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Sites of Interest
The Spooky Woods
IC Date: 12-9-162
RL Date: May 29, 2011.
Participants: Alek Reyne, Dagur Saltcliffe, Anton Piper, Luthor Rivers, Willard Ryger, Galan Lannister, Doryssa Massey, Elmer Crakehall, Melissa Lannister, Branna Stark, Reyna Saltcliffe, Delanei Crane
Locations: Woodlands along the Mander [IC Room: Highgarden: The Great Courtyard]

Summary: A twilight hunt turns horribly wrong as kidnapping ensues.

If there are fairer lands than these in Westeros, whoever says so is a liar. Dusk’s veil drifts down gently upon the broad fields and the placid river; the westering sun’s last light tinges everything it touches with sweet melancholy. The breeze is cool and refreshing, heady with the scent of green and growing things. Somewhere, a holdfast’s bell tolls sedately, calling in the folk of the fields.

And here, amidst the skirts of the woods that start a league or so from the Mander, there is laughter and the weariness of a day well spent. Knights and lordlings and ladies ride through the trees, talking and japing, their rich garb ablaze with the light of the torches the Reyne retainers carry. For it is Lord Reyne himself who leads the small party; a hunting expedition organised to take advantage of the day’s rest that the Queen has called for a day’s rest with the barges moored at the fork of the rivers Mander and Blue Byrn. The game slung on horses behind the main attests to the day’s success.

Pennei Massey, astride a long-legged dark brown mare, keeps pace with her husband’s courser and as far away from the dogs as possible. The shy, scarred lady is wrapped in a warm fur-lined cloak with the hood drawn up. Her gaze shifts to the tall, dark trees that surround them, perhaps a bit nervously.
Branna is no great huntress, for all that she came from the North. Nonetheless, she and her retainers do take advantage of this opportunity to leave the barge for a while. Despite her lack of hunting skill, the Stark lady sits a horse well enough as the group proceeds along. A smile brightens her face, and she shares the occasional jest with her maids when she’s not busy drinking in the beauty of the surrounding lands with wide, bright eyes.
Doryssa rides along with the party, getting away from all the people and their interesting scents is a pleasure indeed. She has ranged wide around the edges of the group, sometimes on one side then pushing her horse to ride around to the far side during their trip. Now she is still on the fringes, looking for her good-nephew Luthor and her niece Pennei.
To the right of the people riding back from the hunt Ser Willard Ryger found himself a nice little undisturbed spot. Never fond of hunting the young tall knight nevertheless enjoyed immensly the chance to get off the barges where the slow, idle atmosphere of the place was slowly making him sick. Noticing a familiar stocky figure of Ser Anton also hanging back away from the main group Willard waves to the Riverlander and waits to be noticed.
There is a man sat quietly beside Lord Bertrand Reyne, more content to enjoy the scenery than hunt. That man is Ser Alek Reyne, the man sat near to his lord brother, occasionally talking with him and the others sat about.
The Lady Crane rides along with the group, not feeling like hunting today, but enjoying the ride atop her black mare. Her husband and daughter do not accompany her today as she watches the group. The young woman hasn’t traveled much in her few years, so she is eager to take in all she can.

Reyna Saltcliffe does indeed have her bird with her as the hunters return to camp, a brown merlin with blue wing feathers and a fierce glare above his hooked beak. She turns to one of the falconers, a man sporting the Tyrell badge, and lowers her arm so that the bird can be hooded and the jesses loosened from her gauntlet. “See him well fed,” she says. “He has flown well today.” So he has; there are three fat hares tied to Reyna’s saddle when she dismounts and her skirts no longer cover them.

Elmer tips his head towards his Reyne uncle, then he lets his horse drop back, until he’s at the side if the Lady Delanei. “Good day to you, milady.” he says, his dark eyes sparkling warmly. “We haven’t met..and yet we are cousins. Elmer Crakehall, at your service.”
Luthor gives his wife a reassuring look and moves his horse closer to her own. Spotting Doryssa at the fringe of the party he raises his hand in greeting as he enters her line of sight, and calls. “Good-aunt, will you join us?” he says with a welcoming smile.

Waving a hand to Willard, Anton nods his head to acknowledge the fellow Riverlander. However, he does not ride for him. Instead, Anton appears to have noticed someone else nearby and he spurs his horse forward to join Melissa Lannister. Once their horses are abreast, Anton quietly speaks. “My lady, it is a pleasure to see you again.”
Alek grins to his Crakehall nephew, raising his wineskin in Elmer’s direction before taking a gulp of it himself, returning to listening to the conversations around him.

“A song! A song!” one of Lord Bertrand’s companions calls from the van of the little company. The lord himself smiles and shakes his head as others take up the call. Finally, he twists in the saddle to look around until his gaze falls on the Lord-Protector’s sister.

“Will you give us one, my lady?” he calls genially to her. “I hear you have a sweet voice for it.”

Up ahead, the dogs are snuffling and nosing around, occasionally barking, but for the most part content to lope beside their handlers, tired after being hard-used all day. The wind ruffles their hair, blowing from the river into the woods.

One of the Reyne guardsmen on the fringes of the group spurs his horse closer to Doryssa as she comes near, raising his torch higher and saying courteously: “My lady, perhaps you should ride further in. Easy to take a fall here.” And indeed, there are twisted roots and stones aplenty to send a horse stumbling. The guard glances over his shoulder into the darkening woods and frowns a little.

Pennei manages a little smile for Luthor, trying to look reassurred. She pats the neck of her tall mare with one gloved hand. “Aye, Aunt Doryssa. Please, come ride by us.”
Melissa looks to the side and spies Anton and gives him a bright smirk, “Ahh, it is always my own pleasure. How are you today, dear husband?” She tilts her head to the side and smiles brightly, “I heard you had taken a bit of a tumble after our affair last night. I do hope you are well after such a momentous evening and a long ride today.” She looks ahead to the dogs barking a moment, and then says, “I do hope you’ll not try to escape so quickly though. There’s no rivers to dive into here.”
Doryssa smiles to the guardsman as he speak to her. “Oh, yes.” She leans in the saddle to peer at the underbrush. “Thank you. It is getting difficult to see.” With that in mind she has her mount walk towards the others, letting it pick its way safely forward.
Willard sees that he’s been noticed by Ser Anton, but ignored in favour of lady Melissa. He shrugs, takes a wineskin from his horses side and drinks. He then notices the Stark girl riding nearby and gives his horse the spurs to come closer, calling “Lady Branna. And other ladies as well” he smiles to the rest of her company “May I join you?”

A warm smile from Delanei meets her cousin, as she strolls slowly along with the group. “You have a keen eye, m’lord. It is a pleasure.” She looks back forward, “It is nice to get off those barges for a little hunting trip, hmm?” Green eyes look back at him, warmth radiating through them.

Reyna flushes, but she makes Lord Bertrand a curtsy. “What will it be, my lord? A hunting song?” She looks around at the company, her cheeks still pink, but without the weary pallor that has plagued her since their departure.

Reyna thinks for a moment, then laughs merrily when she is seized by a pair of knights and lifted to stand on a barrel so she is head and shoulders above the crowd. She clears her throat, spends another moment in thought, then calls a tune to one of the idle mummers who has a lute in his lap. He strums a chord, then Reyna sings, in a tune both merry and foreboding:

“The dusky night rides down the sky,
And ushers in the morn;
The hounds all join in glorious cry,
The huntsman winds his horn,
And a-hunting we will go.

The wife around her husband throws
Her arms, and begs his stay;
‘My dear, it rains, and hails, and snows,
You will not hunt to-day?
But a-hunting we will go.”

Elmer nods. “Aye, my lady…I’m much more comfortable riding than sailing. No such thing as a sailing boar, is there?” he laughs softly. “But call me Elmer please, i am no Lord..” He grins as he hears the song, and offers the wineskin to Delanei. “Will you have some wine? it’s the finest Arbord gold, filched from Lord Tyrell’s cellars.” The big, wide shouldered knight grins impishly.
Alek smirks lightly, walking up beside his brother. “Good choice, my lord.” He comments. “I have oft heard Lady Reyna sing quietly, a beautiful voice she has.” He then looks behind and around, noticing a few familiar faces, raising a hand to Luthor, Pennei and Doryssa as he spots them.
Allos rides comfortably, his well-groomed mare picking her way through the roots, with his household following closely and carefully. As the lady’s song comes to a close, he claps politely with his gloved hands. At least one of the House Swann knights seems unsettled by the tune and glances nervously into the dark, verdant growth of the woods.
Once Branna can tear her gaze away from the fair lands, she casts her gaze idly over the others in the hunting party. She is quick to offer Willard a little smile. “If you like,” she replies. “But you may find our conversation less than interesting, I fear. How did you fare in the hunt?” Before he really has time to answer, Reyna’s song snags the girl’s attention, making her smile deepen. “My, Highgarden’s ladies really are accomplished, aren’t they?” she comments to the Ryger knight.

Anton actually blushes at Melissa’s words, something rare indeed for the Piper knight. He then laughs kind of nervously, looking around anxiously to see if anyone else heard her words. “A fine jest my lady. By your grace and leave, I will of course accompany you.” Then a frown appears on his brows and he quickly corrects himself. “As a proper knight should of course, and I am a proper knight. Not as a husband should. But by that I mean, a husband should accompany you, but I am not he.” Confusion soon reigns in his eyes and face, but he is fortunately saved by Reyna’s singing. Taking a deep breath, Anton is very happy to change the topic. “Lady Reyna has a fine voice, my lady.”
Luthor heaves a small sigh as he looks back from his wife and his aunt, and toys idly with his bow before the song begins. That draws his notice, and by the second verse he has begun to hum the tune.
Delanei claps politely to the lady’s song, and continues riding, before looking back to her cousin. “Elmer it is, then it’s only fair that you call me Delanei.” She looks at the offered wine with a raised brow, before shrugging, reaching out for the wine skin. She sniffs it, and then puts it to her lips, taking a healthy drink before handing it back. “Thank you, Elmer.”
You paged Luthor with ‘I thnk I’ve decided finally on the song that plays whenever Alek and Luthor duke it out.’

Someone claps along with the rhythm of the song, and others join in. A dog lifts its voice in a mournful howl and a wit cries out, “I don’t think his lady begged him hard enough!” There is laughter at that, and others crying him down in jest; shame on him for adding his coarse yelping to a lady’s delicate voice.

And there is a thrum, barely heard—in fact, unheard to most. Save anyone who has ridden in the wars and been ambushed amidst the burning sands. The dog’s howling cuts off on a choked whimper. His handler cries out in shock.

There are more thrums—and they begin to drop. The hounds, and the Reyne guards; the one who has warned Doryssa, his smile frozen, an arrow through his neck as he stiffens, then slides sideways from his saddle, torch flaring, making shadows leap wildly.

There is a moment of stunned silence. And then, madness. Men bellow, clawing at their swords if they’re wearing them. Others saw their reins wildly, looking one way and another.

“To arms! To arms!”

Willard turns to the source of the song then inclines his head towards Branna and smirks “I wouldn’t know, my lady. Never been much of a guest here in the Reach. I’m a Riverlander myself. And I am quite sure everyone has some kind of accomplishments and skills. Itjust needs to be discovered” he glances over at Branna and winks “Who knows, maybe even in the cold hard North…” Willard’s voice trails off and stops completely as people start dying all around.
Melissa looks to listen to Reyna, but she has to smile. “She does, indeed.” After listening a moment more she says, “You do know I understand? The situation was a touch unfortunate, but in spite of that, I might have thought you were…” But she stops when the cries go up, and she looks around and gasps! “Bandits! Here?” She looks to Anton since he’s nearby and tries to find a way to interpose herself between him and the incoming.

Reyna is about to continue, for the well-known hunting song has three more verses, but the silence falls and she looks, with the others, in shock at the call to arms. She looks around once, for she is there on a barrel; then a man in black leather streaks through the crowd, deadly as lightning and more silent, to bear her down from her perch while another man, equally black but smaller and more wiry, draws his sword with a deadly hiss and stands ready to guard her.

Elmer has been to war and the wild thrum of arrows is known to him, and in an instant the big knight draws his sword, moving so that his body protects her. “Stay behind me!” he orders, courtesy gone from his voice, just going into battle mode. “What fools are these to attack the flower of the realm’s knighthood?” He doesn’t come unprepared and he lifts the hlafhelm he had on his saddlehorn, handing it quickly to Delanei. “Put this on>” it might not be much but…He turns towards the woods, looking for targets to charge.
And, at that noise, Alek’s grin drains from his face. That noise all too familiar to the veteran knight’s ears. “To arms!” He joins the call, reaching behind him and grabbing his axe, the weapon being a constant companion to the Reyne knight since Highgarden, the blade kept honed and cleaned. He trots forward, axe at the ready, as he slips on a half-helm. It pays someone to be prepared. “Gods almighty…” He scowls, looking about with a keen eye for any movement…
The humming stops with the first whistle of an arrow. Having served as an outrider in Dorne, it’s a familiar sound. His sword leaves its scabbard in a flash of steel in the torchlight “Pennei, Doryssa behind me now!” he calls to the two Massey women at his side as his eyes scan the darkness for sign of their attackers.
Doryssa blinks as the man she was near suddenly sprouts a feathered shaft from his throat. “‘ware!” She shouts, kicking her horse into action despite the obstructions. She can’t see who might be shooting at them, but they can likely see her. Where she sits now is sure to get her a new addition to her wardrobe as well.

Pennei lets out a small cry of alarm, blue eyes widening. She crouches down along the horse’s neck as far as she can, obediently moving her horse behind Luthor. Though pale with fear, the scarred girl doesn’t panic. But when Doryssa kicks her own horse into action, she calls out, “Dory! Keep down!”
Allos reins his mare hard about to his mounted guardsmen, “A spear!” He barks harshly and snatches an offered weapon from a knight. “You and you, protect the lady!” The two men nod and pull in around Lady Swann, “The rest of you with me!” The few remaining Swann guards ride about their lord as he moves to the outer edge of the path, “Hold a line.” The men-at-arms spread out along the edge of the forest, readying their horses and arms for combat.

“Protect the ladies!” Anton’s voice bellows out amidst the carnage that’s suddenly taking place. He immediately moves his horse over lady Melissa’s, drawing his longsword in one smooth motion and grabbing his shield from the back of his saddle. “Guardsmen, take cover! Knights, a perimeter!” His voice continues to boom, as he scans the dark forest for signs of the enemy.
Delanei looks frantically around when the panic sets in. She arranges her horse behind Elmer, and blinks when he hands her his helm. “But…” Her horse starts to hesitate a bit, she puts the helm on, and quickly grabs the reins. Her eyes dart around frantically, unsure of what exactly is going on. “What…what’s going on Elmer?”
The Ryger knight shakes his head and quickly composes himself, he turns to Branna “My lady, stay behind me” he quickly unsheathes his sword and scans the area with his pale blue eyes which suddenly became cold and calculating. “Look for a gathering of our men - the Reachers, the Reynes, Lannisters, whoever - a camp, and make for that. I will guard you” he curses under his nose for not being prepared, his helmet left on the barges and his squire at the camp.
Glancing around he curses “Ladies, now. We ride-now-!” and his gaze again turns to scan the surrounding woods.
Branna seems to cant her head slightly at the faint thrum, but dark eyes betray a certain confusion that swiftly vanishes into shock as men and hounds start dropping dead. The Stark girl grasps her horse’s reins tightly, trying to keep it from bolting even as she crouches down on horseback to minimize the risk of being hit. “Well, that seems to be your cue,” she murmurs to Willard, breathless despite her best efforts, as the shouts of “To arms!” sound all around. Of the retainers who followed her to this hunt, a few are Stark guards; they draw their weapons, wary-eyed as they scan the surroundings for the ambushers.
Elmer watches what’s going on and he takes in a quick breath, not seeing any suitable targets yet and not wanting to ride into the brush. He raises his shield to intercept an arrow, the thunk! of it biting into the soft pine wood painted with the Crakehall boar. As there doesn’t seem to be a dash he whispers quickly. “A bandit attack…fools!” He makes his big grey gelding dance and he whispers. “Dismount and stay behind your horse..join the Lady reyna if you can!” he says, still trying to shield her.
Melissa moves her horse then and says nothing more. Only tries to watch past Anton, and then looking to the other ladies she moves guides her mount to them as fast as she can. As she rides over, she says with a nervous laugh, “Ladies, always a pleasure.” Then looking back to the men she prepares to break with the other at the first sign of safety.

Another volley of arrows; whoever these ambushers are, they know their work, for they are careful to take down only the guardsmen and hounds; there are few enough of either, for this is not a large hunting company. At the head of the company—vulnerable as it is, stretched out on the winding path, hemmed in on either side by the woods—men are swearing, spurring to ride back to the women while Lord Reyne’s kin cluster around him, protecting him with steel bared.

And then, strange horses whinny; there is a crashing in the woods—and riders break through the trees, charging from the darkness like all the devils of the Seven Hells. The firelight plays on their cruel swords and axes, on bearded faces contorted by battle-fever, on half-helms and chain shirts. For these ambushers and armed and armoured better than any bandits have a right to be, most in hardened leather or chain shirts, unlike their naked opponents.

Who are they? The answer rides at their front, cruel longaxe raised high, an aurochs of a man beside him, sword already bloody, fair hair ablaze with torchlight.

Longaxe and Edwyd Bulwer have come for their blood-vengeance.
Recognizing the faces of his cousin and Edwyd almost immediately, Anton spurs his horse forward straight for these two individuals. Looking behind him briefly to see that Melissa’s riding for safety, Anton nods his head very quickly. Then he is shouting loudly. “Cousin! This is not the way! Cease your actions immediately!” He spurs his horse hard, in an attempt to intercept both Longaxe and Edwyd.
From the throng of milling people a figure heads at a quick trot towards Ser Luthor and the two womenfolk he’s guarding. “My lord!” The rider calls out, turning out to be Ser Leon, sat astride a grey mare. “Please, leave the protection of your lady wife and kin to me. You’ll be needed to help gut the cowards that done this.”

Alek, spotting who it was at the head, swears loudly, explosivly and unashamedly. “Craven bastards!!” He roars out. “No matter what we did to offend you, this is no way to pay revenge!! This is a cowards trick and you damn well bloody know it!!”
Delanei looks around for the woman he speaks of, and only being on the boat two days, she has not had the chance to meet everyone, and has no idea who Lady Reyna might be. “I… don’t know… who Lady Reyna is…” Delanei’s eyes look about frantically, her breath growing hurried as she begins to panic, her own horse starting to as well. When she hears the men crashing through the wood, her head drops and she lays it against her horses neck. Out of sight, out of mind, hopefully.

This is no wild attack but a well-planned thrust through the column, angling to where the Reynes ride. For these are trained men, all, and led by two hardened veterans of Dorne. Horses crash into each other; the woods are wild with their shrill neighs.

And Longaxe rises high in his stirrups, raising his longaxe: “You ride with these craven lions and call me cousin?”

“Traitor!”

And he brings his longaxe crashing down on Anton.

Ser Kendros Goodbrook, Longaxe attacks Anton with his sword…
...and strikes him with a shattering blow!
Luthor recognizes the men as well and yet does not charge into the fray but cleaves close to his wife. Eyes still darting about the woods, when Leon arrives he nods sharply. “Fetch Doryssa,” he orders pointing out the woman with his sword.
Branna rides for the other ladies, as best she can. Once she’s closer, she twitches a faint smile at Melissa. “What interesting times we live in,” she murmurs, her voice shakier than she’d like, if the brief, annoyed pursing of her lips is any indication. Her hands still keep a careful hold of her horse’s reins, and her grey eyes narrow as they travel over the arrows’ targets. Ser Anton’s shout snags her attention, and she looks a little hopeful. Hope wavers, however, grey eyes clenching shut for an instant as Alek swears, then fades altogether as her eyes open to the scene of Longaxe taking a swing at the Piper man.
Elmer takes a hold of Delanei’s reins and rides quickly to where the women are grouped at the shelter of horses. Two or three more arrows lodge themsleves in his shield and he turns around, a grin on his face, he’s a warrior and born for this. “Come cowards..who’ll taste my steel? None so fierce!” he issues the Crakehall battle shout, his dark hair in disarray.
“Ser!” The hedge knight nods, moving his horse forward and towards Doryssa.

Meanwhile, Alek is wroth. “Men! At arms!” He yells to the Reyne guardsmen. “Show them how craven these lions truly are!” With that, Alek charges, his target set for Ser Edwyd Bulwer, his axe swinging out for the man’s side.
Doryssa reaches Pennei, Luthor, and Leon finally. “Should we see if we can get to the others?” She asks. “I… I think they’ve stopped shooting. I don’t think this is a general attack.”
Some ladies may be cool under fire, but Reyna Saltcliffe is not one of them. When the Smiler has helped her to her feet, she is pale and staring, the tendons of her neck taut with fear. She has missed the worst of it, but now, when she sees Anton struck so near, the careful daughter of Highgarden joins most of the other women who are screaming and ready to bolt like skittish mares. The night is alive with screaming and weeping, for the women of the court are not accustomed to attack and real battle where men die, as men are doing.

“Men! With me!” House Swann bears down upon the attacking knights. Lord Allos riding high and light in his saddle attempts to thrust heavily at the armoured Ser Gavyn of the White Shield.
Allos attacks Ser Gavyn of the White Shield with his spear…
...with no result as the two warriors battle!
Galan the Green Lion charges with Ser Alek and puts his back to the Reyne Knight. Not one to pass on a quip, Galan mutters, “Well, this beats hearing Golden Rose again.” A thin smile is on his lips as the adrenaline fills him, but he’s not looking forward to the bloodshed more then any other man, still his blade is drawn and ready and watching Ser Alek’s back.
Alek attacks Edwyd with his mass weapon…
...and strikes him with a shattering blow!
Anton’s eyes go wild as his cousin, the Longaxe strikes at him almost immediately. The speed of his arrival makes Anton miscalculates a bit and he is barely able to bring his shield around in time to deflect the blow, but the sheer force of Longaxe’s axe blow makes Anton’s shield arm waver. Taking a deep breath, Anton responds simply “so be it! One of us will be a kinslayer this eve!” Then he launches a massive overhand swing of his longsword at the Longaxe.
Melissa nods and gasps at the fact the men have engaged in front of them, the savage behavior growing more dangerous. She near screams as Anton is hit as she made her escape, and looks around spying for a way to run. Her ability to ride a horse may not take her far, but she’s ready to go. “This way! Come, we ride back as fast as we can!” She wants to remain calm, but she too is ready to panic. But first she wants to survive.
The cries mingle into a cacophony, but Willard notices how a man wielding a longaxe rides to meet Ser Anton. Seeing that Lady Branna safely arrived with her retainers and men-at-arms at a larger group he turns to see his fellow Riverlander and companion from Dorne being struck a powerful blow. Willard growls and kicks his horse to a gallop reaching the two knights in a matter of seconds - he notices Anton lashing at his opponent and getting him unbalanced. The opportunity is ripe and Ser Willard aims a strong blow to his enemy’s head.
“Don’t panic,” A pale and frightened Pennei tells her aunt. “That’s the worst thing to do.” The scarred girl speaks from a position of experience, having witnessed and survived a bloody battle not so many months before. “Keep down. A mad dash in the woods at night is folly.” She looks to her husband, fear in her blue eyes, but she keeps her head.
Willard attacks Ser Kendros Goodbrook, Longaxe with his sword…
...and strikes him with a powerful blow!
Gavyn, grim and stoic in his riding leathers, breastplate and Meadows badge, dodges Allos Swann’s thrust and thunders past him. But the blow does not go unnoticed; he promptly turns about and swings at the Lord’s head.

Delanei looks shocked as her horse is pulled towards the woman. She herself seems to be in shock, not able to scream or cry. The blood has drained from her face, and she clings to her horse, her arms wrapping around the mare’s neck. When she hears the instructions being called out by Melissa, she breathes deep, and struggles to calm herself. Her shaking hands take the reins and she moves to the Melissa, moving closer to her, waiting to follow.
Finally! Opponents! Elmer Crakehall lets out a roar and charges forward, his eys looking as Longaxe has attacked anton, butas the knights pick up fight he does find one and he swings his sword in a vicious blow towards tall, dangerous looking fellow.
Elmer attacks Tall Wat with his sword…
...and strikes him with a shattering blow!
Ser Gavyn of the White Shield attacks Allos with his sword…
...and strikes him with a hard blow!
Longaxe slams his armoured forearm against the flat of Anton’s blade, driving it aside almost contemptuously. But even as one of his men calls a warning, he reels in his saddle, struck on his other side by Willard.

When he straightens, he is laughing with fury: “Is this how your brave Reynes killed my cousin, Anton? Attacked from behind?”

And without waiting for an answer, he hammers at the Piper knight again.

The man known as Tall Wat charges forward, his eyes set on a contingent of Reynes nearby… Until Ser Elmer Crakehall strikes him square on the chest. The Meadows man-at-arms nearly overbalances in his saddle, but keeps his seat. He snarls, looking to Elmer. “Ya’ll pay for that, pig-man!” He yells, swinging his sword out at Elmer.
Tall Wat attacks Elmer with his sword…
...with no result as the two warriors battle!
Helm ringing, Allos presses forward slightly unsteadily, twisting his spear-point in a thrust towards Ser Gavyn’s shoulder. His nimble grey mare trots in quickly, well trained and responsive for such quick blows. Allos screams harshly again to his men as he fights, “Hold the line!”
Allos attacks Ser Gavyn of the White Shield with his spear…
...and strikes him with a shattering blow!
Doryssa tries to concentrate on keeping her horse from panicking. Of course it is not used to the sounds and scents of battle, so it tosses its head and stamps, wanting to run. She leans close on its back, trying to soothe the beast… but perhaps part of her tearful muttering is to convince herself that she will make it through this as well.
Ser Kendros Goodbrook, Longaxe attacks Anton with his sword…
...with no result as the two warriors battle!
Seeing that so far the knights of the party have things well in hand Luthor jerks his head at Pennei then towards the other ladies. “This way,” he calls out. “You too Doryssa, Leon, guard our rear.” He leads the way towards the other ladies. “Ladies, to me, this way, out of the way of the fighting!”
Elmer dodges the blow from Tall Wat, making the man’s sword whistle in the air without result and without a word he presses forward, his heavy sword aimed at the man’s shoulder, his eyes filled with battle fury.
Elmer attacks Tall Wat with his sword…
...and strikes him with a hard blow!

Tall Wat is rocked back in the saddle by Elmer’s blow, but manages to keep his seat!
Branna, ghastly pale now, averts her gaze from the ensuing fight, freeing one hand’s white-knuckled death-grip on the reins to wipe hard at her eyes. “Stay,” she demands of her retainers in a stutter. The young lady gives a tense little nod to Melissa and urges her horse over to the Lannister lady before she buries her face against the horse’s neck. Her next words are lost against her horse’s mane.

Strong as an aurochs, Ser Edwyd has already cut down one Reyne guardsman so far. But he is not swift enough to turn to face his new opponent; not swift enough to defend himself from Alek’s furious attack. Spitting a curse—and a glob of blood—he saws on his reins, trying to gain the advantage, then striking with all his weight behind it when he can—but at Galan, not Alek, for the other man is in the way.

“Hiding from me, little man?” he taunts. “One lion will do as well as another!”
This time, Anton is prepared for the axe blow and manages to maneuver his horse out of the way of Longaxe’s blow. In a huge voice, Anton yells “IT WAS AN ACCIDENT! You idiot! You and Edwyd will bring the full force of the King’s Law down upon my mother’s house!” With a scream of pure rage, Anton responds with another massive blow against Longaxe.
Edwyd attacks Galan with his sword…
...and sees his blow go astray!
Anton attacks Ser Kendros Goodbrook, Longaxe with his sword…
...and strikes him with a shattering blow!
Melissa looks around at the command and finds Luthor, through thefray. She gestures to Branna and says, “There,” then catches Delanei’s eye. While she may not know her, she nods to the way to go and says, “Ser Luthor will guide us, come!” She peers around and guides her horse to Luthor as fast as she can.
Willard yells a wordless cry of joy as his attack strikes true. Hearing the words of his opponent he just laughs “I have no idea what you are talking about, bloody bastard. But attacking an unprepared hunting party full of women is below contempt!” he spits in the direction of Ser Kendros then rides closer, feigns an overhead blow, then changes it into a sideways slash at the mans side.
Leon nods. “Yes, my lord.” He comments, drawing his blade and keeping to his assigned position, cutting at any enemy who gets close, but not riding out.

Meanwhile, Tall Wat gets a savage blow to his shoulder, swearing loudly as he moves to swing at the Crakehall’s side once more.

Alek roars. “Face me! Do not dare call me coward then attack another!” He wheels his horse around and swings his axe for Edwyd’s side.
Willard attacks Ser Kendros Goodbrook, Longaxe with his sword…
...and strikes him with a swift blow!

Ser Kendros Goodbrook, Longaxe is rocked back in the saddle by Willard’s blow, but manages to keep his seat!
Tall Wat attacks Elmer with his sword…
...and misses by a narrow margin!
Alek attacks Edwyd with his mass weapon…
...and strikes him with a shattering blow!

Edwyd is driven from the saddle!

Gavyn weathers the blow, but he weathers it ill, and he rocks hard in the saddle. Nothing daunted, however, he raises his longaxe again and swings it hard at Allos’s head.
Ser Gavyn of the White Shield attacks Allos with his sword…
...with no result as the two warriors battle!

In the wild chaos of the melee, Ser Gavyn of the White Shield and Allos are carried apart from one another.
Elmer may be a big target but he’s a skilled knight and nimble in the saddle, especially as he’s only wearing riding leathers, so as again he dodges the Meadows man-at-arms’ blow, he rides forwards, pushing his gelding towards Tall Wat and cutting low under the man’s shield.
Elmer attacks Tall Wat with his sword…
...and strikes him with a shattering blow!

Tall Wat is driven from the saddle!
Pennei nods gravely to her husband, keeping her tall mare well in hand. “Keep close,” she says to Doryssa, through trembling lips. “Watch Luthor’s horse and don’t look.” Meaning of course, don’t look at the men fighting and bleeding around them. She winces at the sound of steel clashing, but keeps her eyes on her husband.
Galan dodges Edwyd’s blow, smacking it aside with a powerful one handed blow of his bastard sword. He smiles to Alek when Ser Edwyd goes down. He puts his sword tot he man’s throat, not sure if he’s even still breathing, “Yield!” he says, kicking Edywd’s sword away.
And this attack, the tall Meadows man does not see. Wat gets knocked straight from his saddle by the blow, lying there.
Caught amongst the swirl of horses and screaming men, Lord Allos finds his opponent lost. He yells for his men to take Lady Swann away, and they ride to where a small group of ladies and their guardians are gathering. Turning back to the melee he catches sight of Ser Gavyn’s gleaming white shield once more and rides hard for him. He leans into his spear blow, that is unchivalrously thrust from the side of the knight towards the gap beneath Ser Gavyn’s helmet.
Allos attacks Ser Gavyn of the White Shield with his spear…
...and has his blow intercepted by Ser Gavyn of the White Shield’s shield.
Delanei looks over her shoulder at her cousin as he fights, and Ser Alek, whom she met the other day. She’s worried for these two men, but cannot bring herself to look away from the gore. Her hands tremble as she grips her horse, shivering uncontrolably. When Melissa calls to her, she nods, and looks to Luthor, who had words with her husband yesterday. She looks to him, panic in her eyes, hopeful that his dislike of her husband doesn’t care to her.
Luthor drives his horse through the press of foes until he’s reached Melissa and the dark haired girl that rides with her. Raising his voice above the clash of steel and the screams of wounded and dying men he calls. “This way! Stay between myself and Leon!” He waits for the ladys to pass and then shouts to Leon. “You take the lead, get us clear!” he says as he wheels his horse to take the rear of this little procession. As he wheels his eyes meet Delanei’s and he reaches for her reins. “This way my lady,” he says urging her horse ahead of him on the way to safety.
Branna shifts slightly in her crouch, a teary-eyed face lifting just enough from the horse’s neck to catch Melissa’s gesture, and then she urges her mount toward Luthor, following his lead. Her maids follow, their earlier screams fading to sniffling whimpers now. Their lady lifts her head slightly to offer reassurance, but her voice is too wobbly and too choked up to be all that comforting.

Here and there, the hunting company fights back. One of the ambushers’ two captains—Ser Edwyd—is down, and the other, Longaxe, is hard pressed. But there is no shift in momentum. For the ambushers outnumber their prey handily still, and many of them cluster thickly about the head of the column where the fighting is thickest.

Others come to their captains’ aid. And so a man-at-arms in a studded leather jerkin sends his horse crashing into Galan, buying time for Edwyd—winded and bloody but not sorely wounded—to find his feet again.

And nearby, Longaxe, beset on two sides now, reels in his saddle, nearly undone, but managing to somehow stay ahorse.

“Pull back! Pull back! Longaxe! We have what we came for!” one of his men bellows from the column’s head. Longaxe looks around—and then, with a snarl, sweeps his longaxe in a cruel arc, aiming only to force his opponents back so that he can win free. One of his men comes to aid him, then another.
It is only with great effort and cruel jabs of his sword that the silent Smiler is able to bull his way through the melee with his mistress, who clings to his arm, weeping all the while. But she moves when he says to move, and when Edmund rides up on her horse, she clambers up behind him without a word of protest and clings to him around the waist. The poor horse is much put-upon, for Smiler swings up behind her so that she is surrounded, and the sandsteed takes off at a trot with the other ladies.

Meanwhile, Gavyn takes Lord Swann’s blow on his shield. When the call goes out to fall back, he aims a last heaving blow of his longaxe at Allos, his head up and looking already for a path to freedom.

Ser Gavyn of the White Shield attacks Allos with his sword…
...and strikes him with a shattering blow!

Allos is driven from the saddle!
Delanei ‘s horse is not used to the screams, and sound of iron on iron, and rears up a bit as the reins are taken, but not high enough to throw her. The horse lands and relents, moving where he instructs it, being pulled forward.
Elmer laughs merrily as his sword cuts through flesh and his opponet falls fdown, and this is no tournament, so he’ll help any knight in trouble.He rides shoulder to shoulder with his uncle and grins. He cheers towards Luthor, saluting him with his bloody sword. “Keep the ladies safe, Rivers!” he does charge forward to protect the fallen Lord Swan and swings his sword hard at Ser Gavyyn.
Leaving Edwyd at the mercy of the Green Lion, Alek moves off, eyes seeking his next target. He stops as he hears the cry. “Got what they came for…?” He wheels his horse around to spot that Edwyd has been rescued, a man-at-arms crashing into Galan. The old lion charges his horse forward, his axe swinging for the man’s side to relieve Galan.
Pennei’s wide blue eyes look to Melissa, then the other woman she doesn’t recognize. “Keep going,” She urges the other ladies. “Follow Ser Luthor.” She looks over her shoulder briefly at Ser Leon, who protects them from behind, and catches sight of Lord Allos.
Melissa nods to Pennei and seems to want to go, “Has anyone seen Lady Reyna?” she aske Pennei as she passes with the others. “And you should not linger, you’ve seen enough of this.” She finally spies her back on a horse, then looks to the ladies and tries not to fall apart now. They’re breaking, but she still wants to get away.
Caught hard Lord Allos is smashed from his saddle and sent crashing to the floor. The axe bit heavily into his unarmoured shoulder and the lord’s head strikes the firm earth, littered by roots. He lies prone as his mare screams and bolts away from him. The blood glistens grimly upon his black clothing before seeping and soaking into his white buckskin breeches. Lady Kelyce Swann screams shrilly as she sees her husband struck down by the axe blow.
“Don’t look!” Dory barks at Pennei, on the edge of hysteria yet. “You said not to look!” Still, keeping the horse going is keeping her from going over the edge and giving her mount its head.
“Stay and fight you piece of shit!” Anton is still winded by the blow he took from the Longaxe, but he spurs his horse forward straight for the man, the men coming to aid their master getting scornful looks. However, Anton is still forced to engage them. As the Longaxe rides further and further away, Anton screams in frustration and with an animalistic fury engages one of the men-at-arms. His sword slices are quick and strong and before long the man is down, bleeding out of a number of wounds. Looking to the departing figure of his cousin, Anton yells out “you are fools, the both of you! This is not over!”
Knocked to the ground by a horses butt, Galan scowls and and scrambles to his feet. He looks around for Ser Edwyd, eager to get back at him. However, when instead he finds himself outnumbered by bandits and Alek rushing to his aid. He climbs up on Alek’s horse behind the Reyne. “A tactical retreat, Ser Alek?” He says furitively.
Elmer is raging mad, and the retreating men at arms willl not have it so easy. He presses his attat on Ser Gavyn, the tall knight with the dark unruly hair stabbing furiously towards the other man’s chest.
Elmer attacks Ser Gavyn of the White Shield with his sword…
...and strikes him with a hard blow!
Willard ‘s horse whinnies as new enemies arrive flanking the longaxe wielding leader of the bandits. He tightens his grip on the reins and moves away as the longaxe comes by in a sharp arc “Get back here, ya pox ridden whoreson!” he yells after theretreating foe and rides after him only to be cut off by one of the men-at-arms. The man swings a sword at Willard’s side, which he easily diverts with his shield and thrusts the point of his sword forward aiming at the man’s unprotected belly.
“Keep moving!” Leon yells back at the women. “Keep with Ser Luthor!” The northman is easily protecting their retreat.

Alek swears. “They said they got what they came for. I do not care what you call it. All I see are craven dogs backing off with their tails between their fucking legs.”
The fall of Lord Swann has put Gavyn of the White Shield off his balance, for his mount must leap awkwardly to avoid trampling the man. So he does not see Elmer Crakehall in time to raise said white shield, and is hit hard enough that he nearly loses his seat. But he neither falls nor raises his longaxe; the retreat has been called and he plunges ahead

When Melissa asks after her, Reyna is near enough to hear. “I am here,” she says in a voice that only misses being a whimper by virtue of being squashed between her two guards. The terror makes her face white as the moon between the black-leather Reavers.

Luthor glances behind him as Pennei does and sees Allos fall. Though he can do nothing for him but shout for Allos’ wife to follow. “LADY SWANN TO ME!” he bellows. Then to Leon he calls. “Bring her with us!” then he wheels his mount and leads the ladies in the opposite direction of the raiders.
Branna doesn’t even try to look back, though the sound of Allos’ fall eliciting a shiver. She tries to straighten up, if only by very very little, to cast the quickest of furtive looks around when Melissa asks about Reyna. Not enough to spot Smiler bringing the Silver Rose over, alas. “I’m not sure,” she manages, her voice small and still wobbly. Reyna’s confirmation is perhaps lost to her in all the tumult, and she soon ducks back down again.
Pennei swings her gaze forward once more, both at Doryssa’s shout and Ser Leon’s yell. But she can’t help looking at the distraught Lady Swann. “Keep going, my lady.” She calls to Lady Kelyce, “Don’t look back!”
The ambushers’ retreat gains urgency, and with reason. High and thin, a horn-call drifts on the wind. Then, a brief while later, again, and it is closer this time—and coming from the direction in which the river lies.

Longaxe and Edywd are almost amidst the trees now, and many of their men with them. A few have paid dearly; one slumps over his horse’s neck, blood streaming down it, for he has been wounded half-a-dozen times by Anton. Another is sobbing, trying to hold his torn belly together—opened by Willard—supported by a companion.

At the head of the column, Lord Bertrand is crying something in an anguished voice, but he is down, leg twisted under him, unable to rise.
Leon nods, and moves off to the two Swann guardsmen, calling out. “Escort Lady Swann this way!” He points towards Luthor. “And, by the gods, try not to let her look back!”

Alek perks in his saddle, hearing his brother’s crying. “...Bertrand.” He mumbles, wheeling his horse and moving towards where his brother is downed. “Bertrand!” Alek calls out as he swings off his saddle, moving to his Lord Brother’s side.
Lady Swann makes to ride towards her fallen husband but the Swann guardsmen between her and the field slaps the steeds rear sending her and her mare skittering towards the approaching northern knight before guarding her back. Meanwhile, a brace of the few remaining Swann guards dismount and try to haul Lord Allos from the weakening fray. They cry for more help though as they struggle to move the body quickly from the field.
As Alek leaves the saddle, Galan takes it and begins riding around the wounded man, watching for any straggling raiders. “Ser Alek, is he well enough to move?” Galan asks, watching the treeline warily.
Elmer feels his opponent hit by his blow but as the man does not fall and keeps retreating, he returns, he’s not going to give chase by himself. As several people dismount to help the wounded, he stays in the saddle, ready for another attack.

Anton is breathing heavily now, and looks like he wants to charge at the retreating forms of Longaxe and Edwyd. But he simply shakes his head, and sighs deeply. Realizing the battle is likely over and the approaching horns likely signaling the arrival of royal forces from the Barges, Anton calls out in a loud voice. “See to the wounded! And the ladies, are any hurt?” He scans the surrounding battlefield, his eyes carefully noting the positions of each and everyone. He soon sees the figure of Alek riding for his brother, Lord Bertrand, and a frown appears on Anton’s brow. Turning to Willard, he quietly asks “ride for the horns…” But then he hears the calls from the Swann guards and changes his words. “Willard, will you ride to help Lord Allos and his men. This battle is finished.” Looking back to the treelines, Anton grimly adds “those fools!” Then he also rides for Alek and Bertrand’s position.

And finally, the ambushers are gone, pulling back into the woods where they had lain in wait. Just in time, for the next horn call is even closer; whoever it is will be here soon. They leave bloody chaos in their wake, the hunting company’s day ending in ruin.

And Lord Reyne clutches his brother’s doublet, trying to drag himself upright, face grey with pain; little wonder, for his ankle is turned the wrong way.

“Josymn!”

“Father help me, Alek…they took my son!”

“Fuck me blind, and bugger, and shit!” Willard can only curse in half-retained anger as his longaxe wielding opponent slips away. The number of the foes makes it foolish to pursue and thus he turns away, pats Ser Anton on the shoulder to get his attention, but stops as the Riverlander tells him exactly the same as he wanted to advise. The Ryger knight sends his horse into a trot and stops near the Swann men “Let me help, get him in front of me on my horse. I’ll get him to safety”
As the sound of horns suggest coming reinforcements and the sounds of battle die behind them, Luthor brings his horse to a halt at the head of the ladies’ column once they’ve gained some distance and some cover. “Halt!” he calls. “Stay close and down near your horses. Are any of you hurt?” he says loudly but calmly as he moves himself between the ladies and the last position of the enemy.
Leon moves to guide Lady Swann’s entourage back to safety, where the other ladies are, keeping an eye on them as he leads the way, sword still drawn despite the retreat of the attacking force.

And Alek’s face pales. “They…” He stares dumbfounded at his brother for a second. “The bastards took Josmyn?!” He swears loudly, before grabbing his brother’s arm. “Ser!” He calls up to Galan. “Help me get my brother ahorse.” He collars a Reyne guardsman that survived. “You! Maester Lucion! Now!” To his brother, he says. “Bertrand, you need to stand. Please.”
When it is obvious that the retreat is a true one, the Smiler drops down from the back of Reyna’s horse, a vicious dagger in each hand. He looks up at Reyna properly, inspecting her in his grim silence, reaching up to catch her chin and inspect her face, though his grip is not ungentle. “I am f-fine,” Reyna says, trying to loose her grip on Ser Edmund’s waist. “G-g-go and help.” But she goes paler still when she hears Bertrand, and her grip on Edmund tightens enough to make him grunt. “Oh, no,” she whispers, and buries her face in the man’s leather-clad shoulder.
Hoisting the limp lord up, the two guardsmen manage to lift his body over the front of the Ryger knight’s saddle. As the unconscious lord slumps over his blood flows more freely and sluices down his arm onto the horse’s flank and leg. “Go! Go!” The guardsmen cry.

Over with Luthor, Lady Swann is weeping openly, a dainty hand clapped over her mouth, she shakes her head dumbly at Luthor’s question. A Swann man speaks up, “M’lady is fine, ser.” He looks to the next lady, a girl clad in the Stark colours.
Elmer dismounts in a hurry, moving to see if his father-in-law is badly hurt, the big Crakehall knight still holding his bloodied sword. “Seven hells! Are you badly injured, my lord?” he asks, worry in his vocie, as his brother-in-law has been taken. Hard news.
Melissa shakes her head to Luthor and says, “I am not,” she wipes at her face with a hand to try and keep the sweat and fear from being seen too much. “I…I know something about tending to injury, if I can be of assistance.” But then she hears word from across the field and looks horrified. “Ser Josmyn?” Her hand goes to her neck where a necklace hangs, a prize from Highgarden, with a look of pained guilt in her eyes.
Galan drops off the horse and helps Alek get the man onto the horse. Once he’s sure the man is up on his horse, he says to Alek, “You go with him. Get him to the river. My horse is around her somewhere. I’ll meet you there.”
Pennei is pale and shaken, but otherwise unhurt. She looks to see that Doryssa is unharmed as well, but her gaze is sympathetic when she looks to Lady Swann.

Now that he’s had a few moments to take in the battlefield, Anton notices the ladies column, led by Luthor and gives the Warden a nod of his head to acknowledge his important role in the battle. It is then that he hears Bertrand’s words and he again sighs, his eyes look skyward and he grimly shakes his head. “More blood will come of this.” Anton mutters quietly under his breath. He reins in his horse near the Reynes and quietly offers some words of encouragement. “They likely ride for Grassy Vale, my lords. It is not far from here. Ser Josmyn should be alive for the time being…” His words trail off and he sighs again.
Delanei is unhurt, but eyes are glazed over, in complete shock. She doesn’t answer when asked if she’s hurt, just seems to stare off into the distance, gripping her horse’s dark mane.
Branna, at length, straightens up somewhat, face pressing against her sleeves briefly to dry it before she dares look across at Luthor. “I’m uninjured,” she says, her voice steadier than it has been for a while now. A pause, and she goes on, pained, “I—I—” She buries her still pale face in her hands, muffling her next words, “I shouldn’t have panicked.” A deep breath, and her head lifts again. “We,” here she speaks for her retainers as well, “will help where we can.” She casts a worried look at Delanei.

“We must ride after—”

It ends on a groan as Lord Reyne tries to take a step forward and his foot simply gives way under him; he only saves himself from falling completely by clutching Alek again. “Brother, you must…Gods above, those mad fools will kill him!” He looks around, despair in his eyes as he takes in his own guardsmen down and bleeding, barely any in any shape to give chase, and not enough in number even if they were.

He looks up at Anton’s approach and his mouth tightens: “How far! How many days’ ride is it from here?”

Doryssa rubs her face with both hands. “Is it over? I… noone seems to be fighting anymore. What did they want? Why did they not kill us all when they had the chance?” Doryssa asks, not really expecting an answer. She looks as the assembled ladies. “Are we alright? Noone hurt?” Something else to do is good.
Elmer shakes his head at the crypctic words of the Reynes, still unwilling to shetahe his sword, but he does wipe it with a piece of cloth torn from one of the dead brigands’ shirts. He moves to lady Delanei, and he takes her arm, seeing the look on her face. “Are you hurt, milady?”
Leon rides up to stand beside Luthor, still looking about. “Think they’re all gone?”

Alek helps support his brothers weight. “Easy, Bertrand. We need to get you to Maester Lucion first…” He mumbles. “I will do everything in my power to rescue Josmyn, Bertrand. Everything. Even if I have to purge those bastards to the seventh hell.” He looks to Anton as Bertrand asks about the location of Grassy Vale. “I will ride out tonight. We must get Josmyn back!”
Willard rides fast towards the gathering of the nobles with Lord Swann slumped over his horse. As he comes closer he yells “Lords Swann needs help! Get me a maester. NOW, PEOPLE! He’s hurt bad!” He stops his horse abruptly, gets down from his horse and beckons for somone to help him get the wounded lord down onto the ground.

There is a crashing in the trees. Are the ambushers back to finish what they began?

But it is from the other direction this time—from where the river lies. And a Reyne retainer forces his lathered mount into the open, the horse’s flanks heaving; he has obviously been riding it hard. “My lord!” he stammers, sliding down from the saddle when he sees Bertrand nearby, dismay on his face as he takes in the carnage. “My lord, they are…I found them near when you sent me, they were out riding, thank the Gods! Are you…”

His jumbled explanation trails off as he glances over his shoulder; there is torchlight flickering in the trees, and the sounds of mounted men: “There!”

“Husband,” Pennei asks quietly, still watching the weeping Lady Swann, “Is Watty here? Lord Swann needs a healer.” She nudges her horse over to the grieving Lady of Stonehelm. “Help is coming, my lady.” She murmurs, soothingly.
Luthor glances at his wife. “No, he is with the boats. Leon, go fetch him,” he says turning to his retainer. “The men seem to have gotten what they were coming for.” Then he turns his gaze on Melissa and Doryssa. “Ladies, if you’ve skill with healing, it seems Lord Allos has need of your talents until a maester arrives,” then he turns back to his wife and puts a hand on her shoulder. “If you’re able, Pennei, can you see to the other ladies, help calm them.”
Delanei snaps out of it for a moment, as her cousin grabs her arm. Her green eyes are still not seeming to focus on much of anything. She looks at him for a moment, then looks back forward. She doesn’t shake, she doesn’t weep, no tears fall from her eyes, her face is just void of emotion, or color.

Anton looks to Alek now and Galan, who is also nearby, before turning back to Lord Bertrand. “It lies along the Blue Byrn river my lords. Hard riding, I believe we could make it in four to five days. However,” Anton pauses to take a deep breath. “I do not recommend such a course of action. They know the terrain much better than us and could easily set further ambushes.” Anton looks hard at Alek and Bertrand. “I must strongly advise we not take any rash actions here. A raven should be sent immediately to Grassy Vale, so that it may arrive before them. I *do not* believe Lord Manard would have condoned such an act. Rushing into things now would bring only more blood, not a solution to the conflict.” His eyes hold Bertrand’s now. “I *do not* believe they will dare harm Ser Josmyn, not yet. They have a plan.”
The Swann man with Lady Kelyce rushes over to Willard and helps him lower the lord down. Laying down his black cloak, the guardsman helps to gently place Allos upon the cloth. Lady Kelyce stands nearby, her body shaking horribly with sobs. She looks to Pennei and then looks back to her husband, whose face is growing pale. A Swann man mounts again, “I’ll fetch Maester Selwyn, m’lady.” The guardsman thunders off down the path, managing to avoid the protruding roots with a mixture of horsemanship and blind luck.
Doryssa also looks to Luthor, about to ask about if he thought she should try to help the fallen lord. That also is something to do, and for now that snaps her out of her shivering fit. “Yes… yes, I might…” She looks to Melissa. “Shall we?”
When he sees that Lord Allos is being taken care of Willard comes closer behind Sers Anton and Alek, listening intently to the words being said. Then his jaw clenches and he almost spits, such is the anger in his words “Those whoresons are idiots and honorless bastards. Ser Alek, Ser Anton, it would be my pleasure and the only honorable thing to do, if I could join you in pursuing the…” he stops himself in mid-sentence as he was a bout to curse some more in the presence of nobles and knights. “Attackers” he finishes with lesser zeal.
Elmer looks at Allos shaking his head. He might have had his brushes with the man in the past, but he is a daring fighter, and it would be a great loss if he was hurt grievously. He stands tall, and puts a hand on Dleanei’s shoulder, lifting his wineskin from his saddle. “Here, have a drink, milady..it helps.”
“Alek, Listen to Ser Anton. There are dozens of them. If you do this, you’ll have my sword, but think about it… It’s the dead of night, we won’t know know how many of them are laying in wait until they decide to show us. We won’t be able to get him back tonight, not with the men we have on hand.” Galan says as he does indeed find his horse and mounts it, not wasting time to stop talking, “Think Ser Alek. They took him hostage. This was not an assassination.”
Melissa nods to Luthor and then to Doryssa. “Let’s.” Turning her horse she moves to follow after the fallen Lord Swann and go to tend whatever she can. Dismounting she looks and sees how injured he is and kneels down with the guardsman, waiting for Doryssa to join her and help where she can. She is looking for anything to help bind the wounds. “Water, here. Some water to clean it and wine.”

Reyna is trembling, but she wears the green and gold of House Tyrell, so she steels herself and slides down from the horse. She is very small as she elbows her way through the men around Bertrand, and has no skill with healing, nor even the stomach for the carnage around them all, but there she is, forcing iron into her spine as she reaches for his hand with her small white one. “It will not stand, Lord Reyne,” she says, her voice low but no longer stammering with terror. She looks up at Alek. “You may have as many of Highgarden’s men as you require to catch them up, as soon as you are all provisioned and armed.”

Pennei has no skill in healing, so she stands aside to let those that do attend the Lord of Stonehelm. Pale and frightened herself, she stays close to Lady Swann, but brings water from her skin to Melissa. “This is all I have, my lady.”
Doryssa slides from her mount, moving over towards Allos on the ground as well. “Yes, where was he hit… his shoulder, it appears? We should remove part of his clothing near the wound so we can see it better.”
“Aye, ser.” And, once again, the northman knight is sent riding off, this time in the direction of the Mander.

“I do not care if it is the /right/ course of action, ser.” Alek snarls at the Piper knight. “They have taken my nephew. They have taken my lord’s son! This is beyond forgiveness!” Alek’s demeanour is far from normal. His voice seethes with rage and his eyes glint in the light of the torches. “I do not mean to ride unprepared. We /will/ ride tonight. But we /will/ be prepared. I am not some hot-headed young stripling who goes riding off alone.”

At that point, Reyna makes an appearence and Alek smiles at her words. “My lady…The Tyrells have been steadfast in resolving this matter. I am sure the men will be welcome…” He looks to Bertrand. “Please, brother. Give me leave. I will bring Josmyn back.
Branna releases her hold on the reins at last, sliding off and steadying herself against the horse’s side. Then she tugs a flask from her horse and makes her way over to Melissa. “Wine,” she says simply, holding out the flask for her to take when she’s ready.
Elmer looks with worry at the beautiful young woman’s shocked face,but there’s nothing he could do for her. He nods towards one of the ladies who takes her arm and leads her away then he steps forward. “Of course you’re not going alone, Ser Alek. I’m coming with you..” he says, the big knight dark with fury.
The guardsman takes a knife to Lord Allos’ jerkin and shirt, cutting away the fabric, “M’lord will be upset about this but I think he’d rather keep his arm than his shirt.” Lady Kelyce lets out a small, hysterical laugh and then claps her hand over her mouth again and cries. As the expensive clothes are peeled from the wound becomes more visible. The longaxe cleaved through skin and flesh, leaving a long split in Allos’ upper-arm, leading up diagonally to the back of his shoulder. All over his arm and back the blood is beginning to form a crimson crust but his pale skin near the wound is still bright with fresh blood that escapes the cut. There is a wound on the back of his head also, though less serious, has rendered him unconscious and his hair is beginning to matt and stick.
“What in the fucking hells happened here?”

That hard voice with its strange cadences, so different from the way mainlanders speak, is distinctive. So is the man himself, black-haired and dark-eyed, a grim look on his face as he rides out from the trees and draws rein, looking around. With him are other men, knights of the Reach and Riverlands all, and like the hunting company, dressed only in riding leathers. More than a few curse when they see what has happened, fanning out to help the wounded and watch the trees with the instincts of hardened warriors.

“Bandits, so close to Longtable?” one of them wonders, shaking his head as he kneels beside a dead Reyne retainer.

As for the dark-haired man, he is dismounting, striding to Lord Reyne—who had begun to reply to those around him before turning to the new arrivals—but his gaze is for the woman in green and gold, not the injured lord.

“What in the hells,” he repeats as he nears, stride lengthening, “happened here?”

Lord Reyne, shaken by a spasm of pain, gestures wordlessly for his brother or one of the others to reply.
Melissa takes the wine from Branna, “Thank you.” She looks at the cut and takes some of the cloth that has been cut from Lord Swann’s clothing. She soaks some of it in the wine and gestures to Doryssa, “This will clean out some of the wound, and sadly hurt very badly…but it should stave off an infection for now until the maester can see to it.” She presses the cloth to the would, as soon as she can, and tries to clean it off. “Hold still, my lord, this is going to…well, it will surely hurt less than the wound itself.”
Anton’s eyes search those of Alek’s before he nods once, firmly. “Then I will also ride with you. I visited Grassy Vale in my youth with my mother and I may be of some help. I ask for one boon though, Ser Alek. I ask it in the name of our friendship.” Anton pauses, takes a deep breath and keeps speaking. “Give me one chance to speak to my cousin and Edwyd. One chance to end this feud without further bloodshed. Let me at least, try to covince them of the error of their ways. If it does not work, then I will cut down Longaxe myself!” Anton then turns towards Bertrand and says “my lord, if we are to pursue, we should make all appropriate preparations.” At this moment, the entrance of a certain black-haired individual is made and Anton shuts his mouth, letting Alek speak to the events that just occurred.
Reyna looks up at Dagur—for so it is—and says a single word: “Meadows.” She twitches toward him, then balls her fists and stands as she is. “Lord Reyne has taken injury, and Lord Swann. Some of the guards…” she trails off and her jaw tenses as she masters herself yet again. “Some of the guards are dead, I think.” For the rest, she looks helplessly toward Alek and Bertrand, then says in a small voice, “They have Ser Josmyn.”
Doryssa goes to her knees next Melissa and the fallen lord. “Ohh… this is… we cannnot just pack this one with honey and sew it up.” But he is still bleeding, but not everywhere. “I shall just hold it here, if I press it may keep the blood from flowing so.” And she does put pressure on the wound where his still bleeds.
“Not bandits, ser.” Comes Alek’s terse reply. “More like a pack of trained cravens.” Alek doesn’t move, still supporting his injured brother, waiting for the Reyne’s maester to appear. “Ser Edwyd and Ser Kendros ambushed us under the guise of bandits. And they’ve taken Ser Josmyn as a hostage.” Alek gives the condensed version, his eyes moving from Dagur to Anton. “For the sake of our friendship, aye. But Longaxe is mine. That bastard will taste my steel if I get my hands on him.”
Pennei murmurs to the two women working on Lord Allos. “Is there anything I can do to help? Anything you need?” Her face is pale and grave, looking at the man on the ground.
Branna offers a quiet, rote, “You are welcome,” to Melissa, perhaps finding solace in formalities. There is certainly little enough solace to find elsewhere. Grey eyes are watchful and anxious as they consider the Swann lady and the fallen lord. She offers no words of her own but does nod at Pennei’s question.
Luthor leaves the women to gather around Lord Allos and nudges his horse to join those gathered around Lord Bertram and Ser Dagur. “Ser,” he says to Dagur as he arrives. “Do you have a healer in your company? Lord Allos is wounded.”
Willard paces restlessly next to the lords talking and planning. He would gladly set out at once, but he knows planning. He needs his squire and armor at the very least. He looks up to see the new arrival and the decisions being made. He nods, already decided to help, just as he said before. He comes closer again hearing the name Longaxe and puts a hand on Anton’s shoulder “I will gladly get that bastard myself, ser. But I will be able to retian myself from doing so and just helpwith the others. All of them, everyone of them… needs to pay for what transpired here today.” he turns to Anton, and although his voice softens his pale blue eyes remain cold all the same “I’m sorry Anton, but neitherdo I think they will listen and negotiate. Nor do I think they deserve it for what they did today”. he snorts and spits at his feet.
Anton now looks to Dagur and begins speaking after Alek finishes. “My lord, Ser Alek means to ride hard after them. They likely head for Grassy Vale, four to fives days ride due east. I advise caution, there may be more ambushes ahead. But if Ser Alek is set on his course, I will accompany him.” He pauses momentarily to add “but we must be prepared for anything. What if they decide to hole up inside Grassy Vale? Do we then attempt to besiege the castle?” Looking hard into Dagur’s eyes, Anton continues “we should send a raven to Grassy Vale. Lord Manard could not have condoned this! Another raven should be sent to King’s Landing. A strong force of the King’s men may be summoned and add to our strength if it is necessary. Furthermore, a Royal Justiciar may accompany that force. With the full might of the Crown behind us, I do believe we can end this feud without the need for further bloodshed!”
Melissa looks to Pennei and says, “I don’t think there’s much more we can do but try to bind this wound as best we can.” She looks back at Doryssa and watches her cleaning out the wound itself. She considers, and says, “If you can strip some of these clothes, or find if there’s anyone that has any bandage whatsoever. Cloth, clean cloth would be best.” She considers…“Or…I don’t suppose any of you ladies has brought your needlepoint with you?” Even she looks to be slightly offput by the suggestion.
Doryssa looks up to Pennei, the effort of pressing down on Allos’ bleeding shoulder is easy to see on her face. “Don’t think there’s too much we can do except keep him from watering the flowers anymore than he has already.” She turns to the lord’s wife. “Oh, please forgive me.”
“I did not last three damned bloody wars to be told to use caution!” Alek’s frayed temper flares. “I was killing people before most of you were off the tit. I know how to deal with a situation like this.”
Pennei lifts the hem of her overgown to tear off some of her undergown. Nothing indecent and her ankles will be suitably covered by the overgown. “It’s the best I have.” She offers the reasonably clean fabric to Melissa.
Melissa nods and thanks Pennei, “This will work just as well.” She offers a slight smile of gratitude, before pulling apart strips, to wrap around Allos’ body. “Someone prepare a litter for Lord Swann!” she calls to any of the men currently not plotting to hunt down the villains.” She shakes her head, and holds some cloth to Doryssa, “Put this over the wound. We’ll tie it to him and they’ll have to move him.”
The Iron Serpent’s breath hisses between his teeth when he hears what his wife and the others have to say. There is a moment of silence. And then, he says succinctly: “Highgarden will not stand for this.”

Wheeling, he calls: “Ser Oslon! Ride to the barges. Tell the queen what has happened. Bring back my men and whatever Reachknights you can muster within an hour. Reachknights only, mind. And two remounts each.”

“Ride!”

And as the man he has called to vaults in the saddle, brings his horse’s head around and spurs it into the trees, the ironman turns to the others: “The crown’s men will not be needed here. My good-brother is Warden of the Reach. There are men enough loyal to him for this. We ride after Longaxe. My lady—”

He looks at Reyna; has, indeed, barely looked away, for he seems to be making sure that she has no injuries, “—will send the ravens when she returns to the barges.” And finally, carefully reaching a hand for her, “You have not taken any hurt?”
Willard yells after the people going for the barges “And someone get my squire! I need a fucking armor!!!”
Doryssa takes the cloth offered to her and she presses that to the wound after a moment’s pause to see if he is still leaking. “Yes… yes, that seems good. I don’t think he’ll die. He wasn’t sickly.” Still, she presses again until they are ready to move the man.
Reyna shakes her head mutely at Dagur to let him know she has taken no injury, but she keeps her hands at her sides. And then she nods. “At once,” she agrees, turning to Alek. “But surely, Ser Alek, you understand that you cannot simply race across the Reach with a war band without my brother’s leave. Morning will be soon enough. Tend to your lord.”
Luthor snorts and turns his mount about and heads back to the ladies, swinging to the ground and removing his cloak. “I’ve a cloak to lend, and give me some time to hew some branches and you’ll have your stretcher,” the Warden of the Kingswood says to the two lady healers, before heading to the wood to cut the needed materials.
The old lion opens his mouth to retaliate to Reyna’s comment, but closes it, nodding, seeming to try and regain his composure. “Aye, Lady Reyna…You are correct, of course. My apologies.” He looks to his brother. “I will see Lord Bertrand well before riding off to rescue his son.” Alek says, before addressing Bertrand. “If you have no objections, of course, brother.”
“Will you scale the walls by yourself then, my lord?” Anton asks Alek. “The walls of Grassy Vale are strong and her garrison likely full. I understand your frustration, but we must take all possible precautions and be available for any eventuality.” When Dagur speaks, Anton listens and nods his head in acknowledgment of the Iron Serpent’s words. “As you think best, my lord. I will be ready to ride whenever you require it.” He then turns to Reyna and says quietly “please my lady, the actions of Edwyd and my cousin do not represent the entirety of House Meadows. Please, let the Lord-Protector know this. I am sure they acted out of their own initiative. They should. . . they *must* be punished, but I ask that their actions not prejudge all of House Meadows.” At this point, Anton dismounts his horse and goes to one knee before Reyna.
Men of House Swann bring some ash spears to use for the stretcher, “Here, these should be strong enough.” They begin to assemble a sturdy stretcher with the cloaks they have salvaged. They call for Luthor, “Warden, we have all we need.”
That look turns sharper when Reyna keeps her hands at her side—but whatever the Iron Serpent sees seems to reassure him, for he nods and turns to the others: “There will be no assault on Grassy Vale. If the Gods are kind, we will catch Longaxe and Ser Edwyd before they can reach its walls.^

He glances back at his wife: “And I fear we cannot wait for morning, my lady. If we are to catch up to them, we will have to leave as soon as Oslon returns with the others. I will send men to escort the wounded and the women to the barges.” He falls silent, then, brows rising as Anton kneels before Reyna.
Luthor turns and seeing the stretcher is in hand and with nothing else to do returns to his horse and mounts up again.
Melissa looks to Doryssa to help finish dressing the wound and then tie the cloth strips around Allos’ body, as the litter is assembled. She gestures, and says, “That is all we can do here without proper herbs for poultices.” She sighs and rises, “The men must move him…we have done all we can, Lady Doryssa.”
Reyna looks at Anton in dismay, her hands unclenching as she reaches to tug on his arm. “Don’t do that. Of course I will tell him, of course I will,” she says soothingly. “I will tell him all the truth, I swear it.” But then something distracts her, and she turns to Dagur, a strange light coming to her eyes. “‘We’?” she echoes, her voice faint. “You would leave m…” She breaks off, looking at the men around her and pressing her lips together hard.
Alek frowns lightly. “Ser Dagur, I would not wish to seperate you from your lady wife for something like this.” He says. “You do not need to come with us. I am certain the reachlanders shall keep us in check.”
The eyes of the felled Lord flicker a little and a very quiet and low groan escapes from his lips. His feet move just a little and his bloodied head shifts on the earth. Lady Swann moves closer and grasps his uninjured right hand, she squeezes it and turns to the men working on the stretcher, “Hurry,” she pleads. They are, of course, already working as fast as they are able and are making good progress; however, the stretcher is still not quite secure enough to hold a man’s weight. “A moment, Lady Swann. We are almost done.”
Doryssa sighs and releases Allos once the wound is dressed as well as can be gone here. She looks at her now-bloody hands. “I… yes, we have to leave him to the gods and the maesters now. If only they would let me…” she struggles to her feet, finally.
Pennei stays out of the way as Lord Allos is moved onto the stretcher. She remounts her tall mare then, looking for Luthor from this better vantage point.

“I am good-brother to the Warden of the Reach, ser,” the Iron Serpent replies laconically. “When one of his bannermen breaks the peace, Highgarden doesn’t leave it to others to deal with.”

He glances at Reyna: “And my lady wife knows how to deal with my absence will enough.”

He pauses, stepping aside as Lord Reyne pushes away from his brother to limp forward and speak in private with him. It is a brief conversation; then, the ironman is nodding and helping the older man mount the horse one of the suriving Reyne guardsmen has led forward.
The pale Lord Allos, matted with blood, with much of his torso bare and white, is lifted and secured onto the stretcher before being moved to the litter. Kelyce follows closely as the guardsmen carry him.
Anton lets Reyna pull him back up and he offers her a courteous bow in thanks to her words. When he sees her turn to Dagur, he quietly disentangles himself from her and remounts his horse, riding towards the group of ladies. As he moves in that direction, his squire, Edwyn Rosby rides into the camp along with the four goldcloaks that had accompanied Anton. Motioning them over, Anton says quietly to Edwyn “ride back to the barge and bring me three fresh horses. I ride tonight with Ser Dagur. You will stay here,” then turning to the goldcloaks, Anton adds “you four will stay as well.” Waving them away, Anton continues his path towards the ladies, to one lady in particular, Melissa Lannister.
Luthor sees his wife remount and he nudges his horse in her direction. “Are you alright?” he asks her softly as he brings his horse alongside her own.
Alek moves slightly towards Bertrand as he moves away, looking a tad concerned for his brother. He watches the man mount. “My lord…” He mumbles, before raising his voice. “Fear not, brother…We shall return Josmyn to you. Alive.”
“Might someone cover him with another cloak? The ride back will be cold for him.” Doryssa suggests before she mounts her own horse. She looks to Luthor, but he is already tending to Pennei. So instead she pats her horse, leaving bloody prints there. “You’ve done well.” she says to it.
Pennei nods to Luthor, “I am not hurt,” She tells him quietly. “I hope Lord Allos will recover.” She looks to the knot of knights, “They took Ser Josmyn?” she asks.
He nods firmly, clearly pleased that his wife is unharmed. “Yes, they did. Ser Dagur is taking some reachknights to bring Ser Josmyn back.” Then in a quieter voice he adds. “You did well tonight,” he says putting a hand upon her arm.

Reyna watches, first in disbelief, then in white-faced, trembling silence as Dagur rides away. She swallows hard once, twice, a third time, then nods. “I will send the ravens,” she says in a choked voice that she cannot quite manage to control. “Ride swiftly and may the Gods favor your steel.” She looks at her husband, then presses her lips together so hard she must have drawn blood and turns away to move slowly back to the cluster of women.
Branna backs up a few steps, allowing the men more room to work when they complete the stretcher and bring it to the fallen lord. Her horse is drawn over, close enough for her to remount if she wishes. While she lays an arm over the horse’s neck, she shakes her head in refusal when someone asks if she’ll remount. “I need to feel the ground beneath my feet again, at least for a little bit,” she explains, quiet.
As Allos is moved into the litter and then covered by a few spare fur-trimmed cloaks, Lady Swann turns and, composed somewhat, her voice calls out evenly, though a touch thin, “My thanks, ladies and sers. Are there any else injured, horseless or who wish not to ride who need transport before we make our way back to the barges?” One of the Swann guards goes to the front of the litter and rides shotgun, another collects the horses, including the nimble gray mare and prepares to follow the litter and the other waits on hand with his lord.
Melissa looks to Doryssa and offers her some water. “Well done, my lady. But let you what?” She seems to have her own hands and some of her gown ruined by the bloody business she was tending to, but yet she still seems to be assured of herself. She feels the presence of another riding up and spies Anton and sighs, “I hear a great deal of confusion from there…and Ser Josmyn’s name. What is happening?” she asks him.
Lord Reyne has already begun to raise a hand to call his brother. And so when Alek comes over himself, he leans down from the saddle, clutching the neck of the other man’s tunic, crumpling it: “See that you do, Alek. I do not have so many sons that I can afford to spend one.”

But it is an entreaty, not a threat, in his hoarse voice and in that grip. For a moment longer he holds his brother’s gaze, and then he straightens, grimacing as his wounded foot thumps against the horse’s side: “Gods, if only I could ride with you!”

Then, the Iron Serpent is picking out men to escort the wounded and the women to the barges, as well as any knights who will not be riding after Longaxe, leaving behind only those who mean to pursue.
Alek holds his brother’s gaze. “I love Josmyn. He is family. I have no wonder that you would likely do the same if it were one of my children, brother.” He puts a hand onto Bertrand’s. “Aye, I wish you could, too. Like the old days.” Alek nods. “I shall return with Josmyn as soon as I am able.”

“It is bad, my lady. Edwyd Bulwer and and the Longaxe has kidnapped Ser Josmyn. They ride for Grassy Vale and we mean to try and catch them before they make its walls.” Anton sighs then his blue eyes peer at her intently. “Are you all right, my lady? Is any of that blood yours?” He points at the blood trails on her gown, as he dismounts and moves in closer to her, a concerned hand reaching out. He grimaces slightly as he does this however, his shield arm battered hard by the Longaxe.
Doryssa looks to Melissa, then. “I could do more, I know.” But that is not something that is going to happen. So, she wheels her horse around and prepares to ride with the party back to the barges. “Luthor? Leon? You’re well?” She can see Alek looking full of fire when she glances there, so she doesn’t trouble him.
Melissa shakes her head, “This? No, no, I am alright, Ser Anton. I was assisting to the wound Lord Swann took,” she says gesturing to the lord being moved. “Lady Doryssa and I have some education in healing arts, so…” She frowns though as she takes his arm and hand, “What of you? Are you injured?” She frowns a little and sighs. “These were…cousins? The same as in Highgarden?” She shakes her head, and mutters, “He was only playing the game for me…”

There is the sandsteed, and there the two Reavers charged with Reyna’s protection. Neither of them moves to say anything, though Edmund puts a hand on the horse’s reins to hold him for her. She stands there a moment, looking at the stirrups, then inhales through her nose and squares her shoulders. “Sometimes,” she says to no one in particular, the tendons on her neck standing out with the effort it takes her not to succumb again to her fear, “I hate him.”

She pushes away from the horse then and looks to the other ladies. “Is everyone all right?” she asks the nearest, Branna Stark.
Luthor nods to his wife. “We will,” he promises squeezing her arm before riding forward to volunteer to see the women and wounded back to the barges.
Branna offers Reyna a wan smile, the girl’s face still pale even if her expression is more composed now. “We are unharmed. It was quite a shock, but that is to be expected.” She rubs at her forehead. “It seems like they never intended to harm us ladies, anyhow.” Grey eyes shift to regard the departing men. “Highgarden will send men along, I imagine. Would that Winterfell were closer.”
Alek climbs atop his horse, sitting there as he watches the people begin to move off. He spots Luthor nearby and trots over. “Take care of your wife, ser. Your family is the most important.” He nods to Pennei. “I shall see you both back at the Landing.”
Anton shakes his head at her question, but his eyes clearly reveal a certain degree of pain when he moves his left arm. “I am all right, my lady, likely just a bruise of some sort.” He then sighs when she asks about the cousins. “Aye, Longaxe is my cousin and Edwyd is a good-cousin. I may become a kinslayer after all this.” He looks her deep in the eyes before continuing. “This is not your fault, my lady, never think that. Accidents happen, my cousins need to understand this.” Anton shakes his head sadly, before using his other hand to brush a golden lock away from Melissa’s face. “I am very glad you are ok, my lady.”
“Intent. Gods, they could have killed one of us.” Reyna clenches her hands in her skirts, trying to conceal the fact that she is trembling again. “Are you ready to ride back? We could go together, if you like. I… I don’t want to be alone just now,” she confesses, glancing toward the men preparing to depart.
Luthor nods to Alek. “We’ll see you back at the Landing,” he repeats clasping the man’s shoulder. “Josmyn too. Good luck to you and the others.”
A swarthy, grizzled Swann knight cleans his bloodied sword quietly before sheathing it and helping to lift the few other Swann casualties into the litter. He speaks softly with Lady Swann before walking over to the crowd of ladies and knights, “Ladies, sers, we will be departing shortly. If any wish to travel with us in the litter or as part of a convoy then they should ready themselves. We have a few knights providing escort to us, though..” The knight nods reassuringly, “I doubt there will be a second attack.” He smiles warmly to the assembled nobles, “If not, we will see you back at the barges.” With that he offers a smooth and well-practiced bow before spinning on his heel and striding to his black courser and mounting.
Alek claps a hand over Luthor’s on his shoulder. Normally, Alek would smile at this gesture, but there is nothing for the old lion to smile about. “My thanks, ser. But perhaps your luck best go to that bastard that I do not tear him limb from limb.”
“There is that. Intent counts for little in the heat of battle,” Branna concedes, sounding rather detached. However, her hands clench into tight little fists and give the lie to her tone. She gives herself a little shake, forcing her hands to unclench. “I beg your pardon for my morbid words, my lady. I’ll be better company on the way back, I promise.” A quick breath. “I’m ready. Shall we see if the others are as well?” She casts a glance over at Melissa and Doryssa.
Melissa looks at Anton a moment after her small utterance but to his reply, she only gives a soft nod. As she brushes back her hair, she smiles a little, “It is very kind of you to be so concerned.” She still holds onto his arm a moment, “This was very gruesome, not like a melee at all. You must be careful.” She hears how everyone wants to get back. “Do all you can to bring Ser Josmyn back. I will see him again, and tell him how sorry I put him in this position in the first place.” She softly smiles, “Will you do this for me, husband?” Even in a tense situation, she can hide herself behind her smile and jests.
Reyna moves as if bruised when she turns to her horse; perhaps she is, considering how swiftly her guard took her down at the beginning of the attack. But she nods at Branna as the Smiler lifts her into the saddle. “Thank you. I’m going to go on ahead and see things readied at the camp. Make my excuses?” This last sounds a trifle strangled and as soon as the two guards are mounted, they all ride off at a good clip, ahead of the rest.
Doryssa wheels her horse to clop over to the Northerner and Lady Reyna, as Melissa seems to be busy with Anton. She puts on a thin smile, trying not to look too out of sorts. “I am. I will have to throw myself down and collapse when we arrive, but I can ride now.”

Anton holds her hand tight while his eyes continues to gaze into hers. “As you wish, my lady. I will consider it my duty.” Then he grins at her, taking the jest as is and letting it stand. He takes her hand up to his lips and kisses it softly, before motioning with his head to the other ladies nearby, such as Doryssa and Branna. “Please, ride back with the ladies together, you will be safer that way. If you have any other needs while on the barges, seek out Edwyn and my men, they will offer you unconditional support.”
Luthor gives no sign of noticing the epithet and nods. “My luck was put in the right place. The man deserves to be ripped to pieces. See that you do it.” He glances back as Reyna and the Northern lady depart he turns back to Alek. “I should go,” he says. “But again good luck to you.”

He wheels his horse then collects his wife, and then rides to join the party of Lord Allos’ men as they return towards the barges.
The grizzled veteran, clad in the black and white livery of House Swann, stands in his stirrups and turns his steed in a quick circle; looking over and about, taking inventory of those in their company. He nods to himself and spurs up to the litter, he slaps the side and shouts out loudly, “Let’s go!” The litter begins to roll forwards, making its steady way along the path to the barges. As they depart, the Swann veteran can be heard calling out to the other mounted guardsmen to ride into certain positions and formations about the litter and the mounted nobles who have chosen to join them.
“Journey well, Warden!” Alek calls after him. “See your family safe and I shall do the same!”
“Of course,” replies Branna, bowing her head to Reyna. On that, she mounts her own horse. Doryssa is offered a quick, if faint, smile. “My plan exactly, my lady.”
Melissa smiles a little more and says, “And you will keep yourself safe, Ser Anton? I’ll not be widowed a second time.” She smiles softer though as she steps back and says, “I will. But I will eagerly await your return.” She takes a deep breath, “Go, before more tales start, and you find another body of water to hide in. There are things to do.” With that she steps back to her horse and with a little effort, gets back up and starts to ride. As she does she gives Anton a little look, before catching up with Branna and Doryssa.
And thus, Alek is now left alone. He turns to face the direction that Kendros and Edwyd had fled to, his green eyes now cold, mouth a grim slash. He’s still coated a tad in Edwyn’s blood from when his axe struck true.
Anton’s eyes rest on Melissa as the lady rides away with the rest of the group going back to the barges. There is a glimmer of something in his eyes, actual emotions perhaps. . . But then her figure is gone, and Anton turns his eyes back to the job at hand. Looking at his dented shield for a moment, Anton whispers to himself “why, cousin, why?” Dismounting, he leads his horse to a quiet area and stands still, waiting for Edwyn to return with his fresh horses, and hopefully, a new shield.

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