Red Keep: Western Outer Yard
Dark but never bereft of light, torches in sconces about gates and the entrances of buildings provides a faint flickering illumination that leaves only the central part of the western end of the outer yard itself in the gloom. More light pours from the windows of the towers and other structures. Guards make their rounds, sometimes with a torch at hand and sometimes not, occasionally challenging one another or hammering the butt of a spear on the stone of steps or cobbled paths to call out the time. The great bronze gate is usually shut after sunset but the postern gate is kept open and guarded for men on foot or horseback to come and go.
The outer yard continues a great distance beneath the high red walls, encompassing the smaller inner yard from which the highest peak of the Maegor’s Holdfast can just be glimpsed. Here in these northern and southern quadrants of the outer yard, the royal sept and the kitchens can be found, among a number of other structures. To southwest is the great stableyard where horses of guests and the City Watch are kept. Rising in the east is the high wall separating the outer yard from the inner and Maegor’s Holdfast, the only passage through being a lone portcullis. To the west, the bronze gates lead out of the castle entirely.
The deep blue night sky is clear and cloudless, and the stars glitter. An icy wind blows from the northwest.
Luthor claps Elmer’s shoulder in return. “Always glad to see you Crakehall,” he says putting emphasis on the man’s last name. Then his eyes catch movement in the shadows and he smiles. Spying Pennei he nods a greeting to her, but leaves it to her to decide to join them or not. Knowing how she feels about crowds. “The Dragonpit?” he grins. “My squire and I have explored it a time or two, and it does give an excellent view,” he comments off-hand.
Brynden frowns faintly as he notes Elmer’s look to the maid but when Sirawen doesn’t seem particularly opposed to it he relaxes. Brynden nods to the Crakehall and offers, “Well met then Ser Elmer.” His attention quickly returns to Sarya nodding at the first two items, “Dancing and hunting I can do.” But the last item has him grinning brightly at her, “You enjoy the ocean then? Have you spent much time sailing?” He looks to Luthor nodding as he looks thoughtful, “I shall have to keep the Dragonpit in mind.”
A large group of 25 goldcloaks ride into the western courtyard from the bronze gates, escorting a mid-sized wagon within which sit 4 individuals: one woman and three girls, from their faces, it appears obvious they are a mother and her three children. All are shackled at both the hands and feet. Ser Anton Piper leads this contingent of city watchmen and upon arriving in the courtyard, he awkwardly dismounts his horse. With a wave of his hand, the other goldcloaks follow his example and 8 walk towards the wagon, helping the four women down; then 2 watchmen to each, they take hold of the four’s arms on either side and begin marching them in the direction of the Traitor’s Tower. Anton keeps a close eye on all four, but especially the mother. Most of the rest of his goldcloaks disperse in the direction of the stables and their barracks, though a few remain behind, in a flanking position to Anton.
One of the watchmen gently gestures in the direction of the gathered nobles, and Anton’s eyes follow. Noting their presence, Anton however, makes no movement in their direction. Instead he motions for the entire group to head towards the notorious Traitor’s Tower. The three girls meekly walk between their guards though the mother does not. Noticing the path of Anton’s eyes, the woman begins struggling against her shackles and twisting in the grips of the two goldcloaks holding her arms. She appears to be trying to signal the assembled nobles not far away.
Elmer laughs softly, he admires a pretty woman even if he’s soon to be married and he nods towards Luthor. “So I hear you must be congratulated on your victory, ser..” He nods towards Pennei. “The Lady must be proud to have such a champion.”
The reason Sarya doesn’t seem opposed is because she doesn’t notice her sultry maid’s wink and what not. “I am from Storm’s End good Ser, I grew up on the ocean’s breezes, and storms. While it’s not home.. it does ease the sickness of being away for a time.” Her sapphire eyes turn towards Anton, and they harden just a bit at the gold cloaks, “Where would you like to see on our walk Ser?” She speaks to Brynden even though her eyes are on the city watch, who seem to have twenty-five men to four women, three of them no more then girls.
Luthor’s eyes are fixed on the woman the children, though when Elmer speaks he glances over smiling only a little. “It was a good tourney, though we missed you,” he says to the Crakehall knight. Then frowning, he catches Ser Anton’s eye and beckons the man to join them, his eyes flitting back to the prisoners. “I hear your wedding is to be soon,” he adds to the Crakehall knight as he waits for Anton’s response.
At the procession of the goldcloaks and the prisoners, Pennei’s shyness is suddenly overcome. She crosses the distance to where her betrothed stands rather quickly, peering over at the woman and girls as they are marched. Confusion and dismay are written on the maiden’s features.
As the woman continues to struggle, one of the goldcloaks holding her arms raises his other gauntleted hand in preparation to strike her, at a subtle head shake from Anton however, he lowers his hand and continues dragging the woman towards the tower. At Luthor’s beckoning, Anton changes direction and walks towards the assembled nobles. Standing at a respectful distance, he bows his head in greeting, “good day Ser Luthor, ladies,” nodding in the direction of Sarya and Pennei. Seeing Elmer as well, Anton says, “Ser Elmer, good to see you again as well.” Finally noticing Brynden, Anton offers a deep bow, and states, “greetings my lord, it is an honour to see you again. I hope your mother, the Lady of Riverrun is well, my grandfather sends his best regards.” Not far away, the woman continues to struggle, though the goldcloaks are succeeding in dragging her away, albeit slowly.
Brynden turns his head slightly at the arrival of the goldcloaks and their prisoners. He frowns slowing as he watches his features darkening, “What’s this…” He trails off his brows furrowing but he offers to Sarya quietly and absently, “I’d enjoy seeing your favorite places in the city.” He offers to her though clearly not pleased by scene of the women being taken forward. Brynden considers the man who speaks to him for a few long moments considering, “Ah Ser Anton of the Pipers isn’t it? Yes my lady Mother is well, things are calm at Riverrun. This it seems though is more than can be said about things at King’s landing. Encountered some troublemakers have you?” He asks quietly gesturing at the women in custody.
Sarya merely watches the woman then looks towards Anton, her lips thin slightly, “It’s good to know that the City Watch has such hardened criminals.. well in hand…” There is a touch of sting in the young woman’s voice.
Elmer raises an eyebrow as he looks at the prisoners, but he says nothing. “Yes indeed, the wedding shall be soon.” He grins towards Luthor…“And Ser Voctor has offered to sponsor a tourney in his sister’s wedding’s horour so..we might get to measure forces again.”
“A wedding tourney?” Luthor asks with another small smile. “Count on me to ride then, only fair to honor your wedding day.” He looks to Pennei. “Our wedding will be of a more modest sort, due to a lack of a goldmine, but I will hope to see you there,” he says to Elmer. Then as Anton approaches he puts on his Warden face. “What crime did they commit ser?” he asks the man without preamble.
Pennei gives Elmer a timid smile, being more familiar with him. “Good evening, Ser.” She murmurs softly. When Luthor mentions the prisoners, the girl’s attention is brought back to them. “How sad.” she nearly whispers.
“Indeed we have my lord,” Anton states firmly to Brynden, looking in the direction of the woman and girls. “Thieves, the lot of them; the woman runs an inn near the docks, though after searching her place, we found many stolen items belonging to the nobility and some of the wealthier merchants of the city. Her daughters also had on certain pieces of jewelry that did not belong.” Turning to Sarya, Anton’s voice does not soften, in fact, it hardens. “Theft is a very serious crime my lady, it is our duty to stamp it out wherever it develops.” Anton pauses briefly before adding, “regardless of who the offenders are.”
“We be not knowing where the items be from or who they be belong to,” the woman suddenly shouts in a loud voice, fighting the men dragging her. “We be simple working folk, me and me girls here. Please, me lords and ladies, have mercy. Me little one turned seven not long ago, tis not justice, she be not knowing.” The youngest girl, suddenly bursts into tears and her sisters try their best to comfort her, though the goldcloaks do not let them get too close.
Brynden considers Anton and then the accused women Finally he glances to Sarya. Finally his attention returns to Anton though he reaches to pat Sarya’s arm, “Theft is a serious crime and a serious charge. Still I find it difficult to consider a seven year old guilty of such crimes. Even if they’re prisoners ensure that they are not mistreated Ser Piper. Is the final punishment decided or how long is it till a justiciar decides what to do with them?”
Elmer shakes his head a little, but he doesn’t intervene, the captain of the Lannister guard merely asking. “And what does ser Dagur say of this?” THe ironman might have once been his enemy but now the Crakehall knight respects him, however grudgingly.
If Sarya’s gaze was hard before it is now steel, she doesn’t seem to like the tone Anton has taken with her, her jaw sets and her hand at Brynden’s elbow grips a little tighter.
“Surely, there will be food and warmth for them now,” Pennei queries, in her soft voice, “And upon the morrow, perhaps the Justicar can see them.” She doesn’t move from Luthor’s side and it takes considerable courage to voice her concerns now, in front of all these people.
Luthor grits his teeth and looks away when the woman calls out her plea. Though when Pennei speaks he looks back towards the woman and her children nodding. “I trust they will be taken to one of the upper levels,” he says to Anton. As he does his eyes flick to Sarya, though he sees the steel in her expression he says nothing of it.
“A Reeve will hold court later on and try these matters. Since they are baseborn and theft is not a high crime, the Justiciers will not be involved. Do not worry my lord and ladies, they will not be mistreated.” Anton answers. Ignoring Sarya’s gaze, Anton next regards Luthor as the knight finishes speaking. Looking around a bit at the unhappy eyes gazed at him, Anton continues, “I understand how you may view the situation my lords and ladies, but suffice to way, there is a reason for all of this. These are not your usual prisoners or criminals.” As he finishes, Anton glances at the 4 in shackles and a sense of steeliness enters his eyes.
Hearing Anton’s last sentence, the woman appears frozen for an instant, but a sudden calmness descends upon her and she stops struggling. In a weary voice, she states, “you be knowing then. Tis about their da, ain’t it?” She motions with her head at the 3 girls as she finishes.
Brynden nods quietly to Anton still not pleased but also it seems not prepared to prevent the man from his duties. “See what you can about ensuring that the matter is handled quickly. Duties permitting perhaps this evening or the next you will join me at the Tully Manse. It would be good to hear more about how things are in King’s Landing.” He glances to Luthor as well then contemplating before offering, “Perhaps I’ll host a dinner for all the Riverlanders.” He does arch a brow at the woman and then Anton but remains silent instead turning back towards Sarya.
Sarya lifts her chin a little and says, “I am sure you have all your reasons Ser. And I’m sure it takes all twenty-five of those Gold Cloaks to take care of three little girls and a woman.” She sniffs and looks to Brynden, “I’ll be seeing to my horse, if you’ll excuse me Sers.” She nods her head to Pennei, giving one last glare to Anton she lifts her skirts slightly so that she can pick her way down the stands without falling flat on her face.
Luthor’s loosens his jaw and his eyes become considering as he hears the woman’s last statement. He mulls his thoughts over for a moment before he asks Anton. “Who is the children’s father?” he asks, brows raised as he looks in the goldcloak’s direction.
Two men walk back into the courtyard at the same time, from the same direction they left, except that one is supporting the other. Alek is supporting the Northman Leon, who has clearly had too much to drink. Alek stops, somehow sensng the frostyness of the scene, approaching the group. “...What’s going on?” He asks, scanning each face individually for clues.
Pennei stands close to Luthor, intimidated by the crowd of nobles and the distressing scene. She doesn’t say anything, but looks on with wide, blue eyes.
As the conversation continues, the goldcloaks flanking Anton constantly scan the passing crowd, looking to see if anyone takes undue notice of the discussion taking place. Anton has no reply to the woman’s last words; instead, he simply stares at her. The girls are all looking at their mother now, with puzzlement and confusion in their eyes. As the woman opens her mouth to speak again, a man-at-arms arrives amongst the gathered nobles. He wears the colours of House Piper and is fully armoured, though surprisingly, he is unarmed. Bowing first to Ser Brynden Tully, he then approaches Anton and speaks in a quiet voice, “everything is prepared commander, we can leave anytime you wish.” Anton nods quickly and replies, “hold here and await my word. Watch for anyone suspicious looking.” Saluting his commander, the man-at-arms walks off to stand with his back to a wall, his eyes scanning the crowds. At Luthor’s question, Anton lowers his voice and quietly says the name “Dougan, or Dirty D.”
The woman eyes the man-at-arms inquisitively but then continues to speak to Anton. “Ye not know what ye be doing. They be kill us all now.”
Brynden frowns as Sarya turns to go he moves to follow her, “Here my Lady let me help you and see you home perhaps?” He turns to look at Anton one last time and nods, “Carry on Ser Piper, but see that she’s proven false.” He appears to be leaving it between Luthor and Anton turning to escort Sarya to wherever.
Sarya gives a smile to Brynden and nods her head, “Thank you Ser.” She takes his arm again and starts for the stables to get her horsie!
Luthor is distracted for a moment when Pennei takes her leave, but soon his attention is focused on Anton again. “So they’re a lure,” he says to the goldcloak quietly, his tone is neutral but there is just a hint of approval in it as well. He steps back from Anton when Alek and Leon arrive, and Luthor shakes his head. “You seem awfully drunk for dealing with the rotation of your men,” he observes archly.
Just as Anton opens his mouth to speak, a hissing sound is heard and a crossbow bolt whizzes from out of nowhere, heading in the direction of the woman in shackles. At that exact moment however, Alek and Leon wander in the way and the bolt glances past Alek’s shoulder leaving a graze, then buries itself in Leon’s shoulder. “See what I be telling you?” The woman screams as she attempts to cover her children’s bodies with her own.
The goldcloaks flanking Anton spring into action, though they appear to all head in different directions as none are sure where the bolt came from. The action of the Piper man-at-arms is surprisingly however, as he moves towards the 4 prisoners and stands before them, as if shielding them. Anton remains motionless, his eyes studying the surrounding area, his hand on the scabbarded longsword on his belt. Speaking to Luthor without looking at him, Anton asks “you see where that shot came from?”
Alek opens his mouth to reply, but a grunt of pain comes forth instead. Leon yelps out as the bolt embeds itself in his left shoulder. He falls to his knees, beginning a long string of curses that would make a sailor blush. Alek grabs for his axe, moving protectively before Leon.
As the Piper men-at-arms spring into action Luthor calls out to Alek. “Tend to Leon, get him out of sight,” he gestures to a cart that’s near where the man’s been hit as cover. To Anton he replies “No,” he looks at Leon’s wound. “But by that arrow,” he points in the direction the fletching is pointing. “I’d say from somewhere over there.” As he gestures in that direction, he sees some motion in the shadows. “There!” he shouts as he breaks into a sprint. His lack of armor lends him speed, but it also causes him to take a roundabout way to reach him staying in cover. The figure breaks for the stables, but as he does, two figures emerge from that direction, both familiar to Luthor. His squire and his healer. “Stop that man!” he bellows to them. Watty, the healer, freezes, but Barion acts, drawing steel and moving in the man’s way. The man turns to run but Luthor is on him, his own blade drawn now, he swings it once at the man’s weapon. Then strikes him across the face with the pommel of his sword the man drops with the sound of crunching cartilage, blood spewing from his nose. Luthor levels the point of his sword beneath the man’s chin. “Stay very still if you want to live,” he instructs him coldly.
Alek nods, grabbing the swearing sellsword under both arms to drag him to the cart. “I can fuckin’ walk! It wasn’t my leg that was hit!” The man squirms free, staggering over to the cart before sinking back to the ground. “By the seven fuckin’ hells, this hurts!” Alek rolls his eyes. “Watty!” He calls out. “You and Leon are a member of Ser Luthor’s household. Come tend to him. We need your expertise.”
Anton waves to the 8 goldcloaks still standing with the woman and girls, and they quickly haul them off to the Traitor’s Tower, with the Piper man-at-arms resuming his previous position standing along one of the walls. Walking towards Luthor and nodding at the knight, Anton states “my thanks Ser Luthor, I am glad you were here to capture the assailant.” A hard glance follows for the rue-faced goldcloaks who’ve gathered behind him. “Even though I specifically warned this may happen, it appears my own men failed to keep adequate watch; unless they deliberately failed to notice this,” Anton finishes with a suspicious look.
Turning his gaze to the fallen man, Anton studies him intently for a moment before saying to Luthor, “I do not recognize him. I suggest you take him into custody Ser Luthor, while I look into the matter of why my own men, with advanced warning, failed to perceive this man. In the meantime, I will use the woman and her children as leverage against Dougan, to see if he will finally give us information about the theft ring and any potential connections to the bandits in the Kingswood.” Anton pauses here as he glances at the Piper man-at-arms before continuing, “I have called in some of my House’s men-at-arms, who served under me in Dorne; they can be trusted. If Dougan will give us something, I will see to it that his woman and children are taken away to safety.”
Hearing the shout Watty suddenly comes alive again and sprints across the yard to Leon’s side. The normally cowardly Dornishman all but pushes aside Ser Alek as he kneels at Leon’s side. Drawing a dagger from his belt he cuts some of the cloth away from the wound and makes a clucking noise with his tounge. “You’re lucky, it’s not too deep. I should be able to cut it out of you.” He looks up at Ser Alek. “We should move him somewhere more private, he will need milk of the poppy for the pain, and even then there will likely be screaming,” he says matter-of-factly.
Luthor stares down at the man at the end of his sword. “I don’t recognize him either, but I will detain him under my own authority, and see that he tells us how he was able to position himself as he did.” He calls Barion to him to take the man, and then moves aside with Anton. “I’ve lands near Acorn Hall, if you need a place to put the woman and children, they would be welcome there if they can work,” he offers quietly.
Leon laughs coldly. “Screaming? Me? You mistake me for a southern man.” The sellsword replies, his voice cracked with pain. “Leon, shut up for once.” He grabs Leon’s uninjured arm. “We can move him easily, but where would be private enough?” He asks.
“My men have orders to take them to Pinkmaiden, my grandfather’s household has been looking for new servants lately, and from what I saw of their inn, the woman is quite capable. My thanks for the offer, Ser Luthor.” Anton’s eyes do not leave the fallen man as he continues, “and my thanks for detaining him. Though I suspect it was simply incompetence that my own men did not see him, I will look into the matter to ensure none have been bought. I will take my leave now to go see what I can do with Dougan now that we have his woman and children.” A final hard look at his goldcloaks before Anton leaves in the direction of Traitor’s Tower. The remaining watchmen quickly scurry away in the direction of their barracks, while the Piper man-at-arms continues his vigilence.
Luthor claps Anton on the shoulder. “Good luck,” he wishes the goldcloak, before he nods for Barion to help lift the captured servant.
Across the yard Watty looks around. “The Traitor’s Tower will do. Come lets get him up, and send someone for my things, I will need my tools to help him.”