Blood of Dragons

The 'A Song of Ice and Fire' MUSH


The Ambush
IC Date: Day 8 of Month 5, 160 AC.
RL Date: January 25, 2009.
Participants: Aidan Dayne, called the Knight of the Twilight, Cadan Martell, Dagur Saltcliffe, called the Iron Serpent, Jonn Lannister, Raynard Locke, Sarmion Baratheon, called Stormbreaker, and the Smiler (emitted by Reyna Saltcliffe).
Locations: Kingswood: Game Trail.
Comments: Ser Lormon Buckler was emitted by Balerion.

Summary: Having entered the kingswood on King Daeron's command to find and put an end to the Starveling and his band of outlaws, Ser Sarmion and Ser Dagur lead the company into the depths of the forest at the direction of a Wendwater knight. At the suspected area, a trap is devised to attempt to lure out a group of bandits.

It has been some time since the Warden of the Kingswood’s men set out on the forest path, pulling a laden wagon behind them, and men begin to grow restive waiting for the sound of the horn, even though they are gradually following at a distance. The kingswood is close and quiet in the morning hour, birds chirping and then fluttering off at the intrusion of armed men.

Wearing his Dornish armor of enamelled scale and with a brand new helm upon his head, Ser Aidan Dayne seems as tense as any with anticipation. He can be overheard to remark to his cousin Ser Tamlyn, after looking up towards where the leaders of the company are, “Like enough the Stormbreaker’s men will have dealt with the bandits by the time we get there.” His horse, a heavy destrier without a great deal of spirit to it, often threatens to stop on the path to crop some grass until the knight spurs him forward.

“You better fucking believe it you shit eating camel-humpers,” one of the Kingswood company remarks upon hearing the hostage speak.

Sarmion grins, the look hidden by the great helm he wears, its visage that of a stag with lightning erupting from its mouth. Horns crown it and a pale green mantle hangs damply in the air still wet from last night’s rain. Atop a destrier as monstrous and mean tempered as himself, the Stormbreaker sits, awaiting the signal that shall send the counter ambush forth to smash the bandits.

Quietly, he draws forth a massive warhammer. The same that crushed Corentyn Yronwood and vanquished many at the Carrion Wood. Here shall it make another wood its namesake.

Eyes hooded, swaying easily to his mount’s rhythm, the lean, black-haired man at the front the column rides in silence. As well he might, for the man beside him speaks enough for two or more. Anticipation fuelled by bitter bloodlust has loosened Lormon Buckler’s tongue, to the disgust of those around him, although no one dares do more than send a baleful look or two at the King’s kinsman.

Until the black-haired man—his armour dark as pitch, his helm propped on his pommel in the shape of a serpent with fangs bared—stirs at the Kingswood man’s comment. “Enough, ser,” he says laconically to the Buckler lord. “Or the bandits will hear you before we hear the horn.”

A glower from the greying knight, clearly unmoved by Dagur’s warning. “What does it matter? Flowers has a dozen bands in the woods; one more or less will not help us find his encampment.” He turns his glance to the Stormbreaker, and then turns to spit on the ground. “We would have done better to find some backwoods crofter who the bastard has cowed into cooperation.”

Tired of petty insults and the crudities of these men north of the red mountains, Ser Aidan murmurs something to his fellow Dornishmen and then spurs his horse nearer the front. Two gold cloaks force their way past the knot of Dornishmen to stay close to him, as ordered. “My lords,” he says, trying to pitch his voice to carry over the quiet clap of hoofs and creak of armor yet not to spread too far beyond that, “what if these bandits strike before Ser Sarmion’s men can sound the horn? Longbows can be deadly.”

Turning in the saddle, Sarmion turns the baleful visage of his helm upon Ser Lormon. His deep voice is cavernous as it bellows through the lightning stag’s gaping mouth, “I am mindful of your service to my Lord Brother, Ser Lormon, so I took your son as deputy to me and have allowed you to accompany this party for like reason. I grant you this boon. But I will not listen to you bitch. Be quiet.”

The Stormbreaker turns back to face the road, pulling back the reins of his destrier to quiet its restlessness. He mutters to the knight beside him, “The sooner we kill this fucking bastard the sooner I won’t have to listen to him whine like some old women and those sand maggots fucking each other every night.”

Exhaling deeply, he swears, “Warrior, give me patience.”

The men sworn to Dagur Saltcliffe are not an attractive lot. The man who rides nearest him is the least attractive of them all. Known only as The Smiler—by virtue of the scar that crosses his neck from ear to ear in a vile smile—he rides with a feral gleam in his eye.

He casts his gaze now on the Stormbreaker and it seems that if he could laugh, he would. He spurs his horse up beside Dagur and flicks his fingers about. *The Stag loves Buckler as much as you do.*

Whatever his scarred companion says, the Iron Serpent grunts in acknowledgment before adding drily, “Even less, I think.” Then, he glances over his shoulder at the Dornish knights who have ridden up: “If they do, we will have wasted two days and the Stormbreaker, a dozen men. No remedy for it now. But the man with the horn is in the back of the wain so he will likely live long enough to sound it.”

And to Smiler again: “Make sure the men remember. We need a few alive.”

Raynard sat astride his horse near his commander, and to his own view at least, perilously close to Ser Lormon. His breath echoed in his ears, as he watched the world through the slit of his helm. His grip tensed and relaxed as he waited for the order to charge. The shield on his left arm was begginning to feel like dead weight.

He turned to look at Lormon and Sarmion, once agin uttering under his breath a phrase that had almost been like a mantra to him this day. “I’m coming Endros, we’re bringing you home.”

Buckler’s lips press together at Sarmion’s reproach, and then with a final snort drops back from the front, rejoining the troop following his banner. One of the knights there converses quietly with him there, and the two can be seen shaking their heads. Ser Lormon has roundly ignored Raynard Locke since the expedition began, and that doesn’t seem like to change, either.

The Knight of the Twilight, finding no one willing to answer, does much the same—he can be seen rejoining the Dornish, and directing some remark to Prince Cadan.

Buckler’s lips press together at Sarmion’s reproach, and then with a final snort drops back from the front, rejoining the troop following his banner. One of the knights there converses quietly with him there, and the two can be seen shaking their heads. Ser Lormon has roundly ignored Raynard Locke since the expedition began, and that doesn’t seem like to change, either.

The Knight of the Twilight nods at Ser Dagur, glancing up the path. “As you say, ser.” He rides back to rejoin the Dornish, directing some remark to Prince Cadan.

In the distance, far up the path, a horn sounds high and shrill.

“The men you speak of, Saltcliffe, served me on the Marches,” the Stormbreaker entones wearily, “They are practiced in the art of staying alive. I’m not worried they will live to sound the horn. I’m worried they’ll stop killing bandits long enough to…”

The horn sounds and the Baratheon falls silent. Rising to his feet in the stirrups, he raises up his warhammer, “The Horn! Charge!”

Falling back into the saddle, he rakes his spurs against the flanks of his mount and springs forth—nigh on a ton of horseflesh and armed and armored man.

*If you insist* is the surly response from the Smiler. Then he spurs his horse around to ride back down the column. His fingers flick here and there, and he pauses to speak something to Aidan—but then the horn sounds and he whips his horse around, his eyes alight with bloodlust.

Raynard spurred his own horse drawing the bastard sword on his hip from its scabbard. Leaning into the charge he keeps his pace with Sarmion, ready to fight.

The horse the ironman rides is bred to battle—and at the sound of the horn, it scarcely needs his spurs to spring forward. Reins wrapped around his forearm with the flick of a wrist, he dons his helm as he rides, leaning to one side or the other to avoid lashing branches.

And then, his sword is in his hand and the column is surging forward in the Stormbreaker’s wake and his.

The narrow path, the broken ground, and the tight pack of men makes forward progress slow, save those at the forefront who threaten pull away from the knot of horsemen coming behind, jostling and jarring one another as they push to race forward.

It seems an eternity, but could not be more than some two minutes. And at the end of those two minutes, the troop bursts into a clearing:

Where the wagon stands. Where one of Sarmion’s men lies slumped at its side, two clothyard arrows in his back. Where four more men lie on the ground, feathered, weaponless. Where a pair of grubby bandits also lie dead, cut down. The rest of Sarmion’s men are pinned against one side of the wagon, arrows zipping at them—another falls, taken through the eye—and the man with the horn tries to wind it again when an arrow finds his throat. A dozen bandits, cudgels and rusty swords in hand, stand off to one side, threatening the guardsmen, staying out of the way of the arrows. Caught between an endless barrage of arrows and the bandits, Sarmion’s men suddenly push away from the wagon, rushing at the group of bandits with a roar.

Not the swiftest of horses, bearing the ponderous weight of 30 stone of his armored rider, the Stormbreaker’s mount bears him to the fore, keeping those that follow on its flanks. Seeing the wain and the men, Sarmion rises in the saddle, pointing his hammer forward, bellowing, “Single column! Cut them off!”

He directs his mount to flank the bandits. Riding one down and lowering his hammer on the side of another as he rides past.

Continuing down the path, he wheels the spirited beast he rides and looks for whence the arrows come.

“RUN!” comes a shout from the treeline, as another volley of arrows flies, this time aimed at the horsemen who burst into the clearing. Another follows moments after, and amidst the trees can be seen a half-dozen archers, fear on their faces, yet deteremination plain as they let loose again and again while they still can. One youth, seeing the armored giant on horseback, suddenly breaks and runs deeper into the woods.

Their comrades, however, are finding it hard to flee, locked in combat with the men-at-arms. They may outnumber them, but only a handful of them seem to know their way with weapons. It’s cutthroat and ugly fighting.

One horse falls, and another, and suddenly the path is clogged and the gold cloaks and men-at-arms acting as a rear guard to the troop are stuck. Horses scream and whinny, rearing, and there’s shouts as men curse. Some leap from their horses, and plunge around the knot of horses to burst into the clearing on foot.

With a precision that speaks of long experience and belies their rough-hewn look, the Reavers following the ironman wheel away from the column as they emerge into the clearing, following their captain as he rides down the bandits there.

“The other side,” he calls above the death cry of the first bandit to fall beneath the Stormbreaker’s hooves. And, suiting deed to words, he skirts the wain, putting it between himself and the arrows as his sword rises and falls for the first time. His men do likewise, leaving the path clear for the Baratheon knight’s men to follow him. But already, there are two empty saddles among them, for the longbows are vicious at this range. And there are others of their number who are stuck behind the fallen horses, cursing and struggling to burst through, an easy target for the archers.

Following Sarmion’s lead, Raynard guides his horse behind the behind the bandits, swinging his sword in controlled arcs at those bandits who fall inside its deadly reach.

Big men make big targets, and some of these archers seem to take it to heart. A pair of arrows wing their way towards Sarmion. There’s another shout, “Run, fucking idiots!” and then three of the archers start falling back while two younger, leaner men stay put, seeking out targets with their bows. Those falling back stop on occasion, letting go an arrow each time, but as the undergrowth and tree limbs grow thicker, it’s harder and harder to do.

Gilded scale armor shifts, the shining silvery metal tinged in burnished copper reflecting what light filters through the trees as one of the Dornish hostages shifts atop his brute of a warhorse. However incongruous it looks to see a Dornishman atop such a large horse, Prince Cadan Martell looks the picture of acceptance with his situation. He rides briskly at the rear of the group with the other Dornishman, paying no heed to the goldcloaks guarding him. Instead, as the chainmail framing hanging off the back of his burnished half helmet dances slightly behind him, he urges his horse forward as he follows the main body of the group, his hands kept loosely on the reins in a manner only a less heavily armored rider can do, his eyes searching the surroundings. His eyes snap to the treeline as another volley of arrows fly. “These men will not hold long,” he calls to the Knight of Twilight. “However, they could do damage before they break. What say you, Ser Aidan? Shall we show them the worth of Dornish men?”

Before he can say more, however, the horse in front of him falls. With only the agility borne from wearing lighter armor, the Prince leaps from his horse and on his feet as it rears, throwing him backwards. Landing on his feet, he motions to the Dornish and the goldcloaks. “Come, we fight!” Drawing his slim bravo’s blade, he moves on foot towards the fighting, not waiting to see if the Gold Cloaks or other Dornishmen follow.

Most of the men ride for the clearing. Smiler, however, does not. In fact, he leaves his horse entirely to skulk into the shadowed forest. He seems most at ease on foot, catching and slaying with a blade across the throat when he is able to catch a man to slay. And the feral, predatory smile on his lips grows with each indiscriminate death until he sighs and creeps up behind one that seems to know what he’s about, putting the blade against his kidneys to secure the man’s surrender.

It takes moments to wheel the massive beast on the road, but it is long enough for the bowmen to loose shafts at the massive Baratheon in its saddle. Somehow, the Stormbreaker brings up his shield to intercept the missles, some cutting through to graze his pauldron or shatter against the steel of his helm.

He shouts incoherently, bringing up his hammer he spurs his mount to plunge into the wood, chasing down the nearest bandit fleeing before him.

“Wait!” Sarmion bellows at the fleeing men, “Stop! I just want to talk to you!” He brings the hammer down on the nearest bandit’s head.

One of the bandits, his nostrils slit for some past crime, hammers down one of Sarmion’s men with an old mace, splattering brains with the blow. With a roar, the man helps one of his fellow outlaws bring down another man. Then turning, eyes scrabbling to make sense of the situation, the horsemen flanking and his own comrades falling, he curses, “Fuck this!” and plunges off to an angle, trying to win to the treeline where the last archers are with the only foes between it and him being strange men in colorful robes. He roars as he lifts his mace, aiming it at Prince Cadan with all his might.

With a good deal more control over his mount from years of riding in the Wolf’s wood, Raynard guides the charging beast toward the fleeing bandit, sheathing his blade, he opts for a bit of derring-do, and leaps from his saddle in an effort to tackle the badit before he can swing the deadly mace.

Another arrow flies, finding one of the gold cloaks tasked with protecting the Dornishmen. Ser Aidan Dayne, in the midst of responding to Prince Cadan, is almost taken by another, but falls as a rush of more men-at-arms—trapped on the path—suddenly push forward and knock him down; one of Buckler’s men takes the arrow in his cheek, and falls screaming.

With a dancer’s grace, only somewhat impeded by the armor he wears, the Dornish prince moves in a flurry of burnished scales and colorful robe. That slight impediment, however, can sometimes be all it takes. On the third swing, the bandit’s mace, aimed for his shoulder, is sidestepped, but moves down his left arm, smacking into his forearm in a glancing blow, forcing it against his armored side. Grunting heavily, Cadan ignores the pain long enough to dart foreward, under the mace’s reach, his sword flowing one-handed in and out of the bandit’s weak points in what passes for armor with his bandit attacker.

As to Lormon Buckler, the infamous knight who slew a Dragon has still not appeared, nor his men, caught behind the crash of horses. Their horses lie abandoned in the path. Oone man cries out, “My leg!” as the weight of his dead horse lies on it, but he’s ignored as the last handful of men who were trapped in the jam of horses and bodies manage to climb over them and burst into the clearing to join the fight.

Eschewing the battle-cries and daring deeds of others, the Iron Serpent kills with cold, practised efficiency, and he kills in silence. The bandits who had, until then, been facing the disguised men pinned against the wain find an armoured, mounted knight an entirely different proposition. The stray blow or two that does make it past that flashing sword and the horse’s hooves glance harmlessly off his armour.

One man falls to him, then another, and then his reavers are around him. It is sheer butchery, and above it, he can be heard commanding that two be taken alive.

The bandit falls, and with a heave throws Ser Raynard off to scramble up to his feet. “Fucker! he howls, about to turn his weapon on the northern knight, when Cadan starts in and stings him. Another roar, and the combat ensues. Again and again Cadan’s slender sword lets more blood spill, and by the end the man is raving, spittle flying as he curses and snarl. Two more bandits, breaking from the fight, try to come to his aid, but Ser Raynard is there, and so too is Ser Tamlyn Toland.

Turning his horse between the trees, the Stormbreaker moves to cut off the fleeing bandits, corraling them as one might sheep.

His monstrous horse lashes out at the nearest, breaking bones beneath its flashing hooves, and cutting flesh with vicious bites. Some lose their way, fleeing from the Warden of the Kingswood back towards the road and the knights that wait for them.

Sarmion lets them, and continues to chase the rest, bringing down no few with his hammer as the chance presents itself.

Raynard rolls with the throw and is back on his feet shortly afterwards his blade coming out as he rises, and seeking to land a blow against the bandit’s torso as it moves in a vicious upward arc.

Scrabbling to his feet after shrugging off the man who fell on him, Aidan Dayne almost loses his head to a screaming bandit with a wood axe, trying to force his way into the trees. It’s a near thing, as Aidan ducks, his bright new helm turning the blow. And then somehow the bandit is down, blood pouring from his belly, and the end of Aidan’s sword is wet with that blood. The Knight of the Twilight scans the clearing, and sees his cousin going to Cadan’s aid. He turns his attention to the treeline, where the last pair of archers are still doggedly sending arrows, and where three or four armed bandits have managed to fight their way. A pair of their pursuers are killed, wrestling through the undergrowth.

Ser Aidan runs towards them.

Smiler frog-marches his captive into the fray, using the man as a snivelling shield until he can toss him into the wain and draw his sword. There is a trickle of blood on his head that he ignores; it does not obscure his vision and is therefore nothing. He hews his way through the mass, unhindered by plate armor like so many of the men. When he is able, he holds up a finger to Dagur, to indicate one man has been taken.

A young man with greasy hair and wearing rags, the bandit fighting Raynard screams as the knight’s sword slashes his ribs. He falls back a step, wildly swinging his iron-shod cudgel at the northman.

Moving aside with reflexes longed honed in far away courts, Cadan moves aside as the Westerosi blade of Ser Reynard sweeps in at his opponent. Briefly saluting the knight with his blood stained slim blade, the Dornish Prince, darts in and thrusts his blades under the guard of the bandit they both fight. Then, he is moving again, his lightly armored form allowing for more speed as he makes for the tree line towards the same men Aidan heads towards, though somewhat hindered by the injured left arm that hugs his side.

Pulling back from the melee now that his men are pushing the remaining bandits in on themselves, the ironman takes a breath to look around the clearing—just in time to see one of the goldcloaks commanded to watch Aidan Dayne plunging after his charge desperately and paying for it with an arrow throw his throat. The tumbling body rolls almost to Dagur’s feet.

A single vile curse, and he is off after the Dornishman, a gesture command Smiler to follow as he runs past him as swiftly as his armour allows.

Suddenly, the outlaw numbers begin to thin—with most of the surviving troop (save Lormon’s) present, the bandits are soon overwhelmed as the men-at-arms organize and doggedly start cutting them down. Yet the bandits make no effort to surrender, either standing and fighting so long as they can, while others break and run; most of those are cut down, but not all. At the edge of the clearing, a handful of the bandits shout, “RUN! RUN!” to those who are still locked on combat, and arrows still fall occasionally amidst the knights and men-at-arms. A marcher knight takes an arrow to the leg, falling.

Raynard salutes Cadan. He spits on the ground and looks at his blood stained blade, before glancing about for more bandits to fight.

Finding himself alone with all the bandits forced from his path, Sarmion reins in and scans the wood for enemies to fight. Seeing the group giving orders to flee, he turns the beast towards them and begins riding towards them.

“Yes! Run! Run!” The green mantel streams out like wild fire flames and the gold and black barding of his mount heralds doom to those he rides down, “You will speed your entrance into Hell!”

Ducking an arrow, Ser Aidan plunges into the line of bandits who’ve taken to the treeline, guarding the two remaining archers and waiting as long as they dare before fading into the kingswood. The press of branches and arms make the fight that follows almost comic, as the men try to crowd around the knight. His round shield catches one blow, his enamelled armor stops another, and then his sword slashes and a man howls. Fearless, he wades in…

And then for some reason, half a dozen bandits run from the woods _into_ the clearing, huffing and puffing with exertion. They practically bowl over Aidan and all his opponents in their flight, and Aidan takes a cudgel to the temple that leaves his head ringing.

“This way! RUN!” one old bandit shouts, gesturing with a hand missing a pair of fingers towards the south. The reason why is plain: behind them can be seen Buckler men-at-arms, led by Ser Lormon himself; they must have intercepted the archers and men who managed to escape into the wood and herd them back.

Raynard raises his blade laughing, and charges the rout, bring the blade to bear on the first bandit her eaches.

The Dornish Prince ducks under a blow from a mace as he throws himself into the melee around Aidan, bashing another bandit aside before he can strike at the Knight of Twilight. Biting his lip to keep from howling as pain shoots through his already left arm, an arrow now sticking from it, Prince Cadan becomes a flurry of action, his blade becoming liquid silver as it leaps about, striking any bandit that comes within reach, heedless to their general retreat.

The Smiler yanks his blade out of someone’s innards, ignoring the unreeling guts that follow the end of the sword. He merely shakes them off and leaps lithely over a fallen body to follow Dagur as bid. He hews and cuts as he goes, and there is a sense about him—were anyone to pay attention—that he does not particularly care which side he’s on, so long as he is killing.

Riding out onto the path South of the bandits, the Stormbreaker wheels his mount to face the rout.

“Halt!” he bellows, “And you will not die!”

Raising his hammer to point at the nearest man, he shouts, “Do not and you will be the first to die!”

It is not easy for a knight running in full harness to stop suddenly or change direction. And so, the Iron Serpent crashes into the cluster of bandits around Aidan even as the ones fleeing the Buckler men add to it. In the midst of the trees and the straining, heaving mass of fighters, there is little room for swordplay.

Grunting, he catches a rusty sword in a gauntleted fist as it is swung at him. Its dull edges shriek against the steel of his armour with a sound to set a man’s teeth on edge. Grunting with strain, he keeps its tip from his face, half-bared by his open helm; at the same time, he hammers his sword-pommel down on the unprotected head of a stumbling bandit, again and then again, until blood and brains splatter his arm uptil the elbow.

Drawing close to his sworn lord, Smiler relieves Dagur of holding off the rusty sword by relieving the bandit of the arm holding it. Having carved out a little space for himself, Smiler resheathes his bloody sword and draws his long knife again as the scrimmage tightens. Back to cutting throats.

Resistance collapses. Ser Aidan’s attackers killed or incapacitated one way or another, Lormon Buckler half severing one’s head from his shoulders while his men—three are missing, but the rest are practically uninjured—move to block the half dozen bandits still standing. With Sarmion before them and Buckler’s men behind, and the clearing crawling with all the rest, some of the bandits fall to their knees and cry mercy.

The old fellow looks around him, squinting against the sun rising towards noon, and then spits at the feet of the men surrendering. “You’re fucked either way, boys. Tain’t no way out but on your feet or on your back.” And so he draws his dirk, slashes the hand of one of Buckler’s men as he tries to seize him, and then runs towards the big knight on his destrier. He ducks left, he ducks right ... and then throws the dirk wildly before ducking one last time and hoping for the best.

Raynard let loose a gutteral roar as he continued to hack and slash at the bandits who came near him, catching a few wild bowl on his sheild.

“The old one’s mine!” Sarmion bellows. He dismounts, dropping from the saddle and approaching on foot of the men crawling around him.

The nearest crawling bandit he kicks in the face with his armored boot, then continues forward.

“You! Old man! I will let you live if you surrender to me now.”

Grunting, Prince Cadan somehow’s manages to clean off his blade enough to sheath it at his side. Then there is an overloud crack as he snaps the shaft of arrow sticking out of his arm, leaving a few inches remaining for the surgeons to work with. Gritting his teeth, he looks around as the bandit’s morale and resistance crumbles, and he move’s to Ser Aidan’s side. “Be you well, Ser Aidan?” he asks, over the other noises in the clearing.

“Stunned for a moment, my lord prince,” the knight from Starfall says, shaking his head and looking about him with a grimace at the carnage. Buckler’s men have four prisoners in hand, and there’s doubtless one or two more, but the rest are a right slaughter. Blood spackles his armor and paints his blade, dripping down into the grass at his feet. “My thanks.”

As to the old bandit, the man spits and says, “Fuck you, you big freakish bastard!” He breaks for it, running for the clearing, trying to get around the giant. But he’s old, and not so fast as he was, and all he’s running on is hope.”

“Oh, the old are disappointing,” Sarmion growls beneath his helmet.

As the bandit staggers towards him he steps to the side as if to let him pass. Then, he cuts low with his warhammer, seeking to take out the old man’s legs.

“Big freakish bastard? Is that the best you can come up with?”

Raynard breaths heavily. His heart feels like its about ready to pound out of his chest. He surveys the carnage about him, but it doesn’t horrify him. He hears the screams of the dying amidst his own echoing breath, and starts laughing, these men had earned their fate, there was no guilt to be found in the kill.

“No thanks needed. It is enough to fight alongside a Knight of Starfall. It would be enough to merely be considered a brother in arms. But now, I think, we should withdraw to our horses…” Cadan’s eyes move across the clearing, resting on Sarmion and his opponent. With a shake of his, and a grunt as his left shoulder shifts, he turns back to Aidan. “It will be good to rest after today

“These are poor bandits,” a large form bent over one of the fallen bandits says irritably. “There is no loot!” A knee bends and a boot toe strikes a rib with an audible crack.

Laughter comes from just to the right. Jonn Lannister has a sword clasped in one hand, blood and viscera dripping off its tip. His armor—and that of his sellsword—is overly simple, for a Lannister. “Come away from there, Lyam,” he says then, eyes scanning the distance for more bandits. “These are Kingswood bandits. Even their lives are hardly worth taking.”

The sound of bone shattering, and the old man falls with a scream. “Ah, my leg!” he says, facing screwing up in pain, writing on his back. “You bastards! You bastard! Fuckin’ Windbreaker, Starveling calls you! Fuck you, fuck your mother, fuck your whore of a dead wife in the arse!” Rage and terror combine to make the man vitrolic, eyes wild, and he won’t shut up as he raves, piling abuse on the Baratheon.

Laughing, the Stormbreaker says, “Does he? Does he really? How droll, granddad!”

He aims a kick at the old man’s face. Pointing at him, he motions to the knights in his service who have escaped injury, “Drag this sack of shit to the wain so we can take him back to put him to the question.”

He walks towards where his men lie slain around the wain. Shaking his head, he brings his hammer up to rest upon his shoulder, “Someone will have to explain to me how this happened.”

Smiler slits one last throat, then straightens to shake blood off his knife. The old man’s invective makes blink in surprise, then grin in appreciation as he kicks a groaning bandit in the nose with a gross crunch that shuts the man up forever. *The old one has balls of iron,* he signs to Dagur.

Through all of it, Dagur is moving through the detritus of the ambush, having goldcloaks sort the dead from the wounded and tend to the latter. Prisoners are bound hand and foot and tossed into the wain while a pair of reavers go about the grisly task of slitting wounded horses’ throats until the shrill, panic-stricken neighing tapers off.

Some of the old man’s remaining teeth shatter at the kick, and he’s knocked unconscious. Sarmion’s men drag him away roughly, and men now try to tend to the wounded. Ser Lormon looks over the bodies of Sarmion’s men, and sniffs. “These bandits were too canny for your plans,” the Buckler says, before indicating the four men he has prisoner. “You can have these to question, too. I suspect they’ll say more than that old codger.” A look around, and he says, “Seems Ser Dagur’s man got one as well.

One of Sarmion’s men, one of only three to survive, is on the ground with an arrow through his leg. With Sarmion looming above him, he says, “Ser .... Ser, they didn’t call for surrender. Two of us died in the first volley, and four more were hit. It was a bloody mess. They didn’t ... didn’t expect the ambush, but they weren’t taking chances.”

Ser Aidan looks on for a little while at Stormbreaker’s treatment of the prisoner, and in the end the knight turns away from the scene. Touching his helm where the cudgel delivered it’s heavy blow, he mutters, “A dent. And a new helm, at that,” before he follows after Cadan to see to their horses. He’s happy enough to get out of immediate earshot if the questions start being _asked_, it seems.

“You should’ve fucking known better, Shames.” Sarmion says, shaking his head, “You survive the Marches and survive Dorne to be killed by fucking smallfolk in the Kingswood? I’d kill you myself if I weren’t sick of the sight of you.”

Looking over at his other men, he says, “Put him in the wain as well. Take him back to camp. See if he’ll survive the night with that arrow in him.”

Moving his shield, he looks at the arrow protruding from beneath his pauldron, “Fucking smallfolk.” He turns to reclaim his mount who has begun bucking at the reins as his squire awaits the Stormbreaker’s return.

“We shall see the armorer together, then. I’ll need one to patch up my own armor. And we’ll need a competent one, if he’s to fix Dornish armor properly.” Cadan moves along, his left arm as immobile as he can make it. Sighing, he looks at his big brute of a horse, almost as if regretting it’s survival. “Remind me to speak with the king about his choice of horses,” he says, just a touch wryly, before attempting to mount without paining himself. Even so, there are still a few grunts as his left arm shift, and once in the saddle he’s content to remain until they are safely back in King’s Landing.

“Did any get away?” a knight asks, trying to count prisoners and bodies. “Did anyone see any of these villains escape?”

That’s when Ser Lormon offers aloud, nudging a body of a bandit—a boy, practically—to see if he’s still breathing. “One did. Some boy who must have broken right at the start. He was too far ahead to catch, us in armor and him in ragged wool.”

Bringing the warhorse to rein and climbing back into the saddle, he removes his great helm and hands it to the boy, “Well done, Enfren. Here, take my shield as well.” He shrugs the armor from his shoulder and hands it to the boy. The arrow protrudes from his arm armor, but doesn’t seem to impede him much.

He walks the monstrous beast up the road and past the wain, heading back to camp.