A messenger came swiftly down along the Red Fork, flying through the encamped nobility in the fields beyond Riverrun, and taking the first ferry over. Many guessed that his urgent news had to do with the Brackens and Blackwoods, the feuding noble houses whose ancient disputes had flared up again at the tourney to celebrate the wedding of one of Lord Kermit’s daughters, but little did they know how right they were…
For, despite her efforts and the ravens she had sent winging to Stone Hedge and Raventree Hall, the feud had reached new heights of bloodshed: the messenger reported that the village of Buckle had been set upon by the Blackwoods in retlation for the Bracken insults and assault at the tourney, only to find the Brackens there with a like force, intent on going on to burn the Blackwood village of Pennytree out of a thirst for vengeance after what had happened to Ser Hoster Bracken, Bloody Brus’s boy, when he was found murdered at the hands (it’s said) of Blackwoods.
And so the two forces fell upon one another, and the holdfast at Buckle was burned. The casualties were not clear, but it was plain that Brackens and Blackwoods both meant to fight on. Lord Kermit revealed he had sent his brothers Ser Oscar Tully and Ser Tomas Rivers to raise the Tully banners, and he let it be known that his loyal vassals would go to their own lands to collect their troops. Within a week, he swore he’d had strength enough to meet one of the warring houses and besiege its castle; within two, he would be able to equal both, and lay both their ancient, great seats under siege. During the Dance of the Dragons, the young Lord Kermit had proven his mettle, winning a certain notoriety for his willingness to turn to harsh measures, and now it seemed he was willing to do so again.
Not all in the crowd were, however. Ser Jonn Lannister, the heir to Casterly Rock, appeared to have a grievance with Lord Tully, announcing he meant to join the Blackwoods because of ties of blood… but that his bannermen might or might not follow him, unless Lord Tully did as he wished. It was plain that the lions of the Rock are angered at the penalty the Westerlings must happy Lord Tully following the debacle with Ser Humfrey Westerling, and it was just as plain that Lord Tully would not indulge him: she let him know that he was welcome to join the Blackwoods, to sit comfortably on the ancient weirwood at Raventree Hall and watch the siege lines close around them. Lannister departed, a retort on his lips, and there were those riverlords who had ties to the Blackwoods who now grew worried: did this mean she would first take her forces to lay siege to Blackwood, all because of Lannister? She would not clarify, and that may be why Ser Ardros Piper—heir to Pinkmaiden, and half a Blackwood—spoke up, asking if she meant to have them take up arms against their own kin (but not without adding an insult toward the Brackens that began a wave of outraged protest). Lord Kermit silenced them, iron-willed, and told them he would question the value of any vassal who ignored his will.
Others from outside the riverlands had their say, from Reyna Saltcliffe—sister ot the Lord Protector of the Reach—who offered to see that any reachlords present kept out of the fighting, but Lord Kermit thanked her graciously and said he would not deign to give her commands… but that he would like it to be well-known that any man who had accepted his hospitality who joined the Blackwoods or Brackens in their feuding would surely meet her disapproval. And that, some noted, was said after Lady Reyna admitted her own husband, Ser Dagur Saltcliffe, intended to ride to join the Blackwoods due to his friendship with the famous Balian Blackwood.
At the end, Lord Kermit announced a feast… and encouraged those who were his vassals to make ready to go to their seats, to collect their banners and bring them to Riverrun. The next day, a number of riverlords were indeed gone—Freys, Pipers, Paeges, Darrys, Vances, and more—and some were making ready to go, consulting with Lord Kermit or his heir Ser Edmure as they prepared. Yet in going, some seemed not particularly convinced in joining arms against one family or another, thanks to friendships and old bloodties, and some others besides seemed less than willing to risk getting entangled in any fashion in the old, endless feud.