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August 2016
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Danger in the Mountains
IC Date: Day 14 of Month 4, 161 AC
RL Date: December 27, 2009.
Participants: Alek Reyne, Blayne Condon, Daeron I Targaryen, called the Young Dragon, and Elmer Crakehall
Locations: Boneway: Approaching Yronwood

Summary: Concerned with the state of the situation about Yronwood, King Daeron consults certain knights.

The march has stopped for a little while, beneath the Dornish sun, so that the king’s host may catch its collective breath. The way has been easier this last few days, since the king finally departed the river where the Battle of the Red Flood took place, water skins and barrels filled to the brim. Not only for that, though: the Dornish raids have grown few and far between, the outriders have begun to say they see no sign of Dornish rebels nearby, and now the Boneway is curving down, down to the low lands, and the slopes are less barren. Indeed, occasionally the pass moves through meadowed vales, where Dornish goatherds can occasionally be glimpsed scurrying away from the host, chasing their flocks ahead of them.

The king’s pavillion has not been raised for such a short stop, but an awning has been put in place to ward off the sun, and a table beneath it where the king might dine and consults knights, lords, and captains. On this occasion, King Daeron seems to be dictating to a scribe an account of his recent march, and from time to time offering an aside to some of the knights who drink his wine and eat his food.

Elmer is coming out of the tall crimson tent with the Lion of Lannister on top, the big knight’s hair tousled as ever, his short beard just cropped. He looks like a picture of health, and for once even his eyes are clear. A mistrust in the Dornish wenches has even had him sleeping, go figure. He’s dressed in riding leathers as always, the boar of Crakehall on his clean surcoat as he approaches the Young Dragon’s table.

Alek is sitting at the table listening to the king dictate. He hasn’t ate or drank much, not having much of an appetite in this blasted heat. Politeness has forced him to dine slightly, however, the knight of Castamere drinking water instead of wine. He awaited an opportunity to approach the king about the idea the young Ser Crane had devised, as he had promised. He watches the Young Dragon with interest, listening keenly.

Blayne simply stands under the shelter of the awning, not too far from the king, but with enough care to maintain a respectful distance from His Grace. His dark eyes scan from left to right, and back again, making sure to take in the faces and movements of all those within the awning as much as those without. Both arms were loosely folded over his chestplate, ready to snatch his blade from his belt at any moment and he makes no attempt to make a secret of it either.

“‘... though ten thousands of spears opposed us, I and my knights have conquered the Boneway.’” A pause, and then the king waves a hand at the scribe. “Enough. See that cleanly written and copied, and have the maester send the copy with a bird for Blackhaven, with instructions to pass it on to King’s Landing and Storm’s End.” The scribe bows, blowing off blotting sand from the parchment he was scribbling on, and then backs away before departing. The handsome young king grins at his companions, holding out a hand; a servant places a goblet in it.

“Well, sers. Two days, with the gods’ grace, and Yronwood will be before us, and battle unless the Dornishmen run.” He lifts the cup in a quick toast, and takes a swallow of the wine, before considering his attendants. He gestures Ser Blayne nearer, before taking another sip.

Elmer nods at the words, and accepts a cup of wine from one of the squires. He drinks deeply, some of the pale golden liquid flowing into his beard, before he asks. “Does your Highness have commands for us?” His dark eyes smile, glinting at the prospect of battle.

Alek accepts the cup out of courtesy, drinking in toast with his monarch. “Indeed, sire. I’m sure that after our recent victory at the river our troops are wanting more victory.” He knows that the Reyne troops are currently sat idle at their camp.

Blayne glances quickly as he notes motion from the king directed in his direction. Spinnning swiftly on his heels upon recognition of the king’s gesture the knight simply strode without a word to the king’s side. Upon reaching him, Blayne would bow his head to the king, eyes still watching through their corners, constantly wary after the recent raids.

A flash of white teeth, as the Young Dragon grins. “There are always commands, ser. But at the moment, we can take our ease while we consider our approach.” A swallow of wine follows. “Our approach, and our forthcoming victory, of course.” With that, he nods to Ser Alek, acknowledging his remarks just before Blayne arrives.

Daeron studies the northman a moment and then says, “Ser Blayne, you are a dutiful knight to my uncle, and have acted impeccably,” the king tells him, with a certain stern manner. “Until now, that is.” He looks grim, actually, and his purple-eyed gaze sweeps the table when he finishes with, “Because, ser, you make me nervous with your zealous guard. If I did not know better, I’d think a hive of Dornish wasps were in your codpiece. Sit! Drink! By the gods, take a moment to breathe. What’s victory, if it can’t be enjoyed?” There’s laughter ‘round the table at the king’s joke, and a servant obligingly pulls out a camp chair for the knight.

A flash of white teeth, as the Young Dragon grins. “There are always commands, ser. But at the moment, we can take our ease while we consider our approach.” A swallow of wine follows. “Our approach, and our forthcoming victory, of course.” With that, he nods to Ser Alek, acknowledging his remarks just before Blayne arrives.

Daeron studies the northman a moment and then says, “Ser Blayne, you are a dutiful knight to my uncle, and have acted impeccably,” the king tells him, with a certain stern manner. “Until now, that is.” He looks grim, actually, and his purple-eyed gaze sweeps the table when he finishes with, “Because, ser, you make me nervous with your zealous guard. If I did not know better, I’d think a hive of Dornish wasps were in your codpiece. Sit! Drink! By the gods, take a moment to breathe. What’s victory, if it can’t be enjoyed?” There’s laughter ‘round the table at the king’s joke, and a servant obligingly pulls out a camp chair for the knight.

Elmer chuckles a little. “Well , you know, me Your Grace. I’m always ready to obey a royal command.” He doesn his cup and extends it to be refilled. As the wine flows, he looks at the map, musing a little, then grins towards the zealous bodyguard. Then the big knight slaps Aleck’s shoulder, a gesture usually reserved for his cousin, and a smaller man might feel a bit bruised. “What do you say, ser?”

Alek acks slightly at the thump, blinking. “I’m always ready to help in any shape or form. But the choice is up to my nephew, ser.”

Blayne nods stiffly only once, accompanied with the obligatory “Yes, Your Grace” before he seats himself in the proffered chair. He appears to relax a little immediately upon sitting down, but tension still rushes through every muscle and fibre of his body. However, at the command of the king; the knight takes a cup and takes a full drink from it. Some of the golden liquid dribbles down his chin, but not too much. His eyes, however, continue to survey all that they might touch with wary concern. He does, at this point though, at least now though he makes an effort to hide it from the king.

With the household knight seated and a cup of wine thrust into his hand at the king’s command, Daeron looks out from where he sits to where his army—twenty thousand strong, most of the men seated under makeshift awnings made of cloaks and blankets—stretches away north and out of sight thanks to the winding pass that curves around spurs of rock and high slopes. “Not so many lost, for all the efforts of the Dornishmen,” the young warrior-king says. “But it may be that Prince Marence has let slip his brother at the head of a Dornish force, even with Oakenfist threatening Sunspear and Planky Town by sea.” Another sip of wine, and then he sets down the pewter cup. “If so, the Dornish could well equal us, if they’ve thrown all their forces together, and are prepared to sacrifice the safety of Sunspear to destroy us.”

A hand lifts, pale white hand—pale as a woman’s, but calloused with a swordsman’s callouses—lifts to scratch at his jaw and the fine, pale fuzz that passes for royal stubble. He says then, “This Rhodry Martell’s like to play the fool, and we’ll deal with him with steel like enough. The Sand Dog and old Lord Mors, too, like enough. But Lady Uller is said to be at the siege, and that turncloak brother of hers, Ser Mavros with the Blind Lord’s host. If we could give them a surprise when we arrived, perhaps they’d flee rather than stand. If they haven’t fled already, of course. Have you any thoughts, my lords? Ser Elmer, Ser Blayne, in particular—you may know somewhat more of fighting in foothills, for there’s not a level place in the West, and the North has its mountains, do they not?”

Elmer growls. “That Manwoody fellow. He’s mine. As for fighting in the hills, most of my men are mounted armor, but, we can ride up and down and hole them up, even if we can’t properly sorm all those crags.” He takes out a piece of sauasage and munches on it thoughtfully. “My advice, the Dornish aren’t like to have taken Yronwood…it’s too strong a place and too high. They’re probably still arrayed for a siege.”

Alek smiles lightly. “I believe that we can barter fealty with the Ullers. We have a few high-profile prisoners, do we not?” He thinks. “Young Ser Albyn brought this to my attention a few days ago. If we can end the siege with little or no further casualties, then I believe that it is a course we should take, sire.”

“They’re not like to try and storm the castle, it’s true,” Daeron replies to Ser Elmer, nodding his agreement. “Though I suppose this mad Martell prince might dare it. Yronwood’s a mighty seat, built on the wealth the Yronwoods extracted from traffic along the Boneway. A seat of kings, once. Petty kings, perhaps, but still, crowned and able to command fealty among the lords and knights of the region, until that old witch Nymeria came along.” It’s clear the king has studied his history, and he smiles as one of his companions makes a joke of it. He takes up his cup again, but before taking a sip he pauses, considering. Then, a swallow.

“Trading hostages for the Uller siblings to withdraw their forces,” says Daeron, musingly. His lips move, as if he’s tasting the thought of it. “Lady Uller is old. She might well consider it… But then again, her sons are dead, thanks to me. Women can be ferocious when it comes to their children, don’t you think Ser Alek? My father once said his mother the Queen could always forgive, but never forget.”

Blayne ‘s gaze would flash to ser Elmer with an expression of incredulous shock, mouth set tight even as he shook his head. It would take only a moment for him to regain his composure, however. “And have all those Yronwood bastards at our backs as we march on? A token force MIGHT hold them ser, but what if it does not? Better to make them kneel before His Grace before we advance…” A glance would be paid to Ser Alek then. “...One way or another” His cup would be placed upon the table then, a thoughtful look crossing his features for a moment, trying to puzzle out the situation. “It might be that the only way to see it done is with blood, Your Grace. As Ser Elmer rightly said, Yronwood is w too high for a storm assault on the Dornish forces. Your men would be cut down like children by their arrows.” A small smile would play across his features then, as his head tipped lightly to the left. “However, their watches will be light-blinded by torches and will more than likely be watching the castle with more earnest than their rear. The hills are likely riddled with caves and crags. Perhaps if a few men were to go up at a time, at night and without torches and were to hide in those caves until everyone was in position, we could take them in the back without a problem.” He pauses there, looking around with concern. After all, he is no grand tactician, not by any means.

“Caves?” asks Daeron. The fair brows rise up, seeming incredulous. Then they lower, and he frowns, in thought. “Caves. I never thought of those. There are some, I recall seeing them the last time I saw Yronwood, returning in victory to King’s Landing and marching up the Boneway. They were pointed out by…” A pause, and the king’s frown turns into a sardonic smirk. “Ser Mavros, actually, now that I think of it. A dangerous, clever man. Mayhaps too clever. If we could place a force in the hills above the castle and the besieging force without their noticing it before we come forward…” He falls silent, musing on possibilities, on tactics and strategy.

Elmer shakes his head and takes another drink. “Oh, I’m no tactician either. just a hammer to be swung where his Grace orders.” he guffaws merrily. “A rather big hammer at that. The old Lion wouldn’t like me screwing up though.” He finishes his sausage and looks at the king. “We don’t make good scouts either. We’re too big and fair for these Dornishmen.” he chuckles at the Young Dragon’s words. “Besides, trading with Dornishmen, not something I advocate. Some of them may have honor, like that Dayne fellow, or even Princess Ariana…but even so, I wouldn’t hand them a knife and turn my back to them..”

Blayne smiles slightly and nods a little bit at the kings words. “In fact, in the North there are, thanks to the cold, a great deal of avalanches in the mountainous areas..” His own smile tilts to one dise of his mouth then, a small shrug gracing his shoulders ever so gently. “Perhaps, with some correctly positioned troops and the right knowledge, some could be… engineered, in the mountains that would work in our favour?” With that he takes another swig of his wine, somewhat proud of himself, but unwilling to show it, and so his smile is buried in his cups.

Ser Alek excuses himself with the king’s leave, leaving him to miss Ser Elmer’s frank disagreement with this plan of his and Ser Albyn’s. The king waves a hand dismissively. “I find it unlikely that they’d agree in any case, ser,” Daeron says to the Crakehall knight who has served him so ably. “But it’s a thought, at least. What harm if they accept? Fewer Dornish to kill is a good thing.” Then when the northern knight gives his thoughts, Daeron seems ... less certain about this idea. “Hiding forces in caves is one thing, ser. Engineering an avalanche? I don’t know…”

A silence, and then he turns to one of the servants and says, “See if you can find a maester about and have him come join me as we ride out again. One with the engineering link.” The servant bows and hurries off, and the king turns back to notice looks around the table. He shrugs, with the confidence of youth. “Ser Blayne’s idea is at least worth exploring, no? And that’d make a fine tale, a king who could command the mountains themselves to fight on his behalf… A glorious tale, eh?”

Elmer runs a hand through his wavy locks. “It would make a fine tale , Sire, but these are Dornish mountains. Like to be as treacherous as their inhabitants.” he shrugs his wide shoulders. “I prefer good honest steel to do my work, I’m not a mole.” He looks at the Condon knight. “No offense ser…”

Blayne shrugs slightly, though casually, so as not to offend the king. “In some places in the Northern mountains, Your Grace, a simple sneeze or cough in the wrong place can bring half the mountain down on an unwary traveller.” He would pause then, thinking some more. “The small folk would say you had the favour of the Seven.” He would laugh somewhat, despite himself, at Elmer’s comment. “Noone said you were a mole ser, but a cavalry charge is just as like to get you riddled with arrows as face to face with a foe.” His cup empty, he would extend it to a servant in order that it might be filled.

“Hah. Well said, Crakehall,” the king replies, grinning at Ser Elmer’s remark, lifting his cup to him before downing another swallow of wine. “But Ser Blayne’s right about arrows and steal. If we could gain an advantage by having a force, however small, behind them or even at their flank without their expecting it .... It served us well, did it not, when Ser Andry found that path around Manwoody’s rampart?”

A thoughtful sound from him, and then he thumps a hand on the table. “Never fear, though,” he assures Ser Elmer, “you boars and lions will have pride of place if it comes to battle. I’ll see if Stormbreaker’s Marchers are up to the task of scouting out some likely places in the hills above Yronwood. Their longbows would be a fine surprise, raining arrows down on the Dornish rear, if luck’s with us.”

Elmer nods deeply. “I’ve been faced with arrows in my life, ser. And may I say i always favor a flanking approach to a frontal charge.” he grins unashamedly. “Though I make a big target and men might shelter behind me.” he nods to the King. “I’ll have pride to always be one step behind you, Your Grace.”

Blayne would sit back as his cup was being filled, watching the exchange between Ser Elmer and the king without expression. “Whatever sows the chaos in their lines we need to secure a gap for your forces, ser, will be the last thing the Dorne’s are aware of before they break and run.” He would swig from his cup for a little longer than before, but not by much. “Though their lords are truly formidable, if we manage to place arrows in their midst for long enough that armoured cavalry can get in among them at a charge, then the battle is all but won, I think.” He would not raise the tone of his voice, so as to show excitement though, because he wasn’t completely sure of his own words, though he believed them to be true.

Daeron smiles at Crakehall—a man after his own heart it seems—and says again, “Well said, ser.” A last drink of wine, and then a pause as one of the Kingsguard knights, his cousin Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, leans over to whisper something in his ear. The king nods, and puts down the cup before motioning with his hands and rising. Servants spring into action, to begin to take down the awning, clear away goblets and cups, and cart away the table. “Past time to have the host resume the march. There’s good springs near, and we should be there before nightfall.”

He starts to turn, to go about his business, before he pauses. “Ser Blayne, join me. You can consult with whatever maester my man finds, about this business of causing a rock slide.” And then, with a last nod to the rest of his knights and lords, he’s on his way, the white cloaks of the Kingsguard fluttering behind them as they match the young king’s brisk pace.