Blood of Dragons is the only author-approved MUSH based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Play the Game of Thrones and become a part of the history of the Seven Kingdoms:
It is a bleak, rainy day when Ser Humfrey Westerling leaves the Kitchen Keep, his green great cloak tugged close to his shoulders. The rain falls in sheets and he and young Erton are soon soaked to the bone, the rain is unimpeded by leather or wool. Two men of the Kingswood company wait, huddled by the keep door with horses and hounds at the ready. Despite the foul weather, Humfrey seems intent on making a patrol of the wood, today—or perhaps hunting a grouse or hare. “You can never choose the weather on the day of battle, one ought never to lament the weather on a day of patrol, Erton.”
Brynden Tully happens to be headed towards the Kitchen Keep from the direction of the Royal Sept, accompanied by two Tully men-at-arms. Of course, they are all soaked by the rain. Brynden is not even in his brigandine - instead dressed in a dove-grey arming doublet, though he does have his weapon belt as usual. “Ser Luthor is likely to be asleep, but still I hope we can congratulate him.” he says, evidently to his men as they walk.
Humfrey, squire, and Kingswood men very nearly run into Ser Brynden and his men as they turn into the yard proper. A tense moment of silence follows, for it well known—among the Men of the Kingswood—that Ser Brynden and several of his men came looking for Humfrey, heavily armed, and rather irrate. Humfrey stares at Brynden for a moment before speaking. “Ser, I would speak with you, I informed your sister ‘twas my intent—and she came to me with misconstrued or misrepresented words.”
At the door to the keep, another figure appears- Elrone Darklyn, her usual red colors visible under a black cloak, peering out into the rain as if she is not sure she really wants to cross into it yet. Behind her, her septa, Ehris, opens the door wider so they can both look out. “Well, wrap it up tightly then, it will muss the stitches wet,” the septa says, and Elrone begins folding a red and gold cloth into a tight roll, even as her eyes flick up to the meeting not far from the door.
Brynden looks rather tired, as if he had not slept for many hours… which in fact was the case. He turns his bleary eyes to Ser Humfrey. “Very well, ser.” Brynden says, so far not seeming especially angry. “Let us speak, then.” He crosses his arms, so his hands are well away from his weapons.
Eon entered the room from the great hall. He espies the others in the hall. Not wanting to go out into the rain, he approaches and looks at all of the individuals, especially with Ser Brynden and others that appeared to be here with a purpose. Eon was clad in his usual dark brown, though he did not have his cloak on him, having been in the keep before the rain.
Humfrey tilts his head to the knight of House Tully. “Ser, let me speak plainly. At no point did I ask your sister to meet me without an escort, I told her that guards and a maid were escort enough. When last we spoke, I told her it was unseemly for a maiden to dismiss her Septa upon her betrothal then take up with a Septa, again, two months out from her wedding. It casts aspersions upon my honor and your lady sister’s as well, Ser.”
Elrone’s eyes flick up as Brynden asks Humfrey to speak- having not long ago seen Brynden in a fiery rage while he searched for the man, his now calm demeanor is almost… disconcerting. The Darklyn girl continues to fold her cloth very slowly- perhaps more slowly than is truly necessary. She nods to Eon as he joins in her the doorway. “My lord of Hunter. How are you on this-” she smirks, looking out into the rain. “-lovely day?” But her eyes remain mostly on the exchange between the two knights in the rain, and she grows silent again as Humfrey makes his answer.
“It certainly does, ser.” Brynden agrees. “You will remember well from now until then that you are not her husband.” he says calmly but intently, or perhaps it is weariness. “I hear these things from you, I hear something else from my sister, other things from my wife. I do not know why the stories are different, and at this point I do not care.” he shrugs. “I think I shall see if I can make myself clear now - if you take any liberties with my sister until you swear your vows to each other in a sept… well, at the least your wedding will be postponed while you recover from your beating. At worst, you will not need to be married as you will not be able to sire children.” He suddenly smirks. “Ser Humfrey, you are as troublesome to me as my sister is. You two are a good pairing.”
Seeing the lady Elrone, he responded, though noting that her attention is focused not on the conversation between Eon and her, but with the others in the room. “It is well, I had not expected to find myself waiting for this rain to cease. And how are you faring?” He casts his eyes over to the other two, hoping to glean some information from it.
Humfrey turns his gaze to Elrone and Eon, if only for a moment. In that moment both the Lady of Darklyn and the knight of Hunter would doubtless see the tautness in the Westerland knight’s face as Brynden lays threats as naked as bare steel down in the inches between Riverland and Westerland knight. “You forget yourself, Ser. I will not be cowed by threats. Twas you who took a beating during the recent hunt, in the Stormlands, not I. I defended your sister, Lady Elrone, and Lady Reyna whilst you were gravely injured—then I tended to your hurts. I do not ask for thanks but this smacks of ingratitude, this infantile attempt at intimidation smacks is beneath you, Ser.” At the last Humfrey glares at Brynden. “I have not, nor shall I ever, take any liberties with your sister.”
Humfrey’s voice takes on a hushed tone at the next.
Humfrey whispers to Brynden, “... for ... ... ... grave ... Jonn ... Jannia ... ... intent ... of this, ... you and the ... ... will ... nothing ... dissuade ... from these ... displays ... piety, you ... ... ... in ... Ser.”
The hands rolling the fabric still, for just a moment, as Elrone hears her own name brought into the conversation between Brynden and Humfrey. Then they move more quickly, wrapping the fabric into an oilcloth. “Well, thank you,” she says quietly to Eon. “I was not planning to wait for the rain to stop- but, ah-” Her eyes glance to the other two men. “-perhaps it is best to wait just inside here, until it quiets a bit more.” She looks to her septa, who nods, before she glance back to Eon. “Much better dry in the doorway and watching the rain than being caught out amongst the drops, no?”
Bryden laughs suddenly. “Oh, yes. Let me kneel and kiss your arse for doing something you are sworn to do anyway… defend women when they are in danger.” He shakes his head. “I should have taken you aside when you were betrothed to my sister. Being an heir, likely no one has explained to you that not everyone cares about your precious feelings. I am not certain what ‘infantile’ means, but I will guess it means that you think I am not serious.” He listens to what Humfrey whispers offers low. “Does he? Ser Jonn doubtless thinks everyone is witless, I doubt he has a high regard for even you, my lord.”
It’s caught in the rain that Lady Delanei Crane and her young daughter (and their septa) were. The child, about seven years old, clings to her mother, who is shielding her against the harsh wind. “/Fine/ day to go to the sept,” Delanei mutters under her breath. “Shh, dearling,” as Ella sniffles, “We’ll be inside and warm in a moment.” The sound of men’s voices, and the obvious tension in the air, causes her to hold onto Ella just a bit tighter, especially given a gust of wind that comes near to blowing her over. With a glance towards the half-dozen men in the yard, she shakes her head, and presses on towards the castle, muttering. She is mud-spattered, her hair an absolute windblown wreck, and her expression is one of extreme displeasure at the whole soaking wet state of affairs.
Approaching the Keep from the training yard, Jan Marbrand walks swiftly, wearing light armor and a training sword at his right side, a wineskin in his left hand. His right shoulder is bandaged, but it looks more mobile than it has been in some time. If the rain bothers him, he does not show it, wiping a wet strand of hair from his face. Although he makes a beeline for the Keep, he notices the confrontation between Humfrey and Brynden and simply cannot help but stop and inquire further. He offers a worried glance at Lady Delanei and her child, perhaps recognizing the yard to be not the safest place for them, and tries to indicate with his eyes to hurry inside. For his part, though, he steps towards the two men as if to break up the confrontation, but opts to step back and see what transpires for the time being, rain be damned.
“It is much better here by the door” Eon says to Elrone, “Though I think the real storm is not in the sky.” He feels around his belt, absentmindedly reaching where his sword normally would be. “We can hope that this does not go too far. I’d prefer a pleasant walk home.” He sees Delanei and Jan approach, a bit wide-eyed as Jan approaches. To Delanei he says, “greetings, come inside before you all get soaked to the bone.”
“I expected you would behave with some small modicum of honor, rather than maligning me at the behest of a girl of eight-and-ten—and being the fishwife’s spoiled son, doubtless no one has explained to you that not every man panders to you because there’s a fish on your cuirass. Allow me to instruct you, Ser, infantile, the word describes childish, juvenile, and silly behavior.”
At the last, Humfrey shakes his head with a vague expression of distaste wrought upon his face. “No one, least of all the Black Lion, will ever respect her if you do not take her in hand, Ser. But you will not-I believe it is in the best interest of House Westerling and House Tully that this betrothal come to an end-she is ill suited to rule, I shall write to the Crag, I advise you to find her a match with a second son, or counsel her to embark upon a life of contemplation, Ser.”
A shape in a long green cloak comes across the yard at what is nearly a run. It is, perhaps, a woman—the golden embroidery on the hem of the cloak suggest it. But she is a lumpy and oddly bent woman, head deep in her hood against the rain, her shape queerly lumpen and writhing. She does not offer any courtesies as she mounts the steps to the Kitchen Keep. She just climbs them with dogged haste and enters the Keep with a gust of wind and a sigh of relief. She passes those gathered at the door and after a moment, her queer shape resolves itself into Reyna Saltcliffe, her small daughter held snug against her breast under the cloak. Rhiannyn, on the floor, looks around her with eyes bright and black as dragonglass, her black curls every bit as damp and tousled as her mother’s brown ones.
Brynden is standing in the rain like an idiot, his men looking terribly uncomfortable as well. The Tully knight looks blearily at Ser Humfrey, as if he had not slept in some time. He runs a hand through his waterlogged hair. “When you are my good-brother I shall support you in all things I am able to, ser. I am standing here speaking to you as a man rather than writing letters like women…” but then that is exactly what Humfrey intends to do. That makes him smile. “Yes, perhaps it would be better if she is a septa than married to the future Lady of the Crag.” he shrugs and turns as if to go. “I am intending to see Ser Luthor this morn, so hold off your fuming until another time when I have time to care.” His men move to follow.
Elrone and her septa step aside as the Crane party approaches. “Lady Delanei- and you must be Lady Ella, hello little one,” she smiles at the girl. “You must be terribly cold- let me get you some warm cider, or wine for you, Lady Delanei?” And she waves a servant over to bring such comforts to those who have been out in the terrible weather, glancing back out into the rain just in time to catch Humfrey’s words- which make her jaw drop and her eyes widen. “Oh,” she utters quietly- shifting again as the bundled figure enters, drawing her attention another way. “Lady Reyna- oh, let me get something warm for you to drink- something for Lady Rhiannyn too, hm?” she smiles down to the other little one, though she glances out again at the pair in the rain as she moves to help with pouring the cups.
“I should like that very much,” Delanei nods to the dark-bearded man who greeted her, “though I fear it’s a bit late to avoid that soaking you speak of,” she points out with a wry expression. “It wasn’t raining when we went out - at least not like /this/,” she explains with a slightly-vexed sigh, setting Ella down now that they are safely indoors. “Lady Reyna,” she greets, nodding politely, despite being drenched, as she pushes her cloak back from her hair and brushes an errant strand out of her eyes, reaching down to do the same for her daughter, who is somewhat less-bedraggled. “A fine day this is turning out to be, isn’t it?” she asks with a touch of mild sarcasm.
“Thank you, Lady Elrone,” she adds gratefully, and Ella does the same, giving a little curtsy, and a giggle as she sees the other small, wet child brought in by Lady Reyna. “It’s wet outside,” the youngling points out, stating the obvious for all and sundry.
As Brynden appears to retreat, Jan approaches the Westerland knight softly from behind, catching his attention before timidly speaking, “Let him go, Ser Humfrey. Emotions tend to run high when little sisters are involved. This is no use escalating to anything worse.” Instead, he offers his wineskin to Humfrey. “Just a misunderstanding, ser. No worth fuming over it, as he says.”
Reyna is shivering as she lets a servant take her sodden cloak. “Mulled wine would be perfect,” she says to Elrone, all gratitude as she looks down at Rhiannyn. The little girl is much drier than Reyna is, and she is not shivering with cold. “Milk?” she says to Elrone hopefully. “Wif honey?” Only when she is sure of Rhiannyn’s condition does Reyna notice the still open door. She gives everyone a greeting, bobbing curtsies here and there as etiquette dictates, but she is looking out into the weather. “Is something the matter?” she asks Elrone in a low voice.
Ser Humfrey listens to Brynden “How droll, it seems you and Jannia have inherited your mother’s wit, as well as her intellect. I am surprised the Goodbrooks faired so badly in the Dance. Pray your sister embarks upon a contemplative life, or pray her future husband can find a good steward, Ser.” Depsite the parting insults, Humfrey seems to relax measuredly, when the Riverland knight departs—as though an oxen yoke were lifted from off his shoulders. Humfrey bows to Reyna from the seat of his saddle and turns to Ser Jan. “Ser, yes, I could have handled that better. The fool girl knew I was going to speak to him about her lack of deference and good sense, doubtless she gave him an earful of half-truths and exaggerations before I could speak to him.” Humfrey takes the skin from Jan and takes a long draught. “You have good taste, Ser.”
Elrone smiles broadly to Rhiannyn. “Let’s see if there is any ready, hm?” The girl is brisk with pouring cups for the women and Ella, handing them out as they are ready. As she passes off Reyna’s cup she leans in close to the woman to speak quietly. “It seems we may only be attending one wedding at Riverrun…” Elrone follows that with a pointed glance outside, and then moves back to the tray of drinks to make something for Rhiannyn.
Seeing a lot of the new arrivals wanting to get a good view of the yard, Eon stepped back, though being mindful of the children. Seeing the children brought a small smile to his face, though he stood back a bit he could still see the yard rather well. Eon acquires a cup of cider from one of the servants and says, “A betrothal is not a simple thing to set aside; but it is doable. ” He finishes his cup and after giving it to the serving lady he takes another, though he slowly sips it, keeping an eye on the children, lest he be bumped and spill his cup.
From the dreary yard, comes another voice, carrying over the wind and rain. “Ser Brynden! Ser Humfrey! Jan, my friend!” And Ammon Massey pushes passed all of them, and walks through the door of the keep. He is a sodden mess, which is no surprise, dressed in his finest doublet though the garment is somewhat frayed on the right breast.
But the strangest thing of all, for those that have known Ammon since his return to King’s Landing, is that he is smiling. And it isn’t even a mocking smile! There is true joy there, and even a bounce in the man’s step as he enters. “Ladies!” he greets and, his eyes passing over Eon, he adds another, “Ser!”
“We know good wine in the Westerlands, ser,” Jan says with a grin before taking the skin back and lightly clasping Humfrey’s shoulder. “I know all too well how emotions can get out of hand; it happens.” He gestures towards the inside of the Keep. “Most important, now, is we dry off by the fire and let the emotions cool. Shall we?” Jan asks, just as Ammon comes displaying a surprisingly chipper mood. “Ammon, good to see you!” he calls with a genuine smile, raising his wineskin.
Brynden offers the ladies at the door something of a bow as he reaches the door of the Keep. “Good morning, ladies. I hope we did not disturb you with our exuberance.” He passes through the portal, his men following. “Lovely day.” Before he heads away from the Keep’s main room Ser Ammon appears and greets them all. He stops and turns towards the Massey knight. “Good morning, ser. You seem in good spirits.”
Elrone’s murmur draws a gasp from Reyna as she takes the cup of mulled wine. “What?” she says, bemused. She looks back out into the rain at Humfrey and Brynden and comprehension dawns. “Surely he’s not so stupid as to… but that is madness. No one would throw away such an excellent match. The insult to Lady Tully alone…” She shudders, but not with cold this time.
“Hallo, Ser Ammon. Here, little maid, this is Lady Ella Crane,” Reyna adds to Rhiannyn, giving the girl a sip of her warmed wine and nodding toward the older girl. But she still looks more than befuddled when she greets Brynden on his entrance.
“I, for one, am just grateful it didn’t come to blows,” Delanei remarks quietly, accepting a cup of wine from the servant and handing Ella a cup of mulled cider, which the youngling blows on to cool before taking a cautious sip, and smiling shyly at Rhiannyn over the rim of the mug, and curtsying a bit awkwardly, given her hands are wrapped around the mug. “Nice to meet you,” she tells the other girl politely.
“I’ve no idea what started the whole thing,” Delanei tells Reyna, “I only arrived for the end of it, but if what you say is true,” she looks to Elrone, “perhaps it’s the rain, turning sane men to lunatics,” she shakes her head.
“Indeed, they do, Ser.” Humfrey rides beside the other Westerland knight with squire and Kingswood men a short distance from behind. “This Septa buisness, she could not grasp how bad it looked. I would have thought Ser Brynden, Lady Andrya, or Lady Simona might have counseled her against this vainglorious show of piety, but they lack the will, or perhaps the wits, to take her in hand.” Humfrey shrugs and, upon reaching the door, hands the reins of his horse off to a Targaryen liveried stable boy. “Ser Ammon, you are in good spirits, have you had a raven?” Humfrey enters through the door, sodden to the bone in forest green greatcloak and chestnut dyed leggings, jerkin, and boots. He takes a moment to wipe his feet before entering. “Sers, ladies, is that cider, Ser Eon?”
Sending off a servant with orders for honeyed milk for the smaller girl and dry cloaks for all of those who had been outside, Elrone turns with a polite but nervous nod to Brynden as he enters. She follows his eye toward Ammon, and behind him Humfrey and Jan as they enter. “Yes, Ammon, what has you in such good spirits?” she asks with a curious smile, now that the tension has mostly dissapated.
Another arrival in from the rain.
Dressed in crimson and gold—well, more mustard now—and with hair to match, it can only be a Lannister of Casterly Rock.
No fool is Black Jonn—instantly he can tell that there is something amiss, and his green eyes narrow as his steps draw him further inward.
Eon turns to Reyna, “It shall be an interesting time in Riverrun soon, the outcomes are not endless, but still great in number.” He continues to sip his cider watching some of the men outside come in. In response to Humfrey he says, “It is, you ought to try some, the serving girl was floating about here earlier, though likely she went to get more.” The drink truly was crisp, the season lent itself to good cider and good company. Seeing Jonn enter, Eon continues to watch and observe the events in front of him.
Jan nods to Humfrey as if in understanding, but the bemused look on his face betrays that he still does not quite understand the root of the confrontation. Gratefully, he follows Humfrey into the Keep. “Lady Reyna, Lady Elrone, Lady Delanei, good evening,” he says with a modest bow. When he sees the two children, he gives an exaggerated bow and a friendly smile. “And good evening to you as well my ladies.” He turns to Eon and Jonn, greeting with a more serious, but still friendly, “Sers,” before taking a seat by the fire, rubbing his hands in an effort to dry off, and eagerly awaiting Ammon’s explanation.
“Of course, my lord of Tully,” Ammon says, “I have a niece! Well—my niece has a daughter. But still.” He takes a cup of warmed wine himself, running his ruined hand through his hair to get the water out. “I am happy for her, Lady Elrone,” he says, “and for Ser Luthor as well. Happier than I’ve been since—”
Ammon cuts off, turning at the sound of more feet in the doorway, and his eyes settle upon Black Jonn. “Lackspur,” he says, raising his glass to the man. And the smile never fades form his lips.
Brynden cracks a smile at Ammon’s mood. “Yes. Well, I am intending to see if the happy father is willing to be seen. I am on my way there now.” He nods to the assembled ladies. “Forgive me for my poor manners, I must move along.” Indeed, he seems intending to do so.
Humfrey directs a look to a serving maid. “Cider, if you please.” Humfrey turns to Ammon. “Is Lady Pennei well?” The Westerland knight unpins the chestnut leaf broach holding his cloak back and doffs the sodden thing of wool and sable then bows to Reyna, Elrone, and Delanei. The arrival of the Black Lion is acknowledged with a nod. “Coz, it seems you just missed Ser Brynden. He and I were just talking about you, some moments ago, are all the Tullys intellectually divested?”
A broad smile crosses Elrone’s face. “Ah, of course- give them my congratulations.” She nods to both Brynden and Ammon on that point, before turning to Delanei, with a quiet murmur. “Seems to have mostly dried up now though, hm?” She adds with a tilt of her head, as a servant arrives back with dry cloaks for those who had been outside in the storm- but then she catches Humfrey’s remark, and grins wryly back to the other woman. “Or not.”
“Oh, what joy!” cries Reyna at Ammon’s news. Her hand on her own daughter’s head, she holds out the other to touch his sleeve. “Pray give her my congratulations and tell her I will visit when she has had some days to rest.” She seems about to say more—to greet Jonn, perhaps?—but then Humfrey speaks and for the second time, she gasps audibly in open astonishment. “You speak so low of your future lady?” she asks, too shocked to say anything else.
Ella Crane lets out a giggle as she is gallantly greeted by Ser Jan, attempting once more to curtsy, though the mug of cider in her hand does hamper her just a bit, but she takes a step back towards her mother as the tall, green-eyed Lannister strides up, eyes going wide at the look on his face. Lady Delanei is about to congratulate Ser Ammon as well, her mouth opening, and a wide smile on her face, but she breaks off what she is about to say with the arrival of the Lannister knight, and Humfrey’s words, shock open on her face as she blinks several times as she places a hand on Ella’s shoulder when the girl backs up towards her. “It’s all right, Ella,” she murmurs.
Brynden rubs his face with his hands and then moves along as promised, his men following along dutifully as always. “Good morning, my lords and ladies.” If he has seen Black Jonn he does not indicate it.
Jan takes a sip of his wine and smiles at Lady Ella’s attempt at a curtsy. At Ammon’s congratulations, he grins even wider. “Yes, great news!” he proclaims, raising his wineskin as he continues to dry himself off next to the hearth. His countenance darkens a tad as Humfrey continues to aggravate his company, but he decides to take another swig before speaking up further.
“Oh, I haven’t seen her—only family has been allowed in,” Ammon replies as he sips at his wine. “Immediate family.” He seems about to say more, until Humfrey starts insulting the Lords of the Riverland. “Well, this is unexpected,” he says. And the smile fades at last.
“Ser Ammon,” the Lannister heir responds with a nod of his head for the Massey knight.
“Sers, my ladies,” to the others.
Then he turns his eyes to Humfrey and merely stares at his kinsmen for but a moment. “I am not certain, Humfrey,” he says in a hard voice. “Are all the Westerlings great fools, or do I have the misfortune to be looking upon the only one?” His nostrils flare, and his teeth flash behind curled lips.
With a few carefully placed steps, Elrone shifts to a spot behind Reyna, her septa following behind. She looks nervous, dipping a curtsy to Jonn as he greets the group, though she seems content to get well out of the way- and maybe place herself in range to pull the children out of the way if things come to that.
Humfrey Westerling drinks cider and warms his damp hands beside the fire while the nobles speak when Jonn addresses him, Ser Humfrey turns toward the Lannister. Rather than an overt display of anger, he shows his displeasure with a glare and eyes darker than a barren field beneath an inch of midwinter ice. He does not speak, but, rather turns to Elrone. “Not quite.”
Humfrey turns to Reyna then Delanei. “Lady Reyna, Lady Delanei, I suggest you send the children away. What I have to say is not suitable for the ears of children.”
“Ammon will do for me, Lackspur,” the Massey knight says, with a look to Reyna. “Or Blackhand, if you wish.” But that’s when Jonn turns his ire to Humfrey, and Ammon does not continue. But when Humfrey answers back, a grin returns to Ammon’s face—though it is not the friendly one from a moment ago—and he takes a few steps toward the gathered ladies. His eyes remain fixed on the Westermen.
He rubs his hands off the fire and seems finally dry, but Jan turns towards the rest of the nobles with a dejected look on his face as the conflict seems to have escalated once again. With an audible sigh, he takes another sip and looks worriedly towards the children. “Sers, this is silly…” he begins to object, but he realizes all his objections have been fruitless thus far, so he sinks back into his -comfortable- seat by the fire and looks on cautiously.
“And it is suitable to say in front of ladies?” Delanei draws herself to her full height, meeting Humfrey’s eyes with a defiant flash of green. “My lord husband will have a thing or two to say when he hears of this,” she tells the Westerling knight. Ella tugs at her mother’s skirt, and Delanei nods to the nurse, “see to her bath, Moira,” she tells the older woman, who takes Ella in hand and briskly heads for the stairs. “Sers, you are all of you behaving like children - no, worse than children,” she snaps, her ire apparently raised. “Like beasts.”
“Like beasts. Ser Ammon excepted, of course. Your news is most welcome; please give your niece and her family our congratulations,” she adds politely, with a glance to Ser Jan, over by the fire.
Reyna draws closer to Ammon, habit drawing her toward one of her husband’s men. She is about to speak to Elrone when something steely comes into her eyes. “My daughter is ironborn,” is all she says. There is a sound in the faint silence that follows her words, the arrival of her other lady and cousin, Miranda. The young woman carries a warm mantle in her hands, and Reyna is glad to have it. “Stay, Miranda, if you would,” she murmurs as she wraps the length of prettily embroidered wool twice around her shoulders.
Black Jonn spares the ladies a fleeting glance. It would appear that he believes Ser Ammon ample enough protection for them.
That, or he simply does not care.
Instead, he takes a step closer to Ser Humfrey.
It is whispered in the Westerlands that once Black Jonn and his Lord father grew wroth with one another and engaged in a staring match. The result? Crevasses were made in the walls of Casterly Rock. It is easy to believe such fanciful tales now; for the glare of the Lannister could easily flatten a mountain.
“You will say nothing, Humfrey,” he says in a quiet, sinister voice. “I grow weary of your public follies. You have brought shame to the Westerlands for the last time.”
The turn in tone in the room dropped to thinly covered hostility as Humfrey made his remarks to Jonn. Eon looks shocked, and hears Jan mention something about the argument being silly. Eon walks over to Jan and says, “Your intentions are good.” He looks to see one of the children leave, though one appeared to be staying. Eon puts down his cup and is able to procure an apple from one of the serving girls. Taking his knife, he cuts it into a few slices and eats a few of them. He offers one to Jan, “What happens now is likely out of our hands.”
Jan takes an apple and flashes Eon an appreciate smile. “It’s certainly out of our hands, ser. When principled men get an idea in their heads, it’s much too difficult to get it out,” he remarks plainly before popping an apple slice into his mouth and downing it with a sip of wine. “Many thanks,” he says as he finishes, and offers the wineskin to the Hunter knight. “We might as well enjoy the show now, though let’s be wary of the women and children, should they come into harm’s way.”
Humfrey’s gaze does not stray from the Black Lion’s—but, rather, darkens—every speck of ambient darkness in the room seems drawn to eyes that are, darker night bereft of moon or stars. Not even when Lady Crane threatens the Westerland knight with the ire of her husband, Ser Albyn, or when Lady Reyna asserts her daughter’s lineage.
“A fool? You’d rather another lickspittle? I do not pander to roses, dragons, fish-or lions, Ser. This folly falls upon the Fishwife’s lackwit daughter and her blustering son. I endeavored to handle the matter quietly and delicately. I have tried to counsel Lady Jannia, I have tried to take her in hand, when all else failed I have tried to persuade her family to take her in hand, but to no avail. She is unfit to rule, I will not hazard my father’s seat, not for any dower.” Here, Humfrey turns away from the Black Lion, Erton stands at the ready with the knight’s sodden cloak in hand.
“If you wish to speak more on the matter I will attend you at your leisure, but I will not make this into a greater spectacle. ” Without a word, Ser Humfrey throws his sodden cloak over his shoulders and slips out into the night with its sheets of falling rain.
Reyna just gapes. It is a long moment before she snaps her mouth shut. “He’s mad,” she says into the silence. “Stark raving mad.” Beside her, Miranda looks uneasy, then she bends and scoops up Rhiannyn. “I bet the litter is here,” she says brightly to the little girl. “Let’s go and look.” While her cousin deals with her daughter, Reyna snaps to. “I should go as well. Jonn, if you want to call later…” She leaves this hanging, still shaking her head.
Ammon offers Miranda a nod. “Hello, Lady Miranda,” he says softly, and seems about to add more when Lady Delanei holds him up as a paragon of virtue. He scoffs at that, sinking into a seat and sipping his wine as Humfrey rages and blusters and stalks out.
“A pity,” says Ammon with a shrug. “I had hoped for a spectacle.” But he rises again to make his goodbyes to Lady Miranda and Reyna.
Silence, and a hard, malevolent stare escort the Westerling knight from the room. For a moment, Jonn keeps his tongue still whilst his teeth grind. “Fare thee well, Reyna,” he says, offering a slight bow of his head to the departing Saltcliffe lady and her Fossoway maid.
“Do not lose hope,” he says to Ammon. “There is a wedding on the morrow.” He allows a smile to curl his lips, but it does little to diminish his irritation.
Jan can only sigh in relief as several nobles depart and there appears to be no imminent fights. He looks distastefully at Humfrey as he stalks out, and apologetically towards Reyna and Miranda as they leave. When Jonn lays out a veiled threat, Jan can’t help but smile at its boldness, but he looks apprehensive nonetheless.
Just as one Westerling leaves, he is replaced by another. Ryckon enters the keep dressed in his dripping-wet leather training armor, blinking curiously and trying to wipe the water out of his hair, and he offers a couple nods to encompass the group as a whole. “Sers. Ladies. Good evening.” He glances back at the doors and resumes his drying attempt, without much success. “My cousin was here just now?”
As Ser Humfrey departs in a huff, Lady Delanei remains standing tall, her green eyes flashing fire after the Westerling. “Stark raving mad indeed,” she agrees with Lady Reyna. “A pleasanter afternoon to you, Lady Reyna, Lady Rhiannyn,” she smiles at the little ironborn maid. “I believe I should go upstairs myself; I’ve had quite enough for one day,” she quips. “Sers, ladies, good day,” and with that, the Crane Lady turns on her heel, gestures for her septa to follow, and makes her exit.
“You speak truly,” Ammon replies to Jonn. “I’m still recovering from the last—and this one has a Reyne involved. I tremble at the thought.” And, if he doesn’t offer any farewells to Delanei, he at least spares a quick glance in her direction.
“He was, Ryckon,” Ammon says as the squire enters, scratching at his shoulder with his maimed hand.
Jonn too seems not long for this company. “And they’re likely to be in their cups,” he says of the Reynes. He then turns and finds himself facing another Westerling, although this one he greets with a friendly enough smile.
“Unfortunately,” he informs the son of Ser Ryck Westerling before passing him by on his way to the door.
Jan nods apologetically at Lady Delanei, and more out of formality towards Humfrey and Jonn, before taking another swig. He can’t help but chuckle at Ammon’s jest about the wedding, before he turns to the arriving Ryckon. “Good evening, Ryckon, but I’m afraid I must turn in as well. The shoulder is -almost- healed, but I need to be careful with it if I want to make the next tourney.” He turns towards the remaining nobles, “Ladies, Ser Eon, Ryckon, good night,” he says before clasping Ammon on the shoulder, “It’s good to see you in such pleasant spirits, Ammon,” with a genuine smile, before marching out the door.
“He was… and something happened that made it unfortunate?” Ryckon raises an eyebrow at all the mysteriously short and vague or negative answers. “Um… You go heal then, Ser Jan.” He must give another round of nods as a mass exodus from the room begins, and then he turns back to those two who are still there. “What… was it that happened?”
“Good evening Lackspur, goodnight my friend,” Ammon says to Jonn and Jan. And then he turns to Ryckon.
“I missed most of it,” he says. “But Ser Humfrey insulted the Tullys, and Lackspur took offense, and there was talk of breaking his betrothal to Lady Jannia.” Ammon sips once more from his wine, before beckoning to a servant for more and offering some to Ryckon.
Eon looks out the door to see that there is no chance of leaving in dry weather. He looks around to see that the room had thinned out and says, “My good sers, it probably best that I take my leave. I hope to see you at the wedding!” He gives a small bow and exits out the door, hurrying to his home.
Ryckon’s eyes widen as Ammon continues his story, and he is gaping in shock when Ammon reaches the end. “/Breaking the betrothal/? Are they… can that even be done? Over this… is this from the whole thing with Brynden and the septa? Why would… gods, my cousin.” That sentence finishes as an exasperated sigh, and the squire throws up his hands in frustration. “I don’t have to deal with it, at least. Good night, Ser Eon.
Ammon laughs at Ryckon’s reaction, though he pays no attention to the departing Eon. “We’ve the same mind on this, it seems—though I don’t doubt you will have to deal with it soon enough, Ryckon.” Still chuckling, he scratches at the frayed cloth on his right breast, flicking a loose string with one pale finger. And then:
“Ser Addison tells me you are courting Lady Elrone.”
Ryckon continues his wide-eyed gaping at Ammon’s latest comment, and his shoulders raise defensively. “I’m… All I asked is for Lady Elrone’s favor… for the tourney. I never said anything… about courting. My cousin did, and it seems like he… isn’t really in a position to be talking about… things like that now.”
Ammon chuckles again, sipping from his wine. “Peace Ryckon,” he says. “You’ve no need to explain yourself to me; I am not her brother and have no claim to her otherwise. But I spoke with Ser Addison on a matter before his return to Duskendale and he mentioned it in passing.” Another sip of wine. “I was curious, is all.”
Ryckon’s shoulders drop again, but he remains on edge. “How much… in passing was it? Did he say anything else about… that? Sorry, er. I’m curious as well. So I can understand you being curious.” He finally begins drinking the wine that he had been holding for quite a while, and he begins with a big gulp. “Not that I understand much else in this… situation.”
“I went to him to tell him that I, and some of my men, would be passing through Darklyn lands in a week or two as we head back out to the Point,” Ammon begins, studying the Westerling boy. “I also made my intentions with Lady Elrone clear to him, as it happens. Before I left, he thanked me for my honesty and that he thought I’d be interested to know you were courting her. I knew of the favor, of course.”
“...Your intentions?” Ryckon asks, peering at Ammon, before shrugging dismissively. “I never said I was courting anyone. I only greeted Ser Addison at the hunt and informed him… actually, I can see how he might have… thought that that was what I was trying to say. But it wasn’t.”
“Aye,” Ammon replies, and drains his glass. “Well, Ryckon, she’d be a good match: fair to look upon, pleasant company. A man could do worse, couldn’t he? Much worse.” Ammon stands, retrieves his slowly drying cloak and pulls it on, staring at the frayed fabric on his right breast before pulling it close.
“It’s bed for me, I think, though if I don’t see you at the feast: good luck in the tourney.”
“He could, yes. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with her or anything, of course. It’s just that… I happen to not be courting her. I don’t happen to be courting her, I mean. I… right.” Ryckon takes a second gulp of wine, no doubt trying to catch up with Ammon. “Thank you, ser, and… no, are you still wounded? Well, er. In case you ride, good luck to you as well.”
“No? A mistake then,” says Ammon as he makes his way to the door, pausing at the threshold to answer the squire before walking out into the rain. “Thank you, Ryckon, but I am no tourney knight.” And the door closes behind him.
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