrick or Arthur. Kyra already got a recap last time, but Edrick and Arthur didn't, so here we go. Edrick managed to start his escape from Faronhall last time, with the help of Normund Tavorch. However, things naturally didn't go smoothly and as they climbed down the castle walls, they were discovered. The alarm was sound and Edrick was left to decide to either climb down himself, or to let Dante climb down before him. Dante himself vocally demanded the former, that Edrick goes first, but after considering it for a bit, Edrick chose to insist that Dante goes first instead. Meanwhile, Arthur was present to meet the new recruits, among them characters you have previously met, such as Aylard Kawl and Elias. These two were the first to cause some trouble even. Aylard's undeniably violent temper erupted and he attacked another recruit over some disagreement. That happened at the worst possible time, just as Elias was about to reveal information about a certain encounter he had on the road to Raylansfair. Arthur was left with the choice to either stop Aylard or interrogate Elias and he chose the former, leaving Elias' interrogation to Daemion Stratford.

  • Kyra

    “Perhaps there is another way?”, she asked and Damon raised an eyebrow. Quickly, Kyra felt a strange nervousness rising in her, beneath Damon's stern, yet slightly mocking glare. In the presence of her older brother, especially when he was looking at her like this, she felt a decade younger again, her confidence nothing but a front. “Another way?”, he repeated. “Why, what unexpected suggestions from the woman who raided Bear Island when she was fifteen” He shook his head. “What would you offer then, dear sister?”

    She shrugged. “Maybe we don't have to kill him”, she brought up, as she thought of how to convince Damon of her request. A thin, barely honest smile flashed over her face. “Think of it that way. A lot is going to happen in the next months. Harren has to face an invader and a rebellion at once. You cannot tell me you have planned for every alternative”

    Damon tilted his head. “You think Rell still has a role to play?”, he asked and Kyra nodded. “If you kill him, that's it”, she spoke. “You'll have a one-time leverage over Simon and that's it. What are you going to do if that wears off?” She smirked. “If you make sure that Rell is living on borrowed time, you can bet Simon is going to do everything he can to support you”

    “It's ironic that the man cares so much for his son”, Damon mumbled, to which Kyra sighed. “Rell is his last chance at leaving a legacy. I mean, look at the man. He's old, he's in poor health. How long do you think he'll last?”, she replied. “If you control Rell, you control Simon. Killing him shouldn't be the option here”

    Her brother thought of this for a moment. Finally, he nodded. “I like the way you're thinking, little sister”, he complimented her and it was a rare, honest expression of gratitude. “See what we can achieve together?” He put an arm around her and she tensed up, as they walked down the courtyard together. “We shall make sure Rell won't advance in Harren's grace again then”, he spoke, still not more than a mumble. “Do you have any idea how we're going to do that?”

    “Raylansfair”, Kyra replied. “I'm surprised Harren showed mercy, for Rell is, by all accounts, the sole survivor of a massive failure” Damon raised an eyebrow. “I wouldn't exactly call it massive”, he replied. “I mean, the raid succeeded at getting Torvin and Garthon Breaker killed” He smirked as Kyra clenched her fists. “Everyone got killed”, she spoke. “It's been a disaster and

    Damon's smile faded. “The way you're putting it makes me wonder...”, he began. “Could there be more he wanted to gain from the raid? I always saw it as a clever way to dispose of his enemies, but he was... well, unusually happy after Rell's report” Kyra nodded. “Vessels gave him a letter. No idea what was in it, he didn't show me”

    To this, Damon's smile returned. “Though I bet he showed it to your beloved Harrick”, he said in a mocking tone and Kyra narrowed her eyes. “We're not...”, she began, before she cut herself off. “You know what, if you want me to ask Harrick, why don't you just tell me right away?” Damon raised an eyebrow. “Could you please ask your most favourite Hoare about the letter?”, he asked and Kyra rolled her eyes. “That's barely better, you know”, she hissed. “But I'll ask him, alright”

    “Subtly”, Damon spoke, raising a finger as if to put emphasis on the word. “Don't make it seem as if you're too curious” His smile was warm and kind, but there was something in his gaze she did not like. His deep eyes had once been just like hers, but now they were cold, his smiles never reaching them. Not for the first time, she had to wonder what he had seen during his years of exile, in the far east of the world. “You have never been good at manipulating people, little sister, but if you want to survive in this world, you'll have to learn at some point”

    Kyra gulped. “I know how to manipulate Harrick”, she claimed, even if she had to admit, the thought wasn't sitting well with her. He was a good man and she knew, he would make for a better king than any of his family ever did. He deserved better than being manipulated by someone he cared for, someone she, admittedly, cared for as well.

    “Of course, the boy loves you”, Damon replied. “I am just not certain you can go through with it” He took a step closer towards her. “I know you, Kyra”, he spoke. “You are a raider, a killer, fierce and relentless to your enemies. They should be terrified of you. But I know that you're different when people you care for are involved. Family, friends... loved ones” He leant forwards. “Are you sure you can do this?”

    She met his glare without cowering. “I am certain”, she assured him and he merely nodded. For once, it seems he actually trusted her with something and the thought was strangely exciting. “Then I expect quick results”, he spoke. “Given how frequent your encounters with Prince Harrick are” He chuckled thinly, but before Kyra could react, a commotion behind her forced her attention.

    Under the sudden, loud cheers of Ironborn, a circle had formed, blocking what happened inside from her view. She sighed. “A moment, please”, she spoke, pressing the words through her clenched teeth. Damon gave her a nod, though he followed in some distance, as she approached the cheering mob, placing a hand on the hilt of her axe.

    “What did you call me?”, a deep voice spat from within the circle, just as Kyra had reached it. Harshly, she grabbed one of the men by the shoulder just as he noticed her, pushing him aside, before pressing herself past another, who received an elbow to the ribs for not making way quick enough. She rolled her eyes as she saw the scenery.

    “A bastard”, Gravven growled. “A gods-forsaken, useless bastard, not worth the shit that comes out of his ass” He spread his arms, as if to dare the other man to reply in any way. This other man was someone who was only vaguely familiar, certainly none of her men. He was only a little bit less imposing than Gravven, still having the tall build of a successful raider. His black hair was short and spiked up, while his lean face was clean shaven, revealing numerous scars all over it. He was armed with an axe, though kept it low for the time being, while Gravven was about to draw Red Rain.

    Just as Kyra had pushed her way to the front, this other man charged Gravven. Still having his axe lowered, he slammed into the slightly taller raider head first, with enough force to make them both stagger. His punch hit Gravven's chest, followed by one to the ribs that actually made him groan. However, Gravven immediately responded with a heavy punch right to the man's face.

    Kyra had seen opponents knocked out by one of these, but this other man was still standing, even if the force of the attack was causing him to back off for a second. His hand wandered to his jaw and he groaned, but he remained standing and ready to continue the fight. “You want more, bastard?”, Gravven spat. “What do you say, huh?”

    A vicious grin flashed over the other man's face. “I say...”, he hissed. “You hit like that cripple brother of yours, Drumm” Kyra's eyes widened just moments after Gravven's did and she knew, now she had to intervene to prevent bloodshed. She jumped between them, her right hand pushing against Gravven's chest just as her second-in-command had started his charge.

    “Back off!”, she roared, as her forehead slammed into the other man's face the moment he dared to come too close. This sent the appropriate message, as he indeed backed off, allowing Kyra to send an angry glare towards Gravven, who was still barely looking at her, out of his mind with rage. The moment she let go off him, he tried to continue his charge, which earned him the hilt of her axe, slammed heavily into his belly, cutting off the attack before it even began.

    Groaning, Gravven went onto all fours, as he looked up at Kyra. “That was unnecessary, cap”, he growled and she raised an eyebrow. “So you were not going to bash that man's head in?”, she asked to which Gravven did not reply at first. “You heard how he spoke about Dallin”, he snarled, his fists clenched, as he glared at the other man, who was smart enough to keep his distance.

    “I did”, Kyra confirmed, before she glared at Gravven's opponent. “You are not one of my men. What has gotten into you that you attack one of mine?” The man shook his head. “Didn't attack him”, he corrected her. “I defended myself. Maybe you didn't see it, but the first punch came from your man here”

    Kyra glanced at Gravven, who nodded shamelessly. “He questioned my skill”, he barked. “Called me a liar as I spoke from our raid on Fair Isle” His hand slammed onto his massive chest. “Nobody calls me a liar! I killed two dozen men on Fair Isle and I'll do it again!” He raised his fist and several of the onlookers began to cheer at him. Unfortunately, Kyra knew the truth. Gravven fought valiantly on that day, but he hardly killed more than half a dozen, the assignment her brother had given him barely worth any sort of glory. Frustrated about that, he had spent the victory feast drinking with his companions and she had realized quickly that his memory on the raid wasn't exactly correct.

    “Maybe you can fool all of them”, the man replied. “But I was there on that day, Drumm” He placed a hand on his chest. “The name's Drevyn Pyke” Though she had never heard his name before, she understood why he was so familiar. “You sail with Captain Smyte”, she deduced, to which Drevyn nodded. “Aye”, he confirmed. “We've returned to Harrenhal at last, though I doubt it'll be for long. Just in time to correct Drumm on his lies”

    “They weren't lies, you fucking bastard!”, Gravven barked and Drevyn narrowed his eyes. “Again with the bastard”, he spat. “You may have a fancy name and a fancy sword, but I'm still the better fighter” Gravven grinned, the cold, bloodthirsty grin he showed before a battle. “Prove it, Pyke”, he hissed and Kyra was between them just in time. “Back off, both of you!”, she snapped and her words had the intended effect.

    Fighting between Ironborn was no rare thing. Harrenhal was a violent place and they were violent people. However, this was different. They were about to kill each other, had she not intervened. Now she had to make a choice. Gravven apparently started the fight, but he was her most loyal soldier and Drevyn did his part in provoking him. Maybe a day locked up in one of the upper holding cells would be enough for one or both of them to calm down. Maybe though she should just break them up and not take any further action...

    [Restrain Drevyn] [Restrain Gravven] [Restrain both] [Restrain none]


    “Oh, bloody hell”, Arthur mumbled. “I got this, Commander. You can talk to Elias while I deal with this” Daemion gave him a nod and crossed his arms, even if Arthur was pretty certain there would be no talking until he had dealt with the more urgent matter at hand. Quickly, he rushed towards the two fighting recruits and as he did so, another recruit joined in with him, giving him a nod to signal that he was going to follow his order. He was a young man, fair-skinned and dark-haired, with just the beginnings of a beard covering his handsome face.

    Aylard was out of his mind with rage. Having tackled the other recruit to the ground, he slammed the wooden training sword against the man's head, hard enough for the wood to audibly crack. Throwing away the useless weapon, he began to punch his opponent, with the surprised man barely able to block them. Soon, he was overpowered, with Aylard clearly intending to bash his skull in. Or perhaps there was no intention behind his actions at all. Such mindless rage, Arthur had seen it only rarely and always when passion was involved.

    He gave the recruit a nod and they rushed at Aylard from two sides. Physically, the man was likely stronger than either of them, so they had to act fast. Arthur jumped at him from behind, while the recruit gained his attention as he charged at him from the front. Grabbing him, Arthur pulled Aylard away from his victim, while the recruit pushed at the same time.

    That being said, the man was putting up one hell of a struggle. Arthur had learned how to prevent someone from moving too much, but it was hard for him to prevent being hit by the man's flailing strikes. Finally, with the recruit's help, they managed to push him to the ground. “Let go of me!”, Aylard roared. “I'm going to kill this son of a bitch!”

    He tried to get up again, but in this moment, Arthur jumped on top of him, pulling the short sword from his belt and pressing it against Aylard's throat. “You know that's not going to help your case, do you?”, he snapped back and the man forcibly calmed down. His eyes widened and now, Arthur recognized something beyond the rage. It was pain and despair. He shivered, as he realized the last time he had seen someone with so much despair in their eyes, it had been Sherryl, right before she had taken her own life.

    Slowly, he removed the sword from Aylard's throat, to make sure the man wouldn't do anything foolish. He remained calm, not struggling anymore, but by now, Arthur spotted a hint of tears in his eyes. “He is one of them”, he spoke. “A murderer, a monster” He glared past him and at the man he so savagely attacked. Though bleeding, he was back on his feet already, with the young recruit helping him.

    The man narrowed his eyes. He was lean, unshaven and with the first hints of grey hair. Something about him seemed unsavoury and he merely smirked coldly. “Bloody madman”, he spat. “I bragged a bit, aye. Used to run with the Solvers, over in Oldtown” He shrugged. “Ain't too good being one of them these days, so I quit. Heard some of the old crew is here in Raylansfair now” He chuckled, though it quickly faded as he saw the downright murderous look in Aylard's eyes. “Listen, I've never seen you in my life, asshole. Didn't even murder anyone, despite what you might have heard of my people”, he barked, before he looked at Arthur. “That man's out of his mind. That's the kind of recruit you want to have?”

    “Listen, I...”, Arthur began, but the man shook his head. “You know what, screw that. Thought I could turn over a new leaf in this city, but that won't happen with this guy around”, he spoke, as he wiped the dust off his shirt. “Do with him what you want. I've had worse beatings” He shook his head. “But don't expect me to stick around”

    He began to walk away, as Aylard once more tried to struggle against Arthur's grip. “No... no!”, the man barked. “You can't let him go! What are you doing?” Arthur raised an eyebrow. “You attacked that man for no reason”, he replied and Aylard shook his head. “Not for no reason!”, he argued. “His people murdered my daughter! And he gloated about it, how he used to be part of them”

    “Did he murder your daughter?”, Arthur asked, only realizing how cold that had to sound after the words had left his mouth. Aylard's eyes widened. “He... no...”, he mumbled, as he closed his eyes, biting down onto his lower lip. “But he helped them. He was with them. How can you let this man go?” Arthur gulped, as he glanced over at Valarr Roux. “He's got a point”, he said. “Follow that guy. Interrogate him and find out what he knows. If he did anything, bring him back”

    Valarr saluted silently, before he began to follow after the former Solver, who had already left the garrison's grounds. Arthur narrowed his eyes, as he stared down at Aylard again. Then, he let go of the man, who remained on the ground a little bit longer. “You would have bashed a man's head in, just because he knows the wrong crowd”, Arthur hissed. “By that logic, we'd have to put half of our garrison to the sword”

    Aylard sluggishly rose from the ground, as two guardsmen approached him from behind. On Arthur's command, they grabbed the man. “This is not the way of the city guard”, he spoke. “And I don't know if you're suited to serve. I'll have a talk with the commander about what happened today. Until then, take him away. A day in the cells might be what he needs”

    The man did not struggle. Wordlessly and with a look of vicious pain in his gaze, he was led past Arthur and towards the building. In the distance, Arthur caught Daemion's approving nod and he sighed. This was decidedly not what he wanted to deal with. He had intervened, but Aylard was clearly a broken man, while his victim was probably not the kind of man anyone would have mourned for. Had he done the right thing?

    “You did good, recruit”, he spoke towards the young man who helped him. The recruit saluted. “It was a pleasure, Ser!”, he replied. “The name is Axell Snow, I'm glad I was able to help” Arthur nodded. “What leads you to the city guard, Axell?”, he asked and the young man shrugged. “I've tried to do good before”, he spoke. “And people I cared for died. The local farmers, I wasn't able to do enough” He smiled. “So I want to learn how to protect others. How to truly support Raylansfair”, he said. “Plus, I'm not all that cut for farm work. Maybe a guardsman is more my calling”

    Arthur patted Axell onto the back. “Keep it up like this and I can rightly confirm this”, he spoke. “Now, get back in line. Good job, guardsman!” He rose his short sword. “This doesn't change much!”, he yelled. “Get back in line. Keep up your training. Impress us and you'll get a chance at staying here, as a member of the city guard!”

    He smiled as the recruits indeed followed his order and soon, pairs of two had formed again, to pick up their training once more. Arthur glanced to the side, seeing that Commander Daemion and Elias were approaching him. The commander had an approving smile on his face. “That was excellent work, Captain Nathamer!”, he complimented him. “We'll see to it that this man will be treated fairly, but a few days in custody are probably a good thing”

    “Thank you, captain”, Arthur replied, as he glanced at Elias. “Have you two spoken?” Daemion nodded. “And I am afraid it is nothing good”, he said, as he gave Elias a nod. “Tell him what you told me” Elias sighed. “So, on my way to Raylansfair, I had a chance encounter on the road”, he growled. “And trust me, I'd much rather not have it. That was some shit, I'm telling you” He paused for a moment. “There was this freak, you know. Guy wore a mask, roughly resembling a cat, I think”, he revealed and Arthur tensed up as he remembered what had happened a few days ago. The Fang, that had been his name, unleashed by Maron Mullendore and the Tom.

    “A cat-masked freak?”, he asked and Daemion raised an eyebrow. “Sounds familiar, doesn't it?”, he mumbled. “I have heard enough of these Alley Cats to know better than to trust them” He gave Elias a nod. “Go on, recruit” Elias saluted. “So, was minding my own business, when that guy approached me. At first I thought he was going to attack me, but I suppose my steel kept him at a distance”, he continued. “Though I don't think that was because he didn't want to kill me, I was just too much effort”

    Arthur sighed, as he realized what could have happened. Mullendore's decision to unleash the fang, it could place dozens at risk. How many had he killed by now, how many more would he kill? “So, he asked me a question, with that really unsettling voice”, Elias continued. “I've seen some fucked up shit in my life, but that man? Gives me the creeps”

    “What did he ask you?”, Arthur asked and Elias shrugged. “He asked for a man and a woman”, he replied. “Constantine and Catelins, a knight and a murderer, as he described them” Daemion tilted his head. “We do have bounties on these two”, he revealed and Elias raised an eyebrow. “How high?”, he asked, though he quickly pulled himself together. “Doesn't matter. I've told him the truth, you know. Never saw anyone by that name in my life. He told me how they look and again, I had to decline. Barely met a living soul during my travels in this part of the Reach”

    “That means Ser Maron is wrong”, Daemion spoke. “He informed us that the fugitives make their way to Oldtown, which is where Elias comes from” Arthur nodded. “Or they are not taking the main road”, he replied, as he looked at Elias. “What did you tell him?” The recruit shrugged. “As I said, never met them”, he replied. “Told him they might head for Highgarden. He gave me a nod and we parted ways. Left me with some pretty sick nightmare”

    “So, there is a savage Alley Cat on the loose”, Daemion concluded. “Searching for two fugitives, who are not taking the main road to Oldtown” He looked at Arthur. “Do you know anything about this, captain?”, he asked and Arthur's eyes widened. “Me?”, he gasped. “Why would you...?” Daemion cut him off. “Sorry, just making assumptions”, he spoke. “But it's known you have connections to them. Your meetings with this Sphynx have not gone unnoticed. Maybe your new friend has slipped some information about this new devilry?”

    Arthur hesitated to actually tell him. The Fang was wicked and dangerous, that much was for certain and after all that Sherryl told him, he knew Maron Mullendore was worse. However, if not even the Commander of the city guard was informed about this, then perhaps there was a reason for this. Telling Daemion, maybe it could give them an opportunity to prepare for anything unexpected. What if the Fang would grow out of control, what if he would decide to stalk the people of Raylansfair instead of the prey he was ordered to take down? But it could come at the cost of angering a very powerful and terrifyingly dangerous man up in the castle...

    [Tell them about Mullendore and the Fang] [Hide your knowledge]

  • [Restrain Drevyn] Let's make more enemies yay!

    [Hide your knowledge] A serial killer? In Raylansfair? Pffff, never! Let's not anger the nice man in the castle.

    Kyra “Perhaps there is another way?”, she asked and Damon raised an eyebrow. Quickly, Kyra felt a strange nervousness rising in her, bene

  • The Voting is closed!

    Kyra is going to restrain neither Drevyn nor Gravven

    Arthur is going to tell Daemion what he knows about the Fang

    Kyra's choice is going to have some interesting consequences, but the same can be said about Arthur. Both take a bit of a risk here, but for Kyra at least, you probably made the wiser decision. Restraining just one of them would have made her seem biased, especially with Drevyn, whereas restraining both could have been harsh, especially as neither believe themselves to have done anything wrong. It remains to be seen if there will be any long-term consequences coming from this.

    The next part will be out right now! It will feature PoV's from John and Jenna. For John, it will be the first part of the chapter, showing his journey with Aidan in Volantis, so here is one for Jenna. Last time we saw her, she was cleaning up the mess left by Mullendore's attack on Willfred Reyne. The official version is that Mullendore was merely defending himself, but naturally, Jenna doubts this and so do quite a number of key players in Raylansfair. On her way to catch up with Saerya, she stumbled upon a conversation between Petyr and Maron, but you chose for her to not spy on them and instead she chose the safer option of finding Saerya.

  • Jenna

    Reluctantly, Jenna turned away from the door. Tempting as it was, everyone in the castle was on the edge right now and this was doubly true for the two men in charge. There were a lot of things she doubted about herself, but her ability to talk herself out of that? There was no doubt that she would be killed, should they catch her. As such, she did not dare to risk it, though she couldn't help but sigh at the missed opportunity.

    Even as she walked through the castle, she had to ask herself just what they were planning, the lord of Raylansfair and the beast who murdered her father. They couldn't get away with this, could they? The attack on Willfred Reyne, killing one of Lannister's most loyal generals. She clenched her fists, as she realized that this would mean war. And she had the bad feeling that this was exactly what at least Mullendore had been aiming for.

    Yet as much as it tore her apart, her fear was stronger this time. She could not risk everything for this, not right now. First, she had to find Saerya. Then, they had to act, quickly, before Mullendore would recover from the fallout of his own actions. And this was how she calmed herself, as she hurried through the hallways, ever closer to Saerya's quarters.

    She was only barely surprised when she heard the voices, as she approached her destination. Saerya was easy to spot, but the man she was speaking to, she wasn't quite sure where she had heard his voice before. Stopping for a moment, Jenna sent a brief prayer to the Seven that she wouldn't walk into anything unseemly. Then, she knocked and opened the door.

    Her prayers had been listened to, for Saerya and her companion were sitting on opposite sites of the small table in the servant's room, both fully dressed. Saerya had her face to the door, merely raising an eyebrow as Jenna entered. Her companion was visibly more alarmed by her arrival. He was young, likely only a few years older than herself and his clean-shaven face placed emphasis on this youth. It also revealed him to be quite handsome and though he had the flawless skin of a prince, his build was more akin to a warrior, wiry and muscled. He had dark hair and was looking at her out of sea green eyes. Most importantly was his attire, the white tabard with the green hand on it, clearly displaying his loyalties and cluing her in to where she had seen him before.

    “Ser Kasyn”, she spoke, as she closed the door. Kasyn Luck was not exactly whom she had expected right here, the Gardener knight and the Targaryen spy. The knight seemed alarmed at her sudden arrival. “What is this girl doing here, Lady Waters?”, he growled, his hand wandering to where a knight usually kept his sword. However, he was unarmed, as he himself quickly realized, so he merely clenched his fists, raising from his chair.

    Saerya smirked. “There is no need to be startled, Ser”, she assured him. “In this entire castle, Jenna is my most trusted friend. I guarantee you, she is capable to aid you in your plea” She gave Jenna a nod, beckoning her to come closer and Jenna did a brief curtsy in front of Ser Kasyn. “My name is Jenna Harking, m'lord”, she mumbled.

    Kasyn hesitated for a moment, before he raised an eyebrow. “Harking?”, he asked, as he glanced at Saerya. “Isn't that the girl whose...” He cut himself off, but Jenna knew what he meant to say. “My father was murdered by the man you investigate”, she replied, her voice shivering slightly, but she met his gaze without fear. She glanced at Saerya. “You two have been talking. Ser Kasyn was startled by my arrival, which means it was sensitive topics”, she deduced. “So, I take it you told him about what we know?”

    A brief grin flashed over Saerya's face as Ser Kasyn frowned. “As I said, she is capable”, the spy repeated. “You are right, dear. We have spoken about some of the juicier details surrounding our knowledge on Ser Maron” Kasyn sighed. “Of course, your friend failed to deliver hard evidence for her accusations”, he admitted. “Which is what I came to collect. Her reports match my own suspicions though, I am afraid”

    “You know what sort of a man he is”, Jenna mumbled and Kasyn nodded. “A murderer at the very least. While I haven't spoken too much with the Reyne boy, he and his people never struck me as the kind to just attack him without reason. Means, either there was a reason and he's hiding it from me, or they did not attack first”, he agreed. “Either way, doesn't paint him in a good light. There's also the rumours, about his brutal behaviour in Oldtown”

    “More than rumours”, Saerya corrected him. “Give me a month and I can give you half a dozen witnesses who will confirm that his crimes in Oldtown exceed those he committed in Raylansfair by far” Kasyn nodded. “And I would never doubt them”, he told her. “But how many of those witnesses are highborn? How many are respectable enough that anyone in the proper standing would take their word over that of a highborn knight?” He shook his head. “Such is the predicament I sought to solve during my stay here. I stayed in the shadows, watched and learned and I believe there were moments where the lords of Raylansfair forgot I was even there. And all I got are rumours and suspicions”

    “I am sorry we cannot offer you more”, Jenna mumbled, as Saerya chuckled. “I mean, there is this other thing we discussed”, she brought up and Kasyn nodded. “Yes indeed and honestly, it is a big part in why I am willing to believe you”, he confirmed. “It's not all day one gets to meet a Targaryen spy”

    As soon as he had said this, Jenna's eyes widened. “You told him about that as well?”, she asked and Saerya nodded. “Sweet, the truth is a dangerous tool. Use it too candidly and you will die a fool's death, simple as that. However, there are times where it is better to be honest and upfront”, she explained. “I had to win Ser Kasyn's trust and though I freely admit I would have liked to keep my secrets, I needed to act quickly and what better way was there but to offer something truly irresistible”

    Her almost suggestive way of saying this visibly flustered the knight, who gazed onto the ground beneath his feet for a moment. “We know a war is coming for our kings”, he mumbled. “But if our combined effort can prevent bloodshed and eliminate a mutual foe, then it is my duty to assist you” He placed a hand on his chest and nodded firmly. “This I swear by my liege”

    “Quite the promise”, Saerya spoke, her tone only mildly smug. “Though now that Jenna is here, we might be able to help you first” She gave him a wink. “To prove our honest intentions”, she added, before she glanced at Jenna. “My friend here has done this before, so worry not, she's an expert” Kasyn raised an eyebrow. “Is that so?”, he asked and he gave Jenna a questioning and somewhat doubtful glance.

    “What is it?”, Jenna growled and Kasyn sighed. “I need to get out of here”, he revealed. “It's clear that those who are willing to talk to me don't have the evidence I need, so I can't get anything more done from my current position” He glanced at the door. “I sent ravens to Highgarden, detailing my progress and voicing my suspicions, but I never received a reply”, he continued. “And by now, I fear that someone made sure my messages would never reach the king”

    “It means Maron Mullendore might be perfectly aware of Ser Kasyn's suspicions”, Saerya explained, but Jenna had already understood it. “You need to get out of here”, she realized and the knight nodded. “As much as I would have preferred to leave with more, my suspicions have to be enough. If I reach the king, it will spell trouble for the worrying alliance I have found in this city” His expression grew more sympathetic. “If all your father stands accused of is harbouring an innocent man, then I guarantee you, his name will be cleared”

    Jenna nodded, clenching her fists and taking a deep breath. “How can I help?”, she said, her neutral tone forced for a second, as she glanced at Saerya, slightly biting down onto her lower lip. “I mean, how can we help”, she added after a moment of hesitation, which seemed to satisfy the other woman. “That's the spirit”, she complimented her. “See, I was hoping you'd be on board with this. After all, you have experience with this, after the business with the knight”

    As Jenna frowned, Kasyn raised an eyebrow. “Ah, yes, Constantine”, he spoke. “I remember him from when he stayed at Highgarden. His family still lives there” He shook his head. “The man has his flaws, surely, but I am convinced of his innocence. For anyone who has met him in person, Mullendore's accusations are outrageous and I will make sure to mention this when I speak to the king”

    “How can we help you then”, Jenna asked and just as she expected, Saerya spoke up in return. The woman had made a plan already, of course she had. “As always, I require your help, my friend”, Saerya chuckled. “I can help our knight here, but I cannot do it on my own” Jenna nodded. “Figures”, she replied and for a brief moment, she shared Saerya's confident smirk. “How can I help?”

    “Well, my main problem is that I cannot be in two places at once”, Saerya spoke. “After our trick with Ser Leonard, the guards will be especially watchful, as will Lord Petyr himself. It's not as if we're smuggling a nobody out of this castle. Ser Kasyn is his... most cherished guest, so I am certain he will notice if he is missing”

    “What do you suggest then?”, Jenna asked, glancing at Kasyn Luck. The knight seemed confident, but he couldn't be, could he? He was barely older than her and she was terrified. “One of us must distract our dear lord”, Saerya revealed. “Now, don't give me that look! It's not as if I ask you to get anywhere near this brute Mullendore. Petyr appreciates a proper conversation and I know from reliable sources, he has gotten few of these lately. Those around him, he needs to be wary of, regardless if it's Mullendore, Selwyn or Oakheart. You are smarter than you have any right to be, so I am certain he will be delighted if you talk with him, delighted enough to ignore me helping our friend out of the castle at the same time”

    Jenna raised an eyebrow. “Talking to him?”, she asked. “About what?” Saerya shrugged. “Anything, really”, she spoke. “Within a short few weeks, the man lost his father, his mother and his half-brother. And now, we know he had a hand in all of them, but such an act, I doubt there's many men in this world who do it lightly” She blinked. “Regret is what makes a man talk, what distracts him when no one's watching”, she explained. “And it might tell us more about this man we have to face”

    “And the alternative?”, Jenna asked. Saerya seemed almost disappointed for a moment. “It would be the easier task”, she admitted. “Even if I consider you capable of having a conversation with our lord. No, he is just part of the problem. The other part is the castle guard. No doubt your rat of an uncle told them how we got Constantine out. This means, I need someone to deal with them”

    “You want me to talk to them as well?”, Jenna mumbled and Saerya shook her head. “Just one of them”, she spoke. “Nora Recton, their captain. Well, former captain, I think. Farnham has taken over since and I don't think that sits right with her. But the guard stands loyal to her, for she led them during the raid”

    “I know Nora”, Jenna confirmed and Saerya clapped. “Splendid”, she replied. “Well, I can do it just as well, I am sure of it, but I think Nora is our best bet if we want to have a friend among the guards, someone who can convince them to look the other way while Kasyn leaves the castle, with them not caring and our dear lord not noticing” She raised a finger. “I think it is clear I would prefer you to take care of Petyr. I... frankly, I am not sure I can do this. The few times I tried to talk to him, he made an excuse to get rid of me quickly”, she admitted. “But you can pick your favourite, I'll take care of the other”

    [Contact Nora Recton] [Distract Petyr Vyrwel]


    He hadn't been to Volantis too often and truth be told, he didn't really want to pay it another visit. What Oldtown was for Westeros, Volantis was for Essos, without a doubt, but like all things in Essos, it was three times as large, three times as confusing and ten times as deadly. Unfortunately, even beyond Lysara's request, it was natural stop on their search for Abbas. A pile of shit never failed to attract the dung beetles. In fact, it was one of the most important slaving cities in this part of the world, especially after Lys lost a lot of its appeal to the dung beetles.

    However, he knew how to survive in a place as dangerous as this. In a way, it made him glad that Jaron chose to go with Lysara. As much as John did not trust the Rogare girl, the place beyond the Black Walls held less chance for instant and gruesome death for a newcomer in this city. John knew which places to avoid and even better, he had Aidan with him.

    The captain and his first mate Gill left the ship with John and Temari, while Jaron, Samuel and Arryn accompanied Lysara Rogare to her meeting. And unlike the clean, lavishly rich and undeniably exciting places of Old Volantis, where he and the pirates were heading to was more in line with what he had come to expect from Essos. With a bit of luck, they'd at least manage to make it to Fishermonger's Square, one of the arguably nicer parts of Volantis, but he fully expected Aidan to travel to the Slaver's Holdfast.

    The name was actually misleading. Though it used to be the place where the Volantene bought their slaves hundreds of years ago, the labyrinthine fortress in western Volantis had long since lost its appeal, the modern slave markets being located closer to the docks. Nowadays, while slaves were still among the sold goods, they were no longer the only wares sold, nor were they the most numerous by any means. The spacious building was used for pretty much anything. John knew of two taverns and at least one brothel within its rooms, a decent blacksmith, two fighting pits, a rundown theatre and almost a dozen small shops who sold general goods. Between them were rooms rented as homes.

    One could presume that Slaver's Holdfast was a good place to be, but as John had learned the hard way during his last stay in the city, this was far from the truth. The nobleman who owned the building allowed other groups to essentially do as they please in there, in exchange for what John could only presume to be a sizeable bribe. The place was not exactly lawless, but the laws of Volantis counted little among the myriad of rules and codes one had to keep in mind when dealing with the people who lived in Slaver's Holdfast. On the positive side, the one ware that was traded the most in there was information. The people in charge of the fortress

    Surely enough, Aidan fearlessly led them through the bustling streets of Volantis and onto a path John knew too well. To avoid the heat of this autumn afternoon, the citizens had covered the smaller streets with coloured cloths, allowing for a cool shade beneath and Aidan picked this way, the four pushing themselves through the crowd. A newcomer such as Jaron would have likely stopped more than once, marvelling at the colours, the shapes and smells. John however had been here before and was in no mood to enjoy his current stay.

    As such, he barely even looked at anything but his companions. Aidan was talking to Gill and though the captain was smiling and jesting, his unnerving eyes did not smile and it was clear how unhappy he was to be here, under orders of one of the most influential slavers in Essos on top of that. Not even the thought of catching a slaver in Lysara's name was enough for him to cheer up for long.

    Gill in return was stoic as always. Out of the four, he was easily the most experienced, even John had to admit this. The old sailor barely said a word, even as a reply to Aidan, instead he carefully checked their surroundings, his gruff glare alone enough to scare of any pickpockets who weren't frightened by Temari's scowl.

    And soon, they reached Slaver's Holdfast. Once, the ancient fortress had stood beyond the walls of Volantis, the first bastion to the west, overlooking the valley closest to Old Volantis. The valley was long since part of the city itself, the city walls had expanded beyond Slaver's Holdfast and the building, no longer needed to defend anything, fell into disrepair. Nowadays, it was lacking three of its once five towers and its entire gate, while two walls had been breached, allowing for additional entrances into the contorted interior. Statues built into the walls themselves, long since devoid of any meaningful features, proclaimed Volantis' past glory and its victories and two stone dragons, one of them headless and wingless, the other missing its lower jaw and part of its tail, were forever roaring in silence, flanking the main entrance into the building.

    The square around it was filled with life. The merchants who weren't fortunate enough to get an actual store within one of the holdfast's rooms were keeping their stalls just outside the walls, which meant that they had to cross a small labyrinth of different merchant stalls first and a cacophony of languages, from the common tongue of Westeros to guttural northern dialects, to stranger accents which could only come from the farther east.

    “Whom exactly are we looking for?”, John asked over the noise and Temari raised an eyebrow. “Abbas the slaver”, he replied. “Couldn't care less for what the Rogare bitch wants. If we get a lead to Abbas in there, I'll follow that one and you should do the same. Let the Rogare bank find their people by themselves”

    Aidan smiled at this. “As much as I would like to support your decision, I am afraid it is my life on the line”, he replied. “So, if you want to keep me by your side, you will do no such thing, my sour-faced friend” He shook his head. “We are looking for a man who might be able to tell me where a disgraced slaver could hide”, he explained. “Wether that means Longstar or your Abbas, well, would be nice to get both of them at once, wouldn't it?”

    “We'll stay clear of the people in charge of the holdfast”, Gill explained. “The Paleblooded would rather gut us than help us, the Ibbenese never sell anyone out and the Butcher's Men...” Temari interrupted him. “Let me guess, with a name like that, they are nuts”, he spoke, but Gill merely narrowed his eyes, before he shook his head. “They deal in meat, not rumours”, he clarified.

    “We are looking for a Norvoshi and it shouldn't be too hard to find him”, Aidan explained. “Kovaggo Rednar is his name and if I am not mistaken, he should currently reside within the holdfast, close to the beast pit. He's a showman, one who is hired by the high and mighty, but also by anyone who has enough coin inside this city. Like the kind who might hide our friend Longstar” He shrugged. “In the past, I realized that nobody expects Kovaggo to be this well-connected, but if anyone can point us in the right direction, it's him”

    With this, he pushed past the last stand, directly entering Slaver's Holdfast through one of the larger holes in its side. Nobody had ever made an attempt to fix it and as such, it was repurposed into another entrance. Part of the floor to their right had crumbled away as well and the remaining ground floor, together with the sizeable basement, were now part of a popular fighting pit, albeit the lack of visitors made it clear that there would be no business today.

    It did not take Aidan long to find his man among the few who were currently residing near the pit. Given that he was described as a Norvoshi, John did not need long to spot him as well. He had claimed a sizeable alcove for himself, hiding his belongings behind a lavish tapestry from Norvos. Short and stocky, he had a sizeable paunch and black locks, cut above his shoulders. Just like his fine tapestry, he was clad in expensive fabrics, wearing an emerald green vest, lined with gold. His long, thick beard showed streaks of red, dyed in the fashion John would have more expected from a Tyroshi.

    Aidan approached him and as the man recognized him, he spread his arms, grabbing the pirate by the shoulders and talking to him in his native tongue. John frowned, for the Norvoshi dialect was one of the few he did not understand in the slightest, but they talked fast and with heavy gestures. More than once, Aidan pointed in their direction and the Norvoshi nodded.

    Finally, both turned to John, Aidan and Gill. “Aidan wants help”, the Norvoshi spoke and his common tongue was atrocious. “Kovaggo has all he needs, as he tours the land with his Beopin. But days in Volantis are dull. So, he helps only if you amuse him” John raised an eyebrow, glancing at Temari, then at Gill. Neither of them seemed any bit humorous, so he stepped forwards. “Well, out of the three of us, I think I'm the funny one”, he admitted, before he pointed at Aidan. “Though I'd say Captain Storm is better than all three of us combined”

    “Utterly right, mate”, Aidan confirmed. “Though I humoured him during our last meeting. He wants someone fresh” John shrugged. “Sure, what am I supposed to do? Tell him a joke, or juggle? Can't do either of that, I hope you know that” Kovaggo grinned. “No, not joke”, he clarified. “I only make business with man who can fight Beopin”

    “Fight?”, John asked and he smirked. “Now you're speaking my language, Norvoshi. Where's your fighter?” Kovaggo nodded. “Fight, yes!”, he confirmed, though he glanced at Aidan, who had both eyebrows raised. Was it confusion, or amusement? The captain's expression was hard to read as always. In this moment, the Norvoshi clapped his hands.

    Someone moved behind the tapestry. No... something, as John realized, as he heard heavy, inhuman footsteps and a beastly yawn. Then, he actually jumped back a step, as from behind it came not a human fighter, but a grown bear, deep brown, perhaps almost fat, but nonetheless twice John's size. Worst of it all, he was walking freely, not bound in chains or kept in a cage, as his kind usual was when inside a city.

    “Beopin”, Kovaggo spoke. “You win against Beopin, we make business” He grinned and his smile was almost innocent, considering what he demanded. John gave Aidan an alarmed look, but to his surprise, the captain merely chuckled. “I take it your common tongue is still horrible, Kovaggo”, he said, before he gave John a wink. “Now, mate, come on. Why don't you fight our furry friend here as the nice Norvoshi requests? He assured me he might be able to make a few introductions in return. Who knows, might even be a lead to your missing women”

    John tensed up. Had the captain actually lost his mind? Then again, perhaps he should have expected it from someone as capricious as Aidan Storm. That man probably had lost his mind years ago. He glanced at Temari, who shook his head and indeed, John rightfully hesitated. He could not fight a grown bear, could he? Seven, what was that thing doing here either way, entirely unchained and apparently living in the same room as Kovaggo? No, he could not fight the bear, right? His hand wandered to his sword, but before it met the hilt, he reached his purse, still heavy with the rest of Daghan's coin. Kovaggo claimed to have all he needed, but John was pretty certain that a man like him had his price. Perhaps this could be settled without having to resort to violence...

    [Fight the bear] [Bribe the Norvoshi]

  • [Distract Petyr Vyrwel] Spicy.

    [Fight the bear] Fight bear is good. Gaggh, I'm getting into the habit of giving FoT characters Russian accents again.

    Hmm. I wonder what juicy bits we missed with Mullendore and Petyr, oh well.

    Jenna Reluctantly, Jenna turned away from the door. Tempting as it was, everyone in the castle was on the edge right now and this was dou

  • Gaggh, I'm getting into the habit of giving FoT characters Russian accents again.

    You know, this one time it would have been the right idea. I go with the show canon here, giving the Free Cities each different accents, going with vaguely Mediterranean for Braavos, German for Lorath and so on. Norvos gets a Russian accent in my headcanon and I very much imagined Kovaggo's grasp on the Common Tongue like a russian man who is not entirely fluent in English.

    Hmm. I wonder what juicy bits we missed with Mullendore and Petyr, oh well.

    Oh, quite juicy stuff, this much I promise. Some of it might be revealed later on and some of it might be hinted at though, so I wouldn't say you have entirely missed it.

    [Distract Petyr Vyrwel] Spicy. [Fight the bear] Fight bear is good. Gaggh, I'm getting into the habit of giving FoT characters Russian accents again. Hmm. I wonder what juicy bits we missed with Mullendore and Petyr, oh well.

  • The Voting is closed!

    John is going to fight the bear

    Jenna is going to distract Petyr Vyrwel

    Those were definitely the choices I was hoping for! John's next part might be quite something and I cannot wait to write it down. Jenna meanwhile, she is in for a very interesting conversation now. I'm finding myself quite enjoying this idea of Jenna, of all people, trying to outwit Petyr. Top of that, I look forward for the chance to flesh him out a bit better, which is definitely what is going to happen in the next Jenna part.

    The next part will be out right now. I had to do extensive rewrites for it, scrapping nearly everything I had already written and this honestly wasn't a fun thing to do, even if it was necessary. I decided to take Edrick's storyline into a different direction than I planned before, but the moment I started writing it, I knew it was the right way to go. This is going to be an important part and I hope you are going to enjoy it. As said, it will be solely for Edrick, even if I know that Kersea and Ysilla are also kinda in line for a new part. They'll return next time. For now, I hope you are going to enjoy Edrick's part!

  • Edrick

    “There's no time to argue!”, Edrick hissed, as he pushed Dante towards the edge. “You go first!” His tone was aggressive and commanding and something in it was apparently enough for the younger knight to comply. He gave him a nod. “Fine”, he spoke. “But you better don't do anything stupid once we're down there!” With this, he began to climb down.

    Darreth hesitated for a moment, before he smiled thinly. “See you down there”, he mumbled, before he followed after his liege. Edrick waited until both had reached the ground safely. By now, the alarm was openly sounded and he sighed, as he heard heavy footsteps rushing up the stairs. Just as he swung over the edge, he saw the first Ironborn running onto the battlements. In the light of the torch he was carrying, Gawayne's face was clearly visible.

    “Northlander!”, he roared, as he drew his sword. Edrick remained there, just a second too long, to give him a cocky grin. “Asshole!”, he replied, before he hurried to climb down. The wall was not particularly high, but it was nonetheless several metres before he would reach the ground. Gawayne glared over the edge. “Get them!”, he barked. “I want horses, I want dogs and two dozen men! Do not let them escape!”

    With this, he raised his sword and Edrick's eyes widened. “Oh, fuck...”, he just managed to say, before Gawayne cut the rope he was clinging to. It was only a short fall, but he landed heavily on his leg and almost instantly, pain flared up in his left foot, a terrible sensation he'd never quite get used to it. Involuntarily, he let out an agonized scream and he sank heavily onto his back

    Immediately, his companions were by his side. Normund stuck to the trees, just out of sight, but through a veil of pain, Edrick saw Dante and Reymond, who leant down to him. The woman was saying something, though he merely saw her lips moving, as the pain drowned out everything else. Almost gently, the two grabbed him, though he barely noticed it. In this moment, he barely seemed to be involved in their struggle.

    The pain as they lifted him up, as he placed weight on his left foot, it caused him to snap out of his momentary confusion. “Fuck!”, he roared and surprised by his outburst, Reymond nearly dropped him. Dante remained steadfast by his right side and he gave him a concerned look. “Told you not to do anything stupid”, he hissed. “Can you walk?”

    Edrick tested his foot and almost instantly, pain flared up. It wasn't quite as unbearable as it was just seconds ago, but something was wrong, probably not broken, but damaged nonetheless. “Not good”, he hissed and the younger knight nodded. “We'll help you then”, he decided. “No one will be left behind”

    “He'll slow us down”, Alphyn brought up and Edrick barely had the strength to glare at him. The thumping pain in his left foot was a terrible one. Not the first time he had taken such a hit, but this was perhaps the most inconvenient timing possible. He could barely stand on his own, much less walk without pain. Even being dragged along by Dante and Reymond was only barely tolerable.

    “You fucking serious right now?”, Darreth growled, as he pushed Alphyn forwards. “We're not going to leave him behind” Alphyn had the decency to look almost guilty, as he managed a nod. “Fine then”, he agreed. “But I'd rather not get caught. You got a duty, but I got mine, to my family first and foremost”

    “If we get caught, I'd rather die fighting than be brought back to the castle”, Jorid hissed, as they moved through the underbrush as swiftly as possible. Normund had gotten rid of his torch by now and the only thing that helped with keeping them together in this night was the hushed whisper with which they communicated, as well as the hint of their shadows, visible in the darkness. Edrick had no idea what way the Riverlander was taking, but he trusted in him. This could hardly be the first time he'd be doing this, right?

    “Agreed”, Reymond spoke and her support seemed to surprise Jorid. She sighed. “I won't be sent home to Bear Island”, she growled and for a second, there was a vicious defiance in her words. “Not after what happened” She was quiet after that, but Edrick needed to talk about something, to distract him from the terrible pain in his foot. “What did happen, mylady?”

    “Really now?”, Alphyn asked. “You're going to have this talk right now?” He was on the edge and Edrick could not blame him. In fact, he felt the same, being dragged through a dark forest. Any time, he placed weight on his left foot, even if it was merely accidental, he had to suppress the urge to scream loudly, something that would have undoubtedly alerted the Ironborn. As it was, they hadn't caught up to them and if they'd stay together, there was a chance all of them would get out of this alive. Talking helped with distracting him and that was all he needed right now. If he'd focus on the pain, just for a moment, he was not sure if he'd be able to keep running.

    As such, he gave Reymond a nod and the woman sighed. “I am several years older than my brother”, she spoke. “And before my birth, my parents had been married for almost a decade. It didn't seem they could conceive a child, so for years, I was their miracle. They never thought I'd get a brother and as such, I was the heiress to Bear Island for half a decade”

    “And yet two sons followed”, Dante brought up. “Malina talked about it once. Jorn and Dervan” Reymond smiled thinly. “Dervon”, she corrected him. “But he... he's the youngest. Jorn's birth was when things changed. Well, not immediately. He was a sickly boy. Not cut for the cold weather at home. The first ten years of his life, he was constantly ill. Honestly, nobody expected him to pull through”

    “What changed?”, Edrick said and the rest of his sentence was a pained whisper, as he placed too much of his weight onto his foot. They were walking down a forested hill by now and it didn't exactly make things easier. Even on good days, a sprained ankle was hardly what he wanted. And he hated to admit it, it would set them back, even should they get out of here.

    “Dervon”, Reymond said. “My youngest brother... I'm going to be honest with you, he shouldn't be alive. I have heard of it before. Old women giving birth... but my mother, she was over forty years old. That's when people start thinking about death, not about new life” She smiled, though Edrick spotted a barely concealed anger behind the calm expression. “After he was born, Jorn recovered. It was a miracle, both of it. He became perhaps not the warrior my father wanted, but he became a worthy heir”

    “You've been sixteen years old by then”, Edrick deduced and she nodded. “Try to tell that to a girl of sixteen years”, she mumbled. “One who never knew anything but fighting, one who was groomed to rule. Tell her that she has to step down. That she has to learn how to be a lady, that she has to marry a man she had never met”

    Alys Boleyn came to mind, as did Dante's cousin, Lady Alisa. Edrick couldn't imagine how it had been for them. Perhaps that was the privilege of a lowborn. His sister had married for love and nobody had ever complained that he was but a humble fisherman. Their life wasn't an easy one, but last time he had seen her, she had been happy.

    “That was quite the talk, I imagine”, he brought up and Reymond chuckled coldly. “I was an unreasonable child, Ser”, she spoke. “But my father, he was just as unreasonable, probably still is. He is a harsh man to himself, harsher to his wife and harshest to his children” She sighed. “I am not proud of the argument that followed. Wasn't the first time he tried to beat me into submission, every punch followed by a command, followed by an insult”, she spoke. “I insulted him back. We screamed at each other, he tried to hit me, tried to choke me, tried to put me through enough pain that I'd just break and give in” The gaze she gave Dante was almost cold. “Is that what your sister told you about my father?”

    Dante gulped, before he shook his head. “He is not know for his kindness”, he admitted. “But this? No, it is very much not known” Reymond narrowed her eyes. “Nor do I think any of the high lords would care, would they know about it. There's a reason Jorn didn't stay for long either, why he spent the last eight years at the court of Winterfell instead of at home”

    “And why you ran away”, Edrick mumbled. Reymond nodded. “As I said, it wasn't the first time he hit me, but it was the first time I hit back. He was a famed warrior in his youth, but I am half his age, half a head taller and probably twice as strong”, she explained. “For a while, I thought he died on that day. Wasn't for a year until a trader told me he recovered” She shrugged, as much as possible with Edrick's arm around her shoulders. “Think of it what you want, but that is the biggest regret I have”, she growled. “Not hitting hard enough”

    “He never told anyone”, Dante spoke. “Else Malina would have known. The whole North would have known”. This time, Reymond's smirk was almost genuine. “Of course he didn't”, she replied. “They all would have laughed at him, be it Dustin, Bolton or Karstark. The proud Worland Mormont, beaten by his own daughter” She shook her head. “This is the one thing he could never accept”, she added. “Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if he'd try to make people forget I ever existed and frankly, I'd be fine with that. Not having to be a part of his rotten family, hells, might be the best gift he could ever give me”

    “Well, what a touching bonding session you got there”, Darreth interjected, though he glanced at Edrick and his expression was dead serious. “How are you feeling, Ser? You're not looking too good” Edrick gave him a nod. His breathing had become more heavy by now and he felt the urgent need to faint. “Have been better”, he admitted and the other man grinned. “Don't you worry”, he spoke, as he pointed down the hill. In the distance, Edrick could hear the river. “I think we've made it”

    As if the world tried to prove him wrong, a loud horn was sounded in the distance. Normund spun around, placing a finger on his lips. “Down”, he hissed and they complied. Edrick's vision flickered as Dante and Reymond dragged him to the ground. For a moment, everything spun and he had to clench his fists just to force himself to remain awake.

    Riders in the distance, several, but it was impossible to tell just how many exactly. Edrick blinked rapidly, to get rid of the dizzy feeling that threatened to overcome him. “This way”, Normund whispered and he began to crawl. Edrick sighed, though at the very least, he didn't have to run anymore.

    Still on all fours, Edrick moved forwards, the others behind him. Normund crouched through the underbrush, glancing around, his gaze wandering through the darkness. But there was light in the distance, where the water was and as Edrick got past a particularly thick branch, he could see a small boat, just large enough to have a single, illuminated cabin.

    Normund sighed, as he rose from the ground. “Well then, my friends”, he said. “I think it is time for you to meet the Riverborn” He hesitated, just for a moment, glancing over his shoulder. Then, he closed his eyes, took a deep breath and stepped out of the underbrush. He approached the boat and with the help of Dante and Reymond, Edrick managed to get back on his feet.

    “We made it...”, he mumbled, almost in disbelief and as he looked around, the moonlight revealed that his companions felt similarly baffled. Jorid, however, remained on guard. “I don't think this is over”, he growled. “Not before we have left this cursed land” He shook his head. “At the very least they won't get me alive”

    “Me neither”, Reymond assured him, as they stumbled towards the boat. Edrick remained behind a bit and so did Alphyn. The Frostborn knight frowned, as he glanced into his direction. “Hey, so...”, he mumbled. “How are you doing?” He sighed. “Scratch that”, he cut himself off. “I've been wrong, alright. Had it been up to me, we would have left you at the castle instead of dragging you here, but it seems they haven't caught up to us yet” He paused again. “I... what I mean to say is, I made a mistake”

    “We all made mistakes before”, Edrick assured him, even if deep down he was angry. He had been a soldier before becoming a knight and this had given him a wholly different mindset, when compared to the highborn Alphyn. Had their roles been reveresed, he would have carried him by himself if necessary. Nobody deserved to be left behind. But this was not a time for grudges. They had different priorities and he could understand this much at least.

    “So, we're good?”, Alphyn asked and to this, Edrick shook his head. “Not good”, he clarified. “But good enough. We won't split up over this, you have my word” Alphyn sighed. “I can live with that”, he replied. “As long as our journey continues to lead us south. Say... where will we go from here? Viveka won't share her knowledge now, that much is for certain”

    “If she ever had any knowledge at all”, Edrick brought up. “We have nothing but her word. An Ironborn's word and we know how much that is worth” He shrugged. “She treated us decent, but the same cannot be said for her garrison”, he stated. “A shame I won't get to wrap my hands around that bastard Gawayne's throat and choke the life right out of him”

    “We agree on that”, Alphyn assured him, as they reached the boat. Normund had stopped there and as he turned around, Edrick could see that the young man seemed shaken by something. In this moment, a loud noise in the water caused him to tense up. Just for a second though and it was likely nothing but a large fish, but it cut through the darkness. As he looked back at Normund, he saw how nervous the young man was.

    “So, we're here”, he growled. “Where is the Riverborn?” Normund clenched his fists and closed his eyes. As he opened them again, Edrick spotted the hint of tears. It was in this moment that he realized something was wrong. He grabbed Dante's shoulder. “We're in trouble”, he whispered, as he glanced around. He didn't hear the riders anymore and he couldn 't see anyone around them. And yet, Normund's reaction was odd, concerning even. He knew something was off.

    “The Riverborn...”, Normund mumbled. “That... that would be me” He spread his arms, managing a fake smile and this time, Dante took a step back. “Oh damn...”, he mumbled. Not everyone seemed to have come to the same conclusion. Jorid in particular was taken aback by Normund's revelation. “You?”, he asked. He managed a chuckle of disbelief. “No offence, but... you?”

    “I didn't know if I could trust you”, Normund replied. “So I had to keep my identity a secret until now. I'm sorry for misleading you, my friends, but this is the truth. The Riverborn stands in front of you” His smile was only barely more convincing and Darreth clenched his fists. “What the fuck is going on?”, he growled. “That can't be right”

    “I know it might be hard to believe...”, Normund began and Jorid nodded. “Damn yeah”, he spat. “That is hardly the dramatic reveal I expected. You're the Riverborn? That dreaded outlaw leader, the one who is always a step ahead of the Ironborn in the region? Maybe I just... don't know, I expected someone more impressive”

    “Took the words right out of my mouth”, a familiar voice growled behind them and in this moment, Edrick realized what Normund had noticed. They were by no means all alone. From the underbrush came another figure and even before the moonlight revealed his features, Edrick recognized Gawayne. The Ironborn casually held a crossbow in one hand and a horn in the other. The moment he stepped into the light, he placed it at his lips and blew it, producing a single, loud tone.

    “Personally, I would have expected someone taller”, he spoke. “A seasoned warrior, a man who can go toe to toe with every single one of my Ironborn” He shrugged. “Or perhaps this is quite fitting. You're no legendary outlaw, Tavorch, just a pathetic bitch, as disappointing as everything in this damn kingdom” Lowering the horn, a thin, smug smirk appeared on his face, as he pointed the crossbow at them. “First to move won't make it back to the castle alive”, he hissed. “That is a promise”

    “You followed us...”, Edrick growled, but he, like all of his companions, hesitated to charge at the lone Ironborn. The crossbow in his hands was not to be underestimated. Even Jorid, who had previously sounded so fearless, was holding back. And he knew this. It was one thing to talk about dying, but few dared to be brave when a man with a crossbow stood in front of them.

    Edrick himself had survived too many battles to be reckless like that. He had a mission, but more than that, he had no intention of dying here today. Briefly, he glanced over his shoulder, at Normund, hoping the boy had any sort of a plan. But there he was, the Riverborn, nearly crapping his pants because a single Ironborn with a crossbow threatened him.

    “We outnumber you”, Dante spoke. “Why don't you just lower the weapon and walk away?” Gawayne raised an eyebrow, before he let out a chuckle. In the distance, Edrick could now hear a second horn sound, followed by the barking of dogs. “You have maybe a minute at most”, he replied. “I'll kill the first to attack me and I'm pretty positive I can hold the rest of you off” He shrugged. “You're unarmed, unarmoured and you're Northerners. You want to know how many of your kind I killed?”

    “Not really, no”, Edrick replied. “But I still owe you, Ironborn. The back, the foot... if you turn around now, we're even. But I swear, by the old gods and the new and your false sea demon, if you go through with this, I am going to make you bleed. This won't take a good end for you if you don't let us go right now”

    As expected, Gawayne seemed thoroughly unimpressed. It was worth a shot, but Edrick had to admit, their chance at getting through this was slim and it got slimmer with every passing moment. “Bold words for a dead man”, Gawayne hissed. “Perhaps I should shoot you right now. Say you resisted” He gave him a wink. “Come on, do me the favour”, he added. “Would be a first though. Not as if your arrival here did me any good. Perhaps bringing you all back will redeem me in Viveka's eyes. Feared she'd get soft at you, but I can guarantee, this time she won't be so easy. The lowborn scum, you'll be worked to death in the mines, getting stone for Old Harren's castle. The rest, we'll ransom and get filthy rich. I bet the Mormont girl is worth the most”

    “Over my dead body!”, Reymond barked and Gawayne chuckled. “Wouldn't be much of a loss for the world”, he muttered callously. He pointed the crossbow at her, before it wandered back to Edrick. This brief moment was enough for Reymond to gasp. And yet, Edrick was certain she would fight. Wether she'd survive it or die, he did not know, but he had no doubt she would do her best to resist her capturers. Perhaps that was the way to go. Him, her, Jorid, maybe Normund... they had a chance to overpower him.

    “So, what's it going to be?”, Gawayne asked. “Would you all kindly do me the favour and kneel? Get down, kiss the dirt and thank me for taking you in alive” He raised one arm, though the other still held the crossbow. In the distance, the barking of dogs became louder and Edrick was able to see torches. Even if they would overpower Gawayne, an escape became unlikely. But perhaps going down fighting would still be better than counting on Viveka Codd's mercy “Or come at me and let us end this. All I need to kill you is an excuse”, Gawayne continued. “Trust me, you northern oaf, I'm counting on you to make the right decision”

    [Surrender] [Fight the Ironborn]

  • [Surrender] This way maybe Viveka will forgive us and give Erick a kiss on the cheek...NOT! Maybe ol' Gawayne "Sneezer" will be chill.

    “I know it might be hard to believe...”, Normund began and Jorid nodded. “Damn yeah”, he spat. “That is hardly the dramatic reveal I expected. You're the Riverborn? That dreaded outlaw leader, the one who is always a step ahead of the Ironborn in the region? Maybe I just... don't know, I expected someone more impressive”

    Plot twist!!!! Normund never seemed particularly competent over other people...hmm...interesting.

    Edrick “There's no time to argue!”, Edrick hissed, as he pushed Dante towards the edge. “You go first!” His tone was aggressive and comma

  • Plot twist!!!! Normund never seemed particularly competent over other people...hmm...interesting.

    It is true, he has been thoroughly unassuming. Well, not entirely, as Viveka eventually caught up to him at least being in league with the Riverborn, but she would have never thought that the man himself is right under her nose. In general, Normund is the last person anyone would have expected, which is probably why he was able to do this for so long. But this will be brought up. Perhaps the one who is least happy about this is Gawayne, because just imagine how this makes him look, the captain of the guard who could not find the least dangerous rebel leader ever.

    [Surrender] This way maybe Viveka will forgive us and give Erick a kiss on the cheek...NOT! Maybe ol' Gawayne "Sneezer" will be chill.

  • edited February 2019

    The Voting is closed!

    Edrick is going to fight the Ironborn

    That is quite a surprising option, given that with Gawayne's reinforcements arriving, the chance of escape is really low. At the same time, it will make for a very exciting next part in his storyline. I hope you look forward for it, because I sure as hell do!

    The next part will be out right after this. It will include PoV's for Kersea and Alys. Last time we saw Kersea, she and Leonard arrived in Oldtown, where they sought help from a former acquaintance of Alysanne, a man who goes by the name of Vitihho, who is apparently one of these people where you can get anything for the right price. Kersea hopes that he can give them shelter and intel during their stay in Oldtown. Arriving at his home, he quickly dismissed them without even fully listening to why they seek his help, to which Kersea chose to be persistent and demand to have a talk. Meanwhile, Alys' next part will bring us back to Merman's Rest, where she will resume her conversation with Sargasso Saan, who supposedly tried to have her killed or abducted.

  • Kersea

    For a moment, she hesitated, before she knocked again. Leonard raised an eyebrow. “So, I was right”, he spoke. “You're just going to waste our time by knocking at the door of some guy who wants nothing to do with us” He shrugged, thoroughly unimpressed by her glare. “Yeah, do you mind if I leave to get us some real help?”, he asked. “I'll pick you up later, just wait here and keep knocking”

    “You can do what you want”, Kersea growled. “But Alysanne trusted this man. If we can count on anyone in this city, it'll be him” Leonard rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I'm sorry if I have no faith in people whom your crazy friend trusted”, he growled and Kersea carefully narrowed her eyes. He seemed to realize he had crossed a line, as he took a step back. “And you can do what you want”, he spoke. “If you think that man can help, go ahead, I won't stop you”

    She didn't need his permission, but with that said, she turned around, to knock again. “I know you're listening, Vitihho!”, she barked. “And I know exactly whom you are, what you did and what you're still doing” She slammed her hand against the door. “Alysanne told me a lot. How you two used to work together, how even now you're the kind of man one can get anything from, for the right price”

    For a moment, she paused, listening to any movement behind the door. There was none, yet she was certain the man was listening. “We're here to stop a very dangerous man, one who means danger to this city and the entire kingdom”, she continued, as she knocked at the door yet again. “But we need help. Shelter, supplies, someone we can trust” She sighed. “Alysanne always said you're the type for that”, she added. “And she was many things, but never a liar”

    There was still nothing and Kersea glanced at Leonard, who was still standing there. “Told you, you're wasting your time”, he replied. “He's not going to open” Kersea shook her head. “Watch this”, she whispered, before she turned back to the door, knocking heavily. “And, yes, I do know you!” She was speaking louder now, her voice echoing through the small street. “I know you sold weapons to Clayton Teryl”, she barked. “And poison, which he used to kill several people over in Raylansfair. So don't even dare to pretend this is all a big misunderstanding, that you're not the man I'm looking for. You're deeply involved in this and you are going to help us fix this mess!”

    Her next knock did not hit the door. Instead, it got pushed open and Vitihho grabbed her by the wrist, yanking her closer towards him. Kersea managed to suppress a gasp, yet out of the corner of her eye, she spotted Leonard drawing steel in an instant. “Stop screaming, woman”, Vitihho barked. “Aye, you got the right man, but there's people here who don't need to know that. Word on the street has it that Clayton Teryl is working for Butterfly. Not a connection you want to have right now”

    He glared past her and at Leonard. “Point that at me just one more second and I'll gut you like a pig”, he snarled. There was no aggression in his voice, but the calm confidence of a man who was able to back up his threats. Leonard came to the same conclusion, as he slowly lowered his weapon. “Let go of her”, he ordered and instantly, Vitihho released her.

    Kersea took a step back, though she remained close enough to the door to prevent him from just slamming it shut. “So, you will help us?”, she asked and Vitihho sighed. “Come in”, he spoke. “There we can talk” He took a step aside and after hesitating for a moment, Kersea entered his house. Leonard followed, though Vitihho held him back. “You draw your weapon in there, I'll kill both of you”, he warned him. “I mean you no harm, unless you start anything funny”

    Leonard gave him a nod and as soon as he had entered, Vitihho closed the door. They were standing in a dusty hallway that had seen better days, the sort which was quite common in Oldtown these days. It was dark and she spotted cracks in the walls. A small staircase led to the higher floors, but Vitihho led them past it and deeper into the ground floor.

    The door he opened led into a surprisingly well-furnished room. A generous window allowed light to enter, illuminating fine furniture, of the sort she had seen in Pentos. There was a large sideboard, doors closed, with a polished sword lying on top of it. A set of armour was standing in the corner, the imitation of an old Valyrian steel harness, adorned with the depiction of dragons. Of course, it was merely common steel, but the fine craftsmanship still had to cost a small fortune.

    “Sit”, Vitihho spoke, as he pointed at generously sized armchairs, slightly dusty, yet nonetheless visibly comfortable. After the long journey, Kersea was all too glad to sink into it. “Water?”, the man asked and she nodded, as he handed her a cup. “Talk then. Tell me what this is about, then I'll decide wether I help you or not”

    Leonard opened his mouth, but Vitihho cut him off. “She speaks”, he clarified. “She used to run with Alysanne and Clayton. I want to hear it from her” He sat down in front of Kersea, giving her a calm look. “What happened to Alysanne? Haven't seen her in months” Kersea closed her eyes for a moment and as she opened them again, she knew it was enough for him to notice what happened. “She saved my life”, she mumbled. “But she got mortally wounded in the process”

    For a second, Vitihho seemed genuinely surprised. “She saved your life?”, he asked, in slight disbelief. “Maybe you are trying to bullshit me after all. The Alysanne I knew only took lives instead of saving them” Kersea shook her head. “She was my friend”, she claimed and the man smirked, as if he expected it to be a joke. Quickly though, his smirk turned from amused to genuine. “The Alysanne I knew had no friends. I think I was the closest and I would never describe her as more than an acquaintance. That woman was batshit and unable to have friends or loved ones” He shrugged. “If you're telling me the truth, then I'm happy for her. Seems she changed, before the end”, he stated. “She once told me she was not the type for change, but well, seems she was mistaken”

    Briefly, the two of them shared a smile, as Kersea remembered her friend. “Clayton died as well”, she spoke and Vitihho sighed, an expression of relief as she realized. “Good”, he spoke. “Alysanne, she had always been a broken woman. I had too much pity on her to hate her. But Clayton? That man was vile to the core and unlike her, he knew how to hide his true self”

    Kersea nodded, as she tried not to think too much about Clayton. He was dead, that was all that counted. “I'm after the man whom they worked for”, she spoke and Vitihho raised an eyebrow. “Whom you worked for”, he corrected her and she nodded. “Butterfly”, she stated. “His real name is Maron Mullendore” This caused Vitihho to look surprised and unlike the previous reveal, he did not regain his composure as quickly. “Quite brilliant”, he spoke. “It makes sense, but I never would have guessed”

    “He is in Raylansfair now”, Kersea continued. “Working on something bigger with his ally, Lord Petyr Vyrwel. Together, they can cause unspeakable harm to this kingdom” Vitihho shrugged. “Why should I care?”, he asked. “It's good you told me about Alysanne's fate, may she rest in peace. But beyond that, I don't know why I should help you”

    This caused Kersea to pause for a moment. “They... as I said, they are a threat to this kingdom”, she stuttered. “The one you live in” Vitihho shook his head. “I wasn't born here and it wouldn't be the first time I'd have to leave”, he replied. “Besides, I am not an idealist. I smuggle dangerous goods for dangerous people. Doesn't sound like a hero to me”

    “Yet you did good things as well”, Kersea replied. “I know it from Alysanne. You had a family once...” She paused as Vitihho slammed his fist onto the table. “Don't bring that up, girl”, he growled. “If Alysanne told you the full story, she mentioned how I butchered the bastards who took them from me”

    “She... spared me the details”, Kersea replied, though she vividly remembered the look of fascination in Alysanne's gaze, as the woman had told her about Vitihho's past and his revenge. The man nodded. “She did good in that”, he spoke. “So, this is where we stand. You want my help and frankly, I can help you indeed. If it's supplies you need, I'm the best there is. If it's shelter you need, I have the entire house to myself. If it's information you need, I have informants within the city, even within the Hightower and the Citadel” He tilted his head. “But that is going to cost me and I don't just mean coin. If word goes out that I harbour a girl who used to kill for Butterfly, well that's going to put me on a couple lists”

    This piece of information caused her to look up. It made sense now. Vitihho was hesitant to help them, because he was afraid to anger the wrong people. But what if he already had? He worked with Clayton's group for many years. It was impossible to tell how many secrets he was involved in, for her and for the man they worked for. Vitihho wanted to survive, but what if his survival was already in danger? What if Mullendore would send a new group of killers to tie up the loose end once he brought the situation in Raylansfair under control.

    And if that wouldn't work... perhaps she could offer him coin, as it was usual for his service... coin she did not have yet. But Kersea was fairly positive she would be able to lie to the man. Either that, or she could appeal to his survival instinct, trying to convince him that helping them would be the best way he could ensure his own survival. One way or the other, she had to make a choice if she wanted to win his support.

    [Offer to pay him] [Appeal to his survival instinct]


    Alys closed her eyes, trying to ignore her heavy heartbeat. She was sick of this whole situation, terrified of Sargasso Saan, of this city and every single rotten pirate in it. And here she was, doing the one thing Edward warned her of doing. But he was not around and she knew that he certainly was not always right, nor did he have her best interest in mind.

    “My name is not Alys Snow”, she spoke. As she opened her eyes, she noticed that Sargasso was now looking at her calmly, in the way a cat would curiously look at its prey. “It's Boleyn. Alys Boleyn. My family is sworn to House Karstark”, she revealed. “And I believe someone has found out”

    The look of surprise on Sargasso's face was real and for a second, he was too baffled to speak. Then, a brief chuckle came out of his throat. “Someone has found out indeed”, he spoke, placing a hand on his chest. His chuckle returned, this time a bit louder. “Mylady, I expected many things from this conversation, but honesty was not among them” He shook his head. “And here you are, telling me that you are, indeed, not the bastard girl everyone thinks you are”, he mumbled and a steely smirk appeared on his face. “Everyone, but me. I knew something was off about you”

    “I had to keep it a secret”, Alys spoke and he nodded. “Yes, quite clever”, he complimented her. “Frankly, I thought you'd be more important than that. A Karstark, or maybe even a Stark. The King in the North has a daughter in your age, if I'm not mistaken” He was, as Lyra Stark was less than half her age, but she did not dare to correct him. “Boleyn... frankly, had you just told me the name, I couldn't have told you a thing about your house”

    “You... you don't know House Boleyn?”, she asked and the very thought was strange to her. She had spent most of her life on her father's lands, where everyone knew whom she was, whom her father was. Even after months on the road, the thought of how big the world truly was baffled her. Sargasso smiled politely. “I hope you don't hold this against me”, he replied. “I can hardly remember every minor vassal house half a world away from here, can I?”

    She gulped. Was he speaking the truth here? If he didn't even know a thing about House Boleyn... at the same time, he suspected her to be a Stark, didn't he? “I must know who tried to kill me”, she spoke, to which Sargasso raised a finger. “Probably not killed”, he corrected her. “Killing you would send a message to Anturion, surely, but I think you are worth slightly more when you are alive”

    “Abduction then”, Alys spoke and Saan nodded. “And if it isn't clear, I have no hand in that”, he claimed. “I don't deal in hostages. They are bothersome and costly and when anything happens to them you often make a dangerous enemy” He shrugged. “It's just rarely convenient”, he clarified. “And I have even less dealings with the North” Suddenly, he raised an eyebrow. “Currently, there is only one captain at court who has any ties to that cold, worthless place”

    She realized immediately what he was hinting at and the possibility scared her. “Manderly”, she mumbled and Sargasso smiled. “Captain Warmond is the only captain around who has an interest in the North. If he learned about your true identity, trust me, he is not above taking advantage over that”

    Alys clenched her fists. Could this be the truth? Saan's claim made a certain amount of sense and come to think of it, Warmond had been the only one to blame him for sending the thug who tried to kill her. And he did kill the man quickly, before he was able to answer to any questions... Or perhaps that was part of Saan's plan, to win her trust, to sow discord between her and one of the few captains in this city whom she could trust.

    “Frankly, I don't think he is that smart, though”, Sargasso continued. “He might have his own minor schemes, but like most of the captains, I am certain he fell for your ruse” He shook his head. “No, it requires someone a little more intelligent than that to find out that you are more than you claimed to be” He smirked, as she backed away from him. “No, Lady Boleyn, not me”, he claimed. “At court, there is only one I see as my equal though”

    This time, Alys narrowed her eyes. “You mean Blacksails”, she hissed and Sargasso flashed her a grin. “Our king is paranoid, it's the only reason he's in power after all these years”, he explained. “But Warmond is a natural choice for an ally. He doesn't want to be king, his sole ambition lies with finding the lost legacy of his ancient house”

    “But... but Warmond saved my life”, Alys argued, to which Sargasso nodded. “And surely that means he is innocent and above all suspicion”, he replied, his voice oozing sarcasm. “No, mylady, I believe what we have here is a brilliant display of Warmond Manderly's schemes” He leant onto the desk, slightly rising from the chair, as he carefully looked at her. “I told you what Blacksails does, don't I?”, he spoke. “Sometimes, when someone disappoints him badly, he has them killed. It's nothing surprising there, every ruler around this world does it from time to time. But sometimes, oh, sometimes when they still have a use for him, he just punishes them by killing those close to them”

    “I am not close to Edward”, Alys claimed, her voice weak and slightly shivering. Sargasso shook his head. “No, I believe you aren't”, he spoke. “The ones he is actually close to are out of our king's reach. His brother, the God-King, has an army at his disposal. And his sister, the mad bitch, she's unnervingly good at not being found. But you are the closest he has around and he clearly needs you for some reason”

    “So... you believe that Aeron Blacksails wants me dead to... to send Edward a message?”, Alys asked and Sargasso nodded. “Smart girl”, he complimented her. “So he enlists the help of Warmond to, well, distract your stalwart protector, so that his killer will have an easy time” He shrugged. “Could have been anyone, even me”, he added, with a wink. “Only Edward would have known for sure. And the message would have been received”

    Alys took a deep breath, as she leant back into her chair. “But why should Warmond save my life?”, she mumbled, to which Sargasso raised an eyebrow. “Because he obviously doesn't want you dead”, he replied. “Warmond, I think he is out for the ransom money. Can't do that if you're dead, eh?” Then, his smile faded. “Plus, he probably wants to take the chance to blame one of his rivals”

    His gaze grew stern, cold and, for a second, Alys had to actively suppress the urge to flee. “Is that what he did?”, the pirate hissed. “Blaming me?” He did not need an answer, but this time, Alys backed away from him, pushing her chair back, the moment he jumped up from his. Circling around the desk, he came closer. His anger seemed genuine, but Alys was not sure if she could truly believe his version of the story.

    “The only thing that doesn't quite fit is your role in it”, he continued. “Why would you come here to tell me all this?” He raised a hand and for a moment, Alys was ready to fight him off, if he'd dare to attack her. Instead, though, he merely placed a hand on her cheek. “Lady Boleyn”, he spoke. “Coming here, believing me to be the enemy” He shook his head. “Truth be told, you don't matter to me at all”, he revealed. “Up until you get in my way, that is”

    “I...”, Alys began, before she cut herself off, avoiding his glare. “I would never stand in your way” She clenched her fists and bit down at her lip. Warmond was putting his men in position in this very moment. They'd take Sargasso out... but was this truly the best course of action? If what he just told her was the truth, then Warmond was not her friend. Sargasso wasn't a friend either, surely, but perhaps he was more of an ally than Warmond... or perhaps he had been lying to her this entire time, trying to win her trust.

    “He is making his move, I suppose?”, Sargasso asked and she gave him a nod. “Then I will bring this to the king. Aeron and I might not see eye to eye, but one way or the other, Warmond went against his outspoken orders” He smirked coldly. “And that is something Blacksails never leaves unpunished” He spread his arms. “All that is left to do is to determine how you can help me”, he added. “Well, both of us”

    “Helping you?”, Alys asked. “Why should I do that?” Sargasso gave her a wink. “Well, mostly because we both have the same enemy. Warmond tried to harm you and frame me for it, that sounds like a good enough reason for us to join forces, don't you think so?”, he explained. “So, what I need you to do is, you and I will take a walk, we will meet King Aeron and you are going to tell him how Warmond tried to have you killed. Of course, Aeron is in on this, but with me to protect you, he cannot make a move. Instead, I believe, he will be more than happy to have someone take the fall for him”

    But what if it wasn't true? Alys did not dare to say this out loud. Sargasso's claim made sense, but so did Warmond's accusation. As they were speaking, the one truly behind the attempt on her life made his move and he expected her support, but wether it was Sargasso or Warmond, she could not say. Warmond's men had to be almost in position. All she had to do would be to say nothing, continue to stall him and they would take Sargasso out. But was that the wise thing to do? If Warmond truly intended to ransom her, wouldn't it be better to support Sargasso? As long as she could trust him, that is...

    [Agree to support Sargasso] [Continue to stall him]

  • [Offer to pay him] This way we can find a way to have Keat and Kersea's storylines cross over so we can rob a place to get the money for this.

    [Agree to support Sargasso] This is not a good spot. We shouldn't even be here!

    For a moment, she hesitated, before she knocked again. Leonard raised an eyebrow. “So, I was right”, he spoke. “You're just going to waste our time by knocking at the door of some guy who wants nothing to do with us” He shrugged, thoroughly unimpressed by her glare. “Yeah, do you mind if I leave to get us some real help?”, he asked. “I'll pick you up later, just wait here and keep knocking”

    While there's obviously the sarcasm here, I do wonder if he was being serious, and had some people in mind.

    Briefly, the two of them shared a smile, as Kersea remembered her friend. “Clayton died as well”, she spoke and Vitihho sighed, an expression of relief as she realized. “Good”, he spoke. “Alysanne, she had always been a broken woman. I had too much pity on her to hate her. But Clayton? That man was vile to the core and unlike her, he knew how to hide his true self”


    Kersea For a moment, she hesitated, before she knocked again. Leonard raised an eyebrow. “So, I was right”, he spoke. “You're just going

  • This way we can find a way to have Keat and Kersea's storylines cross over so we can rob a place to get the money for this.

    Hah, that is an interesting idea, I like it! Without having to spoil anything, I can say that Keat's storyline will indeed cross over with another PoV fairly soon and Kersea is at least in the same place, so she could be a logical choice. We'll see. It is nothing for this chapter, that much I can say at least.

    While there's obviously the sarcasm here, I do wonder if he was being serious, and had some people in mind.

    Probably yes, actually. It has been established that Leonard is someone who travelled quite a lot through the Reach and he has been to Oldtown several times, so it would not be unbelievable to think that he has a few contacts in the city. The main problem is, these contacts have been from years ago and since he learned about Mullendore's secret, he would probably hesitate to reactivate any contacts in official positions, such as city guardsmen or civil administrators. But he knows people in Oldtown, they were on his mind here and had Kersea's plan not worked, he would have brought them up instead. He just wouldn't have abandoned her while doing so, despite sarcastically claiming just that, as he knows neither of them should be on their own in this city.

    [Offer to pay him] This way we can find a way to have Keat and Kersea's storylines cross over so we can rob a place to get the money for thi

  • The Voting is closed!

    Kersea is going to offer Vitihho coin

    Alys is going to agree to support Sargasso

    The first choice is actually a tie, so I am going to count the first vote twice here. Quite interesting, as I can already say, appealing to his survival instinct would have worked without any long-term consequences. It remains to be seen if he will do it for coin and if anything comes up if he finds out that Kersea cannot actually pay him. Meanwhile, Alys' choice was a pretty major one. Sargasso and Warmond are about to clash and her support can mean a lot when this is brought to Aeron Blacksails. It remains to be seen if Sargasso told the truth here, though. Even if he was being honest here, this does not mean he knows the full picture and, of course, there is always the chance that he is lying.

    The next part will be out right now. It will be a part for Raenna and Irae. Last time we saw Raenna, she arrived at the wall, where she met Harrigon Hoare, Harren's brother and supposed white sheep of the family. Raenna was still hesitant to trust an Ironborn, though, especially as it comes to Briar's safety, but she decided to give him a chance. Irae's part meanwhile will bring us back to Qarth and conclude her visit to the Orlatis household.

  • Raenna

    Raenna paused for a moment, just studying Harrigon Hoare's face. She knew, a man's eyes were the most important part. That was where they were honest. A smile that wouldn't reach them, a careless gaze, the hint of malice, few could hide their true intentions with these small gestures. Hoare, however, looked her straight in the eye, not smiling, but neither glaring. His eyes were the darkest she had ever seen, nearly black and unnerving, yet she had seen more malice, more evil, in brighter eyes. The Lord Commander was a soldier through and through, his gaze hard, harsh even, unyielding, but not unreasonable, nor cruel.

    “Whom among your men would you trust?”, she asked and Harrigon smiled thinly, his eyes narrowing as he did so. “There's quite a lot”, he admitted. “Sure, we got our bad apples, but if you trust me to keep them away from your girl, I'll do so” He glanced out of the window. “We'll have an entourage from Icemark visiting us within a week. Commander Heatherspoon and fifty of his men, all of them volunteers who have served a decade or more. That'll mean a majority of this castle will consist of good, honest men. Two thousand to keep the four hundred bad ones in check. Until then, I'll hand-pick two men to constantly be by her side. The kind I'd trust on both sides of the Wall”

    She tilted her head. “If you think it will be enough... do it then”, she agreed, before she hesitated. “Will it be enough though?” Harrigon shrugged. “There's no saying how vile some of these people can be”, he admitted. “For every man I trust unconditionally, there is one whom I wouldn't piss on if he was on fire. They call themselves my brothers, but truth be told, I never was the brotherly type” He shook his head. “The Wall is no place for a child, or for a woman, much less for a little girl. You ever heard of Danny Flint?”

    Raenna nodded, her fists clenched. “That happened here, did it not?”, she asked and Harrigon shrugged. “They say it did, but we got no proof. There's no Danny Flint in the old records and Coracinus believes that not all of the legends really took place here. It's just easier for the brothers in the other castles if they can blame it all on ours, you get what I mean?” His smirk faded. “But even if it never happened, Brave Danny Flint is a warning”, he admitted. “Your girl shouldn't stay here for too long”

    He placed a hand on her shoulder. “I'm glad we came to an agreement though. Your trust is not misplaced”, he stated and as he turned away, Raenna grabbed his forearm. “It better not be”, she hissed, giving him an unmistakable glare, to which he raised an eyebrow. “You are bold”, he complimented her. “I can see why Umber keeps you around. But it's not a good quality to have beyond the Wall. The bold ones are those who die first” Effortlessly, he pulled away from her and walked back to the fireplace, where the rest had gathered around the old Maester Coracinus.

    “Did the deserter talk already?”, Hoare asked and Coracinus nodded. “He intends to bring them to the Swan”, he revealed and Hoare raised an eyebrow. Raenna sat down between Dag and Malina, the latter of whom had Briar sitting on her lap. The Lord Commander remained standing and he glared at Erik. “That is a wildling fairytale”, he growled, as he took a step towards the deserter, towering above him.

    Erik shook his head. “It is not”, he stated. “Myrla saw her before. She is very much real and I know where she is” Harrigon chuckled coldly. “Bullshit”, he spat. “I always knew you were full of shit, Flowers, but that is low, even for you. You think you can fool them, but me? I know the lands beyond the Wall”

    This time, Erik met his glare with one of his own. “Trust me, Lord Commander, there is a lot of things you don't know about these lands”, he spoke, his voice calm, but hard. “And neither do I claim to know it all. But you merely fought against the free folk. I lived among them. Picked up a couple secrets along the way. The Swan isn't even all that secret, but of course, you and your brothers never bothered with asking, did they?”

    Before Harrigon Hoare could reply, Raenna chimed in. “Uh... I'm out of the loop here”, she spoke up. “But who or what is the Swan?” Harrigon glanced at her, raising an eyebrow. “As I said, a wildling fairytale”, he explained. “A wise woman, who supposedly lives by herself, somewhere in the Frostfangs. Some call her a wildling witch of incredible powers, who can possess the bodies of animals and heal even lethal injuries” He shrugged. “While there is magic beyond the Wall, none of it is that potent”

    “And yet, your own brothers saw her”, Erik interjected, to which Harrigon shook his head. “Sometimes, my rangers get missing beyond the Wall. Wild animals and wild humans get them, or the cold does. Some of them, though, manage to survive and to return to us”, he explained. “Over the last decade, four of them claimed to have met a beautiful witch woman, who lives in a cave of everlasting summer. These men, you must understand, were half-mad by the time they returned, the cold having taken a toll on their minds. To them, even a wildling campfire must seem like a place of everlasting summer. None of the four still lives, but whatever they saw beyond the Wall made them unfit for duty in either way”

    Erik sighed. “Well, to be honest, it doesn't even matter what you believe, Lord Commander”, he stated. “Because I will take them to the Swan” Hoare shook his head. “I don't know where you intend to take them, but I bet it's another wildling trick. Leading them right into the Half-Thenn's ambush, I suppose?”

    “If he does that, Lord Commander, he will be the first to die”, Dag replied, as he gave both men a stern glare. “Truth be told, if I want my brother back, I have no choice but to go with Erik. This Swan woman, she can help us finding Kory and the Half-Thenn?” To this, Erik shook his head. “Oh no, Horik will be there”, he replied. “I heard Myrla talk about it. He and some of the other chieftains have been called. It's where we were supposed to head after our raid on the Last Hearth, so it is where Myrla and Markus will journey to as we speak”

    “How awfully convenient”, Harrigon spoke, clearly not convinced. “You freely admit to lead them to your master, who supposedly stays with some wildling legend” He shook his head, as he looked from Dag to Raenna. “Tell me, do you know who the Half-Thenn is? What he does to Southerners he gets into his fat hands?”

    “I heard enough of him”, Dag spoke, as he narrowed his eyes. “I don't think anyone needs to tell an Umber what Horik Half-Thenn is capable of” Harrigon gulped slightly, before he nodded. “Of course not”, he admitted. “But it means I don't have to tell you to be careful around one of his followers” He glanced at Erik, who shrugged. “Honestly, I couldn't care less about Half-Thenn”, he replied. “The man's a cruel bastard, for all I heard. Never met him and trust me, I am not too keen on changing that. I never served him, I served Myrla” He narrowed his eyes, as a brief smirk flashed across his face. “And truth be told, I've served under worse people than her”, he added, which caused Hoare to clench his fists. “But she left me to die, so the way I see it, right now I serve no one but myself”

    The Lord Commander glared at him, before he glanced at Dag. “Ser, I will let you pass through my gate”, he told him. “I will even give you some of my people, experienced rangers, who know the wildling tricks and can tell you if Flowers leads you into an ambush” He extended his hand and Dag attempted to shake it. Before they could meet, though, Hoare pulled back. “Under one condition”

    Dag raised an eyebrow. “What are your terms, Lord Commander?”, he asked and Hoare gave him a thin, stern smirk. “I could demand the deserter, but truth be told, he'd just slip away then, cut your throats in the middle of the night and leave, to join his wildling friends again”, he replied, giving Erik a cold glare. “But I won't do that. He's just one and if your deal with him means he gets to live, I won't get in the way” He raised a finger. “But Flowers... you better stay beyond the Wall and you stay far away from our rangers. If we ever see you again, it's kill on sight”

    “Understood...”, Erik mumbled and his voice was slightly shaky at the Lord Commander's threat. Harrigon crossed his arms, as he glanced at Coracinus. The old maester straightened his back, then he exchanged a nod with the Lord Commander. “I am afraid, Erik here is not the only deserter we had in the last months”, he spoke. “And he's nothing, compared to one who might become a problem in the future”

    Erik's eyes widened, as he realized what the two were talking about. Harrigon took over for the old maester. “Don't get us wrong, we always had deserters, but they were overall harmless. Low-lives who just weren't cut for duty. We hunt them down, but it doesn't affect the Watch if they are caught or not”, he explained. “But there is one who worries me. The only deserter who gives me sleepless nights, because with him, I expect more sinister goals than just some forced recruit wanting his freedom back”

    “Ser Arron Estermont”, Coracinus explained and though Raenna had heard of the house, the name as a whole meant nothing to her. Dag, however, spat onto the ground. “The First Ranger deserted?”, he asked and Hoare nodded. “He's a knight, a volunteer, with a tremendous sense of duty, who has served me for almost two decades”, he explained and Raenna noticed clear anger in his voice. As he glared, his eyes became harder, more like what she expected from a Hoare. “He was the last I would have expected to desert. And yet, he left in the middle of the night, with his squire and a handful of men, but he didn't head south, oh no, he went north”

    Slowly, Raenna realized. “You believe he joined the wildlings?”, she asked and Harrigon nodded. “It seems to be a popular choice”, he replied, with a brief glance at Erik. “Arron is no ordinary deserter and his motives, as much as I can only guess, are similarly out of the ordinary. He served as my First Ranger for a decade, he has precise information on every single aspect of the Night's Watch, our numbers, where we are strong, where we are weak”

    “Did he join the wildlings?”, Dag asked, to which Harrigon glanced at Erik. The deserter shook his head. “First time I hear of this”, he claimed. “Estermont was still around when I made my escape. Strict bastard, but not the kind I would have expected to leave” He shrugged. “There's more chieftains out there whom he might have joined, or maybe Myrla just didn't tell me. It's not as if I know all of Half-Thenn's secrets”

    Dag raised an eyebrow. “So, what would you have us do, Lord Commander?”, he asked. “Hunting down your former First Ranger? I don't think we have the time for that, hard as it might be” Harrigon shook his head. “You are not supposed to hunt him down”, he replied. “But once you are out there, I want you to listen for any word among the wildlings about a traitor crow. This is especially true if you encounter the Half-Thenn or any of the other chieftains”

    The Umber knight thought about this for a moment. “I think we can do this at least”, he agreed. “If Estermont plans on selling his knowledge to the wildlings, the North might be in great peril” He placed a hand on his heart. “Lord Commander, I swear I will do my best to see this man brought to justice”

    “Splendid”, Harrigon Hoare stated, as he and Dag shook hands. “You are known as a man of honour, Umber, so I am glad I can trust you in this” He glanced at Erik. “Tell me, where do you claim the Swan to be?”, he asked. Erik sighed. “In the southern Frostfangs”, he spoke. “Myrla hasn't told me the exact location, but she told me how to find it”

    “Then you have to go through the outskirts of the Haunted Forest”, Harrigon continued. “Cross the Frozen Rivers and then, the most inhospitable mountains any of you have ever seen. The region south of Skirling Pass is treacherous. People can live there, which means the area might be swarming with wildlings, especially if Flowers told the truth about that wildling meeting. You should take only the best for that”

    “Worry not”, Harrold spoke up. “The best are right here” He grinned and Eon rolled his eyes, though he could not hide a small smirk. “We have come so far, we won't leave you alone now” Jorn nodded. “It is my desire to help as well”, he confirmed. Mace said nothing, he merely placed a fist on his heart in a silent salute. “And I will send two rangers with you. Ozerog Pilaj and Saint Strad”, Harrigon explained. “The former is a murderer, aye, but he redeemed himself by a decade of serving. The latter is a volunteer, a bit on the slow side, but he has a decent spirit and knows how to follow orders”

    Briefly, Raenna glanced at Gared, who sighed. She gave him a slight smile. “What's on your mind?”, she asked and the man shrugged. “I am not sure where to go”, he admitted, as he exchanged a look with Malina. “I am sworn to House Karstark, to protect the Lady Malina. The journey back to Winterfell might be dangerous and if anything happens...” He cut himself off. “That being said, I'd hate to leave you alone. You need the best and well, I'd say that includes me. I am certain I could help, beyond the Wall”

    Malina raised an eyebrow. “You are welcome to go where you like, my friend”, she stated. “My father promised help to Lord Umber and I cannot imagine any better suited” She smiled warmly. “Yet if you want to come with me, back to Winterfell, then I would be happy just as well” Gared smiled, though it faded quickly, as he looked to Raenna, for advice. “This might be one of the few moments in my life where I absolutely don't know what to do”, he admitted.

    [Encourage Gared to accompany you] [Encourage Gared to stay with Malina and Briar]


    For a moment, Irae hesitated. Nobody gave gifts to a warlock, not without expecting anything in return. She hadn't asked for this. And yet, there was real gratitude in Naela's eyes. The only thing the girl wanted was for Irae to take what she so freely offered. She carefully gazed at the necklace. A warlock did not wear jewelry, or any sort of finery, with the exception of Master Garraman. And yet, the craftsmanship was temptingly beautiful.

    “Thank you”, she spoke and a grin flashed over Naela's face. “See?”, she replied. “Suddenly you're not all scary anymore” She gave the warlock a wink. “Make sure to wear it, maybe people start warming up to you”, she added. To Irae's surprise, she replied with a smile, though the result was likely not as pleasant as she hoped it to be. Naela sighed. “Well... we are going to work on that”, she stated. “What are the next steps for my father?”

    The two women walked through the entrance hall of the Orlatis mansion and Irae slightly placed a hand on Naela's back. The young woman tensed up only briefly. “He will need a lot of rest”, she spoke. “His body is weakened by the ordeal, so what you can do is to make sure he won't do too much by himself. Even once he feels better, he should remain resting for as much as possible”

    Naela saluted and though the gesture was a mocking one, there was honest appreciation in her eyes. “You can count on me”, she spoke. “Will you be checking up on him though?” Irae nodded, as she stepped through open front door and out into the sun-bathed front yard of the mansion. From there, she could see the market of Qarth, swarming with countless of people despite the heat. “Of course”, she spoke. “I'll return in two days. By then, we should also discuss the nature of your compensation”

    The girl sighed. “I'm not going to like that, am I?”, she asked and Irae shook her head. “The order will demand something for their service”, she explained. “From experience, I know it is rarely pleasant. But you knew what you would be getting into” Naela nodded. “And I am ready”, she said. “Just... don't keep me waiting for too long. I lie awake all night, thinking about what lies ahead for me. I... I get nightmares from the uncertainty”

    Irae raised an eyebrow. “Nightmares?”, she asked. “What kind?” That was something she had learned under Master Moros, a nightmare could have a deeper meaning. Most of the time, it was just that, a bad dream, a reflection of ones inner fears, but with Naela, hardly anything should be ignored. She had a part to play in the things to come and Irae would guide her through this safely, but to do this, she had to pay attention to the details.

    “I dream of blood”, the girl revealed, now tensed up, not even directly looking at the warlock. “There is blood and death in my dreams. Sometimes it's all I see, but sometimes, there is more” She gulped. “Sometimes, there are a hundred thousand hooves, trampling this city into the dust. I... honestly, sometimes it feels as if I'm loosing my mind”

    There was more to it, but she remained silent. Irae decided not to pry this time. Naela looked horrified enough, just remembering her dream. Pushing her now might ruin what little trust she had for her and Irae would not risk it. In time, she had no doubt the girl would open up about it. That being said, the content of her dreams were... concerning, to say the least. Blood, death, a Dothraki horde... it seemed the Blood Witch truly had a connection to the girl. She had to wonder if a ghost could dream- The warlock council would surely be interested in this development, but Irae was mainly worried about what this meant for Naela.

    “Sometimes, bad dreams are just that”, she tried to reassure the girl. “You will sleep easier if you don't expect a conspiracy behind every corner” Naela gave her a slight nod. “We have to work on your lying skills”, she mumbled, though she managed a weak smile. “Thank you for everything, Irae. I truly mean it”

    Irae gave her a nod, followed by another attempted smile, before she walked out of the building, heading away from the mansion without looking back. Her left hand was still clenched around the necklace. She supposed it'd take some time before she could get used to jewelry. And she had no doubt the council would disapprove, but frankly, she did enough for them and she felt terrible enough about it. She deserved at least a little bit for herself.

    During this time of the day, Irae preferred to stick to the shadows. The heat that came down upon Qarth at noon was almost unbearable, especially for someone like her, who was more used to the dark, dusty rooms at the House of the Undying. It always surprised her how many Qartheen had no choice but to head out during these hours, as the city was busy as always.

    It was undeniable, Naela's dream worried her. A Dothraki horde, ready to trample the city to the ground, it had to be concerning even for the girl herself, but for Irae, who knew of the Blood Witch and her words, it was admittedly terrifying. She had to wonder, how would Naela react if told the truth? Now more than ever did Irae agree with the warlock council, who feared that she would not be able to handle it. At the very least, she doubted that Naela would willingly face her nightmares.

    “Warlock!”, someone called out for her and Irae stopped. Most people went out of their way to avoid her and few would go as far as to willingly talk to her, so she stopped at once, quite surprised by this interruption. She was halfway between the Orlatis mansion and the House of the Undying by now and she did not expect anyone to be bold enough to stop a warlock.

    A few feet away from her stood a young woman. She had a light brown skin tone, the hint of a tan, as well as raven black hair, which fell down to her shoulders. Though a beauty for certain, there was something harsh about her, with an intense glare coming from her eyes. The left one had a hazel colour, the right one was a bit darker, going into a full emerald green. She was clad in leather, with a short cape covering her upper body. “We need to talk”, she spoke, her voice smooth and surprisingly charming, which clashed with the observant glare in her eyes.

    Irae raised an eyebrow. “Delaying a warlock brings great misfortune”, she spoke, to which the woman smirked. She slightly raised the cape, revealing a pair of daggers, not drawn yet, but Irae had no doubt she knew how to use them. “Not talking to me brings even greater”, she replied, as she pointed at the narrow alleyway right next to Irae.

    “Deja, please”, a male voice spoke from there and Irae glanced to the side. A slightly taller, broader figure stood there, clad in a black coat, the hood pulled deeply into his face. His lower face was hidden beneath a piece of cloth, a dark mask, which covered everything up to the nose. “There is no need for threats just yet” He gave Irae a nod. “We indeed just want to talk and mean you no harm”

    Irae crossed her arms. “Talk then”, she spoke. “Maybe you should tell me who you are first” She did not like the way these two just stopped her. The woman was armed and though the masked stranger had no visible weaponry on him right now, she had no doubt that he was just as dangerous. He placed a hand on his chest. “Of course”, he replied. “You may call me the Mask”

    “Not your real name, I suppose”, Irae replied and he nodded. One of his hands moved up, lifting the cloth just barely enough to reveal a pale, yet surprisingly handsome face with a dashing streak to it. Certainly not the kind anyone should have to hide. “I believe names are irrelevant in most situations”, he explained. “The Mask is what you may call me now”

    “For the record, I don't agree with him on this”, the woman said. “I am Deja and I got no problem with telling you that much” She raised a hand, as if to prove that she had no intention of drawing a weapon. “But he is right with one thing. We mean you no harm, none yet” She gave her a nod. “We know you are Irae of the warlock order. We've been watching you for days now”

    Irae glanced down at the woman, her way of standing and how she was always ready to draw a weapon. “And you two are... hired killers? Assassins?” The Mask shook his head. “An ugly word”, he spoke in return. “Assassin makes us seem like murderers, which, I must insist, we are not. Instead, we offer our services to take down someone else's enemy” He followed her alarmed gaze and a small, polite chuckle came from beneath his mask. “No, not you, don't you worry”

    And there, Irae understood. “This is about Kareq Orlatis, isn't it?”, she hissed, to which Deja nodded. Unlike the Mask, with his mocking politeness, the woman had something firm and direct about her, which was somewhat refreshing. “Indeed it is”, she admitted. “The Tourmaline Brotherhood hired the Mask to kill Kareq Orlatis, after their best alchemist surprisingly failed to achieve this”

    “Naturally, I quickly realized that the warlock order was involved”, the Mask took over. “So, I, in return, hired one of the few people in this city who are not afraid to make a move against them” He gave Deja a nod and the young woman crossed her arms. “Kareq Orlatis was poisoned by the best alchemist the Tourmaline Brotherhood has at their disposal. That man never failed before, so I take it that a warlock of outstanding skill got personally involved in curing Orlatis”

    Deja was right with this. Master Vator had personally created the ointment that cured Kareq of his poison and Irae knew that no alchemist this side of Asshai was capable of creating something he could not cure. “Perhaps”, she replied. “But if you are hired to kill Kareq Orlatis, then why are you telling me? I can stop you with ease”

    “You are welcome to try”, Deja hissed. “But this is not just common courtesy. We want to know why you are helping the man. Your order never does anything out of simple kindness. You want something from him and we want to know what that is” Irae raised an eyebrow. “Would that change a thing?”, she asked.

    “Maybe”, the Mask replied. “See, warlock, I don't consider you an enemy. In that case, I'd hardly be talking to you. Orlatis and the Tourmaline Brotherhood are enemies, yes, but you and I, we have simply been hired by opposite sites. This is strictly business from my perspective” He leant forward, looking at her out of his dark eyes. “It is clear your order has a certain interest in the man, else you wouldn't have saved his life. Neither of us is afraid of your order, but similarly, neither of us is foolish enough to get in their way if it can be avoided”, he spoke. “But to be frank, I am not going to compromise the job for some warlock's pet project”

    “In short, we want to know why you are helping Orlatis”, Deja explained calmly. “If we decide it is too much to get involved in, we might talk to the Tourmaline Brotherhood about abandoning the hit, or maybe postponing it until you got what you need. There is no need for bad blood between us”

    “And if you decide that it is not important enough to spare his life?”, Irae hissed, narrowing her eyes, a gesture Deja immediately reciprocated. “Then you can consider this a polite warning”, she replied. “Try to help him if you want, it matters not. Be near him at your peril. And most importantly, tell him to take care of his worldly affairs, because if we decide to go through with the hit, then he will die. It will happen quickly and painlessly, but it will be very soon” She shrugged. “Unless you tell us what this is really about, the full truth. There are warlock matters we don't want to get involved in and I am pretty certain neither does the Tourmaline Brotherhood”

    Irae tensed up. Polite assassins? That was something she didn't think she'd ever see. However, she could see where they were coming from. It was unwise to anger the warlocks, especially the council and they were involved. She had no doubt that this would count as a reason to abandon the hit on Kareq Orlatis. But what if that was all a ruse? A trick, played by the Tourmaline Brotherhood, or others even, simply to find out what she knew? In that case, she'd play right into their goal with this. She didn't want Kareq to die, but could these two truly be convinced to give up on their mark?

    [Tell Deja and the Mask what you know] [Refuse to share any information with them]

  • [Encourage Gared to stay with Malina and Briar] I have a fleeting suspicion one more person with these two will matter much more than one more person on our expedition.

    [Refuse to share any information with them] If they really are interested, I expect them to try to find out anyway, so delaying them, eh, don't think it's so bad.

    Before Harrigon Hoare could reply, Raenna chimed in. “Uh... I'm out of the loop here”, she spoke up. “But who or what is the Swan?” Harrigon glanced at her, raising an eyebrow. “As I said, a wildling fairytale”, he explained. “A wise woman, who supposedly lives by herself, somewhere in the Frostfangs. Some call her a wildling witch of incredible powers, who can possess the bodies of animals and heal even lethal injuries” He shrugged. “While there is magic beyond the Wall, none of it is that potent”

    More magic wise women. How many is that now? Although this traitor, very interesting.

    Raenna Raenna paused for a moment, just studying Harrigon Hoare's face. She knew, a man's eyes were the most important part. That was whe

  • More magic wise women. How many is that now? Although this traitor, very interesting.

    Hm, I am not really sure. It depends on what you consider to be a magic wise woman. We got women with magical powers, but neither Noelle, nor Irae, nor the Blood Witch can be considered wise. Or well, the Blood Witch might be, but a lot about her is left to speculation at this point. We got wise women, but so far, neither of them has displayed any magical power. So... I'd actually say the Swan is the first to combine these two traits. She might not remain the only one, though, I am honestly not entirely sure.

    [Encourage Gared to stay with Malina and Briar] I have a fleeting suspicion one more person with these two will matter much more than one mo

  • The Voting is closed!

    Raenna is going to encourage Gared to stay with Briar and Malina

    Irae is going to tell Deja and the Mask the truth

    The first choice was a very important one, as it will massively influence Gared's role in the things to come. He could have been a major help beyond the Wall. However, similarly, he can be quite involved in an upcoming storyline at Winterfell, which is where we are going to see him next. Irae's choice meanwhile will also be important, but maybe not in the way you expect. It was the one I was hoping for, as it will make some things quite a bit easier for me towards the end of this chapter.

    The next part will be out today. It will feature PoV's from Lachlan and the Hawk, therefore bringing us back to the Vale of Arryn. Last time we saw Lachlan, he arrived at Gull Tower, where he, Osborn Royce and Kyle Coldwater, wish to investigate in Sterling Shett's involvement with the mercenary army that has landed near Gulltown. Orson seems to believe that Sterling is secretly plotting against him. Once there, the trio got into a conversation with Sterling's captain of the guard, Ames Howard, who hinted at a previous history between Osborn and Sterling's only child, Octavia. Noticing how uncomfortable this made Osborn, Lachlan decided to change the topic. Meanwhile, the Hawk and the three companies made camp near Gulltown. Overseeing it, the Hawk first spoke to his spymaster Sharako, before receiving a visit from the Pig. Both leaders are convinced that this is going to be their last war and the Pig spoke about his successor. He also asked the Hawk about who would succeed him, a highly delicate matter, considering that the Hawk has led the Company of the Hawk for over sixty years. Likely candidates were his second-in-command Montoya and his squire Hazar, but the Hawk, unwilling to make this decision just yet, told the Pig that he has not decided on this yet.

  • Lachlan

    Lachlan forced a smile. “Well... say, Ames, how long have you been in Ser Sterling's service?”, he asked, to which the guard raised an eyebrow. He smirked, glancing at Osborn, who was visibly relieved by Lachlan's decision. At the same time, he was certain there was a lot the heir to Runestone hadn't told them and in due time, he'd have to. But Lachlan was a patient man. There was no need to rush Osborn into an uncomfortable situation.

    Ames chuckled, before he shook his head. “Way over a decade now”, he spoke. “Closer to twenty years, I think. I've been a green boy when I joined his household, freshly kicked out of some small sellsword company. Probably for the better, as all of them died against Volantis. Sterling's a good man, treated me decently and gave me a chance to show my worth, to become a better man” He winked at Osborn. “Your friend here might be the better jouster, but I have kicked his ass anytime in the meelee”

    Osborn made a sour face. “You got lucky”, he hissed in return. “In a fair duel, you'd never stand a chance” Ames shrugged. “Well, ain't that a reason to never have a fair duel against you?”, he remarked. “Don't get me wrong, mylord, I don't shy away from a fight, but I never understood these men who rushed into a losing battle”

    “Which is why I appointed you my captain of the guard”, a voice spoke and the four men looked into the direction it came from. Down the stairs, behind Ames, walked two men, one of them being the one who had spoken. He was not too old, perhaps in his late forties, with the early hints of grey showing at the sides of his otherwise raven black hair. Warm, blue eyes, sticking out of a sharp, pale face. He was lean, not much of a knight in terms of build, looking more like an administrator, a maester perhaps, than the Knight of Gull Tower, though the fine tabard he wore left little doubt for speculation.

    Behind Sterling Shett walked an older man. Where Sterling was lean, he was gaunt, safe for a round, fleshy face. The right half of it seemed almost numb, with one eyelid hanging low and the mouth pressed into a permanent sneer. The only remnants of grey hair left on his otherwise bald head was a thinning circle around it.

    A moment passed, as Osborn and Sterling looked at each other. Then, a wide smile formed on Royce's face, as they gave each other a warm hug. “I knew guests would arrive in time”, Sterling said. “But I never expected you. It is good to see you again, my boy” He patted him onto the shoulder, before he turned to Lachlan and Kyle. “But allow me to introduce myself. Sterling Shett, knight of Gull Tower”

    Lachlan bowed slightly before him. “I am Ser Lachlan Keding”, he introduced himself. “And this is my cousin, Lord Kyle Coldwater” Sterling raised an eyebrow. “Quite some entourage you have with you, Osborn”, he spoke, as he glanced at each of the three men. “I take it this is not just a courtesy visit, yes?” His smile was thin, almost reluctant and he sighed mildly, as Osborn nodded.

    “I'm afraid you're right, my friend”, he confirmed. “My father wants to send word to each of his bannermen. Houses Coldwater and Keding already know of what is going on, so I volunteered to bring the news to you and Torgold” Sterling raised an eyebrow, just for a second longer than what would have been inconspicuous. “I... see”, he spoke, as he glanced at his companion, as if he just now noticed him.

    The man made a sour face in return, his sneer getting slightly wider. The right side of his mouth didn't move at all. “Otho Wayland”, he introduced himself, his voice deep and booming, even if it was spoken in a strange mumble, with one side of his mouth being almost completely unmoving. “High Judge of the Order” He announced his title as if he expected the visitors to immediately recognize it and looked visibly pleased as Lachlan and Kyle took a bow in front of him.

    “I am surprised to see a member of the Order here in Gull Tower”, Kyle replied, repeating what they had practised during their journey. If Viera was correct and Otho had a hand in the current events, then he had to be kept oblivious. Otho nodded, his sneer growing a bit smaller. “Times are changing”, he stated. “The Order has stayed passive for too long. But that is in the past now. I am travelling around the Vale, trying to reactivate some of our old contacts”

    “Such as Sterling?”, Osborn brought up. “I never knew he had connections to the Order” Sterling shook his head. “That would have been my father”, he stated. “Though I am all too happy with hearing Ser Otho's request” This caused Lachlan to raise an eyebrow. “His request?”, he asked and Otho nodded. Before he could explain, though, Sterling continued to talk. “Now... Osborn, you wanted to tell me about your father's message, yes?”, he remarked. “Perhaps we shall discuss this in private, while Otho explains the nature of his visit to your companions. I believe they will be much more interested in what he has to offer either way”

    “So be it”, Osborn agreed, as he rose from his seat. “It might be better if this stays between the two of us for now” He glanced at Ames and Otho, both of them clearly realizing this was directed at them. While the captain of the guard merely chuckled, Otho Wayland looked downright insulted, though he said nothing towards Osborn's comment.

    Osborn and Sterling walked towards the staircase, leading towards the upper floors of Gull Tower. That hasn't exactly been what they discussed, but Lachlan could see how it might be better if Osborn gets an impression of their host first. He knew him best, after all, and Lachlan had trust in his ability to uncover the truth in this situation.

    “I think he doesn't really trust me”, Ames remarked. “It really hurt his pride when I talked about the Lady Octavia, didn't it?” He chuckled to himself, as he leant back. “Anyone want some ale?” Kyle nodded at this. “Seven, yes”, he agreed. “Now we're speaking the same language” He grinned, giving Lachlan a nudge with his elbow. “Come on, cousin, you could use a stiff drink”, he remarked and Lachlan sighed. “Yeah, I'll take one”, he agreed.

    That being said, while Ames left to fetch them some drinks, Lachlan immediately turned his attention back to Otho. “Your...”, he began, before he paused, smiling with slight embarrassment. “Forgive me, mylord, how do I adress you? You don't belong to a noble house, if I am not mistaken” Otho rolled his eyes. “Your excellency would be acceptable”, he stated. “But titles shall not stand in the way of successful negotiations”

    “Negotiations, huh?”, Kyle spoke, his voice unable to hide his . Lachlan knew of his cousin's opinion on the Order, one he shared to some degree. Otho nodded. “I know of nobles who rejected the Order. They consider us rabble-rousers, who want nothing but to bring pompous noblemen to their knees” He shook his head, giving them a crooked half-smile.

    “You want no such thing?”, Lachlan asked and Otho chuckled coldly. “What many don't see is how the noble houses of Westeros can benefit from the Order's guidance”, he explained and Lachlan did not like the way he pronounced that last word. “Tell me, Lord Coldwater, you know of the situation in the Riverlands. Why, I ask you, is it that King Harren has such tremendous problems with his subjects?”

    Kyle genuinely thought about this for a moment. “He is cruel tyrant”, he answered. “The people hate him, because he...” He paused and his eyes widened. “I see where you're going with this”, he merely stated and Otho nodded. “King Harren and his brood are among the worst in all Westeros. They rape, steal and murder whatever and whomever they desire, but as far as I can tell, he is finally getting what he justly deserves”, he explained, before he shrugged. “All that could have been avoided, had he just cared for upholding the law, instead of finding more and more ways of breaking it”

    “That's not all there is to it though”, Lachlan spoke. Yorick, House Keding's maester, was from the Riverlands and even though it had been two decades since he left them to study at the Citadel, his passion for his home was unmatched. Through him, Lachlan prided himself with knowing quite a lot about the Riverlands. “They hate him because he is an invader to their lands. Because his Ironborn subjects are sometimes even worse than him”

    Otho nodded. “Of course, you can never satisfy everyone”, he replied calmly. “But do you truly think that he would have to face a proper rebellion, if not for his cruelty?” Kyle raised an eyebrow. “So, in a way, you're saying all this could have been prevented, had he just followed your ideals?”, he asked, a bit sharply, to which Otho smirked. “If only he would have followed the law”, he spoke. “The same law he himself installed. That is all we really ask for”

    “Under your guidance, I presume”, Kyle replied, to which Otho nodded. “Naturally, but it is to our mutual benefit. The Order cares for the people and shouldn't that be a ruler's primary desire as well? A peaceful land, lawfully ruled, results in quiet, satisfied people. In the end, this is what should truly matter. The Order offers a way for any ruler to keep an eye on what his people truly want”

    Finally, he managed a smile as he looked at Lachlan. “You are the heir to Phoenixfall, am I right?”, he asked. “And you speak with your father's authority” Lachlan gave him a nod. “Why do you ask?”, he replied. Otho raised an eyebrow, as he looked from him to Kyle, who had his arms crossed.

    “Simply because I would like an opportunity to show you what we are doing”, he explained. “Why the Order can help you and why your prejudice might be unfounded. If you allow it, I would like to visit your father's lands” His words were calm and seemed genuine. However, Lachlan could not shake off Viera's warnings. If the old woman was right, then Otho might have a role in whatever happened in Gulltown right now. Could he truly allow such a dangerous man on his lands? At the same time, maybe keeping him close was an opportunity to figure out what Otho truly wanted...

    [Invite Otho to Phoenixfall] [Tell him to stay away from Phoenixfall]

    The Hawk

    Reluctantly, the Hawk shook his head. “I don't think I have made my mind up when it comes to this, my friend”, he mumbled and the Pig shrugged. “Well, you shouldn't wait for too long, my friend”, he spoke. “I itch for a fight. Hopefully it won't be too long until we can do what we're best at” He smiled. “But that is your business. The Company of the Hawk belongs to you and I will not tell you have to do”

    “Thank you”, the Hawk spoke, as both men stared down the walls of Gulltown and onto the place where the three companies built their camp. Together, they were a formidable force, as it had always been. Each by their own had their flaws, would be nothing more than another small company out of the hundreds that littered the Disputed Lands. It was quite likely that without their union, they wouldn't have survived as long.

    The Hawk sighed, as he looked down at his hands. The left was resting on the wall, calm and steady. The right one, though, was shivering slightly. Tensing up, he opened and then closed the fist, which put a frown on his face. It hadn't been that long, has it? He sighed, as he realized that it would be time to visit Hadrax, once again.

    Luckily, the Pig hadn't noticed his sigh, nor the uncharacteristic shaking of his hand. What the man was much rather preoccupied with was the figure rushing up the stairs. Tall and wiry, his dark skin making him stand out from any crowd, Maldar the Quiver approached. The Summer Islander was the best archer the Hawk had ever seen in his life, which meant quite something, so it was no surprise that he was the one in charge of every archer within the three companies.

    “Pig!”, he yelled to his leader, even before he reached them. His melodic accent and the deep, smooth voice turned even a word as simple as that into a small song. “Pig, you need to have a look at this”, he continued, as the Pig straightened his back. “What's going on, Maldar?”, he asked, somewhat impatiently. Unlike the Hawk, the Pig had little love for the day to day business of his company. He was still good at it, or at least good enough for the company to manage, but it was clear that it gave him no joy.

    Maldar shot him a wide, bright smile. “Jorario sent me”, he revealed. “He and Agar have fallen into a bit of a dispute on how to handle the zorses” The Pig rolled his eyes. “The zorses are Jorario's duty”, he growled. “Why is Agar getting involved” He paused, placed a hand on Maldar's shoulder, before he sighed. “You know what, bring me there. I'll teach him to meddle with Jorario's business”

    He turned to the Hawk. “Well, seems like we have to cut this one short”, he spoke, giving him a brief grin. “You know, in moments like this I'm glad I never married that lass from Qohor. Can't imagine how much worse it'd be with a nagging wife and a nagging company” He chuckled at his own joke, as he gave the Hawk a nod. “Another time, my friend”, he added, before he narrowed his eyes. “You alright? You look, well... don't get me wrong, but you look old. I mean, you look your age”

    The Hawk forced himself to smile thinly. “Offence taken, Pig”, he stated sarcastically, trying to overplay that he was feeling a little light-headed. He had to ask himself, how much of how he felt was due to actually frailty, and how much was just the fear? Yes, by every god willing to listen, he had to pay Hadrax a visit soon.

    “Uh... Pig, before you go...”, the Hawk added and the Pig, already down the first couple steps, turned around, raising an eyebrow. “Do you know, by any chance, where Hadrax is?” The Pig shrugged. “He's one of yours, I don't keep an eye on them”, he said. “If he's not in the camp, then he probably accepted Arryn's offer. Not sure what you'd want from him, though. Something about that man is off, I'm telling ya”

    The Hawk smiled coldly. “No need to tell me”, he clarified and with this, the talk was over. The Hawk remained up there, glancing at the Pig, who was dragging his massive body down the stairs. He himself waited until the man was out of sight, before he began to follow. Usually, the climb was no problem for him, but today, it was different. He took it slow, there was no need to hurry and still, as he reached the ground, he was out of breath.

    In moments like this, the Hawk felt his age. Truth be told, he would have likely succumbed to it years ago, if not for Hadrax' assistance. But there was no doubt about it, his body was getting weaker. A life could be prolonged, given the right methods, but death couldn't be cheated forever. It was a topic he had always avoided in his talks with Hadrax, but looking down at his shaking hand, perhaps it was time to address it. And perhaps the Pig was right. A new Hawk had to be chosen at some point in the future.

    He grabbed his right forearm, clenching it tightly until the shaking stopped. Then, he took a deep breath, as he calmed down from the effort it took him to climb the stairs. He was a warrior, had been one for all his life. No, he would not allow something this simple to slow him down. Forcing a defiant smile on his face, he began to walk away from the wall. Hadrax... all he had to do was to find Hadrax.

    “Ser Hawk, a word”, a familiar voice called out for him and the Hawk suppressed a sigh. Perhaps Hadrax had to wait. Though with him feeling a bit better already, perhaps the man could wait just as well. Zeth Arryn was approaching him. Unlike virtually any other nobleman the Hawk had ever meant, Arryn walked without any guards in the city. He kept his rapier by his side, unmistakably able to defend himself, but it still revealed a lot about the confidence with which he moved through the city.

    “Mylord Arryn”, the Hawk greeted him, sporting a slight smile. He took a bow, nothing too deep though, as the man was not his employer. “I take it everything is fine at your mansion?”, he asked and Zeth gave him a nod. “The Rat and his private guard have settled in well”, he spoke. “I find myself surprised that he is getting along with Torgold. Such a small man, yet he has a taste for a good fight”

    “We love what we can never have, mylord”, the Hawk replied. “For the Rat, it's being strong, being a fighter. He has the mindset, but for all his intelligence, what he truly desires is to be a man like Lord Tollet, a warrior through and through” He smiled. “I am glad he is settling in well though. Few accept the Rat as he is”

    “Lady Octavia recognizes his value”, Zeth assured him. “That goes for all three of you. You will be crucial in the war to come” The Hawk nodded. “I have men who cannot wait for this war”, he spoke. “But frankly, I have seen enough bloodshed for a lifetime. The sooner we get this over with, the better” He narrowed his one eye. “But I won't get my wish, won't I?”

    Zeth pressed his lips together, before he shook his head. “Everything is pointing towards a more lengthy employment”, he admitted. “At some point, we have to wait for Orson Royce to make a move and by the gods, that man knows how to be patient” The Hawk grinned without any joy in his expression. “Sounds like the kind of man I'd never want to play Cyvasse with”, he admitted and Zeth was polite enough to laugh. “Or any sort of game, for that matter, Ser Hawk”, he added.

    The Hawk raised an eyebrow, over the orb of dragonglass that replaced his missing eye. “What leads you here, mylord?”, he then brought up. “We're not having a chance little meeting on the streets, haven't we?” Zeth shook his head. “Truth be told, I don't come here very often”, he revealed. “The docks are more my world. Seeing the ships come and go, hearing their tales of faraway lands. The walls however? Eh, I cannot see much beauty in them”, he explained, before he took a slight bow. “No, I come here because I want to invite you over for dinner. You've stayed away from the mansion for a few days now and Lady Octavia is eager to discuss your next steps”

    This caused the Hawk to grimace. He hadn't been at the mansion for a few days, yes, and that was already enough for Octavia to invite him over? He had worked with the controlling kind before and it had never been enjoyable. Did she worry he would distance himself? Was the Rat not enough to represent the three companies? The Hawk had his reasons to stay with his people and now more than ever was he convinced it was the right choice.

    “Dinner, yes?”, he asked. “Who will be attending?” Before Zeth could reply, he cut him off, as the twitching returned to the fingers of his right hand. With a frown, he grabbed the forearm again, which the nobleman noticed with slight surprise. “What I mean is, I am looking for one of my men, you might have seen him”, he spoke. “Clad in black, he's blonde and fair-skinned, looks a lot younger than he actually is”

    To his dismay, Zeth shook his head. “No, I am afraid I don't know this man”, he admitted. “It seems he must have stayed with the rest of your company. Your man Montoya is the only one who has chosen to reside within my mansion” The Hawk smirked. “And we both know that is so that he can try to charm your Lady Octavia”, he replied, to which Zeth laughed, this time genuinely. “You are probably right”, he admitted.

    So, no Hadrax at Zeth's mansion. This put the Hawk through a difficult decision. He could not postpone his meeting with his most important underling for much longer. No, his help was not just appreciated, it was mandatory. And yet, he just received an invitation for a dinner with his employer, who had proven herself to be both, impatient and controlling. Perhaps he could wait, just a little bit longer, before meeting Hadrax, so that he could attend Zeth's dinner without offending the Lady Octavia. Perhaps...

    [Accept Zeth's invitation] [Decline and visit Hadrax]

  • [Tell him to stay away from Phoenixfall] Hopefully this is done in the rudest way possible. I don't trust this one.

    [Decline and visit Hadrax] Poor Hawk, he's so old. Also, Octavia is EVIL, let's blow her off and make her real mad.

    Lachlan Lachlan forced a smile. “Well... say, Ames, how long have you been in Ser Sterling's service?”, he asked, to which the guard rais

  • The Voting is closed!

    Lachlan is going to invite Otho to Phoenixfall

    The Hawk is going to accept Zeth's invitation

    The first choice won't have any immediate consequences, this much I can tell you. However, Otho will eventually make his way to Phoenixfall, as a man like him is surely going to accept this invitation. We will learn more of his agenda in the future and then you will see wether it has been a good idea or not. Meanwhile, the Hawk is going to spend time with Zeth, Octavia, the Rat and others, allowing me to flesh out these characters a bit better, which is never a bad thing. However, you will also see more of Hadrax in this chapter and probably get a better understanding why the Hawk needs his help.

    The next part is going to be out right now. It will feature PoV's from Maya and Keat. Last time we saw Maya, the first time since Book 1, was when she and her companions, alongside Taenora and her troupe of showmen, travelled through the Riverlands, towards the Vale. They arrived at a broken bridge, which Gregar and Ulaf both considered to be a dangerous place to stay, considering that it might be the site of a planned ambush. As such, Maya and Sophey, a mute member of Taenora's group and apparently their best tracker, volunteered to scout the area, to find another way across the river. Gregar offered to go with them as well and Maya accepted, even if he might have been helpful to defend the caravan in case anything goes wrong there. Meanwhile, Keat's storyline continued from where we left him last chapter, as he saved a woman named Rose from Thorrin Bannister. While Bannister was obviously less than thrilled and swore vengeance, Rose was grateful. Turns out, she stole a map of the secret entrances into the Hightower from Bannister and hearing they are interested in it, she offered her help. Even though he has his doubts about her motivations, Keat ultimately agreed to get her involved.

  • Maya

    There wasn't any proper reason to sneak through the underbrush and as such, Maya and Gregar followed Sophey down a small trail, so narrow that she wasn't even certain it was regularly used by humans. She had always considered herself a quiet person, but compared to Gregar and Sophey, she felt like a clumsy child. The two moved across the trail without any sound, at a speed she could barely keep up without running. Where she stepped onto sticks and leaves, breaking them in the process, they somehow managed to remain completely quiet in their movement.

    Out here, there was something about Sophey that was almost unnerving. The woman spoke not a word, barely made a sound at all, yet somehow, her glances and gestures were more than enough to express how she felt. Maya still wasn't sure if her companion was unable to speak, or simply chose not to, but her silence gave her something strange.

    In this moment, the woman stopped without warning, raising a hand, as Maya nearly stumbled into her. She glanced over her shoulder, raising an eyebrow, almost in a mocking way, before a thin smile flashed across her beautiful face. Then, she knelt down, softly moving over the ground. Maya narrowed her eyes, as she recognized what Sophey tried to show her.

    “Boot prints”, Gregar growled in a low tone. “At least three people. How long?” Sophey touched one of the bootprints, picking up a little bit of mud glancing at it, before shaking her head. “Can't be long then”, Maya deduced, to which Sophey nodded. She pointed down the path, before placing a finger on her lips. The gesture was clear and as such, they continued with care.

    The rain hadn't stopped and it made it easier for them to remain concealed beneath the trees. At the same time though, it'd make it harder to spot those who had left the trail. And worst of it all, the constant rain got on her nerves, badly so. It's not that she was a stranger to this wet chill that held the Riverlands in its grasp, but slowly, it'd wear anyone down.

    “Bloody hell”, a male voice called out in front of them. Sophey crouched down, raising a clenched fist and silently ordering them to stop. Though Maya couldn't see who had spoken, the voice came from somewhere in front of them. “Not so loud”, a second man hissed, though his words were carried just as far. “We don't know who else is out here”

    The first man chuckled. “What, you're afraid of shadows now?”, he asked. “You think the Sons like being out here on a day like that? Nah, we're safe out here” His chuckle turned into a pained sigh. “If only I could make us a fire... but nah, damn rain. Not a single peace of dry wood out here”

    The second man joined in on his sigh. “You know, it's probably dry back at the camp”, he replied. “Or less wet. Warmer too. Why the hell is it always us who gets the scout duty?” A noise followed, as if someone kicked against something, accompanied by a muffled sound of pain. “Fucking backpack”, the first man howled. “You're right, you know. Why the hell is it always us? And for what? The pay is lousy and the higher ups are even worse”

    “Tell me all about it”, the second man agreed. “I used to be stationed at Harrenhal. Couple decent folk there, aye, but there's also the king and his brood. The more time I spent around them, the more I saw what Lodos meant when he spoke of their cursed lineage” This caused the first to laugh. “Lodos!”, he exclaimed. “Man, I met my fair share of so-called saviours and prophets, but he's more crazy than all of them combined”

    The second man did not join in with his laughter. “Is he truly crazy?”, he asked. “Because I'm not so sure about that anymore. Think about it. Raiding the Greenlanders, aye, that is one thing. It's in our blood, it's how we survive. But what Harren is doing, what his sons are doing... that ain't right”

    A brief silence followed, before the first man spoke up. By now, Maya was close enough to see them. The first was a heavyset, balding man, whose face was disfigured by a knotty scar, which had taken away part of his upper lip, leaving him with a permanent sneer. The second one was thin, with a thick, braided beard and an iron earring. “What do you mean?”, the first man asked, with genuine curiosity in his voice.

    “I mean, we did that all the time, aye”, the second replied. “Taking thralls and salt wives on our raids. But we always picked only those who let themselves be captures, who weren't strong enough to fight back, or fast enough to run away, or those who surrendered instead of dying in a fight” He shook his head. “It is our way, the proper way. But Harren and his brood, they take a whole kingdom as their thralls. It ain't a fair fight. Sure, Hardhand conquered it fair and square, but what has Harren ever done to deserve his grandfather's legacy? Built some huge castle, but that doesn't make him worthy, it just proves that he has to compensate for something”

    The first man laughed loudly, not afraid of anyone listening to their conversation. “And surely you'd love to tell him that, right?”, he asked, to which the second shook his head. “Eh, I'm not crazy”, he claimed. “Would I be some lord or captain, maybe I'd speak up. But we're just grunts in his army, what choice do we have but to folloq?” He sighed. “Doesn't mean that Lodos isn't right. I say we need to leave these lands and go back to the Old Way, or the Drowned God will punish us all”

    “Doubt the Drowned God cares much for you and me”, the first man mumbled grimly. “He might punish Harren Hoare, if Lodos is right, the utter madman. One thing is for sure though, we'll get caught in the crossfire” He shook his head. “My brother-in-law earns twice as much as we do just by catching fish back at Orkmont. Ain't an easy life for him, but it's not better for us either, eh?”

    The second man nodded. “And my cousins sailed with Durren Stallhart!”, he proclaimed. “They earned fine weaponry, good armour and each got themselves a salt wife” He clenched his fists. “And we're freezing our asses off here in the rain, for nothing more than a pittance, in the name of some spoiled royal arse and against an enemy who doesn't even exist”

    They both sighed, glancing at the wet pile of sticks that should be their campfire. It was clear, both were unable to even just do that. And yet, they were Ironborn scouts. Their presence alone proved Taenora's concerns right. For all Maya knew, they were barely better than common highwaymen. The three of them had to get back, to plan on what to do.

    It was in this moment, as she turned to Gregar, that she stepped onto a wooden branch. It cracked beneath her feet, loud enough for the two Ironborn to hear them. Both jumped up, drawing double-edged axes from their belts, even if they couldn't quite agree on the direction the noise came from. While the first man looked into their direction, the second did the opposite. “Who is there?”, he barked.

    In this moment, something unexpected happened. Maya heard Gregar's gasp and as she spun around, she saw a figure, clad in a grey hooded cloak, pointing an arrow right at her companion. Sophey drew the long dagger she carried on her waist, pointing it at another man, who had snuck closer while Maya had been too busy listening to the conversation.

    Two others rose from the underbrush, bows at hand. “Drop your weapons!”, one of them, a handsome, young man with dark hair and the shadow of a beard, barked, but the Ironborn made no attempt to follow the order. Neither was either of the two brave enough to charge at the four armed men. “You over there, you too”, the man repeated his order. Now as they were standing, the Ironborn realized that they were surrounded, not just by Maya and her companions, but also by this new threat.

    The second Ironborn, apparently the smarter of the two, narrowed his eyes. “You over there, pretty girl!”, he yelled. “Don't trust these bastards, they are the Sons of the Trident. Insane outlaws who know no mercy! You let yourself get captured by them and they are going to hang you without a trial!” He pointed his axe at the leader of the four men. “We're not the ones who have weapons pointed at you, so we're not your enemy”, he claimed, before he managed a desperate grin. “Help us and we can help you. We're with Captain Hollard's unit, she's a good and fair leader and she'll be grateful if you help us”

    The rebel raised an eyebrow. “You're not with the Ironborn?”, he asked and Maya gulped, before she shook her head. “We're just...”, she mumbled, before she cut herself off. “We don't want any trouble” The man gave her a nod. “Then help us against these two and prove it”, he stated. “Or at least stay out of our way while we deal with the Ironborn scum. Then we can sort this out. If you got nothing to do with those monsters, then you and I, we're no enemies” He gave her a smile that was, admittedly, quite charming. “If you need a name, I'm Jared”, he introduced himself. “And if you don't mess this up for us, then the Sons of the Trident will be grateful”

    Both men looked at her, eager for her decision. It was clear, the Sons of the Trident had the Ironborn outnumbered, four to two. However, with two of their own having to keep Gregar and Sophey in check, neither of which seemed to have any sympathy for them, the odds were much more even than they seemed at first. Perhaps she could indeed support one of them, turning the tide on the Sons of the Trident, or sealing the Ironborn's fate. She couldn't say that she particularly liked either of these groups, the tyrant's soldiers, or the rebel scouts who had weapons pointed at her companions. But was it a wise idea to stay out of this one? Perhaps this could be a chance to get the help they needed to leave this land.

    [Support the Sons of the Trident] [Support the Ironborn] [Stay out of it]


    Rose stood by his side, as they walked through the alleyways of Oldtown. Keat could tell, neither Samuel, nor Erik were thrilled about getting her involved, but this was not their decision. He was the master thief and he hired whomever he deemed useful for this heist. Rose had a map of the Hightower, which made her extremely useful and if her claim was true, then she herself had a certain experience as a thief. Plus she was very pretty to look at and Keat enjoyed a mission with eye candy more than one without. And unlike the one they were going to recruit, there was no bad blood between him and Rose.

    “So, what's the story between you and this… Vivielia?”, Erik asked from behind, to which Rose raised an eyebrow, curiosity flaring up in her green eyes. She was attentive, he had to give it to her, noticing even small details about them, in the same way Keat would listen in her situation. Didn't mean he appreciated Erik bringing this detail up and as such, he gave him a brief, displeased glare.

    “That is a long and complicated one”, he replied. “But to keep it short, she tried to, well, remove a certain body part the last time we met” He touched the bandaged side of his head and winced. “Would have been way more painful than what Bannister did” To his surprise, Rose flashed him a mischievous grin. “I take it you got out of there just fine?”, she asked and he felt the heat rushing up his cheeks. “I… uh… yeah”, he stuttered. “Yeah, I still got it. I got away safely”

    “Too much information on that topic”, Erik spoke. “And too little on what actually happened. Why would she, well, try to resort to such drastic measures?” Rose chuckled. “Did you deserve it?”, she asked straightforwardly. “And be honest with me” From behind them, Samuel laughed. “Oh yes he did”, he replied. “And don't you dare to claim anything else”

    Keat sighed, though he could not contain a brief glare towards his friend for bringing this up in front of Rose. “I… kinda slept with her sister”, he said. Rose raised an eyebrow. “Kinda?”, she asked and he shook his head. “Not just kinda”, he said. “Repeatedly. We've been together, me and Ursa. Not long, but Viv, she found out”

    “You had something with her as well?”, Erik asked and Samuel laughed out loud. For a moment, his friend wheezed, unable to get out anything but laughter and Keat felt searing embarrassment rising up within him. “No, I never had anything with Viv”, he revealed. “Not that I never tried, but she wasn't interested. Truth be told, I don't know if she's interested in anyone at all. She's a selfish bitch, if you don't mind me saying”

    “That's pretty rich, coming from you, my friend”, Samuel spoke. “I mean, they should probably know why the Sand sisters won't be too happy to see you” Keat bit down on his lower lip. “Maybe”, he admitted. “I mean… there was nothing between me and Viv, but while I was together with her sister Ursa, I… uh… kinda found myself in bed with their other sister”

    Rose's grin widened and an expression flashed over Erik's face, part annoyance, part actual respect. “To my defence, she threw herself at me, she is a very beautiful woman and I had taken some of the strange herbs me and Viv stole from a Summer Islander merchant. I really wasn't in the right mind”

    “And Glorianna just turned sixteen”, Samuel added. “At most” Quickly, Erik's expression of respect faded, while Rose's grin only widened. “Whoa… that is pretty young, fair game or not”, the guard stated and Keat sighed. “How was I supposed to know?”, he asked. “She looks very mature for her age and she never told me. And I would have gotten away with it, but Viv surprised us the next morning”

    “That explains a lot”, Erik admitted. “Had you done that to my sister, I would have gutted you like a fish” He shrugged. “Sure, I don't have a sister, but it's the sentiment that counts” He narrowed his eyes. “Wait a moment”, he added. “You told Hishi you stole from her, but now you come around and tell us it's much worse than that”

    Keat nodded. “That ain't something Hishi has to know, alright?”, he spoke. “I did indeed steel from Viv as I was making my escape, right after she found me and Glorianna, but to be perfectly fair, I only took what we stole together and I am reasonably certain that she was planning to screw me over either way” He shrugged. “I bet she's over that”, he claimed. “But the situation with her sisters, that is the thing she might still hold a grudge for”

    Erik raised an eyebrow. “And you couldn't have told us any earlier?”, he asked. “I mean, maybe Hishi could have found an alternative” Keat shook his head. “I might be able to sort this out”, he spoke. “Viv is greedy and she loves a challenge and what can be more challenging and rewarding than breaking into the Hightower?” They stopped in front of a large building and Keat tensed up. “We're here”, he stated. “Unless they moved in the meantime. I mean, it's been over a year, they might have...”

    “They haven't”, Erik disagreed. “Hishi's scouts do their work properly. The sisters still live here” He gave him a wink, pointing at the open gate that led into the backyard of the large house where the three sisters lived alongside at least a dozen other vagrants. It was one of these parts of Oldtown where people lived who had nothing, or those who wanted to stay below anyone's notice. The sisters, they were the latter for certain, but Keat knew how good they were at pretending to be the former.

    Slowly, he entered the back yard, walking through the gate and past several doors that led into the complex. He sighed. “Maybe they are not here?”, he asked. He had been less nervous before, when he made the decision. Vivielia and him, they hadn't parted on good terms, but she was not the sort to hold grudges for such a long time. And yet, the closer he came to meeting her and her sisters again, the more nervous he grew.

    “Keat?”, a familiar voice asked and he tensed up. “Hello, Glori”, he mumbled, before turning around. Glorianna Sand was undoubtedly beautiful, even now as he knew of her youth. Dark brown skin, just a shade lighter than the black of the Summer Islanders, a shapely figure, full lips and deep, dark eyes, a fire burning within them even now. Her dark hair fell down her shoulders in soft curls and the grin on her face was similar to Rose's, mischievous and actually not all that hostile.

    “Hey there”, she stated, raising an eyebrow. “What are you doing here?” She took a step closer, placing her hands on his shoulder and pulling him into a brief hug. “I thought you'd never return. Word has it you left Oldtown for good” She gave him a wink, before she leaned up. “Welcome back, thief”, she whispered into his ear.

    “Glori, is...”, Keat said, as he took a step away from her, noticing the judging stares from Rose and Erik and Samuel's unashamed glee at the situation. “Is your sister there? Vivielia, I mean. Don't tell Ursa, please” Glorianna chuckled, before her smile faded, very briefly. “Of course, let me fetch her for you”, she stated, before she turned around. “Hey, sis! Guess who is here again!”

    She yelled loudly and Keat froze in place, knowing that both of her sisters had undoubtedly heard her words. And indeed, the sister who glanced out of the door first was the one he wanted to see least of them all, because she had the biggest reason to be upset at him. Ursa Sand was one to hold a grudge and the cold frown on her beautiful face was all the proof he needed to know she was still mad at him. Her hair was tied up into a loose bun and she tucked a strand of hair behind her ears, as she clenched her fists.

    “Well, ain't that a surprise”, she hissed. “You have five seconds to get the fuck out of here, before Viv sees you” Her words were cold, but behind them, furious anger flared up. It contrasted with Glorianna's seemingly sweet gaze. “Someone's in trouble”, the youngest sister chirped. “Maybe I should have been more quiet?” Her smile faded, just briefly. “Oops”, she hissed, before she gave him another wink and Keat knew, he deserved her contempt just as much. “Hey… Ursa...”, he mumbled, pressing his lips together and trying to avoid her cold stare. “I'm not here because I want to...”

    “Well, you made the call to come here first”, Erik spoke up and slowly, he shared Samuel's glee. He gave the sisters a nod, earning himself a grin from Glorianna and a glare from Ursa. “Keat!”, a third voice spoke. Vivielia Sand was taller than her sisters, less curvy and more lean. Ursa had told him once, it came since she was the oldest. What little they had to eat, she gave almost all of it to her younger sisters. As such, while she shared their beauty, she had a more narrow face, prominent cheekbones and a sharp glare, which was made all the more piercing due to her eyes being of a lighter brown than her skin. Her hair was open and wild, a strand of it tied into a braid that was falling down to her shoulder. Most importantly, she held a curved dagger in her hand and though she didn't point it at him, the gesture was unmistakable.

    “Vivielia”, he greeted her with a nod, as she pushed herself past her sisters, between him and them. “You got a whole group of jesters with you”, she stated, though she gave Samuel a nod. “Samuel”, she greeted him and he returned the gesture. “Viv”, he said, as the woman turned her attention back at the thief. “Here to protect you?”, she asked. Keat shook his head. “Here to accompany me”, he replied. “I… believe it or not, it wasn't my decision to come here. Not really, at least. I'm gathering a crew for a job and I need someone to pick a few locks. You've always been the best at that”

    Anger flared up in her cold, dark eyes. “That's why you have come?”, she hissed. “You pull that shit, you hurt my sister, both of my sisters!” Behind her, Ursa crossed her arms, while Glorianna chuckled. “Hey Keat”, she chirped. Vivielia pointed the dagger right at him. “And you come… because you want something from me?” A frosty chuckle came out of her throat. “Even for you, that is bold”

    Now, he gave her a grin. “I'm always good for a surprise, am I not?”, he spoke, daring a slight grin and he was pretty certain, if not for the presence of Erik and Samuel, she would have attacked him right then and there. She narrowed her eyes. “You are serious”, she said tonelessly. “By the gods, you are actually serious” She shook her head. “You have always been an asshole, but I see, leaving this city hasn't changed you for the better”, she hissed. “You stole from me, you hurt both of my sisters and now you come here and you're acting just as brazen as always?”

    “Fuck you, Keat”, Ursa hissed and he sighed. “I know I deserved that...”, he said, but before he could react, Vivielia lowered the dagger. In the very same moment, her knee darted upwards, hitting him right between the legs. Keat groaned in pain and all that came out of his throat was a muffled gasp as he staggered, trying desperately to remain on his feet. Glorianna giggled, while even Ursa showed grim satisfaction. Next to him, Samuel was about to draw his weapon, but a visibly amused Erik stopped him. Rose merely rolled her eyes, though he noticed she suppressed a smirk.

    “That is what you deserve, you son of a bitch!”, Vivielia spat. “That and more” She shook her head. “I should have used my knife for that, then we would have been even” He sighed. “I know, I know...”, he mumbled, trying to look as guilty as possible. “I messed up, but I wouldn't have returned if not to set things straight. I'm back, because I want to repay everyone I owe or whom I wronged”

    Vivielia blinked, before she glanced at the bandage that still covered his wound. “And how is that working out for you?”, she asked in a sarcastic tone, to which he gave her a forced smile. “Let's just say, our meeting hasn't been the worst I've had”, he added, to which Ursa tensed up. “Trust me, we can easily make it worse”, she growled, but her older sister raised a hand. Carefully, like a cat gazing at its prey, Viv lowered her dagger. “You want to repay us?”, she spoke and this time, he spotted a hint of genuine curiosity in her words. “I say you get one chance to convince me and if I don't like what you tell me right now, I'd suggest you better leave, unless you want me to decide how to make things even”

    Keat gulped. “I got a job for you”, he said. “I need a crew to...” She cut him off, by raising her dagger once more. “I don't care about the details”, she hissed. “For all I know, you're just wasting my time right now. I want to know what's in this for me” She glanced at her sisters. “For us”

    "You keep him around?", Ursa asked, her voice sounding slightly alarmed, but Vivielia shook her head. "I want to hear him out", she said. "Because I keep hoping he is somehow less of an ass than he always makes himself look like. And if I don't like what he says..." Slowly, she lowered the dagger. “One chance, Keat”, she warned him. “Don't blow this”

    One chance, she said? Well, that made things not any easier. He had a whole speech prepared, telling Viv about the things that happened, how he wants to get even with the sisters and most importantly, what Hishi wants him to do, how he wants him to break into the most secure vault in all Westeros. Unspeakable dangers, unimaginable riches… those were actual arguments, but Viv was dangerously close to just kicking him out, probably literally. If he wouldn't choose his words carefully, he'd lose his chance to recruit the best lock picker in Oldtown.

    But what to say? She had always been a greedy bitch, Keat was not ashamed to see her that way and he knew, she would agree. The rewards of such a heist might be tempting, unless she somehow scored big since they had parted ways. They were still living in this part of Oldtown, so probably not… then again, Viv had always been good at hiding her wealth. And she loved a challenge above everything else. She was the sort of thief to steal things for the thrill of it, which was what made him like her in the first place. Maybe the risks, the dangers involved, that would be a better way of getting her attention...

    [Tell her about the rewards] [Tell her about the risks]

  • [Support the Ironborn] I mean, it seems wrong to hurt these fine gentlemen. Plus, maybe this Captain Hollard is a real nice person.

    [Tell her about the risks] I saw Ocean's Eleven. You say the risks first, then the payment.

    “Tell me all about it”, the second man agreed. “I used to be stationed at Harrenhal. Couple decent folk there, aye, but there's also the king and his brood. The more time I spent around them, the more I saw what Lodos meant when he spoke of their cursed lineage” This caused the first to laugh. “Lodos!”, he exclaimed. “Man, I met my fair share of so-called saviours and prophets, but he's more crazy than all of them combined”


    Ah, this is exactly how I imagined this would go down with Keat. This all makes sense for his character - womanizer, kind of a loser, nervous. I am very excited for more stuff with him.

    Maya There wasn't any proper reason to sneak through the underbrush and as such, Maya and Gregar followed Sophey down a small trail, so n

  • Ah, this is exactly how I imagined this would go down with Keat. This all makes sense for his character - womanizer, kind of a loser, nervous. I am very excited for more stuff with him.

    Ah, I am glad to hear that you are excited for more of him. You shall receive, because Keat will have quite the storyline coming up. And yeah, you are on spot with his character here, that is exactly Keat. We'll learn a bit more of him as this book goes on, but at the core, he is especially not even nearly as confident and successful as he would like to be.

    [Support the Ironborn] I mean, it seems wrong to hurt these fine gentlemen. Plus, maybe this Captain Hollard is a real nice person. [Tell

  • The Voting is closed!

    Maya is going to side with the Sons of the Trident

    Keat is going to tell Vivielia about the rewards

    The first one is a pretty safe option. The Ironborn are outnumbered, now more than ever, whereas siding with them would have merely evened the odds instead of actually ensuring success. Furthermore, while you know little about these Ironborn, the Sons of the Trident as a whole are more or less well-intentioned, even if some of them are a bit trigger happy. That being said, this was still a very important choice and the consequences will be seen for a while to come.

    The next part will be out today at last! I know it took me a bit, but I aim to release the next part today. It will feature a PoV for Ysilla, but I am not entirely sure if her next part will fit into a full-length part, so I might include a second PoV for Sadie. It doesn't look like that is very likely atm, but we'll see. Anyways, Ysilla's last part showed the first step on her journey through the Red Mountains into the Reach. Resting for the night, Allar left to hunt dinner, while Theodan, Ysilla and Jen stayed behind. The latter two got quite a bit closer during this part, much to Theodan's chagrin, and the part ended with Ysilla hesitating if she should kiss Jen (since, given the general situation they are in, such a distraction might be a bit of a risk) and she ultimately decided to give in.

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