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Sites of Interest
Finding the Enemy
IC Date: Day 30 of Month 4, 161 AC
RL Date: January 12, 2010.
Participants: Burton Crakehall, Daeron Targaryen, the Young Dragon, Tomas Rivers, the Bastard of Riverrun
Locations: Boneway: Before Yronwood

Summary: King Daeron requires knights to help locate the Dornish army, which has been keeping its position obscure.

A hot day, as many days are in Dorne, but this one comes with a difference: a steady wind blows from the south, and it makes the air feel like an oven. The air shimmers in the distance, and illusionary pools of water seem to form amidst the far sands. The Dornish desert beckons, and it promises death.

Stretching back into the distance, the king’s army in orderly columns, and away to the sides and before are glimpses of the outriders who keep an eye out for enemies. Yet the Dornishmen and their army always seem to be just out of sight. Rumor runs up and down the column that they’ve fled, for fear of the king’s army. Others whisper that they merely shadow the king’s force, waiting for a chance to strike. Whatever the case, the king seems annoyed, riding near the head of the column, knights and lords and captains about him. A steady stream of messengers deliver messages, and occasionally men are called before him. One such? Ser Burton Crakehall, a squire leading him into the king’s presence.

The heir to Crakehall, his complexion unusualy pale ,bows before his liege. During the last skirmish he has been slighty wounded with a Dornish arrow and has lost much blood. For a few days he was-not between life and death,as some of the knights and men-at-arms readily gossiped-but in a rather bad state, not being able even to stand up. Now he seems to much better-at least, he is walking steadily-and yet he looks tired and worn-out. His white doublet matches his skin color and a jewelled dagger decorates his waist. “Your Grace, you have sent for me. How can I serve you, Sire? ,”  Ser Burton asks in a hoarse voice, leaning on his squires shoulder.

Only light armor for the king, in this heat, and a non-descript surcoat of cloth more gray than black to hide some of the metal from the blaze of the sun. Daeron does not seem to mind the heat so much, perhaps because of that, and the sweat on his brow seems only a pale glistening against skin that’s gone brown in the Dornish light. Riding along, Kingsguard about him, the king turns at the sound of someone approaching. He nods his head, to allow Burton nearer then.

“Ser Burton,” Daeron says, “you came promptly. That is good.” His purple-eyed gaze turns away from the heir to Crakehall, and sweeps over the desert. The army snakes east and south, as quickly as it can, but with a notable wariness. “I had thought to ask how fit your men are to serve, ser; perhaps to fight. There has been some question of the whereabouts of the Dornish, as you know.”

“Sire, I have been lucky during this campaign,” Ser Burton answers immediately, folding his hands before him. “I have lost only a few of them and those that remain are completely fit for action. I will be ready to carry out any order you will issue, my liege” As Ser Burton says that, he grunts and grimaces-the pain still seems to be pestering him-but his gaze is as steely as ever.

A long look, especially at the sound of pain from the knight, and then Daeron offers the older man a smile. “I knew you’d say as much, my lord of Crakehall,” the kings tell him. “That your men have withstood the battles remarkably well is well-known to me. Well-chosen swords. Your cousin, Ser Elmer, has also been a stalwart with the Lannister men he leads on Ser Jonn’s behalf.” With a subtle motion, his horse paces a little sideways, to draw the king nearer.

“There are questions,” Daeron murmurs, “as to where the Dornish army is. The outriders go out, and occasionally make contact with Dornishmen, but the army itself is out of sight. It does not matter where the outriders ride, you see. North or east or south, there are Dornishmen, but no army.”

“Dornishmen are cunning, Sire-and brave,that I must admit . Half-lions, half-snakes… ,” Ser Burton shrugs , his only eye glinting shrewdly “But they are no magicians. An army cannot disappear into thin air. Sooner or later , your gallopers will find it.” Then Burton winces and wrinkles his lips into a cruel smile “It would have been reasonable to take some of the Dornishmen you outriders…make contact with prisoner and question them about the whereabouts of the army. I am sure ,that they could help us to answer this delicate question…Especially if they will be threatened with certain trusted methods…. “

There’s a rustle of sound, a clink of armor, as Prince Aemon the Dragonknight—one of the White Swords at the king’s flank—shifts in the saddle as Elmer speaks. The king ignores the sound and instead says, “We had more luck before we set out on the march, taking prisoners. That the Dornish were to our southeast was clear enough, two days ago. Now ... the Dornish outriders run after sending some arrows from those double-curved bows of theirs. Mounted archers.” The king says the last with disdain, shaking his head, silver-gold hair swaying at his shoulders. “Had we prisoners, I assure you ser, we’d question them to learn the truth of matters.” He gives Ser Burton a look, then, as if inviting him to say more.

Ser Burton ignores the clink as well- he is looking only at the King . For a moment he considers something, and then speaks up “My King, we should only wait a little…. Those mounted archers cannot escape for ever. We have bowmen too-and fine ones . Most of them are able to shoot a horse hurting the rider….Or without hurting him bad enough to make speechless….But in fact such quest -to get a prisoner for Your Grace -is a truly worthy one…If my liege commands- I-or my brother Elmer-ould start working on it. I can make a vow we will succeed ...”

Tomas steers his chestnut mare carefully through the milling throng of men, bustling like an anthill with practised ease. His armour clanks softly with each movement the beast makes, the gentle grinding of steel on steel making the bastard knight feel more at ease. Men clear a path for him as best they can, seeing the urgency on his face as he rides to respond King Daeron’s message. However, in the chaos it is some time before Ser Tomas has his grace in sight. He wastes no time at that point though, pushing his mount just a little more and forcing the footsoldiers to step aside just that little bit quicker. He does not call out to the riders as he approaches, but shifts his path slightly wider than one might have expected so as to be clearly visible before making his approach. it is, after all, very rude to sneak up on the king.

Tomas steers his chestnut mare carefully through the milling throng of men, bustling like an anthill with practised ease. His armour clanks softly with each movement the beast makes, the gentle grinding of steel on steel making the bastard knight feel more at ease. Men clear a path for him as best they can, seeing the urgency on his face as he rides to respond King Daeron’s message. However, in the chaos it is some time before Ser Tomas has his grace in sight. He wastes no time at that point though, pushing his mount just a little more and forcing the footsoldiers to step aside just that little bit quicker. He does not call out to the riders as he approaches, but shifts his path slightly wider than one might have expected so as to be clearly visible before making his approach. it is, after all, very rude to sneak up on the king.

Hearing the Bastard of Riverrun riding up, some of the companions, guards, and captains about the king make note of it, and pass the word forward. The king lifts a hand, pausing his own speech after Ser Burton makes his vow should the king command him. One of the Kingsguard—Ser Osbert—makes room for the knight to pass through, nearer to the king. “Ser Tomas,” says King Daeron. “Well met, ser. You’ve met Ser Burton?”

Tomas offers a nod to Ser Osbert as the man makes a path through which he might pass, before slowing his mount down to keep pace with the king’s. “Well met, Your Grace.” A glance would be offered to Ser Burton then and a respectful bow. “No your grace. I don’t believe we have met.” His deep blue eyes would flick between the two men, though lingering longer on King Daeron, wondering what it may be that the king requires of him.

“Good day, Ser Tomas. We have never met, I think,” Ser Burton offers the Rivers knight his hand, and continues, giving the other man a sympathetic eye. “We have been discussing the strange level or elusiveness and lack of activity the Dornish army has been showing lately…Maybe you have any ideas about its current whereabouts?”

Tomas clasps Ser Burton’s hand at the wrist in a warrior’s handshake, never having been one to observe propriety. The contact would last the briefest of instants though, as the bastard knight allowed that same hand to sweep over the horizon in one wide gesture. “I am sorry to say that they might be anywhere. I have come to believe that they allow us to see their riders purposely.” He would sigh then, gripping his reins with both hands. “They know this land and we do not. They seek to stir unease in the heart of our force, to have us looking constantly from left to right, always expecting an assault.” He’d glance to Ser Burton then, before placing his gaze on King Daeron. “If I were leading them, that is what I would do. Split my army up into small groups that can more easily slip into foothills and dunes unnoticed. They have likely picked the spot for their inevitable assault and their riders report to each cell on our position. When they judge we are close enough, I would assemble my force and strike from hiding on a fearful foe.” He’d glance quickly back down the line then, shaking his head once again. “After days of fear, finally coming under assault from nowhere would shake any army; never mind these green boys that outnumber the more seasoned knights a hundred to one.” He sighs a little then, lowering his head as though expecting disapproval.

The Crakehall knight adjusts his typical black eyesling and chuckles merrily “Ser, you have spoken so well and sounded so convincing, that I started to think you were really a Dusky in disguise” . In a second Burton stops laughing-as abruptly as he started-and looks sharply at Ser Tomas “In my humble opinion, the main thing is not what they are doing to us,but what should we do to them-in response. This army should be found pretty soon….This uncertainty is dangerous…Sire,there are murmurs among men…”

“I know it well, ser,” says King Daeron in response to Burton, mouth a hard line after. His violet eyes turn back to Ser Tomas, considering the bastard knight, considering his belief of what the Dornish are doing. Then he says, as his gaze sweeps out to the desert spreading away into the distance, the heat curling the air at the horizon to make the sands shimmer, “They run a great risk if they have truly split up all their army. There are men afoot, after all.”

A longer pause, a hand moving to brush sweat-darkened hair from his brow as the army slowly crawls along, the king and his companions at its head. Daeron then says, “No. Not all of them. But much of their horse, then, to keep us confused and unsure, as you say.” He turns his gaze to Burton, then to Tomas, and back. “I had a thought about how to discover them. It would not be safe, sers. Our outriders skirmish with them, but avoid being lured too far away. But if a small troop of knights were to ride further from the march, far enough that the Dornish would think themselves safe to attack in strength…”

Tomas makes to respond to Ser Burton, but pauses as the king speaks and listens intently, nodding with every word. However, as the king makes his suggestion the bastard knight falls silent and gazes out onto the horizon with a soft nod as a small smile begins to creep it’s way across his lips. “I will go, your grace. In any capacity which you see fit.” He’d pat his horse on the neck then, as though thinking deeply, features appearing somewhat sad, though he says nothing more on the matter.

“Your Grace,” Ser Burton straightens the folds of this cloak and cranes his neck in a ceremonious bow “It will be a great honor for to take part in such an expedition. I crave no other reward .... A chance to serve Your Grace in the best capation…” The heir to Crakehall gives the other two men a glance,clears his throat and continues, with tension “Sire, my blade and my stallion are yours…I would gladly join this small troop.”

“Good,” the Young Dragon says, and it seems Daeron expected no less. “Your men have been some of the hardiest in the campaign, sers, and I had hopes you’d volunteer them to this task.” His gaze turns distant a moment, as if calculating something. Then he says, “We shall send you out early in the morning, tomorrow. Let the outriders come back with news today. If not, I shall consult with Ser Almer and Ser Dagur, to see what direction they think the main body of the enemy is likeliest to lie. Then, riding in that direction, if the Dornish attack you in strength… perhaps it will be a sign that you’ve come close.”

Tomas continues to pet the back of his horses neck, still wearing that vacant smile beneath the nose guard of his helm. A gauntletted hand comes up then to wipe away a thin bead of sweat that trickled down his cheek. “How many of our men would you have us commit to this venture, your grace?” A small frown of contemplation crosses the bastard’s lips at that, already considering who he would call on to make the journey. No doubt that many would volunteer, but it would not be a choice that the knight would make as lightly as he committed his own life. “Whatever happens, we will get the word back to you, your grace.” He would offer a brief nod to Ser Burton then, before turning his eyes back to the king.

“My liege, will Ser Elmer,my cousin be able to take part in this worthy march?,” Ser Burton asks eagerly, one of his fists clenched, and the other gripping the hilt of his fancy dagger,as if it was a sword fit for battle “He will rue greatly, if he misses such a chance to acquire glory…And who will lead us? Surely it must be both an experienced commander and an able fighter,that is used to dangerous situations…At the same time” Ser Burtons gaze turns to the Dragon Knight and stops there for a moment. Then Ser Burton is once again eying the King.

The king considers the questions put before him. “Not too many, nor too few. Enough that they have a hope of cutting their way out…” A pause, and then, “Fifty men-at-arms.” And then, considering further, “Sixty, sers. You may each contribute twenty from the men you have at hand. Your best and your boldest, on the swiftest horses.” The king rides on, moving along, the long snaking column disappearing behind dunes behind him and those who ride with him. “Or thirty each, if Ser Elmer prefers not to join you. No more, however.”

Tomas nods some, patting the neck of his mount one final time. “I shall see it done, your grace. My men are yours to command, as always.” His gaze would flow backward for just a moment as the column disappears over dunes, before turning it back to Ser Burton with a smile. “It will be my honour to ride with you, ser.” Before turning his gaze back to the king and rolling his right shoulder, feeling the scar tissue stretch slightly. The maesters had told him to work the muscles as much as possible, to keep his sword arm supple. “Who would you have lead us, your grace?”

“It should be not only an avid warrior and a good captain,but also a person of good birth . Even the strongest ox cannot lead a pack of wolves,” mutters Burton,scratching his wounded thigh and once again looking at Aemon “It should no other than the first knight of the realm….Still,it is for His Grace to decide…”

The king considers. Then he decides. “Ser Burton, you will lead,” Daeron says. “I trust you will do your utmost to meet the enemy, ser. But make sure to come back with as many men as the Warrior favors. We have need of every sword, before these stiff Dornish knees finally bend.”

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