Blood of Dragons

The 'A Song of Ice and Fire' MUSH


The End of Beslon the Bad
IC Date: Day 6 of Month 2, 161 AC
RL Date: October 20, 2009.
Participants: Beslon Smallwod, the Bad, Caitrin Blackmont (as Mordred Sand), Krazdan Big Nose, and Laurent Dalt, the Sand Dog
Locations: Vaith: Outside of Vaith

Summary: Beslon the Bad, infamous scoundrel and sellsword, meets a fitting end: betrayed by his own men for coin.

It is a mild mid-morning, as a Dornishman would reckon such things. Which is to say that it is hot enough to dry a northerners’ eyes like overripe grapes and leave him gasping for breath. Even Vaith’s red dunes seem bleached to a wan, fickle hue in that glare. But it does not seem to affect the men busy about the armed camp a safe distance from the town’s walls; they are about their tasks, tending to horses, a company riding out, another returning, small groups here and there dicing—it is, in brief, the very picture of a bored army when there is no fighting to be had.

The flap to one of the captains’ tents is pushed aside and a slim man steps out, managing to seem elegant even in dusty leathers. The Sand Dog has found the time and resources to shave tomorrow, and he is running a hand over one clean-shaven cheek as he beckons a grizzled man-at-arms lounging about outside: “Is the patrol back yet?”

Vaith has been quiet the last days, with the occasional change of guards on the walls or the drift of smoke from some fires being the only movement of note. Outside its walls, matters are similar, save for the immediate area about the foot of the town’s walls; there, the vultures have been feasting on the hundreds of heads the Bright Banners threw from the walls to show the Dornishmen what became of the town’s men and youths. Sometimes, a bolt sings out, some bored Myrish crossbowman taking aim at a vulture and scattering them; but soon they return, feasting on their dead brethren as readily as one of the rotting heads. It makes for a ripe stench, and a noisy place as the vultures quarrel.

But now there’s a new movement. It seems a change of guard is to begin ... but it’s only three men mounting the walls, and one carries the rainbow-striped peace banner. Among them is Krazdan Big Nose. He gives orders to the men on the walls, and it seems there’s confusion and questions, but when the other men speak it seems to quiet it. The crossbows some rested on the crenels are brought down, lowered out of sight.

The slender youth holding a basin of water yawns. He begins to say something when a shout from the sentries turns Mordred’s head. “Look over there,” he says, frowning and letting the water spill onto the sand. Then a broad grin flashes in his grubby face. “Flag of truce.”

The veteran begins to reply, then breaks off and turns as Mordred points out the activity atop the walls. The Sand Dog turns with him, shading his eyes with a hand as he stares at Vaith.

“Well, now,” he murmurs softly, giving nothing away. Then, he snaps his fingers at the man-at-arms: “My horse. Half-a-dozen steady men with me. Mordred, the peace banner. And my axe.”

No sooner has he spoken than the soldier is off; a very short time later, he is back with the Sand Dog’s mount and a handful of mounted men besides.

Seeing the activity on the Dornish side, Krazdan and the other men wait a moment. More orders, and now half the men on the walls follow the Meereenese sellsword and his companions off the walls. A minute passes, and then the gates of Vaith are opened, and opened wide. The man with the peace banner is there foremost, Krazdan behind, and then two more men ... and they support a half-collapsed man between them.

At a word from Krazdan Big Nose, he and his companions walk forward, past the gates, into the open. The collapsed man’s feet drag on the ground as they pull him with them.

Mordred moves with equal alacrity, is mounted and holding the Dornishmen’s own rainbow banner. He is at the Captain’s side on a dancing sandsteed when Krazdan comes forward. “Who in seven hells are they dragging?” he asks, frowning and shading his eyes with a sun-brown hand.

The Dalt knight mounts, then checks when he notices Mordred mounting beside him. He eyes the youth askance, then opens his mouth, looking for all the world as if he is about to tell him to get off.

Then, Mordred points out Krazdan’s burden, and Laurent turns in his saddle. “Well, now,” he says again. But this time, it is with a small smile. “I think I might have lost that wager. But I’ll not complain.”

“Tell Ser Baduin I have said to get the men ready,” he tosses back at the veteran. And then he is off, spurring his sandsteed into a near-gallop, the others falling in behind him. They break through the camp and into open space, then across it. When they near the sellswords, Laurent pulls back on his reins, slowing to a leisurely approach.

“The zorse man. Here you are, then,” he says pleasantly, drawing rein; he does not look at the man they are half-carrying.

“Here I am,” the former pit-fighter agrees, the ugly growl of Ghiscari accenting his voice even if it seems amiable enough. The tall, lean man scratches at his rather large nose, and grins like a loon as he squints at the Dornishmen. “I come to say the Bright Banners have had a change of heart,” Krazdan Big Nose says, “because who can refuse your prince’s generosity? Eh? Not we. No, we are generous too.” And with that, he turns to the others, and says something in some variety of bastard Valyrian. The two men come forward, dragging their prisoner along, and then throwing him on the ground between the two parties.

Groaning, face black and purple and covered with blood from a beating, the man rolls over; it’s Beslon the Bad. A ragged, bubbling breath and then he spits out blood as he coughs. “Fuckers,” he manages to curse, but there’s surprisingly little heat to it.

“Beslon Smallwood,” gasps Mordred, staring. He is so eager to see that even his horse strains forward. “Gods, but I’d love to see you spitted through the arse on a pike and left for the vultures.”

Mordred might show his eagerness, but there is none—and no surprise either—on Laurent’s face when the captive rolls over to show his face. Lips pursed, he examines the bloodied, bruised man. “Bloodthirsty lad, this boy of mine. Marence Martell is indeed generous. And he will, no doubt, be most pleased at the good sense you have shown. All of you,” he replies without looking away from Beslon.

And he dismounts, then, tossing the reins to the man riding beside him. A few strides and he is standing over the fallen man; he gestures in Mordred’s general direction—“The waterskin”—then glances up at Krazdan: “Or was it all of you?”

“All of us,” agrees Krazdan, amiable still. “A thousand suns, you said? More coin for all of us… atop our wages, of course. Which is seven thousands for two months? A bargain, for famous swords such as us, but an honorable one.” Strange notions of honor must be expected among foreigners and sellswords, one supposes. The other men with him seem to follow part of the conversation, and watch with a certain earnestness. They don’t look at Beslon at all; one of them’s wiping his bloodied hands.

Smallwood coughs again, spitting up more blood, and manages a groaning laugh; ribs must be broken, amidst his other injuries.

The boy scowls, but he dismounts as well and heaves the truce flag into another’s hands. He takes the waterskin from his saddle and carries it sullenly behind Laurent. “Roll him over,” he says to the other men, his nose wrinkled in disgust.

The boy scowls, but he dismounts as well and heaves the truce flag into another’s hands. He takes the waterskin from his saddle and carries it sullenly behind Laurent. He looks down at Beslon in disgust, then—without kneeling—aims the spout of the water skin in the general direction of the bloodied mouth and pours.

“A thousand suns,” the Sand Dog agrees. “For the man who gives me Vaith and Beslon Smallwood, I had said. That would be you. What you do with it is your business. And the seven thousand as wages.”

He steps aside, letting Mordred pour water on Beslon; then, he looks up at Krazdab, narrowing his eyes against the sun: “Of course, you still have to give me Vaith. When I ride back to the camp from here, you ride with me. And then we will all return with my men and your gold.”

The first splash of water on his face ... and Beslon turns his head away from the stream, so it falls upon his bruised cheek. A rattling laugh again, and despite his bound hands and bruised and broken body, he lifts himself a little. “Wasting water on a dead man, Dornishman?” he asks. He smiles a wan, bloody smile, missing teeth showing gaps, and then looks to Krazdan. “Something to think about, Big Nose,” he says, without explaining himself

The Meereenese pit-fighter shrugs at what Laurent says. “My gold, their gold, it is no matter.” Then, he lays a finger along his nose, and rubs at it a little before he then says, “Very well. We trust you, we are good friends already, why not join you in your camp?” He turns to the others, and a conversation in several varieties of Valyrian breaks out. At one point, Krazdan glances speculatively at Beslon, perhaps not contemplating what he said ... but a shrug, and he’s back to the conversation. Soon enough, matters seem settled. One of the party walks back to the gates, to inform the rest of what’s happening.

“As you should,” the Sand Dog replies with a pleasant smile. “After all, if I tried anything, I would be left with you and without the town. And pretty as you are…Big Nose?...I fancy Vaith more.”

And then, he lowers himself to crouch before the betrayed sellsword captain on the balls of his feet: “So. Beslon Smallwood. Beslon the Bad. It seems your friends trust me more than they do you. Tell me, what ransom do you think you would fetch? And who would pay it?”

“Trying to drown you,” Mordred says cheerfully, leaving off with the water. Instead, he kicks sand into the broken face. “Taste the sand, Westerosi,” he hisses. “You’ve killed and killed and killed for it. Now be one with it.” He kicks again, angling around so that he can pile it up no matter which way Beslon turns his head. And if he faces up? The water.

“As you should,” the Sand Dog replies with a pleasant smile. “After all, if I tried anything, I would be left with you and without the town. And pretty as you are…Big Nose?...I fancy Vaith more.”

And then, keeping fastiduously away from the sand Mordred is kicking in the betrayed sellsword captain’s face—but making no attempt to stop him—he lowers himself to crouch before the fallen man on the balls of his feet: “So. Beslon Smallwood. Beslon the Bad. It seems your friends trust me more than they do you. Tell me, what ransom do you think you would fetch? And who would pay it?”

Eyes shut against the abuse, bloody coughs and gags follow each time the sand is kicked in his face, until he’s forced to turn his face to the water; a mere annoyance, compared to the sand. Almost pleasant, really. Smallwood turns his face away from the boy when he finally chooses to speak, bloody water dripping from him. “Ransom?” he gasps, and it’s a gasp of pain as a broken rib shifts as he moves. “Ten thousand dragons, Dornishman,” he manages, and a smile twists his broken lips. And then, “My dear, personal friend the High Septon would pay for it. The septas would spread their legs between here and Oldtown, to help him. I’m a paragon of piety, if you didn’t know.”

Mordred leaves off enough to let Beslon speak, then snorts. “Oh, -all- the septas love a man who slaughters for the joy of it,” he sneers, kicking sand again. “I should have your balls of you to give to them, all gilded and pretty.” He looks up at Laurent with the strangest light in his eyes. “Can I?”

The Sand Dog laughs at that, and there is genuine amusement in it: “You have had a septa or three in your time, I’ll wager. I had thought I would keep you alive for questioning, but…”

He rises, brushing sand from his thighs. “On his knees,” he says succinctly. And swiftly two of his men dismount and come forward to try and force Beslon onto his knees and push him forward to bare his neck.

He gives Mordred a strange look: “My axe. You can play with his balls after I am done.” And to Beslon: “You should thank me, ser. I am sparing you Red Spear’s tender mercies. He has a wicked way with a knife, that one.”

Mordred makes a show of sulking, but he is quick enough to turn and stride back to the horses, where he unhooks the wicked longaxe from the saddle of Laurent’s sandsteed. He gives this to Laurent, then kneels before Beslon the Bad to look into the other’s eyes. “Kiss before dying?” he offers in a voice uniquely unsuited to a scrawny lad.

“I’ll remember to give my thanks,” says Beslon, fearless, a man who’s sucked the marrow out of life it seems. He’s groan as he’s set onto his knees, and then continues, “I’ll remember when we meet again, Dornishman. The fifth or sixth hell, not sure what suits the like of us best. I’ll keep the fires warm for you.” As to Krazdan and the rest, he gives a bleary-eyed glance, grit and sand encrusted around them, and says, “And you, I’ll shit on you, down there in the last hell, the traitor’s hell.”

A cough, and blood comes up, and it’s with blood dripping from his mouth that he spits full on the boy.

“There’s some maiden’s blood for you, ‘boy’,” Beslon the Bad croaks with strangely madcap laughter, as he’s shoved forward to bare his neck.

Krazdan Big Nose and the others are a tough lot, and have seen enough of death to have seen just about every way a man can meet it. Big Nose laughs at Beslon’s promise, and grins a too-wide grin.

Mordred Sand only smiles as he wipes the blood from his face. “Sweet,” he notes, then rises and moves out of range of the longaxe to watch and clean the blood from his face with a ragged end of his sleeve.

The Sand Dog hefts his longaxe—and there is, just for the briefest of moments, that strange look on his face again as he glances at Mordred. Then it is gone so swiftly it may well have been imagined.

“The fifth hell,” he decides, spreading his legs a touch to brace himself and firming his grip on the haft. “They say,” he finishes with a feral smile, “that is where the whores are.”

The axe rises, catching the sun and burning blindingly. Then it falls, there is a meaty thump, and blood splatters his breeches.