Blood of Dragons

The 'A Song of Ice and Fire' MUSH


What Love Truly Is
IC Date: Day 24 of Month 11, 162 AC. (about 9 am)
RL Date: July 30, 2011.
Participants: Almer Connington, Alyard Corbray, Ammon Massey, Dagur Saltcliffe, Doryssa Massey, Jorian Crakehall, Josmyn Reyne, Justyn Serry, Mellony Fossoway, Sulleham Saan, and Willard Ryger.
Locations: Crackclaw Point: Hills and Bogs.

Summary: Men of the Crackclaw Company meet with the pirate Sulleham Saan to discuss the ransoms of some noble ladies. Negotiations turn sour and one squire gets more than he bargained for.

Days of blood and steel have brought the Warden of Crackclaw Point and his men to this place. Knights without honour, smugglers put to the question, pirates questioned at blade’s edge—and finally, a secret revealed. They have ridden hard since then, the Iron Serpent and all the men of his company, half-a-day and more in the saddle.

Only to be met near their destination by a messenger from the man they are seeking—for it seems he too is seeking them. Now, with terms agreed upon, they ride to Sullehman Saan’s haven, the agreed upon number with the rest making camp nearby, watchful in case of treachery.

And when they emerge from the passage between rising rock walls, the hidden cove opens out before them, a broad stretch of rocky ground sloping slightly to the sea, a sleek Lysene galley with striped hull bobbing at anchor some distance from shore. It is a perversely fair day for such a meeting; clear skies and a brisk breeze, warm but not too hot.

The sunlight glints off steel at the water’s edge—there where a like number of men stand waiting, a boat drawn up behind them. Drawing rein, the Iron Serpent stares at them, unshaven, eyes red-rimmed with weariness. But there is a hard, implacable set to his face as he dismounts.

For there seem to be two women there along with the men, although at this distance, it is impossible to make out who they are.

A bitter knight on a borrowed horse, Ser Almer Connington’s scowl speaks volumes; after the previous day’s bloody events, it is small wonder that the young griffin is displeased.

He, too, reins up near Ser Dagur; he, too, swings down from his mount, boots crunching on the shale. Almer throws the hem of his salt-stained grey cloak over his left shoulder, exposing the plain blade at his side, and falls in beside the Warden. No words are spoken.

The venerable squire reins in at the Iron Serpent’s side, fidgeting restlessly in the saddle. Ammon Massey has been like this for the better part of the week, doubly so since word of the meeting began to spread amongst the men. He is exhausted, it seems. The victim of too many sleepless nights. When he sees the women, Ammon looks as if he is about to spur his horse on, but he thinks better of it.

Instead, he slips heavily from the saddle with a muttered word. His tattered, muddy and bloodstained clothing shows the sigil of House Massey on his breast—the triple spiral, red, green and blue.

Josmyn Reyne has come along for the ride too, the white bandage around his head still hidden under the white-red Castamere bandanna with the lion sigil prominent on his forehead. He’s been silent most of the time though, with only short exchanges with his men on occasion or the other knights. Now he is hanging back, eyeing the narrow passage between the rock walls warily. “This smells of trap.”, he tells his lieutenant quietly, “Keep watch on the passage, we don’t want them to surprise us in the back while all attention is on the parley.” The man nods and commands the men to keep watching the passage.

His leather jerkin now stained with the blood of his efforts, the white rose now a dull red, the Lord of Southshield rides along with the Warden of Crackclaw Point, seeming entirely wary of this arrangement. Yet, as the Iron Serpent dismounts, so too does Lord Serry, a hand lingering upon the pommel of his rather nondescript blade, his waterdancer’s sword having been left behind for now, it would seem. He surveys over the crowd of pirates before him, men he would be all too willing to uncharacteristically kill. It is then he notices two among them that seem… different - female forms. His countenance brightens, and he looks as though he might speak, to call out to them… but he seems to think better of it, and so the Lord of Southshield sobers once again, remaining hopeful that the one he seeks is there.

Alyard’s follows a little behind Almer on his dappled grey mount, the lean looking charger whinnying as the Valeknight reins up and slowly swings down from the saddle. The knight’s sable cloak is draped over his left shoulder, hiding both his arm and the longsword bearing a heart shaped stone in the pommel. He walks slowly beside Almer, his left hand resting on his sword, his index finger idly tapping as he looks around.

Pulling the reins of his horse brutally, Jorian brings him to a stop in line with the warden’s one. Dismounting without a word, he unclaps his fur cloak and ties it to the saddle, before taking a few step forward. On his back, a huge battle axe with two heads of gleaming steel is strung and at his belt, two throwing axes are never far from his right hand.

And coming along with the whole procession is another of the Warden’s officers. Ser Willard Ryger reins his horse and skilfully jumps off his horse. Not enough time has passed for them to change armor or clothes, but for the first time the young Ryger has his cloak draping his shoulders - grey, trimmed with dark green, a single weeping willow embroidered in the centre.

Willard is bruised, his left arm hangs a bit limp bandaged. He is wincing in pain and his right hand regularly reaches towards his stomach, as the bruise from yesterday reminds of itself.

Stones roll underfoot as the Iron Serpent loops his horse’s reigns around an outcropping of rock, then turns and begins to close the gap with long, deliberate strides. The wind toys with his cloak, whipping it around his body.

Closer and closer, and the leader of the pirates likewise advances a few steps, then waits. And with each step, he becomes more distinct—tall and made like the Warrior himself, clad in a padded crimson tunic slashed with black, pale golden hair burnished in the morning light, sapphires in his ears, jewelled rings on his fingers and a blade of a smile on his lips.

“And I had begun to think you wouldn’t come. Near an hour you have kept me waiting,” he calls reproachfully when his enemies are close enough.

But Dagur ignore him entirely, stopping there half-a-score paces away, looking past the Prince of the Narrow Sea. And if he is disappointed to see who they are, not a flicker of it shows on his face.

“You are unhurt?” he calls to them tersely.

Doryssa Massey is dressed in her green, the gown slightly rumpled but clean. The woman herself is much the same… clean but slightly less tidy than usual, as of course she doesn’t have the luxuries of court to prepare with. Still, all in all she looks in as good a spirit as could be expected. Her eyes are down, but she has a defiant set to her jaw yet. “Yes, Ser Dagur. We are well. Our host has been most generous with his hospitality.” Her voice is flat, she does not seem to be trying for sarcasm… it’s all matter-of-factly.

The lady with the hair of honey-brown bound into two thick braids nods. “We are quite well, Ser Dagur,” calls Mellony Fossoway from the pirate lord’s side. She gives him a smile, then glances at Saan.

Ammon is a shadow at his master’s side, advancing in silence save for the crunch of his boots and the clacking of his scabbard against his leg. He stares past the dandy on the shore, towards the women. When he sees his sister, when Doryssa speaks, Ammon lets out his held breath. But he doesn’t speak.

Gloved hands clenching and unclenching at his sides, Almer likewise gives the captives a quick once-over; his eyes linger for a moment on the Fossoway maiden. When they go back to the pirate, however, they are full of cold contempt.

“Brave of you, Saan, to hide behind women,” Connington says icily.

Josmyn stops looking around to make sure there are no pirates hiding somewhere that might attack them from the back and catches up with his fellow knights, standing in silence, one hand on the pommel of his sword while his gaze drifts over the women and the pirate captain, just observing things quietly for now.

Lord Serry’s spirits fall as his hopes are shattered. Even so, he looks over to Ammon with a slight smile, showing some mild cheer that the Iron Serpent’s squire may now see his sister is well. He then looks away, seeming entirely crestfallen.

Long ebony locks are whipped around in the wind as Alyard follows the others to Saan, his gaze set on the pirate, though his expression gives little emotion away. He looks away for a moment, glancing at Ammon as he speaks, and then Josmyn. He considers the bandana for a moment and rolls his eyes as he turns his head back to Saan. His finger continues to idly tap the pommel as he leaves the others to negotiate.

“You doubted me? See for yourself, then,” the pirate captain says to Dagur with arched brows—and again the ironman ignores him, focusing still on the women. “Good. Katla Greyjoy and my lady wife?” His voice harshens at the last. “Speak true. This one will not harm you. My word on it.”

A shrug, and Sullehman turns his attention to the others. A brief, considering glance as he takes in Almer, and then a lazy gesture: “Here I thought that it would reassure you to see them.” He smiles then, almost charming: “And if I am behind a woman, it isn’t for hiding. Not that I would ever think of such a thing with these. Such sweet little things would be ruined entirely if I plucked them. And there is no profit in that, yes?”

Doryssa dares to look up, glancing to the Iron Serpent and her brother at the knight’s side. That bit of hope causes a flicker of a smile to cross her lips. She looks quickly through the faces there, the colors. Not what she wanted, not who she expected, but brave knights nonetheless. “They are well too, Ser Dagur. He wouldn’t dare harm them, or us.”

Willard walks to the right of Ser Dagur, his eyes glancing away and towards the ladies for only a brief moment, as he sets his pale blue eyes on the pirate warlord. His right hand now sits comfortably on his sword’s falling star pommel and rubs it for luck. The Ryger stands and watches silently, his face frowning and solemn.

Though his grey eyes are burning with rage, Almer’s voice remains calm and controlled. “If you dishonor them,” he warns Sullehman quietly, “then you will suffer. I promise you that.”

This open display of cold fury that has seized the Griffin is a rare thing, and he seems to realize he is in some peril of being goaded by the pirate. Connington straightens, glances to Dagur, and then tries to give the captives a reassuring smile.

“Oh, yes,” Mellony says eagerly, nodding. “They are very well. Lady Reyna plaited my hair for me this very morning, see?” And she turns her head to show off the neat parting of her hair down the back of her head. “She is just resting now. She and Lady Katla are resting.”

Ammon, too, remains silent. But his gaze has moved from his sister to the self-styled Prince of the Narrow Sea. He listens to the pirate’s talk of profit and leans over to spit onto the sand.

The Lord of Southshield turns to glower at the pirate captain as he speaks, then shifting his gaze to fall upon the two women the Lyseni man has brought with him, seeming suspicious of their smiles and words. Taking a deep breath, he attempts to calm himself, to restrain any words or deeds that might ruin this parley. It seems, judging by his expression, to be a perhaps difficult thing.

The Valeknight shifts his weight from one foot to the other, his role is a silent one for now. His cloak and raven black hair continue to shift in the breeze. Cool grey eyes remain fixed on the pirate prince, he continues to tap the heart set into the pommel of his longsword.

With all the scowling and glowering going on, Josmyn tries to send a reassuring smile towards the two ladies, to try and get a sense of “we’ve got this under control” across to them, and perhaps to reassure himself as well, now that he is face to face with the pirate captain.
Jorian walks warily toward the pirates, his eyes darting for one man to the other, and then to the women. He stops besides the Lord of Southshield. Accompanying his words with a steady hand on the knight’s shoulder, he says in a low voice, “Keep faith, Lord Justyn. We’ll bring her back unharmed.”

“Words.” And for just a moment, the mask of that easy manner slips to reveal the man beneath; Sullehman Saan’s blue eyes glitter as he meets Almer’s gaze: “Words are easy. Shall I unman you now? Shall I give the sweet lady of Massey to my men and have them fuck her right here before you while you stand there and watch? What will you do then? Will you spend her life and this other one’s for your pride?” He looks away, finally—only to follow Doryssa’s gaze to Ammon: “Ah. And this must be the brother. Would -you- like that?


“We’ll bring them -all- back, ser,” Justyn coolly replies to the Crakehall knight. He looks again to the women, then back to Jorian, quietly remarking, “It just seems singularly… queer that these ladies here seem to be so content with these Lyseni scum. It helps none that the Ladies Katla and Reyna are not present.” He then looks back to the captain as he speaks again, his glance one of undeniable hatred. He cups his hand over the pommel of his sword, gripping it tight in a vain attempt to control his anger.

Unknowingly, Almer takes a step toward Saan… two steps. His gauntleted hand falls to the hilts of his blade, and a dark rage descends upon him. “Try me. I’ll kill you where you stand, and give your body to the crows, if they can stomach it!”

Connington seems ready to leap at the pirate, consequences be damned.

Doryssa tries to take a step forward. “Just kill him. Attack the ship now and take them! He’s too afraid…” she blurts out. Of course, she instantly regrets that and she closes her eyes. She’s doomed the other women, for sure. That’s what she was told would happen, of course.

Some of Mellony’s brightness falters, and she flinches away from Saan for just a moment. “No, no, sweet lord,” she says to him in a low voice. “Don’t say such things…” But she composes herself quickly, pasting the smile back on her lips. “Nevermind, Ser,” she says to Almer. “We are very well. Very well indeed.”

Ammon meets Saans eyes. He seems to want to look away from that piercing gaze. A lone bead of sweat forms on Ammon’s forehead and rolls down his cheek.

But he doesn’t look away. “I would die first, I know. But you would die too, Lyseni.” Ammon’s hand drops to his sword hilt, grips it—and at Doryssa’s shout, the steel is halfway freed.

Cursing under his nose the Ryger knight looks at the young Reyne, the latter as always unable to restrain his tongue “Ser Josmyn.” he hisses “This parley is between Ser Dagur and the pirate. Don’t…” and then he sighs and shakes his head. Another man speaks, and all the rest look the same. Willard knows he’d react similarly if there were any women truly dear to him there, but still…

And then Lady Doryssa speaks and Willard’s full attention is on the Warden as his hand grips the sword better and he bends his legs a little to be able to make a quick leap forward at the slightest sign from his commander.

Josmyn turns to Justyn when he hears his cousin’s words and steps towards him to place a calming hand on his arm and lean in to say softly: “Easy, cousin. They may not pretend to be content voluntarily… but they will have been told what would happen to the other ladies if they didn’t behave exactly as the captain wants…” And there’s Lady Doryssa’s sudden shout, confirming his hunch and he looks even more worried when the other men start drawing steel.

As he listens to Justyn and considers Almer’s behaviour, Jorian’s eyes narrows and he answers from the corner of his mouth, “No doubt they show us the most.. docile”. His eyes are darting to the side frequently, waiting for Dagur’s gesture, his hand resting on the handle of a throwing axe.

Alyard doesn’t draw his sword, or even step forward. The Valeknight shifts his stance a touch, a bit of shingle beneath his feet grinds as his boot moves. The hand on the pommel of his longsword remains merely on the tip, it would be his right that would draw it anyway. His expression is still giving little away, steely gaze set on the pirate and his champions.

Steel flashes in the morning light. One of the pirates curses as Ammon half-draws his sword; he unhooks his axe from his belt. Another reaches out, gripping the back of Doryssa’s gown and pulling her back hard. His fellows reach for their weapons. The parley teteers on the brink of violence, and above it all, Sullehman Saan’s laughter as he steps back, holding out a hand to Mellony.


And the Iron Serpent is standing there between Almer and the Lysene captain, a hand on the Connington knight’s chest. Cold fury glitters in his eyes, no less than the other man’s—but there is iron control as well, even if it makes him clench his jaw until it seems he will bite off his own tongue. His gaze rakes the other men: “Stand easy. Stand easy, Ammon!”

And finally he turns to Sullehman Saan—although not without a long, hard look at Mellony first: “Name your terms.”

For a moment Ammon dares to defy the Iron Serpent—but only for a moment. The squire slides his sword back into its weathered scabbard, drops his hands to his side and he continues to grace Saan with a murderous glare.

If looks could kill, Ammon would be a trebuchet.

The Lord of Southshield turns a cold glance upon Willard, harshly stating, “Shut up.” He stares hard at Willard, as if daring him to say more before looking away. He then takes a deep breath and nods to Josmyn, seemingly placated by his Reyne cousin’s words, though the loathsome look toward the Lyseni pirate does not dissipate in the slightest. As some men draw their blades - partially or no, Lord Serry looks about the various Crackclaw Point men. Fortunately or not, the Iron Serpent calls the men to halt, and Justyn again falls into a state of wary readiness.

Mellony takes the hand Sullehman Saan holds out to her, coming closer to cling to his arm. “Why do your men make trouble?” she asks Dagur, her lip pouting. “We are all well, haven’t you heard me? Tell them to put away their blades before someone gets hurt. Someone will get hurt if they do not.” There is a wobble in her voice, so brief, but detectable. “It is best if the swords all go away.”

Jerking away from Dagur’s restraining hand, Almer’s killing frost gaze never wavers from the laughing Sullehman. And his hand never leaves the grip of his longsword.

The strange interplay between the Fossoway girl and the so-called Prince of the Narrow Sea does not escape him; his lip quirks in a ghost of a smile.

Josmyn looks a little relieved when hands are removed from swords and he removes his own hand from Justyn’s arm, slipping back into watchful silence.

Still as a statue, his hand at his belt, Jorian’s deep blue stare is set on the pirate Prince and the lady Fossoway. The day is to parley, it seems, but better keep a watchful eye on these ones.

Alyard remains silent, he makes no moves to calm or aggravate the situation. His gaze shifts momentarily from Saan to Mellony and back again. He ceases the tapping for just a moment, letting his left hand fall to his side.

Willard frowns again as his cousin speaks and then Ser Dagur acts as he knew he would. The pirate is deliberately enraging the Westerosi and they’re falling for it like children. And not one of them would take kindly to these words, even if they know inside they are true.

He doesn’t move or react, still a little lower on his legs than he should be, his right hand on the pommel. His cold blue eyes stay on the pirate, and he watches from the corner of his eyes for Ser Dagur and his orders.

Patting Mellony’s hand on his arm as he would a child’s, Sullehman smiles lazily at the Westerosi; that mask is back in place: “Listen to my lady of Fossoway. She speaks wisely.”

His manner shifts, becoming more business-like: “And as for my terms—here they are. Five hundred of your golden dragons each for this one and my lady of Massey. A thousand each for the good Warden’s wife and Lady Katla.”

He pauses to let those exceedingly generous terms sink in. And the Iron Serpent, staring again at Mellony, brow furrowed as if he is trying to puzzle out something, turns slowly to look at the pirate: “I—”

But Sullehman cuts him off with a raised hand and a smile: “Ashenheart’s ship.”

His smile grows wider: “And yours as well. The Warrior’s Sword, I believe it is called.”

“He mocks us.” The Griffin’s voice is brittle and quiet; the black rage that gripped him moments ago is veiled, or governed. “He mocks us, Ser Dagur; and he is an honorless cur. These are no terms… and he will not hold to them.”

Almer’s eye, too, is drawn back to Mellony Fossoway. And Connington is no longer smiling.

When Saan pats her hand and commends her, Mellony… she shrinks from him, though without moving away. She does not flinch, exactly, but something of her being cringes visibly. Only when she sees Almer watching her does she smile, leave off shrinking, incline herself back toward Saan. “They are sweet terms. We are worth five hundred, are we not?”

Ammon also gives Mellony a quizzical look. “Five hundred dragons for my sister, I ....” he mutters, trailing off as Mellony speaks.

A storm crosses Jorian’s eyes as his ship is named as part of the bargain, his jaw clenches, but he doesn’t say a word for a long minute. Then he takes a step toward the warden, saying in a coarse voice, “A ship’s as good as the men who crew her. Let them have her if it can buy the ladies life, and when we take it back it will be called the Pirate’s Grave.”

“A lady’s life is priceless.”, Josmyn remarks and grits his teeth, looking towards Dagur “But letting this happen may encourage other piratical scum to start a lucrative byline in kidnapping noble ladies for ransom.”

The Iron Serpent glances at Almer, meeting his gaze for a moment, then Jorian’s—and with a grimace as if he has bitten into something sour, turns back to Sullehman, the set of his shoulders hardening: “You ask for a higher price than any knights would fetch. The gold you will have. And Ashenheart’s ship. But the Warrior’s Sword is the king’s, not mine to give away. Ask for—”

And again, Sullehman cuts him off, sighing: “Your women’s faith in you was misplaced, I see. You would haggle like a merchant for their lives?” Shaking his head, he pats Mellony’s hand again: “Go to Vulk, my lady.”

And two steps sideways put him behind Doryssa: “If they will not listen to your friend, my lady, perhaps they will listen to you. Tell them.”

“Do not pay him a bit!” Doryssa says, low. “Kill him and the rest shall crumble. At least give me a sword and I will do it if none of you have the courage.” She’s tried to be calm, but her temper has gotten the better of her… or perhaps she’s lost her mind after her misdventure.

Mellony catches her breath and nods obediently. She lets go Saan’s arm and starts to move toward the short, hulking Ibbenese Vulk. But she pauses to catch Almer’s eye. “Tell my sister—” she starts, but then Vulk has her by the arm and his grip is hard enough to close her mouth.

“You are a dead man,” Almer says coldly to the Ibben pirate, pointing a gloved finger at the one who muzzled Mellony.

He glances sharply at Dagur. “Gods damn it,” Almer says, his voice barely above a whisper. “We can brook no more delay; this haggling gets us nothing. They must turn over the ladies and surrender, now. If they refuse, we burn their ship to the waterline, and kill every mother’s son of them.”

Willard is a little disturbed by all the haggling, shouting, tempers flaring… He shakes his head at all of this, wishing everyone would shut up and let Ser Dagur make a decision here and now. Either pay or attack - waiting. That is what makes this almost impossible to handle. The waiting.

The Lord of Southshield frowns as the terms are made. He takes yet another deep breath, restraining further comment, though he does gives a brief nod to Josmyn in agreement. Sorrowfully, he watches Mellony walk away to the Ibbenese pirate, eyes narrowing in anger as the man handles her roughly. He shifts his eyes toward Dagur and Almer, all too ready to spring into action, if only an order was to be given.

Ammon’s eyes follow Saan as he steps up behind Doryssa. “Ser, Almer, they still hold Reyna and Katla,” he says—but still, his hand drops once more to the pommel of his sword.

Glancing briefly at Almer, Jorian is tempted to concur, but instead he answers in a whisper, “We would kill theses ones, yes, and maybe rescue the ladies here. But the life of Lady Reyna and Katla would be forfeit. Besides, what tells us this pirate is who he pretends to be?”

There is a moment of thick silence after Doryssa’s defiance and Almer’s threat. And then, a cruel, fierce fire sparks in Sullehman Saan’s eyes.

He slides an arm around Doryssa’s waist, drawing her back against him with relentless strength, intimate as a lover. “You want to see your friends free, I know,” he murmurs in her ear, looking over her shoulder at the Westerosi. “You love them well.”

“Do you know what love truly is, my sweet?”

He kisses her cheek: “Sacrifice.”

And the cloth of her bodice parts before the dagger’s blade that slides out between her breasts, red with her heart’s blood. He steps back and lets her go.

Doryssa’s eyes go wide as Saan pulls her close. She makes to struggle, but she freezes and gives a gasp as her chest suddenly flowers a crimson bloom, with steel inside. She looks down in surprise, then to her brother. “Ammon.” she says, reminding him perhaps of when she was little… and she stumbles forward, towards him.

“Unhand her, Sa…” Ammon begins as the pirate slips behind his sister—and his eyes widen as the dagger stabs though her. The squire’s shriek is inhuman. There are no words.

But there is a sword in his hand, and he is shouldering past Dagur and Almer and running towards death.

Eyes wide as he realizes just what has happened before him, the Lord of Southshield draws his steel, shouting, “You damnable monster!” He takes a step forward to attack the captain, but stops, taking note of Ammon charging to avenge his sister. The sight seems to give Lord Serry pause.

There is a whisper of steel on leather, and the Griffin’s blade is likewise out. Almer lunges foward, eyes blazing, his face a pale mask of anger and sorrow. Ammon rushes by him, bound for the pirate, and Connington has the same aim… Sullehman Saan.

His weathered grey cloak, rent and stained with salt and old blood, flutters behind the tall stormlord, and his sword gleams as light shatters along its bitter edge. No words, not even a shout, now. Only one deadly purpose.

Jorian spits bitterly, “Parley’s over?”. Already a throwing axe is in his hand, aimed at the pirate’s leader chest, but years of discipline are not forgotten, he’s standing at Dagur’s side, battle ready.

Josmyn pulls his sword out as well, waiting to see if there’s help needed.

Alyard’s jaw tightens as Saan grabs Doryssa, he takes a step forward but everything happens so quickly. He doesn’t charge in like Ammon and Almer, he draws his sword in one smooth motion and looks to the pirate’s champions and steps forward.

Willard cries out wordlessly as he sees Ammon’s sister being killed. In front of him. Before his eyes. He almost rushes forward, but stops in the nick of time and stays there - his eyes on the pirate, but waiting for Ser Dagur’s command. But he wouldn’t be himself if his temper wouldn’t finally take over and he breaks into a run, his sword in his hand - his eyes jumping to one of the pirate’s aids, as he notices Ser Almer and Ammon going for the pirate warlord.

But Sullehman Saan doesn’t draw his blade. He doesn’t move to face Almer, nor Ammon. Instead, a swift step sideways, and another, and he catches Mellony as Vulk shoves her at him. Then he is holding her before him as he had Doryssa, an arm about her waist, his bloody dagger to her throat. Smiling, always smiling, like the Lord of the Seven Hells himself as his men bare their weapons and move to stand with him.

And there is Dagur Saltcliffe, naked steel in hand, standing over Doryssa’s body, iron control broken by stunned, bloody rage. And hoarsely, as if each word is scraping his throat raw, he calls out: “Done! You have your deal, whoreson! You have your deal!”

So the Iron Serpent is broken.

Doryssa looks up at the Iron Serpent, the light fading from her eyes. She has the strength remaining to lift her arm to get his attention as he is the only one near, then she spends her last breath. “Tell Luthor… that I loved him.”

His booted feet sliding on the stony ground, Almer halts; his bright blade fairly quivers in his hand, and his grey eyes burn in disbelief.

The Griffin hestitates. “No. No… do not treat with these savages,” he implores Dagur. “They are faithless; the life of your lady wife, and of Lady Katla, are nothing to them.” Almer glances back at Vulk, death in his expression.

Mellony, whose scream at Doryssa’s murder was cut short only when her own seemed imminent, sobs in Saan’s iron grip. “He will kill all of us. All of us,” she says, her words coming in gasps of terror as she tries to force the words past the blade at her throat. “Save us. Do as he asks and save us. Save us.”

All of the fight seems to flee from Lord Serry as the captain moves now toward the other girl, tacitly implying that she will be next. With a sigh, he bows his head as Dagur caves in to Saan’s threats and Mellony’s pleas, both seeming to have broken the Lord of Southshield as well.

Lowering his arm, Jorian still stares at the pirates, marking their faces to his memory. He doesn’t need look at Dagur’s anymore, this battle is lost. He dare not look at Doryssa’s body neither, not so close to the one who killed her.
And again the Ryger breaks his run. His feet dig deep into the sand as he stops and looks at Ser Dagur. So close he can see the stains on the weapons of the pirates, but… He almost growls under his breath, but stays and his sword is pointing down now. He still waits if this is a ruse or… “Can we trust him, Ser?” he almost barks to Dagur, his anger barely held.

Like the knight he has served so faithfully for these past four years, Ammon is broken. It is written plainly on his face; tears stream unchecked down his cheek. But the difference between the two broken men is a simple one: hope. Dagur still has it, it seems. Ammon, plainly, does not.

And so Ammon rushes forward, seeking a death to go with his sister’s. Whether the death he seeks is his own or Saan’s, none can say. But Mellony Fossoway is nothing to him. Saan is nothing to him. Saan’s men are nothing to him.

Ammon bears down on his enemies, one man against ten.

Josmyn Reyne just stands shock-frozen when he watches Doryssa sinking to the ground, Dagur beside her. He gulps, staring at Almer and Willard: “Before we do anything else, we must make sure the ladies are sa——” Oh and there goes Ammon.

The Iron Serpent starts at Doryssa’s words, kneels by her swiftly—but she is gone already. And he looks up over her body at Almer and Willard with a snarl like a wolf’s: “What would you have me do, sers? Say him no and watch as he kills her, then kills my wife and Katla? What would you have me do!”

But Ammon’s mad charge pulls him to his feet, then. And with a vile curse, he too is moving forward, reaching for his squire with his free hand, missing.

And as the squire reaches the pirates, the Prince of the Narrow Sea shouts out a command in Lyseni, Vulk steps forward to block Ammon’s path, a short-hafted axe in each hand, raised to catch his blade. And another pirate slips around behind the squire, raising his heavy, short blade, bringing down its pommel upon the back of his head in a blow designed not to injure but merely to knock the man out.

Shaking his head, Almer bites back an angry retort at the Iron Serpent; there may be a time and place for such things. But not here, not now.

“‘Ware. Your squire is going to his death,” Connington says flatly, watching Ammon’s mad charge.

Ammon’s tears blind him as he raises his sword and brings it crashing down into Vulk’s axes. “Fight me, you fucking craven!” he shouts at Saan, voice cracking. But the man will not get that chance. Another of the men strikes him on the back of his head; the squire crumples to the stony shore, his unbloodied sword spinning out of his hand.

Alyard continues to stride forward, his cloak flapping in the wind as he moves past Ser Dagur. His eyes drift down to the body of Kalyra Corbray’s good-sister and whispers, “Gods…” His sword is held across his body as he follows the path taken by Ammon Massey.

Eventually reaching Vulk and the other pirate, he spits. “Move.” The Valeknight tries to use his left hand to push the latter out of the way so he can check on the squire.

Willard sheathes his sword and runs to the men as well, showing he’s unarmed. He moves towards Ser Dagur’s squire to make sure the man is alright all the while barely restraining the rage that boils inside him “Ammon. Ammon?” he speaks to the laying man checking if he’s breathing and slapping his cheek.

Dagur is moving already, at a run now, reaching Ammon only a pace behind Alyard. Naked steel in hand for all the good it will do him, he stands there over them as the pirates back away.

And as two of them slide the boat back into the water, Sullehman Saan backs toward it, moving his hand from around Mellony’s waist—she makes no attempt to pull away, moving with him, sobbing—and holding up a blood-speckled hand, thumb tucked in, four fingers up for the Westerosi to see.

And then he tucks in another finger, leaving three.

“See, I have made the deal sweeter for you!” he calls to them, taunting. And then he is getting into the boat, Mellony and his men with him, and they are unshipping the oars, propelling it back toward his galley.