The hour has just passed noon, and the sun has only just begin its descent, making the day warm and balmy, even with the wind from the sea. A hunting party rides along the coast on Lord Baratheon’s lands, the sea glittering brightly under the bright sun. The party is no lowborn skulking poachers, but a mounted band of nobles, clad in their best leathers and hunting kit, armed with spears and bows. Lord Baratheon himself is at their head, speaking to this man or that as he leads the way.
It has not been a very successful hunt, however. The wind from the sea, while balmy, drives the scent of game away on its back, so that the hounds can catch no scent at all. The beaters have gone ahead and the nobles’ servants trail behind, but no game hangs from any saddle loops, and the servants’ game bags hang limp and empty. For the moment, they are simply enjoying the view of the sea while Lord Baratheon barks orders to his huntsman and proposes turning into the forest and away from the shore to see if they can find something farther on.
Janden, as the King’s Royal Huntsman, has positioned himself closer to the front in such a way that he can be consulted if Lord Baratheon or his huntsman has a desire to, but apart from that the Melcolm knight has kept his thoughts to himself. This is not his hunt; he’s merely along for the ride, so to speak. His spear has gone unused up to this point and the leathers worn remain clean as he remains in the saddle, chatting occasionally with someone nearby about the day, how nice it is to have been on solid ground again for a spell, and the like. The view is enjoyed and he shields his eyes from the sun as he looks out over the water. Where they decide to go, he’ll of course follow. In spite of the lack of success so far, his spirits are good.
Sitting the saddle in an imperious manner out of sorts with his average height, Ser Kendros appears the worse for wear from his strong showing in the tournamnet two days hence. He has traded the gleaming plate of the lists for sturdy leathers, and though they were well-oiled upon setting out, they are now rather grimy with the dust kicked up by the horses and hounds. His station and fame gives him a certain status, and he rides not far from Lord Baratheon in the hunting party, conversing quietly with a few Baratheon bannermen as they trot along. His squire is some ways behind, entrusted with the weapon Longaxe is named for. Ser Kendros himself carries a sword with a longbow and quiver.
Riding close to her brother—but not enough to be in his way—on a chestnut mare is a lady clad in hunting greens. Jannia Tully’s gown is typical, forest green and slit up the sides with brown leather breeches underneath for ease of riding astride. Strung and slung across her back is a practical short bow, on her hip is a leather quiver. “Fine day for a hunt brother. The Seven have blessed you, your festivities have been more than pleasing and comfortable. I trust you are well?” The right corner of her mouth turns up in a half grin as if to assume she knows of his pains.
Brynden rides near the front of the party, near his new good-father. He has come arrayed, including the fine spear he was given as a wedding gift.
Ammon Massey sits his horse, guiding the foul beast along the shore. He has seemed in good spirits this day, for the most part, but is one of the few men whose gaze falls upon the sea far more often than upon the land around them. He is dressed in his worn, cracked leathers and carries a longbow along with the battered sword at his hip.
Ser Jan Marbrand sits near the back of the hunting party, content for the most part to observe the more skilled hunters in the group. He wears his finest leathers, with a sword at his side and bow and quiver hanging clumsily on his back. Still, he is clearly pleased with the opportunity to go riding, and the empty saddle loops are of no concern to him. He gazes out at the sea, the wind whipping through his hair, with a calmed smile as he absentmindedly pats his ashen mare on the neck.
Humfrey rides just behind the Royal Huntsman, Ser Janden. As always, the knight is dressed a bit more extravagantly that the typical heir to a lesser lordly house. Soft, doeskin boots dyed chestnut, green lambswool leggings, a belt of many autumn leaves and a chestnut leather jerkin. His forest green great cloak is lined with brown ermine and pinned back with a chestnut leave broach. Humfrey’s boar spear is un-bloodied. The heir looks at the sun, just at the point where it should begin westering and takes a long draught from his waterskin. When he lowers his skin, the left corner of Humfrey’s lip tilts up in a half-smile. “Blessed? The hounds have yet to pick up a scent or the huntsmen sign. I think the seven have blessed Lord Baratheon’s beasts.”
Far Behind, Ser Blayne was trying to see something moving, he was using a red coat with the two tridents of House Condon, it was hard to figure out where his foot was going on, as the night was coming making hard to a man differs a shadow from his own brother.
Reyna Saltcliffe rides among the ladies, her own riding kit modest in the extreme. Her skirts are voluminous and drape over her horse’s flanks, dark green and heavy. She wears a leather jerkin over a white tunic, and her hair is tightly braided with green ribbon to keep her curls from springing free in the salt air. She carries a small hunting bow and quiver of arrows, but has not yet so much as touched either. She seems content enough to ride and enjoy the company while the sound of hounds in the distance is a merry tune to ride by.
On the coast-side of the party, but still amongst most of the ladies, rides Elrone Darklyn on a dark chestnut mare, wearing mostly black in lieu of having proper hunting clothes- heavy black skirts, black boots, black cloak- her top and bodice are her favored red, but mostly hidden by the cloak. Her long copper hair is braided back, and she bears no weapons of her own, having no training in them- but she does glance somewhat jealously at the bows several of the other ladies bear from time to time, when she is not looking out over the sea with a smile.
Longaxe checks his mount’s gait and drops back to ride next to Reyna Saltcliffe, inclining his head to her as he does so. “Where is Ser Dagur?” he queries absently scratching (and then wincing) at a mottled bruise adorning his jaw—a gift from the man he asks after. “I do so love a hunt.”
Jannia falls back a bit having the feeling she has done nothing but annoyed her brother. Now she rides behind Ser Janden in the front of the ladies getting the opportunity to speak to both sides of the party. Pulling the leather strap tighter on her bound pony-tail. Jannia glances towards the coast. “Such a lovely day no?” She says to no one in particular.
“He’s about somewhere,” Reyna says, turning in her saddle to look behind. “Ah, back there,” she says, indicating a black-clad man with a tilt of her chin. He raises a hand to her but makes no attempt to join her. “He’ll be along shortly, I expect. Are you healing well, Ser Kendros? You really did fight very well the other day.”
Ammon pulls his horse up, letting the waves lap at the beast’s hooves while the column moves passed him. All the while, Massey looks out over the sea—until the last of the nobles move ahead and he once again urges the horse on. “And how is my ransom treating you this day, ser?” he asks Jan as he comes up next to the Westerland knight.
“Nicer were the wind not at our backs, but the day itself is enjoyable,” Janden says with a glance over his shoulder upon hearing Jannia’s question, eyes taking in Humfrey’s proximity as well before he brushes strands of hair away from his eyes, reaching for a cord of leather to tie it back around the forehead. He rides on the side of the procession furthest from the coastal area. Any lingering soreness from the long tilt with Jan Marbrand don’t appear to show up. In addition to the spear he carries, his sword is belted at one side.
Brynden sits stiffly in his saddle, thanks to Ser Josmyn and the recent tournament.
Humfrey turns to Janden and nods to the Royal Huntsman. “Lord Corwen has some of the finest hunting grounds in the Baelor’s realm, there must be some game about.” Humfrey slips it waterskin into his saddle bag and lifts his bow from off his saddle horn. “Boar or rabbits, perhaps?”
Elrone smiles to Jannia as she draws back to the other women. “It is lovely. The sea looks beautiful.” She glances to Jannia’s bow, the slight look of envy returning. “You shoot, Lady Jannia? May I ask you to give me some pointers some time? I have been asking around for a teacher, but I have had no luck amongst the knights on that front.”
Jan turns to greet Ammon with a friendly nod, urging his horse on a pleasant pace to keep up with the nobles. “Ser Ammon,” he says with a smile and, before giving a surreptitious glance around first, produces a wineskin from his saddle bag. He passes it to Ammon with a grin. “Quite well, actually. Pleasant day for a ride, is it not?”
Longaxe laughs, Reyna’s compliment stirring something akin to humor in him. “You are too kind. Truth be told, I have not enjoyed myself like that since the War. There are so few men as good with a sword as he. The Dragonknight. Ser Almer, perhaps. That insufferable Lannister back in the Capital.
“But talk of fighting is a poor topic for women. I have a tendency to go on about it.”
Even thought Ser Blayne served almost everywhere in Seven Kingdoms, Storm’s End isn’t very familiar to him, the salty shores makes himself confused. He hurries to catch the rest of the group, but his brown northern eyes gazes something moving in a far bush, immediatly the knight grabs his longsword and sends one of his hounds to check it as he covers himself, trying to surprise the possible prey
“Aye, Ser Janden, but I should try to see the good things in a day. And that fact it is not raining in a place called ‘Storm’s End’ as a good thing in this day.” She smiles and speaks up so her words would reach Humfrey. “Would you not agree, Ser. Oh, rabbit to be sure, and all other manner of small animal.” Jannia turns to Elrone, “Of course, my lady. It would be my pleasure. Though, I am a bit out of practice myself. ”
Amongst those riding to hunt is the Lady Serry, dressed in her riding costume of bodice and a long generously pleated skirt, split for riding. She has remained near the back of the group, milling about with Ammon, or perhaps the Lady Reyna as it suits her. She sits comfortably in the saddle, if not perhaps most happily, one hand drifting now and again to rest on her abdomen, and occasionally patting the withers of the complacent mare the Baratheon stables have loaned to Katla.
“A daughter of Highgarden is most skilled at pretending to listen when men boast of their martial deeds, Ser Kendros,” laughs Reyna. “And even we can admire it in a tourney, such as this one. I expect Dagur enjoyed it far more than he will admit as well. Lady Serry, did you see it when Ser Kendros and Dagur went to swords?” She turns to address the lady who has become a friend.
Ammon accepts the skin. “A familiar vintage,” he says with a smirk and takes a pull from it before handing it back. “But not too much for me, lest we meet some boar—though I fear that’s unlikely.” And with a raised eyebrow, Ammon says,” So it’s ‘ser’ now, is it, Marbrand? One unhorsing and you go back to titles?”
Janden nods both to Jannia and Humfrey, answering her first. “Yes, it could be dumping torrents of rain on all of us.” Then to the Westerling knight, he adds, “It shouldn’t be long before our luck changes, but I think this thing is a bit of overkill if all we come across are rabbits,” as he holds up the spear briefly. There’s a pause to look in the direction of the hound that suddenly breaks off after something, squinting to see whose it might be.
Katla chuckles softly and nods. “I was well impressed with what I saw, and hope to have the excuse to see more fine swordsmanship in the future, one way or another.” She rolls her shoulders slightly, adjusting her seat ever so slightly in the saddle. “I’ll simply hope to see the beasts stuck at the ends of spears, today.”
“Then, my lady,” comes an amused drawl, “you have simply not asked the right knight.”
And there he rides on Elrone’s other side, having come up without warning—a court gallant, his hunting leathers finely tailored, carelessly handsome. His blue eyes crinkle at the corners as he smiles, “No insult to Lady Jannia, but I will wager I could teach you a trick or two better than she could. With the bow.”
“Shall I seek you out when we are back at—”
There is a hum and he coughs, a puzzled look crossing his face.
And then his eyes widen and he sags sideways against Elrone, half-falling off, blood pulsing from his ruined throat with a long-shafter arrow through it onto her.
In the midst of turning to the man, Elrone is halfway into her usual smile when the arrow hits and her face is sprayed with blood. She screams, loudly, as the man sags onto her and she, no expert rider herself, begins to slide from her own mount under his weight, still screaming, as the blood pulses onto her hands and she tries to push him off.
Humfrey reins his horse and turns to Elrone and Jannia. “Don’t be so self-depreciating.” He turns to Elrone, next. “Jannia’s quite good, better than most knights and sworn swords I have seen.” Humfrey brings spurs to the flanks of his mount and continues on after Janden—and then the whistle of a shaft. Humfrey turns and gapes as the gallant’s falls blood pulsing from the wound. “Get the women off the road!” He rides in front of Elrone and Jannia then looks about for their assailant. One hand is held out to steady Elrone in the saddle. “Off the road.”
“Would if we come across any, Lady Serry.” Jannia smiles, “I am confident it should be soon.” Turning to Elrone and her companion Jannia goes to protest. “Trust, ser. I am much better than one would think.” Seeing his insistance she shrugs, “But if you insist…. Hells.” Jannia turns her horse about looking for the nearest huddle of ladies seeing none she pulls her reigns to the side of the men in front of her that the arrow did not come from. “Lady Reyna, Lady Serry.” She says breathlessly and a bit confused looking for the blood stained Lady Elrone.
“Lady Serry,” Longaxe says in greeting, taking note of her for the first time. “I thank you—” but then there is a scream, and whatever he was going to say probably would not matter anyway. “What in the seven hells…” he says, turning his horse to look behind him; he had chosen a rounsey for its speed today. It is not the preferred mount of a knight, and this one is unused to the sights and smells of battle. The sight and smell of the red mist causes it to rear and it is all Longaxe can do to remain ahorse.
“Right. Just enough to make the ride interesting,” Jan replies, taking a swig himself before placing the skin back in his saddlebag. He chuckles at Ammon’s supposed offense. “Massey it is then.” Hearing a tumult behind him, Jan swivels his horse to see Elrone scream and the curious man, blood pouring from the wound his neck. Instinctively, he reaches for a sword, and mutters a curse when he does not find it in the usual place. Instead, he grasps his spear, poring over the cliffside for any potential attackers as he helps to escort the ladies to the side.
Humfrey reins his horse and turns to Elrone and Jannia. “Don’t be so self-depreciating.” He turns to Elrone, next. “Jannia’s quite good, better than most knights and sworn swords I have seen.” Humfrey brings spurs to the flanks of his mount and continues on after Janden—and then the whistle of a shaft. Humfrey turns and gapes as the gallant’s falls blood pulsing from the wound. Chestnut eyes move about the forest looking for their assailant. One hand is held out to steady Elrone in the saddle.
The shrieking makes the ironborn woman turn, and Katla’s face pales as she does, looking through the trees at the sight of Elrone slipping from her horse, the dead courtier next to her. Her fingers clench tightly at the reins, the mare sidling only a bit - less than a more spirited beast might - and then the worry brought on by Kendros’ rounsey and some of the other beasts makes the mare whinny nervously, rearing slightly and then falling back to ground. Her eyes look for Reyna, her hands too occupied with trying to keep the mare’s four feet on the ground to reach for anything else, a bow or dagger or that ilk.
Reyna’s shock is palpable, but she has been thus before and turns her head sharply toward Kendros. But before she can so much as speak, her own mount reacts to the rounsey’s panic; the blood-bay sandsteed shrills and rears and she has her hands full managing as confusion turns quickly to chaos. “DAGUR!” she screams, her voice on the knife’s edge of panic as she brings the frightened mare to the ground and throws herself flat across the horse’s neck to keep her from rearing again. “DAGUR!”
Janden is close enough to hear the arrow sail through the air and strike the man next to Elrone, sending the spray of blood around. His attention turns that way a beat after it’s struck, seeing the aftermath. “Ambush!” he calls out, the first thing coming to mind. Then, “Watch the trees!” As far as he’s concerned, that’s the only place for someone to be lying in wait, especially since they’re right there now. Having mostly picked out the path of the arrow from the point of impact, his eyes dart in that direction in hope of spotting signs of whoever’s responsible, grabbing the reins of his mount in preparation of spurring the courser to action.
Ammon has a view of it all, from his place just beside the women. Eyes widening as the man dies, Massey reaches for his sword—a sword he doesn’t wear. “Fucking courtesies!” he curses under his breath and reaches to pull the bow from his shoulder. Luckily, being the rider that he is, Ammon’s horse has borne him through the Kingswood and Crackclaw. It, at least, knows it’s business. And so he drops his profile close to the beast’s neck, spurring closer to the women with a “On me, Marbrand!” and yelling for the women to get down.
Ser Blayne hears a woman scream coming from the woods, he tries to drag and find the source of it, he finds a man spraying blood next to a woman that he founds to be Elrone, immediatly he rides faster throught the confusion with his spear pointed foward. “What in Seven Hells is going here?” He screams.
Elrone stops screaming as soon as Humfrey rights her on her horse, though she has little control of the animal since she is busy staring wide-eyed and gasping at the blood on her hands in shock. It is Reyna’s scream that finally rights her, and she turns her mount with the rest of the ladies, streaking the mare’s fine chestnut mane with blood as she tries weakly to gain control.
In situations like these there is panic, confusion, shock, and all out chaos. Jannia was a bit shocked, and didn’t know who to call. Shaking her head she grabs her reigns and goes in the direction of Elrone. “Ser Humfrey, Brynden?” She shouts above the din of chaos and screams. Reaching the general vicinity of Reyna she tries to push her horse through to the Saltcliffe lady, making it halfway and unable to move anymore she searches the madness for others she wishes to check on sliding her bow off her back and resting it onto her lap.
Brynden wheeled his horse around when the screaming began, intending to see to see that the women of the party face no further trouble. “Jannia.” he says as he nears them. “You will stay put, for once. And hold your tongue if you are about to protest.”
Jan clenches the spear tightly and aligns his horse next to Ammon’s as he shepherds the ladies’ horses to safety. Teeth gritting, he gazes out into the woods, futilely looking for any sign of movement. “Where is the bastard??” he yells, deftly maneuvering his horse around the now disjointed party in an effort to get a better view through the trees. Battle may not be familiar to him, but being on horseback is, and he channels the fury coarsing through his veins into his riding.
“We need to find out who is doing this maddness, I suggest someone to come with me, search and kill the puny criminal who did that to this lady” Says Ser Blayne, with his spear raised and eyes gazing the top of every tree.
Humfrey grabs the reigns of Elrone horse and spares the Darklyn maid a grim look. “We need to get you to safety.” Gilded spurs bite into his white horse’s flanks as he rides toward Jannia and Brynden. He halts besides them and nods to Brynden. “Lady Jannia, my Lady of Darklyn, do as Ser Brynden commands. Jannia, if you see anyone you do not recognize from court put a shaft through their midsection.” Ser Humfrey looks grim as death, his chestnut eyes a deep garnet. He draws his boar spear and rides to meet Ser Blayne.
There is nothing after that shaft. The forest holds it breath as the shrieks of women and the alarmed cries of men ring out.
And then the arrows start in earnest. They slash through the company from every angle, from all around. The afternoon becomes a crescendo of pain as men go down one after the other—most because their horses have been wounded, but some, those who are seen trying to rally others, because they themselves have been wounded or killed.
“Don’t stop! Don’t stop! Forward!” roars a Baratheon man, one of Lord Corwen’s, spurring his horse forward and taking half-a-dozen men with him, pounding through the trees—and then the entire small company disintegrates as a rope stretched between two trunks and hidden by the undergrowth is suddenly pulled taut, rising from the forest floor to shatter the horses’ legs.
And the Iron Serpent is there at his wife’s side, beating through the chaos, blade in hand—for when is an ironman ever without steel by his side—stretching to grab her reins and yank down cruelly, bringing her mount under control from the pain in its mouth. Beside him is a grim Lord Corwen, bracketed by two of his men who serve as shields against the arrows.
“The women!” the Iron Serpent’s voice cuts through the screams, used to command on the battlefield. “Longaxe, Ammon, Janden! Get the women together!”
Jannia nods to her brother, “No worries brother, Ser Humfrey, I have no intentions of leaving the ladies. I may not have asked for a boar to nearly run me down before, but I surely do not mean to make this wedding celebration into one of mourning.” She gives her brother a shaky smile. “Now go, I should think these men have us under control. No worries Ser Humfrey, I will be well.” She smiles looking over a lady or two to Reyna. “My Lady, are you well? You weren’t hurt were you, Lady Serry?”
“Now, there’s no certainty this is the work of a bastard,” Janden comments to the Marbrand knight, perhaps an inappropriate time for a jape of any kind as he carries himself closer to the neck of his horse to present less of an upright target. His spear is clutched at one side, a quick glance spared toward Lord Baratheon and those among him before he holds out a free hand to slow Blayne. “The best way to end up the same as that poor fellow is to rush in carelessly. It came from that direction, but—” That’s when the flurry of arrows rains down around them and he swears. Whatever he was about to do, order must be restored and one of the closest to him is Katla. “With me now, please,” he says with urgency in his voice, attempting to lead her together with the other women and provide a layer of protection at the least.
A wide-eyed stare is Elrone’s initial response to Humfrey, though she blinks and nods to his command. Slowly she turns to Jannia and, after an initial swallow of fear, smiles weakly. “I hope you are not that out of practice.”
But then the arrows begin again, and she ducks into her mare, yelping as she is clipped in the shoulder, though the wound is scarcely visible through the already present blood of the gentleman who first fell.
His mount rearing and stomping, Longaxe wastes precious seconds, using the reins and a stern voice to get his mount under control. “Curse you, you retch, you -will- obey me!” he says, willing the horse to respond to the bit in its mouth. Caught completely unawares, armed with a spear and quiver, and his squire off who knows where with his axe, Ser Kendros takes a moment to survey the situation; every knight seems to have his own idea of what to do. Longaxe pays them no heed, at least until Dagur speaks, and he chooses to be of use, reaching out for the bridle on Katla’s mare to ensure she stays on the ground. “Lean forward and grab the neck,” he orders her, an arrow whizzing a few inches by his head.
Under the sudden shower of arrows and screaming horses—screaming men—Reyna just stays as she is, flat against the horse’s neck, clinging tightly to the palfrey’s mane. She has the sense, even in her terror, to stay that way instead of sitting up to make a better target of herself. And the sound of Dagur’s voice, makes her stop shouting for him as an arrow skitters across the leather of her jerkin, leaving a scored scar across her back. The only sound she makes now is a constant, prayerful: “Oh no oh no oh no oh no…” that goes on as the arrows keep coming and she hides her eyes, fingers wrapped tightly in the sandsteed’s mane.
The ironborn woman is herded along with the other women, swallowing, and she does as Kendros orders, seeming content with this rather than fighting. She leans down, making the mare’s head bow, and holds onto the beast’s neck. She doesn’t answer Jannia, her lips moving in what might be prayer or might be something else - “god” and “baby” are perhaps the only audible words amongst the din.
Ammon was already moving before Saltcliffe’s shout, of course. He is close to the women, herding them on in spite of the confusion. “Low! Low!, Get low, Katla! Elrone!” he shouts as he rides, a low profile himself. “Don’t stop!” But the ambush is confusion and his horse, steady as it is, is moving this way and that to avoid the dying men and horses. But then he is with the women, between them and the arrows.
“Go!” he shouts again—just as the first arrow finds his horse’s flank.
The forest whistles with the sound of shafts flying. Humfrey ducks low against the back of his horse, riding toward Ser Blayne. Then the rope is stretched taught and the sound of horses and men dying fills the clearing. He takes a moment to stab one stricken beast in the throat as he rides past then lifts his horse blood-drenched boar spear high as he reaches Ser Blayne. “Where are they? Do you see them?”
Brynden hangs back just a bit, dropping back a half-langth behind the ladies. He wheels his black courser to see what he can see, then moves back towards the retreating women. “Bloody hells! Why does this keep happening?” It only takes a moment and hehis on their heels again. “Keep moving, stay together!”
“I think I saw some movement towards that tree” Says Ser Blayne as he points to a big oak, “but there are too many arrows coming from there, do you think we can get there?”
Jan, too, positions his horse in between the flurry of arrows and the ladies. “Stay low!” He echoes. At Elrone’s yelp, he reaches over to calm her horse and guide it along. Glancing at the wound, he says in a lower voice, “Keep moving, my lady, and you will make it out okay-” but he is interrupted by an arrow flashing inches from his face. His mare briefly looks frantic, as if it is about to reign, before he sternly graps a hold of the reins again and settles it.
“Me too.” Jannia says to Elrone, now having time to breath she begins shaking slightly. An arrow goes flying over her shoulder, Jannia now takes the stance of Reyna hugging her mares neck and patting her softly trying to calm her beastly friend. “Shhh shona.” The horse near rears before Jannia’s soft pats and calming words stop the horse from doing so. Still the horse is anxious, just as anxious as everyone else’s horses one might guess.
The men are valiant. Gallant. Wonderfully large and blocksome. But some arrows get through. Of course they do. One shaft embeds itself in Reyna’s upper arm and passes right on through into her mare; she wails and the horse neighs shrilly at the same time from the pain of it. Now she is whimpering, her eyes squeezed tightly shut. “Make it stop make it stop make it stop…” as blood blossoms crimson on the white sleeve of her tunic. But the arrows…
The company is driven into chaos, the shrill, pain-maddened whinnies of dying horses and cries of wounded men everywhere.
And the arrows stop.
Again, there is that breathless silence—and then a rising howl, a mad ululation, rends the afternoon, coming from dozens of throats, from all around, distorted by the trees.
And they pour out from amidst the trees, closing in on the hunting company, blood misting the dappled shadows as they strike down the first men in their way. These are no ordinary bandits, for they look like the lowest hell’s hounds unleashed—strange, bare-chested men hairy breeches, men with forked beards, men with painted eyelids, one who has bells tinkling counterpoint in his hair as he leaps and spins, the curved blade in his hand taking one knight’s head, then another’s.
And through them strides a fever dream—a man who walks through death as if he owns it with a long, curved blade in either hand, clad in brilliant silks, golden hair gleaming in the sunlight, sapphires in his ears, his face cruel perfection as he looks at what he has created and smiles.
Through the trees, the Iron Serpent’s eyes widen as he sees him and his hand slackens on Reyna’s reins. The skin stretches tight across his cheekbones and the hard angles of his face seem to be become more pronounced.
It is a good thing Jan has some control of her horse, because Elrone certainly does not. The mare is beginning to snort, sensing the fear and death around it, and the lady gripping its mane is not helping matters. Still, it follows the others, for the moment. But then the arrows stop. Sensing the silence, Elrone looks up just a bit from her horse, and stares at the men before them. She gulps.
The appearance of Saan tears it. Kendros makes a decision, and executes.
“Ser Janden, take Lady Katla and Lady Jannia and the others; get them together and keep them safe. I’m going to find my gods-damned axe!” Longaxe orders; having no authority to give any such orders, he chooses instead to ride off before the Melcolm knight can argue with him.
Something catches Katla in the leg but she does not notice, for it happens just before the silence. It’s as if her ears are tuned to that, and any blood left in Katla’s face disappears, and she swallows, her eyes widening as she lifts her head and looks to where the sounds of men, dying men, are suddenly cut short. She cannot see, not around the men, but she tries, and one hand moves from the mare to wrap around her belly, her lips still moving in nearly-silent platitudes.
In all the commotion Jannia’s horse reared and knocked her from her saddle. Jannia caught her fall, but sadly with her arm. The pain shot up her arm in an instant, but the arrows stopped, thank the Seven the arrows stopped. Though one word made Jannia forget her pain and scramble to her horse to be lead by Janden at Kendros’ command. “Saan.”
The name on her husband’s lips in the sudden silence is enough to make Reyna sit bolt upright. The movement snaps the point of the arrow off so that it falls in a trickle of blood alongside the mare’s neck and to the ground. Reyna just stares in wild-eyed terror. “No,” she says, turning to Dagur as if there were not an arrow in her arm. “No, it’s not him. It’s not. It’s not!”
Where there is one arrow, more follow, until the flank of Ammon’s horse runs red and slick. But the arrows stop and somehow, -somehow-, Ammon is able to keep the horse under control. And he faces the dream coming from the trees.
Massey spares one look for Jan and Elrone. “Keep her safe,” he mouths to Marbrand. And then he kicks his spurs into his horse’s flanks, wheeling to charge.
But the horse is lame, with all the arrows, and it falls. And Ammon with it—yet he rolls with the fall and comes to his feet smiling.
Saan’s bandits are upon them and Stormlanders falls like wheat before a sycthe, Ser Humfrey turns to Ser Blayne. “Maidens tits.” The battle-tested knight actually cringes as a Stormland knight a few feet from Humfrey is decapitated, a torrent of blood splashes over Ser Humfrey, darkening the leather of his jerkin. Humfrey lifts his boar spear and prepares to defend himself—but the man is engaged by another Stormland knight in the chaos of the battle.
Janden keeps a firm hand on his own mount and as Katla’s also aided by Kendros he moves closer to assist others, he shoots a look after the back of Longaxe, shouting, “Then you’d best be quick about it!” At that moment an arrow grazes his forehead, cutting the cord he’d tied there only moments before and causing a line of red to show up. On instinct he ducks back and would have been far too late had it been better placed, then the name ‘Saan’ is heard.
“Fuck. Move. /Now!/” Janden spurs his horse while slapping the rear of Katla’s, only to draw reins again and snap out a free hand with a clenched jaw, grabbing for Jannia to help lift her bodily back into the saddle, their mounts nearly coming into contact with each other. He’s doing his best to at least get the women closer to a few of the other knights when Reyna’s own cry rings out. “Fuck again! My lady, stay close to me!” This time it’s for the Saltcliffe woman. Seems he’s one of the few charged to protect the women, which he will do as best he can.
Brynden stands in his stirrups, trying to peer over the knot of people and horses. “Hells.” He turns his horse again, at least the party won’t be snuck up on. He hefts his spear and checks for his daggers. Still there. “There will be pirates burning in the hells tonight.” Probably noone heard that.
Jannia scoops up her bow and gladly takes the hand of Janden to get back in the saddle. With a wince she is up and the bow placed back around her shoulders. She says not a word in protest, and shaking she just puts a heel to her horse and follows Janden.
Jan gives Ammon a nod and stays close to the ladies, but he grips his spear and readies himself for combat, looking sternly at the onrushing pirates. As Ammon falls, Jan curses under his breath. “Stay low and stay with Janden. And drink this for the pain,” he says, handing Elrone his wineskin and gesturing towards her wound. With that, he spurs his horse towards the pirates, eyes grim with determination.
For its light weight and swift gait, the sound of Kendros riding down the line of the hunting party—in the process of bunching up still—makes a thunderous sound. He scans faces for his squire, a young boy of about fourteen, becoming progressively more concerned as he goes. At length he catches sight; the lad has been dragged on the ground by the stirrups for some ways before his foot came loose; his corpse is a mess of dust mixed with blood in a brownish slick, and he stinks of shit; an arrow is lodged where once his eye was.
But Ser Kendros has no time, and his quarry is mere feet away from the dead squire. This thing is no tournament axe; it is like hell on earth in his hands. It is a part of him. Leaping from the saddle, Longaxe seizes it by the haft, remounts, and puts the spurs to the rounsey’s flanks.
“We need something to use as a shield, then we can advance and we may shoot the bandits.” Says Blayne, he quickly gets behing a tree, and start shooting with his bow in the direction that the arrows are coming. “Do you have some idea?” He asks Humfrey.
Saan. The name is familiar- and Ammon’s reaction confirms it. Elrone stares after him, slack-jawed. “No…” she murmurs. She wipes some of the blood from her face with her forearm, trying to keep the blood on her hands from her eyes, but she only really succeeds in smearing the spray across the right side of her face. Something in her becomes more focused, watching Ammon fall and then recover and she takes the wineskin from Jan with a grim expression, before leaning into her mare to follow after Janden and the others.
Ammon’s smile grows as he stalks forward, dropping the bow in favor of a dead man’s spear. And even as he moves towards the sapphire-wearing dandy in the trees, there is a brigand by him, ending a dying knight. The spear is raised and thrust into the man’s back. Then there is one less brigand—and a sword in Massey’s hand, wickedly sharp and gleaming.
Now the battle is properly joined. The Prince of the Narrow Sea has planned this well; his men have driven the knights—almost none with weapons save hunting spears and some not even that—back like hounds herding sheep, pushing them tighter and tighter until they’re all together, fighting to somehow stay alive. Lord Corwen is in the center of that, blade in hand—one of his men has given him his own—but pragmatic enough to not try to fight at the front. The women are there too amidst the men, largely due to Janden Melcolm’s swift work—and fortunately, for it is them that the pirates seem to be trying to get to.As for those knights still outside the cluster trying to break through on their own, they are swiftly pulled down and butchered. Save a few like the Massey knight who seems to have the Stranger’s own luck as he stalks towards Saan.
The horses are making everything worse, for they are not trained to battle; plunging and lashing out, eyes rolling, they are near as much a danger as the pirates.
As for the Iron Serpent, he holds Sullehman Saan’s gaze for a long, long moment—and the pirate smiles slowly, then turns his head a little to look at Reyna. And mouths something to her like a man to his lover with that smile growing.
Then, cursing vilely, the ironman has dismounted and grabs his wife’s arm, pulling her off the horse—he doesn’t seem to have even seen the snapped shaft—and pushing her amidst the other women, “Back. Back, all of you.”
And turning, with one economical motion he slits Reyna’s maddened mount’s throat—and then his own’s. The horses slowly sink to the ground, blood spurting in bright, arterial jets. But the dead bodies form a barricade of sorts—and he makes his stand there before the women, crimson blade in hand, dark eyes glittering.
Janden ushers as many of the women to a safer place as he can, ignoring the ones who have already died. There’s nothing that can be done for them right now and taking time out of this to worry over them is a good way to end up with them. He dismounts and keeps his spear at the ready in the event anyone comes for him or the women. It’s hardly his best weapon but he is still a knight. “Behind me,” he orders, gritting his teeth as he reaches for Reyna once Dagur’s done the very cold but ultimately necessary things and says, “Hold still. This will hurt but a moment.” The rest of the arrow that had lodged in her arm is yanked free and he stresses to Katla, Jannia or whoever else is listening, “One of you help keep pressure on the wound, and above the heart. Ser Jan, protect the other side.” He stands close to the Iron Serpent, though it would do much for him to have steel in his hand rather than the wooden shaft of the spear.
One of Saan’s men, Shahaaz, has painted eyelids, a bare chest and a very sharp-looking curved blade. It’s stained red already He picks out Humfrey Westerling as his target and smiles wickedly. “Yer blood will join the rest, ser dog! Ye have no chance!” It’s said in as mocking a way as he can make it. The man shows signs of many battles, scars marking him in multiple places. Part of an ear is missing along with the tip of a finger on his open hand. That he’s still around is a testament to his good fortune so far, and his ability. The blade swings at Humfrey’s torso as he seeks to slip in past the knight’s spear, aiming to spill his guts on the spot. “Once ye all fall, we’ll have yer women!”
As he rides, Longaxe strips the bow and quiver from his back and casts them aside; they would only slow him down. He drives his mount forward, standing in the stirrups; his poleaxe is held in his right hand, off to the side with the queue pointed forward. It resembles an awkward, unbalanced spear when wielded so.
But Longaxe has no intention of using it thus; a poleaxe is made for fighting on foot, and as he rides into the thick of things, he leaps from his horse at top speed, using two foul-smelling pirates to break his fall. The fall snaps one’s neck; the queue goes into the other’s leg and he bleeds out in seconds. Longaxe rolls with the fall, arising little the worse for wear. His mount flees, and the heir to Goodbrook retrieves his pollaxe and turns to face the first man he sees.
This turns out to be Dareo, a shirtless, tanned man with a forked red beard. He is second only to Saan in this vile outfit, though he seems to stink less than the others. He seems fierce enough, and he did not get where he is by being weak. He charges Longaxe, brandishing his weapon, and striking for the Goodbrook’s head. Not a subtle fighter, this one.
The sudden action jolts Reyna to something like awareness and she can only gasp in pain before she is thrust among the women and is clutching at Katla to keep her feet, her sleeve red with blood. Then Janden has yanked the arrow free and she wails in pain, her face draining of color at the pain of it.
Meanwhile, Memmo leers at the women as the pirates press in. He has no braid for his bells; they are tied instead to short tufts of hair that sprouts madly from his head. He has an arakh in his hand, the curved blade red with blood. “I will ride the fire-hair,” he promises, eyes on Jannia. “We ride!” and he swings his sword at Brynden, clearly expecting to cut the other man down to get at the girl.
Brynden rises in his stirrups again. “Goat legs!” he calls to the tall, scarred man behind the group of nobles. “I came to hunt a great pig in these woods. You will do.” he shouts in challenge. If this is bravado or a way to keep his opponent from noticing that at least one shoulder is not working especially well is up for debate. He moves his horse foward towards the Mutt. The boar spear is not made for using ahorse, but he means to jab at the pirate to make him swing, then put it through the man’s chest.
Ser Humfrey is covered in sweat and blood by the time he and Ser Blayne are pushed back to the rough circle formed by Ser Dagur, the Stormland knights and much of the remainder of the royal company. He stares at the beast, Shahaaz—something out of a child’s nightmares. “Mothe’s teets.” The beast’s blade whistles toward him and Humfrey dodges catching the edge on the long point of his steel spear. He moves nimble as a dancer, pulling his hunting knife from his sheet and slashing at the pirate’s throat in one smooth, nimble movement.
One of the few men still outside the circle comes for Sullehman Saan. The knight’s spear darts at his belly. And the Prince of the Narrow Sea simply keeps walking, swaying aside to let the wicked point hiss past him—and skewering the man through an eye and into his brain almost delicately, no more than an inch or two of the blade in his left hand bloodied.
And he walks on, leaving the shuddering, twitching corpse behind him.
Until he sees Ammon. And then he stops, sounding almost surprised. “You are still alive? I thought you would have ended your life for shame by now, yes?”
“Come, little man.” And a smile of genuine pleasure curves his mouth, “Let us see if I can make you scream like your sister did.”
A sharp inhale comes from the Tully maiden as the pirate picks her out of the ladies. She looks over to Reyna who is slid from her horse, and cries when Dagur slits her’s and his horses throats. “No, no, not Shona.” She sniffles and slides down grabbing her bow as Brynden takes on the man who dared to claim her honor.
Snorting, salivating, chomping at her bit Jannia’s horses eyes roll back into her head. Sad periwinkle eyes full to the brim with tears stare at the Royal Huntsman. “Ser Janden, either slap her and hope she makes it back to Storm’s End, or slit her throat. She won’t stay calm much longer.” With a sniff and shaking with fear Jannia grabs a blue and red stoned handled dagger from her saddle bag and hands it to Janden. She turns away from what is sure to come next.
Brynden starts to try and put his spear into the pirate, but the man’s steps inside the spear and slashes through his leathers in a great bloody swipe, knocking the Tully knight off his horse. If he’s alive or dead who will know until after the battle?
Not subtle indeed. Longaxe sees this coming from a mile, and sidesteps, though not as quickly as he would have liked. Dareo may be unsubtle, but he is quick, and the mace he wields could cave in a man’s skull in one hit—and here is Longaxe with no helm. He plants his foot and brings the haft around so that the dague is pointed straight at Dareo and attacks, shoving the point forward. It is a testing attack, but there is quite a bit of force behind it.
Melwas grunts once, looking - and then he sees something, one of the gallant knights, and grins. He moves his bulk towards Jan Marbrand, swinging his weapon at the knight, looking for weaknesses, unguarded places.
Ammon continues to stalk forward amidst the confusion, screams, and terror. He smirks as he approaches the self-styled Prince of the Narrow Sea. It is as if the Stranger himself smiles upon this meeting, for the path between the two is clear. “You remember me. Good,” Ammon says, strangely emotionless. “I’ve dreamed of this. But I won’t scream—I’ve no tears left to shed.”
And Ammon’s smirk grows into a mirror of Saan’s pleasure-filled grin as the knight attacks. He flicks his sword out, gauging the distance.
Katla slides from her mount as her mind confirms it is Sullehman Saan, and she holds tightly to the horse’s bridle, one hand hovering protectively over her abdomen and the faint swell under her skirts. “Kill him, Ammon,” Katla calls, her voice angry and raising as best it can above the din. “Kill that bloody wretch.” Her face is still pale, but her voice seems to carry more than a bit of strength, and the raging anger at her inability to act.
“You cannot stab me with your puny weapon, serrah! I am Dareo the Great!” the pirate roars, knocking aside Longaxe’s testing attack with his mace. He swings the mace wildly, a horizontal arc for Kendros’ midsection.
Darting his eyes back to the noblewomen, Jan sees he is needed and heeds Janden’s instructions, wheeling his horse around to position himself on the other side of the noblewomen. Noting the horses’ restlessness, he unmounts himself, smacking his horse on the rear to direct it away from the women. As he hits the ground, a towering pirate -Melwas- strikes at him with his spear, but Jan sidesteps the blow smoothly, ducking under it and jabbing his own spear at the pirate’s bare chest.
“Shit.” Even ladies curse when the times call for it. Elrone, still ahorse, follows Janden and the other ladies over to the impromptu horse barricade Dagur has created. At the back of the group, she is farthest away from the defending knights- and therefore it is unsurprising when one of the pirates breaks through and wraps a grubby hand around the end of her long braid. Elrone yelps again, straining to hang on to her horse’s mane, but the man pulls, hard, and drags the girl straight off her mount. She slams into the ground, groaning with the impact to her forearm, which caught most of the blow. Winded for a moment, she turns to look at her attacker with fury in her eyes.
And Ammon draws first blood. Perhaps Sullehman Saan takes him too lightly, for he raises his own blade to parry almost negligently—and can’t stop the Massey knight’s steel from scraping past. Cat-quick, he pivots, but he can’t save himself from a long, bloody line scored across his chest, slashing the silk. He stumbles back with a hiss of pain as blood soaks into his finery instantly, and looks down at himself.
There is incredulity in his eyes when he looks up at Ammon. And then he laughs, and the sound roils with malice, even if his voice is thick with pain, “There are always tears. I will show you.”
And he attacks.
Tested once, and tested again - and Melwas laughs, a booming sound, a grin cracking his weathered face. “Melwas like new toy,” he says with an odd sort of happiness, as if he’s not wholly in his right mind, and shakes his spear in his hands as he jumps away from Jan’s swing. “Good toy. I kill you slowly, save fun.” Then it’s the spear, the tip flashing in the light, plunging towards Jan’s upper body and his swordarm.
Janden would prefer not to kill a horse if it isn’t needed, but this is a very dicey situation. In spite of taking the blade from Jannia he wordlessly smacks the animal’s hindquarters as hard as he can. “Kyahh! Go!” The same is done to his own mount, who’s starting to get into too much of a panic as well. He keeps hold of the dagger on the chance it’ll be needed, spear in his other hand. One or the other when the time comes.
Shahaaz’s first attack goes awry but when Humfrey’s counter comes up just as empty the pirate laughs and spins in a circle, aiming the sharp blade at the cheek of the Westerling knight. “I don’t miss twice!”
Ser Kendros is ready for it, but Dareo the Great, as he insists on being called, is quicker than he seems. The mace glances off of his leathers, doing little damage. “I can do more than just stab, retch.” Longaxe shrugs it off, and finding himself in a patch of red dirt, he elects to kick some of it in Dareo’s face before it can become matted with someone’s blood. He follows this up by dropping the beak and aiming to hook it around Dareo’s leg to bring him down.
“I will string you up by the neck you murderous wretch.” Ser Humfrey’s neck wrenches back as the pirate’s sword whistles past him. All around him the screams of women and dying men—but the heir has eyes only for his foe—scarred, fingerless, and earless—this will be no easy battle. Westerling crouches like a shadowcat about to leap and jabs at the pirate’s stomach as he prepares to followup his attack.
Jan’s eyes narrow at the crazed pirate’s boasts, but his focus is entirely on the battle at hand. Cursing as his own blow misses again, he nevertheless deflects Melwas’ attack. Confidence growing, Jan feints towards his chest but then slashes the spear at Melwas’ bulging neck. “Let us see how you like this toy then, you bastard.”
A pitiful soft cry comes from Jannia as Janden takes the dagger. Though when he chooses to loose her in hopes of making it back to the castle Jannia could have hugged the man. She nods to him when he pockets the dagger and moves—as best as she can—towards Reyna; thankful she is in split hunting skirts instead of a traditional gown.
The blade cuts into the Mutt’s neck, clearly surprising the warrior. He grunts again, rage now flashing in his eyes, and one hand reaches up to touch the cut in his chest and neck. “Little girl can use sword! Melwas toy have spirit.” Then he roars, those huge lungs expelling a sound of anger and ferocity - and more than a bit of rotten breath - as he thrusts his spear back towards Jan’s stomach and groin.
With the Tully knight down and out of the way, the path to Jannia just got clearer. Memmo roars in triumph and lunges for her, aiming to catch handsful of her voluminous skirts. But there is Janden in his way and he grins, his bare chest bloody as his curving arakh. “We dance, then I ride!” he cries, aiming for Janden now with a high arc of his blade.
Dareo catches the brunt of Longaxe’s trickery. The dirt in the face prevents him from reacting, and when his leg gets tangled up in the pollaxe, he goes down hard. It does not help matters that Kendros immediately follows up his attack with a kick in his tender bits.
“You are no knight!” Dareo the Great howls, rolling to the side and bounding to his feet with a wince. His eyes, bloodshot with rage, glare balefully at Longaxe as he massages himself.
“And you’re a thrice-damned pirate who will have his head on a pike before the sun sets,” Kendros retorts, moving forward again to press the attack.
Dareo reacts first, however, leaping forward and swinging his mace to knock the pollaxe aside and drive Longaxe with force into a tree trunk.
A screech comes from Jannia as looks for her brother and finds Brynden on the ground. Of course there is the big pirate coming to claim her maidenhead. “Ser Janden!” She squeals as the man reaches for her skirts.
No tears yet, for Ammon Massey. Even if he is -just- too slow to escape the arcing blade; Saan is quick! The blade slashes through leather, mail and the clothing beneath—and there is a matching line across Ammon’s chest, blood streaming down. But there are no tears. There is only the grin. “When you kill me in my dreams, you stab rather than slash. Try!”
And Ammon comes on, strength against speed, his stolen blade arcing down from over head.
The pirate continues to pull on Elrone’s braid, yanking her now into a standing position, close enough to be an embrace, and the Darklyn girl retches at the smell, while pulling back on her own hair to dull the pain. Pulling her face away from the odor, she narrows her eyes, and whips her free hand toward the man’s face, slapping him with her nails extended, leaving four distinct red lines across the man’s face. He looks surprised for a moment, then laughs as he drops the braid to go for the girl’s throat instead.
Jan may have been successful in his attack, but he left his defenses open, completely unprepared for the counterattack. The beast’s spear thursts into his lower stomach and Jan doubles over. Wide-eyed, he looks down, a trickle of blood emerging, but he knows he has no time to inspect the wound. Instead, he grabs the pirate’s spear and, though not able to wrest it from his grasp, pushes it aside, causing the pirate to go off-balance. Perhaps sensing an opening, Jan lunges for Melwas’ stomach himself, grunting in pain.
Kendros sees this coming, and though the mace catchis his pollaxe, he pivots and steps aside to send Dareo staggering hopelessly past where he just stood. Since the sharp queue of the staff is closest, he leaps after him, stabbing at the man’s calf.
Janden is there to protect, turning toward Elrone and her pirate. Unfortunately his own side comes up challenged by Memmo the Braidless, meaning he’s got his hands full with the pirate now trying to get at the women. In just his hunting leathers he can’t rely on armor for added protection, but many of these have even less than that. “You’ll find me a better dancer than you think,” he all but snarls at the man, and as the arakh is swung down at him his spear is brought up to block it before he turns it around to drive at Memmo’s groin with as much force as he can put into it.
Shahaaz again misses Humfrey and pays for it this time, taking a nasty wound in the stomach, the very place he was going for. It hurts, oh does it hurt, but he fights back with a cut aimed at Humfrey’s neck as he tries to go for the jugular, literally.
The circle is becoming tighter and tighter; with no armour and few proper weapons, the knights are hard-pressed against the pirates. And they are not the only ones; in the woods behind them, the screams of the servants who had been trailing them can be heard too.
Right before the women, two pirates bludgeon a man to death; one kneels and saws off his head, then stands up, holding the gory trophy aloft by the hair, roaring in triumph. And then loses his own, his companion fallen a heartbeat ago. For the Iron Serpent is there and he is building that barricade by adding pirates’ bodies to the horses’.
Splattered with blood, some of it his own, for he is limping, he is as brutal a figure as the pirates—and some madness seems to be building in him, for the bones of his face are standing out starkly as if they are about to split the skin, his colour slowly leeching until he is near as pale as a corpse, eyes reddened as his blade moves ever more swiftly.
The Mutt bears no shield, but heavy leather armguards set with metal strips, and as he is pushed off-balance by the Marbrand knight, somehow manages to take that to his advantage, catching the blow meant for his body with one of those metal-banded armguards. Blood spatters his chest and his spear, and he thrusts again, back towards the upper body, hoping to disable the Marbrand’s swordarm.
Jannia trips over someones boot, or was that a shaft from a spear? No matter she finds her clumsy self face first in the mud for her efforts. “Seven Hells!” She screeches as pain shoots up her injured arm, scrambling to put as much distance between herself and the pirate who deems to take her for a ‘ride.’ She can only move so far though and unable to push through finds her back to the coagulated group of knights and ladies.
One of Baratheon’s men shouts and blood erupts from the pirate’s throat to shower poor Elrone once again with someone’s vital lifeblood. The man jerks Elrone upright and thrusts her back. “STAY!” he roars at her before diving back into the fray.
Meanwhile, Memmo leaps out of the way of Janden’s sword, laughing as his bells tinkle sweetly in his matted hair. “Fight better!” he shouts and swings his arakh again for Janden’s throat.
The knight of and heir to the Crag employs his greatest asset, again. Unencumbered by armor—he is quick and nimble as a court tumbler. Ser Humfrey bends his neck double and furious backpeddles to avoid the pirates attack, a lethal blow—had it landed—then charges the pirate slashing at him with his hunting knife, going for the throat. “I am Ser Humfrey Westerling—let the stranger know I sent you screaming down to the seventh hell, brigand!”
Elrone gasps as the pirate is cut down, only catching a glimpse of the Baratheon man that saved her, and she begins to stumble, now even more drenched in blood, blood, everywhere, toward the group of ladies. As her breath returns so does her focus and she starts to run.
As the pirate, with surprising dexterity, avoids his lunge, Jan’s eyes widen as he sees the pirate’s retort, but is too slow to react. The spear plunges into his right shoulder, blood spattering in the air. Jan immediately drops his spear and falls to his knees, screaming out in pain. Grasping the wound, he looks up at his opponent in terror, sure the beast will soon finish him off.
Dareo the Great, second in rank only to the Prince of the Narrow Sea, howls in a mixture of pain and vicious rage as the queue penetrates his leg and is just as quickly withdrawn. He drops to one knee, his mace falling to the earth with a dull thud.
“Pathetic,” Longaxe growls, genuine disappointment in his voice. “Dornish peasants fight better than you.”
Dareo the Great is so engrossed in the pain his leg that he never sees it coming. Longaxe presents the sharpened axehead and brings it in an overhead arc, straight down on top of the pirate’s skull and cleaving it in twain with a spray of red mist. He collapses to the ground in a heap, his death rattle little more than a gurgle. Longaxe is long gone before he can shit himself, though, running through three more pirates on his way towards Saan. “SAAN!” he shouts, trying to draw attention.
This time, the Prince of the Narrow Sea catches Ammon’s blade full on his own—and binds it, the two swords locked between them as he presses closer to closer until he is chest-to-chest with the Massey knight. And if Ammon’s sword digs into his chest and scores another shallow line, he doesn’t seem to even notice.
So close now, and he murmurs like an adder’s kiss, “Do I kill your sister in your dreams? I have sweeter dreams of her. Of the night I took her maidenhead. How she screamed. Such a sweet cunt she had. Do you know, by the end, I think she had started to like—”
And he breaks on that word, a distraction, pulling back, scraping his sword free and arcing a backhanded cut at Ammon’s shoulder, all in the same movement.
Melwas lets out a cry of victory, and looks for something to celebrate with - and sees them, the cluster of skirts and sweet bodies full of promise. They are surrounded by horses - live and dead - and some knights. But one of them is only an ironman, but Melwas has heard of this one, and is ready for the challenge, and the reward - ladies. They may have knights, and there may be the Lord, but the ladies - those are fine things. So he moves, his spear low and swift, to plunge into Dagur’s stomach.
Janden’s strike goes off to one side as Memmo moves in time, leaving him open for an attack that comes all too close to opening up a very bad spot. Just missing the throat full-on, he’s still cut open along a collarbone and red blood begins to stain the area, a sharp hiss of pain rising as the fight rises harder in him, retaliating with another stab with spear, this time higher up at Memmo’s stomach. There are few better places to put a spear.
Shahaaz is in trouble in spite of his boasts. Humfrey again avoids a serious wound, instead opening up a nasty one alongside the pirate’s neck. It slows the man’s step enough that it may render him more vulnerable, but the man laughs at Humfrey even as he brings his own curved blade back down toward the hand wielding the knife. “Die!”
Memmo exults in his near miss with Janden’s blade and wastes no time in banter. He is deadly intent on killing the Melcolm knight and having his way with the Tully maiden behind him. He swings the arakh again, meaning to behead the knight once and for all and have him out of the way.
The pirates’s blow, a blow that would have taken off his left hand had it made contact with Ser Humfrey’s slender wrist is slow an laggardly. Humfrey stares at the man, his eyes a deep hue of icey garnet death. “You have been weighed and found wanting, filth.” Humfrey bends his arm double crouches and charges. His blow comes low slashing at the pirates lower abdomen in an effort to disembowel him.
Jannia watches the fight between Janden and the pirate Memmo when he nearly cuts his throat open Jannia gasps. “The Dagger Janden, err, ser!” Mud covered hands try to wipe some of the horse shit and mud from her face so she can see clearly, she only manages to smear it. Helpless and crying she chances a glance to her injured brother, she hesitates and does not move, heeding her brother’s words and remaining out of danger. Well as far out of danger as she can.
Some hint of movement, some warrior’s sense, warns the Iron Serpent. And he whirls, stepping aside just as Melwas’ spear sings past him. But he doesn’t attack in return. Instead, he stumbles, although he hasn’t been wounded.
And he raises his face to the sky, bathed in dappled sunlight, and lets out a strange, keening cry that rises and rises above the bloody work being done amidst the trees.
And when he opens his red-rimmed eyes, he looks like the Stranger’s hound unleashed, a madness upon him, steel in hand, blood-covered. He takes the hilt of his blade in both hands. And without any thought of defence, impossibly quick, he attacks.
Janden is taken back to the wars, every attack meant to maim and kill. This is what they’ve trained for. As Memmo seeks to follow up on his advantage the Melcolm knight digs for the blade Jannia had given him previously and his spear is used to knock the pirate’s latest attack aside. With a roar he drives the dagger at one of Memmo’s eyes, trying to blind him!
Shahaaz is not Humfrey’s better at this point, eyes widening again as he’s too slow to avoid a near-deathblow that sees blood spilling down. A hand holds his guts in and he flails at Humfrey, teeth chattering as the curved blade goes for the Westerling’s throat in a last-ditch effort to take him down.
After bracing herself on a nearby tree, Elrone finally makes it back to the other ladies, the spray of blood a darker shade over her already red shirt. She nearly falls when she reaches Jannia, panting, though she looks about to see how the other ladies fare before returning her eyes to the battle.
Melwas is clearly as surprised as everyone else that he has managed to not be struck down immediately by the Iron Serpent, catching the blade at just the right angle on his arm-guards to defend himself. The force of the fierce strike still cuts in, but skin is not broken, only leather. Melwas smiles, a craggy and unpleasant expression, towards the cluster of women. He pulls back with his spear to thrust again towards Dagur, to catch him in the thigh in hopes of starting a bloodloss that cannot be quenched.
Janden’s blow nearly takes Memmo’s arm off at the elbow; it hangs half-severed and useless at his side as he yowls as only a Dothraki screamer can. It is blood-curdling and piercing, and as he shrills he raises the curved arakh and strikes with all of his waning strength to cleave and cut and rend…
The sense of relief Jan feels when the Mutt, apparently of short attention, inexplicably forgoes beheading him to chase after the ladies, is quickly replaced with fear as he realizes they are defenseless. He weakly yells out a warning to Dagur, but the pain is too unbearable, and he can manage only a horrifying bellow. Blood now coursing from his shoulder, pierced to the bone, he falls to the ground. The pain is such that he cannot believe he is not passed out, but he watches the Iron Serpent fight, praying to the Seven that he rescues him from his failure and stops the beast from reaching any innocents.
Ser Humfrey actually gapes when the pirate raises his sword, yet again!! His arm holding his eve guts inside his lower abdomen! The Westerling heir pulls away from the sword blow and not a second too late—for two have been a fatal blow—his chest takes the blunt of the wound, the pirates sword slashing open his jerkin and opening a huge long red scar across his pectorals. “Aarrrrghhh!” Ser Humfrey growls and roars and lifts his spear and stabs at the pirates shoulder in an effort to kill or disable him.
And still there are no tears, only a bitter laugh. Somewhere, someone screams Saan’s name and the pirate is distracted for a moment. Ammon sees the backhand coming, brings the stolen blade up to parry. Steel rings against steel. Sparks fly—and Ammon’s blade shatters! Saan’s sword finds a resting place in Ammon’s shoulder, blood spraying into the air, covering one side of Ammon’s face in a gory mask.
“It is me you kill in my dreams,” Massey whispers brokenly as he draws a dagger in his half hand: his good hand now. “Do you know what love truly is, worm?” Ammon whispers, his strength ebbing.
“Sacrifice.” And he launches himself at Saan, dagger flashing.
Janden’s blow makes Memmo throw his arm up to protect his eye and the dagger cuts deep; the arm hangs half-severed and useless at his side as he yowls as only a Dothraki screamer can. It is blood-curdling and piercing, and as he shrills he raises the curved arakh and strikes with all of his waning strength to cleave and cut and rend…
“SAAN!” It is a shout that carries, drawing a fair amount of attention, especially from Saan’s lackeys. Kendros dispatches three others while running, leaving them in a bloody mess in his wake. Two die quickly. The last is not so lucky. He dies slowly.
And all the while Ser Kendros is closing the distance. He is not far away now.
Katla stands pale-faced, watching the scene play out - too close, too close. Her hands drop to protect her belly, the babe within, and her eyes are on Dagur and Melwas, occasionally sparing a look towards Ammon and Saan. “Kill him,” she calls again, but whether it’s to Ammon or to Dagur is unclear. Her eyes do not flash the red of bloodrage, but that anger is nestled in her voice, the fury and the impotence of only being able to stand, and watch, and wait.
Janden and Memmo are both in pain, no question. Even as he renders one of Memmo’s arms useless, the pirate’s counter cuts through in its rage and wildness to mark the Melcolm knight’s chest with a couple deep cuts that easily get through the leathers. He drops the knife as he’s sent reeling backwards, but as Memmo finishes one of his swings the spear is again used in an effort to drive it into the man’s midsection and finish him off.
Meanwhile, although Shahaaz has finally scored Humfrey with an attack of his own, it’s the last thing the pirate can do. Near-defenseless in the wake of Humfrey’s final charge, the spear goes through the shoulder and Shahaaz reaches up to grab the shaft. At that moment, his intestines drop out of his midsection, face going slack, and the pirate’s life is over.
Ser Humfrey’s spear thrust pushes in through Shahaaz’s shoulder and out the other end. The one eared, nine-fingered pirate screams as his left hand falls uselessly at his side and his stinking gray and read bowels tumble, wetly from his abdomen like a heap of greasy sausages. Bleeding and winded, Humfrey looks about and sees the Ladies—and Ser Janden gallantly defending them-alone. “Black Anchor!!!” Humfrey shouts the knight’s name in his lord’s voice—booming across the battlefield. Humfrey launches into a charge at Memmo spear point aimed at his chest.
The Prince of the Narrow Sea is distracted for only a moment—but that moment almost costs him, for he turns back to find the Massey knight leaping at him like a madman. Back he stumbles, dragging his sword free—and then he has plucked his other blade from the body he left it in and used it to swat the dagger aside.
And he laughs as Ammon gives his words back to him—laughs in genuine pleasure: “Oh, little man. Such a poor thing your love must be. What does your sacrifice win you—”
And he strikes with it—a blow not meant to kill, but to punch through Ammon’s wounded shoulder and pin him to the tree behind him if there is enough force to it.
Reyna’s arm is still bleeding, her tunic sleeve soaked and dripping onto her too-long skirts, unsuited for being afoot. She is watching wide-eyed as she weeps without realizing she is weeping. Now she sees Dagur’s face as he moves into her view and out again, and she pales even further. “Oh, no,” she says, unable to look away, though she is so clearly horrified by what she sees.
Memmo is still spry enough to bend away from Janden’s thrust, though it cuts across his belly to add to the blood. He snarls something in Dothraki and swings his arakh again, aiming to gut the Melcolm knight.
Elrone looks to Katla and Reyna, following their line of sight to Dagur- and then, farther off, to Ammon. Her lips move, whispering something under her breath, as her eyes turn truly fearful. “No!” She calls, closer to a shriek, as Ammon is struck. “No, please….”
The pirate’s spear scores a deep, bloody line along the outside of the Iron Serpent’s thigh. But he doesn’t pause, doesn’t even slow; if there is pain, it doesn’t seem to reach him through the bloodrage. Forward, always forward, leaving himself wide open, seeking only to rend and kill, battering the spear-shaft aside and continuing the movement to pivot and hack at Melwas’ arm.
Janden’s reflexes are of a benefit this time, the spear flying up to intercept Memmo’s next attack by deflecting the pirate’s arm enough to send it wide of his stomach. Dropping to a knee, he finds the glint of the dagger he’d dropped and goes for it again, a swift move made in one motion to grab it and thrust it into Memmo’s neck, seeing that life-blood. “Go down!”
Jannia covers her eyes as Memmo takes a swing at Janden. When no sound comes from Janden she removes her hands. Tears streaming down her muddied face streaking through the mud making a path, Jannia prays as the next slash by the Melcom knight finds no purchase.
Memmo is focused now, as if the pain and bloodloss are but the goad he needs to see to his fight. He snarls again, something fierce and obscene and swings for Janden’s neck.
Melwas lets out another angry bellow as more blood is drawn, cutting through muscle and fat of his arm, splattering both of them and any nearby as he spins around in pain. Then the tall man shifts his grip on his spear, moving it to his off-hand, and though he wields it awkwardly now, he seems just as determined to get to the circle of protected targets - and to take the legendary Iron Serpent down with him. So Melwas stabs again with the spear, and then whips the butt of the long weapon around as well, trying to strike Dagur twice.
Humfrey ceases his charge just behindSer Janden ‘Black Anchor’ Melcolm, his garnet eyes survey the ladies. Jannia, Elrone, Reyna, and Katla. “Ladies, are you alright.” He looks then to Reyna and Elrone—“Seven you’re bleeding” Humfrey tears his greatcloak from off his shoulders and sets to wrapping it around Reyna’s arm.
There is enough force. Ammon grits against the pain, as the blade passes through leather, flesh and wood. He does not scream. He -will- not scream. But Saan was right—there are tears, glistening against Ammon’s cheeks as he looks over Saan’s shoulder. His eyes widen.
And with his last strength, as blood, and worse, flow from him, Ammon grabs at the wrist which still holds a blade. It is a desperate ploy—but the Longaxe has come.
Janden and Memmo can’t seem to deliver the final blow that will end their fight for Jannia and the other women. He cries out in pain as he gets an arm up just in time to keep his neck from being opened wide, though it leaves a nasty cut down that limb. For the moment the dagger is lost again, but as Memmo finishes his attack Janden does all he can to grab at the pirate’s arm and turn it to drive the arakh around into Memmo’s own gut!
When his own blade sinks into his belly, Memmo’s eyes go wide. He looks at Janden in utter shock, swallowing twice before blood bubbles out his mouth and spills over his chin. And when the Melcolm finally looses his own hold on the arack, Memmo sinks almost gracefully to the ground, his bells tinkling a dirge for the fallen Dothraki.
And the Iron Serpent is making that strange, keening sound again that scrapes the ear raw—making it as he presses forward, face a flat, bloody mask, hacking at Melwas’ spear, driving the point aside, whirling to break another attacker’s skull with the hilt of his sword, letting the shaft of that spear bounce off his ribs as he does it—and then turning back, falling on the pirate with a sweeping, overhand blow meant to cleave his skull.
Indeed, the Longaxe has come. His leathers are covered in blood, though precious little of it is his own. He’s smiling, oddly enough, and he means to take full advantage of the opening given to him by Ser Ammon Massey. Without so much as a sound to announce his presence—other than the footfalls of his sprint, of course—he stabs the queue of the haft at Saan’s kidneys.
Elrone barely glances at Humfrey as he approaches, her eyes have fixed themselves to the tree Ammon is now pinned to. She waves off any attention offered. “Most of this is not mine.” Her shoulder still bleeds, but whatever physical pain she feels is being entirely ignored in favor of her desperate praying look toward the battle with the pirate leader.
“Seven Hells Ser Humfrey, what do you think?” Jannia stretches a shaky finger to Janden and Memmo, “He wished to take me for a ride, and I do not think he meant a horse.” Jannia sniffs angry and sad at the same time, wincing as she bumps her arm into a nearby knight. She nearly cheers as Janden finishes off his foe. She rushes to Janden’s aid, “Is there anything I can do to help. Brynden.” She looks to her brother who is still far to close to the battle still waging on. Jannia’s bottom lip curls, “We should move.” is all she could manage without starting to cry again.
Reyna’s eyes are wide as dinner plates in her face, and there is nothing of the Silver Rose there, nothing at all. She turns them on Humfrey and it takes her a moment to understand he is helping her by binding her arm and the hole clean through it from the arrow. “You have to stop him,” she says, her voice rough. “When the pirates are dead. You have to stop him. Promise!”
Again that look of startled surprise as Melwas manages to survive, and he snarls, twisting quickly and with great force behind it, angling the spearpoint up to slash across Dagur’s face, to blind him, to cut his face open. His shaggy breeches are covered in blood and bits of…things… from the bodies he has stepped on, or around, during the fighting.
The adrenaline that rushes through Janden’s body drives him to pull off the final blow that kills the Dothraki pirate with his own arakh, breathing heavily from the wounds he’s taken in the deadly battle. They aren’t life-threatening, but they’ll need attention. As Jannia rushes closer he waves her off. “Get..back to safety! Now!” he orders, and the dagger she’d given him is pushed back into her hand once he reclaims it. There’s little to no safe area, but the barrier Dagur helped create is something. As for him, he’s claimed Menno’s arakh. It belongs to him, for he killed the man with it. A lesser pirate comes closer and gives him much less of a challenge, going down to the curved blade after a parry and thrust.
In the midst of the chaos Humfrey cheers as Janden’s Dothraki foe falls. His hunting knife cuts a scrap from his cloak as be begins to bandage Reyna’s arm, Tying a tight dressing over the wound as the Longaxe and the Iron Serpent battle on with Saan and his crony. Humfrey looks up to the Silver Rose with chilly eyes sunken in a brow that looks less the brow of a five-and-twenty knight and more the brow of a five-and-forty lord. He turns to watch the keening Iron Serpent and shudders. “I will endeavour to, my Lady of Saltcliffe” Humfrey looks at the dressing “Would that I had a flagon of hot wine.” He rises and cuts another scrap from his cloak and sets to tending to Elrone’s wound despite her protestations. When Jannia speaks he lifts his head and clamps down on his jaw so hard all color bleeds from his face. “A Drafon to the man who kills him.”
He smiles as he pins Ammon to the tree, the Prince of the Narrow Sea—and he smiles more when he sees those tears, leaning forward as if savour them better.
And then he sees Ammon’s eyes widen, and with the instinct of a born warrior, pulls away, whirling.
Or tries to—but Ammon’s blood-slick grip slows him for just a moment before he manages to pull free.
It’s long enough for the poleaxe to score a thin line across his back. But in the same movement, he cuts at Kendros’ arm with his other blade—the one in his left hand—the other abandoned in the Massey knight’s shoulder. And with that moment he has brought himself, he lifts his head as if listening for something—then roars, “Back! Back to the ships!”
For there is the absence of one sound and the birth of another. Off behind the beleaguered company, the cries of the servants have stopped entirely. And ahead of them, faint but growing louder, can be heard the baying of the returning hounds.
But the Iron Serpent is swifter—taking the haft of the spear just below the point in one hand, forcing the steel to hiss up over his head. And he steps forward with the same movement, drawing his arm back and ramming the blade forward in a thrust aimed straight at Melwas’ gut.
And Melwas is down, and it’s with a great thump that he falls, Dagur’s sword piercing his gut through to the spine. The scream from Melwas is anger, pain, disappointment - everything curled together with betrayal as his eyes roll to look at the women he’d been trying so hard to get to. His eyes hang open, empty of the spark of life, as his blood and entrails spill out, and he lies still.
Longaxe takes Saan’s riposte with a grunt; it is but a minor cut, and barely hurts. The pirate prince sounds the retreat, then, and pirates begin scurrying back to their ships. This presents a dilemma: go after him or tend to Ammon and the women. It is a moment where Longaxe wavers, and it presents Saan with the opportunity to make his escape.
“Flee, then,” Longaxe finally says, annoyance evident in his tone. He makes no move to attack, but he does not lower his guard. “You will not get another chance.”
As Dagur finishes off the Mutt, Jan coughs out some blood, but is relieved that the the Serpent has prevented the pirate from harming anyone else. His eyes dart back to his shoulder wound, where the bone protrudes out and blood still streams from it. Gradually, the loss of blood, the pain, the chaos, or some combination of the three, causes him to lose consciousness, but not before he emits one final cry for help.
Jannia takes the dagger in hand and folds it into her skirts. “Would there a place to go that were safe, ser. Trust, I would be there.” A sniff as the pirates start to flee and Dagur takes down Melwas. “I should hope, ouch, this will be safe soon enough.” Jannia holds her injured arm up against herself. With her free uninjured arm she wipes her face with the cleaner inside of her sleeve streaking the trails the mud made from her tears across her face.
Once the retreat is sounded, Janden grimaces but keeps the arakh in hand as he casts a quick glance toward the women to ensure there are no other pirates trying to sneak their way up to them. There’s blood on his face, both sides of his neck, his chest and an arm, but he’s still on his feet. “Gods be good, I need some wine,” he coughs, clenching his teeth again as he surveys what’s left around them: death, lots of death, and wounded people.
Though her eyes are on Ammon, Elrone hears another familiar voice across the field. “Jan…?” She begins to scan the field, looking for signs of the Marbrand knight. “Jan?” She shouts, now. As Janden approaches she raises a hand to stay him. “Ser Janden, I thought I could hear Ser Jan, calling for help… I just do not see him. Please… help him.”
Ser Humfrey finishes dressing Elrone wound and he’s odd—moving toward Ser Brynden who lies stricken beneath his horse. “Ser Kendros, help me if you would, we need to get him out from under his horse before I can tend to his wounds—and by all that is holy, someone send for a Maester” Humfrey lifts one of the beasts legs, his compact muscles straining beneath his leather jerkin as he tries to move the dead beast.
When things have begun to quiet and the pirates are no longer trying to tear through the knights’ defenses, Reyna bursts into open sobbing. She sits down hard in the mud, holding her injured arm close, and just cries like a lost child. “Dagur!” she calls, though she calls in vain.
And the tears flow freely as Saan escapes. “No,” Ammon mutters. “No no no no no no no….” Each is weaker than the last, until his eyes roll into the back of his head and his knees buckle and every ounce of two hundred fifteen pounds pulls downward upon the cruelly sharp edge of Saan’s sword….
Janden nods without a word to Elrone, eyes searching for the fallen Marbrand knight. “There. I have him,” he then says, legs moving somewhat heavier than before as he gets down to kneel next to Jan, seeing the severity of the wound to the man’s shoulder. He undoes part of the leather guard around a forearm and cuts up most of the fabric beneath with the arakh, bunching it up to apply pressure to Jan’s shoulder as he gets the unconscious man in more of a seated position to elevate the spot.
Ser Humfrey’s request is met with a scornful response. “Where in the seven hells are we going to find a maester out here? Make do with what you have.”
With the fighting done - mostly - and the retreat sounded, Katla slumps to the ground beside, her arms wrapped closely around her abdomen, watching the direction in which Saan and the pirates have fled. One arm lifts up to curl around her friend’s shoulders, and though Katla does not cry, she is still pale, and one hand strokes her stomach, biting her lower lip so hard as to almost make it bleed.
The Prince of the Narrow Sea uses the moment of respite to pull back, out of Kendros’ reach. He raises his bloody blade to the man in mocking, elegant salute—and then turns his gaze to Ammon. “Sweet dreams, little man,” he smiles gently. “Until we meet again.”
And he is gone, away through the trees, the pirates, most of them—for they have had by far the better of the exchange—pulling back with him.
But they don’t go alone—for the Iron Serpent’s bloodrage is not spent yet. His blade makes a wet, sucking sound as he slides it out of Melwas’ shattered head. And then, in a silence that is even more unsettling than that keening sound, face a mask of death, he is gone with a backward look, following the pirates.
Moments later, somewhere, a straggler’s scream sounds.
And now Lord Corwen takes command, issuing brusque orders, for the proven battle commander among them is gona after the pirates in his berserker rage and the famed Longaxe is away a distance through the trees. The hunt begins for the dead and the wounded, the women are given what little comfort is available and the men still on their feet scrounge fallen weapons in case there should be any more danger. Two among them are sent to round up horses that have fled and ride back to the castle to bring armed men and maesters as swiftly as possible.
Longaxe watches the pirates flee for a few seconds, his pollaxe at the ready. He only lowers it when he has satisfied himself that they are truly gone—that this is no vile trick. Casting aside his axe, then, he turns to look at Ammon. “You’re a fucking mess, Ammon,” he finally says, rushing forward to catch the slumping weight against the sword. Bracing the Massey knight against the tree, he pulls the sword from the shoulder, ignoring the fresh blood it releases, and lowers him so he is sitting against the tree trunk.
Once she is sure the path to Ammon is clear of pirates, Elrone runs for it, sprinting as much as one can sprint in such heavy skirts toward him. “Ammon!” She shouts as she moves. “Ammon!” She begins to cry, her tears clearing odd little paths across the blood on her face.
Now it is apparent why the Lannisters have chosen crimson as their primary colour—blood stains do not show on it. But the gold, both of the lion on his breast and the hair on his head, are not so fortunate. Sliding his sword into its scabbard, Black Jonn Lannister smiles and takes a deep breath.
He would appear to be enjoying himself, in the aftermath.
After Several minutes of straining and pulling at the horse’s bulk, Humfrey finally manages to extricate his future good brother from beneath the horse. The heir to the Crag sets to work diligently splinting and dressing Ser Brynden’s wounds. “Stay with us, brother, it won’t do to make your Lady Wife a widow, only three days after your wedding. Corwen’s orders and the words of Ser Kendros wash over the heir to the Crag like water off a duck’s back—so intent his he upon his task—yet the blood boar spear is never far from hand, should any of the bandits reappear.
Stepping over a few bodies of pirates and knights alike Jannia gets to her brother. She stares at a puddle in front of her that swirls with mud and blood. She cannot find any words, instead she looks out at the carnage and back down to her brother. She takes the dagger and cuts some strips of fabric from her skirts, carefully drawing the strips from the back of her slkirts that is not covered in mud, grateful she is wearing leather breeches. And holds them out for others to take for the wounded. “Brynden?” She says softly as she sinks down to her knees. She whimpers as Humfrey pulls him from under his horse.
After she has taken some breath and been given some water to drink, Reyna struggles to her feet and tugs at Katla. “We have to find him. We have to stop it,” she says, insistant in spite of her bedraggled, injured state. “Help me, Katla.” She looks toward the trees in the direction she last saw Dagur. “We have to find him.”
Elrone flies across the field, tears streaming. She nearly dives to a kneeling spot next to Ammon and cups his face in her hands. “Ammon? Ammon. Look at me. Please. Please….” She looks down a moment, weeping quietly, stroking a hand through his hair, before she can look back up again. “Please.”
As the aftermath stretches out, Janden remains by Jan in order to staunch the bleeding as much as he can, lapsing into silence as he works. He’s far from a Maester but he’s seen war, knows how to use what little may be available to get someone back to a better healer.
Somewhere near at hand, a man cries out in pain. In a heartbeat, men are scrambling for their weapons, turning—but that cry has come from behind them, not from the direction in which the pirates disappeared.
And then a retainer clad in Baratheon livery stumbles out from between the trees, holding in his guts with his hands. He stops when he sees everyone there and just stands there, swaying. Then, his knees buckle and he collapses.
Dropping the spear he is clutching, one of Lord Corwen’s knights goes to him and kneels by the retainer. The fallen man clutches his tunic and draws his head down, choking out something.
Then, he takes a last shuddering breath and his eyes close.
The Baratheon knight remains kneeling a moment, then rises wearily, turning to the others: “They are all gone. Most of the men killed, the others and all the women taken. This was a slaver attack.”
“See to him,” Kendros says to Elrone as she runs over. “Press on his shoulder. If he stops breathing, yell. If you see anything in the trees, scream. If anything out of the ordinary happens, scream.” His voice is not unkind.
But then he is gone, stopping briefly to pick up his weapon, the Longaxe sprints through the thickets of trees towards the other women.
Katla nods to Reyna, rising, carefully. “I can’t lose it, Reyna, I can’t,” she says, holding tightly to her friend, and begins to carefully weed her way through the bodies, stopping once to pull a long dagger from one of the pirate corpses and holding it carefully in her hand. “We must find Dagur and make him see… sense. Not blood.”
“It takes more than this to dislodge a son of the Ironborn,” Reyna says firmly to Katla, for the other woman’s declaration has given her pause. The returning retainer gives her more and she just stops. “Amalia…” she says in a voice that is no voice at all. “We can’t… Katla… DAGUR!” she wails, but moves not a step farther for the danger of leaving the company.
Humfrey turns to Jannia—once all that can be done has been done. He lifts his boar speer and looks down upon Brynden. The man’s wounds have been bound but clearly, the slashes to his chest are deep and several of his ribs are broken. “You did well, Jannia. You were very brave. I have to go—the Maesters will be here soon, with litters. I told Lady Reyna I would try to stop her husband after.” Here Humfrey bows to his betrothed and runs off into the woods after the keening Ironman.
It only takes a few moments for Kendros to clear the hundred yards or so between himself and the main group. “Is anyone dead?” he queries, coming to a stop near Reyna, Katla, and the rest, winded from the fighting.
Ammon never answers Longaxe as his dead weight is settled against the tree. His eyes flicker open as Elrone calls to him, though they are unfocused. “Elrone?” he asks, blinking up in her general direction, reaching his ruined hand towards her. “I’m still alive,” he whispers. “I’m still alive.” The sobs begin then, soft and wracking—but they end a few moments later as the Massey knight succumbs to his wounds and slips into unconciousness.
Janden flags down one of the men still in decent shape, quickly instructing him in what to do to keep Jan safe. Then, “This is against my better judgment already, but..” He pushes back to his feet with a grimace - those wounds will need tending to - and makes to chase after those trying to catch up to Dagur. Have to try. “DAGUR!” His shout joins in.
Jannia bites her lip as Humfrey goes to leave. A snarky comment comes from her near bloodied lip, “Aye, leave me here and while you are at it, save every other maiden and mother in all of Westeros.” Jannia dismisses him with a wave of her hand and pays him no more mind, instead she makes haste in making sure all of Brynden’s bindings are tight. “I did what I was told. I hope you will be happy with me. Poor Sarya.” Jannia deflates and becomes closed off and pays little attention to the other cries of pain and misery that go on around her. Instead she crosses Brynden’s arms across and sits lost to prayer.
“—the fuck is he doing,” the Lannister growls as he watches Humfrey Westerling bound off into the woods. He throws down the scrap of cloth he was using to towel off his face, and turns to the ladies Reyna and Katla. “You two stay here. I will find Ser Dagur.”
He turns away swiftly, and mutters something about Westerlings under his breath.
Elrone smiles through her tears when Ammon responds. “Ammon, thank the Seven.” She both laughs and cries, as she does what Kendros told her and pressures the wound, sitting quietly beside him as he drifts into his painful sleep.
Reyna watches the men all running off into the forest, then looks blankly at Katla. “At least Jonn knows what to do,” she says with something like relief. “He’s seen the bloodlust on Dagur before.” She turns to Kendros then, her eyes still wide and dark, and sits down on the ground again. “I feel rather faint. I must just sit a while. Sit with us, Ser Kendros?”