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The turmoil that followed the feuding in the Reach seems to have left a black mark over some of the court of King’s Landing—or perhaps a curse for the gods. Because no sooner had the worthies of the court returned safely from Highgarden and Grassy Meadow, but that new trouble appeared. The problem? The notorious pirate Sullehman Saan, come to avenge the death of his younger brother. Having found safe harborage for his small fleet among the smugglers’ coves of Crackclaw Point, he ranged into Blackwater Bay to cause his trouble and take his prizes. And a rich prize he took, but one with thorns: a vessel carrying Lady Reyna Saltcliffe and a number of other highborn ladies of the court. When word of that capture reached King’s Landing, it was no surprise to any that the lady’s famed husband, Ser Dagur Saltcliffe, the ironborn knight and recently-appointed Warden of Crackclaw Point, immediately prepared a rescue party.
Aided by certain men of Crackclaw Point, the bold knights reached the cove where Saan and is men had their ships. A parley took place after Saan learned from a traitorous knight of their approach, and with him were two hostages to ensure that Saltcliffe and the rest would do as they were told: Lady Doryssa Massey and Lady Mellony Fossoway. Harsh words were exchanged, and Sullehman Saan’s cruel, vile taunts enraged the men so much that some of them such as Ser Almer would have drawn steel then and there. But the Warden put an end to it; furious himself, clearly, but with iron control still. It was a control the pirate captain tested with his terms; not just 500 dragons each for Doryssa and Mellony and a thousand each for Lady KatlaGreyjoy and the Warden’s wife, Lady Rreyna Saltcliffe, but also the royal galley The Warrior’s Sword captained by Ser Jorian Crakehall and another vessel besides. The Crakehall knight announced himself willing if it meant saving the women’s lives, but Ser Almer counselled winning the women back by force instead. In the end, even with his own wife’s life at stake, the Iron Serpent refused the terms, for he said that he had no right to surrender the king’s ship.
Through all this, the women, held fast by the pirates, could only watch—and while Lady Mellony appeared strangely anxious to please Sullehman Saan, speaking to him almost as she would to her own lord, Lady Doryssa spit defiance, telling the knights to attack the pirates and be done with it.
And with those words, she sealed her own fate. For angered by her and by the knights’ refusal, Sullehman Saan showed the truth of the tales that speak of that blackest of black hearts beneath his handsome facade, holding Doryssa to him as he would a lover—and sliding a dagger into her back and out between her breasts, red with her heart’s blood.
All was chaos, then; Almer Connington sprang to the attack, and the anguished Ammon with him, while Sullehman held Mellony as a shield and retreated to his boat with his men. And with that show of brutality, he had broken the Iron Serpent’s resistance—for as the Warden knelt there beside the dying woman, listening to her last words, he called his acceptance of Sullehman’s terms to spare the other women, almost choking on it, but commanding the disbelieving Connington knight back still. So the parley ended in blood and bitter helplesness, Doryssa Massey dead, her shattered brother knocked unconscious by the pirates at the water’s edge, and half-a-dozen knights of the realm helpless to do anything about it but watch the Prince of the Narrow Sea return to his ship.
The next day, a daring rescue took place, a handful of picked men coming aboard Saan’s ship in the night, daring to hold off many times their number while extricating the surviving women. It was bloody, chaotic work—and in the end, Mellony Fossoway was murdered by Sullehman Saan before he leapt into the sea and swam for his remaining vessel, escaping into the night. The bodies of the dead women were brought back, families were reunited, and mourning could take place… mourning, and a rememberance of vengeance unrequited.
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